« ZurückWeiter »
sent for to a young man of a sanguine complexion, and strong constitution, who had been seized with a violent fever two days before, with giddy pains of the head, violent vomitings, and such like symptoms, and finding, upon inquiry, that he had no sign of a swelling, I immediately ordered that a large quantity of blood should be taken away, which had the appearance of blood drawn in a plurisy, and I prescribed also a ptisan, with cooling juleps and broths. In the afternoon he was bled again, and on the following morning lost the same quantity. Towards the evening of this day I visited my patient, and found him much better ; but his friends, notwithstanding this improvement, were violently opposed to further bleeding. But I earnestly contended that it should be repeated again, saying, that he needed only undergo the operation once more, and he would be safe ; on the contrary, if they continued obstinate, it would have been better that no blood had been taken away at all, and that the cure had been attempted by perspiration; in short, I predicted that the patient would thus die. The event confirmed the prognosis, and while we were disputing the matter, the purple spots broke out, and he died in a few hours.
Sydenham concludes his chapter on the plague in the following remarkable words. “ If the reader shall find that I have anywhere erred in theory, I beg his pardon; but as to practice I declare I have faithfully related every thing, and that I never proposed any plan of cure before Í had thoroughly tried it. Indeed, when I come to die, I trust I shall have a cheerful witness in my breast, that I have not only, with the greatest diligence and honesty, attempted the recovery of the health of all who committed themselves to my care, of what condition soever they have been (of whom none was otherwise treated by me than I desire to be, if I myself should happen to suffer the same diseases), but that also I have laboured to the utmost of my power, if by any means it might be, that the cure of diseases inay be managed after I am dead with greater certainty; for I esteem any progress in that kind of knowledge (how small soever it be), though it teach no more than the cure of the tooth-ache, or of corns upon the feet, to be of more value than the rain pomp of nice speculations.” vol. xii. pp. 104-107.
If, since the period when this great man lived, this country has enjoyed a freedom from the visitation of the plague, let no humbug speculator, no impudent quack hunting after notoriety, ever persuade us, that this exemption is not owing to the Law of Quarantine. In the absence of this law, the plague has reached us-during its operation, the plague has staid away. These coincidences surely deserve as much consideration as any theory that a modern adventurer can dress up for our imagination.
The characters of Radcliffe and Mead have been so recently and so well sketched by the author of the Gold-headed Cane, (which we have duly noticed in our Review), that we are scarcely at liberty to dwell upon their histories. Although there is an evident leaning in this volume to Radcliffe, yet it is impossible not to feel, even through this description of his character, that Radcliffe was any thing but an honour to his profession. No rhetoric can disguise the baseness of his principle-"use all mankind ill.” Upon this doctrine he acted throughout his life, and not content
with that, he endeavoured to perpetuate it, by enjoining upon Mead that he would adopt it as his motto. It must not, however, be forgot, that though Radcliffe, and possibly Mead, were guided by this wicked notion, they certainly atoned for it munificently, by the subsequent application of the fruits of their labours.
Dr. Pringle, author of a famous work, entitled “ Observations on the Diseases of the Army,” is very properly admitted to a place in this volume. Our author says of him
From the time that Pringle had been appointed physician to the army, it seems to have been his favourite object to soften, as far as was in his power, the sufferings attendant on warfare,—and his benevolent efforts were not fruitless. Among the important points which he illustrates, are, the force which may at any time be relied upon for service; the effects of long or short campaigns upon the health of soldiers; the difference between taking the field early, and going late into winter-quarters; and other calculations founded on the materials which warfare too liberally supplies. He has proved the indispensable necessity of a free circulation of atmospheric air in hospitals, from observing, amongst other facts, that the sick who were placed in hospitals having defective doors and windows, were more speedily restored to health, and were less subject to relapses. Desgenettes observes, that he has often verified this assertion in the French military hospitals, and that he has frequently had occasion to break the windows of hospitals, when the indifference or prejudices of the attendants precluded other means of a regular ventilation. General Melville, when governor of the Neutral Islands, was enabled to be singularly useful, in consequence of the instructions which he had received from the writings and conversation of Pringle. By taking care to have his men always lodged in large, open, and airy apartments; and by rapidly shifting their quarters from the low, damp, and marshy parts of the country, to the dry and hilly grounds, so as never to let his forces remain long enough in the swampy places to be injured by their malaria, he preserved the lives of seven hundred soldiers.'--pp. 178, 179.
