LETTER FROM LONDON

G. O. M.
1885 Journal of the American Medical Association  
tion could scarcely extend beyond six months. The weight of the infant, a short time after its birth, fell to 950 grammes, but under the influence of this arti¬ ficial feeding it soon mounted up to 1,015 grammes. Twenty days after its birth the child was able to take the breast. Its twin brother, born with a weight of 1,120 grammes-that is to say, with a superior weight-did not survive. The second infant that was presented was seen by M. Tarnier only three days after its birth; its weight,
more » ... h; its weight, which was 1,100 grammes, descended to 1,000 grammes, but under the influence of the gavage it rose gradually, and at the date of its presentation, it was scarcely a month old, it weighed 1,500 grammes. This method of feeding infants of weak constitutions whatever be the cause, and if unable to take the breast, would, ! M. Tarnier thinks, be the means of saving many a life, and he added in his note on the subject that the couveuse would be an indispensable complement to the above method in such circumstances, for he has seen infants affected with sclerema, appearing to be doomed to imminent death, recover in twenty-four or thirty-six hours. With reference to the experiments that were per¬ formed on the head of a man guillotined at Troyes, and to those that were performed previously under the same circumstances, M. Paul Bert made the folremarks at a recent meeting of the Société de Biol¬ ogie of Paris: In a general way it appeared to him that such experiments were of little or no value, and those who perfoimed them exposed themselves to a great mora! responsibility. The objects in view in performing these experiments may be divided into two categories-the one, to study on the de¬ capitated man the mechanism of a certain number of phenomena of the circulation, of secretion, etc. These results may be obtained by practising on animals, and in ten times better conditions. In the other groups of experiments it is proposed to deter¬ mine whether, after decapitation, intelligence per¬ sists, or whether it has disappeared, and, in the latter case, whether it is possible to make it reappear. It is now generally admitted that after decapitation consciousness is abolished, and even admitting that, by means of the artificial injection of blood, it may appear to be re-established, which, however, is only a hypothesis, yet M. Bert thinks one has no right to try such an experiment, as he compares it to tor¬ ture post-mortem. This debate was renewed at a subsequent meet¬ ing of the Academy of Sciences, in which Professor Vulpian took part. This learned physiologist quite agreed with M. Paul Bert, and added that to perform such experiments was to follow a chimera, as they never give any results worth having. Hence it would be inexcusable in any person moved by scientific passion to continue such practices. At the same meeting Professor Vulpian gave an account of some experiments he had performed to ascertain the duration of the excitability of the brain after death. In exposing the brain of a dog at the moment of its death it is noticed that the cerebral substance is still excitable during a period varying from forty-five to sixty seconds; that is to say that, under the influence of Faradic excitation of one side of the brain, movements are still pro¬ duced on the opposite side which extend to the ex¬ tremities and then to the face. When this time is passed, the Faradic excitations, even the strongest, do not determine the least muscular quivering of the opposite side. These experiments were performed on an adult dog, but it is probable that the results would be identical in other mammifers, except in hibernating animals in a state of hibernation. M. Milne-Edwards, the celebrated naturalist, whose health had been declining for some time, died on the 28th inst, in the 86th year of his age. He took his degree of Doctor of Medicine of the Faculty of Paris in 1823. After some years he de¬ voted himself entirely to the study of the natural sciences. subject was "Ought we to Prescribe Alcohol?" and his moderate and sensible remarks may be recommended to the consideration of every physician. There were medical men (said Dr. Kerr) who seemed to order wine and spirits for patients of both sexes, and at all ages, in every ailment. There were, again, daring innovators who denied that alcohol in any form or in any quantity possesses useful medicinal virtues. Medical men ought to limit their prescription of alcohol to the occasion, taking care that the medicine was not continued after the purpose for which the stimulant was given had been gained. This pretty fairly sums up the whole question. There is small doubt, on the one hand, that many people, especially ladies, have been led into habits of secret drinking by the insidious advice of accommodating medical men, and on the other hand, it is idle to deny that, under some cir¬ cumstances, wine and spirits are not only useful, but necessary medicines. The difficulty is how to pre¬ scribe alcohol in moderation without encouraging its use after the necessity has passed, and if Dr. Norman Kerr succeeds in showing how to avoid this dilemma, he will have deserved well. The other paper, that of Dr. I. Martin on " Over-Pressure in Schools," ought to prove instructive to educational fanatics. Over-pressure, according to Dr. Martin, injures health and produces misery, both for parents and children. " Children had to pore over their lessons until ten, eleven, and twelve o'clock at night. Next morning the child could not eat its breakfast, and then followed headaches, vomiting, Downloaded From: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/ by a University of British Columbia Library User on 06/18/2015
doi:10.1001/jama.1885.02391090024010 fatcat:jzzgzs42l5ahhcjoxgckv5xzgi