The November Journal of Science (London) contains an interesting review of Dr. Parkin's new work "Epidemiology, or the Remote Causes of Epidemic Diseases in the Animal and Vegetable Creation," which is well worth reading. Dr. Parkin's theory is that "there occur certain 'pestilential epochs,' during which the world is at frequent intervals devastated by epidemics which travel in a determinate direction from Central or Eastern Asia to the west of Europe and even to America; that during such epochs all diseases, even those not considered as communicable from one person to another, increase in frequency and violence; that these epochs are further marked by Epizoötics and by 'blights' or widespread diseases in the vegetable world, and are attended by a general intensification of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, fogs, seasons of abnormal heat or cold, and other convulsions of inorganic nature. Such an epoch is generally ushered in by the appearance of new diseases, or the reappearance of maladies that had become obsolete." The last great pestilential term, Dr. Parkin thinks, began about the seventh century, and the fatal wave or current rolled westward without check to the beginning of the eighteenth century. During this time a succession of epidemics raged, among them the fearful plague or Black Death. In 1803 an epidemic of yellow fever at Malaga carried off 36,000 persons. The plague visiting London in 1665 destroyed, between the months of June and December, 20,000 persons, or one-third of the then whole population. According to Sydenham it had invaded England every thirty or forty years. In 1770 it was at Marseilles, in 1771 and 1772 at Moscow, in 1815-16 in the Neapolitan dominions. But despite its frequent challenges to medical science the best authorities have confessed that of its treatment little is known (see Am. Cyclo. XIII, 369). Nor, in fact, is anything definite known as to the causes of epidemics in general. The author of the medical articles in the Cyclopedia just named prophetically (A.D. 1859) says: "The progressive sciences of meteorology and physical geography will probably soon throw additional light upon these difficult questions." Dr. Parkin's new work comes almost as a fulfilment of this prophecy. He seems to have conclusively disposed of two pet popular theories, that of the sanitary reformers that dirt is the primal cause of epidemics, and the notion that they are propagated by contagion. Such is also the opinion of the reviewer in the Journal of Science, who admits that the historical facts mentioned by Dr. Parkin "are decidedly opposed to both." As examples he cites the facts that "the cholera has been known to travel steadily for hundreds of miles in the teeth of a strong monsoon. It often works up a river, showing that it is not occasioned by infectious matter draining into the current." And he adds significantly, "alike in epidemics of plague, cholera, and yellow-fever, it has been found that classes of people who from occupation or habit were most exposed to the air suffered most, whilst those who kept themselves shut up escaped. How ill this agrees with the teachings of the sanitary reformers!"
But we have not referred to this subject merely to show the helplessness of Western scientists in face of one of these mysterious waves of death that flow around the globe at intervals. The immediate cause is the bearing they have upon the subject of compulsory vaccination in India. We have before us an interesting public document1 kindly sent us by the learned Dr. Leitner, President of the Government University College, Lahore. The opinion of the Anjuman upon the Bill making vaccination compulsory having been asked by the Punjab Government, that body after a sensible and temperate debate, advised against the adoption of the compulsory clause. The Hindu members especially, and Dr. Leitner himself, pointed out that if the ignorant Hindus should once learn that the vaccine lymph is obtained from ulcers on the teats of the cow, there would be a general protest, perhaps forcible resistance, to the enforcement of the Act. For, while certain products of the cow are regarded, upon the authority of Shastras, as holy, all others, including blood and its impurities are regarded as most impure and unholy. And any one who should knowingly permit either of them to enter his body in any manner, would lose caste. We are not aware what action was taken by the authorities in the premises, but if it is not too late perhaps those in charge of the subject will be interested in the following extract from the same article ("The Sanitary Millennium") in the Journal of Science:
It is but fair to remark that our esteemed colleague, Dr. D.E. Dudley, President of the Bombay Theosophical Society, takes exception to the accuracy of the above statistics of mortality, and but for the exigencies of his rapidly growing practice would have added a note. Possibly he may find time to do so next month. Meanwhile let us hear from native medical practitioners, astrologers, and pandits what the Shastras have to say as to the cause of epidemics and other abnormal phenomena.
And here is another matter upon which Europe would like to be informed about by them. It is taken from Spiritual Notes (London).
Theosophist, March, 1881
H. P. Blavatsky
1 Proceedings of the Anjuman-i-Punjab, in connection with the proposed Vaccination Bill, etc.
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