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"Aiidi alteram partem."

To the Editor of THE LANCET.

SiR,—Having given, in your paper of the 15th ult., a full expla-nation of the case of Mrs. S. as far as it came under my observa-tion and treatment, and my account having been corroborated bythe testimony of two professional gentlemen,-Mr. Scott and Mr.Moon,-it is not my intention to enter into the controversial cor-respondence which Dr. Lee invites in his letter, published in yourjournal of June 22d ult., feeling satisfied, from Dr. Lee’s mode ofdealing with the subject, and from the tenour of his remarks, thata controversy between us would be attended with no beneficialresults.

Without wishing to enter into further discussion of the historyof the case, there was one matter put forward by Dr. R. Lee inhis letter in THE LANCET of June the 22nd, as to which (althoughI was not invited to be present at the post-mortem examination)the facts could happily, even now, be ascertained. Dr. Lee states,*’ if the grooved needle was passed in the direction stated by Dr.P. Smith, about midway between the os uteri and bladder,’ thepreparation now in the museum of St. George’s Hospital demon-strates, that to reach the abscess, its point must have been driventhrough the anterior wall of the vagina, thence onward betweenthe cervix uteri and bladder, probably wounding the coats of thelatter, to the body of the uterus, and then through the anteriorwall of the uterus and fibrous tumour. A grooved needle, to reachsuch a destination, must have been many inches in length."-Having made application at the museum of St. George’s Hospital,I was informed the preparation was not there. Permission wasthen asked by a professional friend to examine it at Dr. Lee’shouse, where I was told it was to be found, but Dr. Lee de-clined to exhibit it.With regard to the correspondence which Dr. Lee published in

your journal of the 22nd of June ult., there have been suppressionsand alterations of passages of his letters to me. I therefore sub-

join correct copies of these letters in extenso, putting the sup-pressed and altered passages in italics.

4, Savile-row, 19th April, 1850.DEAR SiR,—.f am anxious to know in what condition you found

the uterus of Mrs. S., when she frst came under you, aboutthree weeks ago, and what treatment you adopted. She had occa-sionally been seen by me during the last six or seven years, and Iwish to give afull report of her case, and of the appearances whichthe uterus presented this day on examining it.

I am, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,To Dr. Protheroe Smith. ROBERT LEE.

4, Savile-row, 27th April, 1850.DEAR SiR,—I found a fibrous tumour ofco2miderable size in the

anterior wall of the uterus, in the centre of which was an abscess.The anterior lip of the os uteri was in a remarkably livid state,and the whole lining membrane of the uterus intensely red andinflamed. I am, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,To Dr. Smith. R. LEE.

I have only to say that this correspondence did not for a momentlead me to suppose that my practice and treatment of the casewere to be the subject of animadversion at a public meeting ofthe profession. Every one reading the correspondence must seethat no word or hint of censure is to be found in it, and yet Dr.Lee must at that time have known all the circumstances uponwhich, without further communication with me, he founded hispublic accusation. I subjoin, without comment, the letter I wroteto Dr. Lee upon the appearance of the abstract of his paper inyour columns, and his reply.

25, Park Street, Grosvenor Square, June 10, 1850.DEAR Sip,—I request you will be good enough to inform me,

whether THE LANCET of Saturday, June 8th ult., contains a cor-rect report of your supplemental paper, read at the meeting of theRoyal Medical and Chirurgical Society, on Tuesday, May 28thult. I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully,To Dr. Robert Lee. PROTHEROE SMITH.

4, Savile-row, lOth June, 1850.DEAR SiR,—The secretary of the Royal Medical and Chirurgi-

cal Society is the only person I believe authorized to give an an-swer to your question. I am, dear Sir, very faithfully yours,To Dr. Protheroe Smith. ROBERT LEE.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, that I know nothing whateverof the case to which Dr. Lee alludes at the end of his letter, andthe publication of which, he says, the Council of the Royal Medi-cal and Chirurgical Society were requested to suppress.

