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only lives to the age of ninety; and, in the last place, out of eleven thousand nine hundred and ninety-six, only one drags on a languid existence to the age of a hundred years. The mean term of life is, according to the same author, eight years in a new-born child. As the child grows older his existence becomes more secure, and after the first year he may reasonably be expected to live to the age of thirty-three. Life becomes gradually firmer up to the age of seven, when the child, after going through the dangers of dentition, will probably live forty-two years and three months. After this period, the sum of probabilities, which had gradually increased, undergoes a progressive decrease ; so that a child of fourteen cannot expect to live beyond thirty-seven years and five months; a man of thirty, twentyeight years more; and, in the last place, a man of eighty-four, one year only. Such is the result of observation, and of calculations on the different degrees of probability of human life, by Halley, Graunt, Kersboom, Wargentin, Simson, Deparcieux, Dupré de St. Maur, Buffon, d'Alembert, Barthez, and M. Mourgues."— De Lys' Richerand. How is it that of the whole number of children, so few, so very few, live long enough to fulfil the final cause of human existence ?
Now if, in contemplating the system of man in connexion with the other systems of nature, we be able to discover any one very striking difference, wherein his system differs from all others, may we not fairly presume that this difference between them is the cause of the remarkable and otherwise unaccountable anomaly above mentioned ?
We need not look far, nor ponder long, in order to discover the difference which distinguishes the system of man from that of all others
--and it is indeed a momentous one. It is this : that while all the other systems of the universe are sustained and governed by immutable laws, as gravitation, chemical affinity, instinct, &c. &c. the system of man depends solely for support upon a law, the perfect or imperfect fulfilment of which has been left to the capricious will of man himself-I mean the law of nutrication ; observe, I say, nutrication, or that law in obedience to which we supply the mouth with food; and not nutrition, which signifies the conversion of that food into blood. Nutrication, in fact, means simply the act or manner of feeding ourselves.
While all other systems, therefore, are sustained by laws which are immutable, that by which the system of man is supported is entirely subjected to the variable governance of human caprice. But there is still another marked difference wherein the system of human life is distinguished from that of all others. To every system nature has allotted a determinate position ; and she has established a fixed relation between each system and all the other systems by which each is surrounded; and from their allotted position none can swerve—their own allotted relation to surrounding objects none can disturb—none except man. But man, as I hope to prove to you hereafter, has removed himself from bis natural position_has broken down his natural relation to the external world, and so brought himself within the sphere of the operation of causes injurious to his well-being, which could not otherwise have reached him.
All planetary phenomena, therefore, as well as those of brute life,
of chemistry, of vegetable life, mechanics, and physics in general, owe their infallibility to the infallibility of the laws which sustain them; and can it be doubted that the fallibility which distinguishes the system of man from all others, has its origin in the fallibility of the laws on which it depends for support? I mean those laws which relate to its nutrication, and relative position in the universe. If the immutable law of gravitation which, as it were, bridles the planets, guiding and restraining each in its proper path, had depended for its energy and constancy upon the caprice of men, is it not easily conceivable—nay, is it not, absolutely certain that the system of the planets would have been liable to as many disorders as is the humanoanimal system ? Should we not speedily have had a repetition of those scenes in which the North Pole glowed with summer heat,
“ Quæque polo posita est glaciali proxima serpens,
Frigore pigra priùs, nec formidabilis ulli,
-when the lazy Boötes ran sweating away with his wagon,-and the Moon could not but express her astonishment on seeing her brother's curricle and four in the very act of trespassing on her own highway ?—should we not have had hot fits and cold fits ?-fevers and agues ?-disordered functions and diminished secretion ? Would not the Moon occasionally have forgotten her function of reflection, and the Sun his secretion of light ?
By a parity of converse reasoning, had the system of man been made to rely for its sustentation on some immutable law-like that of gravitation-had the nutrication of the body been effected by some invariable law over which man possessed no control-had he himself nothing to do with the feeding his body, and had he possessed no power to alter his allotted position and relation in the universe in a word, were we fed by chemical affinity, and held in our places by attraction of gravitation—then the actions which constitute the life and the health of the human machine would have been as unerringly executed as the revolutions which constitute the health and the life of the planetary scheme. A well-constructed watch, if properly defended from external injury, will indicate the hours of the day as infallibly as the moon will revolve in her orbit in her given month; so also, under like circumstances, would those movements and revolutions of the fluids which constitute the life of the human machine be executed with the same unfailing precision, provided only that the law of nutrication be properly fulfilled, and its proper position among the other systems of the universe duly observed. All things were created with a view to the fulfilment of a final cause, and it is insulting to the Creator to suppose that he has attempted to attain to a final cause by means which are inefficient to its accomplishment. But it may be denied that other systems are infallible. It may be said that there are occasionally certain signs observable in the heavens which seem to indicate that then and there a world has gone to pieces. Be it so. But who shall say that it has gone to pieces before it had fulfilled its final cause ?-before it had existed its appointed term ? I am not attempting to prove that man is not “ born to die "-I am only endeavouring to show that he was not by nature subjected to disease and premature death. I claim for the system of man no more than is readily conceded to other systems. I claim for him only the same degree of perfection, the same importance, the same consistency, which are so clearly observable in all the other works of the Almighty Architect of the universe. I cannot believe that it formed a part of the original scheme that one half of mankind should die before they have attained the age of eight years—that is, before they have lived long enough to fulfil any one conceivable intention-in fact, before they are themselves fully formed.
If any man die while any one of his organs is unimpaired, he dies prematurely, and before he has fulfilled the final cause of his existence. For nature is an economist in everything; she creates nothing in vain : she never falls short, nor does she ever exceed the object in view ; she husbands her resources, and never wastes her energies. But to create an eye or an ear with the power of seeing or hearing for eighty years, and to attach that eye or that ear to a body capable of existing only sixty years, would be an obvious waste-a most unnecessary expenditure of energy. This would be like loading a blunderbuss to shoot a sparrow. What would you say to that architect who should employ fifty men for fifty days in erecting a column of stone to support a bird-cage or a pepper-box? The means, my dear John, which nature employs are always exactly proportioned to the end —not an atom too little, not an atom too much.
If this reasoning be not admitted, then we are driven to the conclusion, that the human system contains within itself, as part of its primitive design, the principles of disease and premature death. But that some individuals do escape both these-both disease and premature death-the evidence of our senses daily assures us. In these individuals, therefore, either these principles do not exist, or they exist to no purpose. These principles, therefore can only form a part of the primitive design of some individual systems, or if they do form a part of the original scheme of all, they are clearly only effective in some. But surely to suppose this, is to make such a hap-hazard affair of human life, is to convert this “ harp of a thousand strings" into such an ill-contrived and discordant kettle-drum, is to reduce it to a thing of such mere contingency, that no one but the infidel proselyte to the doctrines of blind chance could reconcile it either to his reason or his conscience to believe it.
But that disease and premature death formed no part of the original design of man is superabundantly proved by the innumerable contrivances which nature has instituted in every part of the machine to repel them, and the mighty efforts which she makes, under disease, to escape them.
My inference, then, is this; that the vital actions constitute a system of nature, which is like her other systems, perfect in itself: that as the planetary system depends for its health (that is, the due performance of its functions) on the law of gravitation, so the health of the vital actions depends on the law of nutrication, and that as the planetary system is incapable of derangement while the law of gravitation
remains unchanged, so neither is the system of man, (so long as the due relation between himself and other systems is presumed,) capable of disorder otherwise than by an infraction of the law of nutrication. Beyond the mere fulfilment of this law, we possess no more control over the motions constituting health than we do over those of the heavenly bodies ; everything else, after the fulfilment of this law, is effected by the inherent powers of the nutritive system itself: and to suppose that, while all other systems are fulfilled par nécessité, the system of human nutrition is fulfilled par hasard, and may or may not answer its intention, just as it may happen, is to suppose that which is in direct opposition to the evidence of our senses as it regards the uniformity, simplicity, and perfection of nature, and is, therefore, directly opposed to right reason and common sense.
The instance of hereditary diseases doth not invalidate this argument: because, although the inherited disease be not contracted by any error of diet in the inheritor, yet I contend it must have been originally derived from such a source to the parent who first became the subject of it. For instance, a man from high and gross feeding contracts gout: his sons, however temperate, may nevertheless be afflicted with gout by inheritance; that is, supposing gout to be an hereditary disease, as some assert. Here, you see, notwithstanding the temperance of the son, his gout was evidently the result of error in diet, not, indeed, on his own part, but on the part of his parent. And it must be remembered, that I am speaking, not of individual disease, but of disease in general.
A child may be born with some imperfection in one of the valves of the heart: but this imperfection is the result of some imperfection in the action of those vessels whose office it was to form this valve ; and this second imperfection could only be derived from some imperfection in the health of the parent, induced by the causes in question. Death from dentition, again, is the result of a morbid irritability produced partly by the imperfect health of the parent, and partly by the operation on the infant of the same causes which enfeebled the health of its parents, viz. unnatural diet and unnatural habits.
I need not surely stop to say that we have nothing to do here with diseases resulting from external accident, and amongst these I number those which depend on the accident of situation, climate, &c., such as the cretinism of the alpine valleys, chimney-sweeper's cancer, yellow fever, dysentery, ague, &c. &c.
You will please to observe, that when I said all diseases have their origin in a breach of the law of nutrication, that is, by error in diet, I also added the proviso, that the natural relation between his own and the other systems of the universe be duly preserved. But the non-observance of this natural relation and position is a most fruitful source of disease-disease arising from moral causes-causes which could not have existed, and did not exist, until the morbid refinement consequent upon double-distilled civilisation had forcibly wrested the system of man from its primitive position in the general scheme.
What I wish, therefore, to prove, and what I hope I have proved is, that disease and premature death formed no part of the original design of man, and that for the long and lugubrious list of disorders
to which we are subject, with the exception of a few accidentals, we are indebted solely to ourselves. It was my wish to prove that this not only is so, but that it is impossible to question it without a solecism in philosophy, without flying in the face of all analogy, without insulting the excellence of nature.
It seems to me that there is but one legitimate cause of death, and that is old age ; and here, as ever, nature shows herself a kind and watchful mother. There is nothing painful in death from old age: it makes its advance with a gradual and stealthy step which is scarcely noted, and the old man drops into the tomb almost insensibly, conscious, indeed, that it cannot be far distant, but still ignorant of the moment when it opens to receive him. By imperceptible degrees the living principle becomes more and more feeble, the heart's pulsations less and less frequent, the fluids circulated with less and less rapidity, a change is wrought in their quality, they perform their several offices imperfectly, the food is slowly assimilated, we have bone where we ought to find cartilage, we have flaccidity where we ought to find firmness and tension, bones which before were separated now become consolidated, the fluids lubricating the joints are deficient, the ligaments regulating their extent of motion are indurated. Thus, the old man moves with difficulty, and his respiration is hurried and unequal on very slight exertion; the least essential parts of the body forsake him first: his hair becomes white and falls off, the teeth loose and drop out; his vision becomes impaired, his hearing imperfect, his judgment inaccurate, his temper querulous ; a little while, and he becomes perfectly helpless; his brain loses its sensibility, his memory deserts him, already the twilight of death is around him, and shortly the night of the grave closes over him, and he is no more seen. Lastly, comes Oblivion, with her sponge, and wipes his name off the slate of human recollection, and the bustling hero of this little drama is heard or thought of no longer.
I lay this down as a fundamental truth, that we bring disease upon ourselves by using an unnatural diet and by exercising unnatural habits of life; and that the only way to preserve vigorous health and strength of mind and body, is to accommodate our habits to their natural state, AS NEARLY AS THE TYRANNY OF CUSTOM WILL PERMIT US; and wherever a particular natural habit cannot be adopted because it would not be tolerated in society, to substitute some other for it, having as near a resemblance to it as conventual usage will allow: and this, indeed, is but an extension of the principle by which a judicious physician is actuated when he orders an infant which cannot be applied to its mother's breast, and where a wet-nurse cannot be obtained, to be nourished by ass's milk or goat's milk, because the milk of these animals is supposed to have a nearer resemblance to the natural food of the infant, viz. its mother's milk, than any other kind of nutriment. Would it not be deemed preposterous to feed an infant three days old on rump steaks and ale ? Certainly :--and why? Simply because beef and ale are not the natural food of infants. And why, in the name of common sense, is it not to be thought equally preposterous to feed « children of a larger growth,”-that is, men and women-on food which is not natural to them ?