17th Edition, 1878, London
A. I. Coffin, M.D., Professor of Medical Botany.
Title page of "Treatise on Midwifery," 17th Edition, 1878.
Cover of "Dr. Coffin's Treatise on Midwifery."
We shall now enter more fully into the treatment of the child, as respects its dress, food, &c., and there is no subject on which the great mass of females have been more misled than this. Infants, as we have before remarked, are subjected at their birth to the most cruel treatment, in other words, they are killed with kindness, by the dear old nurse, who immediately after its first cry proceeds to cram its mouth full of fresh butter, sugar, &c., "to prevent the thrush, or sore mouth," and then follows a dose of castor-oil, "to cleanse its stomach and bowels." Thus, on the very first appearance of the little stranger in this world, it becomes the victim to a gross and superstitious practice, which in every case does more harm than good. When the nurse or attendant asks us "what must be done for the child?" our uniform answer is nothing, if it is in a healthy state. In the first place wash it with warm water, and take great care that those parts which are most liable to friction, as behind the ears, under the neck, and between the thighs, are well washed and dried; next let the navel be attended to, by taking a piece of scorched linen, about three or four inches in diameter, cut a hole in it of sufficient size to let the cord through, and over the linen spread a thin coat of hog's fat, or sweet oil, then let the cord pass so that the cloth will lay flat on the abdomen, and be careful that no part of the cord lies upon, or comes in contact with the belly of the child; put then a narrow bandage of thin cloth around the belly of the child, in order to hold all things in their places. This bandage may be removed in the course of two or three days, to see if the cord is detached from the navel, which in that time is generally the case. If all is clear, remove your cloths, and put a piece of linen with a little cold cream upon the navel, and replace the thin bandage for a few days to prevent irritation, at the expiration of which it may be removed altogether. After applying the thin bandage as above described, you may then put it a light dress on, but do not begin to swathe it up in almost innumerable flannel bandages, until it is impossible for it to breath, or any of its little organs to be developed. We here feel an irresistible compulsion to give the following extract from Buchan, it being, in almost every particular, in perfect accordance with our own views, and corroborates what we have above remarked:--
"The better to trace diseases from their original causes, we shall take a view of the common treatment of mankind in the state of infancy. In this period of our lives the foundation of a good or bad constitution is generally laid; it is therefore of importance that parents be well acquainted with the various causes which may injure the health of their offspring. It appears from the annual registry of the dead, that almost one half of the children born in Great Britain die under twelve years of age. To many this may indeed appear a natural evil, but on due examination it will be found to be one of our own creating; were the deaths of infants a natural evil, other animals would be as liable to die young as man; but this we find to be by no means the case. It may appear strange that man, notwithstanding his superior reason, should fall so far short of other animals in the management of his young; but our surprise will soon cease, if we consider that brutes, guided by instinct, never err in this respect, while man, trusting solely to art, is seldom right. Were a catalogue of those infants who perish annually by art alone exhibited to public view, it would astonish most people. If parents are above taking care of their children, others must be employed for that purpose; these will always endeavour to recommend themselves by the appearance of extraordinary skill and address. By this such a number of unnecessary and destructive articles have been introduced into the diet, clothing, &c., of infants, that it is no wonder so many of them perish. Nothing can be more preposterous than a mother who thinks it is beneath her to take care of her own child, or who is so ignorant as not to know what is proper to be done for it. If we search nature throughout, we cannot find a parallel to this; every other animal is the nurse of its own offspring, and they thrive accordingly. Were the brutes to bring up their young by proxy, they would share the same fate as the human species. We mean not however to impose it as a task upon every mother to suckle her own child; this, whatever speculative writers may assert, is in some cases impracticable, and might prove destructive to both the mother and child. Women of delicate constitutions, subject to hysteric fits, or other nervous affections, make very bad nurses; and these cases are now so common, that it is rare to find a woman of fashion free from them; such women, therefore, supposing them willing, are often unable to suckle their own children. Almost every woman would be in a condition to give suck, did mankind live agreeably to nature; but when we consider how far many mothers deviate from her dictates, we need not be surprised to find some of them unable to fulfill that necessary office. Mothers who do not eat a sufficient quantity of food, nor enjoy the benefits of free air and exercise, can neither have wholesome juices themselves, nor provide proper nourishment to an infant. Hence children who are suckled by delicate women either die young, or continue weak and sickly all their lives. When we say that mothers are not always in condition to suckle their own children, we would not be understood as discouraging that practice; every mother that can, ought certainly to perform so tender and agreeable an office; but supposing it to be out of her power, she nevertheless may be of great service to her child. The business of nursing is by no means confined to giving suck; to a woman who abounds with milk, this is the easiest part of it; numberless other offices are necessary for a child, which the mother ought at least to see done. Many advantages would arise to society, as well as to individuals, from mothers suckling their own children. A mother who abandons the fruit of her womb as soon as it is born, to the sole care of a hireling, hardly deserves that name. A child, by being brought up under the mother's eye, not only secures her affections, but may reap all the advantage of a parent's care, though it be suckled by another. How can a mother be better employed than by superintending the nursery? This is at once the most delightful and important office, yet the most trivial business, or the most insipid amusements, are often preferred to it! A strong proof both of the bad taste and wrong education of modern females. It is indeed to be regretted that more care is not bestowed in teaching the proper management of children to those whom nature designed to be mothers; this, instead of being made the principle, is seldom considered any part of female education. Is it any wonder when females so educated come to be mothers, that they should be quite ignorant of the duties belonging to that character? However strange it may appear, it is certainly true, that many mothers, and those of fashion too, are as ignorant when they have brought a child into the world of what is to be done for it, as the infant itself; indeed, the most unlettered of the sex are generally considered the most knowing in the business of the nursery. However, sensible people become the dupes of ignorance and superstition; and the nursing of children, instead of being conducted by reason, is the result of whim and caprice. Tacitus, the Roman Historian, complained greatly of the degeneracy of the Roman ladies in his time with regard to the care of their offspring; he says that 'in former times, the greatest women in Rome used to account it their chief glory to keep the house, and attend their children; but that now, the sole care of the young infant is committed to some poor Grecian wench, or other menial servant.' We are afraid, wherever luxury and effeminacy prevail, there will be too much ground for this complaint. Was the time that is generally spent by females in the acquisition of trifling accomplishments, employed in learning how to bring up their children, how to dress them so as not to hurt, cramp, or confine their motions, how to feed them with wholesome food, how to exercise their tender bodies, so as best to promote their growth and strength, -- were these made the objects of female instruction, mankind would derive the greatest advantages from it; but while the education of females implies little more than relates to dress, and public show, we have nothing to expect from them but ignorance, even in the most important concerns. Did mothers reflect on their own importance, and lay it to heart, they would embrace every opportunity of informing themselves of the duties which they owe to their infant offspring; it is their province not only to form the body, but also to give the mind its early bias; they have it very much in their power to make men healthy, or sickly, useful in life, or pests to society. But the mother is not the only person concerned in the management of children; beside the duties that may devolve upon the father, the physicians themselves have not been sufficiently attentive to the management of children; it has generally been considered as the sole province of old women, while men of the first character of physic have refused to visit infants even when sick. It is really astonishing that so little attention in general should be paid to the preservation of infants. What labour and expense are daily bestowed to prop an old tottering carcase for a few years, while thousands of those who might be useful in life perish without being regarded! Mankind are too apt to value things according to their present, not their future usefulness."
