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weight on their backs; will cover eighteen to twenty miles per day through swamps and over hills; will continue such exertions for a series of days, and yet keep their condition, under the influence of an atmosphere surcharged with moisture on a July day.
The Japanese boatman, on a diet of boiled rice and weak tea, with a kind of pickled radish, not unlike dock-root, for a relish, will row or pole for hours without intermission ; upon a similar diet, with an occasional bit of dried fish, he will whirl you along in his twowheel “Pullman ” at the rate of four to seven miles per hour. These men have been known to draw an adult Japanese gentleman fifty to sixty miles in one day, the same man going the entire distance. “I am credibly informed,” says Dr. Cutter, “ that a Tokio man drew one man ninety miles in twenty-four consecutive hours.”
On March 22, 1880, one of these, named Soma, aged fifteen years, accompanied by two young men, sixteen and eighteen years respectively (a child in Japan is called one year old when born), left Tenischari to walk to Sappow, a distance of twelve miles. Just before starting, about twelve at noon, the travellers partook of a lunch of rice, pickled radish, and tea. Each took with him two handfuls of boiled rice. One had, in addition, enough ginger, pickled in plum vinegar and salt, to serve for a relish for two meals. They had no alcohol or tobacco. Each had a small half-blanket in addition to the dress of their class—a cotton towel over their ears, an under-garment like a tunic reaching to the knees and opening in front, with large sleeves of simple cotton, into which the hands can be drawn, a cotton-wadded kimono, and a rough Aino coat made from the inner bark of a tree; cotton leggings, cotton shoe-socks, and straw sandals.
Owing to falling snow they lost the path. After wandering about until objects were scarcely visible, they sat down on the snow in the high swamp grass and ate all the rice they had with them, as well as most of the pickled ginger. They soon sank to sleep. That night, according to the records at the weather station of Sappow, the wind was direct from the icebound Gulf of Tartary, minimum temperature 24° Fahr. In the morning they had no sensation in their feet or legs; they were unable to move from their resting-place. On the 23rd, 24th, and 25th they disposed of all their food. On the night of the 28th the eldest ceased to speak. On the next day the middle one spoke his last audible words. From this time Soma lay in the same place, eating snow while it lasted, sipping water out of the adjacent pool, gesticulating and shouting to keep his companions, the carnivorous crows, from their prey, having one desire_"to get
home.” These occupations filled his conscious hours. On account of the constant pain in his legs he did not sleep well.
On the morning of April 19, attracted by the swarms of crows circling about and perched on the neighbouring trees, searchers found the two dead men, and Soma speechless, pulseless, scarcely able to comprehend the saving party, staring at them with a vacant expression. They crushed some cold rice, added a little water, which they placed in his mouth, and a little of it reached his stomach. He was wrapped in blankets, and on a rude blanket-litter reached the hospital at 5 P.M., April 19, twenty-eight days from the time he left Tenischari, and twenty-five days since the last pickled ginger was eaten.
When he reached the hospital he could not speak, opened his mouth with great difficulty, and could not project his tongue, which had a white coating. Movements of the chest and abdomen could scarcely be detected ; a low respiratory murmur could be heard ; there was no pulse at the wrists ; the impulse of the heart was very feeble; the valve-sounds were indistinct; there was profound torpor of the brain and intellectual faculties; the body was excessively emaciated; fat and flesh had vanished; the abdomen was retracted; the eyes were sunken deep in the sockets; and there was no reflex action of the arms or limbs when they were irritated. The lower part of the back was black, the feet were also black, and both legs were dead as far as the middle third.
Under the influence of warmth, stimulants, and mild food the pulse returned to the wrists next day. Upon the third day he was able to answer a few questions, but slowly and with a very low and indistinct voice. He steadily progressed, intellectually and bodily, his appetite fairly and gradually improving, and his wan and vacant look slowly vanishing. His mind became quite buoyant.
During the twenty-eight days of exposure the lowest daily “minimum” temperature was 18° Fahr. ; the average minimum was 33.6° Fahr. The lowest daily “mean” was 26:67° Fahr. ; the highest mean 47.6° Fahr.; and the average mean 37° Fahr. On six of the days it snowed ; upon five of them it rained; but few of them were cloudless, genial days.
The young man Soma is of medium stature and weight, of fair physique, and is inured to daily labour and exposure in his northern land. He belongs to the “ soldier class.”
We see in this example a more remarkable experiment than that by Tanner, and even more remarkable than the starvation case of the stonemason at Cusano, who is reported recently to have voluntarily starved himself to death in thirty days, rather than pass four years in the prison to which he had been condemned for penal servitude.
These evidences are, in my opinion, sufficient to prove that Dr. Tanner need not have practised any kind of deception in the performance of his exploit; and, while there is just cause for regret that much scientific fact has been allowed to be lost, we may fairly accept what has been proved, and extract from it the lesson it convey's. I agree with the learned and accomplished editors of the Louisville Medical News, Drs. Cowling and Yandell, that, now that Tanner has gone through the ordeal, it is very easy to find any number of people who have gone for a similar or a much longer period without food; but that there “is not a doctor in the country who, before he heard of this case, believed the man could have gone through the third of the time without showing trice the distress that Dr. Tanner has exhibited.” I agree further with them in their view that, "say what we will, the experiment of Tanner is an interesting one; and, sneer at its results as we may, the experiment at least has as much scientific value as the majority of physiological experiments possess.” There are several modes in which the lessons of the Tanner experimen may be applied.
I. The experiment may prove useful in a legal and medicolegal point of view. In many instances of disease or death from voluntary or enforced deprivation of food, the question has been raised as to how long a person may exist without food. Up to the present time I feel quite sure that no correct answer, even by an expert, has been rendered. It certainly has not before been understood that so much depends, as we now know does depend, on the question whether or not water formed a part of the sustenance of the starving person. It has been pretty generally admitted that the possession of water as drink added to length of life during starvation, but it was not conceived that it added to the extent it does in such extremity. The common impression amongst wellinformed men has been, that the life of man cannot be maintained for longer than eight days without food and drink, and that, without food and with drink, the extension could not be much beyond ten or twelve days. The example of the Welsh miners, who were locked up in the mine for ten days, and who were deprived of all sustenance except that which came to them from the water of the spring at the bottom of the cave, has been considered to give the extreme limits of human endurance under starvation ; and, when
those unfortunate men were rescued, not a little wonder was ex-' pressed that any of them recovered from the depression to which they had been subjected. That some of them should have walked, directly after their deliverance, was felt to be almost beyond belief ; while the care that was taken to feed them in the most scientific manner after they were brought to the surface indicates indisputably the rigid views that were held by the most skilled advisers at the time of the Welsh catastrophe. To have fed the Welsh miners, after their ten days of subsistence on water only, as Tanner was fed after his forty days, would have been considered little better than homicide.
The technical opinion that will have to be given in our coroners' courts, courts of justice, and other public places, and the opinion that will have to be written in our technical and standard works of medical jurisprudence, must, indeed, from this time be considerably modified in many particulars. One illustration of such change is typical of more. It has been accepted that, after a certain degree of starvation,-a stage comparatively short, after what is now known,--any act requiring much physical exertion is impossible. A once famous medical jurist, whose lectures were always sound and practical, Dr. Cummin, relates that a girl eighteen years of age was confined in the depth of winter in a closed room for twenty-eight days.
a She had with her a gallon of water, some pieces of bread amounting to about a quartern loaf, and a mince pie. She is said to have subsisted on this small quantity of food for the twenty-eight days without fire, and to have ultimately escaped from her prison by breaking down a window-shutter that had been nailed up, getting out of a window on to a roof below, and finally walking several miles, from Enfield Wash to Aldermanbury. In commenting on this feat, one of our most eminent authorities, Dr. Guy, expresses his disbelief; and he is confirmed in this opinion by two other excellent authorities, Drs. Woodman and Tidy, who consider that while it is possible life might be prolonged, “ in all the recorded cases the muscles have become so weak before half the time mentioned, that the sufferers could not even help themselves to water, much less walk this distance."
The experiment of Tanner throws this opinion aside altogether as an opinion bearing on starving persons generally. It may still apply to certain persons who might succumb sooner than other persons, and it might possibly apply more distinctly to persons who have been subjected to starvation by force rather than to those who permit themselves voluntarily to undergo the infliction ; but, for all that, we must henceforth be exceedingly cautious in accepting that a healthy individual having a quartern loaf of bread, a mince pie, and a gallon
of water, cannot, on emergency, perform a very considerable degree of muscular labour after an incarceration of no longer a period than half the time named in Dr. Cummin's illustration-fourteen days. Dr. Tanner, on the fare named, would have considered starvation a luxury
In this same direction of learning from Tanner's case there is another hypothesis that may require some correction. It is assumed as an almost indisputable fact that those persons who go into starvation while they are in a state of obesity, are more certain to live for longer periods than they who are of a spare habit of body. Tanner appears to correct this statement, and to prove that, if it be a general rule, it is a rule having very clear and unmistakable exceptions.
At the same time, the experiment confirms a truth which the experience of the learned has already detected-namely, that there is a wide range of capacity for starvation, if I may so express myself, amongst the various specimens of human kind. It seems clear that, where the disposition to starve goes with the starving, the powers of endurance are immensely prolonged. Nor is the explanation of this phenomenon peculiar. When the disposition for the starvation is present, when the will goes with the experiment, and when faith, whatever, it may be fanned by, keeps hope and courage alive, the chances of continuance of life must be greatly increased. There is then no wasting worry and fever of desire ; there is then none of that corroding fear and dread of death, which so materially-I use the term in its strict meaning-help onwards towards dissolution.
Thus we would expect that men or women who voluntarily submit to starvation, and that men and women who in days of enforced starvation have most courage to endure, will endure the longest and will recover, if the chances of recovery be offered, with the greatest facility.
II. Another lesson which may be learned from the experiment carried out by Dr. Tanner relates to the sustaining power of water as a food. During the first days of his fast Tanner is reported to have taken but a small quantity of water, and his loss in weight and in physical power was rapid. When he commenced to fast he weighed one hundred and fifty-seven pounds and a half. In the first fifteen days he had lost twenty-four pounds, and on the sixteenth day he had lost twenty-five pounds and a half. . On this last-named day he Proggan to drink more freely of water, and on the sixteenth day he
Sund, on being weighed, to have gained a pound and a half
'e weighing on the previous day. It was also observed that