I am Sir, your obedient servant,Park-street, Grosvenor-square, July 3, 1850. PROTHEROE SMITH.




To the Editor of THE LANCET.Sm,—The profession particularly, and the public generally,

are much indebted to you for so nobly advocating their interestson all occasions ; and in regard to the Colney-Hatch appoint-ments, I am glad to observe, from your able journal of the 25th oflast month, that you have not been behindhand.

I am induced to renew the subject, only because I do not thinkyou have gone quite minutely enough into the matter, and because Iknow how necessary it is that the persons selected to undertake thesuperintendence of a lunatic hospital should not only be expe-rienced in the economy ani management, but likewise be conver-sant with the best mode of constructing asylums, and thoroughlyacquainted with the phenomena of mental disease, and the treat-ment of the insane; which latter can only be acquired by longresidence in an institution devoted to that purpose. In the case ofColney-Hatch, these are more especially desirable, as it is a new in-stitution, and will be, lunderstand, when completed, one of the mostperfect in the kingdom. Is it not then necessary that the indivi-duals appointed to superintend it should possess the above quali-fications ? And at what rate? Only 2001. per annum!! Why didnot the justices make it 3001. or 4001., and in this way have in-duced Drs. Begley and Hitchman to have become candidates-gentlemen pre-eminently qualified for such a charge, and whoare, moreover, personally known to the justices, as well as to allwho are engaged in the management of lunatic hospitals.

It looks as if the justices had friends of their own to nominate.God grant that this may not be the case, and that they may lookto an acquaintance, both practically and theoretically, with the sub-ject, " and elect men who are likely to elevate the character ofthe institution." I do most earnestly hope, for the credit of thejustices themselves-for the honour of the institution, that thepersons selected may be men of this description, not mere pupils,who have walked the wards of an asylum, and heard a few lec-tures on insanity. Where, I ask, would such men be placed in amonth ? Not only the patients, but the attendants, would ridiculethem, and their position be rendered too hot to hold them ; butthe asylum would suffer, and in a marked degree.

That the justices may be guided by qualifications only, andelect those who are interested in the subject, and likely to remainsome time, and not persons whose only object is to make the in-stitution a stepping-stone to something else, is the prayer of

Your obedient servant,York, June 19, 1850. AN OBSERVER.


To the Editor of’THE LANCET.SiB,—I have recently read Dr. Carpenter’s essay on the ‘° Na-

ture, Effects, and Uses of Alcohol," and as I am author of one of therejected essays, I trust you will give me space to say a few wordsin reference to a part of the essayist’s remarks. I may remark,in limine, that he recommends total abstinence in all cases, as hehas discovered, from the written testimony of others and his ownpersonal experience, that excessive, or even the moderate use ofalcoholic drinks is injurious to a sound mind as well as a soundbody in the common exigencies of life. This is saying a great

deal, if not a great deal too much ; and more than I think isjustifiable. Putting all theory aside, I will direct attention to afew facts. At page 177, par. 147, Dr. Carpenter says, ° A man

previously in the enjoyment of vigorous health, and not accus-tomed to depend upon alcoholic stimulants, will derive all theprotection he can require, from taking his first solid meal beforehe exposes himself to the cold, damp, or pestilential misasmata,whose influence is to be resisted ; and the moderate use of hottea, coffee, or cocoa, will help to diffuse a genial warmth throughhis body, which is more enduring than that which results fromthe ingestion of spirituous liquors," &c. I must refer you for therest of the paragraph to the book itself.For proof of the utility of alcoholic liquors, I think I might

with safety refer to the night soil men of our own dirtyand disease-engendering towns. All these men are constantlyexposed to effluvia of the most deadly nature, yet if youseek their testimony, they will tell you that they have pursued



their calling for years, and have enjoyed as good health as mostmen-have never suffered from fever-nor do they look at allpictures of ill health. There are many old men among them, asin many other occupations. How do they resist the influenceof the powerful poisons in which they breathe and live ? Wehave only to look to their habits for an answer. They are notabstainers, but drink largely (perhaps too largely occasionally),

