« AnteriorContinuar »
and assist to carry their own treasure to their new habitation. But in case the queen is protected, they fight on with rage and fury, and death and pillage soon destroy the stock.” It is said, moreover, that two or three bees will sometimes associate for the purpose of robbing on the highway; remaining in ambush, like a set of footpads, until some straggling humble bee goes by on his return home laden with the accumulations of his industry, when they rush out to attack him, one seizing a leg, another a wing, and mauling and pummelling him until he disgorges all his honey, which they eagerly lap up till they are satisfied, and then they let him go. The wars of ants, and especially their expeditions for the purpose of capturing slaves, are still more curious; but as we have touched upon these topics in a former number, we shall not here again advert to them. Mr. Rennie closes his work with a chapter upon the systematic arrangement of insects, in which he gives brief sketches of the classifications that have been invented by different naturalists. Aristotle, Linnaeus and the Baron de Geer, were for distinguishing insects by their wings. An Italian philosopher, much less known than he deserves to be, named Ulysses Aldrovan, classed insects not from the structure of their wings, but from the places which they frequented, a system which has been improved by Latreille into a geographical classification. Other naturalists have classed them according to their transformations, the structure of their mouths, or the eggs which they produced. The modern or prevailing classification, consists, in fact, of a selection from all these, which the reader will find very clearly stated in the volume before us. We recommend it to his particular attention, as one of the most engaging works that have emanated from the press of the Society.
ART. II.-The Effects of the Principal Arts, Trades, and Professions, and of Civic States and Habits of Living, on Health and Longevity : with a particular reference to the Trades and Manufactures of Leeds; and Suggestions for the removal of many of the Agents which produce Disease, and Shorten the Duration of Life. By C. Turner Thackrah. 8vo. London: Longman and Co. 1831.
THE indifferent and very imperfect way in which the late census of the United Kingdom has been taken, is quite of a piece with that perverse negligence, with respect to the domestic condition of the country, which has so long and so uniformly characterized this nation. The government, no matter into what hands it has at any time fallen, was always in possession of the amplest means of ascertaining the state of every class of subjects; but, as if treating the very facility of inquiry itself as an insurmountable obstacle to such a course, the successive ministries of England have left the social state of the country, up to this moment, a sort of problem,
and to this fact may be traced a great many of our legislative blunders as connected with political economy, and the evil consequent upon them. It is admitted, that so little care has been bestowed on the taking of the various censuses up to the year 1821, inclusively, that great reliance cannot be placed on the records to which they have given rise. We fear that a similar objection lies against the census which has just been completed. If we were to judge of the nation at large by the few specimens of the returns which have been published, we should say that there existed throughout the kingdom a strange indisposition to co-operate with the design of the legislature. The questions which have been put in the general circular presented to the heads of families, are often answered in a very vague and negligent manner: sometimes they are only partially replied to, and at other times a species of evasion is employed, as if the declaration of the truth would immediately involve the personal safety of the returning officers. All this, however, will excite but little indignation in the powers that be, and consequently no hope of correction can be indulged in for the present. And yet if ever there was a people which required that its domestic state should be narrowly watched, ours is that community. England is very differently situated from all countries of which we have any knowledge in the history of the world. There are circumstances immediately influencing her, which were totally unknown in ancient times, and in modern days are almost confined to herself. These are so peculiar, that we may very well say, that history furnishes but very few maxims that are applicable to our existing condition. She is then a nation standing by herself, and requiring to be accurately studied, in order that the balance between her various dependencies may be preserved. Hitherto, almost, the duties of the labouring classes were generally the same in all countries and all ages. Men lived pretty much in the same way in every civilized part of the earth. The relations of any given cause connected with the state of the population to its effect, were permanent and well known, and what was useful, or what was bad, as a legislative measure in one country, was also useful or bad in another. There was no necessity in those distant days, therefore, to enter upon any laborious investigation into the state of a particular people. But how different has been, and is, the situation of England The great mass of her humble population, subsisting on the means supplied by an artificial system, feel all the vicissitudes to which that system is subject. They are influenced by agencies with which no other community has ever been affected before, and hence their situation claims the vigilant superintendence of a legislature, which has for its guiding object the happiness of the people. We cannot for a moment consider how large a portion of the industrious classes is devoted to occupations which cannot fail to be vo L. III. (1831.) No. 111. Z
injurious to health, without feeling that it is part of our duty to ascertain the amount of the influence on life which such a cause produces. We ought to compare the periods of life at different eras—we ought to understand exactly the rate of mortality, and its relation to the number of births—we ought to be well acquainted with those localities where life subsists but for a short interval, or where it is often protracted—and we should be able to define the reasons of the peculiarity in each place respectively. England, of all other countries the especial theatre where such inquiries should be ceaselessly conducted, is that country of Christendom, we believe, where they are most neglected. Time, however, and the application of arguments, may induce a more useful feeling amongst our countrymen, and it is in the hope of such an event that we invite the attention of the public to some details connected with this important subject, which we have no doubt will be allowed to be at least very curious. From all that we have been able to learn from history and observation, and our