The Old English Way of Living

Complaints of modern decadence in diet and habits are nothing new, and the old have ever complained of the young. Here is a fine example of the genre, by way of the Gentleman’s Magazine of September 1731.

The old English Way of Living.

An old Gentleman, near 90, who has a florid and vigorous Constitution, tells us the difference between the Manners of the present Age, and that in which he spent his Youth. With regard to eating in his time, Breakfast consisted of good Hams, cold Sirloin, and good Beer, succeeded with wholesome Exercise, which sent them home hungry, and ready for Dinner, made up of plain Meats, dress’d after a plain manner; Suppers were but slight Meals; and good Hours then in Fashion; Men of Quality were stirring at the same Hour that raises a modern Tradesman; and their Ladies were better Huswifes than most of Our Farmer’s Daughters.

    That the present Elegance in eating, and the neglect of good Hours, is productive of Intemperance, and tends to the decay not only of the Strength, but the Capacities of elderly People. Whereas the good old Way of living preserved the Vigor and Faculties to a good old Age; of which given an instance of Mr. Waller, who sat in the parliaments both of James I and James II.

It almost makes you yearn for the 1650s, doesn’t it? Remember to eat a good breakfast.

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