Page images

would infer from the spectacle that human beings felt it their divinest mission to exterminate each other; that to kill is more glorious than to heal ; that the peace-breaker is the hero and the peacemaker an ignoble being ; that human progress, therefore, must be retrograde, and the world developing not into Paradise, but into pandemonium.

Our Lord will come at a time of pestilences, earthquakes, and famines. This is His own testimony.

The last vial is poured into the air. The previous vials had each a local influence : one was poured out on “the fountains and rivers,” another on “the sea," another on “the great river Euphrates ;” but the last is poured into “ the air.” This denotes the universality of its action. If its contents have thus been emptied on the atmosphere we breathe, we may expect to find historically since 1848, the date of its commencement, some traces of its disturbing and vitiating poison. We do not deny that disease and atmospheric poisons have been developed from the time of the fall ; but if our application be correct, we may expect to find evidences in the course of the last twenty years of their action over a universal area, and with an intensity far more distinctly marked. In 1849 the cholera swept the wide world, and mowed down the population everywhere, with too impartial fury. Its mysterious character remains impenetrable. We can create typhus, but we cannot create cholera. We may render the conditions in which it strikes more or less conducive to its descent, but we cannot, by any combinations or violations of sanitary laws, introduce it if we would. After an interval of four years it returned, and, beginning in our own country, in Newcastle, it raged over London, and in one locality its havoc was terrible.

“In Broad Street, in the parish of St James's, Piccadilly, there were 84 deaths. Every house but one had at least one dead in it. 189 persons died of cholera in this locality in four days. In the 28 houses in St Anne's Court, Soho, the deaths were 38, all of persons previously in sound health, but who were dead in a few hours. In the eight houses of Pulteney Court there were in a few days 32 deaths. 32 persons died in four houses adjacent to St Luke's church in Berwick Street. In no less than 21 cases, within a remarkably small area, husband and wife were both cut off within a few days of each other. In one case the entire household was swept away, consisting of husband, wife, and four children. And in another case of a family of the same numbers, one child alone remained. The infectious state of the air was shown by the circumstance that 30 non-residents, who resorted as workmen or visitors to these streets, died. There were in all 373 deaths in this locality, almost all within a fortnight. So terrible was the visitation that shops and warehouses were closed, business was at a stand, policemen were stationed to warn passers-by not to proceed within the infected boundaries, hearses could not be obtained in sufficient numbers, while the danger of preserving the dead was so great that some had to be buried without a coffin to enclose them, carried away in the night in the dead-cart which the parish Board sent round from house to house to demand its dead, and even to take them by force where relatives refused to give them up.”City Mission Magazine, 1855.

The Times has given too ample evidence of its almost universal havoc in 1867. “On one day in Rome there were in 48 hours 140 cases, of which two-thirds were fatal. In the Quirinal there were eight, and in the Vatican four cases. Private letters last night tell me that there was a slight diminution of the malady in the city, but that it had appeared with great violence in Albano. The truth is, I believe, that cholera has been in Rome since the month of May, and has carried off many victims, though it was found desirable, from a regard to the festivities of the Church, to ignore and to deny it. Even now, when the fact is forced on public attention, the same mystery and silence which are observed on all other subjects is maintained on this. Cholera is spoken of as a “suspected” malady—the cardinal-vicar orders supplicasioni for the cessation of the flagello which scourges Rome; no bulletins are published, and the people are thus encouraged to pursue their usual careless mode of life. Among those who have died within the last few days, from what cause is unknown here, are the ex-Queen Dowager of Naples, and Baron Werther, the Bavarian minister. Her Majesty, who was the

daughter of Archduke Charles of Austria, was the second wife of Ferdinand II. of Naples. During the last year of the reign of the Bourbon dynasty she was supposed, perhaps erroneously, to exercise a secret influence over affairs, and to be disposed to favour especially the interests of her own family, to the injury of Francis II., her stepson, and only child of Maria Christina, the first wife of Ferdinand II. This may, however, be only the exaggerated statement of party. Since the fall of her family she has lived in great retirement in Rome, devoting herself to the care of her family, which consists of several sons and daughters. Her eldest son, the Count of Trani, married a sister of the ex-Queen of Naples. Travelling southwards, I regret to say that the cholera has broken out with great violence in the province of Avellino, especially in Arriano, Bonito, and Villanova. Here the authorities are trying to put a dirty house in order, and are adopting precautions with respect to diet—thus, mushrooms and water-melons are forbidden to be sold in the markets, though, of course, every one may have as large a quantity as he likes.

“The intelligence from Sicily is deplorable. Cholera has appeared in Palermo with great violence, and the latest reports for two days which have reached Naples are-cases, 71, 134 ; deaths, 32, 76. Here, as in other parts of Sicily, acts of violence have been committed, suggested by the superstition and ignorance of the people. A crowd, it is said, collected around one of the disinfecting machines and threatened to murder the conductors, when a person dressed as a priest ap'peared and calmed the tumult, carrying off with him one of the leaders of the disturbance. The priest, however, turned out to be an agent of the police, on which a clerical journal remarks that even the authorities are compelled to acknowledge and use the influence of the priesthood. May it not also be asked, if such be their influence, why was it not exercised when undisputed power was in their hands, to educate and elevate the public mind ? The latest reports from Catania give for two days — cases, 87, 85; deaths, 79, 80; and those from Catalgirone, Paterno, Pizzini, and other places are proportionately bad. From all and each we have accounts of every species of violence, even to murder. In some places where death had entered, the whole family shut themselves up, and, from suspicion of poison, refused entrance to every one, and died one after the other. In another place, a woman suspected of being a poisoner had been burnt. The accounts we receive remind one of scenes which might have been witnessed during the pestilences of the Middle Ages, and show how little progress has been made in intelligence under sacerdotal guidance during the last three centuries.

“In Albano, which was crowded with fugitives from Rome, the cholera assumed such terrific proportions that 150 persons died of it in one night, and among them was the ex-Queen Dowager of Naples. Her confessor, who had been sent for expressly from Rome,

« PreviousContinue »