This section is from the book "The Natural Food Of Man", by Emmet Densmore. Also available from Amazon: How Nature Cures Comprising a New System of Hygiene.
At the same time, it is now quite well known - thanks to the Temperance reform - that indulgence in spirit tends to shorten life, and abstemiousness tends to longevity. This will be found to be a universal law, that whatever mode of life tends to promote health and vigour, tends also to promote the "jolliest" life, and the happiest, and at the same time conduces to a prolonged life; that whosoever foregoes twenty years, that his briefer life may be jolly, loses at every point - he always curtails his usefulness, as well as minimises his enjoyment of life; and that whosoever adopts a course of living that promotes longevity will find himself brimful of useful energy, and usefulness is the secret of a really jolly life.
Lack of space forbids more than a brief quotation from Dr. Evans' chapter on "Instances of Longevity in Man and in the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms." I quote from page 99, and following pages:
"On reviewing nearly two thousand reported cases of persons who lived more than a century, we generally find some peculiarity of diet or habits to account for their alleged longevity; we find some were living amongst all the luxuries life could afford, others in the most abject poverty, begging their bread; some were samples of symmetry and physique, others cripples; some drank large quantities of water, others little; some were total abstainers from alcoholic drinks, others drunkards; some smoked tobacco, others did not; some lived entirely on vegetables, others to a great extent on animal foods; some led active lives, others sedentary; some worked with their brain, others with their hands; some ate only one meal a day, others four or five; some few ate large quantities of food, others a small amount; in fact, we notice great divergence both in habits and diet, but, in those cases where we have been able to obtain a reliable account of the diet, we find one great cause which accounts for the majority of cases of longevity, moderation in the quantity of food. . . .
"Charles Macklin, of James'-street, Covent Garden, an eminent dramatic writer, and comedian of Covent Garden Theatre, the veteran father of the stage, died in 1797, aged 107. In the former part of his life he lived intemperately; subsequent thereto, he determined to proceed by rule, which he scrupulously observed.
"'He was moderate at his meals, and ate fish, flesh, etc., till the age of seventy; when, finding tea did not agree with him, he substituted milk, with a little bread boiled in it, sweetened with brown sugar. . . . For the last forty years, his principal beverage was white wine and water, pretty sweet. . . . He strictly observed the dictates of nature, ate when hungry, drank when thirsty, and slept when sleepy.' - Vide Memoirs of his life.....
"'Margaret Robertson, or Duncan, the oldest woman in Scotland, died at Coupar Angus yesterday. She was born in 1773, and her husband, a weaver, died fifty years ago, and left her with a daughter, who is still alive, and over sixty. Mrs. Duncan was a heavy smoker, and until recently, when she became blind, was in possession of all her faculties. Her last illness was only of a week's duration.' - Daily Telegraph, September 17, 1879.
"We do not advise either drinking or smoking, as a means of prolonging life; but still there is a philosophy noticed in the cases before us. Both drinking and smoking take away the appetite; less food is eaten, therefore a less amount of earthy salts are taken into the system, and the cause of old age is delayed in its results; still sufficient food is taken to support life, and great age follows. . . .
"Among other instances of longevity we have the ancient Britons, whom Plutarch states 'only began to grow old at 120 years.'
"'They were remarkable for their fine athletic form, for the great strength of their body, and for being swift of foot. They excelled in running, wrestling, climbing, and all kinds of bodily exercise; they were patient of pain, toil, and suffering of various kinds; were accustomed to fatigue, to bear hunger, cold, and all manner of hardships. They could run into morasses up to their necks, and live there for days without eating.' - Henry.
"Boadicea, Queen of the ancient Britons, in a speech to her army, when about to engage the degenerate Romans, said : 'The great advantage we have over them is, that they cannot, like us, bear hunger, thirst, heat, or cold; they must have fine bread, wine, and warm houses; to us every herb and root are food, every juice is our oil, and every stream of water our wine.'
"'Their arms, legs, and thighs were always left naked, and for the most part were painted blue. Their food consisted almost exclusively of acorns, berries, and water.' - Goldsmith.
"From the above, we may justly infer that the ancient Britons lived on a diet which contained comparatively a small amount of earthy salts; further, the acorn contains tanno-gallate of potash, which would harden the albuminous and gelatinous structures : they would therefore be less liable to waste and decay. Their endurance of hunger, cold, and hardships, and their love of water (probably from a hardened state of the skin), cannot be considered as mere fables.....
"Thomas Parr, a native of Shropshire, died in 1635, aged 152. He married at the age of eighty-eight, 'seeming no older than many at forty.' He was brought to London by Thomas, then Earl of Arundel, to see Charles I., 'when he fed high, drank plentifully of wines, by which his body was overcharged, his lungs obstructed, and the habit of the whole body quite disordered; in consequence, there could not but be speedy dissolution. If he had not changed his diet, he might have lived many years longer.' - Easton.
"On his body being opened by Dr. Harvey, it was found to be in a most perfect state. 'The heart was thick, fibrous, and fat; his cartilages were not even ossified, as is the case in all old people,' and the only cause to which death could be attributed was a 'mere plethora, brought on by more luxurious living in London than he had been accustomed to in his native country, where his food was plain and homely.' In a poem by John Taylor, on 'the old, old, very old man,' the following outline of his diet is given :