Bibliographical Record

1849 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
WE can imagine the pleasure with which WILLIAM HUNTER or DENMAN would have welcomed the present work; certainli the most valuable contribution to Obstetrics that has been made since their own day. For ourselves, we consider its appearance as the dawn of a new Era in this department of medicine. The First Lecture treats of the peculiar stamp given to British Obstetric practice by the combined influence of race, religion, civilization, and social habits; it contains a comparative estimate of the
more » ... ve estimate of the relative values attached to the life of the mother and foetus, during gestation and parturition, in this country and on the continent. The nobleness of the Obstetric art is eloquently vindicated throughout. DR. TYLER SMITH would banish the midwife from this department altogether, just as surgery banished the barber, and medicine dismissed the monk. The lecture contains some interesting observations on the different tendencies of Protestant and Roman Catholic practice in preferring the life of the mother or her offspring, and also a criticism of the plan of tearing away the placenta before delivery, in placenta previa; a practice which, it is maintained, sacrifices the child, and is an improper excess on the side of our national bias to prefer the life of the mother to that of the infant. WVe reserve our quotations for future lectures, otherwise there are many passages relating to these subjects which we should be glad to introduce to our readers. In the Second Lecture, the three leading IDEAS of Obstetrics-Developments, Mechanism, and Motor Actions-are succinctly traced. It is shown that, up to the present time, our knowledge of parturition as a motor function, had advanced little beyond the description given by Fabricius, the teacher of Harvey, nearly two centuries ago. It is demonstrated that the works of Drs. Robert Lee, Ramsbotham, Rigby, and other contemporary writers, scarcely contain a hint of the real physiology of labour. Full justice is, however, accorded to those who had previously contributed facts towards the elucidation of this function, as one belonging to reflex physiology. After resulming the progress of our knowledge of parturition, the author concludes as follows: " Thus, then, with the exceptions just named, a few paragraphs by physiologists, a few pages by obstetricians,--and these latter chiefly occupied by the purely mechanical part of labour,-make up the sum of our knowledge of the physiology of parturition. How is this to be accounted for? It certainly is not that parturition is a less important function than digestion, or respiration, or even the circulation of the blood, all of which have been so amply investigated. The uterus has been compared, by a distinguished living physiologist, to the stomach, as being the organ of nutrition and support to the species. We may, with equal or even greater justice, say that the uterus is to the Race what the heart is to the Individual: it is the organ of circulation to the species. Ages are the channels in which created beings circulate; and man passes continually from the womb of his mother onwards to the womb of time. The succeeding generations of human kind, following one after another, are, as it were, the pulses of the animal Cosmos. Parturition is the systole of the uterus, the unimpregnated state its diastole, and the living beings which flow on in countless numbers in the stream of life, may be likened to the myriads of globules revealed by the microscope in the circulation of the blood. In relation to the vast scheme of existence, parturition
doi:10.1136/bmj.s2-1.5.463 fatcat:km6gvnionvewlg6evti4d2c6fe