Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

of the entrances, and heavy feet may be heard making the wooden THE HABITATIONS OF THE POOR.

stairs to creak ; here reside the Paddy Kews, and the Bill Sikeses, Many years ago, we were a juvenile auditor amongst a crowded the Dennis O'Raffertys, and the Artful Dodgers, who assist in assembly in the chapel of a provincial town, listening, with eager maintaining our vast judicial establishment-our judges, and our attention, to the statements of a well-known African traveller. barristers, and our attorneys, in active employment. Is it summer All that he then uttered has faded from our recollection, with the evening, and are you pensively inclined ? Come here, and have exception of a single incident in the discourse. Speaking of the your ideas of the nature which you wear cast down to the ground degradation of Africa, and its deficiency in even the very elements and fit to be trampled under foot - for out of some passage a of civilization, the reverend traveller lifted the open Bible from the number of men, women and children, may rush, some covered pulpit cushion, and told his audience that the streets of Latakoo with blood, others fighting like furies, while the howlings, yells, were no wider than that. If the manner as well as the matter of and cries, make the place seem an abode of demons. Or is it a this fact struck the audience as it did the writer, the impression Monday or a Tuesday morning, and have you ascended a little made must be numbered amongst those which are called indelible. higher? Groups of men and women, evidently of the lowest rank

Let us suppose an intelligent native of Latakoo or Timbuctoo in society, are standing along the edge of the narrow pavement. balting at the foot of that great thoroughfare, Holborn Hill, and Is there some procession about to pass ? It is only the customary venturing to peep up narrow, crooked, notorious FIELD LANE. collection, awaiting to see the prisoners proceeding by the back way “ Here," he might exclaim, “in the greatest, the noblest, the to Hatton-Garden Police-Office. But what is this curious machine mightiest capital of the world, is a street which reminds me of my that rumbles through the narrow street ? It seems a compound of Intive town! It is crooked, turns round with a fine curve; narrow, the hearse and the omnibus- too slightly constructed as a conso that two persons can hardly pass without jostling each other ; veyance for prize oxen, or as one of the waggons of a menagerie busy, like the busy thoroughfare of a great metropolis !” Yes! -yet built for animals of some kind ; for though no windows are stranger, fear not to enter Field Lane! Once on a time, you in the sides, light and air are admitted through a grating on the might have been dragged into a Jew's den, hustled, or teased : top. Mark the driver,he is in uniform, and drives soberly; the but there is no danger now; the invisible strong arm of the law conductor behind is also in uniform ; his hand is on the handle of follows you along Field Lane. Here, as yon perceive, is a type the carefully-shut door, and he does not look around for passengers. or a memorial of those streets of London of the olden time, along Nothing appears on the vehicle to indicate its nature, save the which Great Plagues walked, or over which Great Fires triumphed. royal arms and “V. R."—the mystery is revealed, it carries a Standing in the centre of this famous alley, you can almost touch cargo to the House of Correction ! the houses on either side_those old dingy, dirty, tumble-down What connexion is there between dirt and crime? between a wooden houses, toppling towards each other. Their basements tumble-down house and moral degradation? Does Spitalfields are occupied by old clothesmen, or rather old ragmen, dealers in supply the Central Criminal Court with as many subjects as rusty locks and pails, and polishers of old boots and shoes. But Saffron Hill or St. Giles ? Is the mind as well as the body under stay—there seems to be some kind of obstruction a little way up the influence of a puddle and tainted air? Does cleanliness rank the alley. Banners of many.coloured hues and patterns are next to godliness ? Scotland has long held a conjoined character, floating over-head, and shut up the vista—are these the banners and has been famous for orderly habits and dirty ones; and in of some knight-errant order, and is this the chapel royal where its Ireland, where too many live in mud hovels, and huddle together, installations are held ? Venture further, and fear not; these the standard of female personal character is comparatively high. banners are those convenient affairs without which a man scarcely But in London, the chief abodes of vice as well as misery, of crime feels himself a man, and the corner of one of which, projecting from as well as poverty, have ever been its dirty, dingy, squalid spots. the coat pocket, was formerly the sign of a fop or a fool. The The mazes of the Seven Dials and of St. Giles, lying like a breakvendors will sell you one, cheap, if you can deal with them—but water between the "east" and the “west” ends ; squalid Tothill ask them no questions respecting the merchants who supply them Street and its neighbours, within a stone-throw of venerable with their stock !

Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament ; Saffron Hill, Suddenly Field Lane terminates in a street somewhat wider than or Spitalfields, or Ratcliffe Highway, or Rosemary Lane, names the paved alley through which we have come. This street boasts which are each the representatives of a congeries of low and a little slip of pavement on either side, and a morsel of causeway miserable lanes, alleys, and streets, are all notorious for whatever in the centre. Its width lets in more of heaven's light and air sinks man into something worse than a beast. They are “Sloughs than can fall down on Field Lane--but this only serves to reveal of Despond,” that mending seems only to mar ; where inexmore fully the dingy, squalid, filthy aspect of the place. It rises perience, and modesty, and ingenuousness, are too apt to disappear, up an eminence, and is known as Saffron Hill-strange, that like and then to rise again to the surface, changed into rioting, drunken. Rosemary Lane, some of the filthiest spots of London should ness, recklessness, shameless effrontery, and dextrous cunning. have name and nature standing as antipodes! Inhabitants, not The labouring classes,” says the prospectus of the Society for native, nor yet“ to the manner born,” may be scen standing at some bettering the Habitations of the Industrious Poor, "are, in most

VOL. I.

Bradbury and Brans, Printers, Whitefriars.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

cases, densely congregated (one house being usually inhabited by houses, but crouching in some excavation, made perhaps in a heap several families) in the alleys, courts, and lanes of the metropolis. of rubbish. Their dwellings, owing in some cases to the poverty, in others to These, it may be said, are anomalies in our civilisation, blots the vicious habits, of their occupants, are, for the most part, de. on our social condition ; but they are inevitable in our present void of cleanliness, order, or comfort. Some families, indeed, state of society, and their removal must only be waited for in its enjoy the comparative luxury of a separate day and sleeping-room; gradual progress and amelioration. Look, it may be added, at but the great majority possess only a single apartment, which is all that has been already done; compare the condition of the at once the day-room and the common sleeping-place of parents labourer of the present generation with that of his predecessor; and children. Others, in a more destitute condition, are still more and see the great changes that have been effected in the outward densely congregated, several families occupying the same room ; condition and aspect of our large towns. We are quite aware of an arrangement necessarily productive, not only of bodily disease, all this; and, to our minds, it is an additional inducement for but of a still more baneful moral contagion, the diseased and the active and extraordinary exertions to remove the evils that still healthy being crowded together, and the young and innocent exist. English society has within it materials for a tremendous brought into immediate association with the hardened and aban- explosion. We are fast advancing to a state of active revolution. doned.

Far would we be from enacting the worse than useless part of a “But a closer and more circumstantial knowledge of the exist- mere alarmist-of shouting “Wolf! wolf!” or proclaiming falsely ing condition and manner of living of the working classes, may that there is a lion in the street. But the rapid growth of our be obtained from the following results of a laborious investigation, ropulation—the disjunction and determined opposition of great lately instituted in one of the districts of the parish of Marylebone, masses-the extraordinary ignorance that yet prevails amongst namely, that, in 315 houses which were visited, the number of large sections of the population I-are all calculated to make families was 915; the number of families in which there were thoughtful minds look forward with anxiety. Hitherto the vital children, 578 ; the number of children, 1575. The habitations energy of that great and influential portion of British society, the generally had a bare, desolate, and untidy appearance; nothing Middle Classes, has carried us safely through the changes and had an appropriate place. There were 510 children who went to

alterations that have taken place. As long as that heart of school, and 1065 who did not. Of the girls who had learnt to England remains sound, we need fear no evil. But the middle sew and wash, there were 492, and 227 who had not; the number of classes are exposed to the action of circumstances calculated to children bringing up to some trade was 160, and no less than 1415 impair their strength and vigour. We have no right to expect who were not; 349 families appeared cleanly and healthy ; 175 that they will continue to present an effectual resisting medium to dirty, but healthy ; 53 dirty, and unhealthy ; 58 much distressed; the accumulating pressure from below; and our only effectual 513 had a good supply of water, and 64 had not. Drains, sewers, remedy is at once boldly to descend, and examine the nature and and pavings, were wholly wanting in some of the courts and extent of that evil, which may otherwise roll its dark and turba. alleys.

lent waters over the whole structure of our civilisation. “In one district, called the Hell, there was a large unoccupied A society has been formed, which proposes to take effectual piece of land before the houses, full of mud, manure, and stagnant measures for “ bettering the habitations of the industrious poor” water ; 324 families were here living in airy rooms, and 249 in in the metropolis. The idea is admirable. The condition of the confined rooms; there appeared to be a general ignorance on the habitations of a people is a grand test of their state of civilisation. subject of ventilation : although the air in many of the rooms was

Were the nests and rookeries of large towns pulled down, and impure in the highest degree, so as to be extremely disagreeable their places supplied by comfortable habitations, adapted to the to those entering them, the parents seemed to he seldom alive to resources of the working classes, a vast improvement would be the propriety of opening a window. But there one fact, of a made on their whole moral, mental, and physical character. But character which cannot but be peculiarly afflicting to those who how is this to be accomplished ? Certainly, not by the classes hear it; out of 578 families with children, 308 were found to be themselves. Setting aside the helplessness of their position, they occupying only one room, and consequently father, 'mother, have received but a very small share of that knowledge so widely brothers, and sisters, were all sleeping together!" It is added, that diffused amongst the middle classes, and which has taught them other facts could be related of an equally demoralizing tendency, the means of remedying evils formerly tolerated as part and even with regard to children of the tenderest years, but that they parcel of their existence. As little are wė to expect that the are of a character unfit for publication.

improvement will proceed from the landlords of St. Giles or Such is one feature of this “great metropolis ;" a city not only Saffron-hill. “ With respect to the rents paid for their miserable great in its extent, but great in its charities—a city crowded with accommodation, it may be observed, that the lodging-houses of churches, and chapels, and hospitals, a great central dépôt of the the labouring classes are now generally in the hands of persons world's benevolence, enterprise, and humanity! Other large who lease the whole and sub-let the rooms at weekly rates, vary. cities of this most Christian kingdom present, according to their ing from 1s. 6d. to 4s., and even as high as 5s., each ; a price respective sizes, and the variable nature of their population, which is calculated to be double the sum paid for similar accom. similar incongruities. Birmingham and Manchester, Leeds and modation by the higher classes, who enjoy the additional adranLiverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow, contain deplorable contrasts ; | tages of a more convenient house in a superior situation. It has but Dublin, as might be expected, exhibits them in shocking been ascertained, for instance, that a house in the parish of opposition. Under the walls of the “ Castle” lie streets more Marylebone, costing in annual rent and taxes 431., produces, equalid, more filthy, and more deplorable, than even those of the when let off in rooms at weekly rents, the sum of 611. 106.; filthiest part of St. Giles; while the stranger cannot walk in any yielding to the first lessee a profit of 211. 108. A smaller house, quarter without being incessantly reminded of the abject and costing the lessee 121. per annum, «ent and taxes, readily prohelpless poverty of a very large body of the inhabitants. There, duces 201. per annum, when let off, as before stated. In the first too, may be seen human beings—-creatures bearing the shape and instance, therefore, the profit is one-half; and, in the second, name of man-liviog, not in damp cellars, nor yet in ruined two-thirds of the original rent.

WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN!*

BY THE LATE L. E. L.

