S-14. Poison

Voice 1

poison - trucizna

Hello, I'm Marina Santee.


Voice 2


And I'm Ruby Jones. Welcome to Spotlight. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.


Voice 1


It was the year 1751 in England. Mr. Blandy slowly ate his food. He was not feeling well. His daughter Mary sat quietly with him. She was his only child. Mr. Blandy was an important lawyer and town official in Henley, a town about fifty-five kilometres west of London. But he was not strong enough to work. He had severe pains in his head. His stomach hurt. He was very weak. And he kept getting worse. His condition was a mystery - until a servant discovered the problem. This servant found some white dust-like substance in her master's food. She took this powder to a medicines expert. The expert believed the powder was a poison, arsenic. The servant was shocked. Mary was the person who prepared her father's food. However, Mr. Blandy did not believe that his daughter would harm him. Sadly, a short time later he died.

laywer - prawnik

official - urzędnik

severe pains - silne bóle

stomach - żołądek

he kept getting worse - cały czas mu się pogarszało

condition - stan; choroba

mystery - tajemnica

servant - służący

discover - odkryć

powder - proszek

substance - substancja

arsenic - arszenik, arsen

sadly - niestety

Voice 2


For thousands of years criminals have used poisons to harm other people. Some poisons cause a quick violent death. Others cause a slow painful death. But poisons are not always bad. Some poisons can even save lives. In today's Spotlight we look at how poisons can be used for evil and for good. In particular we examine arsenic. But first we tell more of Mary Blandy's story.

cause - powodować

quick violent death - szybka, gwałtowna śmierć

painful - bolesny

save - ratować

evil - zło

good - dobro

in particular - w szczególności

examine - zbadać

Voice 1


Many people believed Mary was guilty of murdering her father. Her case went to court. Four doctors spoke at her trial. These were the doctors who examined Mr. Blandy's body. They tried to prove that he died from arsenic poisoning. But they could not. In 1751 the science of poisons was not well developed.

guilty - winny

case - sprawa, przypadek

court - sąd

trial - proces

prove - udowodnić

poisoning - zatrucie

developed - rozwinięty

Voice 2


Mary began to think she would go free. But the trial was not finished. The servant spoke to the court. She told the jury about the powder in the food. Then the jury learned more about the facts of the case. Mary was in love with William Cranstoun - a man that her father did not like. Her father told her to stop seeing Cranstoun. But Cranstoun was not happy about this. He wanted to marry Mary. It seemed that Cranstoun simply wanted Mary's money. He gave Mary arsenic to put in her father's food. He told her that it was a drug that would make her father like him. Then Cranstoun and Mary could be together. The jury listened to all the evidence. And they believed the servant's story. They found Mary Blandy guilty. On the sixth of April 1752 Mary was hanged. Cranstoun escaped to France.

jury - sąd; ława przysięgłych

learn - dowiedzieć się

it seemed - wydawało się

drug - lekarstwo; narkotyk

evidence - dowód, dowody

guilty - winny

hang (hanged, hanged) - powiesić

escape - uciec

Voice 1


Many countries have a history with poison. Egyptians kept records about how to prepare poison from plants. Indians had great knowledge about how to treat poisonous snakebites. Persians, Chinese, Greeks - all these cultures knew how to use poisons. The ancient Greeks used poison as a form of capital punishment - a way of executing criminals. The famous philosopher Socrates died in this way. He studied knowledge and morals. A jury found him guilty of not worshiping the gods of Athens, and of spreading his ideas to young people. His punishment was death by drinking hemlock.

records - zapiski

poisonous - jadowity; trujący

snakebite - ukąszenie węża

ancient - starożytny

capital punishment - kara śmierci

execute - dokonać egzekucji, stracić

worship - oddawać cześć, modlić się

spread - rozgłaszać

hemlock - cykuta

Voice 2


In fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe killing with poison was common - especially in Italy and France. At this time Arsenic was the most usual poison. People would mix small amounts of it into food - the way Mary Blandy did. They knew the poison had no taste or smell. And their victims would get sick little by little.

century - wiek, stulecie

victim - ofiara

little by little - stopniowo, pomału

Voice 1


There are stories that even royal babies were murdered with arsenic. An older son of a king would secretly kill his baby brothers. He would do this to make sure he would follow his father to be the next king. But he would do it in a very tricky way. He would put arsenic in the food of the woman who breast fed the baby brother. So the breast milk was poisonous. And the baby would die. For this reason people called arsenic the poudre de succession. This French term is loosely translated 'the powder to become king'. Finally, scientific methods improved enough to prove arsenic poisoning was a cause of death. This stopped people from using it to kill their enemies.

royal - królewski

follow - być następcą

tricky way - podstępny sposób

breast feed - karmić piersią

poudre de succession - proszek dziedziczenia

improve - udoskonalić, poprawić (się)

enemy - wróg

Voice 2


But arsenic was not always used to kill. It was also used to heal. Two thousand four hundred years ago, the famous Greek doctor Hippocrates used arsenic. He gave it to people with ulcers. Ulcers are skin sores that take a long time to heal. Later, arsenic was used in medicines such as Fowler's solution. This medicine was popular in Europe in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. People used it to treat many sicknesses like asthma and cancer. In fact, arsenic was one of the first treatments for syphilis. Today doctors use arsenic to treat African sleeping sickness. And they use arsenic to treat severe forms of leukemia - cancer of the blood. In this case arsenic is part of chemotherapy - a drug treatment used to kill cancer cells in the body.

heal - leczyć

ulcer - wrzód

sore - wrzód, rana

solution - roztwór

treat - leczyć

asthma - astma

cancer - rak

syphilis - kiła, syfilis

sleeping sickness - śpiączka

leukemia - białaczka

chemotherapy - chemioterapia

cell - komórka

Voice 1


Most chemotherapy treatments do not include arsenic. But they do include other harmful substances. Mike Gallo is an expert in poisons. He is a toxicologist at the Cancer Institute in New Jersey, the United States. Toxicologists study the effect of poisons on living things, such as people. In 2004, Mike Gallo heard some bad news. He had a type of cancer - non Hodgkin's lymphoma. His doctor decided he needed chemotherapy. From his work as a toxicologist, Mike knew the risks. He understood that chemotherapy is poisonous to cancer cells. But it can also harm healthy cells.

include - zawierać

effect - wpływ, działanie

non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - chłoniak złośliwy

Voice 2


Toxicologists are trying to improve chemotherapies all the time. They are combining different chemicals to make new kinds of chemotherapy. They are trying to find chemicals that only kill cancer cells - not healthy cells. But every person's body is different. Finding the right combination of chemicals for each person is difficult. The chemicals in Dr. Gallo's chemotherapy were very poisonous. But Dr. Gallo knew about the risks. He was prepared for his treatment.

combine - łączyć

combination - kombinacja, połączenie

Voice 1


Thankfully, Mike Gallo's chemotherapy worked. He says he is alive today because of the right combination of poisons. He strongly believes in the science of toxicology. He believes it is important in saving lives.

alive - żywy

Voice 3


"I could have been a dead man. Thank God for toxicity."

I could have been a dead man - mogłem umrzeć (dosł. mogłem być martwym człowiekiem)

toxicity - toksyczność

Voice 2


The history of poisons is very interesting. Many crime books tell stories about poisoning. It is easy to fear poisons. But too much of almost anything can kill a person - even water! Like many substances poisons can kill or save. It all depends on how they are used.


Voice 1


The writer and producer of today's programme was Rachel Hobson. All quotes were adapted for radio for this programme. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. Computer users can find our programmes on our website at www . radio . english . net. This programme is called Poison'.