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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/100

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

had not the mortality or the severity of forms of disease in the hospitals around me. I have seen two waiting men attending on delirious cases, holding the patients in their beds, and preventing their injuring themselves, just as I have seen in the old regiment typical cases of delirium tremens; but I had no such cases, and I had no doubt then, nor have I now, that the delirium arose from the free use of stimulants combined with want of food.

After the regimental system had been abolished I found myself superseded in charge of the corps of artillery with which I had served four years, and was attached to a regiment of infantry. The surgeon-major in charge went on leave soon after I joined, and as I was the next senior, according to the new regulations I assumed charge, although quite a new comer. It was then for the first time I became aware how much I had diverged from the ordinary practice—at least as it was then in the service. The surgeon of the regiment next in rank to myself soon after I joined consulted me about a bad case of hepatitis, with high fever, foul tongue, and diarrhœa. He had given a variety of drugs, which I do not remember. I found, however, that he was giving large quantities of food: jugged hare, strong soups, and six or eight ounces of port wine daily. I said I thought the man was getting too much food to digest, recommended milk diet, to stop the wine, and give salines. He replied, to my astonishment, in a nervous way, he would ask —— his opinion. Now this man

he mentioned was only a short time in the country. He was ten years my junior, and six or seven years his junior. I said no more, and went about my business. A few days afterward, however, the matter cropped up again, and he spoke with an astonishing degree of bitterness on the subject. He said he had once before met a man with these views, and he proceeded to refer to a case of mine which he had visited for me on the previous day as likely to die of hectic from want of support. I pointed out to him reasons why the ailment was not hectic, and assured him the man was not in danger. In truth, my case was severe Peshawur fever which resisted quinine, and the diagnosis was doubtful, as the man had originally come to hospital for treatment of a stricture. And, I may add, the man did not die. I saw him often years afterward at Woolwich. I was greatly surprised at the degree of irritation this surgeon displayed, and became aware that the administration or withholding of alcohol was not merely a scientific question, but one for faith and belief, with strong feeling attached thereto. His case of hepatic disease died; so did at least one other in the two months I had charge of the regiment. My colleague did not again seek my advice in his difficulties, and he was clearly not converted, for, I regret to say, he died himself from the disease in the following hot weather.