Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

burned sugar, red oxide of iron, orange-berries.* Tea would also seem to be, or rather to have been, extensively subjected to the simple cheat. ing process of addition of spurious substances, adding weight and bulk, with such ancillary manipulation as is required to preserve appearances.

tea found its way into the market at a reduced price. After the cargo was gone, the trade wanted something to lower the price of their tea, and then re-dried tea-leaves were bought up. It then became a trade for parties to go round to different hotels and large houses, and buy them up at 2d. a pound. The re-dried leaves, however, were not sufficient to furnish the quantity required, and then resort was had to British plants."I

"In tea, as imported (says Mr. Phillips), I have found these substances-gum, indigo, a vegetable yellow, Prussian blue, which is rare; carbonate of magnesia, sulphate of lime, and silica. In the tea made up in this country I found many substances -re-dried tea-leaves, other leaves, namely, beech, elm, bastard-plane, fancy oak, and willow, made up to represent green tea with gum, Dutch pink, Prussian blue and indigo, carbonate of magnesia, French chalk, and sulphate of lime. When dried leaves and re-dried tea have been made up to represent black tea, I have found gum just outside the leaf, just coated over with rose pink to give it a bloom. Foreign leaves are broken up very small, and sifted through a sieve of a known size; they are then gathered up by means of gum-water, and rolled up into pieces, sometimes to represent the caper tea, sometimes to represent coarse gunpowder tea; they are then faced over with colouring matter made of the blue and yellow substances I have named, and they are then bloomed by being put into a bag, with a little carbonate of magnesia, French chalk, or sulphate of lime.t

The indiscreet leniency of the Government in this case seems to have raised a demand for a spurious article, and it was accordingly supplied. The great principle of buying in the cheapest market has its attendant inconveniences, and, applied to the trade in tea, it worked no better abroad than at home, if we may believe the following evidence of Mr. Warington, the chemical operator of the Apothecaries' Company:

" When the Company [E. I.] had a monopoly of the supply, and there was an ad valorem duty, did they employ tasters and inspectors at the ports? - Yes, they had inspectors at Canton always.

" Do you think we had purer teas at that time than we have had since the trade was thrown open ?- There is no question of it.

"Was there no lie tea imported at that time?--Not that I have heard of. I believe it is quite a modern introduction.

"Since the opening of the trade ?-Since the demand of the merchant for a cheaper article."

It is remarkable that it is agreed that these frauds are mostly of Chinese origin, and that they are practised chiefly in dealings with green and caper, or black gunpowder teas. Con gous and souchongs arrive in England, for the most part, in a genuine state; and it would appear that the manufacture of spurious tea in this country is but a matter of history. It is curious also that, according to Mr. Phillips's belief, it was, like many other malpractices, a Treasury fungus :

To use the words of another witness, every substance consumed as food is thus adulterated, more or less. Sugar is rendered bulkier and heavier by additions of potato-flour, tapioca-starch, and all manner of weighty dirt. Bread is made cheaper by admixtures of potatoes; whiter-even that of the League Company-by alum. Lard is but a compound of potato-flour, sal-soda, caustic lime, and salt, in which the adipose matter of the sus scrofa is but a secondary ingredient. And so it goes on to the end of a list which it would be unprofitable to cite at length.

The examples we have given of adulteration for profit are instances of simple cheating. There are, however, varieties of this form of adulteration which, being really no more than the

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

accommodation of the quality of the any substance but water in the home article sold to the purchasing power of manufacture of tobacco, thereby dithe consumer, cannot properly be in- recting commercial ingenuity away cluded in that infamous category, al from adulteration and towards smugthough some of them have been used gling. Sugar, or molasses, is a necesas chief chevaux de battaile by the anti. sary ingredient in Cavendish, and as adulterators. Thus the reduction of its employment within the United the strength of beer, porter, stout, and Kingdom is forbidden, and easily pregin, by the simple addition of water, vented, the ready-made foreign article, though most obnoxious to the English which is subject to a prohibitive duty mind, is truly no more than the sup. of Is. 6d. a-pound, is plentifully smugplying of a demand for cheap beve. gled, and can be freely bought in rages. The preparation of tobacco, ounces at prices from a third to a half too, with sugar, water, or treacle, is not below the amount of custom supposed properly an adulteration, but a mapu- to be paid upon it. So curious and facture of an article in common de- noteworthy is the perseverance of gomand; and in the case of the fragrant vernments and philanthropists in opweed it is truly remarkable, and we posing their own ends and in guiding dare say very much opposed to the the natural appetites of the objects of preconceived opinions of our readers, their financial and benevolent care that scarcely any material adulteration into mischievous and often destructive is practised.

