« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
The views advocated in the following pages, differ so widely from those generally held by writers on dietetics, and are so diametrically opposed to the habits and customs of society in this country, that I am by no means sanguine of making many proselytes; but what will not man attempt, when fully convinced that he is labouring in the cause of truth ? However erroneous his opinions may appear to others, yet if perfectly satisfied that he has arrived at a correct and important result, opposition will but redouble his ardour in supporting and spreading the doctrine he has espoused. His steady perseverance in its defence will frequently expose him to the charge of enthusiasm or egotism; and, in fact, these seem almost necessary to the man who would successfully advocate any new or not generally received opinion: every one is warm in what he considers a good cause ; and he who
observes the majority of society indifferent to the truth which he believes himself to possess, can scarcely avoid displaying the characteristics of the egotist.
By defending a fruit and farinaceous diet among my own friends, I have frequently incurred similar charges; and therefore cannot expect to be more leniently treated by literary and scientific critics. Perhaps, also, I may be accused by some of presumption, for daring to controvert points upon which physiologists are so generally agreed; but—while it is very far from my wish to convey an impression, that I place either my talents or acquirements on a par with those of the many learned and scientific discoverers who have written upon the subject, and whose views differ from my own-yet men of indifferent attainments have sometimes, by a steady and persevering attention to evidence, arrived at truths which have escaped the notice of more powerful intellects; and
so limited is the human capacity, that the most exalted genius and the deepest powers of investigation, have not been able to raise their possessors above the errors and prejudices of their age, on subjects which have not been made the peculiar object of their reflection.” I therefore humbly hope, that my investigations will not be found so devoid of interest as some may at a first glance suppose ;
deductions so wide of the truth, as a reference to the long established dietetic habits of my countrymen may seem to indicate : and whatever judgment the public may pass upon the opinions I here advocate, I shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing, that I have written with a sincere desire of benefiting society in general; and more especially those portions of it suffering from dyspepsia and other diseases. He who undertakes to bring a new or neglected subject before the public, finds it exceedingly difficult, at first, to adopt the best arrangement of which it may admit; and the probability is, that he will not defend his views with that clearness and force, which, when more generally canvassed, might be brought to their support. Hence arguments which may appear forcible and conclusive to a person whose attention has been long and steadily directed to a subject, and who has viewed it in all its bearings, may be totally inadequate to produce conviction in others who have thought little about it.
"Perhaps", as has been well observed, “the best mode of leading another to the apprehension of truth, is to show how we ourselves were convinced : and, in the announcement of a new discovery, it is always well to explain how we were first impressed with the idea, and
afterwards proceeded; for nature always tells her own tale best, and in the most impressive way: by so doing, we in some measure place others in a similar position with ourselves, and enable them to judge through the same evidence which has convinced us." In accordance with this remark, I may briefly state, that my attention was directed to the investigation of human diet, in consequence of an Essay on "Manifestations of Mind”, which I read, about ten years ago, to the members of a small Literary Society; in which Essay I attempted to trace the phenomena of sensation, from the lowest up to the highest forms of animated being. After the reading of the paper, and an interesting discussion on the similarity of structure in the organs of sense, and the resemblance of the nervous and cerebral development, in the superior classes of animals to those of man, the following question occurred to me:-“Is man justified in slaughtering animals for his food; seeing that, by means of a beautifully organized structure, they are rendered exquisitely sensible both of pleasure and pain ?
The answer I mentally returned to the inquiry was— If the flesh of animals be necessary to the health, happiness, and longevity of man, then the law of self-preservation will warrant his taking the life of animals ;