It must be remembered that the nervous system is far more susceptible to the effects of alcohol in a warm than in a cooler climate. It is said that in Southern Europe there are very few water drinkers, but that, on the other hand, there are very few who indulge in strong drink. The system does not feel to want the strong alcohol, so to speak. A weaker wine in a warm climate produces the same feeling of exhilaration that one of greater alcoholic strength does in colder countries. We shall not go far wrong in Australia if we stick to our own natural wines. As it will be found in the chapter on Australian wine, the every-day wine for Australian use is a wine of low alcoholic strength; a wine of which a tumblerful may be taken with benefit; a wine, indeed, which is beneficial, cheering, hygienic, restorative, and wholesome.
By reason of his semi-tropical climate the Australian is bathed in an atmosphere of sunshine. This has a distinct effect upon the blood, for the action of sunlight upon this fluid is to redden it - a fact which has for ages been dwelt upon by the poets. But for a scientific explanation of this effect of sunlight in reddening the blood we must turn to the spectrum analysis. The visible solar spectrum as shown through a prism by the ordinary sunbeam is made up of the seven different colours, namely, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Instead of consisting simply of white light as a whole, it is now universally accepted that in this spectrum different properties belong to different parts. Light or luminous power to one portion; heat or calorific power to another; and chemical power or actinism to a third.
The visible solar or Newtonian luminous spectrum, resulting from the decomposition of white light by a prism, is only the middle portion of the whole solar spectrum. Beyond the red end there are rays possessing still greater heating effect; and beyond the violet extremity there are rays endowed with far more powerful chemical action. The violet, and especially these latter ultra-violet rays, redden the life stream by increasing the haemoglobin - that crystal-lizable body which forms so large a portion of the coloured corpuscles of the blood.
Sunlight, moreover, has not only this action upon the animal kingdom, but also upon the vegetable world as well. Plants, like celery, which are subjected to blanching, become whitened under the process of etiolation. This is due to the absence of chlorophyll, the green colouring matter of plants, which can only be developed by the presence of light. The tops of celery, being unearthed, retain their green colour, while the stem embedded in the soil acquires its familiar whiteness.
Many philosophical writers, notably David Hume and Charles Comte, C. Montesquieu in his L'Esprit des Lois, and Henry Thomas Buckle in his History of Civilization in England, have dilated upon the influence which climate exerts over race, and all their forceful opinions are to the effect that the character of a people is moulded by climatic conditions. More than this, the same view was entertained by the classic writers; for we find the philosopher and orator Cicero recording his belief that "Athens has a light atmosphere, whence the Athenians "are thought to be more keenly intelligent; Thebes "a dense one, and the Thebans fat-witted accord-"ingly." Again, Horace, the poet and satirist, has given us the famous passage : - " You would swear he "(Alexander the Great) was born in the dense atmo-"sphere of the Boeotians."
But the influence of climate is not confined to ordinary conditions alone, because without the shadow of a doubt it controls disease as well. As it is well known, certain diseases are peculiar to, and confined to, certain regions. And, moreover, a malady will vary in its type in different zones. Thus the disease known as rickets is in the old country marked in many cases by bending of the bones, giving rise to deformities of the limbs, etc. The Australian type of the disorder, however, is milder altogether, and is of a different character. The Australian child is straight-limbed almost without exception, yet the Australian type of rickety disease, as I pointed out in 1891, is quite a definite affection.
At the Congress of Naturalists and Physicians at Strasburg in 1885 the great German pathologist, Professor Virchow, called attention to a sphere of research in which, he alleged, neither the French nor the English had hitherto accomplished anything of importance, namely, the modifications of the organism, and particularly of the special alterations of each organ, connected with the phenomena of acclimatization. This reproach cannot be denied. We have not yet reached the stage in Australia of noting the effect which climate has upon the system in general, much less of inquiring into the changes which occur in such organs as the liver, spleen, etc. But apart from investigating the phenomena of acclimatization, it is very plain that the people of Australia have never given any heed to their semi-tropical climate, or else the food-faults now universally practised would have been rectified long before this.
