Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

pulsating, the chest heaving, the glands in development, when he stands on a secreting or excreting, the digestive ap- fair level with the external forces that are paratus moving, and the brain thinking opposed to him, then his own force, for or receiving.

a short time balanced, soon sinks to be Let us, even in the prime of manhood, second in command. He feels cold more disturb this distribution of force ever so tenderly; if his rest be broken the delittle, and straightway our life, which is mand for artificial heat is urgent; if he the resultant of force, is disturbed. If lose or miss food, he fails quickly; and we use the active force too long, we returning to our facts, as to the influence become exhausted, and call on the re-, of the external temperature on mortality, serve; if we continue the process, the these are the reasons why a fall in the result 'is failure more or less perfect, I thermometer sweeps away our populasleep, and, in the end, the last long tion according to age so ruthlessly and sleep; let us, instead of exhausting the decisively. force, cut it off at the sources where it is If we analyze the facts further by the generated; let us remove the carbon or side of the diseases which kill, we find coal that should go in as fuel-food, and those diseases to be numerous in name, we create prostration, and in continuance but all of one type; they are diseases a waning animal fire, sleep and death; which of themselves tend either to proor let us, instead of removing or with- duce undue loss of force, or that tend to drawing the supply of fuel, cut off the prevent the development of force as its supply of air, as by immersion of the origin. Disorders which are accombody in water, or by making it breathe panied with exhaustive loss of fluids from a vapor that stops the combination of the body, such as diabetes, dropsies, and oxygen with carbon-such a vapor as hæmorrhages are of the first class ; dischloroform—and again we produce at orders in which due supply of air to the once prostration, sleep or death, accord- lungs is prevented, are of the second class, ing to the extent to which we have con- especially chronic bronchitis, which is in ducted the process. Lastly, if instead of truth the assigned cause of two-thirds at using up unduly the active and reserve ' least of the deaths that succeed immediforce, or instead of suppressing the evo- | ately on the fall of the thermometer. lution of force by the withdrawal of its In what has been written above I have sources, we expose the body to such an stated simply and in open terms the fact external temperature, that it is robbed of that the fall of temperature produces a its heat faster than it can generate it, specified series of results, by reducing if, that is to say, to supply the waste the force of the living organisin, and disheat, we draw upon the active and re- posing it to die. We may from this serve forces, we call forth immediately point investigate the mode by which the the same condition as followed from effect is produced in the economy in a extreme over-exertion, or from suppres- physiological point of view. How does sion of the development of force: we the decline of temperature act? Is the call forth exhaustion and sleep, and, in process simple or compound? extreme case, death.

The process is compound, and into it We have had in our mind's eye, in the there enter three elements. In the first above description, a man in the prime of place, the body is robbed rapidly of its life, in the centre of growth, and decay. waste force, and the reserve and active In regard to the force of animation in elements of force are consequently called him, we may look at him now retrospec- upon to the depression of the organism tively and prospectively. In his past his altogether. This obtains because the has been a growing developing body, medium surrounding the body, the air, and in the course of development he has unless it be artificially heated, receives produced an excess of force commensu- from its contact with the body a larger rate with the demands of his growth; proportion of heat than can be spared; this enables him to bear a certain excess and it might be possible to produce such of fatigue and exposure, without exhaus- an influence on the body by sudden extion and even with ease, until he has traction of its heat as to destroy it at reached his maximum. When he stops once by the mere act. A man, as Met

calfe has remarked, a man half plunged puscles apart: we draw a drop of blood into a bath of freezing mercury would and let it come to rest on the microscope die instantaneonsly, as from shock, by glass, and as the motion ceases, the septhe immediate extraction of his heat. arated corpuscles run together and adhere But in ordinary cases, and under ordinary so firmly that we cannot separate them circumstances, the mere rapid extraction by any force less than disintegration. If of heat is not sufficient to account for all we were to drive them in this state the mischief produced by a low tempera- round the body, through the vessels, ture; for we take measures, by the use they would not combine readily with the of non-conducting clothing, to counter- tissues; they have, in fact, forfeited the act the mischief, and that, too, in a man- condition necessary for combination. So ner which proves pretty successful. We with oxygen, when its invisible molecules may, therefore, leave this element of are deprived of the force called heat, extraction of heat as most important, but which is motion, they do not readily not all effective for evil.

combine with new matter.

