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 is 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 where there is no reasonable doubt, and thus free the mind from future misgivings as to whether or not a friend or relative might not after all have had some life left in them, and then die from being handled and exposed as corpses are. The test, therefore, should be applied as soon as live is supposed to be extinct, and before an undertaker is called in.
From Houghtalings Handbook of Useful Information ©1889