« PreviousContinue »
that the venereal disease is never more effe&tually cured by mer. cury, than when it is evident, from every mark by which the degree of evacuation can be ascertained, that the evacuation produced by it is least confiderable.
There is, however, another opinion, which, though atrended with some difficulties, is the most probable of any that have been offered on the subject; and this is, that mercury a real antidote to, or a substance capable of destroying the virulence of, the venereal poison. There cannot certainly be any difficulty in conceiving that mercury and the verolic virus may mutually act upon each other, in consequence of a strong cheo mical affinity between them; or that the virulence of the venereal poilon may be totally subdued by its union with another Substance, granting this last to be even as acrimonious and active as itself; and that the result of this combination of two substances, highly active when existing singly, may be a tertium quid, or a new compound perfectly mild and innoxious. Chemistry furnishes us with many instances of this kind, a few of the most remarkable of which we have briefly noticed on a former and very different occasion *, to wbich the Reader is referred below. It is scarce necessary, on this occasion, to enJarge upon the many instances that occur in daily practice, (and to which the Author refers) of the cure of venereal ulcers, effected by the mere topical application of mercury, which seems to destroy the activity of the venereal poison, in a manner exactly resembling that in which the activity of mercury itself is destroyed by the addition of sulphur, in the composițion of Æthiops or Cinnabar.---This opinion, we must observe, however, is not adopted by the Author, to the extent in which we have here proposed it.
Granting, or conceiving it at least as highly probable, chat this is the manner in which the venereal disease is cured by mercury; it remains to be considered, in what manner the poison and its remedy are brought into a situation of being mixed with, and of acting upon, each other. The Author accordingly difcuffes the reipective merits of two opinions on this part of his subjcet ; according to which mercury is supposed to act as a remedy, either by effecting an alteration of the general mass of circulating fluids, or by particularly altrafting, and fingly acting upon, the venereal matter itself contained in them. He urges several objections to these two fuppofitions, and seems particularly unwilling to allow that there iubbits any elective atiraction between mercury and the particles
In the illustration of Dr. Priestley's theory of two electric flu. id; mutually and completely destroying each others activity. See M. Review, Vol. xxxvii. December 4767, page 455
of the venereal matter. The Author, however, specifies no particular reasons for this unwillingness, except by observing, that the opinion of a particular attraction between these two - substances, is ' an hypothesis supported by no proof ;' further adding, in still stronger terms, that there seems not to be any fhadow of reafon to suppose that it does exift.'-The following is a short sketch of his opinion, or conjectures, as he modestly terms them, on this subject.
The venereal poison is supposed by the Author, in general, not to produce a morbid state in the entire mass of Auids, but to act as a morbific cause only, on being collected and deposited at particular parts, (frequently very distant from that at which it was at first received) to which it is carried in the course of the circulation. Thither, that is to these diseased parts, the mercury, its antagonist, whether received internally by the mouth, or externally by friction, likewise arrives in the due course of circulation, and exerts its antidotal powers against it, by an immediate or direct topical application. In other words, his system is, that, merely in consequence of the establifhed laws of circulation, the mercury is carried indifferently to every part of the body, and, among others, cannot fail to be
applied to those parts in which the venereal matter does exift,' and where it obtunds its acrimony, and destroys its morbific qualities.
By this supposition of an actual topical application of the mercury to the morbific matter to be acted upon, and which is supposed to have been previously separated from the general mass, some objections against the other hypotheses are avoided ; and, at the same time, the Author obferves, there is no ne. ceflity for having recourse to any hypothetical attraction between mercury and the venereal virus. We think, nevertheless, that the instances drawn from analogy, above alluded to, justify the fuppofition, that the salutary change here effected is brought about by the commenstruation of the two substances; and that this their ready combination with each other, followed by the destruction of the morbific qualities of one of them, implies a real eleElive attraction subsisting between them ; like that, for instance, between an alcali, and an acid previously engaged in an earthy or metallic fubftance, which it deserts to join itfelf to the alcali. We are sensible how liable the term, attraction, is to be abused; but certainly, in our present imperfect state of knowledge, it is very allowable to employ it, when nothing more is assumed or meant in the using it, than the declaring, or giving a general name to, a well known effect, resembling many others; all fairly deducible from one and the fame, general though confefredly unknown, cause. This attraction too, we imagine, notwithstanding the difficulties proposed by the Author, may equally take place, whether the mercury meets and
combines with the venereal virus, circulating at large in the mass of fluids; or deposited, as it more generally is, in particular parts.
Be this as it may, the cure of local venereal ulcerations, by the external application of mercury, and that of the gonorrhoea, by mercurial injections, in cases where it cannot be suspected to have entered or affected the whole system, alore furnish a very satisfactory proof of its antidotal or specific virtues, independent of any theory, whatever, formed to explain in what manner it is, in other cases, brought into contact with the fubftance whole pernicious activity it fo effctually destroys.
The theoretical part of this performance is fucceeded by a full and accurate list of the different mercurial preparations now in ufe ; which is digested under general heads, according to the different chemical means employed to render that fub. . Itance active, and miscible with the human fluids, or the matter in which it is to act. Some useful observations then follow with relpect both to those mercurial preparations which are intended to be applied externally, and those which are meant to enter the system; and remarks are made on the preference to be given to different forms, in particular cases. The work is terminated by some judicious cautions respecting the use of this very active medicine, and rules to prevent the inconveniencies or disagreeable accidents, which too frequently, in some conftitutions particularly, attend the exhibition of it.
