Page:Remarks on the British Quarantine Laws.djvu/22

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432

Dr. Maclean on the

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tine, and for making farther provisions therein;" and sixty-five thousand pounds were granted out of the consolidated fund for carrying its provisions into effect.

This report bears marks of having been principally the workmanship of Dr. Russell, who, as having what is called practical knowledge of the fables and traditions of Italy and the Levant, was, as I have said, deemed high authority on the subject. One of the members (Sir Lucas Pepys) was for giving a preference to the excellent Lazaretto on the island of Minorca, then in our possession, having double walls of thirty feet high! This proposition, which is in reality perfectly ridiculous, would, however, have been the least unwise, had there been any truth whatever in the doctrine of contagion. It is to be remarked, that although the Privy Council, and the Legislature, thought proper to adopt the proposition of the quarantine committee, respecting the building of a Lazaretto on Chetney hill, they did not think fit to adopt that, which concerned the appointment of a council of health. This would have been, on the part of the Privy Council, to give the staff of authority out of their hands: it would have been a species of political suicide, in so far as that branch of authority was concerned.

The funds already assigned for the purpose of building a land Lazaretto, and for defraying the expense of the establishments, being found insufficient, a farther sum of thirty thousand pounds was granted by an act of the 44th of Geo III. (1804.) This completed 100,000l.

On the 12th of March 1805 was passed "An act for making further provision for the effectual performance of quarantine." (45 Geo. III. cap. 10.) This is the last of the extraordinary laws, which have been enacted on this extraordinary subject, as far as relates to the prevention of importation. In conformity with this law, a set of regulations for the performance of quarantine, in order to prevent the introduction of contagion into this kingdom, was promulgated by an order in council, dated the 5th of April 1805, which, with such alterations as from time to time have to the Privy Council seemed expedient, are now in force. But notwithstanding this mass of legislation, and of official regulations, and after the expenditure of probably 200,000l. upon a land Lazaret, the idea seems to be now wholly abandoned; for the lands and buildings of Chetney hill were in 1819, after I had proved the absurdity of the doctrine of contagion before a committee of the House of Commons, advertised for public sale, and I have understood actually sold for a mere trifle. This stoppage of expenditure has been one of the good effects already produced by my labors. But, how much wiser would it have been,