Page images

but money, and this was the way to make money. "The water they mix with the wine," Erasmus says, "is the least part of the mischief. They put in lime, and alum, and resin, and sulphur, and salt, and they say it is good enough for heretics." Observe the practical issue of religious corruption. Show me a people where trade is dishonest, and I will show you a people where religion is a sham. "We have men that steal money," Erasmus exclaimed, writing doubtless with the remembrance of a stomach-ache. "These wretches steal our money and our lives too, and get off scot-free." He settled at last at Basle, which the storm had not yet reached, and tried to bury himself among his books. The shrieks of the conflict still troubled his ears. He heard his own name still cursed, and he could not bear it nor sit quiet under it.

And this passage on his happier and more resolute successor, the rough but sturdy Augustinian-the drunken German monk, as the Pope somewhat ungenerously styled him-the man of the people, who knew the people's needs and was equal to the occasion, and so in what he accomplished was immeasurably greater than his far more learned and polished predecessor :

Luther's own life was a model of great simplicity: he remained poor; he might have had money if he had wished; but he chose rather, amidst his enormous labours, to work at a turning-lathe for a livelihood. He was sociable, cheerful, fond of innocent amusements, and delighted to encourage them. His table talk, collected by his friends, makes one of the most brilliant books in the world. He had no monkish theories about the necessity of abstinence, but he was temperate from habit and principle. A salt herring and a hunch of bread was his ordinary meal, and he was once four days without food of any sort, having emptied his larder among the poor.

Some of the most entertaining passages I can call to mind relating to Bismarck are found in Dr. Moritz Busch's "Bismarck in the Franco-German War"; but in this article I shall in the main confine myself to paragraphs dealing with the Iron Chancellor's favourite food. What sound common sense is in the following:

When the roast came in the chief asked, "Is it horse?" One of us at table said, "No, it is beef." He rejoined it was very odd that people would not eat horseflesh unless they are forced to do so, like the people inside Paris, who will soon have nothing else left. The reason, perhaps, is that the horse seems to come nearer to us than any other animal. When he is riding the man is almost one with the horse. It is nearest us in intelligence. It is the same thing with the dog. Dog-flesh must taste well enough, but we never eat it. One of the gentlemen expressed himself unfavourably, and another said a word for dog-steaks. The chief went on with his parable. The liker anything is to us the less can we eat it. It must be very loathsome to have to eat monkeys, which have hands so like men! Somebody reminded him that the South American savages ate monkeys, and then he began to talk of cannibals. "Yes," he said, "but that must have been commenced at first through hunger, and I believe I have read that they prefer women, who are, at least, not of their own sex. Man really does not care for the food of many animals-savage brutes, for instance, like lions and wolves. To be sure he likes bears, but they live rather on vegetable than animal food. I can't eat a bit of a fowl that takes on fat-not even its eggs."

Again, this passage describing Bismarck's habits:

At dessert, says Dr. Busch, he spoke of the amount he had eaten. "To-day a beefsteak and a-half and two slices of pheasant. It is a good deal, but not too much, as it is my only meal. I breakfast certainly, but only on a cup of tea without milk and a couple of eggs; after that, nothing till the evening. too much then I am like a boa-constrictor, but I can't sleep!"

If I eat

It has been humorously said that every man is a Radical before dinner and a Tory after. Shakespeare, master of everything concerning human nature, speaks of Cassius's "lean and hungry" look, and conveys volumes thereby :

Let me have men about me that are fat,

Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights.
Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much such men are dangerous.

Unfortunately some of our countrymen get little food of any description, and deaths from starvation figure with startling frequency in the reports of coroners' inquests in London. But those recorded are only a very small proportion of the thousands of deaths annually from slow starvation; in other words, from the defective working of the Poor Laws, which ought to be more intelligently administered, and, with certain limitations, more liberally interpreted—that is, until the growing intelligence and self-restraint of the less-favoured classes enable us to do without Poor Laws altogether. Among underpaid workers deaths accelerated by insufficient food and over-long hours of labour are common to a degree that none but the doctor toiling among the poor can estimate. Our Poor Law authorities should lay to heart the lines written long ago by Matthew Prior, who, if tradition be correct, was connected with the very town in which I am writing this article:

Hunger and thirst, or guns or swords,

Give the same death in different words;
To push this argument no further,

To starve a man in law is murther.

