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Within my own positive knowledge, I can, with reference to the above points, only speak of Mayence and Bingen, the towns in which Rhenish wines are consumed in the greatest proportion.
The yearly consumption of Rhenish wines in Mayence amounts to 15,000 aums, or 500,000 English gallons, with a population of 40,000 souls; the adult man, therefore (women and children are of course left out of consideration), drinks on an average 60 gallons yearly, or 360 bottles.
The fact, however, that some individuals drink no wine, and that the proportion consumed by others is very unequal, serves to show that many of the wine-consuming population must indulge in a very large quantity indeed.
Yet the cases of Gout are so scarce, that during the last twenty years only four cases came under my observation; and those cases were persons who led a sedentary life, and were addicted to the pleasures of the table, confining themselves by no means to the use of Rhenish wines. In Bingen, the consumption of Rhenish wine, in proportion to the number of inhabitants, is even larger than that of Mayence, yet Gout is there almost unknown; and equally rare in both these towns are those affections so intimately connected with Gout, as diseases of the bladder and kidneys.
In Frankfort, the consumption of Rhenish wines is considerably less. With a population of 70,000 souls, only 120,000 gallons are consumed. As to the number of cases of Gout occurring there, I am less minutely informed; but it is certain that they do not occur in a much larger proportion.
Eighty years ago the condition of the people in the Rhine country was different from what it is at present. At that time there was among the population a greater difference in the relations of life, a more marked separation of classes, a greater number of fruges consumere nati,' who, in easy circumstances, indulged in idleness and
excess, thereby generating a predisposition to Gout. Since then, however, a decided change has taken place, and Gout has all but disappeared from our part of the country, while the production and consumption of Rhine wine has become greater and more general.
From these facts we may conclude that those Rhine wines contain no properties productive of Gout. This can also be proved theoretically, so far as the present state of knowledge admits. Gout is produced by admitting into the system an immoderate quantity of azotic nourishment, by an insufficient secretion of human matter, and insufficient bodily exercise and respiration. As wine does not contain any azotic parts whatever, its alcoholic properties can only indirectly conduce to the production of Gout. But the Rhenish contains less alcohol than any of the southern wines; less than those of Portugal, Spain, Sicily, Cyprus, and Madeira; and is distinguished by its acid properties, which form Kali-bicarbonicum (Bi-carbonate of Potash), a remedy for Gout. These remarks apply equally to still and to sparkling kinds.
DR. GOERIS. From Bordeaux, a friend writes —
It is a mistake to suppose that the wines of Bordeaux are a cause of Gout. Our medical men prescribe them for those whose blood is poor, and who require strengthening. Certainly, if too much is taken, it will do harm, as too much food will; but it is otherwise considered beneficial for the health of everyone, to drink true Bordeaux wine.
The following letters are from gentlemen in London, and in the country :
LONDON: January 6, 1863. In reply to your inquiry as to which wine I find it prudent to avoid, as most likely to bring on Gout, I must first tell you that my Gout is hereditary; that my father and two of my brothers have died from it, and that
I myself have what physicians describe by the term “Gouty diathesis.' In other words, I am susceptible, and compelled to watch against any of those causes likely to develope the latent tendency. Under other circumstances my own experience has led me to the conclusion that Gout is never (in my own case at least) developed except during indigestion. I do not mean that indigestion always produces Gout in me, but this I know, I never had an attack except after this had set in. Hence, my system of self-treatment is to anticipate indigestion rather than to cure it. I do my utmost to forestall it, and prevent a recurrence.
I find its occurrence depends on a multitude of circumstances very different from the taking of wine: but I also find that certain wines are much more likely to produce it than others; and these, therefore, I avoid. The two which I am obliged to be most cautious about are Port and Burgundy. All others I take freely, without any reason to believe them at all injurious. Even Burgundy and Port I can take in moderation, with perfect impunity.
Ten or fifteen years ago, before I understood how to manage myself so well as I have since learned by experience to do, I used to have Gout three or four times every year. I then adopted my present precautionary system, including great moderation in Port, and taking principally white wines, and I found immediate benefit. For the last ten years my principal wine daily is fine Madeira, and frequently Champagne; and my attacks have been reduced from three in twelve months to four in twelve years!
You will observe that I condemn no wine in moderation, as in itself a provocation; but those I find least likely to cause indigestion, and consequently the best to avoid Gout, are Champagne and Madeira ; that is, assuming them both to be fine wine, pure, and of the best quality ; but the grand prophylactic is, not merely to keep down indigestion, but to forestall and prevent its approach.
WARWICK: January 13, 1863. I have more fear from the liver than from indigestion. I never know, beforehand, when the Gout is coming, but I could bring it on at any time by eating and drinking sweets and acids.
My friend in Warwick, in the preceding letter, attributes bis attacks of gout to eating and drinking acids; and we see that in France and Germany the latter is not so much blamed as the former. The food of the three portions of the kingdom is now much more similar than formerly, but each has still its characteristic national dishes, and it would be an interesting investigation to trace their effect in the greater or less amount of gout existing in England, Scotland, or Ireland.
In Scotland, in my young days, breakfast, tea, and supper, for boys, were usually a compound of hot water, salt, and oatmeal, called porridge ; and I can truly say that although I have enjoyed the delicacies of the old Rocher de Cancâle, of the Trois Frères, and of many other celebrated cuisines, never have I looked with such keenness of anticipatory happiness as I recollect feeling at the sight of the deep tureen of smoking porridge.
Although some southerns have audaciously likened the grand Haggis (from the French Hachis) to a boiled bagpipe, their ignorance is to be pitied, for, have its merits not been sung even by Burns, who thus addresses it ?
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Is there that o'er his French ragout,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
But mark the rustic, haggis-fed,
Perhaps it will be insinuated that if it is not the Haggis which causes gout among the Scotch, it must be our Hotch-potch-also from our old friends, the French, and described many years ago as 'Hochepot, a gallimaufry, a confused mingle-mangle of divers things jumbled or put together.' But, gout or non-gout-producing, no one who has once partaken of this mingle-mangle' will be deterred from having it again.
I was not aware that its praises had been extolled, like the haggis, in verse, but in reading The Scot Abroad,' by Burton, I see that this has been done in the following lines by the late Archibald Bell, sheriff for Ayrshire:
Oh! leeze me on the canny Scotch,