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horse-racing, charioteering, or such spectacles as require no very distinct or accurate perception through the medium of sight or hearing. *
The unfinished triumphal arch near the Amphitheatre, and at the terinination of the great military road of the Simplon, may afford ample food for reflection on the “ vanity of human wishes”-or, at all events, of human projects !It is well known that a famous colossal statue in Rome represented successively a devil, a man, and a god. Why should not the emblazonments of Gallic victories, on the Porta Sempione, be changed, with change of events, to emblems of defeat? The piling of the Austrian arms, after the battle of Marengo, and Mack's surrender at Ulm, may be easily transformed into the discomfiture of the French at Montmartre, and Marmont's capitulation of Paris-Napoleon having chosen to array the warriors on both sides in the costume of ancient Romans! The long series of brilliant epochs in his eventful life, may be readily transmuted (since statuary is not very nice in chronology) into the train of rapid and precipitate disasters, by which he fell from the summit of power to the abyss of captivity! The dreary craggs of the great St. Bernard are very easily converted into the scarcely less steril cliffs of St. Helena. The L'Orient, which bore him as an eastern conqueror to the banks of the Nile, can be changed to the Bellerophon, which conveyed him, “ like Themistocles,” to the shores of Britain for a last asylum. For the Bridge of Lodi may be substituted that of the Beresina-for the carnage of the PYRAMIDS, the conflagration of Moseow. The sands of Egypt may be converted into the not less dazzling snows of Russia-Wagram into Waterloo --and finally, the sombre scenes of captivity at Longwood and the Briars, may well
usurp the places of Fontainbleau and Valençy, the dreary prisons of Pius and FERDINAND !|
A phenomenon resulting from the physical operation of climate on the
* It is not to be wondered at that the Milanese bear with uneasiness the iron yoke of Austria. The German bayonet is doubtless preferable to the Italian stiletto; but it is not very pleasant to see the ruthless Croat soldier turning out the civil Milanese from his seat in the pit of La Scala, or on the benches of the amphitheatre, and calmly taking his place! Such, however, is not seldom the case !
it Iu the mutability of human affairs, and in the revolutions of empires, it is dangerous, or at least imprudent, to erect trophies representing the tri. umphs of parties, or even of states, especially on debateable ground, like Lombardy. The brazen column in the Place Vendome, has been more than once in danger of being transformed back again into cannon !
human race, and which is equally curious and melancholy to contemplate, may be seen on a large scale in the great hospital of Milan-the PELLAGRÁ of the Lombardo-Venetian plains. Those who have not courage to view it. in the living body, may form a tolerable idea of its external characters from some excellent representations in wax, at the Museum of the University of Rologna.
This horrible malady, or complication of maladies, has only been observed during the last 60 or 80 years, and is rapidly increasing. The proportion of cases in the hospital is very considerable.* It begins by an erysipelatous eruption on the skin, which breaks out in the Spring, continues till the Autůmn, and disappears in the Winter-chiefly affecting those parts of the surface which are habitually exposed to the sun or the air. This cutaneous symbol of an internal disorder is accompanied or preceded by remarkable debility, lassitude, melancholy, moroseness-hypochondriacism—and not seldom a strong propensity to suicide. Year rolls on after year, and the cutaneous eruption, as well as the general disorders, become more and more aggravated, with shorter and shorter intervals in the Winter. At length the surface ceases to clear itself, and becomes permanently enveloped in a thick, livid, leprous crust, somewhat resembling the dried and black skin of a fish! By this time, the vital powers are reduced to a very low ebb—and not seldom the intellectual functions. The miserable victim of the dreadful pellagra loses the use of his limbs, more particularly of the lower extremities—is tormented with violent colick, head-ache, nausea, flatulence, and heartburnthe appetite being sometimes null, at others voracious. The countenance becomes sombre and melancholy, or totally void of expression—the breath fetid--the teeth rotten--the inside of the mouth ulcerated—the mucous membrane highly irritable, and diarrhea is a common accompaniment of the other disastrous train of miseries. But the most distressing phenomenon of all, is a sense of burning heat in the head and along the spine, whence it radiates to various other parts of the body, but more especially to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet-tormenting the wretched victim day and night, and depriving him completely of sleep! He frequently feels as if an electric spark darted from the brain, and flew to the eyeballs, the ears, and the nostrils, burning and consuming those parts. To these severe afflictions of the body are often added strange hallucinations of the mind. The victim of pellagra fancies that he hears the incessant noise of millstones grinding near him of hammers resounding on anvils--of bells ringing or the discordant cries of various animals ! The disease, when advanced, takes the form of many other maladies, as tetanus, convulsions, epilepsy, dropsy,
* It has been supposed that a sixth or seventh of the country population is affected with pellagra, in those parts of the country where it is most prevalent.
