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The tendency of the warm weather of summer, particularly in southern climates, is to increase the discharge of fluid from the skin, and as a natural consequence to lessen the quantity which passes off by the internal parts of the body, namely, by the bowels, with their accompanying secreting organs, and by the kidneys. The first effect therefore of the heat of summer is to produce a degree of torpidity in the stomach, liver, and bowels. Hence arise the bilious complaints, as they are called, of the latter end of spring and the beginning of summer. It is not pretended that this is the only cause, and perhaps it is not in any considerable degree the cause ; but the fact is certain, that there is apt to be, at this period of the year, a torpid and inactive state of the bilious and digestive systems, whether the cause assigned for it be the right one or not.
As the season advances, a reaction takes place, and instead of this torpidity, diseases of an increased activity manifest themselves in these same organs. Hence cholera, diarrhoea, and dysentery prevail towards the latter part of summer and the beginning of autumn, and are far more severe and intractable diseases than those which have preceded; indicating that their cause has been longer in operation in the system.
Now the use of fruit we believe to be the natural remedy, intended by that Providence, which always compensates the evils which arise in the course of events, by corresponding provisions of good, to counteract that state of the system, which, from some cause or other, arises during the warmer part of the year. Thus we observe, that in proportion as the climate is warmer, the heat more intense, and the tendency to these diseases more decided, fruit is produced with greater facility ; and in greater abundance. Hence in tropical countries, it requires but little cultivation ; it is in fact almost the spontaneous growth of the soil ; it is produced during almost the whole year; and exists in more numerous and more delicious varieties. This may be taken as an indication, that Nature, who provides nothing in vain, intended that it should constitute in these climates a large proportion of the food of man. Another circumstance which indicates the intention of Nature in the same respect, is the common preference which exists for a fruit and vegetable, over an animal diet, during the hotter months. The taste of fruit is then always grateful to the palate ; and its effects upon the health of those who indulge with moderation, are generally salutary. It obviates the tendency to disease which has been before spoken of, from its supplying by its juicy texture, its slightly acescent and laxative qualities, that want of secretion and of action in the digestive organs, upon which the diseases in question depend. It maintains, by means of these qualities, a regular, equal, and moderate state of the alimentary canal. It acts as a gentle stimulus to the digestive organs, constantly keeping up in them a sufficient activity to prevent their falling into that state of torpor which has been spoken of; and thus also to obviate that excessive reaction which is its natural consequence.
It may be asked then, why it is, if the use of fruit be thus salutary, that there is so general a prejudice against it, and why it has obtained the reputation of producing those very diseases which we assert that it has a tendency to prevent; and why in fact it does often prove very injurious, and sometimes fatal in its effects ? We answer that this arises from its abuse. Few persons understand the right manner of using it; and, in general, all the evil consequences which arise from it may be ascribed to its use when of an improper quality or in an improper state; in an improper quantity ; and at improper times.
A great deal of fruit is eaten of an improper quality and in an improper state. In large towns where early fruit bears a high price, it is brought to market before it is fairly ripe ; in a crude, green state, not possessed of its natural taste or qualities. When ripe, fruit consists chiefly of acid, sugar, and mucilage; when green, the acid predominates very much over the other ingredients, renders the whole mass of it indigestible and irritating to the stomach, and thus excites disorder. When fully grown, some kinds of fruit may be plucked from the tree, and ripened afterwards, as well and often better than if it had not been gathered. But when this is done before it is fully grown
in order to force an artificial ripeness, its qualities, as an article of diet, though less injurious than when it is absolutely green, are far from beneficial.
Fruit, therefore, to be healthy as food, should be well grown and well ripened. When it is not in this state it is positively injurious, especially if eaten raw; though its bad qualities are in some measure obviated if it be well cooked. Indeed if good fruit cannot be had, the use of it in this state, in small quantities, is probably rather beneficial than otherwise.
Fruit, however, even if perfectly ripe, and of a proper kind, may injure from being eaten in immoderate quantities, and at improper times. People generally regard it as a luxury rather than as an article of food, and hence they are apt to indulge in it, at all times of the day, between their meals, and late in the evening. The consequence is that they eat, in the first place, their usual quantity of other food, and then fill themselves with an additional allowance of fruit; which, from its delicious taste and texture, they are able to force down upon a distended stomach, when they could eat nothing else. In this case the stomach having more to do than it can readily accomplish becomes gradually disordered by a continuance in this excess, is finally irritated and oppressed by its load, and either relieves itself by vomiting, or passes the undigested mass downward, and a diarrhea, or even dysentery, may be thus created.
In order to answer a salutary purpose in the system, fruit should take the place of part of our other food, and should be eaten at the same time with it. This is the most important and essential particular to be regarded in its use. Generally it should be eaten at our meals, and for our meals, and not at odd times between them. There is an old saying, which like many other ones is founded in truth; “ Fruit is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night.” The best time for eating fruit is at breakfast, and for breakfast; that is, as constituting a part of that meal. There is no objection to its forming a part of our dinner. It is a common opinion, indeed, that fruit is better before dinner than aster. This is only so far true, as it depends upon the fact, that if we begin dinner with fruit we shall in some manner satiate the appetite, and hence be able to eat a less quantity of other food. Whereas if we make a dessert of fruit, we shall firsi make a full meal of the usual articles, and then indulge to excess in fruit. Neither is there any objection to a moderate indulgence in fruit at supper, under the same general principle, that we are to regard it as nourishment and not as a luxury; and to partake more cautiously and sparingly at that meal, for the same reason that we should do so of all other kinds of food; since at the period of the day when this meal is generally taken, the digestive powers are less active, and the system stands in need rather of repose than of nourishment.
It would be well if fruit were never eaten except at the regular meals. Those particularly who are of feeble constitutions and subject to disordered stomachs, ought by all means to avoid it at other times. The strong and hearty may perhaps indulge with impunity at all times and under all circumstances; but their example must not be followed by those who truly value their health, since the strongest constitutions are sometimes undermined by a continued disregard of the rules of moderation.
It is a common impression that wine or spirits are necessary after eating fruit, in order to prevent its injurious effects. This is not true of wine, which so far from preventing, often increases the bad effects of fruit. Brandy and spirits do
perhaps prevent some of these effects, but not all; and every one who finds it necessary to have recourse to either of them after eating fruit, may be very sure that he has eaten too much.
Fruit is not injurious to children, if due regard be had to these considerations, after the usual time of weaning ; but somewhat more caution should be used with respect to quantity, than in the case of adults. It is also more important that it should be eaten, part of the time at least, in a cooked state. But nothing is more injurious to the health of children than indulgence, to an unlimited degree, in fruit of every kind, green and ripe, at all times.
XVII. FACTS CONCERNING THE USE AND ABUSE OF
A VARIETY of attempts have been made to ascertain with exactness, the amount of evil produced in the United States by the excessive use of spirituous liquors. The results which have been obtained do not by any means correspond in all particulars. Some inquirers represent the evil as greater than others; some represent it as increasing, others as diminishing ; some regard it as without remedy by human means, and others believe that much may be done to remove it. There is one thing, however, in which they all agree, namely, that the evil is very great, and threatens to be a most serious impediment to our prosperity as a nation. Minor differences of opinion therefore are of no consequence; and it is not important whose estimate of amount, extent, and numbers we take, since those, who make them the smallest, make them large enough to astonish and terrify us.
Intemperance produces death, directly and indirectly ; directly, by the actual effects of intoxication, and the diseases immediately produced by the use of ardent spirits; and indirectly, by rendering the intemperate more liable to be affected by the causes of all diseases, than the temperate person, and less able to struggle with those diseases and be carried safely through them. It will be obvious then how uncertain a matter it is to attempt to determine how much the whole amount of deaths is increased by the use of ardent spirits. We can only at best make an approximation to the truth, but this is enough for our present purpose.
To take the city of Boston as an example; the Bills of Mortality for the two latest years give us on an average fifty deaths, occasioned so directly by intemperance, as to be entered under names of disease to which none but drunkards fall victims. This is about 1 in 24 of the whole number of deaths; and as most drunkards perish between 20 and 70 years of age, and about 10 deaths out of every 24 occur between these ages, it follows that about one of every ten adult persons who die in this city, dies not merely a drunkard, but so directly and notoriously a drunkard, that his character is as it were proclaimed to the world on his tombstone. We do not claim for the population of this city any higher character in point of temperance, than belongs to other parts of our country, neither do we believe that it deserves a lower one. Supposing therefore, that, on an average throughout our country, the deaths from internperance bear about the same proportion to the whole number that they do in Boston, it will not be difficult to estimate the number of victims that fall a sacrifice directly to the use of ardent spirits in the course of a year in the whole United States.
The population of the United States at the present time can not fall much short of 12,000,000 and probably exceeds it. We shall be within the truth if we suppose that 1 person in 50 of this number dies annually. In some districts the mortality is probably greater, in some it is probably less. Out of the whole then, there will not be less than 240,000 deaths every year. The proportion of persons in Boston dying directly of intemperance was stated to be 1 in 24. The same proportion will give us ten thousand persons in the United States dying in the course of every year directly and notoriously of drunken
But this estimate presents the subject in the most favorable point of view. We do not in this way get at half the actual ravages committed by this formidable destroyer. Where there is one man dying of actual drunkenness, three or four, to speak within bounds, die of diseases which have been either gradually produced, or at least rendered fatal, by the effects of hard drinking upon the constitution. There is no reasonable doubt that between thirty and forty thousand persons die annually in the United States, in this way.
This is an appalling result. But this simple statement does not include the whole evil. A large proportion of these deaths occur among persons in the prime of life. A vast many are young men just beginning the world, having or about to have young families. In ten years, therefore, there is not only a loss to the country in its population of three or four hundred thousand lives, actually destroyed by intemperance, but of a much