purity it was perfectly harmless. It is closely related to two substances which occur in the human system in its normal condition, namely, neurine, one of the constituents of the brain, and choline, which is present in the bile. By putrefaction, neuridine and the rather harmless choline are transformed into neurine, which is highly poisonous. It is a remarkable fact that neurine, which is identical with muscarine, the poisonous principle of a toad-stool (Agaricus muscarius), and which is a normal constituent of the human system, should prove so destructive when introduced into the body from an outside source.
The proof that the poisons of putrefaction are of a chemical nature is of the utmost importance. The fact affords an explanation of the presence of poisons which have been found in corpses, subjected to examination in cases where murder was suspected; for the poisons formed by putrefaction bear a certain resemblance to the alkaloids of the hemlock, strychnine, veratrine, etc. Thus, there was found in the corpse of General Gibbone, in Rome—whose sudden death excited a suspicion that he had been murdered by his servant—a virulent poison, which occurs in the larkspur. However, the rare occurrence of this poison led to a more careful examination of the substance found, which indeed bore a great resemblance to the vegetable poison referred to, but was ultimately recognized as having been formed in the corpse, for Professor Selmi, of Bologna, obtained the same substance from the corpse of another person, where every suspicion of poisoning was excluded.
Brieger was eminently successful in the preparation of the poisons found in corpses, and which are termed "ptomaines" by chemists. According to his investigations, they are created by the putrefaction of white of eggy meat, fish, cheese, gelatine, and yeast, all of them substances used as articles of food. The presence of moisture is an essential condition, whence it follows that the moist mixture of sausage-filling is especially well adapted to the formation of ptomaines. In accordance with this is also the observation that a great many cases of poisoning have occurred after the consumption of sausage or of fish that had been kept damp. A careful supervision of the markets and a destruction of all spoiled food of animal origin should be strictly insisted upon—especially so, as it is known that the poisons of putrefaction, when once formed, are not to be destroyed by boiling or by roasting. The action of the ptomaines is more virulent when they are introduced into the circulation through wounds than when they are brought into the stomach. Cuts and other wounds received while dissecting corpses have often been the cause of blood-poisoning ending in death. The savages of the New Hebrides are not only acquainted with the properties of poison of this kind, but make use of it in their wars. They plunge the points of their arrows, which are made of human bones and provided with grooves, into a corpse, about a week