Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/157

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
145
FERMENTATION AND DISEASE.

many a time impressed, not only with their sparkling cleverness, but with their deep-searching wisdom and their wealth of spiritual experience. In this central region of the Review the question of spontaneous generation has been taken up and discussed. The writer is not a whit behind his colleagues in literary brilliancy and logical force. But, having no touchstone in his own experience to enable him to distinguish a good experiment from a bad one, he has committed, on the point of the gravest practical import, the influence of the powerful journal in which he writes to the support of error. It is only, I would repeat, by practice among facts that the intellect is prepared to judge of facts, and no mere logical acuteness or literary skill can atone for the want of this necessary education.

We now approach an aspect of this question which concerns us still more closely, and which will be best illustrated by an actual fact. A few years ago I was bathing in an Alpine stream, and, returning to my clothes from the cascade which had been my shower-bath, I slipped upon a block of granite, the sharp crystals of which stamped themselves into my naked shin. The wound was an awkward one, but, being in vigorous health at the time, I hoped for a speedy recovery. Dipping a clean pocket-handkerchief into the stream, I wrapped it round the wound, limped home, and remained for four or five days quietly in bed. There was no pain, and at the end of this time I thought myself quite fit to quit my room. The wound, when uncovered, was found perfectly clean, uninflamed, and entirely free from pus. Placing over it a bit of gold-beater's-skin, I walked about all day. Toward evening itching and heat were felt; a large accumulation of pus followed, and I was forced to go to bed again. The water-bandage was restored, but it was powerless to check the action now set up; arnica was applied, but it made matters worse. The inflammation increased alarmingly, until finally I was ignobly carried on men's shoulders down the mountain, and transported to Geneva, where, thanks to the kindness of friends, I was immediately placed in the best medical hands. On the morning after my arrival in Geneva, Dr. Gautier discovered an abscess in my instep, at a distance of five inches from the wound. The two were Connected by a channel, or sinus, as it is technically called, through which he was able to empty the abscess without the application of the lance.

By what agency was that channel formed—what was it that thus tore asunder the sound tissue of my instep, and kept me for six weeks a prisoner in bed? In the very room where the water-dressing had been removed from my wound and the gold-beater's-skin applied to it, I opened this year a number of tubes, containing perfectly clear and sweet infusions of fish, flesh, and vegetable. These hermetically-sealed infusions had been exposed for weeks, both to the sun of the Alps and to the warmth of a kitchen, without showing the slightest turbidity or sign of life. But two days after they were opened the