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Hygeia, a City of Health   By: (1828-1896)

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I wrote this Address with the intention of dedicating it to you, as a simple but hearty acknowledgment by a sanitary student, himself well ripened in the work, of your pre eminent position as the living leader of the sanitary reformation of this century.

The favour the Address has received indicates notably two facts: the advance of public opinion on the subject of public health, and the remarkable value and influence of your services as the sanitary statesman by whom that opinion has been so wisely formed and directed.

In this sense of my respect for you, and of my gratitude, pray accept this trifling recognition, and believe me to be,

Ever faithfully yours ,



The immediate success of this Address caused me to lay it aside for some months, to see if the favour with which it was received would remain. I am satisfied to find that the good fortune which originally attended the effort holds on, and that in publishing it now in a separate form I am acting in obedience to a generally expressed desire.

Since the delivery of the Address before the Health Department of the Social Science Congress, over which I had the honour to preside, at Brighton, in October last, every day has brought some new suggestion bearing on the subjects discussed, and the temptation has been great to add new matter, or even to recast the essay and bring it out as a more compendious work. On reflection I prefer to let it take its place in literature, in the first instance, in its original and simple dress.

12 HINDE STREET, W.: August 18, 1876.


We meet in this Assembly, a voluntary Parliament of men and women, to study together and to exchange knowledge and thought on works of every day life and usefulness. Our object, to make the present existence better and happier; to inquire, in this particular section of our Congress: What are the conditions which lead to the pain and penalty of disease; what the means for the removal of those conditions when they are discovered? What are the most ready and convincing methods of making known to the uninformed the facts: that many of the conditions are under our control; that neither mental serenity nor mental development can exist with an unhealthy animal organisation; that poverty is the shadow of disease, and wealth the shadow of health?

These objects relate to ourselves, to our own reliefs from suffering, to our own happiness, to our own riches. We have, I trust and believe, yet another object, one that relates not to ourselves, but to those who have yet to be; those to whom we may become known, but whom we can never know, who are the ourselves, unseen to ourselves, continuing our mission.

We are privileged more than any who have as yet lived on this planet in being able to foresee, and in some measure estimate, the results of our wealth of labour as it may be possibly extended over and through the unborn. A few scholars of the past, like him who, writing to the close of his mortal day, sang himself to his immortal rest with the ' Gloria in excelsis ,' a few scholars might foresee, even as that Baeda did, that their living actual work was but the beginning of their triumphant course through the ages, the momentum. But the masses of the nations, crude and selfish, have had no such prescience, no such intent. 'Let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die!' That has been the pass, if not the password, with them and theirs.

We, scholars of modern thought, have the broader, and therefore more solemn and obligatory knowledge, that however many to morrows may come, and whatever fate they may bring, we never die; that, strictly speaking, no one yet who has lived has ever died; that for good or for evil our every change from potentiality into motion is carried on beyond our own apparent transitoriness; that we are the waves of the ocean of life, communicating motion to the expanse before us, and leaving the history we have made on the shore behind... Continue reading book >>

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