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executive in all the minutive of business? That is the true issue which the political wisdom of our generation has to solve.
In the meantime many changes have to be made, unless the House of Commons, after a glorious history of six centuries, be destined to end in a dotage of chronic obstruction. These are :
1. Standing power to the majority to close every debate, speech, or proceeding, under fixed conditions:
2. In like manner, to protect its proceedings against sudden, arbitrary, and unexpected interruptions:
3. To limit the right of interpellation to formal inquiry into, or criticism of, the public policy of Ministers:
4. To make this right effective by adding to it the power of examining and cross-examining all officials before a duly constituted committee, having power to sit with closed doors :
5. To guard this right from abuse by requiring it to find the previous sanction either of some standing committee, or of a definite number of members (say ten):
6. To transfer to a system of standing committees, arranged in proper departments, the consideration of the whole of the business now transacted in committees of the whole House :
7. By a combination of selection and lot to make these committees at once competent and yet independent of the Government :
8. By making some of these committees practically permanent, to enable them to exercise a continuous power of inquiry, and at the same time to supply standing machinery for assenting to purely administrative orders of departments :
9. To transfer to permanent and carefully constituted judicia? bodies much of the business of private bills:
10. Sessions of Parliament to be much shorter in duration, and at the same time more frequent; the business to be carried on from session to session without dropping ; daily sittings to be of practicable duration, say of four or five hours.
I trust on a future occasion to work out these proposals in detail. I am well aware of the storm of objections by which every one of them may be assailed. I well know that they curtail many ancient liberties, sacrifice certain advantages, lower the privileges of members, and check some of the resources of parliamentary activity. But here, as elsewhere, it is a choice of evils. It may be necessary to forego some part of the omnivorous activity of Parliament in order to make that activity efficient. The question before us is, whether, in pursuing traditional practices, and impracticable dreams of representative omniscience and omnipotence, we may not be really reducing Government itself to a state of chronic impotence, and the House of Commons to a welter of barren and miscellaneous discussion.
HOW TO EAT BREAD.
AGITATION is the order of the present day. From a number of causes average English men and women show an increasing readiness to rush into public with their convictions. The age has, indeed, been called one of loud discussion and weak conviction'; but most of the social, sanitary, and other agitations now rife in this country evidence the former characteristic far more clearly than the latter. Hubbub is loud, just because the freedom of the press, together with a certain modern alertness, and liking for information, renders the swift circulation through society of individual enthusiasms an easy matter ; but the enthusiasms exist, and there is at bottom a real increase of genuine public-spiritedness animating class on behalf of class, and inciting individuals to devote themselves, more and more frequently and heartily, to the help of the community at large.
True, some of the convictions thus ready or even loud of utterance give signs of being weak and tentative at heart; but by far the larger part of them are strong even to dogmatism. Weak, or strong, however, the habit of the day is to put conviction to the test of public opinion and public ordeal ; to ride one's hobby up and down the Queen's bighway, crying its merits, and inviting to follow in its footsteps any one who will. Not a question but has its literature, its meetings, its headquarters, its committee and secretary, and its list of distinguished, or quasi-distinguished, patrons. All this paraphernalia goes far to make the veriest trifle look important; and among the numberless leagues, societies, and alliances fanned into flower by our modern talkativeness, many are trifling and yield no fruit. On the other hand, some of the questions thus agitated are momentous enough; their bearings are vital and permanent, and their roots, whether for good or ill, are profoundly buried in the very life of the community.
Whatever be the drawbacks of the advertising and agitating habit of modern reform, there is certainly this advantage about it :The many speedily get the benefit of the thoughts of the few touching the rights, wrongs, or duties of all; and their share of responsibility is thus thrust upon lazy or ignorant souls who had otherwise existed as opinionless dead weights. Experiment gets thus a better chance of fair trial, public or private as the case may be; and, as the law of fit survival holds good in regard to agitations as everywhere else, we may hope that the good secured by the survival and the solidification into permanent social institutions of fit reforms, outweighs the harm incidentally worked by the waste of energy expended in promotion of ephemeral and foolish fusses that have for their end something nobody needs to attain. We do not always know what we want—it does not always occur to us that a good thing to which we have a right lies at our door, waiting for us to take possession of it—until some agitator tells us about it.
The object of the present paper is to draw attention to one such thing
Among the societies which have sprung into existence, and made rapid way within the past twelve months, is a League that believes in brown bread, properly made, and that agitates for its making and baking, and pressing, by example and precept, upon the acceptance of the children of the poor.
The society calls itself the Bread Reform League ; and its members energetically labour to bring home to the mind of the public the conviction that our ordinary English disposal of bread material is wasteful, and dietetically foolish, owing to the rejection as human food of certain nutritious parts of the wheat.
The contention of bread reformers against bread as at present made is twofold-indeed threefold. They object to white bread. They object to ordinary brown bread. They object, though in less degree, to the whole-meal' brown bread which has of late years been the nearest approach to the right thing we, in England, have been able to procure.
What the right thing is, it is my purpose to show. But before describing it, and enlarging upon its merits, let us notice the grounds of objection to that wrong thing which, in one of its three forms, was probably upon the reader's breakfast table this morning.