One of the most cruel practices is as soon as the child is born for the nurse or midwife to press the breasts of the child to remove the milk; as Dr. Buchan says, there certainly might be a little moisture there, but never milk, and the practice should be condemned by all who may have any influence over mothers or nurses. As we remarked above, children should be dressed lightly. It is the custom among some tribes of the American Indians simply to roll the child up in a flannel, without any bandage, or stays, or wrappers, or anything else that obstructs full development of any organ; and while they thus follow out the laws of nature only, their children are seldom or ever troubled with that long catalogue of diseases to which their more civilized and learned neighbors are subject, and without which long list the physicians would be shorn of more than half of their practice; for it is the existence of those diseases, and their maltreatment, that perpetuate disease and debility in the constitutions of the victims in later life.
There are more than sixty forms of disease to which it is said children are subject during their young existence; yet we can assure our readers that, by due observance of the mother, before birth, in keeping up a healthy action of her own system, in nineteen cases out of twenty none of those forms of disease will exist in her offspring. In those cases that have come under our care, the children have scarcely wanted more attention than a young animal. We have observed that the children of the Indians seldom or ever cry, or appear to suffer pain, and under those circumstances much of the anxiety consequent upon the rearing of children amongst us, is with them entirely removed.
In regard to the food for children, we have already said the only thing required at birth, if the mother be in a healthy state, is the breast; and as Boerhaave observes, "every mother who has been strong enough to carry and nourish her child during the nine months of pregnancy, is also strong enough to afford the breast for some time after birth, with very few exceptions."
Again, "the advantages of an early application of the child to the breast," says Dr. Dewees, "are, first, the child retains the early faculty of sucking with which it is born, for if this be not attended for several days, because (as they say) the mother has no milk, it will loose [sic] it, and much trouble be given to recall it. We have witnessed this but too frequently. Secondly, it will by its gentle action upon the nipple gradually stretch it, and accustom it to this extension before the breasts become swelled with milk, and tender from distension. Thirdly, by its mouth stimulating the nipple an earlier secretion of milk will take place. Fourthly, the milk will be drawn off as fast as formed, which will prevent the pain which constantly arises from its accumulation, as well as the swelling which is almost sure to follow its formation; this swelling shortens the nipple, and renders the extraction of the milk more difficult, increases the efforts of the child, by which the external covering of this little body becomes irritated, and sore nipples now ensue, to the great misery of the mother. Fifthly, the early secreted milk has a purgative quality to it, by which the infant profits by its assisting to carry off the meconium. The milk fever, which some people think so necessary for obtaining a supply from the breast, is merely the result of their own neglect. If the child be not applied no fulness of the breasts is perceivable, and a small quantity of watery fluid only comes out; at length, if the breast be not drawn, it swells, the face flushes, the skin becomes hot, and all the common symptoms of milk fever are induced." "It is not to be wondered at," says Mr. White, in his valuable "Treatise on Lying-in Women," "that a secretion that has been so many months in preparing, and which is intended to flow in such large quantities for so many months to come, should, if driven back, in a few days occasion a fever; especially when we consider that the milk which is secreted in the breast for several days after delivery, is, when in its purest state, thin, stimulating, and purgative, for the wise purpose of cleansing the child's stomach and bowels of those viscid, blackish-green faeces, called meconium, and that this milk must be rendered very arid by its stagnation in the breasts for several days together." "I have observed," says another great authority, Dr. William Hunter, "in women who do not give suck, and in nurses after they leave off sucking, that the axillary glands (the glands in and near the armpit) become painful, swell, and sometimes suppurate. Is this not owing to the acrimony which the milk has acquired by long stagnation in the breast, and affecting the gland through which it must pass in absorption? I have observed, too (adds Dr. Hunter), that there are at the same time, fevers of the intermitting kind, but very irregular in their return, which come on with a rigour, and go off with a sweat; and are not such fevers raised by the absorption of said milk?"
Buffon informs us that in Italy, Holland, Turkey, and throughout the whole Levant, children are rarely allowed any other food than that of the breast milk, during the first year, and the Indians in Canada suckle for four or five, and sometimes six or seven years.
Where, from a weakened and debilitated state of the system, or other causes, the mother is not able to suckle, we would urgently impress upon her mind this maxim -- never let the child go from under your own care. In preparing the food, you should keep in view the properties of the milk, as near as possible, in which there is a considerable quantity of saccharine matter, or sugar. We are aware that several authors speak against sugar being much used in the food of children, but we must protest against this opinion; and our opposition, in this respect, is founded upon observation. In the West Indies, where the sugar-cane is grown, as soon as it approaches maturity, the little negroes commence sucking the juice, and from that time they begin to fatten, grow plump and hardy. We have, therefore, generally directed, in preparing food for a young child, that it should be sweetened. At first you may boil a little sago, and take the water and mix about the same quantity of milk, adding sufficient sugar to resemble, as near as possible, the milk of the mother; of this the child should be fed little but often. Let Nature be your guide; and consider the child at the breast, which you are aware sucks but a small quantity at a time, and often. After the space of two or three weeks, you may give it a little of the sago, well boiled, but do not cram it with bread or meat before its stomach is capable of digesting and disposing of it, or its system requires any such food.
In the manufacturing districts of this country, many of the little children are, at a very early age, left to the care of a young, inexperienced person, some eight or nine years of age, while the mother is at work in the mill; and when the child feels the call of nature, or the want of its natural nurse, and shows uneasiness, its stomach is at once engorged with a mass of crude, heavy food, wholly unadapted to its capabilities. In consequence of which, the child becomes fretful and peevish, exhibiting unequivocal symptoms of pain and distress; and then a dose of Godfrey's Cordial, Dalby's Carminative, or some other narcotic poison is administered, and chronic disease is fixed upon the poor object for life. There is perhaps no country in the world where the evils arising from bad nursing are more apparent than in France. The children, instead of being taken care of and attended to by their only natural nurses, are taken immediately after birth to some place in the country by a respectable nurse, and the mother is left without the benefit of the little being drawing her breasts, and at the same time the child is deprived of the only legitimate or natural food for its stomach. Independent of the physical evils which result to the child, as well as to the mother, we consider such a course, though it may be sanctioned by custom, as most unnatural, most inhuman, and highly to be deprecated. The child suffers from neglect, as it is impossible for the nurse to feel a mother's tenderness for her little charge; and the mother is also deprived of having nurtured, in constant care and solicitude for her offspring, all those maternal feelings which give zest to society. This practice cannot be too strongly reprobated. We have seen in France children returned from their nurses that looked more like shriveled monkeys than human being. We saw at Paris, while walking in the Jardin des Plantes, a little girl on crutches. Her deformed appearance, as well as her diminutive size -- for she was not more than twenty-six inches high -- attracted our attention. She informed us she was nine years of age; that her mother was occupied in business as a baker at the time of her birth, consequently she was put out to nurse, where she had been shamefully neglected; that her mother was so much engaged in business that she could not tend to her; and she was thus, by the cruel neglect of her mother and nurse, rendered a miserable cripple for life; her legs were more like the letter S than human legs.
There are, in the City of Paris, offices, or as they call them, "Bureaux," similar to our register offices, where nurses enter their names. Here the indolent mothers meet with and engage their nurses, total strangers, to whom are committed the charge of their little ones. Something of a ridiculous occurrence took place on the railway whilst we were in Paris, in the summer of 1848. A number of those nurses started in a train, with their little charges, two, three, and four weeks old; an accident happened, which threw the carriages off the line; and though very little injury occurred to the passengers, yet the confusion was very great, by each nurse claiming her right child. One who had picked up a girl, exclaimed, hers was a boy; another found a boy, and should have had a girl; and it was some time before they were all right again, if they ever were. One of the first acts of the Provisional Government of the new Republic of France, was to abolish slavery, and a noble act it was; but if they had gone still further, and passed an act making it transportation to the healthy mother who sent her child away to nurse, we think they would have emancipated thousands of poor little sufferers at home from that kind of slavery which, as in the case of the little girl above described, is productive of so much wretchedness, misery, and deformity.
Two or three important points are always to be considered in the nursing or rearing of children; first, they should always be kept warm; second, they should have light wholesome food, and not too much given of it at a time; and third, that they should be kept clean, and their bodies washed often; they should not be too much wrapped or swathed up, the evils of which we have endeavoured to point out.
Children generally soon after they are born, or subject to the thrush, or sore mouth, which is a white coat of canker. It is generally brought on by some derangement of the stomach, for in healthy children it never occurs. An eminent author says:
"It is generally thought that this disease owes its origin to acrid humours; we have reason to believe it is more frequently owing to too hot a regimen, both of the mother and child. It is a rare thing to find a child that is not dosed with wine, punch, or some other hot an inflammatory liquor, almost as soon as it is born, It is well known these will occasion inflammatory disorders in an adult; is it any wonder, then, that they should heat and inflame the tender bodies of infants, and set, as it were, their whole constitutions in a blaze?"
In no case where we have had the direction of the mother has this disease occurred; that we have been called to see such, and in a dreadful state, is certain, and for which we generally prescribe the following treatment:-- Red raspberry-leaves and agrimony, of each half an ounce, steeped in a pint of water, well sweetened with honey; and if the bowels are not open, add a little senna; for a gargle, or wash for the mouth, take one teaspoonful of Peruvian bark, and half a teaspoonful of gum myrrh, finely pulverised, steep in two or three ounces of water, and sweeten this also with honey. Wash the mouth three or four times a day.
The next most important period of the child's existence is dentition, or teething; important, as so great and powerful an influence is attached to it both by medical men and almost all old women. We have given our ideas on this subject from time to time in our public lectures (the whole of which are now published, for the benefit of our friends), as well as in our "Guide to Health;" and although so much has been said and written on this subject, yet we can assure our readers that since the publication of our work we have not altered or changed our opinion. Dr. Arbuthnot says "that above one-tenth of infants die in teething, from symptoms proceeding from the irritation of the tender nervous parts of the jaws, occasioning inflammations, fevers, convulsions, gangrenes, &c. These symptoms are in a great measure owing to the great delicacy, and exquisite sensibility of the nervous system at this time of life, which is too often increased by improper management. Hence it comes to pass that children delicately brought up always suffer most in teething, and often fall by convulsive disorders."
The admission of the doctor that "delicate children suffer most" is all we require to prove our position. We cannot do better than quote from our "Guide to Health," making such additional remarks as we have acquired since that period. In the forty-first edition, page 187, we have said --
"On this subject we materially dissent from almost all the doctrines of the schools, and having to encounter the prevailing opinions of the day, we shall endeavor to convince our readers of the justice of our position, before proceeding to any other consideration."
In the first place, I maintain that teething, or what is meant by saying that a child is about cutting its teeth, is a natural operation, or the fulfilment of a law imposed by nature; it therefore cannot, with justice, be termed a disease. The faculty regard it as a period fraught with danger to the life of the child. Dr. Thomas says, "Of all the occurrences to which children are liable, not one is attended with such grievous and distressing consequences as difficult dentition." I, however, dissent from the above opinion; nay, more, affirm that children are not sick from cutting teeth; for Providence having decreed that the teeth should appear at a certain age, it is, as I have before stated, one of Nature's fixed and unalterable laws; and children brought up in strict accordance with these laws, are not visited with any particular sickness during the process of dentition. Even in this country, children of a robust and healthy habit get their teeth without any perceptible pain. Ask an Indian mother if her child had suffered much whilst cutting its teeth, and she would smile at your simplicity. Would you know the cause of your child's illness at this period of existence. Listen, then, fathers and mothers -- you who are most interested in the health of your offspring -- you are yourselves the innocent cause of its illness! You must remember that at this stage of the child's existence -- having just been weaned, or taken from the breast of its mother -- instead of giving it such food as in its nature nearest approaches to the milk of the mother, you, forgetting that its stomach is too weak to digest strong food, and that, having no teeth, it cannot masticate it -- forgetting that its diet should never be stronger than bread and milk -- in a word, regardless of all these things, you fill the child with potatoes, and bread, and soups -- in fact with a bit of everything that is going -- and some foolish persons add wine and beer. No wonder that the child is ill, that it looks so pale, and that its growth is arrested. Why, then, should we wonder at its teeth not appearing at the proper time? The only wonder ought to be how the child has managed to live at all with such a quantity of strong food in its stomach, which it is incapable of digesting. Would you save your child? If so, cease to stuff it; cleanse its bowels by administering proper medicines; feed it on bread and milk, and nature will soon complete the cure. Parents should attend to this advice, as they have the power at all times of correcting this evil. How many thousands of children have perished that have thus been neglected, because the doctors have deceived the parents, by preventing their becoming acquainted with the cause! What would the admirers of Dr. Thomas say, if told that there was no period of a child's life more grievous than when its bones were growing, or its hair, or its nails; they would, doubtless, laugh at him, as all deserve to be laughed at who propagate such erroneous opinions.
When in America, I once asked an Indian mother, of the Chocktaw Tribe, if her children were sick when cutting their teeth. She looked at me with all the quiet majesty peculiar to that race, and asked of me, in reply -- "Are the calves sick?" Her answer confounded me, and I stood rebuked in the presence of that unsophisticated child of nature. Yes, my readers, that poor, wandering savage knew more of nature and its operations than the modern professors of philosophy, who appear to have lost site of Nature's unalterable and immutable laws, in their flimsy and fanciful speculations. One of the most absurd and cruel practices made use of by the faculty, is, to cut or lance the tender gums of the infant, in order, as they say, to facilitate the growth of the teeth, or make an outlet for them, as though the soft and spongy gums could offer any resistance to the sharp-pointed ivory that rises almost imperceptibly through them. But this is like most of their practices. How far will they go in order to hoodwink and deceive the public!
