The Physiology of Taste
by Brillat Savarin
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Dreams are material impressions on the soul, without the intervention of external objects.

These phenomena, so common in ordinary times, are yet little known.

The fault resides with the savants who did not allow us a sufficiently great number of instances. Time will however remedy this, and the double nature of man will be better known.

In the present state of science, it must be taken for granted that there exists a fluid, subtle as it is powerful, which transmits to the brain the impressions received by the senses. This excitement is the cause of ideas.

Absolute sleep is the deperdition or inertia of this fluid.

We must believe that the labors of digestion and assimulation do not cease during sleep, but repair losses so that there is a time when the individual having already all the necessities of action is not excited by external objects.

Thus the nervous fluid—movable from its nature, passes to the brain, through the nervous conduits. It insinuates itself into the same places, and follows the old road. It produces the same, but less intense effects.

I could easily ascertain the reason of this. When man is impressed by an external object, sensation is sudden, precise, and involuntary. The whole organ is in motion. When on the contrary, the same impression is received in sleep, the posterior portion of the nerves only is in motion, and the sensation is in consequence, less distinct and positive. To make ourselves more easily understood, we will say that when the man is awake, the whole system is impressed, while in sleep, only that portion near the brain is affected.

We know, however, that in voluptuous dreams, nature is almost as much gratified as by our waking sensations; there is, however, this difference in the organs, for each sex has all the elements of gratification.

When the nervous fluid is taken to our brain, it is always collected in vats, so to say, intended for the use of one of our senses, and for that reason, a certain series of ideas, preferable to others, are aroused. Thus we see when the optic nerve is excited, and hear when those of the ear are moved. Let us here remark that taste and smell are rarely experienced in dreams. We dream of flowers, but not of their perfume; we see a magnificently arranged table, but have no perception of the flavor of the dishes.

This is a subject of enquiry worthy of the most distinguished science. We mean, to ascertain why certain senses are lost in sleep, while others preserve almost their full activity. No physiologist has ever taken care of this matter.

Let us remark that the influences we are subject to when we sleep, are internal. Thus, sensual ideas are nothing after the anguish we suffer at a dream of the death of a loved child. At such moments we awake to find ourselves weeping bitterly.


Whimsical as some of the ideas which visit us in dreams may be, we will on examination find they are either recollections, or combinations of memory. I am inclined to say that dreams are the memory of sensations.

Their strangeness exists only in the oddity of association which rejects all idea of law and of chronology, of propriety and time. No one, however, ever dreamed of any thing absolutely unknown to him.

No one will be amazed at the strangeness of our dreams, when we remember, that, when awake, our senses are on the alert, and respectively rectify each other. When a man sleeps, however, every sensation is left to his own resources.

I am inclined to compare these two conditions of the brain, to a piano at which some great musician sits, and who as he throws his fingers over the keys recalls some melody which he might harmonize if he use all his power. This comparison may be extended yet further, when we remember that reflection is to ideas, what harmony is to sounds; that certain ideas contain others, as a principle sound contains the others which follow it, etc. etc.


Having followed thus far a subject which is not without interest, I have come to the confines of the system of Dr. Gall who sustains the multiformity of the organs of the brain.

I cannot go farther, nor pass the limits I have imposed on myself: yet from the love of science, to which it may be seen I am no stranger, I cannot refrain from making known two observations I made with care, and which are the more important, as many persons will be able to verify them.


About 1790 there was in a little village called Gevrin, in the arrondissement of Belley a very shrewd tradesman named Landot, who had amassed a very pretty fortune.

All at once he was stricken with paralysis. The Doctors came to his assistance, and preserved his life, not however without loss, for all of his faculties especially memory was gone. He however got on well enough, resumed his appetite and was able to attend to his business.

When seen to be in this state, all those with whom he ever had dealings, thought the time for his revenge was come, and under the pretext of amusing him, offered all kinds of bargains, exchanges, etc. They found themselves mistaken, and had to relinquish their hopes.

The old man had lost none of his commercial faculties. Though he forgot his own name and those of his servants, he was always familiar with the price-current, and knew the exact value of every acre and vineyard in the vicinity.

In this respect his judgment had be en uninjured, and the consequence was, that many of the assailants were taken in their own snares.


At Belley, there was a M. Chirol, who had served for a long time in the gardes du corps of Louis XV. and XVI.

He had just sense enough for his profession, but he was passionately fond of all kinds of games, playing l'hombre, piquet, whist, and any new game that from time to time might be introduced.

M. Chirol also became apoplectic and fell into a state of almost absolute insensibility. Two things however were spared, his faculty for digestion, and his passion for play.

He used to go every day to a house he had been used to frequent, sat in a corner and seemed to pay no attention to any thing that passed around him.

When the time came to arrange the card parties, they used to invite him to take a hand. Then it became evident that the malady which had prostrated the majority of his faculties, had not affected his play. Not long before he died, M. Chirol gave a striking proof that this faculty was uninjured.

There came to Belley, a banker from Paris, the name of whom I think was Delins. He had letters of introduction, he was a Parisian, and that was enough in a small city to induce all to seek to make his time pass agreeably as possible.

Delins was a gourmand, and was fond of play. In one point of view he was easily satisfied, for they used to keep him, every day, five or six hours at the table. It was difficult, however, to amuse his second faculty. He was fond of piquet and used to talk of six francs a fiche, far heavier play than we indulged in.

To overcome this obstacle, a company was formed in which each one risked something. Some said that the people of Paris knew more than we; and others that all Parisians were inclined to boasting. The company was however formed, and the game was assigned to M. Chirol.

When the Parisian banker saw the long pale face, and limping form opposed to him, he fancied at first, that he was the butt of joke: when, however, he saw the artistic manner with which the spectre handled the cards, he began to think he had an adversary worthy of him, for once.

He was not slow in being convinced that the faculty yet existed, for not only in that, but in many other games was Delins so beaten that he had to pay more than six hundred francs to the company, which was carefully divided.


The consequences of these two observations are easily deduced. It seems clear that in each case, the blow which deranged the brain, had spared for a long time, that portion of the organ employed in commerce and in gaming. It had resisted it beyond doubt, because exercise had given it great power, and because deeply worked impressions hatf exerted great influence on it.


Age has great influence on the nature of dreams.

In infancy we dream of games, gardens, flowers, and other smiling objects; at a later date, we dream of pleasure, love, battles, and marriages; later still we dream of princely favors, of business, trouble and long departed pleasures.


Certain strange phenomena accompany sleep and dreams. Their study may perhaps account for anthropomania, and for this reason I record here, three observations, selected from a great many made by myself during the silence of night.


I dreamed one night, that I had discovered a means to get rid of the laws of gravitation, so that it became as easy to ascend as descend, and that I could do either as I pleased.

This estate seemed delicious to me; perhaps many persons may have had similar dreams. One curious thing however, occurs to me, which I remember, I explained very distinctly to myself the means which led me to such a result, and they seemed so simple, that I was surprised I had not discovered it sooner.

As I awoke, the whole explanation escaped my mind, but the conclusion remained; since then, I will ever be persuaded of the truth of this observation.


A few months ago while asleep I experienced a sensation of great gratification. It consisted in a kind of delicious tremor of all the organs of which my body was composed, a violet flame played over my brow.

Lambere flamma comas, et circum temporo pasci.

I think this physical state did not last more than twenty seconds, and I awoke with a sensation of something of terror mingled with surprise.

This sensation I can yet remember very distinctly, and from various observations have deduced the conclusion that the limits of pleasure are not, as yet, either known or defined, and that we do not know how far the body may be beatified. I trust that in the course of a few centuries, physiology will explain these sensations and recall them at will, as sleep is produced by opium, and that posterity will be rewarded by them for the atrocious agony they often suffer from when sleeping.

The proposition I have announced, to a degree is sustained by analogy, for I have already remarked that the power of harmony which procures us such acute enjoyments, was totally unknown to the Romans. This discovery is only about five hundred years old.


In the year VIII (1800,) I went to bed as usual and woke up about one, as I was in the habit of doing. I found myself in a strange state of cerebral excitement, my preception was keen, my thoughts profound; the sphere of my intelligence seemed increased, I sat up and my eyes were affected with a pale, vaporous, uncertain light, which, however, did, not enable me to distinguish objects accurately.

Did I only consult the crowd of ideas which succeeded so rapidly, I might have fancied that this state lasted many hours; I am satisfied, however, that it did not last more than half an hour, an external accident, unconnected with volition, however, aroused me from it, and I was recalled to the things of earth.

When the luminous apparition disappeared, I became aware of a sense of dryness, and, in fact, regained my waking faculties. As I was now wide awake, my memory retained a portion of the ideas (indistinctly) which crossed my mind.

The first ideas had time as their subject. It seemed to me that the past, present and future, became identical, were narrowed down to a point, so that it was as easy to look forward into the future, as back into the past. This is all I remember of this first intuition, which was almost effaced by subsequent ones.

Attention was then directed to the senses, which I followed in the order of their perfection, and fancying that those should be examined which were internal as well as external, I began to follow them out.

I found three, and almost four, when I fell again to earth.

1. Compassion is a sensation we feel about the heart when we see another suffer.

2. Predilection is a feeling which attracts us not only to an object, but to all connected with it.

3. Sympathy is the feeling which attracts two beings together.

From the first aspect, one might believe that these two sentiments are one, and the same. They cannot, however, be confounded; for predilection is not always reciprocal, while sympathy, must be.

While thinking of compassion, I was led to a deduction I think very just, and which at another time I would have overlooked. It is the theory on which all legislation is founded.


Alteri ne facias, quod tibi fieri non vis.

Such is an idea of the state in which I was, and to enjoy it again, I would willingly relinquish a month of my life.

In bed we sleep comfortably, in a horizontal position and with the head warm: Thoughts and ideas come quickly and abundantly; expressions follow, and as to write one has to get up, we take off the night cap and go to the desk.

Things all at once seem to change. The examination becomes cold, the thread of our ideas is broken; we are forced to look with trouble, for what was found so easily, and we are often forced to postpone study to another day.

All this is easily explained by the effect produced on the brain by a change of position. The influence of the physic and moral is here experienced.

Following out this observation, I have perhaps gone rather far, but I have been induced to think that the excitability of oriental nations, was, in a manner, due to the fact, that, in obedience to the religion of Mahomet, they used to keep the head warm, for a reason exactly contrary to that which induced all monastic legislators to enjoin shaven crowns.



WHETHER man sleeps, eats, or dreams, he is yet subject to the laws of nutrition and to gastronomy.

Theory and experience, both admit that the quantity and quality of food have a great influence on our repose, rest, and dreams.


A man who is badly fed, cannot bear for a long time, the fatigues of prolonged labor; his strength even abandons him, and to him rest is only loss of power.

If his labor be mental, his ideas are crude and undecided. Reflection contributes nothing to them, nor does judgment analyze them. The brain exhausts itself in vain efforts and the actor slumbers on the battlefield.

I always thought that the suppers of Auteuil and those of the hotels of Rambouillet and Soissons, formed many of the authors of the reign of Louis XIV. Geoffrey was not far wrong when he characterised the authors of the latter part of the eighteenth century as eau sucree. That was their habitual beverage.

According to these principles, I have examined the works of certain well known authors said to have been poor and suffering, and I never found any energy in, them, except when they were stimulated by badly conceived envy.

On the eve of his departure for Boulogne, the Emperor Napoleon fasted for thirty hours, both with his council and with the various depositories of his power, without any refreshment other than two very brief meals, and a few cups of coffee.

Brown, mentions an admiralty clerk, who, having lost his memorandum, without which he could not carry on his duty, passed fifty-two consecutive hours in preparing them again. Without due regimen, he never could have borne the fatigue and sustained himself as follows:—At first, he drank water, then wine, and ultimately took opium.

I met one day a courier, whom I had known in the army, on his way from Spain, whither he had been sent with a government dispatch. (Correo ganando horas.)

He made the trip in twelve days, having halted only four hours in Madrid, to drink a few glasses of wine, and to take some soup. This was all the nourishment he took during this long series of sleepless nights and fatigues. He said that more solid sustenance would have made it impossible for him to continue his journey.


Diet has no trifling influence on sleep and dreams.

A hungry man cannot sleep, for the pain he suffers keeps him awake. If weakness or exhaustion overcome him, his slumber is light, uneasy and broken.

A person, however, who has eaten too much, sinks at once to sleep. If he dreams, he remembers nothing of it, for the nervous fluid has been intercepted in the passages. He awakes quickly, and when awake is very sensible of the pains of digestion.

We may then lay down, as a general rule, that coffee rejects sleep. Custom weakens and even causes this inconvenience entirely to disappear. Europeans, whenever they yield to it, always feel its power. Some food, however, gently invites sleep; such as that which contains milk, the whole family of letuces, etc., etc.


Experience relying on a multitude of observations, has informed us that diet has an influence on dreams.

In general, all stimullkt food excites dreams, such as flock game, ducks, venison and hare.

This quality is recognised in asparagus, celery, truffles, perfume, confectioneries and vanilla.

It would be a great mistake to think that we should banish from our tables all somniferous articles. The dreams they produce are in general agreeable, light, and prolong our existence even when it is suspended.

There are persons to whom sleep is a life apart, and whose dreams are serial, so that they end in one night a dream begun on the night before. While asleep they distinguish faces they remember to have seen, but which they never met with in the real world.


A person who reflects on his physical life and who does so according to the principles we develop, is the one who prepares sagaciously for rest, sleep and dreams.

He distributes his labor so that he never over-tasks himself, he lightens it and refreshes himself by brief intervals of rest, which relieve him, without interrupting its continuity, sometimes a duty.

If longer rest is required during the day, he indulges in it only in a sitting attitude; he refuses sleep unless he be forced irresistibly to use it, and is careful not to make it habitual.

When night brings about the hour of repose, he retires to an airy room, does not wrap himself up in curtains, which make him breathe the same air again and again, and never closes the blinds so that when he wakes he will meet with at least one ray of light.

He rests in a bed with the head slightly higher than the feet. His pillow is of hair; his night cap of cloth and his breast unincumbered by a mass of coverings; he is careful, however, to keep his feet warm.

He eats with discretion, and never refuses good and excellent cheer. He drinks prudently, even the best wine. At dessert he talks of gallantry more than of politics, makes more madrigals than epigrams. He takes his coffee, if it suits his constitution, and afterwards swallows a spoonful of liquor, though it he only to perfume his breath. He is, in all respects, a good guest, and yet never exceeds the limits of discretion.

In this state, satisfied with himself and others, he lies down and sinks to sleep. Mysterious dreams then give an agreeable life; he sees those he loves, indulges in his favorite occupations, and visits places which please him.

Then he feels his slumber gradually pass away, and does not regret the time he has lost, because even in his sleep, he has enjoyed unmixed pleasure and an activity without a particle of fatigue.



Were I a physician with a diploma, I would have written a whole book on obesity; thus I would have acquired a domicil in the domain of science, and would have had the double satisfaction of having, as patients, persons who were perfectly well, and of being besieged by the fairer portion of humanity. To have exactly fat enough, not a bit too much, or too little, is the great study of women of every rank and grade.

What I have not done, some other person will do, and if he be learned and prudent, (and at the same time a good-fellow,) I foretell that he will have wonderful success.

Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus hoeres!

In the intereim, I intend to prepare the way for him. A chapter on obesity is a necessary concomitant of a book which relates so exclusively to eating.

Obesity is that state of greasy congestion in which without the sufferer being sick, the limbs gradually increase in volume, and lose their form and harmony.

One kind of obesity is restricted to the stomach, and I have never observed it in women. Their fibres are generally softer, and when attacked with obesity nothing is spared. I call this variety of obesity GASTROPHORIA. Those attacked by it, I call GASTROPHOROUS. I belong to this category, yet, though my stomach is rather prominent, I have a round and well turned leg. My sinews are like those of an Arab horse.

I always, however, looked on my stomach as a formidable enemy: I gradually subdued it, but after a long contest. I am indebted for all this to a strife of thirty years.

I will begin my treatise by an extract from a collection of more than five hundred dialogues, which at various times I have had with persons menaced with obesity.

AN OBESE.—What delicious bread! where do you get it?

I.—From Limet, in the Rue Richelieu, baker to their Royal Highness, the Due d'Orleans, and the Prince de Conde. I took it from him because he was my neighbour, and have kept to him because he is the best bread maker in the world.

OBESE.—I will remember the address. I eat a great deal of bread, and with such as this could do without any dinner.

OBESE No. 2.—What are you about? You are eating your soup, but set aside the Carolina rice it contains! I.—Ah: that it is a regimen I subject myself to.

OBESE.—It is a bad regimen. I am fond of rice pates and all such things. Nothing is more nourishing.

AN IMMENSE OBESE.—Do me the favor to pass me the potatoes before you. They go so fast that I fear I shall not be in time.

I.—There they are, sir.

OBESE.—But you will take some? There are enough for two, and after us the deluge.

I.—Not I. I look on the potatoe as a great preservative against famine; nothing, however, seems to me so pre-eminently fade.

OBESE.—That is a gastronomical heresy. Nothing is better than the potatoe; I eat them in every way.

AN OBESE LADY.—Be pleased to send me the Soissons haricots I see at the other end of the table.

