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being in any degree putrid, was perfectly palatable. In Spain, near the confines of Portugal, the regiments which bivouacked in the hilly ravines near the pools of water, among the bare rocks, were attacked by violent remittent fevers. He instances villages upon the banks of the Tagus and Alagon, pure and limpid streams, running through a rocky, sandy country, so unhealthy during the autumnal months, that every person escapes who has the means, and even horses and other domestic animals are removed for fear of fevers. One of these villages he describes as the most parched spot he ever saw, the loose, dry sand actually obstructing the doors and windows of the houses. From a number of such facts as these, he draws the novel conclusion, not only that the presence of decaying vegetable matter is not necessary to the evolution of febrific miasma, but that this marsh poison, as it has been called--this Malaria-cannot emanate from vegetable putrefaction, in this latter deduction, venturing to contradict the clearest and most uniform decisions of experience and observation. He maintains farther, that only one condition is known to be indispensable to the production of Malaria, and that is "the paucity of water where it had previously abounded."
An opinion has been held by certain philosophers, and among others by the venerable President Dwight of Yale College, "that the diseases commonly imputed to stagnant waters and marsh miasmata, are produced by animalcular putrefaction.” All waters in which vegetables or parts of vegetables are infused, on becoming corrupt or putrid, are found to contain infinite numbers of animalculæ. Dr. Dwight, on examining the pellicle or scum which floats on the surface of such water with the microscope, perceived it to "exhibit, after a few days, an immense number of living beings. On examining the same scum sometime afterwards, not the least appearance of life was visible. In a short time it was again replenished with living beings, and this alternate process went on until the water became so fetid as to forbid a further examination." The conclusion which he drew from this, was, that the first race of animalculæ having laid their eggs, died, and were succeeded by a second, and a third, and so
The fetor which arose from the putrefaction of these ephemeral creatures, he describes as something peculiar. “Although it was perceptible at a small distance only, and, perhaps, less loathsome than the smell of a corrupted carcass, it was far more suffocating." “When the effluvia” (we use the words of Dr. D.) Gwere received into the lungs, it seemed as if nature gave way, and was preparing to sink under it. A pungency, entirely pe culiar, accompanied the smell, and appeared to lessen the vis vitæ in a manner different from any thing I had ever experienced before."
Whether animal putrefaction is, of itself, capable of generating the Malaria—the febrific poison, of which we are treating, may be doubted; it cannot, however, be denied, that it effects a sensible deterioration of the air by which we are surrounded, and in this way, if in no other, acts as a powerful adjuvant in the production of Malaria diseases. We have been led to think that by a reference to these, its influences, we may, at least, approach an explanation of the facts alleged by Ferguson. The purest, natural waters, whether of springs and rivers, or from the clouds, contain, in each drop, myriads of animated creatures, which are rapidly developed during its stagnation, and under the vivifying influence of heat. We have often observed that the rain water which had collected among the sand drifts of Sullivan's island, if not drained off soon, became exceedingly offensive. The noisome smell was sooner noticed, and more perceptible, if a high tide had mingled, with these fresh pools, a portion of salt water. Now, we are at a loss to account for the putrescency of fresh, pure water standing in a basin of clean sand, otherwise than by the animalcular putrefaction which takes place in it; that it occurs more readily and obviously when salt or brackish water is present, may be owing to the greater number or larger size of the creatures which the latter fluid contains, and which die sooner from the change, which, by admixture, is made in their native element, as the whole must, ultimately, perish from evaporation. We must not smile at the pathological importance thus attached to these invisible tribes; their infinite multitudes compensate, abundantly, for the almost inconceivable minuteness of each individual belonging to them.
It will be perceived that we are more than half disposed, notwithstanding the authority of Dr. MacCullouch, of De Lisle, and of Valentin, to concur in the commonly received notion of the necessary connexion of a disagreeable odour with the presence of miasmata. We rather believe that putrefaction, whether of animal or vegetable materials-the decomposition of organised matter is a regular concomitant of their developement, if not absolutely one of the means of developing them; and, that although all bad odours are not prejudicial to health, yet, that all febrific exhalations possess a bad odour. We would not except even the instances in which we suppose the Malaria to escape from volcanos or volcanic soils. The substances thrown out from these magnificent furnaces, are, in various degrees, altered and disintegrated by fire, but they were originally
composed of mingled and complicated masses, comprising, in all probability, both animal and vegetable matters.
That the peculiarly sickly and disagreeable smells, emitted wherever stagnant waters are found, in any notable quantity, and from which, indeed, we instinctively shrink, may sometimes be inhaled, and applied to the surfaces of our bodies with impunity, we do not deny. The noxious principle may not be present in sufficient amount, or in such a state of concentration as to derange the healthy functions, even when it affects the senses, and the want of predisposition, or the cautious wariness excited by these very odours, may procure our escape from the impend
We further believe the same writers, De Lisle in the first place, and our author, perhaps, influenced by him although he does not notice his opinion here, to be grossly in error in asserting "that the most offensive quarters of a city are sometimes the most healthy." They never can be so; the same causes which promote the sweetness and purity of the air, viz. cleanliness and ventilation, are, at the same time, and of necessity, equally conducive to its respirability and salubrity ; 'while the opposite conditions of stagnation and filthiness first nauseate and disgust, and afterwards debilitate and destroy us. But this is a matter of too much importance to be lightly passed over.We presume that neither Dr. MacCullouch nor any other pathologist would impugn the correctness of the rule, universally admitted by the police of cities all over the world, as well as by the medical profession, that wherever great numbers of men are collected together, the air which surrounds them becomes excessively impure and deleterious, if not frequently, nay, rapidly and constantly changed by free ventilation, and that this result may
be hastened and rendered more certain and intense by neglect of cleanliness, and by the accumulation of offals of whatever kind. We see the extreme influence of these circumstances in the affecting incidents of the Black Hole at Calcutta-at the long remembered Black Assizes of Oxford-in the crowded hospitals of London, Paris, and other overgrown cities, and indeed in all the jails, hospitals, and prison-ships over the world. But, perhaps, our author would doubt whether this deterioration of the air, is similar or identical with that which constitutes the subject of his Essay; whether, in short, “the chemical compound” is thus evolved, which he would regard as febrific malaria. Let us examine this point.
