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avoid food in the cooking of which much fat or oil has been subjected to a high temperature, as in frying in butter or fard. Melted butter, buttered toast, pastry, suet-puddings, fat hashes and stews, are afflictions to the dyspeptic; and although the oil which is eaten with salad does not assist the digestion of the salad, as many writers and most salad-eaters maintain, it is assuredly far more digestible than any fat or oil which has been cooked, probably because it contains no free volatile acid.
Besides the fats and fixed oils, there are certain volatile (essential) oils employed as condiments. These are contained in the leaves and seeds of sage, mint, thyme, marjoram, fennel, parsley, anise, and carroway; to which may be added mustard, horse-radish, water-cress, onions, leeks, and various spices. The volatile oil contained in each of these substances stimulates the system, but does not incorporate itself with the organism, and is soon ejected, retaining its characteristic odour.
Starch. The gentle housewife, familiar with starch only in its relations to the wash-tub, will be probably surprised at meeting with it among articles of food, yet under the various names of amylum, fecula, farinaceous matter, and starch, this substance, widely distributed over the vegetable kingdom, ranks as an important alimentary principle. It must, however, be cooked for man's use. It is never found in the blood, nor in the tissues, so that we are certain it is transformed during the digestive process; and some of these transformations have been detected, first as it passes into dextrine, and thence into sugar, and most probably fat. It is classed as respiratory, or heat-producing, by Liebig and his school, on grounds we have already seen to be erroneous. The various starchy substances-sago, tapioca, arrowroot, and tous les mois, have been so amply treated of by Professor Johnston in his admirable Chemistry of Common
That sugar is nutritious no one doubts. Although easily digested, there are persons with whom it disagrees, and in some dyspeptics it produces flatulency and acidity. There is no tissue into the composition of which it enters as a constituent, unless we make an exception in favour of muscle, in which Scherer has discovered a substance, by him named inosite, having the chemical composition of sugar (C12 H2O2), but having none of its characteristic properties, and existing, moreover, in extremely minute quantities. The sugar we find in the blood and milk is not derived from the sugar we eat; that is transformed into fat, lactic acid, and other substances. The sugar of the blood is formed by the liver, and is formed from albuminous substances in their passage through the liver, the quantity being wholly independent of any amount of sugar taken in the food, and being the same in amount when none is taken in the food.*
Because sugar forms part of no tissue, and is a carbohydrate, it is classed by Liebig among heat-making foods. But we not only saw ample
CLAUDE BERNARD's discovery of this sugar-forming function of the liver has been recently attacked by FIGUIER, LONGET, and others; but the discussion, after exciting considerable sensation, may now be said to be finally closed in BERNARD's favour. See his masterly Leçons de Physiol. Expérimentale, 1854-5; and the Mémoires on both sides in the Annales des Sciences Naturelles, 1854-6.
reason for rejecting such an idea when we considered the general question-we must even more peremptorily reject it, now that we come to grapple with the details. Against the supposition of sugar having no plastic property, it is enough to oppose the fact that many insects feed solely on sugar and saccharine juices; and in them, therefore, it is clear that something more than heat is evolved from sugar. Lehmann also bids us remember that in the egg a small quantity of sugar exists, and this quantity increases, instead of diminishing, as the development of the chick proceeds; whereas, if sugar only served for purposes of oxidation, it would be oxidised and disappear as development advanced.
In the Chemistry of Common Life, the subject of sugar is treated in detail, which renders, repetition here superfluous. Two questions only need be touched on, Is sugar injurious to the teeth? Is it injurious to the stomach? To answer the first, we have only to point to the Negroes, who eat more sugar than any other human beings, and whose teeth are of enviable splendour and strength. To answer the second is not so easy; yet, when we learn the many important offices which sugar fulfils in the organism, we may be certain that, if injurious at all, it is only so in excess. The lactic acid formed from sugar dissolves phosphate of lime, and this, as we know, is the principal ingredient of bones and teeth. By its dissolution it becomes accessible to the bones and teeth, and as sugar affects this, its utility is vindicated. But a surer argument is founded on the instinct of mankind. If we all so eagerly eat sugar, it is because there is a natural relation between it and our organism. Timid parents may therefore check their alarm at the sight of juvenile forays on the sugar-basin, and cease to vex children by forbidding commercial transactions with the lolypop merchant, and cease to frustrate their desires for barleysugar by the horrid and never-appreciated pretext of the interdict being "for their good."
