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further enquiry into final causes, where the best of us can only wander in the dark, let us try to discover the efficient causes of this melancholy.
I think, then, that they may be reduced to two, omitting some subordinate ones, viz.
The sedentary habits of the tailor.
Something peculiar in his diet.First, his sedentary habits.—In Doctor Norris's famous narrative of the frenzy of Mr. John Dennis, the patient, being questioned as to the occasion of the swelling in his legs, replies that it came "by criticism;" to which the learned doctor seeming to demur, as to a distemper which he had never read of, Dennis (who appears not to have been mad upon all subjects) rejoins with some warmth, that it was no disteinper, but a noble art! that he had sat fourteen hours a day at it: and that the other was a pretty doctor not to know that there was a communication between the brain and the legs.
When we consider that this sitting for fourteen hours continuously, which the critic probably practised only while he was writing his " remarks," is no more than what the tailor, in the ordinary pursuance of his art, submits to daily (Sundays excepted) throughout the year, shall we wonder to find the brain effected, and in a manner over-clouded, from that indissoluble sympathy between the noble and less noble parts of the body, which Dennis hints at ? The unnatural and painful manner of his sitting must also greatly aggravate the evil, insomuch that ( have sometimes ventured to liken tailors at their boards to so many envious Junos, sitting cross-legged to hinder the birth of their own felicity. The legs transversed thus crosswise, or decussated, was among the ancients the posture of malediction. The Turks, who practise it at this day, are noted to be a melancholy people. . Secondly, his diet.—To which purpose I find a most remarkable passage in Burton, in his chapter entitled “ Bad diet a cause of melancholy." “ Amongst herbs to be eaten (he says) I find gourds, cucumbers, melons, disallowed; but especially Cabbage. It causeth troublesome dreams, and sends up black vapours to the brain. Galen, loc. affect, lib. 3. cap. 6, of all herbs condemns Cabbage. And Isaack, lib. 2, cap. l. anime gravitatem facit, it brings heaviness to the soul." I could not omit so flattering a testimony from an author, who, having no theory of his own to serve, has so unconsciously contributed to the confirmation of mine. It is well known that this last-named
vegetable has, from the earliest periods which we can discover, constituted almost the sole food of this extraordinary race of people.
My husband and I are fond of company, and being in easy circumstances, we are seldom without a party to dinner two or three days in a week. The utmost cordiality has hitherto prevailed at our meetings; but there is a young gentleman, a near relation of my husband's, that has lately come among us, whose preposterous behaviour bids fair, if not timely checked, to disturb our tranquillity. He is too great a favourite with my husband in other respects, for me to remonstrate with him in 'any other than this distant way. A letter printed in your publication may catch his eye; for he is a great reader, and makes a point of seeing all the new things that come out. Indeed, he is by no means deficient in understanding. My husband says that he has a good deal of wit; but for my part I cannot say I am any judge of that, having seldom observed him open his mouth except for purposes very foreign to conversation. In short, Sir, this young gentleman's failing is, an immoderate indulgence of his palate. The first time he dined with us, he thought it necessary to extenuate the length of time he kept the dinner on the table, by declaring that he had taken a very long walk in the morning, and came in fasting; but as that excuse could not serve above once or twice at most, he has latterly dropped the mask altogether, and chosen to appear in his own proper colours without reserve or apology.
You cannot imagine how unpleasant his conduct has become. His way of staring at the dishes as they are brought in, has absolutely something immodest in it: it is like the stare of an impudent man of fashion at a fine woman, when she first comes into a room. l am positively in pain for the dishes, and cannot help thinking they have consciousness, and will be put out of countenance, he treats them so like what they are not.
Then again he makes no scruple of keeping a joint of meat on the table, after the cheese and fruit are brought in, till he has what he calls done with it. Now how awkward this looks, where there are ladies, you may judge, Mr. Editor,—how it disturbs the order and comfort of a meal. And yet I always make a point of helping him first, contrary to all good manners,
—before any of my female friends are helped, -that he may avoid this very error. I wish he would eat before he comes
What makes his proceedings more particularly offensive at our house is, that my husband, though out of common politeness he is obliged to set dishes of animal food before his visitors, yet himself and his whole family (myself included) feed entirely on vegetables. We have a theory, that animal food is neither wholesome nor natural to man; and even vegetables we refuse to eat until they have undergone the operation of fire, in consideration of those numberless little living creatures which the glass helps us to detect in every Fibre of the plant or root before it be dressed. On the same theory we boil our water, which is our only drink, before we suffer it to come to table. - Our children are perfect little Pythagoreans: it would do you good to see them in their nursery, stuffing their dried fruits, figs, raisins, and milk, which is the only approach to animal food which is allowed. They have no notion how the substance of a creature that ever had life can become food for another creature. A beef-steak is an absurdity to them ; a mutton-chop, a solecism in terms ; a cutlet, a word absolutely without any meaning; a butcher is nonsense, except so far as it is taken for a man who delights in blood, or a hero. In this happy state of innocence we have kept their minds, not allowing them to go into the kitchen, or to hear of any preparations for the dressing of animal food, or even to know that such things are practised. But as a state of ignorance is incompatible with a certain age; and as my eldest girl, who is ten years old next Midsummer, must shortly be introduced into the world and sit at table with us, where she will see some things which will shock all her received notions, I have been endeavouring by little and little to break her inind, and prepare it for the disagreeable impressions which must be forced upon it. The first hint I gave her upon the subject, I could see her recoil from
it with the same horror with which we listen to a tale of Anthropophagism ; but she has gradually grown more reconciled to it in some measure, from my telling her that it was the custom of the world,—to which, however senseless, we must submit so far as we could do it with innocence, not to give offence; and she has shown so much strength of mind on other occasions, which I have no doubt is owing to the calmness and serenity superinduced by her diet, that I am in good hopes, when the proper season for her debut arrives, she may be brought to endure the sight of a roasted chicken or a dish of sweetbreads, for the first time, without fainting. Such being the nature of our little household, you may guess what inroads into the economy of it, what revolutions and turnings of things upside down, the example of such a feeder as Mr. --- is calculated to produce. · I wonder at a time like the present, when the scarcity of every kind of food is so painfully acknowledged, that shame has no effect upon him." Can he have read Mr. Malthus's Thoughts on the Ratio of Food to Population ? Can he think it reasonable that one man should consume the sustenance of many ? '
The young gentleman has an agreeable air and person, such as are not unlikely to recommend him on the score of matrimony. But his fortune is not over large; and what prudent young woman would think of embarking hers with a man who would bring three or four mouths (or what is equivalent to them) into a family? She might as reasonably choose a widower in the same circumstances with three or four children.
I cannot think who he takes after. His father and mother, by all accounts, were very moderate eaters; only I have heard that the latter swallowed her victuals very fast, and the former had a tedious custom of sitting long at his meals. Perhaps he takes after both.
I wish you would turn this in your thoughts, Mr. Editor, and give us your ideas on the subject of excessive eating; and, particularly, of animal food.
EDAX ON APPETITE.
I Am going to lay before you a case of the most iniquitous persecution that ever poor devil suffered.
You must know, then, that I have been visited with a calamity ever since my birth. How shall I mention it without offending delicacy ? Yet out it must. My sufferings then have all arisen from a most inordinate appetite-
Not for wealth, 'not for vast possessions,—then might I have hoped to find a cure in some of those precepts of philosophers or poets,—those verba et voces which Horace speaks of:
not for glory, not for fame, not for applause,—for against this disease, too, he tells us there are certain piacula, or, as Pope has chosen to render it,
"rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied, Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride;"
nor yet for pleasure, properly so called: the strict and virtuous lessons which I received in early life from the best of parents, —a pious clergyman of the Church of England, now no more,
I trust have rendered me sufficiently secure on that side :-
No, Sir, for none of these things ; but an appetite, in its coarsest and least metaphorical sense, an appetite tor food.
The exorbitances of my arrow-root and pap-dish days I cannot go back far enough to reinember, only I have been told, that my mother's constitution not admitting of my being nursed at home, the woman who had the care of me for that purpose used to make most extravagant demands for my pretended excesses in that kind ; which my parents, rather than believe any thing unpleasant of me, chose to impute to the known covetousness and mercenary disposition of that sort of people. This blindness continued on their part after I was sent for home, up to the period when it was thought proper, on account of my advanced age, that l should mix with other boys more unre