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that had taken place between those who were first taken ill, and those who appeared to catch the disorder from them, they would probably have discovered the mode by which cholera was propagated, and perhaps we might not now have to dread the approach of that fatal pestilence to our own shores. If indeed, after all these prudent measures and anxious inquiries, it had turned out that no cure, no means of prevention which the mind of man could employ or suggest, were available, then indeed the desperate and desponding conclusion might at length have been adopted, that all human aid was vain.'- p. 31.
Not a single precautionary step seems to have been taken, because not one could be deemed necessary by the medical officers of Bengal,' who concurred, without a dissentient voice, in declaring that cholera was not contagious.'— (Bengal Report.) Whether it was possible to have arrested the malady at first, as surely in the immense territories of British India as in the Isle de Bourbon, we will not hazard an opinion; but that the mortality might have been diminished, we have no hesitation in affirming; and what a frightful picture does that mortality exhibit? Up to May, 1831, we know of six hundred and fiftysix eruptions of cholera in Asia and Europe, Of course, many of those in remote and barbarous quarters of the globe are not included here. M, de Jonnès believes that this calculation is about one-half less than the true number. In the fourteen years in which the cholera has raged, one-sixth of the inhabitants of India have been carried off; one-third of those dwelling in the towns of Arabia ; one-sixth of those of the same class in Persia; in Mesopotamia, one-fourth ; in Armenia, a fifth ; in Syria, a tenth; in Russia, a twentieth of the population of the infected provinces, up to May,—and there the malady has since made fresh progress, and carried off more victims. In India, as the disease has existed the whole of the fourteen years, M, de Jonnès calculates the mortality at two and a half millions annually, which would give a total of about thirty-six millions ; in order, however, to understate, he reduces the number to eighteen millions for Indostan, and taking the mortality for the rest of the world, from China to Warsaw, to amount to about thirty-six millions, arrives at the conclusion, that fifty millions of our race have perished in fourteen years of a disease which, in 1817, existed only in a few spots of the presidency of Bengal.
We have stated our conviction, that this dreadful mortality has been occasioned by a poison imbibed by the healthy and generated by the sick, and that it has not been caused by some pernicious change in the atmosphere. Of the two hypotheses, if both were countenanced by an equal number of facts, still that of contagion should be preferred, not only on grounds of prudence,
but on the score of humanity. What harm can come of taking up the contagious theory ?--but if it were to be generally believed, in right earnest, that the ravages of the malady depend on the presence of a poisonous wind, whom could we expect to encounter the withering blasts of this worse than Simoom or Harmattan? There would be no safety nor refuge, and all the motives which lead us to discharge the sacred duties of humanity, would languish and expire. Let us adhere to the safer, as well as more consolatory opinion, until it is proved to be false. Let those who are enabled, take the advice of Franklin, and leave an infected spot' as soon as they can, go as far as they can, and stay away as long as they can.' By this means fewer victims are offered for the ravages of the malady. Let those who cannot move, adopt the most rigid rules of quarantine in their houses until the epidemic ceases, and they will not be less safe than the French consuls were in Syria or the sagacious Moravians of Sarepta. In all other contagious diseases the poisonous exhalations extend to very small distances from the sick, so that medicines may be administered and the ordinary attentions bestowed with less danger than is supposed. The history of contagious epidemics proves, that a large volume of atmosphere is never tainted, and that the notion of a town or village being enveloped in pestilential vapours is a vulgar error. Dr. Russell is of opinion, that the morbific exhalations of plague patients do not taint the atmosphere at any great distance, and are soon rendered innocuous. We know that the distance at which small-pox exhalations are dangerous is very circumscribed. The three great disinfectants are cold, time, and ventilation. The first appears to have invariably mitigated plague, small-pox, and cholera ; the germs of these maladies decay or undergo decomposition in time; and ventilation dilutes morbific exhalations as surely as water does hemlock.
