Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/801

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

exposed to all the inclemencies of the seasons. A large and commodious building, fitted up in the neatest and most comfortable manner, was now provided for their reception. In this agreeable retreat they found spacious and elegant apartments, kept with the most scrupulous neatness; well warmed in winter, and well lighted; a good, warm dinner every day, gratis, cooked and served up with all possible attention to order and cleanliness; materials and utensils for those that were able to work; masters gratis for those who required instruction; the most generous pay, in money, for all the labor performed; and the kindest usage from every person, from the highest to the lowest, belonging to the establishment. Here in this asylum for the indigent and unfortunate no ill-usage, no harsh language is permitted. During five years that the establishment has existed, not a blow has been given to any one, not even to a child by his instructor."

This appears like the very expensive scheme of a benevolent Utopian; but, to set my readers at rest on this point, I will anticipate a little by stating that, although at first some expense was incurred, all this was finally repaid, and, at the end of six years, there remained a net profit of one hundred thousand florins "after expenses of every kind, salaries, wages, repairs, etc., had been deducted."

I must not dwell upon his devices for gradually inveigling the lazy creatures into habits of industry, for he understood human nature too well to adopt the jailer's theory, which assumes that every able-bodied man can do a day's work daily, in spite of previous habits. Rumford's patients became industrious ultimately, but were not made so at once.

This development of industry was one of the elements of financial and moral success, and the next in importance was the economy of the commissariat, which depended on Rumford's skillful cookery of the cheapest viands, rendering them digestible, nutritious, and palatable. Had he adopted the dietary of an English workhouse or an English prison, his financial success would have been impossible, and his patients would have been no better fed, nor better able to work.

The staple food was what he calls a "soup," but I find, on following out his instructions for making it, that I obtain a porridge rather than a soup. He made many experiments, and says: "I constantly found that the richness or quality of a soup depended more upon a proper choice of the ingredients, and a proper management of the fire in the combination of these ingredients, than upon the quantity of solid nutritious matter employed; much more upon the art and skill of the cook than upon the sum laid out in the market."

Our vegetarian friends will be interested in learning that at first he used meat in the soup provided for the beggars, but gradually omitted it, and the change was unnoticed by those who ate, and no difference was observable as regards its nutritive value.

In 1790 little, or rather nothing, was known of the chemistry of