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Title: How to Eat - A Cure for "Nerves"
Author: Hinkle, Thomas C. (Thomas Clark), 1876-1949
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Eat - A Cure for "Nerves"" ***

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"Whosoever wishes to eat much must eat little." Cornaro, in saying
this, meant that if a man wished to eat for a great many days--that
is, desired a long life--he must eat only a little each day.







Copyright, 1921, by


I. WHERE THE TROUBLE LIES                                13
II. HOW TO OVERCOME THE TROUBLE                          31


"Nature, desirous to preserve man in good health as long as
possible, informs him herself how he is to act in time of illness;
for she immediately deprives him, when sick, of his appetite in
order that he may eat but little."




This author-physician's cure for "nerves" vividly recalls the simplicity
of method employed in the complete restoration to health of one of olden
time whose story has come ringing down the ages in the Book of Books.
Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, a mighty man of valor
and honorable in the sight of all men, turned away in a rage when
Elisha, the prophet of the Most High, prescribed for his dread malady a
remedy so simple that it was despised in his eyes. But "his servants
came near and said ... 'If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing,
wouldest thou not have done it?'"

In "How to Eat" the author offers the sufferer from "nerves" a remedy as
simple as that Elisha offered Naaman. He gives him an opportunity to
profit by his well-tested knowledge that overeating and _rapidity_ in
eating are ruinous to health and shorten life.

It is seldom that there emanates from the pen of a doctor a book which,
concerning any physical disorder, minimizes the efforts of the medical
practitioner. While this author-physician gives full credit to the
conscientious physician for the great service he is able to render in
all other spheres of his profession, he wholly denies the necessity for
medical care in cases of nervous breakdown, and discounts liberally the
benefits to be derived from professional advice except in so far as the
doctor is the patient's counselor and dictator as to what and how and
how much he shall eat and drink, and the way he shall employ his time.

Any discourse is valuable which incites a man having a marked tendency
to depressing, morbid ideas, to rid himself of them. Dr. Hinkle helps
the sufferer to gain that confidence and cheer which result from
knowledge of certain immunity from dreaded ills and positive assurance
of recovery by mere regulation of food or employment along the lines of
simple, everyday living.

But that alone is not sufficient. It is made quite clear that no one
thing by itself will insure a cure of "nerves." The cure must come
through common sense exerted along several related avenues of endeavor.
No matter how steadfastly one may adhere to directions as to abstaining
from harmful food and injurious methods of partaking of those foods
which are beneficial, if he spends the larger portion of his time idly
rocking in a convenient arm chair, exerting neither body nor mind nor
will, that which might be gained by proper nutrition is largely
nullified by lack of physical exercise and mental activity.

That this little book may serve as a spur to the bodily self-denial and
self-repression and the intellectual and spiritual uplift which make for
character-building, is the very evident goal of its writer. From
self-analysis and self-cure he has worked out a philosophy--a system or
_art_--by which those afflicted with nervous breakdown may be healed.
And by putting into print the result of his practical experiments in
diet and exercise he has broadened immeasurably the scope of his
helpfulness to all nervebound sufferers by placing within their reach
the simplest of measures by which release is secured from a condition
which wholly incapacitates for active service or even for quiet,
everyday usefulness.

It is because the things Dr. Hinkle advises are so commonplace, and
because the doing of them day after day, year in and year out, is so
monotonous, that people will be tempted to disregard or make light of
their helpfulness. But the commonplace things which make up life are all
important, as Susan Coolidge has so aptly expressed in these lines which
fittingly illustrate the author's thought:

  "The commonplace sun in the commonplace sky
  Makes up the commonplace day.
  The moon and the stars are commonplace things,
  And the flower that blooms and the bird that sings;
  But dark were the world, and sad our lot
  If the flowers failed, and the sun shone not;
  And God, who studies each separate soul,
  Out of commonplace lives makes his beautiful whole."

It therefore behooves the sufferer from "nerves" and that great host of
others who are in danger of a nervous breakdown if they do not speedily
mend their ways of eating and living, to heed the kindly admonitions
and follow the precepts of this author who practices what he preaches.
By persistently doing commonplace things in the most commonplace way,
keeping ever in mind the great objects to be attained thereby--good
health, good cheer, and increased usefulness throughout a long life--the
reader of this little treatise will find it worth many, many times its
size, weight, and bulk. And heeding the author's admonition, "Go thou
and do likewise," he will not shorten his life or lose it altogether in
fruitless quests for the strength and nerve vigor which constantly elude
him because of lack of self-control and failure to persist in the simple
but efficacious measures of relief here outlined.

M. F. S.





"What we leave after making a hearty meal does us more good than
what we have eaten."


It is now over twenty years since I had my first nervous breakdown.
About ten years later I had another, far worse than the first one. The
first lasted six months; the second a little more than two and one half
years. Doubtless if I had not in the strangest way in the world found
out how to cure myself it would have lasted until now, unless death in
the meantime had come to my relief. But right here I want to say that if
you are looking for some new or miraculous treatment for such
unfortunate people you might as well close the book now, for you will be
disappointed. There is a cure for "nerves" but the cure is as old as the
world. The trouble with poor deluded mortals--doctors included--is, we
are constantly looking for a miracle to cure us, but if we look back on
all the real cures that we have ever heard about, we shall find they
were as simple as the sun or the rain. And in the name of common sense
let me ask: what is the difference _how_ we are cured if we _are_ cured
and are _happy_ as a result of it? Isn't that enough? Most certainly it

And now, as we journey along through the pages of this book, I want you
to know that these words have been written by one who has nothing to
offer you except human experience. As we proceed you will notice that
every statement is tremendously positive. When a man has been through
this literal hell of "nerves" he knows all about it and what can be done
for it. And so when I tell you the things you must do to get well and
_stay well_, I want you to understand that I know. There is absolutely
no theory to be found in these pages. If you put your finger in the
fire you burn it. You don't have to take your finger out of the fire,
call in a lot of learned gentlemen and say to them: "Now tell me your
candid opinion about my finger. Is it burned or is it not?"

And I am just as positive about my cure of "nerves" as you could be that
fire burned your finger. That brings me to what I want to say about the
so-called "rest cures" at the sanitariums. It is a well-known fact that
if a case of "nerves" is pronounced cured at a sanitarium the cure is
only temporary. Sooner or later every one of these patients goes down
hill again.

And remember I am talking about people who have nervous breakdowns
THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. I have no time to spare for the person
who has brought on his own trouble. I am chiefly concerned with that
host of children in America--and there is a host, I am sorry to
say--born of what I choose to call "pre-nervous" parents. The girls of
such parents frequently break down in high school. And many of the
finest boys that I know have this dreadful "thing" fastened firmly upon
them just at the very beginning of their lifework.

You may think I am a little vehement, but to me one of the most damnable
and disgusting things in the world is that the medical profession
remains so ignorant concerning the _real cure_ for such cases. I believe
the late Sir William Osler was the greatest physician of his generation.
He was not only a man of talent, he was a genius, and his knowledge of
medicine almost passes understanding. Yet Osler himself was as much in
the dark concerning the _real_ cure for so-called _neurasthenia_ as the
physicians who read his works on practice. If one wants to find out how
ignorant the whole profession is on the subject of a permanent cure,
let the thing get hold of him, and then let him make the rounds of the
physicians, follow out their advice, and see where he comes out!

I have said that even the sanitariums of this country--and for that
matter I might have said of any other country--do not _permanently cure_
these people. I have ample proof of this statement. I have met these
people everywhere and no doubt you have, too. Quite recently the subject
was brought up anew to me. I had written an article on the subject for
one of the magazines, a magazine having a large circulation. In a very
short time my mail was literally flooded with letters. Every incoming
mail brought great numbers of them. They came from physicians of the
regular school, and from physicians of many other schools, too. I won't
mention any of them, for this is a treatise on a dreadful affliction and
how one may get rid of it; it is not intended as a criticism of anyone.
I have no desire to criticize and I haven't time. I am stating facts
interwoven with my own life. If the cure is real, the people will find
it out after they have tried it; if it is not, they will also find that
out. In fact, it's exactly as Gamaliel, the teacher of Paul, said to the
men of Israel when they would have slain the apostles for teaching
Christ's sayings, "Refrain from these men and let them alone: for if
this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: but if it
be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." And it's exactly the same way with
this healing art. The very fact that physicians of all schools of
medicine--physicians who were sufferers from "nerves"--wrote me, shows
plainly that they could not heal themselves. I have many letters from
people who have been in sanitariums for years and who still have
"nerves." The sanitariums do some people a lot of good, but they cannot
remove the _cause_ of nervousness. I am certain that the very best rest
cure for women is the one Dr. Weir Mitchell first used. But such women
are sure to go down again and again and still again if that is _all_
that is done for them.

Now frankly, if Christian Science could cure such cases and make them
_stay_ cured I should want a practitioner of this cult to treat them.
But Christian Science simply cannot cure them because the underlying
cause of this trouble is _physical_, not _mental_. In other words, the
mind becomes ill because the body is made ill by certain poisons, and
the nature of the disease is so peculiar that most of these miserable
sufferers will not even try a thing unless some one brings them
overwhelming evidence of its having wrought a cure. Or, if they do try
it, they usually quit the treatment before nature has had time to do her
work and set their bodies right.

I have the most profound sympathy for such people. I want to speak
directly to them. That is the task that I have set myself in this work.
I want to talk directly to those of you who are sufferers from "nerves."
I see you in every state, in every city, in every village, and
throughout the farming districts of this country. I have received
letters from many farmers who are suffering with this "thing." To them
let me say, I know just how you feel, and from the very bottom of my
heart I pity you. I know the horrible suffering of each one of you. I
don't care what your ambition has been or is. I don't care what your
situation in life may be. I don't care how rich or how poor you are. I
don't care how much trouble you have had, or the nature of it. I want
you to know these words are being written by one who knows more about
your sufferings than you can imagine. I want you to believe this,
because it is true. If you have longed and prayed for death, remember
that the one who is writing these words also has longed and prayed for
death. But one thing you must be sure to remember: while you are waiting
and trying to get well you must have _patience_.

