Page images

followed them through life, and to the extreme point of existence, I conject:ire what must be the feelings of each, as he steps from the threshold ; the one leaving every thing behind, the other having all that is glorious before. The one driven to desperation, as he beholds the receding panorama of earth ; the other delighted at the opening glories of heaven. * Alas !' I am prompted to exclaim, - poor

is the meed of earthly struggles !' I ask not for the pomp of wealth or power. I ask not for the lot of those whose life is a fitful fever, whose death is agony, and their gilded tomb a mockery. It is better to possess the homage of one true heart, than volumes of empty adulation. It is better to sleep in death, with nought but the green sod to mark the spot of our resting-place, than to lie pressed with a load of monumental marble.

F. W. S.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The valiant Danes drive back the Swedish host,
In wild confusion, to the northern coast;
The sounding chariots clash, the bright swords gleam
The broad round shields flash back the moon's cold beam;
On the red corse-field, mid ihe fierce affray,
Lies the young Sven, and Ulf, the warrior gray.


Alas, my father! in the power and bloom
Of life, grim Norna calls me to the tomb !
In voin my mother's soft hand, for my brow,
Weaves a bright garland of the oaken bough:
My own sweet songstress from her turret high,
Looks out in vain, my chariot to espy.


In the gray night for thee her tears shall fall,
Till visioned sleep thine image shall recall;
Yet mourn not thus; the path which thou hast led,
Though dark the way, she will not fear to tread;
Soon shall she, smiling through her golden hair,
For thee at Odin's feast the bowl prepare.


No more the solemn chaunt my voice shall raise
Amid our warrior youth, on festive days;
The deeds of kings and heroes sing no more,
Their conquering arms, their feals in love and war;
Through my neglected harp the wind shall sigh,
And dirge-like cchoes mournfully reply.

High towers above us, glancing in the sun,
Our father's hall of rest, when life is run;
The storm-clouds flee before it; and below
Roll the red stars, the fiëry comels glow,
There shall we share with them the sulemn feast;
There raise thy voice; on earth thy song has ceased !

[blocks in formation]

In the following pages, the subject of the memorable fever of 1795, in New York, is resumed and completed, in a consideration of the evidence of the importation of the disease; whether it was epidemic or contagious; with remarks upon its symptoms, and method of cure. In discussing the first division, the writer commences his remarks, by denying the correctness of a report, that the health-officer, who first died of the fever, had conveyed the disease to the city, from on board a vessel which he had visited professionally, and in which it was declared to have been imported. He quotes the deposition of the captain of the vessel in question, a man of undoubted veracity,' in relation to the circumstance: 'Capt. Comfort Bird, commander of the brig Zephyr, of Boston, sailed from Port au Prince on the first of July, and arrived at New-York on the twentieth of the same month. The mate and one mariner had the fever-and-ague seventeen days on shore, and came on board with the same disease; and the captain himself had a dysentery on his arrival in New-York; and John Wheeler, aged sixteen years, died on the day of the arrival of the brig at NewYork, by worms crawling up into his throat, and choaking him. He was sewed


in a piece of canvass, and ready to be committed to the deep, when the late health-officer came on board, who desired the captain to have the canvass opened, that he might inspect the body; and he only cut the canvass open over the face, and viewed the countenance, but did not make any other examination of the body, which was soon after carried to Governor's Island, and there interred. The young man who died, as above-mentioned, had suffered chronic complaints, but no fever of a dangerous nature. Eighteen passengers came in the above brig, all in good health, who have continued in this state to the present day. Three days after the above event, the health-officer visited the same brig, in as good health as usual.'

• The opinion, therefore, that the yellow fever, or a contagious disease, was brought into this city, last year, by the brig Zephyr, seems



wholly unsupported by evidence. Neither is it necessary that any imputation should rest on the memory of Dr. Treat, the healthofficer. He saw the mariners after they had been long affected by the fever-and-ague, and perhaps with some fever upon them at the

and from the yellowness of the skin, common to the advanced state of that disease, especially in hot climates, might be easily induced to suppose it a remittent. This, however, is mere conjecture, and not necessary to be admitted, since the fact of the men having been sick seventeen days, previous to their embarking for our coast, is ample proof that they could not have been affected by the fever which prevailed, and was so mortal here. And what confirms the truth of this opinion, is, that persons were taken with the distemper about this time, in other parts of the city, who had no connection with the brig Zephyr, nor with any other vessel, and whose illness may be satisfactorily accounted for, from their situation in other respects. An instance of this kind fell under my own observation, the last of July; several similar cases have been related to me ; and one, if I am not misinformed, occurred in the New York Hospital, where the disease was distinctly marked, before Dr. Treat's illness. The following statement of facts, too, will convince every candid mind, that we ought to look at home for the cause of this fever.

The ship Connecticut came to Fitch's wharf, about the twentieth of July; I think it was the twenty-first. She had just arrived from some part of England, and the people were perfectly healthy. No vessel suspected of being infected came to this wharf during the season ; though the ship William, suspected of infection, lay at the next wharf, at the distance of about two hundred feet. And Mr. Fitch gives the most positive assurance, that all the articles in his store, at this time, were in good condition. At this wharf, the ship Connecticut continued till after the middle of August. The owner was employed about the ship a great part of the day ; but ate and slept in an airy part of the town. The people of the ship either stayed on board or at public houses near by. On the evening of the twenty-fifth of July, the owner was seized with the fever ; I saw him first on the twenty-seventh; he had good accommodations, was in a favorable part of the town, in the third story of the house, and recovered, after an illness of about ten days, which was never very dangerous, though the attack was severe. About this time, one of the mates, the steward, and two mariners, of the ship Conrecticut, were seized in the same way, and with the same symptoms, as the owner. They continued in the ship, or its neighborhood, and all died. I did not see them, but was informed by the owner, that the mate, in particular, vomited large quantities of blood, and expired delirious.

Three persons, who were in Mr. Fitch's store, were taken sick, and two died, of this fever. One sickened on the twenty-sixth of July, one on the sixth and the other on the ninth of August. It was common for all these persons to sit several hours in the morning in the store, with empty stomachs, inhaling the effluvia of the night. One of the first persons who died of the fever, was one who lived at the head of the wharf, and had been confined for many months with a rheumatic complaint.

'In a communication to the writer, Mr. Fitch says: “I am positive that the disorder has originated from local causes, because it has


appeared in this quarter, at the same season, for several years past : the cause why it has, is to me mysterious; but what appears to me most probable, is the central situation, and the motion of the tides. The tide of flood sets directly into these wharves; collecting all the vapors and effluvia of the city. The situation of the ground, between Water and Cherry streets, is rendered noxious by raising Waterstreet, and confining the stagnant waters. The emptying of tubs into the head of the docks, instead of the end of the wharves, although not peculiar to this part of the city, is a horrible nuisance; particularly in time of sickness. The ponding of water, by running a bulkhead athwart a dock, and leaving the vacancy for years, to be filled up with every species of filth and putridity, is an object worth your attention.'

“On the whole, (continues the diary,) though I am not prepared to maintain that infectious diseases, and the yellow fever among others, may not be, and have not been, imported, and thus spread over parts of our country; yet this is the most that can be allowed to the countenancers of the doctrine. For after all, the testimony of numerous facts, furnishes clear, indubitable, and decisive evidence, that other and peculiar circumstances must concur with such importation, to effect any general distribution, circulation, or influence of the disease. Frequent instances have occurred, nay do occur every year, of persons returning from the West Indies, sick with the yellow fever; languishing for some time in the houses of their parents or friends; recovering or dying; attended by numbers, during their illness; their very clothes, when they have died, afterward worn by their relations; and yet no ill effects following therefrom; and it is a well-established fact, in many instances, during our fever, and especially during that of Philadelphia, in 1793.

The whole, therefore, that can be granted, or ought to be assumed, by those who maintain the disease which prevailed in New-York in 1795, to have been imported, is, that infection may be brought into any place, (and therefore into this city,) from abroad ; that, under certain circumstances of the place, where it is introduced, it becomes very active and destructive; but that when these circumstances do not exist, however the person immediately affected if it be introduced by a sick person may suffer, it is harmless, so far as the general health of that place is concerned. If the subject were viewed in this light, as most assuredly it ought to be, the question of importation, or non-importation, would sink into its merited insignificance; the efficient cause, the causa sine qua non, of such fevers, would be clearly discerned, as depending on local circumstances, capable of being wholly changed; the absolute madness of farther delay, in effecting such a change, would be distinctly and deeply felt; a becoming spirit would animate the citizens; and suitable exertions speedily place us beyond the possibility of being subjected to a misfortune similar to that which has been already sustained. For it is inconceivable, that the nature and extent of the evil should be understood, and the remedy not be applied. And a comparatively slight and temporary sacrifice of property would render this city in reality, what the m.staken policy or pride of some of its inhabitants now falsely represents it, as healthy as any in the world; and leave nothing



[ocr errors]

to fear, either from the fevers of the Indies, or the plague of the Levant.'

Our journalist, in relation to the question whether the fever was epidemic or contagious, writes as follows : Every person conversant with the practice of physic in New York, knows that a fever, generally of the remittent or continued kind, and variously denominated by medical writers, prevails in this city, to a greater or less degree, every year; perhaps I may say throughout the year; but, certainly, in every part of it, except the winter, and particularly from July to December; its greatest height being in the months of August, September, and October. The violence of this disease is increased or diminished by constitutional peculiarities, and by the particular situation of the patient in respect to air, temperature, etc., etc. Its universality, likewise, may be considered as dependent, in a degree, on the same causes. Circumstances, peculiar to some situations or individuals, occasion it to prove mortal, with high marks of malignity, in certain instances, almost every year. That an extension of these peculiarities, so as to make them common to the citizens generally, would produce the same effects on the many as on the few, seems hardly controvertible. Now this appears to me to have been the case, in the present instance; and I have no doubt of the identity of the fever which then raged here, with that which has prevailed here in former years; and consider it only as a higher grade of the same disease.

If by the question it is meant to inquire, whether the well became affected with the fever, in consequence of the contact of a sick person, or the clothing of a sick person, or from the performance of the offices of friendship, charity, and meniality, to those who were sick, I answer, that no such cases have come to my knowledge; whereas numerous instances of such contact, and such communication, fell under my observation, and have been related to me, from which no ill effects proceeded. A number of persons, not less than ten or twelve, removed with the fever on them from New York to Stamford, forty miles ; but no person in Stamford, beside them, ever had the disorder. Mr. Fitch, the gentleman mentioned in the preceding letter, attended the young men who had the disease with him, and to use his own words, 'lodged in a bed warm with the effluvia of the body of the young man who died at his house,' and nevertheless, he had no fever. Dr. Treat, according to the health committee, and of his physicians, died of the very worst degree of the fever; yet he communicated it to nobody

A patient of Dr. Dingley's, in Ferry-street, who was seized with the disease, without any previous communication with a sick person, as early as the seventeenth of August, and who died with it, communicated it to none of his attendants. And the same is true of several other patients of the same gentleman. The writer of some ingenious strictures on Dr. Mitchell's pamphlet, remarks, in a note subjoined to his first

paper, that he has, in common with many of his fellow-practitioners, indulged, without the smallest ill effect, a much more frequent intercourse with his patients in this disease, than usual, etc.' And the doctor himself, though he admits the possibility of such fevers

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »