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SAYRE'S CONSPECTUS OF ORGANIC MATERIA MEDICA
AND PHARMACAL BOTANY.1 This book might be considered a desirable abridgment of the now classical Pharmacographia of Flückiger and Hanbury, and of certain portions of the United States Dispensatory, were it better done. The plan is good, and the information in most cases correct, but the author, in his zeal to save the time of the student of medicine or pharmacy, has apparently saved a good deal of his own, which should have been devoted to making his sentences intelligible, to say nothing of their being in good English. The compound of hasty abbreviation, bad spelling (for example, Pettinkofer, Troemner, watermellon, microphyle, etc., etc.), bad Latin, and worse English is simply abominable.
The definitions in the botanical portion are far from satisfactory. For example, “ Albumen. The flowery [query floury?] part [of the seed].” As to the table of antidotes, many persons might well prefer to take their chance with the poisons than with the antidotes, as they are there given, promiscuously, without the slightest attempt, even in the order in which they are mentioned, to indicate the reason or occasion for their use.
To conclude, the book is well meant, but should be almost entirely rewritten before it is fit to be placed in the hands of students.
MAYS ON THE THERAPEUTIC FORCES.?
We fear that this little book only adds another to the numerous unsuccessful attempts to establish general laws in therapeutics. The author supposes that the action of chemical stimulants,” alcohol, cod-liver oil, phosphorus, and oxygen, consists in their generating force by their chemical affinity for oxygen, or (in the case of oxygen itself) for oxidizable substances, while the “ mechanical,” quinia and other bitters, iodine, opium, irritants, and cold, are thought to excite molecular motion by friction. The latter part of the theory is too theoretical to be either affirmed or denied upon any experimental basis.
As to the first part, the author seems to have fallen into the somewhat seductive error of supposing that because various forms of force are exactly correlated they are interchangeable at will, and that heat may, if necessary, , become vital or nervous force. In fact, we know very well that there may be in the body an abundance, or indeed a superabundance, of heat, and yet the vital forces may be at a very low ebb.
The time for extreme generalization in therapeutics has not yet come, but we would by no means deprecate on this account any thoughtful attempt like the present to solve the problem. Though many a theory will be set up and
Sayre's Conspectus of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacal Botany. Comprising the Vegetable and Animal Drugs, their Physical Character, Geographical Origin, Classification, Constituents, Doses, Adulterations, etc. Table of the Tests and Solubilities of the Alkaloids appended. By L. E. SAYRE, Ph. G. Philadelphia : D. G. Brinton, 115 South Seventh
2 Mays on the Therapeutic Forces. By Thomas T. Mays, M. D. Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston. 1879.
fall to the ground before the Newton of therapeutics shall write its Principia, yet the framing of these theories, as well as their refutation, can hardly fail to be of mental profit both to the philosophic writer and the critical reader.
MUIR'S PRACTICAL CHEMISTRY.1
This is a small pocket manual upon qualitative analysis, and gives but a very few of the tests with which it is necesary for the medical student to be familiar. The little material which it does contain is very badly arranged, and can be found much better stated in the ordinary text-books on qualitative analysis. Moreover, we do not agree with the author in considering that a medical student needs only to know a few tests for the siinple salts. W.
QUARANTINE IN YELLOW FEVER. Dr. S. OAKLEY VANDERPOEL, health officer of New York, has just made his annual report to the quarantine commissioners, and much of it is naturally devoted to the subject of yellow fever. While he does not believe that the most absolute cleanliness will prevent an epidemic of the disease if the germ is deposited under favorable conditions of heat and moisture, he expresses the opinion that its type and persistence will depend upon the amount and character of the filth it finds to favor its propagation. During the year 1878 forty-five cases of infectious disease were in the lower bay and at the hospital, and of these thirty were yellow fever. There were fourteen deaths, and from June 9th until September 30th there was not an interval of three days without there being one or more cases of yellow fever in the bay. Dr. Vanderpoel is fully alive to the evils incidental to the presence of the disease, but at the same time he is not willing to admit that they furnish an excuse for those stupid measures born of panic and ignorance which would impose absolute restriction and bring trade and commerce to a stand-still. “A resort to such measures,” he says, “would be a poor commentary upon the progress of medical studies and hygiene during the century. If at one swoop we are to blot out the favorable experience of this port, and be relegated to the non-intercourse which characterized some of the monasteries dur. ing the epidemics of the Middle Ages, it would be an unfortunate blow to the vast commercial interests which connect us with the tropics.” He condemos the kind of quarantine maintained at New Orleans, which he says ignores the elementary principles which govern such institutions in other places. Two chief points must be taken into consideration : first, the incubation period of the disease, and, second, its mode or manner of transmission; and if these are properly recognized, he holds that a quarantine at New Orleans can be made as effective as at New York.
