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“That which has especially favoured the progress of knowledge in the nineteenth century, and imparted to the age its principal charactèr, is the general and beneficial endeavor not to limit our attention to that which has been recently acquired, but to test strictly, by measure and weight, all earlier acquisitions; to separate certain knowledge from mere conjectures founded on analogy, and thus to subject all portions of knowledge, whether it be physical astronomy, the study of terrestrial natural forces, geology, or archaeology, to the same strict method of criticism. The generalization of this course has, most especially, contributed to show on each occasion the limits of the separate sciences, and to discover the weakness of certain studies in which unsounded opinions take the place of certain facts, and symbolical myths manifest themselves under ancient semblances as grave theories. Indefiniteness of language, and the transference of the nomenclature of one science to another, have led to erroneous views and delusive analogies. The advance of zoology was long endangered from the belief that, in the lower classes of animals, all vital actions were attached to organs similarly formed to those of the higher classes. The knowledge of the history of the development of plants in the so-called Cryptogamic Cormophytes (mosses and liverworts, ferns, and lycopodiaceae), or in the still lower Thallophytes (algae, lichens, and fungi), has been still more obscured by the supposed discovery of analogies with the sexual propagation of the animal kingdom.
“If art may be said to dwell within the magic circle of the imagination, the extension of knowledge, on the other hand, depends especially on contact with the external world, and this becomes more manifold and close in proportion with the increase of general intercourse. The creation of new organs (instruments of observation) increases the intellectual and not unfrequently the physical powers of man. More rapid than light, the closed electric current conveys thought and will to the remotest distance. Forces, whose silent operation in elementary nature, and in the delicate cells of organic tissues, still escapes our senses, will, when recognised, employed and awakened to higher activity, at some future time, enter within the sphere of the endless chain of means which enable inan to subject to his control separate domains of nature, and to approximate to a more animated recognition of the Universe as a whole.” (Vol. ii, pp. 741-2).
The works by Cotta and Reuschle, whose titles stand prefixed to this article, have been called into existence by the publication of the Cosmos; they differ, however, essentially from each other. Reuschle's volume is divided into four books, treating respectively of 1. The position of our earth in the world of space, and its cosmical natural relations. 2. The natural history of the heavens. 3. The interior of our earth as contrasted with the surface, and the formative processes that have taken place in the earth's crust. 4. The surface of the earth as it now exists. Cotta's work, of which at present we have only the first part, consists of a series of forty letters, on various points alluded to in the first volume of the Cosmos. We select the subjects of a few of these letters, as illustrating the character of the book: the fixed stars, double stars, our solar system, the moon, comets, terrestrial magnetism, volcanic activity, formation of rocks, erratic blocks, the tides, the atmosphere, the geography of plants and animals, man. Cotta's is the more popular volume of the two; but each is well adapted for the object that both authors had in view, namely, to supply to the general reader a sufficient preliminary knowledge of the physical sciences to enable him to read the Cosmos with profit and advantage. It only remains for us to say a word in justification of our preference for the English translation which, out of three, we have deemed it our duty especially to recommend. We have carefully compared all the English versions with the original German. Two of them—those, namely, of Mrs. Sabine and Miss Otté—are entitled to the highest commendation. Their translations are not only accurate, but elegant; and the genial spirit of the venerable author breathes through every page. Proud, indeed, may we feel of our fair countrywomen, when from their ranks there issue such women as those to whom it is now our pleasing duty to offer the highest meed of praise in our power to bestow. The third, which we may characterise as Mr. Baillières, is in every respect the least successful. The translator or translators of the first volume wisely preserve their incognito; to the second volume the name of Mr. Prichard is attached, and it is with extreme regret that we find ourselves unable to speak favorably of this, his first literary effort. Many very serious errors and misunderstandings of the original are to be found, as he is doubtless by this time well aware, in the earlier portion of his volume—errors, into which we feel assured he would not have fallen, had he allowed himself due and sufficient time for the proper execution of his translation. But publishers are oftentimes hard taskmasters, and, in such cases as the present, the desire to be first in the field leads to an over-taxing of the translator's powers, and gives rise to a system in all respects prejudicial to sound literature. That this has been the case in the present instance we do not entertain a doubt. The following are the reasons why we prefer the translation of Miss Otté to that of Mrs. Sabine. In the first place, it is the more accurate, and we have not detected in it any blinking of puzzling words or expressions, as we have done in one or two instances in the other version. Thus, for instance, in the first note to page 534 of the translation we have adopted, the German word Waller-see has been a stumbling-block to both Mrs. Sabine and Mr. Prichard. Secondly, the reading of the work is much facilitated by the translation into corresponding English terms of all the foreign measurements, and by the notes being removed from the end of the volumes and placed beneath the text in their appropriate positions. In the third and last place, this edition is enriched by many valuable notes, having reference to researches in physical science, made subsequently to the publication of the original work. We need scarcely add that no ordinary work would have given rise to three rival translations. If we have succeeded in conveying to the minds of our readers even a faint conception of the rich stores of classical, antiquarian, and scientific lore with which the Cosmos abounds, and can thus induce them to read and study it for themselves, the object that we proposed to ourselves is attained. It is but seldom that we diverge from the path of strictly professional matter in the pages of this review. There are occasionally, however, cases in which a deviation from our regular course is expedient; and we would fain hope that none of those into whose hands our journal falls, will regret that we have directed their attention to “an attempt to delineate Nature in all its vivid animation and exalted grandeur, and to trace the stable amid the vacillating, ever recurring alternation of physical metamorphoses.” 7–1 v. *
1. Return of the Mortality in 117 Districts of England, for the Quarter ending December 31st, 1847. Published by authority of the RegistrarGeneral. No. IV, 1847.
2. On the Influenza or Epidemic Catarrhal Fever of 1847-8. By Thomas B. PEAcock, M.D., Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, Physician to the Royal Free Hospital, &c. &c.—London, 1848. pp. 182.
At the time when a formidable epidemic disease is extending itself over these countries towards the south-west of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean sea, and when the attention of the profession is strongly directed to the phenomena which attend its progress, and manifest more or less distinctly the laws which govern it, it may not be inopportune to turn for a moment from our study of this disease, and to place conspicuously before ourselves the phenomena exhibited by another malady equally entitled with cholera to the appellation of epidemic. It may be advisable to see whether there is anything in common between the two affections, or any peculiarity of the one which may throw light on the course of the other But, apart from this, the disease which we propose now to pass in review may well claim careful and repeated investigation from the practitioner of medicine. It is of all epidemic diseases the one which, at the time of its prevalence, is most widely diffused; the one which is least restricted by conditions of locality; and which, compared with other affections of the same great class, is least affected by the peculiarities of the systems it attacks, whether these are produced by condition of life, age, sex, or vigour, imperfection, or peculiarity of frame. Consequently it invades almost all nations on the face of the globe, and it attacks a large proportion of the individuals of each nation. It has prevailed from time to time for 700 years, and probably from ages immemorial. Its ravages were recorded even by the ignorant chroniclers and physicians of the middle ages; and historians paused from their warlike recitals to note the occurrence of the disease, which spared neither the noble in his castle nor the peasant in his hut. lts successive invasions have caused a great destruction of life, although, from the vast number of cases, the relative mortality is low. In 1311 it was very fatal throughout all France. In 1403 the courts of law were closed in Paris on account of the deaths. In 1580 entire Europe was filled with mourning and sorrow. In 1590, 6000 persons died in Rome alone. In 1729 more people died of it in London in one week, than in any equal period of time during the great plague of 1665; and at Vienna 10,000 persons were ill at once. In 1743, 1000 persons died of it in London in eight days. Occasionally its ravages have not been confined to men, but, as in 1728, 1732, and 1775, it has attacked both dogs and horses. It is a disease of extraordinary rapidity of progress, and on some occasions has passed from Asia to Russia, Germany, England, France, Italy, and America, in the course of a few months. As its diffusibility is great, so are its periods of recurrence frequent. Admitting that some of the recorded epidemics in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are wrongly referred to this disease, there is no doubt, from the experience of the last two centuries, that so long a period as ten years has seldom or never elapsed between any two visitations. Every second or third visitation seems to have been of extraordinary severity; and while occasionally the disease has appeared to have been confined within narrow limits, and to have arisen in various places, as it were independently and from conditions proper to those places at the time, in the far greater number of instances it has originated in definite localities, and has then seemed to possess an inherent power of progression, or to fall under the influence of some peculiar force which impelled it over vast tracts of the earth. The characteristic onset and subsequent symptoms of the disease are to be recognised in the descriptions of the writers of all times and countries. The mode in which it suddenly attacks half a community; the intense headache, and occasional stupor of its early stage; its effects upon the mucous membrane of the nose and pulmonary passages; and the extraordinary debility experienced during the attack, or in convalescence, are circumstances noticed in the earliest and most imperfect descriptions. Everywhere also by the physicians and the laity the special character of the affection has been fully recognised. It has always been distinguished from the simpler sporadic affections which bear to it an external resemblance. As each successive generation has encountered its assaults, and has partially or entirely forgotten the experience which its forefathers had of it, the disease has received a fresh appellation. Occasionally it has been named from some striking symptoms, as in the old English writings, “Pose,” from the Anglo Saxon gepose (heaviness), a term marking the stupor of its early stage; “blitz katarrh,” from its rapidity of attack; “quinte,” from the paroxysms of cough returning every five hours; “grippe,” from gripper, marking both its suddenness and its universality, or perhaps from the Polish “crypka-raucedo,” marking its supposed origin; “die schaffhusten,” because the cough resembles that common among sheep; “huhneizipf,” because the cough was compared to the clucking of a hen, Sometimes it has been named from its supposed source. In Russia it has been named in some epidemics, “le catarrh chinois.” In Germany, “die russiche Krankheit.” In Italy, “Morbo Russo.” Osten it has received a name dictated by the caprice of the moment: Tac, Horion, Coqueluche, Ladendo, Petit Courier, Baraquette, Follette, &c. The term Influenza was first used in the seventeenth century, and has passed into the medical language of England and Germany. In France the term Grippe is used popularly and professionally. The profession, like the laity, have also designated this disease by terms which plainly indicate that its special nature has never been overlooked. Sydenham named it Tussis epidemica; Stoll, Pleuritis humida; Cullen, Catarrhus a contagio, thus marking distinctly his opinion that it arose from a special agent, and not from mere atmospheric vicissitudes; Sauvages designated it Catarrhus epidemicus; Hoffman, Febris caturrhus. It has received a multitude of other names, but all indicate the same great fact that systematic writers have never failed to place this disease under a special and distinctive heading. Moreover, every writer on influenza, urging this fact to its legitimate conclusion, has distinctly laid down the proposition that the symptoms were so uniform as to lead irresistibly to the belief that the disease sprang from a formal and specific cause,
which was in its essence, invariable in all countries, in all seasons, and in all vicissitudes of atmospheric condition.* This proposition was stated with perfect precision in 1761, by Gilchrist. Its correctness has never been questioned in England. In France it has been also admitted, and the following quotation expresses exactly the general opinion on this point. Dolorme, the writer of the article “Grippe” in the “Dict. de Médicine' (Vol. xiv, p. 282), thus expresses himself: “Wh n we consider the assemblage of the symptoms of the ‘Grippe,” its exclusive development under the epidemic form, the march of the epidemics which pass over the great surface of country, we cannot but recognise a malady sui generis, produced as the Black Death of the fourteenth century, as the cholera of our own time, by a cause unknown but general ; a malady affecting, although in a very slight degree, the vital functions, thus to speak, as these two last epidemics, and as all those which, produced by infection,t such as typhus, yellow fever, plague, epidemic dysentery, are allied to a miasmatic poisoning ; finally a general malady which manifests itself by certain local symptoms, important doubtless as specific characters, but which, signs of the organic condition, are purely secondary and accessory.” This quotation is both a definition and a generalization. Influenza is declared to be a disease with specific characters, and is thereby separated from all other diseases; but this separation does not isol te it; it is admitted into the great class which is made up of those diseases which all spring from specific agents, and whose symptoms are the effects produced by the reception into the system, under certain conditions, of those foreign and special forces. If to this class we add smallpox, scarlatina, pertussis, and measles (affections which cannot be separated from typhus and plague), we complete the series of diseases which arise from agents capable of such wide diffusion as to be occasionally epidemic. A disease of this class must evidently be studied from different points of view. 1. The symptoms which invariably manifest the action of the special agent, must be determined, and the normal type of the disease thus isolated. Round this typical form, the several varieties and modifications must be grouped, whether they arise from various normal or abnormal states of the recipient system, or from variable degrees of intensity in the cause, or from alteration in its action from coexistent circumstances. 2. The diagnosis of the disease being thus settled by the discovery of its essential symptoms, the coincident phenomena which, whether extrinsic or intrinsic to the body, aid the action of the cause, can be determined by observation. In elaborating its normal type, the physician regards the cause chiefly as it affects individuals; in determining its accessory conditions, he studies it more especially in relation to communities and masses of men. Thus he learns what features common to the class, whether resulting from locality, habits, trades, or other obvious conditions, affect the prevalence of the disease. He observes, also, its relation to all physical phenomena.
* Dr. Robert Williams, indeed, went further than this, and questioned whether every catarrh did not arise from a specific agent, and not from atmospheric changes.
t The term infection, as used by French writers, merely implies the existence of a special agent, without connecting it with the animal frame. It must not be confounded with the English contagion.