Imágenes de páginas

In such an age, with such ele- France" can be preserved, even ments as these around us, greatness though it be represented by a foot is surely not difficult of attainment; upon a friend's throat, and a hand and the “Dignified Attitude of in a neighbour's pocket.


I was very wroth for a consider. We used to be disgusted at the able time with that fat man-Mr. aldermanic envy of the beggar Banting I think he is called—who who declared he had not eaten has been boring the world for some for twenty-four hours, expressing months back with accounts of his itself in the outburst, “Oh, if I decrease in size, till I bethought had your appetite !" but what me that possibly I might have shall we say to this mass of hearing been doing him a foul wrong, and blubber that only cries out to be imputing to selfish motives, and a decreased, of repletion that implores taste for notoriety, what in reality to be drained, in the very crisis of might turn out to be very high- cotton-famine, of Irish want, and of minded and elevated patriotism. almost universal destitution! When

My first impression was, Here is the Queen of France suggested a corpulent old humbug, who has giving brioche to the starving popno greater or more ennobling task ulace, she was only ignorant, not in , life than to measure his girth unfeeling. When & Duke of Norround the waist, weigh his fat folk proposed curry-powder to sides, and keep a register of his the famine-stricken in Ireland, he palpitations as he goes up-stairs to was simply talking like a very kindbed--publishing, too, to the world hearted but addle-headed old genthese experiences, as if they were tleman, who knew nothing of the great boons and blessings to hu- malady for which he was prescribmanity, and proclaiming aloud ing. But here is far worse: here is a how and by what subtle devices man who, in a day of great pressure he contrived to grow thinner; and and want, when the energy of every all this nasty balderdash-nasty it thoughtful man is taxed to think unquestionably is-in a land where by what contrivance the souls and misery and destitution abound, and bodies of some hundred thousand where we read such a heading to people are to be held together, a paragraph in our newspapers as comes forward to tell us, not how "Death by Starvation." Of what to support life, not how to keep stuff must a man be made who the spark alight with some cheap can see his digestional diary print- substitute for fuel, not how to ed in the same column that re- maintain the faint flicker alive by veals a death from actual want? some newly-found expedient, but Of what, besides “fat," must a crea- how he has contrived to keep down ture be compounded, who can go his own redundant heat - to put on from day to day recording the slack upon the over-exuberant blaze effects produced upon his heavy of his own personal hearth. carcass by abstention from saccha- Can indecency and selfishness go rine matter and suchlike, when farther ? the great monster Misery stares us Corpulency is unpleasant, so is a in the face--that there are people tight boot; but don't expatiate on without any food at all-that there either to people who are. hungry or are men and women, blue-lipped who go barefoot. Your coat may and gaunt with famine, hollow. be too tight in the sleeve, but don't eyed and jaw - sunken, crawling talk of it in the society of the halfabout in search of garbage and naked. And this is precisely what offal?

this fat man is doing!. Good hea

vens ! the ill of the world is not repletion, — it is emptiness; and all the other fat men are running about in their own pluffy and breathless manner, asking, What about malt! How is it as to chocolate 2 Are anchovies bad for me? Must I cut off my stilton? To these I say, Let me be your doctor. Retrench your all-absorbing selfinterest. Turn your thoughts from your duodenum to the famishing creatures who peer down through the railings of your areas at the blazing fire in your kitchen-grate. Give up this filthy selfishness that takes for its worship all that is least worthy in humanity. Walk, ride, bathe, swim, fast if you must, but take your thoughts off this detestable theme.; and try to remember that the subject you want to popularise is in its details one of the coarsest that can be made matter of conversation. To take the matter in its less serious light, how is society to be carried on if Bantingism is to prevail? Are we to weed our acquaintance of all the fat people, and never know any one above ten stone eight? or are we to divide our dinners into fat days and thin days, having all the grampuses one day, all the sword-fish on another? This latter measure will be forced upon us, for how otherwise shall we feed our Bantings? To invite them to an ordinary repast of fish, flesh, and fowl, would be as rank an awkwardness as to ask Cardinal Wiseman to a beef-steak on a Friday. You cannot, of course, place before your guest what he would deem little short of a poison; and how are you to eliminate all the carbon out of your sirloin, the ozone out of your vegetables, gelatinous matter out of your veal, and saccharine ingredients out of your pudding? If one couldn't afford to have Faraday in the kitchen, there will be no doing this. Analytical chemistry is not a very speedy performance, besides; and if this system be pursued, it will take at least two days to prepare a very humble meal; and a

