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The antiquary, on having read the foregoing pages, will agree with me, I presume, in the remark which naturally arises from a review of the whole—namely, that that tract of Antrim county, to which my observations have been directed, is apparently the same which the learned Archbishop Usher designated the Route of Dalriada !-whence report would colonise the neighbouring island of Scotland. Be that as it may, however, there is no part of Ireland, over which I have travelled, that contains so many rude vestiges of antiquity; nor one whose local situation is more likely to have received inhabitants from, or given them to, the sister Island. - Ne plus ultra!
It is rather a matter of regret that the Irish history should be so fabulous even at a comparatively modern date. A developement of proofs, however, of the Irish being in some measure a florishing country in possession of the arts and sciences, and the repository of learned men before Scotland and England, is annually taking place. Indeed I am fully disposed to side with Sir James Ware, Lord Lyttleton, and Dr. Whitaker, occasionally in opposition to Archbishop Usher, on the veracity of their statements.
Irish history, or rather printedtradition, describes a celebrated king-by the style of Malachi of the gold collar. As his name is a scripture one, I infer that he must have lived since the days of St. Patrick-and that he wore a collar of gold I am not willing to doubt. A few Sundays ago I had the pleasure of handling several of those rich ornaments of the early Irish, at the house of that venerable and excellent man Sir Joseph Banks. It is scarcely necessary to add that they were dug out of Irish bogs, where they were no doubt deposited during the troubles of that hapless country, and forwarded to the President of the Royal Society by different noblemen who had purchased them from the peasantry who found them. Their massy construction proved that gold was no rarity in Ireland in the early ages, and they are in size fitted to the neck and body of the largest man. The workmanship is by no means of the rudest cast; though certainly wanting the finish of the artists of our day.
All these circumstances go far to partly affirm the unrecorded part of Irish history—and to give to what without them would, like the poems of Ossian, be “airy nothing"_" a local habitation and a name !"
THE PHENOMENA OF
CASUAL AND PERIODICAL INFLUENCE
PECULIAR STATES OF THE ATMOSPHERE
ON HUMAN HEALTH AND DISEASE.
BY THOMAS FORSTER, M.B. F.L.S.
OF CHRIST CHURCH COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE. Corresp. Mem. Acad. Nat. Sciences Philadelphia, &c. &c. &c. AUTHOR OF RESEARCHES ABOUT ATMOSPHERIC
PHENOMENA, &c. &c. &c.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PHENOMENA OF INSANITY.
In a recent publication I have endeavoured to establish the following doctrine, -That there are peculiar States of the Atmosphere, independent of its Heat, Weight, or Moisture, which have a particular influence on human Health and Disease, as well as on other natural Phenomena. This influence, depending on different states of the Atmosphere at different times, becomes various in its mode of operation : hence it not only causes a general disturbance of the health, but seems to have considerable share in producing the varieties of the symptoms. These peculiar conditions of the Atmosphere happen at times apparently very uncertain, and their influence is therefore denominated casual. It seems to be the cause of epidemic diseases.
That there is likewise, apparently independent of the above, a periodical Influence, occurring twicein the course of twenty-eight days, which has a very general operation : it affects immediately the Brain and Nervous System, causing a general increase of irritability of the whole body, and it lessens the capability and relish for intellectual exertion.—That its effect is greater or less in different persons, in proportion to the susceptibility and weakness of their constitutions—That persons who are very irritable are liable to feel this influence at both the above periods, and it often lasts for several days; but strong and healthy individuals only feel it once in the month, and with them it is trifling, and of short duration 3] Dr. Forster's Observations on the Phenomena, &c. 101 That healthy persons who are affected at one time in the month, are not affected at the other : hence these times may be regarded as two distinct periods, each of which recurs once in about twenty-eight days; and they are therefore called the Monthly Periods of Irritability.—That at these periods the symptoms of all chronic complaints are exacerbated; and headach, epilepsy, catalepsy, and various nervous diseases to which there may be a predisposition, are most liable to happen.—That the symptoms of various sorts of Insanity are worst about this time, but particularly the melancholic kind: hence suicides from disease are more numerous.-In females, the catamenia usually takes place at one or other of these two periods ; and when irregu. lar, sometimes occurs at both.-Parturition generally takes place at some one of these periods, and consequently abortions are then more to be apprehended than at other times' in the month. Finally, wounds heal less readily, hydrophobia is more common, infectious diseases have crises, and all those phenomena occur which can be ascribed to increased irritability. The periods do not seem to coincide with any exact time of the moon, but their occurrence twice in a lunar revolution is a circumstance worthy of notice.
