Syphilis in Belgium

1846 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal  
SYPHILIS IN BELGIUM Without attributing to the disease called syphilis-that direful plague of the human race-the mysterious importance with which the followers of Hahnemann invest it (following, in this respect, the erratic footsteps of their visionary master), we cannot deny that the propagation of syphilis is one of the most potent causes of the deterioration of mankind, and one of the greatest evils, physical as well as moral, to which the human race is liable. Were the disease merely to
more » ... sease merely to afflict those persons who have exposed themselves to contagion in the haunts of vice, it might be considered merely a just punishment for moral depravity. But such is not the fact. The innocent victims of syphilis are infinitely more numerous than the guilty; for it is a disease which follows vice and crime down to "the third and fourth " generations ; syphilis in the parents being, it is generally considered, one of the chief causes of scrofula, pulmonary consumption, and other fatal and distressing diseases in their children. Under such circumstances, it will at least be admitted, that it is a question worthy of consideration whether it may not be wise for a government to adopt measures to prevent the propagation of this malignant and destructive malady, with the humane object of protecting future generations from early decay and death. We are thus guarded in putting the question, because we are well aware that it is the general opinion in this country, that any interference with vicious pursuits, for sanatory purposes, is an indirect sanction of such practices, and is, therefore, to be condemned. Acting on such views in this country, syphilis has been left to itself; it has exercised its ravages on multitudes of the population, unrestricted, uncontrolled. The result is, that in no part of the world, we believe, in accordance with the generally-received opinion of the profession, is there more syphilis, as compared with the population, than in Great Britain ; and in scarcely any is the disease seen in a more virulent form. In no country, also, as a necessary corollary, are we likely to find its influence as a cause of consumption and scrofula, and of cachectic diseases in general, more fully developed ; these affections, according to the philosophical idea of M. Lugol, being destined to purify the human race from contaminated stock, and thus to prevent its continuous and. final deterioration. The difficulty, however, which we should experience in establishing any kind of medical superintendence over the abandoned classes of society, and the moral objection which may be raised, with a certain appearance of correctness, to the marshalling of the vicious, even for
doi:10.1056/nejm184605060341401 fatcat:dzoce5brbnfobnanlj4k6vxo2q