Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/366

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Now, this man stated, not with particular reference to either accident, but as common to all, that "he could hardly recollect anything that happened to him in the rope;" that "he lost his senses all at once; the instant the rope got in the wrong place he felt as if he could not get his breath—as if some great weight were at his feet; could not move only to draw himself up; felt as if he wanted to loosen himself, but never thought of his hands." And he added: "You cannot move your arms or legs to save yourself; you cannot raise your arms; you cannot think." He did not see sparks or light, but had in his ears a rattling sound.

This account is an interesting one, because it shows the absence of physical suffering, even when consciousness is for a short time retained. The benumbing effect of the venous blood on the brain is well shown by his remarks on the confusion of thought and mental helplessness.

In the second instance, which has been fully recorded, the show-man was not so fortunate. He hung himself once too often, and the circumstances of his last exhibition were very singular. He was known as Scott, the American diver, and he, like Harnshaw, had many times hung himself before an audience with safety. The last time, however, the rope slipped in such a way as to compress the throat and bring on asphyxia. He hung thirteen minutes, the spectators thinking that he was prolonging the experiment for their gratification. When he was taken down he was dead. It is just to those who were looking on to state that they thought he was safe, because he was still, and did not raise his feet and stand upon the scaffold, which his legs actually touched. This case shows with peculiar force the insidious manner in which death comes on in asphyxia.

While death in such cases has been supposed to occur in consequence of the lack of air, there are good reasons for believing, as previously stated, that it may be largely if not mainly due to the congestion of the vessels of the brain. Fleischmann tried some experiments on himself with the object of throwing light on this question. He says: "If a person puts a cord around the neck between the hyoid bone and the chin, he can draw it tight at the back or side, without the respiration being sensibly interfered with, and can for a long time continue to inspire and expire naturally enough, because in this situation compression is not made on any part of the air-passages. Notwithstanding this, the face grows red, the eyes become a little glaring, the head becomes hot, there comes on a feeling of weight, dizziness, a sort of distress, and then all in an instant a hissing and roaring in the ears. This last symptom should be especially noticed, for it is time then to stop the experiment. I confess that a second time I should hardly dare to push it so far. The same symptoms follow the application of a cord to the larynx. It seems to me, though, that then they come on more promptly, and that the respiration is a little interfered with. I have been able to prolong the first experiment for more than two minutes,