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Dr. Gosse has communicated to the Society a note of M. Campbell relative to the frequency of goitre, in the districts near the foot of the Himalaya-a malady with which also goats and sheep are frequently infected when they descend from the mountain Lastly, Dr. Lombard has read to us a detailed extract of observations published by M. Jordannet, a French physician, on the climate of Mexico, considered in a medical point of vie
Having thus presented a cursory review of our proceedings during the past year, my task unfortunately is still incomplete; for, notwithstanding the restricted number of our members, scarcely a year passes in which your presiding officer, in his annual report, is not called on to deplore the loss of one or more of them. This year has removed two from among us: one of them, M. Le Royer, a retired member, of advanced age; the other, M. Etienne Melly, a member in ordinary, whose years authorized us to hope that we might long retain him. I must not close this report without briefly recalling the titles they possessed to the esteem of the learned world and the affection of their colleagues.
Etienne Melly, born at Geneva, in 1807, early evinced a decided taste for the physical sciences. After successfully pursuing the course of our Academy, he went to Paris to complete his scientific studies, and on his return to his country was attached to the Industrial school of this city as a teacher of physics and chemistry, the study of which he may be said to have created in the establishment in question, and from the superintendence of which he never desisted until the infirm state of his health made it impossible for him to give to his duties the care and attention which his scrupulous conscience exacted. While thus employed he prosecuted divers physico-chemical researches of great interest, only a part of which, owing to his characteristic diffidence, have been communicated to the public. His two principal publications appeared, the first, in 1839, in the Bibliotheque Universelle, the second, in 1841, in the first volume of the Archives de l'Electricité. The former treats of certain felicitous attempts which he had made to apply platina to other metals by means of pressure so as to obtain a very solid plate, and be thus able to substitute, in certain chemical processes, for utensils of platina, utensils of platinized copper. This mode of platinizing offers greater assurance than that by electricity; in that it better resists the action of chemical agents.
The second publication of M. Melly, and that of most importance, embraces two distinct parts: the first, relating to a more economical construction of the battery of Grove, then just invented, and to the study of the chemical effects of electricity by means of that apparatus. The second part has for its object the study of the chemical effects of the electric spark, whether produced by Grove's battery or by currents of induction. MMelly sets forth in his memoir the numerous experiments by which he had succeeded in decomposing, by means of that spark, not only distilled water, but the most isolating substances, such as oils, ethers, alcohol, &c. He establishes, by a well-sustained analysis of the results he had obtained, the difference which exists between this mode of de. composition and electro-chemical decomposition properly so called, and he shows that it is an effect, not of electricity itself, but of the intense heat developed by the electric spark.
We know that this decomposing power of heat, carried to a high degree, has been since demonstrated in a direct manner upon water, without the intervention of electricity, by M. Grove, and has been extended upon a wide scale to a multitude of substances by M. Deville, who has called it, “the dissociation of bodies by heat.” Still, there will remain to M. Melly the honor of having first, by his ingenious experiments, called the attention of the learned world to this important subject. "Independently of what he has made known by his publi
cations, Melly, who knew no remission of labor, often obtained interesting results which he kept to himself, or communicated but to a few of his friends. The distressing state of his health having compelled him, many years since, to abandon his laboratory, he did not give way to discouragement, but continued to devote himself with the same ardor to the microscopic investigations which constituted the scientific interest of his latter days. Of these he has left but few written notices; their results are contained in his collections, especially in that of the Diatomeæ, of which he has left more than fifty boxes, containing as well the Diatomeæ of the environs of Geneva, as those of foreign lands and those of types determined by known authors. As to the microscopes of which he availed himself, it may be affirmed that never have the Algæ of our country been studied with the help of instruments so perfect. Melly, besides, brought an extreme carefulness to the preparation of microscopic objects; we may judge of it by the following fact reported by Professor Thury in the interesting notice which he read of his friend : The collection of Diatomeæ was twice resumed entirely anew by Melly, because the distilled water and alcohol which he had employed were found to be not absolutely pure.
