Monday, September 04, 2006

On Lysander Spooner's tummy

As it turns out, physician and temperance reformer Diocletian ("Dio") Lewis (1823-1886) was a friend of Lysander Spooner, and Spooner features in Lewis' book, Talks about People's Stomachs (1870). I was unfamiliar with Lewis until yesterday when, as fate would have it, I dug up both his account of Spooner's eating habits and a biography of Rev. Jesse Henry Jones (who debated William B. Greene in the pages of The Word) which also mentions him. Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of two sections related to Spooner:

One Meal a Day.
The Greek and Roman armies ate but once a day, and so important was the habit regarded in the Roman army, that they made it the subject of special thanksgiving. One of their most frequently repeated prayers closed with these words:—

"And we thank the gods that our soldiers eat but once a day."

So general was the habit in the days of Hippocrates, that the "Father of Medicine" says in one place:—

"When a man so far forgets himself as to eat more than one meal a day, he soon becomes thirsty and stupid."

A Roman traveller tells us of certain "beastly tribes who were not satisfied with one meal a day."

Catlin assures us that the Indians, when on the hunt or war path, never eat but once a day.
The big teamsters in Pennsylvania, from time immemorial, have fed their horses but once a day.
The best and the hardest worked horse I ever owned was driven two years in the practice of my profession in the country. It was more than a quarter of a century ago, and before I had ever heard much about one meal a day. I fed Robin only once a day because it was inconvenient to feed him oftener. He seemed to do well, so I continued. On putting him up at night, I poured twenty quarts of oats into his trough, and put a lock of hay into the rack. A box of salt was left near him, to which he might resort at pleasure. In the morning a good grooming, and he was ready for another day. He did wonderfully well, and accomplished more miles than any other horse I have ever driven.

Lysander Spooner, referred to in another place, is now sixty-two years of age. Up to fifty he ate three meals a day, then for nine years two meals, and now for three years one meal a day. Mr. Spooner has suffered a good deal from stomach troubles during his life, and, indeed, until the adoption of the one meal system. Now he is bright and cheerful as a boy, and has a skin like a baby's. I do not know another man of his age so youthful in spirit.

I scarcely know a better thinker than Mr. Spooner, while his honesty has passed into a proverb. After his complete experiment, he is warm and explicit in his testimony. He is confident that if workers of all classes would rise early from an eight hours' sleep and digestion, they would be ready for a day's work without further eating. An evening came on he would have them rest for an hour; perhaps drink a glass of water, and then quietly and slowly fill the stomach with plain, substantial nourishment. Then sleeping and digesting, they again prepare themselves for a day's work, without any division of force between the brain and muscle and the stomach. During the day the stomach asks for nothing, the brain and muscle have it all their own way.

I have myself begun an experiment with this one meal system, and after a year or two will report progress, and either ask to be excused from further service on the committee, or, on the other hand, I shall ask leave to introduce a resolution, that we all live in this way.

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