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IX. A FRAGMENT OF ZOILUS.
"The name of Zo'ilus," says M. Noel, in his edition of the ' Gradus ad Parnassum,' the 'Nouveau Dictionnaire Poetique Latin-Francais,' " has become the common appellation of all ignorant, envious, passionate, and dishonest critics." And so it is. From Ovid to Buchanan, every one has hitched his name into an epigram as the very incarnation of spitefulness.*
Now, without maintaining that Zoilus was a wellmeaning or good-humoured person—a more untenable paradox even than the comeliness of Richard III.—we may be permitted to doubt whether he was dishonest, or even ignorant in one meaning of the word. He seems to have been utterly deficient in a feeling of the sublime, though versed in the ordinary topics of criticism, and cursed with a morbidly quick sense of the ridiculous. In short, he was a literary Thersites, shrewd, witty, and hateful. The silly carpings of a fool would have been soon forgotten; those of Zo'ilus raised him to the bad eminence of being called the Homeromastix, or Scourge of Homer.
The fragment ot Zo'ilus, the only one that we have hitherto stumbled upon, and which we hope, therefore, will be valued in proportion to its rarity rather than its excellence, consists of only two words. Every one recollects the transformation of the companions of Ulysses into swine by Circe, in the tenth book of the Odyssey. They had the head, and voice, and body, and bristles of swine, but retained human consciousness, and cried as they went along to their sties. This is one of the passages of the Odyssey censured as childish by Longinus, who tells us that Zo'ilus called these transformed companions
* "Frustra ego te laudo, frustra me, Zoi'le, laedis:
Nemo mini credit, Zoile; nemo tibi."—Buchanan.
X. EXAMINATION OP RECRUITS.
A Man who wishes to enter the army often endeavours to conceal diseases or deformities which would disqualify him for active service; while recruits who have changed their mind before their final admission, or soldiers tired of their situation, often do exactly the reverse, and either feign diseases from which they are free or sometimes even excite them. The duty of the military surgeon, of course, is to detect both simulated and dissimulated maladies; a task which often requires the highest ability, both medical and moral. Many of the instances in point given by Mr. Marshall, in his valuable ' Hints to Young Medical Officers,' &c., are very curious specimens of human frailty and human ingenuity. Some recruits, even when measured without shoes or stockings, have succeeded in increasing their height by glueing pieces of buff to the soles of the feet; on the other hand, some persons possess the art of sinking an inch or two. A lad, named Martin, enlisted into the Eighteenth Dragoons in the summer of 1809, and was then five feet three inches in height; but, on joining the head-quarters of the regiment at Brighton, he was found to be only five feet one inch. A doubt first arose as to his identity; but when this was cleared up, Martin was directed to be discharged, and the levy-money was ordered to be paid by Colonel Lindsay, "owing to whose neglect a recruit so totally unfit was received into the service." The Colonel, however, persisted in asserting that the lad was of the orthodox height, and he was accordingly sent to Dublin to be re-measured. Here he attempted to reduce his height,but was instantly detected ; and being found to be full five feet three inches, was sent back to his corps, and " a very particular letter" was addressed to the Brighton Colonel on the occasion.
Fractures of the skull and ringworm are sometimes concealed by wigs, and a recruit once presented himself with an artificial palate. Mr. Marshall has known an attempt to conceal the loss of nearly all the teeth of the lower jaw, by the aid of a dentist.
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
perance, worn-out, &c. . .
affection Muscular tenuity
(a) Cataract .
of the left leg
of the right leg
Flatness of the soles of the feet (6) Punished . .
(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 fire.
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, assafistida, &c &c.: it is commouly 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 far 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. (kt.
W e 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
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