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Full text of "Pathogenic Bacteria"

INTRODUCTION.                            25

was an accidental result of their universal distribution,
or, being still more conservative, retained the old un-
questioning faith that the bacteria, whose presence in
putrescent wounds as well as in artificially prepared
"media was unquestionable, were spontaneously generated

The following extracts from TyndalPs work1 will illus-
trate the slow growth of the germ theory even among
men of eminence :

" At a meeting of the Pathological Society of London,
held April 6, 1875, the * germ theory' of disease was
formally introduced as a subject for discussion, the debate
being continued with great ability and earnestness at sub-
sequent meetings. The conference was attended by
many distinguished medical men, some of whom were
profoundly influenced by the arguments, and none of
whom disputed the facts brought forward against the
theory on that occasion."

"The leader of the debate, and the most prominent
speaker, was Dr. Bastian, to whom also fell the task of
replying on all the questions raised."

u The coexistence of bacteria and contagious disease
was admitted; but, instead of considering these organisms
as probably the essence, or an inseparable part of the es-
sence, of the contagium, Dr. Bastian contended that they
were pathological products spontaneously generated in the
body after it had been rendered diseased by the real con-

"The grouping of the ultimate particles of matter to
form living organisms Dr. Bastian considered to be an
operation as little requiring the action of antecedent life
as their grouping to form any of the less complex chem-
ical compounds." "Such a position must, of course,
stand or fall by the evidence which its supporter is able
to produce, and accordingly Dr. Bastian appeals to the
law and testimony of experiment as demonstrating the
soundness of his view." " He seems quite aware of the

1 op. at.