Anecdotes of doctors

The VOLUMES here submitted to the reader are not, in any sense, a Medical work. The object of the Author is not to direct persons how to physic themselves, or this work might well be entitled Every Man his own Poisoner. The leading title implies that it has as much to do with Patients as Doctors—their conversational and anecdotal characteristics. Then, the lives of eminent practitioners have yielded the Compiler many interesting traits and experiences wherewith to entertain his readers. Next, his object has been specially to point out certain errors current in regard to disease and medicine, and to convey his explanations with due regard to clearness and the avoidance of technicalities. Indeed, his aim has been to fit each section of the work for general reading. The ‘Curiosities of Medicine’ have yielded the Compiler ample materials, and he has taken special care to DOCTORS and PATIENTS. Old Physicians. It Is Difficult to understand why it is that special physicians, such as Galen, and Avicenna, and Card an, should have gained a vast repute, nay a vaster repute as successful physicians, than is ever gained in our time. Were their prescriptions to be now used, it is certain that far more patients would be killed by them than by disease; yet there was a time when they were supposed, at least, to save life with marvellous success. Galen’s principle is described in the following words :—’ Given a disease, determine its character as hot or cold, moist or dry, by an effort of imagination; having done so, select a remedy which has been catalogued as possessing opposite qualities.’ And here is one of his prescriptions :—’ For example, under the head of “dysentery,” he gives for indiscriminate selection, according to taste, nine recipes, most of which are incorporated in the formulas of Paul us  of which the following are specimens :—” Of the ashes of snails, p. iv.; of galls, p. ii.; of pepper, i. Reduce to a fine powder, and sprinkle upon the condiments, or give to drink in water, or a white, watery wine.”‘ How was it that such principles and such remedies ever gained even the modest reputation of being better than nothing? Here again is a grand prescription of the Arabian school:—VOL. I. B ‘One of the most favourite of their preparations, which went by the name of  was composed of the following substances Squalls,  cinnamon, common pepper, juice of poppies, dried roses, water-germander, rape seed,  iris,  liquorice,  myrrh, saffron, ginger,  cinquefoil, calamine, horehound, stone’parsley,  coitus, white and long-pepper, Brittany, flowers of sweet rush, male frankincense, turpentine, mastic h, black cassia,  flowers of pokey, storage, parsley seed, sisel, shepherd’s pouch, bishop’s weed, germander, ground pine, juice of  Indian leaf, Celtic bard,  gentian, anise, fennel seed, Lesbian earth, roasted  amour, sweet flag, balsa mum, Pontiac Valerian, St. John’s wort, acacia, gum, cardamom, carrot seed,  saga pen, bitumen,  castor, centaur y, clematis, Attic honey, and Valerian wine. Sixty-six ingredients composed this mixture, and with the exception of the last, we may safely affirm that the physicians who prescribed it were entirely ignorant of the effects of any one of them, either taken by those in health, or given to the sick.’ Dr.  History of Medicine. Extraordinary Surgical Operations. It was necessary that a dangerous and difficult operation for the stone should be performed on Louis XIV., and several men afflicted with the like disease were carried to the house of Louis, the Minister, where the chief surgeon, Felix, operated upon them before Fagin, the physician of the King. Most of those operated on died; and that the King might know nothing of his dangerous condition, or of the means adopted to ensure certainty and safety in the cure, they were buried privately, and by night. The operation was performed successfully upon the King; but Felix was so much agitated that a nervous tremor settled upon him for life; and in bleeding a friend on the day succeeding that upon which the King had been so happily cured, he disabled the patient irreparably. When Fe lip de Ute went in search of the Omegas Extraordinary Surgical Operations. 3 from Venezuela, he was wounded by a spear just beneath the right arm. A Spaniard, who was ignorant of surgery, undertook to cure him, and De Ute’s coat of mail was placed upon an old Indian who was mounted on a horse; the amateur surgeon then drove a spear into the Indian’s body, through the hole in the armour, and his body having been opened, the spear being still kept in the wound, it was discovered that the heart was uninjured; thus they assumed that De Ute’s wound was not mortal, and, being treated as if the wound were an ordinary one, he recovered. When Henry II. of France was mortally wounded by a splinter from a spear, in tilting with Montgomery, which entered his vigor and pierced his eye, the surgeons, for the purpose of discovering the probable injury done to the king, cut off the heads of four criminals, and thrust splinters into their eyes, as nearly at the same inclination as the fatal one had entered that of the king. Ambrose P are’s ‘Strange Cure for a Cut-off Nose,’ which we give in the words of his translator, Johnson, is very remarkable:—’There was a surgeon of Italy, of late years, which would restore the portion of the nose that was cut away thus :—He first scarified the callous edges of the maimed nose round about, as is usually done in the cure of hair-lips; he then made a gash or cavity in the muscle of the arm, which is called biceps, as large as the greatness of the portion of the nose which was cut away did require; and into that gash or cavity so made he would put that part of the nose so wounded, and bind the patient’s head to his arm, as if it were to a post, so fast that it might remain firm, stable, and immovable, and not lean or bow any way; and about forty days after, or at that time when he judged the flesh of the nose was perfectly agglutinated with the flesh of the arm, cleaving fast unto the nose, as was sufficient to supply the defect of that which was lost, and then he would make it even, and bring it, as by licking, to the fashion and form of a nose, as near as art would permit; and in the meanwhile he did feed his patient with panaches, jellies, and all such things as were easy to be swallowed and digested.’ Irish Quarterly Review. Early Surgeons. The clergy and the Jews were the leading men of the medical profession during the tenth and eleventh centuries. From 1131 down to 1163, the popes took occasion to thunder against practising ecclesiastics. A chief justice, about the year 1223, recommended to the Bishop of Chichester one Master Thomas, an army surgeon, as one who knew how to cure wounds, a science particularly needed in the siege of castles. Barbers assisted in baths, shaved, and applied ointments. Henry V., at  with 30,000 men, had one surgeon and fifteen assistants. During the reign of Henry VIII., there were twelve surgeons in London. In 1512, physicians and surgeons had to be approved of by the Bishop of London, or the Dean of St . Paul’s. Females were everywhere to be met with practising the healing art. The tooth-drawer’s, now the dentist’s art, is not of recent date. Sir John Blag rave, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, had all his teeth drawn, and afterwards had a set of ivory teeth in again. Otter, in Ben Jonson’s ‘Silent Woman,’ says all her teeth were made in the Black Friars. Social History of the Southern Counties. Office Of Sergeant Surgeon. One of the duties of this office was anciently to attend the sovereign in all battles. Henry V., when he invaded France, had only one principal surgeon with him, one Thomas Worsted, afterwards surgeon to Henry VI. He wrote ‘a goodly  on  which is now extremely rare. This person was authorised to press as many surgeons as he thought necessary; and it appears from Ryder’s Federal, that with the army which won the day at  there landed only one surgeon, this same Thomas Worsted, who did, indeed, engage fifteen in that capacity; but these gentlemen were compelled to add a little fighting to their practice of surgery, and three of them acted as archers. He took into his service, also, Nicolas Col net, as field-surgeon, for one year. With such a surgical staff, what must have been the state of the wounded after the Office of Sergeant Surgeon. day of battle? The pay was 10/. quarterly and twelve pennies daily for subsistence ; but then both Worsted and Col net could receive prisoners and plunder, and when the latter amounted to more than 20/. in value, a third part of it was given to the King. Improvements In Medicine And Surgery. It is a fact capable of demonstration, that since the healing art reached that point of cultivation which entitled it to the name of science, disease has been gradually decreasing both in frequency and fatality. And it is equally capable of proof, that the degree of perfection with which anatomy has been studied at any successive periods, may be safely taken as the rule by which the progress of all the other branches of the science may be ascertained. And on what else should it depend;—how much does a watch-maker know about a watch by counting its beats, and looking at the outside? As anatomy has been encouraged, so has medicine progressed. Wherever dissection was forbidden, surgery declined; and, even in the present day, those schools of medicine in which dissection is most liberally practised, send out into society surgeons and physicians who seldom fail to prove in after life the accuracy of Bail lie’s assertion, that ‘the dead body is that great basis on which we are to build the knowledge that is to guide us in distributing life and health to our fellow-creatures.’ Sir William Petty (who died 185 years since) states, that the proportion of deaths to cures in St. Bartholomew’s and St. Thomas’s Hospitals, was in his time one to seven; while we know by subsequent documents, that in St. Thomas’s Hospital, during 1741, the mortality had diminished to one in ten; during 1780, to one in fourteen; during 1813, to one in sixteen; and that, during 1827, out of 12,494 patients treated, 259 only were buried, or one in forty eight. As his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex justly said—’ Indeed, such is the advantage which has been already derived from the improvement of medical science in this line of study, that comparing the value of life as it is now calculated to what it was a hundred years ago, it has absolutely doubled.’ The most fatally malignant diseases have become comparatively mild in the hands of modern physicians. The entire half of our population were at one time destroyed by one disease alone —small-pox; the mortality of which at the present time is but fractional. Typhus fever once visited this country in annual epidemics, and to slay one out of every three whom it attacked; whereas in the present day it is seldom seen as an epidemic, and its average mortality does not amount to one in sixteen. Measles, scarlet fever, hooping-cough, and consumption, are no longer regarded with the extreme terror in which they were once viewed. From 1799 to 1808 the mortality of consumption amounted to about twenty-seven per cent, of those who became ill; from 1808 to 1813 it diminished to twenty-three; and from 1813 to 1822 it still further decreased to twenty-two per cent. … As anatomy was more attended to, surgery proportionally advanced, until the days of Harvey (who discovered the Circulation of the Blood about the year 1610), bold and important operations were attempted. The extreme clumsiness and cruelty with which they were even then performed, could scarcely be credited, had we not in our possession some descriptions of them by those who operated. Thus, Fabricius of  preceptor of the immortal Harvey, describes what he considered an improved and easy operation in the following terms :—’ If it be a movable tumour, I cut it away with a red-hot knife, that sears as it cuts; but if it be adherent to the chest, I cut it without bleeding or pain, with a wooden or horn knife soaked in aqua-fortis, with which having cut the skin I dig out the rest with my fingers.’ II  Review. Idiosyncrasy. This is a peculiarity of constitution, so that a person is affected by certain agents, differently from the generality of mankind. Thus, some persons are incapable of using butter or cheese ; some are purged by honey; others cannot wear flannel without great irritation; some have a violent fever and eruptions by the use of certain kinds of fish or certain fruits, or malt liquors. Some people have idiosyncrasies with respect to medicines: thus, opium has such very distressing effects on Idiosyncrasy. some patients, that it cannot be used by them as by others. Idiosyncrasies are to be discovered only by experience in each individual case; and where they are matters of indifference, it is needless to.avaste time in combating them; but where they may lead to disease, or interfere with methods of cure, a prudent physician will endeavour to arrest them. Dr. Macaulay’s Dictionary of Medicine. Sanatoriums And His Chair. Sanatoriums is the Latinised form of the name of an eminent Italian physician, who was called in his own language Satori. He was born in 1561, at Capo  studied medicine and took his degree at Pad, and then settled at Venice as a practitioner, where he had considerable success. In 1611, he was recalled to Pad, and appointed professor of the theory of medicine in that university. He then commenced a series of observations on insensible perspiration, which have made his name known even among those who do not belong to the medical profession. ‘For the better carrying on the experiments/ says Addison, in the ‘ Spectator,’ No. 25, ‘he contrived a certain mathematical chair, which was so artificially hung upon springs that it would weigh any thing as well as a pair of scales. By this means, he discovered how many ounces of his food passed by perspiration, what quantity of it was turned into nourishment, and how much went away by other channels and distributions of nature.’ His best known work contains the results of a long series of observations made upon the weight of his own body, and the external causes which induced its increase or diminution. He treats especially of insensible perspiration, on the due amount of which he makes health and disease depend. There is much curious and valuable matter in the work. He unquestionably conferred a benefit on medical science, by directing the observations of medical men to the functions of the skin; but unfortunately the doctrines were extended much too far; and coinciding with the mechanical principles which were coming into vogue after the discovery of the Circulation of the Blood, as well as with the chemical notions which were not yet exploded, they contributed to complete the establishment of the humeral pathology, under the shackles of which the practice of medicine continued almost to our own times. In another work, Sanatoriums describes an instrument he had invented for measuring the force of the pulse, and several new instruments of surgery. He was also the first physician who attempted to measure by the thermometer (then newly invented) the heat of the skin in different diseases, and at different periods of the same disease. ‘The Chariot Of Antimony.’ Basil Valentine, who lived towards the end of the fifteenth century, published a singular work, which he called, ‘Cirrus Triumphal is Antimony. Valentine ranks among the first who introduced metallic preparations into medicine; and is supposed to be the first that ever used the word antimony. In the above work, after setting forth the chemical preparations of that metal, he enumerates their medicinal effects. According to the prevailing custom of the age, he boasts of supernatural assistance; and his work furnishes a good specimen of the controversial  between the chemical physicians, and those of the School of Galen; the former being attached to active remedies, and the latter to more simple and inert remedies. Valentine’s ‘Chariot of Antimony’ opens with the most pious exhortations to prayer and contemplation, to charity and benevolence. But the author soon forgets himself, and breaks out in this virulent invective: ‘Ye wretched and pitiful medicates; who, full of deceit, breathe out I know not what!  brags! infamous men! more mad than Bacchanalian fools ! who will neither learn, nor dirty your hands with coals! You titular doctors, who write long scrolls of receipts! You apothecaries, who with your defections, fill pots, no less than those in princes’ courts, in which meat is boiled for the sustenance of some hundreds of men! You, I say, who have, hitherto, been blind, suffer a  to be poured into your eyes, and permit me to anoint them with balsam, that this ignorance may fall from your sight, and that you may behold. ‘Jute Chariot of Antimony’ truth, as in a clear glass!’ ‘But,’ says Basil Valentine, after proceeding in this strain for some length, ‘I will put an end to my discourse; lest my tears, which I can scarcely prevent continually falling from my eyes, should blot my writing; and, whilst I deplore the blindness of the world, blemish the lamentation which I would publish to all men.’ How To Nurse Old Age.—Wine, ‘The Milk Of The Old.’ The great English lexicographer, near the close of life, when writing to a friend, says, ‘My diseases are an asthma and dropsy; and what is less curable, seventy-five.’ A few precepts how to lessen the inconveniences of this last disease may not be without their use. In old age the sensibility of the nervous system is diminished, the muscular fibres are less irritable, and many of the arteries are ossified and obliterated. The body is bent, and those who have been tall and graceful in their youth, stoop forward in old age more than others, from the shrinking of the cartilages that lie between the vertebras. The body is lean, and tremulous on any exertion. The torpor of the system, and the fullness of the veins, are the chief predispose rs to disease in old age. The perspiration is checked, probably from the obstruction of the smaller arteries; and old people are, accordingly, subject to asthma, habitual catarrh, and water in the chest. These are to be treated by the appropriate remedies; and prevented, if possible, by warm clothing, and regulating the temperature of their apartment. From the venous plethora arise apoplexy and palsy, piles, and obstructions in the liver, which may end in dropsy. These dangers are to be obviated by scrupulous attention to the alpine and urinary discharges. The principal support of old age is to be found in nourishing and cordial diet, with a proper allowance of wine, but to many old persons, wine becomes unpleasant, while sweet things are often remarkably grateful. The appetite for solid food is frequently lessened, but many old people eat heartily, without any inconvenience. Long lying in bed is proper, both on account of its promoting the perspiration, and sparing the exertions of the enfeebled frame. But a time will come, when all these cares would prove unavailing: ‘it is appointed unto man once to die,’ and happy are they who shall exchange the infirmities of old age for the life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel. Dr. Macaulay’s Dictionary of Medicine. The vital powers have drooped, and the enfeebled functions have sunk into a state resembling that of infancy; their imperfect action requires assistance, and, if duly afforded, they will go through a process of renewal for a time, in imitation of the early development of the same process in childhood. But the pristine juices which aided that development are gone; the nutriment, therefore, of old age must possess those stimulating qualities which in the child were needless. An old man’s milk must be wine ; his pap must be succulent soups; and his diet must be rich and tender meats. The fires that sustained a young constitution are fled, and their place must be supplied by warm clothing; the soft couch and luxurious seat, which would have too early promoted the physical capacities, are now essential to prolong their stay, and prevent them from becoming utterly extinct. The bracing cold bath must be exchanged for one of tepid temperature, that it may penetrate a system now being closed up; and those indulgences which would have weakened powers when immature, must likewise be had in subjection in their decay. Air, too, is as necessary now as then; but violent exercise would prove as dangerous as when the powers were immature; the arms of the nurse, or the little riding-chair, should therefore be replaced by an easy carriage; the body strengthened by frequent friction of the skin ; and the loss of natural moisture supplied by scented ointments and sweet unctions. The shocks of the nerves, the sudden inclemencies of the weather, and all the other accidents which his mother so dreaded when he was a child, must now be equally guarded against by the nurse of his senility; and the same tranquillity and innocent pastimes which alternated the days of his early existence must be resorted to for the purpose of warding off undue excitement from the hours of his second child How to Nurse Old Age. 11 hood. With treatment like this, an old man will live to the full end of his natural term. His mind, unobscured, will pour forth all the treasures of memory, and what he lacks in wisdom will be supplied by the lessons of experience. The Science of Life. Fermented liquors, if otherwise suitable to the constitution, exercise a beneficial influence upon old people and other weakly persons whose fat and tissues have begun to waste—which is one of the most usual consequences of the approach of old age. It is a common symptom of the decline of life : the stomach either does not receive or does not digest food enough to replace that which is daily removed from the substance of the body. Weak alcoholic drinks arrest or retard, and thus diminish, the daily amount of this loss of substance. They greatly stimulate the digestive organs also, and help them to do their work more fully and faithfully ; and thus the body is sustained to a later period of life. Hence, poets have called wine ‘the milk of the old,’ and scientific philosophy owns the propriety of the term. If it does not nourish the old so directly as milk nourishes the young, yet it certainly aids in supporting and filling up their failing frames. 