Antimony is a heavy, brittle semi-metal, composed of long bright streaks, resembling needles, of a dark lead colour, and without taste or smell. It is found in Germany, France, and also in Eng-j but that produced in this country is the least proper for rne. dicinal uses, being frequently mixed with a portion of lead. The impurities which are found in the foreign sorts, are of the infusible kind, and are extracted by melting the antimony in vessels, the bottoms of which are perforated with small holes, so that the lighter and drossy matter rises to the surface, while the more pure and ponderous.-. sinks, and is received. into conical moulds. This mineral, when analyzed, is found to consist of a metal united with common sulphur. It is the basis of many preparations to which we shall refer our readers, and simply mention a few of the purposes to which it is subservient, while in a crude state.
The ancients employed it in eye-water, for inflammations of the eyes, and for staining the eye-brows black. Previous to it -ment as an internal remedy, which was not till towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, it was generally supposed to be poisonous; but experience has at length fully evinced, that it possesses no noxious qualities, being often successfully used, especially in chronic eruptions 5 and though many of its preparations operate as violent emetics, and cathartics, yet by a addition or alteration, they may be easily deprived of their vi-rulence, and rendered safe and mild in their operation. Its virtues are completely extracted by wine; from ten to fifty or sixty drops of which, are usually prescribed as an alterative and diaphoretic. In larger doses, it acts as a diuretic and cathartic; and three or four drams prove, in general, violently emetic.
Dr. James Walker, late surgeon to the navy, gives a remarkable account of the effects produced by a large quantity of antimonial wine. Having ordered some whey, in consequence of a cold, that wine, in a mistake, was used instead of Lisbon. Of this whey he drank a full English pint, in which was contained not less than a gill and a half of antimonial wine; but, instead of producing the effects which might naturally be expected, it was attended with an unusual propensity to sleep, with a lassitude and numbness of the limbs. His two medical pupils, who had eaten the curd, were affected in a similar manner. He consequently asks, Whether, if its emetic quality be destroyed by its combination with milk, and exchanged for that of a narcotic kind, some useful hints might not be drawn from this case, and introduced into medical practice ?"—See James's Powder, and Tartar Emetic.
Antimony. - An improvement in the preparation of the anti-monial powder, which is substituted in regular pharmacy, for Dr. James's Fever - powders, has lately been proposed to the Royal Society, by Mr. Chenevix. He directs equal parts of phosphat of lime, and pulverized algaroth, to be dissolved in the smallest possible quantity of muriatic acid: some caustic ammonia must then be mixed with distilled water, and the muriatic solution dropped gradually into the mixture: the result of such combination will be a copious white precipitate; which, by washing and drying it, is rendered fit for use. - This medicine, Mr. C. remarks, has already been administered by some eminent practitioners ; and, according to his account, it possesses the valuable properties of the antimonial powder, though in a less concentrated form; so that the former may be exhibited in doses of less than eight grains, without exciting vomiting.