« PreviousContinue »
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
. I HAVE been repeatedly requested by several apothecaries, who have followed with advantage the method for the detection of arsenic in chemico-legal examinations, as laid down in my “ Hand-book of Chemistry," to furnish them with a similar method for the detection of other poisons. In preparing the chapter “On the Detection of Arsenic,” for the last edition of my “ Hand-book of Chemistry," I resolved to comply with their wishes, and it is thus that this manual of chemico-legal analysis originated; the chapter “ On the Detection of Arsenic,” is a reprint from the “ Hand-book.”
All the methods contained in this manual have been tried in my laboratory; they are written down from personal experience and, I think, are deserving of confidence on that account. In the investigations on the detection of the organic poisons, I have had the valuable assistance of Mr. Von Pöllnitz, to whom I beg to express my sincere thanks.
Though this manual is originally designed only for the use of such, who are in the habit of working after a special rule, still, I think, it will not be an unwelcome companion to those who prefer to be led by their own judgment, and who are, perhaps, able to use better methods in the stead of those given by me; it takes then, at least, the place of a pro memoriâ. The manual may also prove useful in chemical laboratories as a guide to the student, and a careful perusal of its contents will undoubtedly be very beneficial to physicians, district-attorneys, lawyers and judges.
In judging of this little work, I beg the reader to bear in mind that it pretends to no more than to be simply a chemical manual.
BRUNSWICK, January 1856.
PREFACE OF THE AMERICAN EDITOR.
The best apology which I am able to offer for having prepared an American edition of Professor Otto's work, lies in the high scientific position of its author, and in its peculiar, systematic arrangement. The numerous works on medical jurisprudence, contain all more or less accurate methods for the detection of the different poisons, but arranged in such a manner that they are only applicable when the nature of the poison is known beforehand; in other words, they contain only methods by which any certain poison may be found, but not a systematic method which will lead to the detection of any poison. Professor Otto has endeavored to bring the whole into a general system, and to establish a mode of procedure resembling that used in qualitative chemical analysis, so that the nature of the poison may be ascertained without any previous knowledge. A short exposé of the general method is given p. 171. I have several times had occasion to subject Professor Otto's system to a practical test, and cannot but acknowledge its superior usefulness. If all the precautions which are mentioned in their proper place, are duly observed, the analyst will certainly obtain very satisfactory results.
The few additions which I have thought proper to introduce, are inclosed in brackets. The more important of these occur in the chapter “ On the Detection of Hydrocyanic Acid,” which has been extended to about double its original size, and in the chapter “On the Detection of Poisonous Alkaloids,” to which I have added the reactions of several alkaloids not mentioned in the German original, and the important physiological tests for strychnine. The chapter “On the Detection of Oxalic Acid,” is entirely new.
I have to apologize for the omission of some notes, relating to cases which have come under the observation of the author. While doing so I intended to furnish an appendix, containing a collection of the most famous foreign and all those American cases which offer any interest to the legal chemist; but want of time to bring the necessary material together, and the duties of a laborious professorship, have prevented me from carrying this plan into effect at present.
TROY, New York, April, 1857.