CARMICHAEL, a distinguished physician, only son of Thomas
Carmichael, Esq., representative of the Carmichaels of Balmadie, and his
wife Margaret, eldest daughter and heiress of James Smyth, Esq. of
Athenry, was born in Fifeshire in 1741. In compliance with the
testamentary injunctions of his maternal grandfather, he assumed the
name and arms of Smyth, in addition to his own. After studying for six
years at the university of Edinburgh, he graduated there in 1764, when
he wrote a dissertation ‘De Paralysi,’ and introduced into it a short
history of Medical Electricity in its application to the cure of this
disease. He subsequently, for professional improvement, visited France,
Italy, and Holland, and in 1768 settled in London. His first public
appointment was physician to the Middlesex hospital; he had also
considerable private practice. His attention having been particularly
directed to the prevention of contagion in cases of fever, he had
recourse to the effect of nitric acid gas, the preventive power of which
he fully established. His experiments made by order of government on
board of the Spanish prison ship at Winchester, where a pestilential
fever prevailed, were deemed satisfactory, and in 1802, parliament, in
requital of his services, voted him a reward of £5,000. His claim to the
original merit of this valuable discovery was disputed by Dr. James
Johnstone of Kidderminster, for his father, and by M. Chaptal of France,
on behalf of Guyton-Morveau, and he was involved in a severe polemical
dispute in consequence with several of the profession. Soon after, for
his health he went to the south of France, and subsequently, retiring
from professional pursuits, went to live at Sunbury. He was a fellow of
the Royal College of Physicians, London, also a fellow of the royal
Society, London, and physician extraordinary to the king, George III. He
died 18th June 1821. He had married in 1775, Mary, only child and
heiress of Thomas Holyland, Esq. of Bromley, Kent, and had by her eight
sons and two daughters. His eldest son, General Sir James Carmichael
Smyth, was created a baronet of the United Kingdom in 1821. His eldest
daughter married Dr. Alexander Monro, professor of anatomy in the
university of Edinburgh. (See CARMICHAEL of Balmadie.)
Dr. Carmichael Smyth was
the author of the following medical publications:
Tentamen Med. Inaug. De Paralysi. Edin. 1764, 8vo.
An Account of the Effects of Swinging, employed as a Remedy in Pulmonary
Consumption and Hectic Fever. Lond. 1787, 8vo.
The Works of the late Dr. William Stork. Lond. 1788, 4to.
A Description of the Jail Distemper, as it appeared among the Spanish
Prisoners at Winchester in the year 1780; with an Account of the means
employed for curing that Fever, and for destroying the Contagion which
gave rise to it. Lond. 1795, 8vo.
An Account of the Experiments made on board the Union Hospital Ship, to
determine the Effect of the Nitrous Acid in destroying Contagion, and
the safety with which it may be employed. Lond. 1796, 8vo.
The Effect of the Nitrous Vapour in preventing and destroying Contagion;
ascertained from a variety of trials, made chiefly by Surgeons of his
Majesty’s Navy in Prisons, Hospitals, and on board of ships; with an
Introduction, respecting the Nature of Contagion, which gives rise to
the Jail and Hospital Fever, and the various methods formerly employed
to prevent or destroy this. Lond. 1799, 8vo.
Letter to William Wilberforce, Esq., containing Remarks on a Pamphlet,
entitled ‘An Account of the Discovery of the Power of the Mineral Acid
Vapours to destroy Contagion, by John Johnstone, M.D.’ Lond. 1805, 8vo.
Remarks on a Report of M. Chaptal; with an Examination of the claim of
M. Cuyton de Morveau to the discovery of the power of Mineral Acid Gases
on Contagion. London, 1805, 8vo.
A Treatise on the Hydrencephalus, or Dropsy of the Brain. Lond. 1814,
Letter from Mr. Young relating his own case, in which an enlarged Spleen
was cured by the application of the actual Cautery. Annals of Med. Vi.