We might have been !--these are but common words,

And yet they make the sum of life's bewailing;
They are the echo of those finer chords,
Whose music life deplores, when unavailing.

We might have been !

We might have been so happy, says the child,

Pent in the weary school.room during summer, When the green rushes, 'mid the marshes wild, And rosy fruits attend the radiant comer,

We might have been !

It is the thought that darkens on our youth,

When first experience—sad experience-teaches What fallacies we have believed for truth, And what few truths endeavour ever reaches.

We might have been !

Alas ! how different from what we are,

Had we but known the bitter path before us; But feeling, hopes, and fancies, left afar, What in the wide bleak world can e'er restore us?

We might have been !

It is the motto of all human things,

The end of all that waits on mortal seeking ; The weary weight upon Hope's flagging wings; It is the cry of the worn heart, while breaking

We might have been !

“ These high charges, of which, be it observed, the vicious are the principal cause, and the well-conducted the victims, are necessarily made, not only in consequence of the frequency with which the weekly rents are wholly evaded by the lodger, but to cover the expense of repairing or replacing fixtures damaged or destroyed by tenants of careless or profligate character. Indeed, so great is the loss sustained on property of this nature, that the owner of a number of four-rooined houses in Marylebone parish, let in lodgings, under the present system, wearied out by the uncertainties of payment, and by the continual outlay caused by wanton destruction, lately offered the whole on a repairing-lease for the mere ground-rents, thus at once consenting to sink the entire cost of the erection and fittings of the dwellings."

We know nothing whatever of the infant society, whose prospectus has led us into writing the remarks we have made. Much perseverance, much caution, and much skill, will be requisite in the conducting of the experiment. We are not very sanguine about its success. But if it goes straightforward in its plan ; if it carefully eschews any attempt to convert the society into a political engine, and avoids all attempts to patronise or manage its tenants, or to undermine the natural independence of character which should be cherished, then we cordially wish it success.

“ It is intended that the society shall take, on lease, some courts, alleys, or small streets, conveniently situated, and as far isolated as possible from the influence of evil association. The houses in the first instance are to be thoroughly repaired and drained; and provided with every requisite for due ventilation and warmtb, together with such accommodation, as to cupboards, shelves, &c., as may contribute, at small expense, to the reasonable comfort of the tenants.

"The houses thus prepared are intended to be opened for the reception of weekly lodgers, on such a scale of rents as may be compatible with the expenses and liabilities of the society. And as it may be presumed that a respectable society, becoming the responsible tenant, and sub-letting the dwellings to persons of good character only, could obtain them at a rate somewhat lower than the present rent, it follows that the tenants of the society may reap a corresponding advantage.

The immediate object of this society, then, is to provide for the descrving poor, at a rate somewhat below the current rents, apartments of an improved description, arranged and conducted with a careful reference to the health, comfort, and morals of their occupants. In effecting this desirable object, the society's operations cannot fail to act as a premium on good conduct in the working classes generally, even beyond the circle of those more immediately benefited. They will teach a great moral lesson, in a form palpable to the senses of those whom they cannot directly influence, by connecting solid advantages with good conduct, and thus stamp such a value upon character, as will encourage the well-disposed to persevere in a respectable course, and prove an inducement to the idle and vicious to forsake habits of life pregnant with degradation and suffering.

" It is hoped that an institution of this kind will be considered peculiarly adapted to the present day, since the prominent aim of recent legislation for the poor has been to eradicate the demoralising system of voluntary pauperism, and to mature a healthy freling of self-respect, and an honourable determination to look to the fruits of industry alone for subsistence."

We are reluctant to make promises : but there are necessarily a variety of subjects which, on their first introduction into a periodical snch as ours, can only be briefly discussed, leaving details to future articles. The “ Habitations of the Poor" is one of those subject

And when, warm with the Heaven that gave it birth,

Dawns on our world-worn way Love's hour Elysium, The last fair angel lingering on our earth, The shadow of that thought obscures the vision,

We might have been !