As we approach our own time, it is happy to observe that the moral character of our physicians is gradually improved. Dr. Fothergill, a member of the Society of Friends, was exemplary for his benevolence.
Charity was the predominant feature in Fothergill's character; that beautiful quality which many find so difficult to imitate, and which, in most minds, is a flower the slowest to blossom, and the earliest to decay. Few names on the record of biography will bear comparison with him in
We do not know whether this noble characteristic was in him the result more of an original tenderness of disposition, or of self-discipline and principle; it seems probable that the study of our divine revelation had opened this plenteous fountain of beneficence in a mind not naturally of an enthusiastic temperament. When, during the summer, he retired to Lea-Hall, in Cheshire, he devoted one day in every week to attendance at Middlewich, the nearest market-town, and gave his gratuitous advice to the poor. He assisted the clergy, not merely with his advice, but on numerous occasions with his purse : on one occasion he was re
proved by a friend for his refusal of a fee from a person who had attained a high rank in the church :" I had rather" (replied the doctor) return the fee of a gentleman with whose rank I am not perfectly acquainted, than run the risk of taking it from a man who ought, perhaps, to be the object of my bounty.” When he paid his last visits to patients in decayed circumstances, it was not unusual with him, under the appearance of feeling the pulse, to slip into their hands a sum of money, or a bank-note; in one instance, this mode of donation is said to have conveyed one hundred and fifty pounds. To the modest or proud poverty which shuns the light of observation, he was the delicate and zealous visitor; in order to preclude the necessity of acknowledgment, which is often painful in such minds, he would endeavour to invent some motive for his bounty, and hence afford to the receiver the pretensions of a claim, while the liberal donor appeared to be only discharging a debt. Rarely was any subscription commenced on whose list the name of Fothergill did not stand foremost. When the success of our arms had filled our prisons with foreign captives, he was appointed member of a committee which superintended the sums raised for their relief; and it should be stated, to the honour of his cominunity, that above one-fourth of the whole subscription was contributed by the Quakers, who then scarcely formed the two-hundredth part of the nation. To Dr. Knight, a literary man, whose character was deservedly esteemed, but who, by some speculations in mioing, had become embarrassed in circumstances, he is supposed to have afforded aid to the amount of a thousand pounds. We shall not pause to calculate the total amount of his bounties, which have been estimated at so high a sum as two hundred thousand pounds; but it is evident that his generosity knew no other limit than bis means.'-pp. 192-194.
Of Dr. Cullen, whose writings produced such a powerful impression on the state of medicine in this country, we have a most able and judicious sketch. The conduct of this great and good man to bis pupils, is emphatically dwelt on by our well-intentioned author, who is, no doubt, well aware what extensive room there is in our medical schools for such an example to operate.
His conduct towards his pupils was exemplary. With those who appeared diligent he formed an early acquaintance, inviting them to supper in very small parties, and freely discussing with them, at such opportunities, their doubts, their wishes, and their prospects. With the most assiduous he gradually formed an intimacy, which often proved highly beneficial to their private interests. His excellent library was at all times open to their use ; he kept up a correspondence with them on their departure from the university, and was often instrumental in establishing them in desirable situations. His benevolent mind doubtless often looked back on the struggles of his early days, and sympathy with those who had to encounter similar privations often opened his purse to straitened merit. To seek out the obscure, to invite the humble, was his particular pleasure; he behaved to such rather as if he courted their society, than as if they could be bettered by his patronage. He often found out some polite excuse for refusing to take payment for his lectures, and steadily refused to accept a fee from any student; a custom which, we believe, has become naturalized at Edinburgh from the date of Cullen.'—pp. 210, 211. .
Nothing can be more exactly and neatly expressed than the following brief view of Cullen's celebrated theory, and its merits:
• He considers the human body as a combination of animated organs, regulated by the laws, not of inanimate matter, but of life, and superintended by an immaterial principle, acting wisely, but necessarily, for the general health, correcting deviations, and supplying deficiencies, not from a knowledge and a choice of the means, but through a pre-established relation between the changes produced, and the motions required for the restoration of health. This principle, in its various ramifications, governed every part of his theory of medicine. The action or the torpor of the extreme arteries chiefly influenced the motions which the living principle regulated.