Since writing the above, we have seen many children who have cut their teeth without pain, and all our previous statements have been confirmed. Mrs. K., of Halifax, exhibited a child, two years old, at a tea party in Boston, that had cut its teeth without the slightest symptoms of indisposition or distress, any more than is produced by the hair or the fingernails growing longer. Therefore, in the many cases that have occurred since our views were first made public, to prescribe medicine when we believe there is no disease, would be folly; all that is requisite is to watch over and guard your child's health, and there will be no need of assisting the teeth through. See letters and cases at the end of this edition [of Dr. Coffin's Treatise on Midwifery].
All children, from sudden exposure to colds, &c., are more or less subject to this disease, which one author says "only appeared about half a century ago;" but we are of opinion that it only appeared in the nosology of the faculty about that time; for, as Abernethy said, "a large number of new remedies had been invented, but, thank God, they had invented diseases to suit them." That children have always been subject to the symptoms constituting what is called croup, is certain, at least in our opinion. It is a disease of the wind-pipe, or the membrane covering it. From the cold suddenly operating on this, and other parts in connection, a secretion takes place, which coagulates and covers the inner surface, thereby causing the whistling sound accompanying it. The oppression and suffering attendant on this disease is dreadful; and certainly any remedy that can hold out a hope of cure ought to be duly appreciated, especially when the faculty admit "that few practitioners witness a cure when this disease has violently seated itself upon the windpipe and tubes." -- See Buchan's Modern Practice of Physic, page 155. There is no disease so generally fatal, under the practice of the faculty, as this, which would also appear from their broad admissions, and perhaps none where more torturing and tormenting means are applied; yet we can say, with truth, that there is not one form of disease to which infants are subject, that we can subdue with greater ease. This, so directly in opposition to the results of the practice of the faculty, as exemplified in the above quotations, may appear incredible to some; but, remember, we shall give you the remedy; and since the first publication of our "Guide to Health," we have received numerous accounts of our prescriptions for this disease having succeeded, and not one where it has failed, and we have never yet lost a patient.
At the commencement of the disease, give a strong tea of pennyroyal, or balm and sage, cayenne, or composition, and shortly after give a dessertspoonful of the acid tincture of lobelia, which repeat every half hour until the patient vomits freely. The first vomiting will, in almost every case, relieve the patient, but should the symptoms return, as they sometimes do during the night, repeat the dose, and remember to shield the child from cold, and keep up a continued perspiration, by giving freely of the above drinks. An injection will also be of great service in warming the bowels, consisting of composition tea and a teaspoonful of the tincture of lobelia. This treatment has never failed. Amongst many cases to which we have been called after the faculty failed in their endeavors, was one (in the City of Albany, America) of whom the doctor had said "it could not live three hours," and was supposed to be dying. On giving the above medicines, in the course of ten minutes the child vomited up a cold jelly-like phlegm, as large as a moderate-sized egg; this substance trembled at the touch, as jellies generally do. Half an hour had scarcely elapsed from the time of the child parting with it, before it called for something to eat, and in a few days had perfectly recovered.
Always bear in mind the necessity of correcting the digestive organs, and of keeping up the perspiration, as above directed; for if you slacken in your attentions before the patient is quite free from the disease, you will be likely to have a relapse, which would probably produce more serious consequences than the first attack.
Children are often more or less liable to an eruption, or breaking out, on various parts of the body, for which we have only to give a timely caution to our readers to enable them to prevent the disease, which will be far better than to cure. The eruptions of children are chiefly owing to improper food and neglect of cleanliness. If a child be stuffed at all hours with food that its stomach is not able to digest, such food, not being properly assimilated, instead of nourishing the body, fills it with gross humours. These must either break out in form of eruptions upon the skin, or remain in the body, and occasion fevers and other internal disorders. That neglect of cleanliness is a very general cause of eruptive disorders must be obvious to every one. The children of the poor, and of all who despise cleanliness, are almost constantly found to swarm with vermin, and are generally covered with the scab, itch, and other eruptions. One kind of eruption known as the red gum, being a collection of small red pustules on the hands, arms, and sometimes extending over the whole body, has been attributed by some authors, to the prevalence of an acid, but is nothing more than an effort of nature to throw off some offending matter. The surface of the skin of infants, at birth, is frequently covered with a thick, tenacious, curdy substance, which should be carefully removed by soap and warm water. While in Paris in 1848, being in an omnibus, a lady accompanied with her servant bearing a child about three years old, from its eruptive appearance, attracted our attention. We were informed, by the mother, it had not been properly washed at its birth, and, in consequence, had been covered with a kind of scorbutic eruption ever since. This child, then, through the ignorance and neglect of its nurse, will most likely be ruined for life, unless it falls into the hands of some botanic practitioner, for mineral poisons will never cure it.
This unsightly and obstinate disease consists of a peculiar and acrimonious eruption of part of the scalp, which speedily extends over the whole surface of the head, and is attended with considerable irritation. It arises, for the most part, from a want of due cleanliness, from improper nursing, and an indulgence in crude, unwholesome, and indigestible ailment. The treatment consists chiefly in taking particular care that the general system shall not suffer from the effects of over-feeding, or allowing the child to take just a little drop of beer or spirits. The bowels must be regulated by mild aperients, or an injection. As an external application, let the head be well washed with a lotion made in the following manner:-- Take lobelia herb, half an ounce -- pure water, one pint. Shake up the mixture, and apply as above. For an ointment, take fresh butter, two ounces; one teaspoonful of pulverised seeds of lobelia, and half an ounce of velerian powder. Simmer them over a slow fire, stir up the whole until intimately mixed, let a little be spread thin upon linen, and cover over the sores. Renew the dressing night and morning.
This is another form of cutaneous disease, which may affect any part of the body, and is easily known by the circular form which the pustules assume. It is most frequently found on the scalp, shoulders, or arms. It is stated by some authors to be contagious, but Dr. Bateman is of a contrary opinion, and considers that the prevalence of the disease amongst children in schools or families depends on the same common exciting cause alone. All that will be necessary to eradicate this form of eruption, is a strict attention to the foregoing remarks respecting diet; and, as an external application, saturate a piece of linen in common tincture of myrrh, sprinkle a little bayberry powder at the top, and place it on the part affected. Let it be renewed once every twenty-four hours.
Infants are frequently subject to this distressing affection which arises from acidity in the stomach. One of the first and principal causes producing this complaint, is stale food frequently warmed over again. When it occurs in a violent manner, give from five to ten drops of the acid tincture of lobelia in a little warm water, sweetened, repeating the dose every half hour, if required.
