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quences had been surmounted; but this is not a lesson which will be of much advantage to the race—which would fain see a way of redeeming commonplace sinners out of the horrible pit without hoping to make saints of them, or expecting to receive a new gospel of ethereal purity from their repentant lips.
The "Silent Partner" * is such an illustration of social life as it is painful to receive from a country which we still insist upon calling the New World. Alas! it is evidently a world in which the old miseries have soon made for themselves a home, and in which some of the sharpest of our social problems.have presented themselves for solution, with all the pertinacity and difficulty they display in the most ancient surroundings. This book is a story of factorylife in the United States, as discovered, to her wonder and horror, by the heroine, who is made by her father's sudden death the "Silent Partner" in a great cotton-mill. Chance leads her to make acquaintance, in the midst of her luxury and the pleasantness of her yonth, with a mill girl of her own age—one of those high-minded, deep-thinking, and imaginative mill-girls, more common (perhaps fortunately) in books than out of them, whose reflections and observations are all conveyed in language which we have no doubt is thoroughly true and genuine—it has all the ring of a real dialect—but with an intelligence and insight which are somewhat doubtful in the circumstances. This girl reveals to the young lady the foundations on which her wealth is built—such a mass of misery and suffering as it is terrible to contemplate. It may have happened to some reader, as it did to ourselves a long time ago—more years than one cares to count—to see a certain curious volume, made up of very fine little essays and stories on the model of the old annuals, entitled the "Lowell Offering," which was written and published by the mill-girls at Lowell. This book, we remember well, was the wonder and admiration of our own youthful mind. The mill-girls, as represented in it, were highly educated and extremely literary young women, many of them the daughters of poor gentlefolks, who had taken up—some out of a high-minded desire for independence,
* The Silent Partner. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Sampson Low & Co. London: 1871.
some to help in the education of a brother, or maintenance of a fatherless family—a life of honest work, in which no loss of position or self-respect was involved. It was bewildering—but we were assured it was true; and Mr. Dickens, in his "American Notes" vouched for the existence of this Utopian factory-town, with all its laborious young ladies—wonderful rosetinted personages, who worked in the mill all day, and wrote lovely little stones signed Araminta or Clotilda at night. Alas! either Lowell was a dream, or it has become so. Miss Phelps's cotton-spinning town of Five Falls is something very different. The misery and despair of the spinners is perhaps, though we are not told so, aggravated by the general prosperity of the country round them, and by the sight of comfort and well-being that they cannot share. And perhaps in a cotton town of Lancashire it might be too easy to produce parallels to poor old Bijah Mudge, to the Mell family, and to the unhappy Catty, a victim to cotton before she was born. But all this comes upon us by surprise after the pretty romance, if it was a romance, about the young ladies who were factory-girls at Lowell, and in face of our conviction that whatever else may be deficient, bread and comfort are almost too plentiful in America. Here is what Bijah Mudge says, who is fond of raving of "Ten-Hours Bills," and who has been one of the witnesses before a Committee of the State, and has thus got himself dismissed from the factory at which he worked :—
"No, marm, I'm not out of my head; I'm only a troublesome character out of work in a free country. ... If I'd been a younger man. I'd not have took it quite so hard, mebbe. A younger man might set his hand to this and that; but I've worked to factories fifty-six years, and I was very old to get my notice unexpected. I'm sixty-six years old. . . . Now this is what I had to say; in the name of the State of Massachusetts, this is what I've got to say. I've worked to factories fifty-six years. I haven't got drunk not since 1 was fifteen years old. I've been about as healthy, take it off and on, as most folks, and I guess about as smart. I'm a moral man; and I used to be a Methodist class-teacher. I've worked to factories fiftysix years steady, and I'm sixty-six years old, and in the poor-us.
"I don't know what the boys would say if they see me in the poor-us. . . .
"It kind o' bothers me, off and on, what the boys would say. . . . I've worked fiftysix years, and I've earned my bread and butter, and my shoes and hats, and I give the boys a trade, and I give 'em hansome coffins; and now, I'm sixty-six years old and in the poor-us."
What could the most wretched Lancashire "hand" say more? And this is America—the land of plenty and of promise! We have no space, however, to follow the discoveries made by the heroine in her anxious search; nor the somewhat visionary and fantastic means she takes to soothe the wounded spirits, notably by little tea parties, at which they are asked to meet her fashionable and astonished friends—a most truly American and young-lady-like way of making the spinners happy. Neither can we do more than note the equally characteristic decision of both the heroines of the book against marriage—a decision which, for our own part, does not alarm us about the future fate of the American nation as it does some credulous good people. The obstinate celibates are not likely, we believe, ever to be in anything but a very small minority.
