This section is from the book "A Third Pot-Pourri", by C. W. Earle. Also available from Amazon: A Third Pot-Pourri.
I, myself, have now considerable dread that mere abstemiousness should lead to underfeeding, which all seem agreed upon as the greatest danger for the young; and if mixed feeders ask my advice, I say,'Knock off wrong foods at breakfast as much as you like, but keep your other meals very much what you have been accustomed to until you have time to attend properly to the subject, and decide what is really the best diet for you.'sportsmen and others who lead an habitually outdoor life can eat most things, and a middle-aged nephew, who has always led a healthy country life, said to me lately, ' My system is never to allow my stomach to dictate to me. The other day I took a glass of beer which, as you know, I never drink. It disagreed violently with me; so I said, " Very well; you shall have it every day for a week, and I got perfectly used to it. Then I left it off.' There is a rough truth in this; an immense number of people can eat, with apparent immunity, for many years the food they are used to. But this is a question of training the digestion to assimilate and not refuse unaccustomed food, and is quite a different matter to well-digested food introducing poison into the system, if that food contains poison.
A friend staying with me received the other day the following account of a large dinner to mixed dietists, after a meeting on Theosophy, the description being by a semi-convert to strict diet who was present: 'I was much amused to see one odd-looking person after another, with various degrees of dyspeptic appearance, helping themselves, with a pious air of exclusiveness, to one tomato, or a dish of beans, while some took fish, and others refused it with horror, and all agreed that meat was anathema.Certain stolid, wholesome-looking folk ploughedsteadily throughthe whole menu, from soup to fruit; and another entertaining point to the naughty scoffer was the amount of food-talk amongthe"dietists," whilethebrutalcarnivorahad leisure to devote themselves to other subjects !One of the elect, who was daintily regaling himself on an apple and a glass of milk, explained to me, as I ate my salmon and cucumber, the brutalities of the slaughter-house and fisheries, and when I demurred to thestatement that animals reared for food have a bad time of it, my opposite neighbour leaned forward and solemnly informed me that "some day I should have to be eaten"!'Does not this comic account of a modern effort to imitate the old barbaric method of bringing people together by providing them with food and stimulants, rather suggest that, in the future, the one animal function we still perform in public - eating and drinking - may cease to be the pivot of sociability, and that when we wish to see a friend, old or new, we shall some day write: 'Come and have a chat with me' instead of 'Come and dine, or lunch, or have a cup of tea' ?
The accusation that dietists talk too much about their food is perfectly true, and must be guarded against; at the same time, I am all for people talking about the subjects that particularly interest them at the moment, for 'out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh,' and the tendency of conversation at many dinner-tables, even when stimulated by meat and wine, often does not rise above the level of sport, scandal, or games. A few years ago it was bicycles, now it is motors that often absorb a whole evening.
The breaking up of uniformity in food may be the initial stage of transition to a higher civilisation, luxury in social entertainment, both in food and drink, having governed the world too long. Just think what it means as showing the change that has come over the world, that a conquering general on his return home should think it desirable to write such an appeal to his countrymen as Lord Roberts' letters to the press on ' treating' soldiers. He wrote two letters, the second emphasising the first; and so much did I honour him for such action, and so important did I feel it to be to spread the knowledge of his wishes in every possible way, that, together with some of my neighbours, I had large posters printed and circulated in the village, giving the full text of the letter, and headed in red ink: 'Return of our soldiers from South Africa.' I take the liberty of including the letter here, 'lest we forget':
sir, - Will you kindly allow me, through the medium of your paper, to make an appeal to my countrymen and women upon a subject I have very much at heart, and which has been occupying my thoughts for some time ?
All classes in the United Kingdom have shown such a keen interest in the army serving in South Africa, and have been so munificent in their efforts to supply every need of that army, that I feel sure they must be eagerly looking forward to its return, and to giving our brave soldiers and sailors the hearty welcome they so well deserve when they get back to their native land.
It is about the character of this welcome, and the effects it may have on the reputations of the troops whom I have been so proud to command, that I am anxious, and that I venture to express an opinion.My sincere hope is that the welcomemay not takethe formof "treating" the men to stimulants in public-houses or in the streets, and thus lead them into excesses which must tend to degrade those whom the nation delights to honour, and to lower the "soldiers of the Queen "in the eyes of the world - that world which has watched with undisguised admiration the grand work they have performed for their Sovereign and their country.From the very kindness of their hearts, their innate politeness, and their gratitude for the welcome accorded them,it willbe difficult for the men to refuse what is offered to them by their too generous friends.
1 therefore beg earnestly that the British public will refrainfromtemptingmygallant comrades,butwill rather aid them to uphold the splendid reputation they have won for the imperial army.I am very proud that I am able to record, with the most absolute truth, that the conduct of this army from first to last has been exemplary. Not one single case of serious crime has been brought to my notice - indeed,nothing that deserves the name of crime.There has been no necessity for appeals or orders to the men to behave properly.I have trusted implicitly to their own soldierly feelings and good sense, and I have not trusted in vain.They bore themselves like heroes on the battlefield, and like gentlemen on all other occasions. Most malicious falsehoods werespread abroad by the authorities in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal as to the brutality of Great Britain's soldiers, and as to the manner in which the women and children might expect to be treated.We found on first entering towns and villages, doors closed and shops shut up, while only English-born people were to be seen in the streets. But very shortly-all this was changed. Doors were left open, shutters were taken down, and people of all nationalities moved freely about in the full assurance that they had nothing to fear from "the man in khaki," no matter how battered and war-stained his appearance. This testimony will, I feel sure, be very gratifying to the people of Great Britain, and of that Greater Britain whose sons have shared to the fullest extent in the suffering as well as the glory of the war, and who have helped so materially to bring it to a successful close.
I know how keen my fellow-subjects will be to show their appreciation of the upright and honourable bearing, as well as the gallantry of our sailors and soldiers, and I would entreat them, in return for all these grand men have done for them, to abstain from any action that might bring the smallest discredit upon those who have so worthily upheld the credit of their country.
I am induced to make this appeal from having read, with great regret, that when our troops were leaving England, and passing through the streets of London, their injudicious friends pressed liquor upon them, and shoved bottles of spirits into their hands and pockets - a mode of "speeding the parting" friend which resulted in some very distressing and discreditable scenes. I fervently hope there may be no such scenes to mar the brightness of the welcome home.
I remain, Sir, yours faithfully, 'Roberts, F.M.'