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know that such things are practised. But as a state of ignorance is incompatible with a certain age, and as my eldest girl, who is ten years old next midsummer, must shortly be introduced into the world and sit at table with us, where she will see some things which will shock all her received notions, I have been endeavouring, by little and little, to break her mind and prepare it for the disagreeable impressions which must be forced upon it. The first hint I gave her upon the subject,
I could see her recoil from it with the same horror with which we listen to a tale of Anthropophagism; but she has gradually grown more reconciled to it, in some measure from my telling her that it was the custom of the world-to which, however senseless, we must submit so far as we could do it with innocence, not to give offence; and she has shown so much strength of mind on other occasions, which I have no doubt is owing to the calmness and serenity superinduced by her diet, that I am in good hopes, when the proper season for her debut arrives, she may be brought to endure the sight of a roasted chicken or a dish of sweetbreads for the first time without fainting. Such being the nature of our little household, you may guess what inroads into the economy of it—what revolutions and turnings of things upside down, the example of such a feeder as Mr. is calculated to produce.
I wonder at a time like the present, when the scarcity of every kind of food is so painfully acknowledged, that shame has no effect upon him. Can he have read Mr. Malthus's Thoughts on the Ratio of Food to Population? Can he think it reasonable that one man should consume the sustenance of many.
The young gentleman has an agreeable air and person, such as are not unlikely to recommend him on the score of matrimony. But his fortune is not over large; and what prudent young woman would think of embarking hers with a man who would bring three or four mouths (or what is equivalent to them) into a family? She might as reasonably
choose a widower in the same circumstances with three or four children.
I cannot think who he takes after. His father and mother by all accounts were very moderate eaters; only I have heard that the latter swallowed her victuals very fast, and the former had a tedious custom of sitting long at his meals. Perhaps he takes after both.
I wish you would turn this in your thoughts, Mr. Reflector, and give us your ideas on the subject of excessive eating; and particularly of animal food.
EDAX ON APPETITE.
To the Editor of the Reflector.
MR. REFLECTOR-I am going to lay before you a case of the most iniquitous persecution that ever poor devil suffered.
You must know, then, that I have been visited with a calamity ever since my birth. How shall I mention it without offending delicacy? Yet out it must. My sufferings, then, have all arisen from a most inordinate appetite
Not for wealth, not for vast possessions-then might I have hoped to find a cure in some of those precepts of philosophers or poets, those verba et voces which Horace speaks of,
"Quibus hunc lenire dolorem
Possis, et magnam morbi deponere partem ;"
not for glory, not for fame, not for applause-for against this disease, too, he tells us there are certain piacula, or, as Pope has chosen to render it,
"Rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied,
nor yet for pleasure, properly so called; the strict and virtuous lessons which I received in early life from the best of parents, a pious clergyman of the church of England, now no more, I trust have rendered me sufficiently secure on that side.
No, sir, for none of these things; but an appetite, in its coarsest and least metaphorical sense-an appetite for food.
The exorbitances of my arrow-root and pappish days I can not go back far enough to remember, only I have been told, that my mother's constitution not admitting of my being nursed at home, the woman who had the care of me for that purpose used to make most extravagant demands for my pretended excesses in that kind; which my parents, rather than believe anything unpleasant of me, chose to impute to the known covetousness and mercenary disposition of that sort of people. This blindness continued on their part after I was sent for home, up to the period when it was thought proper, on ac
count of my advanced age, that I should mix with other boys more unreservedly than I had hitherto done. I was accordingly sent to boarding-school.
Here the melancholy truth became too apparent to be disguised. The prying republic of which a great school consists soon found me out: there was no shifting the blame any longer upon other people's shoulders; no good-natured maid to take upon herself the enormities of which I stood accused in the article of bread and butter, besides the crying sin of stolen ends of puddings, and cold pies strangely missing. The truth was but too manifest in my looks-in the evident signs of inanition which I exhibited after the fullest meals, in spite of the double allowance which my master was privately instructed by my kind parents to give me. The sense of the ridiculous, which is but too much alive in grown persons, is tenfold more active and alert in boys. Once detected, I was the constant butt of their arrows, the mark against which every puny leveller directed his little shaft of scorn. The very Graduses and Thesauruses were raked for phrases to pelt me with by the tiny pedants. Ventri natus— –Ventri deditus-Vesana gula-Escarum gurges-Dapibus indulgens-Non dans fræna gulæ-Sectans lautæ fercula mensæ, resounded wheresoever I passed. I led a weary life, suffering the penalties of guilt for that which was no crime, but only following the blameless dictates of nature. The remembrance of those childish reproaches haunts me yet oftentimes in my dreams. My schooldays come again, and the horror I used to feel, when in some silent corner retired from the notice of my unfeeling playfellows, I have sat to mumble the solitary slice of gingerbread allotted me by the bounty of considerate friends, and have ached at heart because I could not spare a portion of it, as I saw other boys do, to some favourite boy; for, if I know my own heart, I was never selfish-never possessed a luxury which I did not hasten to communicate to others; but my food, alas! was none; it was an indispensable necessary; I could as soon have spared the blood in my veins, as have parted that with my companions.
