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deaths were caused by natural decay and old age : two hundred and forty-two by apoplexy : one hundred and fifty-three by consumption : one hundred and forty-six by general fever: one hundred and thirty-seven by dropsy: one hundred and sixteen by palsy—and the rest in greater or less numbers by various diseases. The ages of the persons who died were as follows:– Persons 7 from 10 to 20
This we regard as giving a very accurate view of the rate of mortality and its causes amongst the middling classes of society. Before we proceed to the consideration of the principal and indeed the most interesting part of our subject, the rate of mortality amongst the labouring classes, we shall devote a small space to the effects on life, of some of those employments to which some of the members of the opulent classes sometimes devote themselves. Barristers are longer lived than solicitors, a circumstance to be attributed to the greater exercise which the former uniformly take; but the mental anxiety which they undergo, particularly the most eminent of them, (perhaps with one remarkable living exception,) fixes prematurely on their features the character of old age. We have no means of calculating the rate of mortality amongst the members of this profession, but from the number which have disappeared from the bar in recent years, we are fearful that the rate of mortality amongst them is some degrees beyond that of the affluent classes to which barristers generally belong. Medical men enjoy neither long life nor much health. It has been our lot to be present at many an assemblage of the faculty in this metropolis : we saw plenty of grey hairs, but very seldom an old man. The life of a member of this profession, in full practice, is one of great excitement. The world at large dream but little of the solemnity with which a medical man contemplates the bond that unites him with his patient, and it is well known that not one in a hundred ever sets his life against that of a person whom he feels it his duty to attend.
Amongst men of genius, or those who have distinguished themselves in science or literature, life is, at least in modern times, of rather a short duration. Mr. D'Israeli, in his estimate of the literary character, mentions the excitement which all eminent men are accustomed to feel, and which, by acting physically on the brain, tends naturally to abridge life amongst such persons. But the late Niebuhr, the Roman historian, we remember, observes in one of his philosophical chapters, that nothing tends more to longevity, than the contemplation of projects which one has one's self
conceived, in their progress to a successful development. Hence generals who have retired from the field, after having attained the objects of their warfare according to their wishes, are long-lived — and the historian adduces as an example of what he says, the case of Camillus. We can ourselves quote many modern instances to confirm this opinion. Marlborough, one of the most fortunate leaders that ever commanded an army, lived rather too long for his own reputation. We sincerely hope that our posterity will not have to repeat the same thing of the Marlborough who succeeded him, and who, under the name of Wellington, carried the glory of the British arms to the ends of the earth. Perhaps it is for a contrary reason that we see so few British statesmen live long in office. Those who lead a party and are unsuccessful in their plans, die almost always prematurely. Witness Pitt, Fox, Canning, &c. But the great Bacon died in his 64th year; Newton, at 84; Harvey, (the discoverer of the circulation) at 88; Linnaeus, at 71 ; Leibnitz, at 70; Galileo, at 70. On the contrary, Bichat, a modern, died in his 34th year—and Davy before he reached 60. Amongst 1700 cases of persons in all classes of society, who have reached the age of 100, only one literary man was to be found, and that was Fontenelle. We have before us a list of nearly three hundred persons, men and women, in all parts of the United Kingdom, who had attained to a great age, (in no instance less than 100,) during the term of years beginning with 1807, and ending in 1823, both included, and we cannot discover throughout the whole catalogue a single name that has linked itself with an expression or a deed worthy of being remembered for an hour. So true is it, as an illustrious man has profoundly said, and as the only rival of that man's splendid fame which the modern world could produce has repeated,—“the duties of life are more than life.” Rather a curious confirmation of Niebuhr's doctrine, just mentioned, is to be found in the ages of all the successful painters. The Italian artists, with very few exceptions, lived long. Titian was 96; Spenello was nearly 100; Carlo Cignani 91; Michael Angelo 90 ; Leonardo da Vinci 75; Calabresi 86; Claude Lorraine 82; Carlo Maratta 88; Tentoretti 82; Sebastian Ricci 78; Francesco Albano 88; Guido 68; Guercino 76; John Baptist Crespi 76; Giuseppe Crespi 82; Carlo Dolce 70; Andrew Sacchi 74; Zuccharelli 86; Vernet 77; Schidon 76. All those cases of longevity which we have been hitherto considering, are imputable to the influence which riches and careful habits are capable of producing on life. We are next to contemplate the rate of mortality amongst that extensive community, which is embraced under the denomination of the “industrious classes,” and as it is not without much preparation that we have come to the task, we trust that we are warranted in claiming from the reader an adequate degree of confidence in the truth of our statements and the sincerity of our opinions.
From the accounts which we possess of the state of the English population, it would appear that, from the earliest times, it has been regularly subject to some malignant influence, superadded to the ordinary causes that produced mortality. Seasons of scarcity, with the plague in their train, no sooner ceased to exercise their terrific power over human life, than the small-pox assumed its baneful dominion. Intemperance also has been a uniform agent in the work of destruction. The mortality of our population in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was remarkably high. Out of every forty who were born, one was said to die in the early part of this period. The proportion varied in the progress of time, but it is very doubtful to us if the mortality of the industrious classes be not still as great as ever. In the counties where agriculture formed the chief occupation of the people, life seems to have been uniformly maintained for a longer period, than in those districts where the more active employment of manufactures brought together a large concourse of inhabitants. But it was not until the last century had somewhat advanced, that manufactures were carried to such an extent as to be able to make a very decided impression on the rate of mortality. The chief impediment to longevity about that time, appears to have been produced by intemperance, and the effects of that vice were of such a striking nature as to call for the interference of the legislature. We find that in the ten years before 1751, the average number of deaths within the bills of mortality in London, from fever, was 4351 annually, whilst in the ten years which succeeded the same date, the deaths from this disease fell to 2565 a year. In looking for adequate materials to explain the reason of this remarkable decline of deaths from the effects of intemperance, we are at once struck with the fact, that the use of ardent spirits was suddenly restrained by a bold and severe legislative enactment. The restraint imposed by the law, was rendered still more strict by a total prohibition of the manufacture of spirits. This prohibition was chiefly confined in its operation to the period between the years 1757 and 1760, when the annual average of deaths from fever was reduced to 2136. The policy of the legislature was altered in 1761—spirits became more accessible, and we find that the deaths from fever attributed to the year 1763, are no less than 3742.
The manufacturing establishments of this country were meanwhile growing apace. They became an important means of supplying employment to the people. They were found, however, to have acted with the most destructive consequences on the health and lives of the population, until at length the legislature was forced to interfere. The 42d of Geo. III. c. 73, is the first of those national regulations, which were framed with the view of checking the devastating influence of the factories. These laws, however, are too exclusively confined to the protection of children; and it unfortumately turns out that the rate of mortality amongst the adult manufacturing population, is as great as it almost ever has been with reference to the general amount. As illustrating this position by a series of important facts, diligently collected and most faithfully investigated, the small volume of Mr. Thackrah, the title of which we have prefixed to this article, is an invaluable contribution to our stock of practical knowledge. This gentleman is a physician at Leeds, a town where it is well known that the best opportunities may be found for determining the effects of manufacturing employments on the health of the workmen. Mr. Thackrah took advantage of his circumstances, and entered upon an elaborate personal investigation as to the nature and extent of those effects. Upon the relative salubrity of two districts, the one occupied by a manufacturing population, the other by a community devoted to agriculture, this writer dwells as on a point of prime consequence. He finds from the population returns of 1821, that in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the manufacturing district, the duration of human life is considerably less than in the two other ridings of Yorkshire, which are chiefly agricultural. He comes more minutely to the question, and compares the parish of Leeds with the exclusively rural one of Pickering Lythe, in the same county. The latter parish returned, in 1821, a total population of 15,232, and the number of burials 205, being a proportion of one death in seventyfour persons. The population of Leeds, in the same year, was 