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TO VOL. THE THIRD.
An Esay on those inquiries in Natural Philosophy, which at present are most
beneficial to the UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA. By DR. NICHOLAS COLLIN, Rector of the Swedijk Churches in Pennsylvania.
Read before the Society the 3d of April, 1789. PHILOSOPHE
HILOSOPHERS are citizens of the world; the fruits of their labours are freely distributed 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 instances, 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 present circumstances of the United States some problems of natural philosophy are of peculiar importance ; a survey of these may contribute to the most useful direction of our own inquiries, and those of our ingenious fellow citizens. I submit, geotlemen, my reflections on this subject to your candid indulgence and enlightened judgment.
1. ARTICLE, Medical Enquiries. All countries have some peculiar diseases, arising from the climate, manner of living, occupations, predominant passions, and other causes, whose separate and combined influence is but in perfectly known. In North America we may count five-nervous disorders, rheumatism, intermitting fevers, loss of teeth, and colds. It is remarkable that nervous complaints are at present more frequent in Europe than they formerly were. They spring in a great measure from the indulgencies of a civilized life; but in America these fiends infest with less discriminati.
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Slight rheumatic pains are almost epidemic in some seasons of the
Fever and ague is here, as in other countries, the plague of marshy and fenny situations, but what is fingular, it also visits the borders of limpid streams. The leffer degree of it generally called dumb ague, is not rare in the most salubrious places during the months of September and O&tober. 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 so dispirited, as not even to seek any remedy. It is a foul source of many other diseases; often terminating in deadly dropsies and consumptions.
Premature loss of teeth is in many respects a severe misfortune. By impairing mastication, and consequently digestion, it disposes for many disorders. It injures the pronunciation; and is a particular disadvantage in a great republic, where so many citizens are public speakers. It exposes the mouth and throat to cold, and various accidents. minishes the pleasure of eating, which is a real though not fublime, pleasure of life; and which I have heard some persons very emphatically regret. Finally, it is a mortifying stroke to beauty; and as such deeply felt by the fair sex! Indeed that man must be a stoic, who can wiihout pity behold a blooming maiden of eighteen affiicted by this infirmity
(o) of old age! This consideration is the more important, as the amiable affections of the human soul are not less exprefled 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 some others, where loss of teeth is rare; many persons here losing 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 said that “ colds kill more people than the plague".. Indeed many severe disorders originate from it among us: it is probably often the source of the-before mentioned chronic diseases. When it does not produce such funest effects, it is nevertheless a serious evil; being attended with loss of appetite, hoarseness, sore eyes, head-ach, pains and swellings in the face, tooth and ear-ach, rheums, listless langour and lowness of spirits : wherefore Shenfone had some reason to call this uneasiness a checked perspiration. Great numbers in the United States experience more or less these symptoms, and are in some degree valetudinarians for one third of
Eminent medical authors have indeed treated of these distempers ; and some American physicians deserve applause for their theoretical and practical exertions. . Still, it is devoutly to be wished that these national evils may draw a more pointed attention. The limits of my design permit only a few additional remarks.
These distempers frequently co-exist in the most unhealthy parts of the country; and not seldom afflict individuals with united force. Compasfion for suffering fellow citizens ought in this case to animate our investi, gation of those general and complicated local causes. The extreme va, riableness of the weather is universally deemed a principal and general carse of colds, and of the disorders by them produced; the fall and rise of the thermometer by 20 a 30 degrees within less than four and twenty hours, disturbing the strongest constitutions, and ruining the weak. A most important desideratum is therefore the art of hardening the bodily syitem against these violent impressions ; or, in other words, accommodating it to the climate. The general stamina of strength support it under the excesses of both cold and heat. The latter is, however, the most oppreisive as we can less elude it by artificial conveniencies. We fu Ter,