« السابقةمتابعة »
which are requisite in their formation, furnish such facilities for their sophistication. The very industry and busy activity of such a society, exposes it more and more to such impostures;—and by the division of labour which takes place, and confines every man to his own separate task, brings him into a complete dependence on the industry of others for a supply of the most necessary articles. It is quite impossible that articles of daily use can be subjected to such tests as will effectually try whether or not they are adulterated with foreign ingredients. Such an analysis would, in most cases, require a very nice chemical process; and, even if it were practicable, nobody has time or patience to apply it. The honesty of the dealer, and of the original manufacturer, is therefore the only security to the public for the genuineness of the articles in which he deals. The consumer can in general know nothing of their component parts; he must take them as he finds them; and, even if he is dissatisfied, he has in general no effectual means of redress. Among a people of primitive habits, and of limited knowledge, deception would neither be easy nor profitable. It would not be worth while to cheat such a race of homely consumers out of the little which they lay out in the gratification of their simple wants. It is only in the valuable products manufactured to pamper luxury and wealth, that articles can be found which it becomes profitable to counterfeit; and it is only in a highly refined community where improvements abound, and where wealth and ingenuity are widely diffused, that fraud, finding everywhere agents ready to execute its nefarious purposes, can be prosecuted on a great scale.
It will accordingly be found, that as crimes of violence decrease with the progress of society, frauds are multiplied; and that there springs up in every prosperous country a race of degenerate traders and manufacturers, whose business is to cheat and to deceive; who pervert their talents to the most dishonest purposes, preferring the illicit gains thus acquired to the fair profits of honourable dealing; and counterworking, by their sinister arts, the general improvement of society. Every one is aware of the extensive frauds to which the modern device of paper currency has given rise; and how much talent, ingenuity and address, has been prostituted to the unworthy purpose of manufacturing, and sending into circulation, counterfeit bank notes. The practice of forgery has increased of late years to an alarming extent, even under all the terrors of the Criminal law; and the various contrivances which have, from time to time, been adopted, to render imitation difficult, and easy of detection, have been rivalled, and even outdone, by the illicit dealers in this counterfeit article. ln like manner, in almost every branch of manufac
ture, there are fraudulent dealers, who are instigated by the thirst of gain to debase the articles which they vend to the public, and to exact a high price for what is comparatively cheap and worthless. After pointing out various deceptions of this nature, Mr Accum, the ingenious author of the work before us, proceeds in his account of those frauds in the following terms.
The same system of adulteration extends to articles used in various trades and manufactures. For instance, linen tape, and various other household commodities of that kind, instead of being manufactured of linen thread only, are made up of linen and cotton. Colours for painting, not only those used by artists, such as ultramarine, carmine, and lake, Antwerp blue, chrome yellow, and Indian ink; but also the coarser colours used by the common house-painter, are more or less adulterated. Thus, of the latter kind, white lead is mixed with carbonate or sulphate of barytes ; vermilion with red lead.
• Soap used in house-keeping is frequently adulterated with a considerable portion of fine white clay, brought from St Stephens in Cornwall. In the manufacture of printing paper, a large quantity of plaster of Paris is added to the paper stuff, to increase the weight of the manufactured article. The selvage of cloth is often dyed with a permanent colour, and artfully stitched to the edge of cloth dyed with a fugitive dye. The frauds committed in the tanning of skins, and in the manufacture of cutlery and jewellery, exceed belief.' pp. 27–29.
What is infinitely worse, however, than any of those frauds, sophistications, we are informed, are carried on to an equal extent in all the essential articles of subsistence or comfort. So long as our dishonest dealers do not intermeddle with these things, their deceptions are comparatively harmless; the evil in all such cases amounting only to so much pecuniary damage. But when they begin to tamper with food, or with articles connected with the table, their frauds are most pernicious: In all cases the nutritive quality of the food is injured, by the artificial ingredients intermixed with it; and when these ingredients, as frequently happens, are of a poisonous quality, they endanger the health and even the life of all to whom they are vended. We cannot conceive any thing more diabolical than those contrivances; and we consider their authors in a far worse light than ordinary felons, who, being known, can be duly guarded against. But those fraudulent dealers conceal themselves under the fair show of a reputable traffic--they contrive in this manner to escape the infamy which justly belongs to them—and, under the disa guise of wealth, credit, and character, to lurk in the bosom of society, wounding the hand that cherishes them, and scattering around them poison and death.
It is chiefly for the purpose of laying open the dishonest ar
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 public. 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 food; 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 manufacture 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 • 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 commonly 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 conveyance of water. 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 accidente 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 salt.' pp. 13-15.
There is another substance, namely, subcarbonate of ammonia, made use of by bakers, in order to produce light and pofous bread from spoiled flour; and this salt being volatilized during the process of baking, not a vestige of it remains in the