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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/107

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THE PROLONGATION OF HUMAN LIFE.

and about one fourth only are still living. The health of the latter, however, is in almost every instance put down as good. The blanks do not tell what would, perhaps, be a valuable thing—how many brothers and sisters the subjects had, and whether or not they died young; it appears, though, from the names, that few members of the same family have survived, unless it is supposed that the remaining members were older and have died, or enough younger to come under the eighty-year limit.

Some Conclusions.—Perhaps it is true that only an expert or a philosopher should draw conclusions. I pretend to be neither one nor the other, yet I think a familiarity with the facts gathered about these hundreds of old people will excuse anything on my part that might at first thought look like presumption. What I have tried to learn from this vast amount of information that has been collected about these examples of long life are these things:

What is the influence of the different occupations upon length of life?

Does the physical build of a person have anything to do with the length of his life?

Can one so regulate his habits of work, sleep, eating, drinking, use of stimulants and narcotics, and exercise, as to prolong life?

Is there such a thing as an inherited tendency to long or short life?

Few of the people accounted for by this census are employés, unless the housewives be called such, and in New England I certainly think they can not be. The occupation that claims most of the men is farming, which means dependence on circumstances and not on men. Of the men and women alike, throughout the list, they are the exceptions who have not been weighted with responsibilities, but responsibilities which, by being borne without intermission, have become fixed habit. The fact that so many of these old people are not employés, considered in conjunction with the fact that the great mass of mankind is made up of wageworkers, points toward a very important conclusion. It seems evident either that a man with the elements of long life within him is more independent in his nature or that a spirit of independence fostered for years tends to prolong existence. It needs no collection of statistics to prove that, in most cases, one who works during a long period for another has a weaker individuality than he who is an employer. The brain of the wage-worker may weigh and measure as much, and his physical strength may be as great, as his who takes the risk of profit and loss upon himself, but in New England, at least, his life is not so long as the average, and it is rare, as the statistics show, that he lives beyond the age of eighty. This result can not, certainly, be due in any