Dr. Halford informs the Australian
introduced by the stomach has an intricate course to pursue, and some chemical transformations to undergo, before it can reach the seat of the
THE EXPERIMENTS ON SNAKE-POISON.
records which Dr.
from time to
has carried on for the
experiments testing the value of alleged remedies for snakebite, anything that could indicate a spirit of controversy in himself, or rouse the hostility of other observers. In common with his professional brethren, he has found that, ordinarily, the bite of a venomous Indian snake in full vigour has been purpose of
fatal in his hands. of
He has heard, too, of certain methods successful in the hands of others. He
having proved recognised the several sources of deception, notably the difficulty of proving in most cases of recovery that a genuine poisoned wound has been received, and he has determined to set aside all possibility of error, at least on this special point, and to ascertain by trials on animals whether any real antidote has yet been brought forward. He has neither asserted nor denied anything a priori, and whether the alleged remedy has been an object of belief with a professional man or the nostrum of an itinerant snake-charmer, it has been treated by him with the same care and fairness; and the result is, that medical men have now definite and tangible facts to offer in reply to any one who may feel disposed to criticise the failure of their practice, or mischievously hint that if another course had been followed in a given case, a better result might have been looked for. 'This is a service to the profession which the profession alone can adequately appreciate. The facts are clearly summarised by the author in a few propositions with which our readers are already familiar. They need not be reproduced in this place. We see with surprise therefore, that Dr. Halford, of Melbourne, experimenting on the poison of a different class of animals, and possessed with the belief that ammonia, injected into a vein, is a specific against the bite of Australian suakes, has allowed himself to use a contemptuous tone in commenting In his eyes, it is evidently an unon Dr. Favrer's results. pardonable sin to demonstrate that an Indian snake no more cure
Australian snake in the effects of its bite, than it
history. Instead of feeling Fayrer devoting care and time to the examination of the remedy in a distant part of the world, as a fellow enquirer earnestly desirous of knowing the truth, he does in the rest of its natural
endeavours to throw discredit If it
while, it would be easy to shew from the of Dr. Berncastle in the Australian Medical Gazette,
that Dr. Halford's treatment is
fidence in that country as it will now be in India. Dr. Berncastle has had ample opportunities of treating the bites of both Indian and Australian
snakes, and he bases his judgment on a greatly in excess even of the pretensions of yet he pronounces, without qualification of any injection of ammonia into a vein is dangerous and
number of cases Dr. Halford ;
sort, that the iiseless.
Dr. Halford has
misgivings. point Intelligent colonists might hear elsewhere that air getting into a vein was considered dangerous by medical men, so he provides them with a ready reply. " Should any air," he " enter by bo minute a puncture, no harm will follow. says, This is a novelty without doubt. We hope his readers were not blinded by it into the perilous trust in llieir veins which the doctrine inculcates. This doctrine Dr. Halford puts forth with an imposing flourish of physiology. Quotation alone can do the passage full justice:?"The direct injection of caustic or liquid ammonia, mixed with two parts of water, avoiding the ture is made.