A cold fatality attends on love,

Too soon, or else too late, the heart-beat quickens ; The star which is our fate springs up above, And we but say-while round the vapour thickens

We might have been !

Life knoweth no like misery,—the rest

Are single sorrows, --but in this are blended All sweet emotions that disturb the breast : The light that was our loveliest is ended.

We might have been !

Henceforth how much of the full heart must be

A sealed book, at whose contents we tremble ? A still voice mutters, 'mid our misery, The worst to hear-because it must dissemble

We might have been !

Life is made up of miserable hours;

And all of which we craved a brief possessing, For which we wasted wishes, hopes, and powers, Comes with some fatal drawback on the blessing.

We might have been !

The future never renders to the past

The young beliefs intrusted to its keeping. Inscribe one sentence-life's first truth, and last, On the pale marble where our dust is sleeping

We might have been!

* From the New Monthly Magazine,

cess.

So long as the living principle is vigorous, they, within a certain THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN

range, are rendered subservient to it, -nor, indeed, could life be FRAME.

otherwise maintained. This remarkable characteristic of organisa. All living bodies, whether vegetable or animal, are composed of tion is also the result of the functions of the organs of organic life. organs (instruments), that is, of parts having a determinate The materials out of which nutriment (that is, the matter which structure and form, and performing specific functions or actions, develops and maintains the body) is elaborated, are called food. thus giving rise to the phenomena which collectively are denomi. The food of vegetables consists of inorganic matter, chiefly air nated life. For example, the heart is an organ, the function of and water. That of animals is derived from the organic world, which is the circulation of the blood. Anatomy is the science either vegetable or animal, the food of man being of both kinds. which relates to organs ; Physiology, to functions; the one is the To extract from the food those portions of it which are fit to science of organisation, the other of life.

become incorporated with the body, is the office of one set of the Organs are divided into two classes, differences in the functions organs of organic life, to which the name digestive (separating) has they perform being the basis of the classification. Some functions been given. have for their purpose the support and protection of the individual The mouth and teeth perform the first part of the digestive pro. being and the perpetuation of its species : others are subservient In the mouth the food is divided into minute fragments by to sensation and voluntary motion. Taken collectively, the func- means of the teeth, the muscles of the lower jaw, and the tongue, tions of the former class are designated by the expression, “organic and is mixed with various fluids, the chief of which is saliva. life ;' those of the latter by the expression, animal life.The food, having thus been reduced into soft pulp, passes Organic life (which is sometimes, and, in our opinion, with less down the æsophagus or gullet into the stomach, a membranous ambiguity, denominated, vegetative life) is possessed by all bag, capable in the adult of holding about three pints, and situated organised beings, vegetables as well as animals,-hence its name.

in the upper part of the abdomen. There it is exposed to the Animal life is so called because it is characteristic of animals alone, action of the gastric juice, a fluid secreted (that is, separated from vegetables being altogether destitute of sensation and the power of the blood") by the minute blood-vessels of the internal lining of the spontaneous motion.

stomach, or mucous coat. The gastric juice is universally conThis distinction between the two great divisions of the organic sidered by physiologists to be the principal agent in effecting the world occasions important formal differences between them even changes which the food undergoes in the stomach, consisting in In those points in relation to which they essentially agree. It is the complete dissolution and intimate mixture of all its component evident, for example, that the nutritive organs of beings which particles; so that, however numerous and varied may have been the move from place to place must vary considerably from those pos articles eaten, they are converted into a mass perfectly homogeneous, sessed by beings which remain fixed in the same spot and are con- that is, possessing in all its parts the same sensible qualities, stantly in contact with their food, as is the case with vegetables. though, of course, partaking of the character of the food from All the parts of an organised being are closely connected with, and which it is formed. This new product, the result of the second exert great influence upon one another, and therefore each must stage of the process of digestion, is called chyme. be formed in reference to all the rest, in order that they may co- As the chyme is gradually formed from the food in contact with operate harmoniously. In the animal, the organic functions are the mucous coat, it is carried by the contrac!ions of the muscular subordinate to those of the animal life, and are modified in ac. coats towards the right extremity of the stomach, where it accucordance with them. Nevertheless, the former are carried on mulates until admitted through the pyloric orifice into the first independently of the latter, and sometimes even after they have intestine or duodenum, so named on account of its usual length, wholly ceased. The heart may continue to beat, although the brain, / which is about twelve inches. the organ of sensation, has become incapable of performing its This chamber is a second stomach, which continues the process office. The organic life, on the contrary, is essential to the animal: commenced in the first. It is assisted by two organs of considerable the instant the vegetative functions stop, animal life is destroyed. magnitude, the pancreas and liver, the former lying immediately It rests upon the organic—the organic is independent and original. behind the stomach, and resting upon the spinal column, the latter

