In the following pages the writer has attempted, however imperfectly he may have fulfilled the task, to remedy this deficiency, by collecting and bringing within a small compass the opinions and experience of the most eminent writers of modern times, as to the real value of the articles of the Materia Medica in the treatment of disease. Such a work has, in the opinion of the Compiler, been long needed, especially by the younger members of the Profession and by students. There is one class of medical men, who may be denominated the floating practitioners, surgeons in the army, the navy, the East India Company's Service, those engaged in emigrant or merchant ships, and also those resident in isolated spots in our distant colonies, to whom it is confidently expected a work like the present will prove acceptable and useful.

It has often been remarked that a little book is a great evil, and it has been much the fashion, of late years, to decry the use of Manuals and small works, as affording imperfect and garbled information, and imparting an amount of knowledge which, as it is easily obtained, is supposed to be evanescent, and, in some cases, even injurious. The medical man, however, whose lot has been cast in large and populous cities, where the personal opinions and advice of the most eminent practitioners of the day can be obtained, where museums, rich in anatomical preparations, are easily accessible, and where books on every known disease are procurable at a comparatively small cost, and with the delay of but a few hours, can entertain but a very imperfect idea of the great value and importance of works of this description. The writer, in his own person, has too often experienced their value not to bear his testimony in their favour, and he trusts that as much useful information and as many practical hints may be found in the following pages as he has derived from the Manuals of others.

In the arrangement of this work, the botanical and chemical characteristics of the articles of the Materia Medica have been very briefly enumerated, in order to allow a larger space for the consideration of their therapeutic uses; those who are desirous of becoming more fully acquainted with the former departments, will find them fully detailed in any modern work on Materia Medica, particularly in the able Manual of Professor Royle, or in the more extended and talented volumes of Dr. Pereira.

The Compiler is painfully alive to the fact that, even in the department of which he has undertaken the illustration, many deficiencies and shortcomings will be found to exist; and this leads him to mention briefly the circumstances, - most disadvantageous ones it must be allowed, - under which the following work was prepared for the press. It was compiled and arranged at Mergui, a small isolated station in the Tenasserim Provinces (part of ancient Burmah). It is the southernmost part occupied by the East India Company's troops in the above provinces, being situated about 240 miles from Moulmein, above 1,000 miles from Calcutta, and a still greater distance from Madras. In times of peace, the only means of communication with the above places was by a monthly steamer, and after the outbreak of the Burmese War (1851), by a small sailing vessel, whose visits, like those of angels, were few and far between. Thus, as may readily be supposed, great difficulties existed in obtaining books for reference. Calcutta is the nearest place at which these can be procured, and a space of at least three months must necessarily elapse between the periods of writing to that city for books and receiving them, or, in the stead, a polite note from the booksellers, to the effect that the work or works in question are not procurable in Calcutta, but that, on receiving instructions to that effect, they will procure them from England by the next Overland mail, thereby entailing a delay of several months, and a considerable extra expense. However anxious a writer, under such circumstances, may be to accumulate facts or to verify notes which have been taken years previously, without any view to subsequent publication, the obstacles thrown in his way are so numerous, that it is impossible to overcome them entirely, or to complete a work to his satisfaction. In addition to these difficulties, it may be added that the writer was "in orders" to proceed to an appointment at least 1500 miles from Mergui whilst the work was proceeding to a termination, and that, in consequence, he was much hurried in effecting its completion, as travelling in India is but little suited for carrying on any literary occupation.

These details, which may seem to some unnecessary and tedious, are mentioned in order to exculpate the Compiler from the charge of neglect, or want of accuracy, which might, perhaps, be laid to his charge by those whose knowledge of medical literature entitles them to pass an opinion on the subject. He has endeavoured studiously, to the best of his ability, to render the quotations as correct as possible, and to give his authorities without mistake, but it is feared that occasionally errors may have crept in; if such exist, they are purely unintentional, the writer having in every instance, as far as lay in his power, verified the correctness of his statements, and never, he believes, arrogated to himself observations which justly belong to others.

The following are the works principally referred to in this Manual, being those to which the Compiler had direct access during its arrangement and compilation: - Encyclopaedia of Practical Medicine, by Drs. Forbes and Conolly. The Library of Medicine, by Dr. Tweedie. Copland's Dictionary of Practical Medicine (vols, i., ii.). The Lectures of Watson (1848), Graves (1848), and Elliotson. Hope, On Diseases of the Heart. Alison's Principles of Pathology. Sir B. Brodie, On Diseases of the Urinary Organs (3rd Ed.). Prout, On Stomach and Renal Diseases (4th Ed.). Marshall Hall, On Diseases of the Nervous System, and also his edition of Underwood, On Diseases of Children. Johnson and Martin, On the Influence of Tropical Climates (6th Ed.). Dr. D. Davis, On Obstetric Medicine. Dewees, On Diseases of Females (6th Ed.). Dewees, On the Management of Children (7th Ed.). Dewees, Rigby, Churchill, and Conquest, On Midwifery. Erasmus Wilson, On Diseases of the Skin. Howard's Pathology of the Eye. Malcolmson, On Beri-beri. Lugol, On Scrofula (translated by Dr. Ranking). Lugol, On Iodine (translated by Dr. O'shaughnessy). Louis, On Phthisis (translated by Dr. Cowan). Lloyd, On Scrofula. Scudamore, On the Inhalation of Iodine, &c. The works on Materia Medica which have been consulted, and from which many valuable quotations have been taken, are those of Drs. Pereira, Anthony Todd Thompson, Duncan, O'shaughnessy (Bengal Dispensatory and Pharmacopoeia), Ainslie, Ballard and Garrod, Royle, Dunglison (Medical Dictionary), Nevins, and Hooper. In the department of Surgery, the works chiefly consulted are, Cooper's Surgical Dictionary (7th Ed.); Liston's Elements of Surgery; Liston's Practical Surgery; Sir Astley Cooper's Lectures; Lizar's Practical Surgery, &c. In Physiology, the works of Liebig, Richeraud, and Miiller. Much valuable information has also been derived from the medical periodicals of the day, particularly from Dr. Ranking's Half-yearly Abstract of the Medical Sciences, and Braithwaite's Retrospect of Medicine.

Errata

Page 178, sect. 629, for "Calcis Sulphuretum" (Sulphuret of Lime), read " Calcii Sulphuretum" (Sulphuret of Calcium). Page 204, sect. 734, for " Spiritus Lethialis," read " Spiritus Lethalis." Page 239, line 30 from top, for "QuiniAe Disulphas," read " QuiniAe Sulphas." Page 272, last line, for "contains," read "contain." Page 302, for "Etheris Spiritus," read "Aetheris Spiritus." Page 324, line 6 from bottom, for " are exemplified," read " is exemplified." Page 890, line 17 from bottom, for "Tinct. Iodini," read " Tinct. Iodi." Page 894, line 12 from top, for "Decoct. Querci,"read "Decoct. Quercus." Page 896, line 7 from top, for "Decoct. Querci," read "Decoct. Quercus."