We have left ourselves no room to consider the crowd of other slim, and, on the whole, pleasant volumes which lie before us. For instance, the works of Miss Alcott. the first of which, "An Old-Fash
ioned Girl," is a protest against the extraordinary rble of young-ladyhood in America, where girls are engaged to little lovers at six or seven, and where dress, jewelry, and flirtation begin in the nursery. "Little Women" and "Little Men" are moral stories of the same class, where the dialect is all very choice American, and the amount of absolute goodness and Christian virtue revealed to us is enough to save a great many Sodoms, and is, we trust, as true to fact as it is agreeable to read of. The "Old-Fashioned Girl" affords us, besides, a very queer sketch of the manners and habits of the young women of art and literature who have set up for themselves to live a jolly and independent life on the model of their "brothers," the artist and journalist class, which we should have liked to quote. There is the most amusing and conscious air of sham in the whole proceeding, which makes the importance with which it is produced, and the weight the author attaches to it, as a picture of the new and higher life, infinitely funny, and proves how curiously capable the inexperienced mind is of placing, without knowing it, a bit of utter unreality in the heart of a picture full of uncompromising realism. To such a writer, what she sees is safe ground; but what she imagines, very doubtful indeed.
f The somewhat unwieldy word standing at the head of this page is coined in order to take the place of that much-abused term "longevity," which is often made to do duty in a restricted sense, to its detriment. Longevity simply means "length of life;" and it can serve no good purpose to limit its application to those cases of length of life which are beyond the normal period among men: it is required for more general use ; and hence we may, with advantage, speak of old people who reach or exceed one hundred vears of age as examples of centenarianism, instead of calling them examples of longevity. Every now and then, with more frequency and regularity than is presented by perhaps any other periodic topic, centenarianism excites the public interest. Another case is announced of
an individual having exceeded one hundred years of age; paragraphs go the round of the newspapers, the medical journals report on the case, Sir George Cornewall Lewis is declared to be refuted, and the subject drops. It is a little strange at first sight, this interest which is manifested in monstrosities of life-duration. The men and women who have so far distinguished themselves among their fellow-creatures as to exceed greatly the average height, have never attracted so much attention as have the long-livers; and yet it is probably as rare for a man to exceed eight feet in height as to live beyond the hundredth year,—indeed, we believe much rarer. No one asks the details of the life of an eight-foot giant— how much pudding he took as a boy in order to attain his astounding dimensions —apparently because nobody believes that any administration of pudding or its correlatives would make a boy, who was going to be five foot four, into a man of larger size. Possibly, moreover, not very many persons are gieatly anxious to attain large dimensions. It is not so, however, with long-livers: even to-day all classes of society take an interest, which is something profound, in the details of life of a long-liver; they would fain imitate the centenarian, and by copying his mode of living inherit his years. Even where there is no intention of pursuing a system of diet and manner of life, people seem to like to know how they could, if they chose, lengthen their years. There is a relic of the old times, of the search for the elixir vita, in this kind of thing: that great enthusiasm of past days, which served an important part in opening for us the door of science, is still alive. Clearly the people who take more interest in the lesson to be learned from the diary of a centenarian than from the report of a Registrar-General or a medical officer of health, are yet mediaeval in their views of life and death. The real fact seems to be that the man who exceeds one hundred years of life has no more to teach us than the man who exceeds eight feet in height: both are monstrosities, and attain their special distinction by no particular behavior on their part. A certain amount of care will produce its due effect on the longevity of any individual ; but there is a set limit beyond which it cannot be extended. In some individuals this limit is at a greater distance than it is in the most of mankind, and if they escape the accidents of disease and violence they live longer than other men : the cases of these men must be looked upon as distinctly abnormal; they are to be held as freaks of nature, monsters—giants of age; just as we have converse cases recorded of dwarfs of age—human beings who become old after twelve years of life, and began to exhibit senile decay at a time when ordinary men are still growing children.
