Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

lactic, and carbonic acid, and in one case a little muriatic acid, the quantity of carbonic acid being decidedly abnormal, as was also that of the acetic and lactic acids.

The ejected liquid, it may be well to notice, must have consisted partly of secretions from the stomach, partly of products of digestion—the bulk of the liquid being secreted by the stomach, and the acids being derived from the food. We already alluded to the resemblance between the ejected matter and a fermenting liquid ; in fact it bore a striking resemblance to a vegetable juice undergoing lactic fermentation. The sarcina too might be considered as the analogue of the microscopic plants which are found to accompany the fermentation of infusion of malt and the juices of different fruits—hence the disease was supposed to result in great part from the food undergoing within the stomach a peculiar fermentation; three different views, in fact, might be entertained concerning it.

1. The disease might be regarded as depending on a simple or spontaneous fermentation of the food. 2. The sarcina might be considered as the causa morbi. 3. The stomach might be looked on as furnishing the ferment, and the sarcina as an accompaniment only of the fermentation excited. The last view seems the most probable. According to recent researches, the performance of digestion depends on the presence in the stomach of two different substances,– the one, free muriatic acid, the other, an animal matter called pepsine. Infusion of pepsine has no solvent action on alimentary substances, but its addition, even in minute quantity, confers this property on water acidulated with muriatic acid. How the pepsine acts in conferring this power, is a disputed point. Liebig represents the pepsine* as an efficient cause of alteration in the food, solely because its own particles are in a state of decomposition or transformation. The pepsine bears the same relation to the food, whose digestion it effects, that yeast does to the sugar it ferments. The transforming action of pepsine is limited in the normal state to rendering the insoluble portions of the food soluble in the gastric juice. Now all the azotised bodies, as diastase, yeast, &c. which act as ferments, and among which pepsine may be ranked, pass through several stages of decomposition whilst performing this function, and modify the non-azotised bodies on which they act, according to the state of decomposition in which they themselves are. From these considerations it appears that, within certain limits, if the mode of decomposition of the ferment alters, the mode of decomposition of the fermented body must alter also. Thus, if normal digestion be the result of a constant decomposition of the pepsine in one way, it must be liable to be rendered abnormal by the pepsine decomposing in a different way. The cases already cited seem to be derangements of digestion of this kind. Normal digestion is here looked on as a fermentation, and pepsine as a ferment. The carbonic, acetic and lactic acids, found in such abundance in the ejected fluids, were products of the fermentation or transformation of the food, determined by its contact with the modified pepsine.- Northern Journal of Medicine.

Letter to the Home Secretary of State. By J. Perceval, Esq. This epistle, with a score or more of documents and letters, appears to be a somewhat romantic, if not quixotic campaign against the Metropolitan Commissioners of Lunacy, on account of their " unjust and pettifogging conduct towards a gentleman lately under their surveillance." Mr. Perceval appears to have waged war, not only against the Commissioners, but against the Lord Chancellor,

[ocr errors][merged small]

nay, against the Law itself! The author is a bold man, and has certainly taken the bull by the horns. Of Mr. Perceval's mode of warfare and the kind of weapons which he wields, the following passage will convey some idea.

