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did produce alcohol, still none of it would remain in the bread after it came from the oven, because the whole must have been extracted by the heat necessary to bake the loaves. Consequently those advocates for strong drink, who tell us there is spirit in bread, display the grossest ignorance, both concerning distillation, and the heat at which alcohol is obtained.
Vinous fermentation produces alcohol, or the intoxicating spirit of all our modern inebriating liquors. That which intoxicates, whether in gin, rum, brandy, whisky, wine, beer, or cider, is the same principle, and is called alcohol or spirits of wine. It may exist in different proportions in different liquors, but still the intoxicating principle in all alcoholic drinks is the same kind of spirit. According to the experiments and analyses of the most careful chimists, the following degrees of alcohol are found in different intoxicating beverages of our own day.
Port, average of six kinds, 23.48 Cape Madeira,
19.34 Claret, average of 4 kinds, 14.43 18.10 Ditto Muchat,
Madeira, highest, lowest,
Vin de Grave,
12.80 Currant wine,
11.55 Gooseberry wine,
11.95 Elder wine, cider and Perry
12.79 Whisky, Scotch,
For these analyses, the most genuine liquors were obtained, and, as a proof that the per centage may be depended upon, I
have in my possession several other tables which differ very little from the one given above.
The difference between distillation and fermentation is, that by the application of heat the distiller obtains a larger quantity of spirit from the saccharine base than does the brewer. Fermentation is necessary to precede distillation, otherwise there would be no alcohol to extract. In wines and beer you have a portion of the grape, or the malt held in solution, but in ardent spirits you have nothing but alcohol and water.
Gin, rum, brandy, whisky, &c., when pure, are nothing but alcohol and water; and the fiery spirit in each of them is obtained by heat and fermentation from various saccharine substances. Gin, whisky, and British brandy, are distilled from grain; rum from sugar and molasses; and foreign brandy from grapes; but in neither of these is there the least particle of nourishment. It is the aim of the distiller to convert every atom of the substance he distills into spirit. The more he can attenuate his liquor, the lighter it is, the thinner it is, the less it has of any thing like nutrition, the greater his success and profit. He has not the least idea of leaving any thing in the form of food for the stomach of his customer. An inflammatory, stimulating, poisonous liquid is all that he produces, and to obtain this he destroys millions of bushels of wholesome grain.
Alcohol was unknown to the ancients. They appear to have known something of the distillation of plants and flowers, but nothing whatever of the modern art of obtaining spirits of wine, or pure alcohol, from the grape, or from grain. The ninth century is the earliest period at which any mention is made of alcohol; and spirit did not come into general use until the latter part of the sixteenth century; previous to that period it was confined to the shop of the apothecary.
It is well known that grapes adapted to produce the strongest wines will not yield more than eight per cent. of spirit, and therefore not be stronger than modern ale. France is said to be the most suitable climate in the world for the growth of a grape that will produce a strong wine, yet the French wines are generally spoken of as weak. The fact is, the strongest wine which the pure juice of the grape would yield by fermentation would be
comparatively weak, and therefore, until distillation was discovered, and pure spirit was obtained to mix with wines, the most potent alcoholic drinks were far from being strong. In warm countries the grapes were too sweet to produce much alcohol, We all know that sweet apples will not yield strong cider; consequently the wines of all very warm countries must have been very weak indeed. The analysis just given shows that palm wine, which was the shacar, or "strong drink" of Scripture, contains less than five per cent. of alcohol, and therefore, is only about half as strong as our ale, and yet this "strong drink" is supposed to have been more potent than their common wines, It is highly probable that the strongest grape wines of the ancients had in them a less quantity of alcohol than our common table beer. But the analysis given above shows that modern wines contain, some fifteen' and some twenty-nine per cent., of spirit. Port, which is one of our favorite wines, ranges from 21 to 25 per cent. A very considerable proportion of the sherry that is drunk would be found to be equally potent. And this large amount of strength, liquid fire, or poison, is obtained by mixing them with brandy or some other species of alcohol. A filthy sort of brandy, called "old strap," is added to port and other wines to render them acceptable to our English palate. For it should be observed, that we are the most drinking people alive, and foreigners, knowing our taste for potent liquors, add a greater quantity of alcohol to the wines imported to this country than to those which they prepare for any other nation. Our home-made wines have generally a portion of brandy added to them, and when this is not the case, many of them are the mere result of sugar, yeast and water, and therefore neither British nor foreign wines can afford us any criterion by which to judge of the character of those drinks which are the simple and genuine product of the juice of the grape. Still, the fact that port, sherry, &c., must be brandied to impart unto them a sufficient degree of alcohol to please our vitiated appetite, is a cogent proof that we are far from being satisfied with the unadulterated produce of the grape. The fermented juice of the vine is not strong enough and intoxicating enough for our palate; how dissatisfied then should we be with the wines of Scripture!
