Page:Household Words - Volume 12.djvu/35

This page needs to be proofread.


"Familiar in their Mouths as HOUSEHOLD WORDS"- Shakespeare.


HOUSEHOLD WORDS.

 

A WEEKLY JOURNAL.

CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.

 


No. 281.] SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, 1855. Price 2d.
Stamped 3d.


 

OUK COMMISSION. THE disclosures in reference to the adul- teration of Food, Drinks, and Drugs, for which the public are indebted to the vigor and spirit of our contemporary THE LANCET, lately inspired us with the idea of originating a Commission to inquire into the extensive adulteration of certain other articles which it is of the last importance that the country should possess in a genuine state. Every class of the general public was included in this large Commission ; and the whole of the analyses, tests, observations, and ex- periments, were made by that accomplished practical chemist, MR. BULL. The first subject of inquiry was that article of universal consumption familiarly known in England as " Government." Mr. Bull pro- duced a sample of this commodity, purchased about the middle of July in the present year, at a wholesale establishment in Downing Street. The fii'st remark to be made on the sample before the Commission, Mr. Bull observed, was its excessive dearness. There was little doubt that the genuine article could be fur- nished to the public, at a fairer profit to the real producers, for about fifty per cent less than the cost price of the specimen under consideration. In quality, the specimen was of an exceedingly poor and low description ; being deficient in flavor, character, clear- ness, brightness, and almost every other re- quisite. It was what would be popularly termed wishy-washy, muddled, and flat. Mr. Bull pointed out to the Commission, floating on the top of this sample, a volatile ingre- dient, which he considered had no business there. It might be harmless enough, taken into the system at a debating-society, or after a public dinner, or a comic song ; but in its present connection, it was dangerous. It had not improved with keeping. It had come into use as a ready means of making froth, but froth was exactly what ought not to be found at the top of this article, or indeed in any part of it. The sample before the Com- mission, was frightfully adulterated with im- mense infusions of the common weed called Talk. Talk, in such combination, was a rank Poison. He had obtained a precipitate of Corruption from this purchase. He did not mean metallic corruption, as deposits of gold, silver or copper ; but, that species of cor- ruption which, on the proper tests being applied, turned white into black, and black into white, and likewise engendered quanti- ties of parasite vermin. He had tested the strength of the sample, and found it not nearly up to the mark. He had detected the presence of a Grey deposit in one large Department, which produced vacillation and weakness ; indisposition to action to-day, and action upon compulsion to-morrow. He con- sidered the sample, on the whole, decidedly unfit for use. Mr. Bull went on to say, that he had purchased another specimen of the same commodity at an opposition establish- ment over the way, which bore the sign of the British Lion, and proclaimed itself, with the aid of a Brass Band, as "The only genuine and patriotic shop ;" but, that he had found it equally deleterious ; and that he had not succeeded in discovering any dealer in the commodity under consideration who sold it in a genuine or wholesome state. The bitter drug called Public Offices, formed the next subject of inquiry. Mr. Bull pro- duced an immense number of samples of this drug, obtained from shops in Downing Street, Whitehall, Palace Yard, the Strand, and else- where. Analysis had detected in every one of them, from seventy-five to ninety-eight per cent of Noodledom. Noodledom was a deadly poi- son. An over-dose of it would destroy a whole nation, and he had known a recent case where it had caused the death of many thousand men. It was sometimes called .Routine, some- times Gentlemanly Business, sometimes The Best Intentions, and sometimes Amiable Inca- pacity ; but, call it what you would, analysis always resolved it into Noodledom. There was nothing in the whole united domains of the ani- mal,vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, so incom- patible with all the functions of life as Noo- dledom. It was producible with most unfor- tunate ease. Transplant anything from soil and conditions it was fit for, to soil and con- ditions it was not fit for, and you immedi- ately had Noodledom. The germs of self- propagation contained within this baleful poison, were incalculable : Noodledom uni- formly and constantly engendering Noodle- dom, until every available inch of space was over-run by it. The history of the adulteration of the drug now before the VOL. XII. 281