party of twelve Bantings would take fully a week's hard work, both chemical and culinary. Now, judging from the man's book, I suspect that he and eleven more like him would be dear at the price. From Falstaff downwards I have ever liked fat men; they are all to nothing the pleasantest fellows that walk the earth. They are genial by force of temperament; and there is neither ungenerous sarcasm in their drollery nor malice in their wit. They look, besides—and let me tell you it is no small thing— they look as if they enjoyed life; while “that lean and hungry Cassius” is a perpetual protest against pleasantry. His drolleries are all dyspeptic, and his very laugh is an estopper on fun. Why, in the name of all good-fellowship, diminish the number of these ? Is the world too enjoyable?—is society really so intensely amusing that it is necessary, even at the cost of our very flesh, to curb our wit and restrain our brilliancy? I have no complaint of this kind to make of the neighbourhood about me. I am free to say there is no plethora of agreeability that wants to be depleted. Mr. Banting's experiences are possibly different; but if so, I'd rather he'd tell me where he lives than what he eats—with whom he associates, and not what he avoids in diet. The glorious exuberance of the fat man is not merely physical; it extends to the operations of his brain and the tricks of his fancy. It is out of his rich abundance that he gives you his drollery. Tell me an anecdote or a good mot, a racy reply, or a witty rejoinder, and I'll stake my reputation, or half-a-crown, —whichever you think best of on it, that I'll tell you whether it was a fat or a thin man was the author. There is a mental breadth in the fat man, a width in his toleration, a glorious sense of easy absorption about him, that makes him infinitely more companionable than a thin man. ... When a friend of mine — who . told me the story—once met Sydney Smith at Brighton, where he had gone to reduce by the use of certain baths in vogue in those days, he was struck by the decrease of Sydney's size, and said, “You are certainly thinner than when I saw you last.” “Yes,” said he; “I have only been ten days here, but they have scraped enough off me already to make a curate.” And so it is, the imperceptible waste of fat men is equal to a thin one; and once again I say, it is of these they would rob us. Why, they are the very marrow of humanity. Possibly, however, I have been all this time unjust and unfair to Mr. Banting, and what I deemed a personal narrative was only a parable. Has Mr. B., while speaking of himself, been really describing the state of England? Is this plethora—this over-abundance, this bursting prosperity, this unwieldy size, this unmanageable mass—the Nation ? Are all his counsels addressed to a people who have given themselves up to repletion, and think of nothing but growing fatter? Is the carbon of which he warns us our coal-fields, whose exhaustion he forebodes? When he speaks of saccharine matter, is it a hit at Gladstone about sugar In this prohibition of beer does he want a repeal of the malt-tax, like the virtuous old ladies who gave up sugar in their tea to put down the slave-trade 2 Is the “going down stairs backwards” an emblem of that painful step-by-step. progression in which, while we go lower and lower, we have not even the small courage required to look at what we are coming to ? In the remark that our “size unfits us for places of amusement,” and that “we take up more space” than our neighbours like to accord us, Mr. Banting is only repeating what French newspapers are daily telling us. Last of all, as to the “Turkish Bath,” what he says is perfectly

true. We did try it (at Sebastopol), and it reduced us uncommonly; and though we have contrived to get up our flesh since, we are forced to own that we are not as strong as we used to be! Now, I repeat this may be the true reading of the Banting epistle, and I am the more ready to believe it to be such that there are touches of true kindliness and honest philanthropy in the pamphlet, which would ill accord with a theme of mere selfishness. I am a very poor exponent of symbolic influences; but it would give me sincere pleasure to go over Banting with Dr. Cumming, whose aid in tracing the clues to the imagery would be invaluable. “Banting explained, . with reference to the ‘GREAT Corpulence CoMING,'" would be a taking title, and I throw it out as hint to “the trade.” One word more. If there really be people with so much disposable time on their hands, and so much redundant fat on their ribs, as Mr. Banting, and who eagerly desire to reduce, let me recommend to them a far simpler and easier process than the complicated chemistry of this gentleman's book. There is a little volume—I have it now before me —called “A Summary Account of Prizes for Common Things,” of fered and awarded by Miss B. Coutts at the Whitelands Training Institution. In this valuable treatise, which may be called “The AntiBanting,' the problem is, not to subdue the increase of flesh, but how to subsist on the smallest modicum of food? how soup is to be made with the minimum of meat? how vitality can be maintained with the very least possible assistance from external aid? Amongst the variety of receipts in this volume there is one we recommend to Banting. It is a soup composed of what the writer calls the cheapest part of a cow—the fore vein, which lies between the neck and the shoulder, and is of an irregular shape. “The soup made from this, with barley, carrots, and an onion, is excellent.” Now I say here you have no complications about osmazone or the phosphates; not a word is there of adipose matter, nitrogen, or that fell ingredient, sugar. Let the Bantings sit down to this every day at one o'clock as their principal meal, and I warrant them they'll be as slim in three months as the prize labourer who invented the compound. There is another receipt for a broth to be made of what the writer calls “a sheep's pluck,” and pluck is exactly the quality the eater of it would require. And there is also, at page 203, “a cheap and nourishing dish without meat,” which it would be a downright pleasure to set before Banting every day for a month, and have his report on its nutritive qualities. Not to seem cruel, however, I should allow him “beef-stickings” (see page 35) on Sundays.

Nor can I omit an invaluable suggestion at page 46, not alone admirable in its relation to diet, but with an ethical inference that deserves commemoration: “Whey, the liquid left after making cheese, is a nutritious drink for children. When in large quantities, it will materially assist in fattening—the Pigs ! ??

