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Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery, A

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XV" id="CHAPTER_XV"></SPAN>CHAPTER XV.</h2> <h3><span class="smcap">Starch, Arrow-Root, Tapioca, Isinglass, Caviare, the Vine, Wine, Gin, Rum, Brandy, Vinegar, Indigo, Gamboge, Logwood, Tar, Pitch, Camphor, Musk, Myrrh, Frankincense, and Turpentine.</span> </h3> <p><b>What is Starch?</b></p> <p>A white, powdery sediment procured from the bottom of vessels in which flour or meal has been steeped in water. Pure starch is of a fine white color, without taste or smell; it will <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_134" id="Page_134"></SPAN>[134]</span>not dissolve in cold water, but with warm forms a jelly, in which form it is generally used; it is made by crushing, soaking, and fermenting the grains of the cereals, and then washing in pure water; the water is then evaporated, leaving behind the starch.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Sediment</i>, matter subsided to the bottom of liquors.</p></div> <p><b>For what is Starch used?</b></p> <p>To stiffen linen after washing; to make hair powder; and for other purposes in the arts.</p> <p><b>From what vegetables is Starch obtained?</b></p> <p>All farinaceous vegetable substances afford it, as the potato, horse-chestnut, &amp;c. Starch being the nutritive part of the vegetable, forms an excellent food for invalids, and constitutes the principal part of arrow-root, tapioca, &amp;c.; the different flavor of these substances being derived from the mixture of a small portion of foreign matter peculiar to the plants which yield them. Starch is procured from potatoes by crushing them to powder, and then proceeding as in the manufacture of wheat starch.</p> <p><b>What is Arrow-root?</b></p> <p>The starch obtained from the root of an American plant by pulverization. It is often adulterated with potato starch, and the latter is even sold instead of it, for the two kinds resemble each other so closely that they can hardly be distinguished.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Pulverization</i>, the act of reducing to powder.</p> <p><i>Adulterated</i>, corrupted by foreign mixture.</p></div> <p><b>What is Tapioca?</b></p> <p>Tapioca is another kind of starch, obtained from the root of the manioc plant, which is cultivated in most hot climates, in Asia, Africa, and America. A flour is also prepared from it, which is used for making bread. It is particularly cultivated in the tropical parts of America, and in the West India islands, where it forms a very important article of food for the Negro population.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_135" id="Page_135"></SPAN>[135]</span></p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Negro</i>, a name given to the black inhabitants of Africa and their descendants.</p> <p><i>Population</i>, inhabitants of a place or country.</p></div> <p><b>What is Isinglass?</b></p> <p>One of the purest and finest of <i>animal</i> glues. It is the produce of several kinds of fish, but especially of the sturgeon, which inhabits the seas of Northern Europe and America.</p> <p><b>From what part of the fish is it prepared?</b></p> <p>From the air-bladder, and certain parts of the entrails; these are taken out while fresh, cut open, washed, and exposed to the air a short time to stiffen; the outside skin is then taken off, and the remaining part formed into rolls, fastened together with pegs, and hung up to dry. The isinglass is then separated into threads of different sizes, or formed into flakes. Immense quantities are annually prepared in this manner in Russia.</p> <p><b>What are its uses?</b></p> <p>Dissolving readily in water or milk, it yields a mild nutriment for the sick, and enters into the composition of many delicacies for the table, such as jellies, &amp;c. It is mixed with gum to give lustre to silk and satin; it is also used in making court plaster, and for clarifying various liquors. Gelatine, now much used on account of its being less expensive, is a similar preparation, but of an inferior quality.</p> <p><b>What else does the Sturgeon supply?</b></p> <p>Its roe furnishes the delicacy called Caviare, which is in fact merely that part of the fish separated from the membranes and washed in vinegar and white wine, and dried in the air. It is then well salted, and packed up in barrels ready for sale. This is the method of preparing it in Russia, where large quantities of it are consumed. It is largely exported to Italy, where it is highly esteemed. It is unwholesome, and at present the demand for it, except in Russia and Italy, is very limited. The best is dry and of a brown color, and is eaten with lemon juice on bread.</p> <p><b>To what other uses is the fruit of the Vine applied besides drying it for raisins, as described in the sixth chapter?</b></p> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_136" id="Page_136"></SPAN>[136]</span></p> <p>The well-known plant, called the Vine, has been an object of culture from the earliest ages of the world, for the sake of the fermented liquor obtained from its fruit; soon after the flood, Noe, who appears to have been the first "husbandman," is mentioned as having "planted a vineyard," and drank of the juice of the grape; in all those countries where it flourishes, it is inseparably connected with their religious rites, and wine, like corn, formed one of the principal articles which they offered on their altars to the gods whom they worshipped.