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gravel with it. But all physicians are not chemists like Mr. Accum; although chemists, of Mr. Accum's knowledge and experience, ought not, in the hurry of writing, to forget of what stuff these concretions are made.
The remarks on the presence of lead in water are more important; and, though this is well known to chemists and physicians, it is not sufficiently matter of general notoriety to the public to supersede the utility of the observations in question. The following is pretty nearly the only useful truth in the book.
• Water, which has no sensible action, in its natural state, upon lead, may acquire the capability of acting on it by heterogeneous matter, which it may accidentally receive. Numerous instances have shewn that vegetable matter, such as leaves, falling into leaden cisterns filled with water, imparted to the water a considerable solvent power of action on the lead, which in its natural state it did not possess. Hence the necessity of keeping leaden cisterns clean; and this is the more necessary, as their situations expose them to accidental impurities.'
Fortunately, accidents from this cause are extremely rare; the specific gravity of the salt of lead thus generated, causing it to subside to the bottom of the cistern in which this effect may have taken place.
'If to debase the current coin of the realm be denounced as a capital offence, what punishment should be awarded against a practice which converts into poison a liquor used for sacred purposes !'
That sacred' liquor is wine; and Mr. Accum specifies a number of ingredients, which are employed in the spurious manufacture of wines of various names and qualities: some of these sophistications are, however, not only innocent but necessary, since they are used in the wine countries to impart those qualities which are held essential to the flavour and appearance of the best wines. Mr. Accum ought to know this, if he has read the works whence his matter is extracted, for the purpose of understanding them, and not for that of filling a page and frightening his audience with a formidable array of hard words.
All persons 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 colours; that Brazil wood, or the husks of elderberries and bilberries, are employed to impart a deep rich purple tint to red port of a pale, faint 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 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 this town by the name of genuine old port. Various expedients are resorted to for the purpose of communicating particular flavours to in
sipid wines. Thus a nutty flavour is produced by bitter almonds: factitious port wine is flavoured with a tincture drawn from the seeds of raisins; and the ingredients employed to form the bouquet of high flavoured wines, are sweet brier, orris root, clary, cherry laurel water, and elder flowers.'
We shall not quarrel with our wine merchant for such 'doctoring' as this; but we have as great a repugnance to lead in our wine as in our water.
The most dangerous adulteration of wine is by some preparations of lead, which possess the property of stopping the progress of acescence of wine and also of rendering white wines, when muddy, transparent. I have good reason to state that lead is certainly employed for this purpose. The effect is very rapid; and there appears to be no other method known, of rapidly recovering ropy wines. Wine merchants persuade themselves, that the minute quantity of lead employed for that purpose is perfectly harmless, and that no atom of lead remains in the wine: but chemical analysis proves the contrary; and the practice of clarifying spoiled white wines by means of lead, must be pronounced as highly deleterious.'
We believe, however, that the adulteration of wine by lead is extremely rare; unless incidentally, by the entanglement of shot in the bottles which have been cleaned by this expedient. It is true enough that it was once used for the purposes stated by Mr. Accum, particularly in Paris; but to represent it as now in use, is one of the evils of quoting for effect, without examination. The poisonous nature of this metal is at present well understood; and, bad as the age may be, we verily believe that there is not a concocter of wines to be found, who would deliberately scatter the seeds of disease and death among those who contribute to his emolument.'
From wine to bread. This, according to Mr. Accum,
Is one of the sophistications of the articles of food most commonly practised in this metropolis, where the goodness of bread is estimated entirely by its whiteness. It is therefore usual to add a certain quantity of alum to the dough; this improves the look of the bread very much, and renders it whiter and firmer. Good white and porous bread may certainly be manufactured from good wheaten flour alone, but to produce the degree of whiteness rendered indispensible by the caprice of the consumers in London, it is necessary (unless the very best flour is employed) that the dough should be bleached: and no substance has hitherto been found to answer this purpose better than alum.
If the alum be omitted, the bread has a slight yellowish grey hue, as may be seen in the instance of what is called home made bread of private families. Such bread remains longer moist than bread made with alum; yet it is not so light, and full of eyes, or porous, and it has also a different taste.'
On examining this matter, according to the statement furnished in another page, it would also appear that the quantity of alum thus introduced into London bread, amounts to about ten or eleven grains in the pound. We cannot put our medical knowledge in competition with Mr. Accum's, but we do not suppose that any very bad effects can result, even from the daily use of so small a quantity of a substance which, notwithstanding its sensible properties, does not appear to exert any great action on the animal economy, even in larger doses. If however, after Mr. Accum's exposition of this fact, the good people of London are determined to go on eating alum for the purpose of gratifying their eyes instead of their palates, we do not see how it can be helped. If a law is made to prevent bread from being mixed with alum, there should, in justice, be a clause added to prevent bakers from selling or making white bread; as, in the lamentable case, after quoted, of argillaceous lozenges, if catarrhal ladies and gentlemen are determined to have Patirosa or Tolu cakes at sixpence a pound when the price of sugar is a shilling, they must be content to eat pipe-clay.
From bread, Mr. Accum, who is somewhat desultory in his motions, wanders to beer. This hell-broth,' if we are to believe him, is composed of the following ingredients: malt, hops, liquorice, treacle, burnt sugar, salt, cocculus indicus, capsicum, copperas, alum, quassia, opium, tobacco, nux vomica, hartshorn shavings, orange powder, grains of paradise, carraway seeds, ginger, oil of vitriol, coriander seeds, and multum, or rather omnium. We can further inform Mr. Accum, that it is clarified with halibut, conger eel, and sundry appurtenances of fish, which (as his Majesty's subjects do not choose to eat them) they are very properly compelled to swallow in the shape of soup. That Mr. Accum did not know this, is a proof that his knowledge is all derived from the newspapers. He was bound to study his subject at least before writing his book-but we are tired of ale, and pretty nearly tired of Accum; and must refresh ourselves with a drop of brandy.
