Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

but the conception is so noble, the results so great, that men will never consent to give it up again.

How far we are from the ideal is well illustrated by a very popular book published a few years ago.

In the first story, "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush," George How is permitted to realize his ambition to go to college. Education to George, and apparently to every one about him, meant books, books and only books. To such good purpose did he study them that he, the child of poverty from the glen, carried off the prizes in both the classics and the humanities from the sons of some of the oldest and proudest families in the land. Having performed this wonderful feat, and having, of course, neglected his poor body while doing it, George went, strange to say, not forth to conquer the world as well, but home to die.

It is a fact that the writer, in all the ,discussions he heard regarding the story, heard much of its beauty and pathos but absolutely nothing of the supreme folly of the whole performance on the part of all concerned. And yet, that seems the most obvious thing about it.—Literally, to educate a man to death.

However, just as the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, the spectacle of the failure of those who do not recognize the primary importance of bodily exercise, of physical education, has been and will be the most potent factor in the spreading of this new and old gospel.

What, in a word, are the results of the harmonious development of the body, including the brain?

Health.—Not the dull, negative feeling which is the lot of most, which is perhaps merely freedom from pain which lies on the borderland of disease with more or less frequent incursions therein, but the positive, sparkling, overflowing health which laughs at germs and maladies, which is a blessing to its possessor and every one else, because by its radiating power it is, in the best sense, contagious.

Happiness.—Above the door of the Brookline Public Baths is the inscription, "The health of the people is the beginning of happiness." How can one be happy unless he is well, and how can one be utterly miserable if he is well? Certain it is that perfect health enables us to bear sorrow and misfortune with dignity and fortitude. 1

Power.—How many men and women have failed in reaching the goal of their ambition because at the critical time, sometimes at the very outset of their careers, as in the case of "Geordie How," not will, not longing, but heart or brain, stomach or nerve, fail them. How many?

Beauty.—So far have we fallen that nakedness, the human body as God made it, has in the minds of many become synonymous with nastiness, with shame. It is true, of course, that poets and painters, who are in a sense prophets, and a few others, do not believe this. They believe in the dignity, the beauty, and the glory of the human Vol. VI.—23

form divine. I must admit that the Philistines have the best of-it to this extent that the majority of human bodies are not things of beauty. They are shameful things, which the owners of them do well to keep covered. It is probable that a more general diffusion of physical beauty among mankind must precede the general acceptance of the poets' and painters' ideal.

The chief ends then, of physical education, are Health, Happiness, Power, and Beauty.

DIET AND STIMULANTS.

BY

E. F. Benson And Eustace H. Miles.

DOGMATiSM on any subject is dangerous; in matters of food it is fatal. One man's meat is literally another man's poison, and because one of the writers knows that personally he can digest without the slightest discomfort a heavy supper, sleep the sleep of the just, and rise cheerful and hungry for breakfast, he would be making a great mistake in recommending such a course for a dyspeptic person, with a view to the strengthening of his digestive processes. in fact, if a naturally dyspeptic person persevered in such a system, this unfortunate scribe would probably be summoned to attend—with shame and dishonor—a coroner's inquest. On the other hand, should the dyspeptic so far win him over as to make him give what he would call a "fair trial" to a simple diet, "the only diet," he would say, "on which it is possible to keep fairly well," he would, if it was persevered with, be probably asked in a public place what he knew about this suicide. But the moral of these gloomy reflections is clear enough: namely, that in questions of eating, and drinking, and smoking, what is to be ascertained is the diet which will keep A or B in good health for the proper performance of a citizen's duties. Whatever diet (or absence of diet) continues to give good results after a protracted trial is almost certainly good for the individual in question. Whether it would be good for another individual it is impossible to say, but if any one person, even though he lived exclusively on green cigars and Egyptian mummies, continued to be in his most excellent health on such a diet, it would be foolish to urge him, except on the score of expense in the way of import duties, to change it.

But the majority of people are not at their best, and know it. When they are in hard work which, as far as we can see in the present oighly competitive state of the world, is becoming the normal condition for man, their bodily health, and in particular their bodily activity, sensibly declines. Then perhaps there comes a lull, and they

From "Dally Training," London. See note, page 867.

rush off into the country to be out of doors all day, and play games, or shoot, or hunt, and get sensibly better. They have more appetite for food, and as a natural consequence digest it better, since wholesome appetite is a fair enough signpost pointing to the pleasant place called "Eat." Then the lull ceases; they go back to work again, with a gradual decline of appetite. At these cross-roads, so to speak, for the most part they take the wrong turning, and continue to eat as

