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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/251

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largest single element in the miseries of mankind. Fortunately, malarial fever has almost disappeared from Great Britain, and it has hardly existed in some of our colonies, particularly the Australasian; it has decreased considerably in many parts of Northern Europe and the United States. Again, there is a drug, cinchona-bark, with its products, which has a great power over the course of the fever. The cultivation of the cinchona-tree is now a great industry both in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, and whatever quinine or other products of the bark can do for malarious sickness will be, at no distant time, a benefit that may be shared by all but the very poorest and the races least accessible to civilization. Lastly, the symptoms, course, and complications of the intermittent and remittent fevers which malaria causes are known with all the precision that can be wished. What share, then, has medicine had in dealing with this destroyer of human happiness in the past, and what is the attitude of medicine toward malaria at present?

The almost total extinction of malaria at home and its decrease abroad have been brought about in the ordinary course of draining and cultivating the soil, and by a wise attention to the planting or conservation of trees. There is a characteristic passage at the end of Kingsley's novel "Hereward," in which he commemorates his hero as the first of the new English "who, by the inspiration of God, began to drain the fens." The draining of the fens and all such achievements throughout the world have brought better health with them, but neither the doctors nor even the sanitarians have been the primary moving forces. Again, the medicinal uses of cinchona-bark were known first to the indigenous inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes, where the trees are native and where the ague is common; and it was the Jesuits who introduced it widely into Europe (1630) and the East. The story of the reception of this remedy by the medical profession has its unpleasant side. The arch-stupidities of the Paris faculty, who still live for the amusement of the world in Molière's comedies, opposed it with their united weight. Court physicians in other European capitals than Paris assailed it with abuse, and no one wrote more nonsense about it than Gideon Harvey, the physician of Charles II. The new remedy, apart from its merits, fell in with the views of the Paracelsists, and disagreed with the views of the Galenists, and was recommended or condemned accordingly. Even the great Stahl, nearly a century after cinchona was first brought to Spain, would have none of it, and, in his servitude to his theories, he even went so far as to make use of Gideon Harvey's ignorant tirade against the drug by reprinting it in German. As late as 1729, an excellent physician of Breslau, Kanold, whose writings on epidemics are still valuable for their comprehensive grasp, declared in his last illness (a "pernicious quartan") that he would sooner die than make use of a remedy which went so direct against his principles! The world, of