Изображения страниц

of the State Government, diminishing taxation. The new Constitution secures the railroad income to the State coffers, until such time as the people shall vote to abolish that clause in it. She has recently built and paid for a new State-house. She was a pioneer in legislation against quacks, and has a new and active board of health, to whom unlimited power has been delegated. The farmers are wealthy, and as happy as their frequently-recurring epidemics will allow them to be. Scarlet fever, diphtheria, and cerebro-spinal ("spotted") fever have repeatedly devastated the interior towns and the farm households, until but few families remain untouched by death from one or the other of these dreadful diseases. At the State Capital last winter all the public schools were closed on account of the prevalence of scarlet fever, and a winter rarely passes without leaving behind the record of some terrible epidemic in some of the smaller towns. Typhoid fever is

quite common among the families of farmers, but

is not usually epidemic.


Now, this excessive liability to epidemics not only exists in Illinois, but in most of the States of the Republic, that State having been taken for purposes of illustration, as the type of an American agricultural region. From Maine to Texas these occasional outbreaks of epidemic disease are not uncommon. For those not too deeply immersed in politics to consider it, the problem of preventing this disastrous depopulation may prove not uninteresting. A study of the habits of the people shows that in a majority of cases the public health is sacrificed from an apparent notion that the stable, the out-house, and the kitchen refuse must drain into the well which furnishes the rural liquid poison known as drinking water. When it is remembered that the average well is the receptacle, or reservoir, for the underground drainage of a surface area of, say, one hundred and

fifty feet in all directions, down to the level of its bottom, we may sometimes discover that, instead of the abstraction truth, which is metaphorically alleged to lie there, the thing is material, and is a real, tangible poison.

[blocks in formation]

It is doubtless true that in civilized countries epidemics are somewhat under control. We no longer beat tom-toms or make hideous noises in the streets for the purpose of frightening off the evil spirits, but many things are done equally foolish, and productive of a great deal more harm. For example, it is customary in some places to attribute almost every disease that flesh is heir to to malaria; and the unfortunate victim is dosed with quinine, and stimulated, until the blood-vessels are swollen and throbbing, and the patient, finally becoming burdensome to the doctor, is shipped off to the seashore or to the mountains, and gets well of his own accord. The amount of punishment (on account of a preconceived theory) that

the average constitution will permit without permanent injury is a never-ending source of astonishment, and bears perpetual tribute to the wisdom of the Creator.

But when a case of sickness oc

curs in the house from any of the infectious diseases, the patient should be promptly isolated; no one should see him but the nurse and the physician; and on the termination of the case, the clothing and bedding used in the room, as well as the other textile fabrics there present, should be burned or thoroughly fumigated, according to the nature of the disease and its severity. When the patient has had small-pox, yellow-fever, or diphtheria, there is usually no difficulty in inducing sensible people to sacrifice the class of articles mentioned; but in typhoid-fever, scarlet-fever, whooping-cough, measles, and chicken-pox, there is great reluctance to either destroy or fumigate the bedding, although equally necessary.

[blocks in formation]

I know well a farm-house in the country where the nearest neighbor lives a mile distant, and the

house itself is situated on a hill, where the pure country air, fresh from God's mighty alembic, blows around and about it. The barns and the cellar are well stocked; the granaries are full; the cattle low contentedly in the field; the farmer owes no man a dollar, and he has a handsome balance at the bank. But the house has only one story; the bed-chambers are mere cells, with the walls lined with surplus clothing, and in each the one small window is kept carefully closed, except during about an hour each morning, when the good house-wife opens it for an "airing." The smell of the vegetables (in which chemical changes-decomposition are going on) in the cellar pervades every room; but neither the farmer nor his wife perceive it, long acquaintance with it having blunted their sensibility to this peculiar odor. The well is handy to the kitchen, and the outhouse is but a step away. The kitchen floor is white; no dust ever settles in the shut-up best room or the chambers, for the farmer's wife is

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »