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secretion, and generation, which are va. rious in their structure in the different tribes of animals,
In vegetables, and in some moluscæ, no traces of nerves are discoverable. The nervous system begins in a simple form, and seems to increase in complexity up to man. But this will make the subject of the next lecture. Mr. Hunter also shews us that there are animals, as for instance the torpedo and gymnotus, which have organs liberally supplied with nerves, forming
electric battery which they can charge at will. Such facts shew to what a degree electricity exists in these animals, and how greatly it is under the influence or control of the nervous system; and they could not fail to make a strong impression on the contemplative and deeply meditating mind of Mr. Hunter.
What then, may. I ask, is the natural inference to be drawn from the examination of this great chain of being, which seems to connect even man with the common
matter of the universe ? What but that which Mr. Hunter drew, that life must be something independent of organization, since it is able to execute the same functions with such diversified structure, and even in some instances with scarcely any appearance of organization at all.
The experiments of Sir Humphrey Davy seem to me to form an important link in the connexion of our knowledge of dead and living matter. He has solved the great and long hidden mystery of chemical attraction, by shewing that it depends, upon the electric properties which the 'atoms of different species, of matter possess. Nay, by giving to an : alkali
electric properties which did not origi- ; nally belong to it, he has been able to control the ordinary operations of nature, and to make potash pass through a strong acid, without any, combination 1, taking place. That electricity is something, I could never doubt, and therefore it , fol-1 lows as a consequence in my opinion, that it must be every where connected with those atoms of matter," which form the masses that are cognizable to our senses ; and that it enters, into the composition of every thing, inanimate or amimates: If then it bę electricity 5that produces all the chemical changes We}-801 constantly observe, in surrounding inaniinate objects, analogy I induces us to believe that it is electricity which also performs all the chemical operations in living bodies; that the universal chemist resides in them, and exercises in some degree peculiar
powers because it possesses a peculiar apparatus.
Sir Humphrey Davy's experiments also lead us to believe, that it is electricity, extricated and accumulated in ways not clearly understood, which causes those sudden and powerful motions in masses of inert matter, which we occasionally witness with wonder and dismay; that it is electricity which causes the whirlwind, and the water sport, and which o with its sharp and sulphurous bolt splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak," and destroys our most stabile edifices; that it is electricity which" by its consequences makes the firm earth tremble, and throws up subterraneous matter from volcanos.
When therefore we perceive in the universe at large, a cause of rapid and
powerful motions of masses of inert matter, may we not naturally conclude that the inert molecules of vegetable and animal matter," may be made to move in a similar manner, by a similar cause ?:)*
It is not meant to be affirmed that electricity is life. There are strong analogies between electricity and magnetism, and yet I do not know that any one has been hardy enough to assert their absolute identity. I only mean to prove, that Mr. Hunter's Theory is verifiable, by shewing that a subtile substance of a quickly and powerfully mobile nature, seems to pervade every thing, and appears to be the life of the world; and therefore it is probable that a similar substance pervades organized bodies, and produces similar effects in them.
The experiments of Sir H. Davy seem