But perfect The second element is the effect on the combination of oxygen and carbon is process of oxidation of blood. We all essential to every act of life. In the are aware that if a portion of dead animal constant clash and union of molecule of or vegetable matter be placed at a low oxygen with molecule of carbon in the temperature, it keeps for a considerable blood lies the mainspring of all animal time; and we have evidence of dead motion; the motion of the heart itself is animals which, clothed in thick ribbed ice, secondary to that. Destroy that union, have been retained free from putrefaction however slightly, and the balance is lost, for centuries. Those ghastly bodies that and the organic body is, in a plain word, occupy the dead-house of Mount St. ill. Bernard on the Alps have lost water by Cold, or decreased temperature, below evaporation, and are dried; but they are a given standard, which for sake of not putrid: they are preserved by cold, comparison we may take at which means absence of heat. Hence of 55° Fahrenheit, does destroy this we say that cold is an antiseptic as alcohol combination of oxygen and carbon in is, and chloroform, and ammonia, and blood. In the Lettsomian lectures of creasote, and sulphurous acid, and other the Medical Society of London, delivsimilar substances. Cold is an antiseptic, ered four years ago,

I entered

very fully then, but why? Because it prevents, as into this subject, and illustrated points do the bodies named a moment ago, the of it largely by experiment. Since then union of oxygen gas with combustible I have done more, and although I have matter. The molecules of oxygen, in not time here to state the details of these order that they shall combine, and in researches, I will epitomize the principal their combination evolve heat, require to facts. I found then that, by exposing be distributed, and are distributed by the blood in chambers into which air could force or motion known as heat: deprive pass in and out, the blood could be oxithem of this force, and they come into dized at temperatures of 70° if the discommunion with themselves, are attracted tribution of air and blood were effectuto each other, and lose to the extent of ally secured, and I also found a given this attraction their power of combining standard of oxidation from a given temwith the molecules of other bodies for perature. Then I proceeded to test for which they have an affinity. In an an- combination at lower temperatures, and alogous, but more obvious way, we may discovered a gradually decreasing scale see the same effect of motion in the until I arrived at 40° Fahr., when commicroscopic examination of blood. In bination ceased altogether. Of course, the blood, while it is circulating briskly my method was a very rude imitation of in its vessels, there are distributed through nature, but it was sufficient to show this it, without contact with each other, mil- fair and reliable result, that the oxidation lions of small round bodies, called blood of blood is arrested as the temperature corpuscles. In the circulation in the free of the

oxygen

decreases. channels of the body, the arteries and From this point I went to animal life veins, it is motion that keeps these cor- itself

. I exposed animals to pure cold

oxygen and to cold atmospheric air, and cold. The whole of the soft parts shrink, compared the results with other experi- and the vessels contract and empty themments in which animals of similar weight selves of their blood. Cold applied to and kind were exposed to warm air and the skin in an extreme degree blanches warm oxygen. The facts gleaned were the skin, and renders it insensible and most important, for they proved conclu- bloodless. If we prick it, it does not sively that the products of combustion, bleed, neither does it feel. In cases that is to say, the products resulting where the body altogether is exposed to from the union of oxygen and carbon, extreme cold, this shrinking of the exterwere reduced in proportion as the tem-nal parts is universal: the whole surface perature of the oxygen was reduced. In is pale and insensible; the blood in the the course of this inquiry another singu- small vessels superficially placed is forced lar and instructive fact was elicited. It inwards upon the heart and vessels of has been long known that at ordinary the interior organs; the brain is optemperature, say 60°, pure neutral oxy- pressed with blood; sleep, or coma, as it gen does not support animal life so well is technically called, follows, and at last as oxygen that is diluted with nitrogen. life is suspended. In the nitrogen the molecules of oxygen In exposure to the lowest wave of are more freely distributed under the in- | temperature in this country these exfluence of motion, that is the meaning treme effects are not commonly develof the observed fact. What, then, would oped: but minor effects are brought out be the respective influence of low and which are most significant. In particuhigh temperatures on the respiration of lar, the effect on the lungs is marked. pure oxygen ? To settle this question, The capillary vessels of the lungs, of animals of the same size, kind, and that fine network which plays over the weight were placed in equal measures of computed six hundred millions of air oxygen gas and common air at a temper- vesicles, undergo rapid contraction when ature of 20° Fahr., and with the inevi- the cold air enters the lungs; in proportable result that the animal in the pure tion as such contraction is decisive, the oxygen ceased to respire one-third soon- blood that should be brought to the air er than did the animal in common air. ' vesicles is cut off, and the process of oxCarrying the inquiry further, I found idation is thus mechanically as well as that if the oxygen gas were warmed to chemically suppressed. The same con50° Fahr., the respiration was continued traction is also exerted on the vessels of six times as long as in the previous ex- the skin, driving the blood into the inperiment, while if the warming were terior and better protected organs. Hence carried 70° it was sustained twenty-, the reason why on leaving a warm room four times as long.

