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inay say so without irrreverence, it appears as if the most beautiful of designs had failed from error and want of wisdom in the execution. More than half the race perish in infancy, and of the remainder a large portion are the victims of pain and suffering. Of those who have strength sufficient to arrive at manhood, the greater part are doomed to have little more than a glimpse of life, and to perish prematurely. Of those even, wlio appear strong and healthy, if we examine narrowly into their habits or their feelings, we shall find hardly an individual who will not acknowledge some defect, some secret uneasiness, something that diminishes his present comfort, and which excites apprehensions for the future. In some, the solids destined to the support of the body are unequal to their object, and the bones yield to the incumbent weight; in others, the moving powers have a similar defect, the muscles hardly overcoming the resistance opposed to them. The senses are, in many, dull and imperfect; in many, they are preternaturally acute. The vital functions are often performed laboriously; the circulation is either sluggish or too rapid ; the respiration straitened or hurried; the digestion is ill performed ; the stomach oppressed with crudities; the secretions irregular ; even the element in which we are placed appears ill suited to the organs to which it is destined to be applied ; some cannot bear the coldness of the atmosphere; to others its heat is equally intolerable ; and so strangely constituted are individual constitutions, that an air loaded with mephitic vapors appears better suited to them than one that is pure and uncontaminated,
Man prides himself upon possessing an intellect superior to that of all other animals, and to take reason for the guide of all his actions. But as far as happiness, or the mere absence of suffering, is the end of action, the reason of man appears to be inferior to the animal instinct. A brutal ignorance debases and enslaves the great mass of mankind. They appear incapable of acquiring knowledge ; of perceiving the connection of the ideas which are laid before them, or the obvious relations of cause and effect. Thus they are void of all independence of thought or principle; a blind adherence to custom, or a slavish submission to authority, becomes the rule of life, and is substituted for self-government, and a manly obedience to the voice of truth and the dictates of reason.
The moral traits are as much distorted as the physical. The affections, which should link man to man, and make each human being regard his fellow-creature as his brother, are choked and almost extinguished. Envy, hatred, jealousy, and
all the malignant passions, predominate in the human bosom. The infliction of pain upon sensitive beings, instead of exciting compassion, is, with the multitude, a source of pastime and merriment. To such a degree are the strongest instincts of our nature perverted, that the first principle of self-preservation is finally destroyed; the hand is raised against the existence of its possessor, or the parental arm against the life of the offspring.
Such is an outline, too faithful, of the habitual condition, perhaps of the majority, of the human species. I omit the still darker shades of the picture; the tragedies which perpetually embitter domestic life; our crowded hospitals, from the gates of which shoals of supplicants are, by necessity, repelled ; our surgical operations, the very thoughts of which make the blood run cold; and our madhouses, the interior of which presents views from which sensibility shrinks with horror and affright. Can we avoid aşking ourselves, Is this enormous mass of evil then necessary and unavoidable? Does it result from the very nature of things, and the primitive organization of man ? or, on the other hand, is it not factitious, the consequence of an artificial mode of life, of corrupt habits, or of accidents which may possibly be avoided ? The determination of these questions is undoubtedly of the highest interest to the whole human race. I must confine myself within a straight and narrow circle, and consider only the physical evils of human nature. If we are forced to attribute these evils to the constitution of human nature, we must submit to them as we do to tempests and earthquakes, and the other convulsions of nature. If, however, there is reason to apprehend that a large portion of these calamities is the offspring of accident, of error, or of vice, we may expect, by the diffusion of knowledge, the correction of abuses, and, by the introduction of rational habits, to annihilate, or, at least, greatly diminish them. If the prejudices of the present age are too strong to allow any expectation of much instant benefit, it presents at least a more pleasing prospect of futurity, to animate the exertions of the philosopher and the philanthropist. And this view of the subject seems consonant to the ideas which appear implanted in every well-regulated mind, of the justice and benevolence of the Deity. I shall here bring forward a few facts which appear favorable to it.
In the first place, it is fully established and sufficiently well known, that tribes of diseases, which are fatal to vast multitudes of persons, are fixed to, and, as it were, domiciliated in certain
dered destructive and poisonous.* They are perhaps the most striking examples that can be produced of the suddenly deleterious effects of these agents, with the exception only of those vapors which produce instant death, or the poisonous winds of the African deserts..
The suddenness of the effect, when a person is placed in the situation in which the causes of these diseases are present, shows them to be produced by pestiferous exhalations, and not to be immediately connected with the insalubrity of the water. The exposure of a few hours is frequently enough to engender a fatal attack of disease. It is said that to sleep in the country adjoining the Tacazze, in Abyssinia, is death. However, at no remote period the occasional cause of these fevers was not understood; the observations of physicians and surgeons employed in the naval and military services have principally disclosed it. Linnæus ascribed them to the insalubrity of marshy water; and supported his hypothesis by much plausible reasoning. It is needless to examine the arguments he has employed. I mention the fact only to show the suspicions entertained by the most eminent observers with regard to the salubrity of water. It is indeed highly probable that it is a powerful concurrent agent in forming the unhealthy state of constitution of persons residing in these situations.
The consideration of contagious diseases leads to the same conclusions as the remittent and intermittent fever. This is a large class of diseases, and they cut off constantly numerous victims from society. Plague, putrid and nervous fevers (under the common denomination of typhus), small-pox, measles, hoopibenough, scarlatina (including the putrid sore throat), syphilis, na chicken-pox, are the principal examples of the most severe
s of this tribe. They are all of them produced by mator exhalations from the human body. As there are socie
men in which they are unknown, and as, for the most har appear to have arisen at no very remote period,
aside be composed of common elementary matter, su be capable of decomposition, it may be easily con
decomposition of animal and vegetable matter, in unite into new forms, and in an infinite variety of
form an arsenical oxide itself. Again, if this most de composed of the common elements,
mposed of the common elements, it is very conder deleterious matt
farious matter, not exactly the same in kind, but , may be formed ou
med out of the same elements. a tha most terrible o
Tawible of the contagious diseases, is uniformly wames, mare as not to deserve mention as one of the Weing the bulk of society.
there can be no doubt that these diseases are all of them artificial and factitious, the product of society, and not an essential condition annexed to the existence of man. The multitudes, therefore, who have perished by these diseases may be truly said to have been the victims, not of nature-not of any defect in the organization or powers of the human frame-but of the artificial modes of life, or of some other accidents and misfortunes incident to society.
Scurvy is another disease which has cut off vast multitudes of men. It has been satisfactorily traced to an improper system of dieting, and particularly to the want of a due supply of fresh vegetable matter. It is, therefore, wholly an artificial disease.
The most familiar and well-known example of disease being produced by locality is that of Bronchocele or Goitre. It receives its name even from the districts which it infests : being called with us the Derbyshire Throat, and even the Coventry Throat. These are the enormous scrofulous tumors, which Hoffman says are caused by the use of hard and rough waters in mountainous districts. The valleys of mountainous countries are its favorite residence, though it is by no means confined to such spots. The valleys where the disorder is most frequent, are those surrounded by very high mountains, sheltered from the currents of air, and exposed to the direct, and, still more, to the vertical rays of the sun. Even under a tropical sun, the same concurrence of causes produces similar effects. In Savoy and Switzerland, among the Pyrenean mountains, in the island of Sumatra, and in certain parts of Tartary, the bronchocele is endemical, and there are many corresponding features of resemblance in the situation where it is found. M. Saussure asserts, that in the Alpine countries he never observed goitre in any places which are elevated more than 500 or 600 toises (3200 and 3840 English feet) above the level of the sea; he noticed them in those valleys where the heat is concentrated, and the air stagnates; and observed that they usually cease where the valley terminates and the country expands into a large plain.
In situations favorable to the production of this disease, it affects animals as well as the human species. Even dogs are said to be subject to it. It is asserted also, apparently upon good authority, that it affects both sheep and horned cattle.
This is the disease which has, with the greatest confidence, been ascribed to the operation of unwholesome water, and it requires, indeed, a wonderful degree of skepticism to doubt that this is, if not the sole, at least a powerful antecedent and concurring cause. Popular opinion attributes it to this every where: in Europe, in North and in South America ; and many respectable writers have thought this opinion well founded. Hoffman says that a particular well, in the village of Flach (ditionis Tigurina), is called by a term answering to fons strumarum, from its producing these swellings of the neck. Mr. De Luc, and Mr. Coxe, who have made many observations on this disease, have espoused this notion; and the much more weighty authority of the elder Heberden is on the same side. He says, “I think that the cause of the bronchocele is to be sought for in the water, a chemical investigation of which is therefore a great desideratum !” Those who have opposed it, appear not to have done so for sufficient reasons. It is confessed by Dr. Barton, who is not favorable to this opinion, “that the water in that part of the state of New York in which I have observed the goitre to prevail, besides holding in solution and diffusion a portion of calcareous earth, appeared to be otherwise very impure, and was certainly unpleasant to the taste.” In other districts the same thing was noticed still more strongly. Others, who speak slightingly of this opinion, content themselves with asserting that the water was pellucid and well tasted. Such is the objection of Dr. Reeves; an objection certainly of very little weight, when unsupported by more particular examinations,
Mr. Coxe was informed by a surgeon practicing in Switzerland, that his principal method of preventing goitre consisted in removing the patients from the places where the springs deposit a copious calcareous sediment, which is called by the inhabitants Tuf; and if that could not be effected, by forbidding the use of water that was not purified. This surgeon even practiced distillation for the purpose of purifying the water.
On this subject I can speak a little from my own experience. In the parish of Horne, in the county of Surrey (a village six or seven miles to the south of Ryegate), is the house of a laboring man whose family consisted of five daughters. Of these, four, while girls, become affected with bronchocele. In all, the disease was formed on this spot; but it continued, and even increased after they had left it, going out to service. I saw one of them, a woman perhaps of twenty-four, married in the neighborhood ; in her the gland continued swelled; but she said it was much diminished. The domestic water of this spot was a soft water mingling readily with soap; it had a peculiar and not agreeable taste; it deposited a small sediment by boiling, and showed (by oxalate of ammonia) a slight calcareous impregnation, but no more, probably, than is common to all the domes