Every human being receives at birth a certain amount of capital in the form of vital force. To judge from the law which apportions to mammalia about the five-fold span of time requisite for the perfect development of the skeleton, normal man—i. e., a human being—born of healthy parents, perfectly healthy himself, and spending his vital force properly and economically, may live, as a rule, from one hundred to one hundred and twenty years, and in exceptional cases may attain the age of one hundred and fifty, and even more.
Most exact observations have proved that the horse, which requires five years before its frame is firmly set, lives to an age of five times five, or twenty-five to thirty years; the camel, requiring «ight years, to an age of five times eight, or forty years; the dog, requiring two years, to twice five, or ten years; the elephant, requiring forty years, to an age of five times forty, or two hundred years. This is the rule. But exceptional horses have lived fifty years, and even longer. There is in the museum at Manchester the skull of a horse that lived more than sixty years.
Alexander the Great dedicated his war elephant to the sun, in honor of a brave enemy whom he had conquered. This historic elephant, which he set at liberty, after attaching an inscription to its neck, was found alive three hundred and fifty years later.
As among the mammalia, so also among men we meet with individuals living to the age of one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five years; thus, for example, Democritus, the great naturalist, who died at the age of one hundred and nine years, without illness and as happy as he had lived. Kome saw two actresses aged respectively one hundred and four and one hundred and twelve years. A French actress, who died in 1867, was one hundred and eleven years old.
The Swedish veteran Mittelstedt, who, during his military career of sixty-seven years, had fought in seventeen battles and suffered weary captivity, paid his debt to nature at the age of one hundred and twelve years. In his one hundred and tenth year he wedded his third wife, and shortly before his death took a two hours’ walk.
Baron von Waldeck died a vigorous old man at the age of one hundred and six. An old French soldier passed away in the beginning of the fifties, who, being a bit of a wag, asked in his one hundred and twentieth year to be allowed to re-enlist in the army. The following cases may be mentioned where people have attained an exceptionally great age:
The Englishman Effingham, who was a soldier for many years, and who earned his bread by hard work, died at the age of one hundred and forty-four, having hardly ever known illness. Thomas Parr lived to be one hundred and fifty-two years old. He was always in good health and happy, and lived on the simplest diet, till King Charles I. heard of him, sent for him, and in order to do him honor had a splendid repast set before him. This caused his death, for the postmortem showed that it was due to disturbed digestion.
The Norwegian, Drakenberg, died at the age of one hundred and forty-six. He was for fifteen years a Turkish prisoner, and served as a galley slave. Nevertheless he retained sufficient vigor and cheerfulness to woo a young peasant girl when he was a hundred and thirty years old. Joseph Surrington lived longer still. He died at the ripe age of one hundred and sixty. His youngest child was nine, his eldest one one hundred and eight years old. The Hungarian Bowin died in 1750 at the ripe old age of one hundred and seventy-two years, leaving a widow one hundred and sixty-four and a son one hundred and fifteen years old.
Another authentic instance may be mentioned of a Russian veteran who was born in 1623 and died in 1825, and who therefore lived two hundred and two years. If we ask how it is that some people live to so great an age, mostly in good health and always cheerful to the end, the answer almost invariably is that these people always lived very moderate, simple and natural lives; in other words,, they never drew excessively on their capital in the shape of vital force, with which Dame Nature endowed them—never squandered it, as fashionable society, consciously or unconsciously, mostly does at present, but preserved it by frugality and acted like an economical housewife.
Prof. Dr. Buechner, Darmstadt, in a lecture on the duration of man’s life, writes as follows: What is the greatest age that man is capable of reaching? It has been held that man cannot live much longer than one hundred years, but experience refutes this view. It has been proved by examples that he can live to be nearly two hundred years old. England especially furnishes us with several instances of this kind.
A peasant, born in England in the fifteenth century, lived far into the seventeenth, and attained the age of one hundred and seventy-two years. As an old man of one hundred and twenty he is credited with still having performed heavy manual labor. He was accustomed to the most moderate and simple fare, and succumbed finally to an illness caused by partaking of too rich food on a festive occasion. He lies in Westminster Abbey.
Another Englishman, born in 1500, lived to be one hundred and seventy years old. A Dane was born in 1624, and died in 1770 in his one hundred and forty-sixth year. His life was very checkered. He was one hundred and eleven years old when he first married; his wife was sixty years old, and after her death he wished to contract a marriage with a young girl of eighteen. There are other men who married repeatedly during their long lives; thus a Scotchman had nine and a Frenchman even ten wives.
Hungary, too, can furnish an example of extraordinary longevity. An old man died at Temesvar in 1724 at the unprecedented age of one hundred and eighty-five. Even at the present time there are many people more than one hundred years old. A man who served as an artilleryman under Frederick the Great is now alive in Bromberg, in the full enjoyment of his one hundred and eighteen years.
The majority of these long-lived persons are said to have been well and strong up to the very time of their death. It sounds strange to us that the hair and teeth of these aged people were renewed, and that the wrinkles in their skin disappeared. Hufeland cites two instances of this kind of regeneration. From the standpoint of physiology the thing is not at all impossible.
