The elements of materia medica and therapeutics: 105. Arsenici Sulphureta. — Sulphurets of Arsenic.

The elements of materia medica and therapeutics
by Jonathan Pereira, M.D. F.R.S. & L.S.
Fourth Edition, enlarged and improved, including notices of themost of the medicinal substances in use in the civilized world, and forming an Encyclopædia of Materia Medica.
Vol. I.
London: printed for Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, Paternoster Row.


1 Handbuch d. Chemie, Bd. ii. 1844.

2 See the account of the celebrated Bristol case of poisoning, in the Land. Med. Gaz. vol xv p. 519 ; and vol. xvi. p. 120.

3 Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 888.

4 Hist abrégée des Drogues simples, t. i. p. 174, 3m3 édit. 1836.
No fewer than seven compounds of sulphur and arsenic are noticed by L. Gmelin.1 Of these, two only require to be noticed here.

Arsenici Bisulphuretum; Bisulphuret of Arsenic; Risigallum; Realgar; Red Sulphuret of Arsenic; Red Arsenic; Sandaraca, []; Sandarack. — It occurs in the
mineral kingdom both massive and crystallised. The crystals belong to the oblique prismatic system (see ante, p. l46. — Commercial realgar is an artificial product, prepared by submitting to distillation arsenical pyrites. It is met with in the form of red vitreous masses, or as a red powder. It is a energetic poison. It was the agent employed by Mre. Burdock to destroy Mrs. Smith.2 The body of the victim was exhumed after having been buried for fourteen months. It was then discovered that the realgar had been transformed into orpiment, which was found in the stomach. Mr. Herapath3 has shown that ammonia and sulphuretted hydrogen (gases evolved during putrid decomposition) are capable of converting resign into orpiment. Heated with the soda-flux, it yields metallic arsenic. Realgar was used in medicine by the Greeks, Romans, Arabians, Paracelsus, and some few later authorities. At the present time it is not employed for medicinal purposes, but is used by pyrotechnists, and as a pigment.

2. Arsenici Tersulphuretum; Tersulphuret of Arsenic; Auripigmentum; Orpiment: Yellow Sulphuret of Arsenic; Yellow Arsenic; Sesquisulphuret of Arsenic; Sulpharaesious Acid; King's Yellow. — This is both found native and prepared artificially. Native orpiment is the auripigmentum, or paint of gold, of the ancients. It was so called in allusion both to its use and its colour, and also because it was supposed to contain gold. From this term the common name of "orpiment" or "gold paint," has been derived. Native crystals of orpiment belong to the right prismatic system (see ante, p. 145). Artificial orpiment, prepared by submitting to distillation a mixture of arsenious acid and sulphnr, is much more poisonous than native orpiment, as it contains, according to Guibourt,4 94 percent, of arsenious acid, and only 6 per cent, of the tersulphuret of arsenic. It is soluble in alkalies (ammonia) (by which it is readily distinguished from sulphuret of cadmium), but is insoluble in hydrochloric acid (by which it is distinguished from the tersulphuret of antimony), and is precipitated from its alkaline solutions by acids. Heated witi black flux, it yields metallic arsenic. As met with in the shops, it is a powerful poison, owing to the large quantity of arsenious acid which it contains. It is a constituent of some depilatories. According to Dr. Paris, Delcroix's depilatory, called poudre subtile, consists of quick lime, orpiment, and some vegetable powder. Orpiment is used by pyrotechnists, and as a pigment. Like realgar, it was employed by the ancients, but at the present time it is not in use.

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