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Sir W. Roberts puts forward an ingenious argument, which cannot be fully repeated here, in favour of the view that, in healthy and strong persons, this retarding effect on digestion observed to be produced by many of the most commonly consumed food accessories answers a distinctly useful end. They serve, he maintains, the purpose of wholesomely slowing the otherwise too rapid digestion and absorption of copious meals.
A too rapid digestion and absorption of focd may be compared to feeding a fire with straw instead of with slower-burning coal. In the former case it would be necessary to feed often and often, and the process would be wasteful of the fuel; for the short-lived blaze would carry most of the heat up the chimney. To burn fuel economically, and to utilise the heat to the utmost, the fire must be damped down, so as to ensure slow as well as complete combustion. So with human digestion : our highly prepared and highly cooked food requires, in the healthy and vigorous, that the digestive fires should be damped down, in order to ensure the economical use of food. . . . We render food by preparation as capable as possible of being completely exhausted of its nutrient properties; and, on the other hand to prevent this nutrient matter from being wastefully hurried through the body we make use of agents which abate the speed of digestion.
It must be borne in mind that these remarks apply only to those who possess a healthy and active digestion. To the feeble and dyspeptic any food accessory which adds to the labour and prolongs the time of digestion must be prejudicial; and it is a matter of common experience that beverages which in quantity retard digestion have to be avoided altogether by such persons or partaken of very sparingly.
In the dietetic use of wines the writer of this article has constantly had occasion to make the observation that those wines agree best and are most useful which are absorbed and eliminated from the system with the greatest rapidity, as tested by the increase of the renal secretions, and he has been led to the practical conclusion that this is the best criterion of the suitability of any particular wine to any particular constitution. If the effect of different wines on notoriously gouty persons be carefully observed, it will be found that some can drink champagne (in moderation of course) with impunity, especially if a small quantity of an effervescing alkaline water be added to it, while claret will at once provoke some manifestations of gout; others who are unable to drink champagne without provoking a gouty paroxysm will often be able to drink a mature, fine, soft claret even with advantage ; others will support hock well, and a few can drink fine sherries and ports in small quantities; but in all it will be found that the test of the suitability of the particular wine to the particular constitution is its susceptibility to rapid elimination and vice versa.
It has occurred also to the writer to make many observations as to the circumstances under which tea and coffee are found to agree or disagree with different persons; in the first place, as Sir W. Roberts has pointed out, tea, if taken at the same time as farinaceous food, is much more likely to retard its digestion and cause dyspepsia than if taken a little time after eating; and the custom adopted by many persons at breakfast, for instance, of eating first and drinking their tea or coffee afterwards is a sensible one; so also it is better to take one's five o'clock tea without the customary bread-and-butter or cake than with it.
Indeed, while there is little that can be said against a cup of hot tea as a stimulant and restorative, when taken about midway between lunch and dinner, and without solid food, it may, on the other hand, be a fruitful cause of dyspepsia when accompanied at that time with solid food. It is also a curious fact that many persons with whom tea, under ordinary circumstances, will agree exceedingly well, will become the subjects of a tea dyspepsia if they drink this beverage at a time when they may be suffering from mental worry or emotional disturbance.
Moreover it is a well-recognised fact that persons who are prone to nervous excitement of the circulation and palpitations of the heart have these symptoms greatly aggravated if they persist in the use of tea or coffee as beverages. The excessive consumption of tea amongst the women of the poorer classes is the cause of much of the so-called 'heart complaints' amongst them: the food of those poor women consists largely of starchy substances (bread-and-butter chiefly) together with tea, i.e. a food accessory which is one of the greatest of all retarders of the digestion of starchy food.
The effect of coffee as a retarder of stomach digestion would probably be more felt than it is were it not so constantly the practice to take it only in small quantity after a very large meal; it is then mixed with an immense bulk of food, and its relative percentage proportion rendered insignificant ; and to the strong and vigorous the slightly retarding effect on digestion it would then have may be, as Sir W. Roberts suggests, not altogether a disadvantage; but after a spare meal and in persons of feeble digestive power the cup of black coffee would probably exercise a retarding effect on digestion which might prove harmful. It is also worthy of remark that in the great coffee-drinking countries this beverage is made not nearly so strong as with us. In this country good coffee always means strong, often very strong coffee; but on the Continent they possess the faculty of making good coffee which is not necessarily very strong coffee, and which is, therefore, as a beverage, less likely to do harm.
