Review of Reviews,  6 (1892), 215–22.

The Progress of the World



Regular Feature, Editorial, News-Commentary

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Disease, Sanitation, Public Health, Christianity, Rationalism, Experimental Psychology, Mesmerism

    Cholera is now raging across the European mainland, and because 'the Russian Jews [...] fleeing from the Muscovite Pharaoh' to North America must by necessity 'cross England from Grimsby to Liverpool, no sanitary precautions will suffice to keep out' the disease from English shores. However, although it 'sounds paradoxical', the 'threatened visitation is a blessing in disguise. The Asiatic Cholera is the great Sanitary Inspector of Nature. He may be regarded as the author of modern sanitation, and whenever the zeal of the sanitarian burns low, the Cholera goes his rounds and revives the faith of mankind in measures of public health. There can be little doubt that the Cholera saves far more lives than the few whom it sacrifices'. Indeed, the 'beneficent scourge' is a 'striking illustration of the immense utility of sensationalism in the economy of the universe', in that, notwithstanding the efforts of 'journalists [who] exhaust their resources in striking headlines as if to get up a cholera panic', cholera is, in fact, 'really one of the least deadly of diseases'. (215) Also notes that 'there is a good deal more rationality about many of the features of Roman Church' than Protestants are willing to allow. For instance, the 'researches of psychologists, the phenomena of hypnotism, the strange new science of psychometry, are bringing to light the foundations upon which many much-contested Catholic doctrines really rest. Psychometry gives a rational basis for the veneration of relics, and it is being discovered there is more to be said for prayers for the dead, pilgrimages, and many other elements of faith and practice which Protestants regard as most irrational'. (221)

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