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In the year 1825, there were 4839 recruits approved, and 1390 rejected, at the recruiting depot in Dublin. Of the town recruits, however, 32-8 per cent, were rejected, and only 10-3 per cent, of the country ones.
The following were some of the causes of rejection among the 1390 in question :— Pulmonic diseases ..... 2
Weakness of intellect .... 7
Unsound health, emaciation, sottish intemperance, worn-out, &c. . . . .158
Traces of scrofula ..... 68
Chronic affections of the skin . . . - 5 Tinea capitis (ringworm), or traces of this affection ...... 15
Muscular tenuity . . . . .30
(a) Cataract ...... 7
(a) Closed pupil ..... 7
(a) Amaurosis ..... 2
Varicose veins of both legs ... 35
of the left leg ... 71
of the right leg . . . 64
Flatness of the soles of the feet ... 34 (6) Punished 36
(a) Cataract signifies opacity of the crystalline lens of the eye; amaurosis, want of sight from disease of the optic nerve; and closure of the pupil (which is the aperture in the iris) necessarily prevents the rays of light from arriving at the retina. It may seem strange that men with such grievous defects as these, even if they existed only in one eye, should offer themselves as recruits: but they probably did so with the vain hope that their maladies, escaping observation at first, would soon entitle them to their discharge and a pension.
(6) It seems even more strange that men bearing the marks of punishment should expose themselves to a repetition of it; but the burnt child does not always dread the 6re.
The diseases feigned, again, are very numerous. "For weeks or months many men have, with surprising resolution, sat and walked with their body bent double: some have continued to irritate sores in the leg, until the case became so bad as to require amputation of the limb; and many instances have occurred, in military and naval hospitals, of factitious complaints ending fatally."
A state resembling continued fever is produced by swallowing small quantities of tobacco. Mr. Hutchinson met with a case of feigned disease, where the tongue was covered with a coating of common brown soap; and Mr. Marshall saw a case at Fort Pitt, where the tongue was brown and dry; but the artist had made too abrupt a line of demarcation between the dry and the healthy parts, forgetting the gradual transitions of nature. Mr. Marshall did not discover the means employed to brown the tongue. Inflammation of the eyes is sometimes excited by the insertion of stimulants: the imitation often transcends the prototype, and is so vigorous as to destroy the sight. The dilatation of the pupil, which generally characterises amaurosis, can be produced by the extract of belladonna, or of hyoscyamus, applied to the skin round the eye.
Chronic disease of the liver is often pretended :—" A recruit, having become tired of a. military life, wished to obtain his discharge; and, in furtherance of that end, pretended he had a severe pain in his left side, at the same time stating he had ' liver.' Seeming to believe that this disease was of a grave nature, the recruit was confined to bed, and accommodated in a ward by himself, lest his sleep might be disturbed by the conversation of his comrades. He was kept on very reduced diet, and a solution of antim. tart, alternately with the mistura diabolica* regularly exhibited. Under this discipline he held out for a month, and then recovered rapidly. Some time after he confessed the fraud, and swore if it had not been
* "This mixture consists of salts, infusion of tobacco, assafcetida, &c &c.: it is commonly given in very small quantities at a time, but so frequently repeated as to keep the taste continually in the mouth."
for his stupidity in locating the pain in his left side, the imposition would never have been discovered. He was mistaken; the imposition was evident from the first."— Marshall, p. 114.
If our readers are not amused by the following case, they must be iar graver than we hope ever to be :—" A soldier asserted that he had nearly lost all power over the inferior extremities, in consequence, as he stated, of a hurt received on the loins. Active means were employed; and as he was from the commencement suspected of being an impostor, the measures were long continued. The patience of the medical officer who attended him became exhausted, and he was eventually recommended to be discharged. The day he was to receive his discharge, he crawled on crutches to the office where it was to be given him. Having obtained the document, he begged one of the officers of the establishment to read it to him, which he did twice. After satisfying himself that the discharge was properly made out, he first deliberately threw away one crutch, then another, and darted forward, overturning two men who happened to be before him, and finally disappeared, springing over a car with a water-cask on it, which stood in his way."—Marshall, p. 126.
Palpitation of the heart became epidemic among the men of the marine artillery in 1821 or 1822, and was found to be occasioned by the powder of white hellebore, which not only increased the action of the heart, but occasioned distressing head-ache, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes violent purging. The use of this poison was introduced by a man who had been servant to a veterinary surgeon. He would furnish his comrades with a dose of the drug for three-pence; but if he told them its name, so as to enable them to buy it at a druggist's, his charge was 3s. 6d.
We are inclined to conclude this fragment on feigned diseases, which certainly savours of the ludicrous, with two serious reflections. The first is, that the eager wish to detect feigned diseases is apt to lead the practitioner to overlook real ones; and sick soldiers may be subjected
VOL. I. E
to horrible punishments because their maladies have not sufficient breadth and relief to satisfy their surgeons. This point is touched upon by Mr. Marshall. Another reflection remains, unsuited to an army surgeon, but to which a civilian may give utterance without blame: is there not something unsound in the constitution of the service when the detection qf fraudulent attempts to quit it becomes a separate branch of the medical art, and the discontented are so numerous, that it is doubtful whether they are the rule or the exception t
XI. MODERN PERKIN WARBECKS.
Even in our own days, there have not been wanting individuals who have drawn largely on public credulity, and endeavoured to pass themselves oft' as princes and heirs to royalty. The only son of Louis XVI. died in prison in the Temple during the horrors of the French revolution; and, on the restoration of the Bourbons, Louis XVill., the dauphin's uncle, ascended the throne. Several men, however, in different places, and long after the dauphin's death, gave out that he had not died in the Temple, but had escaped, and that they were, or rather each of them was, the identical dauphin, who, after a series of iniquities and persecutions, had evaded his enemies and appeared publicly to assert his rights to the French throne. Not very long ago we saw one of these pretenders, in a very ragged coat, in Leicester-square. They were either madmen, or bare-faced vulgar impostors, who counted upon a resemblance of physiognomy to the Bourbon family, which might very well have happened by accident, or in an extra-legitimate manner. But the story we are about to relate treats of a very different sort of person, who was most decidedly a gentleman in education and manners, and who so conducted himself, and was so treated by others (even by princes and potentates), as to have thrown an air of mystery and interest . over his adventures.
In the year 1820, when the Italian poet Silvio Pellico was first arrested and thrown into the common prison of Milan for political opinions by the Austrian government, he found inscribed on the walls of his cell some elegant French verses, which were signed "Le Due de Normandie," which was the title of the unfortunate dauphin. To pass time, the poet began to hum over the verses, and this led to a conversation with another prisoner in a contiguous cell, who had formerly occupied Pellico's room. After some conversation, the poet asked who it was he had the honour of addressing. The stranger replied solemnly, "The unhappy Duke of Normandy."