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to Paris, to take his trial. He summoned me to appear to his character, and also a Mr. Thomas Christie, connected with the house of Turnbull and Forbes. I gave my testimony as I believed, which was, that his leading object was, and had been, the emancipation of his country, Mexico, from the bondage of Spain; for I did not, at that time, know of his engagements with Pitt. Mr. Christie's evidence went to show that Miranda did not come to France as a necessitous adventurer; but believed he came from public spirited motives, and that he had a large sum of money in the hands of Turnbull and Forbes. The house of Turnbull and Forbes was then in a contract to supply Paris with flour. Miranda was acquitted.
A few days after his acquittal he came to see me, and in a few days afterwards I returned his visit. He seemed desirous of satis→ fying me that he was independent, and that he had money in the hands of Turnbull and Forbes. He did not tell me of his affair with old Catherine of Russia, nor did I tell him that I knew of it. But he entered into conversation with respect to Nootka Sound, and put into my hands several letters of Mr. Pitt's to him on that subject; amongst which was one that I believe he gave me by mistake, for when I had opened it, and was beginning to read it, he put forth his hand and said, O, that is not the letter I intended;" but as the letter was short, I soon got through it, and then returned it to him without making any remarks upon it.
The dispute with Spain about Nootka Sound was then compro mised; and Pitt compromised with Miranda, for his services, by giving him twelve hundred pounds sterling, for this was the contents of the letter.
Now if it be true that Miranda brought with him a credit upon certain persons in New York, for sixty thousand pounds sterling, it is not difficult to suppose from what quarter the credit came; for the opening of any proposals between Pitt and M randa was already made by the affair of Nootka Sound.
Miranda was in Paris when Mr. Munroe arrived there as minister; and as Miranda wanted to get acquainted with him, I cautioned Mr. Monroe against him, and told him of the affair of Nootka Sound, and the twelve hundred pounds.
You are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter and with my name to it.
THE CAUSE OF THE YELLOW FEVER, AND THE MEANS OF PREVENTING IT, IN PLACES NOT YET INFECTED WITH IT, ADDRESSED TO THE BOARD OF HEALTH IN AMERICA.
A GREAT deal has been written respecting the Yellow Fever. First, with respect to its causes, whether domestic or imported. Secondly, on the mode of treating it.
What I am going to suggest in this essay, is to ascertain some point to begin at, in order to arrive at the cause, and for this purpose some preliminary observations are necessary.
The Yellow Fever always begins in the lowest part of a populous mercantile town near the water, and continues there, without affecting the higher parts. The sphere, or circuit it acts in, is small, and it rages most where large quantities of new ground have been made by banking out the river, for the purpose of making wharfs. The appearance and prevalence of the Yellow Fever in these places, being those where vessels arrive from the West Indies, has caused the belief that the Yellow Fever was imported from thence:. but here are two cases acting in the same place; the one, the condition of the ground at the wharfs, which being new made on the muddy and filthy bottom of the river, is different from the natural condition of the ground in the higher parts of the city, and consequently subject to produce a different kind of effluvia or vapor: the other case, is the arrival of vessels from the West Indies.
In the State of Jersey, neither of these cases has taken place; no shipping arrive there, and consequently there have been no embankments for the purpose of wharfs, and the Yellow Fever has never broke out in Jersey. This, however, does not decide the point, as to the immediate cause of the fever, but it shows that this species of fever is not common to the country in its natural state; and, I believe the same was the case in the West Indies, before embankments began, for the purpose of making wharfs, which always alter the natural condition of the ground; no old history, that I know of, mentions such a disorder as the Yellow Fever.
A person seized with the Yellow Fever in an affected part of the town, and brought into the healthy part, or into the country, and among healthy persons, does not communicate it to the neighborhood, or to those immediately around him; why then are we to suppose it can be brought from the West Indies, a distance of more than a thousand miles, since we see it cannot be carried from one town to another, nor from one part of a town to another, at home? Is it in the air? this question on the case, requires a minute examination. In the first place, the difference between air and wind is the same as between a stream of water and a standing water. A stream of water is water in motion, and wind is air in motion. In a gentle breeze, the whole body of air, as far as the breeze extends, moves at the rate of seven or eight miles an hour; in a high wind, at the rate of seventy, eighty, or an hundred miles an hour: when we see the shadow of a cloud gliding on the surface of the ground, we see the rate at which the air moves, and it must be a good trotting horse that can keep pace with the shadow, even in a gentle breeze; consequently, a body of air, that is in and over any place of the same extent as the affected part of a city may be, will, in the space of an hour, even at the moderate rate I speak of, be moved seven or eight miles to leeward, and its place, in and over the city, will be supplied by a new body of air coming from a healthy part, seven or eight miles distant the contrary way, and then on in continual succession. The disorder, therefore, is not in the air, considered in its natural state, and never stationary. This leads to another consideration of the case.
