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The question of how much to eat has engaged the attention of many able men and women, but the question has not been answered. The so-called scientists have figured out our requirements in calories. This I have already shown to be a fallacy. Most people advocate eating all the appetite calls for. But appetite is a creature of habit and can be trained to be satisfied with little food or to demand enormous quantities. The business of creating gluttonous appetites begins in infancy when infants are stuffed day and night. Dr. Page proved that an infant may be taught to guzzle day and night, or to content itself with two to four meals a day.
Dr. Clendening tells about how the scientists discovered how much food one requires. He then says that the discovery of these things did not alter the amount of food a given individual of given age, dimensions, and activity eats, and then he adds: "That amount is regulated very delicately by the individual's appetite and some curious, inner instinctive mechanism about which we understand very little."
If he understood very much about it he would know that the whole statement is false. Appetite is largely a creature of habit and the eating habits of individuals vary much more than do the shapes of their noses. There are many more peoples who over-eat than Dr. Clendening's statement would indicate. On the other hand the doctor himself remarks that "few diatribes on overeating point out the harmful consequences of under-eating. Yet these are quite real." It would really seem that perhaps appetite and the "curious, inner instinctive mechanism" fail to work at times.
Major Austin says: "Truly, popular tastes and prejudices are rooted more in social habits than in basic physiological demands." It should be known that the three-meals-a-day custom is really a modern one, and is not universally practiced even today. So far as history records none of the nations of antiquity practiced it. At the period of their greatest power, the Greeks and Romans ate only one meal a day. Dr. Oswald says: "For more than a thousand years the one-meal system was the rule in two countries that could raise armies of men every one of whom would have made his fortune as a modern athlete--men who marched for days under a load of iron (besides clothes and provisions) that would stagger a modern porter." He also says, "The Romans of the Republican age broke their fast with a biscuit and a fig or two, and took their principle meal in the cool of the evening." Among the many things that have been offered as an explanation for their physical, mental and moral decline has been their sensuous indulgence in food which came with power and riches. Whatever other factors may have contributed to bring about their decline (and certain it is there were many factors) there can be no doubt that their excessive indulgence in the pleasures of the palate contributed its fair share.
Herodotus records that the invading hosts (over five millions) of the Persian general Xerxes, had to be fed by the conquered cities along their lines of march. He states as a fortunate circumstance the fact that the Persians, including even the Monarch and his courtiers, ate one meal a day.
The Jews from Moses until Jesus ate but one meal a day. They sometimes added a lunch of fruit. We recall reading once in the Hebrew scriptures these words (quoting from memory): "Woe unto the nation whose princes eat in the morning." If this has any reference to dietetic practices it would indicate that the Jews were not addicted to what Dr. Dewey called the "vulgar habit" of eating breakfast. In the oriental world today extreme moderation, as compared to the American standard, is practiced.
Dr. Felix Oswald says that "during the zenith period of Grecian and Roman civilization monogamy was not as firmly established as the rule that a health-loving man should content himself with one meal a day, and never eat till he had leisure to digest, i.e., not till the day's work was wholly done. For more than a thousand years the one meal plan was the established rule among the civilized nations inhabiting the coast-lands of the Mediterranean. The evening repast--call it supper or dinner--was a kind of domestic festival, the reward of the day's toil, an enjoyment which rich and poor refrained from marring by premature gratifications of their appetites."
A sixteenth century proverb says, "To rise at six, dine at ten, sup at six and go to bed at ten, makes a man live ten times ten."
Katherine Anthony informs us that the average English family adopted the habit of eating three meals a day during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Andrew Borde, a physician who lived during the reign of Henry VIII, wrote that: "Two meals a day is sufficient for a rest man; and a laborer may eat three times a day; and he that doth eate ofter lyveth a Beestly lyfe." Salzman's English Life in the Middle Ages, tells us that: "Breakfast as a regular meal is little heard of, though probably most men started the day with a draught of ale and some bread."