courses. The ruling passion of those At the present moment, according respectable parties prescribes a contito the belief of Mr. Phillips, the to. nual warfare of especial activity against bacco trade is perfectly free from adul. those practices which man, savage or teration ;* and even the acute eye of civilised, universally adopts for the Dr. Hassall, aided by his best micros. solace of his cares, and with the concopes, could not detect, in the nume- stant result of converting them, by rous specimens of manufactured tobacco their meddling, into agencies of dire he examined, a single particle of a leaf moral and physical evil. that did not belong to the genuine fa

“The pipe, with stem of lily white mily of the weed. Only now and then,

In which so many take delight," at a fair or race-course, did he ever chance upon even a penny cigar of is laid hold of by Chancellors of the spurious fabric-contrived rather for Exchequer as an instrument of taxa. ornament than use--a mixture of hay tion, and doubtless a fit one; it is and brown paper. But he by no means counterblasted by moralists. But the loses hope of a more fortunate future; inordinate taxation with which the one there are natural differences in the com. hopes to fill the Exchequer, and the position of varieties of the plant, other to "cleanse the foul body of the "so considerable and so varied,' as to infected world,” has no other effect render it manifest that by imitat than to poison the fumes inhaled by ing its chemical composition, tobacco the smoker, or to teach him, when he may be adulterated to a considerable takes tobacco, not to reflect tranquilly extent, without the possibility of our upon the similitude of his own brief being able to declare with certainty and frail existence in the “ ashes, dry that it is so adulterated."| The hint and white" of the briefly-burning will probably be acted upon in due Indian weed, and in the clay “ broken season, and with a real proportionate with a touch ;” but to spend those to the folly that regulates the fiscal re contemplative moments in compassing lations of this important trade. The and imagining by what means he may law, a few years ago, permitted the most surely circumvent the exciseman manufacture of spurious tobacco, until and fill bis pouch with honey-dew, or the ingenuity of the trade got in fo indulge in the illicit pleasure of a gereign substances to the extent of 70 nuine Havanna, without violating his per cent. I Having thus inaugurated conscientious sense of frugality. Well the practice of adulteration, the guar- nigh the whole of the male inhabitants dians of the public revenue turned of Great Britain and Ireland are made right round, and forbade the use of smugglers by laws, which do not re

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

strain smoking, but diminish the revenue. By like restrictions and fet ters upon the manufacture and sale of beer and spirits, the population is subjected to a continual process of poisoning, and a numerous class of respectable tradesmen is strongly tempted, almost forced, to the commission of the crimes of fraud and adulteration. In London, at least, and probably in all the large towns of England, it would seem to be certain that tampering with the common be verages of the people is almost uni. versal; and although these practices are to some, perhaps even to a considerable, extent merely, as we have said, the accommodation of supply to the purchasing power of the consumer, by harmless dilution, still there can be no doubt that there is a considerable amount of cheating in the mak, ing up of drinks, fairly chargeable against publicans.

All the witnesses agree that the dilution of beer, porter, gin, &c., is balanced by admixtures of substances designed to restore their colour, taste, or apparent strength; but although there is testimony to show that such substances as sulphate of iron (cop peras), cocculus indicus, and even exhausted tobacco, have been added to beer with those views, the weight of testimony goes to prove that the ordinary forms of fraud are of a less dan gerous character, and that the sub. stances commonly used in adulterating beer are sugar, treacle, salt, grains of paradise, quassia, gentian, camomileHowers, and coriander-seeds, all harm. less in their nature. So likewise, in the making up of gin, the articles used are rarely of a noxious kind, and may more properly be called “ flavour. ings"_their trade-name-than fraudulent adulterations; and, touching our own national beverage, Mr. Phil lips tells an anecdote which includes a moral at once reassuring and warning: " A gentleman in the north of Ireland, who drank his fourteen or sixteen glasses of toddy in an evening, became very ill. He would persist in the belief that it contained corrosive sublimate; he sent us up a sample ; we examined it, and it was perfectly pure."* There is, we believe, but little noxious adulteration of any sort practised in Ire

land; but the fact furnishes no better reason for drinking a pint of whiskey of an evening, than is furnished by the illness of the northern gentleman, for the total prohibition of a cheerful and moderate glass.

