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them, and enjoyed the produce of their | at a loss to assign any other reason, orced labour, these many years ;-as than the very ungracious one, that the we have had the trouble of killing cupidity of commercial speculation some of them, for offending us ;-asit must have blinded the understandings has been attended with some difficulty of our legislators. to preserve them from all useful in- The notion certainly is not altogether formation ;-and as it has cost both new, for M. Chicoynenu, a French property and health to debase and physician, started the same opinion, demoralize them ;-I therefore beg when the plague at Marseilles alarmleave, as a member of the honourable ed all Europe, about a hundred years society, whose cause I have attempted ago. But this doctrine was ill supto advocate, humbly to propose :- ported at the time when it was adThat- Here a loud noise was heard vanced; and the unanswerable treatise at a distance, but what it was, no one of our learned Mead on the plague, could certainly say; it, however, seem- published soon afterwards by authoed to be the general opinion, that the rity, completely overthrew this article animals had broken loose, and were of medical scepticism. It is, however, tumultuously approaching the assem again revived, and, as a mere point of bly. Such seemed to be the opinion controversy, the subject might have of the speaker, who, without submit been agitated without any harm to ting his motion to the meeting, left it, the public. But when we find the in a state of the utmost trepidation doctrine gravely brought into the seand terror.]
nate, as the foundation of a legisla
tive enactment for the abolition of the OBSERVATIONS ON THE PLAGUE OF
quarantine laws, it is enough to rouse EGYPT.
the feelings of every man in the king
dom against such daring temerity. MR. EDITOR,
As the importance of the trade with SIR,—The age in which we live is re- Egypt is supposed to have had conmarkable for boldness of hypothesis siderable influence in this decision, and for the spirit of innovation. New I request an insertion in your valuable doctrines and untried projects are Magazine, of some observations made continually starting up, to surprise the on the plague in that country, by Mr. ignorant and impose upon the unwary. John Antes, who was for a long period But it may be doubted whether, in resident there, as a missionary from this rage for novelty, and the pride of the Society of Unitas Fratrum, or being wiser than our fathers, we have Moravians, and who afterwards seteither much improved in virtue or tled at Falneck, in Yorkshire.usefulness. That there are boundaries - The plague is the most terrible of to human knowledge, no man has yet all the disorders the human species is been hardy enough to deny; and that subject to. At the same time, it is a there are some principles of science disorder from which any one may be so determinately fixed as to be in- perfectly safe, who performs a strict capable of subversion, may be safely quarantine, even though he may be in maintained, in opposition to those the midst of a city where it rages with sophists who fancy or feign that the the utmost fury. The practice of the world is as yet in its infancy, and that Europeans in Turkey will prove this the time is coming when diseases may to be a fact, and it will also be conbe subject to the will of man, and firmed by the following observations death itself be avoided by philosophi- which I made at Grand Cairo in the cal resolution. In the mean time, years 1771 and 1781, when this calamithose who take the wisdom of ages for ty raged violently, as well in that city, their guide, will be cautious how they as in other parts of the country, par. sacrifice positive benefit for the chi- ticularly in Lower Egypt. merical advantages held out by the " As soon as it is known that brilliancy of theory.
