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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/609

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593
LONGEVITY.

of the cockpit, by the pickle-diet, the unnatural motion, and the foul-weather misery; and, from a sanitary stand-point, the sea-air itself is hardly preferable to mountain and woodland air. The eozoon may have been a marine product, but our Pliocene ancestor was probably a forest creature.

"For what length of time would you undertake to warrant the health of a seaman?" Varnhagen asked a Dutch marine doctor. "That depends on the length of his furlough," replied the frank Hollander, and it will require centuries of reform to redeem our cities from the odium of a similar reproach. In victuals and vitality towns consume the hoarded stores of the country, and only the garden-suburbs of a few North American cities are hygienically self-supporting. Permanent in-door work is slow suicide, and between the various shop-trades and sedentary occupations the difference in this respect is only one of degree. Factories stand at the bottom of the scale, and the dust and vapor generating ones below zero; the weaver's chances to reach the average age of his species have to be expressed by a negative quantity. In France, where the tabulation of comparative statistics is carried further than anywhere else, the healthfulness of the principal town trades has been ascertained to decrease in the following order: House-building, huckstering, hot-bed gardening (florists), carpenter and brick-mason trades, street-paving, street-cleaning, sewer-cleaning, blacksmiths, artisan-smiths (silver, copper, and tin concerns), shoemaking, paper-making, glass-blowing, tailor, butcher, house-painter, baker, cook, stone-masons and lapidaries, operatives of paint and lead factories, weavers, steel-grinders—the wide difference between brick and stone masons being due to the lung-infesting dust of lapidary work, which, though an out-door occupation, is nearly as unhealthy as steel-grinding. Lead-paint makers have to alternate their work with jobs in the tin-shop, and, after all, can rarely stand it for more than fifteen years; needle-grinders generally succumb after twelve or fourteen years. The human lungs seem able to eliminate the impurities breathed by street and sewer cleaners, for, in London as well as in Paris and Marseilles, the followers of both trades rank high among the long-lived classes. Hucksters somehow manage to outlive city gardeners as well as shopkeepers; among the Hecubas of the Paris market-hall, not less than two hundred and eighteen had passed their threescore and tenth year.

Preaching, and, strange to say, pettifogging, are the healthiest of all the learned professions; their lung-exercise may have something to do with it, for lecturing-teachers outlive the "silent" teachers (dancing-masters, etc.). Physicians die early; Nature revenges herself upon her leagued adversaries, for druggists and barbers (in many parts of Europe synonymous with village quacks) are likewise short-lived; but sextons reach a good old age: there must be a mistake about the supposed danger of grave-yard effluvia.