Lately I have been giving a good deal of attention to hygiene–in other people. The gentle reader will notice that, as a rule, the man who gives the most time and thought to this subject is an invalid himself; just as the young theological student devotes his first sermon to the care of children, and the ward politician talks the smoothest on the subject of how and when to plant ruta-bagas or wean a calf from the parent stem.
Having been thrown into the society of physicians a great deal the past two years, mostly in the role of patient, I have given some study to the human form; its structure and idiosyncracies, as it were. Perhaps few men in the same length of time have successfully acquired a larger or more select repertoire of choice diseases than I have. I do not say this boastfully. I simply desire to call the attention of our growing youth to the glorious possibilities that await the ambitious and enterprising in this line.
Starting out as a poor boy, with few advantages in the way of disease, I have resolutely carved my way up to the dizzy heights of fame as a chronic invalid and drug-soaked relic of other days. I inherited no disease whatever. My ancestors were poor and healthy. They bequeathed me no snug little nucleus of fashionable malaria such as other boys had. I was obliged to acquire it myself. Yet I was not discouraged. The results have shown that disease is not alone the heritage of the wealthy and the great. The poorest of us may become eminent invalids if we will only go at it in the right way. But I started out to say something on the subject of health, for there are still many common people who would rather be healthy and unknown than obtain distinction with some dazzling new disease.
Noticing many years ago that imperfect mastication and dyspepsia walked hand in hand, so to speak, Mr. Gladstone adopted in his family a regular mastication scale; for instance, thirty-two bites for steak, twenty-two for fish, and so forth. Now I take this idea and improve upon it. Two statesmen can always act better in concert if they will do so.
With Mr. Gladstone’s knowledge of the laws of health and my own musical genius, I have hit on a way to make eating not only a duty, but a pleasure. Eating is too frequently irksome. There is nothing about it to make it attractive.
What we need is a union of mush and melody, if I may be allowed that expression. Mr. Gladstone has given us the graduated scale, so that we know just what metre a bill of fare goes in as quick as we look at it. In this way the day is not far distant when music and mastication will march down through the dim vista of years together.
The Baked Bean Chant, the Vermicelli Waltz, the Mush and Milk March, the sad and touchful Pumpkin Pie Refrain, the gay and rollicking Oxtail Soup Gallop, and the melting Ice Cream Serenade will yet be common musical names.
Taking different classes of food, I have set them to music in such a way that the meal, for instance, may open with a Soup Overture, to be followed by a Roast Beef March in C, and so on, closing with a kind of Mince Pie La Somnambula pianissimo in G. Space, of course, forbids an extended description of this idea as I propose to carry it out, but the conception is certainly grand. Let us picture the jaws of a whole family moving in exact time to a Strauss waltz on the silent remains of the late lamented hen, and we see at once how much real pleasure may be added to the process of mastication.