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We trust that no one will imagine, that by addressing so many of the foregoing remarks to Mr Sedgwick, we mean to shew him any personal disrespect. Our object is exactly the reverse. We perceive in him moral and intellectual qualities that place him in the higher class of minds, and set bim above low and degrading prejudices. We discover in him moral intrepidity, as well as depth and comprehensiveness of intellect; and it is only on such men that we have the least chance of making an impression. Our science teaches us, that unless the higher qualities of mind are possessed by those to whom we address our arguments in favour of a new and despised system of truth, we may, in the words of Mr Sedgwick, as well waste our breath on the stones of the wilderness."
AFFECTION OF THE FACULTY OF LANGUAGE FROM
INJURY OF THE BRAIN.
A curious case of injury of the brain has been published in No. 117 of the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, by Professor Syme. It is worthy of the notice of pbrenologists on account of the defect in the faculty of Language which accompanied it. The principal facts are as follows.
George Moodie, aged twenty-eight, was admitted into the Royal Infirmary on the 6th July 1833, on account of an injury of the head, which he had sustained nineteen months before, and from the effects of which he had not recovered. It was stated; that, on the 4th of January 1832, he had been found lying insensible at the foot of a high wall, from which he must have fallen. He remained unconscious of external circumstances for four days, during which he occasionally moved the different parts of his body, and expressed by cries and unconnected sentences that he was suffering uneasiness. At the end of this
period he regained his intelligence, but was found to have lost the power of moving the left side of his body, and of articulating words, with the exception of one or two of the simplest monosyllables. He was, however, quite aware of his situation, and
understood all that was said within his hearing; while, at the same time, he retained hardly any recollection of written or printed words.” This state having continued for some months, his head was carefully examined, and a slight semicircular ridge was perceived a little above the forehead, on the left side of the head, below which the bone seemed somewhat flattened. He then came to town to get the depressed portion of the skull re
VOL. IX.-NO. XLI.
moved ; but Dr Abercrombie and Mr Syme considered an operation unadvisable the former regarding the symptoms as “ indicative of a much more serious derangement of the brain than could be supposed to result from so very slight a depression.” On 6th July 1833 the patient, who had now become subject to epileptic fits, again came to town, with the determined resolution of having an opening made in the injured part of the bone; and, after due consideration, it was resolved to remove a portion of the skull. The operation was performed on the 22d July, when it appeared that the internal table was not affected, and the dura mater presented a natural aspect. It was thought unnecessary to carry the operation farther, and the edges of the wound were brought together and stitched. The health of the patient improved, with little interruption, till the ninth day: he then had a severe fit; after which he remained pale and almost comatose. In the evening he had two fits. On the following day he had four attacks in rapid succession ; and on the eleventh day he died.
« On dissection, the cranium and dura mater were found to present nothing remarkable. When an opening was made into ihe dura mater of the injured side, three or four ounces of turbid serum gushed out, and the membrane collapsed upon the middle lobe of the brain, -the surface of which, instead of being convex, was concave, and very irregular, displaying a number of small elevations and depressions. A section being made through this part, it was observed that the entire substance of the middle lobe possessed an unusually tough consistence, and was, throughout its whole extent, from above downwards, converted into a cavernous structure, the interstices of which were occupied by serum. The lateral ventricles contained more fluid than usual; and the inferior surface of the middle lobe was discoloured and soft. The only other morbid appearance observed, was a very distinct ramollissement, to the extent of about a shilling, but of little depth, on the inferior surface of the anterior lobes, corresponding with the bulbs of the olfactory nerves, and the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone.
" There can be little doubt that the morbid appearances which have been mentioned, with the exception of the softening, which may be referred to the effect of inflammation, depended upon the effusion of blood, which, being afterwards absorbed, had its place occupied by serum. It is certainly remarkable that so extensive a derangement of the cerebral structure should not have been attended with more imperfection of the bodily or mental faculties. Perhaps this may be accounted for in some measure by the integrity of the right side of the brain, which seemed to be perfectly sound every where, except the small part corresponding with the cribriform plate, where it was diseased on both sides.”
By the kindness of Professor Syme, we had an opportunity of examining this patient when in the Infirmary, and of observing the singular affection of language, which the Professor describes. The patient seemed to understand perfectly whatever was said to him, but had scarcely any recollection of written or printed words. The great puzzle in such cases has always been to explain how the patient could understand what was said to him, when, at the very same time, he could neither attach words to his own ideas, nor comprehend the meaning of written or printed language. We do not pretend to be able fully to solve the difficulty ; but we think that Mr Syme's case admits, in one sense, of an easier explanation than most of the others. The general intelligence which the patient manifested, is
perfectly accounted for by the healthy state of both anterior lobes of the brain, which constitute the organs of the intellectual faculties. The only morbid appearance affecting them, was the softening on their inferior surface over the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, which must have implicated the convolutions belonging to the
organ of Form on both sides. We were not present at the dissection, but were told by a phrenologist who witnessed it, that the softening extended to the organs of Language also. Professor Syme's description applies, however, almost exclusively to the organ of Form, which was undoubtedly diseased.
As spoken language was understood, while that which was written or printed
and presented to the eyes was not, may not the disturbance of function in the organ of Form have been the real cause why the association between certain visible forms or letters and their meaning no longer existed? We believe that it may, but are far from affirming that even the proof of its being so would solve all our difficulties.—Considering that the chief disorganization had its seat in the middle lobe, containing the organs of propensities alone, and that those of intellect, with the single exception above stated, were uninjured, we see no reason for the surprise which the Professor expresses at the little disorder which prevailed in the mental faculties. At the same time, it is only by means of phrenology that the circumstance can be easily accounted for.
We take this opportunity to repeat a caution already given more than once in the pages of this Journal, on the subject of injuries of the brain. According to the ordinary way of speaking, a patient like Professor Syme's, who manifests no striking disorder of mind, is said to retain all his faculties unimpaired. But on what evidence is this strong assertion made ? Moodie could not speak, so that no one could obtain any clew to the actual degree of intelligence which he retained. He looked intelligently when addressed, and answered connectedly by signs; but experience of this limited extent is far tov imperfect to be admitted as a philosophical proof of the full retention of former powers. Even a person
in a state of mild delirium will be. come collected for a moment, and answer rationally when spoken to; but is that held to prove that the mind is unaffected ? observed, and heard it remarked by others, that Moodie's expression became vacant and null when he lay on his bed without any one addressing him; and we think it not unlikely, that had he been able to converse, those who knew him intimately would have recognised a change in the vigour of his mind. Are we not all conscious, in fact, of our mental powers being affected and our tempers rendered irritable by a feverish cold or fit of indigestion ? and is this effect not to be held as a reality, merely because we still continue to act and speak as rational beings? It is time to attend to such distinctions, and no longer to propound vague generalities in the place of precise and accurate knowledge.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CARIBS.
We had occasion lately to look into an extremely well written book, entitled, “Histoire Naturelle et Morale des Iles Antilles," published at Rotterdam in 1658; and were much amused, as well as interested, by a very careful description of the Caribs, then inhabiting St Vincent's and several others of the West India Islands. The author scems to have taken great pains in observing and recording the manners and customs of these savages, and to have been unusually free from the prejudices so often attached to civilization. He evidently possessed an extensive acquaintance with the natural and civil history of man; and in noticing the prominent features and practices of Carib life, he makes his narrative doubly instructive, by constantly comparing them with similar traits and customs not only among contemporaneous savages in other parts of the world, but also among the rude inhabitants of Europe, as displayed in its earli. est authentic records.
The race of Caribs having now almost disappeared, it is interesting to go back a hundred and seventy years to the pages of an author who gathered his information from persons who had lived amongst them while their numbers were still great, and their natural character comparatively pure. Even al that time, indeed, they had been driven from several of the islands by the fire-arms and superior intelligence of the whites; but they still abounded in Si Vincent's and a few other places, in
each of which modifications of character were to be found. The author warns the reader that his description is applicable chiefly to the Caribs of St Vincent's.
Our readers are well acquainted with the flattened and uniutellectual forehead presented by the Carib skull. The author says: “Admiration being the daughter of ignorance, we ought not to be surprised that the Caribs should be seized with a profound astonishment at every thing of which they cannot see the cause, and that they should be brought up in so much simplicity, that in the greater number of this poor people, one would take it for brutal stupidity.”
“ Most of them were persuaded that gunpowder was the seed of a plant, and many insisted on having some to sow in their gardens," where they thought it would grow like cabbage. They never could get over their astonishment at muskets, or conceive how they were discharged. They saw the match applied to the cannons, and thus accounted for their discharge; but believed that Matoya, their evil god, set fire to the muskets. The Caribs were as bad as those American Indians who, being employed by the Spaniards to carry letters and dispatches, could not conceive how the news contained in them was conveyed, and at last fancied the letters to have eyes and ears, and to tell what they saw. Act ing on this belief, a party in charge of a letter, fearing its watchfulness, hid it below a stone, that it might not see them steal and eat some of their master's melons !
Our author notices the inability of the Caribs to count beyond the number of their fingers. Their extraordinary deficiency of Causality or reasoning power proved an insuperable obstacle to their forming any conception of an omnipotent and omnipresent God; and when the admirable arrangements of Providence were pointed out as proofs, they listened patiently, and answered, “ My friend, you are very eloquent ; I wish I could speak like you ;” and then added, that it was the earth, and not God, that gave every thing. Monsieur de Montel, finding a Carib at work on a Sunday, told him that “the Being who made the heaven and the earth would be angry with him, as He had set apart that day for His own service.” The Carib, unable to penetrate beyond what he saw with his eyes, replied coarsely, “I am angry at your God; you say he is the ruler of the world and of the seasons ;—it is he, then, who has not sent rain in due season, and has caused my manioc and potatoes to die. Since he has used me so ill, I shall work all Sunday to vex him.” This brutality, the author remarks, is like that of another savage, “who, when told that God was the author of thunder, remarked that he could not be good, since he took such pleasure in terrifying them with it.” Remarks like these could proceed only from minds incapable of embracing general