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lessly or carelessly adopted by persons who would seldom be in danger from the systematic works to which those topics more strictly belong.
ART. IV.-Dyspepsy Forestalled and Resisted : or Lectures
on Diet, Regimen, and Employment : Delivered to the Students of Amherst College ; Spring Term, 1830. By EDWARD HITCHCOCK, Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in that Institution. Amherst. Published by J. S.
& C. Adams & Co. Means without Living. Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Co. 1837.
The world is peopled by two classes of beings, which seem to be as cognate and necessary to each other as male and female. Charlatans and dupes exist by a mutual dcpendence. There is a tacit understanding, thut whatever the one invents the other must believe. All bills which the former draws, the latter comes forward at once and honours. One is Prospero, the other his poor slave Caliban. The charlatan tricks himself out in a mask, assumes a deep, hollow voice, and struts upon the stage; while the dupe sits gaping in the pit, and takes every word that drops from the rogue's mouth for gospel-truth and genuine philosophy. It would really seem as if the two parties had entered into a solemn compact, that wherever the one exhibited as charlatan, the other, by an absolute necessity, agrees to be present as simpleton. Let the rogue open shop to dispense pills, the simpleton, as soon as he learns the fact, hies to the place of trade, and, pouring down his pence on the counter, takes his box of specifics, and walks complacently away. The knaves seem to consider the world as a rich parish–a large diocese of dunces, into which they have an hereditary and prescriptive right to be installed. T'hey are never at rest until they have some subject on which to hold forth in public; some novel doctrine running against the grain of the old good sense; some antiquated sophism dressed in a new suit, to be put forth to surprise and startle the community, and gather around it (as a gay adventurer) an army of disciples. These men constantly assume an attitude of battle. They wage war upon every thing past, present, and to
" Rather than fail, they will decry
Quarrel with minc'd pies, and disparage
Here, in the lines just quoted, is an exact portrait of a modern lecturer on Dietetics, sketched by the hand of an Old Master. General ignorance with a smattering of medical knowledge; some fluency in speaking, or readiness with the pen; great tact in discovering the disposition, and skill in the management of a certain class of persons; an air of easy, cool impudence in public; an oracular and self-possessed manner in private; are parts of that beautiful mosaic an apostle of dietetics. Of such materials are framed those little men who attempt upon the earth to rival Deity : who assume his thunder and trident; his power to shake the heart with fear ; to regulate the human system; and to denounce penal fires, and all imagin. able and unimaginable tortures, on the head of rebellion. These are the cunning plotters who work upon weak minds through their fancies and doubts. “They give a life and body to their fears.” Such men, broken down in health and dyspeptic, whose whole lives have been a scene of miserable and false feelings, engendered by a morbid condition of body, assume to become prophets and dispensers of health. These ruined and ruinous horologes would give the time o'day to the healthy world.
In every age there has existed some favourite theory for the regeneration of the race; some grand discovery (about to be made), which was to be universal, ubiquitous in its influence and success. At one time the philosopher's stone; in the next age a short passage to the East Indies, and now, in a third and less romantic period, all the great objects of amelioration and amendment are to be accomplished by the substitution of unbolted flour in the place of pure wheat and solid animal food. The authors of these miraculous discoveries believe that the human race is to be regenerated solely through the medium of the palate ; that the channels of access to the human head and human heart are not, as of old, through the understanding and the affections, but through the alimentary ducts. Instead of winding along the shore of the Mediterranean and over the shoals of the Indian Ocean, they strike boldly across the Atlantic, and find the country for which they are in search. They take for granted that man has no imagination, no heart, no nerves, no soul, nor arteries ; but that he is a creature all stomach ; that one mighty abdomen is the badge and property of human kind; and that in it centres the machinery, from it spring the movements, which build up and
overturn states and empires—the strong fancy which moulds itself in epics and histories—the gentle pathos which melts us from the pulpit or in the elegy—the fierce wrath and“ energy divine” which shake the stage; all hold their court in this vast, subterranean cavern, and from it rush forth upon the world.
The first great canon of this code of living, is that the flesh of beasts be banished from the table. Unholy pig, nor stupid veal, nor silly mutton, corpulent roast beef, nor presumptuous sirloin, must appear before these chaste, dietetic vestals." Calf, sheep, ox, fowl, partridge--they know them not in animated Nature. They have revised the edible Universe, and from it stricken those blots and monsters. Tender-souled philanthropists! They would know why these should not run rampant, and fly on the earth and in the air harmless? They are joint-denizens here. Fellow-citizens of ours, are these good friends. These natural feeders have “a touch that makes them kin” with us. Let them grow and multiply. Let them fatten in our meadows, and spread their pinions in our woods. Like us, they are for an equitable division of property ; they, too, are humble Agrarians; their desires are moderate. Till your fields until the sweat pearls upon your forehead: you need not chaffer with customers. They will take the crop of grain off your hands. Gay creatures, they will frisk and eat for you : they have made us their stewards ; if we plough and plant, they will, most willingly, gather the increase.
