Abbildungen der Seite

and to have it obeyed as a matter of course, that he expects impossibilities to be performed in war, if he only order them to be attempted.” Thus a great loss was uselessly sustained at Varna upon one occasion, in consequence of his determination to command, when he even insisted upon the Generalin-chief reprimanding the troops, although that officer was of opinion that they had done all that men could perform. It was also mentioned that at Varna, Count Vorontzof had ordered all officers when on duty only to wear foraging caps, instead of cocked hats and feathers, the latter having rendered them remarkable objects for the Turkish riflemen, and thus occasioned considerable loss of life; but as soon as the Emperor arrived he commanded the officers to appear in full uniform, and the cocked hats and feathers to be resumed! From these and other facts we may fairly conclude that the Emperor was not more popular with the army after his first campaign than before ; and of this he most probably became himself aware, for on the return from Varna, I heard that it was confidently expected His Majesty would not again take the field, and the result has fully proved this opinion to have been correct. It is not a little remarkable, that the first campaign, conducted by Russian generals, under the Emperor in person, was dilatory, and in many points a complete failure; while the second, confided to the unaided talents of a German, proved as rapid as it was eminently success. ful, and untarnished, or at any rate not so obviously tarnished, by the employment of gold in aid of the sword. I shall never forget the bitter irony with which an officer of rank, just returned from the army, spoke to me respecting the taking of Varna. “The Emperor," said he was

, surrounded by a set of military sycophants, whose inordinate flattery was so palpable as to become ridiculous: thus it was always said by those courtiers, 'Your Majesty has taken Varna,' when your Majesty took Varna,' &c. as if,” continued he, “ it had been the Emperor who reduced that place, and not Count Vorontzof! Had we waited for the former to take Varna, it would have been in possession of the Turks at the present moment !” He also alluded, in similar and equally sarcastic terms, to the fact of a medal having been struck in Prussia upon the fall of Varna, with the bust of the Emperor Nicholas on one side, instead of the General's who commanded during the siege. Hence it appears the military were not pleased at having their sovereign in the camp; and that the ministers of state liked it no better, may be easily imagined, when it is remembered they were kept in consequence on board a vessel near Varna, where they had to submit to every possible inconvenience, while they no doubt knew that affairs would have gone on much better without their presence, and the interference of the Emperor, and they might therefore as well have been with their families at St. Petersburgh.'—pp. 360--364.

An account of the Imperial Visit to Odessa in 1828; some notices of Varna; and an extraordinary case of the ill-treatment of a British subject by the Emperor of Russia, follow in succession. With respect to the last matter, we wonder that the Doctor has not memorialized our Government.

The motives which induced the Doctor to quit Russia, we are only left to guess at. He informs us that whilst he was busy in his researches, circumstances occurred which made him, "from a


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sense of professional duty as an English physician, to resign the appointment he held under a written protest, and to demand a passport for England.' This language is in the Preface, and

' scattered throughout the work we find such mysterious expressions as these— Every genuine Muscovite adopts the same faithlessness of conduct in his private transactions as his government. Sonne of the R sian Seigneurs are very fond of having English medical attendants. They act the part of kindness and liberality with

' admirable skill.? Upon their arrival in Russia the mask will be gradually laid aside: the persons thus engaged will find themselves called upon to perform what they never agreed to do: and, moreover, will soon be treated so that, if they have the feelings of Englishmen and gentlemen, they will be unable to submit, will remonstrate and finally demand a passport.' (p. 107.) Now, finally demand a passport is what the Doctor has done; and we suspect that the treatment which he describes as justifying such a resolution, was exactly what preceded it in his own case. In justice to Count Vorontzoff, this matter should be cleared up; and really if the Doctor was only used by him as an upper servant, made to follow in his train, or sit in the dicky when the quicksilver in Reaumur was squeezed into the globe, we think that so natural' a reason for his Russian antipathies ought not to have been omitted.

