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American Phytopathological Society.

Another instructive experiment is to dress a granulating sore with some of the putty above described, overlapping the sound skin extensively, when we find in the course of twenty-four hours that pus has been produced by the sore, although the application has been perfectly antiseptic; and, indeed, the larger the amount of carbolic acid in the paste the greater is the quantity of pus formed, provided we avoid such a proportion as would act as a caustic. The carbolic acid, though it prevents decomposition, induces suppuration—obviously by acting as a chemical stimulus; and we may safely infer that putrescent organic materials (which we know to be chemically acrid) operate in the same way.

In so far, then, carbolic acid and decomposing substances are alike—namely, that they induce suppuration by chemical stimulation, as distinguished from what may be termed simple inflammatory suppuration, such as that in which ordinary abscesses originate, where the pus appears to be formed in consequence of an excited action of the nerves, independently of any other stimulus. There is, however, this enormous difference between the effects of carbolic acid and those of decomposition—viz. that carbolic acid stimulates only the surface to which it is first applied, and every drop of discharge that forms weakens the stimulant by diluting it. But decomposition is a self-propagating and self-aggravating poison; and if it occurs at the surface of a severely injured limb, it will spread into all its recesses so far as any extravasated blood or shreds of dead tissue may extend, and, lying in these recesses, it will become from hour to hour more acrid till it acquires the energy of a caustic, sufficient to destroy the vitality of any tissues naturally weak from inferior vascular supply, or weakened by the injury they sustained in the accident.