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health, and separable, if possible, by the process of drainage. Such are the necessities of the case.'
Now the first problem involves an impossibility, since the use of any quantity of lead, however small, invariably leaves a residuum of lead in the filtered liquor, and chemists can well account for the fact. The second problem, therefore, is the one, the solution of which accomplishes the desired result; for the removal of the lead, therefore, chemists usually employ hydrosulphuric acid gas, an agent which effects the object only by spoiling the sugar. And the progress of discovery was impeded for a time by the chemical error of attributing this disaster to the wrong cause, namely, to the lead, and not to the gas. The next agent employed for the purpose of removing or converting the lead, was sulphuric acid. Here the difference betwixt the laboratory and the manufactory strikingly appears. Nothing but the exactness of the former enables the experimentalist accomplish the result. If applied in too small quantities, the result is a residuum of lead, which is both injurious to health, and in boiling destructive to sugar; if in excess, a conversion of the sugar into 'glucose, glucic, melasinic, sacchulmic, sacchumic, acids, &c., takes place.' * The agency of lead then seemed hopeless. Its remarkable action was witnessed, admired, and abandoned until 1839, when Messrs. Gwynne and Young took out a patent for the separation of the excess of lead by means of the diphosphate of lime; an agent which in the laboratory can be made to succeed perfectly,' but which, on the score of expense and uncertainty, is totally inapplicable on a large scale. The result, however, of all these operations, and the experience of chemists at large, went to establish the principle that the acetates of lead of themselves were not injurious to sugar, effected the work of defecation completely, but left unsolved the problem of abstracting the lead without spoiling their own beautiful work.
In July 1847, Dr. Scoffern mastered the problem. The precipitant is sulphurous acid gas, which has been tried on a large scale in the refinery during the intervening period, and the result is the complete removal of the lead, and the establishment of a principle, which must, if rightly and promptly applied, revolutionize the British sugar-growing colonies.
Let us now glance at the subsequent history of this discovery. The inventor put himself in communication with the proprietors of a large sugar refinery in Cork, Messrs. Evans and Thwaites, who thought so highly of the process, that they recommended its being secured to the inventor by patent. It was accordingly patented here and in every country in which one could be obtained. At a great expense the process was carried out on
the premises of these gentlemen, and in January 1849, their house was especially adapted to the new operation. Here the process was carried on upon a large scale, and many scientific and commercial gentlemen, including the representative of a large refining house in London, saw it in full play, and were thoroughly satisfied of its complete success. With respect to the manufacture of sugar, a portion of cane juice was obtained from Barbadoes, and submitted to the agency of the patent, and the result was the extract of 20 per cent. of sugar against 7 per
cent. obtained by the ordinary process abroad. Success having thus far attended the labours of the inventor, a model sugar laboratory, and a model refinery, was built in London, a number of intelligent men were brought together by him, and were sent with full instructions to different parts of the world, British and foreign, to extend the process. Now (will it be believed ?) the real difficulties of the patentee commence. There is no chicanery in nature; conformity to her laws is all that is requisite to elicit a true and satisfactory response ; she has no backstair influence at work to baffle the ingenious and persevering student in his efforts to simplify the machinery for increasing human food, clothing, or the means of locomotion. All this is the invention of man, the growth of selfishness, to be used by man against his fellow, for the aggrandizement of the unit, and the injury of the great aggregate. To the common persecution of men of genius and worth, Dr. Scoffern is no exception; the magnitude of the results of his discovery, however, may, perhaps, be taken as a measure of the magnitude of the obstructions which have been thrown in his way. In an invention of minor import it is sufficient if the craft which it is designed to affect be let loose upon the offending innovator ; but in one designed to promote the welfare of millions, nothing short of the power of Government is deemed sufficient to crush the daring pretender.
In the month of May, 1849, Mr. Charles, of the firm of Messrs. Smith and Charles, of 74, Old Broad-street, the agents for the patent, thought he might be able to forward the the medium of Mr. Hawes, the Under-Secretary of the Colonial Department. He accordingly addressed a letter to that gentleman, requesting an interview. The interview was declined. But judge of the surprise of the parties interested in the patent to find that the note declining the interview, enclosed the copy of a despatch, which had been forwarded by the Colonial Office, under the sign manual of Earl Grey, denouncing the patent, and warning the planters against its adoption on account of its dangerous character. The paternal solicitude of the Government for the people of the colonies, however, is irreconcilable with its indifference to the people at home. Sugar had been refined
by the process, and was in common use here, yet no note of warning was sounded from the Home Office to protect the lives and health of millions in the mother country. We presume it was not deemed so safe a contest to enter into here. A thousand eyes glare down upon the doings of Government, and a thousand tongues would be voluble with denunciation were any nefarious attempts practised at home.