I.—(Having obeyed the order, hummed in a low tone, the well known air:)

"Les Soissonnais sont heureux, Les haricots font chez eux."

OBESE.—Do not laugh: it is a real treasure for this country. Paris gains immensely by it. I will thank you to pass me the English peas. When young they are food fit for the gods.

I?—Anathema on beans and peas.

OBESE.—Bah, for your anathema; you talk as if you were a whole council. I.—(To another.) I congratulate you on your good health, it seems to me that you have fattened somewhat, since I last saw you.

OBESE.—I probably owe it to a change of diet.

I.—How so?

OBESE.—For some time I eat a rich soup for breakfast, and so thick that the spoon would stand up in it.

I.—(To another.) Madame, if I do not mistake, you will accept a portion of this charlotte? I will attack it.

OBESE.—No, sir. I have two things which I prefer. This gateau of rice and that Savoy biscuit—I am very fond of sweet things.

I.—While they talk politics, madame, at the other end of the table, will you take a piece of this tourte a la frangipane?

OBESE.—Yes; I like nothing better than pastry. We have a pastry- cook in our house as a lodger, and I think my daughter and I eat up all his rent.

I.—(Looking at the daughter.) You both are benefitted by the diet. Your daughter is a fine looking young woman.

OBESE LADY.—Yes; but there are persons who say she is too fat.

I.—Ah! those who do so are envious, etc., etc. By this and similar conversations I elucidate a theory I have formed about the human race, viz: Greasy corpulence always has, as its first cause, a diet with too much farinacious or feculent substance. I am sure the same regime will always have the same effect. Carniverous animals never become fat. One has only to look at the wolf, jackal, lion, eagle, etc.

Herbiverous animals do not either become fat until age has made repose a necessity. They, however, fatten quickly when fed on potatoes, farinacious grain, etc.

Obesity is rarely met with among savage nations, or in that class of persons who eat to live, instead of living to eat.


From the preceding observation, the causes of which any one may verify, it is easy to ascertain the principle causes of obesity.

The first is the nature of the individual. Almost all men are born with predispositions, the impress of which is borne by their faces. Of every hundred persons who die of diseases of the chest, ninety have dark hair, long faces and sharp noses. Of every hundred obese persons, ninety have short faces, blue eyes, and pug noses.

Then there are beyond doubt persons predestined to obesity, the digestive powers of whom elaborate a great quantity of grease.

This physical fact, of the truth of which I am fully satisfied, exerts a most important influence on our manner of looking at things.

When we meet in society, a short, fat, rosy, short-nosed individual, with round limbs, short feet, etc., all pronounce her charming. Better informed than others, however, I anticipate the ravages which ten years will have effected on her, and sigh over evils which as yet do not exist. This anticipated compassion is a painful sentiment, and proves that a prescience of the future would only make man more unhappy.

The second of the causes of obesity, is the fact that farinacious and feculaferous matter is the basis of our daily food. We have already said that all animals that live on farinaceous substances become fat; man obeys the common law.

The fecula is more prompt in its action when it is mingled with sugar. Sugar and grease are alike in containing large quantities of hydrogen, and are both inflammable. This combination is the more powerful, from the fact that it flatters the taste, and that we never eat sweet things until the appetite is already satisfied, so that we are forced to court the luxury of eating by every refinement of temptation.

The fecula is not less fattening when in solution, as in beer, and other drinks of the same kind. The nations who indulge the most in them, are those who have the most huge stomachs. Some Parisian families who in 1817 drank beer habitually, because of the dearness of wine, were rewarded by a degree of embonpoint, they would be glad to get rid of.


Another cause of obesity is found in the prolongation of sleep, and want of exercise. The human body repairs itself much during sleep, and at the same time loses nothing, because muscular action is entirely suspended. The acquired superfluity must then be evaporated by exercise.

Another consequence is, that persons who sleep soundly, always refuse every thing that looks the least like fatigue. The excess of assimilation is then borne away by the torrent of circulation. It takes possession, by a process, the secret of which nature has reserved to herself, of some hundredths of hydrogen, and fat is formed to be deposited in the tubes of the cellular tissue.


The last cause of obesity is excess of eating and drinking.

There was justice in the assertion, that one of the privileges of the human race is to eat without hunger, and drink without thirst. Animals cannot have it, for it arises from reflection on the pleasures of the table, and a desire to prolong its duration.

This double passion has been found wherever man exists. We know savages eat to the very acme of brutality, whenever they have an opportunity.

Cosmopolites, as citizens of two hemispheres, we fancy ourselves at the very apogee of civilization, yet we are sure we eat too much.

This is not the case with the few, who from avarice or want of power, live alone. The first are delighted at the idea that they amass money, and others distressed that they do not. It is the case, however, with those around us, for all, whether hosts or guests, offer and accept with complaisance.

This cause, almost always present, acts differently, according to the constitution of individuals; and in those who have badly organized stomachs, produces indigestion, but not obesity.


This one instance, which all Paris will remember.

M. Lang had one of the most splendid establishments of the capital; his table especially, was excellent, but his digestion was bad as his gourmandise was great. He did the honors with perfect taste, and ate with a resolution worthy of a better fate.

All used to go on very well, till coffee was introduced, but the stomach soon refused the labor to which it had been subjected, and the unfortunate gastronomer was forced to throw himself on the sofa and remain in agony until the next day, in expiation of the brief pleasure he had enjoyed.

It is very strange that he never corrected this fault: as long as he lived, he was subjected to this alternative, yet the sufferings of the evening never had any influence on the next days' meal.

Persons with active digestion, fare as was described in the preceding article. All is digested, and what is not needed for nutrition is fixed and turned into fat.

Others have a perpetual indigestion, and food is passed without having left any nourishment. Those who do not understand the matter, are amazed that so many good things do not produce a better effect.

It may be seen that I do not go very minutely into the matter, for from our habits many secondary causes arise, due to our habits, condition, inclinations, pleasures, etc.

I leave all this to the successor I pointed out in the commencement of this work, and satisfy myself merely with the prelibation, the right of the first comer to every sacrifice.

Intemperance has long attracted the attention of observers. Princes have made sumptuary laws, religion has moralized for gourmandise, but, alas, a mouthfull less was never eaten, and the best of eating every day becomes more flourishing.

I would perhaps be fortunate in the adoption of a new course, and in the exposition of the physical causes of obesity. Self- preservation would perhaps be more powerful than morals, or persuasive than reason, have more influence than laws, and I think the fair sex would open their eyes to the light.


Obesity has a lamentable influence on the two sexes, inasmuch as it is most injurious to strength and beauty.

It lessens strength because it increases the weight to be moved, while the motive power is unchanged. It injures respiration, and makes all labor requiring prolonged muscular power impossible.

Obesity destroys beauty by annihilating the harmony of primitive proportions, for all the limbs do not proportionately fatten.

It destroys beauty by filling up cavities nature's hand itself designed.

Nothing is so common as to see faces, once very interesting, made common-place by obesity.

The head of the last government did not escape this law. Towards the latter portion of his life, he (Napoleon) became bloated, and his eyes lost a great portion of their expression.

Obesity produces a distaste for dancing, walking, riding, and an inaptitude for those amusements which require skill or agility.

It also creates a disposition to certain diseases, such as apoplexy, dropsy, ulcers in the legs, and makes all diseases difficult to cure.


I can remember no corpulent heroes except Marius and John Sobieski.

Marius was short, and was about as broad as he was long. That probably frightened the Cimber who was about to kill him.

The obesity of the King of Poland had nearly been fatal to him, for having stumbled on a squadron of Turkish cavalry, from which he had to fly, he would certainly have been massacred, if his aids had not sustained him, almost fainting from fatigue on his horse, while others generously sacrificed themselves to protect him.

If I am not mistaken, the Duc de Vendome, a worthy son of Henry IV., was also very corpulent. He died at an inn, deserted by all, and preserved consciousness just long enough to see a servant snatch away a pillow on which his head was resting.

There are many instances of remarkable obesity. I will only speak, however, of my own observations.

M. Rameau, a fellow student of mine and maire of Chaleur, was about five feet two inches high, but weighed five hundred pounds.

The Duc de Luynes, beside whom I often sat, became enormous. Fat had effaced his handsome features, and he slept away the best portion of his life.

The most remarkable case, though, I saw in New York, and many persons now in Paris will remember to have seen at the door of a cafe in Broadway, a person seated in an immense arm-chair, with legs stout enough to have sustained a church. [Footnote: Many persons in New York remember the person referred to. The translator has heard, that as late as 1815, he was frequently to be seen at the door of a house near where the Atheneum Hotel was. Brillat Savarin is said scarcely to exaggerate.]

