X. the organic individual dies, and as spores and germs are everywhere present, they find in the decaying X. their food, housing, and all their other conditions of organic and organismic thrift. The death of X. is birth to innumerable organisms, for as soon as X. ceases to react with its medium, then these organic remains. Life is just change. Nature knows no dead material, for the grave of one organism is the birthplace of many more; the animal lives on the vegetal, and man lives on them both. En revanche man decays and dies, and vegetal and animal again swarm into being in his remains. Verily, an awful contemplation, but so it indubitably is. Then there is another death in the form of emanations; our very breath is death in a certain sense. The products of any assembly of organisms at a given stage of intensity poison and kill their producers, they getting diseases constituting their antemortal stage. It is just the same throughout Nature and with all genera and species.
It is the degree of concentration that is really determinative.
The Hollyhock Disease. Cooke (jam cit.) remarks that a writer in the Gardener’s chronicle has proposed a remedy for the hollyhock disease which he hopes will prove effectual. He says:- “The terrible disease has now, for twelve months; threatened the complete annihilation of the glorious family of hollyhock, and to baffle all the antidotes that the ingenuity of man could suggest, so rapidly does it spread and accomplish its deadly work. Of this I have had very good evidence, as last year at this time I had charge of (the italics are mined), if not the largest, one of the largest and finest collections of hollyhocks anywhere in cultivation, which had been under my special care for eleven years, and up to within a month of my resigning that position I had observed nothing uncommon amongst them; but before taking my final leave of them, I had to witness the melancholy spectacle of bed after bed being smitten down, and amongst them many splendid seedlings which had cost me years of patience and anxiety to produce.
And, again, upon taking a share and the management of this business, another infected collection fell to my lot, so that I have been doing cruel battle with this disease since its first appearance amongst us, and I must confess that up to a very short time back I had come in for a great deal the worst of the fight, although I had made use of every agent I could imagine as being likely to aid me, and all that many competent friends could suggest. But lately I was reminded of Condy’s patent fluid, diluted with water, and at once produced a bottle of the green quality, and applied it in the proportion of a large tablespoonful to one quart of water; and upon examining the plants dressed, twelve hours afterwards, was delighted to find it had effectually destroyed the disease.” And so on.
He continues:- “I believe planting the hollyhocks in large crowded beds should be avoided, as I have observed the closer they are growing the more virulently does the disease attack them, whereas isolated rows and plants are but little injured.” Now the point brought out by this gardener with regard to his beautiful hollyhocks is precisely what my own ideas lead up to, viz., overcrowding. Let us note that our friend’s hollyhocks were in large numbers, they had been there a long time, the closer they were growing the more virulently did the disease attack them, whereas isolated rows and plants were but little injured.
The lately prevailing epidemic of influenza is, in my judgment, a fungal disease produced in houses- i.e., overcrowding. During this epidemic I noticed that house-life was seemingly necessary for it to thrive. In one town the mortality was fearful, over 60 per 1000; it was difficult to get undertakers enough to bury the dead. I recommended my patients there to keep their windows wide open night and day, and where this was done no one fell ill!
The emanations of organisms, whether hollyhock or human beings, are of the nature of effete, dead matter, notably to the selfsame organisms, and, give a sufficient degree of concentration, fungal disease by using-up the autoinfective holly hock emanations on which the fungi lived and throve; it would act in two ways, viz., by using-up the hollyhock emanations the hollyhocks had a poison-free medium again, and the fungi would become weak from want, and thus be readily killed, or simply die off wholesale from starvation.
We call to mind that the disease did not attack those hollyhocks that were isolated in single rows, their emanations not being here sufficiently concentrated to give the fungi enough to live on. We note well that the collection of hollyhocks, in which the disease became formidable, was very large, and had been long established in the same place.
The emanation of organisms are noxious and obnoxious to the selfsame organisms. Any one can notice that where horses and cows graze in the same meadow the horses will nibble off the grass close to cow-dung but not near their own, and conversely the cows will eat the grass close to horsedung, and even push it away with their mouths without evincing the slightest objection.
All creatures abhor their own dejecta. Even the “dirty pig” is very sty-clean if he has the chance, and evidently on the same principle, while he has no objection whatever to the dejecta of other animals.
Physicians know but too well the smells of bedrooms, and even a very large bedroom with only one healthy person in it for a very short time will get quite “frowsy” in an hour, particularly if the person has been to sleep.
The emanations from living organisms are very evidently hurtful to themselves, and, if sufficiently concentrated, more or less deadly, and it seems probable that the fungi come in and thrive thereon to the advantage of the organisms, tending at any rate to postpone the fatal issue; organic remains and emanations constitute the pabulum of the fungi. Of course the fungi must follow the ordinary law of Nature, and they in their turn must succumb to their own products.
Nature does not tolerate any dead thing, for as soon as there is any dead thing present new life starts therein forthwith. How far fungal products poison the hosts of the fungi is worthy of study and thought, and will in the future loom large into therapeutics.
It seems to me that those children who are suffering from ringworm are better health with their ringworm than they are when the ringworm fungi are killed off by local measures. My own observations on this part of the subject are as yet too few for me to be able to form a positive opinion, but as far as they do go they tend to the conclusion that serious ill-health often dates from the time when they were cured of ringworm, i.e., from the time when the fungi were locally more or less destroyed from the surface. I know of two cases in which very severe forms of deafness started coincidently with the germicidal cure of ringworm.
The thought naturally at once arises in one’s mind, whether the trichophyton of ringworm has any relationship to the bacillus of tuberculosis, and if so, what?
Just as the fungal disease of hollyhocks was most virulent where they crowded, so is the fungal disease ringworm in most evil report in schools, or, in other words, where the children are numerous and close together. Schoolmasters and school- surgeons are very positive about ringworm having been “by a boy coming from his home, but my own experience goes to show that as a rule ringworm is bred in the schools and is exported thence into the families. Not only so, but it is large families that supply us with specimens of ringwormy children more frequently than small ones, and it is the large schools that suffer most. At least so it appears to me from my only moderately numerous observations.
And in regard to tuberculosis we find this behaves similarly, and it is certainly true that where numerous human beings house together in closed apartments, there anthropotoxine * (The poisonous principle in human emanations.) is generated, and the bacillus of tuberculosis finds its cradle and home. Of course, some organism call withstand the effects of poisons, simply by reason of their strength, more than others; the weaker and more delicate deteriorate in health from the effects of anthropotoxine.
Anthropotoxine is inhaled until the lungs become bad enough for the fungus of phthisis to thrive in. I do not imagine that overcrowding acts in any specific way, or that numbers are necessary other than in proportion to the quantity of air to be breathed. It therefore follows that a household of two persons may suffer from overcrowding, while one of twenty persons may not,-it is the proportion; and always must we remember that there are several factors in the sum, viz., the lack of sufficient clean fresh air; the presence of autotoxine (the hollyhocks, and the anthropotoxine for human beings), and then fungal life. And then, given these forests of fungi, their effects upon their hosts have to be considered. Certainly fungi love darkness rather than light, but whether their deeds are therefore evil, science, experience, and thinking must determine.