Sore eyes, or purulent inflammation of the eyes, as termed by the faculty, is a disease to which many infants are subject. Various causes have been assigned as giving rise to this affliction -- such as the mother being affected with fluor albus, or whites, gonorrhoea, or clap, at the time of birth -- but in our opinion the great prevailing cause is too early exposure to cold and light. Fashion or custom renders it a matter of deep importance that officious friends should make their formal calls a few days after delivery, and on these occasions the dear baby is brought out of its warm cot to endure the scrutinising gaze in the full light of day, of the anxious visitors, by which means the eyes become weak, and, finally, inflammation sets in. If mothers and nurses would learn from Nature how to treat their children, very many of the ills of life would then be happily avoided. Mark how she has provided for the inferior animals, many of which have a membrane or curtain spread before their eyes for several days after birth, which gradually disappears; thus the dog and cat for the purpose of avoiding the light, seek dark and obscure places, and their progeny never approach the light until the organs of vision are strong enough to bear it; children, therefore, should not be exposed to much light at first; and so particular are we on this point, that we always direct the nurse not to let a candle or other light to meet its eyes, whilst dressing, for several days after birth. Where the disorder exists through any of the above causes, you may make a lotion of raspberry-leaves and bayberry-root-bark, of each half an ounce, adding to it (if they can be obtained) a few of the buds of the balm-of-gilead tree; steep well in a pint of boiling water. When cool, strain it, and wash the eyes, letting a small quantity run into them, three or four times a day; at the same time pay strict attention to the state of the bowels, that they are acted upon in a proper manner. If there is general derangement, give an emetic of the acid tincture of lobelia, from a teaspoonful to a dessertspoonful at a dose, and also an injection of raspberry-leaves and composition powder. By perservering in the above course, taking care not to expose the child to cold, &c., you may reasonably calculate upon effecting a speedy cure; but there are some who, finding the medicines do not immediately work miracles, abandon them in favor of some cure-all, some efficacious eye-water, recommended by a kind neighbor as never failing.
When children first make their appearance into this world, an entire and sudden change takes place in their constitution and circulation; for before birth all the breathing and circulation to the foetus is conveyed and carried on through the medium of the mother, the child being only a passive recipient; but at birth this connection is severed, the oval openings in the auricles of the heart, through which the blood had formerly passed, is for ever closed, the child's lungs are expanded, and independent of everything else, it breathes for itself; the heart beats, and the stomach, liver, arteries, and veins, all act for themselves, and this complicated machine is now left to establish and carry on its own action; and when we take into consideration the great variety of parts that depend upon and must assist one another at the same time, like the machinery of a watch, which must be in perfect harmony in order to give true time, is it, then, to be wondered at that this tender little machine, which the slightest thing will derange, is so often out of tune? In fact, we have sometimes wondered that it should ever arrive at perfection. Suppose that any of our readers possessed a valuable watch, which perhaps had been presented by some dear friend, would she not take the greatest care of it, placing it out of the reach of harm? Would she at any time either beat it or otherwise misuse it? No. And is not the little machine we have been describing of infinitely greater value? From the many causes producing the derangement of the systems of infants, which we have already enumerated, in this affection it will be necessary to use such medicines as will most speedily cleanse the stomach and bowels of the child, and remove all general obstructions, unless arising from malformation or other causes which cannot be removed. Dr. Hunter tells us that he attended at the birth of a fine full-grown child, which soon after fell into convulsions, and died. On a post-mortem examination he found that the pulmonic artery had no tube, or was not hollow, but solid, hence the blood could not pass from the lungs to the heart after it was oxydized, in order to support the animal economy. We were called to see a child in convulsions, about five months old. We made use of all the means in our power to remove them, but to no purpose -- the child died. We obtained permission to make a post-mortem examination, when we found a needle pierced quite through the stomach, near the pylorus, or lower opening. Mrs. B., the mother, informed us that she had lost a needle, four or five days before, upon the carpet.
In the treatment of this disease our endeavours must be exerted to remove the cause. For this purpose give of the acid tincture of lobelia, a dessertspoonful at a dose; or if the child is very young, give a teaspoonful, and repeat the dose until vomiting supervenes, when the patient must drink freely pennyroyal or red raspberry-leaf-tea. Administer an injection as before directed. This treatment seldom fails to cure.
Although this form of disease is by no means so frequently met with as the faculty would have us believe, yet that it does sometimes exist, is certain; and as it in most cases is confined to children, we shall notice it here. An ancient author has enumerated the following causes, which we think so near the mark, that we give them entire. He says:-- "Dropsy of the brain may proceed from injuries to the brain itself done by falls, blows, or the like; it may likewise proceed from an original laxity, or weakness of the brain, from scirrhous tumours, or excoriation on the skull; a thin watery-state of the blood; a diminished secretion of the urine; a sudden check to perspiration; and lastly, from tedious and lingering diseases, which waste and consume the patient." The same author says-- "No medicine has hitherto been found sufficient to carry off a dropsy of the brain." If, then, we look over the causes, we shall at once see our way, and as far as medicine can do any good, to administer it with perseverance. If injuries of the brain by blows may cause it, we hope it will be a caution to mothers never to strike their child upon the head; if it proceed from debility or relaxed state of the system, that should at once be removed by cleansing the stomach and bowels with an emetic, repeating it every day, or every other day, as may be found requisite. As a medicine, make the following:-- Take half an ounce each of poplar-bark, clivers, horehound, and ground ivy. Steep in a pint of water, strain, add four ounces of sugar and eight bitter almonds; of this decoction give from a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful according to the case.
Diarrhoea is a disease frequently met with in infantile life, and arises from a vitiated state of the secretions, from overloading the stomach, or being crammed with hard, indigestible food. It may also be produced by being taken out of a warm bed, whilst in a state of perspiration, into a cold room, merely to satisfy the curiousity of some idle visitor, and show how like its eyes are to its papa's. From the above causes the bowels are thrown into a deranged state, and the evacuations are ofttimes accompanied with griping pain, the stools being of a green colour, or slimy, and tinged with blood. On the appearance of looseness, make half a pint of strong raspberry-leaf-tea, sweeten it with lump sugar, grate half a teaspoonful of nutmeg into it, and give freely; this, by correcting the stomach, will generally relieve, but should that not be the case, give an injection made with half a teaspoonful of composition powder, a quarter of a teaspoonful of lobelia, to half a pint of warm water. Give also an emetic -- for a young child, a teaspoonful of the acid tincture of lobelia will be sufficient for this purpose -- and be sure to get the patient into a perspiration, as, by accomplishing that point, more disease will be driven out through the pores of the skin, in one hour, with less injury to the system, than can be purged out in two days; as in all cases where purges are administered, weakness or prostration follows, the bowels are rendered torpid, and a prolapsed state of the lower intestine is frequently superinduced.