83,796, the burials 1516, or one death in fifty-five persons; consequently, if the mortality of Pickering Lythe be the natural one, the excess of deaths amounts to no less than 321 in Leeds. The population of that great manufacturing station, according to the last census, amounts to 123,393; so that if the same rate of mortality continues that existed in 1821, the number of burials in Leeds during the present year should amount to upwards of 2243. In the enumeration of the diseases to which tradesmen are respectively subject, Mr. Thackrah imputes a great proportion of them to either the intemperance or negligence of the parties themselves. Our business, however, lies more directly with those cases in which the lives of the workmen are shortened, or rendered irksome, in consequence of the unwholesome nature of their regular occupation. Thus tailors are condemned to a very scanty share indeed of existence, on account of the position in which they are fixed during so many hours of the day. No one has ever seen a plump or rosy tailor : in Leeds, out of twenty-two of these workmen, not one attained the age of sixty! two had passed fifty; and of the remainder not one had attained the age of forty. Stultz, the famous London tailor, kept in permanent employment in 1830, no less than 334 men. Of these, six were above sixty, fourteen about fifty, and the rest about forty. Three of those above sixty had curvature of the spine. Without entering into details, which would carry us much beyond a reasonable length, we may say gene
rally that the greatest destruction of life, which the labouring population is condemned to, takes place—First, in that class whose employments are carried on in an atmosphere confined and impure; Secondly, in that whose employments produce a dust or vapour, injurious to life, through the medium of the lungs; Thirdly, in that whose employments injure or annoy, by acting on the skin externally; Fourthly, in that whose business exposes them to the action of moisture or steam; Fifthly, in the class which is continually acted on by a high temperature, or quick successions of a hot and cold atmosphere. Alas! how few of the working population are exempted from the lot which is common to all these classes of operatives. The feeling mind is scared by the consideration of the many thousands, who are annually devoted untimely to the grave by reason of the injuries which they sustain, not from any cause arising out of their own vices or infirmities, but in the course of the most virtuous and heroic industry. Who that can contemplate such an extensive waste of life—who that can see falling around him every day, the youth, that, in a natural state of things, should have survived to old age, in order to maintain the due balance between the various classes of the body politic; who, we repeat, that witnesses such evils, but must feel the strongest impulse to find out the means of removing, or even checking their progress 2 One sample of the effects of certain occupations on the lives of the workmen, must suffice for the present. We take it from the statement of Dr. Knight, of Sheffield, whose opportunities of thoroughly knowing the nature of the diseases of which he speaks, we believe to be altogether unrivalled. “From 1817 to 1830,” says that learned and humane physician, “I have admitted and discharged 250 grinders. In order to institute a comparison betwixt them and other artificers, I have taken indiscriminately and consecutively 250 other patients, excluding from the list grinders, boys under fourteen years of age, and females, in order that the two classes may correspond as nearly as possible with respect to age, sex, and condition in life. This second class consists chiefly of tailors, saw makers, stove grate makers, cutlers, turners, comb makers, file cutters, masons, joiners, chair makers, edge tool makers, scissor smiths, labourers, hafters, shoemakers, strikers, colliers, stone getters, warehousemen, moulders, painters, mill wrights, cotton weavers, itinerants, stampers, riveters, bricklayers, nailors, watchmen, maltsters, forgemen, type founders, button makers, platers, whitesmiths, corders, spinners, rope makers, casters, polishers, wheelwrights, ostlers, saddlers, silver refiners, chain makers, bone cutters, wire drawers, sail makers, curriers, barbers, soldiers, &c. Out of 250 grinders, 154 were cases in which the respiratory organs were affected. Out of 250 patients of the second class, only fifty-six had pulmonary complaints; and the difference in the results of these cases will be found to be as great as the difference in their numbers.