Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/681

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

injurious results upon them. Thus, soap-boilers and chandlers are known to enjoy excellent health, and not to be subject to fevers or epidemic affections, notwithstanding they often use fat in a very advanced stage of putrefaction (Tardieu). Tanners and curriers are neither more frequently nor more seriously ill than other men, aside from the occasional carbuncular affections they may acquire by real and direct inoculation, although they are often obliged, especially in summer, to work upon hides that are green with putrefaction. The same may be said for scavengers. The gases which, confined in pits, cause asphyxia, bring no diseases upon the men when a sufficient quantity of atmospheric air is present with them. Grave-diggers, instead of being more subject than other men to febrile, contagious, or epidemic diseases, have always been supposed to enjoy a certain immunity against them. Examples illustrating this principle are not wanting. A long catalogue of them might be cited without any trouble, except to the reader, to whom the reiteration would be tedious.

In conclusion, it may be affirmed that, to the present day, not a single instance of positive noxious infection has been laid to the charge of the cemeteries of Paris. We are in a situation, therefore, to reassure the public on this point, and to deplore with the illustrious Fourcroy "the abuses which certain persons have made of the discoveries in physics and chemistry, taking advantage of them to magnify and multiply complaints against the air of cemeteries and against its effects on the neighboring residences."

Let us say, if we have not courage to support it, that the spectacle of death ought to be hidden from our sight, that in our life of feverish industrialism we have no time to spare for the dead; let us even acknowledge that we have speculative reasons for desiring to remove the burial-grounds from Paris; but let us stop invoking science, let us stop invoking hygiene; let us stop asserting that cemeteries are real centers of infection, that they are susceptible of developing the germs of the gravest maladies; let us stop frightening the ignorant public with sonorous words and phrases. It is easy enough to say and repeat that cemeteries are a source of dangerous emanations, but assertions are not proofs.—Revue Scientifique.



THE tendency in any new character or modification to reappear in the offspring at the same age at which it first appeared in the parents, or in one of the parents, is of so much importance, in reference to the diversified characters proper to the larvæ of many animals at successive ages, that almost any fresh instance is worth putting on