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dark complexion, among the upper classes, it is where the mother keeps an apothecary or a medicine chest, and the child is dieted on calomel and salts; when it afterwards learns to diet itself, when it becomes a miss or a master, in the same manner, and ends in being a nervous, hysterical, pale-green, hypochondriacal repository of drugs, blue devils, and bad temper. Rheumatism is not the produce of gluttony; nor sciatica, nor cancer, nor epilepsy, nor hysterics, nor insanity; and these take an ample share in the operation of "scourging the human race.” If stone and gravel are thus produced, we must ask, why they appear in children
-even in infants; why every fiftieth inhabitant of Norfolk, or of the banks of the German Rhine, is the subject, and among the especial ones, too, of these fearful disorders ?
But there is no end to this, unless we were to go through the whole nosology, which seems to have been contrived to shew us how many crooked roads there are to lead us out of the world. And if we did go through it, we should shew, with equal ease, that no one disease could be fairly and safely traced to ordinary intemperance in eating, not even in the cases of acknowledged gluttons. A man may occasionally have called down an impending fit of apoplexy by extreme or coarse excess; he may even have habitually nursed such a tendency; a fact which we do not mean to dispute. Yet this very disease does occur equally in the temperate and the water-drinker; and it is familiar that, in women-who, compared to men of equal ranks, are notedly temperate, both in eating and drinking-there are ten cases of palsy for one in a man.
That gluttony, in the real and vulgar sense, is not a common vice, we surely need not say; yet, however disgusting, its immediate evils are seldom more than the temporary and well known derangements, which, for the sake of our general readers, we do not choose to state in technical language. If the glutton suffers further, he deserves it; but he is a monster whom no one will pity, and for whose sake it is not necessary to alarm and starve the whole world, and to fulminate diseases and terrors against the human appetite.
But there are two species of anathema wielded by the Snatchaways. The one is against quantity, and the other against quality. He, who is not suffocated by beef and pudding, is to be poisoned by pepper and pickles ; by a drachm of Harvey's sauce, or a spoonful of anchovy garum. And the Hunters and the Kitcheners write nonsense, because it makes their books sell. These “death in the pot” gentlemen, and their medical abettors, are even less honest than Mr. Frederick Accum, who threatens only with lead and copperas, while their minatory denunciations are levelled against vol au vents, sautès, and salmies.
Now, our neighbours, the French are, of a very different opinion, and so are we. It is the very essence of the French cuisine, that, by means of cookery and variety, it is a medicinal cuisine. No man ever dined at Beauvilliers, or at the Cafè of the Chaussèe D'Antin, without being sensible how much more he could eat than of English beef and mutton, how much lighter was his digestion, brisker his faculties, and easier his slumbers. Need we quote the Almanach des Gourmands in support ;-need we quote every Homme de Bouche that has written in aid of this divine science ?
But if we are really to defend the necessity of eating in this world, we ought to proceed logically and categorically. In the first place, it is an eating world, and seems to have been made on purpose for eating and being eaten. As yet, indeed, we have not learnt to eat stones; but, with the aid of modern chemistry, perhaps, we may in time arrive at that also; and population and political economy will be subjected to new calculations. Every thing else is eaten, or eats; and really the greater portion of the animal creation seems to have nothing else to do, and to be sent down for no other purpose. Man, indeed, writes books; but even the end of these is that he may eat, or, rather, that his publisher and bookseller may. This is the ultimate object and purpose; even where he tries to frighten his neighbours with starvation or gout.
It is, moreover, true, that every animal eats as much as it can procure, and as much as it can hold. A cow eats but to sleep, and sleeps but to eat; and not content with eating all day long, “ twice it slays the slain,” and eats its dinners over again. A whale swallows ten millions of living shrimps at a draught; a nursling canary bird eats its own bulk in a day, and a caterpillar eats five hundred times its weight before it lies down, to rise a butterfly. The mite and the maggot eat the very world in which they live, they nestle and build in their roast beefand cheese; and the hyena, for want of better, eats himself. Yet a maggot has not the gout, and a whale is not subject to the sciatica.
