It is commonly supposed that good health is the invariable accompaniment of country life; that children who are brought up in the country are always rosy-cheeked, chubby, and, except for occasional colds, free from disease; that adults, both men and women, are strong to labor, like the oxen of the Psalmist, and that grandfathers and grandmothers are so common and so able-bodied that in practically every farmhouse the daily chores are assigned to these aged exponents of strong constitutions and healthy lives. If, however, we are honest in our observations, or have lived on a farm in our younger days, or have kept our eyes open when visiting in the country, we will remember, one by one, certain facts which will persistently suggest that, after all, life on the farm may not be such a spring of health as we have been led to believe. We will remember the frequency of funerals, especially in the winter, and the few families in which all the children have reached maturity. We will remember the worn-out bodies of men and women, bent and aged while yet in middle life.
It is worth while, then, at the beginning, to find out, if we can, just what are the conditions of health in rural communities, in order to justify any book dealing with rural hygiene; for it is plain that if health conditions are already perfect, or nearly so, no book dealing with improved methods of living is needed, and the wisdom of the grandparents may be depended on to continue such methods into the next generation.