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Sugar-cane

( Originally Published 1851 )



Dutrone calls sugar the most perfect alimentary substance in nature, and the testimony of many physicians establishes the fact. Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia, says, in common with all who have analyzed it, that sugar affords the greatest quantity of mat-ter of any subject in nature." Used alone, it has fattened horses and cattle in St. Domingo for a period of several months, during the time when the exportation of sugar and the importation of grain were suspended from the want of ships. The plentiful use of sugar in diet is one of the best preventives that ever has been discovered of the diseases which are produced by worms. Nature seems to have implanted a love for this aliment in all children, as if it were on purpose to defend them from those diseases. Sir John Pringle tells us, that the plague has never been known to visit any country where sugar composes a material part of the diet of the inhabitants. Dr. Rush, Dr. Cullen, and many other physicians, are of opinion, that the frequency of malignant fevers of all kinds has been lessened by the use of sugar. Dr. Rush observes, that, in disorders of the breast, sugar is the basis of many agreeable remedies, and it is useful in weaknesses and acrid defluxions in other parts of the body. The celebrated IIonchin recommends " Eau Sucré" for almost every malady. Dr. Fothergill was very anxious that the price of sugar should be sufficiently moderate, to render it accessible to the mass of the people. From experiments made by some eminent French surgeons, it appears to be an antiscorbuic; and this is confirmed by well known facts. A writer from India observes, "The comfort and health arising to a poor family from a small patch of sugar-cane, exclusive of what the jaggry may sell for, can only be known to such as may have observed them in the time of cutting the canes, and noted the difference of their looks before the crop begins, and a month or six weeks after."

The Cochin Chinese consume a great quantity of sugar; they eat it generally with their rice, which is the ordinary breakfast of people of all ages and stations. There is little else to be obtained in all the inns of the country but rice and sugar; it is the common nourishment of travellers. The Cochin Chinese not only preserve in sugar all their fruits, but even the greater part of their leguminous vegetables, gourds, cucumbers, radishes, artichokes, the grain of the lotus, and the thick fleshy leaves of the aloe. They fancy nothing is so nourishing as sugar This opinion of its fattening properties has occasioned a whimsical law. The body-guard of the king, selected for the purposes of pomp and show, are allowed a sum of money with which they must buy sugar and sugar-cane, and they are compelled by law to eat a certain quantity daily. This is to pre-serve the embonpoint and good looks of those soldiers who are honored by approaching so near the person of the king; and they certainly do honor to their master by their handsome appearance. Domestic animals, horses, buffaloes, elephants, are all fattened with sugar-cane in Cochin China. Sugar has been found to be an antidote to the poison of verdigris, if taken speedily and in abundance; and unlike many other organic substances, its nutritious qualities are not liable to change, from the operations of time or season.

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