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TO VOL. THE THIRD.
An Effay on thofe inquiries in Natural Philofophy, which at prefent are most beneficial to the UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA. By DR. NICHOLAS COLLIN, Rector of the Swedish Churches in Pennfylvania.
Read before the Society the 3d of April, 1789.
HILOSOPHERS are citizens of the world; the fruits of their labours are freely diftributed among all nations; what they fow is reaped by the antipodes, and blooms through future generations. It is, however, their duty to cultivate with peculiar attention those parts of science, which are most beneficial to that country in which Providence has appointed their earthly stations. Patriotic affections are in this, as in other inftances, conducive to the general happiness of mankind, because we have the best means of investigating those objects, which are most interesting to us. In the prefent circumstances of the United States fome problems of natural philofophy are of peculiar importance; a furvey of these may contribute to the most useful direction of our own inquiries, and those of our ingenious fellow citizens. I fubmit, gentlemen, my reflections on this fubject to your candid indulgence and enlightened judgment.
1. ARTICLE, Medical Enquiries.
All countries have fome peculiar diseases, arising from the climate, manner of living, occupations, predominant paffions, and other causes, whofe feparate and combined influence is but imperfectly known. In North America we may count five-nervous diforders, rheumatifm, intermitting fevers, lofs of teeth, and colds. It is remarkable that nervous complaints are at prefent more frequent in Europe than they formerly were. They fpring in a great measure from the indulgencies of a civilized life; but in America thefe fiends infeft with lefs difcriminati
on the dwellings of industry and temperance. Proteus-like they affume every fhape, and often baffle the best phyficians. Their baneful effect on the mind requires the ferious attention of legislators, divines, and moral philofophers: I have myself often seen their amazing influence on religious fentiments. When extreme, they derange the whole fyftem; obfcure the intelects, bewilder the imagination; prevent the natural order and operation of all the paffions: the foul vibrates between apathy and morbid fenfibility: fhe hates when she should love; and grieves when fhe ought to rejoice: fhe refembles a difordered clock, that after a long filence chimes till you are tired, and often instead of one strikes twelveThefe extremes are indeed rare; but the more general degrees are still analogous, and produce a great fum of evil.
Slight rheumatic pains are almoft epidemic in fome seasons of the year. Yet, these are scarcely worth mentioning in comparison to the fevere fits that afflict a great number of perfons, even in the earlier parts of life, growing more frequent and violent with age; not seldom attended with lamenefs, and contraction of limbs..
Fever and ague is here, as in other countries, the plague of marfly and fenny fituations, but what is fingular, it alfo vifits the borders of limpid ftreams. The leffer degree of it generally called dumb ague, is not rare in the most falubrious places during the months of September and October. Through all the low countries from north to fouth this disease rages in a variety of hideous forms; and chiefly doth the fury quartan with livid hue, haggard looks, and trembling skeleton-limbs, embitter the life of multitudes: I have known many to linger under it for years, and become fo difpirited, as not even to seek any remedy. It is a foul fource of many other diseases; often terminating in deadly dropfies and confumptions.
Premature lofs of teeth is in many respects a fevere misfortune. By impairing mastication, and consequently digeftion, it disposes for many diforders. It injures the pronunciation; and is a particular disadvantage in a great republic, where fo many citizens are public speakers. It expofes the mouth and throat to cold, and various accidents. It di minishes the pleasure of eating, which is a real though not fublime,. pleasure of life; and which I have heard fome perfons very emphatically regret. Finally, it is a mortifying ftroke to beauty; and as fuch deeply felt by the fair fex! Indeed that man must be a stoic, who can without pity behold a blooming maiden of eighteen afflicted by this infirmity
of old age! This confideration is the more important, as the amiable affections of the human foul are not lefs expreffed by the traits and motions of the lips, than by the beaming eye. I have not mentioned the pains of tooth-ach, because they are not more common or violent in this country than in fome others, where loss of teeth is rare; many perfons here lofing their teeth without much pain, as I have myself experienced.
The complaint of catching cold is heard almost every day, and in every company. This extraordinary disorder, little known in some countries, is also very common in England. An eminent physician of that country faid that "colds kill more people than the plague". Indeed many fevere diforders originate from it among us: it is probably often the fource of the before mentioned chronic diseases. When it does not produce fuch funeft effects, it is nevertheless a serious evil; being attended with lofs of appetite, hoarseness, sore eyes, head-ach, pains and fwellings in the face, tooth and ear-ach, rheums, listless langour and lowness of spirits : wherefore Shenfione had some reason to call this uneasiness a checked perfpiration. Great numbers in the United States experience more or less these symptoms, and are in fome degree valetudinarians for one third of the year.
Eminent medical authors have indeed treated of thefe diftempers; and fome American phyficians deferve applause for their theoretical and practical exertions. Still, it is devoutly to be wifhed that these national evils may draw a more pointed attention. The limits of my defign permit only a few additional remarks.
Thefe distempers frequently co-exist in the most unhealthy parts of the country; and not seldom afflict individuals with united force. Compaffion for fuffering fellow citizens ought in this cafe to animate our investi gation of thofe general and complicated local caufes. The extreme va riableness of the weather is univerfally deemed a principal and general caufe of colds, and of the disorders by them produced; the fall and rife of the thermometer by 20 a 30 degrees within less than four and twenty hours, disturbing the ftrongest conftitutions, and ruining the weak.. most important defideratum is therefore the art of hardening the bodily. fyitem against these violent impreffions; or, in other words, accommodating it to the climate. The general stamina of strength support it under the exceffes of both cold and heat. The latter is, however, the most oppreffive as we can lefs elude it by artificial conveniencies. We fu Ter, efpecially