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A like improvement has taken place in the salubrity of towns, which have been termed “the sepulchres of the dead and the hospitals of the living.” The annual mortality of London, in 1700, was 1 in 25;- in 1751, 1 in 21; in 1801, and the four years preceding, 1 in 35-; in 1811, 1 in 38; and in 1821, 1 in 40 ; the value of life having thus doubled in London within the last 80 years. In Paris, about the middle of the last century, the mortality was 1 in 25; at present, it is about 1 in 32; and it has been calculated, that in the fourteenth century, it was 1 in 16 or 17! Berlin has improved in salubrity, during the last 50 or 60 years, from 1 in 28 to 1 in 34. The mortality in Manchester was, about the middle of the last century, 1 in 25; in 1770, 1 in 23; forty years afterwards, in 1811, the annual deaths were surprisingly diminished to 1 in 44; and in 1821, they seem to have been still fewer, although the population has quadrupled within the 60 years, through which the deaths have so diminished. * In the middle of the last century, the mortality of Vienna was 1 in 20; it has not, however, improved in the same proportion as some of the other European cities: according to recent calculations it is, even now, 1 in 22), or about twice the proportion of Philadelphia, Manchester, or Glasgow. This is ascribed to the faulty political and municipal arrangements, for which Austria is almost proverbial. One city only seems to have retrograded, owing also, perhaps, to declining commerce and political vicissitudes. In 1777, the ratio of the deaths of Amsterdam was I in 27, a period at which it was one of the healthiest and most prosperous cities of Europe. The deaths are now 1 in 24; and the city is one of the least healthy and flourishing seaports. At Geneva, good bills of mortality have been kept since 1560, and the results are in the highest degree gratifying to the philanthropist. It seems, that at the time of the Reformation, half the children born did not reach six years of age. In the seventeenth century, the probability of life was about 114 years; in the eighteenth century, it increased to above 27 years. The probability of life, to a citizen of Geneva, has consequently become five times greater in the space of about 300 years.
The British Insurance offices afford us similar evidence, regarding the diminution of mortality.
It was found, in 1800, by Mr. Morgan, the actuary, 'that the deaths which had occurred among 83,000 persons, insured, during 30 years, in the London Equitable Society, were only in the proportion of 2 to 3 of what had been anticipated: that is, Between the ages of 10 and 20 1 to 2
bones projected, and his eyes, though hollow, displayed considerable vivacity and intelligence ; his complexion was sallow, his mien thoughtful; his features were coarse, and there was a dash of vulgarity in his physiognomy, which struck the observer at the first view, but which failed to impress one on acquaintance. His walk was quick when travelling; so much so, that it was difficult for a companion to keep pace with him ; but when in the forests, in pursuit of birds, he was deliberate and attentive—he was, as it were, all eyes, and all ears."
We have only space left to say, that the present edition of « The American Ornithology” is in many respects superior to the original work, and is, moreover, afforded at the reasonable price of forty dollars. “Mr. Ord has added many valuable notes ; he has permitted the birds contained in his supplementary volume to be incorporated with, and his sketch of the life of Wilson to be prefixed to the work.” The letter press is beautifully printed in three large octavo volumes ; the plates are published in volumes of the original quarto size.
1.-L'Art de prolonger la vie de l'homme, par C. F. HUFE
LAND, Premier Médecin et Conseiller de S. M. le Roi de Prusse, &c. &c. traduit de l'Allemand, sur la seconde Edition: par A. J. L. JOURDAN, Docteur en Médecine de la Fa
culté de Paris, &c. Paris : 8vo. pp. 436. 2.- Nouveaux Elémens d'hygiène, rédig's suivant les prin
cipes de la nouvelle Doctrine médicale, par CHARLES LONDE,
D. M. P. &c. &c. Paris : 1827. Tom. 2. pp. 382 & 484. 3.-- The Journal of Health, conducted by an Association of
Physicians. Vol. I. pp. 374 : and 3 numbers of the second volume. Philadelphia : 1830.
The subject of Hygiène is one of all-absorbing interest. It embraces that portion of medical science, the object of which is the preservation of health, and necessarily includes a full acquaintance with man, in his solitary and social condition. It forms an instructive part of his natural history.
On every other branch of medicine, the trust of the commanity is placed implicitly in the dicta of the physician, as one, who, by observation and course of study, must have necessarily become better acquainted with the subject : but on this point he does not always command entire deference and submission. Each person fancies that individual experience has given him some right to form a judgment; and to this part of medicine alone, can the old maxim have been considered applicable, “that every man is a fool or his own physician at forty.” By that age, it has been imagined, he must of necessity have gained some knowledge of those things which are wholesome or noxious to his frame, and that so far he must have become instructed in hygiène.
The attractive nature of the subject has given occasion to the many idle and extravagant proposals which have been made, from time to time, for the preservation of health, and the attainment of longevity. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that the only requisites were, to take an emetic twice a month, and to excite free perspirations; and instead of the ordinary salutation with us- -“how do you do ?” their's was—“how do you sweat?” The Greeks were more rational. They conceived that the surest means for augmenting the vital energy, was the temperate enjoyment of every thing surrounding them, with proper exercise. With them originated the gymnastic art. The hygienic rules, too, proposed by Plutarch, are, notwithstanding all our arrogance, as applicable to our present state of existence as to that of the ancients. They are “to keep the head cool and the feet warm”- -a maxim yet in vogue ; and, " when we are slightly indisposed, to fast a day, rather than have immediate recourse to medicine."
