Page images
[ocr errors]

mass; and partly, because we shall have occasion by and by to refer to the question recently so much agitated, viz. whether, and to what extent, Iquids ought to be taken in combination with solid aliment. Dr. Paris, in the passage above cited, uses this expression ; ' the stomach inust be in a state of

high energy. Now it becomes important to inquire, what is precisely signified by the term, high energy. We have al. ready shewn, by the anatomical outline that has been traced, how dependent the ventricular function must be upon the nervous power. It is indeed so dependent upon it, that every part and portion of the chylopoietic and assistant chylopoietic organization, every blood-vessel and every secreting surface, may be ready to commence, and prepared to proceed in their several departments, yet waiting the mandates of the nervous impulse. Should that impulse be either defective or irregular, every thing is thrown into confusion: the aliment, instead of being assimilated, becomes more or less influenced by those laws which govern inanimate matter; fermentations and consequent eructations are produced ; distensions and irritations are engendered ; and sympathetic affections, occasionally of the most formidable nature and extent, where there is a susceptibility of their formation, become established.

But what is this condition of the nervous power requisite to insure those fibrous and secretory, those muscular and membranous actions, which are necessary to the production of chyme and chyle from the various substances received into the stomach ? Dr. Wilson Philip has endeavoured to reply to this question by an appeal to experiment.

Far be it from us ever to countenance for a single moment that wanton trifling with the feelings and lives of inferior animals which the ultra zeal of physiological investigation has been too much disposed to indulge in ; but we cannot help considering the result of some recent experiments made by the individual to whom we have just alluded, if not replete with all the consequence ascribed to them by the author, as at least highly important, not merely in a philosophical point of view, but also in their practical tendency. Dr. Philip • divided the eighth pair of nerves in the necks of three recently fed rabbits, and every precaution was taken to keep their divided ends asunder. One of these animals, when subjected to galvanic influence, remained singularly quiet, breathing freely, and with no more apparent distress than the twitches usually produced by electric action, which was in this case kept up without interruption. The other rabbits laboured strongly in their respiration. They were all three killed at the same period, and their stomachs successively opened. In the two non-galvanized animals, chymification had scarcely made any progress ; but in that which had been galvanized, the process appeared to have been completed.'

The inference which Dr. Philip draws from these and similar observations, is, that galvinism and the nervous power are one and the same thing; or, in other words, that the puzzling problem which has been agitated for ages, with respect to the quo modo of nervous agency, is at length. solved by these instances of substituting ihe electric for the nervous influence.

Much further investigation is requisite for the full establishment of the proposed analogy. We confess ourselves, however, to have been struck, from the first announcement of the propositions of Dr. Philip, with the superiority, to say the least, of his doctrines over all preceding speculations on the subject of nervous influence ; and we think the following remarks of Dr. Paris will be perused with much interest by all who have given their attention to the subject of animal electricity, and the mode of its excitation by acids. Dr. Paris's suggestions, we must do him the justice to say, are always conceived in the cautious but not sceptical spirit that should ever direct the researches of the philosopher; and they are uniformly conveyed in the phraseology of a gentleman and a scholar.

• It is not my intention in this work, to enter into any speculations with respect to the more minute changes which may be supposed to take place under this galvanic influence of the nerves. My determi. nation in this respect has been made in consequence of learning from Dr. Prout, that he has long been engaged in the investigation, and has arrived at some very curious and important results, which it is his intention shortly to give to the public. In the next place, such details would be wholly inconsistent with the practical objects of my present publication. I shall therefore conclude this part of my subject by observing, that most of the digestive products are acid ; the chyme is uniformly distinguished by this character; and if the experiments of Dr. Prout be correct, muriatic acid is always present in the stomach : we may therefore suppose, that the nerves of this organ have the power of decomposing the muriatic salts, and of transferring its alkali to some distant reservoir, perhaps the liver. The intestinal juices are also acid ; the fæces, unless they have undergone a degree of putrefactive decomposition, redden litmus ; the urine, as well as perspirable matter, are likewise acid; and it is scarcely necessary to observe, that the whole product of the respiratory function is carbonic acid.'

Here we must pause, reserving the continuation of the topic, in reference to practical, dietetic, and medicinal considerations, for oar ensuing Number.

[blocks in formation]

Art. II. 1. Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, including a Period of

nearly half a Century; with original Anecdotes of many distinguished Persons, political, literary, and musical. In two Volumes,

small Svo. pp. 716. London, 1826. 2. The Life and Times of Frederick Reynolds. Written by Himself.

Two Volumes, 8vo. pp. 819. London, 1826. THERE is a superabundance of this flimsy sort of auto-bio

graphy afloat at the present moment; and we have taken up these volumes as giving a fair sample of an ephemeral species of literature, sufficiently well adapted to meet the tastes of light and lounging readers, but supplying little interesting information to inquirers of a more fastidious temper. With regard to the volumes before us, the humbler title ushers in the better book. The ambitious Exhibiter of his · Life and Times' has given us but little of the latter, and, of the former, just such a sketch as, with the help of Clampagne and grimace, might pass current as spirited and humorous, but, when lying on a Review, er's table in the questionable shape of paper and print, is not likely to stir a muscle. Mr. Reynolds started as a tragic writer, just as some of the most grotesque comedians first trod the boards in all the glories of the buskin ; but he is better known in his own dramatic world as the author of certain nondescript productions, classing strictly under neither of the three divisions of dramatic composition. Of genuine comedy, Mr. Reynolds has not the smallest conception; wit he has none; humour in its genuine form never gives zest to his scenes: for these he has provided a showy, but inadequate substitute, in the incessant bustle of his characters, the vivacity of his dialogue, and a happy knack at placing his personages in ludicrous situations. His first comic production, the Dramatist, was his best ; and was, in particular, so great a favourite with the late king, that, during his reign, he commanded' it not less than twenty times. But these are not our affairs, and we must decline to follow Mr. Reynolds through the vicissitudes of his career, convivial or dramatic. He appears to have led a gay and dissipated life ; to have enjoyed, in consideration of high spirits and companionable talents, a large portion of this world's good things in the shape of wine, joyous society, and the res culinaria; and to be at present realizing the after-blessings of such a course, in the visitations of arthritic and nervous disease. In one point of view, his volumes are singularly instructive. They form an admirable commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon and the Book of Ecclesiastes; and they show, with impressive admonition, to what base and miserable uses men may put intellectual and immortal faculties. It will be scarcely believed by any out of a certain circle, that, at one time, the standing joke at the Theatrical Fund dinner, consisted in making an elderly gentleman of urbane manners' and much private worth,' tell the same story ten times over! The folowing sample of the 'feast of reason and the flow of soul,' will probably satisfy our readers.

