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BRITISH AND FOREIGN
Analytical and Critical Reviews.
I.-On Air and Rain.' “ You must pass the winter in a more genial and warmer climate”-or, “You should live in a more bracing atmosphere' -or, “ You will not be able to resist the heat of the tropics’ or, “ Town air must be avoided in a case like yours:"_We may safely conclude from the fact that such recommendations as the foregoing are constantly given by medical men to their patients, that there is a deep and general belief both in the therapeutic and in the pathogenic influence of climate.
It is no trifling thing, however, to recommend a man to leave home or change his residence. Cart loads of mixtures and pills would cost less, and few prescriptions are so difficult to followin so far at least as regards the multitude. It may be assumed, therefore, when a physician counsels his patient to seek in change of climate a restoration of health, that he is fully convinced in his mind of the value of what he advises, and that he has at least as thorough a knowledge of this, as he has of the other remedial agencies in which his faith is habitually declared.
There are those, perhaps, who think that the physician does not know much about any of them, and who regard the art of healing as little better than a make-believe; but with such wrong-headed and very objectionable people we have nothing here to do.. We are not asking whether we know much or little about such things as quinine and strychnine, but whether we know as much about the constitution and action of climate as we do about them-whether, in short, we have studied climate in an equally careful and scientific manner.
11. Air and Rain : the Beginnings of a Chemical Climatology. By ROBERT ANGUS Smith, Ph.D., F.R.S., F.G.S. London, 1872.
2. On Chemical Climatology. By R. ANGUS SMITH, F.R.S. 'Journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society,' January, 1870, No. xxv.
It is needless to say that we should have a good reason for every medical faith that is in us; but, in a special sense and measure, it seems desirable that our faith in climate, which sends men hither and thither over the face of the whole earth, which breaks up homes, and which leads to large outlays of money and time, should, if possible, be well grounded in knowledge. It is, indeed, but common honesty that we should do our very best to avoid mistakes in such a matter. In little things, of
. course, as well as in big, we ought to be alike honest--that goes without the saying—but it is clear that we may conscientiously and easily advise a patient to try a purgative or a tonic (hoping if not believing, that it will do him good), though we may hesitate and feel a special call to make sure that we are counselling wisely before we recommend what he may not be able to obtain without much difficulty.
In considerations of this nature there is surely a reason for making our knowledge of climate as fulland as accurate as possible. But there are other and strong considerations which point to the same end. Has not Hippocrates himself said—“Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly should proceed thus : in the first place to consider the seasons of the year and what effects each of them produces ” ? Did he not mean by this to give climate almost the very first place as a producer, preventor, and healer of diseases, and who can refuse to admit that in this he was right? Climate, therefore, is something worth knowing about, because it is an agent of great and undoubted power. We can use our knowledge of it both to avert and to relieve suffering. It kills as well as cures, and may be used for either purpose. Yet is it not as true now, as it was when Brady said in a letter to Sydenham, that “No physician, hitherto, has attentively considered the force and influence of the atmosphere upon human bodies: nor yet sufficiently ascertained the part it plays in prolonging human life.” ??
There is reason to fear that what was true in Sydenham's day continues to be true in ours, and that the belief in the action of climate, though it widely shapes our counsels, is nevertheless founded on very loose and imperfect information. It is not too much to say that it is mainly derived from works, the chief object of which was the bringing into repute localities in which the writers practised their art. Such works have often no claim whatever to be regarded as expositions of scientific research, and they too frequently betray a lamentable ignorance of well-known discoveries in meteorology. Medical men, in
| Works of Hippocrates, ‘Syd. Soc. Ed.,'i, 190. 2 Works of 'Syd. Soc. Ed.,'ii, 3.