" The hog that ploughs not, nor obeys thy call,
Lives on the labours of this lord of all. --
Yes, these prodigal Pythagoreans, these vegetable philosophers, would give the earth up to the undisputed possession of Messrs. Ox, Hog & Company. They would hand the title-deeds over to that firm. It has, perhaps, never entered the head of these anti-carnivorous gentlemen, these minor Omnipotents, who would change mankind into so many Nebuchadnezzars, and send the world to eat grass, what disposition they would make of their four-footed rivals in the event of the general adoption of their principles. We would have to turn back into heathenism, and offer up a hecatomb to each one of the forty thousand gods of antiquity to reduce the cattle-market within reasonable
limits. “ Man partakes," says one of the learned doctors of this school," of the nature of the animal which he eats !” Here
is a reverse system of metempsychosis. The old doctrine was, that the soul of a philosopher might possess the body of a donkey, but it is an altogether new-fangled thing for the spirit of a Bakewell bull or a Merino to take up its residence, in the body of a doctor of divinity or that of a lecturer on Hygiene. But so it is, and it needs but a little disorder of the nerves to make the imagination teem with frightful consequences of this new faith. Only to think of our rosy-cheeked friend, the Englishman, who feeds on roast beef, in the excitement of a political argument suddenly protruding upon us the horns of an O.x! Or Madame Beauvais, our vivacious and agreeable French acquaintance, getting animated into one of the frogs she loves so well! Dear old Piscator, too, who delighteth so in fishing and in eating fish, to imagine him jumping from the boat, and turning into one of his own favourite striped bass ! We ourselves, though not rejoicing so much in eating fish, are fond of catching them. Yet we should be shocked at the thought of dropping line in water. Forefend us ! that we should hook up our bosom friend, and salt him away for a morrow's breakfast !
But the worst of it is, that these attenuated apostles of branbread and water-cresses—whose worn-out organs can assimilate no strong meat, cannot be contented with feeding their own way (which, if it be best for them, they have our free leave to feed as they list), nor be contented with simply proselyting by example and doctrine men of their own kind, but they insist upon imposing all the pains of moral excommunication upon us who have healthy digestions and cheerful spirits, unless we will follow their examples, swear by their names, and feed by their rules.
Men must be lean, ghost-like, sepulchral,—who know not iesh at their tables. With them, to be lean is a virtue ; to be fat, an abomination. If you fill your garments well, and keep a running account with the butcher, they will have an eye on you. You are not to be altogether trusted. Crimes in this code are regulated by pounds avoirdupois. “An adherence to animal food," says Hitchcock," is no more than a persistence in the customs of savage life." We are barbarians, all. Now we put it seriously to the disciples of this creed, whether they can call to mind a well-authenticated case of murder, or any act implying brutality or cruelty of disposition, committed by a corpulent
A fat murderer would be a monster. The earth could not bear him up. It is true, such a one may be an accomplice in the second or third degree ; a rosy landlord, who holds the light, or a stout countryman employed to watch under a hedge
VOL. I.-NO. II.
for the approach of the victim. It is a part of our nature, on the other hand, a Draconic law of our blood and being, that we should look upon a lean man with something of suspicion in most cases; in many, with pity and contempt. A corpulent man we may dislike or detest, but in his broad, open countenance there is something so like candour and honest living, that it would require much to bring us to believe him a villain. In no case may we despise him, or charge him reasonably with a criminal act. It is your starvelings who fill the calendar of the Sessions. It is they who commit thefts, burglaries, petit-larcenies, and other contemptible, small crimes. It is they who are seen running down streets with stray pieces of linen or pairs of pilfered Wellingtons. Who ever heard the cry “stop thief !" raised at the heels of a man who weighed two hundred and upwards? It would be an anomaly, a practical solecism, to see the hands of a constable or sheriff's officer on the collar of a coat three feet across the shoulders. It is your fat, solid men—men who know the luxury of three full meals—that make good citizens, kind fathers, tender husbands. These men are all fed on beef.
According to the Dietetic system, food seems to be apportioned in an inverse ratio to the character and rank of the feeder. Thus, man, the noblest creature of the earth, must fatten on bran-bread and spare vegetables ; while the horse, we suppose, is to feed on custards, and the right worshipful donkey on blanc-mange and ice-cream.
Charles Lamb, in one of his Essays, has an admirable battery of masked irony directed against vegetable feeders. It is a short sketch, supposed to be written by a lady (Hospita), describing a gluttonous visitor.
« 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