ART. X.-The Lives of British Physicians. No. XIV. of the

Family Library. London: Murray. 1830. ALTHOUGH upon a miniature scale merely, this little collection of lives forms a most instructive model of the way in which biography should be written. Every part of the life of each person here commemorated, is drawn out in its proper proportion with respect to the rest, and a severe fidelity seems to influence every line of the writer. Highly suitable was it that a task of this nature should have been entrusted to a medical man, for that the author is a member of the profession, we cannot doubt for a moment; and we may add, that one who has the command of such faculties and rare attainments as this volume displays, cannot be an unsuccessful or an obscure person in his calling. The great art of biography is to keep the reader and the hero in steady communication with one another; this is what our author has accomplished; he never obtrudes himself to show how learned or how ingenious he is, never seeks to strike us with his profundity, or dazzle us with his fancy. The events of each life flow easily and smoothly through his perspicuous and graceful narrative, and so natural are the reflections with which now and again he points an incident, that we feel them to be only the embodying of those contemplations which we are carrying on in our bosoms. A tone of exalted philosophy gives to this book a greater value than, as a history of some eminent men, it would have possessed. The technical knowledge of the writer



[ocr errors]

renders him perfectly competent to the duty of appreciating the labours of those who are the subjects of his pen; and upon the whole we may say that this book has inspired us with the highest respect, not more for the acquirements of the author than for the refinement and dignity of his sentiments as a professional man.

The two first lines, those of Linacre and Caius, display the long and early connection which was kept up in this country between medicine and learning. We could have wished that the writer had included the life of Andrew Borde, a clever and eccentric man, who, it must be admitted, made no small impression on the state of medicine in his time. These persons deserve to be remembered with gratitude by posterity, as having promoted, if not indeed introduced, the study of classical literature in this country.

Harvey's is the first name in the history of British medicine, that merits the applause due to that of a discoverer. The great achievement of that illustrious physician, though familiar to most of our readers, is put in such a new and attractive form of description, that we will readily be pardoned for extracting it.

Of the utility of the circulation, every one will be immediately aware, when it is mentioned, that one of its chief purposes is to distribute to every part, every extremity, nook, and corner of the body, the nourishment which is received into it, by one aperture :—What enters at the mouth, by means of this function, finds its way to the fingers' ends. To effect this difficult purpose, two things are necessary. 1st. A proper disposition of the bloodvessels, which has been not unaptly compared to the laying of the waterpipes in a populous city. 2d. The construction of the engine at the centre, viz., the heart, for driving the blood through them. In the case of the conveyance of water, one system of pipes is sufficient; but in the living body another system of vessels is required, to reconvey the blood back to its

The body, therefore, contains two systems of blood vessels, called arteries and veins. The next thing to be considered, is the engine which works this machinery : for this purpose there is provided in the central part of the body a hollow muscle, viz., the heart, by the contraction of whose fibres the four cavities of which it consists are squeezed together, so as to force out of them any fluid they may happen to contain. By the relaxation of the same fibres, these cavities are in their turn dilated, and of course prepared to admit any fluid which may be poured into them. Into these cavities are inserted the great trunks, both of the arteries which carry out the blood, and of the veins which bring it back. The arteries arise from cavities called ventricles; the veins pour their contents into cavities denominated auricles. By the successive contractions and dilations of these several cavities of the heart, it has been calculated that all the blood in the body passes through the heart about once in four minutes. Consider what an affair this is, when we come to very large animals! The aorta (which is the name given to the chief artery) of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of the water-works at London-bridge, and the water roaring in

itspassage through that pipe is inferior in impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart.

• To render this short account more precise, it must be observed, that

[ocr errors]



with the apparatus mentioned above, two distinct circulations are carried on. For besides circulating generally through the body, the blood must come somewhere into contiguity with the air, in order to purify it, and change its colour from dark to bright red. Hence the heart is, as it were, a double organ, having a double office to perform: of its four cavities, two are employed to carry on the general circulation, while the remaining auricle and ventricle keep up the smaller circulation through the lungs, where the bloods meets with the atmospheric air.

• Stated in this summary way, nothing seems easier, more obvious, or more readily understood, than the physiology of this great and important function ; but until the time of Harvey it was involved in the greatest obscurity, and mixed up with all manner of contradictory absurdities. And yet before his day many things were made out; the valves of the veins, for instance, were known; the pulmonary circulation was understood, and several other essential points had been established ; still the great inference had never been drawn. So often are we on the very threshold of a discovery, which by some fatality we miss; and when it is at length made, have only to express our astonishment that we were so marvellously purblind as to overlook it ! -pp. 32-34.

