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The Scottish Nation

SMYTH, JAMES 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, 8vo.
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. 437, 1801.

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