« AnteriorContinuar »
each end are seventy feet, so that the whole length of the bridge and wings are 1380 feet. On the Strand side, the arched approaches are 360 feet, and on the Surry side 760 feet; so that the total length of arched road way is 2500 feet.
The Trenton Bridge is also most circumstantially described by Mr. Pope. The two abutments and four piers are of stone, which support the wooden superstructure;' the four arches next to the Pennsylvania side are cach 194 feet span, and that on the New Jersey side 156 feet span; so that the whole length of waterway from one abutment to the other is 932 feet; and, including the piers, 1008 feet: and this the 'Scotsman' calls a quarter of a mile in length'--so does Mr. Pope, but then he adds the wing-walls to make up that length. And this bridge too, (which was finished in less than two years,)' will bear a comparison with the most celebrated structures of the same kind in Britain'!
Art. V.-1. The History of Small-por. By James Moore,
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, &c. Longman.
2. The History and Practice of Vaccination. By James Moore.
Callow. 1819. pp. S00. FROM the commencement of our labours, with one or two ex
ceptions, we have purposely abstained from medical disquisitions, under the impression that they occupy a more appropriate place in publications devoted especially to their admission. The question, however, which we now propose to canvass is one in which all men are not only interested, but upon which, with the evidence before them, all are competent to decide—a question too which annually involves the lives of nearly forty thousand individuals in the British islands alone, and the constitution and personal appearance of vast numbers besides. It is,—whether the recently proposed substitute for small-pox can establish its claims of being an effectual and safe preventive of that distemper? Until this question be finally decided, its agitation can never be out of time; but we have, perhaps, chosen the fittest of all periods for our remarks upon it, since the doubts of many as to the efficacy of vaccination, which had died away under the weight of evidence in its favour, have, by recent circumstances, been revived. At the moment in which we are writing, there are numberless parents suffering under the most cruel apprehensions lest their children should in after-life be obnoxious to one of the most formidable and fatal of all diseases. The vaccinated child, it is said, may resist the small-pox influence for a longer or shorter period, according to its peculiarity of constitutional temperament; but there is nevertheless a limit to this exemption, and the same A A 2
small-pox which cannot now be communicated even by inoculation, may, in after-life, spontaneously occur as the result of a prevailing infection. To enlarge, however, upon the importance of our present undertaking would be a waste of words; we shall therefore proceed to the business before us.
At the head of the present article we have placed the titles of two works, recently published by Mr. Moore,--the one on small-pox, and the other on vaccination as it is conceived that a succinct history of the former will impart a somewhat more lively interest to the investigation of the merits of the latter.
It is in vain that we search the writings of the ancients for the description of any disease that can be recognised as small-pox, and the inference is therefore more than presumptive that the Greek and Roman fathers of medicine never saw the malady in question. The contrary position has, indeed, been maintained by those who can discern nothing in modern science of any kind which was not familiar in a different form to the ancients. Mr. Moore more judiciously assumes the ignorance of the Greek and Roman writers respecting it, on the ground of their utter silence on the subject. Erysipelas,' he says, ' erythema, lepra, herpes, and scrofula, are fully described by them; pimples, vesicles, and pustules, are also spoken of; but there is no account of a distemper clearly characterized, like the small-pox by the Arabians, though these were far inferior writers to Aretæus or Galen, or Celsus.'
Whence then the origin of small-pox? and whence its prevalence through the whole of the civilized world? Dr. Freind expresses his opinion that its seeds were first sown in Egypt. Dr. Mead supposed it to be of Æthiopian origin, and that from Ethiopia it extended itself into Arabia and Egypt. Hic igitur morbus mihi vera pestis sui generis esse videtur; quæ in Africa primum genita, præsertim in Æthiopia, quæ pars ejus intolerabiliter est torrida, in Arabiam deinde et Ægyptum (ut vastatrix illa populorum magna pestis) iis, quas diximus, modis delata est.'
Were there, however, nothing stronger against the hypotheses of these learned physicians than the circumstance of small-pox being, with respect to its prevalence, in a great measure independent of climale or local peculiarities, this in itself would be a sufficient refutation of their notions of its origin. The mistake of these writers as to the actual nature and probable production of this distemper seems to arise principally from their confounding the ideas of contagion and infection : thus, in the quotation from Mead, it is evident that he conceives the small-pox to be a species of plague, engendered by the nature of the Æthiopian atmosphere; but it is known that real plagues, the veomualde etixwoice of Hippocrates, are incapable of being imparted, from one individual to another, in any
part of the world, whatever may be the nature of the soil, the climate, or the atmosphere, in which such communication is made.*
Notwithstanding then that our most distinct and accredited accounts of small-pox are to be found in the Arabian writers who flourished during the dark ages of European learning, it seems difficult to conceive the spontaneous origin of its virus in this, or indeed in any other part of the world; and we are naturally led to search for its existence in still more ancient records.
In the second chapter of his volume, Mr. Moore has endeavoured, and we think successfully, to prove, by the details handed down from the earliest Christian missionaries to China, that small. pox existed in that country from a very remote period;' and that even the artificial mode of communicating the distemper was known and practised by the Chinese many centuries antecedent to the diffusion of the poison through other regions of the globe.
The missionaries (says our author) who were sent into China by the church of Rome, from their address and insinuation gained access to their historical records; and they have transmitted detailed accounts of the history of the Chinese, and of their knowledge in various branches of science. There is a memoir written upon small-pox by the missionaries at Pekin, the substance of which is extracted from Chinese medical books, and especially from a work published by the Imperial College of Medicine, for the instruction of the physicians of the empire. This book is entitled, Teou-ichin-fa, or a treatise from the heart on smallpox; which states that this disease was unknown in the very early ages, and did not appear till the dynasty of Tcheou, which was about 1122 years before Christ. The Chinese name for the malady is a singular one, Tai-tou, or venom from the mother's breast; and a description is given of the fever, the eruption of pustules, their increase, fattening, and crusting. In the same Chinese book there is also an account of a species of inoculation discovered seven centuries previously; but according to a tradition it had been invented in the dynasty of Long, that is, about 590 years after Christ. Father d'Entrecoiles, the Jesuit, (continues our author,) mixes, in his correspondence from China, some information respecting the small-pox, which confirms the material part of the above information, for he notices having read some Chinese books which mention the small-pox as a disease of the earliest ages. He also describes a method of communicating the disease, which was occasionally used, and called sowing the small-por : this was generally performed by planting some of the crusts up the nose, an operation which was approved of by some, but disapproved by most authors.'
• This indeed constitutes the great leading distinction between contagious and infectious diseases--that the one are independent of place and circumstance, the other not. A great deal has recently been said on the non-contagious nature of the playue, and it should seem, at least, probable, that this disorder is incapable of transference in the way that pur quarantine laws suppose; but utterly to deny its infectious quality is to fly in the face of all fact, Plague is an infectious, but not, perhaps, properly a contagious distemper. A A 3
After After every deduction from the accuracy of the records in question on the score of traditionary claims and conceits, there still remains a sufficiency of testimony to the fact that the Chinese had been familiar with the small-pox many centuries before the Arabian writers described it; and its early existence in Japan and Hindostan is likewise presuinable from several striking particulars connected with Hindoo mythology and worship.
Assuming then the fact that Asia was acquainted with the disease in question long before its establishment in any part either of Africa or Europe, and very far antecedent even to the time of Hippocrates, it becomes a question of interest 'how it happened that the infection did not extend into Persia, and thence into Greece, long before the age of the last mentioned author.'
That a communication was established between Persia and India by the invasion of the latter country at a very early period is universally acknowledged ; and it is also admitted that the rapacious invaders who went froni Persia would of course be attacked by the diseases which prevailed in the countries they laid waste ; but, adds Mr. Moore, the numbers which perished, the time which was spent in so distant a warfare, and the extent of the deserts which were recrossed, appear to have secured their native country from being contaminated by the few survivors of those expeditions. With respect to the commercial intercourse subsequently established between the more western and the eastern countries, and the probability of diseased comniunication from that source, we are likewise to recollect the obstacles which in those times existed to ready communication, either by land or sea, from one part of the globe to another.'
Among the many traditionary fancies respecting the origin of small-pox, there is one which supposes it to bave been first imparted to man by the camel : this notion probably took its rise from the circumstance that land commerce from Egypt to India was only practicable by means of this animal. But such kind of traffic was tedious and difficult, and it is conjectured that no person known to have the small-pos upon him would ever have been suffered to join himself to a caravan. Again, the tediousness of coasting voyages, the only ones then attempted, gave time for contagion to be extinguished, if by accident any of the sick were admitted into the homeward bound ships from the east.
Such are the explanations proposed by Mr. Moore and others of the exemption of Europe from small-pox for so long a time subsequent to its prevalence in the east; and these certainly appear the only plausible conjectures on the assumed fact. Yet when we recollect the extreme subtlety, and insinuating and transportable nature of the virus, it seems extraordinary that even such an inter
rupted rupted and difficult commerce as was carried on at the time alluded to did not prove a medium of conveying the poison from China and Hindostan to the more western nations.
• If the Persians,' says Mr. Moore, ' had engaged early in maritime commerce, from their vicinity to India, they would probably have soon brought into their country the small-pox. But the ancient historians declare, that the Persians entertained an insuperable superstitious aversion to the sea; and Robertson asserts, that “no commercial intercourse seems to have been carried on by sea between Persia and India.” The spirit of commerce, when once excited, is however active and persevering; and the European demand for the muslins, the silks, the spices, the pearls, and the diamonds of the east, perpetually augmented. To facilitate their transportation, a busy coasting trade spread on both sides of the peninsula of Hindostan to the islands eastward, to the kingdom of Siam, and even to China. The luxurious productions of these distant countries were thus brought to the most convenient harbours to be conveyed to Alexandria and diffused through the Roman empire. This lucrative trade was so tempting, that towards the beginning of the sixth century, the Persians began to surmount their aversion to maritime affairs, and their harbours were filled with trading vessels. They soon monopolized the silk trade; for their vicinity to India gave them great advantages over the Egyptian merchants; but it also augmented the danger of transporting the variolous contagion. Indeed whatever attention might have been paid by the commanders of these mer. chant vessels, it was impossible that this calamity should have been avoided much longer; and as ships coming from India, both in their passage to the Persian Gulph, and to the Red Sea, frequently touched at the Arabian ports, that country was peculiarly exposed, and there accordingly it was first observed.'
Dr. Reiske, who was celebrated for his acquaintance with Arabian antiquities, in an inaugural Dissertation which he published in the year 1746, gave a translation of an Arabian manuscript found in the Leyden library, which dates the introduction of small-pox into Arabia in 572, the year that gave birth to Mahomet. Other testimonies seem to accord with the statement that it was at the siege of Mecca by Abrahah that the Arabians first became obnoxious to this pestilence.
The conquests of the false prophet, and the fanaticism of his followers, soon extended themselves far and wide; and, as may easily be conceived, the ravages of the new disease accompanied every where the track of the conquerors, who, in less than half a century, had established their dominion not only over Egypt and Syria, but a great part of Persia also. The contagion, however, was long prevented from finding its way into Europe, by the successful stand which the inhabitants of Constantinople made against the invaders. • Thus the Mahometan empire was bounded by the Hellespont, and that entrance for the small-pox into Europe barred up. This. A A 4