I recollect one beautiful day in early spring when traveling in Nebraska
I passed a little cemetery. How sweet and restful the place seemed, and
as I looked out over those little white stones I prayed silently that
the great God who made me would not hold me much longer on earth, that
He would soon grant me the rest and peace which I believed was to be
found only in death and the grave. But _remember this_: In those dark
days never for a moment did I think of taking my own life! These words
may reach some one who has had such a thought. If so, I say to you that
to take one's life is the most cowardly thing a human being can do. This
is the only place where I feel like being severe with you people. Shame
on the man or woman who will not go on to the end fighting honorably!
And now if you have ever given thought to such a thing, blot it from
your mind forever. I can see how these miserable people might long for
death, as I did. But no matter how we may long for release through
death, the God of nature must be the judge of our time of going.

Now this brings me to what I want to say about such sufferers going
insane. Believe me, they never do! Remember this always. You won't
become insane. You couldn't if you tried! In letter after letter among
the flood of them I have had from all over this country and Canada, I
read how the poor sufferer feared he or she might be going insane. I
know, poor souls, just how you feel. That feeling is, I think, the most
dreadful of all things connected with "nerves." I suffered from it for
years. It is a dreadful feeling, but there is not the least bit of
danger of such a thing happening to you. You will _not_ go insane. Such
persons can't. Do you really get me? Such persons cannot go insane. This
disease is nothing but what we call a functional nervous trouble. And so
forget about the danger of insanity for all time. You can be cured, but
you will make your return to health just that much slower by harboring
this fear. And it would be simply foolish for you to go on thinking it
possible after I--let me say it again--after I have told you that it
cannot happen. For the value of this treatise lies in the "I." Its value
is just like that of the treatise by Cornaro. He lived it. And so
likewise have I lived it. I have been laid low with this malady. I have
staggered in black despair with staring eyes and bleeding feet and
crying soul along this road strewn with thorns and stones. I know what
it is to lie awake all night and cry like a baby, with none to know and
none to tell me what to do. I know what it is to be tremendously
ambitious. Ambition! Ambition! Ah, God of Heaven! How a poor soul
suffers who beyond everything else, craves to be able to do something
big in this world because he knows he should, yet is held down by this
dreadful thing, "nerves!" And how little, how unspeakably little, do
physicians, even the greatest of them, know, actually know, how we
suffer, unless indeed there be one in whose own body the fiend has sunk
deep its talons.

After I had my first breakdown I made up my mind to study medicine
because something told me that I was one of those "peculiar" people who
just _think_ there is something the matter with them. Is it not strange
that with all the advance that has been made in general medicine, little
or nothing has been done for the relief of the people born with this
curse hanging over them?

I wish this book could be put into the hands of every nervous parent
for, think as you may, all nervous parents beget nervous children. But
does it follow that such children should have a nervous breakdown almost
before they are out of their teens? No, decidedly not; and what is more,
they never should and never would break down, if they had proper food.

I look back with horror on the many nights of my childhood when I
suffered with "night terrors." And right here let me say: no child will
_ever have night terrors_ if he is given just what he should eat, and is
kept from overeating. And now a few words about the _first_ great point
concerning the prevention as well as the cure of "nerves."

Nervous people, and many others as well, eat too much. That, you say, is
nothing new. But that is just where the dreadful wrong begins; and why
there has been tragedy after tragedy, and why even while this is being
written there will be many more tragedies. You will hear lecturers
say--I myself have said it, and to large audiences: "You people eat too
much." But if that's all that is said, people straightway go away and
say: "Oh, yes, he's right, of course. We all eat too much." And there it
ends. Until recently people did not know--most of them don't know
yet--that each day they are actually bringing the grave nearer by

Not long ago the great life insurance companies of this country held a
notable convention in the city of New York. Now after everything had
been said and done, after every phase of life insurance had been
discussed, what do you suppose was the great outstanding statement from
that remarkable body of men who know more about why people die than any
other body of people on earth? It was this: "The average American _man
or woman_ dies at the age of 43 because he eats what he wants to eat
rather than what he should eat." That means, of course, that
practically all Americans overeat. They are all like the child who says,
"I'm not hungry for bread and butter. I'm hungry for cake." And I find
that most of these poor deluded nervous sufferers eat what they want
under the supposition that it is good for them because they crave it. I
myself used to do so. I would eat candy by the pound. And it is odd but
quite true that nervous people crave the very things that hurt them
most. But there is no more sense in eating what you crave because you
crave it than there is in the man who is addicted to alcohol, drinking
alcohol because he craves it. I once used tobacco; I craved it, but I
did not need it just because I craved it. It is true the body naturally
needs some fats, some carbohydrates; in fact, a balanced ration, as we
shall see later. But I want to make it mighty plain here that never was
there a greater error than that of supposing you need chocolates or
sweets just because you crave them. And you don't need to overeat, and
keep on doing it, just because you must eat.


  "He who pursues a regular course of life need not be apprehensive
  of illness, as he who has guarded against the cause need not be
  afraid of the effect."


We have now come to the second step in the cure of "nerves"--eating the
right food in the right way. You must chew all food until it is of the
consistency of cream, and you must also sip all liquids slowly. And now,
as you read these things that I have set down, I want you to remember
this: doing any one thing--and doing that alone--will not cure this
malady. No, it is doing a number of things at the right time. I know
this is true because I have tried it. For a time I chewed my food to a
cream, but that was the only thing I did in an endeavor to get well. I
was doing none of the other things that are absolutely necessary for a
cure. This is one great trouble with all such people. They will
Fletcherize for a time and then say there is nothing to that because it
does not cure them. Well, as I've said, that alone will not, and I want
to dwell at length on this because nobody knows as well as I do, what
harm such a belief does the nervous sufferer.

Trying out Fletcherizing alone, which I say must be done together with
other things if you want to get well and stay well, is like taking the
handle of an axe and going out into the woods to cut down a tree. Now
with Fletcherizing you have a perfectly good handle, but you know very
well that you can't cut a tree down with only an axe handle. But that is
not the fault of the handle. The fault is obviously your own. Now
suppose you get the axe and fit the handle to it. You can then cut the
tree down if you work hard enough at the task. Again, suppose you cut
the tree half way through and quit. Will the axe keep on until the work
is done? You know it will not, and you very well know if you wish to be
cured you must keep on doing your part of the work or dieting will be of
no value whatever to you. Now suppose a man comes along and tells you
that the axe you have is no good and therefore it is no use for you to
keep on trying to use it. That is exactly what some physicians still say
about Fletcherizing.

But you say, "I must cut this tree down. Nobody will do it for me; how
shall I get it down? Can you give me an axe that will cut it down?"

"Oh, no," he replies, "but anyway there's no use fooling with that one."

Then, if you are determined to do the work, you say, "I have to cut the
tree down. You have no other axe to offer me, so I'm going to try the
one I have." And you go ahead and cut down the tree. Then just as you
have finished, the man comes your way again, and in great delight you
call out to him: "Come and see! I cut this tree down with the axe you
said was no good!"

The man comes over to you and says, "Where's the tree? I don't see it!"

You are astonished and you tell him, "There it lies on the ground right
before your eyes! Can't you see it?"

But he turns and walks away saying: "There is no tree there; it is all
in your mind."

This is exactly what people with "nerves" have been told again and again
by physicians, by relatives, and by most other people who have never had

I tell you these things so that when you begin to eat sparingly and chew
your food to a cream you may fortify yourself against well-meaning but
mistaken friends and relatives. And, oddly enough, it does seem that the
individual with "nerves" has more friends and relatives than any other
person in the world.

Remember you must not only chew your food to the consistency of cream
for one or two months, you must make this practice a lifelong habit. If
you cannot take time to eat a meal in this way, you had much better go
hungry. To people who travel and must frequently take their meals in
railroad eating houses, I would say, get some bread and butter
sandwiches and eat them slowly while on the train. There is always a
chance to secure all you need to eat, too. You may not always be able to
sit an hour at the table--the time we should give to a meal if we eat as
we should. I know many object to this rule on the ground that if we
followed it we should get nothing else done. But that is nonsense. Did
not the Master of us all say, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?"
Then can we not devote three of the twelve to our food? If we have nine
hours in which we are at our highest efficiency, is it not good sense,
if we eat three meals a day, to give three hours to these meals? There
is only one sane answer to the question; we should take an hour for a

Every now and then some magazine writer will state that the chewing of
food to a cream does not help anybody. He will tell you that you can
swallow your food any old way and it will not hurt you in the least. In
fact, I actually saw an article in one of our leading periodicals
containing just such statements. We should, I suppose, have only pity
for an editor who would give space to such stuff, and should also pity
the poor wretch who by writing it is striving to attain notoriety. At
any rate there is one excellent thing about such lies, they do harm for
only a little while. When people find out that a thing is harmful to
them, they usually quit it, no matter how many notoriety seekers are
urging and encouraging them to keep on.

Usually the sufferer with "nerves" is the only one in the household who
will eat sparingly and chew his food slowly. But now and then I find an
intelligent, sympathetic man who will do so because it is helpful to his
wife. He sympathizes with her infirmity, and with fine self-denial eats
as she does. And note this: he usually derives benefit from so doing.
Time after time when I have put a nervous woman under this regimen, and
then her husband elected to go along with her, I have had the man come
to me and say: "Well, doctor, I declare I'm feeling a whole lot better
myself! I don't get sleepy any more during the daytime, and that pain I
used to have in the region of my liver is gone!" And so on and on.