- and like jolly Englishmen. The drink enables them to live, toappear well and strong, to go through their disagreeable employ-ment with safety, and to resist attacks of fever. I am dubiouswhether hot coffee or tea would answer under such circum-stances; and I am strongly dubious for personal reasons. In

my official capacity as visiting surgeon to one of the Liver-pool dispensaries, I am perhaps more exposed to the influ-ence of febrile miasmata than the night-soil men. I visit inthe dirtiest dwellings, pass up the dirtiest courts, breathethe most noxious air, expose myself to the emanations of feverof all kinds, witness the most disgusting sights, and handle themost uncleanly and filthy persons--I possess a sound body, andam considered to be healthy by those most competent to judge.When first I took the situation I am now in, I adopted totalabstinence, with the firm belief that it was the only safe plan Icould follow. I continued it for two months, if not more. I found,however, that it would not do. I began to feel unwell, disposedto fever, and that the noxious matters I was constantly breath-ing were doing me a powerful injury. I then had recourseto occasional draughts of alcoholic liquors, not before I went intothese filthy dwellings, or while I was visiting my cases, but sub-sequently, and I am happy to say that I now feel improved, asfree from uneasy sensations and as healthy as I ever did in mylife. I am fully persuaded that total abstinence is injurious ifadopted in all cases and under all circumstances ; and I trustthat in future I shall ever be the advocate of moderation. Asthe reason for the utility of alcoholic liquors in enabling the bodyto resist pestilential miasmata is sufficiently plain, I will not

trouble you with any additional remarks, as I fear I have alreadywritten more than you will like to publish.

I am, Sir, yours respectfullyA. B. C.


SiR,—It must have been evident, on reading my paper onHydrogen, that the days of Lavoisier’s theory are numbered.It was, however, not to be expected that a theory which hadsubsisted for so many years, and had been so universallyadopted, would be permitted to pass away without a struggle.As, however, to meet the main argument in my paper wouldbe clearly a hopeless task, all that ingenuity can effect mustbe limited to an attempt to divert the mind from the consi-deration of the physical impossibility I have pointed out,by bringing forward unimportant questions, and suggestingimaginary doubts; and as this was all that Mr. Waterlandcould do, it is an apology for the rambling and rather irre-levant matter which his letter embraces. I must, however,be allowed to complain of his assertion that I had expressed"my conviction" that water " is, in fact, hydrogen gas, de-prived of electricity." Now I most assuredly said no suchthing, and most carefully avoided using any such unnecessarilyambiguous, if not absurd, expressions. I simply said thathydrogen was a compound, and that water had never beendecomposed; and in a subsequent part of my paper, I sug-gested that hydrogen must be a compound of electric matterand water, as it was wholly impossible (looking at Lavoisier’ssecond experiment) to account for its formation in any otherway; whilst, as far as my argument was concerned, it wasaltogether immaterial of what the escaped combustible mattermight consist.

It will not, I am sure, be considered necessary (while the" physical impossibility" remains unanswered) that I shoulddiscuss the theory, by replying to all manner of chemicalquestions-such, for example, as " Whether I can ignitehydrogen, and form water, without oxygen ?"-or, " Whetherit would not be better to say that oxygen and hydrogen con-tain separately a larger quantity of latent electricity thanwhen liquid and combined ?"-whether " the phenomenon ofcombustion is not the combination of hydrogen and oxygen,(most certainly not,) forming carbonic acid and water ?" &c.,-all questions, too, involving the very theory in dispute, if dis-pute it can now be called.As, however, the letter of Mr. Waterland may mislead,

though it does not controvert my leading argument, it maybe prudent to give, in a few words, the summary of my ob-