I have also shown that there are Diurnal Periods of Diseases, some paroxysms occurring, at stated hours, as at noon, two o'clock, six o'clock, midnight, &c. &c. That there are likewise Periods of Diseases which occur every second, third, or fourth day. Diseases which observe any of these Diurnal, Tertian, or Quartan Periods, have their worst paroxysms (at their accustomed hours) during the time of the Monthly Periods. That some Diseases have particular Periods of their own, and terms of Duration, which last many months, independent of the other periods. These disorders, as well as those before described as happening from the Casual Influence, are worse at the monthly Periods.
That some diseases are frequently found to ly the same time of year for several succeeding years : hence there are Annual Periods of Diseases, which, while they last, are worse at the times of the monthly influence.
Finally, that in derangements of the mind, the periodical influence only causes
an exacerbation of the paroxysms, while the peculiarities of the symptoms depend principally on the particular organisation.
And I have shown that the periodicity of diseases is confirmed by collateral observation on animals and plants, and is conformable to all the phenomena of Nature.
I proceed here to endeavour to explain how Insanity in particular may become subject to the periodical and casual Influence,
recur at near
by inferring its physical nature from its Symptoms, and the striking analogy between this and other nervous diseases. The doctrine I have here tried to establish respecting madness may be thus comprehended.
Among the multiform diseases to which, from original pre'disposition, and the influence of numberless exciting causes, the human body is liable, may be reckoned Insanity; or derangement of the faculties of the mind, which depend on irritation of the organs of the brain, kept up by the reaction of a fulness and inflammation of its vessels, and more or less of a disordered state of the digestive organs.--That the particular symptoms in Insanity depend on the particular parts of the brain so affected. That the violence of the symptoms is commensurate to the degree and kind of derangement in the animal machine, which may be clearly pointed out in its beginning, (before the mental symptoms occur,) as appearing usually in periodical paroxysms. And that the medical treatment which is most successful, must consist in rectifying the state of the digestive and other natural functions, and a course of lowering treatment by bleeding.That all these circumstances, taken collectively, naturally induce us to place Insanity among other nervous diseases, from which it seems to differ in the particular locality of the diseased cerebral action. Future observations may confute, confirm, or modify, this view I have taken of the disease, which, for several years past, I have taken pains to enquire into, and which is an important object of research, from its increasing prevalence incivilised nations.
In England Madness is said to have increased in a very great degree, and numerous causes have been given for this increase, perhaps no one more truly than the habit of Stimulation which over-Diet, Drink and habits give to the brain and nervous System. Those who take athletic exercise in the open air in this Country, counteract its good effect by habits of proportionate high feeding, and by drinks of a stimulating nature ; while the temperate are oftentimes studious and sedentary..
Another circumstance which contributes most effectually to nervous diseases, is the great want of free ventilation and the custom of close Rooms. Warm Rooms are certainly desirable in our climate, but it should be warmth with a free egress and ingress of atmospheric air; and for this reason all Rooms for the reception of company should be provided with ventilators in the upper part of the rooin. Persons should likewise sleep in well aired chambers. These precautions would diminish the frequency of nervous diseases.
T. F. Tunbridge Wells, September the 26th, 1817.