Here again we meet with our old enemies, subacetate of lead and alum, grains of paradise, Guinea pepper, and capsicum! But the following ingenious process quite surpasses our chemical comprehension.
Take a quarter of an ounce of oil of vitriol, half an ounce of oil of almonds, a quarter of an ounce of oil of turpentine, one ounce of oil of juniper berries, half a pint of spirits of wine, and half a pound of Jump sugar.
Beat or rub the above in a mortar.
When well rubbed together, have
have ready prepared half a gallon of limewater, one gallon rose water, mix the whole in either a pail or cask, with a stick, till every particle shall be dissolved; then add to the foregoing, twenty-five pounds of sugar dissolved in about nine gallons of rain or Thames water, or water that has been boiled; mix the whole well together, and stir them carefully with a stick in the 133 gallons cask.'
We should have conceived that Mr. Accum himself might have been startled by the grinding of fluids in a mortar, and the solution of oil of almonds and turpentine in rose water; and he had thought fit to give it a moment's honest consideration, he must have known that he was quoting innocent nonsense.
As if all this was not enough to satisfy the cravings of the people for that gentle titillation which horrors such as these never fail to excite, there succeeds a list of the following poisons:cheese, pepper, cayenne, pickles, vinegar, cream, comfits, catsup, custard, anchovy sauce, lozenges, oil, mustard, lemon acid, mushrooms, and soda water. 'Poison for the King, poison for the Dauphin.' Is it possible that we are still alive, and writing this elucidation of Mr. Accum's labours?
On the important business of cookery, Mr. Accum is culpably brief, particularly as many of his poisons are culinary.' Perhaps the dark secrets of the kitchen are unknown to him. He could not surely have imagined it beneath his dignity to treat of a subject which has employed the pens of Mrs. Rundell, Dr. Hunter, Sir John Hill, Mr. Ude, and the witty author of the Almanach des Gourmands!'
Mr. Accum is for making new laws to prevent poison from being put into catsup, and bole ammoniac into anchovy sauce. But as we have not laws enough for all those who live by the trade of administering them, why not copy the lex Fannia, the lex Didia, Licinia, or, Cornelia, or the enactments of Lepidus and Antius Restio, and put a stop at once to the manufactures of Quin, Harvey, and Zoobditty Much? But what saith Durionius? Etenim quid opus libertate est, si volentibus luxu perire non licet Let, then, the hackney-coachman in this land of liberty enjoy, if he likes it, the pleasing dreams produced by cocculus indicus, and steep his senses in the lethe of Josiah Nibbs or Cratcherode Whiffin; and the coal-heaver burst, with his own consent, of ten gallons of entire butt' a day, a few brief hours before his time! Volenti non fit injuria. Of the frauds of the manufacturers of these articles we would speak in stronger terms than Mr. Accum if it would serve any good purpose; but we are convinced that in most instances they are frauds on the pocket and not on the health of the people. As such they have long been known to the laws, and the laws have done what lay in their power to protect the people, as fast as they have acquired
the requisite information. For the rest, we must say with the law, caveat emptor; and as it is admitted that the respectable brewers make use of no such sophistications, who but the purchaser is to blame if he deals with those who have no reputation, or if he strives to obtain a valuable article at a lower price than it can be honestly produced? If the author's intention has been to do good he has not taken much trouble for that purpose; for we cannot perceive that he has pointed out any thing that was not well known to the whole world.
We do not however imagine that Mr. Accum has done with us yet, or that he means to limit his remarks on the venefico-coquinarian art and mystery,' to plumbean fish sauces and prussiat of custard. On the contrary, we look forward with great appetite to a second volume, more truly culinary than the present; and if he is in want of appropriate emblems for the integuments, or epidermis, of his work, we recommend him to consult those exquisite productions of art which represent the cooking of St. Polycarp and St. Lawrence. He will find them in Fox's Martyrs; unless he should prefer drawing from the more varied stores of Callots' temptation of St. Anthony.
In conclusion: if we could have been serious in the reading of this quintessence of fraud and trash together, which Mr. Accum has contrived to distil out of the newspapers and workshops of the day, we should have been so against our wills, as we should have only added to the unfounded alarms which it seems to have excited in the minds of those who cannot judge of the real value and nature of the statements. Let those, however, who have distressed themselves with vain fears on this subject take comfort. Many matters appear formidable in words, when they are nothings in deed. In these the book abounds. Such as were really worthy of attention we have treated with the attention which they deserved; Some of them but the evils resulting even from these are rare. may, it is true, be guarded against by care; against others no care can perhaps avail: but to live in dread of accidents which occur ten times in a century is to dwell on an imaginary volcano, or to expect, like the hypochondriacal millenarian, that the blast of every trumpet in the streets is about to proclaim the last day.
That every commercial country will contain fraudulent dealers when extreme competition tends to reduce the rate of profit, while the example of great occasional wealth excites to dangerous emulation, is most certain. It is a vice we would gladly see corrected. If it cannot be corrected by the laws, (for law cannot reach every thing,) the evils may be diminished by diffusing information, and exciting attention respecting their nature and the As far as the work before us may serve purpose