"Barely two centuries ago," says Major Austin, "the first meal of the day in England was taken about noon. Breakfast was an unrecognized meal and it originated in the practice of ladies taking an early dish of chocolate before rising. The ancient Greeks--the finest of people, physically and mentally, that ever lived--ate but two meals a day. The same was true of the ancient Hebrews and it is the custom of some of the best fighting races in India today."
The Countess of Landsfeld, writing in 1858, describes the eating habits of the English upper class of that time in these words: "After this meal comes the long fast from nine in the morning till five or six in the afternoon, when dinner is served." This would indicate that the two-meals-a-day plan had survived in England up to that time.
The adoption of three meals a day, in England, came along with the increasing prosperity of that country. Indeed it may be stated, as a general rule, that the quantity of food eaten in any country in all ages, has depended more upon their economic environment than upon their nutritional needs. Wealth and plenty have brought increased food consumption. In Ancient Rome these factors resulted in the eating of many meals a day, the eater taking an emetic immediately after finishing his gustatory enjoyment and then repairing to the vomitorium, after which he had another meal.
Plutarch must have had such practice in mind when he wrote: "Medicinal vomits and purges, which are the bitter reliefs of gluttony are not to be attempted without great necessity. The manner of many is to fill themselves because they are empty, and again, because they are full, to empty themselves contrary to nature, being no less tormented with being full than being empty; or rather they are troubled at their fullness, as being a hindrance of their appetite and are always emptying themselves, that they may make room for new enjoyment."
A former patient of mine, who spent two years among a tribe of Indians in South America, informed me that these people ate their first meal of the day, after the hunters returned from the hunt. They would leave for the hunt about nine o'clock in the morning and return when they had secured enough game for the tribe. If the hunt failed, as it sometimes did, they had no meal in the morning. Dr. Oswald quotes a Rev. Moffat as saying that the Gonaque Hottentots are nowadays incommoded by a five day's fast, and get along or an average of four meals a week.
Major Austin says: "Experience has shown that in the past, two meals a day met the demands of appetite in all fully grown individuals--men and women, including expectant mothers."
I do not agree with those who insist that the morning meal should be the chief meal of the day. If digestion is to proceed normally almost the entire attention of the system must be given to the work. Blood is rushed to the digestive organs in large quantities. There is a dilatation of the blood vessels in the organs to accommodate the extra supply of blood. There must be a consequent constriction of the blood vessels in other parts of the body in order to force the blood into the digestive organs and to compensate for their own loss of blood.
But if the brain and muscles are to work they, too, require an increased blood supply. In order to supply them there is a dilatation of the blood vessels in the brain or muscles and a contraction of the blood vessels in the viscera. Every part of the body cannot be supplied with extra blood at the same time. If one part gets an extra supply some other part must get less.
The same is true of the nervous energies. Organs that are working must be supplied with nerve force. If one is engaged in mental or physical effort his nervous energies are diverted from the digestive organs and digestion suffers.
The animal in a natural state lays down and takes a rest, perhaps some sleep, after eating a meal. Some years ago an experiment was made by feeding a dog his usual meal of meat and then taking him for a fox hunt for a few hours. The dog was then killed and the stomach opened. The meat was found to be in the same condition as when eaten. Another dog fed at the same time and left at home to rest had completely digested his meal.
The dog in the chase was using all his blood and nervous energies in running. Digestion simply had to wait. In spite of the fact that this principle is well known, there are still many, who pose as diet experts, who advise that the heartiest meal of the day be taken in the morning. The reasons given are (1) The body after a night of sleep is better able to digest the meal than in the evening after the day's work is done, and, (2) The food eaten at this time will supply energy for the day's work.
It is true that we have more energy after the night's rest than after the day's work. It is not true, however, that the digestive organs have rested during the night. It is also true that real hunger is not produced by a night of restful repose and to eat a heavy meal in the absence of hunger would be contrary to the first law of trophology. All of this aside, the digestion of a meal eaten in the morning would have to wait upon the other work. We can force our mind and muscles to act and thereby withdraw the blood from the stomach but the stomach cannot force these other organs to cease their activities and permit the blood and nerve force to be sent to it.
