Snippets 77. John Abernethy (1764-1831) was the author of one of the earliest popular books on medical science, published in 1809. It was not long before other authors began to hang on his coat-tails, and in 1830 Common Sense or the Abernethian Code of Health and Longevity was published anonymously. It was not the first such example, but is notable for the inclusion of an interesting list of long-lived people, some of which might seem a little hard to believe today.
Isabel Walker, a Scotch woman, died at 112, without much severity of regimen; but she was distinguished by a placidity of temper, and possessed that happy medium state of habit, neither lean nor corpulent, favourable to long life.
Peter Garden, a Scotchman, died aged 131; his stature was tall, and his employment agriculture, which he continued to his death, with a remarkable appearance of freshness and youth.
John Taylor, a Scotch miner, lived to 132; he always used tobacco, and his teeth continued sound to the last.
Gylloul Macrain, a native of the island of Toura, in the Hebrides, died, after keeping 100 Christmas masses.
Lawrence, a native of the Shetland Islands, married at the age of 100, and died at 140.
Mary West, a native of Kent, in a humble station of life, who at the age of 106, after passing a life of the greatest frugality and regularity, enjoyed the full use of all her faculties, and was enabled to work for her maintenance.
Kentigern, or St. Mungo, Bishop of Glasgow, lived to the age of 185, as certified on his monument.
Catherine, Countess of Desmond, who died in the reign of James the First, was 140; and thrice, in the course of her life, she renewed her teeth.
Thomas Parr, a native of Shropshire, was buried in the Abbey of Westminster, at the age of 152.
Henry Jenkins, of Northallerton, Yorkshire, lived to the age of 169, being first a labourer, and afterwards a fisherman.
Sarah Rouen, 164, and John Rouen, her husband, 172, were married 147 years, both natives of the Directory of Carsoueber.
Petratsch Zorten, a native of Hungary, and a cow- herd, lived to 185.
The greater proportion of these persons were natives of Scotland; though it is remarked that the most numerous instances of longevity are to be met with in Norway and Russia; out of 6229 persons in Norway, 63 had lived to a hundred; and out of 726,278 in Russia, 216 attained one hundred years, 220 above it, and four one hundred and thirty. In the list of longevity, enumerated above, all these persons were of a low situation of life, except the Countess of Desmond; and the diet of all of them seems to have been moderate, and in some instances abstemious. Parr’s maxims of health were, to keep your head cool by temperance, your feet warm by exercise; to rise early, and go soon to bed; and if you are inclined to get fat, to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, or, be moderate in your sleep and diet.
The diet of Jenkins is said to have been coarse and sour; and in the north of England, distinguished for long-lived people, it is much the same, consisting of salted meat and sour leavened hot bread.
Zorten’s diet consisted entirely of milk and cakes, with a glass of brandy; and, being of the Greek church, he was, to the last, a strict observer of all their fasts.
The oldest woman whose age has been verified by modern standards lived to 122, and the oldest man 116, so some of the ages listed above could perhaps be explained by a lack of good records, but who knows?
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