What a vital question the proper supply of food is to a great city the following passage from Dr. Busch's lively work will show; it relates to the negotiations which brought the terrible struggle to a close :

The fortified places were to have liberty to reprovision themselves for the period of the armistice in proportion to the numbers of the population and garrison shut in. With this object Paris was to be supplied by four specified railways with cattle and various other necessaries as follows :-54,000 oxen, 80,000 sheep, 8,000 swine, 5,000 calves, and the necessary fodder for these animals, consisting of 400,000 tons of hay and straw; 5,000 tons of salted beef,

10,000 tons of meal, 15,000 tons of dried vegetables, 100,000 tons of coal, 640,000 cubic yards of wood for fuel. The population of Paris was reckoned for the purposes of this calculation at 400,000 of garrison and 2,700,000 to 2,800,000 within the lines of investment.

It may surprise my readers, in relation to the enormous consumption of great communities, to learn the number of animals required to supply the material for such an apparently insignificant adjunct to food as Liebig's Extract. The secretary, in reply to an inquiry addressed to him, informs me that "our slaughter at Fray Bentos during the last ten years amounted to 1,554,953 head, of which 1,327,621 were oxen and 227,362 cows. All our Extract of Meat," he courteously continues, "is shipped to Antwerp, where it is potted and distributed to the different markets of the world."

An anecdote in Dr. Busch's too-little-known work it would be unpardonable to omit, though it can hardly be claimed for it that it has anything to do with odd food:

Bismarck then told the story how old Knesebeck once, to everybody's astonishment, got up to say something in the State Council; after he had stood there awhile without saying anything somebody coughed. “I beg," he said, “that you will not interrupt me." After which, and after standing another couple of minutes, he said, in a sorrowful way, "I have really forgotten what I had to say,” and sat down.

One day, continues Dr. Moritz Busch, he and the Iron Chancellor discussed the merits of the medical profession, and this gave the great statesman an opportunity of relating an incident in his early career, which I must be forgiven for reproducing :

We spoke about doctors and the way in which Nature occasionally puts herself to rights, and the chief said that once, when he had been on a hunting party for two days with some duke, he had been all wrong in his inner man. "Even the two days' hunting and the fresh air did nothing for me. I went the day after to dine with the Cuirassiers at Brandenburg, who had been getting a new cup. I was to drink out of t first and handsel it, then it was to go round. It might hold a bottle; I held my breath, drank it to the last drop, and set it down empty. I astonished them reatly, for they don't expect much from men of the pen. But it was the Gottingen way. The remarkable thing, though perhaps there was little in it, was that I was never so right inside as in the four weeks after that. I tried to cure myself in the same way on other occasions, but I never had again so delightful a success. I remember, too, once when we were with the Letzlingen Hunt, under Frederick William IV., one of those puzzle bottles of the time of Frederick William I. was emptied at a draught. It was a staghorn so made that the drinker could not put the mouth of the horn, which might hold threequarters of a bottle, to his lips, and yet he was not allowed to spill a single drop. I took it up and emptied it, though it was very dry champagne, and not a single drop went on my waistcoat. The company stared when I said another; but he King said, 'No, there must be no more,' and the thing had to remain so."

