Music And Longevity

Perhaps no one chooses to question the statement that length of human

life is greater in our generation than it was in the last, and much

greater than it was one or two centuries ago, in the face of statistics

which the medical profession puts forth. Question of such statement

implies a hidden motive in the medical profession. Possibly that

profession might have a motive in leading people to believe that life

lasts lon
er. If there is such motive it is for the good of men. It also

recognises the influence of mind over matter as a preserving force.

Doctors are anxious more than can be imagined to do all they can for the

benefit of mankind. No class of men (or of women, since we have women in

the profession) strives harder to do good. Their very code of ethics is

based on self-sacrifice. The inventions, the discoveries, the devices

which that profession now uses are such as bewilder and astonish one who

only now and then has a chance to see their work. But a generation ago,

and the sick man was loaded with charge after charge of drugs. It was

only the generation before, that the sick man was bled in great

quantities for every ailment. That was a change from generation to

generation. But a little while ago a new school of medicine sprung up in

which drugs were almost wholly discarded. Attenuation to the thousandth

or even the five-thousandth part, was used, and when drugs are so

attenuated, there is not much left to them. Such success has attended

the homeopathist that he must be recognised. Who shall say but that

another step may be taken or has been taken, in dropping the use of

drugs and medicines entirely?

All these schools and schemes have borne their part in prolonging human

life, or more properly speaking, prolonging life in the human body.

It is but recently that the influence of music in the cure of disease

has been given professional thought. Its influence has been known for a

long time but has not been properly placed and appreciated. This

discussion may be the one thing to bring it before the world.

Metaphysics--That is a word which we hear from mouth to mouth, nowadays.

What does it mean? Briefly "the scientific knowledge of mental

phenomena." We have almost come to think that it is something mythical,

or even relating to the supernatural. But it is "scientific

knowledge." Even our magazines which talk upon "Psychical Research"

drift off into spiritualism and hallucinations. The writers do not keep

to the text. Metaphysics is a science--and that science which deals with

the most real and tangible. It deals with phenomena. It deals with mind

itself. Now, mind is tangible and real. It is that part of us which came

from the Creator--was from the beginning--has no end--and is in these

bodies of ours for a time only. Which from this definition, is more

tangible? Mind or body? There is no longevity to mind. From eternity it

came--to eternity it goes. No measure can be applied to it. Body, that

which we see and handle and in which we believe mind to reside, is quite

another thing. It begins--it lasts for a time, ever struggling against

forces which tend to destroy it--and drops at last into Mother Earth or

the elements. That which we try to prolong is the existence in living

condition, of the body. The keeper of that body is the mind, and

whatever is done successfully to that body is done through the mind.

Medical treatment is well enough in its place, and I am not to quarrel

with the man who wants to use that, but mental treatment, (and I do not

choose to be classed with the various isms now before the public which

have grasped one corner of the subject and are tugging away at that) is

the one thing by which and through which the body is to be affected. By

that is human life to be prolonged.

Music affects the mind. If it affects the body it does it through the

mind. We say, when the dance begins that we can't keep still. What is

the "we?" Our bodies. Not at all. Our mental perception is alert, and it

recognises the vivacity of the dance and responds to it. In a moment the

body answers the mind and whirls out over the floor in rhythm and in

sympathy with the musical action. Again music seeks the minor thought

and we are subdued into seriousness, or maybe, worship of the beautiful,

the good, and God. Was it the body, fighting against disease and death

which thus responded? Not at all. The mind, in which there ever rests

the appreciation of all that there is in God, (and that includes beauty,

bounty and truth) felt itself influenced by the music. That influence

was extended to the body. You cannot enter good without getting good,

mental and physical.

There is nothing which has the tendency to reduce the average of human

life as much as debauchery. That causes early decay. That wears out the

body. That nourishes the seeds of disease. But, say you, if mind is the

controlling force over the body, metaphysics over physics, why cannot

one engage in any wildness which he chooses to fancy, and enjoy life. A

gay life and a merry one. Are we to come down into soberness and

somberness to preserve these bodies of ours? Can't we look back into the

days of a jolly good dinner with a draught, deep from the pewter pot, of

nut-brown ale, can't we joke with every pretty face we see, whether

under a bonnet or not, can't we even become Falstaffs, if we feel like

it, and yet keep ourselves alive to the full of days, if mind can

control body? Yes, yes! But can mind stand such things--can mind keep

itself in touch with the source of what is Good, in such conditions? If

it can, enjoy all debauchery. If not, for the preservation of self, keep

out of it. Now there are various kinds of debauchery, and not the least

of these is music itself, wrongly used. And herein lies the point which

I would make. Herein lies the point of the practical, or you may say if

you choose, the didactical, side of the question; the point where our

music touches our longevity. Music of the intellectual kind is the only

music which can have ennobling influence upon the human mind and keep it

in equipoise. The dance, the sentimental, the pleasing, has its place I

admit. But to the musician that which lacks the scientific, lacks

everything. How many of us care to attend a concert, an opera of the

light vein, or that of a brass band, as perhaps we once did? That

pretty, catchy song, let it be sung ever so well, has lost an awakening

influence upon us. Even a Patti is gone by to us. We call a pianist

old-fashioned. Is he really so? Are not we becoming new-fashioned? Are

not we becoming so keenly alive to the intellectual that, unless we

watch phrases and periods, theses and antitheses, sequences and

cadences, melody against melody, we have no satisfaction in music. Then

we run from music to music trying to hear some new thing, until we

become almost unbalanced in mind. We become hyper-critical, sensitive to

faults, irritable over remissnesses, until those conditions become a

part of our disposition, and the musician becomes the crank. That is

musical debauchery and I contend that that will shorten the life of any

man. Which leads me to ask the question, can there not be such a thing

as an overdose of music, just as there is an overdose of drug? And does

it not behoove us, now that we have started a medico-musical-mental

treatment of this poor body of ours, to beware lest we shorten its

existence rather than prolong it.

But Art--that which calls for the highest in man--must surely be a

benefit to man. Mrs. Rogers says "Those who approach art because art

first reached out its arms to them, and who approach it on their knees,

with faith, with hope, with love, with religion, thinking not of self,

nor of aught that shall result to them from their devotion to it, but

that only through art, they may utter truth, and so fulfill art's real

purpose, and with it the highest purpose of their own life--those shall

indeed know the blessedness of power, of growth, of inspiration, of

love." Such art as that carries the mind down to the centre of all

things from which all good springs. That centre is Life. That life has

for its great attribute the re-cuperation--the re-creation of all which

it touches. The dwelling of that life--the body--is, by art such as that

which that noble writer just quoted describes, made young every day and

its days are prolonged on the face of the earth. This may be ideal

to-day, but so many times has it been true, that "the ideal of to-day is

the real of to-morrow," that even this may be the tangible medicine of

the next generation.