Alcohol. If it astonished the reader to see water and salts classed as alimentary principles, if it puzzled
the housewife to see starch placed on the same list, it will necessarily exasperate the members of Temperance Societies to see their hateful alcohol elevated to that rank. They are accustomed to call alcohol a poison, to preach against it as poisonous in large doses or small, concentrated or diluted. Nevertheless, in compliance with the dictates of Physiology, and, let me add, in compliance also with the custom of physiologists, we are forced to call alcohol food, and very efficient food too. If it be not food, then neither is sugar food, nor starch, nor any of those manifold substances employed by man which do not enter into the composition of his tissues. That it produces poisonous effects when concentrated and taken in large doses, is perfectly true; but that similar effects follow when diluted, and taken in small doses, is manifestly false, as proved by daily experience.
Every person practically acquainted with the subject knows that concentrated alcohol has, among other effects, that of depriving the mucus membrane of the stomach of all its water-i. e. hardens it, and destroys its power of secretion; whereas diluted alcohol does nothing of the kind, but increases the secretion by the stimulus given to the circulation. An instructive illustration of the difference between a concentrated and diluted dose is seen in Bardeleben's experiment on dogs. He found that forty-five grains of common salt, introduced at once into the stomach through an opening, occasioned a secretion of mucus followed by vomitings; whereas five times that amount of salt in solution produced neither of these effects. The explanation is simple, and will be understood by any one who has seen the salt sprinkled over a round of beef converted into brine, owing to the attraction exercised by the salt on the water in the beef: this attraction no longer exists when the salt is in solution. We might multiply examples of the differences which result from the use of concentrated and diluted agents, or from differences in the quantities employed, as when a certain amount of acid assists digestion, but, if increased, arrests it.
But the demonstration of such a position is unnecessary, as no wellinformed physiologist will deny it. The singular fallacy of concluding that whatever is true of a large quantity of concentrated alcohol is equally true, though in a proportionate degree, of a small quantity of diluted alcohol, lies indeed at the basis of the Total Abstinence preaching. But we need scarcely tell the physiologist that the difference of effect is absolute: a difference in kind, and not simply in degree.
On the other hand, it is needless to dwell on the dangers which unhappily surround the use of alcohol. Terrible is the power of this "tricksy spirit ;" and when acting in conjunction with ignorance and sensuality, its effects are appalling. So serious an influence does it exercise on human welfare, that we may readily extenuate the too frequent fanaticism of those zealous men who have engaged in a league for its total suppression. So glaring are the evils of intemperance, that we must always respect the motives of Temperance Societies, even when we most regret their exaggerations, and their want of care and candour in the examination of evidence. They are fighting against a hideous vice, and we must the more regret that zeal for the cause leads them, as it generally leads partisans, to make sweeping charges, which common sense is forced to reject. All honour for the brave and sincere; all scorn for the noisy shallow quacks who make a trade of the cause!
No real gain can be achieved by any cause when it eludes or perverts the truth; and whatever temporary effect, in speeches or writings, may arise from the iteration of the statement that alcohol is poison-a poison in small quantities, as in large-always and everywhere poisonous, the cause must permanently lose ground, because daily experience repudiates such a statement as manifestly false. Alcohol replaces a given amount of ordinary food. Liebig tells us that, in Temperance families where beer was withheld and money given in
compensation, it was soon found that the monthly consumption of bread was so strikingly increased, that the beer was twice paid for, once in money, and a second time in bread. He also reports the experience of the landlord of the Hôtel de Russie at Frankfort during the Peace Congress: the members of this Congress were mostly teetotallers, and a regular deficiency was observed every day in certain dishes, especially farinaceous dishes, puddings, &c. So unheardof a deficiency, in an establishment where for years the amount of dishes for a given number of persons had so well been known, excited the landlord's astonishment. It was found that men made up in pudding what they neglected in wine. Every one knows how little the drunkard eats : to him alcohol replaces a given amount of food.
