Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

bestride the sun. I would wind up the glorious machine, and my thoughts would run riot to see Mercury doubling the circuit of Venus, and Venus that of the Earth. Away would I trundle my comets on railways, almost into infinite space, to wheel back their pumpkin lanterns, and mingle with the Sun.'

My air castle is of a more moderate elevation; and, I would hope, more easily erected. I would have one grand central publishing establishment, say at either of the publishing Atlantic cities. No paper, no type, should come there, but of the best possible manufacture. No bungling proof-readers, whose errors would make the poor dead authors turn over in their coffins, should find a place in it. The findings should all be the best of their kind. The binders should unite English strength with French taste. The grand Sanhedrim of authors should comprise the acknowledged science, genius, and talent of the country. Every established bookseller in the Union should have shares in this literary corporation. My hobby would be to find my name, as the publisher, in one of these books. I should then brush the stars with my head.

The Booksellers' is a liberal calling. They have, as I have shown, an ancient and honorable profession, and, to this day, the esprit du corps, as no other craft hath it. A fraternal feeling circulates through their whole community, as if they were an electric wire. Amidst the scrambling of other professions, they stand alone-a disinterested phalanx, whom modern degeneracy has not touched. In one sense, they may not be allowed to republicanize; but in another, they may call themselves 'workies' of the highest order. If they do not build in wood, stone, brick, and mortar, they sell the architect the beautiful engraved palace for a few dollars, leaving a happier tenant to occupy it. Our magazines of fashion enable the tailor and mantua-maker to put forth the exquisite beau and the ravishing belle. They are not called to deal out the gross food for the body, but they furnish food and physic for the mind. If the druggist inhales almost undying youth and vigor in the midst of the blessed Araby of his shop, what a concentration of intellect must a bookseller experience, who walks continually in the spiritual world of a large bookstore, in perpetual contact with the souls of the wise and good of all ages and all time! Can an apothecary live perpetually in an atmosphere of physic, and not be always in a condition to snap his fingers at the doctor? Can a genius of a bookseller live and have his being in an atmosphere of intellect, and not absorb the very soul and spirit of his books through his pores? An experienced and keen bookseller is better qualified to judge of a book, than all the critics that ever praised or blamed, since Diogenes the cynic rolled a tub. He has an infallible standard of beauty, truth, taste, keeping, fitness, poetry, eloquence, utility, logic, and piety. They have been pleased to say, that the idea of the beautiful is a mere arbitrary one. I say, and affirm it, no! He can measure it with a yard stick. He can weigh it in the scales. No caprice varies it. No false judgment warps it. It is the same in all countries, and will remain so at least till the millennium. The booksellers have caught the abstract of truth, wisdom, and beauty, and squeezed it into a concrete. The whole is comprised in two words-'IT SELLS!'

T.

COMPARATIVE HEALTH

OF THE PRINCIPAL CITIES OF EUROPE AND AMERICA.

A LATE number of the Paris Revue Encyclopedique, a work of established reputation, furnishes a series of obituary tables, giving returns from most of the different nations of Europe, in relation to their respective mortality, and longevity, which contain much food for reflection and calculation. The periods comprised in the returns, are generally several years, coming down as late as 1828. The whole mean number of deaths, and the whole population of the respective countries, are detailed; and hence is derived the proportion, of course, in each case, whereby a comparison is at once instituted between all the various sections in question. The result is as follows: In Sweden and Norway, one death to sixty-seven inhabitants per annum; Denmark, one to forty-five; European Russia, one to forty-four; Low Countries, thirty-eight; Britain, fifty-five; Germany Proper, forty-five; Austria, forty; Prussia, thirtynine; France, thirty-nine; Switzerland, forty; Portugal and Spain, forty; Italy, Greece, and Turkey, thirty each.

From this estimate, it would seem that Great Britain is, on the whole, the healthiest country in Europe, and perhaps as healthy as any in the world, of equal extent and population. This estimate is founded on the returns of only three years, indeed, and cannot therefore be deemed conclusive, even granting it to be correct; but there are some considerations which certainly should at least take away from the surprise with which this result may at first be regarded. One is, the insular situation of the British Isles-a circumstance uniformly allowed to be essentially favorable in the aggregate to both health and long life-and the force of which may more closely be perceived in the case of smaller groups in all the tolerably healthy latitudes of the globe. Take, for instance, the Bermuda Isles, where, we are informed by the accurate Dr. Heberden, (in the London Philosophical Transactions,) that the expectation of life, as it is called, is no less than thirty-nine years. The salubrity indicated by this fact will be the more apparent when we consider that in London the expectation of life, or, in other words, the calculated average length of life, is less than one half the same amount; and we noticed, not long since, in a Boston paper, (the Mercantile Journal, we think,) a minute estimate, founded on the returns of mortality in that city for the year last past, which gave a result of the same kind something short of twentyfour years and yet Boston is, perhaps, the healthiest considerable city in the United States. .

Again, we remember to have seen it stated in Sinclair's Code of Health and Longevity, a work of high reputation, that in Barbadoes, in 1780, there was a dreadful hurricane which killed fifteen people; and that of these fifteen, no less than four were of the age of one hundred years or more, and one of the great age of one hundred and fifteen. This island, the most easterly of the British West Indies, is twenty-one miles long by fourteen broad, and contained in 1823, according to Hum

boldt, a population of 100,000. We incline to the opinion that the date above cited is a misprint for 1790, but the facts are doubtless in the main well authenticated: the great hurricane of 1831, is supposed to have destroyed as many as three thousand lives-chiefly of slaves-on the same island. The secret of the salubrity of this spot is to be found in the constant trade winds, which keep up a complete ventilation over the island, and that of the purest maritime air.

So it is of the Western Isles of Scotland; in Martin's account of which it is stated, that a man was then living in Jura who had kept Christmas one hundred and eighty times in his own house—a statement which would be almost incredible, though not altogether without precedent or parallel in even modern times, but for the authority on which it is furnished, and particularly for the other facts of the same description by which the domestic history of these islands is distinguished.

It is confirmed, moreover, by the next authority which occurs to us in regard to the salubrity of islands. Buchanan, in his history of the Shetland Isles, states, on the authority of the common belief of the old inhabitants with whom he was acquainted, that a man by the name of Fairville, had attained among them the age of 180, and that a son of his lived to be still older. It was recorded of the father, by the way, that he never drank any quantity, whatever, of either malt or distilled liquors, or wine, in the whole course of his life. How it was in respect to the son's habits, we are not informed; but they were probably formed after the parental example. An inhabitant of these islands, named Lawrence, who was married in Buchanan's own time, at the age of about 108, lived to be 140. Numerous other instances might be adduced to confirm the great advantages of an insular location. Ireland itself, notwithstanding the difficulties which the population labor under, is a notoriously healthy country. Lord Bacon mentioned, in his day, so well understood was this fact, that there was not believed to be a village in the whole island, where there was not one man, at least, even eighty years of age -an assertion which would hardly be advanced, in regard to any other country, by a writer so careful of his words. The English territory, too, is remarkably well situated for salubrity, and although the condition of the manufacturing population is a drawback on the aggregate longevity, it is by no means sufficient to counterbalance the general benefit of the situation of the country, the intelligence of the people, the influence of all sorts of benevolent institutions, the most efficient and extensive in the world, the benefit of free institutions-and especially, in the case of Scotland, the effects of general education, and remarkable hardihood, simplicity, and temperance, in the modes of common living.

Even in the case of the large cities in Great Britain-the least healthy districts of all countries—and in the case, particularly, of London itself, there has been an amazing improvement in the health and longevity of the population within the two last centuries. According to some authorities, this gain has been more than one hundred per cent. It is stated in the article from the Revue Encyclopedique, cited above, that whereas, in 1690, the deaths in London were one to twenty-four of the whole population, they were reduced in 1828 to one in fifty-five;

-being a proportion uniform with that of the country at large. This estimate may be exaggerated, or founded on insufficient data, but it is very clear that a vast improvement has taken place.

An advance of the same nature, indeed, has been made, during the same period, in the civilized world generally; and this is one of the most satisfactory indications which can be furnished, of the benefits derivable to all classes of community from the general increase of knowledge, and especially the improvement and extension of the arts, in modern times. In Paris itself, the advance of longevity is rated, from 1650 to 1831, in the proportion of twenty-five to thirty-two; in Berlin, from 1755 to 1827, twenty-eight to thirty-four; in Geneva, from 1560 to 1821, eighteen to forty-three; in Rome, from 1762 to 1828, twentyone to thirty-four; in Amsterdam, from 1761 to 1828, twenty-five to twenty-eight; in Petersburgh, from 1768 to 1828, twenty-eight to fortyeight-making the latter, notwithstanding the marshiness of the soil it was built upon, one of the first, if not the first, cities in the civilized world, of so great extent, in respect to its salubrity.

Next to Great Britain, acccording to the Parisian estimate, stand Sweden and Norway, countries which have always been remarkable for longevity. This they owe to the latitude, their maritime ventilation, the hilly aspect of the country, and sufficient dryness of the soil; and still more perhaps, to the necessity, which circumstances impose upon the great mass of the population-there being few cities, (and the fewer, the better) of hard labor, and a temperate and simple life. The same is true, in a considerable degree, of the other Northern countries of Europe; and accordingly we find it to be the result of the tables above specified, that Northern Europe, in the aggregate, exhibits a superiority of health, as compared with Southern Europe, in the ratio of forty-four to thirty-six-making the average proportion of deaths, to the population over the whole continent, just about one to forty. Italy, Turkey, and Greece, help very much to reduce the longevity of Southern Europe; and the causes are the same in all those countries-being, in a great degree, independently of the climate and location, the gross ignorance, laziness, and shiftlessness of the mass of the people, connected with the neglect and oppression of the governments to which they are subject.

It may be a matter of surprise to some, at first sight, that Switzerland, of the healthiness of which we are apt to entertain rather sanguine notions, should be so little distinguished for its longevity, as only to come up to the average standard of the entire continent. The truth is, that, in addition to its want of the great advantages of marine proximities and privileges, a considerable part of the inhabited territory, and of the territory in the vicinage of that inhabited, is as much too high for health, as that of the Low Countries is too low-and in this particular there is but little to choose between them; the Swiss having the chief advantage over their Belgian neighbors probably in the hardier and simpler mode of their employment and diet. Great Britain is a hilly rather than a mountainous country, and thereby escapes the extensive cold, and the kind of air and water, which create and aggravate, in the case of Switzerland and other like countries, diseases peculiar to themselves, such as the

goilre, etc. New England is, in this particular, quite as fortunate as Old ; and no portions of the civilized world, perhaps, of the same extent, are equally healthy-unless it may be the small districts of Wales and Norway-with New Hampshire and Vermont. The proportion of deaths to the population in the former, has been rated, for a series of years, at one to eighty-three; and throughout New England, we doubt much if it is larger than one to sixty.

In regard to the comparative health of the European countries, we have expressed a doubt whether Great Britain deserves the rank given it above. We incline to believe, also, that Russia is a little underrated, and that that country should stand, perhaps, with Norway and Sweden, at the head of the list, though Scotland and Wales, separately, might stand as high. Wales has been commonly accounted the healthiest region of Europe, excepting the islands-the proportion of deaths there being rated at one to sixty. In other estimates, we have seen England alone allowed the ratio of one to forty-nine; and Russia, one to fiftynine. This looks like a reasonable calculation; but our conclusions, in regard to this subject, founded on the perhaps inaccurate and incomplete returns of a few years, can be relied on only as aids to a result of general plausibility, and not of mathematical or even of philosophical correctness. In the case of cities, our information should be more accurate, and so it should be in a country like our own, where a census is regularly taken, and where tables of mortality and longevity are pretty generally made a matter either of public record or scientific reminiscence.

The writer of an article on longevity in the Encyclopedia Americana, rates the proportion of deaths in Sweden, one to forty-eight; in Russia, one to forty-one; Austria, one to thirty-eight-which agree nearly with the Parisian estimate. This writer gives also the proportion of several considerable cities, as follows, from which it will appear that Philadelphia stands very high. Boston has advanced somewhat from the ratio here set down, we believe, within ten years past. London probably comes much nearer to forty than to fifty-five, according to the French table, which in this case must be wrong:

In Philadelphia, the deaths were one to forty-five, sixty-eight; Glasgow, one to forty-four; Manchester, (which has improved very much,) forty-four: Geneva, forty-three; Boston, forty-one, twenty-six; London, forty; New-York, thirty-seven, eighty-three; St. Petersburgh, (founded, probably, on old returns,) thirty-seven; Charleston, thirty-six, fifty; Baltimore, thirty-five, forty-four; Leghorn, thirty-five; Berlin, thirty-four; Paris and Lyons, thirty-two; Nice and Palermo, thirty-one ; Madrid, twenty-nine; Naples, twenty-eight; Brussels, twenty-six; Rome, twenty-five.

B.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »