Immortality at Hand.
(N~eiv York Mercury. ) “ The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” wrote St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians. The apostle presumably used the words in a spiritual sense ; but, as the theologians inform us, there are other inspired utterances in the sacred volume which, under a spiritual significance, have a substantial and carnal meaning. Since the days of Enoch’s long-lived son, Methuselah, the science of longevity has become a lost art. Here and there we occasionally meet with a shrunk and shrivelled centenarian, but patriarchs of nine hundred are as extinct as the dodo. It appears, however, from the experiments of an English scientist, that the days of extreme longevity are to be restored. Dr. Norris, a Birmingham physician, has succeeded in mastering the. chemistry of the blood of man, so that he can now manufacture it by the hogshead. Now, blood without an organism—without its red and white corpuscles—is like salt without a savor; but with healthy corpuscles, if good new blood can be supplied ad libitum , when the unaided powers of nature begin to fail and when anaemia supervenes, there is no reason why the decay of the tissues may not be arrested, and the entire system rejuvenated by a steady transfusion of manufactured blood. As the London Standard remarks, 1n contemplating this astounding achievement: struck at the probable success of science in eventually conquering the last enemy that is to be destroyed.” It is not a little singular that the discovery of Dr. Norris is directly attributable to the exhaustive investigations respecting the uses of the spleen in the animal economy, which have marked the last decade. The spleen, or spongy viscus, situated near the large extremity of the stomach, being always full of a venous or dark-colored blood, was by the ancient practitioners thought to be the receptacle of the atrabalis, or mythical humor that was supposed to engender angry, peevish, and melancholy moods. Hence our dictionaries to this day are burdened with such words as spleen, spleenful, splenetic, indicating moroseness and cognate dispositions. About the beginning of the present century, a Dr. Keil enunciated a plausible theory respecting the uses of the bluish leadencolored oblong organ. “We must consider,” said Dr. Keil, “ that the bile is composed of particles which slowly combine and unite together, and that by reason of the vicinity of the liver to the heart, and of the swift motion of the blood through the aorta, these particles could not in so small a time, and with so. great a velocity, have been united together, had not the blood been brought through the coats of the stomach, intestine, and omentum, by the branches of the vena portae, to the liver. But because all these parts were not sufficient to receive all the blood which was necessary to be sent to the liver, therefore nature framed the spleen, into whose cavities the blood being poured from a small artery, moves at least as slowly as any that passes otherwise to the liver; by which means the particles which compose the bile in the blood which passes through the ramus splenicus, by so long and slow a circulation, have more chances for uniting them, which otherwise they could not have had, had they been carried by the branches of the caeliac artery directly to the liver; and, consequently, without the spleen, such a quantity of bile as is now secerned, that is, as nature requires, could not have been secerned (secreted) by the liver,” This unique theory is gravely set forth in Quincy’s Lexicon Physico-Medicum, “with many Amendments and Additions expressive of Discoveries lately made in Europe and America; printed in 1802.” It was not until the microscope in its compound form began to take its proper place in physiological investigations that much was known respecting the blood. Harvey, in 1628, after twenty-six years’ investigation, published his discovery of the circulation of the vital fluid; but it was more than a century later that Malpighi, with a compound microscope, first witnessed the marvellous spectacle of the movement of the blood in the capillary vessel of the frog’s foot, and thus verified, by ocular demonstration, that doctrine of the passage of the blood from the smallest arteries, which had been propounded as a rational probability by the earlier philosopher. Still it was not until the second quarter of the present century —or about the period of the first London world’s fair
r——that anything like accuracy was imported into microscopic observations. Previous to that, one observer described the human blood-corpuscles as flattened discs resembling pieces of money; another pronounced them slightly concave on each surface ; a third thought they were slightly convex ; a fourth beheld them as highly convex; while a fifth was certain they were globular. The former prevalence of the last-named opinion is marked by the same habit that still lingers in popular phraselology of designing these bodies as “ blood globules.” But when the achromatic correction principle was applied to the microscope twenty years since, it became plain to all that the real form of blood corpuscles, when examined in freshly-drawn blood, is that of circular discs with slightly concave surfaces. We all heard a good deal about the peculiarity of blood corpuscles during the tedious trial of the Rev. Mr. Hayden, at New Haven, last year. According t® the estimate of Surgeon Woodward, of Washington, and Professor Vierardt, of Paria, a cubic inch of human blood contains upwards of eighty millions of red corpuscles, and nearly a quarter of a million of white or colorless corpuscles. The red corpuscles vary in size from the 1-55151 of an inch to i-abooth of an inch, the average of normal and healthy size being about i-33Qoth of an inch. The French investigator had examined the blood of a person afflicted with anaemia, or deficiency of the blood, in which the red corpuscles were as large as i-Ssist of an inch. Hence it usually follows that those wonderful discs, on which the
nourishing vitality of the blood depends, are larger in persons of spare habit in old age. It follows further that if the veins and arteries could always be supplied with a sufficient quantity of blood charged with healthy corpuscles, that, barring accidents, life might be indefinitely prolonged. On this point there can be no divergence of opinion. Indeed, the theory has undergone practical demonstration by a Louisiana physician during the present lustrum. “An old man of ninetj',” we are authoritatively informed, “is at once the subject of the prolonged experiment and the still living proof of the theory that the decay of the system may be rejuvenated by a perpetual application of transfusion of blood. Dr. Fraser has operated two or three times weekly, and now the old gentleman’s gait and color have wonderfully improved, the withered appearance of his ; flesh has vanished, and he declares that he feels as strong as half a century ago. In short, five years ago there seemed every reason that he should die, while at the present hour there seems to be no reason why he should not live as long as the supply of vitalising blood holds out” The discovery of Dr. Norris, of Birmingham, supplements this practical demonstration by the announcement that will suggest itself to everybody that physical immortality is more than a mere enthusiast’s dream, and that even figments of fiction, so-called, like the “ Wandering Jew,” may receive, at the hands of the science of the future, a living exemplification. It is understood that Dr. Norris has submitted his new discovery to a number of scientific experts, and that, chemically and physiologically, his “ prepared human blood ” is identical in every respect with the natural product. Before long we shall no doubt have to record a more elaborate announcement of the greatest discovery of an age unprecedently fruitful in great discoveries.
Permanent link to this item
Immortality at Hand., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 277, 24 February 1881
Immortality at Hand. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 277, 24 February 1881
Using This Item
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.