« 이전계속 »
simply as they existed diffused through the structure of the flesh.
We are still unable to explain the meaning of the vampires, as those bodies were supposed to be, which were so fully preserved as not to fall to ashes when the coffin was opened. It was needful to destroy them by passing a stake through them. We cannot look on the whole as untrue. The fabulous portion seems to be confined to the saying that such bodies rose at night and demanded others. In connexion with this, we know that many of the older places of burial, or at least vaults and catacombs, were so badly supplied with air, that possibly the atmosphere surrounding the bodies became after a time of itself preservative. We know that in the Catacombs of Paris it gave rise to a new transformation of the elements, and instead of the dead decomposing into gas and ashes, they, from want of suitable air, were converted into adipocire, a white waxlike substance.
Many people think that we ought, like some of the ancients, to burn our dead. They do not consider what a terrible proposal they are making. To burn a body without producing the smell of burning flesh is a most difficult thing, and far surpasses the problem of burning our smoke, which, however trifling in difficulty and important, is still left undone. The expense of keeping up such a lake of fire as to consume all our dead would also be, in all probability, too great; let us imagine 1500 bodies roasted to ashes in London every week. We shall not enter into the details of such a large manufactory of phosphates, as we must call it, because we are unable to dwell on the horrors of the picture, and because we are unwilling to bring them before others. It is enough to say, that those who propose it cannot have pictured the consequences.
In all nations the practice of burning has been found too expensive. In India it is really practised only by the rich. The poor can only afford a little wood, which burns sufficiently to satisfy the demands of their faith. In no greatly populated country can it be practised by the poor. Fuel has for all cases of this kind been too dear, and is so even with us.
When bodies are allowed time and space to mingle quietly with the earth, the products given out are by no means unpleasant; neither, in the small amounts gradually emitted, can they ever be said to be unwholesome. Nor can we blame our ancestors much for allowing their illustrious dead to be buried in their churches. It began to be an evil only when the charity of man increased, and when the respect towards humanity extended itself even to those who could not be called illustrious, and the increase of the living induced that crowding among the dead which legislation has of late almost entirely caused to cease.
We read in the Bible of the great care taken to disinfect or clean vessels in which any putrid matter may have been, and we trace clearly the effect of their observations on its action on absorbent substances : vessels of iron and of wood were differently treated. The same may be observed as to the infection of walls covered with an absorbent plaster, and of clothes. We see clearly how the world must have suffered before the cause could have been traced to these simple properties of bodiesporosity and power of absorbing. We see also how towns must have fearfully suffered before they learnt that the houses must be so far separate as to allow air to blow between them. The Greeks must certainly have made their cities and many of their streets exceedingly handsome, but their earlier towns, and even Athens, were too much crowded; and so much did they fear jobbery among the sharp-eyed business men of the city, that they dared not trust any one with money to rebuild the place, as is now being done in Paris, in Glasgow, and in Edinburgh. In Constantinople, Zeno ordered all houses to be twelve feet apart all the way up, and the projections which caused the houses nearly to meet above were disallowed. This was an effort, after a long interval of neglect. He attempted also to go farther, and ordered that no one should stop the view of the sea from his neighbour. This would be well in our sea-bathing towns, where houses are built before others without pity, and not only is the view destroyed, but the whole living of the families who possess it, and to whom the view paid the rent. But the laws are of no value unless a strong and vigilant executive attends to them. Constantinople became so bad that its destruction by fire was scarcely deemed a misfortune.
How infected by their own crowding the Romans must have been when the houses were ordered to be at least five feet apart, and not more than nine storeys high! Augustus said they should not exceed seventy feet in height, and Trajan made the limit sixty. The laborious proofs that sewer air is unwholesome have taken Commissions and Boards of Health many years of hard labour in our time, but the whole is as clearly recognised in Justinian's Digest, in quotation from Ulpian, that it is evident that the question was then past all dispute. The world is obliged occasionally to revive its principles.
However true may be the opinion that man is always in progress, we cannot deny that he often makes, in certain places, wonderfully long steps backwards. Although Hippocrates is praised for his skill, shown in fumigating the streets by the smoke of fires and by perfumes, by shutting certain windows and opening others, one of our prominent men in the sixteenth century is found speaking with approval of killing
scattered skins, con, have generatera
· pigeons, cats, dogs, and other hot animals, which make continually a great transpiration or evaporation of spirits which issue forth of evaporation: the pestiferous atoms which are scattered in the air, and accompany it, used to stick to the feathers, skins, or furres.
We, as a nation, have gone backwards and forwards as the ancients did, and in a generation we have many waves of opinion, because we do not learn sound principles, or if we learn, we do not teach them, that they may be continued.
Dr. Petit, in 1732, gave clear ideas of antiseptic action. He said that as corruption came from the separation of particles, so preservation is attained by contracting them, as by dry air and astringents.
Sir John Pringle, too, in 1750, wrote Experiments on Septic and Antiseptic Substances, with Remarks relating to their Use in the Theory of Medicine. He recommended salts of various kinds, and astringent and gummy resinous parts of vegetables, and fermenting liquors.
Dr. Macbride followed him with numerous experiments. He speaks of acids being the long-prescribed agents as antiseptics. He found that even when diluted they were powerful, that alkalis were antiseptic; that salts in general have the same quality; also gum resins, such as myrrh, asafoetida, aloes, and terra japonica; also decoctions of Virginian snake-root, pepper, ginger, saffron, contrayerva root, sage, valerian root, and rhubarb, with mint, angelica, senna, and common wormwood. Many of the common vegetables also were included as to some extent antiseptic, such as horse-radish, mustard, carrots, turnips, garlic, onions, celery, cabbage, colewort, lime.
These are, with Boyle, to be mentioned as the chief revivers of the subject in modern times. We shall not give a continued ancient history, but add remarks occasionally when they may
anapear of ins a distinctant. there come to
ause of a farw which, alchere come erful, but
Earth as a disinfectant. It is often said that soil or earth is the best disinfectant. It is powerful, but we must beware of it. From some soils there come the most violent poisons, called malaria, which, according to Macculloch, produces in itself a far wider mass of human misery than any other cause of disease.' We must see clearly from this that there is a limit to the purifying nature of earth, since it is from earth with organic matter in it that malaria springs. In reading Macculloch on malaria, we begin to fear the existence of the slightest moisture on the ground, although from other good authority we hear that the same evils arise where the influence of moisture does not occur. In malarious districts we learn that the evil is greatest when the soil is turned up. The soil has retained the poison in it and has not destroyed it. Still we know that the soil does absorb all kinds of impurities arising from putrefaction, and destroys them, but there are limits to its power. We must learn not to give it more to do than it can accomplish, by flooding it with matter that will become foul. Many persons, remembering the paddle of Moses, insist on the use of earth only to mix with our rejected refuse. If we think of the great extent of the soil, and the comparatively small amount of moisture it receives before a field becomes offensive, we must see that the limits of its power are easily attained.
GASES AND VAPOURS. — Oxygen.-Every substance in fine powder disinfects,—dust of all kinds, whether platinum powder, or powder of sandstone. The surface is enormously increased in such bodies, and surfaces attract the air which is confined and pressed into service, causing more active oxidation and therefore more purification. When all the oxygen is expended, this process ceases, so that the soil retains the evil, and gives it out when stirred. But let us send a volume of oxygen down, and the state changes. This operation is effected by nature when rain is poured over the soil and sinks down with its dissolved air, beginning an action so extensive that by it we may say nearly all the purification of the world is performed. If, however, the rain falls and remains, it soon also becomes exhausted of its oxygen, and the purification again ceases, whilst the vapour rising takes with it some of the injurious air. More water' must flow, but it cannot do so until the previous amount is removed, and thus we see the necessity of drainage. It is a constant flow of air and water purifying and making carbonic acid for the food of plants, to enable them to convert that again in part into oxygen, for animals to breathe, and food for the same to eat. Here we see the value of flowing and the evil of stagnant water, the value of drainage and of deep-soil ploughing. If this be the case, the advantage of drainage consists more in the flow than in the removal of the water. If the flow is sufficient, we have not malaria, marsh-fevers, agues, etc. If the plants are not decomposing we are also free, and thus we find that in cold, malaria is diminished or stopped, because cold prevents decomposition, and water of peat-bogs gives out no injurious gases, for the peat does not putrefy.
So powerful is this action of oxygen that even when all the organic matter is decomposed, this remarkable gas continues to accumulate when it can find entrance, and heaps itself up around certain bodies, forming nitric acid--a reservoir of air for the use of any more vegetable matter which may arrive. It is thus that near the most impure places, if the water passing through
them is detained long on the road, the organic matter is removed thoroughly, and the nitric acid formed is sufficient to give it a strong taste. It is nature making violent exertion to bring a supply of oxygen where it is most wanted. Strange to say, this accumulation is made by nitrogen, the very substance which is found characteristic of bodies capable of putrefaction. This nitric acid is united with lime, magnesia, or potash, and with the latter makes saltpetre.
In times gone by, and even later than Shakspeare's, our floors were the earth only, as in many cottages now, and we used the broom or brush little, and threw the garbage down, allowing it to lie and rot and become so vile that we invented the device of covering it over with straw, so that it might be trodden down, as the cattle make the manure in the straw-yards. The earth of the floor was overweighed with putrid matter, and much of it came into the air of the room, but the formation of nitre or saltpetre began, and oxygen accumulated rapidly, and rendered even these houses habitable in a way.
The Government soon found out this growth of saltpetre, and sent Petremen to obtain it by force. They entered houses without pity, and seemed to increase the discomfort of a household to the utmost, that they might be bribed to leave. It is not for us here to describe the tyranny of these wretches, but their doings illustrate, much more even than the more distant miseries of war did, Shakspeare's words, ‘villanous saltpetre.' “The harmless earth, out of which it was dug, is a metonymy, and may mean rather the earth in the house of a harmless family, where perhaps some tender life was lying in danger, whilst these men insisted on removing the bed, and rendering the whole apartment wretched.
It was fortunate when the search for saltpetre, like war itself, went abroad. Now we find that great collections of oxygen in this way have been made in old times, and are lying ready for our use, just as collections of coal and firewood have been made for a population too large to grow enough for itself, or too wanting in foresight to plant as rapidly as it destroys. These stores of saltpetre from India and South America are used for oxidizing. They are concentrated air, which burns charcoal so rapidly as to make an explosion, and which purifies exactly as air purifies.
We have not been able to use this power hitherto for household disinfection in bad cases, it is almost too powerful, but we use it as an antiseptic for preserving meat, to which saltpetre is added; it has also a powerful action, especially free, as nitric acid, in restraining putrefaction, although the mode of using it is not yet made quite clear.