The great prevalence of an infectious fever, and the introduction to Parliament of a sanitary measure, have of late invested these agents with more than ordinary public interest. They are not proposed merely as antiseptics possessing the power of arresting or preventing organized bodies from passing into a state of decomposition, but the means, as the term would imply, whereby the air especially, and other substances, are to be freed from the taint of subtle particles, sometimes noxious to the sense of smell only, and sometimes to life and health. Their operation, however, is necessarily confined to comparatively limited spaces within and around the dwellings of man, and cannot be supposed to extend to the more widely diffused essence of marsh miasma, nor materially to check the approach of devastating epidemics. They will not dispense with the approved drainage of the land in the one case, nor the well adjusted ventilation, sewerage, and good personal and domestic management best fitted to receive such visitations, in the other.
In order correctly to appreciate the probable influence of disinfectants, perhaps I ought to say something of malaria, a word much employed by medical men to designate a peculiar condition of the atmosphere found to be unfavourable to the preservation of health, and capable at any time, in susceptible subjects, of inducing disease. Of the precise chemical and physical properties of the matter of infection, we are not always well informed. I have much reason to believe that aqueous vapour is its ordinary ...
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