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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

What to Eat, Drink, and Avoid (S651: 1908)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Wallace's response to an enquiry; printed along with several others' in the February 1908 issue of The Review of Reviews (London). Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S651.htm

[[p. 137]] Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. Born 1823.

     The next place of honour belongs to our octogenarian chief, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. He is a veteran, having written his letter to me on the day he entered upon his eighty-sixth year. He was born on January 8th, 1823. Dr. Wallace is famous for his tenacious hold upon life. He is probably the only man who has been the architect of his own house, planned and built after he was seventy-five years of age, for his own residence. When ordinary mortals pass three score years and ten, the only house of which they usually dream is one of narrower dimensions under ground. Not so Dr. Wallace; he found renewed youth and strength in the delight of building, not a lordly pleasure house, but a comfortable, commodious and small country house at Old Orchard, Broadstone, where he is to be found to this day making the Old Orchard a watch tower of the world, from which he keeps the keenest look-out, not only on this world, but also on the next. He was born in Monmouthshire of Scotch descent. The original stock of the Wallaces must have been stout and strong, for Dr. Wallace never hesitated to expose his physique to the severest tests, both climatic and dietetic. A man who has spent four years in the Amazon Valley and eight years in the Malay Archipelago can hardly be regarded as having coddled himself, while he must of necessity have exposed his [[p. 138]] digestive apparatus to the test of many and varied strains. For the last forty years he has led the life of a student, both in sociology and in science. He will always share with Darwin the glory of having first discovered the evolutionary law which governs the whole of modern thought. But unlike most scientists of similar rank, and in this resembling Sir William Crookes and Professor Richet, Professor Wallace did not arrest his investigation at the frontier of Borderland. He is the president of the Land Nationalisation Society, a keen Radical, not to say Socialist, and an adventurer and pioneer in all the worlds. His recreations are chess and gardening. His pen is as vigorous, his mind as clear, as when he first started up the Amazon with Bates in 1848. No man has succeeded more completely in preserving mens sana in corpore sano to an advanced old age than Dr. Wallace. He modestly prefaces the result of his experiences by saying, "All this is rubbish. 'One man's meat is another man's poison' is a true saying of the wise ones of old." Rubbish it may be in his eyes, but not in the eyes of the reader. We may at least inquire without curiosity upon what diet must have been nourished so stalwart and enduring a physical frame."Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed, that he is grown so"--hale and strong?

     (1) Food.--For the first seventy years of my life I ate everything or anything that I liked--and I liked too much pastry, muffins and such like, as well as potatoes, bacon, etc. I had a strong digestion, but when about sixty could not assimilate this, so a little later I had to give up all starch foods, and have since lived chiefly on one good meal of well-cooked meat a day, whereby I have lost a chronic asthma and other allied troubles.

     (2) Drink.--I drank beer and wine in moderation in early life, but about twenty-five years ago gave it up altogether, and have been better without it. From experience and observation I feel sure that towards old age alcohol becomes more and more hurtful.

     (3) Smoking.--Never practised it since early youth, when its effects literally sickened me of it! I believe that towards old age the minimum of carefully selected food, that can be thoroughly assimilated, is the best. Each person must find what is best for himself. Tea and coffee I take regularly, but without food. I work best morning and evening, after a cup of tea.

Alfred R. Wallace.

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