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tricts, it would seem to have occurred in an unusual degree in May and June. On the 28th of August, it was reported to the Government that the disease had suddenly appeared epidemically in Jessore, a populous town situated in the centre of the delta of the Ganges, that it was committing extraordinary ravages, and that its inhabitants were flying in crowds from the place.
"So little was the nature of the new pestilence yet understood; and such was the extreme consternation produced by it, that the Civil Courts of the District were shut; and a stop put for a time to business of every description. Although the general emigration which took place from the city, would seem to have had a decidedly beneficial effect on the state of its health, by diminishing that density of population, which has been since invariably found to be a powerful auxiliary to the Epidemic; yet such was the energy of the disease in this its first onset, and so fatally destructive was it of human life, that in this district alone, it is reported to have, within the space of a few weeks, cut off more than six thousand of the inhabitants.
It is necessary to be thus particular regarding the breaking out of the disorder at Jessore; because from the alarming nature of the circumstances, which attended its appearance in that quarter; connected with its rapid and general spread as an Epidemic over almost every portion of the Lower Provinces, accompanying or immediately following that appearance; an idea then arose, and has since obtained very general belief, that Jessore was the place, in which the disease primarily originated, and whence, as from a focus, its pestilential virus, of whatever nature, emanated, to the surrounding districts. What served to give validity to this conjecture, was an opinion then entertained, and since industriously propagated, that the fomes, or specific poison producing the disease, had its rise, not in any vitiated state of the atmosphere, or other cause of general operation, but in circumstances of a purely local nature: such as the use of rancid fish and blighted grain.
It is nevertheless certain, that nothing could be more erroneous than this notion of the local origin of the Epidemic. For, not to speak of its frequent occurrence, so early as May in some parts of Nuddea, and other districts already adverted to, it is quite clear from the statements of the medical staff, written separately and without interchange of knowledge or communication, that, more than a month previously to Jessore's becoming affected, the disease had begun to prevail epidemically in the distant Provinces of Behar and Dacca; and that before the expiration of the first week in August, it had firmly established itself in many other parts of Bengal. Thus it is distinctly stated to have broken out in the City of Patna on the 11th of July; to have spread to the contiguous station of Dinapore, and the adjacent villages early in August; and to have remained without intermission in that neighbourhood, until the end of January following.* In like manner, after having in July appeared at Sunergong, a Town on the banks of a branch of the great river Megna, it thence proceeded, visiting the ghauts or public ferries and grain markets in its way, to Nuraingunge and Dacca, where it arrived in the beginning of August. During the whole of July and August, eight out of eighteen Police Departments into which zila Kishnagur or Nuddeea, on the east side of the Hoogly, is divided, were also fully subject to its influence; and it had about the middle of the latter month even found its way to the remote Province of Sylhet, which is separated from the eastern parts of
"It appears from accounts received since this sketch was drawn up, that the disease had ravaged Nuseerabad, a town in Momensing, in June; and had even largely affected the South Eastern Division of that district, in the early part of the month or last days of May: following the course of the Burumpooter ; and irregularly attacking the villages on its banks."
Bengal Proper by the great Rivers Ganges and Burumpooter. On the 23d of August we find it raging at Chittagong, far round the Eastern corner of the Bay of Bengal; at the same moment in Rajshahy, a centrical district lying East of the Ganges; and not a week afterwards, in the high and distant tracts of Bhaugulpore and Monghyr. The exact date of its appearance in Calcutta has not been ascertained.-But there is little doubt, that it visited some spots of the town and suburbs as early as the beginning of August; that it daily gained ground, and before the end of the month had widely spread its ravages, in a manner threatening to sweep off a large portion of the native population; and that in the early part of September, even the European portion of the community was no longer secure from the concentrated activity of the poison.
