Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
The following article will well repay reproduction, if only to emphasize the last paragraph. Pessimism shortens life, and if we would live out half our days we should take the prescriptions offered by one who knew, but did not always take the needed rest prescribed. Dr. Howe fulfilled, however, the last injunction—to "look upon the bright side of things"—to "try to feel that this world at best is a beautiful place."—Ed. Gleaner.
DO WE LIVE OUT HALF OUR DAYS.—Life tables elaborated to demonstrate the average period of human existence show that pursuits and habits appreciably influence longevity.
The husbandman survives the mechanic, the merchant outlives the professional man, and the "commoner" attains the greatest average age. By the "commoner" is meant the one who leads a comfortable career, and never indulges in excesses. Utter laziness shortens life as much as a condition of hardship. The strong arm is possessed by him who puts forth strength—makes an effort. An unused brain leads to inanity and premature decay; and mental overwork hastens apoplexy and paralysis. The brain needs recreation, which means variety in kind of intellectual work. A game of billiards will refresh a tired mind—the bookkeeper needs diverting exercises, and so does the overworked professional man. At the age of fifty the weary and worried lawyer, minister, or doctor should have a farm to look after—he should hunt and fish, and row and ride. In the cultivation of choice fruits and fine stock the gentleman farmer wholesomely exercises both mind and body; but to retire from business and do nothing is exceedingly dangerous. It is safer to wear out than to rust out. Recreation does not mean stupor and idleness.
The average agriculturist has opportunities for diversion and recreation, yet he overworks in seed-time and harvest; he is careless about sitting in draughts of air when sweltering with heat; and he allows his stomach to be gnawed with hunger when he goes to town that he may save the expense of a lunch. In that respect he cheats himself outrageously.
Ponder over the vital depression produced by the indulgence of grief, envy, hate, revenge, jealousy, and needless fear. Think of the deadly effects of intemperance and unchastity! There are those who eat too much nutritious food, and who at the same time exercise too little, yet they are few in comparison with those who are doomed to drudgery and a scanty diet. In large towns and cities -there are numbers of pitiful women and children who are not well clothed and housed, to say nothing of the pangs of hunger that have to be endured.
Well, what is to be the remedy for such evils? Wisdom will cure a multitude of ills. Let the brain taxed take heed and rest; instruct the farmer to take half as good care of himself as he does of his stock; reason with the intemperate and the unchaste; and educate the poverty stricken to take hope and see how they may better their condition in life. Cultivate good cheer when despair holds the gloomy in chains. "The world at best is not a dreary place." It is simply dreary to those who make it such, by those who hum deplorable songs written by pessimistic poets. Away with "solemncholy" hymns set to long meter , and sung in sepulchral tones. There may be melody in plaintive notes, but the heart grows heavy in listening at too many of them. If we would live out half our days we should look on the bright side of things—we should try to feel that this world at best is a beautiful place.— HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.