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A man has pain in the side, with difficulty of breathing, attended by more or less fever. All this may arise either from rheumatism in the muscles, or from pleurisy or inflammation of the lung; and the symptoms alone will not always tell which is the disease. If it be rheumatism, we are not likely to find any external sign of it, except perhaps some feebleness of respiration, on account of the difficulty of expanding and contracting the chest. If the disease be pleurisy, we shall have flatness on percussion, in the lower part of the side affected, changing its place if the patient changes his position, so as always to keep the lowest part; absence of all sound of respiration in that part, while the respiratory sound is louder than natural in the surrounding parts; and generally hægophonic resonance of the voice. If it be inflammation. of the lung, there is dulness on percussion, increasing, as the disease advances, to flatness, retaining the same place in all positions, not bounded abruptly by healthy resonance; crepitous rale in the respiratory sounds, at first, followed by bronchial respiration and bronchophony. These several characteristics, however obscure they may seem in the description to many of our readers, to an intelligent and experienced observer will perfectly designate the character of the disease, so as to leave no doubt whatever in his mind. The disease may, indeed, be complicated, and then the evidences of its nature will be so too; and so will be the treatment that it will require.
A more interesting case is unhappily also much more frequent. A youth, just ripening into manhood, gradually loses his ruddy color and vigorous strength; he loses flesh, and occasionally a slight cough alarms the fears of his friends, though he himself thinks it nothing but a trifling cold. examination, a slight dulness is observed at the apex of one lung, so slight as scarcely to be appreciated except by comparison with the opposite side. The respiratory sound is at first remarkably feeble at that part, or a little later there is bronchial respiration and bronchophony. These are sure indications, that the way is already prepared for consumption. Still there is hope, if a proper regimen can immediately be begun and persevered in; for direct remedies can here do but little. Too often, either the patient is not alarmed early enough, or, in despite of every precaution or effort, the disease advances. Bronchial respiration is followed by a muco
crepitous, and then by cavernous rále, bronchophony by pectoriloquy, and so on till life is destroyed, each step of the destructive process being clearly revealed by the sounds elicited in successive examinations.
But what avails it thus to trace the melancholy progress of a disease which we have no power to arrest? There is some consolation in knowing the just amount of what we have to fear, however great that amount may be. And, if we have no remedies that are able to reach this formidable disease, who shall say, that we shall never have them? The first steps towards acquiring them must be taken in obtaining a full knowledge of the disease. We can now do something towards prolonging life and diminishing suffering. We can at least abstain from doing harm by vain attempts to effect what is impossible. Above all, by an early discovery of the disease, we may teach our patient to flee from the danger before it overtakes him. In very many cases, a careful examination of the chest will detect unequivocal evidence of approaching consumption, long before the symptoms excite any considerable apprehension. At this early period much may be done to avert the danger. And if the attention of physicians and patients were more directed to this period, much more might doubtless be done to diminish the fatality of consumption than ever has been.
If it be asked, on which we are the most to depend for the elucidation of disease, the investigation of symptoms, or an examination by physical signs, we answer, that there is no opposition whatever between them. The use of direct exploration does not preclude a careful inquiry into the symptoms of the case. On the contrary, it prompts to a more full investigation. In practical life, it certainly is true, that those physicians who most constantly make use of the benefits of exploration, are not only equally, but generally much more, thorough in their inquiries into all the circumstances of a patient's health, than those who neglect or ridicule it. This may be partly because those, who are the most zealous in their researches, are the most willing to take the trouble requisite to acquire a new method of investigation, when it promises adequate advantages. But this is not the whole of it. There is something so grateful in comparing the results of different modes of examination, that, were it a mere matter of specula
tive philosophy, the mind would necessarily be stimulated by the comparison.
There are still some physicians, who laugh at the whole matter of direct exploration as either idle foolery, or empiricism. But they are those, who have never taken the pains to learn how to practise it; were there no more advantage in it than they know how to obtain from it, their ridicule might be better founded. Whether their ignorance be the effect of indolence or incompetence, it becomes us not to say. But, while they laugh, others will learn; and the time is not far distant, when the physician, who is unable to practise percussion and auscultation, will be held to be unfit for his profession. We have not written these remarks in the expectation of converting such men to our views. Nor, indeed, has it been our leading object to instruct the profession generally. Our aim has been, to give to unprofessional readers some notion of these new methods of examination. Neither our limits nor our plan admit of going fully into the details of the subject. But we have hoped to do enough to show, that the means of acquiring an accurate knowledge of an extensive and highly important class of diseases are vastly improved by the introduction of this mode of examining them.
ART. VIII.1. Nordisk Tidsskrift for Oldkyndighed, udgivet af det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskrift-Selskab. Andet Bind.
