Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/412

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400
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
GLASGOW'S BANDY-LEGGED CHILDREN.

By GEORGE HAY, M.D.

LAST summer tbe writer crossed the Atlantic and visited his native country, Scotland. His parents, now well advanced in years, were living in Glasgow, and he found himself at home. On the first Sunday after his arrival he took an extensive walk through the city, and, of course, observed the people, young and old, male and female. He noticed very few good-looking men or women in Glasgow. The men are, for the most part, short and squat, while the women are undersized, and anything but handsome. The people of both sexes physically differ entirely from the men and women of Edinburgh, who, as a rule, are straight and strong, well-featured and intelligent, and excellent examples of manly and womanly beauty. The principal industry of Glasgow—the building of iron and steel ships—demands a great deal of unskilled or rather of low-grade labor, and the ranks of the laborers are recruited from Ireland. Thousands of Irishmen are employed in this work, and earn very high wages—from twelve to fourteen pounds sterling in two weeks. The average riveter is a mere animal, given to eating, and drinking, and debauchery, and, as a consequence, despite his high wages, he is continually on the ragged edge of poverty, misery, and destitution. Of course, there are some exceptions to this general rule, and they soon become independent.

If, choosing some fine day when children are apt to be on the streets, we take a walk of a single mile in any direction in the city, we are sure to notice from fifty to one hundred children, between the ages of two and thirteen years, whose legs are deformed and distorted in ways which are remarkable, and to degrees which are really hideous. One would think that the whole juvenile population was suffering from rachitis[1] or from osteomalacia. The lines in the annexed figures, in pairs, indicating the general contour of the leg and foot, will convey some notion of the deformities, of which hundreds of living examples may be seen on the streets of Glasgow. The short, straight lines, at the bottom of each pair, indicate the feet. It is generally the bones of the lower limb from the knee downward, the tibiæ and the fibulæ, which are bent in the manner indicated in the drawings, in which care has been taken to avoid exaggeration.

In addition to those here illustrated, examples may be seen of forward or backward, regular or irregular curvature, single or double curvature of one leg, with an outward or inward, regular or irregular, single or double curvature of the other leg. In short, the legs of Glasgow children may be seen twisted and distorted in every imaginable direction. Some of these deformities are painful to look upon, though

  1. Rickets (Wikisource contributor note)