« PreviousContinue »
the muscle pale and flabby, is in turn destroyed; and the joint being penetrated as by an augur, the extremity droops, and at length falls a victim to this cruel, tardy, but certain poison. The wounds then heal, and other joints are attacked in succession, whilst every revolving year bears with it a trophy of this slow march of death. Thus are the limbs deprived one by one of their extremities, till at last they become altogether useless. Even now death comes not to the relief of, nor is desired by the patient, who dying by inches,' and a spectacle of horror to all besides, still cherishes fondly the spark of life remaining, and eats voraciously all he can procure: he will often crawl about with little but his trunk remaining, until old age comes on, and at last he is carried off by diarrhoea or dysentery, which the enfeebled constitution has no stamina to resist."*
In the Elephantiasis, to which the Leuce or Baras may be considered as having an affinity, and probably sometimes terminating in it, "the tubercles," when the malady has for some time proceeded, "begin to crack, and at length to ulcerate ulcerations also appear in the throat, and in the nose, which sometimes destroy the palate and the cartilaginous septum; the nose falls; and the breath is intolerably offensive the thickened and tuberculated skin of the extremities becomes divided by fissures, and ulcerates, or is corroded under dry sordid scales, so that the fingers and toes gangrene and separate, joint after joint.-Aretæus and the ancients in general consider Elephantiasis as an universal cancer of the body, and speak of it with terror."+ According to Dr. J. M. Good, this disease is called by the Arabians juzam and juzamlyk, though more generally, judam and judamlyk, from an Arabic root which imports erosion, truncation, excision. From Arabic the term juzam has passed into India, and is the common name for
* Ibid, pp. 311–313.
the same disease, among the Cabirajas, or Hindoo physicians, who also occasionally denominate it Fisádi khún, from its being supposed to infect the entire mass of blood, but more generally khora.*
Maundrell, in a letter appended to his Travels, tells us, that at Sichem, (now Naplosa,) he saw several Lepers, who came begging to him all at the same time: "The distemper," says he, "as I saw it on them, was quite different from what I have seen it in England; for it not only defiles the whole surface of the body with a foul scurf, but also deforms the joints of the body, particularly those of the wrists and ankles, making them swell with a gouty scrofulous substance, very loathsome to look upon. I thought their legs like those of old battered horses, such as are often seen in drays in England. The whole distemper indeed, as it there appeared, was so noisome, that it might well pass for the utmost corruption of the human body on this side the grave: and, certainly, the inspired penmen could not have found out a fitter emblem, whereby to express the uncleanness and odiousness of vice."+
Michaelis in his Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, (C. iv. Part ii. Art. 207, 208, 209, 210, 211,) has entered at large into a discussion of the nature of the Jewish Leprosy, and also shown with much force of reasoning the wisdom of the Mosaic regulations for the prevention of contagion, and reducing the virulence of the disease itself. He states that M. Peyssonel, a physician, was sent to Guadaloupe to enquire into the nature of the Leprosy that broke out in that island, about 1730; and details from him an account of the disease very similar to what has been already given; to which M. Peyssonel adds,-"It has been remarked, that this horrible disorder has, besides, some very lamentable properties; as, in the first place,
Ibid, p. 317, note.
+ Dr. A. Clarke's Comment. on Levit. xiii. 2.
that it is hereditary; and hence some families are more affected with it than others: secondly, that it is infectious; -thirdly, that it is incurable, or at least no means of cure have hitherto been discovered."*
After the lapse of several thousand years, Leprosy is still a common disease throughout all Syria: it was, of course, endemic in Palestine, the country into which Moses conducted the Israelites. In Egypt, where they had previously dwelt, it is said to be still more frequent and virulent. To this the climate, no doubt, contributed in some degree. But other causes beside this may have tended to increase its influence among the Israelites. They were poor, and had been oppressed; and cutaneous diseases, and indeed almost all kinds of infectious disorders, prevail most among the poor, because they cannot keep themselves cleanly, and at a distance from infected persons. They had also partly dwelt in the damp and marshy parts of Egypt, and facts have proved that a very damp situation will produce, if not leprosy itself, at least a disease very similar to it. It is likewise material to notice, that their residence along the Nile and the marshy districts, rendered it easy for them to procure different kinds of fish, than which nothing, it is said, more effectually spreads and aggravates cutaneous disorders, if constantly or even frequently used as the entire or principal diet; thus we find at this day, in Norway and Iceland, a disorder, which, if not leprosy, comes very near it in similarity of symptoms, and which is ascribed to their eating great quantities of fish.t
During the Crusades, numbers of the pilgrims and soldiers who visited the East, were affected with severe cutaneous diseases; by whom the Leprosy is said to have been imported
Michaelis's Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, vol. iii. Art. 208. pp.
