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TWELFTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, April 3rd, 1865.
DR. NEVINS, VICE-PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Captain Alexander Cameron, ship Staffordshire, was balloted for and duly elected an Associate, on the recommendation of the Council.
Mr. T. J. Moore exhibited an extensive collection of marine specimens, collected between Liverpool and Valparaiso, in 1864–5, by Captain F. E. Baker, ship Niphon, one of the most zealous and successful collectors among the Associates of the society. The collection has been most kindly presented to the Derby Museum by Captain Baker, with his notes on the latitude and longitude, and such other observations as with a keen eye and quick apprehension he was able to make at the time of the capture of the specimens, of their form and colour, and such habits as they exhibited, when placed for observation in glasses of sea-water. The collection is rich in examples of the marine Polyzoa, Physalia, Velelle, Diphyes, &c., and contains a beautiful specimen of a Physophora, taken in lat. 50 N., lon. 14 W. It is also rich in the smaller forms of Crustacea, both in numbers and species, especially in Amphipoda, Isopoda, and the parasitic Entomostraca. Among Mollusca are many fine examples of Salpide and other Ascidians, several species of Pteropoda, some pretty Nudibranchs (Eolids), a beautifully perfect little Carinaria, and several Firolide. There are also a few small species of fish, and a fine skin of a Coryphene. Altogether the collection, when received, comprised more than one hundred bottles, very many of which contained specimens of several species collected at one haul of the skimming net, by which, indeed, a very large proportion of the collection was obtained.
The Chairman passed a high eulogium on the energy and. skill displayed by Captain Baker, to whom a most cordial vote of thanks was unanimously passed by the meeting, for his exertions in the cause of natural history.
Dr. Edwards exhibited several specimens of gun cotton, manufactured by Messrs. Prentice & Co., Stowmarket, and exhibited its mode of combustion.
A Paper was then read by Mr. J. M‘Farlane Gray, on “Building Society Reform."
This paper was listened to with considerable interest and attention. Several gentlemen connected with building societies were present, and at its conclusion a discussion followed, in which they took part.
THIRTEENTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, 17th April, 1865.
J. A. PICTON, Esq., F.S.A., PRESIDENT, in the Chair.
Previous to this meeting, according to notice, an
was held, to consider a recommendation of the Council, relating to the Gallery of Inventions and Science.
In consequence of a communication from the Committee of Management of the Gallery, alleging a co-trusteeship on the part of the Literary and Philosophical Society with the other learned Societies in the management of that institution, the Council was anxious to submit to the Society, for re-consideration, the question of a grant of ten pounds from its funds, in aid of the funds of the Gallery.
The question having been put, and a discussion having taken place among the members present, the motion was again negatived, by twelve votes against four.
At the ORDINARY MEETING which followed, Mr. William M'Cheane, M.R.C.S., and Mr. W. J. Baker, were balloted for, and duly elected members of the society.
The following Paper was then read:
THE HISTORY AND PROGRESS
OF THE MANUFACTURE OF BEET-ROOT SUGAR,
By MR. A. BARUCHSON.
Sugar, whether we regard it as an article of food or commerce, is unquestionably one of the most valuable vegetable products with which civilised man has become acquainted. Sugar, as you all know, is a sweet granulated substance, the product of certain kinds of cane and of other plants. It is now everywhere in extensive use, and in this country ranks rather among the indispensable necessaries of life than among luxuries, and in point of commercial importance may be said to be second to very few commodities; in fact the relative consumption of sugar, if the cost in all countries including duty were alike, would be a test, if not of comparative civilisation, at all events of the prosperity and popular well-being of the nation. The present average consumption per head is as follows: United Kingdom,
.40lb. per head. Belgium,
... 71b. France,
..16lb. German League,
3 lb. Sardinia,..
1 lb. Exceptional causes sometimes prevail to disturb a generally received theorem. Belgium, although highly prosperous, appears to consume less sugar than France and Holland;
this may in part be attributed to absurd fiscal regulations, whereby consumption is lessened, and in part to a system of evasion practised by the refiners; consequently, the quantity on which duty is paid for consumption should not be taken as the quantity actually consumed. There is also good reason to suppose that the general use of sugar in Europe has had the effect of extinguishing scurvy, and many other diseases, formerly epidemical.
Monsieur Basset, in the preface of his very able work, Guide Pratique des fabricants de Sucre, states it as his opinion, that if sugar were so reduced in price, by the reduction or entire absence of Customs duties, that its use could be largely extended among the lower classes, the consumption of spirituous liquors would be diminished thereby. This, however, is an Utopian idea, as, notwithstanding that the use of sugar in England is on the average three-fold that of any other nation in Europe, the consumption of strong drinks is, I am sorry to say, equally large in proportion.
The uneasiness with which every rise in the price of this article is looked upon proves to what extent it has entered into our daily wants, and how difficult it would be to dispense with its use.
We are not aware that there are any very authentic accounts when Sugar first began to be used in England. It was imported in small quantities from Venice and Genoa in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but in England it appears that honey was then, and for a long time after, employed in sweetening liquors. Sir John Hawkins, on his return from St. Domingo, from a slavery expedition, brought with him considerable quantities in 1563.
Its use in England was chiefly confined to medicine until 1580, when it was brought from Brazil to Portugal, and thence to this country. Sugar, in common with many of our modern articles, came through the Apothecaries' hands to become an essential