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ART. XII.-CRITICAL NOTICES.
1. A Practical Treatise on the Discases of Children. By James
Stewart, M. D. New York: 1841. Wiley and Putnam. 8vo. pp. 547.
Among the contributions to American science and literature, which we deem it our duty to read, we shall always hail with especial regard those elementary books which have recently become common among us.
Nothing so effectually banishes from us that overweening attachment to the institutions of Europe, as the popularity of text books of native growth, to the exclusion of works of foreign manufacture, in which justice is seldom done to American writers or American genius. The excellent Surgical Dictionary of Samuel Cooper, the most comprehensive and valuable compendium of surgical science, probably, in any language - rich in references to continental and British authorities, was long silent as to the achievement of transatlantic ability. A tardy justice has at length been rendered by its able author, and we now have the satisfaction of knowing, that in that widely circulated work, owing to the public zeal and talents of its American editor, Dr. Reese, the operations of Dr. Mott, and the skill of Dr. Physic, are made known to thousands who never before heard of their vast services in this field of professional responsibility.
We have been led to give to the volume now before us a careful perusal, and somewhat of a critical examination ; and we have heard the reports of some of our most experienced clinical practitioners on its peculiar merits. The whole has strengthened the opinion we arrived at from an impartial comparison of Dr. Stewart's labors with those who have preceded him in similar undertakings, that this treatise is destined to supersede even the most popular of the elementary works now in use, as a guide to the student and young practitioner, in the management of that large and intricate class of disorders to which children are liable.
The preliminary observations of Dr. Stewart must impress the reader favorably as to the originality and extent of the views with which the author regards disordered action, as associated with organized structure at the earlier periods of life, the great dependence of disease on peculiarity of constitution, and the mutual dependence which obtains in all cases between structure, at different periods of the development of parts; or the greater preponderance of this or that system of vessels in the ultimate building up of the human frame. On this broad basis is the physician to examine the NO. XVII. VOL. IX.
semeiology of disease, as the index of a sound pathology, and consequently of a safer rule of therapeutical indication. This interesting feature of Dr. Stewart's work is preserved throughout the entire treatise; and the systematic disposition of his materials, while it gives additional practical value to his labors, enables him, by his judicious notice of structure, physiological peculiarities, and signs of disease, to enter, with the greater benefit to the reader, upon the leading characteristics of morbid action, and thence unfold individual disorder, and urge the appropriate means of relief and cure. We think we do not err when we affirm, that Dr. Stewart's work, in these respects, may fairly lay claim to merits at once novel and practical in a book on the diseases of children.
Dr. Stewart has classified his subjects, first under the head of vital functions, and having treated of the respiratory functions, treats of the diseases of the respiratory organs and of the circulatory system. Under the second division, natural functions, we have the digestive system and the affections to which it is subjected, including those of the excernent system, and its derangements; and thirdly, the animal system, which embraces the peculiarities of the nervous system and its disturbances, concluding with a short enumeration of the motor system and its disordered state. By this method the author has been able to embody within his pages many diseases not usually found noticed in similar performances, and to condense within the compass of a compact volume, a body of practical knowledge which might otherwise have been scattered through fourfold the number of pages.
There is another circumstance in the work now under notice. All versed in a knowledge of the medical literature of the present age, will best appreciate Dr. Stewart's pretensions to a minute acquaintance with the facts and reasonings which many of the most important diseases he has described have lately given origin to, in order the better to establish the substantial improvements in therapeutics which the labors of modern pathologists and physicians have brought to bear on the management of this intricate and embarrassing class of disorders. Richly informed of the scientific and practical details which European investigation has brought to light, Dr. Stewart, while availing himself of these essential results, has not overlooked the contributions which American genius and study have made, in elucidation of the pathology and treatment of the diseases of children; and hence we find that a large portion of his pages is occupied in setting forth the practical suggestions and clinical expositions which the prominent writers of our country have at different times published. It was long due to the merits of Rush and Chapman, of Jackson and Bayley, of Miller and Hosack, and a host of others, that their labors, scattered through many volumes, should be analyzed, and find their appropriate place in a systematic treatise. Dr. Stewart has exercised the office of an eclectic philosopher; and while the tribute of becoming regard is bestowed by him with due discrimination on his predecessors, he has, from the stores of his own experience and erudition, seen fit to assume the right of judging for himself of the safest and most available means of relief, and urging with candor and impartiality the curative measures best entitled to consideration in the hour of trial and responsibility. Were our pages not otherwise disposed of, we might cite many examples of this decision in choice resting with Dr. Stewart. He every where proves himself a practitioner, willing to suggest with caution where caution is requisite, and supplied with resources promptly at hand to encounter the conflict with disease ; such resources as are the legitimate agents which a rich and noble science furnishes. We know not what the sporadic disciples of a modern system of medicine may think of works inculcating the theoretical doctrines and clinical practice here given for the student's and the practitioner's guide. It is certain that the speculations of Hahneman find no favor in the eyes of our author; he is too deeply imbued with ancient science, and too well armed with the triumphant weapons of modern physiology and pathology, to give, with his energetic mind, even a partial recognition to the tardy infinitesimal theory, as adequate to the destruction of the active many-headed enemy, disease; and as such scepticism seems not incompatible with a sanative belief, we like him the more for the election be has made.