But, after all, Dr. Vanderpoel believes that the best way to deal with yel. 1 Practical Chemistry for Medical Students. By M. M. Pattison Muir, F. R. S. E., Prælector in Chemistry, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. London: Macmillan & Co. 1878.
low fever is to check its development and spread at the fountain-head, and he therefore devotes a great portion of his report to the consideration of the hygienic condition of Havana, and accompanies it with the letter which he addressed to President Hayes on the subject during the recent epidemic in the South. After dwelling upon the very bad sanitary state of Havana, he shows that, on account of its peculiar location, vessels in its port are compelled to lie in the focus of all the impurities and stifling exhalations of the city, and that they are consequently specially liable to become infected while there. The practical result of a consideration of these facts is the admirable proposition which he makes, that the government of Spain be solicited to unite with that of the United States in the appointment of an international commission, which shall proceed to Havana with a view to examine the sanitary surroundings of that city and their relations to the propagation of the scourge, and that the Spanish government be earnestly requested to carry out fully the joint recommendations of such commission.
– The experts authorized by Congress to investigate the epidemic of yellow fever submitted their report on January 30th. They acknowledge their investigations, owing to lack of time, to be incomplete, and advise that two or three skilled experts be charged with a completion of the task, and that at least two be authorized to study the disease at its home in the West Indies, and that the coöperation of other governments should be obtained in this work. In regard to future quarantine, two classes of officers are suggested, one for foreign and one for home service : the former making themselves familiar with all diseases prevalent at the parts at which they are stationed, and with the medical history of ships trading to or from their respective parts; the latter to have charge of quarantine stations, and to supervise interstate travel and traffic from infected places in time of epidemics. To carry into effect an efficient system of quarantine, a central health department and an advisory board of health are advised to frame needful laws. The board looks upon the disease as an exotic in all countries except the West Indies, and in all of them its introduction can be traced either directly or indirectly to the West Indies.
In regard to the recent reports of the plague in Russia an English exchange of the date of January 18th states that they originated from an outbreak uf typhus brought by a returning body of Cossacks into the province of Astrachan. Late in December, following a sudden thaw, a fatal outbreak occurred, carrying off one hundred and forty-six people out of a total population of six hundred. A panic seized the people, which seems to have affected the government, and quarantine regulations have been strictly enforced. In spite, however, of these reports the term plague continues to be used.
– The conflicting theories in regard to the death of Barron, the cashier of the Dexter Bank, who was found handcuffed and gagged, with a cord twisted about his throat, in a dying condition, in the vault of the bank, brings into a strong light the importance of a post-mortem examination in inquests of such importance as the one held in this case. The theory now set up by the detectives, nearly a year after the occurrence, is death from suicide by morphine poisoning. The report of the physician showed that there were marks of external violence, and a general condition which one might interpret as that of concussion of the brain. The man who for a year has been held up as a hero is now charged with grave crimes. An examination could have definitely settled whether the injuries were such as to have caused death, and had sufficient evidence not been found to sustain the theory such facts would have led to an examination of the contents of the stomach, and the poisoning theory have been definitely determined.
In our allusion last week to the comparative age of the Medical Press and Circular, - which claimed to be second in age among medical journals in the English tongue, there was an error as to the age of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences. In its present form that journal was first issued in 1827, or about three months before the first issue of this journal. The order, then, is as follows: London Lancet born 1823; American Journal of the Medical Sciences, latter part of 1827; Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, February, 1828 ; Medical Press and Circular, 1837.
