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have given a detail of their names--manner of life-occup: tions--and other circumstances of each of them ; but, upon a review of my notes, I found so great a sameness in the history of most of them, that I dispaired by detailing them, of answering the intention which I have proposed in the following essay. I shall, therefore, only deliver the facts and principles which are the result of enquiries and observations I have made upon this subject.
I. I shall mention the circumstances which favour the attainment of longevity.
IT. I shall mention the phænomena of body and mind which attend it: and,
III. I shall enumerate its peculiar diseases, and the remedies which are most proper to remove, or moderate them. I. The circumstances which favour longevity, are,
1. DESCENT FROM LONG-LIVED ANCESTORS. I have not found a single instance of a person who has lived to be 80 years old, in whom this was not the case. In some instances, I found the descent was only from one, but in general it was from both parents. The knowledge of this fact may serve not only to assist in cal. culating what are called the chances of lives, but it may be made useful to a physician. He may learn from it to cherish hopes of his patients in chronic, and in some acute diseases, in proportion to the capacity of life they have derived from their ancestors.
2. TEMPERANCE IN EATING AND DRINKING. To this remark I found several exceptions. I met with one man of 84 years of age, who had been intemperate in eating; and four or five persons who had been intemperate in drinking ardent spirits. They had all been day-labourers, or had deferred drinking until they began to feel the languor of old age. I did not meet with a single person who had not, for the last forty or fifty years of their lives, used tea, coffee, and bread and butter twice a day, as part of their diet. I am disposed to believe that those articles of diet do not materially affect the duration of the human life, although they evidently impair the strength of the system. The duration of life does not appear to depend so much upon the strength of the body, or upon the quantityof its excitability, as upon the exact accommodation of stimuli to each of them. A watch spring will last as long as an anchor, provided the forces which are capable of destroying both are in an exact ratio to their strength. The use of tea and coffee in diet seems to be happily suited to the change which has taken place in the human body, by sedentary occupations, by which means less nourishments and stimulus are required than formerly to support animal life.
3. The MODERATE USE OF THE UNDE ERSTANDING. It has long been an established truth, that literary men (other circumstances being equal) are longer lived than other people. But it is not necessary that the understanding should be employed upon philoso
phical subjects, to produce this influence upon human life. Business, politics, and religion, which are the objects of attention of men of all classes, impart a vigour to the understanding, which hy being conveyed to every part of the body, tends to produce health and long life.
4. EQUANIMITY OF Temper. The violent and irregular actions of the passions tend to wear away the springs of life.
Persons who live upon annuities in Europe have been observed to be longer lived in equal circumstances, than other people. This is probably occasioned by their being exempted by the certainty of their subsistence from those fears of want, which so frequently distract the minds, and thereby weaken the bodies of all people. Life-rents have been supposed to have the same influence in prolonging life. Perhaps, the desire of life, in order to enjoy as long as possible that property, which cannot be enjoyed a second time by a child or relation, may be another cause of the longevity of persons
certain incomes. It is a fact, that the desire of life is a very powerful stimulus in prolonging it, especially when that desire is supported by hope. This is obvicus to physicians every day.--Despair of recovery is the beginning of death in all diseases.
But obvious and reasonable as the effects of the equanimity of temper are upon
human life, there are some exceptions in favour of passionate men and women having attained to a great age. The morbid stimulus of arger in these cases, was probably obviated by less degrees, or le active exercises of the understanding, or by the defect or weakness of some of the other stimuli which kept ap the motion of life.
5. MATRIMONY. In the course of myenquiries, I onlymet with one person beyond 80 years of age who had never been married. I met with several women who had bore from ten to twenty children, and suckled them all. I mer with one woman a native of Hertfordshire in England, who is now in the 100th year of her age, who bore a child at 60, menstruated til! 80, and frequently suckled two of her children (though born in succession to each other) at the same time. She had passed the greatest part of her life over a washing-tub.
6. I have not found sedentary employments to prevent long life, where they are not accompanied by intemperance in eating or drinking, This observation is not confined to literary men, nor to women only, in whom longevity without much exercise of body has been frequently observed. I met with one instance of a weaver; a second of a silver smith, and a third of a shoe-maker, anong the number of old people, whose histories have suggested these observations.
7. I have not found that acute, nor that all chronic diseases shorten life. Dr. Franklin had two successive vomicas in his lungs before he
was forty years of age *. I met with one man beyond So, who had. survived a most violent attack of the yellow fever; a second, who had had several of his bones fractured by falls and in frays, and many who had frequently been affected by intermittents. I met with one man of 86, who had all his life been subject to syncope : another who had been for fifty years occasionally affected by a cough t; and two instances of men who had been affected for forty years with obstinate head-achs 1. I met with only one person beyond 80 who had ever been affected by a disorder in the stomach: and in him it rose from an occasional rupture. Mr. John Strangeways Hutton, of Philadelphia, who died last year in the rooth year of his age, informed me that he never had puked in his life. This circumstance is the more res markable as he passed several years at sea when a young man $. These facts may serve to extend our ideas of the importance of a healthful state of the stomach in the animal economy, and thereby to add to our knowledge in the prognosis of diseases, and in the chances of human life.
8. I have not found the loss of teeth to affect the duration of human life so much as might be expected.. Edward Drinker, who lived to be 103 years old, lost his teeth 30 years before he died, from drawing the hot smoke of tobacco into his mouth through a short pipe.
9. I have not observed baldness, or grey hairs, occurring in early or middle life, to prevent old age. In one of the histories furnished me by Le Sayre, I find an account of a man of 80, whose hair began to assume a silver colour when he was only eleven years of age.
I shall conclude this head by the following remark: Notwithstanding there appears in the human body a certain capacity
Dr. Franklin, who died in his 84th year, was descended from long-lived parents. His father died at 89, and his mother at 87. His father had seventeen children by two wives. The doctor informed me that once he sat down as one of eleven adult sons and daughters at his father's table. In an excursion he once made to that part of England from which his fainily migrated to America, he discovered in a grave-yard, the toinb-stones of several persons of his name, who had lived to be very old. These persons he supposed to have been his ancestors.
† This man's only remedy for his cough was the fine powder of dry Indian turnip and honey.
I Dr. Thiery says, he did not find the itch, or slight degrees of the leprosy, to prevent longevity. Observations de Physique, et de Medicine iaites en differens lieux de L'Espagnt, Vol. II. page 171.
The venerable old man, whose history first suggested this remark, was born in New York in the year 1684.--- His grand-facher lived to be 101, but was urable to walk for thirty years before he died, trom an excessive quantity of fat. His mother died at 91. His constant drink was water, beer, and cyder. He had a fixed dislike to spirits of all kinds. His appetite was good, and he are plentifully during the last years of his life. He seldom drark any thing between his meals. He was intoxicated but twice in his life, and that was when á loy, and at sea, where he remembered perfectly to have celebrated by a fru-de jove the birth-day of queen Anne. He was for merly afflicted with the head-ach, and giddiness, but never had a fever, except from the small-pox in the course of his life. His pulse was slow but regular. He had been twice married. By the first wite he had eight, and by his second seventeen chiidren. One of them lived to be 83 years of age. He was about five feet nine inches in height, of a slender make, and carried an erect head to the last year of his life. VOL. II.
of long life, which seems to dispose it to preserve its existence in every situation : : yet this capacity does not always protect it from premature destruction; for among the old people whom I examined, I scarcely met with one who had not lost brothers or sisters, in earlier or middle life, and who were born under circumstances equally favourable to longevity with themselves.
THOUGHTS ON THE NEW-YEAR;
VICISSITUDES OF LIFE.
IN A VISION.
HÉ close of the old and commencement of the New Year, is a
in which most people unbend their minds from a severe attention to their several employments and professions, and indulge themselves in social enjoyment and festivity. And this gratiscation, when conducted with proper decorum and regularity, is rieither irrational nor unmanly. It must, however, be allowed highly reasonable to preserve our cheerfulness under proper restraints, by mingling with it serious reficctions on the uncertainty of earthly enjoyments, and the frailty of human nature. To those who are disposed to pursue such reflections, the following vision will, perhaps, not be disagreeable.
Methought I was traversing an opulent city. On all sides mirth and gaiety seemed to reign. I soon caught the general joy, and walldered with pleasure and delight from one circle to another; and being desirous to know the cause of all this apparent satisfaction, was informed by one whom I asked, that it was the commencement of a New Year, which it was customary to usher in with such demonstrations of joy:
Having for some time wandered in this pleasing crowd, I at length arrived at a private walk, where every one I met carried in his appearance something which commanded respect. I had not gone far before I was accosted by a venerable personage.
« My son,” says your cheerful countenance discovers the gladness of your heart; and I am at no loss to guess the cause.” I replied, " Venerable father, you are not deceived ; and my disposition must be unfriendly indeed, could I observe so much cheerfulness among my fellow-creatures without partaking of their happiness.” He replied, “Your reasoning is just ; nor would I attempt to deprive you of your present satisfaction. My name is Experience, and this walk Contemplation. If you will resign yourself to my guidance, I will teach you properly to weigh terrestrial happiness." I readily accepted his offer, allared
by the known abilities of my guide, and was conducted by him to the spot I had just left ; but there I beheld the scene very much changed.
I now perceived scattered amor.g the cheerful and the gay, many melancholy and dejected persons, on whose faces incagre want, keen remorse, and lively sorrow, were strongly painted. I was struck with these spectacles of grief, and turning to my guide, said, “ Sir, I had much rather have continued in my error, if it be one, than be convinced of a truth, which I am afraid will yield me very little satisfaçtion.” The sage smiling, said, " It is the common folly of your age to chuse the pleasant, though it be the wrong way; but it is the part of Experience to inform you, that truth is worth the purchase, though it seems unpleasant. “Know then,” continues he," the present scenę is not designed to hurt but to benefit you ; attend and be wise.”
“ Behold, scattered up and down among the busy multitudes, many of the very people who before appeared so gay and pleasant; the
year which they ushered in with all the demonstration of joy, is not yet concluded ; notwithstanding, behold yonder man, who at the commencement of the year was opulent and wealthy, now pale and thoughtful, and carrying all the appearance of the deepest distress, That wealth, which before created his cheerfulness now occasions his pain. His fortune was then great, and he unwary; he ventured his all upon a die that deceived him ; this made hin the miserable wretch he now appears.
“ On the other side observe a female mourner, seeking some unfrequented solitude, where she may breathe out her complaints. The beginning of the year made her a happy bride ; the middle of it makes her a disconsolate widow. But, continues my instructor, I should rend
your heart with pity, was I. to point out all that variety of distress which death produces in the world; the unavailing cries of helpless orphans, the melting griefs of tender widows, the groans of parents, and the sighs of friends; and yet, though these are great and heavy, and sufficient to excite every tender sentiment in nature, these are not all the inlets to unhappiness, an instance of which you see in yonder frantic madman. He was lately raised to the utmost height of joy, by a sudden and unexpected affluence of fortune; the weak powers of reason could not support the strong impression it made upon him, and he is now an object of pity and horror to all that see him. Behold, on the other hand, that man walking pensive and alone-on every feature the strong lineaments of horror and despair are painted.” “ Alas !” cry'd I,
man I while ago, one of the most gay and joyous creatures in the whole company!” “ Ah!" replies my monitor, that height of mirth and gaiety he owes his present misery. Не then lived in riot and profusion, has now consumed his fortune, and is this moment agitated with the most distressing doubts, whether he should employ his pistol to extort his neighbour's property, or to finish his own miserable life.” " Alas!” I cried, “ I can bear no more, If these be the prospects you entertain me with, let me look only on the joyous throng, and conceal those miserable objects from my view." " Whislaken youth !” replies my guide, " are you not yet made sensi