« PreviousContinue »
of internal organs, accompanying fevers of an asthenic type, may sometimes partake of this nature. Dr. Douglas believes the worst form of puerperal fever to be connected with erysipelatous inflammation of the peritoneum; and Huxham, an author whose acute observation and sound judgment entitle all that he says to attention, states, when speaking of malignant fevers, that "an itching, smarting red rash commonly greatly relieves the sick; and so do the large, fretting watery bladders, which many times rise up on the back, breast, shoulders," &c. (Essay on Fevers, c. viii.) This relief may possibly arise from the metastasis of internal erysipelas to the surface.
The occasional extension of erysipelas of the head and face to the parts within the cranium, affords an opportunity of studying the symptoms of this form of inflammation when it attacks an important internal organ.
In an appendix to his commentary on the second book of Paulus, Mr. Adams introduces an interesting account of smallpox and measles, as described by the Arabian writers, maintaining correctly that it is to them we are indebted for the earliest notice of these diseases. We regret that our limits will not allow us to enter into this subject. We may remark, in passing, that Avicenna affirms that smallpox may occur twice in the same individual. "Et multoties quidem variolatur homo duabus vicibus, quando aggregatur materia ex expellendum bis." (Canon., lib. iv. tr. 4, c. 6.)
Measles (morbilli) were confounded with smallpox even as late as the time of Sydenham. We do not know when the vernacular term measles began to be applied to this disease: we learn, however, from old John of Gadesden, who wrote early in the fourteenth century, that the term was in use in his day, but applied to a different affection: "Sicut autem punctilli duplices magni et parvi; de parvis dictum est. Magni sunt infectiones latæ, rubræ, et obscuræ, apparentes in tibiis pauperum, et consumptorum, ad ignem sine calceis continue fere sedentium; et vocatur Anglicè mesles.” (Rosa Anglica, p. 1041, ed. Schopfii, 1595.)
The third book of Paulus is tolerably comprehensive, treating" of topical complaints, beginning with the head and ending with the toes."
The chapter on headach is worthy of attention, as presenting one of the few instances in which the ancients attributed diseases of distant organs to sympathy with the stomach; a doctrine which has communicated a new aspect to the medical theory and practice of the present day.
Among the remedies for this complaint we may mention one recommended by Scribonius Largus, which is absurd
enough in itself, but is remarkable as the first instance on record of the application of galvanism to medicine. "Capitis dolorem quamvis veterem et intolerabilem, protinus tollit, et in perpetuum remediat torpedo viva nigra, imposita eo loco qui in dolore est, donec desinat dolor, et obstupescat ea pars: quod quum primum senserit, removeatur remedium, ne sensus auferatur ejus partis, &c. (De Composit. Medicament. c. 1.) This prescription, like many others of Scribonius, has been copied nearly verbatim by that most impudent of plagiaries, Marcellus Empiricus. Scribonius seems to have been very partial to black torpedos: he recommends their application to the feet in gout. (Op. citat. c. 41.)
Mr. Adams has a long and interesting note on the diseases of the eye. He remarks, however, with his usual partiality, "One may venture to affirm that, whoever will carefully study the works of all the ancient authors referred to above, will find every subject connected with diseases of the eye treated of so fully and judiciously, that he will not stand much in need of consulting modern writers for additional information."-Really this is too much!
If there be a department of the healing art in which real knowledge is almost exclusively of modern acquisition, it is ophthalmic surgery.
We applaud Mr. Adams's endeavours to familiarise the writings of the ancients, whom none can hold in higher estimation than ourselves; but any attempt to set them up as guides to modern practice, is, in effect, only to throw ridicule on the study of their works; which, if taken as practical guides, would inevitably subject us to frequent indictments for mala praxis, to say nothing of occasional visits to the Old Bailey on charges of manslaughter. We do not deny that many valuable practical hints may be obtained from them; but we must repeat, that the chief use of ancient medical literature is to expand our views by throwing light on the history of the art and the progress of human knowledge. It is a study, of which it may in an especial manner be said, "Quamvis non faciat medicum, aptiorem tamen medicinæ reddit."
We now take leave of Mr. Adams, with the hope that the remaining part of his undertaking may be as successfully achieved as the first; and that his elaborate and useful work may obtain the place which it so justly merits in the library of every practitioner who is interested in the history and literature of his profession.
The Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine. Edited by JOHN FORBES, M.D., ALEXANDER TWEEDIE, M.D., and JOHN CONOLLY, M.D. Part XX.-London, 1834. 8vo. pp. 128.
THE present number commences with an article by Dr. CARSWELL, on the Softening of Organs. He is of opinion that the perforation of the stomach, which has been elevated into the rank of a new disease by the French pathologists, is in fact caused by the gastric juice after death. He says:
"From all the facts brought forward on this part of our subject the following principles may be established:
"1st. That the softening, erosion, and perforation of the walls of the stomach, attributed by the greater number of pathologists to morbid conditions of this organ, may be produced, whatever may be their form, degree, extent, or situation, by the gastric acid. "2d. That no pathological condition of the stomach or of any other organ is necessary to the production of these lesions.
"3d. That all of them are met with in individuals who, in the full enjoyment of health, are suddenly deprived of life; and in those who die from various diseases.
"4th. That all of them are met with, after death, in healthy and diseased stomachs, which contain gastric acid.
"5th. That they are produced by introducing this fluid into a healthy dead stomach.
"6th. That the varieties observed in the form, degree, extent, and seat of these lesions, depend on modifications of the gastric acid, the action of which on the stomach is regulated by a certain number of physical conditions in which this organ may be placed.
"7th. That softening, erosion, and perforation from the action of the gastric acid, are observed in other organs besides the stomach, viz. in the oesophagus and intestines, from the direct communication which exists between them and the former organ; and in the peritoneum, liver, spleen, diaphragm, pleuræ, and lungs, in consequence of the perforation of the stomach and œsophagus.
8th. That all these lesions of the stomach, intestines, and of the other organs, are produced after death." (P. 20.)
We next come to a paper by Dr. PRICHARD, on Somnambulism and Animal Magnetism: it is well written; but, as we are about to notice Mr. Colquhoun's book on this subject, we shall indulge ourselves with only one extract, describing a most singular case of ecstasis.
A gentleman, about thirty-five years of age, of active habits and good constitution, living in the neighbourhood of London, had complained for about five weeks of slight headach. He was feverish, inattentive to his occupations, and negligent of his family. He had been cupped and had taken some purgative medicine, when he was visited by Dr. Arnould, of Camberwell, who has favoured us with the following history. By that gentleman's advice he was sent to a private asylum, where he remained about two years; his
delusions very gradually subsided, and he was afterwards restored to his family.
"The account which he gave of himself was almost verbatim as follows. We insert the statement as we received it from his physician. 'One afternoon in the month of May, feeling himself a little unsettled and not inclined to business, he thought he would take a walk into the city to amuse his mind; and having strolled into St. Paul's Church-yard, he stopped at the shop-window of Carrington and Bowles, and looked at the pictures, among which was one of the cathedral. He had not been long there before a short grave-looking elderly gentleman, dressed in dark brown clothes, came up, and began to examine the prints, and occasionally casting a glance at him, very soon entered into conversation with him; and, praising the view of St. Paul's which was exhibited at the window, told him many anecdotes of Sir Christopher Wren the architect, and asked him at the same time if he had ever ascended to the top of the dome. He replied in the negative. The stranger then inquired if he had dined, and proposed that they should go to an eating-house in the neighbourhood, and said that after dinner he would accompany him up St. Paul's: it was a glorious afternoon for a view, and he was so familiar with the place that he could point out every object worthy of attention.' The kindness of the old gentleman's manner induced him to comply with the invitation, and they went to a tavern in some dark alley, the name of which he did not know. They dined, and very soon left the table, and ascended to the ball just below the cross, which they entered alone. They had not been there many minutes, when, while he was gazing on the extensive prospect, and delighted with the splendid scene below him, the grave gentleman pulled out from an inside coat-pocket something like a compass, having round the edges some curious figures; then having muttered some unintelligible words, he placed it in the centre of the ball. He felt a great trembling and a sort of horror come over him, which was increased by his companion asking him if he should like to see any friend at a distance, and to know what he was that moment doing, for if so, the latter could show him any such person. It happened that his father had been for a long time in bad health, and for some weeks past he had not visited him. A sudden thought came into his mind, so powerful that it overcame his terror, that he should like to see his father. He had no sooner expressed the wish than the exact person of his father was immediately presented to his sight on the mirror, reclining in his arm-chair, and taking his afternoon sleep. Not having fully believed in the power of the stranger to make good his offer, he became overwhelmed with terror at the clearness and truth of the vision presented to him; and he entreated his mysterious companion that they might immediately descend, as he felt himself very ill. The request was complied with; and on parting under the portico of the northern entrance, the stranger said to him, Remember, you are the slave of the man of the
mirror!' He returned in the evening to his home, he does not know exactly at what hour; felt himself unquiet, depressed, gloomy, apprehensive, and haunted with thoughts of the stranger. For the last three months he has been conscious of the power of the latter over him.' Dr. Arnould adds, I inquired in what way his power was exercised? He cast on me a look of suspicion mingled with confidence; took my arm, and, after leading me through two or three rooms, and then into the garden, exclaimed, 'It is of no use, there is no concealment from him, for all places are alike open to him, he sees us and he hears us now.' I asked him where this being was who saw and heard us? He replied, in a voice of deep agitation, Have I not told you that he lives in the ball below the cross on the top of St. Paul's, and that he only comes down to take a walk in the church-yard and get his dinner at the house in the dark alley. Since that fatal interview with the necromancer,' he continued, for such I believe him to be, he is continually dragging me before him on his mirror, and he not only sees me every moment of the day, but he reads all my thoughts, and I have a dreadful consciousness that no action of my life is free from his inspection, and no place can afford me security from his power. On my replying that the darkness of the night would afford him protection from these machinations, he said, 'I know what you mean, but you are quite mistaken. I have only told you of the mirror, but in some part of the building which we passed in coming away, he shewed me what he called a great bell, and I heard sounds which came from it, and which went to it; sounds of laughter, and of anger, and of pain; there was a dreadful confusion of sounds, and as I listened with wonder and affright, he said, 'This is my organ of hearing; this great bell is in communication with all other bells within the circle of hieroglyphics, by which every word spoken by those under my control is made audible to me. Seeing me look surprised at him, he said, 'I have not yet told you all; for he practises his spells by hieroglyphics on walls and houses, and wields his power, like a detestable tyrant as he is, over the minds of those whom he has enchanted, and who are the objects of his constant spite, within the circle of the hieroglyphics.' I asked him what these hieroglyphics were, and how he perceived them? He replied, 'Signs and symbols which you in your ignorance of their true meaning have taken for letters and words, and read as you have thought: Day and Martin and Warren's blacking. Oh! that is all nonsense! they are only the mysterious characters which he traces to mark the boundary of his dominion, and by which he prevents all escape from his tremendous power. How have I toiled and laboured to get beyond the limits of his influence! Once I walked for three days and three nights, till I fell down under a wall exhausted by fatigue, and dropped asleep; but on awakening I saw the dreadful signs before my eyes, and I felt myself as completely under his infernal spells at the end as at the beginning of my journey.'