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whatever. The objectors forget, that although the medica. ments are attenuated to a point which makes it impossible to recognise their color, taste, or smell, yet it does by no means follow, that their qualities should be diminished in the same proportion. On the contrary, they are so much developed and augmented by the process already spoken of, that it is unnecessary, and it would, in some cases, be dangerous to administer them in larger quantities.
I would ask those who thus refuse to admit the efficacy of such medicaments, because they are not visible to the eye or palpable to the touch, whether they can see, touch, or in any manner recognise the miasm or cause of cholera, of the smallpox, of scarlet fever, or of the plague? The answer must be in the negative; and yet it cannot be doubted that these fearful scourges are produced by soine Who, then, will deny the immense power of invisible and imperceptible causes?
Why should our scepticism be reserved for the doctrine of the effects which palpable bodies (much attenuated, it is true, but of which a portion, however attenuated, still remains in our preparation,) are capable of manifesting upon the human organism.*
*To what extent a body may be divided before we arrive at its simple elementary atoms, we shall probably never be able to conjecture. If a piece of marble, or any other substance, be reduced to its finest powders, its original particles, or atoms, will not be bruised or affected: and if the powder be ex
mined by a microscope, each grain will be found a solid stone, similar in appearance to the block from which it is broken. A single grain of blue vitriol, sulphate of copper, will communicate color to five gallons of water, in which ease the copper must be divided several millions of times, and yet each drop of the liquid may contain as many colored particles.
Not only must the force of invisible causes be admitted, but also the effects of very minute applications. The physician has constantly before his eyes the effects of such applications. He knows the power of the smallest atom of the serpent's venom, and of the virus of the mad dog. of the wasp, and of many insects. He knows that the odour of musk, though almost imperceptible, will powerfully effect persons of a nervous constitution; that the slightest touch of prussic acids produce instant death; and that a particle of cowpox matter can prevent an awful disease, which had, for ages, been the scourge of the human
We would here insert the interesting remarks on emanations, by Dr. BELLANAYE, as it tends to illustrate and throw light upon our present subject.*
Under the impression of friction, heat, clectricity, moisture, etc., numberless bodies have the property of throwing off odours more or less rapidly. Considering these as molecules of their substance with which they part, philosophers have justly given odoriferous bodies as
Miracles may well be ascribed to men, who find, in a bushel of our commonest combustible coal, virtue to raise seventy millions of pounds weight a foot high; and who, by twenty-eight grains of powder, can rend a bar of iron which could have resisted the strain of forty thousand pounds.
Whilst Nature (says Bellanaye) is seen to mould every form of matter from a Timited number of primary elements, and the decomposition of one body seems but the preparatory process to the formation of another, human igno rance always lavishly wastes our resources.
The Sources of Health and Disease in Communities, or Elementary Views of Hygiene, illustrating its importance to legislators, heads of families, etc. by Henry Bellanaye, Esq., surgeon extraordinary to her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kent.
examples of extreme divisibility of matter; a grain of musk being supposed capable of throwing off perfume for a much greater period than is given to the most favored man to live. We shall lay the more stress on the latter circumstance, to show how much we should be on our guard against such of those bodies as are pernicious, since such is their diffusibility.
By investigating the least important of emanations, and showing the influence which even that may possess over the vital functions, an idea may be conveyed of the importance of exhalations in a more extended view.
One advantage which extra professional people may immediately derive from lucubrations like the present, is the being aroused by them to reflections on the character of the nervous system. Nervous is an epithet in general very vaguely applied. With most persons, it means every thing and nothing, while others, who think themselves better informed, fancy a nervous disease to be one in which thoro is, and must be, a palpable disorganization of a nervous fibrile or centre. Nervous affections, however, must, in every degree, be positive, and in relation with some source of influence, although mostly to be ascertained by coincidence of the presence of a cause with the production of the effect; for often there is not any perceptible physical change discovered in the organization of the nerves themselves, where it would be expected.* A sud
*The brains of persons who have died of madness, often present no perceptible disorganization, or only such as in other persons produces no effect.
den and violent moral affection may cause immediate death, and is only a more violent agitation of the nervous system than that which produces the blush of ingenuous youth. A concentrated morbid emanation produces, in some cases, sudden death, and powerful odors may act in the same manner. It is not more astonishing that a strong perfume should occasion synope, than that a small particle of vbaroora, being introduced into the wound in the leg of a rabbit, the animal should lie insensible beneath the knife of the physiologist; or, that a few drops of poison being introduced on a man's tongue, or into his stomach, he should, in one instance, be violently purged, etc.,‡-in the other, killed: in either case with no greater interval of time than is necessary (if we may so express ourselves) for the nervous system to communicate
*It is well known that Philip the Fifth, of Spain, died suddenly on learning the disastrous defeat of the army near Plaisance. Zimmermann states, that on opening the body, the heart was found burst. The minutest capillary tube, through which the vital current flows, is under the influence of mental perturbation. Shame will crimson the cheek:- let the emotion be changed to fear, and the lily usurps the seat of the rose-the face is blanched and bloodless. Anger can rouse the vital organs into such preternatural activity, as to overcome, for a time, habitual decrepitude. Thus Muley Moloc, though lying on the bed of death, worn out by an incurable disease, and not expected to live an hour, started from his litter during the important crisis of a battle between his troops and the Portuguese, rallied his army, led them to victory, and immediately expired! These, and a thousand instances that might be cited may enable us to form some idea of the wide range of physical effects resulting from the almost unlimited play of the passions. A medical author, not wanting in learning and talent, has even endeavored to prove that fear is the cause of epidemics.
†The reader has probably heard of an instance of a tailor being suddenly killed by the cholera in an epidemy whilst in the act of mending a garment.
When I practised allopathically, I once rubbed three drops croton oil in the pit of the stomach of a child, and it purged him at least a dozen times.
to the frame in general an indication of the presence of the poison.
The phenomena of the nervous system have the greatest resemblance to those of electricity, from the rapid passage of the gentlest aura, to the transmission of electric fluid, which occasions the most violent shock.*
In the time of Berhave, marvellous attributes were assigned to the odoriferous principle; but human opinion, lever vibrating like a pendulum between two extremes, now either underrates or totally overlooks the influence of odours. The numerous experiments made on them by philosophers, are forgotten, or remain unapplied; and the organ of smell is considered only as it contributes to the comeliness of the countenance, or to the communication of pleasant or unpleasant sensations. Nature, however, has not been less elaborate in this than in other portions of the human body. The internal parts of the organs of smell, greatly convoluted and sinuous, are thus contrived to expose a larger surface to the action of odours, the membrane upon which they act being near the brain, and communicating with it by peculiar and important
*The multiplicity of actions in living bodies, the immense variety of motions, the amazingly rapid progression of some of the smaller animals, the easy and graceful action of the dancer, the sweet smile of satisfaction, the laugh of merriment, the quivering lip of fear, the sarcastic sneer of scorn, the beating action of the heart, the ever labouring motions of breathing, etc, depend upon the agency of an electric fluid of the nervous system.
Prof. Ure, Dr. Wilson Philip, and Mr. Brodie, have given, by experiments, decided proofs that the nerves are pervaded by some subtle principle, which hey infer to be identical with electricity.