(Bemaerkninger over de Venetianerne Zeni tilskrevne Reiser i Norden; af C. C. ZAHRTMANN, Capitainlieutenant.) Kiobenhavn: 1833.
2. The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. Volume the Fifth.
(Remarks on the Voyages to the Northern Hemisphere, ascribed to the Zeni of Venice. By Captain C. C. ZAHRTMANN, R. N., Hydrographer to the Royal Danish Navy; and communicated by him. Read 27 April, 1835.) London : 1835.
RIVAL pretensions to the glory of having discovered the New World are fast springing up, or beginning to be urged with
renewed vigor. In a late Number of this Journal we examined somewhat at length the apparently well-founded claims of the Scandinavian navigators, whose voyages were performed as early as the tenth century.* Between that period and the date of the first voyage of Columbus, if we may believe the accounts, the American coast was visited by the Arabians (of the Spanish Peninsula), the Welsh, the Venetians, the Portuguese, and by a native Pole in the service of Denmark. Other rumored voyages were made within the same period, but they rest on more questionable authority.
The Arabian expedition, it appears, was undertaken by a company consisting of eight persons, of the same family, called the Almagrurins, or, as commonly translated, the Wandering Brothers, who, having made provision for a long voyage, swore they would not return until they had penetrated the farthest bounds of the DARK SEA," meaning the Atlantic, then vulgarly supposed to be enveloped in literal darkness. Sailing from Lisbon, these bold adventurers directed their course to the south and west, and, after many days, discovered an island inhabited by a people of lofty stature, a red skin, and long flowing hair, descending upon their shoulders. They were here told by the inhabitants, that persons from the island had sailed twenty days to the west without discovering land. Despairing of accomplishing the purpose of their voyage, the Arabian brothers retraced their course, and returned safely to Lisbon. The island they discovered is supposed by some writers to have been situated on the American coast; but the better opinion seems to be, that it was one of the Canary group, whose original population, the Guanches, were a pastoral race, not unlike the people described in the account of this voyage. The date of the voyage is not certainly known; but, as the Arabians were driven from Lisbon in 1147, it must have been prior to that period. †
A brief account of the voyages of Madoc, a Welsh navigator, as related by Dr. Powel, the historian of Wales, is contained in Hakluyt's invaluable collection, who says, that the land discovered by him (in 1170) "must needs be some part of that country of which the Spaniards affirm
themselves to be the first finders since Hanno's time.
See North American Review, Vol. XLVI. pp. 161–203.
Humboldt, Examen Critique, Vol. II. p. 137.
Whereupon it is manifest, that the country was by Britons discovered long before Columbus led any Spaniards thither."* We do not learn, however, that the British government has ever rested its claim to any part of America on the strength of this discovery.
The Venetian discoveries, to which our attention will be chiefly directed in the present article, are referred to the latter part of the fourteenth century; and Count Daru, in his admirable History of the Republic, states, that the library of St. Mark, at Venice, contains a map bearing the date of 1436, with the name of a Venetian geographer, or artist, on which is laid down a large extent of land, five or six hundred leagues west of Gibraltar, under the name of Antillia. †
According to the Portuguese writers, Newfoundland was discovered in 1463 by John Vas Cortereal, of Portugal, who gave it the name of Terra de Baccalhaos (the Land of Cod Fish); but the evidence, on which the statement depends, is far from being conclusive, although recently Barrow, and other English writers, have, without much examination, given countenance to the story. An American writer, the author of the "Memoir of Sebastian Cabot," has shown pretty conclusively, by a rigid investigation of the subject, that there is little, if any, ground for the claim; in which opinion he is approved and followed by Baron Humboldt.
The voyage of Szkolney (or, as the name is Latinized, Sciolvus), the Pole, to the coasts of Greenland and Labrador, is stated to have been performed in 1476; and we are informed, that a learned countryman of that navigator has recently vindicated his merits in an elaborate work, written in the Polish language, which is spoken of in terms of high commendation. ‡
It is not our purpose, at the present time, to examine these various pretensions to the discovery of this continent,
Voyages, &c. Vol. III. p. 1.
↑ Histoire de Venise, Vol. V. p. 625. Malte-Brun, referring to this matter, says, "M. Pinkerton croit que cette Antillia qui se trouve aussi sur d'anciennes cartes Venitiennes, n'est qu'une création systematique des géographes, qui s'imaginaient qu'il devait y avoir un continent opposé à celui de l'ancien monde, et destiné à contre-balancer celui-ci. Mais je ne vois pas que M. Pinkerton donne aucune raison de son opinion." - Géographie Universelle, p. viii. note.
Humboldt, Ibid. Vol. II. p. 152.