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are presented, comparatively few of them are of such a nature as to admit of being easily transferred to our own pages: but we have perused them generally with great interest, and can recommend them honestly to those of the more enthusiastic lovers of medical literature, who would not grudge the labour of acquiring an easy language, for the sake of appreciating the fresh outpourings of the Scandinavian intellect, which, in its leading characteristics, is so nearly identical with our own, and yet which presents enough of peculiarities to keep alive our curiosity, while it has abundance of more solid merits to occupy and improve the judgment.
Passing over, though with some reluctance, such interesting matter as is offered by Dr Santesson, in his description of a case of villous tumours of the bladder, corresponding in their character with the tufted cancer (Zottenkrebs) of Rokitansky; and the example of displaced spleen, reported by Dr Böttiger, where the organ, with an elongated and serpentine splenic artery, was found within the true pelvis; we own to have had our attention somewhat closely attracted by the discussions on the älta, a popular name for a form of disease in children which the Swedish physicians seem to have some difficulty in reducing to its proper position in nosology, but which appears to be a description of periodic fever. The singularity, however, regarding it, which chiefly engaged our notice, was that, in the Swedish capital, its treatment seemed still to be admitted as the acknowledged province of a numerous sisterhood of old women, termed the ältgummor; the cunning women, or skilly wives of Stockholm. Though these coifed sages appear to assume skill only in the cure of the älta, they seek amends to themselves for this reserve by designating a large variety of ailments under the term, according to a most approved resource of empiricism. Their method of treatment consists in the rubbing in of a kind of ointment, which they name the ält salve. Upon referring to Hartman,' we find a formula for this salve, according to which it appears to consist of garlic, tar, ox-gall, and oil of bays: a composition which is possibly held to be assuredly efficacious because it is indubitably nasty.
We are far from alluding to these popular errors and superstitions in medicine, because we are conscious that we are free from them in our own country. On the contrary, it is a too evident truth, which we may deride or lament as the humour suits us, that there is no rank of society, and scarcely any grade of intellect, among us, which is not frequently warped by the grossest credulity into the most absurd of beliefs and practices ; and that even the instances of this are occasionally so monstrous, that it is only their notoriety which could gain them credence. Philosophers and mathematicians, divines and judges, men accustomed to reason from deduction to deduction, can divest themselves at once of such trammels when they approach any of our leading quackeries; and abandon themselves with astounding
· Husläkaren (Stockholm, 1835), p. 130.
recklessness to follies which would be at once pronounced to be insane, were it not that their abettors affect a kind of consecutiveness in their ideas, and mimic vilely a few of the outward forms of science. Still, examples of this description, wherever encountered, are interesting as portions of the history of the human intelligence; and if we remark them in other nations, it is rather with sympathy than self-gratulation. If, then, the Swedish peasant is made to believe that he has swallowed a snake, and gets rid of it by drinking a weak solution of arsenic in mare's urine; or some easy victim of seduction thinks to procure abortion, by swallowing five birch leaves, on which are the red spots popularly named cuckoo's blood; or a sufferer from green-sickness seeks in the same remedy the more innocent uses of an emmenagogue; or some member of “the better classes” hangs a little bag to the right ring-finger of a boy, and the left ring-finger of a girl, as a sovereign cure for a remittent, provided always that it hang a certain number of days, and be burned afterwards; we notice these superstitions, which we have gathered at random from the volume before us, not on the score of their singularity, but because they are nearer akin to much that still prevails among ourselves than many may be inclined to imagine; or because, if they appear to differ, it is unhappily in form more than in essence.
The wise man, the klok gubbe of the Swedes, is, it seems, still not wholly extinct; though now shorn of much of that splendour of reputation which rendered one of the tribe the object of a visit of curiosity from Linnæus himself. Professor Huss, in his interesting treatise on the endemic diseases of his country, tells us, on the authority of Dr Ekman,' that such a “ klok gubbe," or skilly old man, was especially famed at Hudiksvall for his cures of rheumatism; but as he accomplished these, in the fashion of Bouillaud, by repeated bleedings, performed alternately on arm and foot, and not by nostrum or charm, he is no proper specimen of his craft. The true wise man gained his skill more easily, and dispensed its benefits mere mildly, than after this material fashion. All that was necessary was to meet witli a certain white snake, unfortunately a prodigy of exceeding rarity, which he was to seize hold of, when it would leave its skin in his hands. By merely licking this, he entered at once into enviable possession of the power of knowing the secret of all remedies, and the cure of all diseases. The wise man of Enekulla, in West Gothland, who flourished in the last century, must have committed an unnecessary cruelty, though it was one not without precedent, when he boiled his snake, and eat it. Swen, at Bragnum, whom Linnæus visited, enjoyed his healing faculty in virtue of the snake's skin ; although the famous Swedenborg, who admitted the faculty, allowed him the higher honour of deriving it from a communication with good spirits. His cures were renowned everywhere, and attracted patients from far and near; and yet, though he knew well
1 Huss, Om Sverges endemiska sjukdomar, p. 18.
beforehand that the virtue would depart from him if he took a wife, he determined to marry, and forfeited thus his high privileges and endowments.
The following case, reported by Dr S. Elmlund, of Boraas, is interesting, both on account of its nature and the advanced age of the patient; but, most of all, from the success of its simple method of cure. A man, 73 years of age, of strong and bulky frame, and regular habits, became ill at the beginning of the year from an old hernia in the right groin, an incarceration of which terminated in gangrene. A fistula now established itself, through which passed by far the principal portion of the fæces. At the close of the first month's illness, he was seen by Dr Elmlund. He had then a sallow complexion, sunk countenance, and was emaciated ; his pulse 100, with febrile exacerbations, tongue foul, little sleep and appetite. On examining the opening, it was found to be circular, an inch in diameter, and with tumid, callous edges. Poultices were ordered to be applied, and laxative enemata to be administered daily. The result was that the induration of the edges gradually diminished, and the sore assumed a healthy aspect : the excretions passing in larger quantities by the natural course, while sleep and appetite improved, and the strength increased. Subsequently, merely dressings with resinous ointment were employed; and towards the end of May the cicatrix was fully consolidated, and the man restored to sound health, which still subsists.
In the volume of the New Transactions of the Swedish Medical Society, we find a valuable account of the lunatic asylums of Holland, drawn up by Dr Grähs; including a sketch of the views of the estimable Van der Kolk, regarding the varieties and the treatment of insanity: while, in a second part of the report, he appears to have succeeded admirably in familiarizing his countrymen with the most approved plans of sanitary improvement, as adopted in France and in this country. Professor M. C. Retzius presents interesting reports of the Lying-in Hospital, for the years 1850 and 1851. Dr Hamberg introduces his account of the natural productions and chemical preparations, displayed in the Great Exhibition, with so flattering a tribute to our national energies and greatness, that we may well be gratified that so judicious an observer has estimated us so favourably.
L.C. libe reatural pibitions
The Use of the Bloupipe, in the Qualitative and Quantitative Excamination of Minerals, Ores, Furnace-Products, and other Metallic Combinations. By Professor PLATTNER, Freyberg, and Dr S. MUSPRATT, Liverpool. London, 1854.