to enter a cold frosty air there is an imI need not carry this argument fur- mediate action of the renal organs from ther ; it is the easiest of the demonstra- pressure of blood on them, and not untive facts of physiological science that frequently a tendency to diarrhea from the reduction of temperature lessens the temporary congestion of the digestive combining power of oxygen for blood, tract. Three factors then are at work and therewith causes a reduction of ani- whenever the low wave of temperature mal force, and a tendency to arrest of surrounds the animal organism: abstracthat force, death.

1

tion of heat from the body, and beyond The third element in the action of cold what is natural; arrest of chemical acis purely mechanical, and though in a tion and of combustion; mechanical consense secondary is of immense import. traction of the vessels most exposed. When any body, which is capable of ex We cannot view the extent of these pansion by heat, that is to say, by radiant changes in the organic life, as induced motion of its own particles, is reduced by the low wave of heat, without seeing in temperature, it loses volume, and con- at once the sweep of mischief which extracts or shrinks. The animal body is no posure to the wave may effect. It exexception to this rule: a ring that will erts an influence on healthy life in the fit tightly on the warm finger will fall middle-aged man, and I know of no disoff the same finger after exposure to ease which it does not influence disas

trously. Is the man healthy, it tends to same way: the exposed mucous surfacos produce internal congestion; has he a of the nose and throat are subjected to weak point in the vascular system of his a chill ; then they are subjected to heat; brain, it renders that point liable to then there is congestion, reaction of heat, pressure and rupture, with apoplexy as pouring out of fluid matter, and all the the sequence; is he suffering from bron- other local phenomena. chial disease, and obstruction already in The wave of low temperature rolling his air passages, here is a means by over a given population finds inevitably which the evils are doubled; has he a a certain number of persons of all ages feeble worn heart, it is unable to bear and conditions on whom to exert its the pressure that is put upon it; has he power. It catch s them too often when partial obstruction of the kidney circu- they least expect it. An aged man, with lation, he is threatened with complete sluggish heart, go s to bed and reclines obstruction; is he indifferently fed, he to sleep in a temperature say of 50° or 55°. is attacked with diarrhæa. It is from In his sleep, were it quite uninfluenced this extent of action that the mortality from without, his heart and his breathing of all diseases runs up so fast, when the would naturally decline. Gradually, as low wave of heat rolls over the popula- the night advances, th · low wave of heat tion, taking, as we have seen, the fee- steals over the sleepe., and the air he blest first.

was breathing at 55° falls and falls to Another danger sometimes follows 40°, or it may be to 350 or 30°. What which is remote, but may be fatal, even may naturally follow less than a deeper to persons who are in health. It is one sleep? Is it not natural that the sleep so of the best known facts in science that profound shall stop the laboring heart? when a part of the outer surface of the Certainly. The great narcotic never body has been exposed long to cold, the travels without fastening on some' vicgreatest risk is run in trying suddenly to tims in this wise, removing them imperwarm it. The vessels become rapidly ceptibly to themselves, into absolute rest, dilated, their coats give way, and ex- inertia, until life recommences out of treme congestion follows. But what is death. true of the skin is true equally, and with The study of the physiological inflamore practical force, of the lungs. A ence of the wave of low heat, and of its man, a little below par, goes out when relation to the wave of mortality, sugthe wave of temperature is low, and gests two series of thoughts. feels oppressed, cold, weak, and misera In the first place, it leads to ask, what ble; the circulation through his lungs are the best means of meeting the wave has been suppressed, and he is not oxi- of low temperature? Necessarily all dizing: he returns to a warm place, he rules will be but imperfect, even though rushes to the fire, breathes eagerly and they be carried out perfectly; but there long the heated air, and adds perchance are a few which are simple, easy to be to the warmth by taking a cup of hot remembered, and of value. drink; then he goes to bed, and wakes (a.) Clothing is the first thing to atin a few hours with what is called pneu- tend to: to have the body, during variamonia, or with bronchitis, or with both ble weather, such as now obtains, well diseases. What has happened? The enveloped from head to foot in non-consimple physical fact of reaction under ducting woollen substance is essential : too sudden an exposure to heat after ex- who neglects this precaution is guilty of posure to cold. "The capillaries of the a grievous error, and who helps the poor lungs have become engorged, and the cir- to clothe in flannel does more for them culation static, so that there must be re-than can readily be conceived without action of heat — inflammation-before careful attention to the subject we have recovery can occur. Nearly all bronchial discussed in all its details. affections are induced in this manner, (6) In sitting-rooms or in bed-rooms not always or necessarily in the acute it is equally essential to maintain an form, but more frequently by slow de- equable temperature; a fire in a bedgrees, by repetition and repetition of the room is of first value at this season, and evil. Common colds are taken in this he who can invent an apparatus that

