Category Archives: Medical

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1864 – The Falkland Islands

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Clio.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1864 – The Falkland Islands

We put in at the Falkland Islands in November. The population consisted of ex-Royal Marines and their families. It was considered necessary to populate the Islands; and we always send for the Royal Marines in any difficulty. There were also South American guachos and ranchers. The governor came on board to ask for the captain’s help. The governor wanted a man to be hanged, and his trouble was that he was afraid to hang him. The prisoner was a guacho, who had murdered a rancher, whom he had cast into the river and then shot to death. The governor was afraid that if he executed the murderer, the other guachos would rise in rebellion. So he wanted the captain to bring the murderer on board and hang him to the yardarm. The captain refused this request; but he offered to hang him on shore, a proposal to which the governor agreed. The boatswain’s mate piped: “Volunteers for a hangman fall in.” To my surprise, half the ship’s company fell in. The sergeant of Marines was chosen to be executioner. He took a party on shore, and they constructed a curious kind of box, like a wardrobe, having a trap-door in the top, above which projected the beam. The man dropped through the trap door into the box and was no more seen, until the body was taken out under cover of night and buried.

The shooting on that island was naturally an intense delight to a boy of my age. We midshipmen used to go away shooting the upland geese. I managed to bring aboard more than the others, because I cut off the wings, heads and necks, cleaned the birds, and secured them by toggling the legs together, so that I was able to sling four birds over each shoulder. The whole island being clothed in high pampas grass, it was impossible to see one’s way. Officers used to be lost in the Falklands. The body of a paymaster who was thus lost was not discovered for eight years. The cold induced sleep, and a sleeping man might freeze to death.

Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, in his Memories of the Sea, relating his experience as a midshipman in the Falkland Islands, says, “Everybody has heard of the Falkland Island geese, and they may be seen to-day in St James’s Park. The upland geese;  as they are generally called;  are excellent eating; but there are also immense numbers and different varieties of other geese and these are known as ‘kelp geese.’ Alas! our ornithological education had been so sadly neglected that we did not know the difference with the feathers on, though we soon found it out, when we came to cook and eat them. All the birds we shot were kelp geese, about as fishy as cormorants; but they were not wasted, for we gave them to our Marine servants, who ate them all and declared them to be excellent ‘Some flavour about them,’ as they said.”

While we lay at the Falkland Islands a merchant ship came in whose whole company was down with scurvy. When I joined the Navy, lime-juice, the prophylactic, was served out under the regulation; but in the mercantile marine scurvy was still prevalent. It is a most repulsive disease. The sufferer rots into putrid decay while he is yet alive. If you pressed a finger upon his flesh the dent would remain. He is so sunk in lethargy that if he were told the ship was sinking he would decline to move. His teeth drop out and his hair falls off. It is worthy of remembrance that the use of lime-juice as a prophylactic was discovered, or at least largely introduced, by Captain James Cook the navigator; whose statue, erected at Whitby, I had the privilege of unveiling in [1912]. Historically, I believe that Captain Lancaster, commanding the Dragon, in the service of the Honourable East India Company in the time of James I, was the first to cure scurvy by administering three spoonfuls of lemon to each patient, with his breakfast.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.


Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Louis Pasteur – 1822-1895



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Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was the ideal man of science.  The truth was his goal.  It is impossible to estimate the extent of his benefactions to science and humanity, so varied and far reaching are they.  He is the founder of the science of bacteriology and all that that implies.  He made modern therapy and surgery possible.  He laid at rest forever many of the superstitions that had enthralled men’s minds.

Excerpt from Medical Review of Reviews – Volume 18 – 1919 – A Special Article by James P Warbasse.

Louis Pasteur – 1822-1895

Louis Pasteur and GranddaughterLouis Pasteur, who became the greatest of experimental scientists, the founder of bacteriology and the discoverer of the key to modern surgery and modern therapeutics in the realm of infective diseases.

This boy enjoyed the advantage of growing up in a country district, playing in the fields and woods, and following the streams thru the vales of Arbois; and the still greater advantage of growing up in a family circle where love and loyalty to one another were supreme.

At school he was considered slow because he never made an affirmation unless he was sure.  He was accurate, thorough, truthful, and sympathetic.  When he went to Paris as a student of fifteen years, he was overcome by homesickness.  He longed for the warm hearts at home and the warm skies of Arbois; and the mother and father and sisters wished and wished for Louis back again.  This quiet boy was filled with despair at being a way from home. He could neither work nor smile. He grew almost melancholy.  “If I could only get a smell of the tannery yard I feel I should be cured.”  The face of the father, mother and sisters haunted him.  He wanted them; they wanted him.  The urge became irresistible. One morning the boy found himself in the embrace of the soldier-tanner, tears streaming from his eyes; and together, silently and with hearts full, hand in hand, they journeyed back to the home that hungered for them at Dole.

Then he entered Besancon College, nearer home.  His work was marked by thoroughness, persistence and intelligence.  He took his bachelor of letters at eighteen.  Dijon University gave him his bachelor of science.  He taught and studied.  He was sensitive, simple, quiet.  His genius was intensely scientific, still he possessed abundant sentiment and inspiration.  Some of the pictures in crayon which he executed at home were good.  His pastel drawings  formed a considerable collection.  Three things are true: he was well thought of, he did well always at school, he was a devoted and loving son and brother; his ideals were high.

At twenty he again attempted Paris, and became a pupil in the Ecole Normale, attending some lectures also at the Sorbonne.  It was at the lectures of J.B. Dumas on chemistry at the Sorbonne that his passion for scientific research was awakened.

Excerpt from Medical Review of Reviews – Volume 18 – 1919 – A Special Article by James P Warbasse


Further Reading and External Links

Louis Pasteur History from the BBC 

Louis Pasteur – A Potted History

Phossy Jaw

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A typical case of phosphorus poisoningPhossy Jaw – Phosphorus was first used in the manufacture of matches in 1833 at Vienna.  Shortly after its introduction, and ever since, cases of necrosis of the bones of the upper and lower jaws have occurred among the workpeople employed in match factories.  The condition was first described by Lorimer, who, between the years 1839 and [1845], saw 9 cases in Vienna, but immediately after cases were also reported in Numbers, Strassburg, Berlin, Lyons, Paris, Manchester, and London as having occurred among the workers in match factories. 

Improvements in ventilation and in manufacturing machinery have greatly diminished its frequency, but it has continued to be not uncommon, and is widely recognised as a risk incurred by those who work with phosphorus.  The clinical symptoms have been fully described by Lorimer, Heyfelder, von Bibra, and Geist, Harrison, Roussel, and others.  In addition to their more systematic descriptions many isolated cases have been put on record by different writers, and all agree substantially in their main features.

Excerpt from the British Medical Journal – 1899

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