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Sir Gilbert's character for science and erudition has rendered all his published essays very extensively known throughout the profession, and few will like to be deprived of the pleasure and instruction derivable from any thing new from the same pen. It is therefore, we repeat it, a great pity that he has imposed a penalty on the purchase of the new matter contained in the volume before us.

The first dissertation, on the comparative health of the navy from 1779 to 1814, was published, or the greater part of it, in the sixth volume of the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions. The second dissertation is a sequel or appendix to the former, being a memoir on the medical service of the fleet in the West Indies in the year 1782.' Here we see the workings of human nature.' As we advance in life we look back and cling to those transactions in which we took a part in youth. The meinorable 12th of April, 1782, was an epoch which might well make the heart of an Englishman (especially if attached to the naval service) glow with pride, on recollection of that famous day. We are not therefore surprized to find Sir Gilbert, who stood the brunt of Count de Grasse's thunderbolts on the quarter deck of the Formidable, * recal and recapitulate scenes and events that must bave made a very vivid impression on the youthful mind. So far from censuring our veteran author for introducing some circumstances apparently calculated to gratify personal vanity, we are sorry he has not laid before us more of these auto-biographical sketches, which must be read with interest by all members of that profession to which Sir Gilbert Blane has always been an honour and an ornament.

Although the dissertation in question contains many observations that are very worthy of being read and reflected on by officers, civil, military, or medical, who are in any way concerned in the preservation of the lives of seamen or soldiers, yet in these " piping times of peace,” we dare hardly dwell upon them, to the exclusion of matters that come home more immediately to the interests and occupa

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* By the way we have no hesitation in questioning the propriety of Lord Rodney's conduct in permitting the physician of the feet to station himself on the quarter-deck of the Formidable, during the action of the 12th April. It surely is defeating the intentions of Government and humanity to permit a medical officer to place himself in the same predicament of danger as a common sailor or marine, without any earthly advantage to be derived from the circumstance. Every other life can be easily replaced during action, except that of the medical officer, and no consideration should induce the latter to ask, or the commander to grant permission for this unnecessary exposure. -Ed.

tions of the great bulk of our readers. The following little anecdote we shall extract as a specimen of French vivacity under circumstances little calculated to give origin to sallies of wit.

“ It is further observed, that this nation bears adversity with more equanimity than the English. An eminent example of this occurred to my own observation in the case of the Comte de Grasse, commander-in-chief of the French fleet, who was taken prisoner in the Ville de Paris. When he was conveyed on board of the Formidable the morning after the battle, the first conversation was carried on with Lord Rodney, through Sir Charles Douglas; for our Admiral had never learned to speak French; but Sir Charles being much engaged in the duties of the feet, beckoned to me to replace him as interpreter, introducing me to him in the following facetious manner :* Permittez moi, mon Général, de vous présenter notre medecin en chef, qui est presque assez habile pour faire revivre les morts ;' tó which the Comte, humouring the plaisanterie, answered, • El peutttre pour faire mourir les vivans.' It fell to my lot chiefly to entertain him during the rest of the day, and his conversation partook of the like affability and good humour." 80.

There are some physiological observations in the succeeding page, where we fully agree in sentiment with the illustrious author. He observes that, time immemorial, it has been the established practice in the British Navy to allow no other refreshment, during battle, than plain water. Long experience has confirmed the propriety of this practice not only in battles, but in all violent exertions of the muscular, and excitement of the intellectnal systeras. In military combats both these are combined, and stimulants, whether vinons or spirituons, are injurious, as quickly exhaust ing the energy of the system, already too rapidly tending to that point. Even food is injurious ; for the whole of the vital powers are now concentrated in the nervous and muscular systems, and the digestive organs are not in a state to perform their functions-or if they are excited to action under the circumstances in question, there is a correspondent subduction of energy from the sensorial and muscular apparatus, where they are most required in the conflicts of war. Tea or coffee are the only refreshments that are at all desirable in the heat of battle or immediately after its termination. In the revolutionary war brandy was very generally exbibited to the French soldiery before coming to the charge. This, united with the natural impetuosity of the people, produced a super-human excitement amounting almost to a temporary madness—but this state could not last long, and if cool intrepidity resisted the first shock of tbis physical fulmination, its triumph was certain. Many were the illus

trations of this in the late contests between France and Eng. Jand!

The great improvement in the health of fleets and armies during the last thirty or forty years, but particularly during the last fifteen or twenty years, is truly surprising; and forms a theme of gratulation for every philanthropist. It is not less important also to the statesman; for in all former ages, there was no more common cause of failure in great armaments and expeditions than disease. Sir Richard Hawkins, an eminent commander and navigator in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, states that, in the course of twenty years, he bad known often thousand men having perished by scurvy alone! This will appear prodigious, when we recollect that the navy was not then one-twentieth part of wbat it was at the conclusion of the late war! The histories of Hosier, Vernon, and Anson will afford melancholy examples of the contrast to our present state of health and security on expeditions. The fatal Walcheren enterprize can hardly be brought up in opposition, because our troops there suffered from the local endemic, and not from the effects of sea voga ages or sea diseases,

“ The late revolutionary war may be said to form a contrast with all preceding wars in point of health, and its unexampled glories are in no small degree imputable to this. And it is to be hoped that the methods of securing this invaluable blessing are now so rooted in the practical habits, experience, and convictions of naval officers of all descriptions ; that, those scenes of misery and disaster which have been quoted from history, and which rend the heart in the narration, can never recur, should the nation ever again be involved in war; which in the common course of human affairs, can hardly be doubted.” 86.

