« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
tifices of this class of dealers, that Mr Accum has published the present very interesting and popular work; and he gives a most fearful view of the various and extensive frauds which are daily practised on the unsuspecting püblic. After observing, that of all the deceptions resorted to by mercenary dealers, there is none more reprehensible, and at the same time more prevalent, than those which take place in articles of food, he proceeds, in the following passage, to point out more particularly the extent of this illicit traffic.
• This unprincipled and nefarious practice, increasing in degree as it has been found difficult of detection, is now applied to almost every commodity which can be classed among either the necessaries or the luxuries of life, and is carried on to a most alarming extent in every part of the United Kingdom. It has been pursued by men who, from the magnitude and apparent respectability of their concerns, would be the least obnoxious to public suspicion ; and their successful example has called forth, from among the retail dealers, a multitude of competitors in the same iniquitous course. To such perfection of ingenuity has this system of adulterating food arrived, that spurious articles of various kinds are everywhere to be found, made up so skilfully as to baffle the discrimination of the most experienced judges. — Among the number of substances used in domestic economy, which are now very generally found sophisticated, may be distinguished—tea, coffee, bread, beer, wine, spirituous liquors, salad oil, pepper, vinegar, mustard, cream, and other articles of subsistence. - Indeed, it would be difficult to mention a single article of food which is not to be met with in an adulterated state ; and there are some substances which are scarcely ever to be procured genuine. - Some of these spurious compounds are comparatively harmless when used as fond; and as, in these cases, merely substances of inferior value are substituted for more costly and genuine ingredients, the sophistication, though it may affect our purse, does not injure our health. Of this kind are the manufacture of factitious pepper, the adulterations of mustard, vinegar, cream, &c. Others, however, are highly deleterious ; and to this class belong the adulterations of beer, wines, spirituous liquors, pickles, salad oil, and many others.'
There are, it appears, particular chemists who make it their sole employment to supply the unprincipled brewer of porter and ale with drugs, and other deleterious preparations; while others perform the same office to the wine and spirit merchant, as well as to the grocer and oilman-and these illicit pursuits have asumed all the order and method of a regular trade. A great capital is embarked in them; and so artfully are they carried on, that the workmen are frequently ignorant of the nature of the substances which pass through their hands, or of the purposes to which they are adapting them. To one is assigned
the task of proportioning the different ingredients for use-to another, the composition and preparation of them—and the articles are finally transmitted to the manufacturer, who uses them in such a disguised state, as effectually conceals their real qualities. In some cases, men of the most correct principles have been found engaged in the sale of articles highly deleterious, without knowing it--the mystery of their original manafacture having been lost in the course of the artificial process by which they are prepared for use, and from the many circuitous channels by which they find their way to the retail dealer. Self-interest is the great incentive to those frauds; and hitherto, the ingenuity of individuals, animated by this principle, has been more than a match for the strictest prohibitions. • The eager and insatiable thirst for gain,', (Mr Accum justly observes), which seems to be a leading characteristic of the 6 times, calls into action every human faculty, and gives an ir• resistible impulse to the power of invention; and where lucre • becomes the reigning principle, the possible sacrifice of a - fellow-creature's life is a secondary consideration.'
Mr Accum having exhibited this general view of his subject, proceeds to enter into an examination of the articles most comsnonly counterfeited, and to explain the nature of the ingredients used in sophisticating them. He commences with a dissertation on the qualities of good Water, in which he briefly points out the dangerous sophistications to which it is liable, from the administration of foreign ingredients. He censures in the strongest terms the practice of keeping water in Leaden reservoirs. The effects of lead, when taken into the stomach, are known to be pernicious in the extreme: and though pure water exercises no perceptible influence on this metal, yet when air is admitted, a portion of the lead is dissolved in the liquid. The white line to be seen in leaden cisterns at the surface, where the metal is acted on by the air and the water, is formed by a dissolution of the lead; and this substance is highly deleterious. It was on this account that leaden conduits were universally proscribed by the ancients for the
According to its different qualities, potable water varies in its power of corroding lead; and though, in its natural state, it may produce little effect, yet, in many cases, when it becomes tinctured in a very slight degree with foreign ingredients, its action on the metal is considerably increased; and Mr Accum relates several examples of whole families being afflicted with painful maladies, from incautiously using water in which lead had been dissolved.
But in the case of water, the adulteration is purely accident. al, which cannot be said of the other articles specified by Mi
Accum. In the making of Bread, more especially in London, various ingredients are occasionally mingled with the dough. To suit the caprice of his customers, the baker is obliged to have his bread light and porous, and of a pure white. It is impossible to produce this sort of bread from flour alone, unless it be of the finest quality. The best flour, however, being mostly used by the biscuit-bakers and pastry-cooks, it is only from the inferior sorts that bread is made; and it becomes necessary, in order to have it of that light and porous quality, and of a fine white, to mix alum with the dough. Without this ingredient, the flour used by the London bakers would not yield so white a bread as that sold in the metropolis. The quantity of alum necessary to be used, depends entirely on the genuineness of the flour, and the quality of the grain from which it is obtained. The smallest quantity which can be employed with effect to make a light, white, and porous bread, is from three to four ounces of alum to a sack of flour, weighing 240 pounds. If the flour happens to be of an inferior quality, or in any degree spoiled, a greater quantity of alum will be required; and herein consists the fraud, that the baker is enabled, by the use of this ingredient, to produce from bad materials bread that is light, white, and porous, but of which the quality does not correspond to the appearance, and thus to impose upon the public. The contrivances adopted to conceal this fraud, are pointed out in the following passage by Mr Accum.
• The baker asserts that he does not put alum into bread; but he is well aware that, in purchasing a certain quantity of flour, he must take a sack of sharp whites (a term given to flour contaminated with a quantity of alum), without which it would be impossible for him to produce light, white, and porous bread, from a half-spoiled material.
• The wholesale mealman frequently purchases this spurious commodity (which forms a separate branch of business in the hands of certain individuals), in order to enable himself to sell his decayed and half-spoiled flour.
• Other individuals furnish the baker with alum mixed up with salt, under the obscure denomination of stuff. There are wholesale manufacturing chemists, whose sole business is to crystallize alum, in such a form as will adapt this salt to the purpose of being mixed in a crystalline state with the crystals of common salt, to disguise the character of the compound. The mixture called stuff, is composed of one part of alum, in minute crystals, and three of common sålt.
There is another substance, namely, subcarbonate of ammonia, made use of by bakers, in order to produce light and porous bread from spoiled flour; and this salt being volatilized during the process of baking, not a vestige of it remains in the
It is a
bread. Potatoes are likewise constantly used by many bakers; and we have heard it asserted on good authority, that by this admixture the bread is improved. In this case, then, it is only a pecuniary fraud which is practised on the public, the baker charging his customers the same price for potatoes as for flour, though they cost him much less. The small quantity of alum mixed in the bread, as well as the carbonate of magnesia, are also said to be perfectly harmless; so that the adulterations practised in this prime article of subsistence, however disgraceful they may be, do not appear to be dangerous to health.
The same cannot be said in favour of the adulterations practised in the article of Wine, some of which indeed.can scarcely be called adulterations, seeing that, from a variety of base ingredients, there is manufactured an entirely new and most pernicious compound, calculated to defraud those who use it both of their money and their health. In every respect, wine is a most favourable subject for deceptions of this nature. costly article, and it is in universal use; among the poor as a cordial, and among the rich as a luxury. The peculiar qualities too for which wine is prized, are of a delicate nature; and though, by experienced judges, they may be discerned with certainty, the great majority of those who affect a discriminating taste in wines, frequently become the dupes of skilful impositions; and the poor who use wine as a medicine, and usually buy it in retail, must take what is given them, having nothing to trust to but the conscience of the dealer, which has been long rendered callous by the love of gain. Wine, accordingly, appears to be a subject for the most extensive and pernicious frauds.
* All persons (Mr Accum observes) moderately conversant with the subject, are aware, that a portion of alum is added to young and meagre red wines, for the purpose of brightening their colour; that Brazil wood, or the husks of elderberries and bilberries, which are imported from Germany, under the fallacious name of berry dye, are employed to impart a deep rich purple tint to red port of a pale colour ; that gypsum is used to render cloudy white wines transparent; that an additional astringency is imparted to immature red wines by means of oak-wood and sawdust, and the husks of filberts; and that a mixture of spoiled foreign and home-made wines is converted into the wretched compound frequently sold in the metropolis by the name of genuine old Port.'
Other expedients are resorted to in order to give flavour to insipid wines. For this purpose bitter almonds are occasionally employed; factitious port wine is also flavoured with a tincture drawn from the seeds of raisins; and other ingredients are frequently used, such as sweet brier, orris root, clary, cherry laurel water, and elder flowers. All these substances may be purchased by those who know where to apply for them; and even a manuscript receipt-book, containing directions for preparing them, and for managing, or, as the phrase is, for doctoring all sorts of wines, may be obtained on payment of a suitable fee. In London, the sophistication of wine is carried to an enormous extent, as well as the art of manufacturing spurious wine, which has become a regular trade, in which a large capital is invested; and it is well known that many thousand pipes of spoiled cider are annually sent to the metropolis for the purpose of being converted into an imitation of port-wine. That frauds of this nature have been of long standing, appears from a passage in the Tatler, quoted by Mr Accum, in which it is stated, that there is in the metropolis ' a certain fraternity of chemical operators who work under ground in holes, caverns, and dark retirements.'--" These subterraneous philosophers (it is observed) are daily employed in the transmutation of liquors, and, by the power of magical drugs and incantations, raising under the streets of London the choicest products of the hills and valleys of France.'
Innumerable are the tricks practised to deceive the unwary, by giving to weak, thin, and spoiled wines, all the characteristic marks of age, and also of flavour and strength. In carrying on these illicit occupations, the division of labour has been completely established; each has his own task assigned him in the confederate work of iniquity; and thus they acquire dexterity for the execution of their mischievous purposes. To one class is allotted the task of crusting, which consists in lining the interior surface of empty wine bottles with a red crust. This is accomplished by suffering a saturated hot solution of supertartrate of potash, coloured red with a decoction of Brazil-wood to crystallize within them. A similar operation is frequently performed on the wooden cask which is to hold the wine, and which, in the same manner as the bottle, is artificially stained with a red crust; and on some occasions the lower extremities of the corks in wine bottles are also stained red, in crder to give them the appearance of having been long in contact with the wine. It is the business of a particular class of wine-coopers,
means of an astringent extract mixed with home-made and foreign wines, to produce "genuine old port,' or to give an artificial flavour and colour to weak wine; while the mellowing and restoring of spoiled white wines is the occupation of another class called refiners of wine. Other deceptions are practised by fraudulent dealers, which are still more culpable. The most dangerous of these is where wine is adulterated by an admixture of lead. It is certain that some preparations of this metal pos