« PreviousContinue »
that the venereal disease is never more effectually cured by mercury, than when it is evident, from every mark by which the degree of evacuation can be afcertained, that the evacuation produced by it is leaft confiderable.
There is, however, another opinion, which, though attended with fome difficulties, is the most probable of any that have been offered on the fubject; and this is, that mercury is a real antidote to, or a fubftance capable of deftroying the virulence of, the venereal poifon. There cannot. certainly be any difficulty in conceiving that mercury and the verolic virus may mutually act upon each other, in confequence of a ftrong chemical affinity between them; or that the virulence of the venereal poifon may be totally fubdued by its union with another fubftance, granting this laft to be even as acrimonious and active as itself; and that the refult of this combination of two fubftances, highly active when exifting fingly, may be a tertium quid, or a new compound perfectly mild and innoxious. Chemistry furnifhes us with many inftances of this kind, a few of the most remarkable of which we have briefly noticed on a former and very different occasion *, to which the Reader is referred below. It is fcarce neceffary, on this occafion, to enlarge upon the many inftances that occur in daily practice, (and to which the Author refers) of the cure of venereal ulcers, effected by the mere topical application of mercurys which feems to destroy the activity of the venereal poison, in a manner exactly refembling that in which the activity of mercury itself is deftroyed by the addition of fulphur, in the compofition of Æthiops or Cinnabar.-This opinion, we must observe, however, is not adopted by the Author, to the extent in which we have here propofed it.
Granting, or conceiving it at leaft as highly probable, that this is the manner in which the venereal difeafe is cured by mercury; it remains to be confidered, in what manner the poifon and its remedy are brought into a fituation of being mixed with, and of acting upon, each other. The Author accordingly difcuffes the refpective merits of two opinions on this part of his fubject; according to which mercury is fuppofed to act as a remedy, either by effecting an alteration of the general mafs of circulating fluids, or by particularly at tracting, and fingly acting upon, the venereal matter itself contained in them, He urges feveral objections to these two fuppofitions, and feems particularly unwilling to allow that there fubfiits any elective attraction between mercury and the particles
In the illuftration of Dr. Priestley's theory of two electric fluids mutually and completely deftroying each others activity. See M. Review, Vol. xxxvii. December 1767, page 455.
of the venereal matter. The Author, however, fpecifies no particular reasons for this unwillingness, except by obferving, that the opinion of a particular attraction between these two fubftances, is an hypothefis fupported by no proof;' further adding, in ftill ftronger terms, that there feems not to be any fhadow of reafon to fuppofe that it does exist.'-The following is a fhort sketch of his opinion, or conjectures, as he modeftly terms them, on this fubject.
The venereal poifon is fuppofed by the Author, in general, not to produce a morbid ftate in the entire mafs of fluids, but to act as a morbific caufe only, on being collected and depofited at particular parts, (frequently very diftant from that at which it was at first received) to which it is carried in the courfe of the circulation. Thither, that is to these diseased parts, the mercury, its antagonist, whether received internally by the mouth, or externally by friction, likewife arrives in the due courfe of circulation, and exerts its antidotal powers against it, by an immediate or direct topical application. In other words, his fyftem is, that, merely in confequence of the establifhed laws of circulation, the mercury is carried indifferently to every part of the body, and, among others, cannot fail to be applied to thofe parts in which the venereal matter does exist,' and where it obtunds its acrimony, and destroys its morbific qualities.
By this fuppofition of an actual topical application of the mercury to the morbific matter to be acted upon, and which is fuppofed to have been previously separated from the general mafs, fome objections against the other hypotheses are avoided; and, at the fame time, the Author obferves, there is no neceffity for having recourfe to any hypothetical attraction' between mercury and the venereal virus. We think, nevertheless, that the inftances drawn from analogy, above alluded to, juftify the fuppofition, that the falutary change here effected is brought about by the commenftruation of the two fubftances; and that this their ready combination with each other, followed by the deftruction of the morbific qualities of one of them,implies a real elective attraction fubfifting between them; like that, for inftance, between an alcali, and an acid previously engaged in an earthy or metallic fubftance, which it deferts to join itfelf to the alcali. We are fenfible how liable the term, attraction, is to be abused; but certainly, in our prefent imperfect ftate of knowledge, it is very allowable to employ it, when nothing more is affumed or meant in the using it, than the declaring, or giving a general name to, a well known effect, resembling many others; all fairly deducible from one and the fame, general though confeffedly unknown, caufe. This attraction too, we imagine, notwithstanding the difficulties propofed by the Author, may equally take place, whether the mercury meets and
combines with the venereal virus, circulating at large in the mals of fluids; or depofited, as it more generally is, in particular parts.
Be this as it may, the cure of local venereal ulcerations, by the external application of mercury, and that of the gonorrhoea, by mercurial injections, in cafes where it cannot be fufpected to have entered or affected the whole fyftem, alone furnish a very fatisfactory proof of its antidotal or specific virtues, independent of any theory, whatever, formed to explain in what manner it is, in other cafes, brought into contact with the fubftance whole pernicious activity it fo effectually deftroys.
The theoretical part of this performance is fucceeded by a full and accurate lift of the different mercurial preparations now in ufe; which is digefted under general heads, according to the different chemical means employed to render that sub. ftance active, and mifcible with the human fluids, or the matter in which it is to act. Some useful obfervations then follow with refpect both to thofe mercurial preparations which are intended to be applied externally, and thofe which are meant to enter the fyftem; and remarks are made on the preference to be given to different forms, in particular cafes. The work is terminated by fome judicious cautions refpecting the use of this very active medicine, and rules to prevent the inconveniencies or difagreeable accidents, which too frequently, in fome conftitutions particularly, attend the exhibition of it.
ART. XIII. The Antidote; or, An Enquiry into the Merits of a Book, entitled, "A Journey into Siberia, &c. By the Abbé Chappe D'Auteroche, &c." In which many effential Errors and Mifreprefentations are pointed out and confuted. By a Lover of Truth. Tranflated into English by a Lady. 8vo. 3 s. 6d. Leacroft.
HIS is a fevere and farcaftical critique of the large and fplendid publication mentioned in the title, and of which we gave a very full account in the Appendix to our 40th volume, and in our 41ft volume, December 1769.
That the Abbé Chappe, pofting in a clofe-covered vehicle through Siberia, may, during his short abode in that country, have feen many objects through a falfe medium, and may have been mistaken in the judgments which he formed both of men and things that he may have mifunderstood, or have been impofed upon, in many particulars, by his informants; and that accordingly his account of the natural, and ftill more of the moral and political history of that country, and of Ruffia in general, may contain many remarks that may juftly excite the ridicule, aftonifhment, or indignation of a native of thefe countrics; are circumftances that may cafily be conceived, and
readily accounted for, without any imputation either on his candour or his understanding.-What Englifhmån, for instance, can read without a fmile, or without aftonishment, the ftrange and ridiculous mifapprehenfions and conclufions of a very accomplished and acute countryman of the Abbé's *, exhibited in a late Tour to London, and, after a like hafty furvey of the country and people he undertook to defcribe? Accordingly, we give this Lover of Truth credit for his detection of feveral of the Abbe's mistake, with refpect to his country and countrymen, which he has here laid open to the world, with the greatest warmth and earnestness; but at the fame time we must complain that this zealous Ruffian patriot abfolutely fatigues and difgufts us with his exceffive partiality to his native foil, and with his many ridiculous, trifling, and captious animadverfions on the Abbé; whom he purfues and harraffes almoft through every ftep of his journey, and banters (in his manner) or abuses, through almost every page of his relation of it.
A perfectly difinterefted Reader may perhaps, in perusing the Abbé's book, be now and then induced to fufpect that he is, either from political or other motives, rather inclined to speak lefs favourably of Ruffia and its dependencies, than is confiftent with ftrict philofophical impartiality; but this Writer attributes to him everywhere a rooted malevolence, and a formed design to abufe the climate, foil, manners, government, and power of Ruffia; frequently founding his charge on the moft unimpor tant and ridiculcus circumftances. If M. Chappe, for inftance, happens in the courfe of his narrative to give a hint or an example of the flavery, fuperftition, mifery, ignorance, dearth, bad roads, or even the cold, that he felt or obferved, in Siberia; our patriotic critic takes fire at the very infinuation, and treats even the most cafual obfervation of this kind as the refult of a deep-laid defign to depreciate and ftigmatize the country and its inhabitants. In expreffing his aftonishment, however, at the Abbe's fuppofed malice and abfurdity on these occafions, he often excites the furprize of the Reader, in his turn. Perhaps his exhibiting Siberia, in the following quotation, as one of Nature's moft favoured fpots, may have that effect on some of his Readers.
After treading clofe upon the Abbé's heels, and wrangling with him almost every step of the way from Paris to Solikamfk, our teazing critic halts with him at that place, and attends him to the baths and falt-works there. On his departure from thence, at laft, fays he, the Abbé leaves Solikamfk, and paffes the mountains, which he does not like in the least better than the roads: he is afraid of being fwallowed up in the fnow; a
Monf. Grolley. See our Number for September laft, page 165.
thing never thought of, nor heard of, in Ruffia.-He cafts a gloomy eye upon the fir-trees he meets with on his road-" that feemed to bend under the weight of the fnow," and adds, that "Nature feemed to have become quite torpid." [Here follows our critic's riant description of this land of promife.] How true this may be, you will judge, fays he, good Reader, when I tell you that I do not fuppofe there is a country to which Nature has been more bountiful than to Siberia. It quite resembles the fairy lands-it has mountains of cryftal, rocks of jasper, hills of agate, and of all forts of marbles, intermixed with veins of gold, filver, brafst and iron; and all this in the country where, according to the Abbé, Nature feems torpid." Corn is there AMAZINGLY plentiful: there are Spots of ground that bring forth the feed fixty times, many that produce thirty, and none lefs than feven,' &c. Our limits will not allow us to proceed any further in the luxuriant defcription.
Our Critic, among other matters, ridicules M. Chappe's two anecdotes of the thermometer and the thunder ftorm *; and to fhew how far this vile Abbé has traduced his countrymen, and abufed the credulity of the public, he proves that the Abbe's thermometer was not the first that had been seen in Siberia; and to evince that his countrymen are not fo timid, fuperftitious, or unenlightened, as to be feared by thunder brought into the fame room with them, tells us that the very children in Ruffia are very notable electricians; for that they often amufe themfelves with rubbing the furniture, in a dark corner of the room, with a bit of cloth or fur, till they draw fparks of fire out of it.'
Notwithstanding thefe and many other puerilities and perfo. nalities, there are fome anecdotes, and fome fenfible obfervations, relative to the hiftory, and to the political and moral state of Ruffia, contained in this performance, which may, after making pretty large allowances for national partiality, be worthy the perufal of thofe whofe curiofity is directed towards the concerns of that country.
This enquiry is dedicated by the English Tranflatress, by permilion (as the title page informs us) to the Emprefs of Rufia.
+ Copper, we fuppofe, is here meant.
See Appendix to our 40th volume, and the Number for Decem ber 1769, page 439.