Gradual development is one of the characteristics of organised situated on the right side of the abdomen, above and in front of beings. Unlike mere matter, which, so far as our observation the pyloric extremity of the stomach. Both these organs belong extends, has neither commencement nor end, their individual to that class of the organs denominated glands, whose functions existence has a clearly marked beginning as well as termination. consist in the separation of peculiar fluids from the blood, which Small and feeble at first, it is only by degrees, in many instances are used for various purposes in the animal economy, and of which by exceedingly slow degrees, that they attain their full size and saliva and tears are well-known examples. The secretion of the vigour. The acorn is an organised body, the germ of the future pancreas is called the pancreatic juice, that of the liver, the bile. oak. It contains the yet feeble living principle, and the rudiments These fluids are slowly, drop by drop, conveyed by small tubes or of the organs which in process of time will attain the strength and ducts into the duodenum, and perform an important part in the magnificent development of the mighty tree, formed to endure changes effected in the chyme. for centuries, and successfully to resist the operation of the all. The duodenum secretes a fluid which possesses a solvent power powerful elements. It is long before the weak and helpless infaut analogous to that of the gastric juice. By its admixture with this becomes the powerful man: the change from one state to the other and the two above-mentioned secretions, all of which are highly is so gradual as to be almost unobserved. In both these instances animalized, the chyme is brought nearer the chemical constitution the phenomena referred to consist in the increase of the size of the of the blood, and the separation of its nutritive from the excre. organs composing the body. To prepare the materials thus dis- mentitious portions appears to be facilitated. Soon after it is posed of, and to arrange them in their proper order, is one of the mixed with the bile, the compound separates into a whitish functions of organic life.

tenacious fluid called chyle, which is the nutritive essence of the No function can be performed without waste of the substance food, and into a yellowish grey pulp, its useless refuse. The of the organ by wbich it is carried on: hence, but for compensa- chemical qualities of the chyle differ in an important respect from tory processes, organised beings, instead of increasing or main those of chyme; the latter is acid, the former alkaline. It is this taining their bulk, would be in a state of incessant decay and change which assimilates it to the blood. diminution. The constituent particles of all living bodies are in The motions of the duodenum are irregular—first in one direction, a perpetual flux: every instant old particles are carried out of the then in another; yet gradually they propel its contents into the system and new particles are brought into it. The functions by second portion of the small intestines or jejunum, whence they means of which the compensation above mentioned is effected, are pass into the last or ileum. The inner or mucous coat of these the same in kind, though differing in degree, as those which tubes, especially of the former, is disposed in folds, which serre develop the germ and bestow upon it the proportions of maturity. the double purpose of affording a greater absorbing surface and of

All forms of being existing on the surface of our globe are ex- retarding the progress of the chyle, so that none may be lost. posed to the action of physical agents, and are subject to the These folds are thickly studded with innumerable absorbent vessels, operation of physical laws. Air, water, light, heat, cold, electricity, the mouths of which, so small as to be invisible to the unassisted are constantly at work, disorganising some bodies and recon- eye, open on the surface of the intestines and take up the chyle. structing others. The hardest rock is not exempt from their These vessels are exceedingly minute, and composed of membranous destroying influence. The process may not be perceptible, yet it coats, so transparent that the colour of their contents is distinctly gradually moulders away beneath their united operation, and enters seen through them, from which circumstance they derive their into new combinations. Yet the most fragile plant or the minutest name, lacteals or milky-vessels. The lacteals penetrate the coats animal modifies the action of these seemingly resistless elements. I of the intestines, and, gradually converging, at length unite and

1

form the thoracic duct, by which the elaborated chyle is conveyed by means of its vital power, attracts from the blood flowing through upwards through the thorax or chest, and poured into the left it those particles with which it has a chemical affinity : bony parsubclavian rein. Thence it passes into the superior vena cava, ticles are not deposited in the brain, nor the constituents of muscle which conveys it to the right side of the heart.

in the bones :-each tissue receives those ingredients only of the Meantime, the innutritious portion of the food, mingled with blood of which it is itself composed. It is this conversion of blood various avimal substances, no longer fit to remain in the system, into structure which constitutes the process of nutrition. At the enters the large intestines, along which it is slowly moved by the same time particles which had formed part of the living structure, action of their muscular coats; and every particle of nutriment but have lost their vital properties and become noxious, being having been extracted from it by absorbing vessels, which exist, in separated from the structures with which they had been connected, greater or less abundance, in all parts of the intestines, the residue are poured into the blood, either to be conveyed out of the system is expelled from the body.

or to be renovated. We have thus traced the changes which food undergoes in the Where the arteries terminate, the veins begin : the blood passes digestive organs, extracting its nutritive portions and assimilating into them to be carried back to the heart. Veins differ in several them to the blood, and have followed the course of the chyle until | important respects from arteries: they are more capacious, and it mingles with the vital current. Another change is yet necessary, though composed of an equal number of coats essentially the same however, to render that fluid capable of supporting life. Before in structure, are much thinner, and destitute of elasticity. The we explain this final process of digestion, it will be convenient to inmost coat of most veins is formed into numerous folds, which serve give an account of the blood and its circulation; the process which for valves and prevent the return of the blood. completes the elaboration of fresh nutriment also exercises a most Converging from all parts of the body, the veins at length unite important influence upon the perfectly formed blood.

to form two large vessels, the superior and inferior venæ cavæ, Blood is the fluid by which life is supported : its elaboration which meet at the entrance of the right auricle of the heart, into from food, and its maintenance in a pure and healthy state, is the which they discharge their contents along with the newly-formed object of the combined operation of nearly all the organs of organic nutriment, and thus the greater or systemic circulation is completed. life. In proportion as these grand processes are performed well The blood brought back differs widely, however, from that which or ill, the entire animal economy enjoys good or suffers ill health. was sent from the left side of the heart. In its course through Though apparently a simple fluid, blood is in reality one of the the body it has undergone changes of a very striking kind. Inmost complex substances with which we are acquainted, composed, stead of the bright scarlet hue which it possessed in the arteries, according to the most recent analysis, of about twenty distinct in- it is now of a deep dull purple colour; nor is the alteration in its gredients, the elements of all the diversified structures and secre- essential properties less remarkable. Venous blood is not capable tions of the body. The relative proportions of the constituents of of maintaining either the organic or animal life ; it is arterial blood the blood are different in every individual, and in the same individual deprived of its nutritious particles, and loaded with worn-out or at different times. Age, sex, state of health, food, and many other noxious atoms collected from all parts of the body. That it is circumstances, cause them to vary, and every variation affects in inadequate to support life is certain, numerous experiments having some manner the condition of the frame.

been made which conclusively prove that within four minutes It has been already mentioned that loss of substance invariably after the supply of arterial blood is cut off, and venous blood alone attends the action of organs : it is for the purpose of compensating is circulated in the body, life becomes extinct beyond the posthis loss that blood is required. Hence no function can be per- sibility of recovery. formed without the presence of the blood : the brain cannot feel, Now, inasmuch as a quantity of blood equal to the total nor the limbs contract, without a due supply of this, which is quantity contained in the system is propelled from the heart therefore emphatically denominated the vital fluid. The apparatus about twenty times every hour, it is evident that there must by which it is distributed to every part of the body is the next be some contrivance by means of which the vital properties subjeet to be considered.

of arterial blood are restored to venous blood, otherwise no This apparatus consists of two parts, the organ which commu- animal could exist. What that contrivance is, is now to be nicates the impulse to the blood, and those which convey it to and explained. fro. The former is the heart, the latter are the blood-vessels, The principal ingredients in venous blood, the presence of which are divided into two classes, arteries and veins. The heart in which deprives it of its nutritive qualities, are carbon and hydroman is a conical-shaped muscular body, possessing both elastic and gen, the former one of the most extensively diffused elements in contractile powers, and containing four cavities or receptacles for nature, forming the basis of a great number of minerals and of the blood, separated from one another by a most exquisite set of most vegetables ; the latter a gas, the lightest of known bodies, contrivances in the shape of muscular partitions and membranous and one of the elementary substances into which all animal matter valves. To these cavities the names right and left auricle, right is resolvable. Carbon enters largely into the composition of our and left ventricle, have been given ; the functions of which, and of food, and thus gains admittance into the system, where it would the blood vessels, we now proceed to explain.

soon accumulate to excess, and subvert the very foundations of Supposing the blood to be in the left ventricle, we will follow its the animal economy, but for the provision for its expulsion. course from that organ.

The contrivance for restoring to venous blood the vital qualities The muscles which compose the sides of this cavity are the of arterial blood, is simply one for removing from it the carbon thickest and strongest portion of the heart, a circumstance neces- and hydrogen with which it abounds. The manner in which sary to enable it to perform its function of propelling the blood this important object is accomplished is one of the most beauinto the arteries over the whole body. The left ventricle contracts tiful applications of chemical laws with which we are acquainted. four thousand times in an hour, and at each contraction forces The right auricle, into which, as already mentioned, the venous into the great artery or aorta about two ounces of blood. The blood is discharged by the veins, injects it into the right ventricle, aorta gives off several large arteries, which, by their successive whence it is propelled into the pulmonary artery, which divides subdivisions, convey the blood to every part of the body.

into two branches, one going to each lung. The lungs are two Arteries are composed of three layers of membrane, which large oval-shaped bodies, composed of light cellular tissue, situ. together form a tube of great strength and elasticity. It is by ated one on each side of the thorax or chest, with the walls of means of the latter quality that they assist in the circulation ; by which they are in contact, the heart being in the centre. They maintaining a constant pressure upon their contents, they regulate are full of exceedingly minute cells, in which the subdivisions of and render equable the flow of the blood. Arteries successively the trachea or windpipe terminate, so that each cell has free increase in number and diminish in size, each trunk dividing into communication with the atmosphere. On the inner surface of two or more branches, and this subdivision proceeds until the these cells the ultimate ramifications of the pulmonary artery are ultimate arteries or cupillaries are so minute as to be imperceptible spread, forming a net-work of vessels, which, on account of its to the unaided eye. These capillaries penetrate every organ and complexity, is called rete mirabile, the wonderful net-work. Thus tissue *, and are the immediate agents in building up structure, in there are two sets of vessels traversing the substance of the conveying nourishment to the entire frame, and in performing the lungs in all directions, air-vessels and Blood-vessels, the contents function of secretion. They terminate, it is supposed, in canals of which are brought into contact with each other in the airworked out in the substance of the various tissues, each of which, resicles, or cells, above mentioned, which, though contained

within so small a space, are so admirably arranged, and so numeTissue is the name given by physiologists to the various forms of matter rous, as to afford, according to the most moderate estimate, a of which the body is composed the principal tissues are the incinbranous, | surface of 20,000 square inches. Here, also, venous is converted the muscular, and the nervous.

into arterial blood. That our readers may comprehend this change,

« AnteriorContinuar »