A SANITARY CRUSADE THROUGH THE EAST AND AUSTRALASIA. Reprinted from “The Building News”, September 2nd, 9th, & 16th, 1892. London: Robert Boyle & Son, Limited. Glasgow.
1892. Small 8vo, pp. [vi], 44; with 7 full-page half tone plates, and further illustrations within the text, together with head- and tailpieces; some occasional light marginal soiling and foxing; with library label on front paste down, and library deaccession stamp on front free endpaper, and a number of smaller though quite discreet stamps throughout; An attractively printed account by Robert Boyle the younger, the noted Glasgow sanitary engineer and inventor and adept self-promoter, recounting his experiences during his ‘fourth crusade’ around the world, studying sanitary science and promoting sanitary reform through his own inventions.
Robert Boyle Senior (c. 1820-1878) was a practical religious philanthropist, who established charitable bakeries for Glasgow's poor, and delivered earnest, illustrated 'missionary lectures'. He opened an industrial museum promoting temperance but it failed in 1857. In 1866 he successfully demonstrated 'safe' high-explosives. Robert Boyle Junior (1850–1930) went into business with his father, and from 1870 onwards, to counter 'foul air' and harmful gaslight vapours, they developed their 'patent self-acting air-pump' roof and ship ventilators. These eliminated 'down-draught' and utilised natural air currents. They solicited testimonials from eminent scientists such as Lord Kelvin and Sir Joseph Lister, and from noted architects which adorned their full-page adverts. They won multiple prizes at international sanitary exhibitions (e.g. 1881, 1884, Paris 1900), and prominent clients included Caius College, Cambridge and St Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Society's Burlington House in London.
From their London offices at 64 Holborn Viaduct, Boyle Junior began his world-wide 'sanitary crusades' in which he would preach a doctrine of health through the breathing of pure air. Reports on Boyle's travels appeared in the Building News during the early 1890s. The present work is an account of his fourth such venture, visiting Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Siam, Borneo, Java, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and the Sandwich Islands. He is particularly struck by the sight of the lepers at the Shway Dagohn Pagoda in Burma, who lined the steps from top to bottom, and all “suffering from that loathsome disease in its worst forms and most advanced stages” (p. 6). He observes further terrible cases in Mandalay and in the Sandwich Islands, Boyle believing it to be one of the greatest scourges of the day, and seemingly little tackled by the medical authorities. ‘Mr Boyle has a theory that the practice of cannibalism has had in the past much to do with the propagation of this terrible scourge, the disease being spread wholesale through the eating of infected bodies’ (p. 43). He also witnesses cholera and smallpox in Bangkok, discusses the water supply in Rangoon, sanitation in Sydney and Melbourne, public buildings in Adelaide, house drainage in Christchurch, and discusses the recent revolution in Honolulu. An account of this trip appeared in Nature 47, 105-106 (01 December 1892).
By the beginning of the 20th century Boyle had amassed a large fortune and in 1902 he donated £100,000 towards hygiene education in schools in 1902. When he died over £169,000 of his estate was bequeathed to charity.
Condition: in the original colour pictorial boards, rebacked with cream cloth, all edges gilt, covers a little soiled and scuffed, with some minor loss around extremities; a good copy.