Page images
PDF
EPUB

culation, and which, in turn, are necessarily attended with an accelerated oxydation of the tissues and production of carbonic acid, are accompanied by the same phenomenon of change of color in the integument which is so prominently characteristic of increasing proximity to the equatorial regions. The darkening of the areola around the nipple, sometimes of that portion of the abdomen anterior to the uterus, and not unfrequently of more or less tegumentary tissue elsewhere, in the case of those enciente, furnishes a well-marked example.

In the instance of black jaundice, moreover, is it unreasonable to suppose that the peculiar tinge may be due to the presence of carbon in the materials of the bile, which, in consequence of suppression, or retention and re-absorption, remain in the circulating current; since chemical analysis reveals to us the facts, that the organic portion of the biliary secretion of the ox (and doubtless that of man varies but little from it) contains in 104 parts 48 of carbon, and that the cholesterine of human bile has in 69 parts 36 of the same element ? I venture the assertion, that in these black varieties of icturus the amount of carbon is unusually augmented, even out of proportion to the residuary constituents. The investigation of this subject is an interesting field of chemical and pathological inquiry.

By way of supplement, let me here call attention to a few thoughts and facts which more properly belong to the former part of this communication, but which, through inadvertence, I neglected to introduce in their just connection.

And firstly, it is not at all impossible that a portion of the carbonaceous material of the contents of the pigment cells may be derived from some of the proteine compounds in solution in the blood,—the albumen and fibrine, for instance, into whose composition carbon enters largely, constituting 40 in 98 parts of their proteine.

The darkening influence of light and heat is observable in the vegetable as well as in the animal kingdom. Who is not familiar with the blanched aspect of plants reared in seclusion, or in but a limited supply of light and heat; as, for well-known illustration, grass growing underneath stones, flowers kept in underground apartments, the etiolation of that dainty succulent plant, celery, &c. The upper surfaces of leaves, moreover, and the parts of vegetables above the earth, are much more deeply colored than the under surfaces and those parts beneath the soil. And this physical condition is resolvable by a reference to the same principle that governs the analogous phenomenon in the human race,—the

amount of carbon appropriated by their tissues is proportional to the amount of the sun's influence experienced.

Again, in man we see another exemplification of this truth, in the pale the whitened countenance of him whose occupation is within doors, and who is thus in a measure debarred from the solar beams, as the student, the clerk, &c.; and a no less faithful one in the tawny look of him who speeds the plow and reaps the grain. It is a notorious fact, that those of the white races who spend long periods of time in hot countries, as English in the East Indies, by slow degrees acquire a darker and darker hue, until at last all trace of their original complexion is entirely removed; while the children that are born and reared in the same climates manifest even a more perceptible change; so that after a few generations their progeny acquire a color in almost every respect identical with that characteristic of the land.

It is also to be remembered, that the offspring of Negroes at birth are comparatively fair, and do not attain their appropriate hue until after more or less exposure to the sun's influence; a circumstance which goes far in confirmation of the opinion heretofore advanced. Should any partial thinker here ask, Why, if the excessive light and heat to which the Negro is subjected are the occasion of his blackness of skin, does the Negro infant, though relatively fair at birth, deepen into sableness in temperate and frigid latitudes; or, why does not the babe of the Scotchman acquire the same ebon tint underneath the scorching suns of a tropical sky ?-to such a one I would reply in this wise : The integument of the Negro, perhaps his entire system, having been subservient for a lengthened series of generations to the illumining and calorific agency of blazing suns, has assumed a peculiar condition, which specially qualifies its pigment cells to appropriate to themselves the requisite materials for the elaboration of the black pigment. The integuments or systems of the parents, then, having this endowment, they (the parents) transmit it to their children, and these children, in turn, to their own issue; and, consequently, although a Negro child may be born at a distance from the fierce suns of its fatherland, and with a comparatively light skin, still, possessing this peculiar endowment (be it in the system at large, or in the integument as a whole, or simply in the cells themselves), their bodies will inevitably become dark after the requisite exposure to the proper stimulus. The child of the white mother, too, possessing by inheritance its peculiar propensity,—the elaboration of white pigment,—will manifest that propension, even though born in the land of spices and myrrh.

There is, however, little if any doubt that the Negro race, by residence for an indefinite period of time in northern latitudes, even without intermarriage with white nations, would acquire a degree of fairness of complexion not at all objectionable even among us of the Anglo Saxon stock; and, e converso, there is as little doubt that the Britons, placed in the appropriate combination of climateric influences, would degenerate from the rose-and-lily hue into the repulsive blackness of the sons of Ethiopia. WARSAW, WYOMING Co. N. Y.

July 27, 1855.

Case of the late James C. Bliss, M. D., with a Biographical Notice.

By ALFRED C. Post, M. D.

The subject of this notice died in this city, on the 31st July last, in the 65th year of his age.

On Sunday, July 1st, he complained of pain and swelling in the gum over an unsound upper incisor tooth. He had a leech applied to the gum, but without relief. He continued through the week to suffer from pain and swelling in the gum and in the integument of the face, which were finally relieved by the evacuation of a small quantity of purulent matter from the affected part. On the 9th and 10th, he was able to take a short ride, although he remained quite feeble. On the afternoon of the 10th, he was attacked with severe pain over the head of the left fibula, with tenderness on pressure, but without any decided swelling. This pain became exceedingly severe, and continued so for about a week, occasionally extending up the sciatic nerve as far as its exit from the pelvis. It was partially relieved by large doses of opium, and of sulphate of morphia, administered chiefly per anum. As the pain over the fibula subsided, an irritable state of the bladder supervened, accompanied with frequent desire to void urine, attended with great agony which caused him to cry out so that he could be heard through the house. These paroxysms of painful micturition occurred on an average as often as once an hour, sometimes once in fifteen minutes. From the severity of the pain, it became necessary to increase the dose of the narcotics which were administered. On the 20th July, an examination was made per anum, and it was ascertained that the prostate was considerably enlarged. For several days before this, there had been a moderate quantity of a flaky deposit from the urine. A portion of this was examined under the microscope, and was found to contain pus globules. On inquiry, it was ascertained that for several years he had been affected with slightly irritable bladder, but it had not occasioned any serious annoyance. After the existence of enlargement of the prostate had been ascertained, a catheter was introduced into the bladder; but only two or three ounces of urine were drawn off. Within two or three days after this, the frequency of micturition became gradually diminished, and the pain attending it greatly mitigated. But as these symptoms subsided, a most distressing hiccough supervened, continuing, with very short interruptions, for five or six days. This was succeeded by a sudden attack of intense pain in the left testis, with great tenderness on pressure, and a slightly puffy swelling of the corresponding part of the scrotum. The neuralgic affection of the testis lasted for two days, and was then succeeded by distressing pain in the stomach, which the patient attributed to the accumulation of acid fluid in that viscus. 'For the alleviation of the gastric dis. tress, he frequently took draughts of tepid water, which gave him temporary relief, by discharging from the stomach a thin, yellowish fluid, having a bitter and acrid taste. The next day, frequent vomiting occurred, with the discharge of very large quantities of a blackish, flaky liquid, containing a copious sediment resembling coffee-grounds. This vomiting continued two days, occasioning great distress, and rapidly reducing the vital powers. On the 29th July, the vomiting was arrested by inhalations of chloroform, which were repeated at intervals until a few hours before his death. He became gradually more and more exhausted, and died at about 1, A. M. on the 31st July. During the time when Dr. B. suffered the most acutely from the pain over the head of the fibula and at the neck of the bladder, his pulse was calm, ranging about 60, and having a fair degree of force and fullness. During the same time, he was able to take solid animal food. At a later period, viz. when he was suffering from hiccough and vomiting, his pulse became more frequent and feeble, and his appetite declined. There was at no time any febrile heat.

The treatment consisted mainly in the use of anodyne enemata and suppositories, with moderate stimulants. Occasional laxatives were administered.

On examination after death, no morbid appearances were observed to account for the leading symptoms of the disease, nor for its fatal termination. The prostate gland was found to be of more than double its normal size ; the enlargement was uniform, and unattended with any projection of the middle lobe, so as to have interfered greatly with the evacuation of the bladder. The substance of the gland was firm; and imbedded in its anterior part was a collection of thick, cream-colored pus, amounting to about a drachm. A small collection of pus, about equal to the bulk of a grain of rice, was found in another part of the gland. There was a little redness of the mucous membrane of the bladder at its neck, moderate in degree and limited in extent. The liver was of normal size and somewhat fatty. No morbid appearances were observed in the stomach and intestines. On the right side of the thorax, the pleura pulmonalis was attached by old organized adhesions to the pleura costalis throughout nearly its whole extent. This was probably the result of an attack of thoracic inflammation from which he had suffered about twenty years before his death. The left lung was inadherent; both lungs were healthy. The heart was rather larger than its normal size, but without valvular disease. There were marks of old pericarditis, viz., fibrinous deposits beneath the serous membrane, both of the parietal and visceral portions, some of them containing calcareous matter. The opposed surfaces of the pericardium were not adherent.

The disease appears to have been essentially a derangement of the nervous system, affecting the nerves of sensation, as indicated by the neuralgic pains in the leg, thigh, testis, and pelvis ; and the nerves of action, as indicated by the frequent micturition, hiccough, and vomiting.

Dr. Bliss was a native of Bennington, Vermont. He was born on the 3d of January, 1791. He commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Taylor of Lansingburgh, in the State of New York, and afterwards pursued his studies with Dr. Burritt of Troy. He came to New York in 1811, and became a private pupil of the late Dr. Borrowe. He attended lectures in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and graduated in that institution in the spring of 1815. He enjoyed also the advantages of a residence in the New York Hospital, as House Surgeon. He was engaged in the practice of medicine in this city about forty years, having had a large circle of patients who were strongly attached to him. He was a man of great industry, and strongly devoted to his profession, and enjoyed in an eminent degree the confidence and esteem of the physicians of this city. He was remarkable for his purity and simplicity of character, his disinterested kindness, benevolence, and generosity. His kindness to the poor was evinced, not only by pecuniary benefactions, but by devoted personal attentions. It was affecting to witness at his grave the exhibition of grief on the part of a poor and aged female, who

VOL. IV. No. 12. 35

« PreviousContinue »