« PreviousContinue »
NECESSARY FOR CONSTRUCTING TABLES OF
MORTALITY BY PARTICULAR CLIMATES
For constructing a table of the mortality which prevails in a particular climate, enumerations, for several years, of the whole population, distinguishing natives from foreigners, must be obtained; and in these enumerations, the ages must be correctly set forth. The lists of burials, in the same classes, are also indispensible; and in these likewise the ages must be carefully stated. These materials would be sufficient for the purpose of ascertaining the ordinary rate of mortality among natives or foreigners, if the estimates were made from a population of many thousands, but without such an extent, the observations could not be safely relied on.
In tracing the probable duration of a chronic disease, many other data will be necessary, .
The ages of some thousands,, who have suffered under that disease, must be marked, care being taken to find out the age of each person when first attacked, and at the determination of the disease by cure or death. This is the first step towards ascertaining the period of life at which the particular disease is most likely to prove fatal. But as diseases have many varieties, and
each variety may be treated as a new disease, this first step goes but a little way to show the probable duration of the life of the sufferer under that disease. Scrofula is, in itself, one disease; and it is, also, a predisposing cause to another-consumption
The distinct species of disease appertaining to men, women, and children certainly cannot be brought lower in number than five hundred, including those of syphilis and pregnancy. Of these, many, as, plague and various kinds of lep rosy, belong to foreign countries alone; while others are so rare as to be hardly, worth noticing; whence five hundred contingent diseases may be reduced to about two hundred and fifty current diseases, of which, the acute are somewhat more numerous than the chronic, in the proportion of about 140 to 110.
The reader need not, apprehend that essays on those one hundred and ten, or the means of showing their probable duration, will be given in the present work--the author is unequal to such a. task; and if he were competent to it, his readers would probably be but few in number. His purpose iş merely to show, that materials may be collected and so arranged as to fix, with sufficient accuracy, the premiums which ought to be charged for insuring the lives of persons suffering under chronic disease; and he has selected Mania for his subject, for several reasons,-because less is genes
rally known of it than of any other disease,-be-. cause the published accounts are less to be relied on; and because Shakespeare, (who has been described by the author of the best work on insanity now extant, as "the highest authority in every thing relating to the human mind and its affections'') has presented several of his characters suffering under mental derangement; these may serve to amuse the reader whilst they distinctly mark the progress of the disease. Lear, Hamlet, Ophelia, and Edgar, display, with great correctness, those varieties of madness commonly called Furious (or raging) madness, Melancholic fór melancholy,) madness, Sorrowing distraction, (or craziness,) and Obsessi, (those who fancy themselves possessed by devils, or, as we should say “ beside themselves.") It is possible that to many, the essays on these characters may form the leading inducements to a perusal of the work. e' There was, still, another reason for selecting madness. Puerperal mania properly leads to a consideration of the comparative danger of first and subsequent child-births.--On this subjeét also little has been published, because but little is. known except among Accouchers of extensive practice, and it is the fault, or misfortune of the most able professors, that they omit, or have not time to note as they occur, many curious and important facts, by which their own judgments and opinions are swayed, and which might prove of
vast importance in enabling others to form a prognosis in similar cases.
In selecting authorities, care has been taken to abstain from quoting those which are “ directly practical.” One writer recommends, as a cure for insanity, “ keeping the patient for days in succession in a state of intoxication," and the adoption of " pious frauds,” such as executing signs in phosphorus upon a wall, or dressing an actor, well skilled and very perfect in his part, as the devil. Another quotes the former's book with extraordinary respect as the only publication so directly practical as the importance of the subject so certainly demands,"speaks, in the language of the madhouse, of the high and low forms of insanity, and proceeds to recommend as a course of cure general immersion in cold water, until complete suspension of the mental faculty has taken place; a third speaks of eight out of nine maniacs being cured; apd a fourth declares that those numbers greatly undervalue his success in practice. Quotations from these would injure their general effect; they must be read to be duly appreciated.
AND ITS EXCITING CAUSES.
It has been traly observed that, in attempting a definition of madness, it is difficult to draw the line between real disease and habitual wayward
Arnold says, Notional delirium is peculiar to madness, and asserts, that the bulk of mankind morally, if not medically, are more or less affected by it. Socrates and the Stoics, considered every foolish or wicked person as insane. “All fools,” says Cicero, “are disordered in mind: all fools, therefore, are insane; they who are carried away, either by ungovernable desire or by immoderate anger are out of their own power."
Some definitions of madness are so narrow, as to set at liberty half the patients in Bedlam; others so loose, as to give straight-waistcoats to half the world.
What Lord Chesterfield said. of a lady's reputation may be fairly applied to a fool :-" You have not lost your senses, they are only mislaid.”
It may be safely asserted that there is nothing in the form of the head, or brain, to indicate madness. The best observations are strong on this point. Greding, Pinel, and Haslam, all agree. The observations of Bonetus, Morgagni and others, so carefully collected by Arnold, and noticed by Crighton and Good, establish no principle in cases