According to some authorities the mean age of man has advanced even further, and exceptional cases of a truly green old age have been cited in abundance. Many authentic records of antiquity exist which seem to show that we die as a rule very much earlier than people used to do. Even at the time of the Emperor Vespasian, after several centuries of moral corruption, there were living within a small area fifty-four people, aged over one hundred years; forty from one hundred and ten to one hundred and forty years, and two upwards of one hundred and fifty years old. (See Johannes v. Mueller’s Universal History.)
It is not so very long ago that there were found among the Arabs— among those tribes who drink only water and milk—several people two hundred years old.
Plenty of men are among them who, at the age of one hundred, are in their prime, and marry at that age with far greater justification than most young’ men. with us. Even in Europe men have lived to the age of two hundred, and it may be assumed with certainty that these did not live beyond the normal age, but that all others did not reach it.
In the records of St. Leonard’s Church, London, there may be seen an entry of a, birth and death, which one might be tempted to doubt if it were not invested with full official authority—that of Thomas Cam, born January 28, 1588, died 1795. He lived, therefore, to the ripe old age of 207 years, and saw twelve sovereigns occupying the British throne. Three score and ten years is now-a-days a considerable age.
. Most people who die of chronic diseases succumb between the ages of fifty and seventy years, and even earlier. And these fifty to seventy years which we live—is this life? It is a life of sickness, a chronic dying, lasting for seventy years before it is over. This state of sickliness which we call life and passable health, this miserable state which crawls with us to our death-rattle, accompanied by bottles of poison (medicine) which tortures us in the sick-room, begins with the moment of our birth into this world, when the midwife and nurses drink the health of the wretched new-born baby in something stronger than water.
It is sad to think that in the sparsely populated, and therefore less corrupted, East of Europe better health, greater bodily strength and longer life is to be found. In the wild parts of the interior of Russia chemists and doctors are far rarer than with us. In the spring of 1839 all the German journals gave quotations from the Russian bills of mortality, and were greatly astonished that people frequently lived there to be over a hundred years of age.
A few years ago the returns showed that of 74.8,237 persons in forty-four dioceses,. 2,091 died after reaching ages varying from a hundred to a hundred and forty years. Among the boons which the Emperor Nicholas granted to his subjects, one was the multiplication of medical hospitals, and there is no doubt that longevity in Russia will grow to be more rare, and will gradually approach that of Western Europe.
People of one hundred years of age and upwards are by no means rare in the rural population of the Herzegovina, and there are some villages in the mountain districts of the country in which it very rarely happens that an inhabitant dies before the age of eighty. In one of these villages, Dreznica, in the district of Mosta, there lives at present a peasant, Anton Turitsch by name, who has attained the extraordinary age of one hundred and thirty years.
In spite of this he still works in his vineyard, and, being a Roman Catholic, is obliged to walk a distance of eight miles each way to attend church, which he does every Sunday. His eyesight is still very good, for he can distinguish any object at a distance of a hundred steps. His eyebrows are remarkable; they are so thick and bushy that they have to be cut regularly to prevent them from obstructing his vision. His memory is excellent, and he relates the varied experiences of his abnormally long life in a most interesting manner, and has not forgotten the most important events of the last hundred and thirty years, describing and connecting everything he relates most logically. He is said to take after his mother, who attained the age of one hundred and twenty, his father having died at the comparatively early age of ninety-two.
One Hundred and Thirty-five Tears Old.—According to the Turkish newspaper “Sabah” a Turk named Mewlud Effendi died recently in Constantinople at the age of one hundred and thirty-five years.
A Russian Methuselah.—In October, 1895, the St. Petersburg journal “Listok” wrote: “On the 3d inst. Ivan Kusmin, a peasant, aged one hundred and thirty-eight, was admitted into the Obuchow Hospital in this city. He had been sent to the Jenisseiski District as a settler. The government has given him a passport as a pilgrim to every city in the empire. He by no means shows his great age, being hearty and intelligent, and speaking intelligibly and hearing well. He was born in the year 1757, and was, like his parents, a serf of Count Scheremetjew. He spent his childhood in a house of his master at Moscow, and was, he says, at the age of eighty-five, banished to Siberia for ten years for refusing to serve the count any longer. But instead of spending ten years in that inhospitable region he lived there for fifty-three years.
At the time of the emancipation of the serfs by the grandfather of the present emperor he had already obtained his freedom, and was employed in gold washing at the Taiga gold mines, where he lost his toes. In the year 1894 he got homesick, and the government gave him a pass for European Russia and a free pass on the railways. After spending but two days in Moscow, where he could find no relatives alive, he came on to St. Petersburg and rented a room here. Ivan Kusmin has never been married. His memory is so good that he clearly recollects the Pugatschew Rebellion, the annexation of the Crimea, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, and all other important events. His father also attained a very great age, having died in his hundred and forty eighth year.”
Peter Maffens mentions in his history of India a man named Numisde Cogua who died in 1566, aged three hundred and seventy years. His teeth, beard and hair grew four times. Bellour Maccraine lived for one hundred and ninety years in one house. In Russia a man lived to be two hundred and two years old. Don Juan Saveire de Lima died in 1730 at the age of one hundred and ninety-eight.
According to the Bible, Methuselah was the oldest man who ever lived. According to the division of time then in use he attained the age of nine hundred and sixty-nine years.
SOURCE: The Natural method of healing, Volume 1 By Friedrich Eduard Bilz