Page images
PDF
EPUB

on particular occasions, bring upon him some inconveniencies and sufferings.

Salus populi supremo, lex esl.

Does any body complain of ill usage upon his house being ordered to be blown up, to stop the progress of a fire which endangers the whole street; when he reflects that his neighbour, who by this means •scapes, must have suffered the same loss for his fake, had it so happened that each had been in the other's habitation?

But in truth, there is no cruelty, but on the contrary real compassion in these regulations, with the limitations I have made: and I am fully persuaded, that whoever with judgment considers the nature of this disease, will easily see that the rules here laid down are not only the best, but indeed the only ones that can effectually answer the purpose. And therefore I should not doubt but that, if this calamity (which God avert!) should be brought into our country, even the voice of the people would cry out for help in this way: notwithstanding wrong notions of their liberties may sometimes over possess their minds, and make them, even under the best of governments, impatient of any restraints.

[merged small][graphic][graphic]

PART I.

Of The PLAGUE In General*.

CHAP. I.

Os the origin and nature of the plague.

MY design in this discourse being to propose what measures I think most proper to defend the nation against the plague, and for this end to consider the nature of pestilential contagion as sar as is necessary to set forth the reasonableness of the precepts I shall lay down; before I proceed to any particular directions, I shall inquire a little into the causes whence the plague arises, and by what means the infection of it is spread.

In the most ancient times, plagues, like many o ther diseases, were looked upon as divine judgments sent to punish the wickedness of mankind: and therefore the only defence sought after was by sacrifices and lustrations to appease the anger of incensed heaven *.

How much soever may be laid to justify reflections of this kind, since we are assured from sacred history, that divjne vengeance has been sometimes executed by plagues; yet it is certain, that such speculations pushed too sar, were then attended with ill consequences, by obstructing inquiries into natural causes, and encouraging a supine submission to those e

* Celsus <k medic, in præfat. Morbos ad iram deorum immortalium relates else, et ab iisdem opem posci solitam.

vils; against which the infinitely good and wise author of nature has in most caies provided proper remedies.

Upon this account, in after-ages, when the profession of physic came to be founded upon the knowledge of nature, Hippocrates strenuously opposed this opinion, that some particular sicknesses were divine, or sent immediately from the gods; and affirmed, that no diseases came more from the gods than others, all coming from them, and yet all owning their proper natural causes: that the fun, cold, and winds were divine; the changes of which, and their influences on human bodies, were diligently to be considered by a physician *.

Which general position this great author of physic intended to be understood with respect to plagues as "well as other distempers: how far he had reasou herein, will in some measure appear, when we come to search into the causes of this disease. . But in order to this inquiry, it will be convenient, in the first place, to remove an erroneous opinion some have entertained, that the plague differs not from a common fever in any thing besides its greater violence. Whereas it is very evident, that smce the imall-pox and measles are allowed to be distempers distinct in specie from all others, on account of certain symptoms peculiar to them; so, for the same reason, it ought to be granted, that the plague no less differs in kind from ordinary fevers: for there are a set of distinguishing symptoms as essential to the pestilence, as the respective eruptions are to the smallpox or measles; which are indeed (as I have men* Libr. de morbo sacro; et Iibr.de aere, locis, etaquis. tioned in the preface) each of them plagues of a particular kind.

As the small-pox discharges itself by pustules raised in the skin; so in the plague the noxious humour is thrown out either by tumours in the glands, as by a parotis, bubo, and the like; or by carbuncles thrust out upon any part of the body. And these eruptions are so specific marks of this distemper, that one or other of them is never absent: unless through the extreme malignity of the disease, or weakness of nature, the patient finks, before there is time for any discharge to be made this way; that matter, which Ihould otherwise have been cast out by external tumours, seizing the viseera, and producing mortifications in them.

Sometimes indeed it happens, by this means, that these tumours in the glands, and carbuncles, do not appear; just as a bad kind of the small-pox in tender constitutions sometimes proves satal before the eruption, by a diarrhœa, hæmorrhage, or some such effect: of a prevailing malignity.

The French physicians having distinguished the sick at Marseilles into five classes, according to the degrees of the distemper, observed bubo's and carbuncles ia all of them, except in those of the first clase, who were so terribly seized, that they died in a few hours, or at sarthest in a day or two, smking under the oppression, anxiety, and saintness, into which they were thrown by the first stroke of the disease; having mortifications immediately produced in some of the viscera, as appeared upon the dissection of their bodies *,

* Observat. et reflex, touchant la nature, &c. de la yeste de Marseilles, pag. 47. et suiv.

And And this observation of the French physicians, which agrees with what other authors have remarked in former plagues, fully proves, that these eruptions are so far from being caused solely by the greater violence of this disease, than of other fevers, that they are only absent, when the distemper is extraordinary fierce; but otherwise they constantly attend it, even when it has proved so mild, that the first notice the patient has had of his infection, has been the appearance of such a tumour; as, besides these French physicians, other authors of the best credit have assured us. From whence we must conclude, that these eruptions are no less a specific mark of this disease, than those are by which the small-pox and measles are known and distinguished. And as in the first class of those attacked with the plague, so likewise in these two distempers we often find the patient to die by the violence of the fever, before any eruption of the pustules can be made.

This circumstance of the plague being mortal before any eruptions appeared, was attended with a great misfortune. The physicians and surgeons appointed to examine the dead bodies, finding none of the distinguishing marks of the disease, reported to the magistrates that it was not the plague ; and persisted in their opinion, till one of them suffered for his ignorance, and himself, with part of his family, died.by the infection: this assurance having prevented the necessary precautions *.

And thi6 in particular shews us the difference between the true plague, and those fevers of extraordinary malignity, which are the usual forerunners of it, * Journal de la contagion a Marseilles, p. 6. Vol. II. E and

« PreviousContinue »