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pagation, nature and influence of Malaria. It is remarkable, that the most valuable treatise upon this matter, should have issued from the press in England-a country, less harassed by disorders arising from this source, than almost any other portion of the civilized world. But even England, if we may trust our author, has little reason to boast of the comparative exemption she has been considered to enjoy. "The Thames, indeed," he exclaims, "is not the Congo, nor can we parallel Ostia or Terracina; our fevers do not slay in three days; but the disease is the same, the poison the same, and the same is the cause."
This cause of disease, the appellation of which—Malariawe have accepted from the Italians, consists, undoubtedly, in some peculiar vitiation of the atmospheric air, by some substance of a specific nature and peculiar qualities; and, as we infer from the analogy or identity of the effects attributed to it every where, is universally analogous or identical in nature, wheresoever and howsoever produced. No test, however, has yet been discovered, by which we can know, previously to the developement of its deleterious effects, the presence of this most widely extended and most mortal of all the forms of noxious effluvia. The odoriferous particles of musk and camphor, the delicate aroma exhaled by the flowers which scent the breath of spring-nay, the etherial atoms of which light itself is composed, are not, probably, more minute than the material elaborated from the several sources of Malaria, to be mingled with the air by which we are enveloped. Neither chemical nor mechanical philosophy has attributed to these particles form, colour, bulk, weight, or any other property by which they may be made cognizable to our senses. Yet this extreme tenuity, although it places them beyond the scope of even our scientific investigations, does not, in any measure, detract from their malignant potency.
It has been said, that from the close similarity of the effects produced, we infer the analogy in nature, if not the absolute identity of the agents to which we attribute their production. Peculiar forms of fever, precisely resembling each other in their modes of access, their type, their history, their various degrees of malignity under known circumstances, and the morbid changes which they occasion in the several organs of the body, are observed to be endemic in many regions or districts of the inhabited globe. Small-pox, as it occurs in the different parts of the world, is not more evidently, one and the same disease, than are the intermittents and remittents of our own continent, whether in the neighbourhood of the great lakes of the interior, VOL. II.-NO. 3. 20
upon the swamps of our Atlantic coast, among the rich rice fields of the South, and those of the fens of Lincolnshire in England, of Carthagena in South-America, of Walcheren in the Netherlands, of Corunna in Spain-those of Savoy, of the fertile plains of Lombardy-of the solitary Campagna of Rome, and the Pontine Marshes.
We shall not follow our author through his geographical detail of the localities of Malaria. Suffice it to say, that this is the most universally distributed of all the external causes of disease and death. If we are to trust the reports of travellers, not even Lapland and Norway can claim an exemption here, "so little is a northern latitude a security where there are wet lands and a hot summer," however short that summer may be. And our author is only one among many who bear testimony to the sway exercised by the same foul spirit of the marsh over the vallies and fields even of Ireland and England. "In that delightful land of meadows, and parks, and woods, and ponds, and rivers, to take a pleasant evening walk by the banks of the river or the lake, to watch the trout rise from the fish-pond or the canal at the coming flies, to attend the milking of the cows in the green meadow, to saunter among wet groves till the moon rises, listening to the nightingale-these, and more of such rural amusements and delights, these," he exclaims, "are the true night-air, the Malaria and the fever." If we turn to the shores of Italy-alas! "the fairest portions of this fair land are a prey to this invisible enemy; its fragrant breezes are poison, the dews of its summer evenings are death. The banks of its refreshing streams, its rich and flowery meadows, the borders of its glassy lakes, the luxuriant plains of its overflowing agriculture, the valley where its aromatic shrubs regale the eye and perfume the air, these are the chosen seats of this plague, the throne of Malaria." In our own country, we acknowledge with pain its extended influence, its intense energy. All our alluvial soils, whether in the wide vallies of our magnificent rivers, or in the vicinity of our sea-like lakes, whether along the low plashy banks of the sluggish streams of our southern low country, or in the rich intervals between the hills which skirt the variable water-courses of our more elevated middle lands, all are under the dominion of Malaria. Our extensive forests have from the earliest time, sheltered the earth beneath them from the action of the sun, and have enriched it with their leaves, and fruits and flowers into a luxuriance pestilential to the intruder who first lifts the axe to let in air and light. Our flat Atlantic coast, from the Hudson to the Mississippi, is lined with reedy marshes, and studded over with ponds and swamps and
cane-brakes, which fill the atmosphere of summer and autumn, with deadly exhalations. Yet must we here enter our protest against the exaggerated statements which our author accepts without limitation from Volney, who affirms, that out of a space of three thousand leagues, he did not find in the United States, twenty houses free from the fevers of Malaria; and, that "every river in our country which he visited, whether rapid or stagnant, produces Malaria and fevers." Now we doubt whether a rapid river anywhere can be considered as giving out Malaria-certainly not in its passage through a rocky and elevated region; and the fact is, that our mountainous districts enjoy as fair an exemption as any other similar tracts of country in the world. Nor do we hesitate to declare our belief, that even in Charleston and its immediate vicinity, we could exhibit as many instances of such exemption among its few houses, as, upon the testimony of Armstrong and of our author, are to be found in the countless throng which form the immense city of London.
Our author, indeed, seems to look upon every thing with an eye of suspicion. Malaria Malaria is found in every gravel-pit, in every fish-pond. He neglects the bright stages of vegetable life and beauty, to dwell upon the withering of the leaf and the fading of the flower; water does not attract his notice in the rushing torrent, the limpid brook, the sparkling dew-drop, or the glowing rainbow; he regards it only in the damp fog and the misty cloud. Even "this most excellent canopy, the air-this brave, overhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, appears to him no other thing than a foul congregation of pestilent vapours." The poet's visions of nature are demolished by a touch of his pen; murmuring streamlets whisper but of suffering and pain; sun-set gives notice of the approach of a gloomy night of danger and debility, and the bright harvestmoon in rising, ushers in the hour of chill and of disease-when "all the infections which the sun sucks up from bogs, fens, flats," are precipitated in the form of unwholesome dews.
Far be it from us to speak with levity of such a subject, yet we must be allowed to say, that if it be possible to exaggerate in this matter, it has been done by our author. He overlooks entirely many other evil influences, easily proved to be of great consequence in the production of maladies, attributed by him to Malaria exclusively. Alterations of temperature, scantiness and improper quality of food, are among the chief of these. Mountain residents of every country and climate, are occasionally subject to attacks of intermittents, jaundice, &c. closely resembling those derived elsewhere from Malaria, but which we do not hesitate to attribute to the poor diet, toilsome and often un
cleanly habits and insufficient clothing of these elevated regions. We have often made the inquiry from the hardy mountaineers both of our own Blue Ridge, and of certain Alpine districts to which Dr. MacCullough alludes-why, living among waterfalls and rude and barren rocks, and in a clear dry atmosphere, they should, in no very inconsiderable number of instances, present such sallow complexions, such thin and squalid frames, and have been persuaded by their replies, that they did not suffer from any noxious exhalation or foul effluvium given out by their rapid torrents or by the light covering of barren earth which they cultivated with so much labour and care, but from the necessity of subsisting upon insufficient food, upon partially ripened or degenerate grain, with irregular supplies of salted meats and unwholesome game.
But it is necessary to follow our author further into the details of the so much agitated question concerning the source or origin of Malaria. It may be announced as a doctrine established by incontrovertible reasoning, founded on a vast mass of accumulated facts, that the principal source of this deleterious agent is in the decomposition of vegetable substances. We have said the principal, that it is not the exclusive origin of Malaria, will be shewn hereafter, to be at least probable, if not certainalthough Dr. MacCullough seems to consider such views as scarcely worthy the serious consideration of a moment. Whereever vegetables find their most luxuriant growth, there abound most largely the principles which enter into the constitution of febrific miasmata. Heat and moisture combined, not only favour the rapid and plentiful production of vegetables, but hasten their maturity and decay, and promote their decomposition. In hot and moist regions then, we should perceive the greatest intensity of Malaria, and its freest developement, judging from the frequency and vehemence of its effects upon the human system, and such is notoriously the fact. We need not refer a southern Planter for illustrations of this doctrine, to the close and humid forests of Africa-uniformly fatal to the adventurous white-man who penetrates their inhospitable recesses-or the impervious jungles of India; he will be able to furnish us with an abundant list of like examples. It is thus, that many of the finest portions of the world, extended tracts of soil the most productive and the best calculated for supplying food to man, are rendered almost or entirely uninhabitable by our race, and the thick and matted vegetation thrown forth so rankly in such spots, serves only as a den for wild beasts and a shelter for venomous reptiles. From this well-ascertained cause, we derive the existence of many or most of the dreadful
forms of fever; and it is not yet absolutely decided, whether we may not ascribe to the same source the generation of the plague itself. To point out severally, the states of disease thus occasioned, would be an endless task, but we cannot omit to specify, as, perhaps, the most destructive of all the epidemics which, in ancient or modern times, have spread their ravages among men, the malignant colera of the East-a disgusting and fatal malady, which originating in Hindostan, and passing with unparalleled mortality and swiftness through the most populous districts of that country, has reached Persia, and now threatens to invade the Russian Empire, having already swept off millions in its course.
Marshes have been from time immemorial, stigmatized as the storehouses of these deleterious effluvia, hence, commonly denominated marsh miasmata. Under this head we would include without hesitation, ponds and small lakes, low rich fields, wet meadows, canals, and even ditches and drains. Yet it is with some reluctance, that we comprise these latter in our enumeration, and would urge the recollection of the undoubted fact, that although they must be acknowledged to rank as evils, yet they are far less evils than those of which they form the exclusive remedies-namely, the accumulation of stagnant waters on low grounds, and the formation of ponds and swamps in vallies. and hollows. It is true, that the bottoms of these ditches will consist usually of a layer of moist, vegetable soil, but the exposed surface will not be very great, and by giving a sufficient declivity, the water which passes over this soil may be kept continually freshening itself, or may run entirely off.
With respect to the question whether salt marshes are as injurious as fresh swamps, we should reply in the negative generally, notwithstanding the experiments and opinions of Sir J. Pringle-and we are glad to support our views by the authority of the venerable Robert Jackson, who tells us, that "so far as he has observed, the usual endemic of warm climates is less frequent and formidable on the banks of rivers after their waters become mixed with those of the sea, than before this has happened." It resolves after all, into an affair of observation and experience, and these in our southern country, where there are ample opportunities for the inquiry, are in favour of the vicinity of salt water.*
*If this question be considered as relating to marshes absolutely salt, and covered at every tide with water immediately from the ocean, the experience of this country is unequivocal. Our sea-shore settlements-Sullivan's Island, Edings' Bay, &c. are as exempt from the diseases of Malaria, as any places in almost any climate. We were informed a few years ago, that the documents in the War Office, prove that