Page images
PDF
EPUB

ΤΟ

WILLIAM LAMBE, M.D.

FELLOW OF THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS.

MY DEAR SIR,

Much has been said, and justly too, in ridicule of dedications and prefaces; but never was a book more properly inscrib ed by one man to another, than this little volume on vegetable diet to you, by a person who owes to your important discovery so great an advantage as the enjoyment of health. Convinced as I now am, not only by my exemption from attacks of the complaint under which I labored, but by the improvement of my spirits and comfortable sensations, that a vegetable regimen and the use of distilled water have conquered a chronic illness with which I had been from childhood afflicted, allow me to lay on your table this feeble attempt to render more generally known a medical discovery, which, I am confident, will place your name at some future, and perhaps no distant period, at the head of your profession.

I remain always,

MY DEAR SIR,
Most sincerely your's,

JOHN FRANK NEWTON.

Chester-Street, 24th April, 1811.

INTRODUCTION.

Ir

may be thought presumptuous in one unconnected with the profession of medicine, to write a book on diet, and offer his opinion on the nature of diseases. But having for many years been an habitual invalid, and having at length found that relief from regimen which I had long and vainly hoped for from drugs, I am anxious, from sympathy with the afflicted, to impart to others the knowledge of the benefit I have experienced, and to dispel, as far as in me lies, the prejudices under which I conceive mankind to labor on points so nearly connected with their health and happiness. The particulars of my case I have already related at the conclud

ing pages

of Dr. Lambe’s “ Reports on Cancer.” To the account there given I have little to add but that by continuing to confine myself to the regimen advised in that work, I continue to experi. ence the same benefit; that the winter which is just elapsed has been passed much more comfortably than that which immediately preceded it; and that if my habitual disorder is not completely eradicated, it is so much subdued as to give but little inconvenience; that I have suffered but a single day's confinement for several months, and upon the whole that I enjoy an existence which many might envy who consider themselves to be in full possession of the blessings of health.

All that I have to regret in my present undertaking is the imperfect manner in which it is executed. The adepts in medicine have gained their knowledge originally from the experience of the sick : I have taken my own sensations for my guide; and am myself alone responsible for the conclusions which I have drawn from them, the manuscript of this volume having neither been corrected nor looked over by any individual. While I make no pretensions to medical science, I cannot consent to be reasoned or ridiculed out of my feelings; nor to believe that an illusion, the truth of which has been confirmed to me by long-continued and reiterated observation.

See “Reports on the Effects of a peculiar Regimen in Scirrhous Tumours and Cancerous Ulcers, by Wm. Lambe, M. D.” Printed for J. Mawman, in the Poultry.

DEFENCE,

&c.

DISEASE.

When the force of human habits is considered, I cannot help questioning myself about the task which I am here undertaking. Can it be expected that those even who suffer from sickness, and suffer seriously, will have fortitude enough to abandon, upon the plainest evidence, the luxuries to which they have been accustomed, and be no longer betrayed by the savory scents of fish and meat, in all the masquerade of high-seasoned cookery? I have heard it maintained in conversation, and that by people not devoid of understanding, that in a question between a long, healthy, and temperate life, or on the other hand, a life chequered occasionally with pain, and in a degree abridged by the pleasures and intemperance of the table, they would not hesitate to prefer the latter. Opinions on this subject still more irrational have crossed my hearing ; nor do I by any means hold out to myself the expectation of great success so far as this little treatise is an appeal to individuals, subject as we all are to strong prejudices and passions; but my hope is, that a point of so much importance may at some period or other be taken into consideration by persons of influence in this or in one of the neighbouring countries, provided it be practicable to lay before the public what shall constitute a strong presumption that all diseases, including deformity, are artificial, as much so as any production can be artificial; that the existence of poverty is our choice, not our necessity; and finally, that this heated and furious condition of things which we see around us, this infinite scene of toil and contest without any competent pur

pose, is produced by the dire effects on the human frame of animal food, co-operating with that baneful habit, the use of water, or of something more pernicious, to allay the thirst which that food occasions. Such indeed are my eager wishes. But tó moderate my views, and that I may not prepare disappointments for myself, I will merely anticipate the more humble result, that those parents who feel the sufferings of their children as their own, those mothers in particular whose severe lot it has been to pass night after night in watching over their emaciated little ones, may be induced, by the instances of complete success which I shall offer in the course of this essay, to institute the regimen here recommended to them under the fullest experimental conviction that it will render their children robust and healthy, if any treat, ment can possibly attain that end, of all objects the most desirable and important.

