THE CHOLERA AND THE GAZETTE REGULATIONS.
INSTEAD of a set of rules, which we fear will be found wholly im- practicable—and a description of symptoms, with which the whole of the reading public are theoretically as conversant as himself— and a catalogue of medicines, good to be kept as preventives, which had been published in all the newspapers many months before it obtained the sanction of his name,—we regret that Sir HENRY HALFORD did not furnish us with a few plain facts by which to regulate the extent of our apprehensions, which are always greater as their object is undefined.
Without entering on the vexata guestio of infection and conta- gion, we may remark, that until the Cholera reached Europe, no one among the most zealous of the contagionists had ever thought of any such restrictions on personal liberty as Sir HENRY HALFORD commands rather than recommends. Since its arrival in Europe, there has been in Russia, in Hungary, at Berlin, at Vienna, and else- where, a numerous array of expedients, in the shape of quarantines, cordons sanitaires, Sze. to prevent the admission and spread of the disease; and, what is specially worthy of notice, in every case, the precautions, after being productive of great public inconveni- ence, have been abandoned, not as useless merely, but as tending to aggravate the evil against which they were directed. We be- lieve also—at least such seems to be the fact established in the various reports—that as long as the severe precautions alluded to were observed, and as long as by their agency the minds of the ig- norant were subject to the agitation of a constantly expected at- tack, so long did Cholera continue to rage; and that no sooner were the precautions abandoned, and the fears of the public got a breathing-space, than the disease abated in its virulence.
Again, it seems established beyond doubt or question, that Cholera, in Asia and in Europe, has selected its victims chiefly from among the badly-fed, the dissipated, the diseased ; that tem- perate and regular livers have uniformly escaped. It seems also established, that though the disease has been very deadly where it did attack, yet the proportion of the whole deaths to the whole population, in places that it has visited, has been very small ; it is even asserted, that the abstinence practised at Moscow, as a pre- ventive, not only kept the people from the Cholera, but from other diseases, to such a degree, that while Cholera raged in that city, the number of deaths was, on the whole, less than usual !
Now, let us see for a moment what would be the result of that system of isolation which Sir HENRY HALFORD recommends. It would inflict the most grievous injury on individuals. Who is to report the cases?—An ignorant parochial officer—one of the worthies that JOHN' REEVE so humorously personates on the stage. Who is to investigate them P—A local board, which, in the nature of things, would always condemn the patient, because, the grand object of the regulation being prevention, where that object was attained, a little extra precaution could do no ill. For every disease, then, to which humanity is obnoxious, let it ever so remotely resemble Cholera, we would have a family condemned to one of two alternatives—either to send a beloved child or parent to. a public hospital, where they would never be permitted to look on him again, alive or dead ; or to be imprisoned within their dwell- ing-place for not less than three weeks, and possibly for a much longer period. We have no objection, be it recollected, to any precaution, however cruel it may appear, provided it be shown to be necessary. But if it be established, as we think it is, that for the reception of the infection of Cholera a certain habit of body is requisite, why should we be called on to form hospitals, to shut up houses, to draw cordons, to introduce dismay, misery, and confusion into every house, street, and town, in order to guard the healthy and abstinent public against that front which they are already guarded by nature much more effectually than all the resources of art? Again, if it be established, as we think it is, that depression of mind has a decided tendency to produce the habit of body which predisposes to Cholera, was it not worthy of consideration, how far the zeal of the Medical Board, by the fears which it must generate, might increase this predisposition, and thus cause more disease than all the safeguards will prevent ?
We would not dogmatize on topics foreign to our ordinary studies ; but in what we have now said, we have been merely rea- soning on facts open to the whole of the public, and on which any one who has a judgment to exercise, is as well qualified to speak as the most experienced among the Medical Board; who, in the case of the regulations that we have been discussing, do not, it must be borne in mind, speak of what they have seen, but merely of what has been told to them.