four-handed relatives who have thus far been wintered in northern menageries, it may be said that the sensitiveness of their lungs contrasts strangely with the tough vigor of their digestive organs.
In proportion to his size, a rhesus baboon eats more than a wolf; between morning and night a ceboo monkey will devour his own weight in bananas, and, where the cravings of a naturally vigorous stomach are increased by the stimulus of a cold climate, it seems almost impossible to surfeit a savage with palatable food; his appetite is the faithful exponent of his peptic capacity, and before the fauces positively refuse to ingest there is little danger that the gastric apparatus will fail to digest. Manifold and enormous must have been our sins against the dietary code of Nature before we could succeed in making indigestion a chronic disease. Deviations from the chemical standards of her menu are insufficient to account for her wrath. With all their unmistakable structural evidences of a frugivorous purpose, our digestive organs have been permitted to adapt themselves, not only to a carnivorous and herbivorous diet and various innutritive substances, but to a considerable number of positive poisons. The Yakoots live on fish and seal-blubber. The Shoshones stick to bull-beef. The Naruaqua Hottentots (who can not plead the exigencies of a cold climate) subsist almost entirely on venison. Several tribes of Northern Brazil eat clay with comparative impunity. Our Saxon forefathers added beer to venison and beef, and when they took to in-door life the stomach protested only by proxy; an utterly wrong diet led, not to dyspepsia, but to scrofulous affections. Excess in moderately unwholesome viands has to be carried to a monstrous degree before the after-dinner torpor turns into a malignant disease; the stomach of a nomad seems to acquire a knack of assimilating a modicum of the ingesta and voiding the rest like so much innutritious stuff. Dr. Robert Moffat saw a Bushman eat twenty pounds of hippopotamus-liver and a bucketful of broiled marrow, besides handfuls of ground-nuts, parched corn, and hackberries—all within twenty-four hours. In the provincial capitals of Northern China, where banquets of forty courses are de rigueur, convivial mandarins learn to devour a quantum of comestibles that would torpify a boa-constrictor. Eating-matches of fourteen and fifteen hours did not prevent Vitellius from acquiring distinction as a wrestler.
Daily alcohol-fevers, combined with pepper and mustard inflammations, would ruin the stomach of an ostrich; but in favor of the unfeathered biped Nature accepts such vicarious atonements as gout and dropsy. Thousands of crapulous Bavarian beer-swillers, who are hardly able to walk, are still able to digest their food. In-door life and want of exercise then added their quota of provocatives; but, where the lungs would have rebelled after seven protests, the stomach forgave seventy-seven times. Mediæval prelates, squires, and aldermen tried in vain to exhaust the patience of the long-suffering organ.