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Dr. RounTree

MAYO CLINIC

ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA

Dr. B. Stefansson,

Harvard Club,

New York City, New York.

Dear Dr. Stefansson:

Following are some extracts from Thomas Beddoes ’ ’’Observations on
the Nature and Cure of Calculus, Sea Scurvy, Consumption, Catarrh, and
Feverwhich book, you will recall, I called to your attention some time
ago because of some statements therein which were identical with yours.

P. 52. "Dr. Trotter considers ’a deficiency of recent vegetable mat-
ter alone, as the occasional cause of the scurvy’, P. 171, 172.”

P. 53. "Captain Cooke’s unexampled success in preserving his crews
from the scurvy during his two last voyages, seems in great measure owing
to his extreme care to keep his ships well aired. On many occasions they
were reduced to salt provisions, and much longer out of sight of land, than
many other ships, which have been dreadfully afflicted with the scurvy; in
his last voyage there never appeared among his crew any symptom of this dis-
order; and in his second only one man had it in any considerable degree.

It is extremely difficult to find such precise facts as shall amount to
an experimentum crucis, especially as observation has not yet been guided by
this theory. But Dr. Trotter has himself furnished an important observation,
from which, if any one were to decide between these two causes of scurvy, want
of fresh vegetables, or want of air sufficiently furnished with oxygene, he
must, I think, without hesitation in favour of the latter; and here I
appeal to Dr. Trotter against himself. In July 1783, a ship, of which hw was
surgeon, arrived at Cape LaHow, on the Gold Coast of Africa. In the space of
a week above ’an hundred prime flaves, young, stout, and healthy’, were pur-
chased. The competition however of the purchasers at Anamaboe, whither this
ship afterwards sailed, ran so high, that in February, 1784, it had not on
board two thirds of its complement. An indisposition now began to prevail
among the slaves, which soon afterwards proved to be the scurvy; and before
the arrival of the vessel at Antigua, of near six hundred and fifty, near
fifty had died, and about three hundred were tainted, in different degrees,
with the scurvy. Before they quitted the coast, seven or eight had died, and
between seventy and eighty were ill.

Of these slaves, ’the food consisted of beans, which were brought from
England, and rice and Indian corn, which were bought on the coast. These art-
icles were boiled to the consistence of a soft paste, and made as near as
possible like the food of the country, by the addition of palm oil, Guinea pep-
per, and common salt - they were allowed to drink what water they pleased.’ P.52."

P. 58. There are other facts which seem to show that too much is attrib-
uted by Dr. Trotter to fresh vegetables. Linnaeus informs us, that the Lap-
landers are unacquainted with the scurvy; they feed all the winter on the fresh
flesh of the reindeer. ’This exemption of the Laplanders from the general dis-

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