mania, and marasmus*--the patient ceasing at last to exist and to suffer, when reduced to the state and appearance of a mummy. It is by no means uncommon--who can say it is wonderful-that the wretched being abbreviates the term of his afflictions, and anticipates the too tardy hand of death in a paroxysm of suicidal mania! It is remarkable that this tendency to self-destruction very often assumes the form of a desire to consummate that last act of the tragedy.by drowning-so much so that STRAMBI, a writer on the pellagra, has given it the name of HYDROMANIA, when this propensity exists.
Whatever may be the precise nature of the cause of this dreadful disease, it is certain that it is almost universally confined to those who reside in the country, leading an agricultural life and to the lowest orders of society. It is not bounded by any age--being frequently seen in the youngest children. The whole of the flat country on both sides of the river Po--but more especially the fertile and level plains between that river and the Alps, are the theatre and head-quarters of pellagra. I have only sketched the more prominent features of the complaint, and I have by no means magnified either its horrors or its prevalency. If those who doubt this statement will consult the native writers on the malady, as Strambi, Trapolli, Soler, Zanetti, and many others, they will acknowledge that I have softened rather than exaggerated the picture.
Such is the sweeping and terrible scourge of those beautiful and fertile plains that furnish themes of admiration for the poet, the painter, the novelist, and the romantic tourist ! Had Rogers and Wordsworth, while celebrating the borders of Como and the Lago Maggiore, representing them as terrestrial paradises, been acquainted with the pestilence that afflicted one seventh of the inhabitants, they would have curbed a little their poetic fancies -or added a back ground to the picture :-
Where the world danced
A thousand love-adventures written there.-ROGERS.
learned doctors. But it is just as inscrutable as the causes of hepatitis on the coast of Coromandel, elephantiasis in Malabar, beriberi in Ceylon, Barbadoes leg in the Antilles, goitre among the Alps-the plica in Poland-cretinism in the Valais--or malaria in the Campagna di Roma! It is an emanation from the soil; but whether conveyed in the air we breathe, the food we eat, or the water we drink, is unknown. If this, or any of the endemics which I have
It is on this account that we see written over the heads of the beds in Milan Hospital, the various diseases to which pellagra forms the adjective, as atrophia pellagrina, phthisis pellagrina, hydrops pellagrinus, paralysis pellagrina, mania pellagrina, &c.
