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purpose to read for an examination. The library of the Society is open during the day, and it contains an ample collection of books on every subject which relates to our business. It is obvious that a young man would be likely to obtain a situation with much greater ease after his qualifications had been tested, and found satisfactory by the Board of Examiners. Others who are about to try their fortunes as Chemists on their own account, will find the distinction which they would gain by passing an examination a great advantage.
We have heard several Associates express a determination to come early into the field and speculate on the probability of passing an examination on the occasion of the first meeting of the Board ; and we hope that when the day arrives, the number of candidates will not be found deficient. We have hitherto endeavoured to prevail upon our brethren to join the Society without delay, urging as an inducement the facility of admission ; and the object with which this course was taken has been fully attained. "We shall henceforth dwell upon the advantage of honorary distinction and the importance of carrying out to the fullest extent the plans which we have adopted in reference to education and examination ; we would, therefore, impress upon the minds of our Associates, as well as on those who have not yet joined us, that by presenting themselves at the Board and passing an examination they will not only raise their own character, but materially advance the prosperity of the institution.
The advantages of an examination are two-fold ; in the first place, it is intended to serve as a stimulus to preparatory studies; and, secondly, to demonstrate the ainount of proficiency thus attained. It should be followed up by assiduous attention to all the practical details of Pharmacy, in order that the public as well as the candidate himself may derive the full benefit from the result. A superficial acquaintance with the general principles of the science, may, in some cases, enable a student to pass an examination, and the practice of “ grinding young men for the Hall" is not uncommon; but dependence should not be placed on temporary aptitude obtained in this
The successful candidate must not be satisfied with the possession of a certificate or a diploma : he will be obliged to pass a series of other examinations, before the most severe of all Boards of Examiners-namely, the public; and unless he can maintain, in the daily performance of his duties, that character which his certificate implies, he cannot reasonably expect to enjoy the reward. The Pharmaceutical Chemist, as well as every other member of the community, should recollect that his own prosperity will be in proportion to the benefit which he confers upon
the public, and that eminence in any profession must be the result of continued industry and methodical application.
There are some persons who appear to be gifted with a peculiar genius, and who are enabled to strike out a path for themselves in whatever pursuit they embark, which leads them to distinction; but cases of this kind being rare, it is necessary for the general welfare and improvement of each particular class, that some regular system should be adopted, the principles of which may be more or less applicable to all the individuals which it comprises.
With this view, the education and examination of which we have given a very brief outline, have been instituted, the details are regulated and will be modified according to circumstances, and a course of proceeding is prescribed and published for the guidance of those for whose benefit and improvement the Society was established. The Council having used their utmost endeavours to promote the welfare of their brethren by framing such regulations as they conceive likely to effect this object, it becomes the duty of the members to assist in carrying out the measures which have been adopted. In the first place, therefore, we hope that all our members will support the principles of the Society in reference to Apprentices, by satisfying themselves that those whom they receive as pupils have had a liberal education ; and for this purpose complying invariably with the requisitions respecting preliminary examination. The progress of the pupil may be greatly promoted by the judicious superintendence and occasional indulgence of his employer, and any encouragement which can be given to scientific pursuits, without interfering with the daily routine of business, will be found materially beneficial to the interest of both parties.
The progressive steps through which the pupil must pass during the course of his education, are designed to facilitate the gradual and methodical acquisition of knowledge, the Minor Examination will serve to prepare the Associate for the more severe ordeal which is to follow; and the Ciass Examinations, which will be conducted by the professors at the close of their respective courses of lectures, will have the same useful tendency.
In conclusion, we may be allowed to repeat, that it is not merely the payment of an annual subscription to the PharmaCEUTICAL Society that will confer honourable distinction on the Subscriber or ensure the prosperity of the institution ; but it is by the individual efforts of all our Members and Associates in carrying out judicious arrangements and promoting an efficient system of education and examination, that we can hope to enjoy the increased confidence and support of the public.
THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY.
MR. PAYNE, VICE-PRESIDENT, IN TIIE CHAIR. The first
ON THE ADULTERATION OF SENNA.
BY JACOB BELL. ALTHOUGH it is well known that the leaves of Alexandrian senna are invariably mixed with a certain proportion of the cynanchum arguel, no decisive measures have yet been adopted to put an end to this fraud; other leaves are occasionally found in it, but the above is the adulteration which chiefly demands our attention, from the circumstance that it is systematically practised to so great an extent as to affect materially the quality of the drug. Alexandrian senna contains a mixture of two or more species of true senna. It consists principally of the cassia lanceolata, with a few leaflets of cassia obovata and cassia obtusata, and, according to some authorities, it sometimes contains cassia acuti. folia. This mixture is unimportant, but the cynanchum, which generally constitutes a fifth of the weight on an average, possesses properties differing in some respects from true senna, and which render it particularly objectionable.
Dr. Christison has paid considerable attention to this subject; and in order to test the quality of the cynanchum, he administered it to several patients, prepared in the same manner as the senna which he was in the habit of prescribing. He found that it produced much griping, flatulence, and uneasiness, with a very scanty purgative effect, and he attributes the unpleasant effects and nauseous taste frequently ascribed to senna, to the leaves of cynanchum contained in it. It is chiefly on this account that the Alexandrian senna is seldom used in Edinburgh, the Tinnivelly senna having almost entirely taken its place.
Dr. Christison mentions a case in which a patient, who had been in the habit of taking a syrup of Tinnivelly senna, being supplied with the same preparation in which the Alexandrian had been substituted, was extremely annoyed at the griping and un
satisfactory effect. On examining the leaves, they were found as usual much adulterated with the cynanchum. A syrup was prepared from the Alexandrian senna, from which the spurious leaves had been removed, and the result was as good as that obtained from the Tinnivelly; but this process being attended with too much trouble to admit of its being generally adopted, there appeared to be no advantage in using Alexandrian senna while the Tinnivelly was free from objection.
This is a question which deserves the consideration of the PHARMACEUTICAL Society, as it ought to be decided which kind of senna is actually the best, and if we give the preference to the Alexandrian, in accordance with the usually received opinion, we ought to take steps for preventing an adulteration which is calculated to bring the article into disrepute. In cases of this kind individuals have but little opportunity of effecting a reformation; but a society, one object of which is to improve the quality of our Materia Medica, is in a position to exert a beneficial influence. The Alexandrian senna, like every other commodity, is collected and brought into the market according to the demand, and while we are willing to submit to the imposition, and offer no opposition to the circulation of a spurious article, it is not likely that the collectors will discontinue their present practice.
But it is our duty as a public body to issue proper instructions respecting the importation of drugs, and by publishing among our members an exposure of any fraud, with the means of detecting it, we shall confer on a genuine article that comparative value which will ensure a constant supply in the market. There is one objection to the general adoption of the Tinnivelly senna, which is, that the quantity imported into this country is not nearly sufficient to meet the demand. It is cultivated only on one estate at Cape Comorin, and in the event of a deficiency the other varieties of East India senna (Bombay or Madras) might be substituted. As these are inferior in quality, it is necessary to observe the distinction. The Tinnivelly senna is known by the size of the leaflets, which are much larger than those of any other variety; they are also less brittle, thinner, and larger, and are generally found in a very perfect state, while the other varieties, especially the Alexandrian, are more or less broken.
The leaves of the cynanchum are similar in form to those of the lanceolate senna, but they are thicker and stiffer, the veins are scarcely visible, they are not oblique at the base, their surface is rugose, and the colour grey or greenish drab; their taste is bitter and disagreeable, and they are often spotted with a yellow intensely bitter gummo-resinous incrustation. Being less fragile than tne leaflets of true senna, they are more often found entire, and are very easily distinguished from the varieties which con
stitute true Alexandrian senna. In their botanical characters they are essentially different, being distinct leaves, and not leaflets, which is the case with true senna. Samples of the different species of senna are on the table as well as the cynanchum. The flower and fruit were sent for exhibition by Dr. Pereira.
The Chairman observed, that the term fraud, as applied to the admixture noticed in the paper, was rather a strong one: he would be glad to know whether it was generally considered to be intentional or accidental.
Mr. Bell said, he believed the natives who furnished the senna were indifferent on the subject, believing it to be of little or no importance. Some importers had endeavoured to put a stop to the adulteration, but without success, as the exportation was under the controul of Mehemet Ali, by whose orders the various supplies consigned to the general depôt were systeinatically mixed. The senna in some places was free from the cynanchum until this operation had taken place. The object in bringing the subject forward was to induce the Members of the Society to combine in refusing to purchase Alexandrian senna when thus contaminated, and by bringing the Tinnivelly into competition, to oblige Mehemet Ali to discontinue the practice.
Mr. Pedler adverted to the fact, that the importation of Tinnivelly senna was very limited, and that during two seasons, a few years ago, none was imported, in consequence of which the price rose to six or seven shillings a pound. If a great demand should arise the supply would be quite inadequate.
Mr. Squire asked Mr. Bell, whether he had tried the comparative effect of the infusions of cynanchum and Alexandrian senna.
Mr. Bell replied that his observations on that subject were on the authority of Dr. Christison, who had tested their action in a considerable number of cases.
The Chairman remarked, that according to the general opinion of medical men, the stalks of the senna occasioned griping, but it appeared probable, from the experiments of Dr. Christison, that this was produced by the cynanchum.
Mr. Davy observed, that although the adulteration of Alexandrian senna had long been known to exist, that kind was, nevertheless, generally preferred. The Tripoli senna contained none of the cynanchum, but it was inferior in its efficacy and very little was imported. He considered that the only method of preventing the adulteration of Alexandrian senna was to refuse to purchase it as now imported, which would bring Mehemet Ali to his senses.