Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/185

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THE LARYNGOSCOPE AND RHINOSCOPE.

of the head. In the latter proceeding it is not the back of the head which we see, but, as is hardly necessary to add, merely its reflection in the mirror.

And at this point we should remark that, while the laryngeal examination to one versed in the art is comparatively easy, the rhinoscopic examination, on the other hand, is a very difficult matter, and calls into play no small amount of skill and ingenuity. The reasons for this are mainly because of the unruliness of most palates, which have a tendency to bob up and down in a very provoking manner. We shall not dwell further upon this point, but briefly add a few remarks as to what this instrument has done for us. Where we can apply it we are no longer in the dark as to whether a case of disease is that of a chronic catarrh, nasal tumor, simple inflammation, swelling, or ulceration. In our climate, in which diseases of the nasal cavities, and particularly catarrh, are so prevalent that it has been estimated that 10,000,000 of our people have the disease called catarrh to a greater or less degree, every advance by which we are enabled the more successfully to combat these complaints is of general interest and importance. How potent our climate is in causing catarrh is illustrated in the case of Charles Dickens, who contracted it so rapidly and severely as to necessitate his abandoning many engagements and compel his flight from this country. Interesting is the fact, which Darwin records in his "Descent of Man," that the Cebus azarœ, a species of Paraguayan monkey, is liable to catarrh with all of the symptoms found in his more human relatives, and which when often recurrent leads in them to consumption.

The higher animals, like man, are endowed with an organ of voice and sound, but man alone has the supreme gift and faculty of expressing the ideas and thoughts which his intellectual endowments and powers give rise to, or, plainly speaking, he alone has an articulate language equal to the expression of most of his feelings and sentiments. How wonderful, then, it becomes to us when we study the little organ which has the great task of placing man in direct communication with his fellow-beings! And how wonderfully this little organ modulates its tones in accordance with the varying degrees of emotion and earnestness! And when we consider that each voice has its own peculiarities and characteristics which distinguish it from all others, our interest deepens. And yet there is little or in fact no difference in the mechanism of the various kinds of voice, the variations in pitch being due chiefly to the greater length of the vocal cords in the low-pitched voices and to their shortness in the high voices. Tone, whether in speech or song, is simply a result of the action of a volume of air in a quantity which is regulated by the will of the speaker or singer, which, coming up from the lungs through the windpipe, passes up through the larynx, where it causes the elastic vocal cords to be put upon the stretch to a greater or less degree according as