Edward was at least five feet ten inches, and was about eight feet (French) in circumference. His fingers were like those of the Roman Emperor, who used to wear his wife's bracelets as rings. His arms and legs were nearly as thick as the waist of a man of medium size, and his feet were elephantine, covered by fat pendant from his legs. The fat on his cheek had weighed down his lower eye-lid, and three hanging chins made his face horrible to behold.

He passed his life near a window, which looked out on the street and drank from time to time a glass of ale from a huge pitcher he kept by his side.

His strange appearance used to attract the attention of passers, whom he used always to put to flight by saying in a sepulchral tone "What are you staring at like wild cats? Go about your business, you blackguards," etc.

Having spoken to him one day, he told me that he was not at all annoyed and that if death did not interrupt him, he would be glad to live till the day of judgment.

From the preceding, it appears that if obesity be not a disease, it is at least a very troublesome predisposition, into which we fall from our own fault.

The result is, that we should all seek to preserve ourselves from it before we are attacked, and to cure ourselves when it befalls us. For the sake of the unfortunate we will examine what resources science presents us.


PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT AND CURE OF OBESITY. [Footnote: About twenty years ago I began a treatise, ex professo, on obesity. My readers must especially regret the preface which was of dramatic form. I averred to a physician that a fever is less dangerous than a law suit; for the latter, after having made a man run, fatigue, and worry himself, strips him of pleasure, money, and life. This is a statement which might be propagated as well as any other. ]

I WILL begin by a fact which proves that courage is needed not only to prevent but to cure obesity.

M. Louis Greffulhe, whom his majesty afterwards honored with the title of count, came one morning to see me, saying that he had understood that I had paid great attention to obesity, and asked me for advice.

"Monsieur," said I, "not being a doctor with a diploma, I might refuse you, but I will not, provided you give me your word of honor that for one month you will rigorously obey my directions."

M. Greffulhe made the promise I required and gave me his hand. On the next day, I gave him my directions, the first article of which demanded that he should at once get himself weighed, so that the result might be made mathematically.

After a month he came to see me again, and spoke to me nearly thus:

"Monsieur," said he, "I followed your prescription as if my life depended on it, and during the month I am satisfied that I have lost three pounds and more; but have for that purpose to violate all my tastes and, habits so completely, that while I thank you for your advice I must decline to follow it, and await quietly the fate God ordains for me."

I heard this resolution with pain. M. Greffulhe became every day fatter and subject to all the inconveniences of extreme obesity, and died of suffocation when he was about forty.


The cure of obesity should begin with three precepts of absolute theory, discretion in eating, moderation in sleep, and exercise on foot or horseback.

These are the first resources presented to us by science. I, however, have little faith in them, for I know men and things enough to be aware that any prescription, not literally followed, has but a light effect.

Now, imprimus, it needs much courage to be able to leave the table hungry. As long as the want of food is felt, one mouthful makes the succeeding one more palatable, and in general as long as we are hungry, we eat in spite of doctors, though in that respect we follow their example.

In the second place to ask obese persons to rise early is to stab them to the heart. They will tell you that their health will not suffer them, that when they rise early they are good for nothing all day. Women will plead exhaustion, will consent to sit up late, and wish to fatten on the morning's nap. They lose thus this resource.

In the third place, riding as an exercise is expensive, and does not suit every rank and fortune.

Propose this to a female patient and she will consent with joy, provided she have a gentle but active horse, a riding dress in the height of the fashion, and in the third place a squire who is young, good-tempered and handsome. It is difficult to fill these three requisites, and riding is thus given up.

Exercise on foot is liable to many other objections. It is fatiguing, produces perspiration and pleurisy. Dust soils the shoes and stockings, and it is given up. If, too, the patient have the least headache, if a single shot, though no larger than the head of a pin, pierce the skin it is all charged to the exercise.

The consequence is that all who wish to diminish embonpoint should eat moderately, sleep little, and take as much exercise as possible, seeking to accomplish the purpose in another manner. This method, based on the soundest principles of physics and chemistry, consists in a diet suited to the effects sought for.

Of all medical powers, diet is the most important, for it is constant by night and day, whether waking or sleeping. Its effect is renewed at every meal, and gradually exerts its influence on every portion of the individual. The antiobesic regimen is therefore indicated by the most common causes of the diseases, and by the fact that it has been shown that farina or fecula form fat in both men and animals. In the latter, the case is evident every day, and from it we may deduce the conclusion that obtaining from farinaceous food will be beneficial.

But my readers of both sexes will exclaim, "Oh my God, how cruel the professor is. He has at once prescribed all we like, the white rolls of Limet, the biscuit of Achard. the cakes of ... and all the good things made with sugar, eggs, and farina. He will spare neither potatoes nor macaroni. Who would have expected it from a man fond of everything good?"

"What is that?" said I, putting on my stern look which I call up but once a year. "Well, eat and grow fat, become ugly, asthmatic and die of melted fat. I will make a note of your case and you shall figure in my second edition. Ah! I see, one phrase has overcome you, and you beg me to suspend the thunderbolt. Be easy, I will prescribe your diet and prove how much pleasure is in the grasp of one who lives to eat."

"You like bread? well, eat barley-bread. The admirable Cadet de Vaux long ago extolled its virtues. It is not so nourishing and not so agreeable. The precept will then be more easily complied with. To be sure one should resist temptation. Remember this, which is a principle of sound morality.

"You like soup? Eat julienne then, with green vegetables, with cabbage and roots. I prohibit soup au pain, pates and purees.

"Eat what you please at the first course except rice aux volailles and the crust of pates. Eat well, but circumspectly.

"The second course will call for all your philosophy. Avoid everything farinacious, under whatever form it appears. You have yet the roasts, salads, and herbacious vegetables.

"Now for the dessert. This is a new danger, but if you have acted prudently so far, you may survive it. Avoid the head of the table, where things that are dangerous to you are most apt to appear. Do not look at either biscuits or macaronies; you have fruits of all kinds, confitures and much else that you may safely indulge in, according to my principles.

"After dinner I prescribe coffee, permit you liqueurs, and advise you to take tea and punch.

"At breakfast barly-bread is a necessity, and take chocolate rather than coffee. I, however, permit strong cafe au lait. One cannot breakfast too soon. When we breakfast late, dinner time comes before your digestion is complete. You eat though, and eating without appetite is often a great cause of obesity, when we do so too often."


So far I have, like a tender father, marked out a regimen which will prevent obesity. Let us add a few remarks about its cure.

Drink every summer thirty bottles of Seltzer water, a large glass in the morning, two before breakfast and another at bed-time. Drink light white acid wines like those of Anjon. Avoid beer as you would the plague. Eat radishes, artichokes, asparagus, etc. Eat lamb and chicken in preference to other animal food; eat only the crust of bread, and employ a doctor who follows my principles, and as soon as you begin you will find yourself fresher, prettier, and better in every respect.

Having thus placed you ashore, I must point out the shoals, lest in excess or zeal, you overleap the mark.

The shoal I wish to point out is the habitual use made by some stupid people of acids, the bad effects of which experience has demonstrated.


There is a current opinion among women, which every year causes the death of many young women, that acids, especially vinegar, are preventives of obesity. Beyond all doubts, acids have the effect of destroying obesity, but they also destroy health and freshness. Lemonade is of all acids the most harmless, but few stomachs can resist it long.

The truth I wish to announce cannot be too public, and almost all of my readers can bring forward some fact to sustain it.

I knew in 1776, at Dijon, a young lady of great beauty, to whom I was attached by bonds of friendship, great almost as those of love. One day when she had for some time gradually grown pale and thin (previously she had a delicious embonpoint) she told me in confidence that as her young friends had ridiculed her for being too fat, she had, to counteract the tendency, been in the habit every day of drinking a large glass of vinaigre.

I shuddered at the confession, and made every attempt to avoid the danger. I informed her mother of the state of things the next day, and as she adored her daughter, she was as much alarmed as I was. The doctors were sent for, but in vain, for before the cause of her malady was suspected, it was incurable and hopeless.

Thus, in consequence of having followed imprudent advice, our amiable Louise was led to the terrible condition of marasmus, and sank when scarcely eighteen years old, to sleep forever.

She died casting longing looks towards a future, which to her would have no existence, and the idea that she had involuntarily attempted her own life, made her existence more prompt and painful.

I have never seen any one else die; she breathed her last in my arms, as I lifted her up to enable her to see the day. Eight days after her death, her broken hearted mother wished me to visit with her the remains of her daughter, and we saw an extatic appearance which had not hitherto been visible. I was amazed, but extracted some consolation from the fact. This however is not strange, for Lavater tells of many such in his history of physiogomy.


All antiobesic tendencies should be accompanied by a precaution I had forgotten. It consists in wearing night and day, a girdle to repress the stomach, by moderately clasping it.

