« PrécédentContinuer »
it is called dhourra. The great Indian millet (holcus sorghum) is the one which we have spoken of; but, independently of this, there is another, the common millet, which is grown in Europe, but not for human food. In England, we use a millet-seed (holcus sorghum saccharatus) for puddings; this variety is a native of India, and is extensively cultivated in China.
The next article mentioned is Sago, which is the pith of a tree growing in the Eastern Archipelago. This pith affords the ferina, which forms the bread of the Moluccas. The most proper period for extracting the pith varies according to circumstances connected with the nature of the soil on which it is grown, age of the tree, &c.: it is commonly taken, as occasion requires, in any of six stages of the progress of the medullary substance. But the surest test, as practised in the Moluccas, is to ascertain the state of the pith by actual experiment: this is done by boring a hole through the stem, extracting a piece of the pith, and examining its degree of matureness. When it is pronounced to have arrived at the most favourable condition, the trunk is felled down close to the root. It is then cut transversely into pieces of about six or seven feet in length; these are split into two parts, disclosing the medullary substance with which they are filled; and which is scooped out and beaten into a coarse powder resembling saw-dust, by means of an instrument made of bamboo, or some hard wood. In this state it is put into a trough, and mixed with water, and when in combination, the mixture is strained through a sieve fixed at one end of the trough, by which means the fibrous parts remain behind, and the water, charged with the farina, passes through into a second vessel, where it is left for subsidence. The farinaceous matter falls to the bottom, and the supernatant water is drawn off. It must then be subjected once or twice more to the same process, when it will be sufficiently purified and fit for use.
The sago of commerce is in the form of coriander seeds, but this granular appearanee is given artificially, by making the finest sago meal into a thick paste with water.
Cassava forms the food of the people of Madagascar and of Brazil, and is a native of South America, where it is largely cultivated. Arrow-root is another native of South America, and is now much cultivated in the West Indies for commerce. When the roots are a old they are fit to be employed in the production of this well known powder. They are cleaned, and then grated into a pulp in wooden mortars. In this state the pulp is put into clear water, and intimately mixed with the fluid. The farinaceous parts are thus washed off into the water, while the fibrous portion is separated. This is collected together, and when the moisture is pressed from it, is thrown aside. The white turbid fluid which remains is left for subsidence, after being strained through a hair sieve in order entirely to free it from all fibrous particles. The supernatant liquor is then drawn off, leaving the starchy matter in a pasty mass at the bot
tom. Fresh water is added to this; the mixture is again left at rest, and the water drawn off as before. Where much particularity is used in the preparation, this process is repeated a third time, and yet oftener, that every extraneous matter may be dissolved or washed away, leaving the starch in a state of purity. When this desired object is obtained, the moisture is evaporated by placing it on clean cloths, and exposing it to the influence of the sun. When thoroughly dried it is fit for use. It will keep for a great length of time without spoiling.
A new species of arrow-root, obtained from an Indian plant, which is nearly as good as that from the West Indies, is brought to this country.
The cocoa-nut tree, of the cultivation and uses of the various parts and products of which we have here an excellent account, contributes more than many thousands of other plants to the necessities and comforts of man. A beautiful use of botanical knowledge is exemplified in the adage of the Hindu agriculturists, respecting the cultivation of this tree. They represent it as possessed of the faculty of speech, and that every plant of this genus enjoins upon its owner the duty which is implied in the following address: "Water me continually during my youth, and I will quench thy thirst abundantly during the whole course of my life." "Amongst the products before alluded to are the following:
"Toddy, a well-known fermented liquor of the East, and mirra, a much milder beverage than toddy, having neither acidity nor spirit, are both drawn from the flower-bud or spatha. From toddy, the best arrack of the East is distilled, and from mirra, a kind of sugar called jagery is obtained. 'From the fibrous husk, or outer shell of the nut, that part which lies within the smooth covering, a cordage is manufactured, which nearly equals that of hemp in strength, while it is not liable to be injured by immersion in sea water.
'The kernel of the nut and the milk within, are both used as agreeable and nutritious aliment, and are too well known to need description. A large proportion of fixed oil is contained in the kernel, which is used in the East and in South America, and is exported largely from Ceylon to this country, where it is an article of increasing consumption.
The leaves are used entire as mats for sleeping upon. through the middle they are woven into mats for covering sheds and houses. On the coast of Malabar, even for the largest edifices, these mats are applied to this purpose. Such roofs are considered preferable to those formed of straw, as they are lighter, equally strong, and more durable, while they do not attract rats and reptiles like the latter. The finer nerves of the leaflets are woven into mats for the floors of the wealthy.'
The manner of obtaining the toddy and mirra are afterwards described, and would prove, if we could copy the account, highly interesting to the reader. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs, pepper, and ginger, form the subjects of the next four chapters. It is well known that this latter article is the root of a plant, and that the period when it is taken up for the purpose of commerce, is, just before it has be
gun to put out any portion of the stem, being at that time succulent, whereas, if the plant is allowed to go to maturity it becomes fibrous, and would not answer the purpose for which it is employed. In preparing the root, the following method is adopted. The young tubers are dug up and are immediately scalded, then washed in cold water, and peeled. The operation requires three or four days for its completion, the water being frequently changed during that time. The roots being cleansed, are now placed in jars and covered with a weak syrup, in which they are allowed to remain for two days, at the end of which period this is poured off and replaced by a stronger syrup. This operation is repeated two or three times, at each time the syrup being made stronger, until it becomes of a rich and thick consistency, and the ginger appears bright and nearly transparent. The removed syrups are not wasted; these are made into a pleasant beverage which is known in the West-Indies under the name of "cool drink."
After giving an account of pimento and cardamom seeds, the author proceeds to consider the cultivation of the Indigo tree. The colouring matter called indigo, is too well known to require any description here. It is the feculent pulp separated from the plant-it resides principally, and in some species entirely, in the leaves; the whole plant is, however, usually submitted to the process for obtaining the dye. This is either effected by means of fermentation or scalding; the after process, likewise, differs in different places, and from each particular manner good indigo has been obtained. The quantity of indigo consumed in Europe, renders this an important article of commerce, and the exquisite shades of difference by which it is distinguished in price and quality, are proofs that the places where it is manufactured are particularly numerous.
Opium, its history and use in modern times, form the subject of a very curious chapter in this work. It is produced in British India, and its production and sale are monopolized by the East India Company. This drug is also cultivated in Turkey, and this is the sort which is preferred for medicinal purposes in this country. It is a curious fact, that, though opium is severely prohibited from use by the laws of China, still, that country forms the chief consumer for the opium produced in India. There never was an example more striking than this of the omnipotence of inclination over human laws. Opium, in fact, is the gin or whiskey of the Chinese; and the very attempt of the government to stop its consumption gives an additional zest to it in their eyes as a luxury. It appears from parliamentary returns, that the exportation of this article to China is considerably on the increase, and this assertion receives a strong confirmation from the statement of Mr. Lindsay, (see our article in this number, on the "Experiment made to open an Intercourse with China").
The remaining portion of the work is dedicated to an account of
senna, camphor, rhubarb, aloes, and star-aniseed, which do not require any particular remark.
By the notice which we have now given of this very valuable production, we are by no means satisfied that we have conveyed any adequate impression of the extent of the labour employed in research, the learning, the ability, and sound judgment which are to be found in it. Simple as the subjects of the work appear to be, yet are they, in their origin, in their history, and use, burdened with great complexity and confusion. Mr. Porter has completely emancipated them from this state of disorder, and has given to his country, not merely a means of striking out a new resource for her agricultural industry, but an authentic text book for the medical faculty, for mothers, and every other person interested in the consideration of the virtues of the vegetable kingdom.
ART. VII.-Old Bailey Experience, Criminal Jurisprudence, and the actual working of our Penal Code of Laws; also an Essay on Prison Discipline, to which is added, a History of the Crimes committed in the present day. By the Author of " the Schoolmaster's Experience in Newgate." Thick 8vo. 1 vol. London: Fraser. 1833.
THERE is a great deal of information in this work calculated to throw light on that deeply important national question, the state of crime in this country. The author begins by a development of the fundamental principle, that it is to the absence of an efficient system of education that we owe, to a great extent, the number and enormity of the crimes which are annually committed in this country. He then lays down a plan for a better system of education, and for a certain means of giving the poor employment. The prisoners of Newgate form the next subject of investigation, and the author inquires, if the object of our penal code be to prevent crime, have our measures for that purpose been attended with success. He answers in the negative, and shews, that, not only does the present system of punishment fail in repressing crime, but that it encourages, or at least does not oppose, the absolute increase of it, inasmuch as the fact stands undisputed, that it has progressed nearly in the proportion of one-fourth in seven years. Amongst the abuses to be particularly reformed are, the courts at the Old Bailey, from which the author contends, that an Appeal Court should be, without delay, instituted. He complains of the indecent and rapid manner in which the trials are usually conducted, and has made a calculation during several sessions, of the average period of each. The result is, that eight minutes and a half is the duration of a trial at the Old Bailey. There are some other reasons also given by the author to justify his proposal of a Court of Appeal.
The power of pardoning, as it is at present exercised, is treated by
the author in such a manner as proves his intimate acquaintance with the whole subject. An important exposure is made by him respecting the chances of pardon, for he shews that influence, more than the merits of the prisoner, generally obtains his pardon. This is done principally by interest, which comes directly in its application to what is called "Mr. Capper's office," that gentleman being the superintendant of convicts, and being placed at the head of the department which orders the removal of them, after conviction, from the different prisons throughout the kingdom, and the shifting them from hulk to hulk, as occasion may require; also, the drafting and sending them on board the transport ships, to be conveyed to the colonies. This office is a depository of the books, in which a register of all these transactions is kept. Here petitions addressed to his majesty, or the principal secretary of state for the home department, must be delivered, if the matter regard convicts or prisoners under a sentence of a court of law. Personal application, also, may be made here on behalf of any prisoner confined in London or the country; but beyond this boundary none can pass, unless persons of some consequence, and having an introduction, when an interview may be obtained with Mr. Phillipps, the under secretary, who stands immediately as a barrier between Mr. Capper and the chief secretary. Access may be had to Mr. Capper every day when he is in town, at this office, from ten to four, and every information obtained relating to convicts-particularly the course to be adopted in any view one may have in assisting a prisoner, whether it is for staying him in this country, or urging his speedy embarkation for the colonies. Full one moiety of the petitions sent into this office relate merely to these points.
As an illustration of the truth of what the author states on this point, he tells us that he has a letter from an "honourable who had been solicited to do an act of justice, by laying before the secretary a case of gross injury under a sentence, in which he (the honourable) says, "I commiserate the situation of the prisoner, and regret that I cannot be of any use to him, as I have no interest with the present administration." This request was made at the time the Reform question was before the House of Commons, and the family of the honourable were vehemently opposing the measure. The reply shews the impression on the writer's mind was, that, under the present pardon-power, not merits, but interest only, could avail the applicant; and he concluded by saying, " that, perhaps an application from him might injure the prisoner's cause."
One of the most important conclusions respecting the power of pardoning which the author has arrived at, is, that so little discrimination and judgment are employed in the selection of the convicts who are to undergo execution, that a large majority of the malefactors chosen for capital punishment by the council, consists of very different individuals from those whom the city authorities giving in the reports, believe from their knowledge of the cases to be the