« PreviousContinue »
mind, and a great scene of wretchedness is sketched out by a morsel of indigestible and misguided food. Of such infinite consequence to happiness is it to study the body!
There is pleasant humour, keen satire, and sound philosophy in the foregoing. INDIGESTION has much of human weakness, misery, and sin to answer for. It is not only a result, but the cause of much transgression. The "science of good living," if it is worth anything, ought to teach us how to avoid those things that, however palatable at the moment, bring headache, melancholy, and premature prostration of body and mind. Some men, the majority perhaps, can only learn wisdom in the school of experience. Sydney Smith learnt much at that institution. The following indicates that his habits and tastes were, in early life, convivial if not gross. Writing to Francis Jeffrey, Esq., Sept. 3rd, 1809, he concludes with these lines:
Though you are absent, jokes shall never fail;
What were the prevailing ideas in good society, in regard to what is called good living, may be well illustrated by the following characteristic note. written by Sydney Smith, from Edinburgh, 1827, to the Countess Grey :
Dr. Thompson advises as follows for you: - Broiled meat at breakfast, an egg, and chocolate. At twelve, a basin of rich soup. At two, a meat luncheon, and a tumbler of porter. A jelly at four. Dinner at six; four or five glasses of claret. Tea and a whole muffin. Hot supper and negus at ten. Something nourishing at the side of the bed.
This indicates that the writer saw the absurdity of what shallower observers would call "good living." So far back as June 25th, 1814, we find him writing the following sensible letter from London :
I liked London better than ever I liked it before, and simply, I believe, from waterdrinking. Without this, London is stupefaction and inflammation. It is not the love of wine, but thoughtlessness and unconscious imitation. Other men poke out their hands for the revolving wine, and one does the same without thinking of it. All people above the condition of labourers are ruined by excess of stimulus and nourishment, clergy included. I never yet saw any gentleman who ate and drank as little as was reasonable.
Unfortunately the lesson so well learnt and recited was afterwards forgotten or despised; and our vivacious friend became a victim to indigestion!
Twenty-two years afterwards we find him writing as follows to Sir George Philips:
Dec. 22nd, 1836.
I have had no gout, nor any symptom of it: by eating little, and drinking only water, I keep body and mind in a serene state, and spare the great toe. Looking back at my past life, I find that all my miseries of body and mind have proceeded from indigestion. Young people in early life should be thoroughly taught the moral, intellectual, and physical evils of indigestion.
Would that people, both young and old, would learn how to avoid the moral, intellectual, and physical evils of indigestion! We fear that Sydney Smith himself did not follow up the light and conviction he had attained to. Turning over his Memoirs we find the following letter, addressed to the Countess of Carlisle :
Sept. 5, 1840.
I am pretty well, except gout, asthma, and pains in all the bones, and all the flesh of my body. What a very singular disease gout is! It seems as if the stomach fell down into the feet. The smallest deviation from right diet is immediately punished by limping and lameness, and the innocent ankle and blameless instep are tortured for the vices of the nobler organs. The stomach having found this easy way of getting rid of inconveniences, becomes cruelly despotic, and punishes for the least offences. A plum, a glass of champagne, excess in joy, excess in grief,- any crime, however small, is sufficient for redness, swelling, spasms, and large shoes.
This is a graphic picture, and, we suppose, is not overdrawn. And yet the victim of gout, asthma, and pain in all the bones, and all the flesh, will scarcely be deterred from indulging his craving for that "good living" which has brought him down to "large shoes." But Sydney Smith was a remarkable man-a genius and a wit. He, no doubt, profited much by his cogitations whilst limping about his study in "large shoes." Writing to Lord Murray, September 29th, 1848, he humorously remarks:
You are, I hear, attending more to diet than heretofore. If you wish for anything like happiness in the fifth act of life, eat and drink about one half what you could eat and drink. Did I ever tell you my calculation about eating and drinking? Having ascertained the weight of what I could live upon, so as to preserve health and strength, and what I did live upon, I found that, between ten and seventy years of age, I had eaten and drunk forty fourhorse waggon loads of meat and drink more than would have preserved me in life and health! The value of this mass of nourishment I considered to be worth seven thousand pounds sterling. It occurred to me that I must, by my voracity, have starved to death fully a hundred persons. This is a frightful calculation, but irresistibly true: and, I think, dear Murray, your waggons would require an additional horse each!
Alas! there are many of the Murray tribe still in existence. We meet them day by day limping in large shoes. They crowd to watering places and hydropathic establishments. By attention to diet and the copious use of water they are partially restored; they return home, and fall into the old style of "good living," and again require the "large shoes."
We must bring our paper to a close, and can but include two or three more brief quotations from Lady Holland's Memoirs of her revered father.
At the age of sixty-six the Rev. Sydney Smith writes:
I was seized (on one occasion) with sudden giddiness, so as to fall, and for twenty-two hours was affected with violent pain. I kept my bed that day, and was weak and languid for some days after. Mr. Lyddon attributes it to indigestion. If this is the way that nature punishes us for the consumption of indigestible food, I am sure it is worth while to be strictly temperate; I will, therefore, in future, avoid soup and fish, and confine myself to one dish. I must not only attend to quantity, but quality. I may not be able to do this,--then I must die or be ill; but I am sure it is the best wisdom to do it.