To cause the necessity of it to be perceived, we must remember that the vertebral column, forming one of the walls in the cavity containing the intestines, is firm and inflexible. Whence it follows, that the excess of weight which intestines acquire as soon as obesity causes them to deviate from the vertical line, rests on the envelopes which compose the skin of the stomach. The latter being susceptible of almost infinite distention, would be unable to replace themselves, when this effort diminishes, if they did not have a mechanical art, which, resting on the dorsal column, becomes an antagonist, and restores equilibrium. This belt has therefore the effect of preventing the intestines from yielding to their actual weight, and gives a power to contract when pressure is diminished. It should never be laid aside, or the benefit it exerts in the day will be destroyed in the night. It is not, however, in the least troublesome, and one soon becomes used to it.

The belt also shows when we have eaten enough; and it should be made with great care, and so contrived as to diminish as the embonpoint decreases.

One is not forced to wear it all life long, and it may be laid aside when the inconvenience is sufficiently reduced. A suitable diet however, should be maintained. I have not worn it for six years.


One substance I think decidedly antiobesic. Many observations have induced me to think so, yet I leave the matter in doubt, and submit it to physicians.

This is quinquina.

Ten or twelve persons that I know, have had long intermittent fevers; some were cured by old women's remedies, powders, etc. Others by the continued use of quinquina, which is always effective.

All those persons of the same category, gradually regained their obesity. Those of the second, lost their embonpoint, a circumstance which leaves me to think the quinquina which produced the last result had the effect I speak of.

Rational theory is not opposed to this deduction, for quinquina, exciting all the vital powers, may give the circulation an impetus which troubles all, and dissipates, the gas destined to become fat. It is also shown that quinquina contains a portion of tannin which is powerful enough to close the cells which contain grease. It is possible that these two effects sustain each other.

These two ideas, the truth of which any one may understand, induce me to recommend quinquina to all those who wish to get rid of troublesome embonpoint. Thus dummodo annuerit in omni medicationis genere doctissimi Facultatis professores. I think that after the first month of any regimen, the person who wishes to get rid of fat, should take every day before breakfast, a glass of white wine, in which was placed a spoonful of coffee and red quinquina. Such are the means I suggest to overcome a very troublesome affection. I have accommodated them to human weakness and to our manners.

In this respect the experimental truth is relied on, which teaches that in proportion as a regime is vigorous, it is dangerous, for he who does not follow it literally, does not follow it all.

Great efforts are rare, and if one wishes to be followed, men must be offered things vacile, if not agreeable.




THINNESS is the state of that individual, the muscular frame of whom is not filled up by strength, and who exhibits all angles of the long scaffolding.


There are two kinds of thinness; the first is the result of the primitive disposition of the body, and is accompanied by health, and a full use of the organic functions of the body. The second is caused by the fact that some of the organs are more defective than others, and give the individual an unhappy and miserable appearance. I once knew young woman of moderate stature who only weighed sixty-five pounds.


Thinness is a matter of no great trouble to men. They have no less strength, and are far more active. The father of the young woman I spoke of, though, very thin, could seize a chair by his teeth and throw it over his head.

It is, however, a terrible misfortune to women, to whom beauty is more important than life, and the beauty of whom consists in the roundness and graceful contour of their forms. The most careful toilette, the most, sublime needle-work, cannot hide certain deficiencies. It has been said that whenever a pin is taken from a thin woman, beautiful as she may be, she loses some charm.

The thin have, therefore, no remedy, except from the interference of the faculty. The regimen must be so long, that the cure must be slow.

Women, however, who are thin, and who have a good stomach, are found to be as susceptible of fat as chickens. A little time, only, is necessary, for the stomach of chickens is comparatively smaller, and they cannot be submitted to as regular a diet as chickens are.

This is the most gentle comparison which suggested itself to me. I needed one, and ladies will excuse me for the reason for which I wrote this chapter.


Nature varies its works, and has remedies for thinness, as it has for obesity.

Persons intended to be thin are long drawn out. They have long hands and feet, legs thin, and the os coxigis retroceding. Their sides are strongly marked, their noses prominent, large mouths, sharp chins and brown hair.

This is the general type, the individual elements may sometimes vary; this however happens rarely.

Thin people sometimetimes eat a great deal. All I ever even talked with, confess that they digest badly. That is the reason they remain thin.

They are of every class and temperament. Some have nothing salient either in feature or in form. Their eyes are inexpressive, their lips pale, and every feature denotes a want of energy, weakness, and something like suffering. One might almost say they seemed to be incomplete, and that the torch of their lives had not been well lighted.


All thin women wish to be fat; this is a wish we have heard expressed a thousand times. To render, then, this last homage to the powerful sex, we seek to replace by folds of silk and cotton, exposed in fashion shops, to the great scandal of the severe, who turn aside, and look away from them, as they would from chimeras, more carefully than if the reality presented themselves to their eyes.

The whole secret of embonpoint consists in a suitable diet. One need only eat and select suitable food.

With this regimen, our disposition to sleep is almost unimportant. If you do not take exercise, you will be exposed to fatness. If you do, you will yet grow fat.

If you sleep much, you will grow fat, if you sleep little, your digestion will increase, and you will eat more.

We have then only to speak of the manner they who wish to grow fat should live. This will not be difficult, according to the many directions we have laid down.

To resolve this problem, we must offer to the stomach food which occupies, but does not fatigue it, and displays to the assimilant power, things they can turn into fat.

Let us seek to trace out the daily diet of a sylph, or a sylph disposed to materialize itself.

GENERAL RULE. Much fresh bread will be eaten during the day, and particular care will be taken not to throw away the crumbs.

Before eight in the morning, soup au pain or aux pates will be taken, and afterwards a cup of good chocolate.

At eleven o'clock, breakfast on fresh broiled eggs, petit pates cotelettes, and what you please; have eggs, coffee will do no harm.

Dinner hour should be so arranged that one should have thoroughly digested before the time comes to sit down at the table. The eating of one meal before another is digested, is an abuse.

After dinner there should be some exercise; men as much as they can; women should go into the Tuilleries, or as they say in America, go shopping. We are satisfied that the little gossip and conversation they maintain is very healthful.

At times, all should take as much soup, potage, fish, etc., and also meat cooked with rice and macaronies, pastry, creams, etc.

At dessert such persons should eat Savoy biscuits, and other things made up of eggs, fecula, and sugar.

This regimen, though apparently circumscribed, is yet susceptible of great variety: it admits the whole animal kingdom, and great care is necessarily taken in the seasoning and preparation of the food presented. The object of this is to prevent disgust, which prevents any amelioration.

Beer should be preferred—if not beer, wines from Bourdeaux or from the south of France.

One should avoid all acids, except salads. As much sugar as possible should be put on fruits and all should avoid cold baths. One should seek as long as possible, to breathe the pure country air, eat many grapes when they are in season, and never go to the ball for the mere pleasure of dancing.

Ordinarily one should go to bed about eleven, P. M., and never, under any circumstances, sit up more than an hour later.

Following this regime resolutely, all the distractions of nature will soon be repaired. Health and beauty will both be advanced, and accents of gratitude will ring in the ears of the professor.

Sheep are fattened, as are oxen, lobsters and oysters. Hence, I deduce the general maxim; viz: "He that eats may be made fat, provided that the food be chosen correctly, and according to the physiology of the animal to be fattened."




FASTING is a moral abstinence from food, from some religious or moral influence.

Though contrary to our tastes and habits, it is yet of the greatest antiquity.


Authors explain the matter thus:

In individual troubles, when a father, mother, or beloved child have died, all the household is in mourning. The body is washed, perfumed, enbalmed, and buried as it should be—none then think of eating, but all fast.

In public calamites, when a general drought appears, and cruel wars, or contagious maladies come, we humble ourselves before the power that sent them, and mortify ourselves by abstinence. Misfortune ceases. We become satisfied that the reason was that we fasted, and we continue to have reference to such conjectures.

Thus it is, men afflicted with public calamities or private ones, always yield to sadness, fail to take food, and in the end, make a voluntary act, a religious one.

They fancied they should macerate their body when their soul was oppressed, that they could excite the pity of the gods. This idea seized on all nations and filled them with the idea of mourning, prayers, sacrifice, abstinence, mortification, etc.

Christ came and sanctified fasting. All Christian sects since then have adopted fasting more or less, as an obligation.


The practice of fasting, I am sorry to say, has become very rare; and whether for the education of the wicked, or for their conversion, I am glad to tell how we fast now in the XVIII. century.

Ordinarily we breakfast before nine o'clock, on bread, cheese, fruit and cold meats.

Between one and two P. M., we take soup or pot au feu according to our positions.

About four, there is a little lunch kept up for the benefit of those people who belong to other ages, and for children.

About eight there was a regular supper, with entrees roti entremets dessert: all shared in it, and then went to bed.

In Paris there are always more magnificent suppers, which begin just after the play. The persons who usually attend them are pretty women, admirable actresses, financiers, and men about town. There the events of the day were talked of, the last new song was sung, and politics, literature, etc., were discussed. All persons devoted themselves especially to making love.

Let us see what was done on fast days:

No body breakfasted, and therefore all were more hungry than usual.

All dined as well as possible, but fish and vegetables are soon gone through with. At five o'clock all were furiously hungry, looked at their watches and became enraged, though they were securing their soul's salvation.

At eight o'clock they had not a good supper, but a collation, a word derived from cloister, because at the end of the day the monks used to assemble to comment on the works of the fathers, after which they were allowed a glass of wine.

Neither butter, eggs, nor any thing animal was served at these collations. They had to be satisfied with salads, confitures, and meats, a very unsatisfactory food to such appetites at that time. They went to bed, however, and lived in hope as long as the fast lasted.

Those who ate these little suppers, I am assured, never fasted.

The chef-d'oeuvre of a kitchen of those days, I am assured, was a strictly apostolic collation, which, however, was very like a good supper.

Science soon resolved this problem by the recognition of fish, soups, and pastry made with oil. The observing of fasting, gave rise to an unknown pleasure, that of the Easter celebration.

A close observation shows that the elements of our enjoyment are, difficult privation, desire and gratification. All of these are found in the breaking of abstinence. I have seen two of my grand uncles, very excellent men, too, almost faint with pleasure, when, on the day after Easter, they saw a ham, or a pate brought on the table. A degenerate race like the present, experiences no such sensation.


I witnessed the rise of this. It advanced by almost insensible degrees.

Young persons of a certain age, were not forced to fast, nor were pregnant women, or those who thought themselves so. When in that condition, a soup, a very great temptation to those who were well, was served to them.

Then people began to find out that fasting disagreed with them, and kept them awake. All the little accidents man is subject to, were then attributed to it, so that people did not fast, because they thought themselves sick, or that they would be so. Collations thus gradually became rarer.

This was not all; some winters were so severe that people began to fear a scarcity of vegetables, and the ecclesiastical power officially relaxed its rigor.

The duty, however, was recognised and permission was always asked. The priests were refused it, but enjoined the necessity of extra alms giving.

The Revolution came, which occupied the minds of all, that none thought of priests, who were looked on as enemies to the state.

This cause does not exist, but a new one has intervened. The hour of our meals is totally changed; we do not eat so often, and a totally different household arrangement would be required for fasting. This is so true, that I think I may safely say, though I visit none but the best regulated houses, that, except at home, I have not seen a lenten table, or a collation ten times in twenty- five years.

We will not finish this chapter without observing the new direction popular taste has taken.

Thousands of men, who, forty years ago would have passed their evenings in cabarets, now pass them at the theatres.

Economy, certainly does not gain by this, but morality does. Manners are improved at the play, and at cafes one sees the journals. One certainly escapes the quarrels, diseases, and degradation, which infallibly result from the habit of frequenting cabarets.



BY exhaustion, a state of weakness, languor or depression, caused by previous circumstances is understood, rendering the exercise of the vital functions more difficult. There are various kinds of exhaustion, caused by mental labor, bodily toil and the abuse of certain faculties.

One great remedy is to lay aside the acts which have produced this state, which, if not a disease, approximates closely to one.


After these indispensable preliminaries, gastronomy is ready with its resources.

When a man is overcome by too long fatigue, it offers him a good soup, generous wine, flesh and sleep.

To a savant led into debility by a too great exercise of his mental faculties, it prescribes fresh air, a bath, fowl and vegetables.

The following observation will explain how I effected a cure of another kind of exhaustion. [The translator thinks it best not to translate this anecdote, but merely to append the original.]


J'allai un jour faire visite a un de mes meilleurs amis (M. Rubat); on me dit qu'il etait malade, et effectivement je le trouvai en robe de chambre aupres de son feu, et en attitude d'affaissement.

Sa physionomie m'effraya: il avait le visage pale, les yeux brillants et sa levre tombait de maniere a laisser voir les dents de la machoire inferieure, ce qui avait quelque chose de hideux.

Je m'enquis avec interet de la cause de ce changement subit; il hesita, je le pressai, et apres quelque resistance: "Mon ami, dit- il en rougissant, tu sais que ma femme est jalouse, et que cette manie m'a fait passer bien des mauvais moments. Depuis quelques jours, il lui en a pris une crise effroyable, et c'est en voulant lui prouver qu'elle n'a rien perdu de mon affection et qu'il ne se fait a son prejudice aucune derivation du tribut conjugal, que je me suis mis en cet etat.—Tu as done oublie, lui dis-je, et que tu as quarante-cinq ans, et que la jalousie est un mal sans remede? Ne sais-tu pas furens quid femina possit?" Je tins encore quelques autres propos peu galants, car j'etais en colere.

"Voyons, au surplus, continuai-je: ton pouls est petit, dur, concentre; que vas-tu faire?—Le docteur, me dit-il, sort d'ici; il a pense que j'avais une fievre nerveuse, et a ordonne une saignee pour laquelle il doit incessamment m'envoyer le chirurgien.—Le chirurgien! m' ecriai-je, garde-t'en bien, ou tu es mort; chasse-le comme un meurtrier, et dis lui que je me suis empare de toi, corps et ame. Au surplus, ton medecin connait-il la cause occasionnelle de ton mal?—Helas! non, une mauvaise honte m'a empeche de lui fairs une confession entiere.—Eh bien, il faut le prier de passer cher toi. Je vais te faire une potion appropriee a ton etat; en attendant prends ceci." Je lui presentai un verre d'eau saturee de sucre, qu'il avala avec la confiance d'Alexandre et la foi du charbounier.

Alors je le quittai et courus chez moi pour y mixtionner, fonctionner et elaborer un magister reparateur qu'on trouvera dans les Varietes, avec les divers modes que j'adoptai pour me hater; car, en pareil cas, quelques heures de retard peuvent donner lieu a des accidents irreparables.

Je revins bientot arme de ma potion, et deja je trouvai du mieux; la couleur reparaissait aux joues, l'oeil etait detendu; mais la levre pendait toujours avec une effrayante difformite.

Le medecin ne tarda pas a reparaitre; je l'instruisis de ce que j'avais fait et le malade fit ses aveux. Son front doctoral prit d'abord un aspect severe; mais bientot nous regardant avec un air ou il y avait un peu d'ironie: "Vous ne devez pas etre etonne, dit-il a mon ami, que je n'aie pas devine une maladie qui ne convient ni a votre age ni a votre etat, et il y a de votre part trop de modestie a en cacher la cause, qui ne pouvait que vous faire honneur. J'ai encore a vous gronder de ce que vous m'avez expose a une erreur qui aurait pu vous etre funeste. Au surplus, mon confrere, ajouta-til en me faisant un salut que je lui rendis avec usure, vous a indique la bonne route; prenez son potage, quel que soit le nom qu'il y donne, et si la fievre vous quitte, comme je le crois, dejeunez demain avec une tasse de chocolat dans laquelle vous ferez delayer deux jaunes d'oeufs frais."

A ces mots il prit sa canne, son chapeau et nous quitta, nous laissant fort tentes de nous egayer a ses depens.

Bientot je fis prendre a mon malade une forte tasse de mon elixir de vie; il le but avec avidite, et voulait redoubler; mais j'exigeai un, ajournement de deux heures, et lui servis une seconde dose avant de me retirer.

Le lendemain il etait sans fievre et presque bien portant; il dejeuna suivant l'ordonnance, continua la potion, et put vaquer des le surlendemain a ses occupations ordinaires; mais la levre rebelle ne se releva qu'apres le troisieme jour.

Pen de temps apres, l'affaire transpira, et toutes les dames en chuchotaient entre elles.

Quelques-unes admiraient mon ami, presque toutes le plaignaient, et le professeur gastronome fut glorifie.



Omnia mors poscit; lex est, non poena, perire.

God has subjected man to six great necessities: birth, action, eating, sleep, reproduction and death.

Death is the absolute interruption of the sensual relations, and the absolute annihilation of the vital powers, which abandons the body to the laws of decomposition.

These necessities are all accompanied and softened by a sensation of pleasure, and even death, when j natural, is not without charms. We mean when a man has passed through the different phases of growth, virility, old age, and decrepitude.

