In the midst of exaggeration and inventio: there is one undoubted circumstance whic formerly excited the worst apprehensions the fact that bodies were often found turne in their coflins, and the grave clothes disai ranged. But what was ascribed, with seen; ing reason, to the throes of vitality, is no known to be due to the agency of corruptioi A gas is developed in the decayed bod which mimics by its mechanical force man of the movements of life. So powerful this gas in corpses that have lain long in ws ter, that M. Devergie, the physician to 11 Morgue, at Paris, and the author of a te: book on legal medicine, says that unless s( cured to the table they are often heaved u and thrown to the ground. Frequently strar gers, seeing the motion of the limbs, run t the keeper of the Morgue, and announce wit horror that the person is alive. All bodie sooner or later, generate gas in the grave and it constantly twists about the corpsi blows out the skin till it rends with disten tion, and sometimes bursts the coflin itsel When the gas explodes with a noise, imag: nation has converted it into an outcry c groan; the grave has been re-opened; th position of the body has confirmed the sus picion, and the laceration has been taken fc evidence that the wretch had gnawed hi flesh in the frenzy of despair. So many are th circumstances which will constantly occur t support a conclusion that is more unsubstar tial than the tabric of a dream.
This article was originally published with the title "Alleged Burying Alive" in Scientific American 8, 10, 74 (November 1852)