“ Dr. Southey and Dr. Bright, many years ago, I came in contact with, on which occasion I do not think that their conduct was just or straightforward. Of Dr. Bright I can say that I never saw a countenance that shocked me more strongly, as stamped with the expression of Lunacy.” Dr. Southey has not fared much better under the hands of Mr. Perceval. ** Dr. Southey has too much of the suaviter in modo to be depended upon for the strict discharge of his duty, where rank and power are arrayed against poverty and helplessness.”—p.6. Surely Mr. Perceval cannot expect that any great attention can be paid to animadversions mingled with such personal invectives as the above. In respect to his protegée--the Man in mask or in blank-whose incarceration in mad-houses Mr. P. bewails and labours to avenge, we very much fear that his recriminations and complaints are greatly exaggerated by the keenness of his own feelings and the dolorous reminiscences that rise through a haze in his mind's eye. It is not often, indeed, that we hear of liberated maniacs lauding their former keepers, or praising the diet and discipline of the asylum. We shall glance, however, at some of the grievances which the Man in blank sets forth in a letter to the Commissioners of Lunacy. For sixty-five nights he was annoyed by “a colony of rats under the floor.” “No pen or tongue can describe the misery and agony of my feelings; nor the horrors of those sleepless nights passed in a gallery filled with twenty to thirty pauper maniacs, amidst their cries, and moanings, and howlings, and blasphemings, &c. &c.” Now, we really think that the “Colony under this Pandemonium had no small reason to complain of the annoyance which they sustained from their superiors in the gallery. The complainant states that, at the Establishment in question, which shall be nameless, there was a paucity of keepers, and that he himself was sometimes obliged to assist in applying the strait-waistcoat round his refractory messmates. The want of sufficient firing is loudly complained of, and the cheese was such that, had the rats known the quality of that which they were in seach of, they would have directed their forays into another channel.

We are happy, however, to know that, since the Man in blank set forth his grievances, great reforms have taken place, moral and physical, in Lunatic Asylums, and if Mr. Perceval, by his former exertions and remonstrances, has contributed to these ameliorations, he may rest contented with the laurels he has gained.



CORRESPONDENT COMPOUNDS. By R. M. Glover, M.D. Edin. (Notice from the Edinburgh Med. and Surg. Journal, No. 152.)


The subject of this paper, which was proposed for the Harveian Prize Essay of 1842, is extremely interesting, as well for the results more immediately arising from its consideration, as for its contributing to the solution of a problem of the highest interest, viz. the extent to which the chemical analogies of bodies are accompanied by analogy of action on the living system. The idea of a relation between the chemical and physiological properties of bodies, similar to that which exists between the external forms of many plants and the action of the same plants on the animal economy, has been frequently suggested. The author first alludes to the remarkable analogies of physical character in chlorine, bromine, No. LXXXII.

and iodine, which may in general be traced in a modified form throughout the long series of compounds. Thus, at ordinary temperatures, chlorine is a light green coloured gas ; bromine a liquid of a splendid red colour ; iodine a solid with an intense shade of violet. And the volatility of their respective compounds in general follows in each case the rule of the element. Hydrochloric acid is the most volatile of the three hydracids, and hydriodic acid the most fixed. The chloride of potassium is volatile at a brown red heat, while the iodide requires a much more elevated temperament. Chloride of cyanogen is gaseous at ordinary temperatures, when the bromide and iodide of the same substance are solid. He next adverts to the relation which is found to subsist between

the specific heats of these bodies, and also between their chemical equivalents. From the chemical facts ascertained by investigating the several habitudes of these bodies, the author concludes, that bromine is more allied in chemical properties to chlorine than to iodine. The following is the arrangement observed by the author in the composition of his Essay.-1st. He considers the Physiological Properties of Bromine and its Compounds—the Hydrobromic Acid, Bromides of Potassium,

Sodium, Magnesium, Barium, Zinc, Iron, Mercury, Cyanogen and Olefiant Gas, with Bromiform, and the Analogies which they offer with Chlorine and Iodine, and and their correspondent compounds ;—2nd. The Medicinal part of the Enquiry; 3rd. General Conclusions.


All substances capable of exerting a chemical action on component parts of the tissues of organized beings, must be irritant, the phenomena which appear in such cases being partly of a re-active character. The exact nature of the action of bromine is as yet obscure. But little is known on the subject, save the mere fact of the coagulation of albumen by bromine. Considerable doubt exists with respect to the action of all corrosive substances on the animal tissues. Mulder describes a series of regular atomic compounds formed by the action of acids on albumen, such as the sulpho-proteic acid. Looking at the analogy of chlorine, we have the chloro-proteic of Mulder,