From the excellence of its style and the richness of its matter, we argue for Dr. Stewart's work a widely extended popularity, and a conspicuous place in the catalogue of approved medical writers.
2. The Looking-Glass for the Mind.
The Settlers at Home. By HARRIET MARTINEAU.
By Mrs. Ellis.
MARBYAT. New York: 1841. D. Appleton and Co.
SINCE the appearance of our April number, the above named little books have been added to the series of “ Tales for the People and their Children,” which this enterprising house are now publishing, in a neat and beautiful style, and we have great pleasure in adding, of a character fully justifying their assertion, that "the greatest care is taken in selecting the works of which the collection is composed, so that nothing mediocre in talent, or immoral in tendency, is admitted.” Without being equal in merit, those of which we are now speaking are all well adapted to the purpose for which they are intended. The “ Looking-Glass for the Mind” has long had an established reputation, and needs no commendation from any one. Family Secrets,” by Mrs. Ellis, is a new tale, and a very good one. The Settlers at Home,” by Miss Martineau, and “Early Friendships," by Mrs. Copley, are less to our taste. We pass over these with a single word of comment, that we may have room for a more particular account of Marryat's “ Masterman Ready," which, as the author informs us in his preface, is the commencement of a series that he intends to publish, if approved by children: and as the continuation depends on such opinion, we hope they will read, inasmuch as their demand for the volume is to be the sole criterion of its merit. Although Captain Marryat candidly avows independence of adult criticism, he will not surely cavil at those who commend the perusal of his little book to their youthful acquaintance. It neither claims nor possesses originality of incident, (Sir H. Seaward's narrative, edited by Miss J. Porter, relates a similar casualıy, and we believe identical expedients for relief, etc. ;) but it comprises lessons of instruction, incentives to reflection, and profitable amusement, pleasingly and comprehensibly imparted. Good old Ready is the very impersonation of practical kindness and usefulness ; exhibiting in his life and doctrine," a firm reliance and implicit trust in the providential care of Him who ordereth all things right; a renunciation of self, and consequent consideration of others' weal, too rarely apparent in our daily walk. We think Captain Marryat has erred in his delineation of female character; experience has proved woman, and found her “not wanting" in time of trial and danger; for her infallibility we would not contend; the majority, no doubt, is composed of the like kind as Mrs. Seagrave; but in the creation of examples, as models for the guidance of youth, our judgment would most especially recommend the elevation of female character; not only because her infnence is m:st productive of good or evil in childhood, but because we think boys (some of them over-grown) in general very apt to depreciate her.
3. Organic Chemistry, in its applications to Agriculture and Physi
ology. By Justus LIEBIG, M. D., etc. With an Introduction, Notes, and Appendix. By J. W. Webster, M. D. Cambridge: 1841. J. Owen.
The author of this volume is, of modern chemists, the one who, by his labors, bas most contributed to advance organic chemistry. A very simple but most ingenious apparatus, invented by him, and now universally used in analyses of organic substances, enabled him to make known the composition of a great number of products of vegetation and of animal life, with an accuracy unequalled until then. His superiority over most modern savans who cultivate the same field of discovery as himself, was, to a certain point, proclaimed by the great scientific tribunal of the British association for the advancement of science, when, in 1938, this learned body entrusted to the German professor, the task of preparing a report on the actual state of chemistry, inits association with animal and vegetable physiology. The present volume contains, in substance, the report presented to the British association, and was published, at its request, in England; at the same time, the author issued an edition of the work, both in France and Germany, as an introduction to a treatise of organic chemistry, which was then in course of publication, and of which one volume* had appeared, but it is not yet completed. While this honorable distinction conferred on Mr. Liebig proves his reputation in the European scientific world, it may be considered as a sufficient guarantee of the merits of his book; at least, we may infer from it, that if this is not altogether beyond the reach of criticism, it is, probably, the best which could be written in the present state of the natural sciences. Whoever takes the trouble of reading a few of its interesting chapters, will feel convinced that the choice of the British philosophers could not have fallen on one more worthy of the honor. This book has been much praised, and for very
different reasons. Our public prints have mentioned, specially, the benefits to be derived from its study by farmers and planters. And, no doubt, an intelligent agriculturist would find in it many excellent ideas the key to many a phenomenon which must have struck him and seemed inexplicable. It would explain to him the reason of the abundance of his crops in rich soils and of the reverse in those of an inferior quality. It would show him the great importance of the rotation in crops, and why, after a few years of repose, land again becomes fit for certain crops, which it would no longer produce before it had lain fallow — why certain species of plants grow vigorously, when together, while others seem to dislike each other — why, after the destruction, by fire, of a pine forest, trees, with deciduous leaves, will spring up, and oaks and beeches take the place of evergreens.
Liebig considers those lands only as good which contain clay or, in general, aluminous minerals in sufficient quantity ; because these substances contain both potash and silica, two essential elements of vegetables, contributing generally to the solid part of all plants, but especially of gramineous ones. 'If one of these plants, which require a great quantity of silicate of potash, is cultivated for a certain time in the same field, it will exhaust it; and it will be necessary to let the soil repose for some time before any new crops of
Traité de chimie organique par Justus Liebig, professeur à l'université de Giessin. Paris, 1840.