My unpretending letter on Corpulence has at least brought all these facts to the surface for public examination, and they have thereby had already a great share of attention, and will doubtless receive much more until the system is thoroughly understood and properly appreciated by every thinking man and woman in the civilized world.
I have been told, again and again, that the system was as old as the hills. I will not deny it, because I cannot; but I can say for myself and my many correspondents, that it was quite new to us; or some of us would doubtless have been recommended to practise it by medical advisers, as I have no doubt they are now, and as they surely will be hereafter more extensively.
Some writers have assumed that I had no great grievance in my corpulent state. Are failing sight and hearing, an umbilical rupture requiring a truss, bandages for weak knees and ankles, not serious grievances? Those only who have suffered from corpulence can adequately understand its miseries or appreciate the merits of a system so admirably adapted to its relief.
My earnest, and indeed my only desire throughout has been to ventilate this question in the interest of humanity, and to ascertain not only the advantages of the system now called "Banting," but also any possible mischief in its application, and I am bound to say, that I have not met with any case where harm has ensued from its practice under medical authority and supervision. Two or three unfavourable results having been reported in the public papers, I instantly set to work to trace them, and proved them to have no better foundation than the frequent reports of my death. I may admit that about a month after the issue of the third edition, I received an abusive letter on the subject from an anonymous correspondent, who may flatter himself that he has preserved his incognito, but I venture to assure him that he has not, and that his abuse is no argument against the system, but simply a proof of his own want of manners and common sense.
In my desire to get at the whole truth, I sent a copy of my pamphlet to some of the leading professional men of the day, and I have received several kind and practical replies. A few of these will be found among the evidences I offer. One of these testimonies I cannot resist quoting here as well:
"The rules of diet you found so beneficial have long been "forced upon men who are under training for running, or "prize fights; apparently, however, their especial efficacy "was overlooked, because other rules relating to exercise, "sweating, &c., were mixed up with them."
This plain, simple statement, in my opinion, unlocks the whole mystery, and solves the problem which had long slumbered, until my perseverance under Mr. Harvey's treatment happily brought it under complete examination.
No doubt the system was known, and had been practised, but only to promote muscular vigour in healthy people, for special objects, yet had never been applied to the unhealthy and corpulent, because it was impossible for such people to take the necessary exercise and sweating. It is now proved that, by proper diet alone, the evils of corpulence may be removed without the addition of those active exercises, which are impossible to the sickly or unwieldy patient.
Another eminent medical man, whose letter will appear among the rest, was actually giving my pamphlets in the course of his practice. I was greatly surprised to hear of it, and wrote to ascertain the fact. He invited me to call on him, and showed me that my information was correct by pointing to a pile of them lying upon his table. He complimented me upon the publication, as it contained sound advice in cases like my own; and added, that the discovery was not Mr. Harvey's, but was derived from "Mons. Bernard, of Paris." I replied that Mr. Harvey had told me he had first derived his information from lectures which he had heard in Paris, by Mons. Bernard, in regard to diabetes, and some other complaints, but that he had himself applied it to cases of corpulency. He admitted that the simple record of my own experience of the value of the system had brought it to the clear light of day, and that if it had been written by a medical man, it would scarcely have been noticed by the general public at all.
Probably no one was ever subjected to more ridicule and abuse than I have been, in English as well as in foreign journals. My only object, however, has been the good of my fellow creatures. To have accomplished this object, in any degree, is a sufficient reward for my expenditure of time and means, and an ample compensation for the insolent contempt of some, and the feeble ribaldry of others.
I certainly was somewhat astonished at one time, and not a little amused, to find that my death was generally reported, even to myself~ by some who did not happen to know me personally; and, at another, to hear that I had been seriously ill and afflicted with boils, carbuncles, and other ailments, through my rigid pursuit of the dietary system. 1 am, therefore, glad of this opportunity to state publicly (what hundreds of my friends can attest) that I do not know what gout or a headache is, that I have always ate, drank, and slept well, have had no carbuncles, boils, or any real illness whatever, since I began the system recommended by Mr. Harvey; indeed, the only ailment which I have had, was a little additional eruption in my hands in 1867, a discomfort by which I had been more or less troubled for years, but from which I was soon relieved, doubtless, by the continued pursuit of the dietary system. I have, therefore, offered no nostrum or quack remedy, but have simply stated the results of my following professional advice, and have only claimed for it a thorough examination by the public, and our highly intelligent medical professors; indeed, I recommended all to consult their medical advisers be fore adopting what I individually considered a perfectly harmless system. I knew nothing of causes, physiological or chemical, for the wondrous effects produced by a generous, in exchange for a meagre, dietary; but believed, as I still believe, that it is a simple remedy to reduce and destroy superfluous fat; that it may be an alleviation, if not a cure, of gout; that it prevents or eradicates carbuncles, boils, and the elements of dyspepsia; makes advanced life more enjoyable, and promotes longevity. I consider my general health extraordinary; indeed, I meet with few men at 72 years of age who have so little cause to complain. I trust, therefore, that if any future adverse reports of my health and condition should arise, they may be communicated to me through the Post-office, that I may be able at once to contradict, if possible, such silly rumours. I cannot, now, retract anything I have written on the subject, and hence the publication of a fourth edition, condensed, with such observations as five years' subsequent experience enables me to offer in verification of its general honesty and truth.
I have no doubt there is already a considerable reduction in the number of my corpulent and otherwise afflicted brethren, through the rigid or even partial adherence to the dietary called "Banting," but I have seen still far too many in my rambles about England, and to all such I trust the publication of a fourth edition of my pamphlet may be useful. I earnestly recommend any so afflicted, who choose to make trial of the system, to be accurately weighed, after consulting some medical adviser, before beginning it; and, again, at the end of seven days, during which short period the chief and most extraordinary diminution of weight occurs. This will be ample time to convince the most sceptical of its merit and utility, an(I thereby give increased confidence to its further pursuit, under medical sanction. So short a trial of superior in exchange for inferior, or more simple diet, can surely do no great harm to the human frame, should the grievance arise from other causes than undue corpulence; but I believe medical men will be found in all quarters of the world who have been induced to investigate this important subject of late years, and that in consequence the public generally will now be more properly advised on the subject.
Many hundred appeals have been made to me to furnish correspondents with the prescription for the morning cordial, of which I spoke so highly. I could only prudently reply, that it was of an alkaline character, and refer them to their medical adviser, as what suited me might not suit them.
It may, however, save further trouble if I now print it in detail:—
B~ Mag. Carbon .. .. ..
It is, however, of little public utility, as my medical adviser does not prescribe it to all alike indiscriminately, but it may probably allay public curiosity.
It is, perhaps, of small consequence to the public, but it is a question of great importance to me, to show that I have kept faith with them, and may be relied upon for the future I therefore invite their attention to the cost of the publication, and to the manner in which the profits have been expended.
The first edition of 1,000 copies of my pamphlet I presented to clubs, learned and medical societies, and to the public. The second edition, or 1,000 copies, I also gave to the public; and 500 copies of the last I directed to be sold for the benefit of my Printers' Sick Fund, as I found that some preferred to purchase them.
These, and the distribution, cost me about £40, for which I did not expect or receive one penny in return.
I was advised that, to pay for the expense of printing, publishing, and advertising a third edition, of 20,000 copies, I should charge for them one shilling each, but as pecuniary advantage was neither my desire nor aim, I determined to issue them at sixpence each, and rather lose by it than think of profit. The sale, however, increased so wonderfully, that at the end of eight months 50,000 copies were sold, with a result which the press kindly published at the time.