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Struldbrugs. If the soul be immortal and reproductive, it need no more grieve for the loss of the body than an oak of a thousand summers grieves to drop its foliage in autumn. Asgill talks of the cowardliness of dying'
- which is absurd : but there is ignorant cowardliness in fearing death. Mr. Browning laughs at this fear in a pugnacious fashion, which likewise is absurd; he, as a great poet, ought to feel that there is no need of struggle for the soul that is akin to the Divinity. The world moves in cycles, with an inexorable regularity behind its apparent irregularity. The baby weeps when its rose dies or its bird flies away: the man who weeps when his best friend dies, and who shudders himself at the threshold of death, is just as babyish. And does not the fear of death shorten life? Is not the mens sana in corpore sano perpetually injured by the terrors of superstition and the potions of empirics? Would not life be lengthened by the utter abolition of Calvinism and calomel ?
LONG LIFE IN LAKELAND.
Vergilium tantum vidi.
IN 1848, during one of the spasms which have periodically shaken France since she destroyed her aristocracy, I was in Westmorland. I had the great happiness to meet Wordsworth. He said many things pregnant of meaning which I shall never forget. We talked of longevity. He remarked, speaking as if he were Roman senator dressed like an English farmer :
Height of hill and movement of water are health-giving. They are associated with primeval soil and an air always fresh and stimulant. If you want to judge the truth
of this, look at the obituary notices in the Westmorland Gazette.'
When the notion of writing this essay entered my brain, recollecting the great poet's advice, I wrote to the pleasant and erudite gentleman who edited the Gazette then, and who edits it now. I asked him to give me a list of all the local deaths at eighty and upwards for a couple of months, simply saying if they were of males or females. He selected those of December and January 1870 -1871, quoting only from the paper's special district. Thus are they tabulated :
December 3, 1870:
88, f.; 80, m.; 97 (!), m. ; 82, f. ; 82, f.
December 10 :
90, f.; 80, f. ; 84, m.; 90, f. ; 84, m.
82, f. ; 84, m.; 89, f. ; 82, f. ; 82, m. ; 85, m.; 84, f.
80, m. ; 81, m.; 84, m.; 95, f. ; 80, f. ; 80, f.
88, f. ; 93, m.
January 7, 1871:
81, f. ; 86, m.; 85, m.; 85, f. ; 92, f. ; 93, m. January 14:-
93, m. ; 82, m.; 85, f. ; 89, m. ; 81, f. ; 87,
m. ; 88, m. January 21:
84, m.; 84, m. ; 85, m.; 81, f. ; 82, f.;
98 (!), f. January 28:
84, m. ; 81, m. ; 83, f. ; 94, f. ; 89, f.
Now, I take this to be a very remarkable list. In nine weeks of our last severe winter there died in Lakeland fifty persons, octogenarian and over, twenty-five of each sexand the average of that fifty is above eightyfive years; and I can assert confidently that scarce a week passes wherein the Westmorland Gazette does not contain obituary notice of more than one octogenarian. At the risk of inducing speculative builders to invade the shores of lovely Windermere, wild Wastwater, poetic Rydal, I place these facts before the public. Was not Wordsworth right in his theory? Is not a land of hills and streams a land of life?
I take it however that the reasons of long life in Lakeland are not exhausted when you have mentioned the health-giving soil, the fresh air of the hills, the soft climate of the lake-valleys. There is something, be assured, in the wonderful beauty of the district, fertile in ideas to all who are capable of apprehending landscapebeauty, which is of infinite value. When you walk
upon the terrace at Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth dwelt, and pass the noble laurels which he planted from slips he had cut off those set by Petrarch over Virgil's tomb, you see a line of lakes below you on the one hand, you see an aërial rock above you on the other. Now, it is often urged that such scenery can have effect only on poetic minds : but to this I reply that all