Conceive a man, gifted with the keenest intellect, but not knowing from experience, that sucklings grow and become men, and imagine what he would say, if you were to tell him this:
“Know, that the little being you see here, is a suckling, that is, a developing human being, who by and by will become thicker and taller. The bones of his body will become firmer and longer. The muscles that animate these bones will likewise increase in size. The same will happen with regard to his eyes, ears, nose, mouth; to his head, body, and feet; every component part of his small body will be developed further and further, until the child will become a perfect man.”
There is no doubt, that he who does not know all this from experience, will shake his head at it.
But if you were to tell him: “This development and growth have their source in the baby’s sucking at the mother’s breast a white juice called milk, and out of this milk all the constituent parts of the child are manufactured within himself,”—certainly your hearer would laugh in your face, and perhaps call you a credulous fool.
“What!” he would exclaim, “do you mean to say that milk contains flesh? Or can you make bones out of milk, or hair? Can you make nails and teeth out of milk? Do you wish to persuade me, that milk may be changed into eyes? that from milk may be manufactured feet, hands, cheeks, eyelids, and the various other parts of the human body?”
And if, in answer to this, you were to reply: “Yes, it is so. Within this little creature is a factory, that not only makes all you have mentioned, but much more. In this establishment, bones, hair, teeth, nails, flesh, blood, veins, nerves, skin, juices, and water are manufactured; all this is made from milk, and during the first months of the child’s life from nothing but milk,”—then your hearer, though he may have the understanding of the most judicious of men, would be dumbfounded, and would beseech you to tell him more about this factory.
You may be certain, he would like to know, how many boilers, cylinders, valves, wires, ladles, oars, pumps, hooks, pins, spokes, and knobs there may be in this factory; more especially would he wish to know, whether the engine of this wonderful establishment be made of steel, wood, cast-iron, silver or gold, or of diamonds.
Now, if you were to tell him, “It contains nothing of the kind. Of all the factories you have seen in your life, there is none that bears any resemblance to this one. And I will tell you furthermore, that it is not even a complete factory, but it is continually developing; it becomes larger and heavier like the child’s body itself; moreover, the factory does not consist of iron or steel, nor of gold or diamonds, but it reproduces itself at every moment; it does so merely from the milk that the child drinks,”—then, to be sure, your hearer would begin to doubt his own senses; he would exclaim: “What is the intellect of the intelligent, the judgment of the judicious, what is the wisdom of the wise, when compared to a little of the mother’s milk?”
And yet, you are well aware, my friendly reader, that mother’s milk is, after all, nothing but milk; and that milk, again, is nothing but a means of nutrition; and nutrition, in its turn, is nothing but a part of the action of the human body.
May I hope that you will favor me with your attention, while, in a few articles, I speak to you about the nutrition of the human body?