The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 5
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The Lost Journals of a Southwestern Frontiersman 5
icans killed at the battle of San Jacinto. I observed to
them that it would seem very unreasonable to think
that animals chewed bones for the little salt they con-
tained, here near the sea shore where most of the
water was brackish, where the vegetation tasted of
salt, and where even the atmosphere was saline-and
indeed where if you were to offer a cow salt to lick
you could not force her to taste it. I then advanced
that the more probable cause of their chewing bones
was for the lime-to which the "doctor" replied very
haughtily and self-assuredly that nothing was more
absurd than to suppose [that] a cow [was] chemist
enough to perceive that bones contained lime.
It was a cute opportunity.
To a man of his temperament, nothing was more fun than
the drubbing of a humbug, and he sternly proceeded to do it,
and his relish for the job of bastinadoing the ignorant and the
pretentious comes right up off the page he wrote about it. "If
the cow herself," he replied, "is not chemist enough, then her
animal organization is."
It was the answer of a man who has studied nature, and he
supported it with analogies drawn from observations elsewhere:
of our appetite for water under various circumstances; of the
behavior of meat-subsisting Indians when handed a lump of
salt; of why some are fonder of sweets than others; and of
why Indians are so prone to the use of ardent spirits-which
led to a theory of habitual drunkenness based on the unnatural
taste for sugar craved by the system thrown out of equilibrium
by strong drink; a theory which sounds oddly detached and
prophetic, uttered in a period which regarded drinking as a
wholly moral problem.
There is no doubt between the lines of the diary that it left
the spurious "doctor" from Louisiana much reduced. And
what a glimpse this is, too, into the grand bogusness of the
frontier population! The Louisiana quack is a first cousin to
Mark Twain's King, in Huck Finn; the rascal who invents a
myth to help him despoil the innocent, and ends by half-
believing it himself, which makes the comedy complete. We
don't often meet individuals in this diary. Even more rarely
do we catch a direct glimpse of its author. This was one of
them, I believe; we have seen him in action, we have heard him
speak; it is intimate and amusing. He is prosy and prolix and
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/9/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.