Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

lages, ligaments, or cellular substance, all these belong to the affections of white tissues. All these terrible inflictions are to be met with in those tissues which rank low in the scale of vitality. They occur in persons of weak habit and diminished vital energy, and in whom the white tissues preponderate over the red; and they are less under the influence of those curative means which are ordinarily employed in the treatment of diseases of the red tissues."

Dr. Stokes, as we remarked in the rheumatic diathesis, states a very curious fact with regard to serous membranes, which, although belonging to the class of white tissues, are subject to acute and violent disease. But we must now leave this interesting part of the subject, and show how this diathesis affects the character of the individual, and inquire whether it can be modified by diet, climate, and exercise.

It will be perceived that it is not without reason that we class the phlegmatic or lymphatic with the scrofulous diathesis. They are, in fact, the same, only that the latter comes more under the character of disease than the former, The ancient medical writers thought that this defect in the absorbent glands arose from the impurity of the humors; for it was their opinion that all diseases arose from some morbid change in the fluids of the body. Even at this day, the humoral pathology has many advocates ; and, without entering into the merits of the controversy between the solidists and the humoralists, we shall only observe that a majority of the best writers are in favor of the humoral pathology.

It is in consequence, therefore, of the preponderance of the white tissues in the phlegmatic diathesis that it is so liable to scrofulous diseases; and it is only when the disease fairly shews itself that the excess of the character belonging to this diathesis is seen. Persons coming under the phlegmatic diathesis are represented as sluggish in both mental and physical capacity. But our observation does not coincide with this remark. On the contrary, the imagination is exceedingly active and fanciful. The alteration takes place, however, when scrofula shows itsell; for then there is a constant wear and tear of the spirits, and the mind becomes more concentrated and turns constantly on itself. Nothing can be more depressing than to discover large glandular swellings under the ears of those in whom we know there is a hereditary predisposition to scrofula. We observe of this class, that in general they resign themselves to their fate as soon as the disease sets in.

The king's evil, as it is called, is not now so common as it was formerly. Other glands and tissues than those in the neck are attacked ; and it is no uncommon circumstance to find that the lungs are affected with tubercles. When this is the case, life is short. Instead of the old-fashioned consumption, which hung to a man throughout his three score and ten years, it scarcely ever exceeds two years' duration. All this time, the mind is kept in the most irritable state with thick coming fancies, and it is attended with an anxiety and watchfulness which degenerate at last into pure

selfishness. It is true that in this diathesis there is an unwillingness to move about; but the mind undertakes double duty, for it is never quiet. This sluggishness of the body is casily accounted for, as the least motion accelerates the pulse, and the throbbing of the affected parts becomes very painful. It is no wonder, therefore, that this class has the character of inactivity, and that this character should be applied likewise to the mind. Scrofulous persons are in general great eaters. They are fond of rich, savory food, and always appropriate the choicest parts to themselves. There are, no doubt, exceptions; but we speak of the class, and we say this after a close observation of all the peculiarities.

It is a common remark that scrofulous children have brighter intellects than those of a different diathesis; and independently of other distinctive marks, such as have been already described - large joints, large head, and large abdomen-they have also large, prominent, and frequently round eyes. Poor diet, impure air, and exposure to damp and cold, will soon make the white tissues preponderate, and of course there will be an outbreak on the surface of ulcers or sluggish glandular tumors. Children are sometimes covered with them, owing partly to hereditary taint and partly 10 indigestible food. They are the most patient of all suflerers, and even when unable to sit up, they endeavor to work off the superfluous excitement of the mind by inventing some little ingenious mode of relieving the tedium of confinement. We once saw a poor little diseased creature cutting with scissors all sorts of flowers and animals. He arrived early at great perfection in the art, but died at the age of eight.

But the case is different with grown-up people, who are favorably circumstanced as to fortune and climate. The predisposition to scrofula has been kept under by generous diet and healthy exercise, and the mind as well as the body

is pampered. But the seed of the disease is in the organization, and in spite of all care the character is influenced by it.

It may be said that, if the constitution has this tendency to affect the character, and if there are no curative means, the sufferers are not accountable for their errors, and should not be liable to our reproof. But this is a strange argument, and would lead to frightful consequences. One good result from a classification of this kind is, to make a man better acquainted with himself, and endeavor to overcome these tendencies of the constitution. There is no doubt that rheumatic and scrofulous persons are peculiarly selfish. We can easily understand why this disposition has grown upon

them. But surely much can be done to counteract it. Dr. Johnson strove hard against this scrofulous diathesis, and in very many instances overcame it. Others, again, indulge this propensity to monopolize comfort, and become callous to all duties out of their own families.

A man of this diathesis, even with excellent abilities, perhaps with superior talents, withdraws from public life the moment he has acquired an independence. He nurses this independence until it becomes an absorbing passion, and he allows this to take the place of those nobler pursuits which tend to elevate the character and to benefit mankind. He is constitutionally shy; but even this, with a watchful care, would not be injurious in any great degree, if it were under regulation. This shyness does not proceed from gloom or misanthropy, but from a fear that others will interfere with his personal comforts. In all things, he makes his apprehensiveness of great consequence to himself, and he does not allow others to intrude upon him, or to make demands either on his time or his purse. In short, it may be confidently asserted that a scrofulous diathesis predisposes a man to care more for himself than for others. Let him therefore examine his own character in this particular and root out the vice.

A scrofulous taint, even in adults, is under some control, for there are curative means in our power which may afford an alleviation. As a deficiency of the red tissue is undoubtedly the cause of the disease, it should be the aim of the physician to remedy this defect; and some of the new medicines now in use are well adapted to give tone to the system. When children show this diathesis, great care should be taken to feed and clothe them well. The tendencies to selfishness should likewise be checked, and they should be early taught to consider the claims of others.

Parents and guardians are in a highly responsible situation ; but the most important point for their consideration is for them to know whether they are fit for the office of bringing up children. In general, if a child is pale and drooping, they apply to a physician, who immediately falls to dosing it with tonics. Let the guardian of the child make himself acquainted with its constitutional predisposition, and he will then probably suggest the right mode of ireatment. Above all things, let him encourage in the child a cheerfuland humane disposition, and teach it to be grateful to others for their services and kindness, so that should disease overtake him he will be less of a nuisance than the scrofulous class now is.

It is the peculiar diathesis of a man which forms his character, and it is wonderful to perceive what a similarity of temper and habits there is in a whole class—it is the peculiar diathesis of a man which forms his character and renders him a blessing or a curse to his friends and his country. Let him therefore look sharply within, and see whether he cannot overcome the natural tendencies of his constitution. Let him observe others of a diathesis similar to his own, and see how it affects their temper and habits. He will find a very great family likeness throughout, particularly in the rheumatic and scrofulous; for where there has been no early moral training, the effect of acute pain for a series of years is very apt to sour the temper and make him even selfish and exacting.

Thus we find that the European race is divided into six classes, -each one distinct and easy to be recognized. The vitiated diathesis forms a large class of itself; and, sad to say, it is found in those whose education and rank in life should have prevented them from breaking down a constitution naturally good. It makes mere cumberers of the earth of those whose time and talents should have been devoted to their country, and creates a selfish indifference more injurious to the morals, religion, and happiness of society, than the excesses of all the other classes put together. Let reformers keep their eye upon all of this diathesis; and above all, let them begin their watchfulness on those who are young in years, as there is then a hope of reform. We would recommend to those of the bilious diathesis to go on with the same energy as heretofore, but to temper their zeal with judgment, and not to let their activity of body lead them into excesses which may injure their health.

The nervous class is a small one, for nerves are getting out of fashion. Action is a powerful remedy, and this implies change of scene and avocation. To this peculiar diathesis we must, however, show great tenderness, and never forget that their suffering, although called nervous, is as real and as difficult to bear as an attack of gout. The rheumatic and scrofulous must get out of themselves as much as possible. Mere pain should never make a man selfish, unpatriotic and parsimonious.

Art. IV. — Fourth Report on the Geology of the State of

New York, communicated to the Legislature by the Governor, January 24, 1840. Assembly Document, No. 50.

The geological survey of the State acquires higher interest as it advances. While the useful minerals continue to be developed, as well as the resources of the State and the means of prosperous enterprise to her citizens, we begin to have some glimpses of the real geology of the rocks, of their relative age and connection, of some of the causes which have modified the crust of this portion of our earth, and a promise of being able to trace the connection of our rocks with those of other parts of the globe. Some difficulties are to be overcome, and especially that which arises from a comparison of our formations with those of the adjoining states. The geologists of New York and Pennsylvania, to mention no more, must have just views of the rocks in both states. The little clashing of opinion which appears will doubtless be removed by more full examinations, and by extending these examinations over a wider space. As the geologists of the four great districts of our State are obliged to unite and examine together the formations along the line that separates their districts, so must there be a union and harmony of views between the geologists of the different States. The meeting of those geologists who assembled the last winter for consultation at Philadelphia, must have been highly advantageous in this particular respect. We trust it will be repeated, and that an extensive and harmonious comparison of views will be the result.

The geological report exhibits many gratifying proofs of the faithful and successful prosecution of the survey for the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »