图书图片
PDF
ePub

Netherlands ? And yet the non-contagionists keep repeating, time after time, that Holland has no sanatory laws.

4thly. The statement of an anonymous writer of a pamphlet, published in 1720, that the idea of contagion in plague first arose in the sixteenth century, out of a Popish state-trick, aided by Fracastorus, has been renewed by a contemporary physician, who is looked on as the leader of the non-contagionists in this country; and, since him, the same statement has been repeated by four or five other writers of books and reviews, as well as by one or two persons in a more commanding station of life. Now, although it makes but little in support of the belief in the contagion of plague, whether the idea of contagion was first conceived at one time rather than at another-and so far the statement might be suffered to go to the world unmolested-it is, on the other hand, just that ignorance should be exposed, when it assumes the garb of dictatorial learning. This statement, then, respecting the origin of the idea of contagion, like the other assertions already noticed, is perfectly at variance with truth. History tells us that the very word ( quarantine” belongs to the sixth, and not the sixteenth century; and that it arose out of an edict of Justinian, enjoining all those who came from a country known to be infected to repair to a particular spot, there to be watched for the term of forty days, in order to ascertain whether they brought with them the seed of the disease. And from the same source we learn, that an edict of the Venetian Senate, dated more than a century (March, 1448,) before the pretended Popish state-trick took place, was passed, establishing a board of health for the especial purpose of preventing the introduction of the plague. :

5th. Equally unfounded with the preceding assertions, and betraying an equal ignorance of modern history, is the statement that Persia has never had the plague, although caravans and travellers from Turkey are constantly arriving in that country—a statement which, it is pretended, proves that the disease cannot be contagious, or it would have travelled eastward from Turkey into Persia." But how is the real fact. Persia, it is true, has generally been free from the plague ; but this immunity the inhabitants owe to their strong belief in the contagion of that disease, in consequence of which, very strict, and as Sir Gore Ousely (the highest authority I can quote on this point) assures me, very severe surveillance is exercised over travellers and caravans coming from Turkey. When the chances of war, however, threw a portion of that em

See the speeches in the House of Commons on the introduction of the bill this session, and the tenor of the assertions made before both Committees of the house, so often alluded to.

pire into the hands of the Ottoman troops, whom the tenets of predestination teach to disregard the fatal effects of the plague, that disease made its way into Persia, and committed great havoc. Thus, during the occupation of Tabriz, and the greatest part of the province of Azerbaijan by the Turkish invaders, upwards of 30,000 of the inhabitants died of the plague ; but since that province has been restored to the Persian monarchs, no instance of that disease has occurred, in consequence of the precautions taken at the frontiers of Erivan-precautions which amount, in effect, to our quarantine laws, though much more severe in their nature. I trust that after this information, which I am authorised by our late ambassador at the court of Hispahan to make public, we shall hear no more of the futile and unsound argument against the non-contagious nature of plague, deduced from the immunity of Persia.

But facts every day crowd on us from all parts, to overwhelm, as it were, the innovators and levellers of sound doctrines and old institutions. A recent and highly interesting communication from General Count Michel Woronzow, Governorgeneral of New Russia and Bessarabia, informs me that the plague penetrated, in November last, into Ismail, from the right bank of the Danube, where that disease had been raging for fifteen months, and that its introduction was traced to an individual who contrived to elude the quarantine regulations. This took place during the cold season (mark that!) and seventy-three cases of death occurred during a period of two months, in a population of 12,000 inhabitants, who were saved from the desolating effects of the disease by the active and immediate regulations of insulation adopted by the government, it being proved that the disorder, through those regulations, was wholly confined to those individuals who had communicated with the first importer, or had received goods belonging to him. ,

I might extend much farther this exposé of the ignorance or dişingenuity of those who proclaim aloud the non-existence of contagion in plague, and call for the abolition of all sanitary laws. Thus I could tell you, that it is not true, that the contemporary physician to whom I have alluded as the advocate of non-contagion, was the only physician who, since the establishment of the doctrine of contagion, has been experimentally in collision with the plague: for, without alluding to the well-marked case of Dr. White, I know, from having been present at the experiment, that Dr. Valli inoculated himself with the matter of the plague, and caught the disorder, the progress of which I witnessed at the hospital Galata in 1803. I could also tell you, that it is not true, that the two chief medical officers of the French army in Egypt,