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Husbandman</i>, one who cultivates the fruits of the earth.</p> <p><i>Altar</i>, the place where sacrifices were anciently offered to some deity.</p></div> <p><b>What countries produce the best Wines?</b></p> <p>The wines of France are generally admitted to be the finest; the principal ones are Champagne, Burgundy, and Claret. Of each of these, there are several varieties, celebrated for their peculiar flavor; they are generally named after the places where they are made. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Sicily, Greece, and California, also produce their various sorts of wine, each esteemed in its kind.</p> <p><b>May Wine be extracted from other vegetable bodies?</b></p> <p>The word is appropriated in a more particular manner to the fermented juice of the grape; but nearly all vegetable productions may be made to afford wine. That produced from Apples is called Cider; that from Pears, Perry. A kind of wine, called Mead, is prepared from honey and water.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Appropriated</i>, applied to.</p></div> <p><b>What is Honey?</b></p> <p>A sweet vegetable juice, collected from the flowers of various plants by the bees.</p> <p><b>What Honey was reckoned by the ancients the best in the world?</b></p> <p>The honey of Hybla, on the east coast of Sicily, and of Hymettus, a mountain of Greece, near Athens.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_137" id="Page_137"></SPAN>[137]</span></p> <p><b>What other fluid is drawn from Wine?</b></p> <p>Spirits; by this term is understood, a volatile fluid called spirits of wine, or alcohol, obtained by distillation from wine, beer, and all fermented liquors. It is colorless, and of a strong penetrating taste and smell. It is of great use in chemistry; in dyeing to prepare the stuff for receiving colors; and in many of the arts.</p> <p><b>What is the vessel called which is used in Distilling?</b></p> <p>A Still. It is a vessel so formed as to collect the vapor, which is the spirit, or alcohol, separated from the liquid from which it is drawn. This liquid product is itself returned to the still; and the same process is several times repeated, till the alcohol or spirit is sufficiently strong and pure. There are three principal spirits used in this country, as gin, rum, and brandy.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Product</i>, thing produced.</p></div> <p><b>What is Gin?</b></p> <p>A spirit procured from raw barley, oats, and malt, mixed together in certain proportions: there are several varieties of this spirit, all obtained from grain. The peculiar flavor of gin is given by infusing a few hops and some of the berries of the juniper fir.</p> <p><b>What is Malt?</b></p> <p>Malt is barley prepared by being steeped in water and fermented, and then dried in a kiln. It is used for making beer, &amp;c.</p> <p><b>Of what are Hops the produce?</b></p> <p>Of a graceful climbing plant, the blossoms of which are used in making beer, to preserve it and improve its flavor.</p> <p><b>What is Rum?</b></p> <p>A spirit obtained from molasses, the fluid which drains from sugar while it is crystallizing.</p> <p><b>What is Brandy?</b></p> <p>A spirit distilled from any wine; but the best is procured from weak French wines, which are unfit for exportation. <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_138" id="Page_138"></SPAN>[138]</span>Brandy, from whatever wine it has been obtained, is at first colorless; different methods are employed to give it the color by which it is distinguished.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Exportation</i>, the act of sending articles from one country to another.</p></div> <p><b>What is Vinegar?</b></p> <p>An agreeable, acid, penetrating liquor, prepared from wine, beer, &amp;c. To make vinegar, the wine or beer is made to undergo a second fermentation, called the <i>acid</i> or <i>acetous</i> fermentation; the first which the vegetable juice had to undergo, in order to convert it into wine or beer, being called the <i>vinous</i> fermentation. Vinegar is of great use in cookery and medicine; the word is derived from the French for wine, <i>vin</i>, and <i>aigre</i>, sour. The ancients had several kinds of vinegar, which they used as drinks; but it is most likely that these vinegars were different from that so called among us, and were more probably a kind of wine.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Acetous</i>, sour.</p> <p><i>Vinous</i>, wine-like.</p></div> <p><b>What materials are used for the dyeing and coloring of our manufactures?</b></p> <p>There are many mineral and vegetable earths which furnish mankind with different colors for beautifying their various manufactures, and assisting them in the arts, &amp;c. Some species of insects also come to their aid, as for instance, the cochineals; these insects are killed by the application of heat, and thus form the drug used for giving red colors, especially crimson and scarlet, and for making carmine. The beautiful and permanent blue called Indigo, is the produce of a small shrub, two or three feet in height.