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POISONOUS PROPERTIES OF THE…

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POISONOUS PROPERTIES OF THE NEW METAL CALLED THALLIUM. Our readers are doubtless acquainted with the his- tory of this new metal, the discovery of which has recently been the subject of dispute. M. Lamy, in a paper addressed to the Academy of Sciences, now announces a property of that metal, the discovery of which undoubtedly belongs to him, viz., its deleterious power. Having1 experienced certain pains, especially in his lower limbs, while pursuing his studies on thal- lium, he was induced to attribute them to a noxious influence of the metal; and in order to ascertain whether such was the fact, he dissolved five grains of sulphate of thallium in milk, and offered it to two puppies, each about two months old. But after tasting the liquid they left it, and could not be induced to take any more. On the following day the milk, which had been left in the yard, had disappeared, and it soon turned out that it had been partaken of by a dog, two hens, and six ducks; for ajew hours after ingestion the dog became sad and refused to eat. During the night it was seized with violent gripes, which .caused it to utter piercing cries. Its features had undergone a change; its back was bent up through the effect of pain, the seat of which was evidently in the intestines. Its hind legs, after a continuance of con- vulsive motions, became paralysed, and it died sixty- four hours after taking the poison. On the day before its death a hen and six ducks died, and in those which were watched in time, the paralysis of the legs was re- marked. The two puppies which had scarcely touched the milk had meanwhile shown symptoms of fatigue; by degrees they were seized with convulsive trembling, and could hardly stand; then came the acute pains which ended in death, although every precaution had been taken, apparently in good time, to save their lives. All these animals being subjected to dissec- tion, there could not be found the slightest corrosion, or even inflammation of any consequence; only the gall-bladder of the dog was found considerably ex- tended, and in some of the ducks various serous mem- branes, that of the liver especially, had assumed a whitish and granulous appearance. As to the nature of the poison, if there could have been any doubt about it, it would have been at once dispelled by the characteristic green band peculiar to thallium in the spectral analysis of the organs of the dead animals. Eight days later another hen was taken ill. Its wings hung down, it could hardly walk, and when it wanted to peck its food, its neck seemed to have lost the power of bending down sufficiently, so that its beak did not reach the food. The hen was killed, and thallium found in the intestines, but in a very small dose indeed, and the other organs did not contain any. M. Lamy next administered a deci- gramme (a grain and a half) of the sulphate to a dog two months old, and it died forty hours after taking it. Hence M. Lamy justly infers that sulphate of thallium is a powerful poison, producing pain in the intestines and paralysis of the lower members. This poison and the nitrate have but little taste, and might therefore be used for criminal purposes but fortunately there is not a poison that can be traced with more certainty through spectral analysis than this. This new method of analysis bids fair to render excellent service in cases elating to forensic medicine.

STRICT NEUTRALITY.

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