would sustain a small bed-room fire in an of the public towards the labors of medopen grate all night, would be a true ical men, who have to meet the effects of benefactor to his race, and soon a rich the low wave of heat. The public, lookbenefactor to boot. The fire sustains ing on the doctor as a sort of mystic or the external warmth, encourages venti- high priest who ought to save, are too lation, and gives health not less than often dissatisfied with his work. Let comfort.

the dissatisfied think of what is meant by (c.) In going from a warm into a cold saving, when there is a sudden fall in the atmosphere, in breasting the wave of low thermometer. Let them recall that it is temperature, no one can harm by start- not bronchitis as a cause of death, nor ing forth thoroughly warm. A cup to apoplexy, nor heart disease, as such, that keep out the cold, may be added also with the doctor is asked to oppose, but an alladvantage. But in returning from the pervading influence which overwhelms cold into the warm, the act should al- like the sea, and against which, in the ways be accomplished gradually, and the mass, individual effort stands paralyzed cup to relieve the cold should be scrupu- and helpless. When the doctor is sumlously avoided. This important rule moned, the mischief has at least commay be readily borne in mind by con- menced, and, it may be, is over, while necting it with the recollection of the treatment by mere medicines sinks in fact that the only safe mode of curing a every case into secondary significance. frozen nose is to rub it with ice, and to Writing now to the public and not to restore the temperature as slowly as the profession, I am of all things anxpossible.

ious to place this last part of my subject (d.). The wave of low temperature re- forcibly before them,

that they may quires to be met by good, nutricious, know how to be charitable to those who warm food. Heat-forming foods, such are called upon to minister to health, and as bread, sugar, butter, and potatoes, are, may not laugh down those ministers who in moderation, of special use now. It are candid enough to bow humbly before would be against science and instinct the great and inevitable truth, and who, alike to omit such foods when the body professing no specific cure by nostrum, requires waste heat urgently and abun- or symbol, try to lead towards recovery dantly.

by teaching elementary principles, and (e.) It is an entire mistake to suppose by making the unlearned the participathat the wave of cold is neutralized in tors in their own learning. any sense by the use of alcoholics. When The title of this paper, suggested to a glass of hot brandy-and-water warms me by the accomplished editor of the the cold man, the credit belongs to the POPULAR SCIENCE REVIEW, would afford hot water, and any discredit that may scope for a much more elaborate essay. follow, to the brandy. So far from alco- Waves of high temperature have their hol meeting the cold in action, it goes specific influence also, encouraging some with it; alcohol stops oxidation, and diseases and arresting others. I must not acts as an antiseptic, so does cold; alco- be tempted here to enter on this wider hol stops generation of heat, and there- field, but catching the very cold inwith the motion of the heart in the living spiration of this season, must perforce, animal, because it stops oxidation, and sternly as my mistress Nature herself, cold does the self-same thing.

leave the good reader to console himself, (1:) Excessive exercise of the body, as best he may, with that which is before and overwork either of body or of mind, him. should be avoided, specially during those seasons, when a sudden fall of temperature is of frequent occurrence.

THE TUILERIES. haustion, whether physical or mental, means loss of motion in the organism; How magnificent is the aspect if we and loss of motion is equivalent to, nay, station ourselves by the Arc de la Triis the same as, loss of heat.

omphe, and look down the long avenue In the second place, the subject of this of the Champs Elysées! Beyond the paper has some reference to the bearing Obelisk and statuary and fountains of

ܪ

Leisure Hours.

For ex

« AnteriorContinuar »