If food supplies energy, it can do so only after it is digested and absorbed. Under normal conditions the digestion of a meal in both the stomach and intestine requires from ten to sixteen hours. If one is working, either mentally or physically much longer time is required. Food taken in the morning could not, therefore, supply any energy for the day's work. On the contrary if the food is to be digested, that part of the energy required to do the work of digesting it is taken from the day's work. Anyone who will test this out may soon satisfy himself of the correctness of this principle. Let him give up the morning meal for a few weeks and note the results.
The morning meal is best omitted altogether. At most it should consist of an orange or unsweetened grape fruit. The noon meal should be very light. The evening meal should be the heaviest meal and should be taken only after one has rested a little from his day's toil.
During sleep the blood is withdrawn from the brain and muscles. So, also, nerve force is withdrawn from the muscles. The viscera receive the blood and much of the nerve force. Digestion may proceed without hindrance. If one is sleeping there are no fears, worries, anxieties, etc., to interfere with the work of digestion.
Of course, if one has had a full meal for breakfast and a full meal for noon he has already had too much food and will be very uncomfortable if another full meal is taken in the evening. Three dinners in one day are two too many. But this is the popular practice, especially among the laboring classes. As a result, they become old and stiff and worn out early in life.
If one goes into a restaurant in the early morning in any one of the larger cities and observes the clerical and professional world breakfasting he at once discovers one of the reasons why there is so much inefficiency, weakness and disease among this class. They may be seen in large numbers eating a breakfast of eggs and toast or rolls, with coffee. No time is taken to properly masticate the food. It is washed down with coffee, while the "eater" nervously fingers the pages of the morning paper.
After a breakfast of this kind they rush off to their work and get through the morning some way. It is from this class that we get most of our patients.
Eating should be done when there is leisure to digest. Any other plan is unnatural and contrary to all the laws of physiology.
"No man ever ate too little," declared Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. Surfeiting has destroyed more lives than starving. For everyone who suffers from underfeeding there are ninety and nine who suffer from gluttony. The markets of the world are glutted with foods of all kinds, as they never were before in the world's history. Their abundance, tempting variety and comparative cheapness, coupled with the many means employed to whip up an over-stimulated and sated appetite to "fresh indulgence in the tempting, but life-withering concoctions of extravagant cooking, with its embalmed preserves, alcoholized liquids, crystallized fruits, frozen creams, aniline dyed dainties, and the constantly increasing nondescript menaces known as pies, puddings and French pastries--there is certainly a tremendous need for instructing the people in what not to eat."
Many people are like clams--mostly liver and stomach; or, perhaps I should say they are like worms--all gut. Dr. E. E. Keeler says in Here's How Health Happens: "The stomach according to the clam and some other people, is a bag of an indefinite expansive capacity useful to hold any old thing that the palate may enjoy and as much of the commodity as may be obtained." We are lured to our doom by our appetites; yet, surely we cannot take every appetite and any and every association for normal. "Accustom your appetite to obey reason with willingness," advised Plutarch.
The philosophers of antiquity prided themselves on their frugal habits, which ranked, next to godliness in their estimation. Lycurgus, the Spartan, was more fearful of excess in the quantity rather than excess in the quality of the food of his countrymen.
Here in this country intemperate eating is one of our universal faults. Almost all of us are guilty of it, not merely occasionally, but habitually and almost uniformly, from the cradle to the grave. Even the sick are urged to eat, in many instances to gorge themselves, in spite of the loudest warnings and strongest protests of nature.
Habits of eating are usually acquired in infancy and are cultivated, nourished and developed throughout childhood and youth. They do not tend to correct themselves spontaneously. They continue with us as imperious masters, calling as loudly as ever for gratification. A dyspeptic, eating three to six rneals a day, is always craving food; though overeating he is literally starving to death. It would be an astounding revelation to many doctors and dyspeptics to watch a fast in such cases and see how quickly the abnormal appetite rights itself and how rapidly the nutritive processes improve.
