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glands having lived far beyond ioo years. The vitality of
persons if totally castrated is, as a rule, diminished.

6 Metschnikoff : hoc. cit.



48 Old Age Deferred.



Again if we study the history of persons who attained the
maximum span of life, we find many evidences of the existence
of strong sexual impulses. Thomas Parr, who lived to nearly
153, has been accused of having committed a sexual offense in
his I02d year, for which he was found guilty and punished.
Reaching even a greater age, his sexual appetite does not seem
to have diminished, for he married, eighteen years after, a widow,
who said she could discover nothing that would betray his great
age.

Drakenberg, a Dane, who is buried in the cathedral in
Aarhus, Denmark, lived 146 years, and reached this advanced age
although he was more often drunk than sober. When he
was 1 1 1 he married a woman of 60, and after she died he fell
in love in his 130th year with a young peasant girl; but this
blooming flower of the Jutland peninsula, famous for its fresh
and healthy girls, refused her ancient wooer, who, nothing
daunted, tried his luck with several other young maidens but
with no better success; therefore he had perforce to remain
a widower, and he lived an additional sixteen years. Possibly
if he had addressed widows or elderly spinsters, he might have
succeeded; but it is very instructive that this ancient Methu-
selah insisted on marrying a young girl, which certainly speaks
in favor of strong sexual feelings in so old a man, and, indeed,
we may say it is an object lesson to us to observe that these
ancients were always anxious to marry again so soon as they
became widowers. That it was more than a mere formality,
or bond of platonic affection, was attested to by Thomas Parr's
wife when he was in his 130th year.

If many children be considered a sign of sexual activity
and capacity, these very old men distinguished themselves in
this respect, as most of them had numerous progeny. Several
had a score of children after they were 80. Peter Albrecht, who
lived to be 123, married in his 85th year, and had 7 children.
Another patriarch, Gurgen Douglas, born in Marstrand, near
Gothenburg, in Sweden, who reached to 120 years and 7 months,



Sexual Glands — Vitality and Long Life. 49

married in his 85th year and had 8 children, one of which was
born when he was in his 103rd year. This child was an idiot,
but as it is very interesting to note, otherwise physically well
developed.

An Italian, Baron Baravicino de Capellis, died in 1770 at
Meran, a climatic resort in the Tyrol (Austria), in his 107th
year. He had 4 .wives, the first of whom he married when
he was 14, and the last when he was 84. He had 7 children,
and it is an interesting fact that his wife was pregnant when
he died.

As an English paper has reported, in 1796 there was a
shoemaker, R. Glan, living near Philadelphia, Pa., who died
at 114, and never missed a Sunday service. At his decease his
third wife was but 30, and his virile powers were normal.

We need not be too skeptical as to the legitimacy of the
children of fathers of such advanced age for reasons we will
mention later. Examples of fathers at ages above 60 or 70
are not so exceedingly rare. A very good example of this is
that of a crowned head of one of the European countries, mar-
ried morganatically, who, in his 72nd year, was presented by
his wife with a child, and nobody who is acquainted with the
powerful constitution of this monarch and his predilection for
the fair sex will doubt his happiness as a father. lie is noted
for his marvelous intellect, which, again, is so frequently met
with in persons with very active sexual glands.

Several of these ancient patriarchs, at the autopsy, pre-
sented a wonderfully good state of preservation of the various
organs. Thomas Parr died in his 153d year, and his autopsy
was made by one of the greatest physicians in the history of
medicine — the celebrated Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation
of the blood. Harvey found every organ in this wonderful old
man in perfect condition. His death was attributed by Harvey
to over-eating, as Parr had always lived a very frugal life. The
King of England invited this astonishing personage to London in
his I52d year, as he wanted to know this most interesting of his



50 Old Age Deferred.



subjects; but the rich food he received in the royal household
did not prove beneficial to him, and though his 152 years of frugal
life were unable to kill him, nine months of an opposite style
of living succeeded in so doing.

We should not wish to omit mentioning again the impor-
tant fact that, with few exceptions, the persons who lived to
such an extraordinary age were married, and some of them
three or four times, which again serves to show us the great
importance of marriage as a means to reach a good, old age.

