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302 FRAGMEN TS OF SCIENCE.

ticles of dust will be pretty sure to contain the germs of putrefactive
organisms, and if one such is left in the albuminous liquid, it will
rapidly develop at the high temperature of the body, and account for
all the phenomena.

But striking as is the parallel between putrefaction in this instance
and the vinous fermentation, as regards the greatness of the effort pro.
duced, compared with the minuteness and the inertness, chemically
speaking, of the cause, you will naturally desire further evidence of the
similarity of the two processes. You can see with the micros00pe the
torula of fermenting must or beer. Is there, you may ask, any organism
to be detected in the putrefying pus? Yes, gentlemen, there is. If any
drop of the putrid matter is examined with a good glass, it is found to
be teeming with myriads of minute jointed bodies, called vibrios, which
indubitably proclaim their vitality by the energy of their movements. It
is not an affair of probability, but a fact, that the entire mass of that
quart of pus has become pe0pled with living organisms as the result of‘
the introduction of the canula and trocar; for the matter first let out
was as free from vibrios as it was from putrefaction. If this be so,
the greatness of the chemical changes that have taken place in the pus
ceases to be surprising. We know that .it is one of the chief peculiari-
ties of living structures that they possess extraordinary powers of effect-
ing chemical changes in materials in their vicinity, out of all pr0portion
to their energy as mere chemical compounds. And we can hardly doubt
that the animalcules which have been developed in the albuminous liquid,
and have grown at its expense, must have altered its constitution, just
as we ourselves alter that of the materials on which we feed.l

Secured from the danger of putrefaction, it is amazing
how, under the hands of a really able surgeon, the human
flesh and bones may be cut, torn, and crunched with im-
punity. The accounts 0f the operations of our eminent
surgeons read like romance. On this, however, I must not
dwell further than to recommend to your attention a case
described in the British Mdical Journal for the 14th of
January last. In the operations of Professor Lister care
is taken that every portion of tissue laid bare bythe knife
shall be defended from germs; that if they fall upon the
wound they shall be killed as they fall. With this in View

1 Introductory Lecture before the University of Edinburgh.

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