In the first place I shall begin by affirming that it would be a difficult matter indeed to say too much in favour of the oyster. It is as highly appreciated at the present day as it was by the Romans hundreds of years ago, and it is certain that in centuries to come it will be found occupying a similar unrivalled position. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that it is not every person who cares for the oyster, showing that there are various forms of affliction; and we find, accordingly, that there is no half-heartedness about the like or dislike for the oyster - it is either held in the loftiest admiration, or looked upon almost with repugnance. It is both food for the sick-room and food for the strong man. It is one of the most valuable forms of nourishment for the growing child, and it gives strength to those of declining years. It is specially appropriate for the brain worker, and yet it is deservedly in great repute with the muscle user - whether athlete or artisan. It is the opening ceremony at our feasts, while it reigns supreme at supper. In short, there is everything to be said for it, while not a single word can be urged against it.
But if it is thus so highly appreciated in health, it is in disease that it is at its best; for here it occupies a place which nothing else can fill. Indeed, after many cases of acute or serious illness, the oyster is one of the first things which the patient looks for. In many chronic disorder's, too, it is absolutely without a rival. Thus, in anaemia, where the blood is so poor, it restores the strength; in bronchitis and other chest diseases it helps to relieve the loaded tubes of phlegm; in consumption and similar wasting maladies it conserves the vital powers; in debility it creates new force; in indigestion it is often digestible when all else is indigestible; in nervous disease it renews the nervous energy. The list, in fact, might be multiplied indefinitely, but enough has been instanced to prove the value of the oyster. It should be added, in conclusion, that it is best eaten raw, with its juice, which is its blood mixed with sea-water. A squeeze of lemon is generally employed to bring out its flavour, and, for those who are not invalids, a sensation of cayenne pepper is distinctly an improvement.