We have quoted these instances of longevity from Hufe-
land, 7 one of the greatest German physicians of the eighteenth
century, of whose truthfulness there can be no doubt. The
great German physiologist, Pfiiiger, also quoted some of the
above examples of great age in his address in celebration of the
birthday of Emperor William II, at the University of Bonn.
When Parr had been found guilty of a misdemeanor in his
I02d year facts were adduced in the courts which showed that, as
Pfliiger says, this "100 jahrige durchaus die Eigenschaften eines
Kraftegen jugendlichen mannes besass" (the man of 100 years
really had the qualities of a powerful young man). Pfliiger
quotes this from Flourens, and we were pleased to find an
account of the autopsy of the celebrated patriarch in a letter
from Harvey, himself, to his nephew, published by the Syden-
ham Society 8 : "The body was in such a good condition in a
man of 153 that the cartilages of the chest bones were not yet
ossified." Harvey put it : "The cartilages were soft and flexi-
ble," black hair on the forearms, and the organs apparently
healthy. Probably the fact that the testes, as Harvey says, "were
sound and large," had something to do with it. He was also an
affectionate husband, and to quote Harvey again, "His wife told
me that until twelve years ago he never ceased to embrace her
frequently" ; that is, when he was 140 years old! At the autopsy



7 Hufeland : Loc. cit.

8 The works of William Harvey, M.D., edition of the Sydenham Society,
p. 590, London, 1847.



Sexual Glands — Vitality and Long Life. 51

of John Bayley, of Northampton, who died 130 years old, Dr.
James Keill 9 found his testes of large size.

We have also knowledge of a very interesting case, that
of an Irishman, an ex-navy man, who, according to the admiralty
official statistics, was 113 years old, and whose body was dis-
sected by Professor Cunningham, Professor of Anatomy of
Edinburgh University. As Dr. Cunningham, himself, told us,
the testes were sound and healthy looking, and the cartilages
of the chest bone not yet ossified. Death was not due to old
age, but to a prostate abscess, except for which the body was in
good condition.

Metschnikoff also mentions in his "Etudes sur la Nature
Humaine" examples of old men between 94 and 104 years, who
suffered from copious spermatorrhoea, and in whose semen he has
found a great quantity of spermatozoa. He and Dr. Weinberg
observed similar conditions in old dogs of 18 to 22 years of
age, one of whom, just before his death, had shown marked
sexual tendencies. 10 Saverio Spangaro, 11 examining the testicles
of a number of old men, found many of them atrophied, but
others showed microscopically no difference to the testicles of
younger individuals; there were only slight microscopical
changes. This again proves our theory, that old age is not due
to the degeneration of one, but of several glands with internal
secretion, similarly to other diseases of these glands, like dia-
betes, acromegaly, etc.

The above facts of the preservation of the sexual glands in
advanced old age, proves also the important fact that though
the actual age be there, the symptoms of it may not be very
pronounced if but the sexual glands are in good order. Of
course the condition of the other ductless glands is of impor-
tance, for old age must be regarded as the consequence of the
degeneration of the different ductless glands, and not of one
Sfland alone.



9 Philosoph. Transactions, xxv., 1706.
lOEssais optimistes, p. 47, Paris, 1907.
11 S. Spangaro: Anatomische, Hefte, Heft lx., p. 630, Wiesbaden, 1902.



52 Old Age Deferred.



When we consider the splendid health enjoyed by most of
these patriarchs and the good condition of their organs, why
should we deny the possibility that they were disposing of at
least one lively spermatozoon, and thus we shall have no reason
to doubt their happiness as fathers.

We must also add that the truth of the extraordinary age
of these persons has been proved, in most cases, by documents,
sometimes even in courts of law; also by the recollections of
very old people who, in their own early childhood, personally
knew them.

That people with strong sexual impulses very often reach
a very advanced old age, we can often observe. There are
plenty of examples in the history of the world. Thus, the
greatest debauchery did not prevent Louis XV becoming very
old, and the Emperor Tiberius lived to be 78 after his notorious
life. However, in the same way as with alcohol and tobacco,
we would here repeat "Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi" (or,
"what suits Peter may not suit Paul").