We teach, hire, bribe, coax, tempt and coerce our children into overeating from the very day of their birth. Helpless infants are stuffed until nature is compelled to get rid of the excess by drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination and, finally by febrile and eruptive processes. We coax them to eat more and more and deliberately cultivate gluttony in them. At school they are fed milk and candy between meals. The result is that we are among the greatest eaters in the world. Wm. J. Bryan is our national idol.
Gluttonous indulgence in reckless food-mixtures has produced more disease and suffering than strong drink. The immediate effects of gluttony may be masked by a good digestion, but ultimately it is fatal to strength and manhood and results in premature death. Many are lured to their doom by their appetites.
Gluttony, especially the common overindulgence in incongruous food mixtures, leads to gastro-intestinal fermentation and putrefaction, with the resulting poisoning from this source. This leads to the destruction of the body's reserves which are designed for the preservation of health and strength until a ripe old age is attained.
Temperate eaters have good digestion and are never aware that they have stomachs, while heavy eaters are always faint, thirsty, bloated, troubled with acidity, eruptions, diarrhea, constipation or some other disorder of the digestive system. Hoggishness causes all kinds of disorders that we attempt to remedy by various kinds of magic, but continue to practice the hoggish eating.
I strongly suspect John F. Flood, Secretary of the Pittsburgh Health Club, of being the author of the statement that "A man makes a perambulating sewer of himself and regularly carries about with him a mass of putrefying flesh and fermenting starches, etc., and then when he gets the jim-jams, we talk about mental attitude. Gosh! It's thrilling to hear them spout! * * * Unfortunately, they will do anything but give up their physical bad habits, especially those of atrocious eating. * * * Now let us go into the silence, place our hands on our knees, be still and believe ourselves well. That vicious mixture of meat, potatoes, bread, butter, coffee, pie, candy will then sweetly digest. Keep a sweet disposition, Pollyanna yourself and everything will come out all right in the best of all worlds. * * *
"Someone whispers: 'Oh, I don't care, the going into the silence and accompanying bunk, pardon me, the accompanying soothing syrups, help me.'"
I am convinced that the habit of eating denatured foods is a chief cause of over eating. These foods do not completely nourish the body and, therefore, do not satisfy the demands of hunger, unless consumed in large quantities. Great variety at a meal also overstimulates the sense of taste and leads to over eating. Spices and condiments have the same effect. It is really difficult to overeat when one is eating unseasoned foods.
"Sunk into the degenerating grip of gluttony, their mental attitudes become transposed into its corresponding physical attitude--that of the groveling swine. Every individual who is a slave under his appetite,--be he vegetarian, fruitarian or carnivorian--who eats for the mere sake of appetite and sensuous indulgence, is a glutton in his nature, an egotist in his motive and a swine in his attitude.
"While gluttony may give rise to an appearance of health and strength in the rounded out tissues, it will never produce the firm, strong, wiry, enduring energies of the individual who submits his system to the strengthening and beautifying discipline of self-control and refined dietetic reserve."
It is time for us to learn that we are not "in tune with the Infinite" so long as we are regularly transgressing any of the laws of life. Nature does not sanction any form of intemperance. A league of temperate eaters would certainly find a large field for reform.
Health and serviceability demand that an organism shall possess all that is necessary but no more. Redundancy beyond a reasonable reserve for emergency, is unwholesome and becomes an impediment to physiological efficiency. Moderation is a symbiotic virtue. Ruskin stressed his contention that the increase of both honor and beauty is habitually on the side of restraint. This goes for restraint in eating too.
Exuberance of nutriment, as of many other good things, is more often a curse than a blessing. Overfeeding on "rich" foods wears out the vital powers through over-stimulation, overworking the digestive organs, the heart, the endocrine system, and the emunctories, by the strain placed on them and gives rise to intoxication through the poisons which these foods generate.
