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on the throne of the she-wolf's sons, and the
greatest empire that the world has ever seen
was beginning to break beneath its own
enormous weight.

In an early period of the eastern empire
the Justinian code provided for the complete
ventilation of the fine new city of Constantinople,
by ordering that no one should stop
the view, in any manner, of the windows
looking towards the sea, and that the minimum
width of the streets should not be less
than twelve feet. In Rome, the minimum
was five feeta law which the authorities
were not able to improve, owing to the
landlords, whose private vested interests jostled
public advantage out of the way. But, the
perfect sewerage of Rome, being one of the
most important disinfecting conditions of a
city, made up for this want of a freer circulation
of air. Her cloacæ are marvels to the present
day, and the duty of keeping them cleansed
and in good repair was a grave state matter,
delegated to the prætor as one of his most
important functions. Jerusalem even had
her streets swept daily, though in no time
has the Hebrew been remarkable for a
fanatical attention to cleanliness, either of person
or of dwelling. But, the world went back in
this common sense of the streets; and, in
spite of the example and experience of the
past, it was only in the twelfth century that
the first pavements were laid, by Philip
Augustus, in Paris. Heaven knows how long
the mother-city of la belle France would
have yet remained ungarnished with paving-stones,
unpleasantly assaulted during a ride taken
through the streets; when the filth stirred
up by the hoofs of the cavalcade bore such
pungent evidence to the need of improvement
that a ray of light penetrated the
kingly brain, and pavements were the result,
Yet matters went on so slowly, even after
this initiation, that so late as last century
there was a riot in Paris because of the
accumulation of filth and refuse in certain
quarters, which the authorities did not care to
remove. Things are mending now; and
Paris, with her streets washed and brushed
every day, like a dainty lady's face, is one of
the cleanest, if one of the least efficiently
drained, cities of the civilised world; while
London is fidgetting so feverishly over her
sanitary short-comings, that surely all must
soon be put to rights there, from the great
central river sewer to the smallest drains of
the outcast courts.

But our business is with positive rather
than with relative disinfectants. Besides
ventilation and sewerage the ancients knew
various chemical agents of purification which
we have re-discovered in quite late times.
The natron or nitre, with which the
Egyptians washed the bodies they were about to
embalm, was our modern caustic soda; their
oil of cedar was turpentine; they distilled
both pitch and tar, and cured toothache with
kreosote, using this last also for skin diseases
in cattle, for which it has been found valuable.
Another mode of using kreosote may
be seen in the circumstance that hams were
hung up on the roof, and apparently smoked.
Sulphur was one of the most valued
disinfectants in Greece and Italy. When Ulysses
killed the suitors, after putting matters in
order, he called for sulphur to sulphurise the
place by burning the sulphur, and so causing
acid fumigations. It was also a sacred
method of purification, and its name in Greek
signifies divine. It was burnt in lustrations,
as a religious ceremony; and the shepherds
yearly purified their flocks with it. The
Italians have re-discovered its use in their
vineyards, as a cure for the oïdium—at least,
as a check and preventive, if not wholly a
cure. Bitters, also, were used to preserve
new wines, much in the same way as we use
hops. Honey, again, for purposes where we
use sugar, and sometimes for preserving
specimens, as we would now employ spirits of
wine. Thus, a centaur which was born in
Thessaly, but which, unfortunately for
mankind, died the day after its birth, was sent,
preserved in honey, to a museum in Egypt.
That centaur would be worth finding, in this
age of the Feejee mermaid and the woolly
horse. Fire was another great purifier. In.
times of plague or general distemper, fire,
accompanied with perfumes, flowers, vinegar,
aromatic substances, pepper, mustard, &c.,
was used in the streets as a disinfectant. We
have all read of its value in our own Great
Plague. But, in ancient times purification by
fire had a literal as well as a moral sense, and
meant something more real and living than
what the same words mean used now as a
mere forgotten sign. Water was also much
relied on as a means of purification; and our
far-away progenitors knew how to check
epidemic disease by closing the windows
looking towards the infected quarter, and
opening those with the contrary aspect. They
knew, also, the use of anæsthetics, and could
perform painless extraction of teeth by means
of white hellebore. In the fifteenth century,
too, Philip Bersaldo speaks of amputation
without pain as an idea and practice of
common use. This, though beside the general
purport of our paper, is a fact too curious to
be omitted.

The modern history of disinfectants began
in the seventeenth century; but it was only
in seventeen hundred and thirty-two that
Dr. Petit made the first notable experiment
in antiseptics; using small pieces of mutton
to try how long each special antiseptic
preserved a piece untainted. His conclusions
were, that astringents were the best, their
action being similar to that of drying. Sir
John Pringle followed in the same track.
His antiseptic panaceas were salts, and the
astringent gummy and resinous parts of
vegetables and fermenting liquors. Dr.
Macbride,  after him, speaks of acids as the

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