The general conclusion to be drawn from these highly interesting and instructive researches is that most of the food accessories' which in the course of civilisation man has added to his diet are, when
taken in moderation, beneficial to him, and conduce to his physical welfare and material happiness ; but if taken in excess they may interfere to a serious and harmful degree with the processes of digestion and assimilation. It also is made clear that dietetic habits which may prove agreeable and useful to those who enjoy vigorous health and a strong digestion need to be greatly modified in the case of those who are feeble and dyspeptic.
J. BURNEY YEO, M.D.
SENSATIONALISM IN SOCIAL REFORM.
THEUDAS and Jesus were alike moved by the suffering of the Jews. Theudas, 'boasting himself to be somebody, drew away much people;' Jesus, who did not strive nor cry, had only a few disciples, and died deserted by them. The present method of reform is by striving and crying. The voice of those who see the evils of society is heard in the streets, and much people is drawn to meetings and demonstrations. Many, moved by what they hear, profess themselves to be .frantic, and the country seems ready for a moral revolt.
What shall the end be? Will the evil cease because the bitter cry of those who suffer is heard in the land ? Will the “frantic' striving of many people relieve society from the slavery of selfishness and lead a moral reform, or will it be that after a few months some one like Browning's Cardinal will be found saying, 'I have known four-and-twenty leaders of revolt'?
This is a question to be considered, if possible, with calmness of mind, without prejudice for or against sensationalism. It may be that what seems sensational is the bigger cry suited to a bigger world, and therefore the only means of making known the facts which must afterwards be weighed and considered. It may be that some must be made frantic before any will act. It may be, on the other hand, that this trumpeting of sorrow and sin is the vengeance of the crime of sense-itself a sense to be worn with time; that men trumpet sorrows for mere love of noise and size, and become frantic over tales of sin, wringing from the very tale a new pleasure. Sensationalism in social reform is either the vengeance of sensationalism in self-love, or it is the divine voice making itself heard in language which he that runs may read.
Not lightly at any rate are Midlothian speeches, bitter cries,' and religious revivals to be passed over. They, by striving and crying, by forcible statements and strong language, have caused public opinion to stop its course of easy satisfaction, and to express itself in new legislation. For the sake of the Bulgarians a Ministry was overturned ; because of the cry of the poor, an Act of Parliament has been passed ; and because of the success of the Salvation Army, the services in our churches have been modified. In face though of these results on legislation, and of other results represented by various societies and leagues, the question still is, Will the same causes result in raising character? Professor Clifford in one of his essays speaks with religious fervour on the importance of character to society :
Our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought are common property fashioned and perfected from age to age. . . . Into this, for good or ill, is woven every belief of every man who bas speech of his fellows. An awful privilege and an awful responsibility, that we should help to create the world in which posterity will live!
Further he goes on to point out that a bad method is bad, whatever good results may follow, because it weakens the character of the doer and so weakens society.
If (he says) I steal money from any person, there may be no harm done by the mere transfer of possession ; he may not feel the loss, or it may prevent him from using the money badly. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself dishonest. What hurts society is not that it should lose its property, but that it should become a den of thieves ; for then it must cease to be society. This is why we ought not to do evil that good may come; for at any rate this great evil has come, that we have done evil and are made wicked thereby.
In judging, therefore, of methods of reform, it is not enough to show that laws have been passed and leagues formed; it must also be shown that the character of all concerned is raised. Jesus drew few people after Him and died alone, but He so raised the character of man that His death inaugurated a permanent reformation of society. It is as the character of men is raised that all reforms become permanent. Oppressed nationalities, like the Bulgarians, depend for effectual help on the growth of sympathy among free peoples ; the poor will have starvation wages till the rich learn what justice requires; and religion will fail to be a power till men are honest enough to ask themselves in what they do really believe. Methods of reform are valuable just in so far as they tend to increase sympathy, justice, honesty, reverence, and all the virtues of high character. The answer, therefore, as to the end of this striving and crying of modern philanthropy, is to be found in the effects which such methods have on character.
On the one side it is urged (1) that laws and institutions are great educators. By the many laws against theft thieving has come to be regarded as the great crime, and by societies like that for the prevention of cruelty to animals kindness has come to be a common virtue. If, therefore, it is argued, by this rough awakening of the public conscience, laws have been passed and institutions started, something has been done to develope the higher part of character. • Principles,' as it has been said, “ are no more than moral habits.'
It is further urged that (2) if association is the watchword of the future and the educational force of the new age, it is by these somewhat noisy means that associations are formed, and that the trumpet note