Nor does Captain Lyon inform us that an Esquimaux is troubled · with tooth-ache, dyspepsia, or hysterics, though he eats ten pounds of seal and drinks a gallon of oil at a meal, and though his meal lasts as long as his meat. But if eating is to produce diseases, which of all the nosology would be absent from the carcase of Captain Cochrane's Siberian friends, who eat forty pounds of meat, with twenty of rice porridge, and heaven knows what more, at a sitting?
It is the universal law.of nature, that every animal eats as long as it can, and as much; and when it has eaten, it sleeps, to begin again if it can. Man, who writes books to prove that Nature is wrong, makes laws of his own, and we believe and tremble. However mysterious may be that provision in our physiological system, by which Nature has contrived, that whatever superfluous food be taken, should be without effect, the fact is unquestionable. The man who eats five pounds of beef is not one jot better nourished - than he who eats one; nor, except in particular cases, does he gain
additional weight or strength. He does not always even become · fat; although this is a substance, into which the system sometimes
converts a part of that food, which is not required for the ordinary repair of waste. But, not to enter into medical and physiological details too deeply, it is notorious that, in brute animals, as well as in man, superfluous food may be used without producing superfluous effects, and without inconvenience. The singing bird in a cage will eat, and during the whole term of its natural life, ten times as much as it could procure in the wild state. The voracity of the cormorant is proverbial; and the same is true of all the fishing birds. It is the same in man in the wild state; as some savage nations are eternally filled with food, while others are in a perpetual state of starvation. Nothing can be more unlike to each other in this respect than a Greenlander and an Arab of the desert, a New Hollander and an Otaheitean; and yet the average of life and disease does not in general differ between these different nations of savage people. If, indeed, it does differ, that difference is always in favor of
And thus, also, it is in the civilized state. Nature has no means of remedying the want of food, while it has a steady remedy for excess, or for superfluity, and finds other occasional remedies, to which we will not allude, for occasional grosser exceedings. There can be no question, that if we assume the medium of merely sufficient food as a standard (and this standard cannot be better chosen, than at that by which modern boxers are, and the ancient athletæ were trained), there is far more injury and disease produced by feeding below than by feeding above it.
The effects are obvious in the diseases and the premature old age of the poorer and ill fed classes, when compared to the richer. In general, the working people, even of our own country, are underfed when compared to their labour; and the consequences are obvious even in their appearance. It is extremely striking in those parts of the country where the food is chiefly or entirely vegetable, and therefore seast nutritious; as in Ireland, Wales, Cumberland, Scotland, and so on. If a soldier is an old man at forty, it cannot be from labour; as, even in war, his labour is not severe or constant, and, in peace, it is nothing. If we compare the apparent age of the working classes at forty with that of the idle and luxurious at the same term of life, the difference is enormously in favor of the latter. In the female sex, it turns the scale between ugliness and beauty; and beauty, need we say, like youth, is health. That other causes conspire in favor of the rich against the poor, we, of course, admit; but the leading cause is better and more food, or, we have no hesitation in stating it, excess of food, or more food than is rigidly necessary. That such excess is not, on the average, injurious, is a consequence even more clear; and, on this point, we are therefore at issue with Gay and the Snatchaways.
But there is another crime in the eyes of these minatory and phagophobus philosophers. There are two crimes, two terrors ; cookery and variety. Man is a cooking animal, for the same reasons he is a tayloring one; and if he has been sent naked into this bitter world, that he might make himself a coat, so he has been furnished with flint and steel, that he might learn to boil his potatoes. If a monkey had wit enough, he would be glad to roast his chesnuts at the fire where he warms his black fingers; and if he had talent enough to construct even a Highland kilt, we should soon find him drinking cocoa nut wine, distilling arrack, and dressing his pignuts a la daube.
By cooking, it is supposed, that our animal food is rendered more digestible, as well as more acceptable ; and as to our vegetable food, with the exception of garlic, cucumbers, and a few more, it is certain that we must cook it, or leave it to swine. We do not exactly see how a mutton chop is rendered poisonous, because it is wrapped up in paper, d la Maintenon, or fried with crumbs of bread and parsley into a cotelette, or kabobed, or curried, or chopped small and moulded into a boudin a la Richlieu. The half of our most refined cookery is cookery but to the eye; the other half is produced by the most trifling additions, to communicate flavour, of substances which are either neutral, or innocent, or salutary. An atom of vinegar, of sweet herbs, as Mrs. Glase calls them, of pepper, or cinnamon, or sugar, or what not, turns the scale between cookery and plain food; for the meat itself, and the vegetables like the meat, can be but roasted or fried, boiled or stewed. Whether the beef is to be swallowed first and the carrots afterwards, or whether the beef and the carrots are to be eaten together à la mode, or in any mode whatever, does really seem a case of bonnet blanc and blanc bonnet; yet the one is virtuous plain living, and the other is pernicious cookery.
