Billeder på siden

tion of believing that the physicians were as much the guardians of our health, as the lawyers of our property, or the priests of our souls, I must now, gentlemen, solicit your attention to the most obstinate of all maladies, of which I live the victim, a want of faith.

“A Female Sceptic." Dover Cliff, January 6, 1811.

It has been often said of vegetable diet, that it is not so strengthening as animal food, and I will readily grant that the latter imparts a temporary increase of strength : so likewise does the rage of a madman, though his is perhaps the highest state of diseased action; but that vigor and energy which are the prelude to ulterior mischief, had better never have existed. The man whom Sir Edward Berry prevailed upon to live on partridges alone, and who was obliged after the first week to desist on account of the appearance of symptoms of putrefaction, might probably during that week, in which he was approaching fast towards death, have been conscious of an accession of strength. But let me ask, are not the lower orders of Irish, who live on potatoes' and buttermilk, as strong as any race of men in Europe? They are vigorous even to a proverb. If they are not entirely as long-lived or as healthy as they might be, which is I suppose the fact, it is because they neither abstain from spirits nor common water; and even with these disadvantages, if a man remarkable for the largeness of his limbs be exhibited in London, it is ten to one that he comes from the sister kingdom. We find in Ulloa's book on South America that men may be abundantly sustained on vegetables. He tells us that the instances are common on that continent, of persons in good health at a hundred years of age, and not rare, at a hundred and thirty or forty. The habits of the Spaniards are very different from our own. Those who have penetrated into Spain have probably witnessed to what a distance a Spanish attendant will accompany on foot a traveller's mule or carriage ; not less than forty or fifty miles a day, raw onions and bread being his only fare. This observation is offered with that view to modera

In the “Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery by Lieut. James Grant," published in 1803, I meet with the following passage at p. 179, “ We found an American ship lying here, called The Washington of Nantucket. Her commander, Jedediah Fitz, informed me that the American sailors had discovered potatoes eaten raw to be a very powerful antiscorbutic, and that their whaling vessels constantly took a quantity with them to sea to eat raw, as an antidote against the scurvy."

A few years' steady preseverance in the use of fruits and raw vegetables, unmixed with any other liquid or substance, would bring the body into a state in which it would be incapable of ulceration.

tion which the writer has endeavoured never to lose sight of in the statements contained in this little treatise. There are those who will be aware that still stronger facts, entirely to his present purpose, might have been adduced, relatively to more distant parts of the world as well as to Spain. He will content himself with barely naming La Peyrouse, Molina, and Humboldt ; for if he were to enter fully into all the details which press upon him in the consideration of this extensive subject, he would produce a large book, the evil he is most anxious to avoid. These travellers, who are always consulted with new pleasure, agree in remarking the prodigious change which is effected in nations, simply by the introduction of domestic animals.

If it be admitted that vegetable diet, as the Spaniard Ulloa, the German Haller, and our own John Hunter and Abernethy have stated,' is fully equal to support men under all necessary exertions, I conceive it will also be granted, that being our natural sustenance, it will so purify the blood that we shall not only enjoy hetter health, but shall also be rendered less accessible to infectious disorders than if we lived on the flesh of animals. We Englishmen, who rival all nations in attachment to solid food, are remarkably subject to perish by contagion in hot climates; whereas Timoni, in his account of the plague at Constantinople, relates that the Armenians, who chiefly live on vegetables, are far less liable to the disease than the other inhabitants of that city. The evidences, indeed, are incontrovertible which go to establish that the susceptibility of infection depends upon the bodily state in which those happen to be who are in the way of it; and when we say that certain people are more or less affected with any disorder according to their constitutions, I should question whether we really mean any thing else than that they are affected in proportion to the quantity of morbific matter in their systems which finds no other vent. It is well understood in the hospitals that puerperal fever is infectious to none but lying-in women; and it is equally well known that in the same house, and under similar circumstances of exposure, some persons take an infectious disease, while others

'The author is acquainted with a lady, who, having been always very anxious to suckle her children herself instead of making over her duties to other women, under the conviction that if there is on earth a right of property which no ingenuity can successfully controvert, it is the claim of an infant to the milk in its mother's breast, has nursed her last child, while she was living on vegetables and distilled water, till he was two years old. This lady accomplished her purpose much better in this instance than in any former attempt. She enjoyed during the period of nursing, and has since enjoyed, excellent health; and as to the child, he is all that one can wish a child to be.

escape it. I would not at present go so far as to state roundly that contagion is altogether the offspring of this species of civilisation into which men have been betrayed, because I would avoid the declaration of bold and novel opinions as much as possible; but to me I confess it appears that in the theory of the communication of infectious disorders we are on the eve of some important discoveries. Any man descended from a long line of ancestors who had lived as Dr. Lambe would have us all live, could scarcely be liable to contagion of any kind : bis frame would be an unfit receptacle for this artificial poison.

What a prospect does it open to mankind, should it be no irrational hope that the monster syphilis, with all its gorgon terrors, may yet be driven from the earth. This scourge of the human race, respecting the origin of which there has been so much dispute,? áros: in all likelihood from an exacerbation of the arsenical state of the fluids produced about the year fifteen hundred by the heat of the southern climates on unhealthy bodies, which were unaccustomed to the ardent sunshine of South America. The afflicting malady appears to have first broken out among the Spaniards three centuries ago, when they acted in those regions that dreadful tragedy which will be an eternal stain upon our species ; à refinement of cruelties which the conscious historian has been unable to veil, and for which no sufferings can atonema scene of horror, that has called down from its heavenly mansion the spirit of Montezuma, to hover o'er the blood' which long shall deluge the guilty peninsula.

