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culty of getting fresh provisions was very great, some meat was one day set before us at dinner which was tainted, or, what would be called in England, rather high. About ten o'clock at night, myself, a lady, and Captain Mason, who was then residing with me, were attacked with symptoms of cholera ; Captain Mason slightly, but the lady and myself with great depression, cold extremities, and palpitations of the heart. Hot brandy-and-water relieved these symptoms; but it was several days before two of the party perfectly recovered. I knew of an instance in the neighbourhood of Kingston, where a whole family suffered most severely from the poisonous effects of tainted meat, two of the persons having very nearly died. If climate is capable of giving the character of a poison to the putrefaction of animal matter, one can understand the virulence that diseases acquire in hot climates, which are comparatively mild in cold ones.
The action of those powerful poisons, whether vegetable or animal, which suddenly destroy life, are very similar, in their effects, to the influence of those malign diseases, such as plague, cholera, and yellow fever, which at the first seizure prostrate the nervous energy, and produce the same sudden depression of the vital powers.
The venom of poisonous reptiles seems to be wholly similar to that of plants. Fontana, who
made upwards of 6000 experiments on venomous reptiles, states the venom of the viper applied to a nerve is harmless as water; from which he concludes its action is on the blood, which it coagulates, and gives a tendency to putrescence. He found the venom of the viper not fatal to its own tribe, or to eels or lizards. By the experiments he made on animals, he estimates the quantity sufficient to kill a man at three grains, and twelve to kill a bullock. In the experiments he made, death ensued at seventeen hours, at eighteen, and at the expiration of three days. Dr. Mosely thinks “the same effects are produced by all the tribe of deadly venomous serpents; and that there is no specific difference between them, except in the violence and rapidity by which the poison is diffused through the body, the rest depending on the state of the weather and habit of body of the subject at that particular time.”
By Mangili's experiments it has been ascertained that the venom of serpents, taken internally, produced no bad effects: his assistant swallowed the venom of four vipers without any inconvenience : a crow was given, mixed with some food, the venom extracted from sixteen vipers, without any effect; yet the dried venom that he had kept for twenty-six months, when put on the inside of the claws of pigeons, produced death, in all, from half an hour to an hour.
The opinion of Celsus that “ venomous bites kill by extinguishing vital heat,” or, as more recent authors might express it, (though perhaps not more intelligibly,) by depressing the nervous energy, appears to be borne out by the treatment that has been successfully adopted in various parts of the world.
Russell relates that an Indian was bitten by a cobra di capello in the foot : in fifteen minutes his jaws were rigid; he was apparently dead. On eau de luce being applied to the wounds, he rallied a little; and he was made to swallow two bottles of wine of Madeira made hot, by means of a funnel introduced into his mouth.
The man recovered. Orfila calls wine, in siinilar cases,
un remède héroique comme dans beaucoup d'autres circonstances analogues." He does not say what these analogous circumstances are, but I think it is evident he alludes to those diseases in which some miasma of a poisonous nature is received into the circulation, as specific in its character as the venom of the serpent, and whose immediate effects are a sudden depression of the vital powers, exhaustion and death. A case of envenomed bite, by a serpent, was treated by Mr. Brodie and Sir E. Home in St. George's Hospital, some years ago, by very large doses of spirits of aromatic ammonia, and other powerful stimulants frequently repeated, and the application of the
pure liquor of ammonia to the wound. The constitutional effects of the poison were surmounted by this treatment: the man lived from the 17th of October to November the 4th, and died of sloughing and gangrene in the arm.
Dr. Mosely was informed, he says, by some intelligent Indians, “ that any of the red peppers, such as Bird, Bell, or Cayenne pepper, powdered and taken in a glass of run, as much as the stomach can possibly bear, so as to cause and to keep up for some time great heat and inflammation in the body, and a vigorous circulation, will stop the progress of the poison of serpents, even after its effects are visible, and that the bitten part only afterwards mortifies and separates; and that the patient, with wine, bark, and cordials, soon recovers.
The bite of the scorpion, in some parts of Venezuela, is as deadly as that of the most noxious serpent. In Jamaica it never produces death ; but in delicate persons, or those of irritable temperament, the bite often produces very alarming symptoms ; in fact, the very same symptoms, though in a lesser degree, than those occasioned by the bite of the cobra de capello. The symptoms described by Orfila, in a case of a man bitten by this serpent, were these sudden lancinating pains in the part bitten, extension of the pain, nausea, tremblings, faintness, convulsive twitching, and torpor. Last July, when moving into my present house, in the act of assisting to take a package from the cart, I was bitten in the ball of the thumb by a scorpion. I had suffered once before in Egypt in this way; but the pain, or the severity of the effects, was not to be compared to that which I now experienced. The sharp, sudden pain was more like that occasioned by the electric spark than any thing else. The pain gradually spread up the fore-arm; a sickening pain, which made me feel faint. I felt an odd fluttering sensation about the precordium, and slight twitches soon after about the throat and side of the chest; but the symptom of all, which gave me most uneasiness, was a fluttering, numb sensation in the tongue, which suggested the idea of paralysis, and I must say the fear of; for I never before
aware of the tongue becoming similarly affected from the bite of the scorpion. My landlady immediately after the bite applied an antidote for all venomous bites, which every Creole woman keeps in her house--an infusion literally of scorpions in rum.
The Italians say, diavolo scaccia un altro;" the Creoles think that what is poison in the living animal is physic in the dead one. It did me no good, however, and I lost no time to pay my old friend and doctoress, Madame Sanette Lavalsiere, a visit. Madame, like all decent practitioners, said not a word con