Those who tell us that the Bible recommends wine, would do well to get us some of the wines mentioned in the word of God; until they do this, it is useless to attempt to convict us of running counter to the voice of revelation. We believe that oil, pulse, &c., are spoken of quite as highly in Holy Writ as wine, and yet our opponents are so wicked as never to taste any of these substances; we know also that water is highly recommended by our Creator himself, and yet our very sanctimonious lovers of strong drink are impious enough to laugh at waterdrinkers as persons who are beside themselves. Weighed in the even balances of the sanctuary, the tetotaler, who rejects the brandied wines of modern times, and which have scarcely the least resemblance to the wines of Scripture, would be found to be quite as good a Christian as he who rejects the oil and the water of which the Holy Spirit has spoken in terms of such high commendation. The strongest wines of hot countries, if they had any, could have in them but a very small portion of alcohol, and could not have been brandied, because distillation was then unknown; but we have seen that port and sherry are mixed with this fiery poison-until very frequently they are full one-fourth spirit, and therefore are five, six, or seven times stronger than any of the drinks of antiquity could have been; and, supposing it were our duty to drink the latter, will any man say that we are under an obligation to partake of the former ? We will presently prove that there is not a single text of Scripture which ever invites us to taste of intoxicating liquors; but could one be produced, still it would not follow that, if the Word of God recommends us to drink poison at the rate of three or four per cent., therefore we ought to take it at the increased ratio of twenty or twenty-five per cent. One is almost ready to conclude that a little of the stupefaction of alcohol must have been felt, before any person would have reasoned that an invitation to drink weak wine would put us under an obligation to become bibbers of those which are highly adulterated with a strong and acrid poison.
We have said that sugar is the base of alcohol. This saccharine matter is generally found in the grape, though not always in the same degree; in malt it is produced by the process of malt
ing; and because saccharine matter is deficient in our own native fruits, in making wine from them we add a large proportion of sugar.
It should be borne in mind that sugar holds the third or lowest rank among nutrient vegetable substances, and can bear no comparison with the farina of wheat, the hordein of barley, or the starch of potatoes. Majendie fed a dog on sugar; it did very well for a few days, but in a short time it became weak and diseased, and, in less than three weeks, died in a most pitiable condition. No laboring man would be able to pursue his daily calling, were you to allow him no other aliment than sugar. Now the design of malting is to change the very nutritive hordein of barley into sugar; that is, to convert a highly nutrient grain into a substance not one-tenth so nourishing; and then the object of brewing is to change this sugar into a poison. But this is not all. In the production of alcohol the sugar is decomposed, and the carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen which constitute its elements, undergo a new chimical combination. Carbon and oxygen to the amount of forty-eight per cent. unite to form carbonic acid, and in that form are wasted; while fifty-two per cent. combine in the form of alcohol or poison. Thus the sugar, which is less nutritive than barley, is after all wasted at the rate of 50 per cent. for the purpose of producing a poisonous stimulant.
Here, then, we have human ingenuity exerted in the work of destroying the bounties of Providence to a most frightful degree, and this, too, is done in a country in which thousands have not bread enough to satisfy the cravings of nature. Hordein, a most nutritive species of farina, is to a great extent changed into a saccharine substance containing not one-tenth the same amount of aliment. The frost malts our potatoes, and renders them more saccharine, but are they improved? The sugar into which a portion of the barley has been changed, is by the brewer dissolved and converted into two poisons; the one in the form of carbonic acid is allowed to escape, and the other, in the form of alcohol, is retained to be drunk, and destroy men's reason, morals, health, and prospects in both worlds; and then, as if to perfect this wickedness and presumption, we are gravely told that these poisons are "the good creatures of God!"