tricity through the extremities, as in the preceding cases, as well as locally to the supra-orbital nerves, but avoided the lumbar and sacral nerves, on account of the uterine engorgement. This application was made every other day for twenty days, and she was entirely relieved both of her cephalalgia and uterine derangement. She has since re. mained in good health.

On the 15th of February, 1845, I was called to see Mrs. Maged 22. The auditory nerves were paralyzed during an attack of congestive fever, either as an effect of the congestion, or of the quinine administered during her illness in the fall of 1842. I was informed that she had never enjoyed good health since that time, and was exceedingly nervous and excitable. The object in calling me in was to get the hearing restored, if possible. I passed electricity through the course of the auditory nerve daily, by introducing a conductor into the Eusia. chian tube, while the other was applied to the external meatus. I also occasionally applied it through the extremities, for the purpose of reliev. ing the nervous irritability. This application was made until the 12th of March, with but little improvement in hearing. Her husband informed me, however, that she passed through her menstrual period during her first week's application, without pains, for the first time since her sickness in 1842. Her general health improved rapidly from the the first application, and I am informed that she is entirely relieved of her dysmenorrhæa.


As a parturient, I think this agent far preferable to the use of ergot, for this reason, that the pains are regularly intermittent, as in natural labor, and hence will not be so likely to injure the child og mother. It does not appear to act, in these cases, as when applied to other parts of the body, where direct muscular contraction is produced, but rather appears to resuscitate the exhausted energies when applied in protracted labor, and to induce pains and regular labor, after a short application, through the lumbar nerves, in the last months of pregnancy. I will present a few cases demonstrating its parturient effects.

On the 3d of February, 1843, I was called to see Mrs. G., who was suffering from severe frontal neuralgia. She had suffered an abortion three years before, since which time her catamenia were irregular, and she had suffered under a continued train of nervous symptoms,--had been carried from one watering-place to another,— had been under the care of several physicians, with no benefit. She was, at this time, suffering from the frontal neuralgia above alluded to, affecting the left supraorbital nerve. When she looked at objects with both eyes, she was troubled with double vision : the object seen by the right eye was smaller than the left, though occupying the same place, owing, probably, to the different focal distance of the two eyes.

She could not see small print with sufficient distinctness to enable her to read it.

The abdomen was enlarged so much, as to induce me to think that she must be at least five months pregnant, but both her husband and herself informed me that the enlargement was of more than a year's standing. I applied electricity to the nerves affected with neuralgia,

without affording more than temporary relief. At nine o'clock at night, I called, and placed her feet in warm water, with the negative pole of the battery, while the positive was placed on the back between the shoulders, and passed a rapid succession of the magneto-electrical shocks for about three minutes, which produced slight pain in the back. I then left her. The pain continued, with increasing severity, until about twelve o'clock, when she sent out for her usual family physician, who was in the immediate neighborhood. Pains recurred regularly, after his arrival, for about half an hour, when a large quantity of water was discharged from the uterus, and the pains ceased.

On the 7th, I made application in the same way again, which brought on pains, and a further discharge of water, containing floculi resembling the skins of white grapes. I did not see the substance discharged, but have no doubt, from the description, of their being hydatids. I made the same application every third day for six weeks, with an occasional discharge. She rapidly improved in general health, and shortly afterwards became pregnant, and has remained in good health until this time.

In February, 1844, Mrs. in the last month of pregnancy, was visiting at my boarding house in New Orleans. She was complaining of rheumatic pains in her knees. My landlady having seen me apply it frequently for rheumatism, got a machine from my room, placed one of the poles in the stocking, over the nerve back of the ancle bone, while she held the other in her hands. She applied it in the same way through both of her limbs. In about thirty minutes she was taken in labor, and I arrived, at dinner-time, just in time to attend to her: the labor was very short, occupying only about thirty-five minutes.

In May, 1844, I was called to see a negro woman belonging to Mr. P- of this place, who was supposed to have the dropsy, by the family. She informed me that her legs were swelled, and her abdomen had the appearance of fifth month of pregnancy. She had not menstru. ated since the birth of her last child, which was two years old. She had an attack of bilious fever in the summer of 1843, followed by a protracted intermittent, which held on all winter. Spleen was much enlarged. She had no morning sickness, nor any of the usual signs of pregnancy except the enlargement.

On examination, I found but little enlargement of the legs, except that occasioned by varicose veins on the inside of the thighs, and every appearance of pregnancy. But she insisted that she could not be in that condition; and, thinking that possibly the enlargement might be occasioned by suppression of the menses, I applied electricity, as a direct emmenagogue, by placing the negative pole in foot-bath with the feet, while the positive was placed over the lumbar region, and a suc. cession of shocks passed for about five minutes. No pain was produced. I waited a few minutes, and left, directing them to send for me if laborpains occurred. In about two hours I was sent for, and found that regular labor pains had been recurring at intervals of about five minutes for half an hour. I found, on examination, the os uteri dilated, and a prospect of speedy delivery. I immediately administered a dose of opium, which suspended the pains, I left another dose, in case of the pains returning. She fell asleep, and they did not recur. A week afterwards,

motion of the child was felt. She went her full time, and was delivered of a healthy child. Both mother and child are well.

IX.-- An Inquiry into the Existence of a Vital Principle,considered

as an Entity independent of the Phenomena of Life. By John HARRISON, M.D., Professor of Physiology and Pathology in the

Medical College of Louisiana, [The following Paper has already been published in the Appendix to “ An Essay towards a correct theory of the Nervous System.” It is republished in this Journal, because we think the subject one of great importance,-one, concerning which, right notions are absolutely requisite to the progress of phy. siology. We republish it, also, because the writings of Liebig have stirred up the question anew, and invested the subject with much interest. Besides, through the medium of the Journal, it may, we hope, reach those who have never seen the work in which it originally appeared. - In the Excerpta will be found the opinions of Mulder, the celebrated Dutch chemist.]

Physiology is the science of life ;* but if there be such a science, it must contain general principles applicable to all living beings,- to the simplest plant as well as to the most highly organized animal.

We say, that the mushroom is endowed with life, and that man is also so endowed:- in what do beings so dissimilar agree?

By observing living beings attentively, and comparing the phenomena they present with those of brute matter, we discover two important facts. First, we observe that all, without exception, appropriate to themselves, by some means or other, certain substances external to their bodies, which substances we term aliment. Secondly, we observe, that if this aliment be- withheld, there ensues, at a period more or less remote in different cases, a total cessation of all the phenomena of life. We know, besides, that the aliment always enters the system in a Muid state, and as the supply of aliment may be considered constant during life, and as there occurs no accumulation of this fluid in the living being, it fol. lows, as a matter of necessity, that this fluid must undergo some change in the economy, and this change itself be indissolubly connected with the essential actions of life. We know, in fact, that it undergoes a metamorphosis — that it is transformed into solids, and thus becomes a part of the frame work of the living being.

But if the solids of living beings be thus constantly appropriating to themselves substances from without, it is obvious, that, unless there be some means by which the solids themselves are consumed and removed from the body, there will exist no limit to growth, from the commence. ment of life to its termination.

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Physiology,” according to present usage, treats of the laws, organs, functions, &c., of life; “ Physics,” not so. Now, quæ re: the etymological import of the two words being the same, is the difference in their application accidental and arbitrary, or a hidden irony at the assumption on which the division is grounded ? Φυσις ανευ ζωης, ανευ λογα ; or, λογος περι φυσεως μη ζωης έξι 2oyos anoos,Coleridge.

In animals, this consumption of the solids really occurs : in vegetables, with some few cases of exception,* it does not.

For the aliment of plants passes from the fluid state to the solid from a state of motion, to that of repose, (which endures generally as long as the plant continues to be a living being, and, in many cases, for a long time thereafter) without suffering further change than what occurs from a condensation of its substance, either by loss of water, or the appropriation of earthy bases.

In animals, on the other hand, there is a continual decomposition of the solids going on, at the same time that they are renewed from the aliment.

This consumption of the solids of animals is owing to the influence of oxygen, which they take into their systems by means of the respiratory apparatus. The carbon and hydrogen of the solids unite with the oxygen, forming carbonic acid and water; and at the same time, caloric, so necessary to the vital actions of animals, is generated and evolved as animal heat.

Herein animal and vegetable life totally differ; for the vegetable takes in carbonic acid gas, appropriates the carbon, and eliminates oxygen; animals, on the contrary, take in oxygen, and eliminate carbonic

acid gas.

Assimilation, then, or the transformation of the fluid aliment into the solids, is a phenomenon common to all living beings. But when we come to compare one of these beings with others, we are struck with the facts, that they have not the same outward forms; that the aliment of one is not that of another; that the mode of appropriating to itself that aliment differs in each species; that their physical properties and chemical composition are diverse ; in short, that in most of these parti. culars, one may differ from another as much as any two things in existence.

If we now enter the interior of these beings; if we examine with attention their structures, and compare them with one another, the like facts are again brought before us, namely, a striking dissimilitude of one to another: while we find some to possess a heart, stomach, lungs, liver, &c., we find others not possessed of even one of those organs.

In what, then, do beings so unlike as man and a vegetable agree? I have already said, that a transformation of the fluid aliment into solids composing the frame-work of the system, was a phenomenon common to all living beings. This, then, is their physiological agreement. Examining their structure, we find them to coincide in two points, and two points only; namely, the material of neither is homogeneous, but is composed of solids and fluids ; and the solid portion of both is porous; that is, the fluids can penetrate intermolecularly the solids. Again, if we go back to their origin, we shall discover, that they have not always existed as we find them. The specific form has been built up from other forms: man has become such from an embryo; the oak has grown up from an acorn. This, then, may be called their historical

* These cases occur in the flowering of plants, maturation of the fruit, and germination of the seed, in all which oxygen is absorbed, and carbonic acid gas given off.

agreement. And these are the points in which not only man and a plant, but in which all living beings agree one with another. In any other particular they may differ: here they are found to agree universally.*

The nature of life, then, it is obvious, must be sought for in those acts in which all living beings agree; which, as we have seen, are a transformation of the fluid aliment into the solids, and the formation of the adult structure.

From observation, we learn, that the aliment invariably enters the system in a liquid state, and is then termed the nulritive fluid. It afterwards may become solid, and in that state form an integrant part of the system. Now, it is amongst the molecules of the tissues that investigation has ascertained this change from the fluid to the solid state to occur ; and, of course, if the solid molecule again becomes fluid, and is removed from the system, that change must also occur in the same spot.

Moreover, it is obvious, that there must exist a close chemical rela. tionship between the nutritive fluid and the solids, since the latter have been formed from the former; and we know, besides, that most of the solids are easily converted into fluids. In fact, we find in the nutritive fluid all the chemical elements found in the different solids and secretions, which differ from each other merely in possessing a few elements more or less, or the same elements existing in different combinations.

We have now all the points in which living beings agree, one with another. They agree anatomically in the co-existence of solids and a nutritive fluid of close chemical affinity, and capable of being resolved into each other; and secondly, in porosity of texture, so that the nutritive fluid may penetrate intermolecularly the solids.

They agree physiologically in the great phenomenon, nutritive action — to which absorption is antecedent, and of which assimilation and secretion are consequences. In nutritive action, therefore, we must seek the rea

eason why living beings present phenomena so widely unlike those of brute matter.

I commence the inquiry with an extract from the celebrated chemist, Berzelius.

* I am aware that physiologists mention other points of agreement, but it can be shown that they are all referable to the above. Thus Cuvier,—“ Absorption, assimilation, exhalation, development and generation, are functions common to all living beings; birth and death the universal limits of their existence; an areolar, contractile tissue, containing within its laminæ fluids or gases in motion, the general essence of their structure; substances almost all susceptible of conversion into fluids or gases, and combinations capable of an easy and mutual transformation, the basis of their chemical composition.”Règne, Animal, tom. i.

It is true that all living beings absorb, but absorption is not peculiar to living beings; it occurs in dead substances, indeed in all porous bodies.

Assimilation, development, exhalation and secretion are consequences of nutritive action; whilst generation consists merely in placing a substance (the ovum) furnished by the parent under such conditions that it can absorb the nutritive fluid, and thus take on vital actions.

Again, birth is the mere separation of the ofispring from the parent; and death, but the necessary cessation of one kind of action, and the transition into that of another.

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