Art. XII. The Antidote ; or, An Enquiry into the Merits of a Book,
entitled, “ A Journey into Siberia, &c. By the Abbé Chappe D'Auteroche, &c." In which many effential Errors and MisrepreJentations are pointed out and confuted. By a Lover of Truth. Translated into English by a Lady. 8vo. 3 s. 6 d. Leacroit. 1772. HIS is a severe and sarcastical critique of the large
and splendid publication mentioned in the title, and of which we gave a very full account in the Appendix to our 40th volume, and in our 41ft volume, December 1769.
That the Abbé Chappe, posting in a close-covered vehicle through Siberia, may, during his thort abode in that country, have seen many objects through a false medium, and may have been mistaken in the judgments which he formed both of men and things : that he may have misunderstood, or have been imposed upon, in many particulars, by his informants; and that accordingly his account of the natural, and still more of the moral and political history of that country, and of Rusia in general, may contain many remarks that may juftly excite the ridicule, astonishment, or indignation of a native of these countrics; arc circumstances that may calily be conceived, and
readily readily accounted for, without any imputation either on his candour or his understanding.–What Englishmån, for instance, can read without a smile, or without astonishment, the strange and ridiculous misapprehensions and conclufions of a very accomplished and acute countryman of the Abbé's *, exhibited in a late Tour to London, and, after a like hafty survey of the country and people he undertook to describe ? Accordingly, we give this Lover of Truth credit for his detection of several of the Abbe's mistake, with respect to his country and countrymen, which he has here laid open to the world, with the greatest warmth and earnestness; but at the same time we must complain that this zealous Russian patriot absolutely fatigues and disgusts us with his excessive partiality to his native soil, and with his many ridiculous, trifling, and captious animadversions on the Abbé; whom he purfues and harraffes almost through every step of his journey, and banters (in his manner) or abuses, through almost every page of his relation of it.
A perfectly disinterested Reader may perhaps, in perusing the Abhé's book, be now and then induced to suspect that he is, either from political or other motives, rather inclined to speak less favourably of Russia and its dependencies, than is consistent with ítrict philosophical impartiality; but this Writer attributes to him everywhere a rooted malevolence, and a formed design to abuse the climate, foil, manners, government, and power of Ruslia; frequently founding his charge on the most unimpor. tant and ridiculous circumftances. If M. Chappe, for instance, happens in the course of his narrative to give a hint or an ex. ample of the flavery, superstition, misery, ignorance, dearth, bad roads, or cven the cold, that he felt or observed, in Siberia ; our patriotic critic takes fire at the very insinuation, and treats even the most casual observation of this kind as the result of a deep-laid delign to depreciate and stigmatize the country and its inhabitants. In expressing his astonishment, however, at the Abbé's supposed malice and absurdity on these occasions, he often excites the surprize of the Reader, in his turn, Perhaps his exhibiting Siberia, in the following quotation, as one of Nature's most favoured spots, may have that effect on some of his Readers.
After treading close upon the Abbé's heels, and wrangling with him almost every step of the way from Paris to Solikamík, our teazing critic halts with him at that place, and attends him to the baths and salt-works there. On his departure from thence, at laft, says he, the Abbé leaves Solikamsk, and paffes the mountains, which he does not like in the least better than the roads : he is afraid of being swallowed up in the snow ; a Mons. Grolley. See our Number for September last, page 165.
thing never thought of, nor heard of, in Rusia.-He casts a gloomy eye upon the fir trees he meets with on his road_" that seemed to bend under the weight of the snow," and adds, that “ Na. ture seemed to have become quite torpid.” [Here follows our critic's riant description of this land of promise.] · How true this may be, you will judge, says he, good Reader, when I tell you that I do not suppose there is a country to which Nature has been more bountiful than to Siberia. It quite resembles the fairy kinds :-it has mountains of crystal, rocks of jasper, hills of agate, and of all sorts of marbles, intermixed with veins of gold, silver, brasst and iron; and all this in the country where, according to the Abbé, “ Nature seems torpid.” Corn is there AMAZINGLY plentiful :: there are spots of ground that bring forth the feed fixty times, many that produce thirty, and none less than seven,' &c. Our limits will not allow us to proceed any further in the luxuriant description.
Our Critic, among other matters, ridicules M. Chappe's two anecdotes of the thermometer and the thunder storm *; and to thew how far this vile Abbé has traduced his countrymen, and abused the credulity of the public, he proves that the Abbe's thermometer was not the first that had been seen in Siberia; and to evince that his countrymen are not so timid, superstitious, or unenlightened, as to be scared by thunder brought into the same room with them, tells us that the very children in Russia
notable electricians; for that they often amuse themselves with rubbing the furniture, in a dark corner of the room, with a bit of cloth or fur, till they draw sparks of fire out of it.
Notwithstanding these and many other puerilities and perso. nalities; there are some anecdotes, and some sensible obseryations, relative to the history, and to the political and moral state of Rullia, contained in this performance, which may, after making pretty large allowances for national partiality, be worthy the perulal of those whose curiosity is directed towards the concerns of that country. ,
This enquiry is dedicated by the English Translatress, by permillion (as the title page informs us) to the Empress of Rusia.
+ Copper, we suppose, is here meant.
• See Appendix to our 40th volume, and the Number for Decem. ber 1763, page +39.