Longevity, as we have elsewhere pointed out,* is of several kinds, which need to be distinguished. There is the longevity characteristic of species of plants and animals, men included,—that is to say, the
* "Comparative Longevity in Man and Animals." Macmillan. 1870.
age which each individual of the species born may be expected to reach; this is average specific longevity, and is a very low figure indeed as compared with other kinds of longevity. For Europeans it does not appear to be above forty years. This average longevity is brought to so low a ■ figure by the great amount of death in the first years of life. By an excess of deaths in early life the average longevity of a species or of any given group of individuals might be brought down to a year or two, though the individuals which did survive might, some of them, enjoy a century of life. This brings us to a second kind of longevity also characterizing species—that which agrees with what has been called "the lease of life," and which we call potential specific longevity. The age to which a creature would attain, supposing it to escape all the dangers of youth, the diseases and accidents which are lurking,about the life-way, and to die simply of old age, would represent the "potential longevity" of that kind of plant or animal. Very few beings ever manage to exhibit this—certainly very few men; but men are sufficiently anxious about the matter, and many have taken so much pains to live long, by avoiding all dangers, that we have good ground to suppose that the lease of life of the present race of men is normally something between seventy and one hundred years. Care may enable a man to expend very nearly his full lease; but nothing which he can do, no power under heaven, can enable him to add a day to that term, any more than by taking thought a cubit may be added to his stature. And now we see the relations which centenarians hold to other men in this matter. They are not persons who have taken more care than the less rare but equally admirable octogenarians; they have simply been born with a greater potential longevity—a longer lease of life—and they have had the good or bad luck to remain tenants for very nearly as long as the lease was good. It is impossible to guess how many, but doubtless thousands of possible centenarians die before they are a year old, and thousands more at all ages: had they got by the One fatal corner where they fell, the whole road would have been clear for a hundred years.
Regarding then, as we do, centenarians as instances of extreme or "abnormal longevity," of which it is worth remarking we have two forms, the abnormally small * and the abnormally great, we can see no reason for fixing the limit of the abnormally great at one hundred years, as Sir George Cornewall Lewis was at one time inclined to do, nor even at one hundred and three or four, to which limit he was afterwards induced to advance. Our & priori impressions are distinctly in favor of a much wider limit, reaching perhaps, in the very rarest cases, to the one hundred and fifty years attributed to some celebrities, such as Old Parr, Henry Jenkins, and the Countesses of Desmond and Eccleston. Indeed, the great German, Haller, has uttered what is probably the truest dictum yet put forward in the matter: "The ultimate limit of human life does not exceed two centuries: to fix the exact number of years is exceedingly difficult.''
When an unusually well-attested case of centenarianism turns up—as for instance the recent one of Mr. Tuning, at Morden College, Blackheath,—the newspapers and journals always bring in the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis, attribute certain opinions to him, and demolish them by aid of the new case. This is one way of keeping up the interest in the specimens of abnormal longevity; but inasmuch as several well-attested cases of persons exceeding a hundred years of age were adduced at the time when Sir George was interested in this matter, and were actually admitted by him not long before he died as sufficiently conclusive to make him modify the opinion he had held, viz., that there was no proof of the existence of centenarians, we are fully warranted in concluding that the importance attached to such cases from this point of view is as delusive as is the interest they gain from the supposition that we can learn by them how to live long ourselves. What Sir George Lewis at one time stated (it was during the last few months of his life that he brought his valuable sceptical criticism to bear on the matter) was, that he could find no sufficient proof of any man or woman having exceeded, or even completed a century of life ; and having found
* An instance was not long since recorded in one of the medical journals of a child which ceased to grow and commenced to exhibit signs of senile decay at the age of ten years.
New Series.—Vol. XIV., No. 6.
so many cases advanced on the slenderest and most worthless evidence, he was inclined to regard all centenarianism as either delusion or imposture. In this he reminds us of a remark made by Professor Huxley: "No mistake is so commonly made by clever people as that of assuming a cause to be bad because the arguments of its supporters are to a great extent nonsensical." Sir George fell into this error, as he afterwards had to acknowledge; for upon the evidence which the publication of his incredulity brought down upon him in abundance, he was compelled to admit that persons do reach one hundred years of age, and that some have attained even one hundred and three or four, though this he considered exceedingly rare and as the ultimate term of life.
