« ForrigeFortsæt »
this head. In this we think he hardly does himself justice. At the same time, he appears to us to have marked only one cause for a variety of diseases arising from various causes, and exhibiting different phenomena. The importance of his remarks, however, demand an early attention in our ana. lytical department.
Dr. Crawford's posthumous publication on Tonic Medi. cines cannot fail to claim some share of interest, were it only as the last public legacy of this lamented benefactor to science. What we conceive to be its merits and defects have been so largely dwelt upon in the analytical department of our Journal, as to preclude the necessity of any further notice.
Dr. Balfour has complained of our review of his work on Percussion, &c. in Rheumatism. Our readers have seen his appeal against this supposed injustice on the part of our reviewer; and he will allow that we are not deficient in candour, when we admit that we have, since this controversy, witnessed, upon a small scale, the beneficial effects of the plan recommended in rheumatic affections by this author. [It may be some satisfaction to Dr. Balfour to be informed, that this amende honorable is from the writer in our Journal, by whom the doctor thought himself too severely treated.].
If the medical literature of Britain be, in any respect, inferior to that of our continental neighbours, it is, we think, in the article of medical jurisprudence. A good work on this subject, we deem to be still a desideratum. In the mean time, we have to notice a small compilation by Dr. Male, entitled, “ An Epitome of Juridical or Forensic Medicine," which principally treats of the morbid symptoms produced by different poisons, and the means by which such poisons may be detected. The subject too of infanticide, suspended animation by drowning or banging, insanity, pretended and imputed diseases, rape, impotence, &c. are slightly touched on. The author does not profess to have given more than a general outline of these particulars, which he has confessedly extracted from those works of most authority in which they are severally treated. This book has the same fault as we discovered in Dr. Farre's, namely, an inattention to the No. 221.
digestion of the stomach after death. Whenever a welldigested work of medical jurisprudence is accomplished, we conceive it must be the joint labour of the two professions. A lawyer must point out the cases and explain the difficulties which have occurred to the court in each.
At the College of Physicians, and at the College of Surgeons, lectures are, at this moment, in the course of delivery. That the lecturer, in one instance, should read to the walls and benches, and, in the other, to crowded audiences, is among the many proofs how much the more showy branches of science are preferred. As Mr. Abernethy's introductory lectures will probably be published, we shall not antici. pate any part of them. It is but bare justice to Dr. Yeats and Dr. Powell, the Croonian and Gulstonian lecturers of the present year in the College of Physicians, to state, that the lectures which they read merited a very different fate from what they received. The one series (Dr. Y.'s) was on the affections of the duodenum ; and the other, (Dr. P.'s) on hæmorrhagic disorders of the encephalon and its enveloping membranes.
Dr. Yeats, after delineating in a very correct and interesting manner the separate and connected anatomy of the duodenum, commented upon the physiological office of this intestine, described the second digestion which the aliment undergoes in this part, and the important sympathies between it and the nervous system. He then entered upon
the diseased conditions and actions of the duodenum, showing, that several symptoms which are often vaguely and indiscriminately referred to the stomach and liver, are, in reality, indications of duodenal disease, and are remedied with more facility and safety by alterative purgatives combined with vegetable tonics, than by the mercurial plan in common use. The dissertation was comprised in three lectures, the number, we suppose, directed by their founder.
Dr. Powell immediately succeeded to Dr. Yeats, and began by stating his intention, as far as the limits of the lectures would permit him, to discourse on some of the most important points in the pathology of the brain. He very
properly objected to the generic term of apoplexy, as including under one sweeping denomination, so many complaints of a widely diverse origin and nature. He then ceeded to describe the anatomy of the brain, principally in reference to its blood vessels; entered upon the theory of hæmorrhagic discharges; and detailed, from his own practice, and from the works of the most accredited authors, instances of hæmorrhages in the brain illustrative of his pathological notions. To Dr. Powell succeeded Dr. Curry, who read a short lecture on the physiology of muscular action; but, as these notices must go to press before the conclusion of this last division of the series, we forbear at present any further observations on Dr. Curry's share in the series of discourses, which, we repeat, were pregnant with too much interest to have been treated on the part of the fellows and licentiates of the college with such marked neglect. If any observations of ours could tend to excite a disposition in future to attendance, we should feel a consciousness of having performed a public service.
9. On the whole, we feel much cause for satisfaction in having been induced to undertake this Retrospect. The hint came, it is true, from a suspicious quarter, and was probably thrown out more at random than with any knowledge. It has, however, given us an opportunity of wandering somewhat beyond our own limits. Not contented with alternate compliments and gentle chidings, couched in language so smooth and so light as to pass off without leaving an impression, and tending rather to relieve the reader from thinking than to call forth his intellectual powers, we have undertaken to point out those ancient land-marks beyond which medicine has advanced, and seems to promise a future progress,-sometimes with advantage, sometimes with doubtful issue, sometimes into labyrinths from which, with all the pains we are perpetually taking, we find it difficult to recover our own footsteps. It will probably be disco. vered, that the most important result of all these improvements is the confirmation it affords that medicine, like
all other sciences, is founded in good sense, and not in hypothesis. That it has its own laws, which are to be discovered only by watching all the operations of Nature in a living body, in health or under disease, and those changes which take place on the application or abstraction of various stimuli dietetic, pharmaceutic, or me. chanic. If the difficulties seem greater than in other arts, it is only because we anticipate conclusions, instead of accumuJating and comparing facts; and because we forget that every fact is an experiment infinitely more conclusive than any we can artificially make. Often have we to lament that events the most common, and, on that account, the most important, either pass unnoticed, or are described with all the mysterious air of a discovery or of a theory. At other times, we find the application of artificial chemistry to produce what can only be accomplished by a secretion during life; for it cannot escape the most superficial reasoner, that, if the laws of chemical combination make any part of the animal economy, they must be directed with a nicety which no human power can imitate. In a word, every discovery we make tends to prove that there are no laws common to living and dead matter, excepting elasti. city; and that even this, as long as life continues, is always controlled by the living powers.
This conviction has gradually produced a change in our medical language, first introduced by Mr. Hunter, and which requires all the foresight and sagacity of that great physio. logist to keep it in order. ' We learn by degrees the importance of words, and, in proportion as we do so, we fall into a similar language. But let us never forget that words must be considered only as the means of communicating our thoughts with logical precision; and that it is previously necessary to digest those thoughts by a correct attention to facts, their series and order. For want of this, we have just seen one writer who, on a former occasion, treated some of Mr. Hunter's discoveries with the Aippancy of ridicule, now anxious to adopt bis language without taking the trouble of studying his doctrines, like a recruit who ventures to fire his