Yes! QUALITY as well as QUANTITY. How many overlook this! At seventy he
If you wish to keep mind clear and body healthy, abstain from all fermented liquor.
This is a sentence worthy of all acceptance. Mr. Gladstone might profit by attention to the lesson of wisdom it conveys. It is a better prescription than Dr. Ferguson ever wrote for any of his rich patients-we imagine. Having drank wine of all kinds-light and heavy, nearly all his life, he gives the following testimony in favour of tea and coffee.
Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea. I can drink any quantity when I have not tasted wine; otherwise I am haunted by blue devils by day, and dragons by night. If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee.
Writing to Lady Holland, December, 1838, after having abstained from all abstained from all intoxicants for some time, he bears the following remarkable testimony :
My dear Lady Holland,-Many thanks for your kind anxiety respecting my health. I not only was never better, but never half so well. Indeed I find I have been very ill all my life without knowing it. Let me state some of the good arising from abstaining from all fermented liquors. First, sweet sleep; having never known what sweet sleep was, I sleep like a baby or a plough-boy. If I wake, no needless terrors, no black visions of life; but pleasing hopes and pleasing recollections-Holland House past and to come! If I dream, it is not of lions or tigers but of Easter dues and tithes. Secondly, I can take longer walks
and make greater exertions without fatigue. My understanding is improved-and I comprehend political economy. (!) I see better without wine and spectacles than when I used both Only one evil ensues from it: I am in such extravagant spirits that I must lose blood or look out for some one who will bore and distress me. Pray leave off wine,-the stomach quite at rest, no heartburn, no pain, no distension.
We close by giving the following beautiful words, written in latin, a few days before his death:
"Ilic jacet!"-O last goal of human things, beyond which labour and mourning and cares are at rest,-beyond which riches and glory are weighed as nothing, and this vain and turbid life returns to nought! Oh that men would thus regard thee! What wars throughout the world, what passions of the soul, how many dangers besetting us, might obtain an easy termination without slaughter or blood! Mayest thou be present before my eyes, not a mournful image, but an admonisher, that I should regulate myself; since this house is to me the vestibule of the tomb, and the next to the closing seat of my old age!
DR. LANKESTER'S OBJECTIONS.
WE shall now attempt to complete what we had not space for in our last. In the Lectures "On Food" at the South Kensington Museum, Dr. Lankester says: Whatever may be the arguments of the Vegetarians, they do not practically carry out their doctrines, for they partake of considerable quantities of animal food. They take milk and butter, and cheese and eggs. Dr. Carpenter states, in a recent review, that he had taken a Vegetarian cookery-book, and calculated the quantity of milk, butter, and eggs, employed in their food, and found that if a Vegetarian family lived in accordance with the rules of this book, cach member would consume half an ounce more animal food than he did in his own family,-and he was on Vegetarian. So that you see people are deceiving themselves who enforce such a doctrine as this." This charge of dishonesty and inconsistency has been already noticed in our pages, and it is not necessary to reply at any length to it again. What, then, is the doctrine that we expound and teach? Simply that it is desirable on physical, moral, and social grounds to abstain from the flesh of animals as food. There is a considerable difference in the practice of those who have adopted this principle. Some in this country, and in America, do not partake of the four articles named in the above extract, whilst there are others--the major portion in fact--that do use them, but not to the extent that Dr. Lankester seems to suppose. Both parties are convinced that in the products of the field and the garden there is every thing that is necessary to build up the human frame and promote its growth-to maintain the warmth of the body and supply the waste which is every moment going forward. The latter class of Vegetarians do not deem it to be their duty to abstain entirely from those articles which can be obtained from the living animal. It may be said that they ought not to be designated Vegetarians. The chief reason for the use of this term is that they cannot find a better. They have no particular objection to be called anti-flesh eaters, but to ears polite it might not be very agreeable. Let it, however, be distinctly understood that this less agreeable term does accurately describe their practice. Dr. Lankester calls milk and eggs "animal food." They have, it is true, been obtained from the animal, but they have not been subjected to the same law as when the blood of the animal has become fibre, &c. Hence there is a great difference betwixt the digestibility of butter and the fat from the dead animal. The former is agreeable and wholesome,
moderately used, but the latter is very disagreeable and indigestible. Strictly speaking, the abovementioned articles-milk, butter, eggs, and cheese-are semianimal products. But whatever term be applied to them is really not a very important matter. It is a fact that there is a considerable difference betwixt these substances and flesh as to digestibility and wholesomeness. Discretion should, no doubt, be exercised in their use, as in the use of other useful articles. Our experience teaches us that if used at all that use should only be occasional. We refer now to eggs and cheese. Both Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Lankester have drawn a wrong conclusion from one class of receipts in the Vegetarian cookery-book. In the majority of cases Vegetarians do not use these semi-animal products in larger quantity than flesh-eaters, and in not a few instances the latter use them in larger quantity. Dr. Lankester need not flatter himself that we are deceiving ourselves. It is true that we are liable, with our mode of living, to occasional mistakes, but having tried both systems of dict, we have a consciousness in favour of the one we now practice, which no amount of theorising and argumentation can displace or overthrow. Experience teaches, and it will teach, the unscientific and the unlearned important lessons as to diet, if they will listen to it. It is necessary, however, that we should enter the school of experience that we may hear its teachings. An experiment must be made. Let it be judiciously made, and those childish fears as to the dangerous results which many indulge may be cast to the winds. Our Heavenly Father knoweth our frame, and there is abundant proof that every thing necessary for its healthy sustentation can be obtained without slaying those animals which are so extensively used for food.
