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those vessels contain too much of that fluid. This observation is of practical utility. Bleeding is serviceable to the plethoric, and must of course be pernicious to the fat, unless in cases like that related by Boerhaave, who, by bleeding, saved the life of a very corpulent person. The patient had overheated himself by too violent exercise in summer. The melted fat had discharged itself into the vessels, and distended them to such a degree as to produce apoplexy, which was removed by the bleeding.
“ Lastly,” says Haller, “ excessive corpulence induces dropsy, and this is the most common end of such persons, in whom those blood-vessels, which ought to receive the returning gaseous fluids, are probably obstructed. Finally, there are observations proving that stones are liable to be formed in the kidneys when overloaded with fat.”
What a terrific catalogue of ailments for you, miserable gorbellies ! But what is still worse, every word of this is true, and not a single point can be denied, or even doubted. I feel for you much too sincerely not to lay before you all the means that should be employed by those who would either prevent or reduce corpulence. Here you will find lessons which will make your air stand on end.
Abstinence is a really golden mean against the exuberance of nutritive juices. By long continued abstinence serpents become quite lean. In autumn the cellular substance of the cameleon, the lizard, and the frog, is full of fat; and after the winter's fast, they are found in spring quite empty. But though it is certain that fasting cannot make a person fat, still it is not a little of it that will make him lean. A young man who drank nothing but water, abstained from drinking at one time sixty days and at another forty-six. During the first of these periods he took animal food, but in the second nothing but such aliments as the Catholic church authorizes in fasts. Being weighed both before and after, he was found each time a few pounds lighter; but after the second abstinence, this reduction was greater than after the first. By drinking afterwards twice a day, he recovered his former weight in six days, and gained a few pounds in addition. Hence we very speedily recover, by means of the most temperate meals, what we have lost by rigid and longcontinued abstinence, even though we were to confine ourselves to a fast-diet, which furnishes a smaller quantity of juices than animal food, but yet more than is requisite for the support of life. We must therefore seek more efficacious means.
Galen commended the effect of mental cares and anxieties as a remedy for corpulence, and Ovid was well acquainted with their operation :
Attenuant vigiles corpus miserabile curæ;
Corporis omnis abit: vox tantum atque ossa supersunt. Haller mentions two cases in point, which I must introduce. “ Cares and exertion of the mental powers render the body very lean; and those persons are invariably fatter in whom the passions are more moderate. Hence, Cæsar was accustomed to say that he was not afraid of 'fat, sleek-headed men,' because such men are not in general very solicitous about the common weal or the preservation of liberty, The celebrated Dean Swift, while involved in cares and hostilities, was extremely meagre; but became excessively corpulent after his mental faculties failed, and he had fallen into a state of idiocy.”
In this list may be classed all the violent passions. Strong exercise also reduces fat; but this method should not be resorted to, till great part of the exuberant fat has been absorbed in some other manner. This follows of course, for the shortness of breath and indolence of corpulent people, forbids much bodily exertion. Hence, other means must previously be tried for reducing the “ huge hill of flesh,” and to this end friction, which is a passive motion, may probably conduce. Zacutus Lusitanus, Muys, and Quesnay,. relate, that by oft-repeated friction unwieldy corpulence has been completely removed. Fever diminishes fat in a wonderful manner. One person lost from this cause thirty pounds, another after salivation fifty pounds, and a third in the small-pox eighty pounds of his weight. But it should be observed, that after illness and a course of medicine, the fat usually accumulates again as fast as it before diminished. This increase and decrease are generally very rapid. A hog that is fastened up may be made fat in three days, and a lark fatted in one night becomes much poorer in the course of the ensuing day.
I wish corpulent people no diseases for their cure ; still less can I recommend medicines to them. Dr. Fothergill observes, that a strict adherence to vegetable diet reduces exuberant fat more certainly than any other means that he knows, and Dr. Cheyne furnished, in his own person, an extraordinary instance
of its efficacy. This physician, when between thirty and forty years of age, had, by indulgence in the pleasures of the table, swelled to such a size as to exceed thirty-stone weight. He was obliged to have the whole side of his chariot made open to admit him; and he grew short-breathed, lethargic, nervous, and scorbutic, so that his life became an intolerable burden. In this deplorable condition, after trying in vain all the power of medicine, he resolved to confine himself to a milk and vegetable diet, the good effect of which quickly appeared. His size was reduced almost to a third, and he recovered his strength, activity, and cheerfulness, with the perfect use of all his faculties.
White Castile soap has been proposed as a remedy to melt down and facilitate the absorption of fat. A very corpulent man took every evening half an ounce dissolved in half a pint of water, and in two years became half a hundred weight lighter. He continued the use of it, and in six years was perfectly cured. The soap operated as a diuretic without any inconvenience. Boerhaave employed acids, crystals of tartar, cream of tartar, and such like purgatives; but Haller relates that vinegar taken for this purpose by a masterbuilder, occasioned incessant vomiting and death, after which the inner coat of the stomach was found indurated to the depth of an inch or more.
Lieutaud recommends acetum scilliticum taken in small doses, with frequent purging and brisk exercise: but it will seldom happen that the patients will be found sufficiently steady to persist in any of these courses; the disorder, from its nature, rendering them irresolute and inattentive to their condition. The
principle use of rules, therefore, must be with a view to prevention; and persons disposed to corpulence should be careful in time to prevent it from becoming an absolute disease, by taking a great deal of exercise, not indulging in sleep, and abridging their meals, especially supper.
Instead, however, of the tedious and partly dangerous means enumerated above, I would recommend to my corpulent readers, nocturnal vigils and meditation. There is no remedy for reducing obesity with more honour than algebra, if the patient only studies it fundamentally at night and cuts wood by day. This remedy is sympathetic: it operates through the spirits, and removes fat by a+b.
New Monthly Magazine.
LEFT OFF BUSINESS.
“ In spite of nature's stubborn plan,
Sir CALEB Caxon was an opulent ironmonger. He succeeded his honest father in the business, and carried it on for half a century. His stock in trade was valuable, and his customers numerous and substantial; yet the large capital of which he found himself possessed arose more from his father's perseverance and temperate habits than from any enormous profits, ex