To begin, then, where it becomes us christians to carry our first attention. If the scripture account of Paradise had not been written by divine command for the purpose of acquainting man with his origin, ' and that of the great material frame around him, but had been a tradition descending to Moses, I should have believed it impossible to contrive a fable better adapted to convey the truths. I am about to press on the reader's attention than that sacred novel. Man is created and placed in a garden abounding with fruits and vegetables, with which he is commanded to sustain himself. “ Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed : to you it shall be for meat.” In the midst of the garden stand two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; that is, of the knowledge of evil, for good Adam possessed already. Of the fruit of one of these trees he is encouraged to partake, of the other he is forbidden. Had this elegant story been an allegory instead of an historical narration, I should have thought it evident that these distinguished trees

' A distinction, hy-the-bye, in favor of this little globe, for which, together with other distinctions still greater and more incomprehensible, we never can show ourselves sufficiently thankful to the Deity; reflecting as we ought to do, that we constitute a mere point in this ample universe, where there are more, many more planets than all the hairs of the heads of all the men, women, and children, who ever juhabited the earth since its creation.

For the sublimest view ever taken of the universe, turn to the third book of the Paradise Lost, from line 413 to the end, where the reader will see that to the eye of Satan that “firm opacous” substance which inclosed the whole of the fixed stars, with their pendent planets, appeared at a distance but as a globe, beaten by the waves and storms of chaos. Milton's laborious Latin translator, Dobson, seems to have misconceived this stupendous passage. He sometimes wants the clearness of his great original.

represented mysteriously the two kinds of food which Adam and Eve had before them in Paradise, viz. the vegetables and the animals; over which latter dominion was given to man, not surely that he should rob them of all they have, their lives ; a permission irreconcileable with a state of perfect innocence; but that he might render them serviceable to himself in cultivating the earth, and in other respects. Of the flesh of animals then, in this view of the supposed fable, our first father was ordered not to eat, and was warned' that in failure of his obedience he should " surely die." But of what sort was this threatened death? Immediate we know it was not. May I venture, without drawing upon myself the charge of presumption, to say that the penalty incurred was premature diseased death: for it is manifest that it could not have been the divine purpose, had no transgression taken place, to constitute mankind at once generative and immortal. Theirs would have been such comparative immortality as the food suited to their anatomy would have secured to them, a protracted and healthy existence. This was curtailed by the fall of Adam, which brought diseases into the world; and it appears sufficiently consistent with this explanation, that one of Adam's sons should be a shepherd tending his flock.

It will be necessary here to remark, that what has been said, with all due reverence of the book of Genesis, will seem to hold with what follows on the subject of Prometheus, only to those who admit that the chronology of very remote ages is enveloped in darkness; that some hundreds of years are of no great consequence in the reckoning ; that Bishop Warburton's or Mr Bryant's attempts to commix the Pagan fables with the Jewish history, may or may not have been successful, and that the references to the pre-adamitical state of the globe so commonly met with in the scientific writers of Germany, may claim to be received as founded, if we consider the irrefragable nature of arguments brought from the fossil kingdom ; arguments which, like Galileo's, shun not the light, but are submitted to the ocular examination of the curious in such subjects.

Another allusion of great antiquity to man's dereliction of his natural diet, appears to have descended to us in the story of Prometheus. Lord Bacon, who remarks elsewhere, that “allegorical poetry is history with its type," gives this account of the fable: « The ancients relate that man was the work of Prometheus,

I Genesis, ch. ii. v. 16, 17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." The words in Italies would seem to bave au allegorical application,

« PreviousContinue »