Duration of Life
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DURATION OF LIFE
With the inheritance of good constitutions and with a rational mode of life from first to last, undoubtedly the human race would reach the age of one hundred years and upwards, in health and cheerfulness. The natural life of man appears to be four times as long as the period of growth, or in other words, growth occupies one quarter of the natural life. The human race, in general, reach maturity in twenty-five years, taking males and females together—males at the age of twenty-eight, females at twenty-two. Bad constitutions come to maturity sooner than that, and remarkably good ones later. Persons who live to the age of one hundred years and upwards, without attention to the rules of health, were no doubt more than thirty years in growing. The same proportion of life to growth undoubtedly prevails with all animals and vegetables, from the enduring elephant to the transient butterfly, and from a spear of grass to the big trees of California, which are known to have grown thousands of years, but whose ages are unknown. By most persons, health is ignorantly and carelessly destroyed. Almost every one commits slow suicide.
In the first place, the constitution depends on that of the parents. In the next place, injury to health begins before birth. Whatever injures the mother, has the same effects on her unborn child, as errors in diet, hard work, deficient exercise, care, anxiety, grief, ungoverned passions, &c. It is plain that great prudence on the part of the prospective mother is doubly important.
After birth, the greatest cause of sickness and short life, especially in this country, is wrong eating, which includes three faults, namely, too much food, unwholesome cooking, and an unwholesome way of eating after it is cooked. It is doubtful which of the three faults does most harm.
Only a little too much food, or that which is irrationally cooked, or irrationally eaten, deranges the digestion of the meal, which makes itself known by unpleasant feelings. Overloading the stomach is begun in infancy. Too much food checks the growth of the body, and lays the foundation of nearly all diseases. Partly from this cause a great part of the young men are slender and round-shouldered. A rational abstemiousness preserves health, cheerfulness, and life, to a great age. "Eating to live," makes living to eat, as temperance is pleasure. In old age the stomach loses in a great measure its power of digestion, and the food should be lessened accordingly. Ardent spirits, by calling forth all the powers of digestion, wear out the stomach, and unfit it for food. Paregoric, from the opium it contains, when given freely to infants to quiet them, dwarfs the body and mind, and destroys the health.
In all civilized countries, the useful and most respectable part of the people injure their constitutions and shorten life, by hard labor, while the useless and pernicious ones, as lawyers, merchants, clergymen and doctors, don't labor enough for their health. It is in the period of youth that hard labor does most injury, although it is hurtful at any age. Almost all boys and young girls, who work out for wages, have their constitutions broken by it, and are brought to an early death. Many are the girls who ruin their health, and die from teaching the abominable schools. It. is proved by the records of the War Office in France, that almost every young man who entered the French armies before reaching the age of maturity, died in the service, and only those lived through it who had entered after gaining full growth.
Excessive and premature labor of the brain and nerves in schools and colleges, with deficient muscular exercise, is a great help in keeping people from living long. It is called "disciplining the mind." It is not discipline, it is labor. reflection is discipline. No person can educate another. Parents hurry their children to be men and women, and hurry them to their graves, not considering that education, to be useful and harmless, must concur with Nature, which advances in slow development in all things. Early rising injures everyone who goes to bed fatigued. Sleep rests the brain, nerves, and mind, but not so much the muscles and the other parts of the body. Nothing but lying awake, and stretching the limbs and joints, can cure bodily fatigue. A person gets more rest from lying in bed awake two or three hours in the morning, than from a whole night's sleep. Laboring people, on awaking in the morning, have a feeling of soreness and stiffness, which goes off by getting up and stirring about. That feeling is a process of Nature, which is necessary to the cure of fatigue. It is the immediate forerunner of being perfectly rested. The effects of fatigue are felt most, immediately before it all goes off. By lying abed awake, the soreness and stiffness is cured, and the person perfectly rested. Getting up and stirring about stops the soreness and stiffness, but don't cure it. It only puts off the cure. Two fatigues like two colds never mix. They keep separate and go off separate.
So long as a person continues to get up every morning with a feeling of soreness upon him, he never gets rested, and his constitution wears out. No thing can ever cure fatigue, but lying awake in bed till the soreness goes off. Fatigue goes off sooner by keeping the thoughts on the body when in bed. Thinking about other matters prevents getting rested. A weak side, back, or other lame spot, is soonest rested by keeping the mind on that spot—a fact which proves that the mind is the body. Laboring people should go to bed early. Strong, healthy persons, who do no labor, should go to bed late, and rise early. Children need a good deal of sleep and rest, and should not be made to rise early. It is hurtful to jump out of bed immediately on awaking out of sleep—the change is too sudden and violent. It is apt to cause headache.
Nature's operations are slow in all healthy conditions. The sun never rises early. It never gets up before light, and not till a considerable time after. It never jumps up, but comes along slow. The sun is a good example always. Labor fatigues sooner in the morning than in the afternoon. It is best to move slow before breakfast, and rest an hour after eating. It was worshiped by the ancient nations.
Hundreds of thousands of young children die every year in the United States, from nakedness of the arms. The arms are one of the channels through which Nature expels disease from the body. Disease of the right side and the liver goes up into the right shoulder, down the arm, and finds an outlet near the elbow joint, with an itching in that spot. Some of it follows down, and goes off at the wrist joint. Disease in the left side finds an outlet through the left arm in the same manner. An itching near the elbow joint is disease of some kind escaping from the vitals.
The close connection between the arms and vitals is apparent. A good circulation of blood in the arms, with warmth and moisture of the skin, encourages disease, or whatever tends to it, to go off through them. Coldness, of course, has a contrary effect, driving it back into the vitals. Disease in the lower part of the body goes down the legs and out near the knee and ankle joints. An itching on any part of the body whatever, is the working off of something that ought to go. If there was such a disease as "humor," it appears likely it would itch inside instead of out. A person who goes to bed very much fatigued is not perfectly rested in the morning, till his head begins to itch all over. At the same time he has a peculiar feeling of the eyes which makes him jam his knuckles into them. It is the last stage in the process of resting. In the corner of the eye, next to the nose, is an outlet for disease and fatigue of the head and eyes. Jamming the knuckles into the eyes drives out what ought to go. The pressure should be always towards the nose, and it ought to be continued so long as it feels good. It is a most healthy operation, and has a tendency to preserve the sight.
Cold water can be drunk without injury only by those who have health and heat enough to warm it soon as it is swallowed. Ice water is dangerous unless in a raging fever. In warm weather, with a sweaty skin, the blood is coldest, as sweat carries off heat. In a state of exhaustion from heat and sweat, warm drink does as much good as cold drink does harm. It is reviving, and quenches thirst better than cold drink. There are two kinds of thirst—that which arises from too much heat in the stomach, with a dry skin, which needs cold drink—and that from too little heat in the stomach, with a very sweaty skin, which needs warm drink. In all warm climates the natives have cold blood. Accordingly in such countries Nature has provided a variety and abundance of the hottest kinds of pepper to restore the heat of the body. It is mixed freely with their food, which a stranger from a Northern climate finds at first too hot for his mouth and throat. Cold water on a sweaty skin is death. It has a tendency to palsy the nerves. Men who have bathed in cold water in a state of perspiration have been paralysed by it from head to foot. The bad fever sores so common among boys, are entirely owing to going into cold water. Deafness is often caused by it. Many farmers get lasting fever sores from haying on swampy ground with wet feet. In warm weather, in a state of perspiration, the warm bath is just what is needed. With a sweaty skin it is injurious to wash even the face and hands in cold water. Warm water feels agreeable to the moist skin, and cold water the reverse. It is a mistake that the warm bath is weakening, and exposes to take cold. When needed, it is strengthening, and fortifies against taking cold. Cold water is less hurtful if accompanied with friction, and then it is friction that does good.
As might be expected, the persons who have so little reason and prudence as to sit in a draft of air in a state of perspiration, will on other occasions go to the opposite extreme, and have too little air. They close tight the doors and windows of their bed-rooms, and breathe through the night a foul and poisonous air. In the morning they have their beds made, full of foulness, without airing.
Great injury and many deaths are caused by the improper use of cold water.
Luxury and show help to shorten life, from the labor and care necessary to support it. Besides, it is in bad taste. Nothing is meaner than fine houses and fine grave-stones and monuments. No splendid building in the world, merely as such, is worth going a rod to see. A person of good and rational mind loves small wooden houses, unpainted, weather-beaten and brown with age. The handsomest house is a log house. The naked wood is interesting and impressive. The most impressive grave is that which has no grave-stone whatever. Baron Steuben showed good sense when he directed that no stone whatever should be placed at his grave. The handsomest grave-stone is a rough one picked up in the field or woods, with no inscription but the name, as all else properly belongs only to the family record and the memory of friends. Bunker Hill monument abstracts from the interest and impressiveness of the battle ground. Worse than that, the battle ground is gone. Its sacred soil has been removed, and the original appearance destroyed for the sake of the so-called "ornament." The monument tells nothing but the unfeelingness and folly of its builders.
Perfect naturalness and plainness are the only ornaments, in language, manners, and everything else. A tree with the body of it white washed has an unpleasant appearance. A woman with false hair looks horrid. Her face looks older for it, by the contrast. An old man with a young wife or a young wig, is a shocking sight. Only those who are unworthy of respect attempt to gain it by show. As a general thing, those who are always "well dressed" are useless and pernicious members of society. One man or woman is worth more than a nation of gentlemen and ladies.
Striving to gain property only for the sake of being rich, shortens life. Besides, unnecessary wealth like everything else unnecessary, give no true enjoyment. Goodness is the foundation of the firmness, serenity, and cheerfulness, which help to prolong life.