« 上一页继续 »
of misery which every day and every hour presented to their view, turned their thoughts toward another hemisphere, it is not to be wondered at, that the wretched and depressed poor should pant for a settlement in a country where liberty is the portion of every man, and independence the sure crown of all his honest labors; and which had been fallaciously represented as courting their acceptance, and loading their untoiling hands with every gift of fortune. The real blessings of our government and country are precious and inestimable; but they are of a nature not to be felt and enjoyed by minds depraved by ignorance, and debased by slavery. That temperate enjoyment of the goods of life, and moderate exercise of the blessings of independence, which alone enlightened liberty sanctions, can neither be conceived of, nor relished, by those who have been accustomed to crouch beneath the iron rod of despotism. Liberty, according to their ideas, was the reverse of all they felt; and independence, the unlimited gratification of all their appetites. The misrepresentations, too, of speculating and unprincipled men, who were interested in the sale of large tracts of unsettled territory, had fostered and extended these erroneous conceptions. Hence, when the poor and miserable emigrants, on their arrival here, found that neither gold, nor farms, solicited their acceptance; that in America, as well as Europe, their life was alike destined to be a life of toil; when they perceived that licentiousness, the only liberty of which they had any notion, brought punishment along with it; the disappointment, new and unexpected, became a powerful aggravation to every other cause of disease. You will not understand me as extending these last remarks to all emigrants to this country, nor suppose that deceived hope was present, or active, in every case. On some, men of the better sort, it undoubtedly had a very pernicious influence; on the poor and friendless, effects still more melancholy.
'But to return: Two motives, then, poverty and oppression at home, and the hope of independence and wealth abroad, concurred to draw to the United States an astonishing number of the inhabitants of Europe; and as these motives were mostly active among the very poor and very wretched, people of this description emigrated in the greatest numbers. Of these, the largest portions fell to the share of the states of Pennsylvania and New-York; and the most worthless and profligate, probably, rested in the capitals of those
'The distresses in the West-Indies, especially those occasioned by the destruction of Cape Françoise, obliged numbers of the islanders, white, mulatto, and black, to take refuge here. This circumstance, harmless in a great measure to the people themselves, can scarcely be considered harmless in relation to the whole. Whatever effect it may have had, all things considered, it seems irrational to suppose it to have been good.
This collection of strangers, from various parts of Europe and America, which had been rapidly forming for two or three years, was greatly increased by repeated arrivals of large importations from Great Britain and Ireland, during the fall of 1794, and the spring and summer of 1795. One or two ships came into this port, after the commencement of the fever, filled with emigrants.
If, then, the opinion of Dr. Blane, corroborated by the testimony of Dr. Rush, be founded in truth, that the sudden commingling of people of various and discordant habits, climates, and nations, be a circumstance favoring the production of disease, this cause of fever was certainly present in New-York, in the year 1795.'
The general and inordinate use of scantily-dressed meats, by emigrants who had been but little accustomed to their use, in any shape, before coming to this country, is said to have been fruitful of pernicious consequences, in awakening and enhancing the disease. Personal uncleanliness, individually and in the mass, is greatly deprecated. Intemperance was another predisposing cause; and it appears, was rather encouraged than condemned.
'An idea was most unhappily circulated, and it should seem was countenanced by persons bearing the title of physicians, that free living, the plentiful use of vinous and ardent liquors, was a powerful preventive of the fever. The dreadful consequences which a belief of this sort produced, were numerous, and shocking to the last degree. The fear of death, so active in ignorant minds, when once aroused; idleness, the parent of every vice; and listlessness, the consequence of want of employment; all conspired, with this pernicious doctrine, to effect the ruin of numbers. Never, I believe, was drunkenness so common. Not a day passed, that I did not meet persons reeling through the streets, or stretched on the pavement; sometimes in the noon-day sun, unsheltered, and sometimes exposed to the heaviest rains. I have seen three men lying in this condition, in one little street. These were all among the most depraved of our poor, and most of them were foreigners. Is it possible that conduct such as this should fail of giving new activity to every other cause of disease?'
A brief recapitulation of the facts embraced in that portion of the journal over which we have passed, must close our extracts for the present paper.
It appears, that the fever of 1795 was most active in situations where there was the least chance for free ventilation; where the sun exerted the greatest and longest influence; there was the least drain for water and filth; the rains which fell, stagnated; there were, constantly, stagnant pools; the streets narrow, crooked, unpaved; the houses partly under ground, wooden, decayed, or slight; there were considerable collections of vegetable and animal matters suffered to remain and putrefy; and where the exhalations from the sewers and docks extended.
The fever first appeared, and continued to be mortal, in a season which was unusually sultry and wet; throughout which esculent vegetables were scanty and poor; meats tended very rapidly to putrefaction, and were often consumed in a state of incipient putrescency; during which insects were very numerous and noxious; there was scarcely any thunder and lightning; there were several violent and sudden alternations of heat and cold; and the city was, in the evening, often immersed in a very peculiar and pernicious fog.
The fever proved most fatal to the poor; to emigrants, more than natives; to the emigrant poor most of all; and they lived in situa
tions mostly such as above-mentioned; were often crowded together in such houses; mingled without distinction of nation, climate, and habits; changed a mild vegetable, for an animal diet-perhaps a semi-putrid animal diet; were chiefly laborers in the open sun; were unusually intemperate; and were inexcusably inattentive to the cleanliness of their houses and persons.'
