Page:Remarks on the British Quarantine Laws.djvu/23

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British Quarantine Laws.


to have instituted some inquiry into the validity of the doctrine, upon which such regulations and expenditure were founded, before they were actually adopted! I make this remark, because it appears, from some observations of the board of health, appointed at this period, (1805) "to consider and report the measures which it would be proper to adopt, in case the plague or other infectious disease, attended with great mortality, shall pass the barrier of the quarantine, and actually appear amongst us," that they were not ignorant of the existence of the doctrines, which I had published, upon this subject, in 1796, in India, and which had been also republished in America, and in various parts of Europe. "In considering a subject of this kind," says the Board, in their second report to the Privy Council, "it is obvious, that must not risk the lives of our fellow-creatures, through a confidence in any speculative opinions, which want the sanction of experienced." If the board had taken due pains to investigate the opinions, which they represent as speculative, they could not have avoided perceiving that they were, on the contrary, conclusions logically deduced from undeniable premises, whilst the opinions which they have chosen to take for granted, considering them as founded upon what they call the experience, (meaning the practice) of ages, are but vague or baseless traditions,—mere inventions of the most barbarous times; and that, whilst, by the practices which they recommend, sickness and death are variously multiplied amongst mankind, the results of the application of the opposite doctrines would be to decrease the ordinary sickness and mortality, to such a degree as to render pestilences comparatively trivial evils. This board was composed of the following members: A. S. Hamond, F. Milman, A. Munro, Lucas Pepys, J. Hunter, H. R. Reynolds, W. Heberden, J. N . Harness, and Jas. Hervy, secretary. Two of these, A. S. Hamond, and Lucas Pepys, had been members of the quarantine committee in 1800. Dr. Russell was, I believe, dead. The reports of the board of health were dated the 30th of April, and the 15th of May, 1805. Their merits, according to the plan which I have adopted, fall to be considered under the following head.

III.—Measures for preventing the propagation or spreading of pestilential contagion; or lines of circumvallation, ditches, cordons of troops, shutting up the sick in their houses, compelling them to leave their homes, immuring them in pest houses, and, in general, all modes of separation, seclusion and restriction.

"It would seem as if there was little observable difference in the mode of its termination (that of the plague) in cities, where puri-