« PreviousContinue »
thod of lessening the heat, to evacuate the contents of the stomach and bowels ; but this effect of laxatives ard emetics is very inferior to that of bleeding, even in small quantities, which increases the power of the digestive organs. The heat is indeed increased after a full meal; but it is not felt in the ftomach : thofe, whose heat is particularly increased by digeftion, feel it rather in the palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. Indeed every circumstance seems to show, that the heat is rather the consequence of a general change in the system, and attended with all the symptoms which accompany it, when excited by a more external cause. Again : the heat of the body is almost constantly the same in all ages and fexes, though the diet is materially different; and the diet, if it be alimentary on the one hand, and excess be avoided on the other, is found to make little variation. These extremes would alter the subject by inducing disease, and we are now speaking of health. We need not, at this period, enlarge on the great difference in the chemical properties of substances really alimentary: the matter of heat has been so lately the subject of our experiments, that we cannot decide on its relation to our different foods; but, from its connection with phlogiston, we may suppose that its quantity must be very various, though its effects in producing heat are uniform. The subject of diseases would lead us too far; but we should find in fevers of different kinds, some very striking objections to the opinions of our author.
We have freely given the chief arguments which have induced us to reject Mr. Rigby's opinion ; but we are induced, by his particular defire, to consider the first as one of the least important of his various sections : yet we ought to add, that it contains some new and some ingenious remarks. "The uti. lity of them is in a great degree diminished, by the author's adopting an error of Dr. Priestley, that the nutritious principle is phlogiiton ; for he ought to have observed only, that the most nutritious substances are phlogistic. In fact, phlogiston is so far from being the nutritious principle, that it more commolny and abundantly appears among the excrements. The bile is an highly animalised and phlogistic fluid ; but its great use is rather to prepare the crude aliment for absorption, than to nourish: it is again rejected, perhaps still more highly phlogifticated. Mr. Rigby, however, foon proceeds to the application of his doctrine.
• Whether the philosophical reader will admit the preceding theory of the production of animal heat to be probable or not, che foregoing facts are certainly sufficient to prove, that a confiderable quantity of heat is constantly generated in the animal body, and that some of it has a constant tendency to pass off
by the surface ; that the regular escape of this matter depende upon such various circumstances, that it must be liable to occafional interruptions, and that in consequence of these interruptions, the surface of the skin must be sometimes overcharged with heat.
• The effect of this accumulation of heat from within, if we may be allowed to consider the fact fimply, must be precisely. the same as if an extraordinary quantity of heat were to be applied to the kin from without; and which is well known to be as follows: a small degree of heat, and which is not long continued, excites only an increased fenfibility in the part; if a larger quantity, or if longer continued, it occasions a sense of burning, the part becomes red, is inflamed, and tumefied, perhaps, by the simple expansive power of heat; and if ftill more be applied, the circulation in the cutis is obtructed, and a decomposition takes place, which is attended either with the vesication or exulceration of the part.
In this instance, which we may consider as a specimen of our author's reasoning, we fufpect a confiderable mistake ; it. is very doubtful whether the heat produced on the surface is a primary or a secondary effect; or more strictly, whether it is a mere evacuation of a superabundant principle, or the consequence of a very different evacuation: We suspect it to be fecondary, because we can excite it by raising inflammation, without primarily increasing the heat of the system; by the milky juice, for instance, of some very acrid plants applied in a quantity, which so far from confining the heat of the part, contributes to lessen it by evaporation. We can lessen it by causes which, according to the author's system, ought to increase it ; because they do confine the heat, viz. by the application of dry powders in erysipelas, by using flannel linings to breeches worn in riding. The one prevents the spreading, by really absorbing the cause of the eruption, viz. the acrid serum ; the other prevents excoriation, by absorbing the perspirable matter. In moft of the eruptions, from attrition, the inflammation seems to be first excited ; and Mr. Rigby knows that the secretion from infamed glands is always viated, and very generally rendered highly acrid. There is one fact. which, on this system, we are unable to explain, viz. the eruptions which arise on applying a cold cabbage leaf behind. a child's ear.
But though Mr. Rigby seems, in our opinion, to have erred in the explanation of some phænomena, yet, in the more esfential respects, his work is highly valuable and important. By diminishing the heat of the part, if the superabundant heat be really the cause of the eruption, we directly removeit; if it be only a concomitant lymptom, all our powers em
ployed ployed in lessening heat are also sedatives, and oppose inflammation. It is a pleasing reflection, therefore, that we can ultimately agree ; and we think his condemnation of poultices, ointments, and other bad conductors of heat, perfectly jut; for coolers are not only sedatives, but to prevent the diffipation of heat, if we do not by the same means obviate its other effects, increases the inflammation.
Yet, in fome of the cutaneous eruptions of children, which have been preceded by fickness, head-ach, &c. coolers are certainly precarious remedies; and we wish that our intelligent author had added some cautions respecting them. With regard to the small-pox, and miliary fevers, we fully agree with him. Free cold air, in the meazles, is of more doubtful authority, and our author seems to hesitate in recommending it; but we» fully agree with him in the propriety of using a tepid batł, the heat of which is somewhat below the heat of the skin: we fuppofe about ninety-two or ninety-four degrees of Fabrenheit.
In eryspelas and scarlatina, we believe cold to be highly useful; but when either disease is violent, and attended with putrid fever, we should suspect the propriety of cold applications in any very great extent, left we bring on gangrene. In smaller degrees, cold will be one of the most powerful means of preventing it; and we presume it will be always neceffary to use free cold air.
