« AnteriorContinuar »
chicory, which many consumers, as we think with very bad taste, believe to be an improvement. The home adul. teration of tea, we have already shown to be now at a minimum. Mr. Warington, who has paid very great atten. tion to the subject, says,* that very nearly the whole of the sophistication of the article takes place abroad, and that it consists chiefly in giving green tea a “ face" of glazing and colour, wbich nature does not give it, in order to suit the capricious taste of English, and still more, of American buyers.t Souchongs and congous invariably arrive in this country in a pure state; and Dr. Hassall himself volunteers to calm the fears of ladies who look for death in the teapot, by assuring them that he has never met with a single instance of the presence of any entire leaf, except tea leaf, in that fountain of maiden meditation. In fact, so far is it from the fact that spurious tea is largely used in the United Kingdom, that, as we learn from Mr. Phillips, $ a large quantity of a commodity of that kind brought into this country from Singapore, could not find a market, and was reshipped to Holland, after having paid the duty on tea, and sold there. The possibility of obtaining genuine beer from the brewer, and, if a suffi. cient price be paid, from the publican, is not denied by any one ; and it is the same with all the other articles of food and drink respecting which in formation was laid before the Committee. Nor is the case different with respect to drugs. “I may mention,” said Mr. Maurice Scanlan, “ that I have had a knowledge of most of the drug-houses in London for thirty years and upwards, and I do not believe that any of the large houses lend them selves to any adulteration whatever; and the same thing may be said of a great many of the retailers. There are hundreds of houses in London we may take things from, blindfold."| We can confidently assure our read ers that Mr. Scanlan is a most competent witness. He was called for the prosecution, but his testimony to the fact that there is no difficulty in procuring sound drugs, is in accordance with that of the best-informed persons who were examined.
There is a like unanimity of opinion with regard to the cause and sign of the evil being cheapness, but by none of the witnesses was it expressed in a more effective manner than by Sir John Gordon, the worthy Mayor of Cork. “I cannot speak positively," he said, “to adulterations; but I know that an article which is sold very cheap must have some kind of fraud practised on it,” and “I invariably take it into my head that, when I see an article offered for one-half its intrinsic value, there is something wrong about it." Here, in fact, is exposed the whole secret of fraudulent adulterations, and a great part of the means of safely preventing them. One instance will render the whole matter plain to the meanest capacity :-_Common, good opium is worth 20s. a lb. ; a refuse opium, naturally bad for nature is herself an adulterator - and largely mixed with accidental impurities, may be purchased in the market for 4s. Surely the difference of price, if the standard-price were generally known, would be warning enough to the most inexperienced buyer to cleave to the one article and to despise the other. Nor can the manufacturer be very much blamed, in foro conscientiæ, who excused himself for supplying a very bad article for the American market, by reciting the words of his contract, as follows: “I have an order," said the merchant, “ to ship so much blue-pill at such a price; can you produce it?" "I can make you," replied the druggist, “ what I dare say will pass." Doubtless it would be better policy in the long run if manufacturers and dealers were to decline making or selling spurious goods ; but they will scarcely exhibit that proof of foresight so long as the taste of consumers leads them to prefer the name of a luxury to the reality of a substantial comfort-a starched rag, pervious to the slightest wind, but painted in bright red - and - yellow, to a coarse, ugly, but warm drugget. Indeed the circumstances of the agitation that has been going on upon this subject during the last three or four years, plainly show that, in practising adulteration, the majority of traders are but obeying a hard necessity. They have made
| Ibid. Q. 29.
Ibid. Q. 946-985.
deeds are typographical reprints of handbills recommending
“CHINESE BOTANICAL POWDER,
little or no resistance to investigations, often carried on in a manner that could scarcely fail of being hurtful to their feelings, if not injurious to their business. Dr. Normandy, indeed, complains that upon one occasion a baker * used a very offensive expression about his eyes,” but to us the only wonder is, that he and his fellows got through their investigation without being frequently rolled in the gutter. It seems to us that the forbearance with which they were received, the assistance frequently given to them in their inquiries, and the frankness and good temper with which the movement has been generally met, speak volumes for the sense, the willingness to deal fairly, if they be permitted, and, we will add, for the honesty of traders, of all kinds and degrees. We own our foregone conclusions did not lead us to expect these results. Throughout the inquiry, we meet with such intimations as these, which we take from the evidence of Mr. Warington and Dr. Normandy :
CHINESE ECONOMIST, Used in Eastern Climates for Improving in Strength and Flavour every description
AND LA VENO BENO, THE CHINESE TEA IMPROVER ; “The essential part of the leaf of a tree, which grows in the East, and is imported through the East Indies to this country.
“The virtues of the leaf were discovered in the year 1842, and now introduced to the British public, the discoverer first having proved the great utility and efficacy by tes. timonials from numerous persons of distinction and science.
" It is very strengthening to the nervesit does not prevent sleep-it is useful on rtiring to rest. It is recommended to the debilitated for its pleasant and invigorating qualities, to the aged for its strengthening properties, and to the public generally, for its economy and excellence.
“It will strengthen the voice. It is useful to singers and public speakers.
“A threepenny packet will make one quarter of a pound of tea last as long as half-a-pound." I
“On calling at one of the large tea warehouses, and mentioning what I had observed, they said immediately, Have you examined the unglazed tea ? I was very much struck with the term "unglazed. I asked them what they meant by 'unglazed tea ? They said, we have two kinds of tea in the trade, what is called glazed tea, and unglazed tea.' I said I should very much wish to see a sample of unglazed tea.
They then showed me a sample which had nó green colour at all; it was of a dull slate colour, "*
“I obtained a letter of introduction to two of the largest druggists in London, and from them I learnt that cocculus indicus, foots sugar, liquor ammoniæ, and extract of gentian, were constantly sold by them to publicans for the purpose of adulterating beer. Some years ago I saw, standing at the corner of a street, near a public-house, a cart, with the name of some person,
brewers' druggist,' painted upon it; I think the inference is, if there be brewers' druggists there must be beer-druggers.”+
A vast deal of the mystery lies on the surface; and it is further evident, that admixtures of a dangerous cbaracter are exceptional, and that the majority of sophistications are innoxious to the health, as well as sparing to the pocket. Arrowroot is mixed with sago, potato, and tapioca starches; butter, with water and salt; cinnamon with cassia; cocoa and chocolate with arrowroot, sugar, chicory; ginger with flour, turmeric, cayenne pepper; marmalade with pulp of apples or turnip ; sugar with potato-flour and tapioca starch. This is done mainly because people de sire to use, or to seem to use, these and such like articles, who have not the means to pay for them. It is sheer nonsense to say the poor are cheated, when, buying the name of an article and paying a nominal price, they do not get the genuine substance. It transcends the power of human legislation to produce a pound of butter or a potato at less than first cost—that
is work for creative Omnipotence. found ready cut-and-dry in some portWhen an article cannot be produced folio, perhaps in two or three. There without a certain expenditure of la- will be comprised in the scheme a bour, of course it cannot, under or chief commissioner - a burly demadinary circumstances, be sold for a gogue, or needy cadet of some ruling sum below the nominal money-repre house,—with two or three umbre, ensentative of that labour ; and it neces- dowed with a talent for silence and sarily follows, that those who cannot sneaking, to form a Board ; an acpay that sum, must forego the use of tive secretary, whose energy and pub. the article, or content themselves with lic zeal have burst the bonds of the a substitute invested with its name. honest calling to which he was bred ;
Nevertheless, although we concura chemist; a philosopher (histologist, with such intelligent and experienced we believe, is the new specific name), men as Messrs. Phillips, Wallington, who can see through his microscope and Redwood, that there has been a vast into the very heart of a millstone; and amount of exaggeration in the state. several scores, perhaps hundreds, of ments of the purists, we are not pre district-inspectors, chosen from among pared to deny that an evil does exist, the decayed election-agents of the and that, if possible, a remedy should party in office, and commissioned to be applied to it. Then comes the con prescribe for the nation sideration of what remedial measures
" When men may eat and drink their fill, would be right, possible, and effective.
