14 FEBRUARY 1835, Page 17


THIS is a book which concerns all and will instruct all. Its first subject is Life, in the most extended and general sense. Life as displayed in man is next taken up. The final object of the author is to increase human happiness, by improving the condition of both mind and body. The last point he will attain, by showing us the general laws which govern health, and contribute to enjoyment and longevity, or to their reverses, pain and death. That our mental vigour and a disposition to mental exertion depend upon the state of the body, all will admit ; many will allow that much of our virtue rests upon our health. So far Dr. SMITH'S proposal is easily enough comprehended. He appears, however, to labour with some ulte- rior theory, by which the connexion between mind and body may be more distinctly traced, their mutual dependence more clearly established, and the action of the body upon the mind brought under our control, so as to combine medical and moral philosophy in one. Another opinion is more broadly stated—that neither the mental nor the physical powers of man have yet been fully deve- loped. And with the eloquence of an orator, the reasoning of a philosopher, and the zeal of an enthusiast, our author intimates that discoveries in physiology and morality are yet to be made, which will give an almost Antediluvian length to the life of man, develop and maintain in complete perfection all his organs, every one of which is created to yield him enjoyment; whilst extended knowledge and improved wisdom shall render him worthy of these physical blessings.. It is common to find persons grieving that they were not born in some former age : our regrets take a different direction — whenever we think of the improvements which are going on in the useful arts, of the advancement in the sciences, and of the discoveries in philosophy, we envy posterity. It appears at first sight, that Dr. SMITH'S book bears a close relation to Dr. ROGET'S Bridgewater Treatise, and Dr. COMBE'S Physiology applied to Health and Education. The resemblance is in the subjects, not in the treatment. Dr. SMITH'S exhibition of general LAC is more condensed, more full, more intelligible, and consequently more striking, than that of Dr. ROGET. His view of human physiology is much more comprehensive, elabo- rate, and complete, than that of Dr. COMBE ; though, so far as it

• Mr. K tionmas gives seven lines to the accusation and death of Socrates:

has yet gone, less popular. Not that Dr. Stunt is a dry writer, but the minute details of this part of his subject have neces- sarily an air of abstruseness. The first hundred pages of his general exposition cannot be perused without feeling an expansion of mind at the novelty of his information, and a high degree of delight at the masterly ease with which it is conveyed, and which frequently give the effect of the highest eloquence to a style seldom very neat, and now and then rather scholastic.

To make the following extracts more intelligible, it should be observed that Life consists of two divisions—the organic, and tho animal. The powers of the first are confined to the maintenance of existence and the reproduction of the species. "It receives food, transforms its food into its own proper substance, builds this sub- stance up into structure, generates and maintains a certain tem- perature, derives its existence from a parent, producing an offspring like itself, and terminates its existence in death :" and such is the life of plants, whose organs vary in complexity, but not in kind. In animal life, all these powers are found, but two supe- rior ones are added—sensation, and voluntary motion. To follow out the author's exposition of these separate states of existence, from the simplest to the niore complicated plant—from the lowest animalcule, whose form is invisible save through a powerful micro- scope, and whose nourishment by fbod or whose possession of a stomach Was doubted till the experiments of EHRENBERG, up to man—would require a quotation of the earlier chapters. If this were possible, it would not be fair. We will, however, take the close.


The action of the apparatus of the organic life, when sound, is without con- sciousness; the object of the action of the apparatus of tlw animal life is the production of consciousness. The final cause of the aetion of the apparatus of the organic life is the maintenance of existence ; the final cause of the action of the apparatus of the animal life is the production of conscious existence. What purpose would be answered by connecting consciousness with the action of organic organs? \Vete we sensible of the organic plot-ewe; dill we know when the heart beats, and the long plays, and the stomach digests, and the excretory organ excretes, the consciousness could not promote, but might disturb the due end orderly course of these processes. Mineover, they would so occupy and engross our minds, that we should have little inclination or time to attend to other objects. Beneficently, therefore, are they placed equally beyond our observation and conttol. Neverthelese, when our consciousness el these processes may be of service; when they are going wrong ; when their too feeble or tut intense action is in danger of destroying existence, the main at life it made sensible of what in passing in the organic, in order that the former may take beneficial cognizance of the latter, may do what experience may have taught to be con- ducive to the restoration of the diseased organ to a sound state, or avoid doing what may conduce to the increase or maintenance of its nimbi,' coudition. •

