On the Actions of Picrotoxine, and the Antagonism between Picrotoxine and Chloral Hydrate
BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)
442 THE BRITISH MEDICAL 7OURNAL. [April 3, 1875. disturb the principles of medical science, and appear to endow with practical existence the ideas of the natural philosophers of bygone ag,es. In tracing the history of the doctrine of the nature of puerperal fever, there was, up to a certain point, no great difficulty; but now, instead of being able to reard it as a special form of disease, we must allow that it is only one of a large class. We can understand the idea involved in the explanation
... in the explanation of its symptoms resulting from a "diphtheritic process" excitedl by the presence of certain forms of bacteria. We can see the importanice of physiological experiments like those of Panum, Which had for their object the determination of the pathological effects of emboli of different substances upon the tissues they happened to be arrested in. The local changes which followed the introduction of a globule of miiercury, corpuscles of healthy pus, or decomposing fluids, were fotunid to differ to such a degree, that we must admit the value of Panium's conclusions, that the constitutional symptoms which occuir in the last instance can only be explained on the supposition of a putrid intoxicationi, as he terms it, of the blood. We begini to w,ish to know more of the minute organisms which seem to be the chief cause of the symptoms. We find our attention being attracted to the interesting question of their generation, their various forms, and their specific characters; and we feel disposed to examine the early researches of Elhreniberg, and the later attempts of Ilallier, Colhn, Lister, B3illroth, and others, to reduce them into some order of classification. SuLch a study is, however, the work of a lifetime. As patlhologists, conisi(lering the important connection between the presence of bacteria, witlhotut special regard to their species, we dlesire to know why ani embolus of pus or fibrin may excite slight, if any, pathological changes, unless it contains micrococci, or gives rise to them by deconiposition ; and then we find ourselves engaged in the (lifficult problem of the earliest changes produced in the process of inflamnation. We begin to perceive that we are crossing the line that separates the practical from the scientific, if such a line can be said to exist ; for I venture to express the opinion that you will agree with me in think. ing true practical knowledge is the result of scientific conception, and that all knowledge whiclh is not practical in no way deserves the title of scientific. I have hiad at command, in the preparation of these lectures, nuimerous works of reference, as well as opportunity of testing the truth of the theory under discussion. The difficulty has been to judge of the merits of those works rather than to analyse their contents. To sift tlhem thorou(ghly, and to do them justice, and this, too, with patience and goo(d feeling, I need hardly assure you, was a task which might have occupied a very lolng period of investigation.