Imatges de pàgina

gums, swells them, and renders them somewhat tender, it never produces that nauseous smell nor those fætid ulcerations which arise from mercury; nor from the bath did I ever know the least injury arise to the teeth. If the gums are much affected from the bath, it is generally prudent to stop its use or to diminish the absorption, by exposing a smaller surface to it. If we go on with it too long, some inconvenience is experienced: a degree of restlessness takes place, and the patient says, that he does not feel himself so well as he ought to do. Beyond this point I have seen no degree of harm from this general and powerful agent, and even this disappears on discontinuing it for a short time. I know no other means that are capable of producing effects at once so salutary and so considerable, so free from injury, with so little inconvenience or disturbance.*

If the acid be employed for syphilis or pseudosyphilis, either by the stomach or the skin, I should consider every trial as quite inconclusive where a ptyalism, some affection of the gums, or some very evident constitutional effect had not arisen from it. As with mercury, the system should be kept charged with it for a longer or a shorter time, according to circumstances. Mercury never could have obtained the character of a specific for syphilis if it had been managed as the nitric acid has been, if it had been generally given in quantities so small by the mouth as even to leave it in doubt whether it is capable of affecting the gums and stimulating the salivary glands. Why should not the nitric acid receive the same privilege and indulgence that is conceded to mercury? It is still a stranger in this climate, and on that account requir the more care and attention. There is nothing absurd in supposing that nature may have many substances in store capable of destroying or removing the syphilitic poison from the con


* In this climate it will be found convenient to bathe only the feet and the legs daily, or twice a day. For this purpose a wooden tub may be used. The water when accidulated with nitromuriatic acid should taste about as sour as vinegar, or it should be of such a strength as to prick the skin a little after being exposed to it for twenty minutes or half an hour.



stitution: I say, then, in the spirit of the illustrious Bacon, “ fiat experimentum.”

When I have removed a disease by the acid treatment that was regarded as undoubtedly syphilitic, I have been commonly told at last that we must have been mistaken, for that nothing but mercury can cure syphilis. I wish we had some chemical test for the existence of this poison in the body, that we might have more of the evidence of our senses and less of the wanderings of opinion. One of the states of syphilis, the least doubtful, is that of recent chancre, and this, though of a bad kind, I have seen in about a week completely removed by the bath.

There are no researches so difficult as those which regard the human body and the changes connected with life. The capacity of few men seems to me to be well adapted for them. The chemist may repeat his experiments as often as he pleases, he may vary them till he obtain results on which he can rely. It is very different indeed with the physician. The doubts and the darkness that surround him are in comparison tenfold. After all, it may be with myself that the whole of the errors lie: for who can judge of himself? I can believe that a man who is not of my opinion may be equally sincere with me. But the same appearances convey to each of us impres. sions of a very different kind. With such a person then I need not reason, and I will not dispute. I must ask him, as Rousseau did his antagonist, “What is there, sir, in common to you and to me by which we may be enabled to understand each other?"

I employed while in India the nitric acid by the mouth or as a bath for various complaints, as I never wished to confine it specifically to any one. I was anxious to get from experience a general rule for its application, and it was certainly not without some success that I used it for several diseased conditions of the body. I shall slightly mention a few of those complaints in which I have found it of advantage. For some affections of the skin I have derived benefit from the bath; it rapidly and effectually removes every sort of sores. This bath has the advantage of keeping perfectly unaltered for any length of time, not suffering decomposition like water, and never emitting any kind of unwholesome effluvium. It is an agent that we employ with almost any degree of power. In those very weak and delicate I have plunged one arm into it only, or I have washed a portion of the skin with it. I have very often exposed the legs up to the knees in the bath, and by their means alone have been able to keep the mouth affected for a long time. When a greater power was required I have exposed the whole surface below the head to it. To all this may be added its internal use, if necessary.

Where the constitution has been weakened by fever or long continued disease, I have found in the nitric acid bath a tendency to renovate. It remarkably improves the complexion. In chronic hepatitis and a bilious disposition I have used it with much advantage. I have seen the happiest effects from it in aphthæ of the mouth and intestinal canal, where every other remedy had failed. This is sometimes a dreadful disease in India; is it the “cachexia aphthosa” of Dr. Latham? In many disorders of females, and in men worn out with obstinate intermittents, I have found it very useful. In short and as a general rule), I have found the acid bath advantageous and salutary in all cases where mercury is useful, and with the additional advantage, that the acid treatment is attended by neither injury nor inconvenience.

As I had seen the good effects of nitric acid in pseudosy. philis, or that kind of syphilis that cannot be cured by mer, cury; and as I had long thought that pseudosyphilis arose from syphilis in some way combined with scrofula, I became anxious to know the effect of the acid treatment in pure scrofula. Since I came to London I have seen a number of trials made by different medical practitioners with the nitro-muriatic acid. Some of these cases were of long standing, and of the worst kind. The result on the whole has been very favour- , able, though none of the patients have yet used it for three, months. In almost all the health has improved, and some of the sores have healed, or show a tendency to heal. I have not seen a cure effected in a single instance; but this could hardly have been expected; for where the disease is of long standing,


as with these patients, and where many glands are inflamed and enlarged, it is evident that a long time will be required to reduce them to the healthy state. I have seen remarkable relief in several people where the neck was much affected, much swollen, with many glands in a state of suppuration, so as to make the least motion painful and nearly impossible. In some of these the pain and swelling has much diminished, and a considerable degree of motion of the head is attainable without pain. In one girl in particular, who was reduced to a dying state, by merely drinking the acid, her health and strength have greatly improved, and the sores have healed or shown a tendency to heal. With experience so short and imperfect, I cannot venture to say more, than that it holds out a hope of relief for some states of that cruel disease.

I have just seen Mr. Carmichael's book on Scrofula, which contains some just observations; and he seems to prove, that a disorder of the digestive organs is often connected with it. The utility of the practice that I have mentioned is very consistent with his idea of an acidity prevalent in the primæ viæ, for the mineral acids are known powerfully to counteract such a tendency, by giving tone to the organs of digestion. This disease has been the source of gross empyricism; for at different times almost every product of nature or of art has been extolled for the cure of it. The boasted baths of the Greeks and Romans could produce little farther effect thay what arises from hot or cold water, and are often nothing more than the mere semblance of doing something.

Of all the remedies for scrofula, those substances that contain chlorine seem to have been the most successful. Such are sea-water, sea-air, the muriates of lime, &c. &c. Sir Humphrey Davy has shewn in a very late paper, that the nitro-muriatic acid (the aqua regia of the old chemists) is not a mere mixture of nitric and muriatic acids. On the contrary, from their union a quantity of pure chlorine is evolved, and water and nitrous acid gas (the results of the new affinities) are produced. Is chlorine a material agent in my bath? If I were sure of this I might mix the acids, so as to produce it still more abundantly. It has always been observed that calomel and corrosive sublimate are the most active preparations of mercury, perhaps from the chlorine held in the compound. Chlorine is now known to be an elementary body of the greatest activity, of the powers of which over diseases we are nearly in total ignorance.

I have for many years past given euchlorine for several diseases, combined in its nascent state with soda. It contains oxygen very abundantly, and in a loose state of chemical combination. I meant it as a substitute for the nitric acid, and it is a very good one. Although Sir Humphrey Davy had not at that time shown us the composition of euchlorine, I saw that I was in possession of a valuable substance, which I have never since ceased to use. Mr. Brande has had the kindness to prepare for me portions of this compound, and he has shown me an easier and a cheaper method of making it for common use, than the one which I was in the habit of employing. But I must defer what I have to say of this substitute for the nitric acid to another time.

I have thus concluded what I intended to communicate on a subject of great importance. I have recommended from experience the practice of charging the body with some of the mineral acids or their elements for various states of disease, by the stomach, and especially by the skin. I may be weak, or I may be wrong, but I have acted from conviction; and I cannot but hope that an abler mind and a happier day will yet confirm and extend the truths that I have but slightly touched upon. “ Alter erit tum Tiphys!"

H. SCOTT 38, Russel-square, May 8, 1816.

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