symptoms of the plague are in the I was led to this train of reflection town, or in its neighbourhood, caution by reading the recent discussion in must be taken not to mix too much in parliament, of the question, whether a crowd, especially of the lower class the plagre be contagious or not? The of people. It is much easier known general opinion seems to have been at Cairo than in most parts of Turkey, on the negative side ; for which I am I as it is most commonly brought from
Smyrna, Constantinople, or other ger in talking with people infected, at places, first to Alexandria or Da- a very small distance ; as is often the mietta, and thence by degrees to that case when such persons apply to city. When the contagion begins to European physicians. I have even spread, all close connexion with other been walking in the street, where people must be entirely avoided ; and people dropped down dead, before I to do this more effectually, the houses locked myself up in the house, and I ought to be locked up, and no one only took good care not to touch any permitted to enter. · The usual way of body. doing this is to make a partition of “To determine the cause of the boards withinside the house-door. In plague is a very difficult task.. There this partition a small opening is inade, is scarcely any thing real in the theoto receive provisions. This little door ries which have been hitherto formed, is kept constantly locked, to prevent even by people of whom one might careless servants from taking any naturally expect something satisfacthing in secretly. On the inside a tory. Even that which may appear tub of water is placed, into which the to be true at Constantinople, or other servant, who is without, puts all such places, often proves the reverse at victuals as will bear wetting, and the Grand Cairo. There is, upon the same are taken with a hook. But whole, so much seeming contradiction bread, rice, coffee, or such dry articles, in this phenomenon, that our thoughts do not convey the infection, and may are often at a stand, and a keenly therefore be taken in with safety from thinking philosopher may find a large a board. Such things may also be field for reflection. drawn up through a window by a rope “ Long experience has shewn that formed of the filaments of the date the infection may be very easily pretree, and a basket made of its leaves. / vented, even in the midst of the surBut any thing of woollen, cotton, linen, rounding danger, by a strict quaransilk, or the like, must by no means be tine. The various observations which taken in during the time of quarantine. I have made in consequence, seem to The house-door is commonly so con- contradict many of the theories formed trived, that the latch may be opened hitherto, and I will now mention them, by a rope from above, in order to let without being answerable for their inin the servant to bring provisions ; fallibility. and there is usually a place behind “First. Many reasons have been every house-door, for him to sleep or given to prove that Egypt was propersit, that he may be at hand. Letters ly the country where this distemper are usually taken in by a pair of originated. It has frequently been tongs, and either smokea, or drawn asserted, that the yearly overflowing through vinegar. But the Europeans of the Nile leaves a quantity of water frequently convey their letters, or and mud in the ponds and lowest what else they may have to send to parts of the fields, which afterwards each other, in a wooden box sealed, becomes patrid, and consequently about which there must be no pack- infects the air to such a degree as to thread or the like. There is no in- produce the plague. This plainly stance of any European or others hav- presupposes an infection of the air. ing caught the infection, who perform- If we could allow this, how could its ed a strict quarantine ; but many per- influence be prevented merely by sons, who have had the imprudence to avoiding all communication with intake but a single ounce of silk, or afected people, when, at the same time, handkerchief, have lost their lives these very persons must live in the by it.
same air. Nor do they attempt to “ A man at Alexandria, having | rectify it, and they cannot shut it out; locked himself up to perform quaran- on the contrary, they chuse to enjoy it tine, being unable to shave himself, as much as possible, and oftentimes sent for a barber; and in order not to even sleep in the open air, on the top touch bim, for fear of catching the of their houses, as it is commonly disorder, put his head only through a very dry from February till pear the small hole, that the operation might end of June, wbich are the months be performed. However, he paid when the plague rages most. One dearly for his folly, and died a very should also imagine, that if the air was few days after. There is else no dan- / really infected, the many thousands
Observations on the Plague of Egypt.
who are continually sick and dying | certainly provè very pernicious in in it, would certainly not mend the other countries, yet it seems not to air, but increase the infection. The be so here, and I know not to what to strongest argument, however, against ascribe it, but to the excessively dry the assertion, is, that the water of the air of Egypt, particularly in that seaNile has by no means those qualities son. Some physicians have attributed which are imputed to it; but, on the this salubrity to the quantity of acid contrary, it never putrifies.
conveyed into the canal by the sewers, “Secondly. Others maintain that it but upon what ground I cannot tell. is produced by the supposed filthiness | It is also observable, that this smell of the Turks. This must also pre-does never extend much further than suppose a corrupted air, occasioned the back rooms of those houses situatby it, which the above arguments seemed close to the canal. equally to contradict. Besides this, “I could never find sufficient ground it is a gpoat injustice to the Turks to to ascertain that the plague ever broke call them a filthy people. They are out in Egypt, without being brought quite the contrary, particularly the thither from some parts of Turkey ; better sort of them, who are remark-, and though there is a saying among ably cleanly, and their religious prin- the people, that the plague which was ciples oblige even the common people brought from Upper Egypt was the to be in some measure so. To this Imost violent, yet, whenever I permust add, that the streets of Grand sisted in my inquiries respecting the Cairo are, upon the whole, by far not | time when it was brought from thence, so filthy as most of the streets of our nobody could tell me. Some Eurotowns; to wbich the local circum- peans have, by constantly hearing it, stances contribute not a little : for also repeated the same thing, but instance; as fuel is very dear, every without being able to prove it, for all thing which in any way will serve for depended on hearsay, and those from it, is diligently gathered from the whom I chiefly heard it, did not apstreets, and no straw or dung of any pear to be people qualified for making kind is left in them; even dead carcases proper observations. On the other of any bulk are carried out of the town. | hand, we must allow, that traditions -Several writers suppose the plague have often some truth in them; but as proceeds from the capal which passes they are frequently, by length of time, through Cairo. It is true, that the re- stripped of all the circumstances maining water is partially corrupted necessary to be known, little deby the filth thrown from the adjoining | pendence can be placed upon them, houses into the number of sewers that and it is a question whether this tradischarge themselves into it, which dition be not as old as the memorable occasions an abominable stench for a plague at Athens, which is said to great part of the year ; but in this case have originated in Upper Egypt. also, a corrupt air is naturally sup- “ During the twelve years of my posed to be the cause, which will not abode in that country, which was from agree with the preceding observa- the 13th of January, 1770, to the 26th tions.
