Editorial department.

THE TRAFFIC IN DIPLOMAS, which we have repeatedly referred to in our columns, will probably hereafter cease to reflect upon the fair fame of the learned institutions of Philadelphia. That no degree could ever be purchased from the University of Pennsylvania is well known to all who are acquainted with its officers and teachers. Outside of the City and State, and particularly in Europe, this institution has often been confounded with the "University of Philadelphia." For the benefit of those of our exchanges who have charged the former with this nefarious traffic, we publish the circular lately issued by it, which contains also the law that will probably put a stop to this trade:

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, Philadelphia, Sept., 1871.

Frequent applications are made to the authorities of this University by gentlemen who desire to obtain Honorary Degrees. As these applications are made in evident ignorance of the rules which govern the University in conferring these degrees, as well as the law of the State of Pennsylvania on the subject, it has been thought best to reprint the existing regulations:

[Extract from the Statutes of the University.]


  1. These may be conferred either at the instance of the Faculty, or in pursuance of a resolution of the Board of Trustees; but no such Degree shall be conferred unless the mandamus ordering the same to be signed by two-thirds of the whole number of Trustees, nor unless the candidate shall have been nominated at the Board three months previously to taking the question on conferring the degree.
  2. The question on conferring an Honorary Degree shall always be decided by ballot, and the candidate must receive a unanimous vote.


SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That it shall not be lawful for any University, College, or other institution incorporated under the laws of this State with power to grant Academic Degrees, honorary or otherwise, to confer the same upon any person or persons upon the payment or promise of payment by any person in consideration thereof; and any person knowingly signing a diploma or other instrument of writing purporting to confer an Academic Degree when such consideration has been paid or promised to be paid, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, and to undergo an imprisonment not exceeding six mouths, or both, or either, at the discretion of the Court.

Approved May 19th, 1871.

After the above was in type we received the New York Tribune of October 25th, in which a lengthy account is given of the negotiations for the purchase of a diploma from the Eclectic Medical College of Philadelphia.

COCA, COCOA, CACAO.—The products of these three plants are very often confounded with each other in consequence of the similarity of their names; aside from this, there is no other resemblance either between the plants, or their products used in medicine, the arts or the cuisine. In the March number of this Journal we published a review of Wittstein's handbook of secret medicines, wherein a nostrum was stated to be composed of the powder and the extract of coca. Some of our contemporaries improved on that report and made the nostrum from cocoa. The oil of theobroma, at present the favorite excipient for suppositories, is very frequently called cocoa butter, perhaps because some well known dietetic preparations of the so-called chocolate nuts have been misnamed cocoa.

Erythroxylon Coca, Lamb., grows in South America and belongs to the order erythroxylaceae. The leaves are used by the Indians and are capable of sustaining their strength, without any other food, on long and tedious journeys and during great exertions.

Cocos nucifera, Lin., is a palm, growing in tropical countries and furnishing the well-known cocoanut with its refreshing milk, and yielding the cocoanut oil or cocoanut butter, a solid white fat largely used in the manufacture of candies and soap.

Theobroma cacao, Lin., and a few other species of the natural order of Byttneraceae, natives of Central and South America, produce seeds, known in commerce as chocolate nuts. The fat expressed from them is the officinal cacao butter, the mass left in the press constitutes the main ingredient of chocolate.

STRYCHNOS POTATORUM.—On page 241 of this volume of the Journal we described among others, the seeds of a species of strychnos, which a year ago arrived at New York as ballast in a ship from the East Indies. We concluded from our investigations, that they belonged to Strychnos potatorum, Lin. fil., and we are now enabled to verify this opinion. Professor W. H. Chandler, of the Lehigh University at Bethlehem, Pa., handed us a parcel of authentic seeds of that plant from Mr. James Collins, curator of the museum of the Pharmaceutical Society of London; the seeds received are identical with those mentioned before. We are under obligations to both gentlemen for the kindness shown us.

CUNDURANGO.—We have hitherto refrained from giving to our readers the glowing accounts of the efficacy of this wonderful humbug, simply because we looked with suspicion upon its introduction into the list of standard materia medica as an unfailing specific in cancer. The most surprising feature of its history has been the manner in which the State department has been used as the tool to advertise it as a nostrum. That it does not cure cancer has been proven by the medical profession of Washington, D. C.; several of the patients who improved under its use, have subsequently convalesced into the grave, and the others are about the same as before they commenced using it.

The first authentic news of its origin which we have seen, is contained in the communication from Mr. Dan. C. Robbins, published elsewhere. From Dr Fred. Hoffmann, of New York, we have received substantially the same information, accompanied by some specimens, one of which is identical with a specimen received from Professor Jos. Carson, of this city, which had reached him from the State department through Prof. Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, and was, therefore, some of the original cundurango that reached this country. Dr. Hoffmann informs us that almost weekly, shipments of this drug arrive at New York from Guayaquil, Ecuador, many of which are not genuine; they may probably be identical with the "big fruit" and "little fruit" mentioned by Mr. Robbins. The reduction in price from $100 to $30 per lb. may be partly due to the increased supply, partly to the counterfeit article. We presume that the market will soon be "overstocked" and remain in that condition.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. XLIII, 1871, was edited by William Procter, Jr. (Issues 1-4) and John M. Maisch (Issues 5-12).