NOTHING can more strikingly illustrate the importance of his tools to the working man of science, than the fact, that a single small instrument may become to him the means of widely extending the
field of knowledge. The Microscope is an illustration of this truth in the case of Anatomy, and the Blow pipe in that of Chemistry. The latter instrument has been employed in the economical arts since a period so far distant, that we are content to refer to the Egyptian Tombs, as containing representations of its use by workers in metals. As one of the tools of the scientific chemist, it is only about a century old, and we are indebted to the Swedes for its introduction among the apparatus of the laboratory as an instrument for gratuitously testing compounds; whilst the Germans, following in the steps of the Swedish mineralogists and chemists, have shown its importance as a means of quantitatively assaying the most precious metallic ores. Few in this country are as yet aware that the pecuniary value of metallic compounds, natural and artificial, is now determined at the chief mining establishments on the Continent with the greatest nicety, by an apparatus which, including Blowpipe, Balance, Lamp, and the accompanying needful implements, occupies no
greater space than a dissecting-box, a microscope-case, or a handy , book. i Professor Plattner, of the famous Freyberg Mining School, is,
according to universal testimony, what one of his travelled friends styled him to us, “ The greatest blowpiper of the day;" and his
work, which embodies the experience of his great predecessors, in ! this unpoetical and unmusical branch of piping, Cronstadt, Berg| man, Gahn, Saussure, Berzelius, and Herkort, besides giving the
results of his own continuous researches, is a work of the greatest value to chemists. But for the practical demands of the metallurgist, the blowpipe would never have been thrught of as an analytical instrument; but we need not say that it is as serviceable for purely scientific as for practical inquiries, in so far as the former fall within its range; and we have an illustration in its application to the recognition of Urinary Calculi, and in the name, “ Fusible Calculi," attached to one class of them, of the many uses to which this portable but powerful little engine may be turned.
We should have been better pleased with the work before us had it more closely followed the German original, which we scarcely think has been altered for the better, where changes have been made; but, such as it is, the English version of Plattner on the Blowpipe, is a work which, we are glad to see, has reached a third edition, and can cordially recommend to all who have not access to the original.
A Discourse on Medical Botany. By EARL STANHOPE. London,
1854. 8vo. pp. 47. This discourse is the substance of unpublished addresses delivered by Earl Stanhope to the Medico-Botanical Society, of which he was president. These addresses were intended to urge upon the society the extension and improvement of the materia-medica through the means of botanical inquiry of chemical analyses, and of medical investigation and experiments. The society, he states, is “ essentially a medical one, which pursues botany so far, and so far only as may be requisite for its object of examining and ascertaining the medicinal properties of plants, and which, for the same purpose, is assisted by chemists." But he adds, although botanical analogy and chemical analysis were aids and guides in these inquiries, still they were of no avail without actual experiments on the living body. One object of the author is to urge the propriety of using native plants more extensively in the materia-medica. He states that the Austrian Pharmacopæia contains 71 plants not in the London Pharmacopæia, many of which are indigenous in Britain. Other Continental Pharmacopæias contain 64 more of our native plants. We fear that the author lays too great stress on the efficacy of drugs, more especially when he talks of a dog cured of rabies by eating the root of alisma plantago, to which it was drawn by an instinctive knowledge of its medicinal efficacy! And then he tells us “that an ointment made of the leaves of the common bean, gathered when the plant is in flower, has been successful in dispelling those cancerous humours, which, if allowed to continue, might require excision;" that living on spinage for ten weeks has cured chorea; and that powdered leaves are a remedy for hydrophobia. In one part of the pamphlet the author speaks in strong terms of the effects of odours on the body and mind, and quotes some instances which certainly savour much of the marvellous and incredible. While the discourse contains some useful hints as to the extension of the Pharmacopæia, we cannot but regret that these are mixed up with many statements as to the “ powers and virtues” of remedies which are more worthy of the old herbalists, than of the enlightened practitioners of the present day.
KROEGER ON THE PANCREATIO JUICE. Kroeger gives in his dissertation the results of some experiments performed with Prof. Bidder. Through a fistula in the pancreatic duct they collected the pancreatic juice during certain spaces of time at various periods of the day and under various influences. Concerning the quantitative relations, 1 kilo gramme of dog secretes, on the average, within twenty-four hours, about 89-3 grammes of pancreatic juice. According to this calculation, an adult man(weighing 64 kilogrammes) would secrete, in twenty-four hours, 5:715 kilogrammes, i.e., nearly the eleventh part of the weight of the whole body. The ingestion of food exercises great influence over the secretion, the latter becoming much increased in quantity almost immediately after meals, reaching its maximum