This step of the Colonial Government, however, had the desired effect. Was it likely the planter would risk his crop to the certainty of destruction by the employment of a defecator which the Government had condescended to denounce as dangerous, though without inquiry, without precedent, and without notice to the inventor? The agents of the patentee were in consequence met everywhere by the caveat of Lord Grey, and rarely could they obtain a hearing, much less an opportunity of experimentizing in defence of the process. Where they did, however, we may add, the wolf cry of the Government was falsified, and the agents were able to send home samples of moist sugar in which the work of crystallization was complete, and the extract equal to 20 per cent. in place of 7 per cent. by the time-honoured but extravagant process of the existing manufactories. After the despatch of Lord Grey's letter, the representatives of the patentee succeeded in obtaining an interview with Mr. Hawes, who, in a very guarded manner, stated to them, 1. That the resolution of the Government had not been taken unadvisedly; 2. That the affair had been first pressed upon the consideration of the Board of Trade, and that the Board of Trade had pressed it on the Colonial Office ; 3. That the Colonial Office was at first averse to interfere, seeing that there was no precedent for interfering with private industry. Finally, he informed them that another and superior process was under the consideration of Government. The invention referred to was by M. Melsens, a foreigner. To the agent of this gentleman the Government communicated the prohibitory step which had been taken by them in reference to Dr. Scoffern's process but kept the latter totally in the dark respecting it. Suffice it to say, that although the invention of the foreigner was thus fostered by the British Government, it has proved an utter failure; although it was asserted that it had the imprimatur of Mr. Farraday, that gentleman had never seen it; and that whatever was valuable in the patent was neither more nor less than a piracy of Dr. Scoffern's invention, demonstrated by at least a dozen witnesses, and the work of Dr. Scoffern's, published before M. Melsen's discovery was ever heard of. But it should not be untold, that this gentleman, notwithstanding the worthlessness of his discovery, has been rewarded by the Belgian
Government with a pension, decorated with an order, and loaded
Ten months passed away from the issuing of the colonial protest, when the Government was again moved to action. In the month of March of the current year Mr. Wood (chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue), acting as the avowed agent of the Government, addressed a letter to the following gentlemen; viz., Dr. Thomson, Professor of Chemistry, University of Glasgow ; Thomas Graham, Esq., Professor of Chemistry, University of London; and Dr. Hofmann, Professor of Chemistry, Royal College of Chemistry, London ; with instructions to obtain samples of the sugar in its various stages through Dr. Scoffern’s process, with a view to ascertain whether in the sugar, bastards, and molasses, any trace of deleterious ingredients could be found. Those gentlemen obtained from Messrs. Goodhart, Patrick, & Co., of London, and Messrs. Evans, Thwaites, & Co., of Cork, duly authenticated samples of the new process. They also obtained duly authenticated samples from one other house working by the ordinary process. The result of their examinations is thus stated the lead found in the refined sugar (of the new process) is minute, the quantity not exceeding that occasionally acquired by the bastards and treacle in the ordinary process of manufacture. In the bastards of the new process, the proportion of lead is not great, but sensibly exceeds the latter standard. The lead appears to accumulate in the treacle, but in no case that we have had an opportunity of observing to such an extent as would justify us in pronouncing the treacle poisonous.'
Such was the report of the experimental chemists. Another class of gentlemen was now called in, not to experimentalize, but to adjudicate on the above report. These were Dr. Pereira, F.R.S., Dr. Taylor, F.R.S., and Dr. Carpenter, F.R.S. Mr. Wood, in writing to these gentlemen, transmits them the document furnished by the operative chemists, and requests their opinion,' as medical jurists and practitioners, as to the safety of consuming sugar bastards and treacle so prepared.' He also furnishes them with a statement drawn up by Mr. George Phillips, Surveying General Examiner to the Board of Inland Revenue, showing the quantity of treacle consumed, at different places named, among the working classes, and the probable amount of lead that would be taken by each in a given period if the treacle were such as the experimentalists had described. The jurists thus appointed, in their general remarks at the conclusion of an elaborate report, say, 'For the reasons above assigned, it is our opinion that the treacle produced by Dr. Scoffern's process cannot be used as a daily article of food in the quantities specified
in the return, or even in smaller quantities, without exposing those who consume it to the risk of slow poisoning by lead.'
We have now before us the efforts of Government to satisfy its own mind on the subject of the safety, or otherwise, of Dr. Scoffern’s process. After repeated applications for the report, on the 24th of July last the solicitors of Dr. Scoffern, Messrs. Coode, Browne, and Co., were summoned before the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Browne of that firm, and Mr. Smith of the firm of Messrs. Smith and Charles, attended, and the Chancellor at once announced the unfavourable character of the report, and intimated the necessity of immediately laying the papers on the table of the House. To this the deputation demurred, represented the probable injurious effect of such a course, and requested a further interview after an opportunity had been given of investigating the reports of the chemists and medical jurists. The Chancellor at once consented, but afterwards, when Messrs. Coode and Co. expressed their readiness to see him, requested that any communication they had to make might be in writing. A letter, entering fully into the objections raised in the course of the chemical investigation, together with sundry documents, one from Professor Brande, one from Messrs. Goodhart, Patrick, and Co., and two from Dr. Scoffern, were forwarded to the Chancellor, all of which, with the exception of one of Dr. Scoffern's—a very important letter-were presented by him to the House of Commons on the 14th of August. Now in those documents a full and satisfactory reply was given to all the objections urged by the operative chemists and the medical jurists. Dr. Scoffern maintains: 1. That they have chosen as their standard of comparison the sugars and treacle of only one manufacturer by the old process selected by themselves. 2. That they have chosen, under the new process, a sample of sugar and treacle for comparison which was put before them as the result of first and imperfect machinery, and which they knew had been corrected before the sample was furnished. 3. That they have not distinguished between lead in a noxious and lead in an innocent form. 4. That they have not stated their process of analysis with such precision as to enable any chemist to judge whether their results are entitled to confidence. 5. That they have not made any physiological experiments as to the nature of sulphite of lead, although the certificate of Dr. Gregory, as to the innocuity of that substance, had been furnished to them. To none of these reasonable objections has the slightest answer been given. Other analyses have been made of the produce of the new process by men of great scientific eminence, and the universal unqualified testimony of all of them is, that the slightest trace of lead, in any shape, is not to be found. The