Page images

mode of drain-digging is still practised in some parts of the neighbouring province of the Abruzzi, where the art has been handed down in certain families from immemorial time as a traditional heirloom, and a skilled workman will dig a drain of form and dimensions similar to those adopted by the old workers in the Campagna, advancing in rock of moderate hardness at the rate of three feet a day, using tools identical with those of his far-off predecessors, and keeping to the determined slope and direction with Surprising accuracy. The theory on which this system of sanitary drainage was based, unless we are to assume that it was carried out according to mere empirical rule of thumb, could be no other than this that malarious miasma is of strictly local origin, developed on the spot where its pernicious influence is felt, and not wafted over the country from distant foci of infection. Till quite recently, modern observers held an opposite belief, and but a few years ago the Italian Government ordered the expensive drainage works now being carried on at Ostia and Maccarese, in the hope of thus improving the climate of Rome. More recent observations would seem to throw much doubt on the wisdom of this action, and to lead us back to the practical sagacity of ancient days. If we may believe Dr. Crudeli, whatever may be the effect on the immediately adjacent district, the drainage of these distant swamps can have no beneficial effect on the air of the city. Whatever be the origin of malarious fever—and the bacillus theory, though it has eager supporters, is certainly very far from being established, and does not even account for many of the phenomena of the disease—the more closely the available evidence is examined, the more clearly does the local character of the infection come out. Of the many striking facts pointing in this direction, space will not allow of the mention of more than a few. One of the most remarkable instances has already been referred to : the old-standing healthiness of the Wiminal, even when the surrounding hills of similar height and identical conformation were uninhabitable. It would be difficult to find a more crucial example of the use of deep drainage in checking malaria. Another noteworty fact is the continuous spread of the healthy area in Rome. Fifteen years ago the greater part of the Esquiline and Quirinal hills, with their offshoots, was as unhealthy as the open Campagna. Gradually their surface has been covered with houses or paved streets, and they are now at least as healthy as the old town, and even in the new quarter outside the walls the same change may be observed; step by step as the builder advances the spirit of disease flees before him. But the infectious nature of the soil is not, therefore, changed or modified. Again and again it has been proved that, if the streets are broken up for repairs or laying down new drains, the exposed soil will at once, if the season is favourable, become a focus of malarious infection. The men employed have sickened of fever, and even the occupiers of neighbouring houses have suffered. Such works, in fact, cannot be safely carried on in the summer or autumn. It might seem strange that so small a surface should be capable of producing such results, but Dr. Crudeli reports and vouches for the truth of a case which is even more curious. A lady in Russia was constantly subject to attacks of ague, which, though they yielded readily to treatment, returned again and again as soon as the patient left the sick-room, till she seemed to be falling into a permanent cachexia. For a long time these relapses puzzled her physician, till at last, at the end of his resources, he ordered the removal of a few pots of flowers, which had been brought from the South and stood in the drawing-room. With the removal of the infected soil the fever ceased, to return no more. Limited as seems to be the diffusive force of malaria horizontally, its ascending power is even less, and is bounded by a very few feet. Every explorer is familiar with the fact that tribes living in malarious districts find immunity from ague by retiring for the night to sleep on platforms raised above the ground on lofty poles, and that sailors on board ship are safe, even though anchored but a few yards from a pestilential shore, the rise of the ship's side from the sea-level to the port-holes being a sufficient defence. For the same reason you may see round Rome many houses perched on the top of the concrete core of ancient tombs. These are occupied with safety throughout the summer, even when it would be impossible to spend a single night on the ground below without the very greatest risk. Curiously enough, it is only an abrupt rise that will afford protection. A gentle breeze will waft the infection to a considerable height up an inclined plane. A remarkable illustration of this may be found in two neighbouring villages, Sezze and Sermoneta, that overlook the Pontine marshes, the most pestilential district in Italy. They both stand at the same altitude of some hundred feef above the plain, but Sermoneta, which is built on the ridge of a hill that slopes gently down to the swamp, is almost uninhabitable. On the other hand, Sezze, though the shoulder on which it stands projects farther out into the plain, and is, therefore, topographically in a worse situation, is free from fever because the sides of the hill are here absolutely precipitous. This fact helps us to understand how the original settlers on the Palatine and the other hills of Rome were able to preserve their health, even when the surrounding plains of the Forum, Wellabrum and Campus Martius were pestilential swamps. The lofty walls,” built for defence against enemies, rising along the line of cliffs, which, where not naturally abrupt, were cut away to a precipitous escarpment, proved a no less effectual protection against the spirit of the fen.

The superior specific gravity of the strata of the air that are laden with the germs of malaria is further illustrated by a curious change that has come about, during the last few years, in the habits of the Romans. Before the recent changes, the inhabitants of the lower town were careful to keep indoors during the dangerous sunset hours. The malarious air then poured down from the hills into the inhabited quarters. Now that the hills have been reclaimed, this precaution is no longer needed, nor is it observed, not even in the outer zones, which, standing above or on the same level as the Campagna, are not exposed to the downward draft, and cannot become a reservoir for the accumulation of malaria.

Thus, while men of science have been disputing over the causes of the evil, the builders have made one great step towards providing a solution of the difficulty. But it is useless to deny that it is but the easier part of the problem that has been dealt with. To cover the entire Campagna with bricks and mortar is impossible; and if the expense should, as is probable, prevent a return to the ancient system of deep local drainage, it seems likely that Rome, however healthy itself, will continue to be a mere oasis in a desolate plain to which the lines of the mediaeval writer will still be applicable:

Roma vorax hominum domat ardua colla virorum ;
Romanae febres stabili sunt iure perennes.

* The “Walls of Romulus" round the Palatine, as may be inferred from the existing remains, were not less than forty feet high.


[ocr errors]


THE problem, “What is best to be done with the poor 2" must always present itself as a very instructive and interesting one; and there is hardly a question connected with the march of civilization more difficult to answer satisfactorily than this. What Moses said of the chosen race is true in all ages and in every age, that “the poor shall never cease out of the land.” And the great Law-giver of the new law echoes the same assertion, “You have the poor with you always.” If kindly feelings towards the poor are inculcated in the Psalter and holy writings, such feelings intensify when we come to the dawn of the Gospel, and history of the Christian Church. In a former paper* an endeavour has been made to show that the interests of the poor in the revenues of the Church of England, in times anterior to the Reformation, was a moral and not a legal right; and this position was illustrated, (1) by the two kinds of ecclesiastic tenures which existed formerly, and (2) the duty of almsgiving as considered and practised by the Anglican Clergy themselves in the thirteenth century. It is now proposed (1) to illustrate this same position by further evidence from the Statute Book; (2) to examine the vested interests which the poor had in Church property in times before the Reformation; and to conclude the investigation, (3) by proving that the origin of the Poor Law system has been wrongly attributed to changes in the property or duty of the clergy since that period. I.—We now proceed to discuss such of the Statutes of our Kings during succeeding centuries as contain within them any recital of the intentions of the founders of monasteries, and of the benefactors of the clergy. These extend from 35 Edward I., A.D. 1306, to 25 Henry VIII., A.D. 1583, and are given at length in the notes.4 * “The Alleged Tripartite Division of Tithes in England.” National Review, vol. viii. p. 313, Nov. 1886. + Statute of Carlisle, 35 Edward I., A.D. 1306–7. “Of late it came to the knowledge of our Lord the King, by the grievous complaint of the honourable persons, lords, and other noblemen of this realm, that whereas monasteries, priories, and other religious houses were founded to the honour and glory of God, and the advancement of the Holy Church, by the King and his progenitors, and by the said noblemen and their ancestors, and a very great portion of lands and tenements have been given by them to the said monasteries, priories and houses, and to religious men serving in them, to the intent that clerks and laymen might be admitted into such monasteries, priories, houses, according In them it will be noticed that a double motive is attributed to these benefactors: (1) that of benefiting themselves and their heirs by the prayers of the religious, i.e. the monks; and (2) that of enabling the clergy to subsist and keep hospitality, and providing for almsgiving and other charitable works. But this admission on the part of the donors does not imply the existence of any legal right of the poor to alms, or that the original grantors, in giving this property to support the clergy, imagined for a moment that in giving these revenues they virtually gave, under the sanction of the Cannon Law, one-third portion to the poor. There is no difference between the intention of these old benefactors and what we know is a positive result when any new endowment of a church is made in the present day. To build a church and place a clergyman in pastoral charge of a new district, even in this age, means an act of piety to God, and one of charity to the poor therein. Whenever a church is now built, an income provided for the parish priest, and an official residence assigned him amongst his parishioners, there almsgiving, no less than praying and preaching, is one of the many blessings derived to the neighbourhood. The house of every

to their sufficient ability, and that sick and feeble men might be maintained; hospitality, almsgivings, and other charitable deeds might be done, and that in them prayers might be said for the souls of the said founders and their heirs.”—Statutes of Realm, vol. i. . 150. p Statutumn de provisoribus, 25 Edward III., A.D. 1850–51. After mentioning the Statute of Carlisle it proceeds thus: “That, whereas the Holy Church of England was founded in the estate of prelacy, within the Realm of England, by the said grandfather (Edward I.), and the earls, barons, and other nobles of the said Realm, and their ancestors, to inform them and the people of the law of God, and to make hospitalities, alms, and other works of charity, in the places where the churches were founded for the souls of the founders and their heirs, and all Christians; and certain possessions as well in fees, lands, rents, as in advowsons, which do extend to great value, were assigned by the said founders to the prelates and other people of the Holy Church of the said Realm to sustain the same charge.”—Ibid., vol. i. p 316. Statute of Westminster, 3 Richard II., A.D. 1379–80. “Because that our Lord the King hath perceived. . . how the churches, cathedrals, and collegiate abbeys and priories, and other benefices of this Realm, which were of late founded and richly endowed by his noble progenitors, in which divers dignities, offices, parsonages, canonries, prebends, and other benefices were solemnly and devoutly ordained and established of the ancient progenitors of the King, and other noble founders, which did give to the said pastors of the said churches, abbeys, priories, and of other great places, the advowsons of the same benefices, to the intent that the same benefices should be given to honest persons of the realm, to serve and honour God diligently, and also to keep hospitality, and to inform and teach the people, and to do other worthy things pertaining to the cure of souls after the estate and quality of the said benefices.”—Ibid, vol. ii. p. 14. In the Act for deprivation of the Bishop of Sarum and Worcester, 25 Henry VIII., 1533–4: “When before this time the Church of England, by the King's most noble progenitors, and the nobles of the same, hath been founded, ordained, and established in the estate and dignity of prelacy, dignities, and other promotions spiritual, to the intent and purpose that the said prelates and other persons having the said dignities and promotions spiritual, continually should be abiding and resident upon their said promotions with the realm, and also keep, use, and exercise hospitality, divine services, teaching, and preaching of the laws of Almighty God to such persons as were to be within the precinct of their promotions or dignities, for the wealth (well being) of the souls of their givers and founders, greatly to the honour of Almighty God.”—Ibid., vol. iii. p. 483.

« PreviousContinue »