Dr. Allinson's main principle seems to be that the greater proportion of disease is brought about by our own ignorance. I know well that in my youth when I ate a large breakfast, which always made me feel uncomfortable, I did it with the sincere belief that I was adding to my strength and working power during the day, whereas it often took me an hour and a half to get over the first effects of the meal, especially in winter. Dr. Allinson states in his preface that what he writes is also ' the beginning, I hope, of a school of healing that will take the place of allopathy and homoeopathy.' I feel sure that while medicines are still taken, strict dieting is much impeded in its benefits. Till all drugs are left off, few can judge of what they want in the way of food.
A Treatise on the Tonic System of treating Affections of the Stomach and Brain.' By Henry Searle, Surgeon, Ken-nington Common. Published by Richard & John Taylor. London.1843.
Amidst the rush of modern medical books, it is not otherwise than sobering and extremely interesting to take up an old book, and see what doctors believed and what they taught sixty years ago. It is one of the most beautiful articles of the creed of the profession, that no knowledge they obtain, no invention they make must ever be kept secret, but always openly given both to fellow-members and to the public. This is a noble idea, and often constitutes the great difference between a doctor and what is called a 'quack,' for the latter is apt to keep his discoveries to himself in order to make money out of them.
There are many notable things in this old book, and the stuffing and tonic system we were all brought up on is well argued; but I mention it chiefly for its strong condemnation of tea and coffee so early as 1843. The increase of tea-drinking in all classes is astonishing. Mr. Searle says,' Previously to the introduction of tea into this Kingdom, disorders of the stomach were by no means so prevalent as they have been since. Tea in the evening is found particularly refreshing, and is therefore considered an indispensable article of diet; but the refreshing effects of tea are not always unalloyed, most unpleasant symptoms of indigestion being sometimes experienced immediately after taking it. As tea-drinking is a universally established practice, it would be vain to recommend its discontinuance; but it may be strongly urged that tea should be taken in small quantities, and of moderate strength, and that those who are troubled with indigestion should combine with it a large proportion of milk.' Only so did this timid doctor in the early Victorian period venture to advise the public.In my lifetime tea has been entirely discontinued after dinner. Twenty years ago I can remember how the tray used to come in after dinner, and be almost universally refused; and is it not quite possible that the same fate may be in store for the 5 o'clock custom when once the young realise how bad it is for themselves and their children after them ? Alas, the same economic danger stares one in the face as with meat, beer, or spirits: hundreds would be ruined in India and Ceylon if the drinking of tea were appreciably to decrease, but I confess I have no sympathy with those who make money by the adulteration of food, or by the sale of beer, spirits, tea, opium, quack drugs, or anything else that brings ruin and misery through bad health to millions of human beings.
Other books that I should like to recommend to students of health are Hutchinson's ' Dietetics,' Parke's 'Practical Hygiene,' Dr. Fernie's 'Herbal Simples ' (5s.), Dr. Kellogg's' Science in the Kitchen' (12s. 6d.), and 'The Stomach,' Mr. A. W. Duncan's 'Chemistry of Food,' and' Foods and their Comparative Values,' Dr. Lehmann's 'Rational Hygiene,' Dr. Poore's 'Rural Hygiene,' Dr. Dewey's ' True Science of Living,' Smith's ' Fruits and Farinacea,' Huxley's ' Elements of Physiology.'
These and many other books, English and American, on health, education, &c, are kept in stock, as a rule, by Curtis & Davison, 4 High Street, Kensington.
Having given the public this list of books, which, I believe, will help the introduction of a new and a better era, I cannot resist the pleasure of speaking of a French classic, 'La Physiologie du Gout, de Brillat-Savarin,' republished in 1879 by the Librairie des Bibliophiles with Eaux-fortes par Ad. Lalauze.
My own old edition was of 1841. Most people know his famous aphorism, 'Dis-moi ce que tu manges, et je te dirai ce que tu es.'This book by the friend of the Recamiers has all the charm of the best eighteenth-century French literature.
It is perhaps unkind, but I should be more than human if I withstood the temptation to quote here what he says about the doctors in his day, in his chapter called 'Des Gourmands': 'Des causes d'une autre nature, quoique non moins puissantes, agissent sur les medecins: ils sont gourmands par seduction, et il faudrait qu'ils fussent de bronze pour resister a la force des choses.
Les chers docteurs sont d'autant mieux accueillis que la sante, qui est sous leur patronage, est le plus precieux de tous les biens ; aussi sont-ils enfants gates dans toute la force du terme.
Toujours impatiemment attendus, ils sont accueillis avec empressement. C'est une jolie malade qui les engage; c'est une jeune personne qui les caresse; c'est un pere, c'est un mari, qui leur recommandent ce qu'ils ont de plus cher. L'esperance les tourne par la droite, la reconnaissance par la gauche; on les embecque comme des pigeons ; ils se laissent faire, et en six mois I'habitude est prise, ils sont gourmands sans retour.'
In the editor's note to the 1879 edition he has a sentence which I think may form a motto very applicable to the eaters of the simpler foods compared with those who, up to now, have met to consume fish, flesh, and fowl. I claim that in the future the simpler foods may be as dainty and attractive as those recommended by Savarin, and that the contrast between the meals of the future and of the present will be as great as between the French cooking and the Roman : 'Et d'ailleurs, il ne faut pas s'y tromper, la cuisine est veritablement un art, art tout moderne, art tout francais, et qui trouve en France son chantre le plus autorise. Les grands repas des Romains n'etaient qu'un brutal amas de plats gigantesques, ou les mets et les ingredients de toutes sortes se trouvaient confondus dans des sauces dont la seule analyse nous souleve aujourd'hui le coeur. La description du plus beau festin de Lucullus ne peut rien inspirer d'analogue a la douce emotion qu'on ressent en lisant le recit du simple et succulent dejeuner du cure, si onctueusement raconte dans le paragraphe des "Varietss''qui a pour titre "L'Omelette au thon." '