of the same month, 1782, the plague “At the same time, another strong was three times there. On my arargument may be brought against it, rival at Alexandria, there were sympfounded upon long experience; name-toms of it, which soon spread, and bely, all the houses of the European came very violent there, as well as at merchants have, for more than two Rosetta, and other parts of Lower centuries, been situated close to this Egypt; but it did not reach Cairo so canal, or very near it; yet neither as to become general. The next year, have these, por any of the other in- however, it was brought again into habitants who live in that situation, the country by some Mamelukes from been more affected with diseases than Constantinople, and raged with great the rest. This is a truth which all the violence, both in Cairo and in some European physicians, who have for parts of Upper Egypt: but as the some time resided at Cairo, will con- Russian war broke out at that time, firm. Nor have any of these mer by which all communication between chants, who have performed quaran- Constantinople and Smyrna, in Turktine, been ever affected by the plague. | ish bottoms, was cut off, the plague But thougb such a circumstance would ) was kept partially out of that country
during this period. At the same time recover, if their constitution be strong; there was but little of it at Constanti- and this is often the case when the pople; though it visited Bagdad and infection begins to decrease. It Bassora, where it had not been before is a mistake, that a person who has for time immemorial
been once aflicted with the plague is “ In 1781, it was brought first to not liable to it again. I have myself Alexandria, thence to Rosetta, and so known a person who had it the seventh to Cairo, by some Jews, who, having time, and died of it at last. Mr. Wortbought a chest of old clothes at ley Montague assured me that he had Smyrna, where it raged furiously, had it three times himself. brought it into Egypt to be sold. As “ The plague often rages with fury soon as the chest was opened, at three in one quarter of the town, and all at different custom houses, the infection once ceases, and then begins again immediately took place, and spread, with equal violence in a quite opposite so as to become general in a short part, where little or nothing of it bad time. That the infection will remain been before. Sometimes a house is in such articles for years together, and entirely cleared of its inhabitants, and be conveyed to any part, is a well-1 in another house it perbaps takes one known fact.* In this way the plague or two out of twelve, fifteen, or more, once remained inactive in Cairo a and those sometimos die in the arms whole year. The fact was this: a of others, who, with all the rest, escape Damascene merchant had two black unhurt. There are instances of two women slaves who died of the plague ; persons sleeping in the same bed, one and he, very imprudently, had their of whom shall be carried off by it, and clothes locked up in a chest, without the other remain unaffected; notwithfirst airing them. About the same standing which, it is extremely dantime in the following year, he bought gerous to touch any thing belonging two new black slaves, and dressed to them. them in these clothes, by which they | “In Egypt they are always pretty immediately caught the infection, and sure when the plague will cease, for it afterwards spread it through the whole seldom remains after the 24th of June, country.
which has given occasion to the fol“ From these observations, I think lowing superstitious notions, not Egypt cannot, with any truth, be among the Turks only, but among the called the mother of the plague; and Coptic Christians. They say, and I am sure that, by a strict quarantine, firmly believe, that angels are sent by in the maritime towns, it might as God to strike those people who are. certainly be banished out of that intended as a sacrifice. All who recountry, as out of any in Europe. ceive the stroke must inevitably die;
“The symptoms of the plague are but those who receive the infection exceedingly various, as also are its through fear only, escape or recovcr. effects. The infection seems to be When they feel themselves infected, most active when it first breaks out in they say, Anna matrub vel cuppa! which the country, and very few of those signifies, 'I am struck (or smitten) by who are afficted by it in the beginning the plague.' As the 17th of June, aeescape. Some of them may continue cording to the Cophts, is the festival ten or twelve days before they die ; of the archangel Michael, on which others are frequently carried off in a day he lets a drop of water, of such a few hours. Again, others, apparently fermenting quality, fall into the river, well, will drop down dead in an instant; as occasions its overflowings: they and the signs of the plague can only say, that, at the same time, he, as the be depended upon after death. These chief of the angels, orders all those are, buboes in the arm-pits, or the soft occupied in striking the people, to repart of the belly, with a few dark pur-tire. They add, that if any of them ple spots or carbuncles on the legs, should still lurk about in the dark, &c. When the buboes break, and dis-l after that day, they must absolutely charge much matter, the patients may fly before St. John, on the 24th of
June. * And yet the world has been told by some
. “The natural cause of the plague medical theorists, and even by some senators in the British Parliament, that the pestilence
ceasing at that time, in Egypt, is the never bas been conveyed in this manner!
great heat: Fahrenheit's thermometer EDITOR.
then standing generally at 90 or 92
degrees in the shade ; and that this " The plague rages most among the must be the cause, will appear from the lower class of people. Several reasong following fact. In 1781, the plague may be alleged for this, of which the broke out about the middle of April, chief is, their being more stupid and and increased with such rapidity and superstitious; for, as they believe that violence, that sometimes a thousand every man's fate, which is unalterable, persons died of it in one day; but is written upon his forehead, they about the middle of May, the wind think it absurd to use any precaution; shifted to the east, which occasioned and as they commonly are in want of such a violent heat, that the plague clothes, they do not scraple to put on immediately diminished; and though, those of their companions who have as the weather became cooler, it did just died of the disease; besides which, not leave the country before the end of they live always more crowded toJune, yet it never increased to the gether. The better sort of people, or same degree as before, but continued at least, those in power, are not so to decline till it ceased entirely when much affected with it, because they the summer heat became regular. It are not in want of linen and clothes, has been always noticed in Egypt, and every one is obliged to give place that a great degree of heat, if even but when they pass along the streets, and for a few days, has this effect. It has no sick person can easily enter their several times fallen under my own houses. Some of them are also not observation, that vessels came to quite so superstitious, and therefore Alexandria from different. parts of are more cautious, nay, they even Turkey, with many people on board sometimes perform a sort of quaranaffected by the plague, after that tine, either in their own houses, or by period, but the disorder never spread; going into the country; and some and that even the patients who came would certainly observe it more rigoron shore infected with it, frequently ously, if it were not for fear of being recovered. These are facts which despised, and called Franks, or Euromay always be proved at Cairo, or peans. But if the infection finds its any part of Egypt, and they seem to way into their dwellings, they are as contradict entirely the notion of some little exempt from it as the poorer authors, that the plague is nothing sort. I remember an instance, in but a putrid fever in the highest de 1771, of every individual in the house gree. “Now, if so, a great degree of of a great person dying by the plague, heat would rather increase than di- | the master having brought some Maminish a putrid fever.
melukes from Constantinople. “On observing this effect of actual “Some authors have asserted, that heat, I have sometimes thought whe- the Europeans, residing in Turkey, ther some degree of artificial heat, so were not so much subject to the plague as to occasion a constant perspiration, as the natives. But they have, permight not be of more benefit, even to haps, not sufficiently considered, that those infected by the disorder, than even the poorest of them take all posbeating medicines applied for the sible care to avoid it ; and that all same purpose ? Constantinople seems who can, perform a strict quarantine. to be seldom, if ever, free from it; And I remember some striking inneither do the inhabitants of that city, stances, where several of them lost or Smyrna, and other parts of Turkey, their lives from the least imprudence ; know so certainly when it will cease, | and indeed, what grounds have we to as those of Egypt; for this reason, expect that they should be less liable probably, because the degree of heat to the infection, since it is well known, is never so great there, for any con- that the plague rages with much more tinuance, nor so regular. At those fury in other parts of Europe, when places, particularly the former, the brought thither, than even in Turkey ? intense cold seems more effectually to “It has been observed in Turkey, diminish its fury; but it does not and particularly in Egypt, that pereradicate it with so much certainty as sons of the age of seventy and upthe heat does at CairoThat the cold wards are not so much subject to the should have the same effect at the infection, and older people not at all. one place, as the heat has at the other, The most vigorous and strongest apis another circumstance difficult to ac- pear to be the most subject to it. count for.
“The Friars de Propaganda Fide,