Page:Remarks on the British Quarantine Laws.djvu/15

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British Quarantine Laws.


ships more effectually to perform their quarantine; and for the better preventing the plague being brought from foreign parts into Great Britain or Ireland, or the Isles of Guernsey, &c. &c." It commenced from the 1st of March 1754, and its continuance was left indefinite. It is remarkable, with regard to the title, as well as the preamble of this bill, that the words, "and for preventing the spreading of infection," are entirely omitted. This is the 26 of Geo. II. c. 6.

The bill "for enlarging the trade to the Levant seas" contained two clauses respecting quarantine: the one, enacting "that all rules, orders and regulations, made for preventing infection, shall be and remain in full force and virtue, as if this act had never passed;" the other, "that no goods or merchandises, liable to retain the infection of the plague, and coming from the Levant, without a clean bill of health, shall be landed in any part of Great Britain, &c. &c.; unless it shall appear to the satisfaction of His Majesty, his heirs, or successors, or of his or their Privy Council, that the said goods or merchandises have been sufficiently opened and aired in the Lazarettos of Malta, Ancona, Venice, Messina, Leghorn, Genoa, and Marseilles, or one of them." (26 Geo. II. cap. 12.) It does not appear that quarantine or Lazarettos were yet established at Gibraltar.

Dr. P. Russell has observed, in his Treatise on the Plague, p. 447, that quarantine had never before undergone such deliberate discussion in parliament as at this period. Until 1753, the subject was never taken up by the legislature, but when it was pressed upon them by some immediate urgency, and when the intensity of actual alarm necessarily led to the adoption not of the soundest measures. Unhappily, upon this occasion, the absence of the usual alarm did not lead to the adoption of measures less unsound: for, the existence of contagion being as usual taken for granted, without inquiry, the foundation of the proceedings being, as formerly, erroneous, none of the regulations emanating from them could be correct. The act now deliberately passed was but a repetition, with some trivial variations of those of 1720, 1728, and 1733, as these were almost mere transcripts of the quarantine regulations of foreign states.

The result of this deliberate discussion was, as must always happen when false premises are assumed, instead of improvement, a farther progress in error. Hitherto passengers in ships from Turkey were permitted freely to land in the first port which they made in the Channel. But, by the act of 1754, they were made amenable to the quarantine laws, and to such orders as they might receive from the proper officers. The quarantine which passengers are now obliged to perform consists, with foul bills of