Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

five times five, that is to say twenty-five years; and so with the rest. We have then finally, according to Flourens, a precise characteristic which gives us accurately the duration of growth; the duration of growth gives us the duration of life. All the phenomena of life are united by the following chain of relations—the duration of life is given by the duration of growth; the duration of growth by the duration of gestation ; the duration of gestation by height, &c. The larger the animal the longer the time of gestation. The gestation of the rabbit is thirty days; that of man is nine months; that of the elephant is nearly two years, &c. It is not long since we heard a gentleman connected with a Life Assurance Company in New York, lecture on health and longevity, and it may be interesting to give here as much as we can remember of what he said on that evening. Physiology, he said, had to deal with living objects, and by physiological exam. ination into the natures of animals and plants, we would find that all objects endowed with life, were also endowed with a certain length of life. Each living thing is made up of particles which are continually changing, and though in an inanimate object this change produces dissolution, in a living object it is the essence of life. Each living thing has always its living antecedent, of which it is more or less a copy. The length of time a man has to live may be very nearly determined by the longevity of his ancestors. The circumstances and surroundings of life do not reach so great an influence as is generally supposed. Longevity is the great and essential thing. This different plants and animals have in different degree. The pear-tree is long-lived, while the quince is short, and the different species of apples have different lengths of life. In animals, the jackass lives to a much greater age than the horse, and it is a physiological fact of great importance that the mule which is a hybrid, or composition of the two varieties, is never afflicted with diseases peculiar to horses after passing the horse age. So it is with hybrid plants, and also with human, beings. When a person has inherited from one parent a short life, and from the other a long one, he will not be afflicted with the diseases of the

а

[ocr errors]

short-lived person after passing the age of longevity. The lecturer instanced the case of Colonel Vanderbilt, of this City, whose father died at the age of 55, and who was afflicted with much the same diseases when he reached that age; but having recovered from his sickness, he was then living on the Cummings or maternal life, with renewed health, and still good for many years of vigorous life.

. It may be interesting to refer to some few facts on which the operations of Life Assurance Companies are based. According to Dr. Todd, the Registrar-General of England, " the natural term of human life appears to be a hundred years; and out of the annual generations successively born in England and Wales, a few solitary individuals attain that limiting age, the rest dropping off year by year as age advances, so that the mean lifetime is at present only forty-one years.” By the last census taken in Great Britain, it appears that 596,030 of the inhabitants had passed the barrier of “ three-score years and ten;" more than a hundred and twenty-nine thousand had passed the Psalmist's limit of fourscore years, and one hundred thousand eighty-one years. Nearly ten thousand had lived ninety years or more; a band of two thousand and thirty-eight pilgrims had been wandering ninety-five years and more on the unended journey; and three hundred and ninety say they had witnessed more than a hundred evolutions of the seasons.

That few men reach their hundredth year is no proof such is not the natural terın of life. Many instances are cited of men living in the ancient world more than a hundred years; and Lord Bacon in his “ History of Life and Death,” quotes as a fact unquestioned, that a few years before he wrote, a morris-dance was performed in IIerefordshire at the May games by eight men whose ages in the aggregate amounted to eight hundred years. No populous village in England was then without a man or woman of fourscore years old. In the 17th century, some time after Bacon wrote, two Englishmen are reported to have died at ages greater than almost any of those which have been attained in other nations. According to documents which are printed in the

[ocr errors]

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Thomas Parr lived one hundred and fifty-two years and nine months; and Henry Jenkins one hundred and sixty-nine years. At the last census in Great Britain, one hundred and eleven men and two hundred and eight women, were returned of ages ranging from one hundred to one hundred and nineteen years. Two thirds of the centenarians are women, but it is right to remark that several of them are natives of Scotland or Ireland, where no efficient system of registration exists ; fetv of them resided in the parishes where they were born and had been known from youth, and many of the old people are paupers and probably illiterate, so that, no doubt, it would be difficult to obtain the documentary evidence which alone could be accepted as conclusive proof of such extraordinary ages.

There are frequent instances of longevity quoted in Scripture. Abraham lived to the age of 175; and his son Isaac, to 180; Jacob, to 147; Ishmael, to 137; Joseph and Joshua, 110; Elisha, 100; and Sarah, to 127; she is the only female whose age is mentioned in Scripture history. These are ages corresponding with what the LORD is recorded to have said: “And the Lord said, my Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet, his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Some remarkable cases of longevity in the United States are related in Dr. Fitch's well-known Treatise on Consumption. Among others, the following: Henry Franciso died at Whitehall, in the State of New York, aged 134 years. He beat the drun at the Coronation of Queen Anne, and was then 16 years of age; he did not die of old age ; but the fever and ague. John Hightower, residing in Marengo County, Alabama, died January, 1848, aged 136. A. Paiba, Charleston, South Carolina, died 1782, aged 142.

Wm. McKein, Richmond, Virgina, died 1818, aged 130. Martha, wife of a Mohegan chief, died 1806, aged 120. Charles Campbell Lange, Virginia, died 1821, aged 121.

Of course, had these fine old ladies and gentlemen insured their lives at an early age, the Assurance Companies would

have been considerable gainers, that is, they would have received a considerably larger sum in the shape of premiums than they would have been called upon to pay at the death of the parties, and it is from such instances of longevity (though generally of a less striking character) occurring, that the Insurance Companies are enabled to meet claims, to which, from accident, they frequently become liable, where an insignificant sum only in the form of premium has been received.

We have deemed it right to allude to this circumstance in order to remove the surprise, which we have no doubt will be created in the minds of many who have not previously studied the question in all its bearings, and the rapid accumulation of money at compound interest, at the Assurance Companies being enabled to guarantee the payment of so large an amount at a period which may very speedily occur, in consideration of receiving what at first glance appears so trifling a premium. We have previously alluded to these premiums being the result of nice calculations and lengthened experience and observation, and our remarks in reference to the regularity of mortality in the aggregate is very strikingly illustrated by statistics--to which we propose to return in our next No. For the present we bring this Chapter to a close, by observing that we have endeavored to show what is unquestionably the case, that Assurance Societies are established upon equitable and beneficial principles, and we think it must be clear to all who will give the subject consideration, that they present the best and surest mode of providing for the endeared and helpless relatives who may survive them, and for whom they are bound to make every provision in their power.

It is really a striking and melancholy instance of the recklessness, improvidence and selfishness of mankind, that so few avail themselves of the advantages offered by Life Assurance. What a frightful reflection for any man who has neglected to make some such provision, that at any moment the cessation of his existence may place his wife and children in a state of utter destitution! Must he not stand Vol. IV.-NO. 2.

5

convicted in his own conscience of the grossest selfishness? Must he not feel that it is as much his duty to prevent as far as he can their being left without a cent in case of his death as it is whilst he is living to provide for their daily wants ? This duty seems to us imperative.

The only real excuse that can be urged for not providing for the future, is the absence of sufficient means, but the object is worthy of a noble effort. We envy not the feelings of that man, nor can he be deemed worthy of the esteem of his fellow men, who voluntarily, wilfully, exposes his family to the risk of being reduced at any moment to a state of beggary. None can tell what an hour may bring forth. None will die the sooner for being insured. The path of duty is, plainly, to--assure your lives.

(To be continued.)

Solution of Chlorinated Soda in Diphtheria and Croup.

BY J. M. COMINS, M.D. Prof. of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children in the Eclectic Medical College

of New York,

In July, of 1858, I was called to see a vigorous and healthy child, eight years of age, who was suffering, the third day, from a very severe attack of diphtheria. I found her pulse small and hard, one hundred and twenty to the minute, skin excessively hot and dry, stupid at times, then, from her struggles for breath and pain about the throat, she became wild and excited, extreme nervous irritability, tongue dry and heavily coated, dark brown; the mucous membrane of the fauces, tonsils, and pharynx, and posterior nares, were heavily coated with that peculiar exudation common to this disease, of a gray mixed, or ash-colored lymph.

Deglutition was entirely suspended, and all she attempted to swallow was either forced through the nasal passage, or from the mouth in the effort. I tried various remedies, the best in use at my command, but she seemed to sink rapidly, and had all the appearance of soon passing away. Some

« ForrigeFortsæt »