Well, no one stage of suffering lasts for ever: we should grow reconciled to it at length, I suppose, if it did. The miseries of my school-days had their end; I was once more restored to the paternal dwelling. The affectionate solicitude of my parents was directed to the good-natured purpose of concealing even from myself the infirmity which haunted me. I was continually told that I was growing, and the appetite I displayed was humanely represented as being nothing more than a symptom and an effect of that. I used even to be
complimented upon it. But this temporary fiction could not endure above a year or two. I ceased to grow, but alas ! I did not cease my demands for alimentary sustenance.
Those times are long since past, and with them have ceased to exist the fond concealment-the indulgent blindness-the delicate overlooking-the compassionate fiction. I and my infirmity are left exposed and bare to the broad, unwinking eye of the world, which nothing can elude. My meals are scanned, my mouthfuls weighed in a balance: that which appetite demands is set down to the account of gluttony-a sin which my whole soul abhors, nay, which Nature herself has put it out of my power to commit. I am constitutionally disenabled from that vice; for how can he be guilty of excess who never can get enough? Let them cease, then, to watch my plate; and leave off their ungracious comparisons of it to the seven baskets of fragments, and the supernaturally-replenished cup of old Baucis; and be thankful that their more phlegmatic stomachs, not their virtue, has saved them from the like reproaches. I do not see that any of them desist from eating till the holy rage of hunger, as some one calls it, is supplied. Alas! I am doomed to stop short of that continence.
What am I to do? I am by disposition inclined to conviviality, and the social meal. I am no gourmand: I require no dainties: I should despise the board of Heliogabalus, except for its long sitting. Those vivacious, long-continued meals of the latter Romans, indeed I justly envy; but the kind of fare which the Curii and Dentati put up with I could be content with. Dentatus I have been called, among other unsavory jests. Double-meal is another name which my acquaintance have palmed upon me, for an innocent piece of policy which I put in practice for some time without being found out; which was going the round of my friends, beginning with the most primitive feeders among them, who take their dinner about one o'clock, and so successively dropping in upon the next and the next, till, by the time I got among my more fashionable intimates, whose hour was six or seven, I had nearly made up the body of a just and complete meal, (as I reckon it,) without taking more than one dinner (as they account of dinners) at one person's house. Since I have been found out, I endeavour to make up by a damper, as I call it, at home, before I go out. But alas! with me, increase of appetite truly grows by what it feeds on. What is peculiarly offensive to me at those dinner parties, is the senseless custom of cheese, and the dessert afterward. I have a rational antipathy to the former; and for fruit, and those other vain vegetable substitutes for meat, (meat, the only legitimate aliment for human creatures since
the flood, as I take it to be deduced from that permission, or ordinance rather, given to Noah and his descendants,) 1 hold them in perfect contempt. Hay for horses. I remember a pretty apologne, which Mandeville tells very much to this purpose in his Fable of the Bees :-He brings in a lion arguing with a merchant, who had ventured to expostulate with this king of beasts upon his violent methods of feeding. The lion thus retorts:-"Savage I am; but no creature can be called cruel but what either by malice or insensibility extin guishes his natural pity. The lion was born without compassion; we follow the instinct of our nature; the gods have appointed us to live upon the waste and spoil of other animals, and as long as we can meet with dead ones, we never hunt after the living; 'tis only man, mischievous man, that can make death a sport. Nature taught your stomach to crave nothing but vegetables. (Under favour of the lion, if he meant to assert this universally of mankind, it is not true. However, what he says presently is very sensible.) Your violent fondness to change, and greater eagerness after novelties, have prompted you to the destruction of animals without justice or necessity. The lion has a ferment within him, that consumes the toughest skin and hardest bones, as well as the flesh of all animals without exception. Your squeamish stomach, in which the digestive heat is weak and inconsiderable, won't so much as admit of the most tender parts of them, unless above half the concoction has been performed by artificial fire beforehand; and yet what animal have you spared, to satisfy the caprices of a languid appetite? Languid I say; for what is man's hunger if compared with the lion's? Yours, when it is at the worst, makes you faint; mine makes me mad: oft have I tried with roots and herbs to allay the violence of it, but in vain; nothing but large quantities of flesh can any ways appease it." Allowing for the lion's not having a prophetic instinct to take in every lusus naturæ that was possible of the human appetite, he was, generally speaking, in the right; and the merchant was so impressed with his argument that, we are told, he replied not, but fainted away. Oh, Mr. Reflector, that I were not obliged to add, that the creature who thus argues was but a type of me! Miserable man! I am that lion. "Oft have I tried with roots and herbs to allay that violence, but in vain; nothing but-"
Those tales which are renewed as often as the editors of papers want to fill up a space in their unfeeling columns, of great eaters-people that devour whole geese and legs of mutton for wagers, are sometimes attempted to be drawn to a parallel with my case. This wilful confounding of motives