the shippined is likely so discuss

as quoted by the non-contagionists, are of opinion that the plague is not contagious, and that medical officers in that army had dressed the sores of patients ill of the plague, and opened the bodies of those who died of the disease, without contracting it. Both those distinguished individuals have recorded their firm belief in the contagion of the plague, in very valuable works ; and it is known that no fewer than 44 medical officers of that army died of the plague in Egypt. Larrey himself informs us, that one of his assistants who opened a body was seized with the plague and died ; and Lattil, another experienced medical officer, whose Dissertation on Plague has been kept so studiously in the dark, caught the disease by dressing a bubo. But I fear that by following such a course, I should be insensibly drawn into the medical consideration of the present question, from which I professed my intention of abstaining. I shall, therefore, conclude here, with repeating that the object I had in addressing you on the present occasion, was chiefly of a political tendency, and of a two-fold nature. First,' to advert to the injury that has already resulted from the promulgation of the unsound doctrines lately started on the subject of quarantine laws—an injury which the shipping interest of Great Britain is actually feeling at this moment, and is likely to feel as long as the present measures are so introduced and so discussed in the British House of Commons; and secondly, to expose a few of the many misrepresentations on which those doctrines are made to stand.

With respect to that part of the question which relates to the hardships felt by the Levant trade, under the old quarantine laws, I confess I cannot comprehend the use it is intended to make of that special circumstance in legislating for a general object. What more right have persons engaged in importing Levant goods, to complain of restrictive conditions imposed on that trade by the Government of this country, than the importers of foreign corn have, for instance, who are equally restricted from disposing of their cargoes until certain conditions are fulfilled-or, in other words, until the market price of that commodity is such as to allow of the disposal of those cargoes ? Both are measures of national policy. The one to protect the whole community from the devastating effects of imported disease; the other to protect part of the community only, namely, the agricultural interest, against the depreciating effect of an overflowing market. But how wide is the difference in the degrees of importance that belong to the ultimate end of those two legislative measures !

I wish it had been possible for me to point out to your attention, how much more the question of quarantine regulations is one of international policy than of medical research, without alluding in

[ocr errors]

al policy than of medi quarantine regulations attention,

60 direct a manner to the part I have taken at different times in its discussion and consideration. It would have been greatly more suitable to my feelings to have been able so to do ; but the para. mount importance of the subject has silenced all sentiments of personal inconvenience; and it is on the same ground that I prefer the press as a vehicle of my letter, to the unsafe, and not always useful, transmission of such communications by a private channel.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your very humble servant,

A. B. GRANVILLE, M. D. . 16, Grafton Street, Berkeley Square,

May 24, 1825.

This letter was sent to the Right Honorable Gentleman to whom it is addressed, with the following explanatory note :

Dr. Granville begs to call Mr. Huskisson's attention to a letter addressed to him, as President of the Board of Trade, for reasons therein stated, both as to the motive and channel of the communication.

Dr. Granville being anxious that the contents of that article should meet the eye of Mr. Huskisson, before any further discussion on the quarantine bill takes place in Parliament, will leave this packet himself to day at Mr. Huskisson's residence.

Dr. Granville cannot help declaring, that he considers the new bill likely to be looked on as unsatisfactory, by the vigilant mind of foreign Boards of Health, in its present state, and as by no means calculated to quiet the feelings of insecurity which its bare discussion has excited among foreign nations, and were he consulted by the Sardinian ambassador in London, to whom he has the honor of being attached as physician, respecting the steps already taken at Genoa by the Piedmontese government, he would be under the necessity of pointing out the objectionable features of the new bill ; not in reference to any want of salutary restrictions in its clauses, as it has been inconsiderately, and it may be said unfortunately believed, at home and abroad; but in reference to the imperfect nature of those provisions which relate to the lazarettoes themselves, and the manner of performing quarantine.

Dr. Granville has enlarged so much on these two points, both in his letter to Mr. Robinson, and in his evidence before the Commit

tee of Foreign Trade, that he thinks it needless to do more than allude to them in this place.

Although Dr. Granville has not the honor of being known to Mr. Huskisson, he may venture to say that he is not altogether unknown to Mr. Huskisson's predecessor in office, and to him reference may be made as to the degree of moral weight that may attach to Dr. Granville's assertions.

May 26, 16, Grafton Street, Berkeley Square.

« 上一页继续 »