To understand these objections we must have before our mind's eye a notion of what a grain of wheat really is, and its relation to ourselves as an article of food.
I have before me the picture of a magnified section of the grain. I see that all the central and by far the larger part of this section is composed of the cells from which alone white flour is made. Analysts tell us that these cells contain a very large proportion of starch, and a small percentage of the nourishing substance known as gluten. Surrounding this white central portion of each grain of wheat are five layers of other cells. And outside all is the hard skin or cortex' - woody, fibrous, and even flinty covering, which contains nothing valuable as human food.
But the layers of cells lying between this hard skin and the central white portion are rich in materials which go to support life. The inmost layer—that next to the starchy centre—is composed of large cells, chiefly formed of gluten. The remaining layers are full of useful mineral matters.
Properly to sustain human life and health, it is needful that a due proportion of all the materials which exist in each of these parts of the grain respectively, should be taken in food. There are but few articles of diet which contain them all, and in the right proportions : among these are milk, and eggs, and bread made from the whole of the wheaten grain.
The office of each of the constituents of the wheat is definitely known in regard to the support of life. The starch is valuable as a heat producer. The gluten goes to form flesh. The phosphatic salts and other mineral matters go to the formation of bone and teeth, and to the nourishment of brain and nerves. And bread reformers tell us that the cheapest, the most convenient, and most universally wholesome way of getting the required proportions of these various necessaries of life into the system, is to take them ip the shape of properly made wheaten bread.
(a) The objection to white bread may now be readily guessed. It contains but a part of the needful nutriment, and that part in too large a proportion. And the whiter it is, the worse it is in these two respects. Any one who had to live upon it, and upon nothing else, would starve his bones and his brains, and would speedily lapse into ill health. Too large a proportion of starch is retained in the preparing of white flour: a large proportion of muscle- and tissueformers, and almost all the material for formation of bone and nourishment of nerves and brain, being rejected, and put to other purposes. For some reason or other, we have been for generations wasting a great deal of precious human food. What that reason is we will inquire later.
In the absence of sufficient bone-forming material children become liable to rickets.' The children of our English poor are singularly subject to bone-disorder of this kind, and the fact is largely attributable to the custom of eating bread made exclusively from that white flour which is so deficient in lime and phosphates. For in the case of the poor, the missing requisites of diet are not supplied by the meat, milk, and eggs which, being readily obtainable by the wealthier classes, prevent the insufficiency of white bread from becoming, in their case, obvious. “A very small proportion of phosphate of lime introduced into the dietary of a growing child is capable of making the difference between deformity and development.'
(6) Next, what are the objections to ordinary brown bread.
What is brown bread as commonly made ? Generally nothing more nor less than white flour, with some of the outer husk—the hard, indutritious coatings of the grain-coarsely ground, and mixed with the flour. It is, as an article of diet, even worse than the pure white bread; for it adds to the negative disadvantages of the latter its own positive disadvantage. This disadvantage consists in its irritating property, which is owing to the presence of the rough, hard, indigestible husk. Its behaviour when eaten is, by its mechanical action, to irritate the alimentary canal, so that the food does not actually remain long enough in the body for what nourishment it contains to be duly absorbed and assimilated. Such bread is thus not only wasteful of its own material, but also of the human life-force and machinery that has to do with it.
(c) The objection to whole-meal bread is less than to either of the former kinds. Nothing said against white, bread applies to it at all. We have in it the precious phosphatic salts in sufficiency, and also gluten and albumen in the full proportion. But the drawbacks of the brown bread remain. The whole-meal bread contains the Alinty cortex, or skin; and, as commonly ground between stones, the harder parts of the grain (including this hardest of all) are left in coarse, angular bits. This bread is, though intrinsically richer in nourishing matters, no less irritating than common brown bread; and the nutriment is, therefore, not fully extracted from it by the eater, because its irritating property shortens the time of its digestion, and does not allow the system time enough properly to assimilate it.
This objection to brown bread—whether of the ordinary innutritious kind, or the more modern whole-meal bread-is felt strongly by the working classes, who, without reasoning on the matter, find their way to the right practical conclusion in regard to it. Such persons, never having had the chance of getting a brown bread which is not irritating, and possibly associating this drawback with the brownness of the bread, continue to prefer and to buy white bread. And the whiter it is, the more they believe in its excellence as an article of food. Dr. Gilbert, F.R.S., in a letter to the secretary of the Society of Arts, demurs to the introduction of bread made from the whole of the meal partly on this ground. He draws attention to the fact above noted, remarking that navvies and other members of the hard-working class invariably prefer white bread to brown; and he attributes this to the experience of the men, who find themselves less nourished by brown bread on account of its stimulating quality. There is, of course, further to be considered the comparative unpalatableness of most brown bread. The brown breads hitherto within reach of the poor have been unsatisfactory. The right thing'in bread has as yet had no fair trial.
Let us now definitely describe what that right thing is. We are prepared to demand of it that it should combine the digestibility of white bread with the nutritive quality of whole-meal bread, while sharing the disadvantages of neither. First as to its nourishing properties.
The wheat-meal bread that we desire to see substituted for the