Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/378

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
332
ESKIMO LIFE

but then it fell again in 1889 to 10,177. I have no later statistics. These figures, in which increase and decrease alternate, show that the state of things can not be healthy. It ought not to be forgotten, too, that Hans Egede, a century and a half ago, estimated the population of the west coast at 30,000. This is probably a large over-estimate, but there is an enormous margin between 30,000 and 10,177. Assuredly this people is sailing with 'a corpse in the cargo.'[1]

Disease has of late years increased alarmingly. It is especially the Greenlanders' scourge, consumption, or more properly tuberculosis, which makes ever wider ravages. There can be few places in the world where so large a proportion of the population is attacked by it. It is not quite clear whether we imported this disease into Greenland, but most probably we did; and at any rate, as I have several times pointed out, our influence has in more ways than one tended strongly to promote the spread of this and other contaoious diseases.[2] Tuberculosis is now so common that it is almost easier to number those who are not attacked by it than those who are. It is

  1. An allusion to the well-known nautical superstition.—Trans.
  2. For instance, by causing the natives to wear worse clothes, and to live all the year round in their damp, insanitary houses, where the germs of disease find the best possible soil to flourish in, by introducing European articles of diet, and so forth.