We may also refer to a few instances coming under our
own observation. A few years ago one of our confreres at
Carlsbad died, 96 years of age. His intellect was perfect, and
a few months before his death we had a consultation together
about a patient who was 83, at which he gave evidence of a
wonderfully clear intelligence. In his behavior toward the fair
sex (whom he much admired) he showed a chivalry and gal-
lantry outvying men of half his age. Up to the last he never
failed to attend a theatrical performance when there was an
operetta or a ballet. There was nothing to prevent his attain-
ing a greater age, but, falling in his room, he contracted a frac-
ture of the femur, followed by pneumonia, which put an end to
his medical practice, for this wonderful old man in his advanced
years paid his daily visits, which he only intended to cease, as
he said, when he reached 100.

A prominent member of the aristocracy of one of the north-
ern countries of Europe, who is at present 90 years old, hay-



Sexual Glands — Vitality and Long Life. 53

ing been reproached several years ago by his relatives for his
amorous advances to the fair sex, gave the answer, "You do
not know what it means to be an old man with the body of a
young man." This old man still rides on horseback and still
goes shooting. The fact that he looks a handsome man of 60
may be explained on the basis of our above observation.

In advanced old age the preservation of the sentiments
toward the opposite sex, which allows us to presume the pres-
ence, and not yet extinction, of an internal secretion of the sex-
ual glands, is often found in combination with a high intellect.
This is also proved by the example of Goethe in his 83d year,
for in his old age his intellect would have been creditable to a
man of 30. When he was over 81 he astonished his audience
by the uninterrupted current of his ideas, also the extraordinary
richness of his inventions. 12 Commenting on the above, Moebius,
in an interesting biography on Goethe, says : "From the physio-
logical standpoint the astonishment evoked by the works of this
old man is almost greater than that about his juvenile activity."
He finished the second part of "Faust" when he was over 82.
As Metschnikoff says: "It is love that was the greatest stimu-
lant of the genius of Goethe," for it is well known that Goethe
was an ardent admirer of the fair sex. When he was 74 he was
passionately in love with Ulricke Lewetzow, who was still in her
teens. He danced like a youth when in her company, and it
was at this time that he wrote to his son that he had never,
up to this, felt so well in mind and body. He wanted to marry
the young girl, and the Grand Duke of Saxe- Weimar asked in
Goethe's name for her hand; but the mother was not willing
to allow a marriage between persons of such divergence in age.
So much was Goethe in love with the young girl that his dis-
appointment contributed to develop a serious illness (Ecker-
mann). Even when he was much older he again renewed his
relations with Miss Marianne Young, and was then, to a certain
extent, consoled for his disappointment over Miss Lewetzow.

12 Eckermann : Quoted after Metschnikoff.



54 Old Age Deferred.



He preserved his admiration for the fair sex until his death,
and even in the closing day of his life in his delirium he called
out, "Look at that beautiful woman's head with dark curls on
a black background!" 13

A similar retention of the sexual sense we see in the
advanced years of Victor Hugo, whose admiration of the oppo-
site sex continued till his death. Ibsen, the celebrated Norwe-
gian dramatist, kept up a well-known correspondence with a
young lady whom he met at Marienbad a short time before he
died in advanced old age.

Sometimes in women of extreme age instances are quoted
that would seem to indicate that in them also the activity of the
sexual glands may not have been extinct. It is stated that
Ninon de l'Enclos 14 was in her 90th year still so beautiful that
a young abbe fell desperately in love with her. We know an
Italian lady of 69 who is still good-looking, presenting the
appearance of 45, and she still menstruates. That she was sex-
ually active is shown by the fact that she has 12 children. There
is more fire in the eyes of this Italian matron than in many
women of half her age. That the possession of active sexual
glands influences the looks very much can also be proved by
the pale, yellow-gray and aged looks of even young women
suffering from serious chronic diseases of the sexual glands,
and also of women who have caused these organs to degenerate
owing to sexual excesses.

The fact that persons who have attained advanced old age
in robust health and perfect intellect often show signs of pre-
servation of the sexual glands, permits the inference, especially
considering the foregoing examples, that a perfect condition of
these glands is an important factor toward vitality and long life,
for which reason we devote a long chapter to the best hygiene
of the sexual glands (see Chapter XLIX).



13 Lewes: Vol. ii., p. 372; quoted from Metschnikoff.
14 Quoted from Professor Kiseh.



CHAPTER VI.

On Heredity and Longevity.

