Page images
PDF
EPUB

That Mr. Hunter was also a man of constant and deep reflection, that he

possessed this enviable power of mind, so

essential to the perfection of the intellectual character, is to me sufficiently apparent; for I know of no opinion of his that was lightly or loosely formed, or that was not" logically and cautiously deduced from the facts before him: and though from the subsequent , increase of knowledge, the validity of some of his opinions may now be doubted, yet most of them have from the same cause become more firmly established. With all his genius, knowledge, and reflection, Mr. Hunter was not, however, a brilliant character amongst us. He had not the happy talent of displaying the stores of his mind, nor of communicating to others, the same perception of the importance of his facts and opinions as he himself entertained. Perhaps it may have arisen

1

[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 e we form some des duction 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 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 páper. In the exercise of this power, he was known occasionally to have passed a night or day entirely inattentive to surrounding objects:

That Mr. Hunter was also a man of constant and deep reflection, that he possessed this enviable power of mind. So essential to the perfection of the intellectual character, is to me sufficiently apparent; for I know of no opinion of his that was lightly or loosely formed, or that was not” logically and cautiously deduced from the facts before him; and though, from the subsequent increase of knowledge, the validity of some of his opinions may now be doubted, yet most of them have from the same cause become more firmly established. With all his genius, knowledge, and reflection, Mr. Hunter was not, however, a brilliant character amongst us. He had not the happy talent of displaying the stores of his mind, nor of communicating to others the same perception of the importance of his facts and opinions as he himself entertained. Perhaps it may have arisen

from my attending more to his facts and opinions than to his mode of explaining them, that I have been led to form so high an estimate of his intellectual powers. I can draw no other inferences from the facts than those which he has drawn, and therefore am I a convert to his opinions.

I proceed now to consider the structure and functions of those fibres which constitute the muscles, in order to introduce the discussion of the probability and rationality of Mr. Hunter's Theory as a cause of irritability. Muscular fibres are soft and readily lacerable in the dead body,' and even during life when they are in a state of inaction. are composed of that insoluble substance which we meet with in the blood, and which, from its disposition to concrete in a fibrous form, is called the fibrous part of that fluid. The threads and flakes

They

[ocr errors]

of common cellular substance, which connect the muscular fibres, and every where pervade the structure of a muscle, may be removed' by boiling, and then the muscular fibres

may be separated, till they become too minute to admit of further separation, and almost elude our unassisted sight. Yet there are some who assert, that by the aid of powerful lenses each fibre, though slender as the threads of flimsy gossamer, appears but as a muscle

in miniature, being composed of a number i of smaller fibres. There are others who

maintain the contrary, and affirm that they can see the ultimate muscular fibres. It would seem to me a waste of time to detail to you the reports of various microscopical observers, respecting the ultimate fibres of muscles, since there is so little concurrence or certainty in their descriptions. The opinion which such contradictory statements have impressed

« PreviousContinue »