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“Too little attention is generally paid to regularity of hours for giving children their meals; when practicable, an early dinner hour should be fixed on for them. Nothing requires more care than their sleeping apartment. Enter an ordinary nursery between eight o'clock at night and the same hour in the morning. If the occupants be numerous, you find it generally very close, and ill-ventilated, -every child's bed, perhaps, furnished with its own nice curtain, and placed in the closest corner that can be selected. Here they spend half their entire time, hour after hour, inhaling a vitiated atmosphere, and slowly sowing the seeds of future disease. Let the room door be left open at night, and have a ventilator placed high up near the ceiling, opening into the flue; a hole broken will answer every purpose. Let curtains be banished from the nursery, and all useless furniture removed, and at times that the children are absent, let the windows be opened for thorough ventilation. In addition, let daily ablution be practised with every child; it keeps the skin in a healthy state, and very much lessens the liability to disease.
“Where the tendency to hydrocephalus exhibits itself very strongly, either in a constitution hereditarily delicate or acquired, I would recommend the formation of an issue in the arm; and where the disease has been unequivocally present, I have seen the best effects follow an issue established at the top of the head.”
On the subject of chronic hydrocephalus, Dr. Duke says,
“A child may be, apparently, born healthy, and for the first few weeks or months not attract any particular attention. The earliest symptoms which we notice of incipient disease are, generally, a wasting of flesh, and a want of thriving appearance. The child loses its plumpness, and becomes soft, and this, although the appetite may be good; sometimes the appetite is even craving, and there is a disordered condition of the bowels; they are constipated, or irregularly free. Convulsions may take place very early and frequently, and cannot be traced to any particular cause. A rolling of the head and eyes, and, perhaps, strabismus, may exist, and then, soon, an enlargement of the head will be noticed. This increases very gradually, but continuously, and is accompanied with tension of the fontanelles, and fulness of the veins of the forehead and temples. The head becomes so large and heavy, that the child is unable to support the weight of it, and it hangs to one side. In the very young child, the enlargement of the head proceeds rapidly, and to a great extent, from the ready yielding of the parietes. The disease is almost invariably fatal. Some cases are considerably protracted, and a life of misery is terminated by convulsions, or seeming exhaustion. Occasionally, acute inflammation sets in, and proves the immediate cause of dissolution,
“ Dissection shows, that in some cases the fluid is contained in the sac of the arachnoid, constituting what is termed external hydrocephalus, whilst in the vast majority of cases the lateral ventricles form the seat of the collection. The quantity of this fluid varies, of course, with the persistence of the disease, and the size the head may have attained. Sometimes it presents the appearance of pure limpid serum; at others, especially when symptoms of inflammation have been present long before death, it appears turbid, with flocculi of lymph in it.
“ The lining membrane of the ventricles becomes changed. Dr. West - Even when no false membrane is formed within the ventricles, their lining often presents other evidence, besides mere thickening, of its having been the seat of inflammation: it is roughened, and granular, presenting an appearance closely resembling shagreen, and communicating a very perceptible roughness to the finger. All parts do not seem equally liable to undergo this change; but I have observed it to be much more marked about the corpora striata than elsewhere.'
“Regarding the mode of treatment, very little can be said in favour of the success of any particular plan. Some cases are decidedly and hopelessly incurable. In these, very frequently recurring convulsions and paralysis will be present. Those in which there is some likelihood of cure are characterized by simple enlargement of the head, without much convulsive action.
“Gölis recommends, that the hair be kept closely cut, and that one or two drachms of mild mercurial ointment be rubbed daily into the scalp; at the same time, from a quarter to half a grain of calomel should be given twice a day, unless diarrhæa come on, when the inunction alone must be performed.'
“ Blisters to the nape, occasional leeching, if there be much heat of head, and the administration of a purgative, now and then, seem to be the chief means upon which any reliance can be placed. A couple of small issues in the back of the neck may also be of service, by keeping up a long-continued drain.
“Mr. Barnard, of Bath, has recommended, and spoken highly of the success attending a mode of bandaging the head, so as to make pressure upon the parietes of the cranium, and prevent their further expansion.
“Puncture of the cranium, and evacuation of the fluid collected, have also been practised. The extreme difficulty of determining, with any degree of accuracy, the situation of this fluid, whether within the ventricles or external to them, must form an insuperable objection to the adoption of this means; and, unfortunately, the recorded results of cases thus treated do not justify its general recommendation.
“On the whole, chronic hydrocephalus is one of that class of diseases which it is so very painful to the physician to be occasionally obliged to
witness through their various stages. He can scarcely either give or indulge in hope of a favourable termination, and sometimes, even whea apparent recovery may take place, the intellect will remain in a permanently weakened condition."
With this extract we conclude our notice of Dr. V. Duke's prize essay “On the Cerebral Affections of Infancy and Childhood." We have derived much pleasure, and we trust profit, from its perusal.
We have endeavoured to give our readers a faithful analysis of the author's views; and although he has advanced nothing new with refarence to the therapeutics or pathology of this class of affections, his essay may be considered as a correct outline of the present state of science in relation to this department of practical medicine.
ART. IV.-General Principles of the Philosophy of Nature, with an
Outline of some of its recent developments among the Germans ; embracing the Philosophical Systems of Schelling and Hegel, and Oken's System of Nature. By J. B. STALLO, M.A. London : Chapman.
1848. The Idea of Life. Hints towards the Formation of a more perfect
Theory of Life. By S. T. COLERIDGE. Edited by SETH B. WATSON, M.D. London: Churchill. 1848.
The history of speculative philosophy, whether ancient or modern, enunciates in language sufficiently articulate the inability of man to grapple with the mysteries of the spiritual world. He may analyze rigorously his inward thoughts and feelings, or curiously explore the occult qualities ascribed to matter; he may speculate on the nature and destiny of the human mind, and the manifestations and existence of the Deity, as revealed to him in the harmonies and beauties of the surrounding universe; but as he progresses in his investigations, and dives deeper and deeper into the secrets he seeks to penetrate, he finds that all his efforts and ingenuity recoil upon him—"thus far shalt thou go, and no farther," seems to resound upon his ear as from the voice of the Great Unknown, and he stands, with his pretensions humbled, upon the shore of humanity, gazing, conscious of his weakness, upon a wide unfathomable sea-a finite being, vainly endeavouring to compass and comprehend that which is Infinite, and overstep the insurmountable boundary which divides the Creator from the created. The futility of all such attempts is notorious ; yet there have existed master spirits in the regions of philosophy-minds so highly gifted as to perceive the relations of the most intricate phenomena, and detect the laws by which they are governed. The history of
the human intellect shows that men occasionally arise whose perceptions intuitively extend beyond the knowledge of their age. They are the prophets and seers of the olden time. They make discoveries—they point out facts—they lay down principles which become as beacon-lights for the guidance of after generations. Such men were Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, and many other illustrious philosophers who have accomplished their high mission, and contributed to the intellectual progression of mankind, and the civilization and refinement of nations. For although, in the first instance, the truths of science may not be immediately impressed upon the conviction of the multitude, yet it is the privilege of the higher order of mind to extend its influence by degrees downwards upon the lower order of mind, until the mass of mankind imperceptibly becomes actuated by every new discovery which marks the intellectual character of the
age. “ If we look for a moment,” says Morell, “at the law by which thought is propagated, we find that it always descends from the highest order of thinkers to those who are one degree below them ; from these again it descends another degree, losing at each step of the descent something more of the scientific form, until it reaches the mass in the shape of some admitted fact -a fact which rests on the authority of what all the world above them says, and which, therefore, they receive, totally regardless of the method of its elimination."* If this law of the descent of thought, or, as it is otherwise expressed, this “gravitation of ascertained truth from the higher order of minds to the lower,"+ produces results which affect so directly the most vital interests of society, it behoves us, in entering into the regions of speculative philosophy, to proceed with caution in every induction we attempt; for out of the shadows of false theories social doctrines as false have not unfrequently been evolved, which have threatened for awhile to spread darkness and confusion over the whole moral world.
The existence of a Deity, the immateriality of the human mind, the independent nature of the vital principle, involve reasonings and deductions which are more closely allied to each other than might at first sight be supposed. “What,” says Dr. Barclay, “are the causes of organization, and the other concomitant phenomena of life? Some have imagined that these may originate in certain unknown properties of the atoms of which organized structures are composed. On this hypothesis human existence terminates with death, schemes of expediency and self-interest take the place of religious and moral obligations, and thoughts and actions, however criminal, are, like Spartan thefts, to be held disgraceful only if detected. From the same hypothesis it * Morell's History of Speculative Philosophy, vol. i. p. 19.
Ibid. p. 21.
follows, as a corollary, that if atoms can construct a human organism, and exhibit the phenomena of a human soul, they may, when collected in greater numbers, produce a Deity." These considerations attach a very serious importance to the subjects which we are about to consider. But our fair readers, if any such grace our pages by their perusal, need not be startled at this our prelection; for they may rest assured that the breastplate of truth is proof against any unrighteous weapons of attack. Nay, these subjects, however sacred they may be, invite, or rather seem to challenge, investigation, for our belief in the most fundamental principles of religion must be associated with, and verified by, our observation of the phenomena of the surrounding world, and must be strictly in accordance with those laws which immediately affect the conviction of the human understanding. We may enter, therefore, upon our task with a confiding and fearless spirit, because it is by such means only that we are led to weigh and sift the integral elements of the faith which must constitute the
moral and religious system is eventually raised. To a philosophical mind, such can never, although holy, be forbidden ground, notwithstanding the many intricate and perplexing paths which
around us. These preliminary observations have been suggested by the two volumes before us—“ The Philosophy of Nature,” by J. B. Stallo, (a professor of analytical mathematics in the United States,) and “ The Idea of Life," by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The soil of Germany has always been prolific in mystery ; it is the very Brocken of the intellectual world. To follow the phantasies which rise out of the arcana of transcendentalism requires no ordinary perseverance ; and, after all, we fear that it is a fatiguing and unprofitable task. The language we meet with is exoteric, and in the first instance bewildering; and when we have grappled with some vague and shadowy proposition, which threatened to elude our vigilance, and have resolutely succeeded in tearing it from “its shady den and its bristling entrenchments of uncouth terminology," we not unfrequently, as Carlyle truly observes, find that we have, after all, only mastered some “very harmless truth, familiar to us from old acquaintance—so familiar as to be a truism ; and too often we are reminded of Dryden in the Battle of the Books; there is a helmet of rusty iron-dark, grim, gigantic—and within it, at the farthest corner, a head no bigger than a walnut.”+ We are informed that the Egyptian priests were wont to hide, under the veil of symbols, truths which they deemed too sacred to be contemplated by ordinary mortals; and, in imitation of them, we presume, the philosophers of Germany enshroud their meanings, or rather their no meanings, in studious linguistic obscurity, which
* Barclay on Life and Organization, p. vii., Preface.
† The Life of Frederick Schiller, p. 175.