Eastern Counties Slang

2 terms


to thrash, or strike.—Pugilistic, but used by Shakspeare.—Eastern Counties.

Counterfeit Pepper

Black pepper is the fruit of a shrubby creeping plant, which grows wild in the East Indies, and is cultivated, with much advantage, for the sake of its berries, in Java and Malabar. The berries are gathered before they are ripe, and are dried in the sun. They become black and corrugated on the surface.

This factitious pepper-corns have of late been detected mixed with genuine pepper, is a fact sufficiently known.[104] Such an adulteration may prove, in many instances of household economy, exceedingly vexatious and prejudicial to those who ignorantly make use of the spurious article. I have examined large packages of both black and white pepper, by order of the Excise, and have found them to contain about 16 per cent. of this artificial compound. The spurious pepper is made up of oil cakes (the residue of lintseed, from which the oil has been pressed,) common clay, and a portion of Cayenne pepper, formed in a mass, and granulated by being first pressed through a sieve, and then rolled in a cask. The mode of detecting the fraud is easy. It is only necessary to throw a sample of the suspected pepper into a bowl of water; the artificial pepper-corns fall to powder, whilst the true pepper remains whole.

Ground pepper is very often sophisticated by adding to a portion of genuine pepper, a quantity of pepper dust, or the sweepings from the pepper warehouses, mixed with a little Cayenne pepper. The sweepings are known, and purchased in the market, under the name of P. D. signifying pepper dust. An inferior sort of this vile refuse, or the sweepings of P. D. is distinguished among venders by the abbreviation of D. P. D. denoting, dust (dirt) of pepper dust.

The adulteration of pepper, and the making and selling commodities in imitation of pepper, are prohibited, under a severe penalty. The following are the words of the Act:[105]

"And whereas commodities made in imitation of pepper have of late been sold and found in the possession of various dealers in pepper, and other persons in Great Britain; be it therefore enacted, that from and after the said 5th day of July, 1819, if any commodity or substance shall be prepared by any person in imitation of pepper, shall be mixed with pepper, or sold or delivered as and for, or as a substitute for, pepper, or if any such commodity or substance, alone or mixed, shall be kept for sale, sold, or delivered, or shall be offered or exposed to sale, or shall be in the custody or possession of any dealer or seller of pepper, the same, together with all pepper with which the same shall be mixed, shall be forfeited, with the packages containing the same, and shall and may be seized by any officer of excise; and the person preparing, manufacturing, mixing as aforesaid, selling, exposing to sale, or delivering the same, or having the same in his, her, or their custody or possession, shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds."


The common white pepper is factitious, being prepared from the black pepper in the following manner:—The pepper is first steeped in sea water and urine, and then exposed to the heat of the sun for several days, till the rind or outer bark loosens; it is then taken out of the steep, and, when dry, it is rubbed with the hand till the rind falls off. The white fruit is then dried, and the remains of the rind blown away like chaff. A great deal of the peculiar flavour and pungent hot taste of the pepper is taken off by this process. White pepper is always inferior in flavour and quality to the black pepper.

However, there is a sort of native white pepper, produced on a species of the pepper plant, which is much better than the factitious, and indeed little inferior to the common black pepper.


[104]Thomson's Annals of Chemistry, 1816; also Repository of Arts, vol. i. 1816, p. 11.

[105]George III. c. 53, § 21, 1819.


laughing to oneself.—East.