Our author is careful to observe, that great as was the discovery of Harvey he left it incomplete, and it is to the researches of subsequent physiologists that we owe our knowledge of the contractile power of the coats of the arteries, and the minute communication between the veins and arteries. It is a sad truth, that Harvey's credit declined after he had promulgated his great discovery. The physicians of his age looked upon him as a speculator to whom no praise was due. But it is very certain, on the other hand, that his doctrine was generally acknowledged, not only in England but by the faculty throughout Europe, in less than twenty-five years after he had disclosed it. But his practice did not revive with the growth of his fame. Our author offers a conjecture in explanation of this circumstance, which we own strikes us as exceedingly just. He thinks that Harvey's habits of abstract speculation, in which he too devoutly engaged towards the close of his life, disqualified him from cultivating the esteem and confidence of the public, and that it was to this incapacity, and not to the envy and hostility of his professional brethren, that Harvey ought to have ascribed the diminution of his patients.

The next life is that of Sir T. Browne, the author of the “ Vulgar Errors," and "

Religio Medici.” A perusal of it cannot fail to prove instructive, inasmuch as it exemplifies in a most striking manner the facility with which men can discover the mote in their neighbour's eye, whilst they are insensible to the beam in their


Medical science is vastly indebted to the illustrious Sydenham. In an age when quackery lorded it triumphantly over common sense, this great man set an example of judicious and practical conduct, by which the reign of bold and fraudulent craft was precipitated to its ruin. He renounced all theoretical pursuits, and



cipitated to its ruin. He renounced all theoretical pursuits, and sought only to render the ascertained truths of science useful in their application. The name of Sydenham is connected with one of the most appalling events in our domestic history--the plague of 1665. The rapid progress of the contagion seemed to have confounded the little proportion of reason wherewith the majority of the London faculty had been provided. They recommended the most absurd measures both individually and generally; and in the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, they found very prompt agents for the execution of all their mad and mischievous expedients. What shall we think of the wisdom of the civic conclave, which ordered, on a certain day, huge fires to be kindled through all the streets and open places of London, to purify the air! The fires were kept up for three days, until, by the interposition of Providence, a plentiful supply of rain came to extinguish them, otherwise there was no saying how long or how extensively the plague might have devastated the metropolis. Sydenham was a personal witness of the beginning and termination of this calamity, and in the latter stage he lent his powerful assistance to hasten its extinction.

• His method of practice was to bleed very largely; and he relates the case of a noble lady, of about twenty-one years of age, of a sanguine complexion, to whom he was called in the beginning of May 1665 (before he left London), who was bled once or twice, but not sufficiently, and whom he thought he might have saved by a more liberal use of the lancet. In proof of the benefit of bleeding, he mentions an occurrence, related to him by the Hon. Francis Windham, governor of Dunster Castle, in Somersetshire, during the civil wars. It happened that, at that calamitous period, the plague also raged in many parts of England, and it chanced to be brought from another place to Dunster, where some of the soldiers dying suddenly with an eruption of spots, it seized many others. Among the troops was a surgeon, who had been a great traveller, but who was at that time serving as a common soldier, and who humbly entreated the governor of the castle to permit him to do all he could for the relief of his fellowsoldiers, afflicted with this dreadful disease ; leave being obtained, he took away a vast quantity of blood from every sick person, on the first attack of the disease, before there was any sign of swelling: be bled them till they were ready to drop down, for he bled them all standing, and in the open air: nor had he any vessel in which to measure the blood : afterwards he ordered them to lie in their tents, and though he gave no medicine at all after the bleeding, yet, of the many whom he thus treated, not one died. On the propriety of copious and frequently repeated bleeding, Sydenham appeals to those physicians who continued in town while the plague raged, and confidently asks if they had ever observed, when this practice had been employed before any tumour appeared, the death of any one patient to

He, however, met with much obstruction in the employment of his method of cure, and says, with great simplicity,“ I will give an instance of an injury I once did, but without guilt, not because I let blood, but because I was not allowed to take away as much as was necessary. Being


[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »