PERKINS. ErnsrtA, 1741-99: b. Conn. He was the inventor of what were called Perkins's tractors, which at the commencement of this century were used by him, ancy)y itinerant practitioners of medicine, as well as by some of the regular medical profession, for the treatment of rheumatism, neuralgia, and local inflammations. The instrument, or instruments—for they consisted of two bars of metal or ping, or whatever the appara tus may be called—was made. of brass and iron, containing, as the inventor pretended, peculiar combinations of metals. Their use consisted iu drawing them in a certain man ner over the affected parts. Tha practice was called "Perkiusism," and obtained for a time it remarkable number of proselytes in this country, but especially in Europe. In London the practice was introduced by Perkins's son, and a Perkinsian institution, with lord Rivers as president, was established for the benefit of the poor. Five thousand cures were published. with the, certificates of eight medical professors, forty physicians and surgeons, and thirty clergymen. In Copenhagen twelve physicians and surgeons, most of them instructors in the royal Frederick's hospital, made a "series" of experi ments, which were published in an imposing octavo volume with a report in favor of the "• system." In a few years, however, the tractors, as was inevitable, fell into disrepute,
as their use did not justify their reputation. Perkins afterwards invented a fever medi cine whose efficacy he undertook to demonstrate during the prevalence of yellow fever i i New York in 1799, but after four weeks of toil he himself contracted the disease and diud It is not improbable that in sonic cases, where the tractors were used with some leeTee of pressure, they may have afforded some relief by the mechanical stimulus they supplied, similar to that afforded by manual rtibbing and kneading, but, of course, in a much less decree. The benefits of exercise and motion in the treatment of diseases were not at that time appreciated as they are now; and as some improvement may have •asionally fullowed the use of the tractors, the therapeutics of wide was not under c,to.).1, it was concluded that they must possess certain inherent curative properties.