We occasionally witness the peculiar fact that persons
who live very moderately and eat very sparingly, and who totally
abstain from alcohol, nevertheless become old before their time,
while, on the other hand, there are those who, in spite of having
been addicted all their lives to the pleasures of a bounteous table
and unstinted quantity of wine or spirits, yet enjoy a green old
age. We had an opportunity of observing an old gentleman of
76 (some say he was really older) belonging to our own pro-
fession, with whom we had the pleasure of traveling from Lis-
bon to Paris in the same small railway compartment. This
gentleman, notwithstanding his age, was in full possession of all
his mental powers, of which he has given remarkable proofs
in his recent publications which might have well been written by
a man younger by some scores of years, and which, in fact,
convey that impression. This gentleman's age cannot be gauged
by his words, neither was it shown by the hearty appetite with
which he partook of the six courses of the dinner, nor by the
enjoyment with which he disposed of his bottle of claret; and he
smoked a large cigar afterward with such appreciation that we
began to envy the old man. We almost believe that he stood
the long-continuous journey of thirty-seven hours much better
than we did, and we were surprised at his fresh appearance the
following morning after the discomforts of a night in a small
berth of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-lits, half
the size of the ordinary American Pullman car berth. We must
remark, however, at once, that such instances as these are excep-
tional. Nature is always just, and even here we have an illus-
tration of the Golden Rule, for such persons inherit the health
of their fathers.

(55)



56 Old Age Deferred.



Even character and appearance may be inherited by off-
spring. The height of parents is, as a rule, though not in every
case, inherited by their children, as also are many features of
their external appearance. As we have seen in the previous
chapter, the size of an individual and his outward appearance
are dependent on the internal secretions of the ductless glands;
and as these qualities are inherited, so we may presume that the
properties of the ductless glands, which produce these effects,
may also be inherited; and that this is not a vague supposition
is demonstrated, we think, in a paper we read on the subject
of heredity at the German Congress of Internal Medicine at
Leipzig, in 1907, in which we showed that the alterations of
the ductless glands are inherited with remarkable frequency.
Thus Graves's disease can frequently be inherited, and the chil-
dren descended from such parents, especially after puberty,
often have a small goiter. In such cases :. slight protuberance of
the eyes can also be noticed; they are frequently very nervous,
and any sudden shock will be sufficient to induce a typical case
of Graves's disease. Oesterreicher 1 found 9 cases of exophthal-
mic goiter in one family. The frequent instances of heredity in
Graves's disease are insisted upon by Brouwer 2 and other authors.

Degenerative changes of the pituitary body may also be
inherited. Thus Bonardi and Schwoner and others also showed
cases of acromegaly of hereditary origin.

Diabetes is, as we have said, a disease of the ductless glands,
and we have especially emphasized, on previous occasions, how
frequently, if not invariably, diabetes originates through heredity.
We have also shown in a communication published in the
Practitioner, of London, in October, 1903, that the children of
diabetic persons have an inherited tendency to alimentary glyco-
suria, which occurs very frequently among them.



1 Quoted after Moebius, "Die Basedow'sche Krankheit," second edition,
1906.

2 Quoted after Oppenheim, "Lehrbucb. des Nervenkrankheiten," Berlin,
1906.



Heredity and Longevity. 57

Myxedematous persons, as a rule, have children displaying
symptoms of congenital myxcedema, and cretins have cretinous
children. The very interesting case has been published of a
woman who, until the age of 40, had two normal children. She
then acquired a goiter, and the child that was born later was a
cretin with a goiter (Lanz).

Parents suffering from diseases in which the thyroid has
degenerated, such as chronic tuberculosis, malaria, syphilis, and
other cachectic diseases, have children whose growth is slow,
and who remain backward physically and mentally. Such chil-
dren easily acquire any infectious disease. Tuberculosis, as we
have shown at the International Congress on Tuberculosis in
Paris, in 1905, is remarkably frequent among them. We can
easily appreciate the fact, if we realize that the children of such
parents in whom the thyroid has degenerated through disease are
born usually with a congenital atrophy of the thyroid gland, which
has been proved by Gamier and Perrando. These children have
inherited from their forefathers the bad qualities of their thy-
roid, and this will also explain why such children, when fully
grown up, will not remain, as a rule, for so long a time as youth-
ful looking as other persons who have inherited healthy thy-
roids ; they early become aged-looking and, also, as a rule, their
lives are shortened owing to their tendency to contract easily all
kinds of infections.

