Cullen

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

 

[ID:3516] From: Dr Robert Somerville / To: Dr William Cullen (Professor Cullen) / Regarding: Miss Wood (Patient) / 16 May 1789 / (Incoming)

Letter from Robert Somerville, concerning Miss Wood, whose condition has improved following a bout of pneumonia, which he has treated with bleeding and blistering. He also mentions using the Arabic Decoction when he suffered from cough and diarrhœa himself, and seeks advice from Cullen (whose student he was) on using it in this case.

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Metadata

FieldData
DOC ID 3516
RCPE Catalogue Number CUL/1/2/2408
Main Language English
Document Direction Incoming
Date16 May 1789
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 Robert Somerville, concerning Miss Wood, whose condition has improved following a bout of pneumonia, which he has treated with bleeding and blistering. He also mentions using the Arabic Decoction when he suffered from cough and diarrhœa himself, and seeks advice from Cullen (whose student he was) on using it in this case.
Manuscript Incomplete? No
Evidence of Commercial Posting Yes

Case

Cases that this document belongs to:

Case ID Description Num Docs
[Case ID:2326]
Case of Miss Wood who is debilitated by a cough developing into a serious lung condition suspected of being tubercular.
4


People linked to this document

Person IDRole in documentPerson
[PERS ID:4309]AuthorDr Robert Somerville
[PERS ID:1]AddresseeDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)
[PERS ID:4311]PatientMiss Wood
[PERS ID:4309]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr Robert Somerville
[PERS ID:1]Patient's Physician / Surgeon / ApothecaryDr William Cullen (Professor Cullen)

Places linked to this document

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

Normalized Text

[Page 1]

Haddington 16th. May 1786

Dear Sir


I received your letter of the 3d instant inclosing full
and pointed directions concerning Miss Wood with which as far as
circumstances would admit I have endeavoured to comply, but
I have to observe that hir complaints have assumed a very different
appearance since that time - On the Monday thereafter a shivering
came on which was followed with a very brisk fever attended with
difficulty of breathing and a pain in the right side extending from
the fourth rib upwards to the Scapula. From a previous knowledge
of her complaints I was inclined to consider the shivering and fever
as symptoms of an inflamed tubercle, but the difficulty of
breathing
and seat of the pain led me to believe it was owing to
a Pneumonia unconnected with any former ailment how far my
conjecture was right you will be able to judge from what I shall
lay before you. As the fever and urgency of the symptoms
required the most effectual remedies I immediately applied a Blister
and Leaches (the smallness of the veins preventing me from using
the Lancet) these had a considerable effect in moderating the fever
and relieving the pain and difficulty of breathing in the afternoon
of next day the fever and urgent symptoms again returned and
in a much greater degree. The Leaches were again made use of
and as the former blister had not answered my expectations a fresh
one was put on - The consequence was an abatement of the fever &c
matter continued in this way till the friday evening, when the
whole of the symptoms returned with encreased violence, particularly
the difficulty of breathing which was so great as to threaten
immediate suffocation. In this posture of affairs, I had recourse
to a third blooding much larger than any of the two former ones



[Page 2]

This fully answered my my wishes. The Patient soon became easy
after passing an uncommon good night the only complaint
she had next day was a considerable degree of weakness, and Lassitude
on the afternoon of the Saturday an Erysipelatous inflammation
made its appearance upon the left side, covering a pretty large
surface, since which it has been very general over the whole
body, but without any troublesome symptom except a slight
degree of pain and swelling. It is now however entirely gone
the pain &c are likewise gone, and she can now rest upon both
sides without feeling any inconvenience -- During the time
above mentioned the Cough was very severe, which induced me
notwithstanding the appearances of inflammation, to persevere in
the use of the opiate, and I have reason to believe, with considerable
advantage, her recovery for the last six or seven days has been
gradual. The expectoration ever since the abatement of the fever
has been easy and of a white frothy appearance, the urine is
now in greater quantity, and for some days has been free
from the sediment - the appetite is better than for some
weeks before you saw her the pulse moderate from 80 to 100
the belly tho' lax is not by any means troublesome. This is
her present situation ↑and↑ from the perusal of it you will be enabled
to judge what hopes may be entertained of a perfect recovery


I forgot to observe that the Menses have not appeared at the
usual period, a circumstance I would willingly place to the
account of loss of blood in another way --- There is a medicine
from which I have derived great advantage in my own complains (↑aints↑)
at a time when I was much distressed with a Diarrhœa and
Cough - I drank very freely of the Decoct: Arabic: with an intention
to ease the Pectoral complaints I cannot say it had any great effect
that way, but without intending it, it carried off the Diarrhœa
and as it is a disorder I am often troubled with. I have used



[Page 3]

successfully ever [si]nce both upon myself and in my ordinary
practice, and I am inclined to think that in all cases either
where there exists any acrimony or a diseased irritability in the
system that it possess almost specific powers when taken in
sufficient quantity - I wish to make trial of it in the present
case, but will not without your concurrence. It is with hesitation
that I offer an opinion of this sort to a person so eminent in the
profession as you are and ↑will↑ gladly receive any hint you think
proper to give either upon this or any other subject. I acknowledge
myself greatly your doctor in debtor in many respects, and can say with
much truth, that any professional knowledge I possess has been
principally owing to an attendance upon your Lectures and a
careful perusal of your works for which be pleased to accept of
my gratitude and esteem & allow me to express the reasonable
hope of having it in my power to consult you late in the
next Century - expecting to hear from you soon, I remain with
much respect


Dear Sir
Your much obliged humble servant

Robt. Somerville



[Page 4]


Single shut


Dr. Willw. Cullen
Physician
Edinburgh


Mr. Sommervile
Concerning Miss Wood
May 1789
V. XX. P. 146

Diplomatic Text

[Page 1]

Haddington 16th. May 1786

Dear Sir


I received your letter of the 3d inst inclosing full
and pointed directions concerning Miss Wood with which as far as
circumstances would admit I have endeavoured to comply, but
I have to observe that hir complaints have assumed a very different
appearance since that time - On the Monday thereafter a shivering
came on which was followed with a very brisk fever attended with
difficulty of breathing and a pain in the right side extending from
the fourth rib upwards to the Scapula. From a previous knowledge
of her complaints I was inclined to consider the shivering and fever
as symptoms of an inflamed tubercle, but the difficulty of
breathing
and seat of the pain led me to believe it was owing to
a Pneumonia unconnected with any former ailment how far my
conjecture was right you will be able to judge from what I shall
lay before you. As the fever and urgency of the symptoms
required the most effectual remedies I immediately applied a Blister
and Leaches (the smallness of the veins preventing me from using
the Lancet) these had a considerable effect in moderating the fever
and relieving the pain and difficulty of breathing in the afternoon
of next day the fever and urgent symptoms again returned and
in a much greater degree. The Leaches were again made use of
and as the former blister had not answered my expectations a fresh
one was put on - The consequence was an abatement of the fever &c
matter continued in this way till the friday evening, when the
whole of the symptoms returned with encreased violence, particularly
the difficulty of breathing which was so great as to threaten
immediate suffocation. In this posture of affairs, I had recourse
to a third blooding much larger than any of the two former ones



[Page 2]

This fully answered my my wishes. The Patient soon became easy
after passing an uncommon good night the only complaint
she had next day was a considerable degree of weakness, and Lassitude
on the afternoon of the Saturday an Erysipelatous inflammation
made its appearance upon the left side, covering a pretty large
surface, since which it has been very general over the whole
body, but without any troublesome symptom except a slight
degree of pain and swelling. It is now however entirely gone
the pain &c are likewise gone, and she can now rest upon both
sides without feeling any inconvenience -- During the time
above mentioned the Cough was very severe, which induced me
notwithstanding the appearances of inflammation, to persevere in
the use of the opiate, and I have reason to believe, with considerable
advantage, her recovery for the last six or seven days has been
gradual. The expectoration ever since the abatement of the fever
has been easy and of a white frothy appearance, the urine is
now in greater quantity, and for some days has been free
from the sediment - the appetite is better than for some
weeks before you saw her the pulse moderate from 80 to 100
the belly tho' lax is not by any means troublesome. This is
her present situation ↑and↑ from the perusal of it you will be enabled
to judge what hopes may be entertained of a perfect recovery


I forgot to observe that the Menses have not appeared at the
usual period, a circumstance I would willingly place to the
account of loss of blood in another way --- There is a medicine
from which I have derived great advantage in my own complains (↑aints↑)
at a time when I was much distressed with a Diarrhœa and
Cough - I drank very freely of the Decoct: Arabic: with an intention
to ease the Pectoral complaints I cannot say it had any great effect
that way, but without intending it, it carried off the Diarrhœa
and as it is a disorder I am often troubled with. I have used



[Page 3]

successfully ever [si]nce both upon myself and in my ordinary
practice, and I am inclined to think that in all cases either
where there exists any acrimony or a diseased irritability in the
system that it possess almost specific powers when taken in
sufficient quantity - I wish to make trial of it in the present
case, but will not without your concurrence. It is with hesitation
that I offer an opinion of this sort to a person so eminent in the
profession as you are and ↑will↑ gladly receive any hint you think
proper to give either upon this or any other subject. I acknowledge
myself greatly your doctor in debtor in many respects, and can say with
much truth, that any professional knowledge I possess has been
principally owing to an attendance upon your Lectures and a
careful perusal of your works for which be pleased to accept of
my gratitude and esteem & allow me to express the reasonable
hope of having it in my power to consult you late in the
next Century - expecting to hear from you soon, I remain with
much respect


Dear Sir
Your much obliged humble servant

Robt. Somerville



[Page 4]


Single shut


Dr. Willw. Cullen
Physician
Edinburgh


Mr. Sommervile
C. Miss Wood
May 1789
V. XX. P. 146

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