At page 173, Dr. Lankester observes: "There is no question that man may live on a purely vegetable diet; but the question is as to whether that kind of diet is best for the community. We find in the history of man that those races who have partaken of animal food are the most vigorous, the most moral, and the most intellectual races of mankind. You find that the ancient Jews, although they had certain sanitary regulations with regard to killing and eating animals, partook largely of meat, and were amongst the most vigorous people of their day. We find in modern Europe that those nations who take the most animal food are the strongest; and amongst ourselves, it is just in proportion as we give our labourers animal food, or wages to procure it, that they are stronger and better able to do their work. It is vain for a man to expect to get through intellectual or physical labour without an abundant supply of the material of thought and of physical power, and I have shown you that animal food is one of the readiest means of affording this supply.”
There is one good feature in the above extract-it is clear and unambiguous. "Those races who have partaken of animal food are the most vigorous, the most moral, and the most intellectual races of mankind." The statement in this sentence is not in accordance with our reading of history; but supposing for argument sake we admit its correctness, the question is, were these races superior in vigour, morality, and intellect, to other races, because they partook of animal food? Coincidence and causation are often confounded. Two things may be associated without standing to each other in the relation of cause and effect.
In speaking of races and nations it should be remembered that we have no instance of a nation, whether of a flesh-eating character or one subsisting upon a Vegetarian diet, that has been conspicuous for a strict observance of all those conditions upon which health, vigour, moral, and intellectual power mainly depend. But so far as we can fairly institute a comparison betwixt races practising the two
different modes of living, we are justified in drawing a different conclusion. Loɔk at a few facts. The great majority of the human race have always been Vegetarians. To use the language of a writer in the "Westminster Review" several years ago, "Look at the Essenes among the Jews and the Pythagoreans among the Greeks; look at the beauty and liveliness of the potato-fed Irish in their better days, the solidity and intelligence of the porridge-fed Scotch, the size and endurance of the Russians, with their black bread and garlic, the peasantries of almost all Europe,-in short, the fine figures of the abstemious Persians, and the strength of professed Vegetarians, to say nothing of the Spartan heroes and the corn-grinding cohorts of Rome. . . . In Chili the people are fed chiefly on dried beans with a portion of bread. Their temperament is hilarious, their faces round, their figures plump. In La Plata, on the contrary, the everlasting food is animal-chiefly beef, and the men are savage-looking and lank loined. Chili overflows with population; La Plate is scant." We might multiply facts were it necessary. Dr. Lankester is oblivious of everything which seems to oppose his preconceived views, and he tries to make history support a foregone conclusion. Look also at the important testimony which the experience of some of the most gifted of our race furnishesMilton, Newton, Shelley, &c.
There are in this country and in America, particularly amongst the Bible Christians, many persons of adult age who have never tasted animal food, and who will not suffer, in a fair comparison, as respects mental and bodily development, with the best specimens of flesh eaters that can be found.
Dr. Lankester advocates the use of animal food for our labourers. He seems to overlook the fact that a large proportion of the hard work in agricultural districts is done by men who use little or no animal food. The evidence as to the physical advantages of Vegetarianism is so abundant and conclusive, that we cannot but feel astonished at the above opinion.
By these remarks we do not expect to effect any change in the views of Dr. Lankester, but we hope they may have an effect upon those who may have been misled by his plausible and confident tone.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE.
(Concluded from page 68.)
ALL persons admit that in some countries men are better without stimulants than with them, but in these cold northern regions, they say, the body is unable to withstand the chilling influences which surround it, without the help of stimulants to keep up the animal heat. If proper food to build up the bedy can be procured, and the conditions of life can be fulfilled, we are not aware that anything further can be done; for, if these are not sufficient, can anything be got from stimulants? No. Stimulants furnish nothing to build up the body, and therefore are no use in that sense. Neither do they supply the principal condition of life-heat; their only use is to accelerate the system-an exhaustive process. If, therefore, man cannot live without stimulants, he is certainly doomed if he take to their use.
It is the duty of those who maintain the necessity of stimulants to prove the It is casy to say they are necessary, but where is the proof? We think we have given good reason to believe they are injurious. "But then," says an objector, "if they are evil yet they are necessary, and any little injury resulting