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SANITARIANS seem agreed that at this time the great desideratum is that the people shall be informed on sanitary topics, and there is therefore no lack of works on that subject; but they are mainly written in so scientific and technical a style that they have failed to reach the great audience for whom they were intended.
In the pages which follow it was sought to inculcate the belief that longevity was not only possible, but in great degree in one's own control, subject to natural law; and this thought runs through every paragraph.
Some of the paragraphs included in this little book were originally written for THE REPUBLIC, of this city; and as I have since seen some of them doing duty in other papers, it occurred to me that perhaps they would not be unacceptable to the public (with such revision as the changes of time have made necessary) in book form. JOHN B. HAMILTON.
9 B STREET NORTHWEST,
CAPITOL SQUARE, April, 1884.
LESSONS IN LONGEVITY.
THE STUDY OF HYGIENE.
The study of hygiene-the art of prolonging life-has engaged the attention of mankind from the earliest times. There is but little that is original in principle in the most modern sanitary appliances. The very large portion of the Mosaic precepts that are purely sanitary in their character show plainly an ingrained knowledge of the science, which was doubtless acquired by tradition as well as experience. The Greeks, who dedicated temples to Esculapius and Hygeia, gave the latter equal rank with the former; indeed that goddess was held by some to be his wife and by others to be his sister. The more ancient legend of the Argonauts who, through the labors of Hercules, gave to Pallas the golden apple of the Hesperides, is further symbolical of
the importance attached by the ancients to the Macrobiotic art; for, as the golden apple represented the sun and typified light, it also typified the illumination of the world of science. To this legend may be traced the commencement of astrology, through which study was finally developed the science of astronomy. There is no
doubt that the Arabs obtained from Aristotle their knowledge of philosophy and inductive reasoning, but filtered through the minds of another race it became a new philosophy, and when the teachings of the Alexandrian school subsequently overran mediæval Europe, it was the same philosophy, changed and distorted, but still having the same underlying principles. The astrologers. were the most ancient sanitarians. Those having a knowledge of the subject were besought on every hand to cast nativities. A child whose horoscope showed the mischievous influence of an evil star was doomed to the constant use of some drug whose growth was under a more
benign influence, and to the wearing of an amulet, from which it was only to be separated by death. When astrology received its death-blow through the discovery of the Copernican system, alchemy became its legitimate heir; the philosopher's stone and the universal panacea thenceforth became the absorbing pursuit of the most intellectual minds of the age. To be the possessor of unfailing wealth, and an elixir of life or universal panacea by which all diseases might be overcome, what higher occupation could the mind of man conceive? It was for this that men forswore the society of their fellows; became hermits; and in their turn were hated as practitioners of the "black art," the object of which was not to benefit mankind but the individual. But there were skeptics among the alchemists whose studies finally developed the science of chemistry, and the study of the black art speedily fell into disrepute. As faith in astrology was now gone and that in alchemy was waning, the