Along with its great ally, the oyster, fish undoubtedly occupies one of the highest places on the food list. Unfortunately, it is not met with in every home as it should be, its high price and scarcity combining to make it conspicuous by its absence. That such a state of things is actually the case in Australia can only be deeply deplored. Let us suppose, for instance, that we were as well supplied with fish as we are entitled to be, considering that we are of a maritime race and that we live near the sea. If such were the case - and I would it were so - how would a sudden reversal to the present state of our fish supply be received ? "Would it not give rise to protestations, to indignation meetings, to questionings in the House, and to the papers being filled with complaints, till matters were put right again ? Yes, indeed, all these things would happen ! Meanwhile, however, we continue placidly in our Ashless state of existence, and the finny tribe, outside in the deep sea, have a good time in consequence.
It may seem of little use, therefore, to call attention to the value of fish when we are practically bereft of it. But as some improvement may come about in course of time, the attempt will not be altogether thrown away. First of all, then, it is worthy of note that in the old country that advocate for rational feeding, Sir Henry Thompson, has recently expressed his opinion that a large proportion of the town population would profit by exchanging some of their meat, as an article of daily diet, for fish. He further adds that the digestive system is apt to become overloaded and oppressed by meals consisting chiefly of meat, and that many a constitution suffers from an over-supply in this way, which cannot be remedied without a considerable amount of exercise. That being the case in the old country, with its cold, damp climate, these facts are intensified a thousandfold when they are applied to our semi-tropical existence. Dr. T. K. Chambers, also, another authority on all that pertains to diet, is an advocate for a more general use of fish in our daily life; and, as he sagely observes, every sort is best when it is cheapest, for it is then most plentiful and in fullest season. Then, again, we have Dr. F. W. Pavy, who is well qualified to speak on these matters, observing that fish is an important article of food. For, as he proceeds to point out, the health and vigour of the inhabitants of the fishing towns, where fish may form the only kind of animal food consumed, show that it is capable of contributing, in an effective manner, to the maintenance of the body under active conditions of life. Dr. Horace Dobell, too, tells us how nearly fish represents in food value an equal weight of meat, and how important it is to other forms of animal food as a mixed diet. Indeed, it would be possible to adduce similar statements to an indefinite extent, but my main object in making these references is to call attention to the value of fish as ordinary diet. And although it has an every-day value of this kind, there are in addition certain qualities ascribed to fish which render it particularly appropriate for a large and important section of our population. I refer to the brain workers. I say large and important, because in their ranks arc to be found literary men and journalists, members of the professions, active-minded, busy men of the commercial world, and the vast array of those having mental work and clerical occupations. In one of the latest books on the subject of food and diet by Dr. Burney Yeo, he remarks that it is the custom to speak of fish as an "intellectual " or "brain" food, on account of the phosphorus contained in it. But he adds that much of its reputation in this respect may be due to its being readily digested by persons of sedentary and studious habits. He proceeds to quote Louis Agassiz, the famous naturalist, who bestows upon fish the following : - " Refreshing to the "organism, especially for intellectual labour; not that its use "can turn an idiot into a wise or witty man, but a fish diet "cannot be otherwise than favourable to brain develop-"ment"
But if fish is thus a necessary and desirable element in the dietary of our active daily life, it is not to be forgotten that it is at least equally valuable for the invalid. It is often tolerated by the stomach when the digestive powers are weakened from any cause. When the system is recruiting after any exhausting illness, it is usually amongst the earliest forms of nourishment allowed. In many chronic disorders, likewise, it is just one of those things whose place it would be impossible to fill. And, lastly, it should be ever remembered that many men whose lives are passed in a state of perfect thraldom by reason of their extravagant use of butcher's meat would find themselves better in health, better in spirits, and better in temper, were they to curtail their allowance, substituting fish in its place.