It has been agreed on by the faculty, from time immemorial, that such confined places as we have just indicated, are the appropriate seats and fountains of typhus, which has hence obtained the names of gaol, ship and hospital fever.
Armstrong tells us, that it is the perennial endemic and epidemic of the poorer, more crowded and dirty parts of London ; the alleys leading from the Strand, Wapping, St. Giles', &c. produced, he distinctly declares, by Malaria generated in these places. Now, we have no other means of judging of the identity in nature of the Malaria of different situations, than the similarity or identity of the effects occasioned by its influence, and we refer to our author himself for a forcible expression of the difficulty of making a distinction here. “It is not unlikely that to similar causes” -(he has just been speaking of the exhalations from the stagnant water in moats, ditches, and the like) "we must often attribute the mortality of the besieged in the castles of the feudal times, knowing, as we do, that fever and dysenteries were the causes of all this loss of life.
Medical men, indeed, often or generally attribute this to want of provisions, water, and so forth, and as constantly have considered these fevers as the contagious typhus, or the fever produced by confined human effluvia. This error, which I can never omit to notice when opportunity offers, that of mistaking remittent for typhus; an error, so universal, that we trace it through every medical work, and so common, even to this hour, as to be committed every day by nine tenths of practitioners, or more," &c. One cannot surely wonder, that effects so very similar, should be attributed to like causes.
We protest, most seriously, against his doctrine, and its inferences. The crowded and ill-ventilated parts of a city are, invariably, the most sickly. London was a city of pestilence until its streets were widened by fire, and free ventilation permitted. We know that those sections of our own city, and the other cities of our country, which are most densely inhabited, most imperfectly cleansed and ventilated, and most subjected to the influence of the sources of Malaria, already spoken of as established, are the most insalubrious. That there are particular localities which may seem to be exceptions, we would not deny, but we are prepared to make good the assertion, that thorough knowledge of the local circumstances will not fail to explain away the apparent objection.
In order to prove the protecting virtue of filth and stagnation of air, and of density of population, much proof is necessary of a nature which has not been offered. The example upon which Dr. MacCullouch insists most, is, that of the Judaicum or Jews' Quarter at Rome, a portion of that city in which these oppressed people are condensed together, and confined closely within very
narrow limits. The streets are dark, foul and moist; yet, he affirms their inhabitants to be exempt from Malaria diseases. A similar instance is vaguely alluded to by De Lisle. Such allegations either prove nothing, or they prove too much.-The population of such spots suffers an equal mortality with that of other parts of the towns-or greater or less, though nothing is said specially on this subject. The truth is, they are so much neglected, that little or nothing can be ascertained concerning their diseases and deaths.
If they die in less proportion than in other sections of the cities in which they reside, then filth, and crowding, and stagnation produce no counterbalancing evil; but deserve to be regarded as positively friendly to human health and life-a deduction manifestly absurd and inadmissible. If, on the other hand, they die in equal or greater proportion than their fellowtownsmen, then it behoves Dr. MacCulloch, and those who agree with him, to shew that it is not by the effects of Malaria that they thus perish. What are those effects? They have been spoken of as regular and obvious, but this phrase must be understood with some allowance. Dr. MacCulloch himself admits a very considerable range here, and we shall quote his list~" fever, continuous or remitting, of an endless diversity of character, intermitting fever, almost equally various in its appearances; dysentery, colera, diarrhæa, apoplexy, palsy, visceral obstructions and dropsy." And to this fearful host, “many authors are inclined to add the mesenteric affection, worms, ulcers of the legs, and even elephantiasis, together with rickets, scrofula, phthisis, scurvy and chlorosis. The pellagra of the Italian Alps, and even goitre and cretinage are mentioned here with hernia and varix," and the mortal catalogue concluded with “angina, catarrh reaching to peripneumony, asthma, dyspepsia of an inveterate character, and ædema of the lungs.' Concluded did we say !-far from it, for the author goes on immediately, “to propose a large addition in the disorders which he has ranked under the term neuralgia," which, indeed, he has made to comprise almost all the remaining “ills that flesh is heir to'_"such as sciatica, tooth-ache, head-ache, other painful or nervous affections”-a very sweeping phrase by the bye—"and, finally, fatuity, and even mania. Now, if the fortunate inhabitants of the Judaicum, “into which a Malaria cannot enter," (vol. i. p. 295) do not die of the above fatal distempers, of what diseases do they die? For they are surely mortal. Let us hear, then, no more of the protective influence of density of population, which every enlightened physician, philosopher, VOL. II.-NO. 3.