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the extraordinary character of the thesis to be maintained, it would be no more than fair to demand: (1.) That the same person should never be experimented on but once in the same manner. (2.) That no results obtained on persons with whom the first could have had intercourse should be considered at all (unless the experiments on them be performed in a different manner). (3.) That the experiments should be performed not by the visiting physician, or by any person likely to inspire any emotion like awe or expectancy in the mind of the patient,
even if not expectancy relative to the exact matter in hand, — but by some indifferent person. (4.) That the examination of the patient should be made without display, incidentally as it were, in order not to arouse “expectant attention.” (5.) That control experiments of every kind should be made. How little these restrictions were observed by Charcot, every one conversant with the subject must have noticed. Westphal, on the other hand, took up several of them, with results which from the standpoint of this paper are damaging to the position of the metallo-therapeutists, though from the stand-point of the natural sciences they were not so regarded, which is a significant point as illustrating (if the views here maintained are just) the fact that men distinguished in one branch of science are not necessarily competent, often, indeed, necessarily incompetent to deal with problems belonging in another branch. On these grounds we believe that Professor Charcot, great and acknowledged genius as he is, is not to be regarded as an expert in the department of science which deals with these problems, at once psychological and physiological (a department which is as yet in its infancy), and that, since the entire investigation owes its life to the force given by his name, its reputation, too, must be regarded as impaired by the same arguments. Of course all that has been claimed in the way of results may still be true, but as yet we have seen no proof that the phenomena described are due to electric action, or even to cutaneous irritation, unless acting indirectly, instead of being phenomena analogous to or identical with those of “ trance" (as defined by Dr. Beard), while at the same time, with Charcot and Westphal, we would expressly vindicate the imagination of the patients from all blame. Until such proof is forthcoming we remain at liberty to suspect that it is another case of “ Perkins's tractors ” with which we have here to deal. In either case, Dr. Beard's papers are of great value as succinctly defining the nature of the criticisms with which such claims should first of all be met, and of making an important contribution towards our knowledge of a department of physiology hitherto almost anstudied by scientific men.
For those desiring to consult further the literature of metallo-therapeutics we append the following references: London Lancet, No. 3, et seq., 1878. (Lecture by Charcot.) Gazette hebdomadaire and Progrès médicale for 1877 and 1878. (Vide Gen. Index, art., Metallo-Therap., and also under Soc. de Biologie.) Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, July 29, 1878, March 11, 1878. (Papers by Westphal and Bernhardt.) Brit. Med. Journal, July 20, 1878. (Obs. from Wilks's Clinic.) Vide also other English papers of 1878, for occasional notes. Philadel. Med. Times, April 13, 1878.
A NATIONAL BOARD OF HEALTH. WHILE we are taking a decidedly long step backward, in Massachusetts, in matters relating to the public health, and no one apparently knows just how the new board is to be built up to take the place of the two which it is proposed to throw down, it is a great satisfaction to find that rational views have prevailed in Washington, that the senate ultra-quarantine bill has been rejected, and that the house bill of Mr. McGowan has passed, and has become law by the approval of the president March 3d.
The act provides for a board of seven, to be appointed by the president, subject to the approval of the senate, to whom are to be added one medical officer of the army, one medical officer of the navy, one medical officer of the marine hospital service, and one officer from the department of justice, to be detailed by the secretaries of the several departments and the attorney-general, respectively. The president of the board is to be elected by its members. The duties of the board are to be “to obtain information upon all matters affecting the public health ; to advise the several departments of the government, the executives of the several States, and the commissioners of the District of Columbia on all questions submitted by them, or whenever in the opinion of the board such advice may tend to the preservation and improvement of the public health.” Provisions are made for a full statement of transactions, etc., to Congress, together with a plan for a national health organization, which shall be submitted after consultation with sanitarians and boards of health. The liberal sum of fifty thousand dollars is appropriated for salaries, and five hundred thousand dollars besides, or as much as may be found necessary to carry out the purposes of the act."
We congratulate the country on this result. But the beginning to be made is vitally important, for everything depends upon the men selected for the members of the board. No end of “bummers” will apply; let us hope that erery applicant will be passed by, and that only first-rate men will be appointed, - men to honor the place rather than to be honored by it. We miss in the act an excellent proviso of the bill providing for coöperation with state boards of health and quarantine authorities, with power to pay part of the expenses of such joint work, but that can easily be added in the future.
