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keep them to hard labour, and on hard fare for a space of time suitable to the nature and degree of the second offence, with the addition of proper chastisement, if other means would not do, upon a repetition of mifbehaviour. The reafon I would leave the management of the house so much to the respective parish officers, is because they, as the reprefentatives of the parishes, are the perfons most concerned, and confequently, it being their own business, are most likely to mind and do it beft.
This is the plan laid down for relieving the poor of all denominations; and one would think it no difficult undertaking to carry it into execution, at the fame time, that the public would hardly fail of being eased of a heavy burden, and the poor themselves better provided for. These, with many other judicious obfervations, are to be found in this pamphlet; which deferves to be carefully perused by all who have it in their power to remedy the abuses complained of. A fpirit of benevolence, as well as good fenfe, reigns in every part of it: witness the manner in which he propofes the poor fhould be treated in thefe workhouses. But this is no where fo confpicuous, as where he tells us, that it might not be amifs, if these hospitals were empowered to receive all diftreffed travellers, especially fuch as fhould come with lawful paffes; and entertain and lodge them for one night, whereby the really diftreffed would find great comfort, the feveral parishes be excused the burden, and no perfons, under the pretence of hipwreck, or otherwife, could have any plea for going about from houfe to houfe to afk for alms and lodging.
ART. XV. Further experiments on fubftances refifting putrefaction. See our laft, p. 43.
AVING given a particular account of the man
antiferies parts of
mals, I fhall only (fays Dr Pringle) mention the result of fome experiments made with them upon the humours.
1. Decoctions of wormwood and of the bark, alfo infufions of camomile-flowers, and of fnake-root, preserved yolks of eggs, not only feveral days longer than water did alone, but also when a good quantity of fea-falt was added to it. I likewife found that falt of hartfhorn preferved this fubftance better than four times its weight of fea-falt.
2. Ox's gall was kept fome time from putrefaction by fmall quantities of lye of tartar, fpirit of hartfhorn, crude
fal ammoniac, and the faline mixture, and ftill longer by a decoction of wormwood, infufions of camomile-flowers, and of fnake-root; by folutions of myrrh, camphire, and falt of amber: All were feparately mixed with gall, and found more antifeptic than fea-falt; and feemingly in proportion to their effects upon flesh. Only nitre failed; which, tho' four times ftronger than fea-falt in keeping flesh sweet, is inferior to it in preserving gall; and remarkably weaker than crude fal ammoniac; which again is fomewhat lefs powerful than nitre in preferving fiefh. The nitre was foon opened by the gall, and emitted a vast quantity of air, which rose as from a fermenting liquor; and when this happened, the gall began to putrify. But the faline mixture generated no air, and oppofed the putrefaction of gall more than it did that of flesh.
3. The laft trial was with the ferum of human blood, which was preferved by a decoction of the bark, and an infufion of fnake-root, nor with lefs efficacy than flesh. But faffron and camphire were not here above a fourth part fo antifeptic as before; whether it be that they are lefs prefervative of this humour, or, as I fufpect, that they were not well mixed. Nitre acted nearly with its full force, being about four times ftronger than fea-falt: It generated fome air, but much less than it did with the gall. No other humour was tried; but, from thefe fpecimens added to the former experiments, we may conclude, that whatever is prefervative of flesh will be generally antiseptic, though perhaps not always with equal force.
4. Having already fhewn how putrid flesh might be fweetened, I shall conclude this part of my subject with a like trial upon the yolk of an egg. A portion of this, being diluted with water, ftood till it corrupted; when a few drops were put into a phial with two ounces of pure water, and about twice as many drops were mixed with a strong infufion of camomile-flowers. At first both phials had fome degree of a putrid fmell; but being corked, and kept a few days near a fire, the mixture with plain water contracted a strong foetor, whilft the other fmelled only of the flowers.
Thus far have I related the experiments made of antifeptics; by which it appears, that, befides fpirits, acids, and falts, we are poffeffed of many powerful refifters of putrefaction, endued with qualities of heating, cooling, volatility, aftriction, and the like, which make fome more adapted than others to particular indications. In fome pu
trid cafes, many proper antifeptics are already known; in others they are wanting. We are yet at a lofs how to correct the fanies of a cancerous ulcer; but, from fuch a multitude of antifeptics, it is to be hoped fome may be found at laft adequate to that intention. It may be farther remarked, that, as different diftempers of the putrid kind require different antifeptics, fo the fame difeafe will not always yield to the fame medicine. Thus the bark will fail in a gangrene, if the veffels are too full, or the blood fizy: But, if the veffels are relaxed, and the blood refolved or difpofed to putrefaction, either from a bad habit, or the abforption of putrid matter, then is the bark a good fpecific. With the fame caution are we to use it in wounds; viz. chiefly in cafes of abforbed matter, which infects the humours, and induces a hectic fever. But, when inflammatory fymptoms prevail, the fame medicine increasing the tenfion of the fibres, and fizinefs of the blood, a state directly opposed to the other, has fuch confequences as might be expected.
By the fuccefs of the bark in so many putrid cafes, it fhould appear that aftriction had no small fhare in the cure. And indeed, the very nature of putrefaction confifts in a feparation or difunion of the parts. But as there are other cafes, in which aftringency is lefs wanted, we may find in contrayerva-root, fnake-root, camphire, and other fubftances, a highly antifeptic power, with little or none of the other quality. And fince feveral of thefe medicines are alfo diaphoretic, their operation is thereby rendered more fuccefsful.
I come now to the last thing propofed, which was, to give an account of fome obfervations made on fubstances haftening or promoting putrefaction; an inquiry not lefs ufeful than the former. For, fetting afide the offenfive idea commonly annexed to the word, we must acknowledge putrefaction to be one of the inftruments of nature, by which many great and curious changes are brought about. With regard to medicine, we know, that neither animal nor vegetable fubftances can become aliment, without undergoing fome degree of putrefaction. Many diftempers proceed from a deficiency of this action. The Crifes of fevers feem to depend upon it; and perhaps even animal heat, according to a late ingenious theory.
But, in the profecution of this fubject, I have met with very few real feptics; and found many fubftances, commonly accounted fuch, of a quite oppofite nature.
most general means of accelerating putrefaction is, by heat, moisture, and stagnating air; which being fufficiently known and afcertained, I paffed over, without making any particular experiments on thofe heads. Lord Bacon, as well as fome of the chemifts, has hinted at a putrid fermentation, analogous to what is found in vegetables; and this having fo near a connection with contagion, I made the following experiment, for a further illuftration of this
5. In the yolk of an egg, already putrid, a fmall thread was dipped, and a small bit of this was cut off and put into a phial, with half of the yolk of a new-laid egg diluted with water. The other half, with as much water was put into another phial, and both being corked, were fet by the fire to putrefy. The refult was, that the thread infected the fresh yolk; for the putrefaction was fooner perceived in the phial that contained it, than in the other. But this experiment was not repeated.
In this manner the putrefaction of meat advances quicker in a confined than a free air; for, as the most putrid parts are alfo the moft fugitive, they inceffantly iffue from a corruptible fubftance, and difperfe with the wind; but in a stagnation of air, they remain about the body; and by way of ferment excite it to corruption.
6. As for other feptics, recited by authors, I found. none of them answer the purpose. The alcaline falts have been confidered as the chief putrefiers. But this is difproved by experiments. Of the volatiles it may be indeed obferved, that, tho' they preferve from the common marks of putrefaction, with a force four times greater than that of fea-falt; yet, in warm infufions, a fmall quantity of thefe falts will foften and refolve the fibres, more than water does by itself. They alfo hinder the coagulation of blood; and when taken by way of medicine, thin and refolve it, but are not therefore feptics. For, fo little do thefe falts putrefy, or even refolve the fibres, when applied dry, that I have kept, fince the beginning of June laft, notwithstanding the exceffive heats, a fmall piece of flesh in a phial, preferved only with falt of hartfhorn, at present perfectly found, and firmer than when firft falted.
7. From the specimens we had of the antifcorbutic plants, it is likewife probable none of that tribe will prove feptic. Horfe-radish, one of the moft acrid, is a very powerful antifeptic. And tho' carrots, turnips, garlick, onions, celery, cabbage, and colewort, were tried (as alcalefcents)
they did not haften, but fomewhat retarded, the putrefac
8. The cafe was different with fuch farinaceous vegetables as were examined; viz. white-bread in infufion, decoctions of flour, barley, and oat-meal; for thefe did not at all retard putrefaction; but after it was fomewhat advanced, they check'd it by turning four. By a long digeftion the acidity became confiderable; which, by conquering the putrefcency of the flesh, and generating much air, did not ill reprefent the ftate of weak bowels, which convert bread, and the mildest grains, to fuch an acid, as prevents a due refolution and digeftion of animal food*.
9. I examined cantharides, dried vipers, and Ruffian caftor, all animal fubftances, and therefore moft likely to prove feptic. The flies were tried both with fresh beef, and with the ferum of human blood; the vipers only with the former; but neither of them haftened putrefaction. And as for the caftor, fo far from promoting this procefs, that an infufion of 12 grains oppofed it more than the ftandard falt.
10. After finding no feptics where they were moft expected, I difcovered fome which feemed the leaft likely; viz. chalk, the teftacea, and common falt.
Twenty grains of crabs-eyes prepared, were mixed with 6 drachms of ox's gall, and as much water; into another phial was put nothing but gall and water, in the fame quantity with the former; and both being placed in the furnace, the putrefaction began much fooner, where the powder was, than in the other phial. I infufed afterwards in the lamp-furnace 30 grains of prepared chalk, with the ufual quantity of flesh and water; and obferved, that the corruption not only began fooner, but went higher by this mixture; nay, what had never happened before, that in a few days the flesh refolved into a perfect mucus. experiment was repeated with the fame effect; which being fo extraordinary, I fufpected fome corrofive substance had been mixed with the powder: But, for a trial, a lump of chalk being pounded, 30 grains of it proved fully as feptic as the former. The fame powder was compared with an equal quantity of falt of wormwood, and care was taken to shake both the mixtures alike: But after three
* It is to be remarked that in making this experiment, I did not then attend to a fermentation that enfued, and which was the caufe of the acidity. This kind of fermentation between animal and vegetable substance being hi therto overlooked, fhall be therefore set forth in my next paper.