Had I not determined to make this chapter very short, I would invoke the assistance of the physicians, who have observed every shade of the transition of a living to an inert body. I would quote philosophers, kings, men of letters, men, who while on the verge of eternity, had pleasant thoughts they decked in the graces; I would recall the dying answer of Fontinelle, who being asked what he felt, said, "nothing but the pain of life;" I prefer, however, merely to express my opinion, founded on analogy as sustained by many instances, of which the following is the last:

I had a great aunt, aged eighty-three when she died. Though she had long been confined to her bed, she preserved all her faculties, and the approach of death was perceived by the feebleness of her voice and the failing of her appetite.

She had always exhibited great devotion to me, and I sat by her bed-side anxious to attend on her. This, however, did not prevent my observing her with most philosophic attention.

"Are you there, nephew?" said she in an almost inaudible voice. "Yes, aunt! I think you would be better if you would take a little old wine." "Give it to me, liquids always run down." I hastened to lift her up and gave her half a glass of my best and oldest wine. She revived for a moment and said, "I thank you. If you live as long as I have lived, you will find that death like sleep is a necessity."

These were her last words, and in half an hour she had sank to sleep forever.

Richerand has described with so much truth the gradations of the human body, and the last moments of the individual that my readers will be obliged to me for this passage.

"Thus the intellectual faculties are decomposed and pass away. Reason the attribute of which man pretends to be the exclusive possessor, first deserts him. He then loses the power of combining his judgment, and soon after that of comparing, assembling, combining, and joining together many ideas. They say then that the invalid loses his mind, that he is delirious. All this usually rests on ideas familiar to the individual. The dominant passion is easily recognized. The miser talks most wildly about his treasures, and another person is besieged by religious terrors.

"After reasoning and judgment, the faculty of association becomes lost. This takes place in the cases known as defaillances, to which I have myself been liable. I was once talking with a friend and met with an insurmountable difficulty in combining two ideas from which I wished to make up an opinion. The syncopy was not, however, complete, for memory and sensation remained. I heard the persons around me say distinctly he is fainting, and sought to arouse me from this condition, which was not without pleasure.

"Memory then becomes extinct. The patient, who in his delirium, recognized his friends, now fails even to know those with whom he had been on terms of the greatest intimacy. He then loses sensation, but the senses go out in a successive and determinate order. Taste and smell give no evidence of their existence, the eyes become covered with a mistful veil and the ear ceases to execute its functions. For that reason, the ancients to be sure of the reality of death, used to utter loud cries in the ears of the dying. He neither tastes, sees, nor hears. He yet retains the sense of touch, moves in his bed, changes the position of the arms and body every moment, and has motions analogous to those of the foetus in the womb. Death affects him with no terror, for he has no ideas, and he ends as he begun life, unconsciously. "(Richerand's Elements on Physiology, vol. ii. p. 600.)



COOKERY is the most ancient of arts, for Adam must have been born hungry, and the cries of the infant are only soothed by the mother's breast.

Of all the arts it is the one which has rendered the greatest service in civil life. The necessities of the kitchen taught us the use of fire, by which man has subdued nature.

Looking carefully at things, three kinds of cuisine may be discovered.

The first has preserved its primitive name.

The second analyzes and looks after elements: it is called chemistry.

The third, is the cookery of separation and is called pharmacy.

Though different objects, they are all united by the fact that they use fire, furnaces, etc., at the same time.

Thus a morsel of beef, which the cook converts into potage or bouilli, the chemist uses to ascertain into how many substances it may be resolved.


Man is an omnivorous animal: he has incisors to divide fruits, molar teeth to crush grain, and canine teeth for flesh. Let it he remarked however, that as man approaches the savage state, the canine teeth are more easily distinguishable.

The probability was, that the human race for a long time, lived on fruit, for it is the most ancient food of the human race, and his means of attack until he had acquired the use of arms are very limited. The instinct of perfection attached to his nature, however, soon became developed, and the sentiment attached to his instinct was soon exhibited, and he made weapons for himself. To this he was impelled by a carniverous instinct, and he began to make prey of the animals that surrounded him.

This instinct of destruction yet exists: children always kill the animals that surround them, and if they were hungry would devour them.

It is not strange that man seeks to feed on flesh: He has too small a stomach, and fruit has not nourishment enough to renovate him. He could subsist on vegetables, but their preparation requires an art, only reached after the lapse of many centuries.

Man's first weapons were the branches of trees, and subsequently bows and arrows.

It is worthy of remark, that wherever we find man, in all climates and latitudes, he has been found with and arrows. None can see how this idea presented itself to individuals so differently placed: it must be hidden by the veil of centuries.

Raw flesh has but one inconvenience. Its viscousness attaches itself to the teeth. It is not, however, disagreeable. When seasoned with salt it is easily digested, and must be digestible.

A Croat captain, whom I invited to dinner in 1815, was amazed at my preparations. He said to me, "When in campaign, and we become hungry, we knock over the first animal we find, cut off a steak, powder it with salt, which we always have in the sabretasche, put it under the saddle, gallop over it for half a mile, and then dine like princes."

When the huntsmen of Dauphiny go out in Septemher to shoot, they take both pepper and salt with them. If they kill a very fat bird they pluck, season it, carry it some time in their caps and eat it. They say it is the best way to serve it up.

If our ancestors ate raw food we have not entirely gotten rid of the habit. The most delicate palates like Aries' sausages, etc., which have never been cooked, but which are not, on that account, the less appetising.


Subsequently to the Croat mode, fire was discovered. This was an accident, for fire is not spontaneous. Many savage nations have been found utterly ignorant of it.


Fire having been discovered it was made use of to perfect food; at first it was made use of to dry it, and then to cook it.

Meat thus treated was found better than when raw. It had more firmness, was eaten with less difficulty, and the osmazome as it was condensed by carbonization gave it a pleasing perfume.

They began, however, to find out that flesh cooked on the coals became somewhat befouled, for certain portions of coal will adhere to it. This was remedied by passing spits through it, and placing it above burning coals at a suitable height.

Thus grillades were invented, and they have a flavor as rich as it is simple. All grilled meat is highly flavored, for it must be partially distilled.

Things in Homer's time had not advanced much further, and all will be pleased here to read the account of Achilles' reception of the three leading Greeks, one of whom was royal.

I dedicate this story to the ladies, for Achilles was the handsomest of all the Greeks, and his pride did not prevent his weeping when Briseis was taken from him, viz:

[verse in Greek]

The following is a translation by Pope:

"Patroclus, crown a larger bowl, Mix purer wine, and open every soul. Of all the warriors yonder host can send, Thy friend most honours these, and these thy friend."

He said: Patroclus o'er the blazing fire Heaps in a brazen vase three chines entire: The brazen vase Automedon sustains, 'Which flesh of porket, sheep, and goat contains: Achilles at the genial feast presides, The parts transfixes, and with skill divides. Meanwhile Patroclus sweats the fire to raise; The tent is brightened with the rising blaze:

Then, when the languid flames at length subside, He strews a bed of glowing embers wide, Above the coals the smoking fragments turns And sprinkles sacred salt from lifted urns; With bread the glittering canisters they load. Which round the board Menoetius' son bestow'd: Himself, opposed to Ulysses, full in sight, Each portion parts, and orders every rite. The first fat offerings, to the immortals due, Amid the greedy Patroclus threw; Then each, indulging in the social feast, His thirst and hunger soberly repress'd. That done, to Phoenix Ajax gave the sign; Not unperceived; Ulysses crown'd with wine The foaming bowl, and instant thus began, His speech addressing to the godlike man: "Health to Achilles!"

Thus then a king, a son of a king, and three Grecian leaders dined very comfortably on bread, wine, and broiled meat.

We cannot but think that Achilles and Patroclus themselves prepared the entertainment, if only to do honor to the distinguished guests they received. Ordinarily the kitchen business was abandoned to slaves and women, as Homer tells us in Odyssey when he refers to the entertainment of the heralds.

The entrails of animals stuffed with blood were at that time looked on as very great delicacies.

At that time and long before, beyond doubt, poetry and music, were mingled with meals. Famous minstrels sang the wonders of nature, the loves of the gods, and warlike deeds of man. Theirs was a kind of priesthood and it is probable that the divine Homer himself was sprung from one of those men favored by heaven. He would not have been so eminent had not his poetical studies begun in his childhood.

Madame Dacier observes that Homer does not speak of boiled meat anywhere in his poems. The Jews had made much greater progress in consequence of their captivity in Egypt. They had kettles. Esau's mess of potage must have been made thus. For this he sold his birthright.

It is difficult to say how men learned the use of metals. Tubal Cain, it is said, was the inventor.

In the present state of knowledge, we use one metal to manufacture another. We overcome them with iron pincers; cut them with steel files, but I never met with any one who could tell me who made the first file or pair of pincers.


Cookery made great advances. We are ignorant however of its utensils, whether of iron, pottery or of tin material.

The oldest books we know of make honorable mention of oriental festivals. It is not difficult to believe that monarchs who ruled such glorious realms abounded in all that was grateful. We only know that Cadmus who introduced writing into Greece, was cook of the king of Sidon.