</p> <p><b>From what part is the Dye obtained?</b></p> <p>From the leaves; the color is produced by soaking them some hours in water, in large vessels constructed for the purpose; the sediment of the blue liquor drawn from them is afterwards dried and sold in the form of small grains For the painter, they are mixed with oil, or diluted and made up into small cakes with gum water.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_139" id="Page_139"></SPAN>[139]</span></p> <p><b>In what countries is Indigo cultivated?</b></p> <p>It is native in both Indies, and in South America, where its cultivation affords employment to many of the inhabitants. It also grows wild in parts of Palestine, and is much cultivated both in Syria and Egypt. It once formed one of the staples of the Southern States, but has in a great measure given way to the cultivation of cotton.</p> <p><b>Has Indigo been long known?</b></p> <p>The culture and preparation of indigo were known to the Oriental nations long before it was introduced into Europe. The inhabitants of ancient Britain painted their bodies with the blue dye which they obtained from woad, a plant which grows wild in France and along the shores of the Baltic, and which greatly resembles indigo in all its properties, except its brilliancy of color.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Brilliancy</i>, brightness.</p></div> <p><b>What is Gamboge?</b></p> <p>The concrete resinous juice of a species of gum-tree, growing in Cambodia, and other parts of the Indies. It is brought over in large cakes or rolls of a yellowish brown color outside, and inside of a deep yellow or orange, which changes to a pale bright yellow on being moistened.</p> <p><b>What are the uses of Gamboge?</b></p> <p>Dissolved in water, it forms a beautiful and useful color for the painter. It is also used in medicine. Gamboge is soluble in either water or spirits of wine. Mixed with a blue color, it forms green, in various shades according to the different proportions of the ingredients.</p> <p><b>What is Logwood?</b></p> <p>The wood of a tree which grows in parts of America and the West Indies. It is imported in great quantities, and employed in dyeing purple and the finest blacks.</p> <p><b>What is Tar?</b></p> <p>A coarse, resinous liquor issuing from the wood and bark of <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_140" id="Page_140"></SPAN>[140]</span>pine or fir-trees; it is in fact the oily juices of the sap thickened and colored by the heat of the sun or by age; it is extracted for use by burning the wood of the trees under a heavy covering of turf or earth; the tar exudes during the slow combustion, and is collected into a cavity dug in the ground for the purpose. Tar is exported in great quantities from Norway, Sweden, and our Southern States.</p> <p><b>What are its uses?</b></p> <p>It is applied to the sides of ships and boats and their rigging, to preserve them from the effects of the weather; it is used instead of paint for palings, &amp;c.; and sometimes also in medicine. A kind, called <i>mineral</i> tar, is also drawn from coal by the process of distillation. Mineral tar is also found native in some parts of the earth.</p> <p><b>What is Pitch?</b></p> <p>A kind of juice or gum, likewise drawn from unctuous woods, chiefly those of the pine and fir; it is used for nearly the same purposes as tar in shipping, medicine, and various other arts. Pitch is properly a juice of the wild pine, or pitch tree; it is of a glossy black color, dry brittle, and less bitter and pungent than the liquid tar.</p> <p><b>What is Camphor?</b></p> <p>A vegetable substance, chiefly procured from a kind of laurel, (Laurus Camphora,) growing in Borneo, Japan, and many East Indian islands; it is also produced from other plants and shrubs, though in very small quantities.</p> <p><b>How, and from what part of the tree is it taken?</b></p> <p>All parts of the tree are impregnated with camphor; but it is principally extracted from the roots and trunk, by distillation; it is white, and of a crystal form: its odor is extremely fragrant. In this state it is called <i>rough</i> camphor, and is thus exported. The Greeks and Romans do not appear to have been acquainted with this valuable drug; and we are indebted to the Arabians for a knowledge of it.</p><p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_141" id="Page_141"></SPAN>[141]</span></p> <p><b>What are the properties and uses of Camphor?</b></p> <p>It is a firm, dry, crystal matter, with a hot, sharp, aromatic taste. It is highly odorous, and so inflammable as to burn and preserve its flame in water; it totally vanishes or evaporates in the open air, and in Spirits of Wine it entirely dissolves. Camphor has various uses&mdash;as in fire-works, &amp;c.; it is an excellent preservative of animal and vegetable bodies, as it resists worms and other insects. In the courts of Eastern princes it is burnt at night with wax. Its principal use with us is in medicine.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Preservative</i>, a preventive of decay.</p></div> <p><b>What is Musk?