Cullen

The Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

 

[ID:1143] From: [AUTHOR UNKNOWN] / To: Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen) / Regarding: Mr Alexander Spalding Gordon (Spalding, of The Holme & Shirmers) (Patient), Miss Jeanie McMurdo (Macmurdo) (Patient) / 25 May 1775 / (Incoming)

Letter from John Gilchrist regarding Mr Spalding [Gordon] who has not followed Gilchrist's directions regarding mercury. Gilchrist ends with a request for Cullen to not mention his letter to the patient, and asks for Cullen's opinion on his actions: 'I write you at all times with the same freedom that I would have done to my own father, & I should wish that you would be as free as he would have been in telling me where I am wrong'. Also brief note concerning Miss McMurdo.

Facsimile

There are 4 images for this document.

[Page 1]


 

[Page 2]


 

[Page 3]


 

[Page 4]


 
 

Metadata

FieldData
DOC ID 1143
RCPE Catalogue Number CUL/1/2/244
Main Language English
Document Direction Incoming
Date25 May 1775
Annotation None
TypeAuthorial original
Enclosure(s) No enclosure(s)
Autopsy No
Recipe No
Regimen No
Letter of Introduction No
Case Note No
Summary Letter from John Gilchrist regarding Mr Spalding [Gordon] who has not followed Gilchrist's directions regarding mercury. Gilchrist ends with a request for Cullen to not mention his letter to the patient, and asks for Cullen's opinion on his actions: 'I write you at all times with the same freedom that I would have done to my own father, & I should wish that you would be as free as he would have been in telling me where I am wrong'. Also brief note concerning Miss McMurdo.
Manuscript Incomplete? No
Evidence of Commercial Posting Yes

Case

Cases that this document belongs to:

Case ID Description Num Docs
[Case ID:4]
Case of Mr Alexander Spalding Gordon who has a venereal infection in 1775; in 1776 he has a swollen ankle and toe assumed to be gouty; and in 1784 he is suffering from the after-effects of an accidental pistol wound.
18
[Case ID:684]
Case of Miss Jean ["Jeanie"] McMurdo [MacMurdo] who in 1775 has a fever, in 1778 has a bad chest condition with feverish symptoms, and then develops severe bouts of colic.
9


People linked to this document

Person IDRole in documentPerson
[PERS ID:1]AddresseeDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:1403]PatientMiss Jeanie McMurdo (Macmurdo)
[PERS ID:629]PatientMr Alexander Spalding Gordon (Spalding, of The Holme & Shirmers)
[PERS ID:1]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:115]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr John Gilchrist (of Speddoch)
[PERS ID:566]Other Physician / SurgeonMr Alexander Copland (Coupland; of King's Grange)

Places linked to this document

Role in document Specific Place Settlements / Areas Region Country Global Region Confidence
Place of Writing Dumfries Borders Scotland Europe certain
Destination of Letter Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain

Normalized Text

[Page 1]
Dumfries May 25. 1775
Dear Doctor


Tho there is now no absolute necessity for my
appearing in the matter at all, yet I cannot but choose to
write you in regard to a case, upon which you will be
consulted about this time; I mean that of Mr Spalding,
in which I have been concerned from the beginning, tho'
I declined putting my name to Mr Coplands relation of it,
as it was drawn up in my absence, and no more than
merely read over by me. -- The particulars of it are
simple and obvious. -- There was never the smallest appear¬
ance of a Gonorrhea. - A Chancre appeared eight or ten
days after infection. -- In six or eight weeks thereafter
the buboes were first perceived. They were {illeg} small,
without any marks of inflammation, and had continued
several days in the same indolent state. ↑At this time I first saw him↑. As it was {illeg} -
{illeg} to be hoped that the buboes might be discussed, and as I
judged it advisable for Mr S. to go through mercurial
course, I advised him to enter upon it immediately;
hoping that by introducing the mercury into the habit
in a moderate degree, & by rubbing a part of the oint¬
ment into the tumors themselves, the cure might be made
be made as short as possible. - I gave positive written
directions (which I have desired that Mr S. to shew to you when
he gets to town) in regard to the strength & quantity of



[Page 2]

the ointment to be used, and the frequency of the frictions, en¬
joining, upon the whole, the greatest caution & moderation, both
on account of the delicacy of Mr S's constitution, and of there being
nothing very formidable in the case. But what I most particu¬
larly advised was that if we found the tumors could not be
discussed, we were to desist altogether from the mercurial
course, whilst the proper methods were taken to bring them
to suppuration; - and then, when they were healed or near
near healing, that the course should be resumed in the same cau¬
tious manner in which it had been begun.


Accordingly we began our course, and were kept but
a very short time in suspense, for, in four or five days, and
after two or three frictions, which had just come sensibly to
affect his mouth, it appeared that the buboes were advancing
to suppuration. - In a very short time they suppurated in
the most kindly manner, the quantity of matter being suffici¬
ently large, and its colour & consistence good. There were
now no marks of the little mercury he had taken remaining
in his constitution, the use of it having been intirely dropt
as soon as the advancement of the buboes was observed.


Hitherto all went on very well; the patient flattering
himself with ↑the hopes of↑ a speedy cure, and the Surgeon giving assurances
of the same. -- Though the matter discharged from the buboes
was such as I have mentioned, yet, with a view, I suppose, to
promote a more speedy digestion, Mr Copland soon began



[Page 3]

to use mercurial dressings. Pledgets covered with the red precipitate
ointment were introduced into the openings, and the common mercurial
ointment was rubbed on the surrounding hardness. - Still matters
continued easy enough, and I could make no objections to this lo¬
cal use of Mercury; -- but I opposed, as long as I could, our return¬
ing to the mercurial course for this express reason, which
was repeatedly mentioned -- that we would run a risk thereby of
occasioning troublesome sores. -- At last however, as every
thing looked so favourably, I complied agreed, at the request of
my patient, and Mr Copland, that the mercurial course should be
resumed.


But, instead of keeping to the directions which
I had given, Mercury was now used in the most liberal
manner. - They have since owned to me that, besides the
mercurial dressings to the buboes, a large quantity of
the strongest mercurial ointment was, for four nights suc¬
cessively, (it is probable the number was greater) rubbed into
rubbed into the thighs, legs, and upon the glans penis. =- Nay
more, without my having the least suspicion of it, Mercurial
Pills
were likewise given internally. - The immediate con¬
sequence was a profuse salivation, with much sickness, &
fever, and with as sore and seemingly an ulcerated mouth
as you can well conceive to be produced by Mercury. -- I
need not say that we now desisted from the use of mercurial
remedies. -- From that time the ulcers, though the have contrac¬
ted much at their orifices, have shewn no disposition to heal.
On the contrary one of them now admits more than an inch of
a probe to be introduced below the teguments, where I have no



[Page 4]

doubt but it must be again laid open again. -- The discharge is still pretty consi¬
derable, and, -- which was the only circumstance I desired Mr Copland to add to
his relation, first became ropy, and is ↑now↑ at times thinner than we could wish.
About eight or ten days ago I directed the Bark, which he is still using,
though it has not yet had any visible effect.


Now Dear Sir, I think you will not blame me for having given you
this information, though in a sort of a clandestine manner, for I have said no
thing here of my being to write you, & therefore you will be so good as not to mention
my having done so -- I write you at all times with the same freedom that I would have
done to my own father, & I should wish that you would be as free as he would have
been in telling me where I am wrong. -- In the present instance I should wish
much to know whether you think I was right at first in dreading troublesome
sores from the use of Mercury, - and whether or no the difficulties in this case
are to be attributed to that cause? --


With regard to Miss McMurdo I can only add now to what I writ last
that the fever still keeps up, -- & that we find she has very little the use of
her limbs -- Upon the whole she seems to be gaining no ground. ----

I ever am Dear Sir Yours very sincerely
John Gilchrist


To
Doctor Cullen
Physician in
Edinburgh


Gilchrist of Dumfries
May 1775

Diplomatic Text

[Page 1]
Dumfries May 25. 1775
Dear Doctor


Tho there is now no absolute necessity for my
appearing in the matter at all, yet I cannot but choose to
write you in regard to a case, upon which you will be
consulted about this time; I mean that of Mr Spalding,
in which I have been concerned from the beginning, tho'
I declined putting my name to Mr Coplands relation of it,
as it was drawn up in my absence, and no more than
merely read over by me. -- The particulars of it are
simple and obvious. -- There was never the smallest appear¬
ance of a Gonorrhea. - A Chancre appeared eight or ten
days after infection. -- In six or eight weeks thereafter
the buboes were first perceived. They were {illeg} small,
without any marks of inflammation, and had continued
several days in the same indolent state. ↑At this time I first saw him↑. As it was {illeg} -
{illeg} to be hoped that the buboes might be discussed, and as I
judged it advisable for Mr S. to go through mercurial
course, I advised him to enter upon it immediately;
hoping that by introducing the mercury into the habit
in a moderate degree, & by rubbing a part of the oint¬
ment into the tumors themselves, the cure might be made
be made as short as possible. - I gave positive written
directions (which I have desired that Mr S. to shew to you when
he gets to town) in regard to the strength & quantity of



[Page 2]

the ointment to be used, and the frequency of the frictions, en¬
joining, upon the whole, the greatest caution & moderation, both
on account of the delicacy of Mr S's constitution, and of there being
nothing very formidable in the case. But what I most particu¬
larly advised was that if we found the tumors could not be
discussed, we were to desist altogether from the mercurial
course, whilst the proper methods were taken to bring them
to suppuration; - and then, when they were healed or near
near healing, that the course should be resumed in the same cau¬
tious manner in which it had been begun.


Accordingly we began our course, and were kept but
a very short time in suspense, for, in four or five days, and
after two or three frictions, which had just come sensibly to
affect his mouth, it appeared that the buboes were advancing
to suppuration. - In a very short time they suppurated in
the most kindly manner, the quantity of matter being suffici¬
ently large, and its colour & consistence good. There were
now no marks of the little mercury he had taken remaining
in his constitution, the use of it having been intirely dropt
as soon as the advancement of the buboes was observed.


Hitherto all went on very well; the patient flattering
himself with ↑the hopes of↑ a speedy cure, and the Surgeon giving assurances
of the same. -- Though the matter discharged from the buboes
was such as I have mentioned, yet, with a view, I suppose, to
promote a more speedy digestion, Mr Copland soon began



[Page 3]

to use mercurial dressings. Pledgets covered with the red precipitate
ointment were introduced into the openings, and the common mercurial
ointment was rubbed on the surrounding hardness. - Still matters
continued easy enough, and I could make no objections to this lo¬
cal use of Mercury; -- but I opposed, as long as I could, our return¬
ing to the mercurial course for this express reason, which
was repeatedly mentioned -- that we would run a risk thereby of
occasioning troublesome sores. -- At last however, as every
thing looked so favourably, I complied agreed, at the request of
my patient, and Mr Copland, that the mercurial course should be
resumed.


But, instead of keeping to the directions which
I had given, Mercury was now used in the most liberal
manner. - They have since owned to me that, besides the
mercurial dressings to the buboes, a large quantity of
the strongest mercurial ointment was, for four nights suc¬
cessively, (it is probable the number was greater) rubbed into
rubbed into the thighs, legs, and upon the glans penis. =- Nay
more, without my having the least suspicion of it, Mercurial
Pills
were likewise given internally. - The immediate con¬
sequence was a profuse salivation, with much sickness, &
fever, and with as sore and seemingly an ulcerated mouth
as you can well conceive to be produced by Mercury. -- I
need not say that we now desisted from the use of mercurial
remedies. -- From that time the ulcers, though the have contrac¬
ted much at their orifices, have shewn no disposition to heal.
On the contrary one of them now admits more than an inch of
a probe to be introduced below the teguments, where I have no



[Page 4]

doubt but it must be again laid open again. -- The discharge is still pretty consi¬
derable, and, -- which was the only circumstance I desired Mr Copland to add to
his relation, first became ropy, and is ↑now↑ at times thinner than we could wish.
About eight or ten days ago I directed the Bark, which he is still using,
though it has not yet had any visible effect.


Now Dear Sir, I think you will not blame me for having given you
this information, though in a sort of a clandestine manner, for I have said no
thing here of my being to write you, & therefore you will be so good as not to mention
my having done so -- I write you at all times with the same freedom that I would have
done to my own father, & I should wish that you would be as free as he would have
been in telling me where I am wrong. -- In the present instance I should wish
much to know whether you think I was right at first in dreading troublesome
sores from the use of Mercury, - and whether or no the difficulties in this case
are to be attributed to that cause? --


With regard to Miss McMurdo I can only add now to what I writ last
that the fever still keeps up, -- & that we find she has very little the use of
her limbs -- Upon the whole she seems to be gaining no ground. ----

I ever am Dear Sir Yours very sincerely
John Gilchrist


To
Doctor Cullen
Physician in
Edinburgh


Gilchrist of Dumfries
May 1775

XML

XML file not yet available.

Feedback

Send us specfic feeback about this document [DOC ID:1143]

Type
Comments
 

Please note that the Cullen Project team have now disbanded but your comments will be logged in our system and we will look at them one day...