These general observations apply very strictly to cholera. While the numerous cases of death from infection prove the deadly nature of the morbific matter, the great number of exemptions under circumstances of close intimacy with the infected, show either that it speedily becomes innocuous, or that it requires a concurrence of many things to produce its effects.*
We * We are enabled, through the kindness of a friend, (Dr. Somerville of Chelsea College,) to support our views by the following interesting extract of a letter from a very eminent physician of Berlin, Dr. Becker, dated September 29, 1831 :
I am a most decided contagionist, and it is the force of facts which has made me so; for on the authority of your Indian practitioners I formerly believed the cholera not to be contagious. The appearance of the disease in Berlin and the manner in which it has spread is also very remarkable, and affords supplementary evidence in favour of contagion. The conclusion at which I have arrived is, that the efficient
We have endeavoured to convey to the reader the impressions which the various documents on our table have left on ourselves ;-we have neither sought to exaggerate the horrors of the picture, nor to conceal them. The public mind ought to be roused to meet an impending danger with energy. The magnitude of the evil requires not only the vigilance of government, but of every individual. The ignorance, the folly, the cupidity, and the carelessness of mankind, are all arranged against their safety, which perhaps not even the candid exhibition of the whole truth may secure. Should all prove vain, and the difficulties of enforcing quarantine regulations on our coasts be found insurmountable, the evil must be counteracted, not by national despondency or despair, but by prompt and decisive means. The measures which have succeeded elsewhere, when directed by the energy and masculine sense of the British character, will not fail us here.
If the malady should really take root and spread in these islands, it is impossible to calculate the horror even of its probable financial effects alone. To say nothing of the instant and inevitable paralyzation of all internal commerce-we believe there is not
cause of the Asiatic or malignant cholera is always a virus, the production of human effluvia, and which, according to common medical language, undoubtedly deserves the name of a contagious principle; but that this virus, in order to produce the disease, requires, first, like the contagion of the small-pox, measles, typhus fever, and even the plague, a disposition of the atmosphere favourable to its development; and secondly, a peculiar disposition of the animal economy in every person who is exposed to it. This disposition appears to be brought on by previous disease, particularly bowel complaints, by excessive fatigue, cold, errors in diet, drunkenness, fear, &e.
This theory of the cause of cholera appears to me to be the only one which can explain the phenomena in a satisfactory manner. It appears to me nonsense to assume, that in the year 1831 one man gets the cholera because he has eaten cucumbers, and another because he has slept on a damp field; for the same causes never have produced the same effects at other times, or in other places. Nor is it the marsh miasma, or as the phrase now is, the malaria, which produces the disease, for we now have villages with intermittent fever, and others with cholera, and others with both diseases, which in no manner interfere with one another. The only other possible supposition is that of a peculiar moving epidemic influence or miasma, which of itself is the sufficient cause, (not as I maintain, merely a disposition of the atmosphere favourable to the disease);—but the singular manner in which the disease spreads, following no other lines but those of human intercourse, namely, roads, rivers, and canals, is quite unaccountable on such a supposition.
. I hope in a week or two we shall be able to give important results as to the treatment. Our cases go on very favourably upon the whole, the remedies chiefly employed being acid baths, camphor, external heat, and other stimuli, leeches and bleeding. I am happy to say that I am well and active; and although I have frequent intercouse with the sick, I have no fear of taking the disease, as I endeavour to protect myself by regularity in diet and regimen. . . One young physician has been one of the first victims of the cholera, a decided anti-contagionist; he carelessly exposed himself, died, and as if his case was to be a warning proof of the fallacy of his opinions, his death was immediately followed by that of his landlord and two children, and the illness of the servant-maid in the house, the only instances of the disease in that street.' VOL. XLVI. NO. XCI.
one Life Insurance establishment in the empire, that has admitted into its calculations even the possibility of any scourge such as this pestilence making its appearance among us! We have no wish to anticipate evils, which, in our opinion, may be averted; but we confess it is difficult, in these days, to avoid being haunted with the fearful cadence of the oracle
"Ηξει πολεμος και λοιμος άμ' αυτω. The reader will thank us for the following quotation from a work published two years ago; a work which contains more of moral and political wisdom, expressed in language of the purest elegance, than any that has appeared in our time.