investigations have not been limited, we come to the conclusion that it is part of the designs of Providence, to preserve the rate of the mortality of human beings from diseases, somewhat in a stationary condition with respect to their number. If we look back, for instance, to the records of the mortality of London, we shall find a very remarkable change in the nature of those disorders, which produced the greatest amounts of death . at several periods. Thirty-five years ago convulsions carried off one third more children in a year than they do now. Small pox destroyed half as many again, and teething one third more than either of these diseases does at present. But if these disorders have been shorn of their fatal power to a great extent, other malignant complaints have come to their assistance, and hooping cough, measles, and negligent mothers, are now accomplishing that destruction of life, which used before to be performed by the terrible distempers which we have mentioned. In the case of adults, there is a similar revolution. We hear no longer of leprosy or the sweating sickness—but we have apoplexy, gout, and cholic, pleurisy, and all the diseases produced by intemperance, to maintain, if not actually outstrip, the rate of mortality that resulted from the prevalence of the former diseases. We know from history what a terrible plague the leprosy was, and those who have not read any account of its nature and effects, may derive some notion of both from the fact, that most of the European hospitals erected before the middle of the sixteenth century, were destined expressly for patients affected with leprosy. This disease is not now known. Scurvy was a formidable complaint in the seventeenth century: its name is scarcely mentioned in the modern medical books. Rickets in children is another of those complaints which were so destructive about half a century ago, but which has since very much declined. But
effective as these diseases unfortunately proved in diminishing the number of human beings, their disappearance has been succeeded by others, so as that the rate of mortality is kept up pretty much in the same condition that it always was. If it be the plan of mysterious Providence to keep up this species of agency for checking the fertility of human production, that circumstance, however, is not intended to prevent man from endeavouring to secure, by every means in his power, the continuance of his own existence. We are indeed urged by every consideration to inquire into those further sources of mortality, by which the natural causes of it are so extensively supported. Those who practise intemperance, or devote themselves to particular employments which they know to possess an injurious influence on life, under the impression that they are only led to destruction in obedience to a decree of the Almighty, may rest satisfied that without their co-operation, the projects of the All-wise will proceed to complete success. We cannot advance a step in the investigation of the comparative rates of mortality, without being struck with the great advantages, in point of longevity, which the affluent possess over the poorer classes. We are far from believing that this difference is to be accounted for by the exemption from labour on the one side, or the obligation to it on the other. We are almost certain that it very much depends on the greater care which is taken by the rich, with respect to their habits, their diet, and clothing. If we look to the higher classes of society in this country, we shall find that the rate of mortality is exceedingly low indeed. During the last ten or twelve years, scarcely one peer in a hundred died in any year. The literary and scientific societies have very seldom to mourn the loss of one of their members, for they generally belong to that rank with which we associate ideas of affluence. A ver curious paper on this subject was read, not long ago, by a M. Chateauneuf, before the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. This gentleman is well acquainted with the English language, and had the advantage of acquiring good information from English connections. As his calculations embrace amongst their materials the rate of mortality in our peerage, we have no hesitation in dwelling on some of the details of his valuable paper. Having collected the dates of the births and deaths of the principal sovereigns of Europe for a series of years, as also of the higher clergy, he next added those of the peers of France:—those of England were then subjoined, and the catalogue was finally augmented by the dates of the births and deaths of superior officers, judges, &c. &c. In all, M. Chateauneuf had no less than sixteen hundred names of persons, who enjoyed from their entrance into life the advantages which riches and all that it commands could confer. The result is very interesting, and will perhaps be best rendered intelligible by being put in the form of a table.
Of those whose age was the number was
from 20 to 25 e . 17
30 35 72
35 40 - 86
50 55 219
55 60 172
60 65 e 194
65 70 167
70 75 . 116
75 80 73
80 85 58
85 90 . 19
In the course of the ten years which elapsed after these dates were taken, there died of this amount of persons, annually an average rate of about fifty-two, or two tenths of the whole. When these ten years had passed away, there were still remaining (Jan. 1830) out of the one hundred and twenty-four reigning sovereigns of Europe, twelve who were eighty years of age, together with seven cardinals out of twenty-eight, one French bishop out of thirty-four, eleven peers of France out of three hundred and thirteen, nineteen lieutenant-generals out of two hundred and seventy-two, and five ambassadors or ministers of state, out of eighty-four ; all of whom had reached their eightieth year. M. Chateauneuf remarks as a curious fact, that cardinals, after they have reached from sixty to seventy years, experience a greater degree of mortality than any other class of persons whatever, who attain to a similar age. The same observation holds good with respect to the Roman Catholic clergy in general, and may perhaps be attributed to a cause which is common to them all.
Various proofs could be adduced to shew the influence of “easy circumstances” in prolonging life. The actuary of an assurance office in London, perhaps in the most extensive business of any in this country, has published a table of no less than 152,000 persons, that being the number of insurers who registered themselves in the office during twenty years. These individuals were all of the comfortable middle classes, and were of the various ages of from ten years and upwards; so that, after having seen the rate of mortality amongst the highest, we are now in a situation to ascertain the rate amongst that body which forms the connecting link between the two extremes of the social chain. It appears from the report of the actuary, (Mr. Morgan,) that of the above number, 1930 had died during the twenty years. Two hundred and sixty-two