You may read an account of them in any temperance tract. The very enumeration of them would drive a weak man to water, if water itself were not suspect. But, alas, even to breathe is to put oneself in danger. There are more germs in a bus than there are stars in the firmament, and one cannot walk along the Strand without all sorts of bacilli shooting their little arrows at one at every breath.
In this garden will be found not "silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row," but a choice mixture of typhoid bacilli, pus germs, the germs of putrefaction, tubercle bacilli, and the little seeds which, if planted in our own bodies, would blossom as pneumonia or diphtheria. The fly is an unmitigated nuisance and should be wiped out. No half-way measures should be considered.
Are their eyes, divided into a thousand facets, a thousand times more powerful than our most powerful microscopes, and can they see spores, germs, microbes, or bacilli where our strongest lenses find nothing? I have some doubts as to whether ants are really shut out of many flowers by hairs pointing downwards in a fringe and similar contrivances.
It is most strange that the same intellect that worded the simple and self-contained and clean-cut paragraph beginning with "How unreasonable is the belief," should in the very same lustrum discharge upon the world such a verbal chaos as the utterance concerning that plague-spot or bacilli which were gnawing at the insides of the metropolis and bringing its heart on bended knee, thus exposing to the eye the rest of the skeleton breathing slowly through a barren breast.
That's the whole thing, and if you once get on to that you never need to worry again. If you see a bacilli, walk right up to it, and look it in the eye. If one flies into your room, strike at it with your hat or with a towel. Hit it as hard as you can between the neck and the thorax. It will soon get sick of that.
All I could see was some dots and rods, sometimes something that looked like chains of dots and rods, the rods straight with square ends, sometimes isolated, but more usually joined end to end in long strings. "What is it?" I asked, not much enlightened by what he had permitted me to see. "Anaerobic bacilli and spores," he replied, excitedly.
No, sir, believe me, beauty's all very well, but it's not good to live with And, by the way, have you had your well looked at lately? That valley is just a beautiful sewer for the drainage of the hills; a very market-town for all the germs and bacilli of the district." And the doctor laughed, as, curiously enough, people always do at jests about bacilli.
An outbreak of plague among men is often preceded by a very noticeable outbreak among rats. Rats dying of the plague have their blood filled with the plague bacillus. Fleas or other suctorial insects feeding on such rats take myriads of these bacilli into their stomach and get many on their proboscis. The fleas usually leave a rat as soon as it dies and of course seek some other source of food.
The bacillus is so small that one requires a powerful microscope to see him, and his blood may be infested with bacilli as small to him as he is to us. And there are millions, and more likely billions, of suns! Talk about Aladdin's palace, Sinbad's valley of diamonds, Macbeth's witches, or the Irish fairies!
Consumption is due principally to lowered vitality attributable to an insufficient amount of air being inhaled. The impairment of vitality renders the system open to attacks from disease germs. Imperfect breathing allows a considerable part of the lungs to remain inactive, and such portions offer an inviting field for bacilli, which invading the weakened tissue soon produce havoc.