</b></p> <p>A dry, friable substance of a dark color, taken from a little bag under the belly of a small animal called the Thibet Musk, which is a native of the Indies, Tonquin, and China. It inhabits the woods and forests, where the natives hunt it down. Musk is so strong a perfume as to be agreeable only in the smallest quantities, or when mingled with some other scent; it is used in perfumery, &amp;c.</p> <p><b>Is there not another Animal which produces a similar scent?</b></p> <p>Yes; an animal of Arabian origin produces an odoriferous substance called Civet, from which it takes its name of Civet Cat; there are several species of this animal which produce it, but it is from the Civet Cat that it is most commonly taken. Civets are found in all the warm parts of Asia and Africa, in Madagascar, and the East Indian Islands. It was formerly in high esteem, but is at present very little used, except to increase the power of other perfumes.</p> <p><b>What is Myrrh?</b></p> <p>A kind of gum-resin, issuing from the trunk of a tree growing in Arabia, Egypt, and Abyssinia; it flows either naturally, or by incision; and is sent to us in small lumps of a reddish brown or yellow color. Its smell is strong, but not disagreeable. Our myrrh is the same drug that was used by the ancients under <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_142" id="Page_142"></SPAN>[142]</span>the above name. Its chief use now is in medicine. The ancient Egyptians employed it as an ingredient in the embalming of dead bodies.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Embalming</i>, preserving the bodies of the dead from decaying or putrefying, by impregnating them with aromatics and other substances which resist putrefaction.</p></div> <p><b>Where is Abyssinia?</b></p> <p>Abyssinia is a large kingdom situated in Eastern Africa.</p> <p><b>What is Frankincense?</b></p> <p>An odoriferous, aromatic gum-resin, which distils, in the heat of summer, from incisions made in the bark of the tree which produces it: notwithstanding the great use of the gum, both in ancient systems of religious worship and in modern medicine, authors have been much divided in opinion with regard to the kind of tree from which it is obtained; it is a species of turpentine tree belonging to an order of resinous and fragrant trees and shrubs inhabiting the tropical parts of the world.</p> <p><b>For what was it formerly used?</b></p> <p>The ancients burnt it in their temples as a perfume, and to do honor to the divinities that were worshipped in them: it appears to have been applied to the same purposes by people of all religions. Myrrh and Frankincense were reckoned by the Eastern nations amongst their most costly perfumes. We are informed by St. Matthew's Gospel in the New Testament, that the wise men who came to Bethlehem to worship our Saviour at his birth, brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Many of the primitive Christians were put to death because they would not offer incense to idols. In the Catholic Church we still retain its use in many ceremonies.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Primitive</i>, early.</p> <p><i>Incense</i>, perfumes burnt in religious rites, or as an offering to some deity.</p></div> <p><b>What is the appearance of Frankincense?</b></p> <p>It is generally imported in white or yellowish pieces, or drops, <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_143" id="Page_143"></SPAN>[143]</span>which possess a bitter, disagreeable taste; it is very inflammable, and burns with a strong, and pleasant odor. That brought from the Indies is inferior to that from Arabia, and inclines to a reddish color. The common frankincense is softer, more resinous, and possesses less value than the former.</p> <p><b>What is Turpentine?</b></p> <p>The resinous juice of many trees, as the pine, larch, fir, &amp;c.; it is, in fact, the juice that renders them evergreen, and when in an over-abundant quantity, bursts through their bark, and oozes out. Common turpentine is that procured by incisions from the wild pine; there are several kinds of turpentine procured from various resinous trees; some are of use in medicine, and most of them in making different kinds of varnishes, for preserving and beautifying boxes, paintings, &amp;c.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Ooze</i>, to flow gently.</p></div> <p><b>Is there not a tree more particularly designated the Turpentine Tree?</b></p> <p>Yes, the Terebinth or Turpentine Tree of Palestine and the East. It is one of the most common forest trees of those regions, and is regarded with respect and distinction similar to that awarded to the oak in England.</p> <p><b>What part of it produces the Gum?</b></p> <p>The gum, or rather the resin, distils from the trunk. It is called Cyprus or Chian Turpentine, much of it being brought from the isles of Cyprus and Scio, or Chios, and is procured, by incision, about the month of July. This turpentine, owing to its superior quality, as well as its scarcity, each tree seldom yielding over two or three pounds, is very costly.</p> <div class="blockquot"><p><i>Incision</i>, a cutting.</p> <p><i>Costly</i>, expensive.</p></div> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_144" id="Page_144"></SPAN>[144]</span></p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /> <h2>
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