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DISORDER OF DEATH;
Have been sometimes successfully applied, as in other Disorders,
bope of sometimes succeeding in the attempt,
“ Death may usurp on nature many hours,
PRINTED POL TUE AUTHOR.
It has afforded a frequent topic of observation, that a train of ideas, wholly remote from the general course of our studies or pursuits, sometimes seizes upon the mind, and continues in different periods of life, under various degrees of interest or effect, to excite our feels ings and to occupy our reflections. Powerful impressions of this kind have long possessed the Writer of the present Work, and they have at last been exhibited under a visible form in the discussion of a theme, which is wholly foreign to the familiar object of his daily meditations. On such an occasion, it may be necessary perhaps briefly to commemorate a few facts, which are connected with the compilation and appearance of the present Volume.
A period of twenty years has now almost elapsed,, since the materials of the work were collected at a time
favourable for the purpose, when the writer enjoyed an opportunity of consulting the Medical Libraries in our Capital-a spot so abundant in the means of acquir. ing and of exercising every species of human knowledge. These materials lay almost neglected, without addition or arrangement during that period, till a strong impulse urged the Writer to place a new value on the conceptions, which he had formed on this subject, and to prepare his collections for the Public eye, with all the care and diligence, which such an impulse demanded.
The combination, which I have adopted in the title of my Work, the DISORDER OF Death, can startle only for a moment the most unfurnished and superficial of readers. All agree that Death, or a frame under the Signs of Death, may sometimes admit the benefit of Remedy, as the same frame may be delivered from any other Disorder, with which it is afflicted. All likewise. will acknowledge, who are accustomed to reason or to think, the propriety or expediency of a combination, which under a new and brief form may render familiar an important fact, remotely or imperfectly understood. The subject, which is discussed in thisVolume, has often passed before the attention of the Public, in various
Languages; and there is a well-known French work by Bruhier, published in the middle of the last century, on the Uncertainty of the Signs of Death, in which many examples are collected of persons, who have returned to Life, after a full exhibition of the Signs of Death.
The Works, which have been written on this subject, appear at various times to have excited violent alarms on the danger of Premature Interment; yet they seem never to have represented the matter under a just point of view; and it is certain, that they have never produced an important effect on the institutions of any country, in which these fears have been excited. The only change, which has ever been pretended to be effected, and which the writers on this subject appear ever to have projected, is the delay of Interment and it will not be difficult to understand, that a more extraordinary device cannot well be imagined. This project does not consist in attempting to preserve the good, which these alarms suppose and proclaim,--the possibility of Life; but it is directed to intercept the existence of that good, by securing the opposite evil Death, or in other words, the alarms have not operated in endea