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the seeds of science, forgetting, no doubt, that where the blossom is monstrous, the fruit is apt to be abortive.
To our remarks upon this work, we wish to add some account of the National Pharmacopoeia, by the appearance of which it was suggested, and upon which it is founded. We are the more desirous of doing this, because it has been made the subject of so much undeserved censure and obloquy, that we esteem it almost a duty to do what little lies in our power to remove the prejudice which may have been excited against it in the minds of those who, not being members of the medical profession, are themselves incapable of forming a fair judgment of its merits.
The proposal for forming a Pharmacopoeia of the United States, was made by the late Dr Lyman Spaulding, of New York, a gentlemen much respected in his profession, to the New York County Medical Society, in the beginning of the year 1817. It was favorably received by that society, and in accordance with it, the next year, a plan for effecting the object was prepared, and measures taken to carry it into execution. According to this plan, district conventions were to be called in each of the grand divisions of the United States, Eastern, Middle, Southern, and Western. These conventions were to select delegates to form a general convention, to be held at Washington, and each was requested to prepare à Pharmacopoeia to be submitted to that meeting. pursuance of this plan, and in consequence of an invitation from the society which originated it, delegates were elected from a great proportion of the medical societies and schools in the different parts of the United States. Only two, however, of these district conventions had a meeting, the eastern and middle, each of which prepared a Pharmacopoeia. Still, in the southern states, although a quorum did not assemble, yet measures were taken to secure the election of delegates for the general convention. This was held in the city of Washington, in January 1820. The eastern, middle, and southern districts were represented, and from the pharmacopœias presented by the two former, the convention proceeded to compile a pharmacopoeia for the United States, which was published at Boston in the course of that year, and has gone extensively into circulation throughout the country.
In the formation of it, the American medical public was
fairly represented. The plan met with a more cordial approbation and a more ready co-operation than could have been anticipated. Twenty incorporated medical bodies, including state societies and the faculties of colleges, of seventeen different states, beside the District of Columbia, expressed their decided concurrence in the measures that were adopted, and nearly all of them were represented in the convention at Washington. The pharmacopoeia has been given to the world with the countenance of the great body of the profession, its authority cannot well be questioned, and those who concurred in its formation are, in some measure, bound to give it their support, in spite of the imperfections which it no doubt possesses, but which, from the nature of the case, one would have expected to find in greater number rather than in less.
These imperfections are such as may be easily corrected when pointed out, as they are the results of haste and consequent oversight, and are not of a nature to affect essentially the substantial merits of the work. A fair and manly discussion of its faults is desirable. For when once pointed out and clearly designated, they may be amended. For this object the convention has made ample provision, and has designated the authority by which any requisite alterations may be made. In fact a long list of Corrigenda has been already published. In this way, we have every reason to hope that the pharmacopoeia will be purged of such defects as it still retains, and rendered an honor as well as a convenience to the American faculty. Not that it can be expected that universal satisfaction is ever to be given, or that the work can be made, we will not say so perfect, but so accommodating, as that all parties shall be contented with it. It would indeed be a curiosity, if captious and capricious criticism could not find a flaw in it. But even in its present state, notwithstanding the objections with which it has been met in some quarters, we conceive that it is calculated to answer a very important purpose.
The great objects of a national pharmacopoeia are to establish a uniformity in the names and preparations of medicines throughout the United States; that the physician, wherever he may be, shall be sure of having, for the same name, the same article, or the same preparation, made of the same materials, and of the same strength; that, in the perusal of medi
cal works, from whatever quarter of our country, we may understand what agents and what preparations are intended by the terms employed. It is notorious that, heretofore, this has not been the case; that, even in the same city, you may find in the shops of different druggists articles put up or prepared according to different pharmacopoeias; whilst in one state the Edinburgh may be in vogue, and in another the London. This is a great evil; and if the national work is sufficiently well done to do it away, we can afford to overlook those faults in its construction which do not affect its usefulness in this respect. We do not hesitate to say, that this is decidedly the case, that the work, with such corrections as have been made in it, is fully adequate to this object, and we trust that it will gradually succeed in effecting it.
We are disposed to go further than this; we think that the American pharmacopoeia has many excellencies, particularly in its general plan, which will render it, when it has gone through the necessary correction, every thing that could be wished. It is easy to point out inaccuracies and oversights in the detail, for these are inseparable from a work made up by a number of hands, and in great haste; but it is not easy to point out any very considerable defects in its general construction.
A pharmacopoeia must always be, to a greater or less degree, an imperfect work, from the doubtful and unsettled nature of the subject itself. It may be said to stand upon ground which is perpetually shifting and giving way. observations and discoveries make, daily, some changes in the number and relative importance of the articles of the materia medica, and this, of course, makes some corresponding change necessary in the pharmacopoeia. The American work will bear a pretty good comparison with others of the same kind. It has not been more hardly dealt with by its enemies, than those of London and Paris, both published under the auspices of the principal medical authorities of their respective cities. The latter of these has been said to be a 'libel upon the age and country that produced it.'
It was not to have been expected, that a convention of physicians, called together from the most remote parts of the country, with great inconvenience and sacrifice to themselves, should have been able in the haste with which they must have
transacted their business, unacquainted with the views, feelings, and opinions of each other, to prepare a work which should stand the test of criticism, or should be more than tolerably perfect. A convention was not proposed, because it was thought that a convention would prepare a better pharmacopœia than could be prepared in any other way. On the other hand, it is plain enough, that there is no other way in which such a work would not be likely to be better done. Many physicians, individually inferior to any member of the convention, would probably make a better system, than they could do in their collective capacity. But a convention was proposed, because it could do what no other body could do, put forth a work with authority, one which should be universally adopted, and establish uniformity, to which all other recommendations are secondary. It is far better to have one system, indifferent in itself, but universally adopted, than a number of them, each exceedingly perfect, and complete in itself, but of narrow and limited authority. As it is, we look upon the formation of the pharmacopoeia of the United States, as an event upon which the medical profession and the public ought to be congratulated. It can hardly be doubted that, emanating, as it does, from the highest possible authority, it will, sooner or later, receive the support of physicians at large, and be acknowledged as the basis of pharmaceutical language and preparation throughout the country.
We are glad to be able to add, that several of the most respectable medical bodies in the country have, by an express vote, adopted the pharmacopoeia of the United States, as their standard. This has been the case with the state medical societies of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The latter has given up its own pharmacopoeia, prepared many years since, and generally in use, to adopt that of the United States.
ART. XXIV.-Report of the commissioner of the school fund, May 1822, to the honorable general assembly of the state of Connecticut, holden at New Haven on the first Wednesday of May 1822. Signed James Hillhouse, commissioner of the school fund.
EDUCATION, in its various forms, as we have already had several opportunities to remark, is a subject which at present excites more than usual interest and inquiry in all parts of the union; not only among individuals, but in legislative bodies. From its intimate connexion with the public prosperity and improvement, few subjects have a stronger claim on the attention of all classes of the community. We have, therefore, thought it would be, on this account, peculiarly acceptable to such of our readers as are disposed to speculate on this topic, to see occasionally, in our pages, such facts as are well ascertained in the practice of any state, or of any portion of our country, in the administration of so important a concern. It is of great moment, that the regulations adopted respecting schools, as well primary as those of a higher order, should be originally suited to the somewhat peculiar circumstances of the people of this country. To this object, a full knowledge of the excellencies and defects of existing systems of education may greatly contribute. It may indeed be thought, from the facility with which many of our laws are amended or repealed, that a plan for public schools can be as easily improved, when experience shall have shown its imperfections, as any ordinary statute, or the charter of some petty corporation; yet a little attention will satisfy an inquirer, that there are few subjects where prejudice has greater sway than in this, or where the public good is more liable to be sacrificed to local and individual interests, partial benefit, and narrow views.
The state of Connecticut, as is probably known to many of our readers, possesses a large fund, known by the name of the School Fund, which, by an article in the constitution of that state, is appropriated exclusively to the benefit of common schools. From the report of the commissioner of this fund to the legislature of Connecticut, in May last, the title of which report stands at the head of this article, it appears, that the amount of dividends to common schools, the preceding year, that is, in October 1821, and March 1822, was no less a sum