The second species of adulteration includes varieties of a kind infinitely more mischievous to the public than any commonly to be found in the category we have just been considering ; and yet, strange to say, the mischief is done at the bidding of the consumer. A great number of articles of food are coloured, flavoured, or perfumed, often with noxious, and sometimes with highly poisonous substances, with no intent on the part of the manufacturer or dealer to obtain a fraudulent profit, or even to produce a cheap commodity, but simply because customers will not be contented with the sensible qualities of the unsophisticated article. Instances in point are supplied by pickles, sauces, confectionery, snuf, and, we may add, bread, tea, gin, and many other subjects of the adulteration for profit. Thus the wholesale manufacturers are forced to imbue their pickles and bottled fruits with a strong dose of verdigris before they can insure their sale ; and no one will buy essence or paste of anchovies, or lobster, shrimp, or tomato sauces, unless they are reddened with rusty iron clay. Crosse and Blackwell's " practice with pickles for the last thirty-five years has been to use copper vessels in boiling the vinegar; it requires the vegetables to be scalded first, and then they remain in the vinegar two or three days, so that the vinegar takes up a portion of the copper. The same thing is done two or three days afterwards, and is repeated till the vegetables become of a green colour."| It was certainly not the manufacturer's fault that his customers thus chose to eat and drink their own destruction. Mr. Blackwell “ often wondered he had no complaints, because, when & gooseberry pie was cut, it appeared an unnatural green.” The customers, nevertheless, ate on, and even fashionable London clubs liked their anchovy sauce best when made“ bright and handsome looking" by the trituration in every one hundred gallons of it of ten pounds of armenian bole. Nor is

* Ibid. Q. 2284.

[ocr errors]

the beggar's brat less influenced by the that scammony is sometimes imported pride of the eye than the most fasti. containing from eighty to ninety per dious of cockney epicures. He, too, cent. of chalk; the effect of which will have his morsel of ruin splendid upon the animal economy is directly with colour, and swallows his lollipop opposed to that to be expected from with a contented mind only when it is the pure drug; and that opium may coloured with red-lead, chrome-yellow, be brought in divested of every trace Prussian blue, or green arsenite of of morphia, which is its active princicopper. The ratifia flavour, dear to ple. Yet it is plain that the ardour of both man and child, is sought for the chase has led the purists into two though death may be in the single drop errors. They have overlooked the of oil of bitter almonds with which it distinction between impurities, acciis communicated to sweetmeat or dental and incidental, and adulteraliqueur. People are so anxious to be tions; and they have forgotten that a poisoned, that they will refuse to drink vast number of samples of manufacwhiskey until it is made into British tured drugs are not intended for medibrandy by the addition of amylic cal use, and that many of them are alcohol, a poisonous oily product of the consequently sold, designedly and distillation of raw grain. Oxide of notoriously, impure, as being in that lead, and chromate of lead, and bi. state cheaper, and equally well fitted chromate of potash, which are terrible for the purposes to which they are poisons, are commonly met with in ordinarily applied. Thus there are, in snuff, * their presence being, no doubt, fact, no such articles of wholesale imthe supply of a demand for an inor port as pure scammony or pure opium, dinate* titillation of the olfactory for these substances being juicy exudanerves,

tions from incisions in growing plants, A strong part of the case of the anti- they must be more or less liable to adulterators is that which refers to accidental admixtures of dust, insects, medicinal drugs, and here the common and other impurities, during the propublic opinion is entirely with them. cess of hardening; and as the juice of The roguery of druggists and apothe- the poppy will dry only to a certain caries has been a standing half-jest for consistence, opium is always purposely tiune immemorial, and few doubt that stiffened by working it into a mass it is well nigh whole earnest. Yet the with such leaves of various kinds as evidence received by the committee may be at hand. Again, the legiti. does not, we think, warrant that con- mate existence of pure and impure clusion, without a large reservation; drugs is recognised in the common use and we venture to add, that some ex of a distinctive epithet.

