Dr Wadd on obesity

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 00.40.17Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 00.38.47Dalrymple is one of the few modern writers who cares about old books. He writes very well indeed on the decay of the second-hand bookshop in England and the scandal of libraries disposing of magnificent old books in order to find space on the shelves for trash.

He gratefully returns often to a favourite volume, one which he says is among his cherished books. This is Comments on Corpulency: Lineaments of Leanness: Mems on Diet and Dietetics (1829) by William Wadd, Esq., F.L.S., Surgeon Extraordinary to the King, etc., etc., etc. Dalrymple says Wadd will delight

those who are not entirely po-faced

on the subject of obesity. Dalrymple points out that the connection between obesity and life expectancy was not especially obvious in Wadd’s time. He draws attention to this passage:

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 00.41.31

Cherished volume

Dr. Clarke, alluding to the Pyramids, says: ‘The mind, elevated by wonder, feels at once the force of an axiom, which, however disputed, experience confirms, — that in Vastness, whatever be its nature, there dwells sublimity.’ Why, therefore may not mountains of fat, the human Appenines, have their dignity? Why may not the ambling Penmenamawers, the Olympi and Caucasi, be justly celebrated as great men in their day and generation? They fill their place in society, are great objects of interest. Rotundity forms a very considerable part of the line of beauty. Erasmus speaks of the Gordii, who preferred the fattest man to their throne. A very fat man is the glory of butchers.

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