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stances the very long intermissions which are sometimes found in asthmatic paroxysms, the individuals during the interval being apparently free from the disease; if we recollect that fits of asthma are often obviously induced by different passions of the mind, and that they do not seldon occur during the hours of sleep; it would appear fair to infer, that although other causes may prove operative in the production of the disease, it certainly seems in many cases to depend upon some state of the nerves, and to have its paroxysms excited by disordered affections of this part of the frame; “ ex quadam perturbatione officiorum quæ nervorum propria existimantur.”
Those morbid derangements, indeed, which have a still more unequivocal title to the name of nervous, have recently been talked of and considered as seated primarily in the blood vessels; such as madness: but were madness, as it is assumed, inflammation merely, how could we account for the numerous instances both of cause and cure from mere mental impulse? Go into a madhouse, and mark the ravings of one of the most maniacal of its inmates; there are no limits to the tumults of this man's emotions; none to the violence of his expressions; he is all vehemence, and all excitement: now place your hand upon the wrist of this unfortunate sufferer, and you will probably perceive the pulsations indicating nothing of the storm that is raging within. But the disturbance, you say, is in the vessels of the head. Press then the temporal artery, and its movements you will find to correspond with the comparative calmness of the pulse in other parts. Further, let the keeper of the asylum in which our individual is confined, enter his cell during his most ardent fits of maniacal fury: let such keeper cast but a look of menace and au
his patient, and all the agitation will instantaneously subside into a dead and sullen calm: and this subsidence of excitement, let it further be remarked, is often attempted in vain to be effected by lowering and depletory measures. And yet to hear some of our modern pathologists talk on the topic of mental alienation, you would be disposed to conceive that we have only to bring forward the lancet, and to keep back food, and the offices of madhouse proprietors would soon become sinecures.
One more allusion, and I have done. We all know that tetanus is a disease constituted of very violent contortions and agitations of the muscles of the body: we are all aware, likewise, that it is too frequently an unmanageable and fatal affection. But there are instances on authentic record, of exceedingly large quantities of opium actually curing this dreadful complaint. Now opium is one of the least admissible medicines, (without careful management,) in congestive and inflammatory states: bave we not, therefore, presumptive proof, at least, that those evidences of vascular irritation which dis
section sometimes displays, when the distemper in question terminates in death, are rather its consequences than its essences; and that the nerves and muscles are the parts primarily attacked?
Gentlemen, before I conclude, permit me to state my anticipation of the following query on the part of my auditors. You have been abundantly free with the doctrines and dogmas of others, it will be urged; let us hear what principles you have yourself to propose in lieu of those to which you have been so lavishly objecting? To this I beg to reply, None. Nay, it is the very notion of ruling principle against which I would venture to protest. The animal machine, as it appears to me, refuses to be regulated by that simplicity of movement which our desires dictate, and our ingenuity devises: and I would sum up the whole of the evidence, by expressing it as my humble opinion, that there is nothing faulty in any of the tenets upon which I have ventured to comment, excepting in their unwarrantable extension, and exclusive application. Moderately conceived, and discriminately applied, they are all true, and all useful. That the agency of the liver is very extensive, and very important throughout the whole of the animal economy, it were flying in face of fact to deny; and such agency had not, allowably, till within the few past years, been duly appreciated in the explication of several disordered states. Apoplectic attacks, and other congestive affections in the sinuses and blood vessels of the brain, might often be warded off, by taking due cognisance of the hepatic secretion: in fevers it is frequently expedient to direct our indications of treatment by an especial regard to the circumstances of this viscus. Dropsical and abdominal disorders are, as it were, the liver's own by right; and pulmonary derangements are not seldom suspected, when the actual state is hepatic disorganisation.
In the second place, the extensive sympathies of the chylopoietic and assistant chylopoietic viscera with the nervous frame, and with the whole man, could not fail to have been recognised by very early observers of the powers and properties of vital and intellectual being: but a knowledge of such sympathies had not, perhaps, been duly applied to practical purposes, till the hand of genius moulded them into a body of systematic shape; and, according to the statement of our German censor, we dealt a little too largely in " specifica et heroica," in the management of disease; thinking that when weakness was present, bark and steel were ready at hand to meet every want, without regard to necessary preliminaries; or that when a morbid poison had insinuated itself into the body, nothing further was demanded on the part of the practitioner than to find out and apply its corrective. Our errors in this respect, we have been taught; and let us profit by the instruction, fas est ab OMNIBUS doceri. And, lastly, the vascular views of medicine have given a precision and truth to the pathology of febrile, and even several other derangements, which had been bewildered and obscured by the metaphysical and metaphorical tenets of the nervous and spasmodic schools.
It is frightful, indeed, to reflect upon the practical errors which must have been committed by the decided devotees to the
spasmodic and stimulant creeds, or to those creeds which failed to regard inflammatory and congestive conditions as of prime importance in the regulation of remedial agents. The great desideratum appears to be duly to appreciate every power and every principle of the animal frame,
Let then every thing take but a temperate turn, and let the sevesal parts of the whole machine be duly subordinated and regulated, and all will go on well: each principle will act naturally in its own department: the water will begin to quench the fire, the fire will begin to burn the stick, the stick will begin to beat the pig, and, like the old woman in the tale, (if the comparison of such a being to professional men be not ominously offensive,) every obstruction being removed, we shall proceed uninterruptedly to the completion of our several objects.
In a word, Gentlemen, and seriously, by the exercise of our own respective judgment, to select the good from the evil of systematic extravagance, and make a practical use of the same, we shall all, it is hoped, do good in our day and generation; and all be contributing our share of successful exertion towards lessening the sum of human misery.
The coincidence of the most material points of the highly approved Reports of the Committees of the two Houses of Parliament on the Poor Laws, with opinions, part of which have been already published, and part communicated to his friends, is so flattering and gratifying to the author of the following Observations, that, prevented at present, by indisposition, from attendance in Parliament, he is induced to commit them to the press, in the hope they may not be altogether unacceptable or useless to the country. It only within a very short period occurred to him that the communication of them might be beneficial at this moment : the consequent necessity of their appearing before the opening of the Session has not allowed him time to revise them, nor to indulge in that kind of attention and correctness of arrangement which might have rendered them creditable to him as a writer. A careful revision would have enabled him to avoid several repetitions which, of course, occur in such hasty writing, where the clear and full explanation of the subject, rather than the credit of the composition, is regarded ; repetitions, however, which often impress more strongly the information and opinions intended to be conveyed.
SHEFFIELD PLACE, 12th Jan. 1818,