Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/479

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463
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

lessons as are yielded above. Since 1848 there have been seven Acts of Parliament bearing the general titles of Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts. Measures to "stamp out," as the phrase goes, this or that disease, have been called for as imperative. Measures have been passed, and then, expectation not having been fulfilled, amended measures have been passed, and then reamended measures; so that of late no session has gone by without a bill to cure evils which previous bills tried to cure, but did not. Notwithstanding the keen interest felt by the ruling classes in the success of these measures, they have succeeded so ill, that the "foot-and-mouth disease" has not been "stamped out," has not even been kept in check, but during the past year has spread alarmingly in various parts of the kingdom. Continually the Times has had blaming letters and reports of local meetings called to condemn the existing laws, and to insist on better. From all quarters there have come accounts of ineffective regulations and incapable officials—of policemen who do the work of veterinary surgeons—of machinery described by Mr. Fleming, veterinary surgeon of the Royal Engineers, as "clumsy, disjointed, and inefficient."[1]

Is it alleged that the goodness of State-agency cannot be judged by measures so recent, the administration of which is at present imperfect. If so, let us look at that form of State-agency which is of most ancient date, and has had the longest time for perfecting its adjustments—let us take the law in general, and its administration in general. Needs there do more than name these to remind the reader of the amazing inefficiency, confusion, doubtfulness, delay, which, proverbial from early times, continue still? Of penal statutes alone, which are assumed to be known by every citizen, 14,408 had been enacted from the time of Edward III. down to 1844. As was said by

  1. Let me here add what seems to be a not impossible cause, or at any rate part-cause, of the failure. The clew is given by a letter in the Times, signed "Land-owner," dating Tollesbury, Essex, August 2, 1872. He bought "ten fine young steers, perfectly free from any symptom of disease," and "passed sound by the inspector of foreign stock." They were attacked by foot-and-mouth disease after five days passed in fresh paddocks with the best food. On inquiry he found that foreign stock, however healthy, "'mostly all go down with it' after the passage." And then, in proposing a remedy, he gives us a fact of which he does not seem to recognize the meaning. He suggests, "that, instead of the present quarantine at Harwich, which consists in driving the stock from the steamer into pens for a limited number of hours," etc., etc. If this description of the quarantine is correct, the spread of the disease is accounted for. Every new drove of cattle is kept for hours in an infected pen. Unless the successive droves have been all healthy (which the very institution of the quarantine implies that they have not been), some of them have left in the pen diseased matter from their mouths and feet. Even if disinfectants are used after each occupation, the risk is great—the disinfection is almost certain to be inadequate. Nay, even if the pen is adequately disinfected every time, yet if there is not also a complete disinfection of the landing appliances, the landing-stage, and the track to the pen, the disease will be communicated. No wonder healthy cattle "' mostly go down with it' after the passage." The quarantine regulations, if they are such as here implied, might with perfect truth be called "regulations for the better diffusion of cattle-diseases."