Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/564

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
546
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ties of these products, as is done by many eminent physicians. Bacteria may frequently be the bearers and transporters of disease, as flies are accused of communicating the virus of splenic fever to healthy individuals.

The germ theory, which declares micro-organisms to be the cause and originators of infectious diseases, although it seems to be at present recognized by many physicians, perhaps by the majority of them, is as yet far from being thoroughly established. The action and influence of bacteria have evidently often been exaggerated. Pneumonia was ascribed to them, until it was found that in some pneumonitic cases bacteria are present, whereas in many others none could be found. In hydrophobia a particular micro-organism, although most eagerly sought for, has not yet been discovered. The possibility, however, of transferring this disease from one to another animal by inoculation indicates that the virus may consist of some kind of decomposed proteid, acting as a chemical ferment upon certain constituents of blood, or nervous substance. We may, by the existence of such ferments as diastase, pepsin, or as the virus of serpents and insects in healthy individuals, conclude that other not organized ferments exist in and are the cause of morbid conditions; and although most of the fermentative processes, on which epidemical diseases depend, seem to be induced and to increase by the agency and propagation of bacteria, there is no reason for making them accountable for other troubles to the extent that has hitherto been done. There are organized and unorganized ferments existing, both of which are known to produce decomposition of organic matter. We hope and expect that the future will decide what effects in animal and human diseases belong to each of them.

 

AN OUTCAST RACE IN THE PYRENEES.

UNDER the name of Cagots there live in the Pyrenees and the old Aquitanian regions on both sides of them—in the Spanish Upper and the French Lower Navarre, in Béarn, Gascony, Guienne, and Lower Poitou—a peculiar race who have been much talked about and have attracted the attention of the peoples about them from very ancient times. Formerly the Cagots (whose name linguists derive from canis Gothicus, Gothic dog) were confounded with Cretins. The association was a mistaken one for the Cagots, with their large, muscular forms, shapely skull, prominent nose, strongly-marked features, blue eyes, and smooth, blonde hair, are decidedly different from that weak-minded, deformed, and goitrous class; and their physical appearance, in fact, goes to sustain the etymology of their name that we have mentioned, and to indicate a possible derivation from the Aryan Goths. The type of which we speak also corresponds fully with the race-rela-