(London: Burgess and Hill, 1826). 215 x 135 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 3/8"). x, , 282 pp.,  blank leaf (lacking half title). FIRST EDITION.
Recent retrospective dark brown quarter calf over marbled boards, raised bands, gilt titling. Title page with ink library stamp of University College Hospital Medical School Library. The Founders of Child Neurology (1990), pp. 148-52. Title a little foxed, with a half-inch brown strip (from older binding?) along gutter edge, last two leaves with minor foxing, otherwise a fine copy, clean, fresh, and surprisingly bright, in an unworn sympathetic binding.
This is the first edition of the first monograph in English on the subject of convulsions in children, by a man considered to be one of the founders of child neurology. One of 300 original Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons and a renowned London practitioner specializing in midwifery and the diseases of women and children, John North (1790-1873) was a forthright, plain-spoken man whose obituary even noted that "he was occasionally too brusque to be pleasant." This candor was an asset in his writings. As "The Founders of Child Neurology" notes, "Whereas most 18th- and early 19th-century medical authors were opaque, verbose, and interminable theorists, North wrote simply and clearly, avoided speculation, admitted ignorance, and actually dealt with practical matters, such as distinguishing between types of convulsions and the extent of treatment required. Also, perhaps in keeping with his character, he did not hesitate to criticize other authors with whom he disagreed." One of his main targets was John Clarke, who had declared that "every case of convulsion" resulted in "inevitable organic damage" to the brain. Consequently, Clarke called for drastic treatment of every seizure, whether caused by teething or serious illness, often doing more harm than good with his purgatives, clysters, and bleeding. North saw convulsions as a disturbance in the brain, but not as evidence of organic disease, citing as evidence the lack of brain lesions found in autopsies of children who had died of convulsions. He distinguished epilepsy from other causes of seizures, and was perhaps the first to note the association between rickets and convulsions. "Founders" concludes, "his greatest gift to his contemporaries may have been his reiterated contention that most babies with convulsions need not be assaulted with calomel, leeches, and the lancet." (ST14206)
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PJP Catalog: SE19BF.070