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330 THE CLIMATE OF ST. MICHAEL'S. sures of a residence in these islands, and also to their advantages as a place of residence for an invalid. The direct heat of the sun does not prevent even an invalid from spending the greater part of his day in the open air.
THE DISEASES OF ST. MICHAEL'S;
WITH SOME REMARKS ON THE DISORDERS TO THE RELIEF OF WHICH ITS CLIMATE IS PARTICULARLY SUITED.
THE diseases of the natives are such as might be expected from the mild and equable climate; they are of a passive and atonic, rather than of an active character. Not that active diseases, such as acute inflammations running a rapid course, are not occasionally met with among the young and robust, but that, in general, the affections are rather of a nervous than of an inflammatory kind; indicating either a deficiency or an irregularity in the distribution of nervous energy, as if particular nerves were in a feeble and unstrung condition. Thus the prevalent complaint, and one that is very common, is a painful affection of the nerves of the stomach, unattended with much disorder of the digestive function itself, or of the general health: a dull, slow,
aching pain, coming on soon after meals, and lasting many hours. In many cases this had lasted for several years: in some aggravated ones there were other symptoms, such as pyrosis and constant vomiting. The most common exciting cause of this affection among the poor is their diet; their principal meal consisting of cabbages and potatoes, chopped up, boiled, and mixed with a little lard. It is necessary for strangers to be very cautious in their diet, lest they should suffer from this form of indigestion. Somewhat stimulating food and wine are advisable, as well as a very cautious use of vegetables and fruit.
Next in frequency to this disease of the nerves of the stomach are painful affections of other nerves of the body, including rheumatic neuralgia: and loss of sensation, (either partial or complete,) in single nerves, is not unfrequent. Hypertrophy of the ventricles of the heart is more common than in England, and is sometimes accompanied with asthma, which is by no means a rare disease. Leprosy (elephantiasis tuberculata) may be said to be endemic, but it is not frequent; much less so, probably, than at Madeira, where there is a hospital devoted to those affected with this disease.
The children of the poor, from their constant exposure to the open air, their simple food, and the light unfettered dress which the mildness of the climate permits them to wear, are very healthy. I saw but few scrophulous diseases. The complaint to which they are most subject is bronchial inflammation, which sometimes seemed to lay the foundation of organic diseases of the heart and of asthma.
On the whole the diseases were simple and easily manageable. Complicated organic diseases, or morbid growths of a malignant character, are rare. I met with but a few cases of fever: in these the fever was complicated with inflammation of the bronchial and intestinal mucous membranes. Morbid growths of a simple character, such as steatomatous, fatty, and encysted tumours requiring removal, were not uncommon; and I saw many cases of bronchocele.
Consumption is extremely rare. I saw only two cases among 465 patients who fell under my observation, most of whom were affected with diseases of a chronic character. This immunity from consumption is further evidence, that one of the principal causes of this destructive disease is great vicissitudes of temperature, and it also shows that humidity, when accompanied by a
warm and equable temperature, is a favourable circumstance, rather than otherwise, in a climate which is sought by those who are predisposed to tubercular diseases of the lungs. In the island of Malta, where the air is very dry, although the climate is warm and not very variable, consumption prevails to a very considerable extent. The dryness of the air is shown by the quantity of dust which floats about in the atmosphere for more than half the year. In the Azores, on the contrary, dust is rarely seen.
These islands have not been much resorted to
by invalids from England. I heard of some youths, with a family predisposition to consumption, having spent the winter at St. Michael's with considerable advantage. In another instance, the patient was a young man who left England with most marked symptoms of consumption, which were the more alarming as many members of his family had died of the same disease. During a residence of upwards of twelve months in St. Michael's, all his symptoms were relieved, and he became so much stronger as to walk from the valley of the Furnas to Ponta Delgada, a distance of thirty miles over a mountainous road. He returned to England, and, not regarding the