Much poisoning in infusorians has been found to be due to intensive nourishment. It needs only a short fast to restore the animals to youth. In higher animals, also, "brief hunger has a beneficial effect." Bees easily become debauched by a surfeit of food and render themselves liable to "disease." A reduction of surfeit is essential to the most vigorous manifestations of vitality.
The fact that the organism is unable to exist without the vital purifier, the cortex of the suparenal glands, should convince us of the harmfulness of overeating with its resulting intoxication. Excess is fatal to healthy action.
Over-feeding of invalids in an effort to give them health and strength is still a popular procedure. How often do we see this fail. How frequently, indeed, do we see increases of strength and gains in weight follow upon a reduction of surfeit. Many invalids will be killed outright by over-feeding who would recover if fed barely enough food to sustain the most essential vital activities while resting. I nave watched more than one invalid, whose life was despaired of, gradually grow stronger and finally recover, while being fed a starvation diet. Overfeeding of such patients accounts for many needless deaths each year.
Noted gluttons are many; only a few of them can be noticed her. Samuel Pepys lists as his typical dinner: "a dish of marrow bone, a leg of mutton, a loin of veal, three pullets, two dozen larks, a great tart, a neat's tongue, anchovies, prawns and some cheese."
Charles V was a glutton of no small capacity. An historian of the time tells us that he would breakfast at 5 A.M. on an entire fowl stewed in milk. He had dinner at noon with at least twenty dishes. Two suppers were eaten--one at 5 P.M., the other at midnight. Although he suffered persistently with gout and indigestion he insisted on a feast for and with all the visiting nobles.
Samuel Johnson, literary man and dictionary maker, who lived in the eighteenth century, was a notorious glutton and food drunkard. Queen Elizabeth is said to have begun her day with enormous helpings of mutton stew, beef, veal, and chicken.
The French kings and nobility were as gluttonous as the English. They were wedded to the ancient philosophy of Epicurus: "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Even after the kings had passed, we find Napoleon possessed of an appetite that knew little bounds. Though, as one authority puts it, "he frequently stupefied himself with food," there were times when he was abstemious.
In Colonial America the upper classes--the landed gentry and the aristocracy--regarded "good feeding" as an evidence of physical prowess. A Frenchman who visited a Virginia home describes a "simple" luncheon of "corned beef, stewed goose and leg mutton; with vegetables of every kind--all washed down with generous libations of hard cider."
"He aged," writes Frank Parker Stockbridge, of Bryan, in Current History, for Sept. 1925, "but he retained * * * his gargantuan appetite until the last. A teetotaler by conviction, he was the most intemperate of feeders. To see Bryan devour a large platter of sour kraut and frankfurters, served originally for four men, and call for another helping, as I saw him do one hot day in St. Louis, was a liberal education in gastronomies."
Bryan was a food inebriate. He had been food poisoned for many years. His advocacy of temperance did not extend to food and eating. Sloane Gordon, a newspaper correspondent, who accompanied Mr. Bryan on all his great campaign tours and on many other lesser excursions, says of him: "It is probable that few more intemperate men ever lived. Not in drinking but in eating." Writing in the Chicago Herald and Examiner. After Mr. Bryan's death, Mr. Gordon describes a "breakfast--a breakfast mind you--" as follows:
"Cantaloupe was first served. Bryan ate a whole one--an immense yellow-meated melon. It was in the Fall season--early Fall--and quail were on the bill of fare. Bryan ate two. Virginia ham and eggs followed. Bryan ate almost ravenously of this delicious ham in large portions and consumed not less than six eggs, * * * when batter cakes were served, * * * the commoner disposed of a plateful, swimming in butter and then accepted a second helping and got away with that.
"Numerous cups of coffee, potatoes and side dishes of various kinds accompanied the cantaloupe and the ham and eggs and the rest of it. * * *"
Tom L. Johnson, the celebrated single-taxer, himself a hearty eater, once remarked, "I guess I'm a glutton, but if I am one, William J. Bryan is two of them."
