THE SECRET OPERATOR.
THE addition of a sheet to our present Number, has been forced upon us by the
pressure of much interesting matter, which, notwithstanding the increased size of our pages, and
four times in the year.
WE would direct the attention of all those
interested in medical education, to the liberal manner in which the study of anatomy is supported by the French Government, as described by our Paris correspondent. who
Manchester, Portland Place, Jan. 13, 1311. "DEAR
My design (principally) is to inquire of you,
in writing this what you recollect of the two blind children who were operated upon in the sack-like dresses,* along with Louisa Johnson, for congenital cataracts. The points I wish to ascertain are, what improvement in sight resulted from the operation, and whether one of them could not faintly discern some objects, such as a doll, a key, or a pair of scissors, before the operation, almost as well as after. One of the two sisters, you will recollect, could see little else than light, either before or after the operation ; it is the state of vision in theother, (the younger of the two,) to which I allude. The general impression upon our minds (viz. Ransome’s, Ainsworth’s, and my pupils’) is, that neither of them was much improved. I have had severaluperations upon infants of various ages, in which I have succeeded in destroying the cataract with a small needle, curved like S’cccipa’s. But we may soon expect the sagacious Mr. Saunders’s t work upon some points. In my opinion, with respect to his
type, continues scrawl,
that we shall have to resort to this more
Pharmacopoeia of St. BartholoHospital cannot be procured by the surgical pupils, although printed at the expense of the Governors ; we have thought fit to publish it for their convenience, and for operation on infants, we the benefit of practitioners, as it contains long-proclaimed may apply the well-known line from Horace :many valuable formule.
"Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus." I confess I expect nothing new. It is a GIBSON v. THE SECRET OPERATOR. secret which I have not been able to penetrate ;but, in my opinion, it has only been kept, because it professed little or no origiTo the Editor of THE LANCET. nal merit or novelty. SIR,—Till the publication of your last You will soon see a small work of mine Number, I was not aware of the unhand- announced, on the Artificial Pupil, Exsome and unfair attack which had been traction of Soft and Membranous Cataracts. made by Dr. Farre, upon the veracity and It is practical, entirely; and I hope you will character of my late friend, Mr. Benjamin recognise in it a tolerably accurate deGibson, who, assuredly, was one of the most scription of the facts and operations you dexterous operators, and most scientific sur- here witnessed.t geons, ever the world produced ; one of the most intelligent, most trust-worthy, and most amiable of men ; and one of the bright*When Mr. Gibson operated upon the eyes , est ornaments of society. Luckily, I have of young children, they were really put into one of Mr. Gibson’s the letters,* preserved a sack that had an eyelet, with a cord greater part of which I request you will be through it, which was fastened around the so good as publish, that the world may be this means, the youngsters neck; and enabled to repel, with just indignation, the were much by more easily controlled by the shameful aspersions, and unwarrantable in- assistants.-L. sinuations contained in the preface to the t These words are underlined in the second edition of Saunders’s work on the
t This small volume (price 5s.)
lished in 1811, and I will venture to say * This letter may be seen by Dr. Farre; that there is scarcely a work on record, of and, indeed, by any individual interested in the same size, which contains so much really the affair, who will take the trouble to call practical, accurate, valuable, and novel in-
modestly admitting that tended to revive, to modify, and to render more perfect and general, an may enjoy all the good as heartily as your friend, operation which had been performed by B. GIBSON." B.GIBSON." Scarpa, Hey, and Pott; while, at the same time, like every liberal-minded man, Before drawing any conclusions, I must he expressed- his sincere disapprobation of premise that I was House-Surgeon to the a regular surgeon’s proclaiming a new opemManchester Infirmary in 1808-9, into which tion to the world, while it was kept a secret the twin infant patients were received,-that from the profession. I enjoyed Mr. Gibson’s confidence during my 4. Admitting that Saunders’s operation residence in that excellent institution ; and that I left it about the end of September was a discovery, Mr. Gibson had also dis1369. No histories of cases were kept in covered it; since he performed such an the hospital books, but Mr. Gibson well operation long before the divulgement of knew that I entered all those deemed im- Mr. Saunders’s secret; a secret which was kept from the world, and even from portant in my private journal; lie therefore carefully wrote to me respecting the opera- Mr. Gibson, who had specially written to matuislly tions on the tvins, when, perhaps, he had Mr. Travers on the business. determined on the publication of a paper 5. That Mr. Gibson published his comrespecting congenital cataract. prehensive and masterly account of opera. The twin sisters were operated upon in tions for congenital cataracts in infants, the summer of 1809, and were it of import- before the appearance of Mr. Saunders’s ance to fix exactly the month and the day, posthumous volume, and therefore would be this could be done by examining the hos- entitled to the merit of the said discovery, pital books of Mr. Gibson. My friends had it deserved the appellation. Messrs. Thorpe, sen., Ransome, and Ains6. That Mr. Gibson never attached so worth, besides a number of pupils, and my- much importance to the operation in ques. at the were self, operations. present tion, as Mr. Saunders and his friends; that From the various statements already made he never deemed his efforts to bring an old inTHE LANCET, and in the above letters and operation more extensively into use, "one of the most valuable and splendid discoveries remarks, it appears clear as daylight, 1. That the operation for congenital cata- of modern surgery." ract on infants, reported to be " an operation 7. That there are living witnesses of distinct in its principle from extraction and Mr. Gibson’s operations (including Mr. couching," and " one of the most splendid Thorpe, sen., Mr. Ransome, Mr. Ainsdiscoveries of modern surgery,"-in fact, worth* and myself, besides some practitionwas not all a discovery, as was candidly ers who were then pupils of the Manchester avowed by Gibson. Infirmary) for congenital cataract in infants, 2. That the assertion of Dr. Farre, that, which were performed long before the Moun"Mr. Gibson adhered to the principle of tain brought forth the Mouse, or ratlier be, CONCEPTION of the London couching," is, to use the gentlest language, fore the FALSE a complete mistake ; since Mr. Gibson em- Ophthalmic Institution. ployed the couching needle of Hey and of I rejoice to have this opportunity of renScarpa, merely to rupture the capsule of the dering homage to the memory of so gifted lens, so that if the cataract were milky it and so distinguished a friend and patron as? might escape, be mixed with the aqueous the late Benjamin Gibson. humour, and afterwards be absorbed; or, if I Sir, it were soft, to rupture the capsule, break Your very obedient servant, down the opaque lens, and thus, having adR. LYALL. mitted the aqueous humour to it, to accomits SOLUTION.* Nov. 4.5, Haymarket, plish 20, 1825. 3. That Mr. Gibson performed operations at the Manchester Infirmary, of the same kind as Mr. Saunders’s t’aunted new ope* Before Dr. Farre ventures to say any rations at the London Ophthalmic Institu-, of " circumstantial evidence," thing further without tion, claiming any discovery; but, or of the ‘° most eminent men in Manchester," he had better consult the above’‘ It is most unfortunate for Dr. Farre’s named gentlemen, who will be equally glad myself to render justice to their late statement, that Mr. Gibson had used the friend. very word soilltiull in his paper. Ilow could the Doctor possibly then talk of the "third operation by solution" as a novelty ?
and wish you things of this world,