By far the larger number of cases of centenarianism which are reported are not backed up as they should be by evidence. The appetite for the marvellous is so keen, that people would rather take the centenarian on his own assertion than risk losing him by investigation. This is the case with a certain Thomas Geeran, now receiving parish relief at Brighton, who is declared to be one hundred and four years old, and states that he entered the British army at thirty years of age, and served for more than thirty years. A pamphlet has been published concerning this case, in which there is not a shred of evidence given in support of the man's statement. No inquiries appear to have been made at his reputed birthplace, viz., Scariff, county Clare, Ireland, and an application to the War Office, with a view to getting him pension, has entirely failed, in consequence of his name, not being discoverable in the books. This is the kind of case which we must guard against, and others like it, testified only by epitaphs or village gossips. The next generation will not be troubled with this question as we are to-day, 'for the registration of births will, in the course of time, furnish all the required evidence on one point, whilst the only remaining difficulty, that of establishing identity, is daily decreasing with the growth of intelligence and the spread of education among our peasantry.
It is to be hoped, however, that we shall not have to wait so long for journalists and enthusiasts to cease their triumphant paragraphs, announcing cases in which the
age of one hundred or one hundred and four years has been attained. Anything over one hundred and nine, in the way of age, would be perhaps worth mention if accompanied with documentary evidence; but of the mere passing the century limit there is enough proof already.*
We shall here briefly mention five cases of centenarianism, of the thorough trustworthiness of which we feel no doubt; and were it worth while, we fully believe that a great many others could be placed on an equally sure basis. The trouble and worry of doing this kind of thing is, however, not at all inviting; and where so little is to be gained, either in the way of knowledge or amusement, we do not wonder that published well-attested cases are fewer than they might be.
1. William Shuldham was baptized at Beccles, in Suffolk, in July, 1743. He died in May, 1845. His baptism is witnessed by the register in the parish church of Beccles. On July 22, 1843, he gave a dinner at Marlesford Hall, near Wickham Market, to his friends, to celebrate the completion of his hundredth year.
2. A Quaker gentleman, well known in the mercantile world at the beginning of this century, died not long since in his hundred and second year. Dr. Dickinson, of Mayfair, who has been kind enough to inform me of this case, has copies of the register both of his birth and death, establishing this fact. As Dr. Dickinson observes, the Quakers are very precise in these matters.
3. James Hastings, for upwards of sixty years rector and impropriator of the living of Martley in Worcestershire, father of Admiral Sir Thomas Hastings, Sir Charles Hastings, Admiral Hastings, and the Rev. Henry Hastings, died in his hundred-andfirst year. His grandson, Mr. G. W. Hastings, of Barnard's Green, Malvern, has obliged me with the following details. He was born in London, in Soho-square, January 2, 1756 ; and his birth register, of which Mr. Hastings has a copy, is at St. Martin's, Trafalgar-square. He was entered as a gentleman commoner of Wadham College, Oxford, in 1776. At the request of Sir Thomas and Mr. Hastings, the w^r
* A great number of cases of centenarianism— good and bad—are given by Mr. Tollemache in an excellent article in the Fortnightly Review, April, 1S69.
den of Wadham last year looked up tb entries in the college and university booi, and sent a copy of an entry, givingthe age of James Hastings as twenty at matriculation. He was admitted to holy orders by the Bishop of Oxford, at St. Mary's, in November, 1779. As no one can be admitted to the orders of the Church of England till the age of twentythree, this again carries him back to 1756 as his birth-year. Mr. Hastings has the letters of orders in his possession; they have never left the family, and prove incontestably that James Hastings was twenty-three in 1779. He was married at the parish church of Chipping Norton in February, 1781, and his age is giveij in the register as twenty-five. He died in July, 1856, and was buried in the family vault in Martley Church. The Rev. James Hastings stood six feet four inches in his stockings, was a strikingly handsome man, and had fifteen children. He had but one sister, and no brother, whilst his wife had one brother and no sister. His father did not much exceed sixty years in age; and Mr. Hastings informs me from his family records, which extend to the time of Henry II., that there are no remarkable cases of great age among his earlier progenitors.
4. Captain Lahrbush in March, 1870, celebrated in New York city his hundred and fourth birthday anniversary. He was born in London, on the 9th of March, 1766. He entered the British army on the 17th of October, 1789, and documents connected with this entry prove his age at that time to have been twentythree years.
5. Jacob William Luning died recently, at Morden College, Blackheath, in his hundred and fourth year. Documentary evidence sufficient to satisfy Dr. Farr, of the Registrar-General's Office, has been adduced, proving that he was born at Hamelvorden in 1767, and similar evidence of the date and the age he gave when he was naturalized as a British subject, also when he was married, and, what is still more important, when he insured his life—an occasion on which men are not likely to add anything to their age.
As to the means by which to live long, and to give ourselves the chance of enduring to our hundred and tenth year, if we have it in us, or to our eightieth only,