There has been much wasted speculation about what killed Bryan. The true cause of his death is so patent that everyone, who is not wilfully blind, may see it. Bryan dug his grave with his teeth. He shoveled in enormous quantities of food in the most reckless combinations. He may never have taken a drink of alcohol in his life, but he manufactured it in great quantities.
Bryan had diabetes. Professor Scopes tells us that at a banquet, attended by both the prosecution and the defense of the great Tennessee side-show, Bryan refused all sweet foods, all foods containing sugar, because of his diabetes, but ate more potatoes than an Irish paddy. He ate a very hearty meal an hour or so before his death.
He had hardening of the arteries. I do not know whether he died of "heart failure" or of "apoplexy"; but I do know that, whichever of those was given as the cause of death, he was killed by gluttony. He worked his body to death with intemperate eating. He poisoned himself with alcohol and other toxins generated in his stomach and intestine. He ate enormous quantities of denatured, acid-forming foods in combinations that made digestion impossible. His reserves were consumed, his tissues weakened and his organs impaired.
Graham began his career as a temperance lecturer in Pennsylvania, in 1830. He soon discovered that temperance should not be limited to drink. For, even the most thirsty could not live by drink alone. He saw that intemperance in food was as potent to make men gross and diseased as drink. Indeed, it was his thought that if drunkenness had slain its thousands, gluttony had certainly slain as many more.
It would be difficult to estimate the extent to which the people of Graham's day over ate, but gormandizing was certainly one of the favorite indoor sports. Were Graham living now he would probably think that most of our people are temperate eaters by comparison. Over-indulgence in meats and starches was very common then, even as it is now. The "old timers" had a capacity for roasts and barbecues. An old cook book warned husbands that should they bring home some of their gentlemen friends for dinner, unannounced, not more than two or three kinds of meat could be expected. It is not certain how many meats were served if the company was properly announced, but the menus of ceremonial banquets shows that it was not unusual to serve as many as thirty or more kinds of meat, including fish, at one occasion.
Leisurely pre-civil war gentlemen sometimes sat at the table for as much as seven hours at a stretch imbibing meats and wines, to be followed by gout and other of the ills that were considered as the marks of "good living." In contrast to this, ancient philosophers prided themselves on their frugal habits, which ranked next to godliness in their esteem.
Physical workers think they must eat an abundance of food, especially of the kinds that are said to "stick to the ribs," in order to produce and maintain the strength and endurance required in their work. Most athletes hold to the same view.
That all of these ideas are false has been demonstrated over and over again. Overeating by athletes and physical workers is one of the chief causes of premature ageing in these classes. Perhaps the most signal demonstration in modern times of the ability of the body to build and maintain Herculean strength and great endurance on little food, was given by Prof. Gilman Low when he established the phenomenal record of lifting one million-six-thousand (1,006,000) pounds in thirty five minutes and four seconds, after a period of training on one meal a day and less. This lift was accomplished by lifting 1000 pounds 1,006 times in the time specified. This feat was accomplished after two months of training on a diet on which the average stenographer would "starve to death." For the first five weeks he ate one meal a day, almost wholly of uncooked foods, having meat only twice during this period. His diet consisted of eggs, wholewheat bread, cereals, fruits, nuts, milk and distilled water. During the last three weeks of his training period he ate only four meals a week; the last meal was consumed eleven hours before the lift. In fifty-six days of training for this lifting Low ate forty-seven meals.
Mr. Low lost five and three-quarter pounds during the thirty-five minutes. Fifteen minutes later, he lifted one ton forty-four times in four minutes. It is particularly instructive that Mr. Low had previously attempted the big feat after training on two meals daily and had been compelled to quit, after reaching a little more than the half-million mark, due to sore distress and dizziness. See, also, Vol. III. (Here, Shelton obviously means Vol. III of his Hygienic System.)
Fasting men, when active, lose an average of about one pound a day. As these fasters are consuming all (or more) water than the body demands, the loss must be regarded as true body loss. This would indicate that sixteen ounces of actual nutritive matter (food exclusive of bulk or waste) represent about the actual daily needs of the body. This does not mean sixteen ounces of dehydrated nutritive substance.
The amount of nitrogen or protein in the pound of daily loss is very small and should further confirm what has been said about our need for only a small quantity of protein. Due to mineral conservation by the fasting body, the daily mineral losses during the fast probably do not represent the actual daily need for these. Activities are rarely as great during the fast as when eating and the daily carbohydrate requirement is slightly greater than the fasting losses indicate. Nutritive redundancy, more especially a redundancy of protein, tends to overflow into reproductive channels and manifest itself either in wasteful sexual activities or in redundant and inferior multiplication.
Through the ages the working classes, which have always constituted the greatest portion of any population (at least, this has been so until today, when the working class has been transformed into the shirking class), the slaves, indentured workers, serfs, and free workers have been forced to live more or less abstemious lives. Only the wealthy and the nobles were able to overindulge in food and other substances to any great extent, except, perhaps, on special occasions, when the slaves and workers were indulged. This has not been due to any essential difference between the noble hogs and the working hogs. Whatever virtue of temperance the working class has possessed has grown out of necessity, or, what is perhaps more accurate, out of the economics of scarcity that existed.
Always desirous of aping their "betters" in all things, the workers have always been discontented because they were unable to indulge in all the vices of the "upper class." When white bread was so high in price that only the well-to-do could afford it, they bemoaned their lot because they had to eat black bread. The poor fools have always wanted to emulate the famous gluttons of history.
When we read that a Roman feast would last for days, the guests reclining at a table, and thrusting a finger or feather down their throat to induce emptying of the stomach, when surfeited, so that they might begin eating all over again, we are not to understand that the Roman working class and Roman slaves ever had either the food or the leisure time to indulge in such destructive practices. Only the parasitic class could do so. It is unfortunate that the ideals and practices of the parasite tend to become the ideals and practices of the workers, so that, even, those who think they want to revolutionize the world do not want a revolution--they want only to alter conditions so that all can "enjoy" the indulgences of the parasites.
It would be a serious mistake to conclude from the examples of Charles V, Pepys, Johnson, Elizabeth and others that the British working class had an abundance of food or that they had midnight meals, or to conclude from the eating habits of the French kings and Napoleon that the French working class ate large quantities of food. Had they been able to eat in this way, the French revolution would never have occurred. Let us not think that the slaves, either white or black, and "poor white trash" of Colonial America ate luncheons such as the one described by the French visitor.
The records of the old gluttons make frequent references to huge portions of ginger, red pepper, nutmeg, cloves and other condiments, which were consumed before and during each repast. These irritants were formerly so high in price that the working class could not afford such luxuries. Today they are so abundant and so cheap that almost everybody employs them. There is little danger of a revolution so long as the working class can have these luxuries, plus beer and white bread. The Russians had only black bread before the 1918 revolution--they are now demanding and getting white bread. Russian life is "improving"! The old records also make frequent references to gastritis, peptic ulcers, gout and even gastric cancer. Napoleon died of cancer of the stomach. These are luxuries, too, that the working class has always aspired to "enjoy." Neither the workers nor their leaders know anything about what living should be. Their cry of "abundance for all" is really a demand for surfeit.
The repeal of the prohibition law in this country was not accomplished so much by the millions spent by the brewers and distillers, nor so much by any public or official opposition to gangsterism, which was falsely blamed on prohibition, nor, even, so much by the fact that women voted for repeal, as it was by the demand of the workers that they be permitted to drink if the men of wealth were to be permitted to do so. It was a rank injustice to permit the predatory groups to drink and withhold the poisonous concoctions from the workers. John L. Lewis wanted his miners to have beer. He can control them better that way. To avoid a revolution give the workers beer and circuses.
A man's value lies not so much in what he possesses in health, strength and life, as in the use he makes of these things. He may recklessly and wantonly squander his physiological reserves until like the spendthrift who soon becomes financially bankrupt, he reaches middle age in a condition of vital bankruptcy.