TO TIIE EDITOR OP THE SPECTATOR.
Sully Terrace, 29th June.
SIR—Trusting that the SPECTATOR will not form an exception to the general candour of the press, I submit, for insertion in your journal, a few observations in reply to the strictures which you thought proper to make, last week, on the merits of my opinion regarding the contagious nature of Indian Cholera.
In the first place, you declare yourself to have been a non-contagionist "from the beginning;" and then you endeavour to show that my opinions, the antagonist of your own, are built on a slender foundation. One of the most objectionable items in the critical paragraph, and which I must say is extremely unfair, and unsupported by fact, reads as follows :—" Mr. Kennedy, a medical practitioner, who has written an essay on the geo- graphical progress of the disease in a monthly periodical, declares it to be contagious, on authority which will hardly carry conviction to his readers. Of course we do not pretend to speak of Mr. Kennedy's me- dical judgment in this case ; but we may speak of the evidence on which it is founded, and to what does that amount ? Why, one medical man believes that Cholera is contagions, and one non-medical man is of the same opinion; and this out of thousands of medical and ten thousands of non-medical men who in India have witnessed the progress and effects of the disorder." My letter to which this quotation pretends to apply appeared (18th June) in the Times. The facts contained in that letter, though in favour of contagion as far as they go, were not published, which is evident from the context, to prove the contagious nature of Cholera, as the SPECTATOR would wish the public to believe, but merely to correct an error then going the round of the papers, that Europeans in India were unanimous in support of non-contagion. For this purpose the evidence of two gentlemen, medical and non-medical, was amply suf- ficient ; I stated, however, at the time, that the testimony of many others might be instanced to the same effect—the names of whom, and copies also of their letters on the subject, are in my possession. They are medical men of the highest respectability.
Butin addition to this misrepresentation, of which I have every reason
to complain, you have unjustly withheld the real grounds of my opinion. I use the word unjustly, because you acknowledge having read them in the second number of the Englishman's Magazine. In my magazine paper, which was published nearly two months before my first letter ap- peared in the Times, I had considered at large the question of contagion, and there and then I recorded the following facts and conclusions. " The leading features developed in the history of Cholera cannot be satisfactorily explained in the absence of contagion. These features are-
" 1st. Epidemic Cholera has travelled as often against as with the
course of the winds. In the very face of a strong south-west wind, which blew in that direction for some months, it passed from Bengal to the Deccan. It has prevailed in every kind of weather common to the cli- mates affected,—in the driest weather, and during the deluge of perio- dical rains ; in storms and in calms ; under the scorching sun of Arabia, and amid the snows of Russia.
" Opposed as are these facts to the usual progress of maladies, the ex- tension of which depend solely on the atmosphere, the character of the -succeeding favours, in a still greater degree, the existence of a conta- gious power.
"2nd. Epidemic Cholera has, in general, rigidly followed the great
highways of human intercourse. Pursuing the line of navigable waters and the route of caravans, it entered on and traversed the different coun- tries. Through India it extended along the rivers Ganges, Hooghly, lumna, and Nerbudda. Arabia, Persia, and Syria were penetrated by the Persian Gulf, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. Moscow received the disease by the route of the Volga. China, other parts of Eastern Asia, and the various islands, were infected over sea, as appears from the Cho- lera making its earliest ravages in the port-towns and maritime dis- tricts. Agreeing with the disposition of contagious diseases, the Cholera has been most virulent wherever human beings were numerous and con- centrated,—in densely peopled cities, in armies encamped or upon the march, in localities unfavourable to free ventilation, as low sheltered grounds, narrow streets, close, dirty houses. The slow rate of progres- sion at which the epidemic advanced from place to place in succession, and the temporary halts which it occasionally made, perfectly agree with a contagious origin ; but they cannot be reconciled to an atmospheric. It travels, on an average, at a rate varying between ten and fifteen miles a day ; but often, in particular instances, much less. Within the Gillah of Wellore, it proceeded thirty-two miles in twelve days ; in the next twenty-seven days, eighty miles."
This is the unanswered and unanswerable evidence in favour of con- anion, on which I rested my belief. Had the open and manly course been adopted of laying before the readers of the SPECTATOR these grounds of my opinion, I would have had no cause to make the present -appeal to their judgment.
Finally, Sir, it may be observed, that I never did, nor ever will, rest the proof of the contagious nature of a disease which is select in the -choice of its victims, like Cholera, on the support of' insulated detail facts.
The broad features developed in the geographical progress of the malady are the only indubitable grounds of opinion. By pursuing a contrary line of investigation, you have been led to conclude that the change of locality resorted to by the Marquis of HASTINGS, when his troops were -suffering from Cholera, effected the immediate cessationof the pestilence. This was a common opinion at the time, but the error was rectified by a longer and a better experience. The malady was afterwards found to ran its usual course of increase and decline in the various divisions of the
army scattered over Hindostan, independent of locality,—whether they rem moved their camps from a moist to a dry district, or from a low to an elevated station.. Therefore' when I was in India; the medical men universally, contagionists andnon-contagionists, had come to the con- clusion that at the time the Marquis of HASTINGS changed the site of his encampment, the disease had run through its monthly period of infec- tion, and that the only bejiefit derived from change of air was the speedy recovery of the numerous sick.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, JAMES KENNEDY.