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in perfect unison. After singing for ten minutes, the key had usually fallen a full semitone. Only two of them, of whom Iligliuk was one, could catch the tune as pitched by an instrument, which made it difficult with most of them to complete the writing of the notes; for if they once left off they were sure to recommence in some other key, though a flute or violin was playing at the time.
During the season passed at Winter Island, which appears to have been a healthy one with the Esquimaux, we had little opportunity of becoming acquainted with the diseases to which they are subject. Our subsequent intercourse with a great number of these people at Igloolik having unfor. tunately afforded more frequent and fatal instances of sickness among them, I here insert Mr. Ed. wards's remarks on this subject.
66 Our first communication with these people at Winter Island gave us a more favourable impres. sion of their general health than subsequent expe. rience confirmed. There, however, they were not free from sickness. A catarrhal affection, in the month of February, became generally prevalent, from which they readily recovered after the exci. ting causes, intemperance and exposure to wet, had ceased to operate. A solitary instance of pleurisy also occurred, which probably might have ended fatally but for timely assistance. Our intercourse with them in the summer was more interrupted; but at our occasional meetings they were observ. ed to be enjoying excellent health. It is probable that their certain supplies of food, and the nomade kind of life they lead in its pursuit during that sea
son, are favourable to health. Nutrition goes on actively, and an astonishing increase of strength and fulness is acquired. Active diseases might now be looked for, but that the powers of nature are providentially exerted with effect.
“ The unlimited use of stimulating animal food, on which they are from infancy fed, induces at an early age a highly plethoric state of the vascular system. The weaker, over-distended vessels of the nose quickly yield to the increased impetus of the blood, and an active hemorrhage relieves the subject. As the same causes continue to be applied in excess at frequent intervals, and are followed by similar effects, a kind of vicarious hemorrhage at length becomes established by habit; superseding the intervention of art, and having no small share in maintaining a balance in the circulating system. The phenomenon is too constant to have escaped the observation of those who have visited the dif. ferent Esquimaux people; a party of them has, indeed, rarely been seen, that did not exhibit two or three instances of the fact.
“ About the month of September, the approach of winter induced the Esquimaux at Igloolik to abandon their tents and to retire into their more established village. The majority were here crowded into huts of a permanent construction, the materials composing the sides being stones and the bones of whales, and the roofs being formed of skins, turf, and snow; the rest of the people were lodged in snow huts. For a while they continued very healthy; in fact, as long as the temperature of the interior did not exceed the freezing point, the vapours of the atmosphere congealed upon the
walls, and the air remained dry and tolerably pure ; besides, their hard-frozen winter stock of walrus did not at this time tempt them to indulge their ap petites immoderately. In January the tempera. ture suffered an unseasonable rise; some success. ful captures of walrus also took place; and these circumstances, combined perhaps with some superstitious customs of which we were ignorant, seem. ed the signal for giving way to sensuality. The lamps were accumulated, and the kettles more fre. quently replenished ; and gluttony, in its most dis. gusting form, became for a while the order of the day. The Esquimaux were now seen wallowing in filth, while some, surfeited, lay stretched upon their skins, enormously distended, and with their friends employed in rolling them about, to assist the operations of oppressed nature. The roofs of their huts were no longer congealed, but dripping with wet and threatening speedy dissolution. The air was, in the bone huts, damp, hot, and beyond sufferance offensive with putrid exhalations from the decomposing relics of offals or other animal matter permitted to remain from year to year undisturbed in these horrible sinks.
“What the consequences might have been had this state of affairs long continued, it is not difficult to imagine; but, fortunately for them, an early and gradual dispersion took place, so that by the end of January few individuals were left in the village. The rest, in divided bodies, established themselves in snow huts upon the sea-ice at some distance from the land. Before this change had been com. pleted, disorders of an inflammatory character had appeared. A few went away sick, some were un.
able to remove,
and others taken ill upon the ice, and we heard of the death of several about this period.
“ 'Their distance from the ships at once preclu. ded any
effectual assistance being rendered them at their huts, and their removal on board with safe. ty; the complaints of those who died at the huts, therefore, did not come under observation. It appears, however, to have been acute inflammation of some of the abdominal viscera, very rapid in its career. In the generality, the disease assumed a more insidious and sub-acute form, under which the patient lingered for a while, and was then ei. ther carried off by a diarrhea, or slowly recovered by the powers of nature. Three or four individu. als, who, with some risk and trouble, were brought to the ships, we were providentially instrumental in recovering ; but two others, almost helpless patients, were so far exhausted before their arrival, that the endeayours used were unsuccessful, and death was probably hastened by their removal.
66 That affection of the eyes known by the name of snow-blindness, is extremely frequent among these people. With them it scarcely ever goes beyond painful irritation, while among strangers inflammation is sometimes the consequence. I have not seen them use any other remedy besides the exclusion of light; but, as a preventive, a wooden eye-screen is worn, very simple in its con. struction, consisting of a curved piece of wood, six or seven inches long, and ten or twelve lines broad. It is tied over the eyes like a pair of spectacles, being adapted to the forehead and nose, and hol. lowed out to favour the motion of the eyelids, A
few rays of light only are admitted through a narrow slit an inch long, cut opposite to each eye.
“ There are, upon the whole, no people more destitute of curative means than these. With the exception of the hemorrhage already mentioned, which they duly appreciate, and have been obseryed to excite artificially to cure headache, they are ignorant of any rational method of procuring relief. It has not been ascertained that they use a single herb medicinally. As prophylactics, they wear amulets, which are usually the teeth, bones, or hair of some animal, the more rare apparently the more valuable. In absolute sickness they de. pend entirely upon their Angekoks, who, they persuade themselves, have influence over some subma. rine deities who govern their destiny. The mum. meries of these impostors, consisting in pretended consultations with their oracles, are looked upon with confidence, and their mandates, however ab. surd, superstitiously submitted to. These are con. stituted of unmeaning ceremonies and prohibitions generally affecting the diet, both in kind and mode, but never in quantity. Seal's flesh is forbidden, for instance, in one disease, that of the walrus in the other; the heart is denied to some, and the liv. er to others. A poor woman, on discovering that the meat she had in her mouth was a piece of fried heart instead of liver, appeared horror-struck; and a man was in equal tribulation at having eaten, by mistake, a piece of meat cooked in his wife's kettle.
“ Personal deformity from malconformation is uncommon; the only instance I remember being that of a young woman, whose utterance was un