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even when dying in pain, are mute in the atmosphere, though it is. probable that in the water they may utter sounds to be heard at a coniderable distance.' P. 29.
The whole is intended to insinuate, that man himself was originally one of these sub-marine microscopic animalcules; and that, by innumerable successive re-productions, for some thousands, or perhaps millions, of ages, and by exchanging his aquatic for a terrestrial element, in which the blood must necessarily become more oxygenated, he progressively possessed a greater stimulus, and acquired a sensorium of quicker motions and finer sensations, till at length he realised the form, and possessed the intelligence, which are exhibited by the human race of the present day; although, from the changes which are perpetually taking place in his constitutional texture, it is impossible to affirm that the same figure and intelligence will be exhibited by men of future ages. It may well be doubted, whether poets or philosophers possess most imagination. Homer originated mankind from the celestial regions, by means of a golden chain or ladder-Ovid, from stones--the Stoics, from fungi or mushrooms-Lord Monboddo, from monkeys-Dr. Darwin, from fishes-and the Epicureans, equally objecting to the first and last opinion,
(Nam neque de cœlo cecidisse animalia possunt,
contended that Earth, or the dry land alone, was the mother of man, and reared his embryo race in myriad little wombs, which rose in a bulbous form over her surface, and which, after their birth, were converted into the same number of lacteal breasts or udders, whence the new-born fetuses were supplied with a due proportion of food, and evinced, in consequence, a progressive increment. The hypothesis is thus elegantly given by Lucretius, v. 805.
Hoc, ubi quæque loci regio, obportuna dabatur,
Quos ubi tempore maturo patefecerat ætas
Of these various conjectures, we confess we prefer that of the Epicureans: it is equally probable, and, as rendered in the verses above, certainly not less poetical or elegant.
(To be continued.)
ART. II.-Observations on the Increase and Decrease of dif ferent Diseases, and particularly of the Plague. By Wil liam Heberden, Jun. M. D. F.R. S. 4to. 5s. sewed. Payne.
WE are informed, in a modest advertisement, that these observations were designed for a new edition of the Bills of Mortality-a work which, with some remarks of this kind, would, we think, be highly useful. In this separate publication, Dr. Heberden disclaims any motives of vanity or self conceit; any forwardness to broach new opinions, or wish to support a favourite system.
If he has stated any thing as fact, he has at least endeavoured to do it fairly; or if he has hazarded any conclusions, he has at the same time laid open the sources from which they were drawn. His object is to direct the attention of the medical world to a subject which has hitherto been very much neglected; and which appears to him capable of being employed to valuable purposes.' r. iii.
The present is a work of labour and attention; and, though some opinions, different from the common, will of course arise in this examination, yet any degree of vanity will admit but of a poor gratification from such a laborious exercise. We may perhaps conclude with some remarks on the construction of such tables, and the very improper manner in which they have been employed, as a foundation for the calculation of annuities, and societies for the benefit of survivors. On this account, we shall not stop to examine the question, adduced by the author in the preface, whether the authority of the bills be too vague to be made the foundation of certain results, or whether authors have not built on this foundation, without sufficiently considering its real effects. Dr. Heberden concludes that-
The agreement of the bills with each other, does alone carry with it a strong proof, that the numbers under the several articles are by no means set down at random; but must be taken from the uniform operation of some permanent cause. While the gradual changes they exhibit in particular diseases, correspond to the alterations which in time are known to take place in the channels through which the great stream of mortality is constantly flowing.' r. v.
The remainder of the preface adverts to the vague manner in which these bills are often kept, and the inaccuracies to which they must be unavoidably subject.
The first part relates to the increase and decrease of different diseases; and, for the illustration of the subject, two tables are inserted, the first consisting of the annual christenings and burials in London for each year of the eighteenth century, together with the proportion of every thousand who have
died by bowel-complaints, small-pox, palsy, meazles, or childbirth.' The second offers the weekly variation of ten different articles, for ten years-viz. of the whole number buried; of those under two years and above sixty, and of the numbers dying of apoplexy, palsy, or suddenly of child-bed and miscarriage; consumption; fever; colic, flux, gripes, and looseness; meazles; small-pox. Each table is extracted from the bills of mortality. From the remarks, we shall select some of the more important facts.
The annual mortality appears by the parish clerks returns to have increased from the beginning of the century to the year 1720; to have been at its greatest height from 1720 to 1750; and from that time gradually to have decreased.' P. 30.
It is not easy to account for the diminution of christenings between the years 1740 and 1760. But it may be observed, that the number of females buried in the same twenty years not being sensibly lessened, the defect, however that should happen, seems to have arisen from the smaller proportion among them who bore children.
< Whatever be the cause of this, the christenings appear in fact to have been the fewest at a time when the burials were nearly at the highest. Hence the difference of the numbers christened and buried is greater between the years 1740 and 1750, than at any preceding or subsequent period. This difference diminished afterwards; but still continued very considerable till about 1770. Now, it was from an average of ten years taken in this interval, namely from 1759 to 1768, that Dr. Price constructed his tables of the probabilities of life, and from which he deduced the population of London. The excess of the burials above the christenings amounted at that time to nearly onethird of the whole number of burials. At present, it is less than onetwentieth nay, in the years 1790, 1797, and 1799, the excess was actually on the side of the christenings. Such a prodigious change ought, one would think, considerably to alter Dr. Price's conclusions. Some allowances are however to be made; particularly in consequence of an act of parliament passed in 1767, by which it is required that all parish infants shall be sent into the country in three weeks after their birth, to be nursed there till they are six burials of children are taken out of the bills in consequence of this old. How many years act, it is not easy to estimate; but that it must be a large number, is rendered probable by the remarkable decrease of those reported to die under two years of age. Between the years 1728, when the ages were first set down, and 1738, their number amounted one year with another to above 10,000; in the next decad to above 9,000; in the decad following to 7,800; and between 1790 and 1800, to little more than 6,000 annually. It is to be hoped, however, that as this decrease began to take place before the date of the act in question, so its continuance since may in part be with justice attributed to the greater salubrity of the town.' P. 32.
Having had so many opportunities of pointing out the inconsequence of Dr. Price's reasoning, on the subject of the popu
lation of England and France, we cannot suffer the instance of disingenuity here recorded to pass without a remark. May it not, however, have been accidental? Had it stood alone, candour would have admitted the plea; but joined with so many gross instances of unfairness, of a wish to depress the power of England and magnify that of France, we think design is too obvious.
The variations under the eighth head are peculiarly striking. The average of deaths from colics, &c. from 1700 to 1710, is about 1070 annually; from 1790 to 1800, twenty only. Of the increase of deaths, since inoculation, nothing new can be said. Those from apoplexy, &c. from the beginning of the eighteenth century, have been gradually increasing, and are now nearly double what they were a hundred years ago.
The deaths from the meázles have been very irregular in their numbers; and it seems probable that the scarlatina anginosa has been occasionally mistaken for the rubeola. The amount of those who died from lying-in is not estimated correctly. From the records of the British Lying-in Hospital, and that in Brownlow-street, more satisfactory and correct information is supplied. From 1749, during the first ten years, one in fortytwo of the women, and one in fifteen of the children, died: the number gradually lessened; so that, from 1788 to 1798, the proportion was one in 288, and one in seventy-seven, respectively. In 1789 and 1800, the proportions were one in 938, and one in 118.
The following statement was deduced in a coarse manner, from an average of about ten years, for the purpose of comparing generally the mortality occasioned by certain diseases, at the beginning, middle, and end of the eighteenth century; care being taken in each period to select such years, in which the whole number of deaths was nearly the same, viz. about 21,000.
To these might be added the article of convulsions. But it will appear upon enquiry, that the change has in this instance taken place in the name only, and not in the real number of deaths. There can be little doubt, but the same diseases of children, which used formerly to
be called chrysoms and infants, are now accumulated under the general head of convulsions. For we may observe the decrease of the two former articles to have taken place in a proportion very exactly corresponding with the increase of the latter.
The apparent increase of the abortives and still-born will likewise in great measure vanish, if we refer them, as we ought, not to the burials, but to the births; the number of christenings, at the three periods above mentioned, bearing very nearly the same proportion to each other, that obtains in these articles. Nevertheless it must be observed, that the register of the Brownlow-street Hospital also exhibits a very sensible increase in the number of children still-born." P. 42.
The rickets and scrofula seem to decline; but the latter may be owing to the disinclination of avowing the complaint. From 1751, when the distillation of spirits was first restrained, and their use checked by additional duties, dropsies, and deaths from excessive drinking, have been considerably lessened. From the weekly tables of mortality, it appears that the number of deaths is greatest in January, February, and March; the smallest in June, July, and August. This must, in part, arise from the different numbers collected in the city at these different periods. We think that the rule will not be confirmed by observations made out of London; but it is apparently supported by the registers collected by Dr. Short from twenty-five different country-towns, by the registers of York, Paris, Edinburgh, and Sweden. At Marseilles and Montpellier, the periods of the greatest and least mortality differ.
Under two years of age, the greater number die in the three earliest months, or in September and October. It is remarkable that the greater number of births occur in January, February, or March. Of people above sixty, the greater number die in the coldest months; and, in different years, the greatest numbers die in the coldest years also. In very cold years, a greater number of children seem likewise to die, but by no means in so large a proportion. From apoplexies and consumptions, the chief mortality is also in the colder months. Frost appears not to be peculiarly wholesome, and wet weather not particularly noxious. To the latter proposition, we can freely assent; but we have had occasion to observe, that we have found severe and continued frosts healthy. With respect to the healthiness of warm moist winters, we think there is a fallacy, as the injurious effects are not felt till the following autumn. Rapid transitions from heat to cold are by no means so injurious as some authors have supposed.
The second part relates to the plague, in which Dr. Heberden collects much that has been already told, and adds little to our information. The extinction of the plague in England, he attributes to the fire in London; and its not returning, to the changes in our manners and mode of living, which render