The general opinion among physiologists is, that alcohol is only heatproducing food, and that it thereby saves the consumption of tissue. Moleschott says that, although forming none of the constituents of blood, alcohol limits the combustion of those constituents, and in this way is equivalent to so much blood. "He who has little can give but little, if he wish to retain as much as one who is prodigal of his wealth. Alcohol is the saving's bank of the tissues. He who eats little, and drinks alcohol in moderation, retains as much in his blood and tissues as he who eats more, and drinks no alcohol."* But the physiological action of alcohol is still unexplained; we know that it does sustain and increase the force of the body; we know that it supplies the place of a certain quantity of food; but how it does this we do not know. It is said to be "burnt" in the body, and to make its exit as carbonic acid and water; but no proof has yet been offered of this assertion. Some of it escapes in the breath, and in some of the secretions; but how much escapes in this way, and what becomes of the rest, if any, is at present a mystery.
Iron. We are passing from surprise to surprise as we in turn arrive at substances undoubtedly claiming
* MOLESCHOTT: Lehre der Nahrungsmittel, p. 162.
rank among alimentary principles, which nevertheless the ordinary conceptions of men are far from familiar with. After water, chalk, starch, and alcohol, are we now to celebrate the nutritive qualities of iron? Even So. That metal circulates in our blood, forming indeed an essential element of the corpuscles-existing in all pigments in the bile, in various other places-notably in the hair, where it is in proportion to the darkness of the colour. The quantity of iron in the blood is but small, varying in different individuals, and different states of the same individual; those who are of what is called the sanguine temperament have more than those of the lymphatic temperament; those who are well-fed have more than those who are ill-fed. It is in almost all our animal and vegetable food, so that we do not habitually need to seek it; but the physician often has to prescribe it, either in the form of "steel wine," or in that of chalybeate waters. Phosphorus and Sulphur are also indispensable, but they are received with our food. Acids are received with vegetable food; but they are also taken separately, especially the acetic acid, or vinegar, which, according to Prout, has either by accident or design been employed by mankind in all ages-that is to say, substances naturally containing it have been employed as aliments, or it has been formed artificially. It is owing to their acids that fruits and vegetables are necessary to man, although not necessary to the carnivora. Dr Budd justly points to the prolonged abstinence from succulent vegetables and fruits as the cause of the scurvy among sailors. Lemon-juice is now always given to sailors with their food; it protects them from scurvy, which no amount of vinegar, however, is sufficient to effect. We make cooling drinks with vegetable acids; and our salads and greens demand vinegar, as our cold meat demands pickles. Taken in moderation, there is no doubt that vinegar is beneficial, but in excess it impairs the digestive organs; and, as we remarked a little while ago, experiments on artificial digestion show that if the quantity of acid
be diminished, digestion is retarded; if increased beyond a certain point, digestion is arrested. There is reason, therefore, in the vulgar notion, unhappily too fondly relied on, that vinegar helps to keep down an alarming adiposity, and that ladies who dread the disappearance of their graceful outline in curves of plumpness expanding into "fat," may arrest so dreadful a resultby liberal potations of vinegar; but they can only so arrest it at the far more dreadful expense of their health. The amount of acid which will keep them thin, will destroy their digestive powers. Portal gives a case which should be a warning: "A few years ago, a young lady in easy circumstances enjoyed good health; she was very plump, had a good appetite, and a complexion blooming with roses and lilies. She began to look upon her plumpness with suspicion; for her mother was very fat, and she was afraid of becoming like her. Accordingly, she consulted a woman, who advised her to drink a glass of vinegar daily: the young lady followed her advice, and her plumpness diminished. She was delighted with the success of the experiment, and continued it for more than a month. She began to have a cough; but it was dry at its commencement, and was considered as a slight cold, which would go off. Meantime, from dry it became moist; a slow fever came on, and a difficulty of breathing; her body became lean, and wasted away night-sweats, swelling of the feet and of the legs succeeded, and a diarrhoea terminated her life." Therefore, young ladies, be boldly fat! never pine for graceful slimness and romantic palor; but if Nature means you to be ruddy and rotund, accept it with a laughing grace, which will captivate more hearts than all the paleness of a circulating library. At any rate, understand this, that if vinegar will diminish the fat, it can only do so by affecting your health.
