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awful extravaganzas of Nature have but little connexion with medical science; and with a journal of practical medicine still less. The following extract contains all the strictly medical part of this dissertation.
“ The influence of this general tumult of nature upon the health of man is none of the least curious of its effects. I have made much enquiry upon this head, not only at the medical Superintendants of the Naval and Military Hospitals, and the physicians of the place, but at private persons; and I find, that so far from its having been productive of sickness, there has been less of it since, and even that most of those who laboured under disease at the time benefited by it, except the very old and delicate, who suffered from mechanical violence, or the subsequent want of shelter. This is a fact so para. doxical, that if I had not a concurrence of testimony, and in some degree my own observation, I could neither credit, nor would venture to relate it. It had a visibly good effect on the diseases of the country; fevers, fluxes, and chronic diarrhæas the consequence of dysenteries, were also cured by it. But the diseases upon which it operated most visibly and sensibly were pulmonic complaints. Some cases, supposed to be beginning consumptions, and even the acute state of pleurisy, were cured by it. In the more advanced and incurable state, the hectic fever was in a great measure removed, and a temporary alleviation at least procured. A delicate lady, of my acquaintance, was ill of a pleurisy at the time, and passed more than ten hours in the open air, sitting generally in a plash of water, from the rain that fell; she had no more of her complaint, nor any return of it; and I saw her a few weeks after, in better looks and general health than she had enjoyed for a great while before. It was a general observation, that people had remarkably keen appetites for several days after, and a number of those whom I knew, formerly thin and sallow, looked fresh and plump a few weeks after, though the unhealthy rainy season was then hardly over." 370.
Sir Gilbert justly suspects that the agitation of mind, consequent on such a tremendous conflict of the elements, must have played its part, not only in averting the effects naturally to be expected from exposure to the cold and rain, but in removing many physical ailments previously existing. “Neither is it ridiculous to suppose that the purity and coolness of the air would have a happy effect on the animal frame,
pleasure on all the prominent events of that period of our existence when * life itself was new;" and therefore it is no wonder that we should feel a secret gratification in recounting our dangers, recalling to mind our associates, and reviewing our personal histories.
Should auld adventures be forgot,
And never brought to mind;-
And days of Lang Syne !
especially as the diseases of the lungs were most benefited
We could perhaps criticise some of Sir Gilbert's positions while attempting to explain the nature and cause of hurricanes; but as it would be wandering from our regular course, we shall only allude to one topic, which is connected with chemical science. “ It is ascertained by experiment, (says our author,) that the rays of the sun are not essentially hot, but produce heat by their action on opake bodies, by repeated refraction in passing through pellucid bodies of different specific gravities.” We believe that Dr. Hutton first noticed, and Dr. Herschel confirmed the fact, that certain rays of the sun are Calorifers as well as Lucifers; or to use Mr. Brande's words—it is evident, therefore, that, independent of the il. luminating rays, there are others which produce increase of temperature, &c.” It is proved, from the place which these calorific rays occupy, after passing through the prism, that they are possessed of less refrangibility than the visible rays of light. * In other respects Sir Gilbert's narrative of this destructive hurricane is blended with much scientific matter, and is indicative of a mind imbued with natural knowledge and strong sense.
The last dissertation in this volume is a short paper on the effects of mechanical compression of the head, as a preventive and cure in certain cases of hydrocephalus, published in our respected cotemporary, the Medical and Physical Journal. We noticed this paper in page 669 of the first volume of this series. Notwithstanding that one or two cases have since been communicated to our author, seeming to corroborate bis ideas on this subject, we adhere to the opinion we then delivered, that the principle of external pressure can rarely, if ever, be applicable to the cure of hydrocephalus internus. It is the effect of pressure that we have most to dread in all effusions, whether of blood or water within the cavities or investments of the brain, and therefore external pressure, we venture to predict, will be found to aggravate The complaint, wherever its effects can be unequivocally ascertained. In Sir Gilbert's own case, leeches and purgatives were used at the same time, and the pressure, on a child's head, was so slight as to occasion no pain or uneasiness. Under such circumstances it is almost needless to say that no positive indication could be drawn respecting the separate effects of the bandage.
We have now closed the volume, and have to regret that,
from the great proportion of republished matter, and the nature of the few original articles it contains, we have been able to replenish but a small corner of our jonrnal with its con
We regret this the more, because, from the course of Nature, we cannot expect that our venerable and highly estimable author will break in much more upon the ease so congenial to old age, by toiling in the literary advancement of his profession. He has already left many honorable and distinguishing marks of an active intellect, and a long and useful life. Let bim be contented with these; nor, in future, entangle himself in the labyrinths of medical controversy, wbere he has little to gain and much to lose. Many of his juvenile opponents are in just the reverse circumstances. They have every thing to gain, (in the way of notoriety) and very little to lose, by the greatest defeat. In plain matters of fact, and in the dignified walks of science, we shall always hail with pleasure the appearance of Sir Gilbert Blane.