The fact is that most people when taking a great deal of exercise are able to digest, and, what is not less important, to assimilate, not only larger quantities of food than they can assimilate when in full sedentary work, but a different sort of food. As a rule they know of only one change of diet, alluded to contemptuously as "vegetarianism," and connected in their minds with huge platefuls of damp cabbage, of which the most valuable salts have been boiled out and thrown away by an ignorant cook. They are further "put off" by what appears to most people preposterous notions about the sin, no less, of eating animal food. In fact, bad cooking and tactless enthusiasm have hand in hand done their utmost to ruin the vegetarian cause. To eat damp cabbage can be, by no conceivable process, good for anybody, and to shun animal food because it implies death to an animal is a motive which does not appeal to the majority, who, without examining any possible truth it may contain, label it a fad. And there is nothing which in the minds of ordinary people, who most naturally and sensibly do not wish to spend the whole of their lives in discovering the diet which best suits them, is more strongly prejudicial to any examination of a new system than to suspect it of being faddy. They naturally desire a regime of which the commonsense appeals to them, and the common-sense of that which is ordinarily called vegetarianism is far to seek. Many people have found that the amount of meat which they usually eat is not very good for them: that three flesh meals a day are excessive in the way of animal food; on the other hand they must have something substituted for the meat, and they turn to vegetarianism, and perhaps try a meal at some vegetarian eating-house. One of the present writers tried it. For an hour or rather less he felt that he would never eat again as long as he lived, then, almost without transition, he felt that he wished to eat the whole world round. And he fled back to the fleshpots of Egypt.

But nowadays vegetarianism is studied by certain people in a spirit of scientific investigation, and its results, rationally arrived at, are likely to prove of the most permanent value. It is the greatest possible mistake to suppose that all vegetables and fruits are equally supporting; some are highly nutritious, others are hardly nutritious at all, and to load the stomach with immense masses of a food which has a low nutritious value, in order to get sufficient nutriment, will probably produce results on health worse even than those from which the man who found that he was taking excessive quantities of animal food tried to escape.*

[graphic]

Briefly, then, the scientific view of food in general is as follows.

Food has to supply waste of tissue and make repairs.

Food has to supply heat (fuel for the continual combustion of the body) and a certain amount of fat.

Food—so it is usually asserted and largely believed—has to give the stomach a certain amount of fibrous matter to supply bulk which will enable the system, by natural means, to cleanse and flush itself internally, and throw off the waste for which it has no use, but which exists in greater or smaller quantities in all foods.

incidentally, also, food should be of such taste and nature as easily to excite the saliva, which is almost indispensable to procure digestion.

Now the one great necessity without which we die is proteid, because proteid supplies (and nothing else in the world supplies) the waste which daily and hourly goes on in the body. it is present in conveniently large quantities in all meat foods, which is one of the main causes of their being eaten, but it is present also in large quantities in cheese, milk-proteid, grains, nuts, and pulses, though in certain other fruits and vegetables it is almost completely absent. It would be practically impossible, for instance, to eat enough cabbage to supply the necessary amount of pure proteid per diem, which must, and this is important, not only be swallowed but be digested. On the other hand, it is easily possible to get enough proteid per diem by a meat diet, but it is even easier to get enough from a diet of grains, nuts, pulses, and milk-proteid,f provided the right sorts are eaten.

The abridged table on page 389 giving values of certain common articles of diet both in proteids and also in fattening and heating products will make this clear.

As to drink and stimulants more regard if possible must be paid to what wo have called "the personal equation" than even in matters of food. Excess of everything—for such is the implication of the word itself—must be bad for everybody, but there is no earthly foundation for supposing that what is excess for one person injures another in the very least. A shower of rain ruins a picture-hat in a few moments: the same shower does not practically injure a locomotive engine at all, and is absolutely good for sprouting corn. Alcohol, for instance, if indulged in at all by one man, will assuredly lead either to excess or to inordinate craving for it, while another man will drink wine at lunch and dinner for years without ever feeling the

•"Many men are attempting to carry the diet of youth on into middle life and age, or the diet that was quite correct for an active outdoor life into a life of sedentary office work in a town; or if they fall into neither of these errors they are generally completely ignorant with regard to the relative value and importance of foods, so that they either starve themselves on vegetables or herbs containing little or no albumen, or, on the other hand, overfeed themselves. . . ."— Dr. Alexander Haig.

+ For the question of mllk-proteld in general see "Text-book of Physiology" (Schafer), Vol. i., page 135.

slightest desire to increase his usual quantity. What he drinks, again, would hopelessly disagree with, or perhaps intoxicate another man, while it seems as far as we can judge to suit him; he would perhaps even be definitely less well without it. It is on this point that preachers of total abstinence, just like vegetarians, are often their own worst foes. They seem to regard the process of fermentation (a natural one after all) as productive of something which is in itself immoral. Drunkenness, of course, is a vice; we all know that; but so, and certain teetotallers seem to forget this, is gluttony. They

[merged small][table]

each of them turn man into a brute beast, though what many teetotallers would look approvingly at as "a good hearty meal" appears to us to partake fully as much of the nature of debauchery as does the drinking of a bottle of champagne at dinner. The question of drinking, in fact, seems to us one that each man must settle for himself, by finding out experimentally whether he needs stimulant or not. Probably the healthier he is the leas he needs it, and to spur a horse that is already going as well as the rider has any right to expect is both a cruelty and a false use of energy. it seems certain, also, that

« ZurückWeiter »