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Art. III.-1. Illustrations of the Theory and Practice of Ven
tilation, with Remarks on Warming, Exclusive Lighting, and the Communication of Sound. By David Boswell Reid, M.D., F.R.S.E., Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Honorary Member of the Imperial Medico-Chirurgical Society of St. Petersburgh, Honorary Member of the Hunterian Medical Society, Member of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of London, formerly Vice-President of the Society of Arts for Scotland, and Senior President of the Royal Medical
Society of Edinburgh. pp. 451. London, 1844. 2. Ventilation; a Reply to Misstatements made by · The Times' and
by · The Athenæum' in reference to Ships and Buildings Ventilated by the Author ; with a few Remarks on the opposing demands, in respect to Ventilation, of different Constitutions. By D. B. Reid, M.D., F.R.S.E., one of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of large Towns and populous Districts in
England and Wales, &c. &c. pp. 28. London, 1845. W HERE has long existed in the civilized world a kind of
1 vague impression that fresh air is conducive to the health and comfort of mankind. It has even been surmised that the ancients were not altogether strangers to this principle; some theorists go so far as to suppose that the apertures of our modern dwellings-doors, chimnies, and windows-have been sometimes planned with an eye to the salubrity of the inmates, by the alternate admission and exclusion of air ; in fact, in England the term Ventilation, and as we had hitherto thought, something of the practice, can be traced two centuries back. About one hundred years ago—in the reign of King George II., an era which Dr. Reid evidently considers obsolete if not barbarousone Dr. Hales is said to have made himself remarkable by some systematic essays on what he was pleased to call • Ventilation ;' he even invented a machine which he named a Ventilator, and which, says his biographer (for even his obscurity found a biographer), has proved to be one of the most extensively useful contrivances for the preservation of health and human life ever discovered.' We had a notion also, that in the reign of George III., Dr. Beddoes and a certain Mr. Richard Lovell Edgworth had established a pneumatic institution at Bristol under the direction of one Humphry Davy, where something that, at first sight, looks very like a main feature of Dr. Reid's new system, was not only indicated but practised. The Philosophical Transactions too, and several of those recondite collections of forgotten things called Encyclopædias, contain essays and articles on · Ventilation ;'
and indeed, happening within these few days to turn to · Buchan's Domestic Medicine,' we found there what (if Dr. Reid had not forewarned us) would have seemed to our ignorance some very sensible observations on the effect of ventilation on human health. We could mention several still more recent names which we thought had acquired some celebrity in these matters; but as Dr. Reid does not consider any of them, ancient or modern, worthy of the slightest notice, but, on the contrary, claims for himself the sole discovery of scientific ventilation, we are entitled to conclude that whatever accidental resemblance there may be between his great system and any of their prior attempts, must be merely fortuitous, and that Ventilation has, under his auspices, become a new science,' which has not only effaced all the vague and imperfect dabblings of former experimentalists, but has obtained for Doctor Reid a high and honourable rank amongst the inventive benefactors of mankind. This is established as axiomatic truth in almost every page of the great work before us, but no where in so quotable a form as we find it in a defence of Dr. Reid from the malignity of some critical contemporaries' published in the Edinburgh Weekly Register of the 14th of January, 1846, which, though of course anonymous, has very much the odour of being written by Dr. Reid himself—it is at least quite in the style of his larger works, and worthy his modest and philosophical pen, particularly such passages as these :
• The science itself dates but a few years back: and even its most elementary truths are little appreciated by the public. Dr. Reid was the first who directed his unwearied industry and his scientific acumen to subdue those terrible but invisible enemies that surround man wherever he may wander-in sleep or in wakefulness, at his work or at his feasts—and to forge weapons to enable him to wage deadly warfare with the subtle and omnipotent Genii of the Air.'
That the practice of the medical profession has been often besore called 'a deadly warfare, we do not pretend to deny: but, we presume that no one will question the absolute originality of a science that thus enables its author “to subdue the omnipotent Genii of the Air.' And yet the elements of this wonderful artas of so many other great discoveries-are few and simple. As Sir Isaac Newton was led by the fall of an apple to weigh and measure the orbs and orbits of the planetary universe, so Dr. Reid
-the Newton of Ventilation—from observing that wind frequently comes in at the bottom of a door, and that smoke (before the introduction of parliamentary sweeping) used generally to go up the chimney, has imagined a system which, in justice to its discoverer, may be called Reid- Ventilation—a system whereof the chief feature is, that every house is to be provided with a larder for cold air and
an oven for hot; from which not only every room, but each person in every room may be accommodated with cold or hot to his individual taste as easily as one in a tavern can have a hot chop or a slice of cold ham. 'The illustration of this admirable system is the object of the work before us; and we trust, however inadequate our explanation of these sublime mysteries of modern science' may be, our sincere admiration and indeed veneration for Doctor Reid will be a striking and honourable contrast to that 'malignant criticism' of which he has heretofore had reason to complain.
It has been a frequent subject of psychological inquiry, how far the idiosyncracy or peculiar turn of an individual intellect may have directed it to great discoveries that seem at first sight accidental—and philosophical critics are fond of tracing a similarity or consonance between an author's subject and the scope and style of his mode of treating it. In Newton's works we see a simplicity, a gravity, and a condensation admirably in character with the great principle he develops; and so in his rival Dr. Reid we acknowledge that the extreme lightness, diffusion, and tenuity of the work is in perfect harmony with the nature of the subject. Petronius we think called some very thin texture woven air ;' Dr. Reid's book may be justly called printed air'-a great expanse without any visible substance, and of such extreme similarity and mobility of parts, that any one paragraph has much the same meaning as any other, and all may be mixed together or transposed, backward or forwards, up or down, without becoming in any sensible degree less distinct and clear :-a happy adaptation of style, which we the rather insist upon as an excuse for the difficulty we shall find in condensing it into any shape or substance, or of making our readers understand how there may really be in the work itself, as in the element it treats of, great weight and wonderful combination, where the common eye can see nothing at all.
There is another important point also in which Dr. Reid's design harmonizes most felicitously with his subject. It is quite transparent—very easily seen through—and yet if carefully analyzed, the products we have no doubt would be found very substantial. Indeed both the subject and the object of Dr. Reid's experiments, each having three component parts, may be reduced to the common formula of l + s + d, thus : 1 represents 'oxygen, the great element whose power on the material [and scientific] world is more marked than any other substance' (362): s represents nitrogen-larger in bulk though less in value than 1, but useful in animal economy as diluting and facilitating the use of oxygen' ($ 364); d, being the very small portion of carbonic
acid which, though not an absolute impurity, 'is of so inferior a quality as not to be worth consideration when mixed in so small a proportion with oxygen  and nitrogen [s] ; and on which alone human life cannot be maintained.' (§ 462.) This is curious : but we regret to add, that although Dr. Reid states accurately, as we shall see by and bye, his daily and annual consumption of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbonic, he no where gives us any distinct measure of the quantities of the other substances designated as l. s. d. that he has absorbed, or is capable of absorbing. We recommend the further analysis of this interesting matter to that celebrated financial chemist, Mr. Joseph Hume.
Dr. Reid judiciously establishes in limine the originality and importance of the new science by telling us that
before the discoveries of Priestley, Scheele, Lavoisier, and Black,* the term ventilation could have had no distinct and definite meaning; the chemistry of the numerous gases was a blank in the page of science, and they too often surrounded or entered the habitations of men without being perceived.'--p. ix.
It is obvious enough that no one could open a window or shut a door without a scientific knowledge of the numerous gases' which compose what is popularly called the wind; and that the admitting the air to the inside or even the outside of our houses, without a previous examination of its quality, is, in Dr. Reid's opinion, a most dangerous practice—as bad as hiring a servant without a previous inquiry into his character. Indeed, in a perfect system of ventilation, such as the Doctor eventually hopes to see realised, the character of the several portions of the atmosphere with which mankind are to allow themselves to come into contact will be so carefully examined, that air will be no longer the chartered libertine’ of the olden times, but so watched and warded that any foul winds or exhalations found wandering about the streets will be arrested by a ventilating police, and confined to hard labour in certain penitentiary receptacles, whence they will not be released 'till their characters shall be completely altered.'— 101.
We have not room for Dr. Reid's diagrams (figs. 13 and 14) of the concatenated cells and drains which are to honeycomb the subsoil of our streets for the arrest and confinement of bad air, and of the lofty shafts by which the peccant effluvia are to be carried off, and which would make a city look like a forest of columns. The shafts, as exhibited in the elevation (fig. 14), are to be Doric columns of about the dimensions, it seems, of
* Why these names are placed in this order, or rather disorder, we know not; and why the Doctor takes no more notice of Cavendish than of old Hales, the readers of our last Number will wonder.
the Duke of York's in Waterloo Place; and, as far as we can judge from the plan (fig. 13), we do not think that it would require for all London much more than ten thousand such columns to complete the author's equally philanthropic and æsthetical design. Delighted, however, as we sincerely are at the prospect of works so salubrious and magnificent, it is our duty to observe that Dr. Reid, though in general very jealous of smoke, which he everywhere paints in the blackest colours, does not seem to attach sufficient importance to the obvious objection that the ten thousand fire-shafts will do more mischief by smoke, soot, and other deleterious results of combustion, than the foul air could have done if it had not been sent to these columnar Houses of Correction. Dr. Reid, we admit, attenuates such objections by suggesting the employment of coke, and the forcing all chimnies to consume their own smoke; but even in preparing coke for the use of those Æolian ergastula the injurious products must be evolved somewhere; and since the lamented loss of Mr. Michael Angelo Taylor, of antifuliginous memory, the smoke of the metropolis has become exceedingly mutinous, and, in a lamentable majority of cases, absolutely refuses to consume itself.
But it would be doing injustice to a philosophical work—the result of indefatigable industry and scientific acumen,' elaborately divided and arranged into seven leading ‘Parts,'—exclusive of preface, introduction, index, and appendix - classified with scientific exactness into about thirty chapters, and subdivided again into 857 paragraphs, and illustrated with no less than 330 diagrams-it would be, we say, doing injustice to so systematic a work not to give some connected view of the order in which the author proceeds—ex fumo dare lucem.
He begins by giving some very novel and, we might say, surprising information as to the general nature of the atmosphere :
No agent exerts a more continuous power upon man than the atmosphere by which he is surrounded. He depends upon it for the breath of life. It forms the great pabulum vitæ, to which all other nourishment is subordinate, and without which death immediately ensues. It is the medium of those vibrations, without which there would be no voice to cheer man in his present abode, no language, no melody, nor harmony of sounds; it conveys the fragrance of the most odoriferous and attractive flowers; it warns him equally, by their offensive impression, of numerous sources of disease and danger..... But the atmosphere is no less wonderful when viewed in the various changes which it effects in the animal and vegetable kingdom, than in the mild and genial movements which it presents on a summer's eve, or in the violent action which it assumes in the wind, the rain, and the tempest.'- $ 2, 5. The revelation of all these wonderful and hitherto unknown