Page images

be inferior in intellect to a smaller, though no doubt this is very far from comprehending that most inscrutable consideration. Nevertheless, it has been ascertained by extensive observation, that if the actual size of a man's head be less to any considerable amount than certain established measurements, proved to be the average of sane and intellectual individuals, there is often a deficiency of intellect. This is a fact well-worthy of attention, though by no means a conclusive point, inasmuch as a similar state of intellect is met with in full-sized, well-shaped heads, and sanity and intelligence are consonant with the most mis-shapen and even very small heads. Still this, though diminishing, is far from invalidating the consideration that it is exceptional to find men whose heads are much under the average standard possessing full integrity of mind.

Various plans have been suggested for measuring the head, Camper's and Blumenbach's suggestions are both imperfect for our purpose, and are more calculated for indicating peculiarities in shape than positive capacity. The simplest, easiest of application, and most accurate, is the measurement of the superficies, which exactly defines the desiderata and may be determined by passing a graduated tape from the root of the nose to the occipital protuberance, this space is found to be from 132 to 137 inches, from one ear to the other across the vertex from 11 to 124 inches, and the circumference of the head from 22 to 231 inches. It is obvious that these measurements will manifest a deviation caused by a narrow retreating forehead, a pyramidal shaped head, or any other deviation creating a diminution either general or partial ; and, as previously observed, if the proportions be much below the above, taken as the average on very particular investigation, a deficiency of intellect very often pertains; yet there are extensive exceptions, rendering it of less decisive import even as corroborative evidence; however measurement can be easily understood to be a valuable assistant. The instructions specify that the inspecting medical officer is invariably to ask the recruit a few short questions, such as, to what corps he belongs, what occupation he has previously followed, &c. &c. Were these and similar queries put, with the sole intention of testing the power of the mind, and the answers watched, this would usually be enough; yet, did a very small head exist, it ought always to suggest the most scrutinizing inquiry by questioning. Still more does the matter appear to me important, when an inclination to dulness is remarked and indecision in answers is appreciable; these circumstances, though not of themselves conclusive, if they co-exist with the diminution indicated, should cause the man to be rejected. “ 4.-Chronic Cutaneous affections, especially of the scalp.

Recruits suffering from this class of disease are not admissible. Yet I cannot dismiss the subject without a brief remark on eruptions in general, as


they are very commonly presented on various portions of the body and suggest some consideration. Although eruptions are most usually disqualifying, some few slight forms, with certain provisions, may admit of less exclusive estimation. It must suffice, without entering into an elaborate detail of that most extensive subject, to glance briefly and in general terms at the propriety of approval under


circumstances. I confess, I approach this question with the greatest diffidence, and having fully weighed the various features presenting themselves, can hardly come to a conclusion how to advise the examiners of recruits, situated in different positions, to act; and having concluded, am not satisfied that I judge rightly.

If a recruit be examined for a district, by either civil or military practitioner, and any eruption observed except scabies, * I would suggest his unqualified rejection; as if a man has to journey any distance to his regiment, eruptions may be suppressed, occasioning illness. Eruptions are sometimes esteemed differently by medical officers; and one might actually make a mistake, imagining a disease to be different from the reality, on a single examination. From any of these causes the recruit would, probably, be subsequently rejected. On the other hand, where recruits are enlisted for one's own regiment, a less restricted selection in trifling cases appears to be a just and advisable admission.

* Scabies is not considered a cause of rejection.

[ocr errors]

Reasoning thus, the advising of the extension of this limit is solely directed as a suggestion to medical officers examining men for their own regiments. Wherefore, always assuming that chronic, extensive, febrile, complicated or doubtful cases, are inadmissible; a fine robust lad, eligible in every other respect, presenting a slight eruption of the characters of the simple forms of urticaria, roseola, lichen varicella, acne, and possibly one or two others, ought not, in my opinion, to be necessarily rejected.

The idea that every eruption under the specified conditions, irrespective of character, is sufficient to cause disapproval, can hardly be esteemed a scientific or a practical conclusion; most usually no treatment whatever is necessary; thus is there not even a transgression of the letter of the instructions. The most important objection to this view, is the possibility of confounding such cases with secondary syphilitic eruptions (which are always to be considered a conclusive cause of disapproval), still, I think, such errors could very rarely occur, and where the least doubt existed, that circumstance alone should decisively militate against the individual.

I have offered the foregoing observations, conceiving that experience and discretion will discriminate between simple and complicated cases, as well as between the tedious and transitory appearances which occasionally occur in healthy men, sometimes almost ephemeral, at particular periods of the year, or from temporary causes or derangements.

A tumour may be situated in any position of the scalp, affording the characters of sarcomatous, vascular, or, adipose tissue; or, in fact, almost any species of tumour, capable of forming in other positions, may be developed in this situation. Tumours of the scalp seldom continue stationary; consequently, though benign, they may increase to such a size as to render removal necessary. With such a prospect alone it would be scarcely prudent to consider a man eligible having a tumour so placed. “ 5.-Severe injuries of the bones of the head.

The fingers are invariably to be applied to the head for the purpose of ascertaining if evidences of fracture of the skull, exfoliation, loss of substance, tumours, or other irregularities, exist. The effects of fracture, especially with depression, are often very formidable, occasionally exciting serious disabilities. Effects in various degrees may be produced on the sensorium, persistent, periodic, or casually excitable. Epileptic fits are sometimes a sequela of such injuries. We are all familiar with these results, yet instances of considerable evidences of injuries of the cranium are occasionally encountered without subsequent serious disturbance of the sensorium, especially when pressure on the brain has not been created, * but such instances are not of decisive value

* A soldier of the 31st Regiment, at the battle of Sobraon, received from a musket ball a fracture of the left parietal bone near the vertex, almost engaging the sagittal suture; a large piece of fractured and comminuted bone was removed, and the dura mater, apparently uninjured, was exposed to more than the size of a shilling. After the first few days he hardly complained of inconvenience. He was retained in hospital until


« PreviousContinue »