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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/482

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

passed that period in safety have generally escaped the danger of temptation. The same holds good of other dietetic abuses. If a child's natural aversion to vice has never been willfully perverted, the time will come when his welfare may be intrusted to the safe-keeping of his protective instincts. You need not fear that he will swerve from the path of health when his simple habits, sanctioned by Nature and inclination, have acquired the additional strength of long practice. When the age of blind deference is passed, vice is generally too unattractive to be very dangerous. "Why make yourself the slave of such a degrading habit?" says Count Zinzendorf, in his "Hirtenbrief"; "it is so easy never to begin!" I go further. I say it is difficult to begin. Nature is not neutral on a point of such importance. Between virtue and vice she has erected a bulwark which she intended to last from birth to death. We need not strengthen that bulwark. We need not guard it with anxious care; it will stand the ordinary wear and tear of life. All we have to do is to save ourselves the extraordinary trouble of breaking it down.

Pure joys never pall; uniformity is uniform happiness if the even tenor of our way is the way of Nature. And Nature herself will guide our steps if the exigence of abnormal circumstances should require a deviation from the beaten path. Remedial instincts are not confined to the lower animals; man has his full share of them; the self-regulating power of the human system is as wonderful in the variety as in the simplicity of its resources. Have you ever observed the weather-wisdom of the black bindweed?—how its flowers open to the morning sun and close at the approach of the noontide glare; how its tendrils expand their spirals in a calm, but contract and cling, as with hands, to their support when the storm-wind sweeps the woods? With the same certainty our dietetic instincts respond to the varying demands of our daily life. Without the aid of art, without the assistance of our own experience, they even adapt themselves to the exigencies of our abnormal social conditions, and our interference alone often prevents them from counteracting the tendency of dire abuses.

Summer brings no repose to the slaves of Mammon, but dull headaches and the stomach's imperative demand for rest convince even the unwilling that intricate arithmetical problems and 90° Fahr. are incompatible with digestion; and I ascribe it to the logic of those gastric arguments that bankers and brokers now close their shops at 3 p. m.; and that business men generally avoid repletion in the middle of the day. "Cheese is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night," says a mediæval proverb; but the effects of those horrid cheese and porter breakfasts of Queen Anne's time satisfied our grandams that rotten curd and fermented (i. e., putrid) barley-broth are always lead, except to those who employ the hygienic philosopher's stone—active and long-continued out-door exercise. After recovery from an exhausting sickness—especially if you decide to promote that recovery by a