Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/21

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

exorcised demon returns with seven accomplices, and Nature has to resume the original struggle with diminished chances of success—shorn of just as much strength as she had to expend in combating the additional enemy. The exorcist then repeats his dose, but finds that he has to increase the quantum: the exhausted system at last ceases to react against the provocation, and in order to obtain temporary relief the patient must resort to stronger and stronger stimulants.

There is a more excellent way: trust in the wisdom of Nature, and a careful husbanding of the vital forces—by continence, for instance. Sexual excesses, combined with mal-nutrition, are such potent allies of pulmonary consumption that Dr. Zimmermann calls tubercles "Thränen der Armuth und Reue nach innen geweint" ("tears of poverty and repentance wept inward"). That dreadful disease known as "galloping consumption" often results from the co-operation of the three chief enemies of the human organism: impure air, intemperance, and incontinence. The causes of all violent (or painfully suppressed) mental emotions should also be avoided. Give gambling-houses a wide berth. Deprecate quarrels, especially quarrels with superiors. Suppressed wrath has often resulted in fatal hæmorrhages. Consumptives need all the sleep they can get, and must abstain from night-work and nocturnal revels. They should also avoid crowded assemblies, not because of the excitement and the temptation to late hours only, but on account of the danger of infection. For consumption is a contagious disease, though not in the conventional sense of the word. The matter is this: the germs of tuberculosis have no direct effect on the respiratory organs of a healthy person, though cases are on record where the constant breathing of a tainted atmosphere has communicated the disease from husbands to wives, or from patients to nurses. But, after a tubercular diathesis has once been fairly developed, the diseased lungs become extremely sensitive to the contagion of all pulmonary diseases; the tubercle-seeds, as Dr. Koch's theory would explain it, fall upon a receptive soil—the sores of the half-healed vomicæ. Dr. Koch, of Breslau, traced the propagative principle of the tubercle-virus to the development of microscopic animalcula, and I predict that similar parasites will yet be discovered in the morbid secretions of the upper air-passages. This sensitiveness continues after the idiopathic symptoms of the disease have been brought well under control; and observation would show that a ten minutes' interview with a sufferer from catarrh, or a short visit to a reading-room, where swollen-faced children are hacking and coughing, suffices (often before the end of the first day) to prove the contagiousness of those affections.

But, if the danger is recognized in time, the virus can be worked off out-door exercise. Catarrhs can thus be nipped in the bud. I speak from personal experience: I have tried the experiment at all times of the year, and always with the same result, even in one case