The third dissertation is on the Walcheren expedition in 1809* Sir Gilbert was sent there by Government in the autumn of the year above-mentioned, and remained in Walcheren and Beveland a fortnight. We were present in this fatal expedition from beginning to end ; and we can confirm the justice of Sir Gilbert's remarks as far as they extend. The shortness of his sojourn there prevented him from making a great many more observations, that would have occurred to a mind like his in respect to the etiology, pathology, and treatment of so fatal an endemic.

The fourth dissertation on the comparative prevalence and mortality of different diseases in London," has been be

• Published in the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions for 1812.

Sir Gilbert Blane's Dissertations. 737 fore the public since the year 1819,* and is acknowledged to be a very able and interesting document. Our author states that in this republication “many new facts and illustrations are added.” We have not time to collate the two editions in order to remark on these last ; but the paper as it now stands is certainly very creditable to the learning and talents of this veteran physician.

The fifth dissertation is new, and forms a kind of appendix or sequel to the fourth; but it is almost exclusively polilico-economical in its nature, and therefore it affords us few inaterials for analysis in a work that keeps so closely to matters purely medical, and more especially practical. By a table appended to this dissertation, and constructed by that accurate calculator Mr. Finlaison, late of the Admiralty, it would appear that within little more than one hundred

years the value, or, in other words, the mean duration of human life has increased about ten years. Thus the mean duration of life, at five years old, was calculated to be 40 years, in the year 1693 ; whereas, in the year 1789, it was calculated at 51 years. At the age of ten, it was enhanced fron 38 to 48 -at twenty, from 31 to 41-at thirty, from 27 to 36-at forty, from 22 to 29-at fifty, from 17 to 22—at sixty, from 12 to 15-at seventy, from 7 to 10.

If no fallacy have crept into the foregoing calculations, (and Sir Gilbert asserts that the conclusions are demonstrations themselves,) they may well excite our surprise and satisfaction.

“ The causes,” says our author, “appear chiefly referable to the more ample supply of food, clothing, and fuel; better habitations ; improved habits of cleanliness and ventilation in persons and houses; greater sobriety, and improved medical practice. Whether these causes operate with a relative degree of effect corresponding to the order in which they here stand, or any other order, must be matter of opinion; but if health and long life are to be admitted as the surest criterions and constituent elements of human happiness, it would appear that we have much reason for self-congratulation in having had our lot cast in this age and country.” 181.

The 6th dissertation is a re-publication from the second and third volumes of the transactions of a Society for the Improvement of Medical and Chirurgical Knowledge. The paper is in two parts, the first on the effect of large doses of the carbonates of potash in gravel, with remarks on the administration of opium : the second, on the use of pure alkalies and lime water in disorders of the stomach, bladder, and

* See Med. Chir. Transactions, vol. iv.

skin. To these dissertations Sir Gilbert has appended notes, and introduced remarks corresponding with our present state of knowledge on the subjects abovementioned.

An important addition to alkalies in calculous complaints, in Sir Gilbert's experience, is opium-a medicine that not only allayed pain and irritation, but " contributed materially to expedite and complete the cure." He was induced to adopt this practice from finding that a medicine sold as a secret,"evidently consisting of alkali combined with opium, had, in some cases of gravel, been more effectnal than the alkali directed by himself without this addition.”

" I have, therefore, for several years been in the habit of adding from seven to fifteen drops of vinum opii to each of the doses of the alkali, and am fully satisfied, that it not only prevents the distress arising from irritation, and facilitates the discharge of calculi, by relaxing the spasms of the ureters, but that it renders the cure more expeditious, more certain, and more permanent. In those constitations which do not bear opium, hemlock has been found a useful substitute. I recollect hearing Dr. Black, in bis Lectures on Chemistry, which I attended in the year 1770, in the University of Edinburgh, mention that hemlock was a remedy in gravel, but whether in his own experience or not, my memory does not serve me. Dr. Prout, in an ingenious and elaborate work on urinary concretions published last year, (1821,) says that hyosciamus is eminently useful, particularly in those cases of concretions in which lithate of ammonia prevails.” 185.

Our author's experience corroborates that of others respecting the ntility of opium in irritable and painful ulcers especially in phagedenic buboes, and some cases of sloughing chancres." He justly remarks that as all healing processes are ultimately and essentially the work of Nature, so the means of art consist merely in enabling Nature to perform these processes, or remove those obstacles that impede ber operations. Our cbief obstacle is irritation. “Upon this principle it can as easily be conceived how the morbid action generating gravel may be increased by the irritation of the gravel itself, as that a sanious discharge should be kept up and increased by its own acrimony." We have little doubt indeed that the action of most, if not all lithontriptics, is more functional than chemical—that they operate more through the medium of the digestive organs than by chemically affecting the products of renal secretion. That chemical experiments out of the body are very fallacious, Sir Gilbert relates the following fact:

“ A gentleman, subject to frequent fits of gravel, was in the habit of making experiments on the small concretions which be passed. He found that soda dissolved these, but that potash did not; nuver

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