Apropos of distinguished authors, some years ago a great friend of mine, still alive, though considerably over eighty, sent me a letter he had just received from Mrs. Henry Wood. As I was a warm admirer of her novels, I read it with great pleasure and some curiosity. In it she spoke of one of her children, who had recently been ill of something that she said the doctors called a sunstroke. But what so much struck me was the kind, loving tone: you felt at once that you were reading the words of a noble, largehearted woman, capable, in spite of her unceasing literary labour, of giving time and thought to those who were far nearer and dearer to her than even fame and wealth. My friend, when sending her letter on to me, said that she was a truly good woman, and that he was proud to include her among his friends. Letters do not always reveal the writer's true character-sometimes they show him in over-dark colours-but in Mrs. Henry Wood's case no one could question that her letter-frank and motherly to a degree-was in perfect harmony with the generous, lofty strain of her wonderfully popular works. The author of "The Channings" and "Roland Yorke " could not be anything but a good woman.

But diet has a more practical bearing still; it is closely connected with much of the sickness which causes the sufferer more uneasiness than he cares to confess. Diet, it may often be truly said, is health or sickness. Few illnesses would last long on bread and water. "Of course not," sharply retorts some fastidious, selfindulgent sufferer; "such treatment would kill the strongest outright." "Not so," I rejoin; "it expels the disease unceremoniously, and to the manifest advantage of the invalid." Were fashionable sufferers to live on sixpence a day, and to earn it-though how many of them could manage the latter I do not know, for many a well-bred gentleman is not worth sixpence a day to any one in any capacity-it would take the horses from many a prosperous physician's carriage, and close half the chemists' shops in the land. There would be little dyspepsia were the principal meal to consist of one dish; for who but an Irishman, for example, could go on eating potatoes ad nauseam? Nature would rebel, and the diner would rise satisfied long before he had done himself irreparable mischief.

Over-eating is bad enough, but over-drinking is ten times worsethe former stupefies, the latter infuriates. We might easily deal with over-eating were not over-drinking to baffle us. Among the best substitutes for alcoholic beverages water holds a high place, but many people do not relish it, and are always craving for something combining the refreshing, solvent properties of water with the


sharpness of alcohol. Will they ever succeed in getting what they want? Dr. B. W. Richardson, if I understand him aright, says emphatically, No. A friend of mine, one of the partners in the wellknown firm of Idris and Co., of Ascham Street, Kentish Town, equally intent as myself on the solution of this great difficulty, has favoured me with some samples of natural wines specially prepared for total abstainers they are absolutely perfect, and, as far as a lifelong waterdrinker can presume to express an opinion, the nearest approach to real substitutes ever offered. Many sorts are prepared-orange champagne, ginger, lime fruit, Morella cherry, and maraschino. The last is my favourite, and must surely, as it becomes known, meet the formidable difficulty still discouraging temperance advocates. The maker, nevertheless, who may be supposed to understand the national requirements best, thinks that his orange champagne will have the preference. Truly it is a drink that should satisfy any natural palate.

"It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest," says a homely proverb, and for a medical man to laugh at the weaknesses of his fellows is a sorry spectacle. Let us not present that opprobrious sight. But would that I could be proud of my cloth, and feel that I could honour the gentle professors of the healing art-friends of all mankind, but standing ever ready with dagger drawn to stab to the very death, fairly or foully, their medical rivals; and to the average practitioner every confrère who has ever seen, or who is within reach of seeing, his clients is a foe. But how sadly dark the picture really is. Medicine is a scientific calling; nay, it is the scientific calling according to its professors. Other people, with small flattery, call it the most uncertain of all the arts, once based on imposture and ignorance, now drawing its facts from ill-arranged and imperfect observations on numan beings, no two of whom ever have the same constitution or respond in the same way to the tests applied to them. But let me not be misunderstood; although it has been urged that we attain certitude in politics, religion, and medicine by accumulated probabilities, in the practice of physic, at any rate, intuition and experience seem to amount to more than theory and general principles. Science forsooth! Knowledge methodically arranged-the knowledge of the one brought within the reach of the many. Why, it still remains true that the best physician is he who finds his way about, something like the man who knows every turn and winding of the paths traversing some vast common : he can reach his goal with undeviating certainty by daylight, but in a fog or at night he is liable to miss his path, while from the absence of landmarks he cannot tell any one else

« PreviousContinue »