• The countenance of Sir Thomas More changed upon this, to an expression of judical severity which struck me with awe. Exempted from these visitations ! he exclaimed. Mortal man! creature of a day, what art thou, that thou shouldst presume upon any such exemption ? Is it from a trust in your own deserts, or a reliance upon the forbearance and long-suffering of the Almighty, that this vain confidence arises ?
• I was silent.
• My friend, he resumed, in a milder tone, but with a melancholy manner, your own individual health and happiness are scarcely more precarious than this fancied security. By the mercy of God, twice during the short space of your life, England has been spared from the horrors of invasion, which might with ease have been effected during the American war, when the enemy's fleet swept the channel, and insulted your very ports, and which was more than once seriously intended during the late long contest. The invaders would indeed have found their graves in that soil which they came to subdue: but before they could have been overcome, the atrocious threat of Buonaparte's General might have been in great part realized, that though he could not answer for effecting the conquest of England, he would engage to destroy its prosperity for a century to come. You have been spared from that chastisement. You have escaped also from the imminent danger of peace with a military Tyrant, which would inevi- . tably have led to invasion, when he should have been ready to undertake and accomplish that great object of his ambition, and you must have been least prepared and least able to resist him. But if the seeds of civil war should at this time be quickening among you,-if your soil is everywhere sown with the dragon's teeth, and the fatal crop be at this hour ready to spring up,--the impending evil will be an hundred-fold more terrible than those which have been averted; and you will have cause to perceive and acknowledge, that the wrath has been suspended only that it may fall the heavier!
. May God avert this also! I exclaimed.
• As for famine, he pursued, that curse will always follow in the train of war : and even now the public tranquillity of England is
fearfully dependent upon the seasons. And touching pestilence, you fancy yourselves secure, because the plague has not appeared among you for the last hundred and fifty years ; a portion of time, which long as it may seem when compared with the brief term of mortal existence, is as nothing in the physical history of the globe. The importation of that scourge is as possible now as it was in former times ; and were it once imported, do you suppose it would rage with less violence among the crowded population of your metropolis, than it did before the Fire, or that it would not reach parts of the country which were never infected in any former visitation ? On the contrary, its ravages would be more general and more tremendous, for it would inevitably be carried everywhere.
• Your provincial cities have doubled and trebled in size; and in London itself, great part of the population is as much crowded now as it was then, and the space which is covered with houses is increased at least four-fold. What if the sweating-sickness, emphatically called the English disease, were to show itself again? Can any cause be assigned why it is not as likely to break out in the nineteenth century as in the fifteenth? What if your manufactures, according to the ominous opinion which your greatest physiologist has expressed, were to generate for you new physical plagues, as they have already produced a moral pestilence unknown to all preceding ages ? Visitations of this kind are in the order of nature and of Providence, Physically considered, the likelihood of their recurrence becomes every year more probable than the last; and looking to the moral government of the world, was there ever a time when the sins of this kingdom called more cryingly for chastisement ?
MONTESINOS.--Mávit kakûr !
•Sir Thomas More.— I denounce no judgments. But I am reminding you that there is as much cause for the prayer in your Litany against plague, pestilence, and famine, as for that which intreats God to deliver you from all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion ; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism. ... David was permitted to choose between the three severest dispensations of God's displeasure, and he made choice of pestilence as the least dreadful. Ought a reflecting and religious man to be surprised if some such punishment were dispensed to this country, not less in mercy than in judgment, as the means of averting a more terrible and abiding scourge? An endemic malady, as destructive as the plague, has naturalized itself among your American brethren, and in Spain. You have hitherto escaped it, speaking with reference to secondary causes, merely because it has not been imported. But any season may bring it to your own shores; or at any hour it may appear among you home-bred.
• MONTESINOS.-We should have little reason then to boast of our improvements in the science of medicine; for our practitioners at Gibraltar found themselves as unable to stop its progress, or mitigate its symptoms, as the most ignorant empirics in the peninsula.
• Sir Thomas MORE.—You were at one time near enough that pestilence to feel as if you were within its reach?