One part of the Typoxoucxn-or the art of preserving the health of old people--with the nations of antiquity, deserves notice from its prevalence. We mean that of placing one, exhausted by age, in the atmosphere of a body in the vigour of existence. The case of King David* shows that the superstition was common with the Hebrews; and numerous instances, in different writers, prove, that it existed through the middle ages. So late even as the period of Boerhaave it was not extinct. We find, indeed, that great teacher himself imbued with it. He directed an aged burgomaster of Amsterdam to sleep between two young people, and he asserts that the strength and vivacity of the old man were much improved by it! A result, easily explained by the warmth afforded to a body, whose powers of secreting animal heat, sufficient for its comfort, had been impaired by age, but absurd if we look upon it as owing to any renovating power in the youthful breath : yet Hufeland, in the work before us, is manifestly disposed to ascribe such influence to it. “We find,' says he, “amongst those who had devoted themselves to the education of youth, many men, who attained an advanced age, which might induce a belief, that a constant intercourse with young people, contributes to a certain extent to renovate us and prolong our existence.” p. 98.
It was, however, in the middle ages, during that time of intellectual dearth, that the greatest number of expedients was in
• I Kings, chap. i.
vented for the preservation of health ; and that the alchemists directed all their endeavours to discover a universal medicine one that would be equally applicable to any derangement of the human frame. During this dark period, the alchemist, astrologer, and magician, vied with each other in exerting their skill for the discovery of means to prevent disease and prolong life; and numerous amulets, panaceas, and sympathies were proposed, which have gradually disappeared, but been resuscitated under new forms, until the present time. And thus, it is to be feared, will it ever be. No one can be indifferent to bodily comfort,
“Without whose cheerful, active energy,
No rapture swells the breast, no poet sings." Even he who is prepared to leave this world at any moment, when the author of his existence may call him, is anxious that the period allotted him should be spent in health and tranquillity : still more he who is addicted to sensual gratificationswhose whole happiness consists in living whilst he does live. To him bodily comfort is felt to be of the highest value. Without it his enjoyments are vapid and null. It is the universal interest of hygiène, that occasions the avidity for essays on the subject, as well as on every thing appertaining to it. We can hence understand why works on digestion meet with the greatest sale, and why the subject should be chosen by many, whose motives have been mercenary rather than philanthropic, and who have discovered that to excite the alarms of mankind, may be converted to a profitable purpose. These remarks do not of course apply to all the works which have recently emanated from the press upon this topic, but they are strongly applicable to many. We could refer to some where the improvement of science has been the object of the authors; to others which have originated in the desire to turn to profit the natural credulity of mankind, by arousing them to a sense of danger which does not exist, and rendering their doctrines subservient to other and more selfish purposes. It is to this credulity that we owe many ephemeral and periodical productions which have fluttered for a while on the stage, and subsequently sunk into that insignificance, above which they ought never to have risen. All that is necessary is to excite the fears of the reader :—to conjure up a phantom, founded on the reputed baneful effects of this or that custom or article of dietetics, or on the dangerous character of this or that symptom :-to become, in other words, a medical terrorist. If the alarm excited be sufficient, the work or the individual, whichever it may be, will be certainly followed. Were such an essay to inform one of weak nerves that a certain catenation of symptoms in his person indicates a disease of the liver, it matters not that the whole may be grossly erroneous, the individual concerned will believe it, and have recourse to the prescribed remedies ; notwithstanding he may be assured by those, in whom he should place, confidence, that such disease does not exist : so much more ready are we to credit those who pronounce that a morbid condition is present, than those who assure us it is not.
The whole history of the success of quack medicines rests upon this tendency of the mind of man-a tendency which no experience can obviate. Although we might suppose that the instances on record, in which remedies and appliances, high in vogue for a time, have subsequently sunk into utter neglect, might, in some measure, correct this disposition, it is too true that it has not; and that we are as ready to follow the hardy empiric, because he asserts that he can cure an affection under which we may labour, as ready to have recourse to "panaceas," as our ancestors were in the times of Von Helmont and Paracelsus.
The celebrated remedy of Mrs. Stephens, for the stone, which excited so much attention as to be purchased by the British parliament for several thousand pounds, and which was found to consist of lime, produced by calcining the shells of eggs and snails, and made into pills with soap, has now "fallen from its high estate," and is scarcely even recorded in the dictionaries. But a still more remarkable and instructive case is of comparatively recent occurrence, and is familiar to all—that of the “metallic tractors” of Perkins; in testimony of whose efficacy hundreds, nay thousands, of cases were adduced, institutions established, and considerable sums of money expended. Yet tractors and institutions have disappeared, and every one engaged in the transaction has been anxious to wash his hands of the stigma justly attached to it. Still, mankind are ready to act the farce over again, should it appear under a new form:
“The tractors, galvanism and gas, In turns appear to make the vulgar stare,
Till the swoln bubble bursts and all is air.” At this very moment we have before us a late English newspaper, containing the details of an inquest, held on a young lady, previously in perfect health, who had been destroyed by an ulcer on the back, instituted by an unprincipled and uneducated empiric, who has been for some time professing to prevent and to cure consumption by a new method; and who, by dint of advertisements and effrontery, has succeeded in attracting the sick of all classes. The respectable medical gentlemen who examined the body, declared that it was a perfectly healthful subject, beautiful in form, and free from all disease, save that occasioned by the wound in the back.” Yet, notwithstanding this conclusive evidence, a lady of high rank declared, at the same inquest,