+ Ibid, pp. 273-277.
into Europe, and to have become extensively prevalent. It is certain that every country abounded with hospitals, established for the exclusive relief of that disease, from the tenth to the sixteenth century; and that an order of knighthood, dedicated to St. Lazarus, was instituted, the members of which had the care of lepers, and the controul of the Lazarettoes assigned to them, and ultimately accumulated immense wealth.* In1179, the General Council of Lateran condemned certain of the clergy for preventing lepers erecting churches for themselves, notwithstanding they were prohibited from entering all other churches; and a decree was passed ordaining, that, wherever a sufficient number of lepers were living together, they should be allowed a church, a cemetery, and a priest, and should be exempted from paying tithes of the fruits of their gardens or of the cattle which they fed.+ But we must not suppose that the immense numbers who were admitted into the Lazarettoes during the middle ages, were all afflicted with real leprosy, since almost every person affected with any severe eruption, or ulceration of the skin, was deemed leprous, and received into those institutions. "Indeed, there is little doubt,' says Dr. Bateman, "that every species of cachectic disease, accompanied with ulceration, gangrene, or any superficial derangement, was deemed leprous; and hence that in the dark ages, when the desolation of repeated wars, and the imperfect state of agriculture, subjected Europe to almost constant scarcity of food, the numerous modifications of scurvy and ignis sacer, which were epidemic during periods of famine, and endemic wherever there was a local dearth, were in all probability classed among the varieties of leprosy ; more especially as the last stage of the ignis sacer was marked by the occurrence of ulceration and gangrene of the
• Bateman's Practical Synopsis of Cutaneous Diseases, pp. 305, 306. + Fleury, Histoire Ecclesiastique, Tom. xv, p. 412. Bruxelles, 1715, 12mo.
extremities, by which the parts were mutilated or entirely separated."*
On the statutes relating to the leprosy in clothes and houses, Michaelis very justly observes, that "when we hear of the leprosy of clothes and houses, we must not be so simple as to imagine it the very same disease which is termed leprosy in man. Men, clothes, and stones have not the same sort of diseases; but the names of human diseases are, by analogy, applied to the diseases of other things. In Bern, for instance, they speak of the cancer of buildings, but then that is not the distemper so called in the human body. The cancer of buildings is with equal propriety a Swiss, as the leprosy of buildings is a Hebrew expression.”+ The house-leprosy (Levit. xiv. 33-57) appears to have been very similar to those corrosive and destructive effects not unfrequently produced in houses placed in unfavourable situations by the action of damp and foul air, of which what is termed the dry-rot in timber may be adduced as an instance." Our walls and houses," the preceding writer remarks, "are often attacked with something that corrodes and consumes them, and which we commonly denominate saltpetre. Its appearances are nearly as Moses describes
Bateman's Practical Synopsis, p. 308.-"Sauvages, under the head of Erysipelas pestilens, arranges the fatal epidemic disease, which prevailed extensively in the early and dark ages, as the sequel of war and famine, and which has received a variety of denominations: such as ignis sacer, ignis Sancti Antonii, &c. &c. according to its various modifications and degrees of severity, or according to the supposed cause of it. The disease was doubtless the result of deficient nourishment a severe land-scurvy which was a great scourge of the ancient world, and often denominated pestilence."-"The name of St. Anthony seems to have been first associated with an epidemic disease of this kind, which prevailed in Dauphine' about the end of the 12th century. An abbey dedicated to that Saint had recently been founded at Vienne, in that province-and it was a popular opinion, in that and the succeeding century, that all the patients who were conveyed to this abbey were cured in the space of seven or nine days."-Ibid. pp. 134, 135.
+ Michaelis, ut sup.