26 PA THOGENIC BA CTERIA.
gravity of the matter at hand ; this is his deliberate and
almost solemn appeal : l With the view of settling these
questions, therefore, we may carefully prepare an infusion
from some animal tissue, be it muscle, kidney, or liver ;
we may place it in a flask whose neck is drawn out*
and narrowed in the blowpipe flame; we may boil the
fluid, seal the vessel during ebullition, and, keeping it
in a warm place, may await the result, as I have often
done.....After a variable time the previously heated
fluid within the hermetically-sealed flask swarms more
or less plentifully with bacteria and allied organisms,
even though the fluids have been so much degraded in
quality by exposure to the temperature of 212° F., and
have in all probability been rendered far less prone to
engender independent living units than the unheated
fluids in the tissues would be.' "
These somewhat lengthy quotations are of great in-
terest, for they show exactly the state of the scientific
mind at a period as recent as twenty years ago.
In 1877 the introduction of the anilin dyes by Weigert
made possible a much more thorough investigation of
the bacteria by enabling the observers to color them
intensely, and thus detect their presence in tissues and
organs where their transparency had caused them to'be
Rapid strides% were immediately made, and before
another decade had passed discoveries were so numerous
and convincing that it was impossible to doubt that bac-
teria were causes of disease.
Before the publication of the discoveries of which we
speak, however, there was suggested a practical applica-
tion of the little known about bacteria which produced
greater agitation and incited more observation and ex-
perimentation than anything suggested in surgery since
the introduction of anesthetics—namely, antisepsis.
uThe seminal thought of antiseptic surgery may per-
haps be traced to John Colbach, a member of the College
of Physicians, England, whose collection of tracts, printed