Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/242

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mates of a large and wealthy establishment suffered. I was told that an affection very much like dysentery had become developed, and was unusually obstinate of cure. The water supply of the establishment, the drainage, the ventilation, had all in turn been blamed, and altered to no effect. I found the unfortunate sufferers were sitting down regularly to four heavy meals a day, with animal food at each meal; that they took between meals no exercise adequate for utilizing a little of the potential energy that was stowed up in their tightly packed organisms.

"This one fact seemed to me sufficient to account for the phenomenon, and the instant relief that followed the cruel prescription of 'double the work and halve the food' was proof direct that the process of cure was immediate."

This quotation I reproduce as illustrating what I have pointed out, that the amount of food should be adapted to the requirements of the system, and to the amount of physical or intellectual work done, if it is not to be harmful in some way. If these individuals had been huntsmen or whippers-in to a pack of hounds, the food would probably have been just sufficient for the requirements of the system. If we want to see good illustrations of green old age, we must look for it in men who are noted for their physical and intellectual vigor; and a man who takes active exercise, whether in cutting down trees or in brisk walking and other physical pursuits, and in addition to this does plenty of brain work, lives carefully, and drinks but very moderately, may, long after he is an octogenarian, control the destinies of a mighty nation, and give indications of mental and bodily vigor that would shame many half his age. The wiry frame of such a man will be vigorous when the obese and sedentary individual of the same age has drifted into senility and second childhood.

There is no more fatal barrier to long life than obtains in the case of a man who has until middle age been used to active occupation, and been employed in business pursuits that have engrossed his time and energies, and then suddenly retires to a life of ease, luxury, and enjoyment. The revulsion that such a change entails seems to throw the whole human machine out of gear. The surroundings in the way of diet and exercise are seldom considered and adapted to the altered circumstances, and the result is that the different organs that looked to the stimulation of active occupation to keep them in working order, become clogged with waste; and those diseases that depend upon such a state of affairs, such as congested liver, indigestion, obesity, gout, bronchial troubles, etc., soon manifest themselves. Does not this equally apply to any piece of mechanism? Even take a clock, for instance; if dust, rust, and dirt are allowed to accumulate in its working parts, how soon (be its steel ever so highly tempered) does the friction