And when be temperate if they will; Suggestions were made to the Com
When use, and when abstain from vice,
Figs, grapes, phlebotomy, and spice." mittee of the House of Commons on this point, and there are indications,
In short, we see reason to fear that in their own questions, that some of a gigantic job is in course of concocthe members, at least, entertained views, tion, the working of which-if it could more or less definite, respecting them ; ever be brought to work in England but as a body, they have recommended
is to some extent foreshown in the exno more than a continuance of the perience of an analogous system in investigation. To our mind, that ap- another state; and as an account of pears to be altogether unnecessary; this-brief but pointed_happened to and we venture humbly to suggest, fall under our notice in the Berlin cor, that as, in this case, a multitude of
respondence of the Times of the 12th counsellors has been consulted, it of last month, we shall make no apowould be an unwarrantable extension logy for applying it to use here :--of the proverb to seek safety in a mob. If the Committee be re-appointed in “It is hardly an exaggeration to say the coming session, we trust its com that no one living in Prussia is at liberty to mission will be, simply to consultandre- do the most innocent or even laudable and port upon the materials for a conclusion meritorious action without first obtaining already in existence. There is enough the permission of some authority or other. in them to exercise their utmost in The police not only meddle with every genuity and wisdom, if it shall be their
imaginable thing that a police might be desire, as no doubt it will be, to accom
expected to control, but an infinitude of
others not usually thought to belong to its plish any good, or to eschew any evil.
province; it not only regulates the safetySigns are not wanting, that some active
valves, water, and steam-cocks of all steam persons have been “ working this
boilers, &c., but also forbids persons removement;"-a Committee has been
moving goods in town or country to carry formed at Wolverhampton, and men a looking-glass uncovered through the have been writing books, and collecting streets, or along a public highway, for the materials for books, and for second sun's rays might fall upon it and be reeditions. The business has been be
flected into the eyes of some soft-headed gun in a workmanlike manner, and
horse going by, who might shy at it and bints of the line it is to be conducted
perhaps run away. The police regulates the in are not far to seek. We have ob
colouring matter to be used in elecampane served the course of several of these
and lollipops, lest small children, eating too
large a quantity of sweet stuff, should get movements in our time, and we ven.
the stomach - ache, and derange the doture to predict, that a plan of a com
mestic economy; vide the Staats Anzeiger mission to execute the laws for pre- of Nov. 11, of this year, which gives an venting the British people from pois accurate list of all the hurtful and all the soning themselves unawares, will be innocuous colours that can be used for co
louring sweetmeats and toys, at the same time warning all manufacturers of the above articles not to offend against a certain penal paragraph of the law 'in this case made and provided,' and also drawing the attention of parents to the inconvenient consequences of children being allowed to suck their toys!"
These last words are suggestive of the proverbial wisdom of teaching grandams to suck eggs; but it would be a mistake to disregard the warning of the Prussian example, as if its being ridiculous would prevent its being followed among ourselves. They laugh who win; and commissioners, philosophers, and inspectors may laugh like undertakers if they can cajole the country into an acceptance of their services. The whole affair would be come intolerable in a year or two, and be broken up; but then vested interests would have been created, and the national purse would be drawn upon to compensate or pension the incumbents. In the meantime the agita tion of “working the movement," and the temporary bustle of the new-fangled commission, would have spread the knowledge of the theory and prac. tice of adulteration far and near, “ The publication of Accum's researches, some years since, as well as of other more recent works treating of the falsifications of food, have clearly been followed by increased adulteration ;'* and so, unquestion, ably, but in a vastly increased degree, would a governmental stirring of the subject operate for the propagation of fraud.
But, we shall be asked, an evil being admitted to exist, must not some thing be tried as a remedy? Without admitting the general force of this mode of reasoning, we can reply tbat, in this particular case, it is possible to attempt to do something that will not be necessarily mischievous, by impos. ing intolerable restrictions upon trade, or by the creation of a new nest of corruption. There is a part of the work already done by the Board of Inland Revenue, and there would seem to be little difficulty in arranging for charging that department with the duty of doing as much as can safely be undertaken in the matter. There is an efficient staff of chemical officers
under the orders of the Board, and it already interferes directly to save the revenue from loss, and consequentially to prevent the public from being injured by fraudulent adulterations in excisable or customable articles of food and drink. The list embraces a great proportion of the prime neces. saries of life, and a few simple ar. rangements would render the ma. chinery applicable to all purposes to which it would be advisable to apply it. It seems to us that the importation of adulterated food, drinks, and drugs would soon cease, if it were made the practice to submit all suspected articles to the examination of the chemical officers, and to deal with such cases as frauds upon the revenue; and there appears every reason to ex. pect that importers would cordially assist in rendering this plan effective. It would clearly be their interest to do so. But, then, supposing that spurious imports could be arrested, how are we to detect and prevent subsequent frauds by wholesale or retail dealers? A reversion to an ancient practice, inconsiderately interfered with, would, we conceive, do a good deal directly towards the end in view, and would point the way to wards the accomplishment of all that would be necessary.
