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RETURN TO NATURE;
WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF AN EXPERIMENT MADE DURING THE
LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS IN THE AUTHOR'S FAMILY.
Man, only man, Creation's Lord confess'd,
SPENCER'S YEAR OF SORROW.
BY JOHN FRANK NEWTON, Esq.
[Continued from No. XXXVIII. p. 530.]
Pam. NO. XXXIX.
The name of my apothecary is Verlander, and he lives at Knightsbridge. I never in my life had a medicine chest, and from no person but Mr. Verlander has medicine of any sort been purchased during the above period, for the seven persons in question. The reader will see that spirits of wine to burn under coffee, and a bottle to contain them, are the only items of charge in this account. I may be mistaken, but I am persuaded that there is scarcely another instance in this never-ending metropolis, of three grown persons and four young children under nine years of age, incurring an expense of sixpence only for medicine and medical attendance in the course of two years ;' and that single charge was not made for either of the children, but for myself. This result is exactly what would be expected from the remarkably healthy appearance of the young people alluded to, which is so striking, that several medical men who have seen and examined them with a scrutinising eye, all agreed in the observation that they knew no where a whole family which equals them in robustness. Should the success of this experiment, now of three years standing, proceed as it has begun, there is little doubt, I presume, that it must at length have some influence with the public, and that every parent who finds the illnesses of his family both afflicting and expensive, will say to himself, “ Why should I any longer be imprudent and foolish enough to have my children sick ?” All hail to the resolution which that sentence implies ! But until it becomes general,
' This fact has been repeated in Dr. Lambe's family, where it has this additional importance, that the children were much older than mine when they adupted the regimen of vegetables and distilled water.
I feel it necessary to exhort in the warmest language I can think of, those who have young people in their charge, to institute an experiment which I have made before them with the completest success. To those domestic parents especially do I address myself, who, aware that temperance in enjoyment is the best warrant of its duration, feel how dangerous and how empty are all the feverous amusements of our assemblies, our dinners, and our theatres, compared with the genuine and tranquil pleasures of a happy little circle at home. Oh, if they knew the blessing of never hearing one's children restless at night to those who sleep in the midst of them; or of seeing one month, one year of vigor, uniformly succeed another! The health of mine may be verified by the inspection of any strangers who shall be disposed to take that trouble. And surely it is to be presumed, that their little ones also will be no less exempt from violent attacks, after two or three years' perseverance in a similar plan ; that their forms will expand, their strength increase, in a very different ratio from the ordinary one : that the little family perturbations occasioned by the falls of children, which are in great measure attributable to the want of tone in their fibre, will be almost unknown; that as the fracture of limbs, like the rupture of blood vessels, is more owing to the state of the body than to the violence of the shock encountered, they will be infinitely less liable to such distressing accidents; that their irritability, and consequently their objurgatory propensities, will gradually subside ; that they will become not only more robust, but more beautiful; that their carriage will be erect, their step firm ; that their development at a critical period of youth, the prematurity of which has been considered an evil, will be retarded : that above all, the danger of being deprived of them will in every way diminish ; while by these light repasts their hilarity will be augmented, and their intellects cleared, in a degree which shall astonishingly illustrate the delightful effects of this regimen.
How can I any longer repress the strong desire I feel, of addressing a few words to Him who has discovered a remedy for the groans and the vices of mankind, where other instructed and
powerful minds have despaired. “Perbibisti nequitiam, et ita visceribus immicuisti, ut nisi cum ipsis exire non possit.”
SENECA, De IRA. “ Thou hast drank deep at the fountain of iniquity, and so incorporated the stream with your viscera--with your very vitals--that except with them, it can never escape from thee.” Such was the disturbed and hopeless exclamation of the philosophic Seneca ; and his reproach, if a reproach it really is, embraces alike the whole human race. But it is thy great office, thou true physician, to repair the general health by this material and legitimate course; and by rendering the body sound, to restore mankind to their moral and intellectual liberty; a labor which Jove of old deemed worthy of Hercules, when he commissioned him to release the tortured hero from his chains, and suspend the horrors inflicted by the sinewy Vulture of Mount Caucasus.
I will beg leave to tempt an answer in this place to that trite and specious objection to Dr. Lambe's opinions, that “ What suits one constitution may not suit another.” If there be a single person existing whose health would not be improved by the vegetable diet and distilled water, then the whole system falls at once to the ground. The question is simply, Whether fruits and other vegetables be not the natural sustenance of man, who would have occasion for no other drink than these afford, and whose thirst is at present excited by an unnatural flesh diet, which causes his disorders, bodily and mental? In the southern climates, in which the heat might give a greater tendency to thirst, where can there be found a more delicious beverage to those who have preserved any simplicity of taste, than the juice of the orange, or the milk of the cocoa-nut? in which last it is worth our observation, that one of the three dark circular marks at the end of each nut is always so soft, that in the most unassisted state of man he would easily extract liquor within, by passing a large thorn or a piece of stick through the spot above-mentioned.
1 “Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves;
Thomson's SUMMER, line 663. 66 With candy'd plantains, and the juicy pine,
On choicest meluns and sweet grapes they dine;
Another objection sometimes urged is this : “If children brought up on a vegetable regimen, should at a future period of their lives adopt a meat diet, they will certainly suffer more from the change than they otherwise would have done.” The very contrary of this remark is, I conceive, what would happen. The stomach is so fortified by the general increase of health, that a person thus nourished is enabled to bear what one whose humors are less pure may
sink under. The children of our family can each of them eat a dozen or eighteen walnuts for supper without the most trifing indigestion, an experiment which those who feed their children in the usual manner would consider it adventurous to attempt. So also the Irish porters in London bear their alteration of diet successfully, and owe much of their actual vigor to the vegetable food of their forefathers, and to their own, before they emigrated from Ireland, where in all probability they did not taste meat half a dozen times in the
year. I have heard it objected, in the third place, that “ If meat were not proper food for us, we should not in all probability be so inclined to use it, nor would the flavor be so agreeable to us : and that if we cannot bear to eat it until it has undergone certain preparations, still it is our nature to be ingenious, and to adapt our processes, whether culinary or any other, to our occasions."
And with potatoes fat their wanton swine.
WALLER'S SUMMER ISLANDS, Canto 1. Pives, melons, figs, grapes, mangoes, mammees, grenadillas, bell-apples, guavas, strawberries, soursops, sugar-apples, alligator pears, sappadillos, pomegranates, cocoa-nuts, oranges, shadocks, and forbidden fruit; these, and many more, are the productions of our West India Islands. What an elegant table bas nature laid for the happy inhabitants ! What health might they enjoy, sua si bona norint!