In the elephantiasis, the application of cold is probably more doubtful, because it is never attended with any very great heat, and its cause seems to lie beyond the power of external medicine. Of its use in the scald-head, we think more fa. vourably, and shall insert a case in which it succeeded completely. After de?çribing the disease, Mr. Rigby observes,
• The subject of heat, at this time, particularly engaging my attention, it occurred to me, that this complaint might, poflbly, be in fome measure produced by an' accumulation of it; at least, whatever was the cause of it, it appeared very probable that the large and increasing scab which covered the difeased surface, retarded the cure, on the principle of its pre. venting the natural escape of heat, it being, evidently, of such a loose texture, as to be a very slow conductor of it. I resolved, therefore, immediately to try whether keeping the part conItantly mojt with wet rags would not relieve it, by favouring the escape of heat from it; but as whilst the thick crust was interposed between the surface of the head and the wet rag, its influence could but be felt in a very small degree ; I pre; viously removed the scab, by an ointment slightly impregnated with a decoction of cantharides, it being composed of the unduentum epispasticum of the Edinburgh dispensatory, and two
parts of axungia ; and the surface being now perfectly exposed, and in a state of digestion, I immediately applied a piece of linen cloth, foaked in water, not quite so cold as the air was : the disagreeable smell was immediately removed by this, and the child appeared more comfortable. I recommended the rags to be constantly wetted as they became dry, but to be removed very seldom, that the air might not be brought too often in contact with it. For a while the part looked much bettes, and feemed disposed to heal, but it not being kept so constantly wet as I could have wihed, from an apprehension that the plan was attended with some danger of giving the child cold, the scabs again formed, and I was a second time under the necessity of removing them by means of the stimulating ointment; after which I prevajled upon the mother to consent to its being more frequently wetted, and which being accordingly done, the good effects of it became manifest in a few days, as the discharge of matter was totally suppressed ; and though there was something like a cruft formed by the thickening of that which exuded the first two or three days after the ointment was used, yet it was perfectly dry, and scaled off by degrees, though slowly, leave ing the surface of the head, in the course of some weeks, pero fectly cicatrized ; after which I fill thought it right to continue the wet rags ; and when the skin appeared to be whole, I even made the water, in which the linen was moistened, more volatile, by the addition of a little rectified spirit of wine.'
In all instances of spreading ulcers with fætid discharges, Mr. Rigby advises the practitioner to prevent frequent exposure to the air. Scalds and burns produce inflammation of the same kind as erysipelas, and the serous discharge is always highly acrid : perhaps the water, besides repressing inflammation from its coldness, may also dilute the discharge. The bladders are directed only to be punctured, that the skin may unite by the first intention.
In a spreading ulcer, attended with extraordinary heat, cold water was highly useful; and Mr. Rigby entertains sanguine expectations of its future utiļity. He remarks, that it could not act by cleaning the wound, because the fore was covered, and the cloth continually wetted by a spunge ; but, as in scalds, it may have diluted the discharge, and lessened its acri. mony.
In the hernia humoralis and intestinalis, the use of cold is better established. We fully agree with Mr. Rigby in wishing to make it more general. In the other diseases we are happy to coincide in opinion with our author, viz. the ophthalmia, local eruptions, excoriations and mortifications of the extremities. We have pafled over the anthrax, merely to make some particular remarks on it. We are persuaded that it is less local than is generally supposed; and seems to confift in a general stagnation of the mucus in the mucous follicles of
the surface. Where these are more numerous, or where the fluids are subject to any particular interruption, the swelling and inflammation increases ; and, as this obstruction occurs in old people, and those who are fat and have led indolent lives, the inflammation soon proceeds to gangrene. We are well convinced, therefore, that in the early stages, cold must be a powerful remedy ; in the later ones, it is doubtful. We shall not at present enlarge on the foundation of our opinion ; but would only reconi mend an examination of the mucous glands, in those affected with the true anthrax.
The author concludes with some remarks on the scursy and obeâty. The former is, he thinks, owing to a deficiency in the heat, the latter to its excefs. In the scurvy, he has clearly hown that some of the causes are those which either prevent the production of heat, or accelerate its elcape ; but he has not shown that either is the primary or only effect. The theory of obesity would lead us too far. In the neighbourhood of Blackfriars, we were once present at a considerable contest relating to the width of the bridge ; many arguments were used by the different opponents, and the dispute might have been long protracted, if one of the company had not stepped out and measured it. We shall not, therefore, extend our article on this subject, but recommend only the actual application of the thermometer. The highest healthy heat that we have ever observed was 999; but the person was remark. ably thin. This, however, might have been from a peculiar constitution.
Mr. Rigby will excuse our particular and free examination of his work. It is not always that we proceed so far ; but it is not always that we meet with works lo deserving of our attention.
An Historical and Chronological View of Roman Law. With
Notes and Illustrations. By Alexander C. Schomberg, M. A.
8vo. 3s. 6d. in Boards. Rivington. THAT
HAT the Roman Law,escaping from the fury of the Goths,
and the commotions which afterwards destroyed the Eastern empire, thould become the guide of the victors, and the foundation of the jurisprudence of many modern nations, has been attributed to the blind admiration which we usually entertain for every thing related to that vait empire. That the Goths, when rule was necessary, should have assumed laws already formed, or altered only in compliance with their most favoured cystoms, is easily understood :'a fierce untutored nation could H4