The system of Cullen is combined with so much judgment that it fills the mind as one whole; nothing seems wanting, and nothing redundant. He has amply succeeded, at all events, in accomplishing that which he professed to be his principal aim, the improvement of the judgment: this should be the principal aim of every method of teaching, and when the judgment is once matured, the student may be safely allowed to pursue alone the eclectic path, unfettered by any of those exclusive and domineering guides, who literally represent the blind conducting the blind. Cullen was in the habit of repeating, " there must be a tub to amuse the whale," and the history of medicine, in every age and country, amply confirms his application of the adage. His doctrine, modified hy Brown and Pinel, has made the tour of Europe, but few of his imitators or detractors have imitated the sagacity which he displayed in searching out the indications of cure and the enlightened scepticism with which he examined the chaos of materia medica.'- pp. 212, 213.
Dr. William Hunter's life affords our author an opportunity of giving some historical remarks on the practice of midwifery in this country. He says
• Mawbray seems to have been the first teacher of obstetrics in London. He was lecturing in 1725, and established a lying-in hospital, to which students were admitted. The Chamberlains followed him-a family which professed to possess a better method of treating difficult labours than was known to others, and maintained a sort of mystery as to their instruments. This pretension was imitated by others. Smellie gave a new dignity to the subject by his talents and his lessons ; although he is accused by a rival of advertising to teach the whole science in four lectures, and of hanging out a paper lantern, inscribed with the economical invitation, “ Midwifery is taught here for five shillings."'-p. 118.
The abilities and character of Dr. Hunter certainly contributed very much to raise the class of practitioners to which he belonged, to that degree of consideration which they have, in latter times, very well maintained. The literary contributions of Dr. Hunter consist of
Several Essays to the Philosophical Transactions, and to the Medical Observations and Inquiries, published by the Medical Society of London. In one of these, he had the merit of first describing the varicose aneurism. In his work, entitled Medical Commentaries, we find him warmly engaged in controversy, and principally in a dispute with the eminent Monro, of Edinburgh, respecting his claims to certain discoveries—particularly the origin and use of the lymphatic vessels. The eagerness of the contending parties in this discussion was very natural, when the interest and honour of the discovery are considered. The title of William Hunter is now generally conceded. It is chiefly to his exertions, and to those of his pupils, Hewson, Shelden, and Cruikshank, combined with those of Mascagni, in Italy, that we are indebted for the complete examination and history of that system of vessels. Blumenbach awards this palm to William Hunter, and few will be disposed to contest his decisions on such subjects.
Dr. Hunter was not a man of ardent temperament; but he was, our author says, and the reader's attention is earnestly invited to the judicious observation
Highly useful in his generation; and he is one of many proofs of the eminence and importance to which a good understanding, a ready perception, and a retentive memory, may conduct the man who commences life with very few other possessions.'--pp. 127, 128.
Dr. Warren's life offers little of interest, and we are the less disposed to commemorate departed virtues and abilities, which are so well depicted in a living representative-his son. The lives of Drs. Baillie and Jenner, it has been already our melancholy pleasure minutely to trace.
It would be impossible to rise from the study of Dr. Parry's life, without a due sense of the great value of perseverance and assiduity in every calling. This gentleman was a celebrated Bath physician. Pursuing his professional studies with enthusiasm, and conscious of his claims to the confidence of the public, young Parry exhibited some signs of impatience at the slow progress which he was making in practice. The kind admonitions of a friend consoled and supported him, and he lived to enjoy the profits of early attention to wise counsel. Dr. Denman was this friend, and one of his letters is so replete with practical wisdom, that it may be well expected to extend its beneficial influence beyond the mere individual to whom it was addressed.
"Since the time of your first settling at Bath, I have ever borne in mind the wish to serve you if an opportunity offered. There have been very few, but I have mentioned you to several who have come down. I am not surprised that you find your receipts come in slowly at present, but all young practitioners think, when they set up their standard, that the world should immediately flock to it, and they are generally disturbed when they find the contrary. But all business is progressive, and the steps now taken may be so calculated as to produce their effect ten years hence. There must be a vacancy before we can get into business, and when there is, the competition must be equal in many points, as age or standing, character for knowledge, industry or readiness to exert our knowledge for the