The functions of the organic life are performed with uninterrupted continuity ; to those of the animal life rest is indispensable. The action of the heart is OH-

ceasiag ; it takes not and needs not rest. On it goes, fire the space of eighty or ninety years, at the rate of a bundled thousand strokes evel y twelity-tour hours, having at every stroke a great resistance to overcome, yet it cominues this action for this length of time without intermission. Alike incessant is the action of the lung, which ia always receiving and always emitting air ; and the action of the skin, which is always transpiriog and always absorbing ; anal the action of the alimentary canal, which is always compensating the loss which the system is always sustaining. But of this continuity of action the organs and functions of the altimal life are incapable. No voluntary muscle can maintain its action beyond a given time no ellint of the will can keep it in a state el uninterrupted contraction ; relaxa- tion must alternate with contraction ; ant even this alternate action cannot go on long without rest. No organ of sense can centinue to receive impression after impression without fatigue. By protracted exertion the ear loses its sensi-

bility to AIM nil, the eye to light, the tongue to savour, and the touch to the qualities of bodies about which it is conversant. The brain cannot carry on its

intellectual operations with vigour beyond a certain period ; the trains of ideas with which it works become, after a time, indistinct and ennfireed ; nor is it capable of reacting with energy until it has remaiued in a state of test propor- tioned to the duration of its preceding activity. And this rest is sleep. Sleep is the repose of the senses, the rest of the muscles their support and sustenance. What food is to the organie, sleep is to the animal life. Nutrition can no more go on without aliment, than sensation, thought, and motion without sleep.

But it is the animal life only that sleep.: death would be the consequence of tire momentary slumber of the organic. If, when the brain betook itself to repose, the engine that moves the blood ceased to supply it with its vital fluid, never again would it awake. The animal life is active only during a portion of its existence ; the activity of the organic: life is never for a moment suspended ; and in order to endow its organs with the power of continuing this uninterrupted action. they are rendered incapable of fatigue: fatigue, on the contra' y, is inse- parable from the action of the organs of the animal life ; fatigue imposes the ne- cessity of rest, rest is sleep, and sleep is renovation.

The animal and organic lives, as already intimated, are per- fectly distinct in themselves : the latter can exist separately front the former; and when the former is superadded upon the latter, the animal life may cease, whilst the organic still continues. Ano- ther difference is, that all the organic functions are dependent on each other, and must be discharged; of the organic, one may be disordered without much disturbance of the rest, and one may cease altogether whilst another continues in vigorous action. Nay, they begin to exist at different times. Here is an account of


The two lives are born at different periods, and the one is in active operation before the other is even in existence. The first action observable in the embryo is a minute pulsating point. It is the young heart propelling its infant stream. Before brain, or nerve, or muscle can be distinguished, the heart is in existence and in action ; that is, the apparatus of the organic function of the circulation is built up and is in operation before there is any trace of an animal organ. Arteries and veins circulate blood, capillary vessels receive the vital fluid, and out of it form brain and muscle ; the organs of the animal, no lees than the various sub- stances that compose the organs of the organic life. The organic is not only antet ior to the auitnal life, but it is by the action of the organic that existence is given to the animal life. The organic life is born at the first moment of exis- tence; the animal life not until a period comparatively distant ; the epoch emphatically called the period of birth, namely, the period when the new beang is detached from its mother; when it first comes into contact with external objects; when it carries on all the functions of its economy by its own orgitne, and consequently enjoys independent existence. The functions of the organic life are perfect at once. The heart contracts as well, the arteries secrete as well, the respiratory organs wink as well the first otoment they hegiu to at as at any subsequent period. They require no teaching from experience, and tlwy profit nothing from its lessons. On the con- trary, the operations of the brain, and the actions of the voluntary muscles, feeble and uncertain at first, acquire strength by slow degress, and attain their ultimate perfection only at the adult age. How indistiuct and confused the &et sensations of the infaut ! Before it acquire accuracy, precision, nod truth, how immense the labour spent upon perception ! Sensations are succeeded by ideas; sensations and ideas coalesce with sensation. and ideas; combinations thus formed suggest other combinatioom prerioubly formed, and these a third, and the third a fourth, and ao is constituted a continuous trein of thought. But the infantile associations between beusation and sensation, between idea and ides, sad between sensations tied ideas, are, to a certain extent, incorrect, and to a still greater extent inadequate ; end the misconception necessarily resulting from this early imperfection in the intellectual operations is capable of correction only by subsequent and more extended impressions. During its waking hours, a large portion of the time of the infant is bpent in receiving inapressiuns which come to it every instant from all directions, and which it stores up in its little treasury ; but a large portion is also consumed in the far more serious and difficult business of discrimination and correction. Could any man, after having attained the age of manhood, teverse the order of the course through which he has passed ; could he, with the power of observation, together with the experience that belong to manhood, retrace with perfect exactness every step of his sentient existence, from the age of forty to the moment that the air first came into contact with his body at the moment of his leaving his maternal dwelling, among the truths lie would learn, the must interesting, if not the moat sut sing, would be those which relate to the manner in which he dealt with his earliest impressions ; with the mode in which he combined them, recalled them, laid them by fur future use; made his first general deduction; observed what subsequent experience taught to be conformable, and what not conformable, to this general inference; his emotions on detecting his first errors, and his con- trasted feelings on discovering those comprehensive truths, the certainty of which became confirmed by every subsequent impression. Thus to live back- wards would be, in fact, to go through the analysis of the intellectual combina- tions, and, consequently, to obtain a perfect insight into the constitution of the mind ; and among the curious results which would then become manifest, perhaps few would appear more surprising than the true action of the senses. The eye, when first impressed by light, does not perceive the objecta that reflect

it; the ear, when first impressed by sound, does not distinguish t1 e sonorous body. When the operation for cataract has been successfully pert waned in a

person born blind, the eye immediately becomes sensible to light, It .0: the im- pression of light does not immediately give information relative to the properties of bodies. It is gradually, not instantaneously; it is even by slow degrees that luminous objects are discerned with distinctness and accuracy. To see to hear, to smell, to taste, to touch, are processes which appear to be per- fornied instantaneously,eand which actually are performed with astonishing rapidity in a person who observes them in himself ; but they were not always performed thus rapidly : they are processes acquired, businesses learnt; pro- cesses and businesses acquired and learnt, not without the cost of many efforts and much labour. But the senses afford merely the materials for the intellectual operations of memory, combination, comparison, discrimination, induction, operations the progress of which is so slow, that they acquire precision, energy, and comprehensiveness only after the culture of years. And the same is true of the muscles of volition. how many efforts are made before the power of distinct articulation is acquired ! how many before the infant can stand ! how many before the child eau walk ! The organic life is born perfect; the animal life becomes perfect only by servitude, and the apti- tude which service gives.

And, finally, as the organic life is the first horn, so it is the last to die ; while the animal life, as it is the latest born, and the last to attain its full de- velopment, so it is the earliest to decline and the first to perish. In the pro- cent of natural death, the extinction of the animal is always anterior to that of the organic life. Real death is a later, and sometimes a touch later event than apparent death. An animal appears to be dead when, together with the aboli- tion of sensation and the loss of voluntary motion, respiration, circulation, and the rest of the organic functions can no longer be distinguished ; but these func- tions go on some time after they have (eased to afford external indications of their action. In man, and the warm-blooded animals in general, suspension or submersion extinguishes the animal life, at the latest, within the space of four minutes from the time that the atmospheric air is completely excluded from tile lung ; but did the organic functions also cease at the same period, it would be impossible to restore an animal to life after apparent death from drowning and the like. But however complete and protracted the animal functions, reanima- tion is always possible as long as the organic organs are capable of being stored to to their usual vigour. The cessation of the animal life is but the first stage of death, from which recovery is possible; death is complete only when the organic together with the animal functions have wholly ceased, and are in- capable of being reestablished. Its man, the process of death is seldom altogether natural. It is generally rendered premature by the operation of circumstances which destroy his other- wise than by that progressive and slow decay which is the inevitable result of the action of organized structure. Death, when natural, is the last event of an extended series, of which the first that is appreciable is a change in the animal life, and in the noblest portion of that life. The higher faculties fail in the reverse order of their development; the retrogression is the inverse of the progression, and the noblest creature, in returning to the state of non-existence, retraces step by step each successive stage by which it reached the summit of life. In the advancing series, the animal is superadded to the organic life ; sensa- tion, the lowest faculty of the animal life, precedes ratiocination, the highest. The senses. called into play at the moment of birth soon acquire the utmost per- fection of which they are capable ; but the intellectual faculties later developed, are still later perfected, and the highest the latest. In the desceuding series, the animal life fails before the organic, and its nobler powers decay sooner and more rapidly than the subordinate. First of all the impressions which the organs of sense convey to the brain become less numerous and distinct, and consequently the material on which the mind operates is less abundant and perfect; but at the same time, the power of working vigorously with the material it possesses more than proportionally diminishes. Memory fail.; analogous phenomena are less readily and less completely recalled by the presence.of those which should suggest the entire train ; the connecting links are thinly wen or wholly lost ; the train itself is less vivid and lees coherent; train succeeds train with preternatural slowness, and the consequence of these growing iumeifections is that, at last, induction becomes unbound, just as it was in early youth ; and for the same reason, namely, because there is not in the mental view an adequate range of individual pheuinuena; the only difference being that the range comprehended in the view of the old man is too narrow, because that which he had learnt he has forgotten ; while in the youth it is too narrow, because that which it is necessary to learn has not been acquired. And with the diminutiou of intellectual power the senses continue progres- sively to fail : the eye grows more dim, the ear more dull, the sense of smell less deliesite, the sense of touch less acute, while the sense of taste immediately subservient to the organic function of nutrition, is the last to diminish in in-. tensity and cotrectuess, and wholly fails but with the extinction of the life it serves.

But the senses are not the only servants of the brain ; the voluntary muscles are so equally ; but three ministers to the master-power, no longer kept in active service, the former no longer employed to convey new, varied, and vivid impres. limns, the latter no longer employed to execute the commands of new, varied, and intense desires, become successively feebler, slower, and more uncertain in their action. The hand trembles, the step totters, and every movement is tardy and unsteady. And thus, by the loss of one intellectual faculty after another, by the obliteration of sense after sense, by the progressive failure of the power of voluntary motion ; in a word, by the declining energy and the ultimate ex- tinction of the animal life, man, from the state of maturity, 1)2P,Setl a second time through the stage of childhood back to that of infancy ; lapses even into the condition of the embryo: what the flatus was, the matt of extreme old age is : when be began to exist, he posbeeeed only organic life; and before is ripe fur the tomb, he returns to the condition of the plant. And even this merely organic existence cannot be long maintained. Slow may be the waste of the organic organs; but they do waste, and that waste is not repaired, and consequently their functions languish, and no amount of stimulus is capable of invigorating their failing action. The arteries are rigid and cannot nourish ; the veins are relaxed and cannot carry on the 1118811 of blood that oppresses them ; the lungs, partly choked up by the deposition of adventitious matter, and partly incapable of expanding and collapsing by reason of the feeble action of the respiratory apparatus, imperfectly aerate the small quantity of blood that flows through them ; the heart, deprived of its wonted nutriment and stimulus, is unable to contract with the energy requisite to propel the vital current ; the various organs, no longer supplied with the quantity and quality of mate& ial necessary for carrying on their respective processes, cease to act; the machinery stops, and this is death. And now, the processes of life at an end, the body falls within the dominion of the powers which preside universally over matter ; the tie that linked all its parts together, holding them in union and keeping them in action, in direct op- position to those powers, dissolved, it feels and obeys the new attractions to which it has become subject ; particle after particle that stood in beautiful order fall front their place; the wonderful structures they composed melt

away ; the very substances of which those structures were built up are resolved into their primitive elements; these elements, set at liberty, enter into new combinations, and become constituent parts of new beings ; those new beings in their turn perish ; from their death springs life, and SO the changes go on in an everlasting circle.

We would willingly, if space permitted us, draw largely from the next chapter, to show how fearfully and wonderfully man is made ; to exhibit with what wise provision the healthful exercise of the organic actions is in strictness made to contribute to our carnal comforts; how carefully this feeling is restricted within cer- tain limits ; with what consummate art the sensations of animal life are divided and confined ; bow the functions necessary to support existence are made sources of pleasure ; and in what way the in- tellectual qualities springing from the organization of our senses are formed to contribute to our enjoyment. But we must restrict ourselves to one point ; which PALEY, but with less of the mas- tery of knowledge, has already handled.


And the pleasure afforded by the various faculties with which the human being is endowed is the immediate and direct result of their exercise. With the exception of the organic organs, and the reason for the exception in regard to them has been assigned, the action of the organs is directly pleasurable. Fronts the exercise of the organs of sense, from the operation of the intellectual facul- ties, from appetite, passion, and affection, pleasure flows as directly as the object for which the instrument is expressly framed. And pleasure is the ordinary result of the action of the organs; pain is some- times the result, but it is time extraordinary not the ordinary result. Whatever may be the degree of pain occasionally produced, or however protracted its du- ration, yet it is never_ thel naturai, that is, the usual or permanent state, either of a single organ, or of an apparatus, or of the system. The usual, the permanent, the natural condition of each organ, and of the entire system, is pleasurable. Abstracting, therefore, from the aggregate amount of pleasure the aggregate amount of pain, the balance in favour of pleasure is immense. This is true of the ordinary experience of ordinary men, even taking their physi- cal and mental states such as they are at present ; but the ordinary physical and mental states, considered as sources of pleasure of every human being, might be prodigiously improved ; and some attempt will be made, in a subsequent part of this work to show in what manner and to what extent. It has been already stated that there are cases in which pleasure is manifestly given for its own sake; in which it is rested in as an ultimate object ; but the converse is never found : in no case is the excitement of pain gratuitous. Among all the examples of secretion, there is no instance of a fluid, the object of which is to irritate and inflame; among all the actions of the economy, there is none, the object of which is the production of pain.

Moreover, all such action of the organs as is productive of pleasure, is conducive to their complete development, and consequently to the increase of their capacity. for producing pleasure ; while all such action of the organs as is productive of pain, is preventive of their complete development, and consequently diminishes their capacity for producing pain. The natural tendency of pleasure is to its own

augmentation and perpetuity. Pain, on the contrary, is self-destructive. . Special provision is made in the economy for preventing pain from passing beyond a certain limit, and from enduring beyond a certain time. Pam, when it reaches a certain intensity, deadens the sensibility of the sentient nerve ; and when it lasts beyond a certain time it excites new actions in the organ affected, by which the organ is either restored to a sound state, or so changed in structure that its function is wholly abolished. But change of structure and abolition of function, if extensive and permanent, are incompatible with the continuance of life. if, then, the actions of theeconomy, excited by pain, fail to put an end to suffering, by restoring the diseased organ to a healthy state, they succeed in putting an end to it by terminating life. Pain, therefore, cannot be so severe sad lasting as materially to preponderate over pleasure, without soon proving destructive to life.

The work has occasionally been spoken of as if it were a whole: in fact, however, one volume only is yet published. This completes the general view of Life; teaches us the primary elements of which the human body is composed ; exhibits in detail, with the assistance of a number of explanatory cuts, its structure and its organs, and explains the manner in which they exercise their functions. The volume closes with an account of the characters, properties, and circulation of the blood. In what order and at what length the other constituent parts of the body are to be treated hereafter,, we are not told, or in how many volumes the work is to be completed. We look expectingly for the general

views of man's capabilities of enjoymnt, which are to follow the elaborate exposition of the system.