It has always been a matter of interesting speculation as to what the characteristic type of the future Australian will be. But reflections of this kind can only be in the right direction by bearing in mind the ever-present climatic conditions. Climate is of all forces the most irresistible; for, on the one hand, the Great Desert of Sahara could not be crossed in an Arctic costume and on Esquimaux diet; nor, on the other, could the Polar regions be explored in a Hindoo garb and on Oriental fare. And though blood is thicker than water, yet the resistless influence of a semi-tropical range of temperature will be to imprint on the descendants of the present inhabitants of Australia some marked peculiarities of skin-colour, of facial expression, of lingual accent, and perhaps even of bodily conformation.
Quite recently an observing writer, in a keenly analytical if somewhat facetious article, gave it as his opinion that the coming Australians will be as follows : - " They will not be so entirely agricultural as "the Americans were; they will be horsemen, not "gig-drivers. Descended from adventurers, not from "Puritans, and eager, as men of their climate must "be, for pleasant lives, they will thirst for dependent "possessions, for gardens where fortunes grow. The "early Americans were men of austere temper, who "led, on an ungrateful soil, lives of permanent hard-"ship. They had to fight the sea, the snow, the "forest, the Indians, and their own hearts. The "Australians, with a warmer climate, without Puritan "traditions, with wealth among them from the first, "will be a softer, though not a weaker people; fonder "of luxury, and better fitted to enjoy Art, with an "appreciation of beauty which the Americans have "never shown. They will be a people growing and "drinking wine, caring much for easy society, ad-"dieted to conversation, and never happy without "servants. The note of discontent which penetrates "the whole American character will be absent."
From the climatic standpoint alone it is safe to predict that the future Australian will be more nearly akin to the inhabitants of Southern Europe than to his progenitors in the old country; though, naturally, there will be considerable diversity between the native born of the various regions, covering as they do such a vast extent of territory. The ample opportunities for outdoor life will do much towards ensuring physical development. And, finally, the imaginative faculties will be very active, and it is quite permissible to hope that in time there will be a long roll of artists, musicians, and poets.
As it will be seen, a considerable portion of this work is taken up with the practical side of living, as exemplified by the Australian Cookery Recipes. From the very first it was recognized that it was imperative to include them within its compass. It occurred to me, however, that this important department would better be undertaken by someone thoroughly conversant with the subject. With this object in view, therefore, I submitted to Mrs. H. Wicken what I required. I knew Mrs. Wicken to be well qualified for the task from the following facts, namely, that she had previously been successful in her culinary writings; that she was a Diplomee of the National Training School for Cookery, South Kensington; and that she occupied the responsible post of lecturer to the Technical College, Sydney. My propositions were that the recipes were to be written purely for Australian use, and that they were to be of the strictly economical order. Mrs. Wicken accepted the task, and it can only be hoped that her efforts will meet with the approbation they deserve.
In their original form the three chapters on Australian Food Habits, Australian Fish and Oysters, and on Salads, appeared in The Daily Telegraph, Sydney. I take this opportunity, therefore, of expressing my sense of obligation to the Proprietors thereof for their courtesy in permitting me to make complete use of these three contributions. As they now appear in chapters they have been revised, considerably altered, and materially added to, for the purposes of reproduction in book form.
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A farmer being on the point of death, and wishing to show his sons the way to success in farming, called them to him and said - "My "children, I am now departing this life, but all that I have to leave "you you will find in the vineyard." The sons, supposing that he referred to some hidden treasure, as soon as the old man was dead, set to work with their spades and ploughs and every implement that was at hand, and turned up the soil over and over again. They found indeed no treasure; but the vines, strengthened and improved by this thorough tillage, yielded a finer vintage than they had ever yielded before, and more than repaid the young husbandmen for all their trouble. So truly is industry in itself a treasure. - The Fables of AEsop.