These facts are more than sufficient to shew the fallacy of every theory, which attempts to derive the disease from any local source; or to trace it to any one particular spot, as the centre from which it was emitted to the surrounding countries. They prove, without the possibility of dispute, that it broke out at very remote places at one and the same time, or at the distance of such short intervals, as to establish the impossibility of the pestilential virus being, in this stage of its progress, propagated by contagion, or any of the other known modes of successive production; and that its general diffusion was therefore referable to some cause of more universal operation.*
Soon after the middle of September, the disease, now strictly epidemical, extended itself in every direction; within the short space of a few weeks stretching from the most easterly parts of Poorneea, Dinagepore, and Sylhet, to the extreme borders of Balasore and Cuttack; and reaching from the mouths of the Ganges nearly as high as its junction with the Jumna.
Within the area of several thousand miles, thus in so short a period brought under its influence, few towns or villages of any considerable size wholly escaped its attacks; almost every spot being, notwithstanding the great irregularity of its course, and waywardness of its approach, sooner or later, and in a greater or less degree, subjected to its dreadful visitations.-The cities of Dacca and Patna, the towns of Balasore, Burrisaul, Burdwan, Rungpore, Malda, Bhaugulpore, Chupra, and Moozufferpore, with the Military stations of Monghyr, Buxar, and Ghazeepore, all suffered severely: and throughout the whole extent of the Delta of the Ganges, and more especially in the tracts bordering on the Hoogly and the Jellinghy Rivers, so great was the mortality, that the bulk of the whole population was sensibly diminished by the dreadful ravages of the distemper. It is remarkable, that the large and populous city of Moorshedabad, from extent and local position apparently very favourably circumstanced for the attacks of the Epidemic, should have escaped with comparatively little loss, whilst all around was so severely scourged." 9.
* "A few dates may be marked of the principal places attacked in the early part of the progress of the Epidemic, according to the order of their succession. -May and June. One Thanna or police Division of Kishnagur; and Mymensing generally. July. Eight Divisions of the former district; Sunergong in the Dacca District; and on the 11th Patna. August. In the first week Calcutta, Dacca and Dinapore; about the middle, Nattore; on the 17th, Sylhet; on the 19th, Jessore; and towards the end of the month, Bhaugulpore and Monghyr. September 15th. Balasore, Burisaul, Burdwan; 17th, Buxar; 18th, Chupra and Ghazeepore; in the latter part Moozufferpore. October, Baulea; 15th, Berhampore and Rungpore. It is only necessary to cast one's eye over the map to perceive immediately how irreconcileable these dates, and the intermediate distances are with the suspicion of local origin."
Compare this with the irruptions of the epidemic almost simultaneously in France, from Lisle to Toulouse !-Ed.
Thus it is clear to demonstration that the disease did not originate in Jessore; on the contrary, there is as good, indeed better, reason to suppose that it was carried to Jessore, than that it first broke out there. In truth, there is no proof that it sprung up in any one town, or even district, but, from some causes of which we are and ever shall be entirely ignorant, it was generated in the province of Bengal, in several places at the same time, and very probably under similar circumstances. Let what will have been
its origin, it did not commence at Jessore, nor do we know at what place it did commence, and, consequently, any argument or train of reasoning founded on such assumption is utterly baseless. It is curious, and it should be known, that the epidemic did not, in the first instance, display many of those peculiarities which have since distinguished it. Whilst confined to the province of Bengal, it at once raged simultaneously in various and remote quarters, displaying no predilection for particular tracts, observing no regularity of succession in the chain of its operations. Whilst there existed the same violence in its commencement and rapidity in its progress which subsequently marked it, there were wanting the earliness of declension and entire subsidence, afterwards observed. It rarely altogether disappeared from a town or a tract, but hovered in the vicinity, as though unsatiated yet, and waiting for fresh victims. Thus we see that, bad as the pestilence has been in Europe, it is yet considerably mitigated from its pristine virulence. If it be true, that when once it has set its foot in a region, it continues to spring up in it occasionally, and thus may be considered an addition to our standing army of diseases; still it has lost that character of enduring ferocity which it seemed at first to assume in Bengal. When it has made the tour of the world, it may gradually go out like a flickering lamp, or dwindle into a malady of only ordinary severity. Such has been the case respecting the various plagues which traversed Europe in the middle ages; such has probably been the case, in a still more striking degree, with other pestilential distempers. But this is a matter of speculation; it is certain that, after the present epidemic had become diffused, it observed certain phases or stages of advance, maturity, and decline, which have added to its singularity, but materially diminished its destructiveness.
The only places attacked beyond Bengal, on the eastern side of the Ganges, in the Autumn of 1817, were Moozufferpore, Chupra, and the cantonment of Ghazeepore.
"And now the Epidemic began to shew one of the most striking peculiarities which characterised its march. It no longer pushed its influence, without distinction or apparent choice in all directions, and throughout every tract coming in its way. It began to affect particular lines, and to fix itself in particular divisions of Country; wholly restricting itself for the time to the course of those lines and divisions. Instead of shooting up from Moozufferpore, Chupra, and Ghazeepore, through the contiguous districts of Gorruckpore and Jiounpore, to the provinces of Oude and Rohilkund, it wholly left that part of the Country; and for many months confined itself to the tracts lying west of the Ganges and Jumna. Thus, from the beginning of November, when it quitted Moozufferpore, until the end of March, when it broke out in Allahabad, on the junction of the Ganges and Jumua, it does not appear, that any one spot of the immense tract stretching to the East of these rivers from the northern point of Saharunpore to the Southern boundary of Tirboot, was visited by the disease. It will be afterwards seen, that from Allahabad, a new stream of the pestilential virus, now
apparently propagated by regular succession, issued in various directions, and made a great part of this tract suffer for its previous inmunity." 11.
The epidemic did no great mischief, till the end of the first week in November, when it reached the centre division of the grand army, encamped under the personal command of the Marquess of Hastings, near the banks of the Sinde in Bundlekund. On referring to the map we perceive that the Sinde, which is not the great Sinde or Indus, down which the admiral of the Macedonian Conqueror sailed, runs to the north-east to empty itself into the Jumnah, and that nearly parallel to, and at no great distance from it, are three other rivers all taking the same course. Such a locality, we may imagine, must have instantly been marked by cholera as its own; and unfortunately in that place and that time, an army was gathered together, to be more than decimated by that cruel scourge. The whole occurrence is of so interesting a description that we cannot refrain from laying it before our readers in the words of Mr. Jameson, who relates it in a manner equally eloquent and feeling. We do this the more willingly, as only a few lame and mutilated versions have been made current by the modern fry of cholera compilers.
"It was here that the disease put forth all its strength, and assumed its most deadly and appalling form. It is uncertain whether it made its first approaches on the 6th, the 7th, or the 8th of the month. After creeping about, however, in its wonted insidious manner, for several days among the lower classes of the Camp followers; it, as it were in an instant, gained fresh vigour, and at once burst forth with irresistible violence in every direction. Unsubjected to the laws of contact and proximity of situation, which had been observed to mark, and retard the course of other pestilences, it surpassed the plague in the width of its range; and outstripped the most fatal diseases, hitherto known, in the destructive rapidity of its progress. Previously to the 14th, it had overspread every part of the Camp; sparing neither sex nor age in the undistinguishing virulence of its attacks. The old and the young, the European and the Native, fighting men and Camp followers, were alike subject to its visits; and all equally sunk in a few hours under its most powerful grasp. From the 14th to the 20th or 22d, the mortality had become so general, as to depress the stoutest spirits. The sick were already so numerous, and still pouring in so quickly from every quarter, that the medical men, although night and day at their posts, were no longer able to administer to their necessities. The whole camp then put on the appearance of a hospital. The noise and bustle almost inseparable from the intercourse of large bodies of people, had nearly subsided. Nothing was to be seen, but individuals anxiously hurrying from one division of the Camp to another, to inquire after the fate of their dead or dying companions; and melancholy groups of Natives bearing the biers of their departed relatives to the river. At length, even this consolation was denied to them; for the mortality latterly became so great, that there was neither time nor hands to carry off the bodies; which were then thrown into the neighbouring ravines, or hastily committed to the earth, on the spots in which they had expired, and even round the walls of the Officers' tents. All business had given way to solicitude for the suffering. Not a smile could be discerned, nor a sound heard, except the groans of the dying, and the wailing over the dead. Throughout the night especially, a gloomy silence, interrupted only by the well known dreadful sounds of poor wretches labouring under the distinguishing symptoms of the disease, universally prevailed.*-The Natives thinking that their only safety lay in flight, had
Many of the sick died before reaching the hospitals; and even their
now begun to desert in great numbers; and the highways and fields for many miles round, were strewed with the bodies of those, who had left Camp with the disease upon them, and speedily sunk under its exhausting effects. It was clear, that such a frightful state of things could not last long; and that unless some immediate check were given to the disorder, it must soon depopulate the Camp. It was, therefore, wisely determined by the Commander in Chief, to move in search of a healthier soil, and of purer air. The Division, accordingly, on the 13th marched in the South Easterly direction towards Talgong, and Sileia; and after several intermediate halts, on the 19th crossed the clear stream of the Betwah, and upon its high and dry banks at Erich, soon got rid of the pestilence, and met with returning health. But its line of march, during the whole of this progressive movement, exhibited a most deplorable spectacle. Although every means had been taken, by giving up the ammunition carts, and collecting elephants and draught cattle, to procure sufficient carriage, the sick were found too numerous to be moved, and were in part necessarily left behind. And as many who left the carts, pressed by the sudden calls of the disease, were unable to rise again; and hundreds dropt down during every subsequent day's
comrades whilst bearing them from the out-posts to Medical aid, sunk themselves, suddenly seized by the disorder.-Never was the impressive language of Scripture more applicable than now :- In the midst of life we are in death.'All security of life was gone; and as youth and vigour afforded no safety, even the healthiest man could not in the morning tell, that he might not be a corpse before night.-Such was the dreadful effect of the scene, that even long after its occurrence, it could hardly be described without shuddering by the eyewitnesses. How fatal the sickness of this Division, had it continued much longer, might have proved in its political consequences, we have been told from the highest authority. In delineating the rise and progress of the late war, on his return to the Presidency, the Governor General thus spoke of the visitation of his Army.' The dreadful pestilence, which made such havoc in the Division under my immediate command, forced me to quit the banks of the Sinde, and to seek a more favourable country for the recovery of my numerous sick. I did not find this until I was fifty miles from the river which I quitted.-Fortunately the change of air was rapidly beneficial; for, a very short time had passed when I received intelligence of an invitation said to have been given by Scindia to the Pindarries. He was reported to have promised them, that if they would come so near to Gwalior, as to make his getting to them easy, he would break his Treaty, and join them with the Force, which he had at his capital.-The Pindarries were in full march for Gwalior, without meeting even a shew of impediment from the troops of Scindia stationed in their route; though the cooperation of his army for the extinction of the Pindarries was an Article of the Treaty. We hurried back to the Sinde; but this time we chose a position nearer to Gwalior, than what we had before occupied.-We were within thirty miles of the City, and our advanced guard was sent to occupy the passes through the hills which run at some distance South of Gwalior from the Sinde to the Chumbul.-Those passes were the only route by which communication could take place between the Pindarries and Scindia: and I was nearer to support my advanced guard than the Maharajah was to attack it, could he bring his mind to so desperate a stake.-The Pindarries finding their hopes baffled and the passage stopped, attempted to retire; but they had been followed close by our Divisions, were surprised, dispersed, and slaughtered in a number of small actions. In short they disappeared. And thus our objects were completed.'-A few days' longer continuance of the Epidemic might, by entirely crippling this Division, have given a very different appearance to the face of affairs, and prolonged the struggle to an indefinite period."