1 And it is one of the happy consequences of a temperate youth and manhood, that this spirituous milk does not fail in its good effects when the weight of years begins to press upon us. Johns tons Chemistry of Common Life. Progress Of Medicine. A very general opinion prevails that the medical sciences, and more particularly those which relate to the cure of disease, have not participated in the wonderful progress made in the other branches of human knowledge since, in the study of the outward world, vague and unverified conjecture was replaced by careful observation and experiment. We hear every day of discoveries being made in physics or chemistry, and the experience we have had of the small chance of error in these sciences leads us to place implicit reliance on such announcemerits. It is otherwise with the discovery of a new remedy, even when it meets with recognition from the orthodox members of the medical profession. We see that new modes of cure are believed in for a time and then abandoned. Every one has had evidence of this fact brought under his notice in a way he is not soon likely to forget. A few years ago it was customary for medical men, in cases of scarlet fever, to order the house in which a patient lay to be kept warm and free from draughts. New views have since prevailed, and on all occasions the value of fresh air is insisted on. Accordingly, when a case of scarlet fever now occurs, we hear of doors and windows being thrown open even in mid-winter, and what a few years ago would have been considered a certain cause of death to the patient is now considered part of the usual treatment. Within the last quarter of a century a still more remarkable change of practice has taken place as to the value of even section. Many of us can recollect the time when it was universally believed that the first step to be taken in any serious complaint was to bleed the patient; but now so completely has opinion changed, and so high does the prejudice against bloodletting run, that few physicians, even if they believe that under certain circumstances it would be beneficial, will dare to employ it. He knows that if the case should terminate fatally he will be charged with the death of his patient, and he therefore quietly and prudently submits to the rule which fashion or current opinion prescribes for him. 1 Hence, the vulgar proverb, ‘all that does not fatten helps to fill up.’ From the Times Journal. Man Distinguished From Other Animals. Professor Huxley describes the human skull as constituted of a room (the brain-case), a floor, the axis, and a cellar; and the differences of form and position in these parts existing in various animals from the fish to man, showing how what resembles an ante-chamber in the one assumes the form of a cellar in the other. Man’s anatomical pre-eminence mainly consists in degree rather than in kind: the differences are not absolute. His brain is larger and more complex, and his teeth Man Distinguished from other Animals. 13 resemble those of animals in number and pattern, but are smaller, and form a continuous series, and, in some cases, differ in the order of succession. His law of growth is also very different . Dividing the length of the human infant into one hundred parts, the head is twenty-four per cent., the body forty, and the legs thirty-six; while in the adult the head is thirteen, the body thirty-four, and the legs fifty-three. In the lower classes of mankind the rate of growth is a little different, and the Negroes retain more of the youthful proportions. In conclusion, Professor Huxley defines the leading characters of the different modifications of mankind, such as  long-headed; brachycephali, short-headed;  straight and wavy-haired;  woolly-haired; glaucous, fair complexion and red or yellow hair; melanomas, hair and skin very dark or blackish; leucoma-melanous, pale skin and dark hair; and  yellow, brown, or olive, and the hair black. Sympathies And Antipathies. The subject of sympathies and antipathies is extremely curious. A curious story is told of a clergyman, that he always fainted when he heard a certain verse in Jeremiah read. Zimmerman tells us of a lady who could not endure the feeling of silk or satin, and shuddered when touching the velvety skin of a peach. Mr. Julian Young tells the story of an officer who could not endure the sound of a drum, and ultimately fell dead when compelled to hear it. There are whole families who entertain a horror of cheese; on the other hand, there was a physician, Dr. Stark e, of Edinburgh, who lost his life by subsisting almost entirely upon it. Some people have been unable to take mutton, even when administered in the microscopic form of pills. There is the case of a man falling down at the smell of mutton, as if bereaved of life, and in strong convulsions. Sir James Eyre, in his well-known little book, mentions three curious cases of idiosyncrasy: the case of a gentleman who could not eat a single strawberry with impunity; the case of another whose head would become frightfully swollen if he touched the smallest particle of hare; the case of a third who would inevitably have an attack of gout a few hours after

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