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Mr. Hunter seems to have put us into a right path, and every step we take our prospects become more enlarged and
distinct, and we evidently approximate to · the ultimate object which we have in view.
Whoever duly reflects on the extent of human knowledge and power, cannot but feel an interest in anatomical enquiries; since he must perceive that it is by means of the organization of the body, the mind acquires all its information, and executes all its purposes.
When, however, we engage in anatomical enquiries, we find so great a diversity of structure in the different parts of the body; so great a variety of expedients for effecting certain poses, all so simple in their nature, yet so adequate to their intended design, that anatomy becomes highly interesting from the curiosity it excites, the knowledge it im
parts, and the food for meditation it affords.
When also in the prosecution of our anatomical enquiries, we as it were analyze the body, or reduce it to its elementary parts; when we find that every organ, and every portion of it, is composed of a few and simple vessels, a few and simple fibres ; that by these it is originally formed, kept in constant repair, endowed with animation, sensation, and motion; we become lost in astonishment that such important ends can be effected by apparently such simple means.
On reflecting how I might best accomplish the duty which devolves to me, of giving anatomical lectures in a place by no means suited to anatomical demonstrations, I thought I could not do better than speak of the structure and
functions of these elementary component parts of the body; since : by this method I should be led to describe their natural and healthy structure and functions, which would be a proper
introduction 'to the subsequent discussions I have to engage in, relative to the nature and treatment of disorder and dis
As it does not seem material which subject I consider first, I shall begin with the Fibres, the only visible means by which motion and sensation are produced; for this will lead directly to the consideration of Mr. Hunter's Theory of Life.
In surveying the great chain of living beings, we find life connected with a vast variety of organization, yet exercising the same functions in each; a circumstance from which we may I think naturally conclude, that life does not de
pend on organization. Mr. Hunter, who 80 patiently and accurately examined the different links of this great chain, which seems to connect even man with the common matter of the universe, was of this opinion. In speaking of the properties of life, he says, it is something that prevents the chemical decomposition, to which dead animal and vegetable matter is so prone; that regulates the temperature of the bodies it inhabits, and is the cause of the actions we observe in them. All these circumstances, though deduced from an extensive contemplation of the subject, may, however, be legitimately drawn from observations made on the egg. A living egg does not putrefy under circumstances that would rapidly cause that change in a dead one. The former resists a degree of cold that would freeze the latter. · And when subjected to the genial " warmth of incubation the matter of it begins to
move or to be moved so as to build up the curious structure of the young animal.
The formation of the embryon in gallinaceous ova
was particularly attended to by Mr. Hunter; and he was of opinion, that motions began in various places in the cicatricula so as simultaneously to form parts of the embryon and its appendages.
The opinions of Mr. Hunter deserve at least to be respectfully and attentively considered: That he was a genius, according to the beautiful definition of that quality given by Dr. Johnson; that he possessed the power of unind that collects, combines, amplifies and animates, the energy without which judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert; cannot I think be doubted by