A Sailor’s Wish

A few years since, in a public garden near Philadelphia, some of the company happened to express their wishes to possess this or that, when a sailor, who overheard the conversation, stepped up and said, “Gentlemen, permit me to tell you what I wish for.” Being desired to proceed, he continued, “I wish that I had three ship-loads of needles—as much thread and cloth as the needles would make up into bags—and these bags full of gold.”

Now, supposing that the ships might carry 1200 tons of needles, one hundred of which would weigh an ounce—that each needle, on an average, would make up 20 two-bushel bags, that the bushel contains 215,042 solid inches, and that a cubic inch of gold weighs 10 ounces, or 102 grains; the products, omitting fractions, would be 3,825,800,000 needles. 154,112,000,000 bushels of gold, or about 217,297,920,000,000 pounds, or 9,700,800,000 tons; enough to freight twenty-four millions, two hundred and fifty-two thousand ships, of 400 tons burden; and allowing these ships to range side by side, only thirty feet being admitted to each, they would reach about 70,429 miles, and form three complete bridges round the world.

From The cabinet of curiosities, or, Wonders of the world displayed,
London, Printed for J. Limbird, 1824.

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