Review of Reviews,  14 (1896), 195–206.

The Progress of the World



Regular Feature, Editorial, News-Commentary

Relevant illustrations:

map [2]; eng. [2]


Government, Sex, Hygiene, Public Health, Morality, Imperialism, Sanitation, Imposture, Vaccination, Gender, Crime, Mental Illness, Statistics, Error, Exploration, Physical Geography, Navigation, Heroism, Climatology

Institutions mentioned:


    Responds to 'an unwelcome rumour that the oft defeated medical police are dreaming of utilising the ascendancy of the present [Conservative] Government to restore the C. D. Acts for the benefit of the Indian Army', by maintaining a stern opposition to 'the sacred cause of State-patronised prostitution' (199–200). Although George F Hamilton, the Secretary of State for India, seeks 'by means of cooked statistics to prove that a sanitary millennium will be attained when Her Majesty provides one medically-certified native subject of hers and sisters of ours as the communal wife of each score or hundred soldiers maintained in India', he must come to recognize that '"No Thoroughfare" has been posted up once and for all by the British public across the road which they persist in trying to re-open'. Also reports that the 'zealots of sanitation who would immolate with indifference the principle of liberty and the obligations of morality for the off-chance of an infinitesimal improvement in the mortality returns, have just received a damaging blow from the report of the Vaccination Commission'. The fifteen members of the commission led by Farrer Herschell, 'with never a woman among them, after the usual non-human custom in this country', have, while 'strongly affirming the advantages of vaccination, [...] unanimously condemn[ed] the present practice of sending to gaol parents who have conscientious objections to the vaccinations of their children, or even of subjecting them to fines for non-compliance with the Act'. Observes that the 'Jubilee report of the Commissioners of Lunacy records an unprecedented increase in the numbers of officially certified lunatics', although noting that 'Of those not so certified—including, it is to be feared, no small proportion of the officials themselves—no record exists'. Objects that from 'these figures some misleading conclusions have been drawn. It is extremely doubtful whether lunacy is really increasing amongst us. What is increasing is the disposition on the part of poor people to send their insane relatives to an asylum', and this 'decay of irrational prejudice on the part of our poor' is surely an 'indication [...] of increasing sanity' in spite of the official statistics. (200) Also reports the heroic failure of the Arctic expedition of Fridtjof Nansen, who 'has done better than any who preceded him. But the North Pole remains to this day undiscovered' (204). Describes the terrible heat wave currently afflicting the eastern half of the United States of America, the 'most trying and disastrous experience of a climatic sort with which the country has been visited in our generation' (206).

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