The whole is a question of chemistry, and not of cant and words. There are meat, vegetables, condiment, butter, egg, flour, and gravy, not to state the elements more chemically and minutely; and, though these are cooked little, or cooked much, there can be nothing but combinations of these elements, on any table, or in any cuisine. The stomach receives all and manages all; and, whether it receives them ready mixed, or mixes them after reception, seems truly a matter of indifference. He is a terrific glutton, indeed, who eats soup, fish, beef, mutton, fowl, tart, pudding, and cheese ; who eats round the table“ ab ovo usque ad mala," ending with strawberries and pine apples. But, after all, he has only eaten words; for, eat as he may, he can eat but animal matter, vegetable matter, and condiment, cooked by the heat of water, or by the heat of fire-roasted, fried, boiled, stewed, and broiled: figure or disfigure, serve, arrange, flavour, or adorn it, as the cook may, be he my Lord Stair's cook or the Marquis of Hertford's-Crockford's, or my Lord Sefton's.
With respect to extreme cookery, we will however admit one fact, and it is that the gravy or gluten of meat, taken in large quantities, and in too condensed a state, does often disagree with the stomach, as if that organ required to do this portion of the work itself. Hence the inconvenience which sometimes occurs,
and particularly among those who are not habituated to such diet, from ragouts, as they are called, or from all that class of cookery, where the animal substances have been too far resolved into their constituent gluten and fibrine by long continued and gradual heat. The cause of this is far from apparent; but, although we admit the fact as occasional, we do not admit, that it is common or necessary, nor do we suppose that it is productive of more than temporary inconvenience. Yet that effect is counteracted by the use of dry and bulky matter; and hence the large quantity of bread consumed at a French table. Nor is it a necessary consequence; as those who are familiar with turtle soup, know that it is by no means generally difficult of digestion, but is esteemed quite the
There are many popular mistakes, even among medical men, respecting the immediate effects of many kinds of diet; and our principal object in this slender essay is to defend the common practice and opinions of mankind, and of animals too, against the nonsensical cant of the ascetico-medical faction.
We hear every day, and particularly when we are sick, or when our friends are, of light diet and delicate stomachs, and of being allowed a bit of fish, or a boiled chicken, or a jelly, or what not; to every one of which the unlucky patient would object if he could, while the apothecary goes on in the old routine, which he has heard from the apothecary before him. Generally, it requires a powerful and a healthy stomach to dispose of such trash, as boiled chicken and veal broth. As to jelly, it is a mere deception; it is as if a man expected to be fed better by ice than by water, because it is solid, and can be eaten instead of drunk. Jelly is broth, and nothing more. If the broth is good, the jelly is good; yet the latter is replete with virtue~new virtues, derived from the glass and the tea-spoon. Such it is, not to think, not to analyse. And thus also, while a quart of good broth would be but a moderate allowance, the nurse and the apothecary both would faint with horror at the convalescent, who should devour the same dose in the shape of a dozen jellies. The whole College would be reproved at the renegade, who should prescribe turtle soup to the man recovering from pleurisy; and yet the same soup is but the jelly in the cut glass, wine, lemon, and all; the only difference being salt in lieu of sugar. Such are the discoveries of chemistry and common
The convalescent and delicate stomach requires stimulant, not mawkish, food. A red herring is more appropriate than a fresh whiting; and generally, indeed, it requires an able stomach to treat at all with boiled fish. Let the convalescent be fed with mutton chops, with beef steaks, with game.
Proper restric tion lies in the quantity., Nothing but extreme ignorance, with the facile habit of following dull and old routines, would have thought of still further debilitating the stomach already weakened. It often wants stimulus, and seldom more so than after diseases;
VOL. II. NO. X.