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March 22, 1902


JAMA. 1902;XXXVIII(12):766-767. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.02480120024004

Every now and then there is a revival of stories of the famous poisoners of history. We are told of wonderful drugs that accomplished their fell purposes with timeliness and dispatch, yet without leaving any undesirable trace behind them by which the possessors of the secret might be rendered amenable to the law. An article on "Champion Poisoners" in the current number of a popular magazine1 is a fair sample of these quasi-historical collections of marvelous facts. There is the story of the wonderful poison rings found at Pompeii, whose touch to food or drink, it is fabled, was sufficient to cause death. The artistic poisoning methods are dwelt on most. There is the preparation of arsenic— tasteless, colorless, odorless—that might be smeared on one side of a knife with which a peach was cut, the poisoned half being given to the victim while the murderer could eat the