This is a form of disease to which children from the age of six months to four or five years are liable, and principally arises from irritation produced by improper management, by unwholesome food, the being pent up in an impure atmosphere, or by exposure to cold, and checked perspiration. It is insidious and slow in its advance, the first symptom being irregularity in the bowels. After a time the child appears weary, dull, and stupid, which, gradually going off, in the course of a few hours it becomes again lively and playful. Should these appearances have escaped observation, in the course of two or three days the above symptoms are succeeded by heat, thirst, sickness, and great pain above the eye-brows, which terminate with a profuse sweat, to the great relief of the sufferer. After this remission the fever returns, which is known by the aggravation of all the foregoing symptoms. The treatment for this description of fever must be precisely the same as in any other fever; viz., the exhibition of an emetic, repeated if necessary, together with injections and the vapour-bath. Co-operate with nature as much as possible; and when on the decline of a paroxysm the perspiration is manifested, assist in promoting it as much as possible.
This is a falling down of the lower bowel, and is occasioned by severe looseness, either arising from a vitiated state of the intestines, or the use of strong purging medicines. In order to return it, place the child across your knee, put a little lard upon the finger, and gently press upon the upper part of the gut, which will generally have the desired effect. Should it be of frequent occurrence, make a decoction of bayberry, and keep a pledget of linen, dipped into it, continually applied to the seat.
Weaning is that period when the child should be withdrawn from the breast of the mother, which should not be earlier than nine or ten months; in fact, Nature has distinctly marked the period when this should be brought about; viz., when the teeth are cut, showing that the child is in need of more substantial food. Should the child be sickly, delicate, and suffering at the time of teething, weaning should be delayed. When weaning is determined on, it should be brought about gradually; this will prevent much uneasiness to both mother and child, which should be accustomed to take a sufficient quantity of nourishment, independent of the breast, for several days previous.
This disease arises in children from being taken from the breast too early, or brought up by hand, the food being of improper nature. It begins with severe purgings of a green colour, and sickness; the belly becomes hard and swollen; the urine passes in small quantities, but from its acrid nature excoriates the neighbouring parts. The child wastes away, and convulsions set in, which speedily destroy the sufferer. Our treatment must consist in a return to the natural food -- the breast; but when this is impracticable, let the child have some good milk, diluted with water in which rice has been boiled, or take one part of sweet cream, and two parts of warm water, moderately sweetened with lump sugar; change this occasionally with some weak mutton or chicken broth. Let the child breath a pure air and enjoy exercise, keep it clean by frequent washing in tepid water, employ friction with the hand over the body, and do not neglect to attend to the state of the child's bowels. For the treatment of this complaint see article on "Diarrhoea."
Children of a lax and delicate constitution are most subject to this disease, which generally makes its appearance at the age of six months to two or three years. It arises principally from bad nursing, over-feeding, or its opposite, want of diet, cleanliness, air, and exercise. It is likewise produced by depletive measures used in the treatment of measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, &c.; by disease in the parents, scrofula, venereal, and consumption. The characteristics of this disease are, unnatural enlargement of the head, belly, and joints whilst the other parts of the body are much emaciated. The spine, on being examined, is found to be slightly incurvated. This disease is slow in developing itself, and the results very doubtful, as, when fairly established, a cure is seldom if ever performed.
Worms which in the catalogue of the faculty are put down as a disease, and who in this, as in many other cases, state the effect, rather than the cause, are an affection very frequently met with in children. A medical writer observes there must be something in the nursing, for children of the same family, nursed by different women, will some have worms, and some not; and states the cause, like Dr. Thomas, to be a deranged system. There are three kinds of worms said to infest the human body; namely, the ASCARIDES, or small white worm; the TERES, or round worm; and the TAENIA, or tape worm. On this subject also we dissent from the opinions and practices of the schools, for we do not believe that worms are the primary cause of disease, nor do we know a subject on which so much ignorance has been manifested by the faculty as this. Hundreds of medicines have been invented, and are daily administered, under the name of vermifuges, or worm medicines, to the use of which may be traced the death of thousands, who have perished while labouring under the worm delusion. That worms exist in the human system we admit, particularly in children; but we always like to probe every difficulty to the bottom, and as there must be a cause for every effect, and as the cause of worms cannot be better explained than in the language of Dr. Thomas, we shall give his opinion in his own words. He says, "that unwholesome food and a bad digestion seem to be the principal cause of worms. They appear most frequently in those of a relaxed habit, and whose bowels contain a preternatural quantity of mucus, or slimy matter; hence it is a disease most common to children."
Now, readers, you are in possession of the whole secret. Worms are caused by indigestion and unwholesome food; then the best way to get rid of them will be to cleanse the system and restore a healthy digestion. For years we have laboured from the platform to impress this fact on the public mind. We have again and again stated, that the only rational way of removing worms from the human system, is by producing a healthy digestion, or in other words, destroying the cause, that the effect may cease altogether.
The symptoms generally pointed out as indicative of worms, are, picking of the nose, grinding the teeth during sleep, foul breath, griping pains in the bowels, &c.; all of which accompany a deranged state of the digestive organs, and these evils are generally increased by the administration of what are called worm medicines. We are of the opinion, that when such medicines are given to children in perfect health, a general derangement of the system must soon follow. To improve digestion and destroy the cause, make a medicine in the following manner:--
Take a piece of gum-myrrh, about the size of a nutmeg, and let it dissolve in half a pint of hot water, to which a quarter of a teaspoonful of cayenne may be added; steep half a pound of good raisins in this for two or three days, then let the child take three or four of the raisins every morning, fasting. Let this medicine be followed up with another made of wormwood, bogbean, raspberry-leaves, oak-bark, and ginger-root -- half an ounce of each article; steep the whole in one pint of water, boil it a few minutes, then strain it, and add one ounce of the best Spanish juice; give from a teaspoonful to half a wineglassful of this three or four times a day. If the bowels are not relaxed, add half an ounce of senna, or rhubarb (which, in some cases, is preferable to the former) to the above mixture. Let the food of the patient be light and of easy digestion, and the worms will not only disappear, but the health of the sufferer will be speedily restored.
This disease is an infectious, inflammatory fever, attended by cough and sneezing, a discharge of thin humours from the eyes and nose, with a determination of acrid matter to the surface of the body, covering it with red spots, which finally disappear in a fine, mealy dust on the surface of the skin. Like the smallpox, the measles are dreaded, in consequence of the derangement left in the system, such as scrofula, dropsy, &c.; but we believe these maladies are produced, or considerably augmented, by the application of improper remedies, such as cold, deadly, poisonous drugs; these evils are heightened when professedly learned doctors take the symptoms of one disease for that of another. The admission of Dr. Thomas, who says that "scarlatina sometimes resembles the measles so exactly as not to be easily distinguishable," speaks volumes against the practice pursued by the faculty. We have had much experience in these matters, and can confidently assert that we never lost a patient in the measles. Our invariable practice is to give cooling medicines, or such as have a tendency to keep the surface cool, which can never be accomplished unless pure stimulants only are used; for this disease, being a high state of canker, it follows that the vessels are coated, and the circulation of necessity obstructed; a fact which should always be borne in mind. Such medicines as are good for canker should at once be administered, and the perspiration kept to the surface; if these things are promptly attended to, the violence of the disorder will be generally overcome. For children, prepare a medicine in the following manner:--
Take of pennyroyal, red-raspberry-leaves, ground ivy, clivers, of each one ounce; ginger-root, half an ounce, and, should the bowels require it, a quarter of an ounce of senna; steep the whole in one quart of water, strain, and sweeten with sugar; give, for a dose, from a teaspoonful to half a wineglassful, as the case may require.
We have oftentimes mourned over the ruin that this terrible destroyer has created in circles where youth and loveliness are generally found. Like Egypt's destroying angel, it has not only smitten the first-born, but at times its blighting hand has fallen on every youthful member of a family. How many parents have had their earthly hope snatched from their embraces when the skill of the faculty had been exerted in vain to save them. In the year 1840, about six hundred of these little helpless innocents perished of this disease in the town of Hull alone. Some familles were at that time bereft of all their offspring. One lost seven, another five, and many two or three; so that to point out a safe and simple remedy -- one that can be placed within the reach of every mother -- will doubtless be deemed a great and valuable boon. Mothers whose hearts are centred in their offspring, will, we are sure, be grateful; nor will the fathers be indifferent, for what language can express a father's love for his child?
When the disease was raging so violently in Hull, we lost only one patient; and that one had so far recovered as to be able to go about, but by incautiously sitting on the door-step, took cold, which terminated fatally. This disease is divided, by the classical, into three kinds. When free from ulceration of the throat, it is called scarlatina simplex; when attended with ulcers, it is called scarlatina anginosa; and when it assumes a malignant, putrid form, is called maligna. Let not the reader suppose that we have given the above names in the hope of adding to his wisdom -- no such thing; for, as we have shown you in the article on measles, the very men who arrange and class diseases, are at times so ignorant as to mistake one disease for another. Our only reason for quoting the above names, is that we may convince our readers of the folly of all such arrangements; for all the symptoms or forms of this disease are, like the pangs of the toothache, differing only in degree or quality. The paroxyms of the toothache at times all but disappear, and after a time return with redoubled fury. Yet we should certainly doubt the wisdom of the doctor, or dentist, who would venture to tell us that they could neither prescribe for, nor extract the tooth without first knowing the exact amount of pain the patient had been enduring. Scarlatina, like the measles, is a high state of putridity, and is most malignant in what are called open, or unhealthy seasons, prevailing most of the autumn, and the moist or warm part of winter. Like the measles, it attacks indiscriminately all ages; but children and young persons are more liable to take it than others. Although the faculty regard this disease with so much dread, yet by using proper remedies, its violence can be abated without much difficulty, even in the worst of its stages. In the year 1828, we were called in haste to see a child said to be dying, and, on arrival, found that the rash or redness that generally attends this disease, had struck in, by the child's having been incautiously exposed to the cold, which threw the little sufferer into convulsions. Her jaws were firmly fixed, and the entire surface of her body was of a purple hue, with every appearance of speedy dissolution. We administered lobelia tincture, which is made in the following manner:-- Take of the pulverised herb a teaspoonful, and half a teaspoonful of valerian root. Mix both in two ounces of good vinegar. To a child four years of age, a dessertspoonful may be given; the dose to be reduced when given to a younger child. In this case we placed the child on its back, and poured the tincture into its mouth, in thirty minutes from which time it was perfectly sensible, and the next day so far recovered as to be able to sit up and eat, though many had died that year under similar circumstances.
When prescribing for young children in this disease, we use freely red-raspberry-leaves and pennyroyal. Lobelia we have always found an excellent specific; and when the above stated quantity has been given as a dose, it should be repeated until the patient vomits freely. In the meantime the child must be kept warm, and a hot brick applied to its feet, wrapped in a cloth wet with vinegar. After the emetic has taken effect, sponge the entire surface of the body with vinegar, and, when the fever has abated, give freely of the bitter compounds, as also of the diuretics to cleanse the system, and expel from the body such gross humours as might terminate in dropsy or consumption, if not attended to.
A convulsive cough, interrupted by loud inspirations or catching of the breath. This disease, like every other, originates in a derangement of the system, or some particular organ, but, like the smallpox or measles, it never troubles us a second time. This fact cannot be accounted for, but it is, nevertheless, true. It is accompanied by a morbid irritation of the stomach, together with a thick phlegm, which lodges in the tubes and air-vessels connected with the stomach and lungs, from whence originates the difficult respiration, when nature makes an exertion to remove it by coughing.
Its first appearance is marked by an oppressed and difficult breathing, accompanied with thirst. These symptoms are followed by hoarseness, cough, and difficult expectoration, which generally continue for twelve or fourteen days, when the disease puts on its peculiar form of whistling or whooping, with every respiration. Though not a fatal, it may justly be called a very distressing disease, and is often attended with bad consequences if not properly attended to. With young children it sometimes has a fatal termination; and should the patient take cold when its symptoms have recently disappeared, it returns with all its former violence. Of the many diseases we have grappled with, there are none less to be feared than this, for remedies can be administered that will readily abate its worst symptoms. The faculty would have you believe that it must run on for six weeks until it reaches the crisis; but we have often cured the patient effectually in half of that time. We cannot omit to state here that the doctors, in prescribing for this disease, frequently give such medicines as leave the patient labouring either under asthma, pulmonary consumption, or an impaired and deranged digestion, any of which are more difficult to remove, and more to be feared, than the original disease. The remedies that may be used are the following:-- Take vervain, wakerobin, or wild turnip, red-raspberry-leaves, poplar-bark and valerian-root, half an ounce of each. Steep them in a pint of hot water, strain, and add one tablespoonful of honey, and two tablespoonsful of the acid tincture of lobelia. For a dose, give a tablespoonful each day, and from a tea to a tablespoonful every two hours while the symptoms are violent. Give enough of lobelia to produce vomiting, and follow it up with astringent medicines. Also give cayenne at intervals as follows:-- For young children, steep half a teaspoonful of cayenne, and half an ounce of cloves, in four ounces of boiling water, to which add half an ounce of the best Spanish juice, and one ounce of treacle. Give a teaspoonful of this every three hours, or when the fit comes on, taking care that the patient does not take cold. Use sufficient medicine to open the bowels, but not to purge violently; at the same time keep the patient in a perspiration; this, if rightly applied, will effect a cure in a short time; but the patient must not be exposed to the changes of the weather whilst taking the medicine.
Some years ago a paragraph appeared in the London Journal of Health, stating "that Lobelia Inflata was a safe and certain cure for the whooping cough," and that it would cure it in a few days; yet the disease is, at this present time, as formidable as ever. Do the doctors attend to the advice above given? Not they. If we look at the mode of treatment pursued at this very time, we shall find it entirely at variance with the animal economy and the principle of life; and let fathers and mothers think of the fearful destruction of human life that results therefrom.
This diseases is one of the most desolating scourges that has ever visited the family of man. For ages its ravages were unchecked, since medicine failed to counteract its influence, and the skill of mankind was exerted against it in vain. It has been said to exist in China and Hindostan from the remotest antiquity, whence it made its way into Africa. Some time about the eighth century, it presented itself in Europe; in the tenth it reached England, where its ravages produced the most terrible effects; and, lastly, it was carried by the Spaniards to Hispaniola, in the sixteenth century. It soon made its appearance in Mexico, and speedily diffused itself over that vast hemisphere.
The smallpox is classed under two heads, viz., the distinct and the confluent. In the former the eruptions are separate, or apart from each other; in the latter they amalgamate, or mingle together; the confluent is therefore considered the most dangerous, as it generally proves most severe. The symptoms usually preceding this disease, are, redness of the eyes, soreness in the throat, pains in the head, back, and loins, alternate chills and burnings, weariness, and faintings, with excessive thirst, nausea, inclination to vomit, and quick pulse. Upon its first appearance we would recommend a mild treatment, such as not to confine the patient in too warm a room; let the temperature range at about sixty degrees; administer mild stimulants, such as pennyroyal, and ginger-root, made into tea. When the pustules have filled, and the disorder reached its height, then administer an emetic of lobelia, with cayenne-pepper, accompanied with a strong decoction made of tonic and astringent herbs, and cayenne, or ginger-root. During the first days of its appearance, vervain made into tea may be used freely.
Some time in the spring of 1840, when residing in the town of Hull, we were called to attend a case, the particulars of which may interest our readers. The patient, a married woman, was seized with the symptoms as before described; for several days she was very ill, nor could we tell what form of disease she was labouring under, more than a fever. We administered stimulants and astringents, but not succeeding according to our wish, we took a large handful of vervain, and another of pennyroyal, and made therewith a quart of strong tea, of which she took half a wineglassful every half hour. A hot brick was applied to her feet, wrapped in a cloth wet with vinegar; in three hours perspiration began to appear, and with it the smallpox. Previous to which it was the general opinion that she could not survive twelve hours, but in one week from that time she was convalescent. Before leaving the town of Hull, we published a work on the Natural Pathology of Disease, in which was given a certificate of the above fact, signed by her husband, and bearing date June 3, 1840.
It is proper here to state, that cleanliness in all things is indispensable in this, and in fact in every form of disease.
Experience has fully proved that the violence of the symptoms is lessened in a great degree, by applying the variolous matter to a scratch or wound; why this occurs, or why the human system is thus fortified against future attacks, has never yet been fully explained. Much opposition was raised against inoculation upon its first introduction, but it having been clearly shown that nineteen died out of every hundred that took the disease in the natural way, while only one died in every six hundred that took it artificially, or by inoculation, its advantages soon enabled us to triumph over opposition. However, with most of the faculty, we would recommend the cow or kine pox.
The discovery of this disease, like many others, was accidental, and may be justly termed one of the greatest blessings. It was found to exist on the udder of the cow, in the form of pustules, or little sores, from which it communicated itself to the hands of the milkmaid, producing on them a similar effect, but in a milder form. Its appearance on the skin, the mark left, and all the connecting circumstances, came under the observation of Dr. Jenner, who, after many experiments founded on the above accident, succeeded in bringing it fairly before the public. He, like all who have dared to act independently of the opinions of others, met with the most formidable opposition from the faculty; but his perseverance enabled him to overcome the reasonings of his powerful opponents, who were compelled not only to adopt his theory, but finally to assist him in carrying it out.
That great destroyer, the smallpox, had no longer a course to run, as had generally been believed, for whenever the new discover was applied, it finally stayed the course. The whole family of man has much reason to be grateful for such a valuable discovery; but the greatest benefits are generally followed by an amount of evil, for it has often happened that the virus which has been used has been taken from the arm of the same subject whose system has been previously tainted, or poisoned with scrofula, scurvy, erysipelas, or, what is equally bad, deleterious drugs; so that that which was intended to be a blessing, has, in many instances, proved a bane; and many that have come under our own observation, have thus been hurried to untimely graves, or had their constitution impaired for the rest of their days. I would therefore caution the public against the use of the vaccine virus, unless they can be certain from what source it comes. To avoid all danger, I would recommend it to be taken from the udder of the cow, where it appears on the teats, in the form of vesicles, or tumours, of a bluish color, approaching to livid; these vesicles are elevated at the margin, and depressed in the centre; they are surrounded by inflammation, and contain a limpid or watery fluid, which is not to be obtained at all times, but generally to be found when quantities of cattle are kept together. All the pustules or sores are not to be relied on for communicating the disease.
The first thing to be done is to obtain some of this fluid from the vesicles of the udder, then puncture the skin slightly on the arm with a crowquill, sharpened fine like the nib of a pen or toothpick; dip it in the fluid, and insert it under the skin where you have previously made the puncture. The fluid to be good, should be perfectly transparent, and if from the arm of another, it should not be taken after the eighth day. To preserve the matter, let it dry gradually, then put it into a dry bottle, well corked at the mouth. During the first eight days the patient should be shielded from cold. A medicine made in the following manner will be good:-- take of vervain, agrimony, and ground ivy, one handful each; steep them in a quart of water; add a little rhubarb-root, or senna, if the bowels require it; half a wineglassful of this may be given as a dose; for an adult, a little ginger-root may be added.
A disease to which children are subject, though never considered dangerous. It would scarcely be necessary to mention it at all, were it not sometimes taken for the smallpox, from which the disastrous consequences have at times resulted. A close observer can never be deceived in the appearance of the two, since one is accompanied by fever, and the other is not; yet it is notorious that the learned and scientific, as they are called, have not only endangered human life, by mistaking this and other diseases, but many of them have perpetuated their errors by attempting to defend their ignorance. However, we deem it our duty to expose their errors on the one hand, and reform their abuses on the other. Hear what Dr. Thomas says respecting varicella:--
"We have great reason to suppose that the chickenpox has not only been taken for the smallpox, but that its matter has been used for that of smallpox, in inoculation, to which may be ascribed many of the supposed cases of the smallpox having appeared a second time in the same person."
The treatment of this disease is to keep the patient warm for a few days, taking care at the same time to keep the bowels gently open.
Infants are sometimes liable to rupture at the navel and groin, which may arise from debility and laxity of the fibre, but most commonly is produced by the negligence of the nurse, who, leaving it to cry and scream for hours altogether, it is thereby ruptured.
When rupture occurs at the navel, it may be reduced in the following manner: take a piece of wetted millboard, wrap it in linen, and apply to the navel, keeping it in its place by means of two or three strips of sticking plaster, then pass a thin roller round the body; keep this applied for a month or two, and it will generally be all that is required.
In rupture of the groin, immediate steps must be taken to return the gut, and retain it in its position by means of a compress or cushion, made wet in a strong decoction of oak-bark, and kept to the part by proper bandages. Great care must be taken on the child's going to stool that it be not allowed to sit for any length of time, or strain itself. Let no opening medicine be administered, under any circumstances. Should costiveness prevail, give an injection in the usual manner and repeat every three or four hours, until an evacuation is obtained. The use of a truss will be found necessary in many cases, but should not be applied to infants under three years of age.
We have now given the diseases both of women and children, in our usual plain and laconic style, and hope to give our readers, in the third portion of the book, a clear and comprehensive knowledge of the nature and action of the remedies prescribed, which we trust will make the work complete in itself.