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It certainly is enough to startle a stranger, to see a person, perfectly unknown to you, come running up, with a handful of snow, calling out, “ Your nose, Sir,-your nose,—you are frost bitten ;” and, without further ceremony, either themselves rubbing it without mercy, or making you do so.
When this is done in due time, the tone of the part, the circulation of the blood, is restored; and, instead of losing a nose, you get off with the loss of the skin perhaps. An acquaintance of mine, who has not been long in the country, was stopped in the street the other morning.--" Your nose, Sir," was the salute; “ it is frost bitten ;rub it with snow instantly, or you will lose it.” The advice came from a quarter that commanded instant attention. Snow was immediately applied, and the bad effects prevented. . I myself, have guarded against being frost bitten, by using every necessary precaution; but I have not escaped altogether. A few days ago, had I continued a little-longer exposed to the cold wind, I must have experienced its effects to a much
greater extent than I did. I had been walking quickly against the wind, which was bitter cold. 1 felt so much pain at last, that I was glad to turn my back on it, and get home as fast as I could. I found that one side of my face was somewhat swelled, much inflamed, and very hot. I am assured, that had I persevered in walking against the wind, I most undoubtedly would have suffered severely.
If I had continued under the influence of the frost a little longer, the painful sensation I felt, would have gone off, and I should have supposed that the wind had become milder; whereas, the ease I should have felt would have arisen from my sensa-. tions being blunted, the blood vessels at the surface having lost their tone. After this happens, the longer one continues exposed to the cold, the greater is the progress of insensibility. It ultimately pervades all the extremities; drowsiness ensues. You would willingly lie down on the snow, were no one near to prevent you.—• You would fall asleep, never to awake again!
I know a gentleman, who was so far gone, that he lay down on the snow, several times, from a desire to sleep • and nothing but the roughest usage from a person who fortunately was with him, prevented his doing so. It was absolutely necessary to kick and buffet him, to keep him awake. Had he gone to sleep, it most assuredly would have been the sleep of death!
Were one to choose their manner of weakening the grasp of the grim tyrant, there is not, probably, so easy a way of doing so, as by the benumbing, soporific influence of frost.
A friend of mine, some time ago, found a man lying on the snow, in the neighbourhood of Quebec, quite dead; he was at a little distance from the road; he had probably got benumbed by the cold, and bad stepped aside to indulge, for a few ininutes, his desire of sleep. Poor man I he awakened no more! His countenance bore no marks of suffering: it was as placid and unruffled as if the heart had still continued to beat, and the blood to circulate,
The manner in which a cold iron and a cold atmosphere affect the body, is very different. The cold iron deprives the body of its heat in such a violent manner, as quite to derange the part in contact, rupture the blood vessels, and destroy their continuity. The cold atmosphere deprives the parts (on which it acts) of their heat in a less violent manner: the blood vessels are not ruptured, nor the continuity of the parts destroyed, but both are so strongly acted upon that their functions are destroyed. The blood vessels no longer retain the powers of expansion and repulsion. It is well ascertained, that air is decomposed in the lungs, and parts with its caloric to the blood, which carries it through the system. Shall I hazard a conjecture? Heat (in cases where, frost proves fatal), is perhaps taken off from the body, faster than it can be supplied by the lungs to the blood, and carried into circulation. A general torpor, a stoppage of the circulation of the fluids,—death, in short, ensues.
• One would naturally enough suppose, that an effect occasioned by cold should be removed by heat. This idea has occasioned thelqss of many a limb. It has generally been supposed, that cold is a material substance, of a nature directly opposed to heat. This is now generally allowed to be an error, there being no suGh substance as cold—no such thing in nature. The word expresses a negative quality, viz. the absence of heat.
Impressed with the idea that heat must beagood remedy for evils produced bycold^ hot water has been often applied to parts that have been frost bitten, and the consequences Have always been fatal. The reason appears to be this, that the part frost bitten, having become diseased by the heat of the body rushing violently, and in great quantity, out from it, the application of hot water will make the heat rush violently into it; and if any part of the work of destruction remains undone, the heat of the warm water will do it. Experience has proved, that the application necessary to restore the parts to their wonted tone, must be of a very moderate degree of heat—very little, indeed, above freezing. The heat may then insinuate itself so gradually and gently, as not to increase the evil. Snow, or cold water, have been found to be the most efficacious applications, being of a temperature sufficient!}