According to Balard, bromine readily attacks organic matters, such as wood, linen, and especially the skin, which it colours strongly yellow; the tiot being less intense than that given by iodine, and disappearing like it at the end of some time. In these circumstances, according to Berzelius, water is decomposed, the oxygen is carried to the organic substance, and the hydrogen forms hydrobromic acid with the bromine. It is not easy to see, observes the author, how, on the coagulation of albumen by bromine, a bromoproteic acid could be thus the sole resulting compound. When white of egg is coagulated by bromine, either pure or in solution in water, the colour of the element is lost. T'he coagulum is soluble in solution of caustic potash with or without the aid of heat. From this solution we can readily obtain evidence of the presence of bromine. If, without dissolving the coagulum, we wash it on a filter with distilled water, the liquid that passes, assumes a faint blue tinge, and is a solution of a small quantity of albumen in dilute hydrobromic acid. Conceiving the existence of a chloroproteic acid to be altogether hypothetical, the author prefers explaining the changes described, by supposing that compounds of albumen, with bromine and hydrobromic acids, exist in the clot, the albumen serving as a feeble base; but when the clot is washed, these acids are decomposed, and a weak solution of albumen in hydrobromic acid passes the filter.

The action of hydrobromic acid on albumen presents a most beautiful analogy with that of hydrochloric acid. When white of egg is put into concentrated hydrobromic acid, it is at first coagulated, but by repeated agitation in excess of the acid it is dissolved, and with more facility by the aid of heat. The result is the formation of a deep-coloured solution, not of a deep indigo blue tint, as in the case of hydrochloric acid, but of a brownish purple hue. When bromine in water is placed in contact with fibrin, the latter substance is converted into a bluish gelatinous-looking body. The same circumstances are observed of fibrin in this state as of albumen coagulated by bromine. A solution of colouring matter of the blood is coagulated by bromine, the hue of the mixture becomes olive-green, and ultimately gray, if excess of the element be employed. And it may not be without interest to observe, that, on washing the coagulum, the iron of the blood is removed, and yet, when the washings cease to give evidence of containing iron, a large excess of bromine having been employed, the precipitate left in the filter, on being boiled with solution of caustic potass or soda, will give a colour nearly resembling that of the blood. This fact may be adduced in connexion with the argument of M. Scherer, who has sought to prove that the colour of the blood is not entirely dependent on its iron.

Bromine exerts an action on the fatty principles of the tissues, and appears to be transformed into hydrobromic acid at their expense. The compounds formed are probably analogous to those so formed by chlorine. With respect to the physiological properties of bromine and its compounds, sufficient evidence has been adduced by former investigators to shew that the primary action of bromine, introduced into the stomach, or into the circulation, bears considerable resemblance to that of chlorine or iodine, in so far as either of these bodies can be similarly administered. The following facts may be stated with advantage, as the results of former investigations. M. Balard, the discoverer of bromine, observed that a drop of it placed on the back of a small bird soon produced death. Barthez found ten or twelve grains of broinine dissolved in a sufficient quantity of water to occasion death when injected into the jugular of a dog. A single fit of tetanus only preceded death. Sometimes, in such an experiment, death did not take place, but there were restlessness, dilated pupil, frequency of pulse, and sneezing. Blood-letting after the commencement of the symptoms favoured recovery in such cases. The author gives passages from Devergie descriptive of the symptoms occasioned by the introduction of bromine into the stomach of animals. Introduced into the stomach of a dog in a dose varying from 30 to 40 drops it occasions death, giving rise to :-nausea, attempts to vomit, vomiting, acceleration of the respiration and circulation, prostration continuing till death the pathological alterations being, injection of the villous coat of the intestinal canal, with corrugation of the gastric portion of this membrane ; now and then grayish superficial ulcers, and in some cases softening. These effects have much resemblance to such as have been observed to arise from the similar administration of chlorine and iodine. The author here details a series of experiments instituted for the purpose of ascertaining the action of bromine on the system. The first was with a gold fish placed in a mixture of one part of saturated solution of bromine and two parts of water—its whole surface was immediately corroded, and life was extinct in less than a minute. Four drops of bromine were placed on the bill of a pigeon-the bill was corroded-violent excitement followed by an apathetic state-death in two days from corrosion and irritation of the air-passages caused by inhaling the fumes of the bromine. Four drops of bromine were introduced into the external jugular of a strong male rabbit-he immediately shrieked; respiration laborious—pupils dilated-heart's action violent, but ceased after a few irregular beats--two or three convulsive struggles ; the animal was dead in 70 seconds from the commencement of the operation. On opening the chest, the irritability of the heart was found to be destroyed—the substance of this organ was corroded near the apex-several marks of corrosion in the lung. Blood in the right ventricle and pulmonary artery coagulated. Similar experiments were instituted with the same results on a terrier bitch and a strong fox hound. The post-mortem appearances in the two latter subjects were-congestion of lungs with several apoplectic-like spots--- bronchi contained frothy blood. Stomach contained about half a pint of grumous blood—its mucous coat was much injected and presented several large ecchymoses-rectum vascular. From the results of these experiments we may conclude that bromine introduced directly into the circulation appears to exert a corrosive and irritant action on any organ to which it may be directed-in the experiment on the forhound, it was found to produce death by coagulating the blood and so obstructiog the circulation. The sudden stoppage to the circulation through the left side of the heart, and consequent compression of the nervous centres, may account for the nervous symptoms which occur in such cases.

Two series of effects are produced by the introduction of bromine in large doses into the stomach.,— 1st, from the action due to volatilized bromine getting into the fauces and air-passages, and so into the lungs; and 2d, from the corrosive and irritant action on the stomach and intestines, Another series of effects might be due to the entrance of bromine into the circulation. To the first series might be referred the coryza, sneezing, salivation, and affection of the respiration. The solution of a part of the stomach, as observed in one of the experiinents, may be explained by the conversion of the bromine still tarrying in the stomach into hydrobromic acid. The absorption of hydrobromic acid is corroborated by numerous analogical facts. Chlorine and sulphuretted hydrogen pass into the urine, also arsenious acid. The hydracids of chlorine, bromine, and iodine are peculiarly likely to be absorbed, since the two former form soluble compounds with albumen, and we may assume as much of the other.

The author here details the observations of M. Fournet on the physiological effects of bromine, which were manifested on some patients of his, affected by chronic arthritis. The remedy was given suspended in mucilage. The dose was at first two drops, but was raised by two drops daily, until it amounted to sixty drops in the 24 hours. The quantity of mucilage employed was always four ounces. Two drops thus taken occasioned only a hot sensation in the back of the palate. In a little stronger dose the patient experienced in a quarter of an hour itchings in the hands and feet, and shocks in the feet and near the knees. After a quarter of an hour there were borborygmus and colic. As the dose became stronger, there was a sensation of heat in the chest, accompanied with attempts to vomit, but without any vomiting. At first, a peculiar sensation of weakness and fatigue in the chest accompanied these first efforts, but these symptoms, from habit, soon disappeared. The patient who had the itchings in the fingers was always the most sensible to the effects of bromine. Tonic and diuretic effects have been experienced from bromine. That it acts on the nervous system is evident from its occasioning dilated pupil and stupor,

Hydrobromic Acid.-Several experiments were instituted to ascertain the physiological properties of this acid, and it was found to be less powerfully irritant and corrosive than the element.

The author next details the results of some experiments undertaken to ascertain the Properties of the Bromides of Potassium and Sodium. These experiments enable us to compare the operation of the bromide with that of the iodide of potassium. According to Mr. Blake, the salts of potash, when injected into the veins, destroy the irritability of the heart, and when introduced into the arteries, obstruct the circulation through the systemic capillaries. The experiments made by the author prove both these properties to be possessed by bromide of potassium. The bromide of potassium is found to be less powerful than the iodide of the same base. The bromide of sodium appears to bear a close resemblance to common salt in physiological properties; it bears a great resemblance to it in taste. The bromide and iodide of barium were found by experiment to possess the physiological properties of the class of salts to which they belong, more especially resembling the chloride of the same base. From the results of erperiments made with bromide of magnesium, there seems reason for concluding that this compound of magnesium participates in the general physiological properties of the magnesian salts. It is less active than the bromide of zinc, sul the effects produced by it very much resemble those caused by the zinc salt.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »