Imatges de pÓgina

Bleeding with leeches was repeated, and a purgative. March 1st.-Deglutition much improved. Breathing quite easy. Pulse 96.

4th.-Deglutition has improved gradually.

8th.-Free from complaint. Voice still rather hoarse. Many years ago I saw a fatal case of this rare and formidable disease, but I cannot find my notes of it. It occurred in a strong man about 50 years of age, and was marked at its commencement by severe pain of the throat and great difficulty of swallowing; while nothing was to be seen in the fauces but a superficial redness, without swelling. After these symptoms had continued about two days, he was attacked with dyspnoea, which, increasing rapidly in violence, proved fatal in the course of a day. On dissection, the inner membrane of the larynx was found much inflamed and thickened; but the principal disease seemed to have been in the epiglottis. It was much inflamed and enlarged in all its dimensions, having completely lost its natural appearance and elasticity, and become a thick fleshy mass, with some appearance of ulceration on the surface.



Medical Fragments.


CASE of stuprum, attended with some peculiar circumstances, was tried at the last Northumberland Assizes. The prosecutrix was a married woman, apparently between thirty and forty years of age. The defendants were two brothers, by one of whom the act was alleged to have been perpetrated, while the other held forcibly down the husband at not more than two yards distance from the spot where his wife was said to have been violated. The trial occupied five or six hours, and excited a good deal of interest. The jury brought in a verdict of Not Guilty, seemingly in consequence of some strong evidence brought forward on behalf of the prisoners, which went to invalidate the testimony of the prosecutrix and her husband. Another man was included in the indictment as an accessory, but the charge could not be substantiated.

The woman swore by the intrusio penis. the emissio seminalis. tion and syncope which

positively to the penetration of her body But she could not swear to the fact of The cause she assigned, was the agitasupervened during the struggle. She

perfectly comprehended the import of the questions put to her on this subject, and declared explicitly, that she had, on every previous coition with her husband, been sensible of the act of emission. Nor could she say that she was aware of any unusual humidity of the parts, immediately after the commission of the crime. This she ascribed to her having tumbled or waded through some water at the bottom of the dean where the assault took place. On both these points, the learned judge, Baron Richards, appeared to lay very great stress, both during the examination of the woman, and in his charge to the jury. The evidence of the husband, in addition to some of the facts sworn to by his wife, went to prove, that the ravisher remained in a situation on the body of the woman, sufficiently long to enable him to complete his purpose. There were many other minute circumstances detailed; but as they turned more on the legal than on the medical history of the cause, it is unnecessary to enumerate them. The evidence for the prosecution failed in credibility, in consequence of the counsel for the prisoners, besides various other particulars in favour of their clients, having been able to adduce evidence, which the judge and jury deemed satisfactory, of both man and wife having been at the time in a state of intoxication sufficient to destroy the validity of all that they had sworn to.

The judge, in summing up the evidence, laid it down, (if the present writer be not greatly mistaken) that the fact of emission inust be sworn to or proved, in order to constitute the crime of rape, according to the law of England. But, at the same time, it was for the jury to deliberate, whether, on a careful consideration of all the other collateral circumstances of the case, they had reason to be satisfied in their own minds, that this part of the crime, as well as every other part, had been actually committed. These are nice and difficult points for a jury to decide on. They are no less important for a medical practitioner to reflect upon, as he may be frequently called to give his evidence or his opinion in cases somewhat analogous, before a court of judicature. And here one cannot help expressing a wish, that forensic medicine were made a more necessary branch of study than it is generally held to be. A practitioner may acquit himself respectably enough, as far as regards the treatment of a wound, or of a disease produced by wilful external violence; yet he may make but a disreputable figure in expressing a common opinion, when cross-examined by counsel, learned in the law, if he have not made his mind familiar with those delicate points on which he is called upon to decide, when on his decision probably hinges the life or death of his fellow-creatures. It is not

in detecting the more obvious forms of disease, or in prescribing the more common formulæ of drugs, that all, or even the chief part of the duty of an accomplished medical character consists. He must be prepared for every situation. The mere commonplace routine of practice is by far the least difficult part of the profession, and in importance bears no comparison to the perplexities which one has sometimes to encounter, when in presence of a tribunal assembled to deliberate on the fate of a culprit whose conviction involves in it the loss of reputation or of life. It is on trying occasions like these, that one man's superiority over another comes to be strikingly displayed. It is then the mental resources and energies develope themselves, and that one practitioner stands forth the man of laborious study, accurate information, cool reflection, and profound penetration, while another exhibits an example of ignorance, hesitation, and imbecility. But, to return to the case before us: It appears, that, by the law of England, the fact of the emission is essential to the completion of the crime of ravishment. The necessity of this sine qua non, in respect to violated virgins, may be questioned. But this is not the place to enter upon such disquisitions. It is possible, and even probable enough, that in the case of modest women, who have never experienced the embraces of the male, such may be their ignorance, or such may be the state of agitation, or faintness and insensibility, induced by the violence and terror of the brutal assault, that it shall be difficult, if not impracticable, for a female so situated, to know of, or to speak to the fact of the emission having positively taken place. Notwithstanding this, the act of defilement may have been accomplished in all its parts.

With respect to married women, or women accustomed to the sexual congress, the necessity of making oath to, or of proving the fact of emission, appears to be a provision fraught with wisdom and justice. The weaker sex must, it is true, be protected; but men have also a right to be defended against the nefarious arts of infamous women, who, for the sake of extorting money, or gratifying malice, might, without some powerful check, swear away the lives of whom they please.

It is not very unreasonable to infer, that, if a woman be so overpowered with terror or syncope, that she had no perception or recollection of that which constitutes the very essence and climax of feeling, of that peculiar sensation with which she acknowledged herself to be perfectly familiar at all other times of her having sexual intercourse, her declaration can hardly be entitled to much credit with regard to those other parts of the act of coition, in which a less degree of poignancy of sensation is supVOL. XII. NO. 46.


posed to be requisite. Hence it follows that the evidence of such a person as to the penetration of her body by the membrum virile, is necessarily rendered defective. If she cannot swear to the orgasm, which is the highest point of sensation, her sensibility must be so obtuse in general, or the syncope produced must be so complete, as to deprive her of all power of determining whether the entrance sworn to was the entrance of the male organ into the vagina, or merely the sensation caused by forcible handling of the parts, or the introduction of one or more fingers within the labia.

The other point to which the acute and discriminating judge particularly adverted during the examination, was the fact of no moisture, or any thing unusual having been felt by the woman immediately after she had been released from the powerful grasp of the ravisher. This is a circumstance worthy of the most serious attention, for it will apply to the case of any woman, virtuous or immodest, experienced or inexperienced. It is extremely dif ficult to believe, that a perfect coitus could have been effected, (and especially that part so essential to it, emission of semen), without the female being sensible, immediately after, of some difference in the state of moisture of those parts of her body concerned in the act. And even supposing the introduction of the penis to have taken place (which is ravishment in fact, though not in law,) and the emission not to have followed, still that very act, if it really was accomplished, ought to have produced some effect on the female parts, to have caused a preternatural discharge of their lubricating liquor, or at least to have occasioned some condition or feeling of parts, which had not been perceived before. On this point, however, the woman was positive in her declaration, that nothing uncommon had been felt by her. The explanation she attempted to give of the absence of such a feeling, is hardly admissible. To some, these observations may carry the appearance of unnecessary refinement and minuteness; but it should be remembered, that, in a case of this kind, so interesting in every point of view to society, there is no circumstance, however apparently trifling, that should not be deliberately weighed, and carefully debated, by every argument that ingenuity can suggest.

The facts for establishing a complete system of medical jurisprudence are perhaps yet too limited. But it were much to be desired, that some competent person would undertake the task of publishing a concise treatise on so important a subject, both for the benefit of the public in general, and for the instruction of medical practitioners in particular.

August 1815.

X. Y.




Observations on those Diseases of Females which are attended by Discharges; illustrated by Copperplates of the Diseases, &c. Part I. Mucous Discharges. By CHARLES MANSFIELD CLARKE, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons; Surgeon to the Queen's Lying-in-Hospital; and Lecturer on Midwifery in London. Royal 8vo. London, 1814. Longman and Co.

NOTWITHSTANDING the attractive appearance of this volume, its large paper, beautiful type, and numerous engravings, it has somehow escaped our attention too long. The subject, however, is not proportionately attractive; and our critical ardour may possibly have been damped by the prospect of so huge a volume, which promised us only an acquaintance with the "mucous discharges" of the vagina. On turning to the introduction, however, we find that the object of this publication is much more extensive. "To give a history of the female organs of generation," the author says,

-"To describe with accuracy their symptoms, to shew by means of engravings the alteration of structure which the parts undergo, and thereby to familiarize the mind to them, so that when the diseases are met with, they may be known and distinguished, and to point out the mode of treating them-is the intention of this work." p. 5.

It is not material, perhaps, by what common link these various maladies are brought together, nor very important whether the arrangement is made upon firm nosological ground; other

« AnteriorContinua »