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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 Volpey, 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 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 lipid 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 66 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
The soil of a forest we think esentially alluvial in its characteristic qualities, with the exception of particular growths, as in the instance of our pine barrens. We cannot wonder therefore, at the distrust which our author repeatedly expresses, concerning woods, groves, copses, and the like. Unwholesome exhalations are, of course, worse where there is most underwood; the layer of vegetable soil is not usually very deep however, and hence, although clearing at first, increases the evolution of noxious atoms, their fountain is soon exhausted, and the cultivator reaps the fruit of his labours in the enjoyment of health. The neighbourhoods of mill-ponds are every where almost invariably sickly. These reservoirs are overflowed in winter, and dried up more or less in summer and autumn, and at these latter seasons, the decaying leaves and branches, and aquatic plants which have accumulated around the margin, communicate to the surrounding air a poisonous influence. It is upon the same principles, that certain agricultural staples are produced at such an expense of health and life. The white or Caucasian race cannot, in any portion of the globe, carry on, with impunity, the perfect cultivation of rice. On this account, our author tells us it is absolutely prohibited in certain parts of Russia, and most pointedly near Oczakoff.
Nor is it difficult to explain the fact by a reference to the nature of the fat soil best adapted to the growth of rice; a black loam in our own rice lands, of soft vegetable remains, extends to an inexhaustible depth, and affords a perennial source of miasmatic exhalation. Add to this, the necessary amount of water which must be supplied, the consequent arrangement of dams, reserves, trunks, ditches, &c. and we shall only wonder that white men should even attempt to reside in an atmosphere so vaporous and contaminated.
The rotting of flax and the steeping of indigo in the appropriate vats, give rise to like results. The lake of Agnano, in the vicinity of Naples, has long been celebrated for its abundant production of noxious effluvia. We even now recollect the excessive oppression and disgust, which, on a hot day in June, we experienced on approaching its banks, which were literally lined with heaps of flax laid there to rot. One of the reasons
the troops composing the garrison at Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island, had been for a succession of years, more healthy than those at any other military station in the United States. Yet, a body of salt marsh, one to three miles wide, and approaching frequently to withir fifty yards of the dwelling-houses, separate these sandy islets from land subject to Malaria. There has, however, always been a doubt in this country, whether the neighbourhood of brackish marshes are not more insalubrious than the borders of fresh water streams. Our own observation would lead us even here to decide, though with some hesitation, that this doubt is not well-founded.
why indigo is so much less cultivated among us than formerly, is the extreme offensiveness of the stagnant water in which it is steeped.
Running streams are, in a general way, condemned by our author; yet, there are, surely, exceptions sufficiently well marked and numerous, at least, to destroy the universality of the rule. We cannot persuade ourselves that a rapidly rolling stream from a fountain or source sufficient to preserve an equable degree of fulness, should be considered dangerous. We know many
such rivers and brooks in several sections of our country, which we regard as no less innocent than beautiful. The residents on their very banks, on both sides, being quite as free from Malaria diseases as those within any given distance in the same districts—and this is, surely, all that can be required in the argument. We must offer a different opinion as to canals, the currents of which are always sluggish. Their injurious influences upon the atmosphere afford the most ample ground for deciding the question of preference in favour of rail roads, which we would rejoice to see substituted for them every where, but especially in our own warm climate.
We have already spoken of open drains and ditches, but must not omit to inquire into the influence of the closed drains of cities, yards and houses, a matter of no little immediate interest to us.
It is evident that if a drain, whether closed or open, contain stagnant water and putrefying offals, it must become a source and a reservoir of Malaria, but it is equally evident that if it is so constructed as to convey off its contents with sufficient rapidity, the evil will be effectually avoided. Dr. MacCullough tells us, that in the Salpetriere (which itself is a small town) intermittents became common, and the Malaria having been suspected to arise from the drains, the disease was at once removed by making alterations in them. We are not told the nature of these alterations, but we have here a clear acknowledgement that they were not necessarily injurious, as the intermittents were put an end to, the drains still existing. In the locality of our city, we have many difficulties to contend with in the arrangement of our drains, on account of the level surface, and small elevation of our position, which does not afford sufficient inclination to allow them to empty themselves freely into the rivers, which almost insulate us; yet, notwithstanding this, we consider their utility as fairly established, and regard them as we would the ditches cut for the drainage of low level lands, as evils undoubtedly, but as evils less than those which they remedy, namely, the extensive diffusion of the materials of putrefac