Relevant Quotes from William Farr

Humphreys, N.A. (Editor): Vital Statistics: A Memorial Volume of Selections from the Reports and Writings of William Farr. London, Sanitary Institute, 1885, p. 254-5. Reprinted for the New York Academy of Medicine by the Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen NJ, 1975.

All the preceding diseases are changed, and some are induced, by external agents, but the present class contains the evident results of physical and chemical forces working on the organisation. Burns, asphyxias, wounds, poisonings, stings, are types of the several sub orders of the class.

Fire, asphyxia, mechanical forces, poisons, stings, induce specific diseases, which present an everyday succession of phenomena, and ought to in all cases have names. So, as it is the “burn” and not the hearth that is the reason for death, therefore it’s the disease to which “arsenic” offers rise, instead of the arsenic, that we tend to ought to register.

Human agency plays thus important a part in this class, that it might be made the premise of the division into orders. So a person may die (1) a wonderful death in battle (pro patria mori); he may die (two) by an act of homicide (murder, manslaughter); he could die (3) ignominiously on the scaffold (execution); or, (4) abandoning the post in that God has placed him, he might remove his own life (suicide); (5) he could die by a surgical treatment; and (six) he could die by chance.

If this grouping be adopted, the mode in that death is created by wounds, chemical injuries, poisons, asphyxias, and mechanical forces, would kind secondary heads.

At the instance of the Registrar General, instructions are prepared beneath the several heads of the Nosology, for the use of medical men and coroners in England. In the many countries of Europe similar instructions would be required, and might be modified so as to satisfy the peculiar circumstances of every nation.

The most significant purpose to attend to within the instructions is the registration of the secondary diseases which intervene within the course of other diseases, and the record of the length of each fatal disease.

To render the analysis of the causes of death complete, it can be necessary to subject a certain range of them to a second analysis: showing, as an example, the varied ways that in which childbirth is fatal, the circumstances in which fatal accidents occur, the cases of measles that terminate in bronchitis or pneumonia, of scarlatina that pass into dropsy, and therefore the length of every fatal case. These analyses would be attention-grabbing chiefly to medical statists.

I actually have so sketched in outline the classification of diseases from the statistical point of read, and have arranged them all underneath the 5 groups of Epidemic diseases (zymotici or demici), Constitutional diseases (cachectici), Local diseases (monorganici), Developmental diseases (metamorphici), and diseases that are the direct result of violence (thanati).

The general statist will gain a notion of the three 1st classes, by comparing them with the disorders arising during a most elaborate machine–from electrical, magnetic, or chemical action, and from the wear of its particular components. The fourth class is exemplified by defects of construction and by general decay. The fifth class is represented by the act of breaking the machine to pieces, disintegrating its components, and putting an end to its movements, which when once stopped can not be recommenced.

By learning the causes which are injurious and fatal to men in our countries and in our cities, statists will contribute to the removal of evils which shorten human life and to the improvement of the race of men, thus that voters of civilized States might be created to excel barbarians as abundant in strength as they do in the arts of peace and of war.

Within the words of Bacon, “If physicians [and we might add governments] “can learn and use the true approaches and avenues of nature, they may “assume as abundant because the poet saith-