Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/325

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THE REMEDIES OF NATURE.

ing, or (about three hours after the last meal) in the cool of the evening.

Dietetic reforms should begin with the prescription of a strictly non-stimulating diet. A spoonful of mustard, a glass of small-beer or claret, may seem a mere trifle; but the trouble is that all stimulant habits are progressive: the pungent spices are apt to slide into pungent tobacco, and the claret into port, or something worse. Fresh apple-vinegar, with a fruity flavor, can perhaps not do much more harm than sweet cider, but salt is not quite above suspicion, and the safest plan is to stick to comestibles that can be eaten without it. Cream, for that and other reasons, is better than fat meat, a whortleberry-soup better than a gravy-soup, and a raspberry-pudding preferable to a blood-pudding. All fried and broiled viands, all pickles, all rancid cheese, butter, and sausages, all smoked meats, are suspicious. Catchup-vials harbor the bottled-up demon of indigestion. But, withal? the diet should not be insipid. Ultra-vegetarians denounce all kinds of fat. Ultra-Grahamites suspect all sorts of sweetmeats. "Let your cook distinctly understand," says one peptic philosopher, "that, on peril of her life, she is to set nothing savory before you." Many hygienic institutes feed their dyspeptics on stale bran-bread, water gruel, and watery vegetables. Man has a right to decline existence on such terms. Not the naturally palatable, but the unnaturally stimulating, qualities of a dish tempt the dyspeptic to eat to excess. For one man who surfeits himself with sweet grapes or pancakes, a thousand, at least, derange their digestion with strong cheese, or hot-peppered ragouts. Alcoholic stimulants kill hundreds every year; how many intemperate drinkers have ever killed themselves with fresh milk or lemonade? And can not fruits, flour, milk, eggs, sugar, and orange juice, furnish the ingredients of a very tolerable meal?—not to mention berries, tubers, and dozens of harmless vegetables that can be creamed and sugared into tidbits to rival the entrées of the Frères Provençaux in everything except virulence, alias pungency. It is better to improve the digestion than to spoil the appetite, for no man can thrive on a naturally distasteful diet. Nature intended us to be vegetarians; but I can not help thinking that the word is misleading by its popular association with the idea of kitchen-vegetables. Our next relatives in the animal kingdom do not live on pot-herbs, but on fruit. The victims of plethoric dyspepsia, the chronic gluttons who gorge for the sake of repletion, would stuff themselves with a potful of watery spinach as quick as with an eel-pie; and theirs is a rare, but indeed rather embarrassing predicament: they seem as unable to stop eating as to begin digesting. They are evermore esurient, though as cachectic as a starved Silesian weaver; I have seen gouty gluttons, to whom the sight of a restaurant-window was as tempting as a tavern sign to a toper. Certain drugs would abridge their penchant, but, with it, also, the last traces of a digestive function; and, instead of reduc-