The fact is just this: anybody who follows the rules that I learned to
apply in my own case cannot fail to be benefited. And although those not
inclined to "nerves" can eat a greater variety of food, it's greatly to
be desired when there is a nervous person in a household of grownups
that all other members of the family enter together into this thing. It
could not fail to help every one of them. To be truthful, in the
beginning you will all find it mighty hard to persist in chewing all
your food to a cream. Mouthful after mouthful of food will get away from
you when you are not thinking. This just goes to show how we are in the
habit of bolting our food. At first people who Fletcherize or chew their
food perfectly, usually lose weight. I most certainly did. I lost about
twenty pounds because of it, but I was so well and felt so good I could
almost have jumped over the North Star.

I know that, unfortunately, a lot of people with "nerves" have started
to chew their food carefully and to eat sparingly, but the minute they
found themselves losing weight they were frightened and quit. They went
on carrying that ten or twenty or thirty pounds of flesh and all the
time suffering the tortures of the damned just in order that they might
keep it. But of what benefit are a certain number of extra pounds of
flesh and how can a man explain such a senseless action?

The astonishing thing is that many physicians are willing to condemn a
cure just as soon as they find the patient has lost a pound of beef. But
as I said before, the primary mission of man in this world is not to
raise beef. I do not find fault with the raising of beef in the feeding
yards, but if beef must be raised let us confine the industry to the
cattle pens and stock yards. Let us not worship it to the degree that we
would rather live in hell than part with a few extra pounds that
overload our own bodies.

Now just here I want it distinctly understood, as I have said before,
that this text is primarily for _functional nervous cases_. Tubercular
people belong to an entirely different class. They should live out of
doors day and night and should, if possible, be treated at outdoor
institutions established for such cases. But the individual with
"nerves" will find what he needs and will find it abundantly if he has
enough determination to take hold of it and keep at it.

On the part of many it will take all the determination they have to chew
their food to a cream and always eat sparingly. In regard to the amount
of food taken, judgment must of course be used. We all know that it is
possible to eat too little. But you should always quit eating while you
still feel you would like a little more. I know of no better guide than
this to offer you. But I have observed that the person who eats slowly
and chews his food to a cream never eats as much food as he would if he
bolted it. It is just like letting a thirsty horse drink water. I
remember, as a boy on the farm, when I led a very thirsty horse from
the field to the water tank how rapidly he would swallow. If my father
were with me, after the horse had drunk a while he would say, "Make him
hold his head up." Frequently when I did so the horse would draw a long
breath and drink no more. Had he gone right on drinking, as a thirsty
horse will if you permit him to do so, he might have drunk twice as much
as was good for him. And that's the way people eat. As a result the
horse that drinks and drinks and drinks when he is very thirsty
sometimes dies in a few hours. I have seen a horse die from drinking too
much water and I have also seen people die in a few hours after a
terrible gorge that they could not get rid of. Do you know that most
nervous people have a way of sitting down to the table and eating until
they are literally full? If you could take out the stomach of such a
person and look at it, the sight would frighten you. And with good
reason. For as a result of this habit many nervous people have dilated
stomachs. But if they would correct their manner of eating there is
usually enough tone in the muscular walls of the stomach to get it back
to normal. I marvel again and again over how miraculously nature
restores herself even after she has been terribly abused, if only she is
given a chance.

I am certain that all human beings would be more efficient if they
chewed all solid food to a cream and sipped all liquids slowly. The late
Professor William James, the great Harvard psychologist, testified to
the value of such a habit, as did a number of other distinguished
Harvard professors. I regret that some physicians still hold out in
their belief that it does no good although the evidence stands out as
clearly before them as a tree along the roadside. But they are like the
physician who some years ago declared that bathing was bad for people. I
recall how hard we all bore down upon him, as he richly deserved, and
how the Journal of the American Medical Association printed a short poem
ridiculing him. I am quite certain that the members of the Regular
school of medicine have progressed infinitely farther toward the cure of
diseases than members of all the other schools combined. I do not say
this simply because I happen to be a physician of the Regular school; I
say it because a candid survey of what has been accomplished, and by
whom, proves it. But as to diet, we have done little compared with what
we should do. We have made no greater progress along this line because
so many of us have been blinded by prejudice--the curse of the human

With regard to chewing all food to a cream, most modern writers on
dietetics, while acknowledging that this super-mastication is useful,
maintain that it does not increase the value of the food. But they err
greatly in this, as we can prove in a very few words: If a certain
amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is bolted by a nervous man
suffering from a breakdown, it will cause intestinal toxemia as a result
of the bolted food, but if he chews the food to a cream it will be
digested in a normal manner and will not cause gas in the stomach or
intestines. The proper amount of food is absorbed and nourishes the man
as it should. Now did not the thorough mastication of that food increase
the value of the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates? The thing is a
self-evident fact. In the first case a man takes food which quickly
turns to a loathsome poison. In the second instance the same kind of
food is so thoroughly mixed with the ptyalin in the saliva that whatever
is eaten becomes of value as protein or fat or some other food element.

After many years of sad experience with this malady we call "nerves" I
am convinced that the reason why people have this disease is because
they are literally "food drunk." I have treated men who had been on an
alcohol debauch and I know how terribly depressed they are after such a
spree is over. It is exactly the same way with the pre-nervous people
that break down. They sit down to a big meal and overeat. There is a
temporary stimulus, just as in the case of the person who takes
intoxicants, followed by that terrible mental depression that all who
have suffered from "nerves" know. And because the individual with the
"nerves" is overeating two or three times each day, he stays drunk with
the poisons that form in his stomach and intestines. Such people
over-assimilate the poisonous products of proteins, especially of
sugars. Of course this may seem oddly stated because we would not want
any absorption of the poisons in the intestines, but it is probable that
nature can and does take care of a little of it there in the healthy

It is perfectly absurd to say, as some physicians still continue to say,
that no poisonous matter is ever absorbed in the intestinal tract. Give
a child something that causes intestinal indigestion and see how quickly
he has a rise in temperature. This fever is the direct result of poisons
absorbed in the intestines. In the case of the nervous adult, however,
this poison does not as often result in fever as it does in a horrible
mental depression and a complete inability to perform any sort of work.

And so there seems no question but that this terrible malady we call
"nerves," or a nervous breakdown in any of its many forms, is in a
majority of cases the result of the wrong eating habits of the
individual. The chewing of all food to a cream will go far toward curing
the trouble, but in most cases this alone will not effect a cure. It
would not have done so in my own case, although I did see much
improvement as a result of that practice alone.

And here I want to say this: There are many who say they cannot eat acid
fruits because of the distress they cause. Now if such people would
always chew an apple, a pear, or other fruit to a cream, no distress
would result from eating fresh fruit. But such people must follow in
detail the diet I shall give farther on.

Now, facts cannot be stated too strongly. It is certain acid fruits will
cause distress if you do not chew them to a cream. I would swell up like
a toad if I ate only one apple hurriedly. I don't dare think what might
happen to me if I ate three or four in that way. I might possibly find
myself transformed into a human balloon and float away into space. But I
don't eat apples that way--not now. Some who read these pages may think
it very strange, yet it is quite true that there really are persons
suffering with "nerves" who have not gumption enough to follow this
simple rule of chewing all food to a cream. I despair of ever helping
those people. They still continue to dispose of a big meal in fifteen
minutes, and then insist they have chewed all their food carefully. I
have had that thing happen right before my own eyes. Then think of their
complaining that they cannot eat apples because they cause so much gas
in the stomach!

One reason why a large number of such people are troubled with gas, even
though they do chew their food to a cream, is because they immediately
follow a meal with one or two cups of tea or coffee. Now please remember
this: An individual afflicted with "nerves" has no business drinking
either tea or coffee. He should let them both alone. Plain hot water is
the very best drink in the world for a nervous person. If you want a
drink after your meal drink a cup of plain hot water. And you should
also drink a cup of hot water half an hour before breakfast. If you do
not care for breakfast, and feel you do not need this meal, drink the
hot water anyway. The victim of "nerves" should never drink during the
meal but after it, if he must drink anything at all. He should also
drink a pint or more of cold water between meals every day.

Now, another thing with regard to chewing all solid food to a cream. It
has been proved over and over again in my own case and in that of many
others, that in doing this the brain and muscles are both made stronger
and keener for work, that those who chew their food in this way have
much greater endurance, both mental and physical, than those who do not.

Today if I should relax my vigilance in respect to chewing my food I
should soon go down again. But with this aid, which I now so easily
employ, combined with exactly the right things to eat, I find I need
have no fear. It has been ten years since my last breakdown and in that
interval I have done the very best work and by far the hardest brain
work of a lifetime. I do not believe people break down from overwork.
You may think that a perfectly absurd statement. But I have good grounds
upon which to base my belief. If nervous people would eat sparingly and
chew their food to a cream, eating the foods I shall mention later on, I
am confident they would rarely, if ever, break down.

It is certain that in the last ten years, with the greatest mental
strain on me, I should have gone down again, and perhaps more than once,
if I had not found what caused "nerves" and how to prevent it. In the
meantime I have written ten or more books, and every writer, at least,
knows what a nerve-racking profession writing is. In addition to all
this mental labor I have gone right ahead with my medical practice.
Surely there is balm in this particular Gilead.

But if you will not chew your food to a cream you need not expect to win
the entire reward. And you must do this not only one day or one week or
one month or one year, but all the days, weeks, months, and years that
you may live. And, alas! I know only too well all the trouble
well-meaning but deluded people who sit at the table with a nervous
individual will make him when they discover how much time he is taking
to chew his food. At first, because of the length of time I spent at a
meal, such people thought I must be eating as much as a horse. But, here
and there, for I was in many places, when people found out what I was
doing, they would only courteously deride me for being so gullible about
what they termed fads.

We are all well aware that the vast majority of Americans do not chew
their food to a cream or anything like it. And there are those,
therefore, who advance as an argument that because the majority do not
there must be something wrong with the minority who do. Well, let us
follow this out a little: Not so many hundred years ago everybody
believed the world was _flat_. But their theory did not make it flat.
And so, even though thousands of people who crowd our eating houses do
bolt their food, that does not prove there is no danger in the practice.
And they who do it are digging their graves with their teeth.

_Chew your food!_


  "He who leads a sober and regular life, and commits no excess in
  his diet, can suffer but little from disorders of any kind."


People who are the offspring of nervous parents and who have had a
nervous breakdown should not eat commercial sugar, eggs, or animal food
of any kind whatever. These statements may seem wholly unimportant to
some people, but I realize what a tremendous bomb I throw into the camps
of others when they read them. You see, for centuries people have
believed meat and eggs to be the best of all foods; so when I make a
statement like the foregoing, the effect is not unlike that which
followed Columbus' statement that no matter what people believed, the
fact was that the earth was round, not flat. From the very beginning it
has not made a single bit of difference as to what physicians or
anybody else thought; facts count. And no matter what we may think or
how long we have thought it, facts go right on being facts just the

Sometimes, even after twenty years' experience, about once in two or
three months--because there is nothing else at hand--I find myself
eating a small bit of meat. This usually happens when I am on a lecture
tour. But if I eat only a small slice of bacon at the evening meal I
dream bad dreams and the next morning feel drowsy, heavy, and sluggish.
Animal foods as well as eggs and commercial sugar poison all those born
of nervous parents. I have proved the truth of this by my own case and
by several years' observation of other cases.

Do your children have "night terrors"? You answer, yes. Well, let me
tell you how to stop these horrors in the little ones. If you give them
meat--and remember you should never give them pork--let them have a
very small piece at noon, never at night. And they should never be
permitted to have it for breakfast. Give the child his one small bit of
meat at noon. For the evening meal give him some cereal with milk or
cream, but no sugar. Give him all he wants of this special dish, but
nothing else at that meal, and you will find his "night terrors" and
moaning will cease.

I look back on most of the nights of my childhood with horror, for until
I became a man I talked in my sleep and had the most horrible dreams. I
used also to get up in my sleep and walk about the room. My parents were
well aware of the fact that all of their eight children were poor
sleepers, and of them all I was by far the worst. And, although it was
innocently done, the food they were giving us was poisoning us. You
don't need to think that in order to take poison you must have
strychnine or arsenic. No, indeed you don't. We were fed exactly as
hundreds and thousands of poor little ones are being fed now as this is
being written. We were fed on meat, eggs, and fats, and when we became
ill, friends round about us thought they were doing something real kind
when they sent in a nice piece of fried rabbit or some celebrated golden
brown fried chicken. But we vomited at the sight of the food--which was
really our salvation.

I have two boys of my own. The elder, a sturdy chap not yet ten years of
age, has to have clothes for a fourteen-year-old boy, and he is much
stronger than any boy of his age he has ever met. The younger boy is now
seven and his physical development is wonderful for a child of that age.
Now these boys hardly know what an egg is. They never eat one. As to
meat, I am certain that since they were born they have not eaten it on
an average of once a week. They have eaten a little, but you will admit
that eating meat not more than once a week, and often going weeks
without a bit of it, certainly is eating very little. There have been
times when they have not seen meat for three months.

Now, I don't eat as I do and have my children eat as they do just for a
fad. I think nothing is more stupid and silly than for people to do
certain things just because somebody else does them. We should all have
good sound reasons for our actions in this world. We should all try our
very best to use sound common sense. That's why I say that people who
are the offspring of nervous parents should not eat animal food of any
kind after they are twenty-one, and they should never at any time eat
eggs. It would be far better for them if they did not eat commercial
sugar. But I do admit that when some of these people get well by
dieting, they are able to eat sparingly of all these things and still
keep well. But some people can never eat them and I am one of the

I remember one summer about two years ago I was on a lecture tour for a
Chautauqua Bureau, and it seemed that surely I got into the very worst
eating places that summer that I ever had in my life. For three or four
days I ate only eggs, as they seemed to be about the only food I could
get besides bread and butter. At the end of the third day--I remember
the time very well--when night came I could not sleep, and just as when
I had one of my nervous breakdowns, that old feeling of inexpressible
gloom began to settle over me. I knew instantly the cause of it, because
twice before when I had purposely experimented with eating eggs I had
had similar experiences. I immediately took a heavy cathartic and after
having thoroughly rid myself of the poison I again slept well.

But I am not alone in this fight against the use of eggs for nervous
people. John Burroughs said that eggs poisoned him, and I have talked
with men of great wealth and great business ability who have reached the
top by their own efforts, who have told me that eggs poisoned them.

Now I have found that for these nervous people animal food is a slow
poison. Sooner or later it will do its work.

And just here I wish to say that there are some people who seemingly can
eat almost anything and not suffer from so doing. Last summer I talked
with Count Ilya Tolstoy, son of Leo Tolstoy, the celebrated Russian
writer. The Count, who is also a lecturer, told me that he was obliged
to have eggs and that he had eaten them all his life. He said his
appetite was never satisfied unless he ate eggs. He is now past sixty,
and apparently is strong and rugged. Now eggs no doubt are good for him.
But right here is where infinite harm can be done to nervous people like
myself. People who can eat everything--and among physicians seemingly
there are many who can do so--will say to these poor sufferers:

"Why, it's all nonsense about things hurting you! Eat anything you want
and all you want and then forget about it."

Physicians have said that to me and during the past twenty years I have
heard them say it thousands of times to others.

Personally I do not believe in Christian Science--physicians of the
Regular school do not believe in it; but do you know that when a
physician says to a sufferer from "nerves," "It's all nonsense about
what you eat hurting you; eat anything you want and then forget about
it," that physician is fully endorsing Christian Science. He is telling
the person to whom he is talking that there is no such thing as physical
suffering. Of course, such a physician is nothing but a fool. Yet that's
why so many of these people turn to Christian Science. Yes, that is
exactly why they try it. It bolsters up a sufferer for a time just as
contact with a magnetic and hopeful personality may for a time bolster
one up. But such persons almost always go back to the sanitariums.
"Nerves" is not a mental disease; that is, the seat of the trouble is
not mental but physical, and the mental phase of "nerves" is only a
symptom, or rather one of the symptoms of the disease.

We people who have gone down into the dark valley have experienced a
million, more or less, different kinds of feelings. I fully believe one
half of the American people are the offspring of nervous parents. This
means that there are fifty-five million of this nervous type of
Americans. This type includes people all the way from the man in an
office who gets angry quickly, to the individual who is in a state of
complete collapse. And the man who is afflicted with nothing more than a
quick temper, or is living under high nervous tension, is liable to
beget children who will suffer from the malady in a far worse degree
than ever he will, unless, indeed, he eats only the things he should eat
and observes a number of other rules besides the two I have already laid

Now, the ideal diet for nervous people is a slightly modified vegetarian
diet. To be specific, it is a Lacto-vegetarian diet minus eggs. There
are, however, two things included in this diet that I would warn one in
the beginning to eat of sparingly. These are bananas and cooked cabbage.
If they agree with you, well and good; but if they do not, let them
strictly alone.

Eat all kinds of vegetables, both fresh and cooked. Eat all kinds of
fruits, especially fresh fruits. There is an old saying and a good one,
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

There are a thousand ways to prepare vegetables and fruits for the
table, and there are a number of books that give good recipes. If a
nervous individual has never yet had a breakdown I believe he can safely
eat most of the vegetarian dishes that have eggs in them, but it would
be a serious mistake to select the special dishes that contain eggs and
live on those just because they contain eggs.

I believe, too, that after a nervous person is restored to health, if he
strictly observes the rules of eating sparingly and of chewing all food
to a cream, he may safely try out such courses as are found in
_Bardsley's Recipes for Food Reformers_ or _Broadbent's Forty Vegetarian

It may seem odd, but there are people who for some reason or other lack
the instinct, or whatever is needed, to know that a certain thing they
eat hurts them. I have had men and women sit in my office and say with
the utmost sincerity that they were certain that it wasn't anything they
ate that hurt them because they never had any pain in the abdomen.
Sometimes these people were in a dreadful state of nervous breakdown. So
you see the danger that lies here. If you know, you can always tell what
special thing disagrees with you. For example, I know eggs disagree with
me, and like John Burroughs and many others, I know when they harm me.
Therefore, after you have recovered you might try being your own
physician. But if you are not sure as to what disagrees with you, you
would much better stick to a vegetarian diet and go without eggs the
remainder of your days.

Commercial sugar also is the cause of many breakdowns among the people
of this country. And is it not strange how these poor suffering people
crave sweets--the very thing they should not have. They will argue with
themselves--and some physicians will agree with them--that they should
go right on eating candy because they want it. But, as I have already
said, there is just as much sense in saying a man should have whiskey
because he craves it or that a young man should have tobacco because he
craves it, as to say that any one should have candy because he craves
it. There is absolutely no sense in such an argument. If you are
suffering from a nervous breakdown, for sixty days quit eating candy and
everything sweet except honey, and follow the other rules I have already
laid down. It may be that you will have to stick to this diet for three
months. But try it. That is exactly what cured all my bodily ills and
brought my soul out of the dark and gloomy night after everything else
had failed. I do not mean to say that this diet alone cured me, but I do
say it was the biggest factor in the cure. There are, however, some
other things that it would be worse than folly to ignore. This I shall
come to later. But just here I want to have it understood that this
thing of eating--how you eat, and how much you eat, and what you
eat--is of transcendent importance in the cure.

Of course, under some circumstances connected with cases of breakdown,
nothing but the good judgment of friends will avail. For example, the
question of how much one shall eat is something that not all the books
in the world nor all the physicians in the world can determine. I say,
always quit while you want a little more. I cannot say more or less than

So many have written me recently asking just what I eat, that it may be
a help to some of them if I set down here just what I ate today. I ate
no breakfast at all. Sometimes I go for weeks without eating breakfast.
This is especially apt to be the case if I am engaged in writing a
magazine article or a book. I find my brain is much clearer and that I
can work much better when I eat no breakfast. But I do drink one or two
cups of very weak tea. I use just enough tea to color the water. Now I
do not advise everybody to go without breakfast. Some people tell me
that they have a headache unless they eat something. And some writers
say that if they do not eat a little breakfast they cannot write so
well. Thus you see where the question of common sense and using your own
judgment comes in. There are always a few things you will have to decide
for yourselves. At noon I ate about two handfuls of corn flakes with
milk and cream but no sugar, finishing with about four ounces of bread
pudding that had a little brown sugar in it. Now, in mid-afternoon, as I
write this, I am not hungry. Tonight I shall eat another dish of corn
flakes and some buttered toast and three or perhaps four good-sized
apples, I usually eat three or four apples a day. If I want a piece of
pie for lunch, I eat it, but I eat nothing else.

I live on the plainest of plain foods. Apples used to create a lot of
gas in my stomach, but now they do not because I chew them to a cream.
Milk used to make me constipated, but it does not when I chew the cereal
with it carefully and eat a number of apples.

Most nervous people are constipated. But apples are really the salvation
of nervous people. If you are constipated, drink, or rather, sip, a
glass of hot water half an hour before breakfast, then eat nothing for
breakfast but apples; eat two big ones and chew them slowly to a cream.
Go to stool regularly every morning. This habit is half the cure of

Apples, of all things I know, are the finest things for the liver. If
you take a patient ill from chronic indigestion, whose stools are clay
colored, and put him on a diet of apples, if he chews properly, in less
than twenty-four hours the stools will be of the regulation dark brown
color, as they should be when the liver is working in a normal,
healthful manner. And eating apples will work in exactly the same way
with children as with adults.

Apples, apples, apples! Eat them no matter what the price. You remember
how good Adam found the apple--or at least we presume it was an apple
that he found so good--and I can think of no other single thing that
would tempt a man to make all the trouble he did. If he had to sin, then
I'm for Adam every time, for I think had I been in his place and Eve had
offered me a big juicy red apple, I should have taken it and eaten it. I
don't know but that I might even have eaten it without the invitation. I
think that Adam's great mistake was not so much in eating the apple as
in trying to lay the blame on the woman. Nobody should ever apologize
for having eaten an apple.

Now, generally speaking, there is one thing a nervous parent--or any
other kind of parent for that matter--should never say to a child. Never
tell him he is nervous. If we realize that our children are the
offspring of nervous parents, it is, as I have already suggested, much
better for all concerned, for we cannot avoid a danger unless we know
what or where the danger is. When we know the child is nervous we should
plan carefully, leaving out of his diet all pastries and rich greasy
foods, and keep him largely on a vegetarian diet. But, as I have already
suggested, we do not need to diet a nervous child as strictly as we do a
nervous adult where infinite harm has already been done. Give the
nervous child meat only a part of the time, and if he goes without eggs
it will be all the better for him. I wish from the bottom of my heart
that I had never tasted an egg!

What a fine thing it would be if we so trained our children that they
would never suffer from "nerves"! And usually it could be done. The
belief that because nervous parents have broken down their children
sooner or later must break down, is our greatest curse. But such a
belief is absurd, for if dieting, outdoor exercise, and a few other
simple rules are observed, there is no danger that it will happen. To be
sure, these rules must be definitely understood and strictly adhered to.

If we treat this misfortune in the manner I shall mention later, we can
make our lives more successful and infinitely happier than the lives of
those who have never learned self-control. For instance, I am far
healthier than men all around me who seem to be able to eat three
Christmas dinners each day. They sit at the table and boast about being
"good feeders," then later they come to me for pills, saying, "There is
nothing the matter with me, doctor, but I thought I had better take a
little medicine so I won't get ill." But they don't fool me. I know
exactly what is the matter with them. They are so full of pork they
can't think. To tell the truth, we people who have suffered from a
nervous breakdown or some illness akin to it, and have learned that we
must eat right or die, are of all people the most fortunate.

Every now and then I hear some good old sister, with a face like a full
moon and jowls like a bloodhound, say, as she finishes her third piece
of mince pie,--her waist line having extended accordingly,--"Isn't it
too bad about poor brother Jones! He looks so terribly thin! They say he
has fallen away from one hundred and sixty pounds to only a hundred and
fifty. And they do say he can't eat meat and eggs at all! The poor man!"

But the real facts of the case are that brother Jones is able to walk
ten miles any day, and the possibility is that in the not distant future
he will read in his morning paper that sister Sue Portly has been
operated on for gall stones and the number reported is almost
unbelievable, about three hundred, in fact. And so, all the time sister
Portly was feeling sorry for lithe, energetic brother Jones, she was a
walking stone quarry, as it were, and yet didn't know it.

So don't worry because you have to diet or because after reading these
lines you determine that you must begin to diet. For, whoever you are,
and wherever you may be, you belong to a most fortunate class of people.

And now I wish to say some things about what nervous people should do
besides dieting, and especially do I wish to say these things to those
now suffering from a nervous breakdown. Much of it at least will apply
to children of nervous parentage. You will observe as you go along that
I keep mentioning "these children." I do so always with the thought in
mind that there is absolutely no need for them ever to break down if
these common sense rules are followed. I take it that not any one of us
or a number of us, but that all of us love our children more than we
love ourselves. Admitting the truth of this, then we should all be
interested in this system for them as well as for ourselves, for as
their nerves are so shall their success be.


  "Better to hunt in fields for health unbought.
  The wise for cure on exercise depend;
  God never made his work for man to mend."


People in this country are now beginning to get away from the idea that
a man or woman who is past sixty is getting "old." When the Rev. John
Wesley, the itinerant preacher and author, was eighty-eight years
old--please note the eighty-eight--he walked six miles to keep a
preaching appointment. When asked if the walk tired him, he laughed and
said: "Why, no! Not at all! The only difference I can see in my
endurance now and when I was twenty is that I cannot run quite so fast."

I know there are calamity-howlers who say: "Oh, well, some people are
born to success and long life and some are not!" The individual who
permits himself to get into that frame of mind is doomed and no one can
help him. Such reasoning is of course all nonsense. John Wesley was
always a spare eater. Yet he lived an active outdoor life, often
traveling forty and even sixty miles a day on horseback. He never failed
to keep an appointment on account of the weather. And he was a tireless
worker, often preaching four and five times a day. At the same time he
read and wrote every spare moment, turning out a large amount of
literary work.

Dr. Eliot, ex-President of Harvard College, a constant writer and
speaker, and among the greatest of American educators--now nearer 90
than 80 years of age--is also a moderate eater. He says, "I have always
eaten moderately of simple food in great variety. This practice is
probably the result, first, of a natural tendency, and then of confirmed
habit and much experience under varying conditions of work and play.
From much observation of eating habits of other people, both the young
and the mature, I am convinced that moderation, simplicity, and variety
in eating are more important than any other bodily habit towards
maintaining good health, power of work, and, barring accidents,
attaining to enjoyable old age."

It is interesting to note what that eminent lawyer, legislator, and
orator, Chauncey M. Depew, had to say on the occasion of his
eighty-seventh birthday about a simple diet and reaching the century
mark. "The true philosophy of life is this: The more you like a thing
the more reason there is for giving it up if you find it is not good for
you. If you treat nature properly, nature will adjust herself to you.

"My diet is very simple. I have the same breakfast every day in the
year, and it consists of an orange, one four-minute egg, one half of a
corn muffin, and a cup of coffee which is mainly hot milk. I have this
at half past eight. My hour of rising is seven every morning.

"For luncheon I partake principally of vegetables, with no meat, and a
glass of water. This is at one o'clock. At dinner I skip most of the
courses and enjoy small portions of vegetables, fish, and fowl. I never
eat between meals and consume now less than half I did at fifty."

The vigor and long life of Bishop Fallows of Chicago are mainly due to
his living and mental habits and to his simple diet. He is well over 85
years of age, but few men of three-score years can do as much work, the
year round. There are two or three sermons and several public addresses
each week, and the work of a large parish--from marriages and
christenings to funerals and parish visitings--which is never slighted.
An active Grand Army man and Civil War veteran, he is asked to address
countless military and patriotic gatherings, and his energy seems as
tireless as his spirit is willing. His ability to meet these demands can
be traced back to simple living and simple eating.

The Bishop is temperate in all things, and refuses to worry. He neither
drinks nor smokes.

In regard to his diet he says, "I eat very little meat, but take plenty
of fruit, cereals and vegetables. I take regularly before breakfast a
cup of hot grape juice. I use it frequently at other times. I take
buttermilk daily." Night and morning he takes simple physical exercises,
and always walks at least a couple of miles each day.

The Bishop's ancestors were long-lived. His great grandfather lived to
be 96; his grandfather, 91; his eldest brother, 93. His father's death
from a fall occurred at the age of 81. He has a brother who is 92. This
in itself is evidence that he comes of a family in which right
living--which means simple living--has prevailed until its effects have
shown in each succeeding generation.

The world-renowned American inventor, Thomas A. Edison, now in his 75th
year, has today a mind as brilliant and ingenious, and a skill as
remarkable for inventing things that are of practical use, as when at 21
he invented his automatic repeater which did so much for telegraphy. And
Edison is another spare eater. What he ate at the three meals of the day
on which he wrote the following letter, is characteristic of the small
amount he eats every day in the year.

And you will learn that this is true of every man or woman who has lived
long and is still doing active brain work. And so, once for all, let us
think right about this matter. We get out of ourselves just about what
we put into ourselves or do for ourselves in the way of food and

[Transcriber's Note: The following is the text of a letter from Mr.
Edison that was included as an illustration in the book.]

From the Laboratory
Thomas A. Edison,
Orange, N.J.

March 2, 1921.

Dr. Thomas Clark Hinkle
Cawker City, Kansas.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of February 25th was
received. My food for the one day on which
your letter was received, was as follows:


Cup coffee 1/2 milk, 1/2
Two pieces toast, 2-1/2" × 4",
1/4" thick.
Another piece toast with
two small sardines on it.


Glass milk.
Two pieces of dry toast.


Two glasses milk.
Three pieces very thin dry
Small piece steak, 1-1/2" wide,
3/8" thick, 3" long.
Small baked potato.
One piece nut chocolate.

Yours very truly,

Thos A Edison

[Transcriber's Note: This additional note was handwritten on the
typewritten letter being reproduced in this section.]
 Weight 185 lbs

Can diminish this
diet without loss of weight
[Transcriber's Note: End of letter.]

Most people do not take enough systematic outdoor exercise. And
exercise, I would have you understand, is another essential in the cure
of one who has "nerves." But I am quite sure that a lot of bad advice
has been given women sufferers along this line. I find that as a rule,
women make better progress, at least at first, with complete rest or as
much rest as they can possibly get. I have seen great harm come from
telling a woman afflicted with "The Mysterious Disease"--as it is often
called--to take long walks. I am always extremely careful about telling
such a woman to indulge in vigorous exercise. Some women, of course, are
much stronger than others. My advice to a woman is to walk in the open
air unless she is so ill she cannot walk at all without becoming very
weak. And here again each person must use common sense and decide the
matter herself. But no person with a nervous breakdown should ever work
at any task or take any kind of exercise to the point of exhaustion.

I well remember a man who came to me some years ago suffering from this
malady. He had been trying to get well by doing heavy stunts in a
gymnasium. He was very muscular, in fact he was an athlete, and was
still under twenty-five years of age. His cheeks were ruddy, and to the
ordinary observer he appeared to be in the pink of condition. But he had
that peculiar expression of the eyes that flashed his story to me as
plainly as if blazoned forth by the letters of an electric sign. I told
him at once that he could never hope to cure his nerves by such violent

And right here let me advise men in this condition not to run. I receive
many letters of inquiry from young men with broken-down nerves who tell
me they are taking long walks and finishing with a run. To all such I
say: Do not run. I know all about it for I have tried it. I was on my
university football team. And all my life I have been fond of athletics.
I am still fond of this kind of life and always expect to be, but
exercise is frequently overdone by nervous people. Usually, the
physically strong man who breaks down with "nerves" thinks at once of
physical training. But strange as it may seem, you can make such a man's
muscles as hard as iron but that alone will not cure him. And it is true
that many people in this condition do not seem nervous for they are not
at all shaky, as some think an individual should be if he is the victim
of a nervous breakdown.

I well remember that one day when at my worst I could not work nor
concentrate my mind on anything. I chanced to be in Topeka, Kansas, and
passed a shooting gallery. I was a good rifle shot and I had been taking
long walks and shooting Kansas jack rabbits. I went in, picked up one of
the rifles, and started firing at the biggest target. I rang the bell
twice on that target in succession, and then aimed at the finest target
there and rang the bell twice in succession on that. The proprietor was
very much surprised, saying it was remarkably good shooting; and yet I
was down and out with "nerves." I have seen many athletes who, to the
untrained observer, looked well, but who in reality were nervous wrecks.
Outdoor exercise alone will not cure such people, or if seemingly it
does--and this is important--sooner or later the individual is sure to
go down again. You have first to remove the cause, and that is largely
wrong diet. Now of course it is only reasonable to say that if such an
individual does not get out of doors at all he cannot get well.

That is one trouble with many of our women today. They will go on a diet
and stick to it, but they will not get out of doors. If they do go out,
they ride a little distance in a street car or in an automobile to do
some shopping. Or they go to a store and spend a good deal of time
there--indoors, mind you--and then are whirled home again. Some of them
seem to think that is taking outdoor exercise, but of course it is not.
So many times they have said to me, "Why, I do get out!" Yes, they do
get out, but they immediately go indoors again.

The nervous individual, unless the collapse is so severe that the first
few weeks must be spent in bed, should get out of doors at least three
or four hours a day, every day in the week. This is a general rule that
should be observed by everyone. It takes genuine courage, I know, for a
man or woman to spend this much time out of doors. And I know that those
who are compelled to work for a living cannot take three hours all at
one time. But labor conditions in this country are such that I am sure
the vast majority of our people could spend this much time outdoors in
wholesome recreation if they would make up their mind to do so.

And remember this: After the nervous person is cured he should never let
anything prevent him from continuing such outdoor exercise. I am
constantly trying to make this point--when you get well you should stay
well. One breakdown is bad enough; don't have another. And you will not
have another if you will change the habits of a lifetime as you are
advised to do.

Among farmers there are many, the offspring of nervous parents with bad
eating habits, who suffer from nervous breakdowns. So you see exercise
out of doors alone will not cure such cases. Sometimes a farmer will
tell me he fears to give up eating meat because he will grow weak as a
result. But just here I wish to call your attention to the fact that
there are nations that have for ages lived on this lacto-vegetarian
diet. I myself have not eaten meat or eggs for ten years. At least I
have not eaten them except the few times mentioned. And every time I did
break the rule I was harmed far more than I was benefited. I am very
sure the farmer who chooses this lacto-vegetarian diet will thrive on

Members of our profession discovered not very long ago that at an
advanced age the peasants of Bulgaria are a wonderfully preserved people
both mentally and physically. Foolishly a great number of the profession
immediately jumped to the conclusion that buttermilk alone did the
miracle for these people. The drinking of buttermilk became such a fad
that some of the largest of our physicians' supply houses began and are
still making "buttermilk tablets." And physicians, many of them, are
credulous enough to prescribe them. They might just as well prescribe
chalk. While buttermilk tablets are harmless, they are of no benefit
whatever. How easily fooled people--physicians included--may be!
Bulgarian peasants are strong and rugged and live to a great age not
because they drink buttermilk, but because they live on milk and fruits
and vegetables and stay out of doors. Buttermilk is a good healthful
drink, but it is only a minor reason for the health and strength of the
Bulgarian peasant. Now, really, could you think of anything more absurd
than to prescribe buttermilk or buttermilk tablets as the fountain of
youth when the patient is breaking all the laws of health, as most
buttermilk laymen and physicians are doing? It seems almost impossible
that people--physicians in particular--should for a moment believe such
things. But they do. Barnum said there was a "sucker" born every minute,
and this certainly seems to be true.

No, there is no royal road to health. The buttermilk-tablet route will
not take you there. If you will live out of doors as Bulgarian peasants
do, and if you will eat as they do,--as man is expected to eat,--you
will live just as long as they do, and you will get a great deal more
out of life and be much more helpful to others. When the "time" comes
round for your next buttermilk tablet, do not take it. Instead, do as
those peasants do--leave off eating meat and take a two-hour walk in the
sunshine. Then when nine o'clock comes, like the Bulgarian, go to bed
and stay there until morning.

If the person afflicted with "nerves" expects to get well and stay well,
he must go to bed at an early hour and get eight or nine hours of sleep
not only some nights but every night in the week. When one begins
dieting and taking outdoor exercise he should go to bed regularly at an
early hour even though he has not been sleeping well. No matter how many
sleepless nights he has experienced before beginning this regime, he
should retire early just the same, because, sooner or later, sleep will
come and the relaxed body is resting even if the individual does not
sleep. Now I have been through all this lying awake at night, so I know
from experience that it is best to go to bed early and at a regular
hour. If you can, you should sleep nine hours. Nervous people need more
sleep than others. Sleep is a better restorer of nerves than anything
else we can try. I do not believe that ten or even eleven hours' sleep
would be harmful to a nervous adult, because very often I have seen such
a person benefited by it.

Children should have all the sleep they want up to ten or twelve hours.
But after a child has wakened in the morning he should be permitted to
get up. It is not good for him to lie in bed after he wishes to rise,
for nature is calling him to get up and exercise.

The nervous individual not only should exercise systematically out of
doors but he should play some game. You remember when we were children
how much we loved to play? Well, to give up play when we grow up is all
nonsense. And just because people quit playing is the reason they have
wrinkles and frowns. Did you ever notice how often people laugh when at
play? There is something about play that compels one to laugh. And what
all people need, nervous people and others as well, is to get into the
habit of laughing more.

And it is not hard to find something to play. I like to play at basket
ball with a child, and I can enjoy tossing a ball for an hour if the
child will stick to the game that long. Playing basket ball in the open
air on a sunshiny day is one of the very finest exercises in the world.

If you are suffering from "nerves" and are able to be out of doors at
all,--I mean if you are well enough to be out, and at least nine out of
ten sufferers are,--get a basket ball and get some one to play with you.
If at first you are poor at catching the ball you will with practice
improve. Gradually toss the ball a little higher and a little higher
until you have difficulty in catching it. Any woman or girl can stand
this sort of open air exercise. If the weather is cold, no matter; wrap
up and play anyway. But enter into the game with spirit. Playing the
regular game of basket ball is too violent exercise for the nervous
person. The victim of "nerves" should always keep in mind that it is
mild outdoor exercise that will do him good.

Tennis is too violent an exercise for people who have had nervous
trouble. Anyway, there is no use in one's doing anything that will make
his heart beat like a trip-hammer. A women can toss a basket ball and
laugh and get rosy cheeks and grow younger and prettier as easily as
when playing tennis.

Golf is also good exercise, but a large number of people who work for a
living and suffer from "nerves" would have little chance for exercise if
golf were all that could be offered them. Furthermore golf is
practically only a summer game, and an individual belonging to the
pre-nervous class needs outdoor exercise every day in the year. But golf
is excellent exercise, and there is nothing better if one has the time
to give to it and has access to links.

Bicycling is splendid exercise for nervous people, but automobiles are
so numerous that it is now considered almost dangerous to ride a wheel
on any of our main traveled roads.

Mountain climbing, I believe, is not to be recommended for most people
suffering from "nerves." I have known such people to go to Colorado and
spend some time climbing mountains, and then come back much worse than
when they went away. My advice to the nervous person who goes to the
mountains is to be out of doors all the time he can, but to take things
easy. It would be better for such a person to walk about slowly on the
level ground through some of the towns or along the foothills.

Let leisure be your watchword in a hill country. I know I injured my
nerves out in Colorado one summer because I was ill advised. Mountain
air is good for you, but the mountains will do you more good if you
simply look at them. If you think you must go to the top, take a burro.
You will find that the burro will give you a lesson in how to do things
in a leisurely way. Do not get out of patience with him and whip him.
Remember that the burro is smarter than you are in regard to the
business of mountain climbing. He has never had a nervous breakdown, and
if you will let him have his own way he never will have. It will do you
good to let him have his way; he affords a tremendous lesson in
patience. Patience, that's just what we need, and we need it badly.

Walking slowly in the open air for two or three hours is the best
exercise for man. Fortunately, like the water we drink, it is free to
the poor as well as the rich.

For the nervous man who is able to do it, I know of nothing better to
build up muscles and keep the liver and other internal organs in good
shape than sawing wood. Don't scorn this sort of exercise because you
have been told that the ex-Kaiser is taking it. That is not to be laid
up against the wood or the exercise, for, quite fortunately, the wood
does not care who saws it.

Get some wood, then, and a buck saw, and saw wood for your own benefit.
You can do this morning and evening. Wood sawing brings into play every
muscle in the body, and the exercise is just enough to make a man
comfortably tired without doing him harm.

Many people who go to sanitariums for a cure pay from fifty to
seventy-five dollars per week for the privilege of sawing wood, and you
can take this exercise just as well and at considerably less expense at
home, sawing your own wood instead of that of the sanitarium.

Another splendid diversion for a man with "nerves," if he can have it,
is a small workshop where he can make just any old thing out of boards
and nails. If one is apt in this line, he can make things that will
interest children. This sort of work requires a certain kind of
concentration that is most excellent for the nervous sufferer. This
suggestion would of course apply to a woman, too, if she cared to try
such an experiment. Sewing, and especially fine needlework, is very
trying to a woman's nerves, and if she has broken down under that kind
of work she should quit it and do something else. If she has to make her
living in that way, she of all people should observe the outdoor rules
as well as rules for dieting.

I am sure nervous people profit by frequenting all possible outdoor
games. If a number of people afflicted with "nerves" could get together
and take daily walks and at the same time determine that their
conversation should always have a humorous slant, it would help all of
them wonderfully.

Riding in an automobile is beneficial if the machine is driven slowly
and the patient is kept out of doors from three to four hours. But the
fast driving that is generally done is bad for these people. They come
back from a ride worse than when they started.

It may be set down as a general rule that any form of outdoor exercise
or play is good for the nervous person if it is not violent.

Nervous people should, if possible, take a vacation once a year and get
into new surroundings. I am certain, however, that it does not make any
difference where one lives. A man is just as likely to have a breakdown
in one part of the world as another. While on these vacations he should
stick to his rules just as rigidly as when he is at home.

I have had letters from people in Canada and from others in Florida who
have suffered nervous breakdowns. In California some go to pieces. I
have had many letters from people living there who have broken down.
People also break down in Colorado and in New York; in fact, in every
state in the Union. Climate does not seem to make any difference so far
as this trouble is concerned, with the exception that in high altitudes
I have observed nervous people are inclined to be more restless than
elsewhere. Some years ago I went up Pike's Peak, to the Summit House. I
went to bed and spent the night there, but I do not say I slept, for in
reality I slept only about half an hour. I was not at all sick at the
stomach, as so many are who climb up there; I had prevented this by
eating a very light breakfast and chewing my food to a cream. But I was
extremely nervous. I have found a great many other nervous people who do
not feel quite right when in a high altitude. As a general rule, sea
level is as good a place as a nervous individual can find to live. But
people break down there, too. The diet, you see, is the big thing. And
when I say "diet" I mean the way food is eaten and the amount eaten
quite as much as I do the kind of food eaten.

And once more let me say, systematic outdoor exercise also counts, and
you can't keep fit if you exercise only one, two, or three days a week.
Some people who take long walks in the country on Sunday think that will
suffice. But it will not. You must have exercise every day and must have
some play along with it. Gymnasium work is of very little value as
compared to outdoor exercise.

In the summertime, gardening is a splendid form of exercise. And so is
the care of a small flock of chickens, which is possible for those
living in the smaller towns. It is always better, when taking outdoor
exercise, to have something definite to do. When walking it is a good
plan, if you can, to have some definite place to go. And if you have an
agreeable companion to keep up a rapid-fire talk, that will help also.
All these things are mentally stimulating.

Then, if possible, sleep the year round on a sleeping porch. If you
don't possess a porch, then, have all the windows in your sleeping room
wide open day and night.

If for a time you have to take physic, it is best to take some hot
mineral water half an hour before breakfast. But adhering to dieting and
exercise, and eating enough apples, usually overcomes constipation.

Now, there are some things about which a person must use his own good
judgment. For instance, if you have any bad teeth you should at once go
to a good dentist and have them attended to. Nobody with bad teeth can
have good health.

Again, if your tonsils have become mere pus sacs you will have to go to
a good nose and throat specialist and have them removed before you can
expect to have good health. This, however, applies to all people,
whether nervous or not.

The same thing is true with regard to your eyes. If you are suffering
from eye strain because you need glasses, you cannot hope to get well of
"nerves" until your eyes are properly fitted to glasses by some reliable
eye specialist. These are things that each individual must discover and
do for himself. He should consult a dentist, an oculist, an aurist, or
other specialist according to his particular need.


  "Neither melancholy nor any other affection of the mind can hurt
  bodies governed with temperance and regularity."


A very sad thing about some nervous people is the fact that in their
lives there are domestic or other troubles which no physician can
overcome. Some of them live in depressing surroundings, but for all
these there is hope. There is no doubt that if we can restore the brain
to a perfectly normal, healthful state the human being can bear more
suffering than when the brain is affected. Perhaps when speaking of the
spirit we had better call it that, rather than the brain, for that
mysterious something we call spirit does make its home in the brain of
man. This has been proven scientifically. So then, in this life the
temple of the spirit, or soul, does affect the mind. And when I say this
life, I take the opportunity to say here that I not only believe in the
immortality of the soul, but now, at 45, I am as certain of it as I am
of my own existence. But for some reason--although as yet no one
understands why it should do so--when this temple in which the spirit
dwells is out of condition, it affects the soul or spirit. So, you see,
if we can make the physical man or woman well, we most certainly can
help the spirit that dwells within the body.

And so I recommend dieting, temperance in eating, and the careful
chewing of food to all those sufferers who unfortunately live in
depressing surroundings and cannot get away from them. When referring to
the many pitiful letters I have received from poor human beings thus
situated, I realize that I am treading on sacred ground. Such things are
written, of course, to a physician in confidence and the confidence must
therefore be forever sacred. I have not only had letters from these
unfortunate people, but have repeatedly come in contact with many of
them in their every day life. I know well what added suffering such
conditions bring to them.

I know of nothing in this world more pitiful than a noble,
high-spirited, ambitious woman, pure and clean of heart, who marries a
man and becomes the mother of his children and is then condemned to live
the life of a mere animal. And all too frequently the opposite also
obtains. Sometimes a man of high, pure purpose finds that he has chosen
as the mother of his children a coarse, sensual woman. Now why in the
world were these two people attracted to each other? This is one of
life's biggest puzzles to those who have thought much along this line.
In many instances extreme youth is the reason given. While youth is
mating time, it also is the time of bad judgment. Thousands of young
people have made this dreadful mistake simply because they married too
young. On the other hand, youth is not altogether to blame. When people,
young or old, are courting, each individual endeavors to appear at his
or her best before the other. Without being actually aware of it, under
such circumstances both man and woman are doing all that lies in their
power to deceive one another.

If people would do their courting in everyday clothes, and if the girl
would go about her housework while the man looked on, or better still,
if he helped her with it for one or two years, they would undoubtedly
become better acquainted.

But, after all, except, perhaps, in unusual cases, there is absolutely
nothing by which people know that they are going to be properly mated.
If a man with a tendency to neurasthenia breaks down and is tied to a
nagging wife, that is usually the last straw in the way of his

This is just as true of the woman who breaks down and has a nagging
husband. There are, I regret to say, thousands of such cases all over
the country. On the other hand I have had a man come to me and say that
he was willing to do anything on earth to aid his wife, but he could not
get her to diet or even to make a serious attempt to get well. I am
always tremendously sorry for such a man because he has a mighty heavy
burden to bear. Such a wife should try to get well as much for the man's
sake as for her own. She should understand that she is needlessly
torturing the one best friend she has on earth.

A woman of this kind should remember that, no matter how much she may
suffer, she is hopelessly selfish if she will not do all in her power to
diet and to obey other necessary rules that will enable her to get rid
of the malady. Sometimes when a physician puts this before her kindly
but firmly it results in her making a beginning and by and by getting
well. I have seen this happen many times. And I wish to say right here
that while I believe I was born with some natural tact, yet if I had not
gone through all this horrible suffering myself I should not, I know, be
able to say the things that would induce these people to do that which
it is their duty to do.

And here is one big difficulty I have always had to contend with. Some
of these people have tried so many so-called nonsense cures--eating
buttermilk tablets, for instance--and have had no benefit from them,
that they are unwilling to try the one and only thing that will cure
them--the thing that will cure them as sure as the sun shines. I wonder
why it is that since the time of Christ people are always looking for a
sensational or miraculous cure. Our life and everything pertaining to it
is miracle enough, if we only had the sense to see it.

The woman or the man with "nerves" is not going to get well eating
buttermilk tablets or taking patent dope while lying on a couch and shut
in a house. You must bestir yourself. You must get out of doors, and
above all, you must eat right. Today thousands of these people are
languishing in hospitals and sanitariums, and most of them will come out
only to go back again and again. The institutional treatment is good for
the beginning of the cure, but if an individual with "nerves" is going
to get well and stay well he must change his lifelong habits.

And I want to say again, that any person, man or woman, in the midst of
depressing conditions can triumph over them if he will eat as he should
and live as he should. There is something about the human soul, if it is
pure and fine, and if proper attention is given to right living, that
will enable a person to meet great sorrow and triumph over it. In fact,
no amount of sorrow can defeat a person who keeps his heart and body

And I would have you all realize that there is something far more to us
than mere bones and veins and nerves. I know the terrible tendency of
the one with "nerves" to get angry. But lay fast hold of yourself. Fight
anger as you would poison, because in reality it is poison to your
nerves. Anger will hurt you; it will hurt anybody. But no matter how
hard you find it at first, get control of your temper. If you succeed in
doing this in a year you will have won one of the greatest victories man
can win in this world. I would rather meet a so-called plain man who has
perfect control over his physical and mental faculties, and sit and talk
quietly with him, than to meet the Prime Minister of England or the
President of the United States if either lacked this control. For I say
to you that no matter what others may say, the true measure of success
does not rest in the position you occupy but in your having complete
control of yourself.

If you are to gain this control it means that each day you are
confronted by a mighty big task, but if finally successful, you will
have accomplished the greatest thing a man can do in this life. Now,
here is something for you to take hold of, you who all these years have
believed that your life ambition has been thwarted. But your ambition,
let me tell you, has not been thwarted. Perhaps you have not done just
what you wanted to do. But it's quite possible that you had no business
trying to do that special thing anyway. Most of us, I find, can be
greatly mistaken about what we think we want to do. At any rate, we can
never be happy unless we gain entire control of ourselves.

This is something the person afflicted with "nerves" most certainly can
do, and he can use this terrible "thing" as I myself and thousands of
others have used it as a ladder to climb to the sunlit peaks where worry
and clouds and storms cannot trouble. And, after all, no matter who we
are, no matter how poor or how rich we are, and no matter where we live,
life holds about the same general possibilities for all of us. I mean by
this that life affords to all the same opportunities for real happiness.

I know very well that there are those who will be quite unwilling to
grant this, but it is as true as the life we live. Many people in this
old world still hold the notion that those who roll in wealth are the
happy ones. But I say to you this notion is all wrong, and from
knowledge gained through experience I know that in their hearts many of
these wealthy people are dissatisfied and not one whit happier than you
are. The most restless people, the most unhappy people, and the most
thoroughly dissatisfied people that I have ever met have been people who
had everything that riches could give them.

Andrew Carnegie said he had noticed that after a man had accumulated a
million dollars smiles were seldom seen on his face. I cannot understand
why people insist on going through life making themselves and all those
they really love miserable just because they do not happen to have

And a great many high-strung sensitive men are utterly cast down because
they have failed to acquire wealth by the time they are forty-five or
fifty years of age.

I wish I could make all such poor, afflicted people see what goes to
make up happiness and learn the only way to be happy. In order to get
well the thing we have to do is to follow nature's simple rules--rules
our Creator gave to us. We must get control not only of our appetites
but of all such passions as anger, hate, and envy, which poison our
bodies. And let us also cast suspicion out of our minds. This is a good
rule to observe: Never suspect folks. It is useless, anyway, for by and
by what they are or what they do is always bound to come to the surface.

By gaining perfect control over yourself--and most certainly to do so is
worth every effort you may make--you will also gain patience, and that
is, I think, one of the crowning virtues. Sometimes I think it the
greatest of all virtues. Certainly it stands very high in the perfecting
of character.

To the sufferer with "nerves" I would say: Have the courage to believe
that you are going to get well. Then you can do it. No matter how
depressing or discouraging your surroundings, do the very best you can
every day. Then, no matter what your ideas of success may have been,
you are really succeeding wonderfully! See that you keep right on doing
it! If you are a mother and have children, live for them. Or if you are
a father and have children, and have met with disappointments, live for
those children! Do everything in your power to make them happy, high of
heart, and gallant of soul. Do not live for yourself, live for your
children. If you have no children of your own, look about and get
interested in some other person's children. You will find a lot of
children all around you--blessed little beings--that you can help to
make happy. Get your mind off yourself and your troubles and on the
children of this world, and keep it there.

When you were a child no doubt you had many happy days. Some of us had a
very happy childhood, while others may have been denied what their
hearts desired. But if we did not have a happy childhood that is all the
more reason why we should be glad to help some other little ones have a
happy one. More and more each year I live I come to believe that it
depends entirely upon grown people whether in this world children are
happy or not happy.

If you had a happy childhood--and most people had--do you not recall the
glorious times you had? I know you do, for we all do. And I know, too,
how much people affected with nerves dwell on those memories, and how
much they wish they might go back to those blessed days when the sun was
always shining and the birds were always singing and the streams always
beckoning them to play along their sands.

Do you realize that you can live in those days again? I do, and I go
back and dwell in them more and more the older I get. I do not mean that
I am not looking forward, for I am, tremendously.

How stupid we poor miserable creatures of this world become after we
leave our childhood days behind us! We really should never lose sight of
them. I have said that the person afflicted with "nerves" should not
run. I did not quite mean all that implies. After such a man has
recovered, if he has a good heart, he should run a little. I run; I
can't help it. I feel so good I have to run a little now and then to
work off steam. But you know very well when most people see a man
running they at once think a house is afire somewhere.

It is almost unbelievable that we should actually surround ourselves
with so many utterly senseless customs that tend to nothing but misery
and unhappiness. We should dress for comfort, and we should have the
courage to live in a youthful world where all may be happy. "If the
blind lead the blind," so the Bible tells us, "both shall fall into the
ditch." We need so to live and act that we shall not fail to be happy.
Happiness really is what everybody is chasing, but how very far away
from it most people are getting! Go back to the memories of your
childhood. Be with children and play with them all you possibly can. If
you are a mother, begin this very day to exercise more patience with
your children, recalling over and over again that when you were a child
you were just as they are. And remember, for it is only too true, that
the day is fast coming when your little boy will no longer be a little
boy, he will be a man, and will have gone away from you. Then many times
you will wish him back, and you will look back on those days when you
thought your nerves were being ruined, and feel a great swelling in your
breast, and breathing a sigh, whisper to yourself, "Dear God, I hope I
did all I ought to have done for him while he was little."

I know that any one can live with children and find happiness in being
one with them, and I know of no better thing to do. After we have hold
of ourselves with a firm grip we should endeavor to do this.

I have had people suffering with "nerves" tell me they had lost a little
boy or a little girl, and that it seems impossible to get over this
loss. I cannot tell you how much I long to help such people. But I
always urge them to go right on playing with other children and to
remember, for to me it is certain truth, that they will meet that little
child again. There should be nothing to grieve about in such a loss. To
find compensation, the one who has had such a grief has only to keep on
playing the part of a true man or true woman. Childhood with all its
pains and pleasures is everywhere about us. And childhood is only the
beginning of immortality.

Late one night, a number of years ago, I was sitting in a little
restaurant in a western town, and was feeling very lonely and miserable.
Sorrow weighed heavily upon me that night and the world never seemed
blacker, yet I think my belief in the immortality of the soul had never
been more certain. I looked up and high on the smoke-stained wall hung a
painted picture of an old-time ship with many sails set. This painting
pictured the ship sailing through the darkness of night. But through the
dark, seemingly restless clouds the moon gleamed brightly on the white
canvas of the sails.

I had never before been so powerfully impressed by any picture. It
seemed fairly to speak to me. I took an envelope from my pocket and set
down the verses given here. These verses were afterwards published in
one or two metropolitan papers. Mr. James Bryce, then English Ambassador
at Washington, saw them and wrote me a beautiful letter about them, in
which he said, "Your little poem 'The Last Journey' attracts me very
much." You see he was beginning to grow old, and I knew that was the
reason these lines of mine had made an appeal to him.

Not very long after this I also had a letter about the verses from Dr.
Osler, then Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. In it he said, "I
have read your little poem 'The Last Journey' with unusual interest."
And again I knew why. You see, it does not matter very much what our
rank or our station here, no matter whether a human being is a king or
what his station in life may be, he still is a human being. We are all
reaching out after the same great thing. The fine thing about the
sentiment of these little verses is that although you wish to and may
not believe it, it is coming true anyway.



  One night when in a youthful dream,
  I saw a moonlit sea,
  And sailing o'er its dark expanse,
  A ship of mystery.

  The lonely traveler seemed to be
  On some great mission bound,
  As o'er the darkened waters
  It sailed without a sound.

  Long years have passed; old age has come:
  The fire of life is low.
  Again I think of that strange dream
  Of youth so long ago.

  And in the ship that swiftly sailed
  That silent moonlit sea,
  I seem to see a storm-tossed soul
  Bound for eternity.

  Now to my mind this sweet dream comes,
  A peaceful memory,
  For soon I'll be A YOUTH again,
  With Immortality!

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