Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/449

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

AUGUST, 1891.


 

NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

XIII. FROM FETICH TO HYGIENE.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL. D., L. H. D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

PART I.

ONE of the most striking features in recorded history down to a recent period has been the recurrence of great pestilences. Various indications in ancient times show their frequency, and the famous description of the plague of Athens given by Thucydides, with the discussion of it by Lucretius, show their severity. In the middle ages they raged from time to time throughout Europe; such plagues as the black death and the sweating sickness swept off vast multitudes, the best authorities estimating that of the former, at the middle of the fourteenth century, more than half the population of England died, and that twenty-five millions of people perished in various parts of Europe. In 1552 sixty-seven thousand patients died of the plague in the Hôtel-Dieu at Paris alone, and in 1580 more than twenty thousand. The great plague in England and other parts of Europe in the seventeenth century was also fearful; and that which swept the south of Europe in the early part of the eighteenth century, as well as the invasion of the cholera at various times during the nineteenth, while less terrible than their predecessors, have still left a deep impress upon the imaginations of men.

From the earliest records we find that such pestilences were attributed to the wrath or malice of unseen powers. This had been the view of the heathen even in the most cultured ages before the establishment of Christianity; in Greece and Rome especially, plagues of various sorts were attributed to the wrath of the gods; in Judea, the Scriptural records of various plagues sent