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all my experience and acquaintance, I have never known, I have never even heard, of an instance of a refusal to attend the couch of a fellowcreature hanging on the brink of eternity:-it is an accusation whose truth I must question—it is an accusation which a cancered and malignant spirit could alone invent. To charge the clergy in a mass with this foul delinquency can proceed only from such as, having a scorn for truth,
aim to bring discredit and contempt upon the establishment for purposes too base to be openly avowed.
* With such an enemy as this, and with such an host of others equally malignant, who now so vigorously assail our church, and endeavour to effect its downfal, by undermining the character and utility of its ministers, it becomes us to be more than ever active and circumspect.' It seems to us that Doctor Wilkins would have infinitely better served his cause, if, instead of all this long tirade, he had simply stated the number of instances in which he had been himself called to attend the bed of the dying sinner. He has ingeniously eluded any statement of that kind. He tells us, indeed, that he lives among the dying and the dead. So do we, so does every man who happens to be near a church-yard, or who occasionally attends a funeral. He says that he has never refused the ‘call to the bed of sickness, much less to the bed of death.' We should like to know how often he has received such calls since he went to Nottingham. “How rarely,” said we, “do we see them called to the bed of the dying sinner!” He has not even asserted that they were often called, or indeed that they were called at all. He merely assures us that they never refuse visitations of that solemn description. This is mere trifling with a grave accusation against the system of the church, for it is notorious, that so slight is the influence of that church upon the minds of the people, that they very seldom think of seeking consolation from their clergy, during the awful moments that precede dissolution. The practice has literally become. obsolete. Who, let us be allowed to ask, has heard for a great number of years, of a married clergyman of the English church having. sacrificed his life by attending a patient confined to his bed by a contagious fever ? If instances of that description have occurred, let them be mentioned. It is well known that they never go. near the fever wards in our public hospitals. If the cholera morbus should unhappily be introduced into this country, an opportunity will then be afforded to the married bishops and clergy, of proving the falsehood of the charge which we have pronounced against them. Then it will be seen whether their wives and children shall, or shall not, stand between them and the door which leads to the path of their duty. We have done with our reverend antagonist for the present. We shall not be slow to meet him again, if he return to the combat. We are armed and prepared for him, as he may have seen, at all points, and shall now, in a friendly way, merely advise him, when he unsheathes his sword again, not to lose his temper.
ART. X. —History of the Epidemic Spasmodic Cholera of Russia, including a copious Account of the Disease which has prevailed in India, and which has travelled, under that name, from Asia into Europe. Illustrated by numerous official and other documents explanatory of the Nature, Treatment, and Prevention of the Malady. By Bisset Hawkins, M. D. Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, &c.
8vo. pp. 306. London: Murray, 1831.
ALTHough this volume consists of little more than a compilation of documents, to which Dr. Hawkins has not been able to add any information derived from his own personal experience with respect to the disease of which it treats, yet we look upon it as a valuable work, and calculated to do much good at the present moment. We have already, in a former number, stated the reasons which have induced us to entertain but slight apprehensions of the consequences, even if the cholera should find its way to our metropolis and our great towns. In the first place, from being surrounded by the sea, our atmosphere is undergoing constant renovation. It is pretty well ascertained, that in those places where the disease has prevailed to any considerable extent, the atmosphere, if it has not caused the malady, has been a very active agent in propagating it. Indeed, it has been suggested by one of the medical gentlemen who have written upon this subject, that the cholera is caused by a derangement of the air which we inspire —a derangement that reduces its electricity far below the ordinary proportion. However this may be, it cannot be questioned that a tainted atmosphere greatly augments the number of patients in an infected district, and, therefore, as the miasma cannot long remain in our clouds, rapid as they usually are in their movements, we should hope, under the dispensing care of Providence, that our insular position' may prove, on this occasion, as it has proved in times of war, of the most material service towards the safety of the nation. The modern habits of our people are also, as compared with those of the inhabitants of the countries to which the malady has reached, cleanly and healthy. The natural consequence of these improved habits has shown itself, in the exemption of this kingdom for many years from every disease of a pestilential nature. One of the principal epidemics which have prevailed in England, was that too appropriately named The Black Death, which occurred in the reign of Edward III. Like the cholera, it originated in the marshes of the Indies; it travelled over all the world, and is said to have swept away a fourth part of mankind. It destroyed above fifty thousand persons in London alone, and so deeply was it felt as a universal calamity, that it had the effect of maintaining and prolonging the truce between England and France. May we not conjecture that the malady, which has for the last twelve months afflicted the north
of Europe, has produced a similarly pacific effect upon the councils of the Great Powers, and impressed their minds with the religious necessity of not adding to pestilence the still more formidable evils of a general war 2 ... The Black Death was the great scourge of the fourteenth century. Towards the end of the sixteenth (1593), London was visited by a plague, which killed nearly twelve thousand individuals. It does not appear, however, to have spread through the country, nor to have extended generally to the continent. Ten years after that visitation, London was again (1603) afflicted by another plague, which was imported from Ostend, while it raged violently there as well as in the Low Countries. On this occasion, our capital lost upwards of thirty-six thousand of its inhabitants, who fell victims to the disease. Nearly the same number were carried away by a similar malady in 1625; in 1636, it appeared in the metropolis again, and destroyed upwards of thirteen thousand persons, and in 1643–4, the armies engaged in the civil war diffused a malignant fever over the whole country, which was attended with a roughness and a sliminess of the throat and jaws, with pain, but scarcely any swelling or inflammation. But the most formidable pestilence by which this metropolis has been invaded, was that which commenced in 1665, immediately after the great frost, and consigned to the tomb, or rather to the earth, for there was no time for the construction of tombs, sixty-eight thousand five hundred and ninety-six persons, according to the lowest computation. “Since that time,’ says Dr. Sims, as quoted by Dr. Hawkins, ‘the plague has vanished from London, and all other epidemics seem to have become less malignant, owing to many causes; among which may, perhaps, be a greater use of fresh vegetable food, a less use of fish, an universal use of tea, superior cleanliness in our persons, a greater attention to the poor in times of scarcity, which are now scarcely felt in any extreme degree; and, lastly, the tremendous fire in 1666, since which the streets have been very much widened, and the houses so enlarged, that the same number of inhabitants now occupy above double the space.” Since that period London and the country generally have been free from contagious disease, with the exception of the year 1740, when occurred the severest frost that had been known for three hundred years; it was accompanied by a malignant spotted fever, which caused great havoc in Bristol and in Galway, and which reached London in the following year, where it produced a degree of mortality nearly equal to that of the great plague. Unless we enumerate the small pox and occasional typhus and catarrhal fevers, we may say, that for nearly a hundred years England has not been visited by any general malady, and this good fortune it owes partly to its strict quarantine regulations, but chiefly to the improved habits of the people. Within recent memory, several other countries, with which we have been in constant intercourse, have been severally visited by the plague; Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Malta, Gibraltar, and the United States of America, have been within the last twenty years the seats of pestilence, and yet it has never touched our shores. It may be also mentioned as a circumstance calculated to allay apprehension, that according to the report of a resident of Hamburgh, who left that city on the 15th of October last, the cholera, which had then prevailed for eight days in that crowded city, had only affected thirty-one individuals, and that even of these, several were mere cases of suspicion. This is undoubtedly a trifling proportion, in a population of 130,000 souls. The disease appears, according to the same authority, to have originated at that place in a low wretched quarter, called the “Deep Cellar,” which is wholly frequented by beggars, vagrants, and other abandoned objects of both sexes. To these profligate classes the cholera has been hitherto confined : the alarm which was first excited by its appearance, has entirely ceased, and private parties and public amusements go on just as usual. In Breslau, Berlin, and Vienna, where the malady still continues, it has hitherto preserved the same mitigated character. According to late accounts from the latter capital, there were remaining in all only 284 cases, of which existed in the city only sixtysix, the remaining 218 being in the most miserable parts of the suburbs. It should, moreover, not be forgotten, that in London, as well as in England generally, the autumn now coming to a close, and the latter part of the summer, have been remarkably unhealthy. Bowel complaints were seldom known to have been so prevalent, both amongst adults and children; they have not been fatal in many cases, but it has been remarked, that the state of the weather exercised considerable influence upon them. When the atmosphere was humid and laden with clouds, the malady increased; when the vapours were dispersed, and the sun appeared, or a bracing cold day came, the malady was alleviated, and frequently altogether removed. These facts go to prove the connexion which exists between the state of the atmosphere, and the ordinary course of our animal functions. Indeed, to any person who has reflected much upon this subject, and upon the wonderful sympathies which exist between many parts of animated nature, it must appear as if we were all but so many links of an electric chain descending from Heaven to the remotest material objects of the whole creation. We would infer from these facts then, that we have already had our visitation from the cholera, in the shape of the complaint which we have mentioned, and that we are not likely to behold it in any severer form in this country. In this impression we are countenanced by the remark of Dr. Onufriew, who states in one of the Russian official documents, that “during the prevalence of the epidemic at Orenburg, there was scarcely a single inhabitant of that city who had not some symptoms of disordered digestion. One complained of oppression and pain in the heart; another of headache, slight sickness, looseness of the bowels, and the like. These trifling symptoms of disease were usually ascribed to errors in diet. But to me it appears, that their cause was a general invasion of the system by cholera, which, however, was prevented from developing itself in its perfect characters, by a regular manner of living, and other circumstances of the kind.” In the same manner we think that the cholera has already invaded this country, and that our general habits have subdued it to the more mitigated symptoms, which have been so widely experienced. But although this is our sincere opinion, yet we think that the Government has done no more than its duty in taking the precautions which have been already adopted, against the approach of the more formidable disease. No regulations could have been better devised for that purpose, than those which have been lately issued by our Board of Health ; and, as we have been requested to give them the benefit of our circulation, we need make no apology for here inserting them at full length.
“At the Council-Chamber, Whitehall, the 20th day of October, 1831. By a Committee of the Lords of His Majesty's Most Hon. Privy Council.
“Their lordships this day took into consideration certain rules and regulations proposed by the Board of Health, for the purpose of preventing the introduction and spreading of the disease called cholera morbus in the United Kingdom, together with an account of the symptoms and treatment of the said disease : and were pleased to order that the same be printed and published in the Gazette, and circulated in all the principal ports, creeks, and other stations of the said United Kingdom, with a view that all persons may be made acquainted therewith, and conform themselves thereto.
W. S. BATHURST.
“The measures of external precaution for preventing the introduction of the cholera morbus by a rigorous quarantine, have hitherto been found effectual, but as the disease approaches the neighbouring shores, not only is the necessity of increased vigilance more apparent, but it is also consistent with common prudence that the country should be prepared to meet the possible contingency of so dreadful a calamity. The intention of the following observations, therefore, is to submit to the public such suggestions as it appears to the Board of Health should either be immediately acted upon, or so far carried into operation as that, in any case, the country should not be found uninformed as to the best means of providing for its internal protection.
‘To effect the prevention of the introduction of the disorder, the most active co-operation, not only of the local authorities along the coast in the measures of the Government, but likewise the exercise of the utmost caution by all the inhabitants of such parts of the country, becomes indispensably necessary. The quarantine regulations established by the Government are sufficient, it is confidently hoped, to prevent the disorder from being communicated through any intercourse with the Continent, in the regular channel of trade or passage, but they cannot guard against its
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