IV. Practical Observations on Distortions of the Spine, Chest,
and Limbs; together with Remarks on Paralytic and other Diseases connected with impaired or defective Motion. By WILLIAM TILLEARD WARD, F.L.S. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons; of the Medico-Chirurgical Society; and of the Medical Society of London. 8vo.
pp. 168. London, November, 1822. That distortions are amongst the fruits of civilized life, sedentary habits, and indulgence of the appetites and passions, cannot be disputed; for few are the deformities observable among those people who are more nearly in a state of nature. This exemption from many diseases of civilized life seems considerably owing to the bodily labour imposed on them by their natural habits and wants; and the importance of muscular exercise in the preservation of health, has been observed from the remotest antiquity. Nor can we wonder at it. The muscles of the human body outweigh all the other parts, bones, viscera, membranes, and skin, put together. The state of the muscular system is not only influenced by the state of the nervous, vascular, respiratory, and other functions, but powerfully influences them in turn. How much the muscles are influenced by the nerves and blood vessels, is well known to every person. They owe all their cnergy and ac
tivity to these; and, the moment they are thrown into action, they re-act upon the sensorium and heart, through the intervention of the nerves and blood-vessels. Muscular exercise, therefore, proves an actual stimulus, or excitement to the nervous and vascular systems, and, through them, to the whole of the viscera. The muscles themselves are strengthened by exercise, contrary to all the laws of mechanics in dead machines, and the whole animal economy soon participates in the muscular energy. But it is not merely by the muscular contractions that this excitement is conveyed to the other parts of the system-muscular motion produces a constant succession of shocks or succussions throughout the system, that operate not a little in exciting the various functions. This may not be much perceived in a state of health; but, let a febrile or inflammatory condition occur in the whole or part of the frane, and then we see the unequivocal and pernicious effects of muscular action, and vice versa. It is fortunate for many, who are deprived of active muscular exertion, that these shocks or succussions result, also, from passive exercise in carriages or on borseback, and thus their health is preserved.
Mr. Ward acknowledges, that the treatment which he here recommends for incurvations of the spine, was first suggested to him by the perusal of a Treatise on Muscular Motion, by Mr. Pugh; and, that the principles have been lately laid down by Mr. Wilson. The particular mode advised by Mr. Wilson (carrying a weight on the head) appears, he thinks, better adapted to the slighter cases of curvature, than to those of great extent or long duration, and may be resorted to as an auxiliary measure, when the spine has nearly recovered its original shape, in order to establish a permanent cure.
Here our author takes occasion to bint his opinion, that many cases of incipient consumption may be connected with that deformity of the chest, in children, commonly called "chicken breast,” and proposes the remedy hereafter to be described, (muscular exertion) for the removal of the predisposition.
We must pass over Mr. Ward's first chapter, on the “ Influence of Muscular Exercise on the Body," as it consists principally of physiological truths and speculations, which are pretty generally known. We shall, however, give the inferences which he draws, after a full consideration of all the data.
“ That the comparative power of muscular parts depends,
“ 1. On the state of the functions of respiration and circulation, and that increased strength is a consequence of increased vascularity and circulation of blood in the part, and vice versa, a want of tone and power, of a deficient supply of it.
" 2. On the degree of exercise or frequency with which they are called into action.
“ 3. On the mental energy or power of volition exerted on them.
" 4. That the most effectual means of encreasing muscular strength is by frequent exercise of the power itself, and, consequently, the preservation of the healthy actions of those functions by which it is influenced.
“ 5. That the muscular parts have a constant tendency to contract, by which they adapt themselves to the state of the limb or parts to which they are attached.” 15.
CHAP. II.-Curved Spine. The disease to which our author here confines his attention, does not, he says, affect the bony substance of the vertebræ, (this last being a disease from which he endeavours to distinguish the one now under consideration,) but is confined to the parts connecting them, “and is in its consequences, no less injurious to the general health and happiness of the individual.” He defines it "an alteration in the natural form of the spinal column, without caries of its bony structure."
The appearances which our author has met with on dissection, are the following:—the intervertebral substance is generally thinner than natural, but much more on the concave than on the convex side of the curve. In some cases, it has not exceeded more than a third part of its natural thickness. The transversales muscles, inserted into the spinous processes, are elongated, and much finer and smaller on the convex, than on the concave, side of the curve, where they are shorter and fuller. This state is accurately described by Bichat, in his Descriptive Anatomy. “Dans les deviations diverses de l'épine, les muscles suivent la disposition osseuse ; ils s'allongent du coté de la convexité, se raccourcissent et se renflent du coté de la concavité. Les faisceaux divers du transversaire épineux m'ont presenté surtout cette disposition." In both instances, the muscles are more pallid than usual; the ligaments, also, are not so strong as in a healthy subject.
This disorder, our author thinks, is on the increase, particularly amongst females in the opulent classes of society -"a circumstance which, perhaps, may be attributed to the present mode of education, in which greater attention is paid, than formerly, to the cultivation of the mind and to female accomplishments, and less time, consequently, allowed for the bodily exercise necessary for the preservation of health." The errors of diet, and the mismanagements during lactation, are, also, to be taken into account.
If the incurvation of the spine take place after six or seven years of age, it appears to him, that a want of proper exercise may be deemed the chief cause.