Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/41

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31
DIETETIC CURIOSITIES.

The effect of this hemp-extract is compared to hydrophobia: its votaries are seized with rage and restlessness, and if the paroxysm is upon them seize a knife, a stone, or anything that will serve for a weapon, and rush out to commit indiscriminate assaults, continuing to "run amuck," as the Malays term it, till the stimulating power of the drug has spent itself, or till their career is stopped by a well-aimed shot. In Batavia and other cities of the Dutch Indies there used to be a standing reward for the slaying of a "muck-runner," but even such a man as Ibrahim Pasha was not ashamed to stimulate the courage of his soldiers by the use of the detestable poison. The hasheesh-habit originated in Asia Minor, but is now practiced throughout northern Africa down to the Abyssinian valleys, and has spread eastward to the Malay Archipelago, and even to Siam, where its further progress was arrested by the determined action of the Siamese Government.

A frugal diet has this additional advantage, that simple food is in less danger of adulteration, or must at least be imitated by equally simple and harmless substitutes. Watered milk or lard mixed with corn-meal is certainly annoying, but hardly injurious, and is a trifle altogether if compared with the abominations that are half consciously consumed by the lovers of imported delicacies and expensive stimulants. Dr. Stenhouse, of Liverpool, analyzed a suspicious sample of tea, with the following result, published in the "Planters' Price Current" of February, 1871: The package contained some pure congou-tea leaves, also siftings of pekoe and inferior kinds, weighing together twenty-seven per cent, of the whole. The remaining seventy-three per cent, were composed of the following adulterants: Iron, plumbago, chalk, china clay, sand, prussian blue, turmeric, indigo, starch, gypsum, catechu, gum, the leaves of the camellia, sarangua, Chlorantes officinalis, elm, oak, willow, poplar, elder, beach, hawthorn, and sloe.

There is hardly any article of food in general use which has not somewhere been converted into a stimulant by the process of fermentation. What else are whisky, rum, beer, etc., but fermented or distilled bread, the bread-corn diverted from its legitimate use to produce an artificial stimulant? Potatoes, sugar, honey, as well as grapes, plums, apples, cherries, and innumerable other fruits, have thus been turned from a blessing into a curse. The Moors of Barbary and Tripoli distill an ardent spirit from the fruit of the date-palm, the Brazilians from the marrow of the sago-tree and from pineapples, and even the poor berries that manage to ripen on the banks of the Yukon have to furnish a poison for the inhabitants of Alaska. Pulque, the national drink of Mexico, is derived from a large variety of the aloe-plant, the sap of which is collected and fermented in buckskin sloughs into a turbid yellowish liquor of most vicious taste.

Cheese, in fact, is nothing but coagulated milk in a more or less advanced state of decay. Sauerkraut is cabbage in the first stage of fermentation, which if completed yields quass, the above-mentioned Rus-