Reasons for more about health - A stranger's letter - Encouragement from Dr. Haig - Details of my diet - Reason for early breakfast - Asparagus poison - Arguments of opponents - Dulness of diet - Reason of benefit felt in going back to mixed foods - Test of underfeeding - Dentist story - Opposition of medical profession - Their indifference to diet - The ordinary man at his breakfast-table - Doctors to be educated by the public - Uses of Plasmon - Necessity for mothers and children to learn physiology - De-finition of uric acid - Instincts not safe guides - Difficulties of hospitality - Lord Roberts on 'treating' - List of useful books - Home education of girls: two methods - Hindoo love story.
I must apologise to the public for the apparent poorness of idea in again repeating my somewhat tiresome title. I heard Mr. Motley, the historian, once say, a title should be 'telling and selling.' A 'Third Pot-Pourri' will very likely turn out to be neither of these, but it seemed to me the most honest title I could think of towards those who were kind enough, not only to read, but to like, my former books. They may find the matter in this book better or worse; the manner is exactly the same as before, and it could hardly be otherwise at my age. I must, perhaps, also apologise for putting the Health chapters prominently forward at the beginning of this book, and I can only ask those who have no interest in the subject to skip them altogether. They are written for those who asked for them. The chapter headed ' March' in my second book, 'More Pot-Pourri,' which contained my personal confessions about diet, brought me such a number of touching and appealing letters from people of all sorts in every part of the world, that I cannot help thinking it almost a duty I owe to the readers of that book, to tell them as plainly as I can what I have learnt further about the subject, which for want of a better title we may call Diet, or Food, and its effects on the health of all classes of the community.
A great many people will merely laugh and think it very conceited and ridiculous that I should set up my opinion in matters of health against the great majority of the medical profession; but to anyone who has acquired good health, even late in life, the blessing is so inestimable, that it is only natural to try to help others to attain it. A note received the other day from a complete stranger stimulated me, perhaps, more than any other to feel that the knowledge and experience I have gained in the last three years might really be of some use to a few human beings. In this last of several letters, my unknown correspondent says, 'I am not likely to forget to associate your name with my improvement, and you, on your side, will have the satisfaction of knowing you have been the means of brightening and bettering our family's existence.'
Now, it seems to me that, however ridiculous it may appear to be very much absorbed in any one subject, if taking the trouble to publish a book upon it can call forth such an expression as this, and benefit, say, half-a-dozen families, I am well rewarded. As a further justification of my action in this matter, I should like to quote what T. E. Brown says in one of his delightful 'Letters ': I believe that Jowett, like so many Englishmen, carried the principle of not "pinning his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck at," so far as to forget that, besides the pecking daws, there are the craving hearts of others . . . craving for the food which, God help us, is not too abundantly spread upon the tables of this world.' Sympathy comes naturally to those who have prosperous circumstances, and I, who enjoy life so abundantly, in spite of age and sorrows, on account of my health, cannot help responding to appeals, from those who suffer, for further information as to the means by which I obtained it.
I am always being asked what I do myself. So far as I can, I will tell this exactly, first briefly stating that my health, which was good three years ago, has been distinctly improving both as regards endurance and nerve-power, and this in spite of heavy trials and sorrows borne a great deal alone, which to a nature like mine, after a life spent as mine has been, is no small additional suffering. Added to this, late in life I have had thrown upon me the entire management of house, garden, servants, stables, hospitality, which means a great strain on memory, especially after a lifetime with a man who shared all this with me, taking on himself the sole responsibility of much of it, and financially directing the whole.
My own conviction is, that though I started by myself on what I consider the right road as regards diet and health, yet without the assistance and support of Dr. Haig I should never have had courage to persevere against all opposition, and so have reached a level of health which has enabled me to withstand all this, and be so much better and stronger than either my mother or most of my aunts and uncles, who, with constitutions strong enough to live to a great old age, did so with much suffering from constant ailments - loss of hearing, sight, and brain-power.
A great many people may think that my improved health is a matter of imagination, and I am the last to deny that the mental attitude has an immense effect on the success of diet; but with due allowance for this, my present increased mental and physical power is a somewhat unusual record, considering my family history, which is one of strong constitution and bad health.
To come now to the details of my diet: At breakfast, 8 a.m., I eat a thick slice of home-made brown bread of the kind known as 'Graham,' made without yeast [see receipts in August] (to be bought from Heywood, 42 Queen Anne Street, London, W., but better made at home), with butter and marmalade, and a cup of hot separated milk tinged with coffee. I have reserved to myself the right to continue this self-indulgence of a small amount of coffee in my milk, in spite of Dr. Haig's warnings : first, because I so dislike the taste of milk, and secondly, because it leaves me something tangible to leave off in case advancing years should make me less well. But I have a nephew who looks with horror at an aunt whom he used to think of as a kind of prophetess, who sits down at 8 in the morning in front of a coffee-pot. People often ask me why I breakfast at 8. My general answer is that I like it, and that it gives me a nice long morning; but the real reason why I recommend it to others is, that if food is taken at all in the morning, it must be taken five hours before the luncheon time, as I think piling on another meal before the previous one is digested is one of the many causes of ill-health in the present day.