Page images

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 disease. 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 hot de

pend on organization. Mr. Hunter, who so 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 C

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 man of genius, according to the beautiful definition of that quality given by Dr. Johnson; that he possessed the power of Imind that collects, combines, amplifies and animates, the energy, without which judgment is cold, and knowledge is inert; cannot I think be doubted by

any, one who has carefully considered his
Writings. That he was a , man of un-
common industry, by which he collected
abundance, of facts, will be admitted by
every, one who has even beheld his mu-
seum. That, he was a man of constant and
deep reflection, is to me equally apparent.
# * *

... Many persons, have genius without
industry; others industry without genius;
and many who possess both are still de-
ficient in judgment.

I here beg permission to explain the notions I entertain of that act of the,

mind by which we form our inferences,

opinions, or judgments. I shall by this means at once unfold what it is that, in my estimation, gives currency and value to the opinions of any individual,

and entitles them to the attention of others. The human mind has the power of hold

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

ing, as it were, in review, a series of facts or propositions, and steadily contemplating them so as to arrange, assort, or compare them till we form some deduction respecting them. This power seems to belong exclusively to man, and is the basis of his reasoning faculty. That mind is the strongest which can contemplate the greatest number of facts or propositions with accuracy; and his judgments are generally the most correct, who omits to review none of the facts belonging to the subject under his consideration. It was this power of mind that so eminently distinguished Newton from other men. It was this power that enabled him to arrange the whole of a treatise in his thoughts, before he committed a single idea to paper. In the exercise of this power, he was known occasionally to have passed a night or day entirely inattentive to surrounding objects.

- -

« PreviousContinue »