It would be difficult for an unbiassed witness to find in the
poison; and that hypoderrnieally used, it prevents its absorption; therefore
mixes with the
spleen, liver, sufficiently
and intestines, at dilutes its
powers. Within 20 or 30 seconds of its introduction into a vein, it passes to every part of the structure of the body. Wherever the serpent's poison lurks, there the ammonia is, a'nd by the end of one minute has twice made the circulation of the It has
caustic alkali, free to exert its marvellous
influence upon the inspired oxygen, or even possibly upon the poison itself, but certainly upon its products. With such physical truths as guides, let us see the result of practice ; and here I may state that all practice not based on physiology is old woman's avocation, and is fast passing out of date, at least in the old country. Far from the centre of knowledge it may still flourish, but 1delenda est Carthago.'" This is a fail' of and Dr. Halford's specimen logic. The phyphilosophy siology consists in the announcement that ammonia reaches the seat of poison more rapidly, and in a purer state when thrown directly into the blood than when swallowed ; the rapidity few will dispute, the purity many ; but if both points be admitted, the curative action remains as far from proof as ever. It derives no sort of confirmation from Dr. Halford's physiology, nor is there any logical connection that we can discover between the process and the result, unless it be first proved that ammonia is a direct chemical antidote to snake-poison. Illustrating his total want of care in guarding against error, Dr. Halford makes no mention of such a doubt as this, and thus reduces his practice, even if successful, to the position of that empiricism which he so seeks to repudiate. Dr. Fayrer, on the other hand, absolutely disproves that there is any direct antagonism between Indian snake-poison and ammonia, by mixing the two and inoculating dogs with the mixture, the only result being intensified poisonous action. The most, therefore, that can be said for Dr. Halford's position is, that he succeeds by a very hazardous process in waking his patient from the stupor and other results of nervous depresIn our crude vernacular sion. We do him an injustice. dialect we have spoken of waking his patient." Such blunt phraseology would carry no force with Dr. Halford's lay pupils. Quite sufficient was it for me," he writes in comment on a contributed case in which sluggish pupils became active under that the ammonia, when reading the Doctor's letter, to know ammonia had been actually injected into the veins of a human "
DR. CORNISH ON OPIUM AND IPECACUANHA IN DYSENTERY.
and that the
nerve cells, instead of being dead to those reception constitutes light and sound, now responded, and the man was once more, ammonia being added to his blood, in harmony with the forces which surrounded him. Animal life in abeyance or passing away was re-manifested or brought back." There was prudence in the sufficiency j for Dr. Halford's throughout proceedings there is not a trace of
care, while, if his
logical conclusion, it must lead him to injecting all lii3 remedies into his patient's veins, and relegating those who do not follow him to the category of old women. Dr. Fayrer has made the bulk of his experiments on dogs, as
followed to its
did Dr. Halford, and ho rather ridicules one or two of Dr. Fayrer's experiments with pigeons. "Any one," ho says, *' least would hardly the knowledge physiological possessing a
pigeon to injection
either from the bite of
ammonia, by such delicate apparatus is the life of birds sustained." Wo do not see how the delicacy of the apparatus can affect the question, whether ammonia is or is not a counterpoise to snake-bite ; if it does so affect it, the vitality of a healthy pigeon is at least as great as that of one of Dr. Halford's moribund dogs, which some by-standers considered to be actually dead when ammonia was used. after the
Wo cannot devote more space for the argument.
willing to accept Dr. Halford's facts as far as they go, but we qualify them with information derived from other sources respecting the potency and treatment of snake-bites in Australia. We regret the derisive tone he adopts in speaking of the experiments in this country, because it prevents us meeting him in the broad field of scientific inquiry. The
(Ladak) that Dr. Caylcy's dispensary at that place is becoming a great success, and we think we may add a great source of benefit to the natives of Le. The monthly We hear from Le
average attendance of seekers of medical relief is much in There is a small hospital for in-door cxcess of one hundred.
during August, eight were maintained. Vacbecoming popular among the people. In August,
370 persons were vaccinated. This appears to have been in Le itself, but in the out-districts and villages, Dr. Caylev had vaccinated a goodly number. We an
to announce that the Government have
allowance of Rs. 30
month, to Medical Officers in executive
charge of the JaiU in Bengal, to pay for a writer to assist them in their clerical work. Every endeavour is to bo made to enlist educated convicts to take the the
post; and failing this,
the pay is to be taken from
of the labour of the
the amount is
taken from revenue.
hope in time to see the indulgence extended to the whole Presidency ; but in the meantime tho Officers in Bengal require the assistance in consequence of tho amount of writing their superiors demand from them. We
The Medical Officers to whom annuities aro
this date, are :?Sutherland, MacphersoD, Kelly, Lay, Hathaway, Warneford, Allan and Mactier. the Eetiring Fund,