Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/849

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831
CURIOUS FUNERAL CEREMONIES.

acting on such an assumption the basis for it ought to be established, which it certainly is not.

Secondly, is it a well-established fact that this "comma-shaped" bacillus is present only in cholera evacuations? If it should be found that this bacillus is absent from the alimentary canal in all other diseases, then we could at best recognize it as pathognomonic, but it by no means follows that it is also pathogenetic.

I have lately had the opportunity of inspecting this "comma-shaped" bacillus in specimens prepared by Koch, from the rice-water evacuations, and also in artificial cultures, and I have fully convinced myself of its reality. But I possess prepared specimens of evacuations of patients suffering from severe diarrhœa (in an epidemic outbreak of diarrhœa in adults in Cornwall in the autumn of 1883, and investigated by Dr. Ballard, Inspector to the Local Government Board), in which specimens, besides micrococci and straight bacilli, there are undoubtedly present bacteria which, in shape and size and mode of staining, so closely resemble the "comma-shaped" bacilli of cholera that I am unable to discover a difference between them. I have, however, not made any artificial cultivation of them, and therefore can not say whether there exist any differences between the two, notably as regards their mode of growth.

Here is one other point to which we wish to draw attention: as Cohn ("Beitrage zur Biologic der Pflanzen," Heft ii) has shown, and as is now generally accepted, a rod bacterium which is characterized by being curved is regarded not as a bacillus but as a vibrio; and it is not quite clear why, unless for the sake of novelty, Koch, generally accepting Cohn's terminology, should in the case of the cholera bacterium have deviated from it, and should not rather have spoken of it as a vibrio, because a vibrio, and particularly a Vibrio rugula (sp. Cohn), is the organism which he describes as a "comma-shaped" bacillus.—Nature.

 

CURIOUS FUNERAL CEREMONIES.

AMONG the most striking features of the popular life and thought which the student of the different races of mankind has to consider are the ideas and usages that are grouped around death. The fact of death, on account of its absolute certainty as well as on account of its nature, is the incident of human existence that has struck all peoples with the most solemn impressiveness. If there are any races who appear indifferent to death, it will most probably be found on examination that their feeling is not the natural one, but the resultant of modifications that have been impressed upon it by some feature of their religious system or under the influence of peculiar ideas of