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In all investigations where predisposition, or presumption of predisposition, is assumed as sufficiently important evidence from which to draw definite conclusions, errors must occasionally arise ; as such predisposition may never be developed into actual derangement, or the legitimately conceived presumption may be altogether unfounded in reality, depending on other causes unassociated with or irrelevant to the presumed malady. But in cases where if the disability did afterwards become apparent it would be of serious consequence, and in which experience by extensive comparison had rendered the probability great that this predisposition would end in the disease, or that phenomena warranted the conclusion of presumed predisposition, such decision is quite justifiable, as upon this strong evidence and such penalty, in the matter of soldiers, the hazard is inadmissable. Many examples as direct cases in point could be deduced, but neither original intention permits, nor does necessity require, the subject to be followed in detail further than is merely requisite in exemplification of the argument. A narrow chest, having the conformation designated chicken breast, associated even with a form of moderate proportions in other respects, would very properly create a suspicion of tendency to disease of the lungs, which might never be rendered prominent or might not even exist Old cicatrices of scrofulous ulcers in the neck or elsewhere, would indicate the presence at some period of a strumous habit, from which the individual might very possibly have recovered. Nevertheless in these instances were the conformation remarkable, or the cicatrices of strumous disease plainly observable, the risk should not be incurred, but the subjects, as is most usually the case, concluded to afford evidences of predisposition.
INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE SURGICAL
INSPECTION OF RECRUITS.*
“ I. The first object is to guard against the approval of ineligible Recruits.
6 II. The external characters of a sound constitution and efficient limbs may be briefly stated as follows, viz.: a due proportion between the trunk and members of the body—a countenance expressive of health, with a lively eye--skin firm and elastic-lips red-teeth sound-voice strong-chest capacious and well formed—belly lanklimbs muscular-feet arched and of a moderate lengthhands large rather than small. The reverse of these marks may be considered to indicate infirm health and inefficiency.
“III. The question of fitness or unfitness of a recruit must, in a great measure, be determined by the discretion and experience of the officer who inspects him; for no rule can be formed so definite as to dispense with the exercise of such discretion.
“ IV. As soldiers are liable to serve in every variety of climate, to be exposed to frequent vicissitudes of temperature and weather, to undergo much fatigue and danger, and often to sustain considerable privations, no recruit who is not vigorous ought to be approved."
* These Instructions are taken from the printed Regulations for the Management of Army Hospitals, &c. &c.
The first points to be determined, on the actual examination of a recruit, are, as to whether he
possesses the requisite amount of osseous and muscular developement for the performance of the duties of a soldier, and if their arrangement is so apportioned as to constitute their perfect exertion, and the disposition of moderate symmetry. It would seem that these are desiderata not always sufficiently attended to; the subject at first sight appears very difficult; yet, when analysed, resolves itself to an easier consideration. The muscular fitness of men is to be considered in reference to two classes; into those over twenty-one, where increase of muscular developement cannot be speculated upon, and into growing lads. In the latter class great circumspection is imperative, lest the minimum be lower than advisable ; a most dangerous and deceptive discrimination, the allowance for which ought always to be most limited.
The term “growing lads” is often interpreted in too vague a sense, more so than seems likely to be the intention of the authorities. A slight spare-limbed lad, with a thorax hardly thirty-two inches in circumference, small boned, though possibly of sufficient height, under twenty, is looked upon occasionally as “a growing lad,” as well as a large-boned moderately-muscular lad, with a thorax of about thirty-three inches, with a countenance expressive of health, skin firm and elastic indicating vigour, under the age of nineteen; yet they are very different. The latter, I conceive, implies “a growing lad,” and the minimum description. In the first class, or those who have attained an age or appearance where a further developement cannot be safely speculated upon, the decision ought to be most definite; it should never admit of a doubt; the want of muscular power ought always without modification, independent of any cause of which I am aware, be a sufficient warrant to reject a man.
Recruits are sometimes, when slight, instigated by old soldiers to declare that they have been subjected to hard labour and a scarcity of food. This is by no means uncommon, especially in Ireland ; it is a dangerous statement to believe in most instances, as it is not founded on fact; yet, even if true, these men's constitutions have most frequently been irretrievably impaired ; constantly when this allowance has been made these men have not improved, and have never made efficient soldiers. Questions may admit of argument, medical men will and ought to be allowed to differ as to the extent or importance of disabilities, connected with incipient or suspected disease or injuries; a discretionary power is of course granted to army medical officers in passing men, but no argument or difference ought ever to occur relative to the muscular capacity of a man who has reached a period in life when the limbs cannot be expected to afford much greater muscular proportion. For instance, were there any doubt relative to the complete fitness of a man of twenty-one, he should be rejected; for if he was not then fully competent for every contingency,