« ForrigeFortsett »
lasted about ten minutes, and then ceased, leaving the child tranquil as before. The examination being resumed, we discovered the injury spoken of by our author-namely, a depression of the occipital bone under the parietals. The depression was very great, but considerably greater on the right than on the left side.
As warm baths, and, in short, every thing usually resorted to in such cases, had been employed in vain, it struck us that the child might be relieved by an operation. We called on Dr. Hunt, and requested him to see the case with us, telling him the particulars, and mentioning, that if he agreed with us, we would, with the consent of the parents, perform the operation. Dr. Hunt coincided with us in the propriety of the ope. ration, and having obtained the parents' consent, the operation was performed. It consisted in cutting down on the right side, where the greatest depression was,-cutting through the soft union between the occipital and parietal bones with a common scalpel,- and then reducing the dislocation as much as possible, by means of the director found in the common pocket-case — using it as a lever.
Immediately after the operation, the child was seized with a violent convulsion; but it was the last one it ever had. Up to the present time (June 1st, 1846,) it has enjoyed uninterrupted good health, and is as fine and stout a child of its age as any in the city.
In justice to Dr. Sims, we must also mention, that, in consequence of the wound on the right side, the child was kept reclining on its left. According to his views, this position may have had great influence in the happy issue of the case.
VI.-The Anatomical Remembrancer, or complete Pocket Anatomist ;
containing a concise description of the Bones, Ligaments, Muscles, and Viscera ; fc. fc. From the second London edition, revised.
New York: Samuel S. & Wood; 1845. 12mo.: pp. 245. This tiny volume, though published last year, has just reached us, owing to a long voyage and other, sometimes unavoidable, delays. The remarks respecting it in the London Medical and Surgical Journal con. vey correct ideas of what the work is. “ It contains but two hundred and fifty pages, and is really an anatomical multum in parvo.”
1.-Mülder on the Vital Force. Extract from "The Chemistry of Vegetable and
Animal Physiology: by Dr. G. J. Mülder, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Utrecht. Translated from the Dutch, by P. F. H. FROMBERG, First Assistant in the Laboratory of the Agricultural Chemistry Association of Scotland. With an Introduction, by Professor J. F.W.JOHNSTON, F.R.SS. L. & E. First authorized American edition, with Notes, by B. SILLIMAN, Jr.
CHEMICAL AND ORGANIC FORCES.
In the doctrine of life, no position has been more strenuously maintained, than that a peculiar force exists by which organic substances are governed, by which they are arranged in certain specific modes, and are enabled to assist in sustaining the living system, and to create a chain of phenomena, which as a whole are called phenomena of life. This vital force has been described as one quite peculiar, of which not the slightest trace is to be found in inorganic nature. Organic and inorganic nature are often, indeed, contrasted. We hear of the animate and inanimate forces of nature; we used to shrink from observing any connection between them; and, in particular, it was thought that the endeavor to explain many phenomena of life by means of the so-called dead forces might detract from the doctrine of life.
In the true study of nature the principal aim ought to be, not only to make ourselves acquainted with the phenomena and laws which distinguish and regulate living and dead matter, but also to arrange those phenomena and laws, and exhibit them in their several relations. The more our knowledge of these two departments is extended, and the nearer the several parts of the great science of nature are seen to approximate, the more firmly must we embrace the idea, as necessarily conformable to truth, that the same forces govern alike the animate and inanimate kingdoms.
Those who proceed on the assumption that no such connection exists, will certainly not be able to trace it; but a search conducted with impartiality, will be rewarded with the discovery of whatever exists. . In the natural sciences, the words matter and force are continually recurring. We endeavor, by an effort of imagination, to separate the one idea from the other: yet we cannot conceive of matter without force, and scarcely of any force which does not react upon matter. We encounter many difficulties, while attempting to penetrate into the properties of matter. We are perplexed, first, with its being divisible either finitely or infinitely; secondly, with the great diversity of substances which exist; thirdly, with the great number of elementary bodies now known to chemists.
Moreover, the idea expressed by the word atom is by no means distinct, though the term must frequently occur in treating of natural philosophy.
In the natural sciences, we do not seek to go beyond the knowledge which is acquired by observation and by the comparison of visible objects, and thus we avoid that labyrinth in which many of the wise and learned, both in former and later times, have involved themselves, by clinging to abstract ideas borrowed from the visible world. We acknowledge material diversity because we observe it; we acknowledge a great number of elements, because we see them; we do not meddle with the term atom, but substitute for it, wherever we can, the more comprehensive and intelligible expression-equiralent.
In the natural sciences, force is used to signify an assumed cause of observed phenomena ; we therefore do not observe forces, but suggest their existence to ourselves; and we do so in conformity with sound principle, for the phenomena constrain us to presume that such forces exist. No cautious inquirer into nature goes farther at the present day; we do not introduce forces, to which we assign properties; but we form the idea of some particular force, after the necessity for its existence is demonstrated by the observation of natural phenomena. The idea of force is therefore a concrete one, by which every speciality in the phenomena is embraced, and unity is given to the whole.
Such are the simple principles by which we are, in the present day, guided in our inquiries. The forces of nature, which we recognize, are in number and kind such as we learn from the phenomena they ought to be; and the error, so prevalent in former times, of attributing properties to forces, without previously proving from observation that those properties existed, is now carefully avoided.
Proceeding from this point of view, we propose to make some observations on the organic and inorganic forces of nature, sometimes called the living and dead forces. These observations will not add any thing to the amount of our scientific knowledge, but may serve to explain and establish the proposition that a connection exists where hitherto it has not been recognized.
It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the expression dead force, when used to denote the operating causes in inorganic nature, has no substantial value: still, it is understood to signify the force of dead nature, in opposition to that of living nature, where a particular series of phenomena appears; and this is the meaning in which we use the expression.
The chemistry of the present day, which is occupied especially with the doctrine of molecular forces, perceives peculiar causes, operating in the small particles of matter. Our inquiries may not inappropriately be commenced with the investigation of this subject, the study of which is the foundation of any knowledge we acquire in regard to organic forces; for every organism is composed of materials which are subject to the laws of those peculiar forces that belong to chemical substances.
While, however, we would endeavor to show, that in all organisms, living or not, the same molecular forces operate as efficient causes, we are not to be understood as holding that they are combined necessarily with consciousness, or the more elevated rational principle.
I will not venture to raise the veil, by which the action of the nerves, or the higher functions of the mind, have hitherto been shrouded from our observation. As man has an immaterial and immortal part, which is identical with his real being, and of which alone he will consist when the material frame by which he is bound to the earth, shall be dissolved; and as the inferior animals possess, in common with man, certain powers of perception, associated with certain appropriate organs, whose functions have no connection with consciousness; so do animals and plants perform in common a great many operations which are distinct from both of those now mentioned, or which at least have their origin in distinct causes.
It is only the latter class of which I speak, and to which I apply the general term of organic life. To that subject I shall restrict my remarks.
It is well known that, in animals, such operations are performed through the agency of the nerves, and in them, therefore, they are generally more complicated ihan in plants. The similarity of the operations themselves, however, intimates the existence of a connexion between the causes from which they respectively arise. But the nature of this connexion, as well as its strength, is and ever will be an enigma, as much as the action of the nerves itself. The peculiar nature of organic life—the difference between living nature and what is called dead nature—is however, not determined by the action of nerves. The properties which are common to animals and plants will alone be treated of; these properties being included in the general idea of functions of life. In the first place, we shall review in succession, the properties of the elements, which enter into the composition of all that exists in nature.
We shall be the first to admit the force of the objection, with which we may be met, that it is more easy to pull down than to build up. Science has not yet made such progress as to enable us, from a more elevated point of view, to take a comprehensive survey ; but this will never afford a rational ground for adhering to incorrect propositions. The suggestions which follow are therefore to be regarded as thrown out only for consideration. They will require to be much more fully developed before they can pretend to form a complete system.
A. Connection between Organic and Molecular Forces. All vegetable and animal substances are composed of those bodies, which in chemistry are called elements, and which combine with each other in very different ways. The question now to be considered is, whether the organic forces, which operate in the organic kingdom, depend either in whole or in part on the molecular forces of the elements. This is indeed a question difficult of soli. tion. We shall see how far science in its present state, enables us to reach a satisfactory result.
If we assume, that an organic whole is governed by a general force called vital force, then we ascribe to that whole comething which is not learned from observation. We perceive an aggregation of phenomena, which we comprehend in a general idea, expressed by the term life, but that idea is a concrete. It consists of a multitude of parts. The function of every organ, though a function of life, has an individual existence, in some respects separate from the aggregation, in others not. The function of the liver is not de pendent, and yet it is dependent, on that of the kidneys ;-not dependent, because the liver has within itself the power of secreting the bile, with the requisite organs ;dependent, because any great disturbance of the function of the kidneys, inHuences, and may even prevent the secretion of the bile. The idea of health implies, as the principal condition, an undisturbed function of each organ and of the whole. The idea of life implies, as the principal condition, the exhibition of the chief phenomena, the subsistence of the chief actions, proper to this whole.
The entire organism, and consequently each organ, cach part of an organ, consists of elementary substances, which not only are individually supplied with indestructible forces, but may possess these under very different modifications. Oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, iron, sulphur, phosphorus, and iodinc, are the substances which by mutual combination produce organic bodies; but to these are added a great many other substances, which are seldom wanting in living organic bodies. A great many acids, bases, and salts, are there present, which are just as indispensable to the existence of organic Rubstances, as the eight elements above mentioned. Albumen, for instance, is an albuminate of coda ; carein is a combination of protein with sulphur and
phosphate of lime ;-in a word, the intermixture of substances in the organs, and so in the organism, is not a simple but a complex one.
All these elements and compounds are severally accompanied by forces of their own. Their materiality is by no means to be called their chief characteristic, but that by which matter is governed, i.e. its peculiar force. They all manifest themselves as adapted for mutual combination, and appear after such combination as new substances, of which the forces are again modified, and applied by the chemist to produce new combinations.
If we pass in review the substances present in the organic kingdom, we perceive an endless series of combinations from either two or three or four elements only. This is enough to show that there is an unlimited capacity for modification in the primary forces which operate in the elements. The influence of one element upon another is thus unlimited also. A slight difference in the state of an element is sufficient to give it the appearance of a new and entirely peculiar substance, as compared with the other elements. Let us take, for example, starch, gum, sugar, acetic acid, glucic acid, inuline. All these are composed of the same elements, taken in the same proportions. Thus they consist severally in equivalents of
Carbon. Hydrogen. Oxygen. Water,
HO Acetic acid,
9 Glucic acid, X12
9 -14HO Inuline,
9 -|- 2HO The carbon of one of these substances is no doubt equal to the carbon of any of the others, in so far as it exhibits the same properties if separated from its combination. But it is incorrect to suppose that the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in sugar, are identical with those in acetic acid; for there is a great difference between sugar and acetic acid, and we cannot attribute this difference to any thing but the difference of the forces by which the same substance is governed. Thus the carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen, is not in any two cases supplied with the same properties. They assume in each substance a peculiar form. The general idea, comprehending carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen, in sugar and acetic acid, must therefore be modified, because the forces peculiar to matter must necessarily be modified, as matter is itself unalterable.
This will appear clearly, if we consider the combinations of carbon with hydrogen. If we supposed the carbon and the hydrogen in C5H4, C10H8, C15H2, C20H16, to be always the same, we should be constrained to assume the identity of the substances, and any distinction would be impossible. * Among the elements we know a considerable number which, without entering into any combination, present an entirely different appearance in consequence of but a slight difference in the circumstances under which they are placed. For example, phosphorus becomes black when heated and then suddenly cooled; and by means of a red heat merely, silica is so modified, that the substance after and before the application of such heat, might be taken for two different substances if we looked to its properties only. The interesting experiments recently made by Berzelius as to the allotropic character of phosphorus, have opened a new path for scientific investigations. If the simple substances can assume the permanent appearance of unlike bodies without forming any combination, their compounds can do so much more. And such an assumption of
The term impossible here used, appears to me to be too strong. It restricts more than is necessary the powers of the elementary bodies to form compounds possessed of different properties. If into the simple combination CH, one of the elements, say C, enters in two several allotropic states, C and we can readily understand