Page:Remarks on the British Quarantine Laws.djvu/8

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Dr. Maclean on the

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and that the immediate occasion of this pious fraud, was to create a pretext for the translation of the Council of Trent to Bologna.

Thus the professed object of all codes of quarantine or sanitary laws, when submitted to strict examination, has been found to have no existence. It has also been farther shown, that, even, if pestilential contagion did undoubtedly exist, these laws would be still unjustifiable; as well as, that they are, in either case, highly detrimental to many of the best interests of communities. In instituting a code of laws so extensive, as it were upon trust, i. e., without any previous inquiry into the validity of the doctrine upon which they were professed to be founded, into the existence of the evil which they were proposed to remedy;—in afterwards continuing, at an immense expense and injury to the public, to maintain those laws, without any adequate examination of their merits; and in even resisting or evading a full and fair investigation of the subject, after strong grounds had been laid for disbelieving the existence of the evil which they professed to obviate, and for considering them in their operation highly njurious to communities, we find reason to conclude, that on the part of governments, there exists a distinct interest in favor of those enactments, independent of their effects upon the health, welfare or prosperity of communities. This is a matter which cannot admit of a doubt; and, in order that nothing relating to this investigation might be left incomplete, I have clearly shown wherein this interest consists.

My object here, is merely to give a general view of what those regulations are, for preserving the health of communities, of which the maintenance is so dear to certain governments, and so expensive and injurious to nations. They consist of—1. Measures for preventing the exportation of pestilential contagion; or Bills of health:—2. Measures for preventing the importation of pestilential contagion; or Quarantine and Lazarettos:—3. 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. These measures were first adopted in Venice, in the 16th century, and afterwards successively in other Christian countries. The regulations of quarantine, which actually exist in Great Britain, and the project of a code of sanitary laws, presented to the Spanish Cortes last session, by their committee of public health, but not then discussed, and subsequently rejected, may serve as examples of them all.