Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Found: "How tell to whether a Person is Dead or Alive"

[This is from Houghtaling's 1901 Hand-Book, too. --wz]

How to tell whether a Person is Dead or Alive

Apply the flame of a candle to the tip of one of the great toes of the supposed corpse, and a blister will immediately rise. If the vitality is gone this will be full of air, and will burst with some noise if the flame be applied to it a few seconds longer; if life is not extinct, the blister will be full of matter and will not burst. The public will doubtless be glad to know of a simple test which can be used even when there is no reasonable doubt, and thus free the mind of future misgivings as to whether or not a friend or relative might not after all have had some life left when the body was treated as a corpse. Though very few are actually buried alive, many more may be abandoned as dead while life is still in them, and then die from being handled and exposed as corpses are. The test, therefore, should be applied as soon as life is supposed to be extinct, and before an undertaker is called in.