Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/455

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THE NATURE AND INFLUENCE OF FOODS.

which we can infer the character of an animal from its track, though, when he wrote, fossil foot-marks were unknown. "Any one," says he, "who observes merely the print of a cloven hoof, may conclude that it has been left by a ruminant animal, and regard the conclusion as equally certain with any other in physics or morals. Consequently, this single footmark clearly indicates to the observer the forms of the teeth, of all the leg-bones, thighs, shoulders, and of the trunk of the body of the animal which left the mark. It is much surer than all the marks of Zadig."

The contemplation of fossil foot-marks may suggest important moral lessons. To leave their names inscribed on the world's history is a universal desire of mankind. To accomplish this object, various methods have been devised; comfort, health, life, and even moral principle, have been sacrificed, and yet the actor has been unable to crawl into the remotest corner of history. There have been conquerors bathing their limbs in the blood of the slain; kings, who have erected towers, pyramids, and cities; authors, who have composed elaborate and learned treatises; gigantic intellects, who have moulded the characters of nations—and yet no traces of their individual names or memories remain to posterity. All of these may have spurned the reptiles crawling beneath their feet; yet the lower orders of animal life—such as flourished hundreds of thousands of years since, before the surface of the earth was fitted for the residence of man—have left memorials of their passage enduring and indelible.

Those who would benefit their fellow-men need not despair. Those senseless tribes had only dead matter to work upon, and the touch of a hammer may ruthlessly destroy what has endured for ages, and it can never be repaired. But man can influence the living mind, imparting lessons that will outlast, in their influence, both time and fate. Then let all our actions be upright, and we shall thus—

——"departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time."

 


THE NATURE AND INFLUENCE OF FOODS.[1]
By EDWARD SMITH, M. D., F. R. S.

BEFORE proceeding to consider the numerous foods which will come under review in the course of this work, it seems desirable to offer a few remarks of a general character on their nature and qualities, and the necessity for them.

As a general definition, it may be stated that a food is a substance

  1. From the introductory chapter of the International Scientific Series, No. III., "On Foods."