Evidence founded on experiments is at our disposal to
prove our assertion that irregularities of the thyroid are inherited
by offspring. Professor Lanz, 3 of Amsterdam, formerly an
assistant of Professor Kocher in Bern, has extirpated the thy-
roid gland of goats, and he found that in each case the young
of such animals, as compared with normal kids of the same
age, remained backward in growth. There can thus be no doubt
that the qualities of the ductless glands of the parents are in-
herited by their descendants.



3 Beitrage zur klin. Chirurgie, xiv., p. 1, 1905„



58 Old Age Deferred.



We often find diseases of the various ductless glands
present among" members of the same families. We can trace,
not infrequently, diabetes, Graves's disease, etc., and acromegaly,
occurring in different members of the same family, and this
will be observed most often in the case of diabetes and Graves's
disease. Thus I have observed in the case of two fathers (com-
ing from the same city in Hungary, but belonging to different
nationalities) diabetes, and their daughters had protuberant eyes;
they had a small goiter, and the typical fingers characteristic of
Graves's disease, emaciated and pointed like those of the
Madonna of Perugino, which have been mentioned already by
other authors as symptoms of Graves's disease. There was no
tachycardia as yet in either of these two cases which had Graves's
disease. Very probably any mental shock, as in so many other
cases, would here have caused sudden development into Graves's
disease.

We have already noted that in syphilis and other cachectic
diseases such as alcoholism, malaria, tuberculosis, etc., the thy-
roid gland becomes degenerated (Gamier, Hertoghe, etc.), and
that the foetuses of such parents demonstrate congenital atrophy
of the thyroid (Gamier 4 and Perrando 5 ). We can thus under-
stand the observations of Hertoghe, who found that nearly all
cases of infantile or congenital myxcedema were born of parents
suffering from the above-named diseases. Of very great value,
also, is the observation of Professor Pel. 6 He diagnosed a case
of syphilis in the father, myxcedema in the daughter and
acromegaly in the son.

As shown by many observers, including ourself, the duct-
less glands stand together in a very close relationship, and thus we
may find that when one member of a family shows an alteration
of the ductless glands, we may discover in the same family other
members affected by alterations of the same or other ductless



4 Gamier: "Les maladies infectieuses," Th&se de Paris, 1899.
5 Perrando: "Sulla struttura della Tiroide," Sassari, 1900.
6 Pel: Berl. klin. Wochenschrift, 44% 1905.



Heredity and Longevity. 59

glands. The case of Pel is a fine illustration of this point; the
syphilis of the father with its morbid influence on his thyroid
resulting in the hereditary transmission of a degenerated thyroid
to the daughter, and the consequent supervention of myxcedema.
The son had an altered condition of the pituitary body, and
thus developed acromegaly. The altered condition of the
pituitary body may have been secondary to the previous altera-
tion of the thyroid inherited congenitally, if we take into con-
sideration the fact that, as I showed in a communication to the
International Congress of Medicine in Madrid, in 1903, acro-
megaly is due to primary alterations in the thyroid which, in
the same way as is demonstrated by experiments on animals,
may lead secondarily to alterations of the pituitary closely con-
nected with the former gland. The qualities of the sexual glands
can also be inherited. Thus, there are cases of mothers whose
menstruation began very early, i.e., at the age of 9 or 10, and
lasted until the age of 56 to 60, and who had many children,
among whom were daughters showing similar conditions. On
the other hand, we may see difficulties of menstruation in the
mother also inherited by the daughter.

If the bad qualities of the ductless glands are inherited,
it is only logical to expect the same for the good qualities also.
It stands on this basis that we may frequently find longevity in
the same family. Longevity, as illustrated by the many facts
adduced in this book from the field of clinical and experi-
mental observations, is closely allied with a thorough perform-
ance of the functions of the ductless glands, especially of the
thyroid gland; if these are in good condition, and especially if
proper hygiene is also observed at the same time, longevity will
follow. The good condition of the ductless glands is largely



Online LibraryArnold LorandOld age deferred; the causes of old age and its postponement by hygienic and therapeutic measures → online text (page 7 of 42)