« PreviousContinue »
the irritable state of the patient's stomach and bowels, the fruit and vegetables were regarded by the medici who attended him as particularly dangerous.
I must say, in conclusion of this hasty letter, that all I have observed of the good effect of vegetable or any other diet, appears to me referable to its power, arising either from some idiosyncrasy, or some peculiar state of the patient's system, of tranquilizing stomachic and intestinal irritation ; by this means of insuring better digestion, and producing that tranquillity and healthy action of the chylopoietic viscera, which is necessary to the cure of every disorder whether general or local, which is the principal condition of the maintenance of health. Of the remote effects of peculiar diets on the animal system, where digestion upholds temporary health for a while, I know absolutely nothing. I must therefore confine my practice of medicine to actual experience of facts; and be contented till, by your labors, and the future inquiries of chemical physiologists, more is known about the component substances of the animal fibre; to recommend people to acquire and preserve, by mental tranquillity, temperance, and exercise, and to restore by simple medicines in diseases, the healthy action of those important organs, which nature has designed to repair the daily waste, and to restore the accidental injuries of our mutable fabric.
It may be well to observe, in the course of this inquiry, that if your doctrine and experience should be able to show that people may live healthily in all climates on vegetable productions, the same quantity of land would sustain more human beings; a fact of which agriculturists have assured me that people would be more free from disease, and from inducements to gluttony and intemperance, and that the removal of the disgusting scenes of cruelty, practiced on edible animals, would be gratifying to those who are organized to feel benevolently, would cease to operate as an incitement to the bad feeling of others, and would tend in time to a better state of society,
A circumstance may be mentioned here, of great moment in the education of youth, namely, that the principles of all human actions are in the organization, though education and external influences are necessary, generally, to excite their activity. Examples have the most powerful influence in rousing either the good or bad feelings; and precepts are of little avail in comparison. The constant habit of destroying animated beings, both for food and for amusement, is therefore one of the most fertile sources of the ferocity and brutality of the human character. Hence we see the moral benefit of any diet which would diminish, in any considerable degree, this baneful example. Children, says an eminent author, begin with killing fies, and end their lives at the gallows for the crime of murder!
MEDICUS. London, Jan. 21, 1815.
Hypochondriasis, Headache, Indigestion, Costiveness, and Jaundice.
FROM A CORRESPONDENT. DEAR SIR,
The incalculable benefit which I have, for these last two years, experienced, and am daily experiencing from the vegetable regimen, with distilled water, would have been, independent of any other consideration, a reason sufficient for complying with your wish, to have the principal facts of my case. There are yet other considerations which have much weight with me; you have made me greatly, and I would not hope ungratefully, your debtor for all which I now enjoy of health, of tranquillity, and of serenity of mind. Besides, it is but just, that you should be put in possession of every instance wherein evident and acknowledged good has resulted from the diffusion of your opinions, since it is only by the multiplication of facts that the truth of your position can be made to “come home to men's business and bosoms.”
Should you judge the detail of my case worthy of publication, perhaps it may not be misplaced to observe, that I made trial of the vegetable regimen when you were unknown to me, even by name; and therefore I was not influenced by any previously formed opinion of what food is most natural to man. Imperfect as was my trial of the regimen at first, much benefit was derived from it; many unpleasant and intolerable sensations were alleviated; still something was felt to be wanting to its completion, when it was my happiness to become acquainted with you, who instructed me in the necessity of abandoning every thing animalized, and of adopting a strict vegetable regimen, with distilled water; since which time my health has sensibly increased, and is daily increasing ; felicity of mind, which had been despaired of, has been obtained; and ultimately there will be assured “quiete et pure et eleganter actæ
ætatis placida ac lenis senectus.” Having premised thus much, I will state my case.
At a very early period of life, and, indeed, during the whole of my education at school, my health was uncertain and precarious. What particular aliment I labored under cannot at this distance of time be remembered ; perhaps, however, an opinion may be formed of the nature of my complaints, when it is known, that between my thirteenth and fourteenth years, I was very severely attacked with jaundice; and that previously, for many years, distressing headaches, and symptoms of indigestion, with habitual costiveness, had been experienced. Various were the means had recourse to, besides the aid of medicine, to alleviate my sufferings, to re-establish my health, and to correct a constitution, denominated bilious; all was of no avail, and I dragged on a miserable existence until the age of fifteen, when I was removed from school, and was for a series of years laboriously and actively employed. This situation in life did certainly improve my health; and no doubt but much more would have been done by my active employment, toward the re-establishment of my health, had I not suffered myself to be influenced by the general opinion, that labor and activity can only be gone through when animal substances and fermented liquors are used ; hence I was neither sparing of the former, partaking of it thrice in the day ; nor very temperate, though not intemperate, in the latter. After the expiration of that series of years, my views and intentions in life having been changed, and otherwise directed, my labor and activity were succeeded by sedentariness, and studiousness; here again I was inconsiderately persuaded by persons equally inconsiderate and unreflecting with myself, who, however, as medical men ought to have been better instructed, that the labor of the mind cannot be endured and supported, but by having recourse to solids and liquids of a stimulating quality. The ill effects of such mode of living, the seeds of which most certainly had been sown, and deeply, between my fourteenth and twenty-first years, now became manifest. In a very short time, I was wholly incapable of continuing my mental labor ; was harassed by giddiness, and confusion of the head; my stomach was much more disordered, and my bowels were very much more irregular; my mind became depressed, and disturbed by all the melancholy forebodings of a thorough hypochondriac, experiencing
"mortis formidinem et iram, Somnia, terroses magicos, miracula, sagas, Nocturnos Lemures portentaque Thessala."
To enumerate the means devised, and made trial of to relieve me, would be to repeat what is usually enjoined in similar cases ; suffice it to say, such was my condition, now better, now worse, for many years, from 1802 to 1810, in which last year my health was very much worse than it had been in any former year. Being at Edinburgh, as a student of medicine, and a pupil of Dr. Gregory, I requested his advice, which was of no avail. Fortunately, however, I had become acquainted with a student of medicine who had been similarly affected with myself. Mentioning to him my case, he wished me to make trial of a vegetable regimen, with milk. I did, and during the six months my stay at Edinburgh was protracted my health was much amended. Yet no solid nor substantial benefit was derived from the vegetable regimen until I had been introduced to you, in January, 1812, and had perused your publications ; when the milk was abandoned, and distilled water substituted in its place. The change from that year has been great: all that had rendered existence irksome has been removed; my mind is tranquilized and calmed; my health has increased, and no doubt will continue to increase, never again, I trust, to be greatly diminished. Perhaps a short narrative of what I am now equal to in mind and body, contrasted with what I was not equal to, when living upon flesh, and fermented liquors, will be convincing. In 1812 my mind and body were capable of enduring more exertion than in 1811; in this year, 1813 and especially in the past summer, a great accession of mental vigor, and of bodily strength and activity, has been gained, more than in 1812 ; but an improvement had also been experienced in 1812, greater than in 1811; the inference is plain and obvious—
“ Mobilitate vigeo viresque acquiro eundo.” Through the past summer, I have not unfrequently risen at four o'clock in the morning to study, and I have generally gone to bed at ten o'clock; my sleep has been sound and refreshing, and free from horrid dreams. Not so when my food was flesh, and my drink fermented liquors; then the hours of sleep did not refresh me in mind, nor recruit me in body; but now it is
“ Airy, light, from pure digestion bred,
. And temperate vapors bland." Through the past summer, I have been equal to more walking exercise, been much less fatigued, and required less suste
nance; fruit, with bread and biscuit, in moderate quantity being sufficient. Indeed I have observed that the lighter the food, and the more moderate in quantity, the more walking exercise I am equal to ; moreover, my respiration is more equable, each inspiration is longer, and the number within a given time fewer, consequently the ability to continue exercise is increased. Very different was it, when I lived not as at present; then there was wanted not only the inclination to exercise, but an ability to continue it; upon level ground my respiration was frequent, hurried, laborious, now I can ascend a long and steep hill, walking very little slower than upon level ground ; and when I have surmounted the hill, my respiration has been in no degree either hurried or panting. With respect to my bowels, they are now regular, requiring no medicine to excite them to action ; on the contrary, when I lived otherwise than at present, they were torpid, and needed much stimulating; in short, my habit of body was considered constitutionally costive; an opinion most decidedly erroneous; it having been my erroneous and unnatural mode of living which contributed thereto. I should here close my statement in the usual and generally unmeaning language of persons who wish not to appear ungrateful, but I restrain myself; to you, dear sir, “conscientia bene actæ vitæ, multorumque benefactorum recordatio, jucundissima est."
JUSTINIAN MINOOH. Walworth, 6th Oct., 1813.
CASES XVIII., XIX., XX., AND XXI.
FROM A CORRESPONDENT.
I HAVE great satisfaction in being able to give the memoirs of a third family, who (I hope I may say it without the imputation of vanity) have had the spirit and good sense to imitate the example given by Mr. Newton and myself. This I shall do in the words of the head of the family, a gentleman resident in a distant county, conveyed to me in the following letter: