Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/160
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
rendering now one organism, now another, triumphant. In different stages, moreover, of its fermentative or putrefactive changes, the same infusion may so alter as to be successively taken possession of by different organisms. Such cases have been, adduced to show that the earlier organisms must have been transformed into the later ones, whereas they are simply cases in which different germs, because of changes in the infusion, render themselves valid at different times.
By teaching us how to cultivate each ferment in its purity—in other words, by teaching us how to rear the individual organism apart from all others—Pasteur has enabled us to avoid all these errors. And where this isolation of a particular organism has been duly effected it grows and multiplies indefinitely, but no change of it into another organism is ever observed. In Pasteur's researches the Bacterium remained a Bacterium, the Vibrio a Vibrio, the Penicillium a Penicillium, and the Torula a Torula. Sow any of these in a state of purity in an appropriate liquid, you get it, and it alone, in the subsequent crop. In like manner, sow small-pox in the human body, your crop is small-pox. Sow there scarlatina, and your Crop is scarlatina. Sow typhoid virus, your crop is typhoid—cholera, your crop is cholera. The disease bears as constant a relation to its contagium as the microscopic organisms just enumerated do to their germs, or indeed as a thistle does to its seed. No wonder, then, with analogies so obvious and so striking, that the conviction is spreading and growing daily in strength that reproductive parasitic life is at the root of epidemic disease—that living ferments finding lodgment in the body increase there and multiply, directly ruining the tissue on which they subsist, or destroying life indirectly by the generation of poisonous compounds within the body. This conclusion, which comes to us with a presumption almost amounting to demonstration, is clinched by the fact that virulently-infective diseases have been discovered with which living organisms are as closely and as indissolubly associated as the growth of Torula is with the fermentation of beer.
And here, if you will permit me, I would utter a word of warning to well-meaning people. We have now reached a phase of this question when it is of the very last importance that light should once for all be thrown upon the manner in which contagious and infectious diseases take root and spread. To this end the action of various ferments upon the organs and tissues of the living body must be studied; the habitat of each special organism concerned in the production of each specific disease must be determined, and the mode by which its germs are spread abroad as sources of further infection. It is only by such rigidly accurate inquiries that we can obtain final and complete mastery over these destroyers. Hence, while abhorring cruelty of all kinds, while shrinking sympathetically from all animal suffering—suffering which my own pursuits never call upon me to inflict—an unbiased survey of the field of research now open-