jections to Lavoisier’s theory. Thus, then, I said-That:Lavoisier states water to be composed of hydrogen andoxygen, minus an inflammable matter, which escapes at thetime of the explosion which takes place when the gases areignited. That such escaped matter belonged to one or bothof the gases there could be no question; and that Lavoisieradmits the fact. That Lavoisier, in his second process or e7--periment, passes through the so-formed water (inclosed in aglass vessel) successive currents of electricity, when the waterat length disappears, and in its place are found the two gases;from which he concludes that the water has been decomposed,and that the gases are the result of this decomposition. Thatthis conclusion is necessarily erroneous, inasmuch as the gases(one or both, no matter) were possessed of an inflammablesubstance which the water does not contain; and therefore,that although the gases are reconstructed, it is manifestly im--possible that the water could have been the sole ingredientsNow this is the adamantine barrier to Lavoisier’s theory,which must be first removed, before it can be necessary toanswer any of Mr. Waterland’s queries.

It is clearly immaterial whether the escaped matter beelectric or not, as that is a question, so far as the theory isconcerned, altogether supererogatory. It, however, appearedto me to be, ex necessitate, electric, as, in the absence of thatmatter, it was impossible to account for the reconstruction ofthe two gases, and particularly the hydrogen. I thereforeexamined into what the contemporary chemists said ofhydrogen, when I found that Mr. Cavendish, (the discovererof this gas,) Dr. Priestley, and Mr. Watt, all agreed in theopinion that it contained a very little water and much ele-mentary heat, or phlogistic matter, and which coincides withmy notion. To account for the water (resulting from the de-composition of the hydrogen in Lavoisier’s first experiment)being equal in weight to that of the two gases, I said thatthe water had necessarily absorbed the oxygen. This, again,does not affect the main argument; but as it appeared to meto be a necessary consequence of the process, I again inves-tigated the papers of Dr. Priestley (the discoverer of oxygengas) upon this point, when I found that he stated, in his" Refutation," published in 1800, that he had frequently triedLavoisier’s experiment of forming water by the explosion of thetwo gases; and that although he had assured himself of theirentire purity, and to be more satisfied on that point had alwaysused them in small quantities, he had invariably found thewater they deposited to be so acid as not to be potable; fromwhich circumstance he concluded that the water was sur...

charged with oxygen. I mention this, in answer to the ideathrown out by Mr. Waterland, that the acidity of the watermust have arisen from the impurity of the gases. He willalso see, by an inspection of the papers of Mr. Cavendish,that that distinguished chemist never found the water madeupon Lavoisier’s theory to be what might be termed pure,except when, instead of oxygen gas, he made use of atmo-spheric air.Having travelled thus far in my paper in overthrowing

Lavoisier’s theory, I inquired whether it was not vastly improbable that our watery element (as it must now be admitted)should be a compound, demanding for its formation suchenormous and inconceivable quantities of gases, that merelyto procure 135 grains, it required 500,000 grain measures ofhydrogen, (besides 250,000 like measures of oxygen); andagain, that this water, containing such a large quantity of thismost inflammable hydrogen gas, should be nevertheless anantiphlogistic.These two supererogatory arguments, or improbabilities,

Mr. Waterland says, are unphilosophical, but which, havingbeen brought forward as accessories only, and not as argu-ments in chief, I apprehend are perfectly justifiable; and Isubmit to Mr. Waterland, that my attack upon Lavoisier’stheory can neither be charged with being unphilosophical norillogical, nor in any manner uncandid. With regard to thefirst improbability, Mr. Waterland says that in the same waywe might disbelieve half the facts in astronomy. I am sorryfor it, for the sake of the science; though I do not think thatastronomers hold any theory, which, if exceedingly impro.bable, can, at the same time, be shown to be impossible, as isthe case with the water theory; but if Mr. Waterland isaware of any such theory, he will certainly do science a greatbenefit by pointing it out. For myself, I have always con-sidered probability to be a most valuable ingredient and sup-port in all well-constructed arguments. It was probabilitywhich led to the discovery of the new planet; and if it hadbeen well considered when Lavoisier promulgated his theory,it would most probably have elicited such a jealous examina-