Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/124

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Messrs. Editors.

IN "The Popular Science Monthly" for March, Dr. George E. Walton, of Cincinnati, has an article on "The Remedial Value of the Climate of Florida," some of the statements in which, for the sake of accuracy, it seems desirable to correct.

What Dr. Walton says of the humidity is true. It can not be compared with Minnesota (that is, the northern part of Minnesota) for dryness; but it will compare favorably with other southern localities in Europe and America; for instance, we see by Dr. Walton's table, page 644, that the humidity of San Antonio and Florida is about the same; and just here let me say that writers on Florida climate are apt to take Jacksonville as a representative locality, because the available statistics usually come from there. The Signal-Office is there. But it is by no means the best locality for invalids. It has the advantages and the disadvantages of a city, though a small one. It is much damper than other points in East Florida frequented by invalids; fogs are more prevalent, and last longer. It is not so safe to be out after sundown. As we go up the river the dampness lessens for a hundred miles. During the months of February, March, and April, 1878, using a Mason's psychrometer (wet and dry bulb)), and comparing my observations with those of the Signal-Office at Jacksonville, the relative humidity for three months, in 1878, is for that city 66·2, according to Dr. Baldwin's observations for several years 62·6, while for Palatka it is 61·3.

The summer dampness is just what Dr. Walton says of it, three fourths of all the rain-fall of the year occurring during that season. But, further on, Dr. Walton says, "The prime need of a consumptive is that he shall be a great deal out-of-doors, that he shall breathe pure air," etc. "Is the climate of Florida fitted to do this? ... I answer no!" On the contrary, I answer emphatically yes! Here is just the advantage of Florida over the cold and cool resorts. Here, one is constantly incited by the sunshine and the delightful climate to be all the time out-of-doors. As regards physical exercise, during most of the time one is not incited to it. But there are cool changes during the winter and spring months (which are peculiar to this climate, distinguishing it from a purely tropical), during which one may exercise on horseback, on foot, or by rowing. That people here are indisposed to exercise is true; but it is not always, by any means, because of the temperature, but of constitutional indolence Those who take an interest in their surroundings, or who are fond of fishing and hunting, may be seen at all times, in warm and cold weather, putting forth all requisite energy. Persons must seek occupation and amusements in order to get the benefit of climate. What Dr. Walton says about tubercular consumption, especially the latter stage, is true, and it is true of cool and cold climates also, but not to the same extent, perhaps, as of warm and moist. That is, the universal admission of all honest writers on climates and health resorts is, that such cases die wherever they go. They are necessarily incurable, with very few exceptions, and notable exceptions occur here as elsewhere. And here let me explain why so many more consumptive cases die in Florida than in other resorts. When they get reduced almost to death's door by softening of deposits, fever, diarrhœa, etc., they are too ill to go to Europe, and also unable to bear any change, except to a warm climate; consequently, the mass of them come to Florida, often with a knowledge on the part of the physician and friends that they are certain to die, but clinging to the last straw themselves.

Dr. Walton says "During the last six months of 1881 there were thirteen deaths in Jacksonville (population, 8,000) from consumption, these deaths being of residents only, and excluding all non-residents or visiting invalids. This is a mortality of 1·62 per 1,000, being a greater mortality than occurred in Cincinnati during the same time, which was 424 in a population of 280,000, or 1·51 per 1,000. ... It may be stated in this connection that natives of Florida taken with consumption frequently seek other places and climates as a means of cure."

I am certain that Dr. Walton has fallen into an error in his statement with reference to the deaths from phthisis among residents, if he means natives or even persons who have lived many years in Florida. The population of the State is made up very largely of Northerners who have lived here one, two, five, ten years. No doubt many of the deaths referred to by him occurred among this class, probably all of them; for consumption is rare among natives, although they live in every way, for the most part, in opposition to the rules of health—poor food, poor water, poor habitations, insufficient clothes in cold weather—that is, the middle and lower classes do—all tending to the development of tubercular disease, and which