Now, as I have taken some pains to show where these culinary treasures are to be found, I trust Banting and his whole house will try them. As to the contributors to the volume itself, I observe that in most household expenditures there is a weekly penny dedicated to periodicals. Might I ask a preference, and humble hint, in return for our own small services here exerted, that they would take in Corny O'Dowd, whose second volume will shortly appear in print?

Hybrid conservatism.

I have had it on my heart for many a day to protest against a race of politicians who have much annoyed and not a little troubled me —a class of men, who in the very absence of all convictions, assume a sort of especial claim to fairness, and who would like to pass off their thorough cold-bloodedness for the true and proper temperature of the political body. I mean those Hybrid Conservatives who profess to believe in their own party, but always vote with Lord Palmerston—men who would like to pass the morning in the Reform Club, and dine every day at the Carlton. A few years back they were three or four, now they are a distinct section. If England were not, par excellence, the land of “Sham,” such a class would never have presumed to stand forward and declare their opinions. In a country so full of crotchets we are naturally tolerant of our neighbours' eccentricities; and if a man does not do actual mischief with his hobby, we are always disposed to let him ride on

as long as he likes; but if we find that the oddity we had endured, perhaps out of a compassionate leniency and kindliness towards an individual, is to become an endemic tendency through a neighbourhood, we naturally grow uneasy. We can endure one infatuated performer on the bassoon, but if the whole street or the crescent take to it, the affair is serious. This is exactly what has happened. A few very crafty men discovered some time ago that what between the growing indifference to “party.” outside the House, and the few questions which separated the two sides within it, it might be possible, by the exercise of caution and adroitness, to give a certain support to each in turn, by which, without formally breaking with their friends, they might greatly conciliate their adversaries, and thus, while very materially serving their personal interests, acquire that grand character for fairness, b

which, once attained, every platitude a man utters becomes wisdom, and the dreariest trash he delivers to his constituents is listened to as the quintessence of good sense and honesty. “I declare to you frankly” —Oh, how I dread that frankly 1–"I declare to you frankly, gentlemen, that my sentiments are still as they have ever been — a steady resolve to maintain - our time-honoured institutions, so as to hand down to our children unimpaired the glorious heritage we have received from our ancestors. Though no man will ever be more ready than myself to uphold, and if need be to defend, the great constitution of these realms in all the integrity of its strength, and all the equipoise of its power, yet I do think”—great emphasis on the do— “that, balanced as parties now are, situated as England is with respect to foreign nations, charged as we are with the mighty responsibilities that attach to the rule of one-eighth of the inhabitants of the globe, I say, gentlemen, I do think we cannot do better than follow the timehonoured statesman, who, though seated on an adverse bench, is the steadfast upholder and defender of the honour of England. I know Lord Palmerston, gentlemen — I know him well; and with whatever credit my character may lend me, I declare to you he is the steadfast and uncompromising upholder of,” &c. &c. &c. Now, I don't object to these extramural bleatings at all. There are very few airs on the political fiddle, and if we are fond of the music, we must put up with the “Da Capos.” I only want that the tune should be performed by the right men. Let not Archbishop M“Hall hum, “Croppies lie down,” and tell me it is a Canticle. , Vote with Lord Palmerston, and welcome; only don't acquire the right to do so by a juggle and trick; don't palm yourself off on a Conservative constituency as a man of their party, to desert that party when the day of trial has arrived; and, above all, do not build upon a

settled plan of personal advantage and advancement a character with the world for impartiality and scrupulous honour. These men desire to be Conservatives on a sort of limited liability. They remind me of the Irishman who presented himself before his priest to get married; but, instead of the five shillings, the appropriate fee, could only produce half-a-crown. After vainly employing all his eloquence to melt the priest's heart, he suddenly stopped short and said, “Well, see then, y'r rivirence, the

divil a sixpence more I have, so

marry me as far as that goes!” This is exactly the way they want to be Conservatives—“a cheap bargain and a road out of it,” is the sum and substance of what they aim at May I ask what sort of constituencies like to be thus represented There is' not one word of exaggeration in what I have said. I appeal to the speeches the newspapers have been so drearily crammed with for the last three months to corroborate me. But indeed if there be people who listen with pleasure to the speeches, they may, by a parity of absurdity, think well of the speakers. Now, Lord Palmerston is not a great artiste—but a réchauffé of him is too much for any human stomach, and yet they give us nothing else. Who is not sick of the praises we bestow on ourselves for not going to war—when war was the very last thing in our thoughts? Who is not weary of hearing how beautifully we kept out of the American conflict—the “fratricidal slaughter,” as they call it? ... I wish any one could tell me which is Cain, and which Abel. I only know that their mother might be ashamed of them both. Who, I beg to ask, is taught— who is instructed—whose knowledge is enlarged, by these frothy outpourings? They are very lamentable spectacles, these “visits to our constituents.” I trust fervently that the men who make these speeches approach the hu

« AnteriorContinuar »