Cullen

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

 

[ID:2556] From: Dr John Gilchrist (of Speddoch) / To: Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen) / Regarding: Mr William McDowall (Macdowall, McDoual, McDowal, McDouall) (Patient), Miss Aitken (Patient), Mr Macmurdo (McMurdo) (Patient) / 26 January 1785 / (Incoming)

Letter from Dr John Gilchrist concerning Miss Aitken, Mr McDowall and a young gentleman in Drumlanrig.

Facsimile

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Metadata

FieldData
DOC ID 2556
RCPE Catalogue Number CUL/1/2/1605
Main Language English
Document Direction Incoming
Date26 January 1785
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 Dr John Gilchrist concerning Miss Aitken, Mr McDowall and a young gentleman in Drumlanrig.
Manuscript Incomplete? No
Evidence of Commercial Posting No

Case

Cases that this document belongs to:

Case ID Description Num Docs
[Case ID:1107]
Case of Mr William McDowal [McDowall, McDouall], who has a chest complaint and spits blood.
19
[Case ID:1410]
Case of Miss Aitken who has a long-standing, intermittent, painful chest complaint.
5
[Case ID:1732]
Case of young Mr McMurdo of Drumlanrig who has a fever.
4


People linked to this document

Person IDRole in documentPerson
[PERS ID:115]AuthorDr John Gilchrist (of Speddoch)
[PERS ID:1]AddresseeDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:1080]PatientMr William McDowall (Macdowall, McDoual, McDowal, McDouall)
[PERS ID:2748]PatientMiss Aitken
[PERS ID:3786]PatientMr Macmurdo (McMurdo)
[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:2751]Patient's Relative / Spouse / FriendMrs McDowall
[PERS ID:2752]Patient's Relative / Spouse / Friend McDowall
[PERS ID:2753]Patient's Relative / Spouse / Friend McDowall

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
Mentioned / Other Drumlanrig (Drumlanrig Castle) Borders Scotland Europe certain
Mentioned / Other Edinburgh Edinburgh and East Scotland Europe certain

Normalized Text

[Page 1]

Dumfries January 26. 1785

Dear Sir


I was duly favoured with yours concerning
Miss Aitken, who remains in the same situation
as when I last writ you. Tho' you advised us
to no new measures, yet your opinion has been
quite satisfactory to the family in shewing what
the measures were from which only relief was
to be expected.- Do you think a Seton in the side
would now be adviseable? - Tho' I had forgot it,
yet it seems I had several years ago urged it
very strongly, but without being able to make
the patient submit to it. -- She observed since we
received your letter that she had been afraid you
were to advise it. -- On several instances lately,
of delicate young women too, - I have taken a
good deal of pains, and have ng succeded, in
getting them to submit to Setons -- in preference
to perpetual Blisters, which in general are so
painful and troublesome. ---


But tho' the observations you favour me with
in Miss Aitkens case might lead to it, I will not
trouble you with any more about her at present
having now to mention one or two circumstances



[Page 2]

concerning another Case, the enclosed Account of
which I transmit to you this opportunity; and
the patient himself will wait on you on the first or
second day of next month when he is to be in Edinburgh.
This narrative, tho' it was drawn up at my de¬
sire two or three months ago, - I am, in truth,
ashamed to send you; on account of its extreme length,
but there is no help for it. -- You will readily excuse
the peculiarities of Mr Mc Dowalls relation, as from
the unfortunate situation of his health, he has been
for several years, in a manner secluded from the
{illeg} that is from Company, tho' still obliged to
attend to business at home. -- I shall just make one
general remark -- that his constitution, or confor¬
mation
, may perhaps be a very particular one,
judging from that of the rest of his family. His
Mother is a remarkably big, - (not corpulent) - and
strong woman. -- His two - & only, Sisters, are the most
extraordinary women for size in all this country
-- His only Brother died about sixteen of a Con¬
sumption
-- Some of these are circumstances which
probably Mr Mc. - would not like to mention


[Page 3]

I observe he mentions Mercury as a remedy to be
tried. -- Among the various things which we think
or propose in such lingering Cases, this was
one that I hinted at. -- I had recommended the use
of a Decoction of Sarsaparilla and Antimonial Wine,
on the idea of promoting perspiration, which was
an indication that naturally occurred from the
constant dryness of his skin. These he used
for several (↑5 or 6↑) weeks, - and, at times, he thought with
some benefit. -- It was after this that I spoke of
a trial of Mercury, - chiefly to hold out something
to a desponding and suffering patient; - and in¬
deed, I thought, if he could attempt nothing better,
some preparation of Mercury most likely to act
as a diaphoretic, might, in a very cautious man¬
ner, be made trial of -- The mercurius calcina¬
tus Pharmacopoeia Londinensis
was in my thoughts, combined
perhaps with some Antimonial. -- Very possibly,
I believe I should rather say very probably; Mr
McDowalls Complaints depend on such a local
affection, with ↑such↑ a vue of the whole habit as are
not


[Page 4]

to be naturally mended by any method -- or any
medicine. -- One night lately he threw out a conjecture
himself, namely, that, from his feelings, he would not
be surprised if ossifications were to be found in some
parts of his Thorax. -- In conversing with him,
- (for he has been naturally led to think & converse
much about his Case,) - I have endeavoured to make
him suppose that his complaints might depend
rather on an irregular circulation, and too great
determination to the Thorax, than upon a cause
[so?] {illeg}able as ossifications.


The said is the - advice you gave to Mr McDowal
in 1779, I heartily wish you may be able to say
or advise any thing for his relief. -- All this win¬
ter I have been urging some long excursion and
change of Climate. I should be happy if he
could be preserved by any means for he is
a worthy young man & much respected here.


--- I have been obliged at this time to write you
less deliberately than I wished. -- but you have enough
or more than enough -- I am always with much truth


Dear Sir Yours affectionately

John Gilchrist.



[Page 5]


Being interrupted a little when writing on the opposite side I add
here that on the first coming on of frost, which happened here in
the first week, I think, of November, and was pretty smart for a
night or two, Miss Aitken was so severely, and so suddenly affected
↑with↑ the pains of her left side, cough, Asthma &c -- that we thought she
must have died if the frost had continued. -- She has however
stood the severity of the season, since, much better than we
expected, though almost always very ill. -- Indeed, for a great
while past, she has been considered as one past all hope of recovery.
and an expression which she uses herself sometimes is that she
takes a great deal of dying
-- Tho' she has not even yet a hectic
or consumptive countenance, yet and for a considerable time
has been as thin and wasted as she could well be, yet she has
been of late a great deal weaker than ever she was before. --
Her pulse is sometimes very quick; though often moderate
for one in her situation. Yesterday at noon it was 104.
at seven in the evening 108 or 110
. Her menses for a
long time have been very irregular
, sometimes not appearing
for a year or more, though at the two or three last periods
they have come regularly. -- I have only to mention farther
that she has frequently for these two or three years past been
liable to pretty smart attacks of a Diarrhœa, and sometimes
swelling of the legs; but these symptoms have sometimes appeared
to be rather accidental, than so strictly to be termed colliquative
as they are in ordinary cases of Consumption; But upon the whole
I fear we must say that if nature or art effect a Cure in
this instance, it is more than we have ↑any↑ reason to expect either
of them should be able to perform. -- But the last Case concern¬
ing which I corresponded with you, - the young Gentleman at Drumlanrig
was by most people accounted a hopeless one. He continues in perfect health.


J. G.



[Page 6]


To
Doctor Cullen
Physician
Edinburgh


Dr Gilchrist
Concerning Miss Aitken
January 1785
V. XVI. p.265

Diplomatic Text

[Page 1]

Dumfries Jan 26. 1785

Dear Sir


I was duly favoured with yours concerning
Miss Aitken, who remains in the same situation
as when I last writ you. Tho' you advised us
to no new measures, yet your opinion has been
quite satisfactory to the family in shewing what
the measures were from which only relief was
to be expected.- Do you think a Seton in the side
would now be adviseable? - Tho' I had forgot it,
yet it seems I had several years ago urged it
very strongly, but without being able to make
the patient submit to it. -- She observed since we
received your letter that she had been afraid you
were to advise it. -- On several instances lately,
of delicate young women too, - I have taken a
good deal of pains, and have ng succeded, in
getting them to submit to Setons -- in preference
to perpetual Blisters, which in general are so
painful and troublesome. ---


But tho' the observations you favour me with
in Miss Aitkens case might lead to it, I will not
trouble you with any more about her at present
having now to mention one or two circumstances



[Page 2]

concerning another Case, the enclosed Account of
which I transmit to you this opportunity; and
the patient himself will wait on you on the first or
second day of next month when he is to be in Edinr..
This narrative, tho' it was drawn up at my de¬
sire two or three months ago, - I am, in truth,
ashamed to send you; on account of its extreme length,
but there is no help for it. -- You will readily excuse
the peculiarities of Mr Mc Dowalls relation, as from
the unfortunate situation of his health, he has been
for several years, in a manner secluded from the
{illeg} that is from Company, tho' still obliged to
attend to business at home. -- I shall just make one
general remark -- that his constitution, or confor¬
mation
, may perhaps be a very particular one,
judging from that of the rest of his family. His
Mother is a remarkably big, - (not corpulent) - and
strong woman. -- His two - & only, Sisters, are the most
extraordinary women for size in all this country
-- His only Brother died about sixteen of a Con¬
sumption
-- Some of these are circumstances which
probably Mr Mc. - would not like to mention


[Page 3]

I observe he mentions Mercury as a remedy to be
tried. -- Among the various things which we think
or propose in such lingering Cases, this was
one that I hinted at. -- I had recommended the use
of a Decoction of Sarsaparilla and Antimonial Wine,
on the idea of promoting perspiration, which was
an indication that naturally occurred from the
constant dryness of his skin. These he used
for several (↑5 or 6↑) weeks, - and, at times, he thought with
some benefit. -- It was after this that I spoke of
a trial of Mercury, - chiefly to hold out something
to a desponding and suffering patient; - and in¬
deed, I thought, if he could attempt nothing better,
some preparation of Mercury most likely to act
as a diaphoretic, might, in a very cautious man¬
ner, be made trial of -- The mercurius calcina¬
tus Pharm: Lond.
was in my thoughts, combined
perhaps with some Antimonial. -- Very possibly,
I believe I should rather say very probably; Mr
McDowalls Complaints depend on such a local
affection, with ↑such↑ a vue of the whole habit as are
not


[Page 4]

to be naturally mended by any method -- or any
medicine. -- One night lately he threw out a conjecture
himself, namely, that, from his feelings, he would not
be surprised if ossifications were to be found in some
parts of his Thorax. -- In conversing with him,
- (for he has been naturally led to think & converse
much about his Case,) - I have endeavoured to make
him suppose that his complaints might depend
rather on an irregular circulation, and too great
determination to the Thorax, than upon a cause
[so?] {illeg}able as ossifications.


The said is the - advice you gave to Mr McDowal
in 1779, I heartily wish you may be able to say
or advise any thing for his relief. -- All this win¬
ter I have been urging some long excursion and
change of Climate. I should be happy if he
could be preserved by any means for he is
a worthy young man & much respected here.


--- I have been obliged at this time to write you
less deliberately than I wished. -- but you have enough
or more than enough -- I am always with much truth


Dear Sir Yours affectionately

John Gilchrist.



[Page 5]


Being interrupted a little when writing on the opposite side I add
here that on the first coming on of frost, which happened here in
the first week, I think, of November, and was pretty smart for a
night or two, Miss Aitken was so severely, and so suddenly affected
↑with↑ the pains of her left side, cough, Asthma &c -- that we thought she
must have died if the frost had continued. -- She has however
stood the severity of the season, since, much better than we
expected, though almost always very ill. -- Indeed, for a great
while past, she has been considered as one past all hope of recovery.
and an expression which she uses herself sometimes is that she
takes a great deal of dying
-- Tho' she has not even yet a hectic
or consumptive countenance, yet and for a considerable time
has been as thin and wasted as she could well be, yet she has
been of late a great deal weaker than ever she was before. --
Her pulse is sometimes very quick; though often moderate
for one in her situation. Yesterday at noon it was 104.
at seven in the evening 108 or 110
. Her menses for a
long time have been very irregular
, sometimes not appearing
for a year or more, though at the two or three last periods
they have come regularly. -- I have only to mention farther
that she has frequently for these two or three years past been
liable to pretty smart attacks of a Diarrhœa, and sometimes
swelling of the legs; but these symptoms have sometimes appeared
to be rather accidental, than so strictly to be termed colliquative
as they are in ordinary cases of Consumption; But upon the whole
I fear we must say that if nature or art effect a Cure in
this instance, it is more than we have ↑any↑ reason to expect either
of them should be able to perform. -- But the last Case concern¬
ing which I corresponded with you, - the young Gentleman at Drumlanrig
was by most people accounted a hopeless one. He continues in perfect health.


J. G.



[Page 6]


To
Doctor Cullen
Physician
Edinburgh


Dr Gilchrist
C. Miss Aitken
Jany 1785
V. XVI. p.265

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