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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 12, 1998


Author Affiliations

Brian P.PaceMA, Assistant Editor

JAMA. 1998;280(6):494B. doi:10.1001/jama.280.6.494

The London Lancet cites a case before a provincial police court, in which a small boy who had been swinging on the supports to the blinds of a druggist's shop, after capture had been liberally dosed with an infusion of quassia [a bitter tonic for round worms]. The druggist was fined properly, says the Lancet, on the following grounds: the next mode of punishment might not be so harmless as quassia and the executioner might be less instructed in therapeutics. Again, an element in this way might be imported into the punishment of children which should never be tolerated, to wit, the element of nervous terror. "We know and the druggistknows," says our contemporary, "that the solution of quassia was as harmless as, say, many sorts of table beer, but the boy did not know it. He might easily believe that his disagreeable sensations were the prelude to impending death from poisoning, and a fond mother might possibly support the view, with the result that much more pain, and of a different sort, would be caused than was intended." Although there is a dash of casuistry mingled with the heavy humor of the bar we hope that the controversy is now at an end, especially since the deterrent factors of stronger blinds or increasing weight of years may be the safeguards.

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