It is indeed tragi-comical that the three elements considered as the most important features of a dinner - the soup, the gravy and the pastry - are exactly those which are not only without nutritional value to the system, but - in tragic seriousness - have done as much towards the breakdown of man's functional powers and structural integrity, as whisky and beer. Only in the latter case, however, the destruction is more acute and spectacular, and involves, in addition to self-destruction, the moral and social fates of other lives.

In its very nature the soup is an extract, and as such contains the disorganized fragments of ruptured foodstuffs. Being an extract of meat, the soup contains only those elements which are subject to solution, viz: uric acid, fatty acids, nitrates and ammonia - elements that have their main value in the stimulating, hence toxic, effect they exert upon the involved tissues.

All stimulation, if not derived from food and actual nourishment, is toxic. And as soup, as generally served in restaurants and public eating-houses, on scientific analysis, yields hardly two per cent albuminous or muscle-producing substance, it follows that the systemic stimulation accredited to soup, comes from its toxic, not from its nutritional character. Having recognized the presence of poison in the system, nature makes a grand charge to effect its removal - a charge, which by virtue of the very rush of life it involves: the constitutional stirring up and liberation of vital energy to execute a neutralization, isolation and elimination of the poisons from the system - must give rise to a sudden though short-circuited sensation of power. The generation of this power, however, and the associate secretion of "defensive fluids," by which nature wields a remedy to protect the individual from his own poisonous output, is furnished at great cost through the internal secretions of the central nervous and ductless glandular system. These secretions, called out and necessitated by a purely wanton indulgence, constitute a positive leakage of life, and not being demanded by any aspect of individual constructive usefulness, receives no sanction or recompensation by nature in terms of spontaneous, vital reaction. The entire process simply stands for a reckless dissipation of high-tensioned, vital force-currents, the original purpose of which is to serve as nervous reserve deposits for emergencies, that may arise from the advance of years, when the physiologic exchanges of the system have lost their native power of resiliency.

In the daily routine of his life, the individual actuates in living reality the idea, portrayed in Honore de Balzac's weird but profound philosophical novel, "The Magic Skin." Suspended on the wall over the bed of its fated owner, the size of this skin shrunk in proportion to the extent the latter indulged in acts of excess and dissipation. As the hand of a time-piece follows the passing moments of time, so the shrinking of the skin followed with relentless precision the moral vicissitudes of this man's career; - the swifter the currents of his pleasures, the more appalling the shrinking of the skin; while on the other hand, restraint and self-posession would bring this inescapable mystic accountant to an immovable repose. But as the moments of self-restraint were few, and the moments of self-indulgence many, the tragic end was not slow in approaching. During a wild journey with the gilded youth of the country, when in his efforts to forget his fate, he plunged deep into nocturnal orgies, the distracted young man one morning was found dead in his room. That very moment the magic skin had shrunk into its last perceptible size - it had disappeared.

Every individual has at his disposal a certain number of heartbeats, to be distributed in rhythmic order over the entire field of his life, and depending on his own decision whether to be used up in breadth or in length. Hence any indulgence, which may unduly hasten the cyclic momentum of the heart, foreshortens to that extent the entire cycle of the individual. The quiet liver - the individual, who avoids excitement and stimulating indulgences in his daily routine - the country parson or country school teacher of old - will live long and full, and retain his vigor and usefulness to the unabridged physiological end of his healthful, useful and peaceful existence.

Stimulation, however, is only one of the objectionable features of the soup. Prepared in most cases from a stock of meat, its entire contents are enveloped or encapsulated in a cover of grease. As its field of digestion, however, is not in the stomach, the presence of the greasy compound in the latter, constitutes a decided menace to its digestion, defying every effort of the gastric juices to reduce it condition, the grease adheres to the walls of condition, the grease adheres to the walls of the stomach, and thus by sealing up the secretive glands prevents, or at least largely interferes with, the digestion of other foodstuffs. Hence the same principle that renders fried foodstuffs indigestible is also applicable to the fat soup, in which the proteid and starch molecule, encapsulated by the grease, is isolated from the action of the gastric juices. It is only after the soup has found its way out of the stomach into the intestinal canal, that the fat, under the action of the secretion of the liver and pancreas, is dissolved, and the proteid molecule at last set free. But as the intestine is not the field for the proteid digestion, and the gastric secretions are no longer available, it is readily seen, that the loss to the system does not only consist in the weakening influence of the protracted, though futile, effort of the gastric chemistry to digest the grease, but also in the ultimate waste of the food itself.

But the indictment of the soup does not stop even here. We have found it to be a poisonous extract, and an indigestible fat - yet there is a third objection to its use: being a fluid it weakens the gastric secretions. For the gastric juice possesses by its very nature the normal and adequate admixture of Hydrochloric acid and Pepsin, and any additional dilution in the form of soup or beverage in general, weakens to that extent its power of cutting and emulsifying the ingested proteids. Except in cases where the Hydro-chloric acid is too strong - which, however, must first be analytically ascertained - any drinking or ingestion of fluids at meals, decreases the percentage of digestive capacity, and induces waste, both of labor and material. The animal soup, used at the beginning of a meal as an appetizer, is irredeemably bad and should be left out of every sensible bill of fare.

There is a type of soup, however, which is admissible in a sanitary system of diet: the vegetable puree - the strained decoction of a few thoroughly boiled vegetables, such as onions carrots, parsley, peas, thymes, with a stock of rice or pearl barley. Such a soup, enjoyed with a couple of whole-wheat zweibach, would constitute a meal in itself, as its great percentage of solids would stimulate salivary secretion and comply with all the requirements of an ordinary meal.