Page images
PDF
EPUB

in foreign countries. Our arms or our arts are distributed over the whole surface of the globe. Well might we say" Quæ regio in terris nostri non plena laboris ?"--and well might we smile at the celebrated but now Lilliputian wanderings of Ulysses and Æneas. What were the voyages of Hanno, Nearchus, and Columbus, compared with those of modern navigators? The medical officers, too, of our fleets and armies have contributed their share in raising the reputation of their native island by their scientific rescarches in foreign seas and lands. The nature of diseases, the influences of climate, and the powers of remedies, have all received great illustration from the labours and the personal sufferings of our brethren attached to the armaments and expeditions of a country so long struggling with the gigantic power of Europe combined in arms against her. The extent of our colonies still offers, even in profound peace, an ample field for etiological, pathological, and therapeutical investigations, especially when aided and stimulated by the beads of naval and military medicine. Mr. Marshall has therefore endeavoured to contribute his mite to our existing stock of information, by pourtraying, or at least sketching, the medi. cal topography, climate, diseases, and natural history of Ceylon, an island with the interior of which we have but lately become much acquainted. The work is dedicated, in terms of respect and gratitude, to Sir James M'Grigor, the distinguished director-general of the Army Medical Department, and makes no pretence to the “graces of composition,' the author being anxious “ to express bimself in terms so as to be clearly understood, and in as few words as the nature of the subject would permit.” The author also expresses his obligation to Dr. Theodore Gordon, of the Army Medical Board, for his kind assistance and advice respecting the publication of the present volume.

The work is divided into three parts; the first being on the medical topography of the interior of Ceylon; the second on the health of the troops, &c. and the third on the prevailing diseases of the island. Our limits will not permit us to notice in detail the various subjects briefly discussed in this volume, the whole of which, however, will prove very interesting to those of our brethren, whose destinies may lead them to visit our Indian possessions.

The first chapter presents a very spirited topographical sketch of this far famed island, from which we shall select but a very few particulars. The island is divided naturally into a central or upper, and circumferential or lower country. The extent of the former is as one to eight of the latter. Some of the interior hills rise to upwards of 6000 feet above

the level of the sea. The face of this upper country consists of a congerics of detached heights and undulatory swells, interspersed with high and phantastically-peaked mountains, the whole, in general, covered with trees and underwood. The ground is, for the most part, strewed with decaying and decayed vegetables, especially leaves.

“ The lower and comparatively flat portion of the island, is of very considerable extent: like the elevated terrace, it is almost completely covered with jungle and forest-trees. The scene is here extremely dull and uniform. There is nothing to diversify the prospect. One forest succeeds another, divided only by narrow strips of unwooded surface, which are for the most part uncultivated. The traveller is frequently in the flat country enveloped for many miles together in thick woods. In vain he expects, as he moves on, to meet with some variety, some circumstance, connected with the happiness or occupation of man, to interest his feelings. A gloomy stillness and solitude prevail over the whole country. The silence of the forest is seldom interrupted, except by the cooing of woodpigeons, or the rustling of wild animals, the only inhabitants of the deep jungles. The greatest degree of stillness prevails during the period about noon, when all classes of animals seek shelter from the ardent heat of the sun in the shady recesses of the woods.” P. 3.

There are no natural lakes in the upland portion of the Kandyan country; but during heavy rains the rivers overflow their banks, and inundations of the plains take place to considerable extent. The superfluous water is eventually drained off by the Monsoon winds.

The high hills of the interior intercept the clouds during both Monsoons-hence the frequent genial showers which fertilise the soil and promote the exuberant foliage. At the change of the Monsoons there are heavy fogs in the mornings, wbich hover over the chains and vallies between the higher mountains, long after the tops of the lower hills become clear. Where the soil is clayey, the surface becomes hardened and divided by deep fissures, after drought of any continuance. There is a mystery, our author thinks, attending the hot land winds on this island. In some places, as on the Coromandel coast, they may be accounted for by the large tracts of heated sands over which they pass; but this cannot be their origin, he imagines, in Ceylon, for here they commencc shortly after the fall of the rains, at the setting in of the S. W. Monsoons, and blow towards the coast over hills covered to their summits with trees, and over swampy vallies, thickly overgrown with low underwood, which extend to the very edge of the sea. Mr. Marshall must know that this is the season for the hot land winds along the Coromandel coast, and as the winds blow nearly from West to East at this season, they must pass over the Continent in the neighbourhood of Cape Comorin, where they may become heated before they arrive at, and blow over Ceylon. Copious thermometrical tables follow, by which we observe that the mean temperature throughout the year, by night and by day, at Trincomalle, is somewhat above 80° Fabrenheit.

We must pass entirely over those portions of the work which contain accounts of the natural history, manners, customs, habits, food, occupations, &c. of the Candyan inhabitants, as not coming within the scope of this Journal. These details

will prove exceedingly interesting to the traveller who visits Ceylon.

From the 3d chapter, respecting the prevailing diseases among the native inhabitants, we shall extract a few particulars. These diseases are principally climatorial-" few arising from the vitiated secretions of the living human body.' Excepting small-pox, they suffer little from the specific contagions. Fevers of an intermitting and remitting type, and dysenteries, are the prevailing maladies.

“ The inhabitants observe, that hot, dry, and parching weather frequently precedes and accompanies the prevalence of fever. Partial showers, succeeding a long period of dry weather, are supposed to aggravate the influence of the cause of fever.” 39.

This corresponds with the observations of Dr. Ferguson and other writers on hot climates. The provinces on the Eastern side of the interior terrace or high ground, are peculiarly insalubrious. Dysenterics sometimes arise idiopathically, but are more usually the sequelæ of fever, and are accompanied by an anasarcous torpid state of the system. Our author saw a number of Kandyans suffering from a wide-spreading ulcer, of the Phagedenic kind, which discharges a glairy fluid that dries into an elevated hard gray scab. It invades almost every part of the body, excepting the scalp, and is deemed by the natives incurable. It did not appear connected with any derangement of the digestive organs.

“ I have seen eight or ten cases treated with the blue pill, which was given so as slightly to affect the mouth. The symptoms were universally improved: indeed all those who took the medicine regularly recovered.” 43.

The Kandyan medical works mention a cutaneous disease, consisting of seven varieties, and termed " parangy lede," sometimes“ rata waha sede,or “ foreign virulent disease," which our author imagines to be syphilis imported into Ceylon by the Portuguese ; but there appears little to sup

s port the conjecture. The native doctors try simple remedies, for two or three months, and these failing, they universally have recourse to mercury.

Parturition does not appear quicker in Ceylon than in colder latitudes; but it is much safer in the result. Midwives assured our author that they have not witnessed a fatal case in a thousand parturient females. Flooding to a dangerous extent is unknown. When the superior extremity presents they endeavour to return it. One midwife informed Mr. M. that, in two instances, after failing to return the arm, she introduced her hand into the womb, grasped the child by the feet, and in this manner delivered her patient.

The author next presents us with a long account of nalice medicine, occupying 25 pages of letter-press. It is a tissue of ignorance, error, and superstition. Matters of mere curiosity, totally destitute of all utility, should be introducel with grcat caution into medical writings. Nevertheless this portion of the work will be read by the European medical officer, while lolling on his couch beneath the fervour of a Ceylonese sky, as a poor substitute for a Scotch novel, a quar. terly review, or a monthly magazine. In this country we cannot throw away time on such absurdities--time being a scarce and valuable article here, but a heavy drug in the Indian market.

The second part of Mr. Marshall's work opens with an account of the physical constitution, and moral habits of the various classes of troops, Europcans, Malays, Caffries, and Indians, at the different stations in Ceylon. From this portion we shall cull a few particulars that may prove, more or less, interesting to our readers.

Our author observes that Europeans, on their arrival in Ceylon, generally undergo some change (and that not for the better) in their corporeal and mental functions. Their constitutions become irritable, and easily affected by stimuli. Many of them experience some degree of emaciation. The skin loses the ruddy hue of robust health, and assumes a pale yellowish shade. Moderate exercise becomes satiguing, and the mind is indisposed to much application. Some in. dividuals, however, of the higher classes, who are subjected to little fatigue, live temperately, and do not expose themselves much to the direct rays of the sun, are not greatly liable to acute diseases; but no care can entirely prevent the debilitating influence of the climate, and a tendency to chronic disease of some of the internal organs. Senescence frequently precedes old age at a considerable distance. Even females, who of course are little exposed, soon lose the Vol. . No. 9.

1

plampness of health-the countenance becomes sallow-the general complexion pale and colourless.

The fatal diseases to which Europeans are subject in Ceylon, are fevers, abscesses in the liver, and dysentery ; but they are exempted, or nearly so, from a long catalogue of other discases. Intemperance, in drink, is a common failing among British soldiers in all countries—in warm climates it is particularly injurious. In many parts of Ceylon Arrack may be procured for about sixpence a quart-the temptation, therefore, is seldom resisted.

The Malay troops make good soldiers when properly managed. Their principal food is rice, dressed as throughout India, with spices, and sometimes ghee or butter. Those who have been born in Java and the neighbouring isles have a great propensity towards smoaking and eating opium. The babit once acquired can never be broken. Like intemperance in drink, if destroys the mental and physical powers in the end. Malays are liable to pectoral complaints, particularly pneumonia, and also phthisis and asthma. They are likewise affected with endemic fever when exposed to its causes-chiefly in the form of intermittents. To scabies they are greatly liable. The females are distinguished for fecundity-the children thrive remarkably well, and eventually contribute to recruit the regiment.

Not so with the Africans, or CAFFRIES, as they are called. They are very liable to cachexia, phthisis, and enlargement of the lymphatic glands; but are almost wholly insusceptible of the endemic fevers of the country.

“ Ceylon appears to have been extremely unfavourable to the health and propagation of Caffries. Not a trace of the many thoubands brought to it by the Portuguese colonial government is to be perceived. The same may be said of a colony of Africans, which was imported about the year 1782, by Governor Van de Graaf." P. 80.

This high degree of mortality among the offspring of Caffries, (for they generally wither and die before they reach their 14th year,) cannot be ascribed either to neglect on the part of their parents, or to their being exposed to great hardships. The mothers are very attentive to their children, and the Caffry families are liable to no inconvenience, except when moving from one station to another. It is curious that the Caffrie children, by indigenous mothers, thrive as badly as the pure descendants of Africans.

The diseases of the natice Indian troops are comparatively simple. Intermittent fevers, inflammation of the lungs and of the intestines, are the principal. These troops have little fortitude under disease, and their physical frames seem fre

« PreviousContinue »