• Dined at Andrews', and met there the Duke of Leeds, Colman, Topham, Merry, and John Kemble. The Duke, occasionally partial to punping, said, “His Majesty, by supporting the constitution, has proved himself a capital upholder. Yes, but not a capital cabinetmaker!' retorted Merry, forgetting that his Grace was secretary of state. Mal à propos again! Andrews being unwell, and ergo somewhat irritable, Merry told him that he received illness not as a misfor. tune, but as an affront. Kemble not so amusing as before ; no man, indeed, pleasant under the dominion of wine. He abused nobody, however; only praised himself, and heard Merry whisper me, I would go barefoot to Holyhead, and back, only to see a fellow one half as clever as he thinks himself.' Colman, as usual, playful and entertaining—Another guest, in the midst of this “chaos come again," constantly amused himself after every glass, by repeating,

• Who is a man of words and deeds ?

Who?--but his Grace, the Duke of Leeds.' « Andrews, from anxiety, equally civil to every body-Topham, (after many of his neat repartees) fast asleep--but occasionally awak ened by the noise, yawning and muttering. Reynolds is a' humor. ist, not a wit-yaw ! yaw! I am a wit ! then relapsing into his slumber. At twelve, all rose and retired, excepting Kemble, who exclaimed, Stop some of ye! I see this is the last time I shall be invited to this house, so now I'll make the most of it!-Hear!-more coffee!-more wine!' I was flying, but Andrews detained me, saying, · Leave me alone with this tiresome tragedian, my dear Sir, and you shall never be asked again!' More influenced by sheer charity, than by the threat, I consented to stay; and not till ten the following morning, did the curtain drop. Kemble the whole time lauding the classical drama, and attacking modern comedy.'

Our readers are, no doubt, well acquainted with that bestauthenticated and most frequently-repeated of ghost stories, the preternatural appearance which announced, with such entire fulfilment in the event, the death of Lord Lyttleton. We have heard the circumstances detailed with such general agreement, by authorities all but primary, and the current narrative appears to have been derived from sources so unexcaptionable, that it were nothing better than gratuitous scepticism to doubt the facts as they appear on the surface, whether we refer them to natural causes, or explain them on common and obvious principles. The medical men who were in attendance accounied for his Lordship's death on the supposition that a 'nervous spasm' had arrested the functions of life. He had cherished, during the last years of his existence, a superstitious horror of solitude, and finding himself suddenly' alone, his dismay proved fatal. However all this may be, the occurrences were most extraordinary, and the following supplement is not less so.

• Speaking of the late Lord Lyttleton, and of the singular dream which preceded his death, Topham related to us the whole story; but which, with its supernatural bird, white lady, awful prophecy, and fatal completion, has since been so frequently and so variously detailed, that I cannot muster sufficient assurance to introduce it here; therefore, will pass to an event that is also connected with this strange death of Lord Lyttleton, and which, though nearly equally extraordinary, has, I believe, never been published. Of this event, Topham could speak with considerable certainty, as he was an eye witness to the occurrence of the principal circumstances; and which circumstances, I afterwards heard (more than once) confirmed by the party himself.

· Andrews, imagining that Lord Lyttleton was in Ireland, with Lord Fortescue, and Captain O'Byrne, and wholly unconscious of the fatal prophecy, on the day preceding his Lordship's death, proceeded, with his partner, Mr. Pigou, to their residence, adjacent to their gunpowder mills, in the vicinity of Dartford. On the following evening, being indisposed, he retired to bed at eleven o'clock; his door was bolted, and he had a wax taper burning on the hearth. Whether he was asleep, or no, he never could decide ; but he either saw, or thought he saw, the figure of his friend Lord Lyttleton approach his bed-side, wrapped in his long damask morning gown, and heard him exclaim,-“ Andrews! it is all over with me.

..So deeply was Andrews convinced of this appearance, that imagining that Lord Lyttleton had arrived at Dartford, without his knowledge, and had walked into his room for the purpose of alarming him, (a practice his Lordship was very fond of following,) he expostulated with the figure on the absurdity of the joke, and rising in his bed, was much surprised to observe that it had disappeared. Leaping on the floor, he commenced an immediate search, behind the curtains, under the bed, and around every part of the room, but no Lord Lyttleton was to be found. Then proceeding to the chamber door, he perceived that it was bolted as he had lett it; but, still unconvinced, he rang his bell, and sternly desiring to be told the truth, inquired of Harris, his valet, whether Lord Lyttleton had not just arrived. Though the servant (who had just retired to his bedroom) frequently replied in the negative, yet Andrews persisted that he had seen his friend. However, after another vain search, and a repeated request from Andrews, that his Lordship would not be so foolish as longer to conceal himself, compelled at length, to abandon

« PreviousContinue »