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During the past year the State Board of Health of New York, in pursuance of a law of recent date, caused to be analyzed four hundred and seventy-six samples of Malt Liquors, which were found to be perfectly pure and wholesome, and to contain neither hop-substitutes nor any deleterious
(See Sixth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of N. Y.)
THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THEM,
Under ordinary circumstances trade competition rarely has the effect of an incentive to adulteration. On the other hand, it generally acts as a preventive of fraudulent practices on the part of manufacturers. This is almost invariably the case where those articles of food and drink are concerned, the qualities of which can easily be determined by every one's sense of taste. Where deception is practiced upon the eye, as, for instance, in the coloring of tea or coffee, adulteration may not be easily discoverable save to the professional "taster;” but where the palate comes into play there is usually little room for deception, and therefore the manufacturer, who desires to hold and increase the number of his customers, will strive to outstrip his competitors in manufacturing an article of superior quality. As a matter of course, the question of profit enters very largely into all industrial efforts of a competitive nature, but unless abnormal conditions prevail, a manufacturer cannot afford to sacrifice the quality of his product to the cheapness of it. And there is all the less justification or occasion for it in any case in which the retail price of an article is as immutably fixed by custom and a tacit understanding as is the price of a glass of beer.
In the manufacture of articles of food and drink adulteration is the exception-a very rare one at that—and the predominant opinion among chemists and physicians seems to sustain the
view expressed by a well-known writer in a recent number of The Century, * who says:
It must not be rashly ipferred from the items which from time to time are published that everything which we purchase in the way of food or drink is bad or adulterated. Probably if the proportion of adulterated articles to the whole number of sales could be calculated, it would be found to be small ; and if those articles which are really dangerous were only reckoned, the proportion would be still smaller.
This assertion is more justly applicable to malt liquors than to any other article of food or drink; nevertheless there is no article that enters into the ordinary diet of modern man, the manufacturers of which are more frequently or more vehemently attacked on the score of alleged adulterations than the American brewers. One need not look far, nor search long for an explanation of this anomaly. Prohibitionists appreciate the fact that the most formidable enemy of their cause is the well-founded popular belief, that the use of fermented drinks may be made to serve all the legitimate purposes of a true temperance movement. And they also know that this belief is not merely a sacred heritage bequeathed to us by our Revolutionary forefathers who, like Madison, Jefferson, Rush and innumerable others of equal emia nence, advocated the introduction of breweries and vineyards, but that after a century's trial it has developed into a fixed principle, sustained by practical experience and scientific research. Prohibitionists know, furthermore, that Dr. Letheby expresses the opinion of ninety-nine per cent. of all reasonable men of our age, when, in his work “On Food,” he says with regard to fermented liquors, that "there is a universal indication of their serving a profound physiological purpose and supplying a common want.” + Appreciating the futility of any attempt to swim
* Elwyn Waller, in the The Century of December, 1885.
t. “On Food,” by H. Letheby (N. Y., 1872), page 90. On the same page we read: “It is no argument that because these things have been abused, they serve no purpose in man's economy. On the contrary, the fact of their use in all time, and that no saccharine liquid, or juice of ripe fruit, can be exposed to the air without spontaneous and almost immediate fermentation, are striking evidences of design for some useful purpose. They may not enter into the composition of tissues, but they may stimulate the energies of the living frame, and rouse them into increased activity,
and his resort to such beverages as these may be for something more than the nourishment of the system, or even the mere rousing of his spirit above the common concerns of this work-o'-day world."
“All this looks like the influence of some deep-seated necessity, which our philosophy is unable to fathom, and which science has yet to explore."
against such a strong current of popular and scientific opinion, our Prohibitionists, with more ingenuity than honesty, adopted two distinct methods of furthering their cause. Admitting the harmlessness of malt liquors per se, they pretend to have unearthed statistics showing that three-fourths of all beer-drinkers end by becoming whiskey-drinkers, if not drunkards. This claim is an absurdity on its face, of course.
But it finds advocates among men of whom better might be expected. On the 14th of February, 1886, Rev. W. C. Crafts, in a lecture held in the City of New York, said: “Beer is now chiefly the beginning. That ceases to satisfy, then comes strong drink, vice and crime. So far from weaning men from whiskey, lager beer wins them to it."
The learned gentleman undoubtedly believes what he said, but his own credulity cannot change the fact that he uttered a falsehood, easily exposed by a simple reference to the revenue returns, which show a most remarkable decrease in the consumption of ardent spirits and a corresponding increase of malt liquors.
This is one method. The other is much simpler, though quite as contemptible. It imposes upon every Prohibitionist the duty of defaming the brewing industry by circulating the assertionbolstered up by forged reports on beer-analyses—that malt liquors are an execrable compound of coculus indicus, quassia, aloe, strychnine, bi-carbonate of soda and bi-sulphite of lime, with not a particle of malt or hops in it. Without a shadow of evidence, even in the face of exhaustive analyses showing the absolute contrary, this assertion is being circulated by every means, foul or fair, and the brewers are practically powerless in the matter. At their 25th Convention, as at nearly every preceding one, the brewers challenged examination of their product in these words* :
“We have from time to time invited investigation, and as our invitation was rarely acted upon by our defamers, we have ourselves caused our product to be examined for the benefit of the public. The brewers were always willing to help such examinations, but they cannot, of course, consent to making their business the foot-ball either of zealots or of persons whose only object is to secure pecuniary profit, of one kind or another, at our expense. We are more
* Proceedings of the Twenty-fifth Convention of the U. S. Brewers' Association, 1885. Page 26.