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vicissitudes of thought and feeling that pass over us, by making us look on the mighty roll of time; to soften the asperities of the heart, by reminding us of the smallness and humility of our outward actions, when viewed in conjunction with the great yet peaceful works of heaven. 'Supra spharam lune non est malum,' was a saying of the Schoolmen.
In thus marking out the uses of astronomy under the heads of praise, and a moral example of rule and order, we are not only safe against all deistical exaltation of science and physics that some popular modes of talking would encourage, but we have the authority of many early devotional writers of the Church for a very abundant introduction of such objects and such lessons as this science instructs us of, into religious exercises themselves.
ART. V.-Quarterly Returns of the Marriages, Births, and
Deaths, Registered in the Divisions, Counties, and Districts of England. Published by Authority of the Registrar-General, 1849. No. 3.
AMONGST these Returns, we are told, are comprised the deaths which were registered by 2,189 Registrars in the summer quarter, ending September 30, 1849 ; a period embracing the most deadly part at least, of the history of the Cholera during this present year. Not to trouble the reader with a complicity of details, we select a few instances from the mass of statistics before us, premising that the numbers given are probably below truth in many of the instances stated, perhaps even in most. In certain important localities, the history of which has come under our own knowledge, we can state this as a fact. And as the causes of inaccuracy or the reasons for permitting or overlooking it in the places we allude to, were likely to be general, we mention our suspicion at starting.
The true state of the case is often not ascertainable to the local Registrars themselves, far less to the publisher of the Returns before us. The work of digesting and arranging the details of statistics furnished from above 2,000 sources is formidable enough, without entering into two thousand discussions as to the merits of each separate account. We are informed then, from the Registrar-General's Report, that, as regards the general mortality in England, the births exceeded the deaths by 163,133 during the year 1848. The year 1849 is not yet computed, but we will abstract from the general report the items of this sum, for the first three quarters ending the last days of March, June, and September of 1848 respectively, and compare them with those before us for 1849. They are:
Excess of Births over Deaths. In 1848.-1st Quarter 19,682 In 1849.--1st Quarter 47,627 2d 50,107
51,467 52,599 In the third quarter 1849, this order is suddenly reversed, and the excess of deaths over births in the whole country is 164.
• The deaths in the last summer quarter exceeded the deaths in the summer of 1845 by 60,492. The annual rates of mortality in the two summers were 1.767 and 3•030 respectively, so that the latter exceeded the former by 71 per cent. The average rate per annum of mortality is generally lower in the summer than in either of the other three quarters. During the eleven summers 1838-1848 it was 1.983. The annual mortality of the summer quarter 1849 exceeded the quarterly average by 53 per cent. The
excess has been caused almost entirely by cholera. The mortality will be found to have been very unequally distributed over the country; and to have generally been greatest in the dense town populations. The average annual rates of mortality in the town districts is 26, in the country districts 18 in 1,000; during the last quarter these numbers became 41 and 23 respectively. While the mortality has been excessive in nine divisions, it has been below or a little above the average in two divisions; the North Midland, and the South Midland. In some districts the people have died by hundreds or by thousands ; in others not far distant few have died, the inhabitants have been unusually healthy, the “medical men,” says Registrar, say that they have had nothing to do.
As regards particular localities, we will quote London :
A mortality from cholera, slightly above the average was observed in July and August 1848; but the deaths from this cause were less numerous than in 1846, and in September did not exceed 7 weekly ; in the weeks of October and November the deaths ran up, and 13, 30, 45, 34, 65, and 62 deaths were registered. The new epidemic character was manifest; but the mortality declined to 30, and 20, fluctuated from 94 to 37 through January and February, and finally fell to 4 in the last week of March, and 1 and 2 weekly, in April and May. The deaths from cholera in the last weeks of May and in June were 1, 5, 9, 22, 42, 49, 124. The water of the Thames rose to the temperature of 60° at the end of May; and the weekly deaths in July and August were 152, 339, 678, 783, 926, 823, 1,230, 1,272, 1,635. In the first week of September 2,026 deaths from cholera were registered; and the epidemic then rapidly subsiding, the deaths fell to 1,682, 830, &c.Pp. 4, 5,
• The deaths from all causes were 3,183, or about three times the average number in the first week of September; and 27,109, or double the average in the 13 weeks of the quarter. The mortality from cholera varied in different districts of the metropolis from 8 to 239 in 10,000; and was greatest in the low, the worst drained, the poorest districts. Of the “ divisions” into which districts are classified, the northern suffered most severely, those especially which contain Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, York, the course of the 'Tees, and the coal districts bordering it, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tynemouth, North Shields, “in which, in four streets adjacent, containing 526 families, having a population of 1,842 souls, between the 11th of August and 23d of September, a period of 34 days, there were 74 deaths from cholera. In this township, within eight days of the same period, there were deaths from cholera in 19 different localities. The greatest number of deaths is within a radius of 300 yards.” ?--P. 13.
