Probably no greater mystery has ever worried or puzzled the mind of the medical profession, than has the subject of the above heading, the origin of Bacteria, the micro-organisms of disease. Theories have been advanced by many minds and the subject has been given serious attention by the profession all over the earth, yet nothing positive or certain has come to us, so that we can feel with any assurance that the mystery had been solved. It seemed to be held back by a mighty hand, only to be given as a gift to Beauchamp to disclose this secret of life. Beauchamp’s writings have not been, I believe, translated into our language as yet; and few of us have become acquainted with his master mind or know the depth of his love for the science pertaining to the healing art. We are pleased to note, however, that his zeal has not carried him away into the speculative, for we find him too practical and too earnest to indulge in the speculative, especially in this critical and earnest period of the world’s history and progress.
Like all great physicians, there was no science or no secret of any science, that bore any relation to medicine, but what he was interested in it. His chemical investigations and researches are far beyond those of Pasteur or Koch, or any of his predecessors; indeed, he stands alone in this special field of investigation. The march of the human mind is slow, but it is unceasing, vigilant, eternal; and its goal is upward, onward, towards, a solution of the infinite mind, and the uncovering of the unknown.
We find many of these characteristics in the mind of Beauchamp. He began his investigations a number of years ago, and his discoveries of microzymas in chalk (microzymas, “living points”) opened the door to a secret of life that heretofore had been hidden from the mind of man. Where there was thought to be no life, he found life in its lowest state, it was a part of the inorganic deposit, and the mighty changes which it had undergone had not been able to completely obliterate its vitality. These investigations make truly interesting reading, if we are at all interested along these lines of thought. “When the cells of the living organism are diseased,” says Beauchamp, “it means the microzymas are diseased, and they give rise to what is erroneously called pathogenic bacteria.” Thus we see the pathogenic bacteria or micro-organisms are not the cause of morbid conditions, but the result thereof. This has been the bone of contention between the two schools of pathologists; those who believe in micro-organisms as the cause of disease and those who do not. In Dr.Beauchamp’s work, “Du Sang et Soutioisienu Element Anatom, que,” he explains why both free and functional microzymas exist in the blood, and are invisible under ordinary conditions. They are in a sense imperishable, although they can be destroyed by acids or burnt by fire. At a meeting at Nantes in 1875, he exhibited the microzymas in their relation to fermentation, and illustrated the subject with drawings, showing the evolution of the microzymas into bacteria and into cellules.
Some were seen in the process of formation, and others had already assumed the form of true micro-organisms like the bacteria of disease. He particularly points out how the microzymas, according to the solution in which they were placed, evolved either cellules or bacteria, and according as they evolve bacteria or cellules, they produced lactic acid or alcohol. During the process of fermentation, the microzymas disappeared as such, developing into bacteria. This was shown when a clot of fresh blood was confined in a vessel that was practically air tight, although in time, air did slowly penetrate, effecting the outer portion of the clot, and a process of fermentation followed. The microzymas died and bacteria made their appearance about the margin and of the clot, while in the center of the clot the microzymas were found perfect.
It would be necessary to go fully into the details of the various manipulations and numerous processes through which he carried forward his many experiments, in order to fully understand how he produced the different forms of bacteria. So carefully and thoroughly were these experiments made, employing both animal and vegetable matter and even the inorganic, that we feel firm in our opinion, that he has clearly solved the mystery of the origin of bacteria. He quite clearly proves the fact, that bacteria evolve from a life process, through the influence of some death or degenerative process working in the organism, such as acute or chronic miasms.