The facts here stated, were sufficient to convince our journalist that it was unnecessary to look to the East or West Indies for the causes of the epidemic, or to discuss the question whether contagion might or might not be imported. In his judgment, the causes, cure, and prevention, were equally local, and disconnected with the prevalence or absence of similar diseases in other countries. In a subsequent number, the subject will be resumed and completed, in the consideration of the evidence of the importation of the fever; whether it was epidemic or contagious; its symptoms and method of cure, with miscellaneous remarks upon the medicines used as remedies.
THE DINNER OF THE MONTHS.
ONCE upon a time, the Months determined to dine together. They were a long while deciding who should have the honor of being the host upon so solemn an occasion, but the lot at length fell upon December; for although the old gentleman's manners were found to be rather cold, upon first acquaintance, yet it was well known that when once you got under his roof, there was not a merrier or more hospitable person in existence. The messenger, too, Christmas Day, whom he sent round with his cards of invitation, won the hearts of all; although he played several mad pranks, and received many a box in return. February begged to be excused coming to the dinner, as she was in very bad spirits, on account of the loss of her youngest child, the twenty-ninth, who had lately left her, and was not expected to return for four years. Her objection, however, was overruled; and being seated at table between the smiling May and that merry old fellow, October, she appeared to enjoy the evening's entertainment as much as any of the company.
The dinner was a superb one, all the company having contributed to furnish out the table. January thought, for the thirtieth time, what he should give, and then determined to give a calf's head. February, not being a very productive month, was also a little puzzled; but at length resolved to contribute an enormous cake, which she managed to manufacture in fine style, with the assistance of her servant, Valentine, who was an excellent fellow at that sort of ware, but especially at bride cake. March and April agreed to furnish all the fish; May to decorate the dishes with flowers; June to supply plenty of excellent cider; July and August to present the dessert; September a magnificent course of all sorts of game, excepting pheasants; which exception was supplied by October, as well as a couple of hampers of fine home-brewed ale; and November engaged that there should be an abundance of ice. The rest of the eatables, and all the wine, were provided by the worthy host himself.
Just before sitting down to table, a squabble arose about precedence; some of the company insisting that the first in rank was January, and some that it was March. The host, however, decided in favor of January, whom he placed in the seat of honor, at his right hand. November, a prim, blue-nosed old maid, sat at his left; and June, a pleasant, good-tempered fellow, although occasionally rather too warm, sat opposite him, at the end of the table.
The dinner was admirably served. Christmas Day was the principal waiter; but the host had been obliged to beg the attendance of some of his guests' servants, and accordingly, Twelfth-night, Shrove Tuesday, and Michaelmas Day, officiated in various departments: though Shrove Tuesday was speedily turned out, for making rather too free with a prim, demure servant maid, called Good Friday, while she was toasting some buns for the tea table.
A short, squab little fellow, called Saint Thomas's Day, stood behind December's chair, and officiated as toast-master; and much merriment was excited by the contrast between the diminutive appearance of this man, and the longest day, who stood behind June, at the other end of the table. Master Thomas, however, was a very
useful fellow; and beside performing the high official duty which we have mentioned, he drew the curtains, stirred the fire, lighted and snuffed the candles, and like all other little men, seemed to think himself of more importance than any body else.
The pretty blushing May was the general toast of the company; and many compliments were passed upon the elegant manner in which she had ornamented the dishes. Old January tried to be very sweet upon her, but she received him coldly. January at length ceased to persecute her with his attentions, and transferred them to November, who was of the same politics as himself, although she had not been quite so successful in supporting them. Poor May had scarcely got rid of her venerable lover, before that sentimental swain, April, began to tell her that he was absolutely dying for her. This youth was one moment all sunshine, and smiles, and rapture, and the next he dissolved in tears, clouds gathered upon his brow, and he looked a fitter suitor for November than for May; who, having at last hinted as much to him, he left her in a huff, and entered into close conversation with September, who, although much his senior, resembled him in many particulars.
July, who was of a desperately hot temper, was every now and then a good deal irritated by March, a dry old fellow, as cool as a cucumber, who was continually passing his jokes upon him. At one time, July went so far as to threaten him with a prosecution for something he had said; but March, knowing what he was about, managed to keep on the windy side of the law, and to throw dust in the eyes of his accusers. July, however, contrived to have his revenge; for being called upon for a song, he gave The Dashing White Sergeant' in great style, and laid a peculiar emphasis upon the words March, March away,' at the same time motioning to his antagonist to leave the room.
April having announced that it was raining hard, January was much perplexed as to how he should get home, as he had not brought his carriage. At one time, when he was looking very anxiously out of the window, to discover if there were any stars visible, October, at the suggestion of May, asked him if he thought of borrowing Charles's wain to carry him, as he had done so great a kindness to its proprietor? This put the old fellow into such a passion, that he hastily seized his head gear, a red cap, sallied out through the rain, and would most likely have broken his neck in the dark, had not February sent her footman, Candlemas Day, after him, with a lantern, by whom he was guided in safety to his lodgings in Fog Alley.
On the retirement of the ladies, February, May, August, and November, the host proposed their healths, which were drunk with the usual honors; when April, being a soft-spoken youth, and ambitious of distinction as an orator, began to return thanks for them, in a very flowery speech; but was soon coughed down by December and March; and March, by the by, at length got into such high favor with his old enemy, July, that the latter was heard to give him an invitation, saying, that if ever he came to his side of the zodiac, he should be most happy to see him. October told the host that, wi his leave, he would drink no more wine, but that he should b glad of some good home-brewed, and a pipe. To this December ac ceded, and said he should be happy to join him, and he thought his