In the South, the South Western Division was most severely visited, that containing the town of Salisbury and the seaport of Plymouth, more particularly Devonport. In Plymouth and 'the adjoining districts, Plympton S. Mary, East Stonehouse, ' and Stoke Damerel, containing 99,859 inhabitants in 1841,
the deaths from all causes were 2,290, the mortality was more " than 2
per centi' We have given these few extracts to show the character of localities which have suffered the most, where the population is crowded, the streets and dwellings ill-drained and ventilated. Yet, the manufacturing towns have not uniformly been the worst visited. Nor, strange as it seems, the crowded and ill
provided populations. Salisbury, for instance, according to the Report before us, (we believe an insufficient return,) out of a population of 9,490, lost 263 in the September quarter; the number was 34 in the corresponding quarter of 1848. the other hand, Salisbury is in the midst of water meadows;
the courts and alleys where the lower classes reside, are in a 'filthy state, and derive no benefit from the general system of
cleansing carried on in the main streets.' One thing, however, seems to be noticeable throughout the account, the small spaces within which the deaths were concentrated as it were, and the plague shown in its full proportions. Deaths counted as a per centage are fearful enough, but if the history were known of those sections of populations, in which the numbers were made up that produce this average shown in the public statistics, it would greatly shock the reader. It is sad enough to cast his eye over the daily account of the newspaper, or the Quarterly Return, and read that Leeds, with a population of 90,000, or taking in out-townships 170,000, has lost so many per cent. But it opens a history of misery to learn that the parish of S. Saviour's lost 350, and had 570' attacked with cholera, out of 6,000 or somewhat more that this worn section of the place had one struck for every 12 or 13 that were spared, and one dead for every 20 that survived—that here and there a workhouse was half emptied,—that families ceased to exist; we speak of facts here. To our certain knowledge there were districts in which the severity of the truth was the cause of its being concealed from the public. There is dread, and very justly, of creating a panic. Anything like the interruption of business, shutting of manufactories, consequent stagnation of trade, and of the stream ever flowing into the money making pockets is apprehended as a great evil. And it is perfectly true, that the labouring classes would be thereby the greatest sufferers. Moreover, the physical effect of that heartsinking created by general public alarm-alarm that incapacitates the acting of the social system'-is that it would itself be a main cause of the spread of cholera. Very strong sudden emotion often furnishes at the moment the cause that predisposes the system to open to the poison that circulates round it, and this independently of physical wants and consequent physical debility. The cholera was contrasted in this respect by the public press, with the great plague in London; and the terrible sign that was wanting pointed out, by which London of 1849 was so greatly the gainer, viz. the stagnation of ordinary busi
All means were taken by the politic and long-sighted to i This does not include the patients attacked by the diseases that accompanied
reassure the world when fear seemed creeping 'like water into its bowels. They were content that no more mortality should
' appear in print than must unavoidably be recorded. From their number, too, the local registers could not be examined, and many causes contributed to inaccuracy, even on the part of Registrars really anxious to ascertain the full extent of the mortality, and to publish all they could ascertain. Deaths in a thick population were frequent, burials were to be managed as cheaply as boards of works or of guardians could possibly do them without a public scandal. This office devolved from time to time upon clubs. The clubs employed other hands, and no report was sent in to the Registrar. In some cases deaths were only notified five or six weeks after their occurrence. Some workhouses, though known to have suffered greatly, were altogether a blank in the returns. Without
definite intention to suppress positive facts, prudent functionaries often spare the reading public painful knowledge that can do no good. Some account of what goes on must be given. Statistics are eagerly sought for by journal readers on every subject, for the very idea of there being any subject beyond their knowledge was not to be tolerated; but this appetite is easily satisfied, easily in exact proportion to its intensity, by experienced purveyors. And such as chime with the wishes or the prejudices of the world are believed with generous readiness. It is when they disappoint expectation that they must be based on an immovable array of facts.
Yet after all, a dry enumeration of figures, correct to an unit, fails to possess the reader's mind with any clear idea of eventssuch events as involve a catalogue of individual histories, as do the deaths caused by some unusual and fearful calamity. Read the despatches published after the Indian campaigns, and consider how little is really conveyed to the mind by the return of killed, wounded, and missing ! A certain idea of proportion between the advantage and the cost, and between the loss in one battle and that in another is given; but a true idea of the reality can be had only after a digestion of many melancholy thoughts. There is, upon the field of Waterloo, one single gravestone; yet this one monument, to every one that sees it, speaks a living history. And the mind moves on from one individual's history to the thought that all the many thousands that have been killed and forgotten, except in their aggregate form, were each of them a separate soul; each closed with his death a long account, more to him, infinitely, than all the fate of the battle he fought, or the cause he fought for. Each will reappear in the flesh he once suffered in ; each behold, minutely drawn out, the acts, words, and thoughts of a life apparently beneath notice