NEW YORK TENEMENT HOUSES.
New York has at last awakened to an appreciation of the evils of the great tenement-house system which has so long cursed the community, and to the imperative necessity of taking some active measures for its reform. One Sunday in the latter part of February the clergymen of all denominations were requested to speak upon the subject, and in the evening public meetings for its discussion were held in two of the principal churches, at which appropriate addresses were made by a number of prominent clergymen, physicians, and other public-spirited citizens. As a result of this agitation a grand mass meeting was held at the Cooper Institute on the evening of February 28th, which was presided over by the mayor, and at which the sanitary, moral, political, and financial aspects of the question were considered by such speakers as Parke Godwin, Dr. E. L. Shape, of the State Charities Aid Association, Frederick R. Coudert, Jackson S. Schultz, Joseph H. Choate, and Rabbi Henry S. Jacobs. In order that a practical result might be accomplished, the chair was empowered to appoint a committee for the purpose of devising measures to carry tenement-house reform into effect, and among the gentlemen named by the mayor were representatives of the Astors, Vanderbilts, and other large capitalists.
In this connection it is interesting to note the opinion of the committee of award in the competition for the best plan for a tenement house to be constructed on an ordinary city lot, as expressed in their report, just given to the public.“ The object of the competition,” the report says, “ was to demonstrate if it is possible to build a model house for workingmen on the existing city lot, twenty-five by one hundred feet; and while the plans selected come nearest to fulfilling the terms of the competition, the committee emphatically declare that in their view it is impossible to secure the requirements of physical and moral health within these narrow limits. Nevertheless, the plans are an improvement on the existing tenement.” It would seem, therefore, to be an absolute impossibility to plan a house for such a lot, with accommodations for four families on a floor, which will meet in a satisfactory manner the requirements demanded, and that a radical change must consequently be made in the arrangement of building lots for such purposes. The first prize in the above competition was awarded to James E. Ware, of New York, and three other smaller prizes were also given.
Prof. Charles F. Chandler, president of the board of health, recently delivered an instructive lecture on Sanitary Science and Public Health at the Anthon Memorial Church, it being one of a course of free lectures there which is at present attracting considerable attention on the part of the public. In the course of it he stated that fifty-three and fifteen hundredths per cent. of deaths in the city occur in tenement houses proper, and as the public institutions get almost all their patients from them, over sixty-nine per cent., or more than two thirds of the total number of deaths, occur among the tenement-house population. In speaking of the subject of infant mortality, Professor Chandler claimed that over twelve thousand lives had been saved in New York by reforms that had been effected during the last four years.
- With very great pleasure we learn from Washington that Congress has made an appropriation for the first two volumes of the Medical Index, and that Dr. Billings can now proceed with its publication.
— The presidential chair of the Zoological Society of London having hitherto been occupied by aristocratic Fellows of the society, the British Medical Journal congratulates the members of the society upon the recent election of Prof. W. H. Flower," the distinguished anatomist, surgeon, and zoologist,” as president. - Dr. John Macrobin, emeritus professor of the theory and practice of medicine in the University of Aberdeen, is dead.
– The reports for the last two weeks show a decided diminution in the number of cases of scarlatina, and that there is now comparatively little diphtheria in the city.
– The commencement exercises of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College were held in the Academy of Music on the afternoon of February 27th, and the graduates numbered one hundred and sixty-five. The address to the graduating class was by the Hon. Richard O'Gorman, one of the most graceful orators of the New York bar, and the valedictorian was Hubert Haywood, of North Carolina. On this occasion a prize of two hundred dollars, offered some time ago by Professor Sayre for the best essay on The Ætiology and Pathology of Pott's Disease of the Spine by a graduate of the Bellevue school, was awarded to Dr. Seth D. Williams, of New Hampshire.
- The seventy-second commencement of the College of Physicians and Surgeons came off on the following evening at Steinway Hall, and, curiously enough, there were just seventy-two graduates. The address to the class was made by Prof. Roswell D. Hitchcock, of the Union Theological Seminary, and the valedictory address by William F. Wright, of the graduating class. In announcing the various prizes Professor Markoe stated that none of the essays which had been received sufficiently complied with the requirement of containing the results of original investigation to merit the Stum triennial prize. The subjects for 1882 would be Lesions of the Brain, and Diphtheria in its Relations to Membranous Croup, the prize being open to universal competition. Dr. Wm. H. Draper likewise announced that no award had been made for the alumnus prize of five hundred dollars. Six essays had been handed in, but while four of them were of a high order of merit, none of them were considered sufficiently excellent to constitute “a substantial contribution to medical knowledge,” as required by the terms specified by the founder of the fund. The prize is consequently to remain open for competition until 1880. For some time past the faculty of this school have been increasing the strictness of the examinations for degrees, and in his address Professor Hitchcock stated that of the one hundred and twenty candidates for graduation this year eighteen had been conditioned, with the privilege of presenting themselves again in six months, and thirty had been evtirely rejected. After the present year the ten honor men of each graduating class will have the opportunity of competing at a public examination for three prizes of five hundred, three hundred, and two hundred dollars, respectively, the money to be furnished by a bequest of the late Dr. Jacob Harsen.
- At the meeting of the Medico-Legal Society, March 5th, a paper by Dr. Wooster Beach on Inspection of the Dead was read, in which the writer expressed the opinion that no person who dies in a large town or city should be buried without his body being subjected to an inspection by a properly qualified officer; on the grounds that without some system of this kind many crimes are liable to remain undiscovered, and that by such a system death in every case would be verified, so that the consignment of a living person to the grave would be impossible. The medical man who certifies to a death was, he said, liable in many obscure cases of poisoning to be mistaken as to the cause of death. Inspection of persons dead under these circumstances by an officer whose knowledge and training fully fitted him to collect and properly weigh the evidence would, in the majority of instances, set the question of the existence or absence of crime at rest in a very short time. If a so-called physician were now a party to or cognizant of the crime he might, under the present system, furnish a false certificate of death, with scarcely any chance of its being detected. Proper official visitation of the dead would also reveal a great many cases in which death is directly attributable to gross ignorance on the part of so-called physicians. At the same meeting a committee was appointed, with Dr. R. J. O'Sullivan as its chairman, to coöperate with the State Medical Society in its efforts to secure the enactment of a law to prevent the adulteration of food and medicine.
CHICAGO. The college commencements are over; Rush College graduated one bundred and twenty-one, with the regular degree, the Chicago College thirty-five, and the Woman's College five. At the close of the session of Rush the faculty entertained the alumni at a banquet at the Tremont House. The occasion was taken advantage of to reorganize the alumni association, which since the great fire of 1871 has not been in active existence.
At the close of the session of the Chicago College the usual alumni reunion was held, with a banquet, at the Palmer House. At this gathering a subscription was started to raise funds to equip a physiological laboratory for the college. Quite a sum was realized. Dr. Senn, of Milwaukee, announced his offer of an annual prize of one of the best standard works on surgery to that student or alumnus who should make the best anatomical preparation for the college museum. Dr. C. W. Earle, of Chicago, announced a similar prize for the best essay on the diseases of children.
Prof. Alfred Stillé, who bas been connected with the University of Pennsylvania for the past fifteen years, has just resigned the chair of theory and practice of medicine and of clinical medicine in that institution.
– Dr. John H. McQuillen, dean of the faculty and professor of physiology of the Philadelphia Dental College, died suddenly on the 3d instant, at the Academy of Natural Sciences, while preparing for a lecture. He was alone at the time, and death was attributed to heart disease. He was a graduate of Jefferson College, and was formerly a member of the faculty at the Pennsyl. vania Dental College, from which he withdrew in 1863 to found the new institution, which soon took a position in the front rank of American dental colleges. He was also editor of the Dental Cosmos, and at the time of his death was president of the American Dental Association, of the Pennsylvania State Dental Association, and of the Odontographic Society of Pennsylvania. He was also chairman of the microscopical section of the Academy of Natural Sciences.
- At the commencement of the University of Pennsylvania, on the 13th inst., the faculty will wear the “gown and cap” that the medical department discarded many years ago.