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Being so near to our former house, I was able to bring all our choicer plants to the new ground, and there was, fortunately, a sale of the whole stock of a small nursery near Poole in the winter, at which I bought about a thousand shrubs and trees at very low prices, which enabled us at once to plant some shrubberies and flower borders, and thus to secure something like a well-stocked garden by the time we got into the house. Since that time it has been an ever-increasing pleasure, and I have been able to satisfy my craving for enjoying new forms of plant-life every year, partly by raising numbers of seeds of hardy and greenhouse plants, always trying some of the latter in sheltered places out-of-doors, and partly by exchanges or by gifts from friends, so that every year I have the great pleasure of watching the opening of some of nature's gems which were altogether new to me, or of others which increase year by year in beauty. In one end of my greenhouse I have a large warmed tank in which I grow blue, pink, and yellow water-lilies, which flower the greater part of the year, as well as a few other beautiful or curious aquatic plants, while the back wall of the house is covered with choice climbers.
In this hasty sketch of my occupations and literary work during the last nine years, I have purposely omitted the more important portion of the latter, because the circumstances that led me on to undertake three separate works, involving a considerable amount of labour, were very curious, and to me very suggestive, and I will now give a connected account of them.
When in 1896 I was invited by Dr. Lunn to give a lecture to his friends at Davos, I firmly believed that my scientific and literary work was concluded. I had been for some years in weak health, and had no expectation of living much longer. Shortly after returning from America I had another very severe attack of asthma in 1890, and a year or two after it recurred and became chronic, together with violent palpitations on the least sudden exertion, and frequent colds almost invariably followed by bronchitis. Any attempt at continuous
work was therefore very far from my thoughts, though at times I was able to do a fair amount of writing. My friend and neighbour, Professor Allman, had suffered from the same affliction during a large part of his life, and only found very partial relief from it by the usual fumigations and cigarettes, with occasional changes of air, and it was often quite painful to witness his sufferings, which continued till his death in 1898. As he was himself a medical man, and had had the best advice attainable, I had little hope of anything but a continuance and probably an increase of the disease.
But the very next year I obtained relief (and up to the present time an almost complete cure) in an altogether accidental way, if there are any "accidents" in our lives. Mr. A. BruceJoy, the well-known sculptor (a perfect stranger to me), had called on me to complete the modelling of a medallion which he had begun from photographs, and I apologized for not looking well, as I was then suffering from one of my frequent spells of asthma, which often prevented me from getting any sleep at night. He thereupon told me that if I would follow his directions I could soon cure myself. Of course, I was altogether incredulous; but when he told me that he had himself been cured of a complication of allied diseases-gout, rheumatism, and bronchitis—of many years' standing, which no English doctors were able to even alleviate, by an American physician, Dr. Salisbury; that it was effected solely by a change of diet, and that it was no theory or empirical treatment, but the result of thirty years' experiment on the effects of various articles of diet upon men and animals, by the only scientific method of studying each food separately and exclusively, I determined to try it. The result was, that in a week I felt much better, in a month I felt quite well, and during the six years that have elapsed no attack of asthma or of severe palpitation has recurred, and I have been able to do my literary work as well as before I became subject to the malady.
I may say that I have long been, and am still, in principle, a vegetarian, and believe that, for many reasons, it will certainly be the diet of the future. But for want of adequate
knowledge, and even more from the deficiencies of ordinary vegetable cookery, it often produces bad effects. Dr. Salisbury proved by experiment that it was the consumption of too much starch foods that produces the set of diseases which he especially cures; and when these diseases have become chronic, the only cure is the almost complete abstention from starchy substances, especially potatoes, bread, and most watery vegetables, and, in place of them, to substitute the most easily digestible well-cooked meat, with fruits and nuts in moderation, and eggs, milk, etc., whenever they can be digested. Great sufferers find immediate relief from an exclusive diet of the lean of beef. I myself live upon wellcooked beef with a fair proportion of fat (which I can digest easily), a very small proportion of bread or vegetables, fruit, eggs, and light milk puddings. The curious thing is that most English doctors declare that a meat diet is to be avoided in all these diseases, and many order complete abstinence from meat, but, so far as I can learn, on no really scientific grounds. Dr. Salisbury, however, has experimentally proved that this class of ailments are all due to malnutrition, and that this malnutrition is most frequently caused by the consumption of too much of starch foods at all meals, which overload the stomach and prevent proper digestion and assimilation. My case and that of Mr. BruceJoy certainly show that Dr. Salisbury has found, for the first time in the history of medicine, a cure-not merely an alleviation—for these painful and distressing maladies. This personal detail as to my health is, I think, of general interest in view of the large number of sufferers who are pronounced incurable by English doctors, and it was here an essential preliminary to the facts I have now to relate, which would probably not have occurred as they did had my health not been so strikingly renovated."
· In addition to the foregoing, I have suffered at intervals from diseases contracted abroad, which have recurred in acute paroxysms, and sometimes threatened to become serious. For years together they have given me much anxiety and required constant care and attention. Since my general health has improved, however, they have so much diminished as no longer to give me much trouble. I have also suffered twice from severe eye troubles. My sight has always been
The lecture which I gave at Davos on the science of the nineteenth century (a subject suggested by Dr. Lunn) led me to think that an instructive and popular book might be made of the subject, as I found there were so many interesting points I could not treat adequately or even refer to in a lecture. I therefore devoted most of my spare time during the next year to getting together materials and writing the volume, which I finished in the spring of 1898, and it was published in June. The work had a pretty good sale, and at the request of my publishers I prepared from it a School Reader, with a considerable number of illustrations, which was published in 1901. This suggested the idea of a much enlarged and illustrated edition of the original work, which was, as regards many of the more important sciences and arts, a mere outline sketch. Almost all the year 1902 and part of 1903 was occupied in getting together materials for this new work, as it really was, and it was not published till the autumn of the latter year.
But while I was writing three new chapters on the wonderful astronomical progress of the latter half of the century, the startling fact was impressed upon me that we were situated very nearly at the centre of the entire stellar universe. This fact, though it had been noted by many of the greatest astronomical writers, together with the indications
myopic, though otherwise strong, but in 1883 I did a great deal of work at night, requiring a continual reference to several books of different-sized print, and this brought on rather severe inflammation of the retina, which necessitated a darkened room for some weeks, and no reading or writing for several months-a tremendous trial to me, so that I was able to do no literary work in 1884. The occulist I con. sulted told me that with care in two or three years my eyes would be as strong as ever ; and they very gradually became so, and I had no further trouble till 1891, when some irritating substance got into my left eye and could not be got out, causing severe inflammation for some weeks, which, however, passed away without immediate bad results. From that time, however, there began a loss of the power of adjustment of the two eyes, so that I saw distant objects double, and this has increased so that I now see everything double, even at the other side of a room; but this does not much inconvenience me except to produce a general indistinctness of objects. Two persons walking together on the other side of the street seem to me to be three
ording to the angle of sight, and I often have to shut one eye in order to be sure how many there are. The divergence has now, I think, got to the worst, as I perceive no difference during the last
that led to the conclusion that our universe was finite, and that we could almost, if not quite, see to its very limits, were seldom commented on as more than isolated phenomena -curiosities, as it were, of star distribution-but of no special significance. To me, however, it seemed that they probably had a meaning; and when I further came to examine the numerous facts which led to the conclusion that no other planet in the solar system than our earth was habitable, there flashed upon me the idea that it was only near the centre of this vast material universe that conditions prevailed rendering the development of life, culminating in man, possible. I did not, however, dwell upon this idea, but merely suggested it in a single paragraph on pp. 329-330 of my work, and I might probably never have pursued the subject further but for another circumstance which kept my attention fixed upon it.
While I was still hard at work upon the book, the London agent of the New York Independent wrote to ask me to write them an article on any scientific subject I chose. I at first declined, as having no subject which I thought suitable, and not wishing to interrupt my work. But when he urged me again, and told me to name my own fee, the idea struck me that these astronomical facts, with the conclusion to which they seemed to me to point, might form a very interesting, and even new and attractive article. As the subject was fresh in my mind, and I had the authorities at hand, it did not take me very long to sketch out and write a paper of the required length, which appeared simultaneously in the Independent and in the Fortnightly Review, and, to my great surprise, created quite a sensation, and, still more to my surprise, a considerable amount of antagonism and rather contemptuous criticism by astronomers and physicists, to which I replied in a subsequent article.
But as soon as my agent, Mr. Curtis Brown, read the MSS. he suggested that I should write a volume on the subject, which he was sure would be very attractive and popular, and for which he undertook to make arrangements both in England and America, and secure me liberal terms. After a little