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cifying any particular region; and accordingly the original man was endowed with an organization and qualities fitting him for this great object. In relation to food he was, we know, so provided with teeth, stomach, and an entire alimentary canal and digestive system, as to render him capable of deriving support either from an animal diet alone, or a vegetable diet, or from a mixture of these in almost any proportions, bountiful Nature at the same time supplying, both in the animal matter and the vegetable matter, in their composite nature, in their ultimate elements, and more especially in their proximate principles, all the ingredients absolutely requisite for the sustentation of the animal being; and ethnological experience accords with this. Every region of the earth's surface that enterprising man has hitherto explored-and how few are those left unexplored!-has been found more or less inhabited by his fellow men,-in the Arctic regions, subsisting on an animal diet, fat supplying the place of vegetable matter, and animal life abounding there where vegetable life is most feeble and rare; in the tropical regions, subsisting chiefly on a vegetable diet, vegetable life there being in surpassing abundance, and the azotized proximate principles-gluten, vegetable, albumen, &c.-supplying the place of the animal matter, the muscular fibre. Notwithstanding, however, this wide supply of food compatible with the existence of our race, there are circumstances, both as regards the earth's productions, and organization in the instance of man, tending to show that all regions are not equally suitable to his well-being, nor all kinds of diet; that there is a happy medium diet, and a happy medium region and climate, on and in which he attains his highest animal and mental qualities, and as a sensuous intellectual being, is capable of experiencing the greatest enjoyment in life. These regions, need we say, are the temperate, and the diet a mixed one of animal and vegetable matter. Further, as regards animal and vegetable substances in relation to diet, there are well-known and marked differences, some being more nutritive and sustaining than others; some more decidedly wholesome than others; and again, amongst the animals reared and slaughtered for food, and the vegetables cultivated for the same purpose, some can be reared with greater ease than others, and at a less expense, and some can be grown and brought to maturity with less risk of failure than others, and afford (occupying the same space of ground) a far greater yield. These are matters of vital interest to a people, yet, though obviously so, how little have they had the general attention which their importance deserves.
If we regard the different regions of our globe, instances offer of a very instructive kind, showing how, with advancing civilization and practical science, as the minds of men become better informed and their prejudices removed on the subject of food, population increases with diminished risk of suffering, and with greater security of comfort and enjoyment. What a contrast is presented in that extraordinary country, New Holland, between the natives, few and sparse, living wretchedly as hunters, chiefly on the flesh of animals killed in the chase by means of their feeble instruments, and the European colonists, dependent for food on flocks already naturalized and so wonderfully increased, and on grain-wheat of their own growing, or imported with other imported grains-and various vegetables and fruits, most of them exotic, obtained by garden culture, and vegetable products almost as various, obtained by manufacturing skill. The one race, the lowest in the scale of humanity, not increasing but rather decreasing, and likely soon to become extinct; the other, an advancing people, self-governing, rapidly multiplying, and in progress to become a great nation. In New Zealand, in the United States, in North and a great part of South America, we have similar examples. In New Zealand the contrast between the past and the present is especially striking, a country in which, when first discovered, cannibalism prevailed, arising probably from a want of animals for food, and the occasional scarcity of the ordinary vegetable food, as when their male inhabitants were collected in large war-parties and were subjected to the temptation of making their prisoners their victims,-like what we sometimes read of when shipwrecked men, pressed
by starvation, have become cannibals, the pressing sense of hunger and dread of death overcoming all those natural feelings opposed to the abhorred act.
In the countries mentioned we witness the changes which have taken place in connexion with a change of diet in recent times, the most remarkable even within our own memory. In other countries, as those longer known historically-Asiatic, European, and African-not less instructive lessons are afforded. In India, in those vast fertile regions included between the Indus and the Ganges, the Himalayan Alps and the Indian Ocean, we see a numerous people chained by superstition and the influence of caste-the dread of becoming outcasts-to a restricted diet, and that chiefly vegetable, of a low sustaining power, and in consequence, we may say, though to a certain degree advanced in civilization, not an advancing people -low in science, low in vigour, and subject to a great occasional suffering from desolating famine, whenever, owing to unfavourable seasons, the crop fails on which they chiefly depend. With these may be contrasted an almost conterminous people, the Chinese, offering the opposite extreme in relation to diet, and probably with some, though less, bad effect, a people free, it would appear, from all prejudice in the matter of diet, making no distinctions whatever between clean and unclean, trying all things eatable and using them all,-a people vastly numerous, wonderfully advanced in the mechanical arts, and yet little advanced in the sciences and the fine arts, and now in a manner stationary, or even perhaps retrograde, in the scale of civilization; robust in body, unrefined in mind, and seemingly deficient in the higher mental faculties.
Leaving Asia for Europe, and confining our regards to the nations with which we are most familiar, examples offer, though not so striking. We shall select only for brief comparison England and France, and these with Ireland. The English people perhaps approach the nearest to the Chinese in the variety of their diet, but with this difference, that they are somewhat more fastidious as to the articles of which it is constituted, and their quality. Their diet is essentially a very mixed one, even amongst the labouring class, some kind of animal matter forming a part of it, though in a proportion often less than could be wished. What the people are in relation to animal power, mental energy, and intellect, it is unnecessary to state, or how rarely we have been afflicted with famine, our resources being so many, home and foreign, and the arms of commerce so far-stretching even beyond our pressing wants; and owing to a tolerable absence of prejudice, having in the produce of other countries so many substitutes for those of our own in case of failing crops. In France we see a rival people, our rivals in war, in science, the arts, especially the fine arts, more restricted as to diet-we speak of the mass of the people and depending chiefly on the produce of their own lands, their corn lands, and living principally on wheaten bread. As a peasantry, in vigour of body we believe they are inferior to ours, and also in longevity and the ratio of increase. From a recent census, the population appears to be diminishing. According to statistical tables considered worthy of credit, the average length of life in France scarcely exceeds two-thirds that in England;* and this difference has been attributed by a very eminent French physiologist, M. Dutrochet, to the food being chiefly bread, every adult peasant eating, according to his calculation, two pounds daily. Whether this inference be strictly just or not, whether other circumstances may not be concerned in the effect, this at least is certain, that when a people are dependent mainly on one crop, and that people not a commercial one, they are subject to suffer in years of scarcity; and an impoverished diet we know has invariably the effect of lowering strength, not only of body, but also of mind. In Belgium, where the peasantry live very much on the same kind of food as the French peasantry, it would appear from Dr. Webster's report on the institutions
For further information on this subject, see the Registrar-General's Reports for 1855. In "1853 the deaths in France exceeded the births by 69,818; and that time preceded the Russian war, and the high price of provisions which heralded and accompanied the war." In 1854, in France, to 1000 of the population 26 children were born; in England and Wales the same population gave birth to 34 children;" the difference, "not referrible to unusual abstinence from marriage, but to difference of fecundity of married women."
for the insane in that country, noticed in our number for July, 1857, that the large numerical amount of insane there was referrible in part to a poor and deficient diet; and if so, if capable of producing or conducing to insanity, is it at all surprising that the same cause should conduce to irregular and vicious conduct, and to violent outrages; and these, in their turn, to a diminishing population. It is acknowledged that scarcity was one of the roots of the French Revolution, an extreme centralizing system, destructive of stability, preceding as it has also followed. To come nearer home, if we compare England and Ireland, or Ireland and France, how wide is the contrast. Ireland, before the late famine, with its potato-fed population, rapidly increasing beyond safe bounds-France, with its wheat-fed population, almost stationary. The former, with a sufficiency of a peculiar food peculiarly wholesome, remarkably healthy, prolific, and long-lived, but always in danger of famine, and when famine came, more than decimated, notwithstanding the vast exertions made to give relief, affording a terrible example, not too often to be dwelt on, of the danger of dependency on one article of food, however salubrious; and more, showing how, from the facility of obtaining that one article, the little agricultural skill necessary for its culture, and the less culinary skill requisite for its preparation, it becomes a barrier to the improved condition of a people and the advance of their social condition.
Leaving these examples of the influences of diet on peoples, admitting it proved that a mixed diet is the best, and the best in all climates, with certain modifications, seemingly pointed out by Nature in the profusion of the vegetable productions in the warmer regions of the globe, and of animal life in the colder, let us give attention to particular kinds of diet. And first of animal food.
Of whatever class this is, whether butcher's meat, poultry, or fish, we know that it consists chiefly of muscle, and that for ordinary use any one of these may be received as an equivalent nearly for the other, the differences as to supporting strength and nourishing power not being very strongly marked, varying chiefly, it may be inferred, with the proportion of solid matter and water in each; butcher's meat containing from about 27 to 30 per cent. solid matter-i. e., as obtained by thorough desiccation; poultry about the same; fish, including those abounding in fat or oil, from 17 per cent. to 23 per cent. And we come to this conclusion, that they are so nearly equivalent--not forgetting what we are told of Lord Bacon by his only trustworthy biographer, Dr. Rowley-that we quote the words of the latter:
"In his younger years he was much given to the finer and lighter sorts of meat, as of fowls and such like; but afterwards when grown more judicious, he preferred the stronger meats, such as the shambles afforded, as those meats which bred the more firm and substantial juices of the body, and less dissipable, upon which he would often make his meal, though he had other meats upon the table."
Assigned reasons, these, for a preference hardly borne out by facts, and founded, we think, on too limited an induction, according to the Baconian philosophy.
Next of vegetable food. The several, the multitudinous articles in use of this kind, differ far more from each other in composition than the various kinds of animal food, whether we regard the proportions of solid matter and water which they contain, or the proximate principles of which the solid matter consists. Tubers and roots generally, such as the potato,* the carrot, the parsnip, the
*Mr. J. W. Rogers, in a paper read at the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Dublin, Aug. 26th), On the Chemical Properties of the Potato, and its uses as a General Article of Commerce if properly manipulated, undertook to show that the matter of the potato is really equal in nutritive value to the dry matter of wheat, whilst the quantum of food produced from a given quantity of land is nearly four times that produced from wheat. The results of his analyses are the following:
turnip, are, as it is well known, far more succulent than the grains or seeds, such as wheat, barley, oats, rice, ripe beans and peas, &c., containing a vastly larger proportion of water-from 74 to 88 per cent., against from 11 to 18 per cent. They also appear to be more compounded—that is, to consist of a greater number of proximate principles, on which account probably they are peculiarly wholesome and antiscorbutic. Owing to so wide a difference, any one of them cannot be considered an equivalent for any other, whether weight for weight or article for article. Thus, in the instances of wheaten bread and potato, at least four times the weight of the latter is required to satisfy the appetite of a working man and preserve him in health; but it would appear at the same time, judging from the vital statistics of France and Ireland, that the more concentrated and stronger diet is inferior in degree of health and life-sustaining power. The same remark applies to different kinds of grain-for instance, wheat and oats, rice and maize; their qualities, no doubt, as alimentary substances, varying according to their composition, the most wholesome, if used exclusively, probably being oats and maize, and the least nutritive and supporting, rice; oats and maize being most compounded, rice least so, and containing the smallest proportion of azotized matter, or matter analogous to animal matter.
The varieties of food and their equivalents are matters of special interestagain, we may say, of vital interest, and yet have hitherto been neglected by mankind generally. How few of the people are tolerably acquainted, rationally, even with that elementary food, milk, and its analogue, eggs; and understand, that as regards man, milk, his first food, is the type of his appropriate food-milk being essentially composed of the three important elements of a wholesome dietan azotized matter, curd, casein, in composition differing but little from muscle; saccharine matter, sugar of milk; and fatty matter, the ingredient of cream and butter. It is curious to see how, under different circumstances, man, without exact knowledge, is, as it were, guided by an instinctive taste to select, when he has the power of selection, such articles of diet as are most suitable, most in accordance with the principles of his first food. Thus, if deprived of vegetables, as are the Esquimaux, these rude people prize oil and animal fat; if a pastoral people, such as the Caffres, without cultivated vegetables and fruits, dependent chiefly on preparations of milk for their support, they strictly prohibit themselves the use of fresh milk; the drinking it is a capital offence-an acid must be formed in it, it must become sour and coagulated before it can be lawfully taken, thus tending to prevent waste and gluttony, and at the same time securing the benefit of an acid which did not exist in the milk. In the instance of the Hindoos, though in regard to diet the very opposite of the Esquimaux, yet the same taste exists for oily matter; they appear to be as fond of gee (clarified butter) as the latter are of blubber; and is it not because in the staple food of the former, rice, the proportion of oily matter (if any) is so minute? The same instinct in the Brahminical caste, who of all Indians abstain most strictly from animal food, seems to have created in them a taste for pulse as well as gee, in quest of the nitrogenous as well as the oleaginous element.*
A word more respecting equivalents: were a knowledge of them diffused, such as modern science affords, how great would be the advantage, especially to families with limited means. We witness a striking example of the want of such knowledge in the instance of starch; a proximate principle, possessing the same qualities, however varied in the form of its particles, from whatever plant produced-whether from the potato, arrow-root, or wheat, yet as sold in the shops how different in price. This ignorance leads to two evils; on the part of the consumer, if fairly dealt with, to an unnecessary outlay; on the part of the seller, tempting to fraudulent practices. Were the doctrine of equivalents but tolerably understood, we might have been spared those idle discussions in the House of Commons respecting chicory, and that mischievous legislation, at one time fol
*See on this subject Dr. Forbes Watson's remarks in the 'Sanitary Review' for Jan., 1858.
lowed, of allowing chicory to be sold mixed with coffee, as if it possessed the same qualities, and were in degree a true substitute for it. England has well been described as the paradise of quacks: we have charlatanism of all kinds, and not least remarkable as regards our food. Witness the various advertisements sounding the praises of revalenta, semolina, and other simple and compound vegetable preparations from time to time brought into the market solely with a view to gain, the venders calculating on the love of mankind for novelty, and on their credulity, remembering—“Quod mavult homo esse verum id facile credit." But to proceed.
As we have taken examples from races inhabiting different regions of the globe, it may not be without advantage to select some in illustration of the effects of diet from our home population, choosing those classes in which the difference of diet is most marked, and the effects of that difference best seen, such as the gentry and labouring peasantry, the army and navy, fishermen and miners.
As belonging to the first class may be mentioned, whether gentle or simple, high-born or low-born, all those families possessed of sufficient means to enable them to live independent of labour, head-labour or hand-labour, and to provide themselves with whatever food they desire, the comforts and luxuries of life. Their diet is essentially a mixed diet, into which animal food of the best kind enters largely, and, if they err as to quantity, their error almost invariably is one of excess. Their health is generally vigorous, their length of life long, their powers, bodily and mental, high. The diseases they are most subject to are of the acute kind-inflammations, gout, apoplexy..
The peasantry may be designated as those who earn their subsistence by farm labour, who commonly marry young, live from hand to mouth, making no provision for the future; are oftener under-fed than over-fed; and whose diet, though of a mixed kind, is principally vegetable, formed of bread and potatoes, with some cheese or bacon, some milk and less butter, and little butcher's meat. Where well off, as they are in some counties, with fair wages, they are generally strong and healthy; but when, as too often is the case, they are under-fed, they are comparatively spiritless and feeble, unequal to hard work, and nowise disposed to exert themselves, and altogether, as a class, it would appear that their average duration of life is less than that of the gentry; and also that they are less healthy, not subject indeed to gout, but especially subject to rheumatism and dyspepsia, and very liable to suffer from any prevailing endemic or epidemic disease, such as typhus and cholera.
The army and navy exhibit almost as great a contrast as the two classes last considered. Science of late years has to a considerable extent regulated the dietary of the Royal Navy; the rations of the men are now of a mixed kind, and ample in quantity, consisting, in long voyages, of salt meats and biscuit, with flour, peas, raisins, sugar, tea, cocoa; and when in harbour, or within reach of frequent supplies, chiefly of fresh meat and soft bread, with the other additions. The same compliment, we regret, cannot be paid to the army administrators, for science certainly has not guided them in the rationing of the troops. The regulated diet of the soldier, wherever serving, whether in the coldest climate or the hottest, is much the same a pound of meat daily, and a pound of bread-and the meat, provided at a low contract price, commonly of inferior quality; and even within the tropics, often alternated with salt meat, and generally without any of those wholesome additions given to the sailor as a regular allowance. The difference of the men of the two services in point of health is remarkable. Since the diet of the navy has been improved, those diseases which formerly were so fatal in our fleets, scurvy especially, have disappeared, and the mortality of the crews afloat has become even less than that of the civil population on shore. In the army, on the contrary, even when healthiest, the mortality exceeds that of the home population, and on most foreign stations greatly exceeds it, ranging from 20 per thousand to 120, and occasionally rising as high as 250, and even 300. Their diseases are peculiar— the diseases of camps, principally fevers and dysentery, occasionally scurvy and