of a distinctive epithet. There are,

The perience disposes us to concur with for example, the sulphuric acid of comthose witnesses who deposed to a be merce, and the carbonate of soda of lief, that in this matter the world is commerce, and these are sold in the somewhat too censorious. There can, market certainly in an impure, but by indeed, be no doubt that the market no means in a fraudulently adulterated contains a large amount of drugs of state. They are suited for various various kinds extensively adulterated, uses in the arts, as the phrase goes ; both in their crude state as imported, and it is the business of the apothecary and after they have passed through - who in England, unfortunately, has the hands of the drug grinders. There abjured his proper function—to purify are in London, it is said, certain and adapt them for medical use. In "druggists, at least one druggist, who doing this, in the case of one of the would sell any powder you please at articles we have chanced to mention, 36s, the cwt.; "f and this feat can, of it might become his duty to discover course, only be accomplished by the that the drug of commerce was largely machinations of grinders, and the re- impregnated with a deadly poison. gulated use of the Powder of Post, as Some few years since, it entered into the sawdust with which these artists the wise head of the King of Naples to clean their mills is termed. There is impose an export-duty upon the sulalso, the sufficient testimony of Mr. phur which England had been in the Herring, an eminent drug-merchant, habit of obtaining from his volcanic

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of it, we should be forced to admit, that the mariner with

« Fire on the maintop, fire on the bow,

Fire on the gundeck, fire down below,"

realm. It is an ill wind blows nobody good, and a little bit of luck was blown to Ireland by this breeze. Shares in the Cronebane mines forthwith began to look up, for in them abundance of Pyrites lay waste, which before long was made to yield sulphur enough to ease the market which Neapolitan cupidity and folly had tightened. But the sulphuric acid or vitriol made from this sulphur contained so much arsenic as to render it altogether unfit for me. dical use, although it in no way de. teriorated it for employment in many arts. The article was certainly impure, but it would be absurd to say that it was adulterated. Nevertheless, this example proves the gravity of the subject; and it is truly a very serious matter that a valuable life might be sacrificed through an English drug. gist's ignorance of the existence of Cronebane, and of the little episode we have just related. Something infinitely more valuable than life was very near being made away with in that manner, only the other day,when a link in the chain of proof that a gentleman was the murderer of his wife was only broken by the discovery that arsenic, supposed to have been em ployed in tbe deadly work, was really a constituent of the accusing doctor's muriatic acid test. We by no means, therefore, wish to make light of this portion of the subject of adulteration, and we hope to bave a word or two more to say upon it before we conclude.

But now a question naturally presents itself, as to how it comes, that mortal Englishman survives to tell or to hear thus how

" Death in every form surrounds us." With poison in every mouthful of necessary food, poison in every appetis ing condiment, poison in the convivial cur, poison in the medicament trusted to for the restoration of health ; it would seem as though the King of Pontus himself must have succumbed under that deadly cumulation. If we were to attach the same degree of credit to the testimony of the purists, touching the general prevalence of the practice of adulteration, as we certainly do to their particular instances

enjoyed & condition of tranquil and secure existence compared to that of the Londoner girt with poison. If such were the unavoidable conclusion that must be drawn from the facts stated in recent publications on the subject, well might our friend warn us happy in our provincial ignorance against perusing them. But we have read them carefully without such a conclusion having been forced upon our mind, and we will shortly impart to our readers some of the grounds of the confidence we have bappily regained.

In the first place, then, we find a general unanimity of opinion to exist upon two points_First, that with the exceptions of water and air, it is perfectly possible, nay easy,even in London, to procure every article of food, drink, or physie, pure and good of its kind; and, secondly, that the origin of the evil is cheapness. Adulteration is but a phase of that calico civilisation, a distinctive feature of which is a genteel preference for motley wear, flimsy but brilliant, instead of plain linsey-woolsey, warm and homely. Both these propositions are deducible from the testimony of all the witnesses, and by some of them they were put directo ly, with great plainness and force. Thus we find in Dr. Hassall's reports on coffee, * which contain, we may say, the case for the prosecution, a list of eleven shops at which perfectly genuine ground coffee may be had at fair prices ; while he must indeed be a simpleton who would not expect to be cheated at establishments offering & half-pound canister of cafe de la flavour Francaise, or the true Parisian coffee

a beautiful compound for sixpence, and no charge for the canister. Indeed this article, although placed in the front of the battle, furnishes the strongest ground for hoping that the demon of adulteration is not altogether so black as he has been painted. Coffee can readily be procured, in small quantities, of pure quality ; and when mixed, it is almost exclusively with

* " Food, and its Adulterations." 1855.

By Arthur Hill Hassall, Esq., M. D. London:

« AnteriorContinuar »