W e never could see any good reason for abolishing the assize of bread and beer in corporate towns; and we can. not now perceive any difficulty in the way of its restoration. A shadow of it does still remain to the annoyance of the tradesman, and with no advantage to the public. Why should not the substance, which practically benefited both parties, be restored? The poorest purchaser of a loaf can have little difficulty in ascertaining that he has received a proper weight of bread; but few consumers, poor or rich, can form an estimate as to what its price should be. This was fairly done and freely made known under the old system of assize which was, in the particular of price, nothing more than an announcement of the sum at which a pound of sound, pure bread, could be sold, considering the average price of corn, and allowing a fair profit to the baker. It was competent to any one to sell below that figure; but the assize furnished a standard of reference for all, and a test
of adulteration impossible to be misunderstood. Cheapness, we have seen, is the great origin of the evil, and the sale of bread, or of any other article, below a price that would cover the cost of its production, and allow a reason. able profit, is better proof than could be given by a college of philosophers, that the commodity has been reduced in value by adulteration. We would remove every shadow of objection from the old system of assize by rendering it merely declaratory. If the consumers were fully and authoritatively informed as to the proper cost of sound bread and beer, they might be safely trusted to give a higher or a lower price for it at their pleasure. A knowledge of the sum at which an honest man could supply the article, would be to them the power of procuring it pure, and the principle might easily be extended to all articles of internal use, and made general. It would only need to construe and digest certain articles in the Prices Current, and to give the result circulation through the medium of the public journals, in order to enable every man in the United Kingdom to inform himself as to the price at which a tradesman could afford to give him a glass of beer, or an ounce of tea, or a gill of vinegar, free from poison, and of standard strength. There would always be a large proportion of trades. men who would be content with fair profits, and who would feel honesty to be their best policy; while the dishonest competition of Cheap Johns would be effectually exposed. We have seen that even in these worst of times, when no one knows when he may die of a preserved gage or a sugarplum, there are in the city many more righteous dealers than would have saved Gomorrah; and we have no doubt they would be vastly multiplied if there was constantly in their customers' hands a standard by which he could at least test the possibility of trading honesty. The scope and efficacy of the test would be increased, as we humbly think, to a sufficient extent, if mayors of towns and other local authorities were empowered to refer suspected samples of food or drink to the revenue chemical officers for examination, and to found thereon such proceedings as the common or statute law may warrant. To the staff of the Board of Inland Revenue might also be intrusted the weekly editing of the
Prices Current to which we have allud. ed; and we have little hesitation in predicting that if these simple measures were adopted, the workers of the movement would shortly discover their oCcupation to be unprofitable.
We must now return for a moment to the subject of the adulteration of drugs, which possesses sotne features peculiar to itself. The assize system would not be applicable in this case, nor would it be practicable to use the analytical services of the revenue offi. cers, except in checking spurious importations. But here, too, we can point out a short-cut for the anti-adulterators- they have only to put their London pride in their pockets, and to follow an Irish example. The profession of the apothecary in Ireland is a restricted one: it is open only to men whose knowledge has been tested by examination, after they have passed a sufficient time in practically learning their art. Their proper business is to prepare and compound drugs in accordance with an authoritative standard, and they enjoy a monopoly of the retail trade in the compounding of drugs for medical use. They are responsible for the due discharge of this duty, and being for the most part respectable men, they perform it conscientiously and satisfactorily. They commonly, we have reason to believe, buy their stocks from one or other of those respectable houses with whom one may deal blindfold, and buying in small quantities, they can assure themselves of the purity of each article at a small cost of trouble. Hence it is a rare thing to hear of misadventures with drugs, or of spurious medicines in Ireland. In England, on the other hand, the name of apothecary only exists. The word has lost its original, proper, and, we rejoice to be able to add, its Irish signification. Any man who pleases may undertake to do apothecary's work: he may open a shop, call himself chemist and druggist, and poison her Majesty's subjects, or frustrate the skill of the physician, as chance may direct. Hitherto the title of chemist and druggist might generally be taken to mean, that the person assuming it sold drugs for the use of man and beast, perfumery, and fancy articles, and was not tinctured with the slightest knowledge of chemical science. And although we are ready to admit that the incorporation of the