We quoted, a few pages back, the words of a French writer on old age, who placed the commencement of the period of decadence in man " between fifty and sixty." The gifted Flourens, in his work on human longevity, considers that this is far too early, did man only husband the resources of a naturally good constitution. English writers also do not speak of virile weakness in healthy men under fifty.

If it is true, and it would seem from a number of opinions expressed by medical authors whom we have consulted, that the age of commencing decay in Europe is from "fifty to sixty," then in this country we must, as a nation, be suffering some degeneration in this respect. For it is certain that of a number of elderly men whom we have consulted on this point, the majority confessed to having felt a decided decrease both in desire and sexual vigor as early as forty-five. We venture the prediction that three out of four of our elderly readers will agree that this coincides with their own experience.

Now it is a serious question in national hygiene why this is so? The statistics of all our oldest settled states show that fewer children are born in marriages between native Americans, than in foreign-born or mixed couples. It looks as if one solution of this startling fact is to be found in the diminished activity of the male. We ourselves have no doubt of it.

The naturalist Buffon, in the last century, maintained that a careful comparison of the animals of the Old and New Worlds had convinced him that those in the latter are, on the whole, smaller, feebler, and shorter lived than those in the former. President Jefferson took some pains, and we believe successfully, in refuting this opinion; but there is really little doubt but that American born males are, as a class, liable to premature decay of the generative functions.

Nor are the causes of this early decrepitude hard to find. They are, as it were, at the ends of our fingers. And we feel in duty bound to speak of them boldly.

One of the most obvious and most undeniable is, the ex-cessive use of tobacco. This acts not only on the individual, but on his sons. " In no instance," says Dr. Pidduck, a London surgeon of extensive observation, "is the sin of the father more distinctly visited on the children than in tobacco-using. It produces in the offspring an enervated and unsound constitution, deformities, and often early death." Dr. II. J. McDougall says: "Many inveterate smokers among my professional friends have mentioned to me the diminution of their venereal desires, as one of the effects of tobacco."

Another is, the abuse of alcoholic beverages. Not only do these, as we have shown, shorten virility, but they transmit this same tendency to the male descendants. Even when no intemperance can be charged, yet the peculiarly American habit of taking strong liquors on an empty stomach is most destructive to nervous force, and most certain to prevent healthy children.

The hurried meals and consequent dyspepsia, the use of coffee several times a day, the excessive mental strain in American business life, the increased pressure and redoubled anxieties which the desperate competition of our great marts invariably brings with it, and imposes especially on those who have families to provide for, all bring about premature old age, and create a tendency to early debility of all the nervous functions, and with them that of reproduction, which is infallibly handed down to the sons along with the money, houses, and land which a life of labor may have accumulated.

With these facts staring them in the face, it is for our native population to decide whether they will forego somewhat this desperate struggle for wealth and this self-indulgence, and thereby have to bequeath their children that which no money can purchase, and than which no costlier legacy can be left a young man - a sound constitution.