An impure effluvia, arising from some cause in the ground, in the manner that fermenting liquors produce an effluvia near their surface that is fatal to life, will become mixed with the air contiguous to it, and as fast as that body of air moves off, it will impregnate every succeeding body of air, however pure it may be when it arrives at the place.
The result from this state of the case, is, that the impure air, or vapor, that generates the Yellow Fever, issues from the earth, that is, from the new made earth, or ground raised on the muddy and filthy bottom of the river; and which impregnates every fresh body of air that comes over the place, in like manner as air becomes heated when it approaches or passes over fire, or becomes offensive in smell, when it approaches or passes over a body of corrupt vegetable or animal matter in a state of putrefaction.
The muddy bottom of rivers contains great quantities of impure and often inflammable air, (carburetted hydrogen gas,) injurious to life; and which remains entangled in the mud till let loose from thence by some accident. This air is produced by the dissolution and decomposition of any combustible matter falling into the water and sinking into the mud, of which the following circumstance will serve to give some explanation.
In the fall of the year that New York was evacuated, (1783,) General Washington had his head quarters at Mrs. Berrian's, at Rocky Hill, in Jersey, and I was there: the Congress then sat at Prince Town. We had several times been told, that the river, or creek, that runs near the bottom of Rocky Hill, and over which there is a mill, might be set on fire, for that was the term the country people used, and as General Washington had a mind to try the experiment, General Lincoln, who was also there, undertook to make preparation for it against the next evening, November 5th. This was to be done, as we were told, by disturbing the mud at the bottom of the river, and holding something in a blaze, as paper or straw, a little above the surface of the water.
Colonels Humphries and Cob were at that time Aide de Camps of General Washington, and those two gentlemen and myself got into an argument respecting the cause; their opinion was, that on disturbing the bottom of the river, some bituminous matter arose to the surface, which took fire when the light was put to it; I, on the contrary, supposed that a quantity of inflammable air was let loose, which ascended through the water, and took fire above the surface. Each party held to his opinion, and the next evening the experiment was to be made.
A scow had been stationed in the mill dam, and General Washington, General Lincoln, and myself, and I believe Colonel Cob, (for Humphries was sick,) and three or four soldiers with poles, were put on board the scow: General Washington placed himself at one end of the scow, and I at the other; each of us had a roll of cartridge paper, which we lighted and held over the water, about two or three inches from the surface, when the soldiers began disturbing the bottom of the river with their poles.
As General Washington sat at one end of the scow, and I at the other, I could see better any thing that might happen from his light, than I could from my own, over which I was nearly perpendicular. When the mud at the bottom was disturbed by the poles, the air
bubbles rose fast, and I saw the fire take from General Washington's light and descend from thence to the surface of the water, in a similar manner, as when a lighted candle is held so as to touch the smoke of a candle just blown out, the smoke will take fire, and the fire will descend and light up the candle. This was demonstrative evidence, that what was called setting the river on fire, was setting the inflammable air on fire, that arose out of the mud.
I mentioned this experiment to Mr. Rittenhouse of Philadelphia the next time I went to that city, and our opinion on the case, was that the air or vapor that issued from any combustible matter, (vegetable or otherwise,) that underwent a dissolution and decomposition of its parts, either by fire or water in a confined place, so as not to blaze, would be inflammable, and would become flame whenever it came in contact with flame.
In order to determine if this was the case, we filled up the breech of a gun barrel about five or six inches with saw dust, and the upper part with dry sand to the top, and after spiking up the touch hole, put the breech into a smith's furnace, and kept it red hot, so as to consume the saw dust; the sand of consequence would prevent any blaze. We applied a lighted candle to the mouth of the barrel; as the first vapor that flew off would be humid, it extinguished the candle; but after applying the candle three or four times, the vapor that issued out began to flash; we then tied a bladder over the mouth of the barrel, which the vapor soon filled, and then tying a string round the neck of the bladder, above the muzzle, took the bladder off.
As we could not conveniently make experiments upon the vapor, while it was in the bladder, the next operation was, to get it into a phial; for this purpose, we took a phial of about three or four ounces, filled it with water, put a cork slightly into it, and introducing it into the neck of the bladder, worked the cork out, by getting hold of it through the bladder, into which the water then emptied itself, and the air in the bladder ascended into the phial; we then put the cork into the phial, and took it from the bladder. It was now in a convenient condition for experiment.
We put a lighted match into the phial, and the air or vapor in it blazed up in the manner of a chimney on fire; we extinguished it two or three times, by stopping the mouth of the phial; and putting the lighted match to it again it repeatedly took fire, till the vapor was spent, and the phial became filled with atmospheric air.