- The Vienna correspondent of the British Medical Journal says: “ This session our American cousins still show their anxiety to keep pace with the front rank in medicine. We believe they number sixty or more From Britain we notice a few : from Ireland, three; a dozen or more from Scotland ; and but few from England. Thus many of the more private classes are almost purely composed of English speakers. We have heard many American gentlemen say they would prefer studying in England if only London could afford the facilities of Vienna in proximity of various classes and their convenience in choice as to hours; further, it has been said that very many more would study in London than here, because the German language is so difficult, and the expenses so high in Vienna. Among the students here are three ladies, one American and two Russian.
" Apropos of woman's sphere, it is certainly considered more than usually extensive here than in some places ; for all sorts of nurse-work and dressing, even in the syphilitic wards, seems delegated to women, who remove dressings before the students in a business-like manner, rather startling to one who has never seen the like beforehand.”
- Mr. Siebold, of London, referring to the popular impression that only green wall papers are to be feared, says that out of sixty to seventy wall papers – blues, reds, browns, pinks, etc. — analyzed by himself, ten only were harmless; the remainder contained arsenic.
- The possibility of true bony union in fractured patella being denied by many surgeons, the following will be read with interest: Mr. W. I. Wheeler exhibited at the Pathological Society of Dublin a specimen of fracture of the patella in which true bony union had taken place. The patient was a man aged twenty-one years, driver of a milk-cart. In September, 1875, he had been admitted to the City of Dublin Hospital, suffering from a transverse fracture of the patella; the fragments of bone were separated by an interval
of two inches and three eighths. He was treated by the application of ice, Mr. Wheeler's pads, and a starched bandage. When he left the hospital, on December 13th, there was no separation between the fragments. He subsequently resumed his occupation, and got up and down over the wheel of a milk-cart two hundred and forty times a week. Symptoms of phthisis set in, and finally he succumbed to that disease. During life there was no percepti. ble diminution in the volume of the quadriceps muscle, the movements of the patella were not impaired, and there were no spasms of the quadriceps.
– Upon the occasion of a recent concert at the Cincinnati Music Hall by Wilhelmj and the orchestra, the programines were bordered with black, as a mourning tribute to the late Dr. Landon Longworth, who was a professor in the College of Music.
– Professor Gorup-Besanez, author of a large manual on Physiological Chemistry, recently died at Erlangen.
- The British Medical Journal for December 14th, contains the following: “M. Dumontpallier (Société de Biologie, Le Progrès médical, December 7, 1878) related some experiments with reference to sensation made on students at the hospital of La Pitié, which are particularly interesting in connection with the recent lectures of M. Charcot, Professor Gamgee, aud Dr. Hughes Bennett, in our columns, on the subject of modifications of sensation in hysterical and other forms of anæsthesia. Ether was sprayed on the right arm; sensibility disappeared little by little in the parts in contact with the ether. At the same time, sensibility notably diminished in the corresponding area of the left arm. These phenomena are absolutely identical with those which are observed in hysterical women, and nevertheless, we are assured, the young men on whom M. Dumontpallier operated were not hysterical. One of his externes, who underwent the ether-spray operation, has prepared an account of his experiences, which M. Dumontpallier submitted to the society. M. Dumontpallier added that it was true that some other experiments had not produced any positive results. M. Laborde declared that the phenomenon of transference was scarcely evidence of the reality of the facts adduced, and recommended M. Dumontpallier to experiment upon himself. Perhaps, in some pathological conditions, subcutaneous injections of atropin might modify symmetrical hyperästhesia. M. Dumontpallier, in reply to M. Malassez, said he did not believe in the phenomena brought forward, until he saw the thermometer rising at the moment when return of sensation commenced.”
- Another new medical journal is shortly to make its appearance. It is to be a bi-monthly, published by the Putnams, and it is stated that a high order of excellence will be aimed at by those conducting it. The chief editor is Dr. E. C. Seguin, and he will be assisted by Drs. T. A. McBride, L. A. Stimson, and M. D. Mann. With the exception of Dr. Stimson, who is professor of pathological anatomy in the medical department of the University of New York, all the editors are identified with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The title of the journal is to be the Archives of Medicine, and its first number is announced to appear in February. It is a continuation of the