Of a conversation as frank as amiable, Melly had, moreover, that devotedness for others, whose character is the most complete self-abnegation. Happy in the success and welfare of his friends, every feeling of envy and jealousy was so alien from his nature, that he would not even admit the existence of these evil sentiments in another. Having suffered in his dearest affections by the loss of a beloved consort, he remained thenceforward completely isolated. But this isolation, far from rendering him egoistic, had still more enlarged his heart. His gratitude, for the cares and attentions of which he was the object on the part of his friends was as touching as amiable. The religious sentiments which sustained him in the midst of trials so various and afflicting were always united in him with a perfect tolerance in regard to those who did not share his opinions. It was the fruit of an elevated and disinterested nature, such as is rarely witnessed. He sank, February 4, 1863, after long and acute sufferings.
Auguste Le Royer sprung from an honorable family, and whose ancestors had been pharmaceutists from father to son ; was born at Geneva, in 1793. After pursuing his earlier studies in his native city, he went in 1811 to Strasburg, where he passed eighteen months of preparation in studying pharmacy, his future vocation. In 1813 he returned to Geneva, took an active part in the political events of the time, and in 1817 was admitted a pharmaceutist after an honorable examination. Thenceforward Le Royer zealously occupied himself in scientific labors related to his profession. It was in 1818 that the illustrious Dumas, then ten years of age, entered himself as a clerk with Le Royer, and subsequently became his principal assistant. Besides these friendly connexions with Dumas, Le Royer contracted others with Dr. Prevost, taking part in many of the physiological researches of the latter in their chemical bearing. In 1821 he was adopted as a member of this Society and of the Helvetic Society of natural sciences. The departure of M. Dumas for Paris, in 1823, compelled Le Royer to occupy himself almost exclusively with pharmacy, and I know not that he has published anything since 1824. Nevertheless, he preserved a taste for study, and always encouraged the scientific labors of those who approached him. Like Etienne Melly, with whom he had more than one trait of conformity, an extreme modesty pushed almost to timidity, joined to delicate health, prevented Le Royer from making that mark in science to which he might have pretended. The following is a list of the articles which he published jointly with Dr. Prevost :
1. Note on the free acid contained in the stomach of the herbivorê, (Memoirs of the Society of Physics and Natural History, vol. III, 2d part.)
2. A memoir on digestion in the ruminants, (Bibliotheque Universelle for 1824, vol. XXVII.)
3. Observations on the contents of the digestive canal in the fætus of the vertebrates, ( Bibliotheque Universelle, vol. XXIX.)
Lastly, he published alone in the Bibliotheque Universelle, vol. XXVI, a memoir on the active principle contained in the purple digitalis.'
Having become a valetudinarian in 1850, in consequence of rheumatic affections, Le Royer was struck, in 1860, with cerebral apoplexy, which kept him riveted to his chair till the moment of his death, a few weeks since, without any notable abatement of his intellectual faculties.
APPENDIX ON THE TRICHINIASIS.
We annex the following additional information in respect to Trichiniasis, mentioned in the preceding article:
A few months ago there was a festive celebration in Hettstädt, a small country town near the Hartz Mountains, in Germany. Upwards of a hundred persons set down to an excellent dinner, and having enjoyed themselves more majorum, separated, and went to their homes.
Of these one hundred and three persons, mostly men in the prime of life, eighty-three are now in their graves ; the majority of the twenty survivors linger with a fearful malady; and a few only walk apparently unscathed among the living, but in hourly fear of an outbreak of the disease which has carried away such numbers of their fellow-diners.
They had all eaten of a poison at that festive board, the virulence of which far surpasses the reported effects of aqua tophana, or of the more tangible agents described in toxicological text-books. It was not a poison dug out of the earth, extracted from plants, or prepared in the laboratory of the chemist. It was not a poison administered by design or negligence. But it was a poison unknown to all concerned ; and was eaten with the meat in which it was contained, and of which it formed a living constituent.
When the festival at Hettstädt had been finally determined upon, and the dinner had been ordered at the hotel, the keeper of the tavern arranged his bill of fare. The introduction of the third course, it was settled, should consist, as usual in those parts of the country, of Rosteuurst und Gemüsc. The Rostewurst was, therefore, ordered at the butcher's the necessary number of days beforehand, in order to allow of its being properly smoked. The butcher, on his part, went expressly to a neighboring proprietor, and bought one of two pigs from the steward, who had been commissioned with the transaction by his
It appears, however, that the steward, unfortunately, sold the pig which the master had not intended to sell, as he did not deem it sufficiently fat or well-conditioned. Thus the wrong pig was sold, carried on a barrow to the butcher, killed and worked up into sausages. The sausages were duly smoked and delivered at the hotel. “I'here they were fried and served to the guests at the dinner table.
On the day after the festival, several persons who had participated in the dinner were attacked with irritation of the intestines, loss of appetite, great prostration and fever. The number of persons attacked rapidly increased ; and great alarm was excited in the first instance by the apprehension of an impending epidemic of typhus fever or continued fever, with which the symptoms observed showed great similarity. But when, in some of the cases treated by the same physician, the features of the illness began to indicate at first, acute peritonitis, then pneumonia of a circumscribed character, next paralysis of the intercostal muscles and the muscles in front of the neck, the hypothesis of septic fever, though sustained in other cases, had to be abandoned with respect to these particular cases. Some unknown poison was now assumed to be at the bottom
of the outbreak; and an active inquiry into all the circumstances of the dinner was instituted. Every article of food and material was subjected to a most rigid examination, without any result in the first instance. But when the symptons in some of the cases invaded the muscles of the leg, particularly the calves of some of the sufferers, the description which Zenker had given of a fatal case of trichinous disease was remembered. The remnants of sausage, and of pork employed in its manufacture, were examined with the microscope, and found to be literally swarming with encapsuled trichinæ. - From the suffering muscles of several of the victims small pieces were excised, and under the microscope found charged with embryonic trichinæ in all stages of development. It could not be doubted any longer, that as many of the one hundred and three as had had partaken of Rostewurst had been infested with trichinous disease by eating of trichinous pork, the parasites of which had, at least in part, escaped the effects of smoking and frying.
This awful catastrophe awakened sympathy and fear throughout the whole of Germany. Most of the leading physicians were consulted in the interest of the sufferers, and some visited the neighborhood where most of the afflicted patients remained. But none could bring relief or cure. With an obstinacy unsurpassed by any other infectious or parasitic disease, trichiniasis carried its victims to the grave. Many anthelmintics were arrayed to destroy, if not the worms already in the flesh, at least those yet remaining in the intestinal canal. Picric acid was employed until its use seemed as dangerous as the disease; benzole, which had promised well in experiments upon animals, was tried, but was unavailing. As patient after patient died off, and the dissection of each proved the parasites to have been quite unaffected by the agents employed, the conviction was impressed upon every mind that a man afflicted with flesh-worm is doomed to die the slow death of exhaustion from nervous irritation, fever, and loss of muscular power in parts of the system essential to existence.
But medical science had only just unravelled a mystery; and if it could not save the victiins, it was determined at least to turn the occasion to the next best account. The cases were therefore observed with care and chronicled with skill. All the multifarious features of the parasitic disease were registered in such a manner that there can hereafter be no difficulty in the diagnosis of this disorder. A valuable diagnostic feature was repeatedly observed, namely, the appearance of the flesh-worm under the thin mucous membrane on the lower side of the tongue. The natural history of trichina in man was found to be the same as that in animals.
All observations led to the conviction that the trichina encapsuled in the flesh is in the condition of puberty. Brought into the stomach, the calcareous capsule is digested with the flesh, and the trichina is set free. It probably feeds upon the walls of the intestines themselves, for the irritation of the intestines begins before the bringing forth or young trichinæ has taken place. Copulation is immediately effected; and within a few hours, or a short portion of days, from sixty to eighty live embryos leave the female, and begin their own career of destruction.
This consists, in the first instance, in an attempt to pierce the walls of the intestinal canal. Great inflammation of the entire surface ensues, ending not rarely in death of the villous or mucous membrane, or in the formation of masses of pus on its surface. Sometimes there are bloody stools. But these severe symptoms only ensue when much trichinous meat has been eaten ; when less has been consumed, pain and uneasiness in the abdomen are produced, accompanied, however, in all instances by wasting fever and prostration. The embryos actually pierce the intestines, and are found free in the effusion. sometimes serous, sometimes purulent, which is always poured out into the abdominal cavity. Thence they again proceed towards the periphery of the body, pierce the peritoneum, causing great irritation, and sometimes peritonitis
to the extent of gluing the intestines together to a coherent mass. They next proceed to the muscles nearest to the abdomen; arrived at the elementary muscular fibres, which, under the microscope, appear as long cylinders with many transverse striæ, they pierce the membranes, enter the fibres, eat and destroy their striated contents, consume a great part of the granular detritus, moving up and down in the fibres until grown to the size necessary for passing into the quiescent state. They then roll up in spiral or other irregular windings, the bags of the muscular fibres collapse, and only where the trichinæ lie a calcareous matter is deposited, perhaps by the trichinæ themselves, which hardens into perfect capsules round the parasites. A muscular fibre may harbor one or several parasites ; but every fibre invaded by a single parasite loses its character entirely, and becomes a bag of detritus from one end to the other.
If it be remembered that one ounce of meat filled with trichinæ may form the stock from which in a few days three millions of worms may be bred, and that these worms will destroy in the course of a few weeks not less than two millions of striated muscular fibres, an idea of the extent of destruction produced by these parasites can be formed. We are not in a position to say to what proportion of the fifty or sixty pounds of muscle required for the performances of the human body these two millions of elementary fibres actually amount. In the muscles nearest to the abdomen the destruction is sometimes so complete that not a fibre free from parasites can be found. This amounts to complete paralysis. But death is not always produced by the paralysis ; it is mostly the result of paralysis, peritonitis, and irritative fever combined. No case is known in which trichiniasis, after having declared itself, became arrested. All persons affected have either died, or are in such a state of prostration that their death is very probable.
Most educated people in Germany have, in consequence of the Hettstädt tragedy, adopted the law of Moses, and avoid pork in any form. To some of the large pig-breeders in Westphalia, who keep as many as two thousand pigs, the falling of the price of pork has been a ruinous—at the least a serious-loss. In the dining-rooms of the hotels in the neighborhood of Hettstädt notices are hung up announcing that pork will not be served in any form in these establishments. To counteract this panic, the farmers' club of the Hettstädt district gave a dinner, at which no other meat but pork was eaten. But it has had no appreciable effect. The raw ham and sausages of Germany are doomed to extinction; the smoked and fried sausages must necessarily be avoided. * *
In the south of Germany some people now say that it is the Hungarian pigg which are most frequently affected with trichinæ. This rumor, like the famous pork dinner of the farmers' club, may, however, have been set up with the intention of quieting apprehension about the native pigs. We have already mentioned the accident which befell the crew of a merchant vessel. They shipped a pig at Valparaiso, and killed it a few days before their arrival at Hamburg. Most of the sailors ate of the pork in one form or another. Several were affected with trichine and died. Of those whose fate could be inquired into, only one seems to have escaped the parasites. Another outbreak in Saxony has carried away twelve persons. A fourth wholesale poisoning by trichinæ is just reported from Offenbach, the Birmingham of Hesse-Darmstadt. Of upwards of twenty persons infected, three bad already died when our correspondent's letter left. Numerous sporadic cases of fever, and epidemics of inscrutable peculiarity, but referred to an anomalous type of fever, are now claimed by medical authors, and with much show of reason, to have been outbreaks of trichiniasis, or fleshworm disease. Several German physicians experimentalized with a view of finding a cure for this terrible disorder. Professor Eckhardt at Giessen, we are told, has obtained permission to try the disease and supposed remedies upon a murderer under sentence of death. We have not been told whether his reward in case of success is to be a commutation of his capital sentence, but