Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/485

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

JUNE, 1907




THE PROBLEM OF AGE, GROWTH AND DEATH.[1]
By CHARLES SEDGWICK MINOT, LL.D., D.Sc.

JAMES STILLMAN PROFESSOR OF COMPARATIVE ANATOMY IN THE HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL.

I. The Condition of Old Age

THE subject of age has ever been one which has attracted human thought. It leads us so near to the great mysteries that all thinkers have contemplated it, and many are the writers who from the literary point of view have presented us, sometimes with profound thought, often with beautiful images connected with the change from youth to old age. We need but to think of two books familiar more or less to us all—that ancient classic, Cicero's De Senectute, the great book on age, one might almost say, from the literary standpoint, and that of our own fellow-citizen, my former teacher and professor at the Medical School, Dr. Holmes, who in his delightful 'Autocrat' offers to us some of his charming speculations upon age. From the time of Cicero to the time of Holmes numerous authors have written on old age, yet among them all we shall scarcely find any one who had title to be considered as a scientific writer upon the subject. Longevity is indeed a strange and difficult problem. Many of you doubtless have had your attention directed recently to the republished translation of Connaro's famous work and know how sensible that is, and as you read it you must have perceived how little in the practical aspect of the matter we have passed beyond the advice which old Connaro gave to us. And yet silently in the medical laboratories, and in the physiological and anatomical institutes of various universities, we have been gathering more accurate information as to what is the condition of persons who are very old.


  1. Lectures delivered at the Lowell Institute, Boston, March, 1907.