We have thus touched upon the chief Alimentary Principles, and in the next paper will review the Compound Aliments, or those articles of Food and Drink which constitute and vary our diet.
A FEW WORDS ON SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY, BY ONE WHO IS NO PHILOSOPHER.
I LIKE Society. I feel all the huLaying claim to no remarkmiliation of such a confession in these able brilliancy myself, I do not take improving times. I know it betrays accurate measure of all my friends' great want of resources within one- capacities, and can make allowances self, great dissipation of mind, miser- for any fair amount of dulness. able frivolity of temperament. I have been quite as much bored, if know it all. I dare not have con- the truth must be told, by well-infessed it even to my most intimate formed men, and very superior wofriends; but I don't mind confessing men, as by anything I can remember. it here, because nobody knows me, I have found recognised geniuses the and it will be a great relief to my feel- dullest possible company; and have ings. Yes, I like society; and I spent the most enjoyable evenings must not even shelter myself under with people who confessed themselves the reservation that I mean, by this, to be dunces and nobodies-have fashionable society, or good society, yawned for very weariness amidst the or literary society. I simply mean, crême de la crême;" and laughed I like to see about me the human at small wits of my own calibre, to face, more or less divine; and to hear the great benefit of my digestion, the human voice, even though its ring however derogatory to my taste. Í may sound suspicious in the ears fear I have not even the proper pride, polite of "the best circles." Yes; I which professes that it had rather like what is commonly called ordi- have no society than society below nary society. I find nothing in my itself. I have no doubt it is a very feelings, honestly examined, which fine principle, and an excellent rule responds to the popular protests for young people, whose only object against the dull propriety of country in life, of course, is to work their way visiting, on the one hand, or the upwards in the world, and marry heartless glitter of London parties, on advantageously, and make valuable the other. I like going out to dinner connections: we are indebted for it, -to a good dinner, if possible-but I suspect, with many other popular to a bad dinner occasionally, rather sentiments, to that pure and excellent than not go out at all. I like meet- moralist, Lord Chesterfield; but I ing people-clever people, if possible hazard a doubt whether it is quite a -agreeable people above all things; Christian one. And this, again, if but we can't all be clever or agree- pushed too far, might be rather inable; and I am inclined to take so- convenient to oneself. If I am never ciety as we are obliged to take a to condescend a step in the social good many things in this world-as scale when I ask a friend to dinnerit comes. It strikes me, too, very if I am always to be courting my rich forcibly, that if everybody declined to neighbours, and insinuating myself meet everybody who was not clever into the highest rooms-thus reading or agreeable, it would fall rather hard backwards the precepts of a social upon some of us: I, for instance, philosophy rather older than Chesshould have no society at all. I am terfield's, though never quite so popunot clever, certainly, and not agree- lar-are all richer people, and cleverer able always; indeed, at times abomi- people, and more desirable people, to nably stupid and disagreeable, as my condescend to me? On what princonscience painfully informs me; ciple of fairness is this broad barthough, of course, I should be justly sinister to be drawn exactly below indignant if any one else were to take my name? Why is my precise social that liberty. Yet I should take it status, or my precise intellectual very hard to be scouted as if I were value, to be tacitly adopted, both by a Hindoo (whether Brahmin or Pa- myself and others, as that below riah, makes little difference just now) which all is to be a terra incognitaon account of these infirmities; which, marked, as in the maps of the old geoafter all, are human, and largely pre- graphies, with figures of griffins and