Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health—1867—8.
people. Laws may be good, in the abstract, but oppressive in their operation. No specific
exists, whereby the evils from which we suffer can be made void. The struggle will have
to continue as long as man lives. It is not only in large towns that sanitary evils are met
with, but in every region round about. Many a picturesque village perched on the hillside,
or lying quietly in the deep and silent valley, is defaced with sanitary defects, unknown
even in our towns and cities; and is only kept free from disease by the pure air
ever blowing over it. But this even does not always avail to keep at bay fever and other
We seem in the position of the Alpine traveller, who thinks he sees the end of his
ascent, and will soon exultingly stand upon the topmost height. But no sooner does he
reach the fancied summit, than he finds there is still another, and another, until hope
almost fails. Thus it is with us. Grave nuisances that towered high, and cast far and
wide their baleful shadow, we once thought had only to be cast hence, and all would be
well. These gone, we find that they only hid others still more formidable, and more enduring.
Many belong not to the surroundings of man, but to the constitution of his moral
and intellectual powers. And hence, for any real and lasting good we require an improvement
in the human race, "We are fired with the hope to reform man. After many
experiments we find that we must begin earlier—at school. But the boys and girls are not
docile; we can make nothing of them. We must begin our reform earlier still—at generation."
To reform man, moral and hygienic measures must go hand in hand. They cannot
be divided without injury to the cause they are intended to benefit. Morality doubtless does
depend upon the sanitary state of a people. How can a man develope his moral powers
whilst living in the midst of filth and dirt; with all the associations by which he is surrounded,
tending only to imbrute his mind? Whilst on the other hand it is true that "the
moral governs the economical in the condition of man;" and that his happiness, and the
prosperity of the nation of which he forms a part must ever depend upon his character.
Alternately, they are related as cause and effect. When united the circle is complete.