Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M. was obliging enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages ate their meat raw, clawing it or biting it from the living animal.
The art of roasting, or rather broiling (which I take to be the elder brother), was accidentally discovered in the manner following:
The swine-herd, Ho-ti, having gone out into the wood one morning, as his manner was, to collect food for his hogs, left his cottage in the care of his eldest son, Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who, being fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his age commonly are, let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which, kindling quickly, spread the conflagration over every part of their poor mansion, till it was reduced to ashes. Together with the cottage, what was of much more importance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less than nine in number, perished.
While he was thinking what he should say to his father, and wringing his hands over the smoking remnants of one of those untimely sufferers, an odor assailed his nostrils unlike any scent which he had before experienced. What could it proceed from? Not from the burnt cottage -he had smelt that smell before; indeed this was by no means the first accident of the kind which had occurred through the negligence of this Unlucky young firebrand-much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed, or flower. A premonitory moistening at the same time overflowed his nether lip- He knew not what to think. He next stooped down to feel the pig, if there were any signs of life in it. He burnt his fingers, and to cool them he applied them, in his booby fashion, to his mouth. Some of the crumbs of the scorched skin had come away with, his fingers, and for the first time in his life (in the world's life, indeed, for before him no man had known it) he tasted-crackling!
Again he felt and fumbled the pig. It did not burn him so much now, still he licked his fingers from a sort of habit. The truth at length broke into his slow under standing that it was the pig that smelt so, and the pig that tasted so delicious; and, surrendering himself up to the new-born pleasure, he fell to tearing up whole handfuls of the scorched skin with the flesh next it, and was cramming it down his throat in his beastly fashion, when his sire entered amid the smoking rafters, armed with retributory cudgel; and, finding how matters stood, began to rain blows upon the young rogue's shoulders as thick as hailstones.
"You graceless whelp! What have you got there devouring? Is it not enough that you. have burnt me
down three houses with your dog's tricks, and be hanged to you, but you must be eating fire, and I know not what? What have you got there, I say?"
0 father, the pig-the pig! Do come and taste how nice the burnt pig eats!"
Bo-bo, whose scent was wonderfully sharpened since morning, soon raked out another pig, and fairly