The idea of surrounding the table with couches, originated from this voluptuous prince.

Cookery and its flavors were then highly esteemed by the Athenians, a people fond of all that was new. From what we read in their histories, there is no doubt but that their festivals were true feasts.

The wines of Greece, which even now we find excellent, have been estimated by scientific gourmands the most delicious that were.

The most beautiful women that ever came to adorn our entertainments were Greeks, or of Grecian origin.

The wisest men of old were anxious to display the luxury of such enjoyments. Plato, Atheneus, and many others, have preserved their names. The works of all of them, however, are lost, and if any remember them, it is only those who have heard of a long forgotten and lost book, the Gastronomy [Greek word]—the friend of one of the sons of Pericles.

Such was the cookery of Greece, which sent forth a few men who first established themselves in the Tiber, and then took possession of the world.


Good cheer was unknown to the Romans as long as they thought to preserve their independence or to overcome their neighbors, who were poor as they were. Their generals therefore lived on vegetables. Historians have never failed to praise these times, when frugality was a matter of honor. When, however, their conquests had extended into Africa, Sicily and Hellas, when they had to live as people did where civilization was more advanced, they brought back to Rome the tastes which had attended them in foreign lands.

The Romans sent to Athens a deputation charged to bring back the laws of Solon. They also sent them thither to study belles lettres and philosophy. While their manners became polished they became aware of the attractions of festivals. And poets, philosophers, orators, etc., all came to Rome at once.

As time advanced, and as the series of events attracted to Rome almost all the riches of the world, the luxury of the table became incredible.

Every thing was eaten—the grass-hopper and the ostrich, the squirrel and the wild-boar—all imaginable vegetables were put in requisition.

Armies and travellers put all the world in requisition. The most distinguished Roman citizens took pleasure, not only in the cultivation of fruits once known, such as pears, apples, etc., but sought out things Lucullus never dreamed of. These importations which naturally had a great influence, prove at least that the impulse was general, that each one sought to contribute to the enjoyment of those around him.

Our drinks were not the object of less attention, nor of less attentive cares. The Romans were delighted with the wines of Italy, Greece, and Sicily. As they estimated their value from the year in which they were made, we may understand Cicero's much abused line,

Oh tortuna tam, natura, me consule Roman.

This was not all. In consequence of an instinct hitherto referred to, an effort was made to make them more highly perfumed, and flowers, aromatics, etc., were infused. Such things which the Romans called condita, must have had a very bad effect on the stomach.

Thus the Romans came to dream of alcohol, which was not discovered until long after they were born.


The glorious days of old might arise again, and nothing but a Lucullus is needed, to bring this about. Let us fancy that any man, known to be rich, should wish to celebrate any great act, and give in this manner an occasion for a famous entertainment.

Let us suppose that he appeals to every one to adorn his entertainment, and orders every possible resource to be prepared.

Let him make every imaginable preparation and Lucullus would be as nothing compared with the civilized world as it is.

Both the Romans and the Athenians had beds to eat on. They achieved the purpose but indirectly.

At first they used beds only for the sacred festivals offered to the gods. The magistrates and principal men, adopted the custom, and ere long, it became general and was preserved until in the beginning of the fourth century.

These couches were at first, only boxes filled with straw, and covered with skins. Gradually, however, they became more luxurious, and were made of the most precious woods, inlaid with ivory, and sometimes with gems. Their cushions were soft and their covers magnificently embroidered.

People only laid down on the left elbow. Three usually slept together.

This the Romans called lectisternium. It is not a very bad name.

In a physical point of view incubitation demands a certain exhibition of power to preserve equlibrium, and is not without a degree of pain; the elbow supporting an undue proportion of the weight of the body.

In a physiological point of view, something also is to be said. Imbuccation (swallowing) is effected in a less natural manner. The food is passed with more difficulty into the stomach.

The ingestion of liquids, or drinking, is yet more difficult. It required particular attention not to spill the wine from the large cups on the tables of the great. Thence came the proverb:

"Between the cup and lip,

There is often time a slip."

None could eat comfortably when reclining, especially when we remember that many of the guests had long beards, and that fingers, or at least only knives were used. Forks are an invention of modern times, for none were found at Herculaeneum.

Some violations of modesty must also have occurred at repasts which frequently exceeded the bounds of temperance, and where the two sexes have fallen asleep, and were mingled together. A poet says:

"Nam pransus, jaceo, et satur supinus,

Pertimdo tunicamque, palliumque."

When Christianity had acquired some power, its priests lifted up their voices against intemperance. They declaimed against the length of meals which violated all prudence by surrounding persons by every species of voluptuousness. Devoted by choice to an austere regimen, they placed gourmandise in the list of capital sins, and rigidly commented on the mingling of sexes and the use of beds, a habit which they said produced the luxury they deplored.

Their menacing voice was heard; couches disappeared, and the old habit of eating sitting, was restored. Fortunately this did not violate the demands of pleasure.


Convivial poetry then underwent a new modification, and in the mouths of Horace and Tibullus assumed a languor the Greeks were ignorant of.

Dulce ridentem Lalagem amabo,

Dulce luquentem.


Quaeris quot mihi batiationes

Tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.


Pande, puella, pande capillulos

Mavos, lucentus ut aurum nitidum.

Pande, puella, collum candidum

Productum bene candidis humeris.



The five or six centuries we shall run over in a few pages, were glorious days for the cuisine; the irruption however of northern men overturned and destroyed everything.

When the strangers appeared, alimentary art made its appearance, as did the others that are its companions. The greater portion of the cooks were massacred in the palaces they served. The foreigners came and they were able to eat as much in an hour as civilized people did in a week.

Although that which is excessive is not durable—conquerors are always cruel. They united themselves with the victors, who received some tints of civilization, and began to know the pleasures of civilized life.

* * * * * * *

About the seventeenth century, the Dutch imported coffee into Europe. Solyman Agu, a Turk, whom our great, great grandfathers well remember, sold the first cups in 1760. An American sold it in 1670, and dealt it out from a marble bar, as we see now.

The use of coffee then dates from the eighteenth century. Distillation, introduced by the crusades, remained arcana, with few adepts. About the commencement of the reign of Louis XIV, alambics became more common, but not until the time of Louis XV., did the drink become really popular.

About the same time the use of tobacco was introduced. So that sugar, coffee and tobacco, the three most important articles of luxury in Europe, are scarcely two centuries old.

[The translator here omits a whole Meditation. It would now be scarcely pleasant.]



A restaurateur is one, the business of whom is to offer a dinner always ready, and with prices to suit those that consume them.

Of all those who frequent restaurants, few persons cannot understand that a restorateur is not necessarily a man of genius.

We shall follow out the affiliation of ideas which has led to the present state of affairs.


About 1770, after the glorious days of Louis XIV., and the frolics and tranquility of the regency of Cardinal Fleury, foreigners had few means of good cheer.

They were forced to have recourse to inn-keepers, the cookery of whom was generally very bad. A few hotels kept a table d'hote which generally contained only what was very necessary, and which was always ready at an appointed hour.

The people we speak of only ordered whole joints, or dishes, and consequently such an order of things could not last.

At last a man of sense arose, who thought that an active cause must have its effect. That as the same want sent people every day to his house, consumers would come whenever they were satisfied that they would be served. They saw that if a wing was cut from a fowl for one person, some one would be sure to taste the thigh. The separation of one limb would not injure the flavor of the rest of the animal. More pay the least attention to the increase of prices, when one considers the prompt service of what was served.

This man thought of many things, which we may now easily devise. The one who did so was the first restaurateur and the inventor of a business which is a fortune to all who exercise it promptly and honorably.

[The translator here omits a whole chapter.]

From the examination of the bills of fare of different restaurants, any one who sets down at the table, has the choice of the following dishes:—

12 soups.

24 side dishes.

15 or 20 preparations of beef.

20 of mutton.

30 of fowl or game.

16 or 20 of veal.

12 of pastry.

24 of fish.

15 roasts.

50 side dishes.

50 desserts.

Besides the fortunate gastronomer has thirty kinds of wine to select from, passing over the whole scale from Burgundy to Tokay, and Constantia, and twenty various kinds of essences, without taking into consideration such mixed drinks as punch, negus, sillabubs and the like.

Of the various parts of a good dinner, many are indigenous, such as butcher's meat, fowl and fruits. Others for instance, the beef- stake, Welch rare-bit, punch, etc., were invented in England. Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland, all contribute, as does India, Persia, Arabia, and each pay their quota, in sour-krout, raisins, parmera, bolognas, curacao, rice, sago, soy, potatoes, etc. The consequence is, that a Parisian dinner is perfectly cosmopolitan.

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