inentioned, depended on the filth or dirty habits of the people, we ought to have similar complaints in Sion, or the Jews' quarter in Rome, the narrow lanes of Naples, and the malarious alleys of all Italian towns and cities. But such is not the case. The Jews' quarter in Rome is the dirtiest and the healthiest spot in that famous city. The inhabitants of Fondi, Itri, and other wretched villages in the Neapolitan dominions, are eaten up with dirt, starvation, and malaria, but no pellagra, no elephantiasis, no goitre, no cretinism is to be seen there. The inevitable and the rational inference is, that each country, where peculiar or endemic maladies prevail, produces them from some hidden source, which human knowledge has not yet been able to penetrate. The general opinion among the medical men of the Milanese is, that the pellagra results from the extreme poverty and low unwholesome diet of the peasantry. It might moderate the wailings of the English farmers, and even their labourers, if they knew the condition of their own ranks on those fertile plains so bepraised by our poets and travellers. Let us hear what a recent writer (M. Jourdain) says :-"Quoique la Lombardie soit une des contrées les plus fertiles de l'Europe, l'habitant des campagnes se nourrit presque exclusivement de végétaux, de pain de seigle inal cuit et aigre, de riz, de bled de Turquie, preparé de plusieurs manieres, &c. Il mange rarement de la viande, et, quoique le sol qu'il foule aux pieds produise de la vigne, sa pauvreté lui interdit le vin. Il n'a, pour etancher sa soif, que des eaux presque toujours impures et bourbeuses. Devoré par le misere, il ne peut se couvrir que de haillons, et souvent il partage sa demeure avec des animaux immondes.”
The above are the words, not of a political, but a medical writer, who could have no object in exaggerating the miseries of the Lombardo-Venetian peasant. The ordinary traveller is so enchanted with the fertility of the soil, the beauty of the lakes, the romantic grandeur of the surrounding Alps, and the brilliancy of the skies, that he overlooks the misery of the inhabitants, and the diseases that carry them to a premature grave! The poet avoids such scenes :
“ I turned my prow and followed, landing soon
Where steps of purest marble met the wave ;-
Between Sesto Calende and the river Po at Piacenza, the inexperienced traveller will be forcibly struck with a sickly cast of countenance among the inhabitants of the rich Lombardo-Venetian plains, totally different from anything which he had formerly seen. The experienced traveller, on the other
hand, will instantly recognize a physiognomy quite familiar to his sight. Those who have visited the unhealthy localities within and without the tropics, and who are capable of any observation at all, are well acquainted with the peculiar and morbid aspect which malarious districts impress on the human countenance, in characters which it is impossible to misunderstand. The alluvial debouches of the Scheldt, the Nile, the Oroonoko, the Euphrates, the Ganges, the Danube, the Po, besides ten thousand intermediate places in the four quarters of the globe, have so deteriorated the bealth of man, and stamped on his visage such indelible marks of disease, that the most superficial observer can never forget the humiliating portrait. Let the inexperienced and curious traveller, then, pass through the towns between Milan and Piacenza on market days, when the peasants are congregated in the streets, and he will see a picture of human nature, little less deplorable or disgusting than that which the cretins of Sion present. He will there be able to form a good idea of the general effects of malaria throughout the world—while the local or peculiar effects, as sketched under the head of PELLAGRA, will complete the melancholy outline !
The complexion is neither yellow nor sallow, but an unsightly and unearthly compound of the twoma never-failing'effect of malaria, whatever be the parallel of latitude-whether on the pestiferous plains of Beveland or of Batavia.* To the experienced eye, the features, the whole countenance, present infallible indications of a slow poison circulating with the current of the blood, through every organ of the body, and gradually sapping the foundations of health and life. The rice-grounds between the Alps and the Po, irri. gated in every direction, and not seldom inundated, are nearly as fertile in the production of the mysterious and fatal malaria, as of grain, fruit, and vegetables. Of this dreadful scourge of Italy's fair fields I shall speak more in the sequel ;—but I conjure travellers to be observant of its effects, and they will trace its operations, in more or less activity, through every valley, plain, and mountain, between Como and Calabria.
MILAN TO BOLOGNA.
Mercy on us, what empires, kingdoms, principalities, and states, have we traversed in forty-eight or fifty hours ! Had it not been for a boat laden with Parmesan cheese, which carried away the Pont Volant over the Po, at Piacenza, imperial Austria would have furnished us with COFFEE, before day-light
* The author of a “ FAMILY TOUR” has fallen into an egregious mistake, when he states that the inhabitants of South Beveland generally attain a good old age. · They attain the appearance of 60 at the age of 40, and do not average the life of Englishmen by ten years. Such are the errors of superficial observation !