Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/70

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

once in a while to a smoker's den, to sniff the "pestilent and penal fires," and let him glory in his blest exemption.

Coffee and tea temptations, pungent spices, etc., may be forestalled in the same way; much is gained if the dietetic innocence of a child has been preserved to the end of the fourteenth year, the age when routine habits first become physiologically confirmed. The habits of the last years of growth become ingrained, as it were, with the constitution of the body, and will bias the physical inclinations of all after-years; circumstances may oblige a man to conform to the customs of a foreign country, the rules of a regimental mess, etc., but, upon the first opportunity of regulating his own regimen, the habits of his boyhood will reassert themselves, even in regard to the time and number of his daily meals. I know from personal experience the unspeakable advantage of having a constitutional predilection for postponing the principal meal till the day's work is done. It was the plan of the ancient Greeks, and to their followers every day is its own reward—the symposium, and the long, undisturbed siesta a daily festival. It almost doubles a man's working capacity, by saving him the dire daily struggle between duty and the after-dinner drowsiness. Children who have tried the two methods will rarely hesitate in their choice. Give them a lunch at twelve o'clock, and for breakfast a crust of sweet bran-bread, the coarser the better. A hard crust is the best possible dentifrice. I never could get myself to believe in the natural necessity of a tooth-brush. The African nations, the Hindoos, the natives of Southern Europe, the South-Sea Islanders, the Arabs, the South American vegetarians, in short, three fourths of our fellow-men, besides our next relatives, the frugivorous animals, have splendid teeth without sozodont. I really believe that ours decay from sheer disuse; the boarding-house homo lives chiefly on pap—wants all his meats soft boiled, and growls at cold biscuit or an underdone potato; in other words, he delegates to the cook the proper functions of his teeth. We hear occasionally of old men getting a second, or rather third, set of teeth. I met one of them in northern Guatemala, and ascertained that he had become toothless daring a twelve years' sojourn in a seaport town, and that he got his new set upon his return to his native village, where circumstances obliged him to resume the hard corn-cake diet of his boyhood years. His teeth had reappeared, as soon as their services were called for, and would probably never have absented themselves if a pap-diet had not made them superfluous. An artificial dentifrice will certainly keep the teeth white, but that does not prevent their premature decay; disuse gradually softens their substance, till one fine day the hash-eater snaps his best incisor upon an unexpected piece of bone. Every old dentist knows hundreds of city customers whom the daily use of a tooth-brush did not save from the necessity of applying, before the end of the fortieth year, for a complete "celluloid set." I do not say that a soft tooth-brush and such dentifrices