Thus we see it happen in the islands of the West Indies. Frequently does the stoutest looking European sicken soon after his arrival from Europe, and die before he has been on shore six weeks; the great heat of that climate, under which a disciple of Pythagoras would feel himself at ease, being a sufficient excitement fatally to set at work the principle of death within him. Such accidents were often witnessed before the yellow fever was known in the West Indies. It is pretty generally allowed that the venereal disease existed not in the new world before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. One of the three writers lately mentioned,

[ocr errors]

Owing probably to the state of the chymical attractions of those bodies. Besides, there are many influences and operations constantly proceeding around us which have escaped, and may for ever escape, the most acute human intellect.

2 Lord Bacon would have found nothing absurd in tracing this complaint to the use of animal fond, since he imagines that it is entirely to be attributed to feeding on human fesh.

3- We see very serious effects produced by the action of the sun in hot climates on diseased bodies, as in coup de soleil. VOL. XX.



0 Ꭰ

Molina, says in his History of Chili, that“ it is but little known in the Spanish settlements, and still less so among the Indians. As the last have no word in their language expressive of it, there is every reason to presume that this malady was not known among them until after the arrival of the Spaniards. The rickets, a disease wbich for three centuries has been a scourge to Europe, is as yet unknown within the boundaries of Chili, and lame or deformed persons are very rarely to be met with.” In the first missionary voyage to the South Sea Islands, we are told that “Until the Europeans visited the Otaheiteans, they had few disorders among them. Their temperate and regular mode of life, the great use of vegetables, little animal food, and absence of all noxious distilled spirits and wines, preserved them in health. The case at present is wofully altered."

The facts are abundant which go to establish the belief of the progressive unhealthiness of mankind. None, however, is more striking than that certain disorders have begun to exist within the records of medical history, and that some important ones are only of three or four hundred years standing, and are still unknown in particular parts of the globe. Measles is a complaint of modern times ; scarlatina still more recent, having made its first appearance only two centuries ago. The small-pox is of no very ancient date, since Hippocrates, Galen, and the other Greek physicians give it no place in their nosological histories, the first account of it being in the works of the Arabian physicians. We learn from Barrow's Travels, vol. i. p. 408, that to this day Southern Africa is wholly exempt from small-pox and from canine madness. Dr. Thomas, in his book on cancer, p. 19, says,

66 There seems to me to exist an evident constitutional connexion between cancer and insanity." Galen has remarked that several of the scaly diseases of the skin originate from gout and rheumatism. I am myself acquainted with a gentleman who has been long afflicted with gout. During a violent attack, he was advised to immerse his legs in cold water. He did so, and the gout pains disappeared; but he was immediately seized with a paroxysm of asthma, which complaint he had never before experienced in his life. Difficulty of vision is sometimes relieved by other disorders; and every practitioner has witnessed in the common instances the alternation of diseases.

No writer mentions scurvy before Strabo, who tells us that it broke out for the first time in Augustus's reign, at which period we know how luxurious the Romans had become. Not long after, Seneca remarks in one of his epistles, that the Romans had acquired an ambling unsteady gait, from their high living and effeminacy. My intention is by no means to argue against refine

ment: on the contrary, my whole object and desire are, that men should combine the advantages of an adherence to the plain dictates of nature with those of cultivation and politeness. « For ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt have lost its


wherewith shall it be salted ?" At the same time I cannot but be persuaded, that the refinements of a healthy and elegant community would differ largely from those of a civilised unhealthy race. Surely, for instance, a sane and polished nation would never dream of overstrained discords in music, of the gothic in architecture, the picturesque in painting, or the grotesque in ornaments; among such a people these spurious qualities could have no consideration, because the grandeur of the sublime and the enchantment of the beautiful, whole and unimpaired, would supply all the gratifications which pure and unsophisticated minds could look for in the cultivation of the arts. At present even melancholy is made one of our luxuries. We court it to agitate our ill-tuned nerves, as is evident from the coloring of nine-tenths of the poetry and novels which are published.

Before objections are raised to the origin of all our complaints here laid down, let it be recollected that no medical writer has ever attempted to explain the cause of any one of the long catalogue of disorders to which we are liable. Hitherto they have been regarded as of mysterious original. Dr. Lambe has demonstrated by experiment the causes of all our complaints; thereby effecting in medicine what was long ago accomplished as to certain phenomena in natural philosophy. Thunder and lightning were considered for many ages in the same light that diseases have hitherto been, as awful visitations from above. In all such storms the Deity was believed to be personally present, and to wield the thunder-bolt with his “red right arm;" but science has at length shed her influence over mankind, and has consigned this creed to poetry and superstition.

The identity of disease is another consequence of the view which we are here taking of the general corruption of blood in the human species. It seems as absurd to imagine any disease local, as to believe that the light which now. darts across this room is unsupported by a continuous stream of the saine fluid. The mischief, whatever shape it assume, proceeds from the alimentary canal. Let us reflect on what takes place in insanity, for example: “ The nature of the affections calculated to give birth to periodical mania, and the affinities of this complaint with melancholia and hypochondriasis, warrant the presumption that its seat, primarily, is almost always in the epigastric region, and that from this centre are propagated, as it were by a species of irradiation, the acces

« ForrigeFortsæt »