"Without attempting to specify the different preparations used by the ancients, for the prevention of hunger, we shall merely communicate such substitutes as have been judiciously recommended on sudden emergencies; together with the most proper means of administering food to persons who have for a considerable time been deprived of aliment.
In times of distress, life may be protracted with less pain and misery, by a moderate allowance of. water; because that fluid counteracts the acrimony and putrid tendency of the humours, while it furnishes the lungs with the degree of moisture essentially requisite to the performance of their functions. It is, however, a matter of serious consequence to such as are exposed to tins dreadful calamity, to be provided with the means of alleviating its horrors, when about to undertake a long journey, in which they are apprehensive of a scarcity of provisions.
The American Indians are supposed to use a preparation consisting of the juice of tobacco, and the shells of oysters, snails, or cockles, burnt so as to be reduced to the finest powder. These ingredients are dried, and formed into lozenges of a proper size to be held between the gum and the lip, so that, being gradually dissolved, they obtund or mitigate the sensations both of hunger and thirst.
A more palatable and efficacious substitute for food, however, in a famishing situation at sea, is the powder of salep, which has been judiciously suggested by Dr. Lino, in order that it may form part of the provisions of every ship's company. This powder, together with portable soup, when dissolved in boiling water, forms a rich thick jelly, and one ounce of each article will furnish a whole day's subsistence for an adult. Indeed, from the experiments made on salep, by Dr. Percival, it appears to contain a larger quantity of nutritious aliment, in proportion to its bulk, than any other vegetable matter hitherto known as food. It also possesses the valuable property of suppressing the nauseous taste of salt water; and may thus be of great utility at sea, when fresh water is either wholly, or so far con sumed, that the mariners are "put upon short allowance." From the same mucilaginous property, it greatly tends to counteract, the acrimony of both salted and tainted meat. When provisions are nearly exhausted, the most beneficial method of using salep in distressing circumstances will be, to mix it with an equal quantity of beef-suet, and form the whole into little balls. By swallowing this composition, at proper intervals, the coats of the stomach will be defended from irritation : and, these balls, like other oily and mucilaginous matters, being highly nutritive, and slowly digested, small portions are well calculated to support life, and thus to form an efficacious preservative against the most dreadful calamity that can possibly happen to mankind. Gum arabic is likewise a good substitute for, or addition to, salep, in the preparation above-mentioned ; and, as it renders the whole mass more solid, it will require a degree of mastication, by which the saliva is separated and conveyed into the stomach ; while it contributes to assuage the pains, both of hunger and of thirst.
In attempting the restoration of those unfortunate persons who have endured the horrors of famine, we recommend the utmost precaution. Warmth, cordials, and the most nourishing broths, or jellies, are to be administered gradually, and with great circumspection ; for otherwise, even thesemight prove fatal. The most judicious mode of communicating warmth to the exhausted patient, will be to place a healthy person on each side in con-tact with him. Bathing the feet in warm water, and fomentations, may be advantageously employed ; bu their temperature ought to be lower than that of the human body, and imperceptibly increased. New milk, weak broth, or water-gruel, may be used for both purposes, as well as in repeated clysters; because nourishment may, in this manner, be effectually conveyed into the body by different passages, which are most pervious during a state of long abstinence ; provided the means of relief have not been too long delayed. - Cordials should at first be given in very small doses, and much diluted : one of the best-preparations is white-wine whey, which affords both a gentle stimu-lus and easy nutriment. When the patient's stomach acquires a little strength, a new-laid egg may be mixed with the whey, or given in some other form that may be more agreeable to his palate. Thus, he may progressively return to a more substantial diet; so that, by proper care and cheerful society, he will in a short time be restored to health..