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look upon this as certain, that, however much of the more delicate interchange of matter, which takes place within a cell, may not concern the material structure as a whole, yet the real action does proceed from the structure as such, and that the living element only maintains its activity as long as it really presents itself to us as an independent whole.

In this question it is of primary importance (and you will excuse my dwelling a little upon this point, as it is one which is still a matter of dispute) that we should determine what is really to be understood by the term cell. Quite at the beginning of the latest phase of histological development, great difficulties sprang up in crowds with regard to this matter. Schwann, as you no doubt recollect, following immediately in the footsteps of Schleiden, interpreted his observations according to botanical standards, so that all the doctrines of vegetable physiology were invoked, in a greater or less degree, to decide questions relating to the physiology of animal.bodies. Vegetable cells, however, in the light in which they wrere at that time universally, and as they are even now also frequently regarded, are structures, whose identity with what we call animal cells cannot be admitted without reserve.

When we speak of ordinary vegetable cellular tissue, we generally understand thereby a tissue, which, in its most simple and regular form is, in a transverse section, seen to be composed of nothing but four- or six-sided, or, if somewhat looser in texture, of roundish or polygonal bodies, in which a tolerably thick, tough wall (membrane) is always to be distinguished. If now a single one of these bodies be isolated, a cavity is found, enclosed by this tough, angular, or round wall, in the interior of which very different substances, varying according to circumstances, may be deposited, e.g. fat, starch, pigment, albumen (cell-contents). But also, quite independently of these local varieties in the

[graphic]

VEGETABLE CELLS. 5

contents, we are enabled, by means of chemical investigation, to detect the presence of several different substances in the essential constituents of the cells.

The substance which forms the external membrane, and is known under the name of cellulose, is generally found to be destitute of nitrogen, and yields, on the addition of iodine and sulphuric acid, a peculiar, very characteristic, beautiful blue tint. Iodine alone produces no colour; sidphuric acid by itself chars. The contents of simple cells, on the other hand, do not turn blue; when the cell is quite a simple one, there appears, on the contrary, after the addition of iodine and sulphuric acid, a brownish or yellowish mass, isolated in the interior of the cell-cavity as a special body {protoplasma), around which can be recognised a special, complicated, frequently shrivelled membrane (primordial utricle) (fig. 1, c). Even rough chemical analysis generally detects in the simplest cells, in addition to the nonnitrogenized (external) substance, a nitrogenized internal mass; and vegetable physiology seems, therefore, to have been justified in concluding, that what really constitutes a cell is the presence within a non-nitrogenized membrane of nitrogenized contents differing from it.

It had indeed already long been known, that other

Fig. 1. Vegetable cells from the centre of the young shoot of a tuber of Solatium tuberosum, a. The ordinary appearance of the regularly polygonal, thick-walled cellular tissue, b. An isolated cell with finely granular-looking cavity, in which a nucleus with nucleolus is to be seen. c. The same cell after the addition of water; the contents (protoplasma) have receded from the wall (membrane, capsule). Investing them a peculiar, delicate membrane (primordial utricle) has become visible, d. The same cell after a more lengthened exposure to the action of water; the interior cell (protoplasma with the primordial utricle and nucleus) has become quite contracted, and remains attached to the cell-wall (capsule) merely by the means of fine, some of them branching, threads.

things besides existed in the interior of cells, and it was one of the most fruitful of discoveries when Robert Brown detected the nucleus in the vegetable cell. But this body was considered to have a more important share in the formation than in the maintenance of cells, because in very many vegetable cells the nucleus becomes extremely indistinct, and in many altogether disappears, whilst the form of the cell is preserved.

These observations were then applied to the consideration of animal tissues, the correspondence of which with those of vegetables Schwann endeavoured to demonstrate. The interpretation, which we have just mentioned as having been put upon the ordinary forms of vegetable cells, served as the starting point. In this, however, as afterexperience proved, an error was committed. Vegetable cells cannot, viewed in their entirety, be compared with all animal cells. In animal cells, we find no such distinctions between nitrogenized and non-nitrogenized layers; in all the essential constituents of the cells nitrogenized matters are met with. But there are undoubtedly certain forms in the animal body which immediately recall these forms of vegetable cells, and among them there are none so characteristic as the cells of cartilage, which is, in all its features, extremely different from the other tissues of the animal body, and which, especially on account of its non-vascularity, occupies quite a peculiar position. Cartilage in every respect stands in the closest relation to vegetable tissue. In a well-developed cartilagecell we can distinguish a relatively thick external layer, within which, upon very close inspection, a delicate membrane, contents, and a nucleus are also to be found. Here, therefore, we have a structure which entirely corresponds with a vegetable cell.

It has, however, been customary with authors, when describing cartilage, to call the whole of the structure

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ANIMAL CELLS. 7

of which I have just given you a sketch (fig. 2, ad) a cartilage-corpuscle, and in consequence of this having been viewed as analogous to the cells in other parts of animals, difficulties have arisen, llG 2.

by which the knowledge of the
true state of the case has been
exceedingly obscured. A carti-
lage-corpuscle, namely, is not, as
a whole, a cell, but the external (^d

layer, the capsule, is the product

of a later development (secretion, excretion). In young cartilage it is very thin, whilst the cell also is generally smaller. If we trace the development still farther back, we find in cartilage, also, nothing but simple cells, identical in structure with those which are seen in other animal tissues, and not yet possessing that external secreted layer.

You see from this, gentlemen, that the comparison between animal and vegetable cells, which we certainly cannot avoid making, is in general inadmissible, because in most animal tissues no formed elements are found which can be considered as the full equivalents of vegetable cells in the old signification of the word; and because, in particular, the cellulose membrane of vegetable cells does not correspond to the membrane of animal ones, and between this, as containing nitrogen, and the former, as destitute of it, no typical distinction is presented. On the contrary, in both cases we meet with a body essentially of a nitrogenous nature, and, on the whole, similar in composition. The so-called membrane of the vegetable cell is only met with in a few animal tissues, as, for example, in cartilage; the ordinary membrane of the animal cell corresponds, as I showed as far back as 1847,

Fig. 2. Cartilage-cells, as they occur at the margin of ossification in growing cartilage, quite analogous to vegetable cells (cf. the explanation to fig. 1). '•.Ina more advanced stage of development, d. Younger form.

to the primordial utricle of the vegetable cell. It is only when we adhere to this view of the matter, when we separate from the cell all that has been added to it by an afterdevelopment, that we obtain a simple, homogeneous, extremely monotonous structure, recurring with extraordinary constancy in living organisms. But just this very constancy forms the best criterion of our having before us in this structure one of those really elementary bodies, to be built up of which is eminently characteristic of every living thing—without the pre-existence of which no living forms arise, and to which the continuance and the maintenance of life is intimately attached. Only since our idea of a cell has assumed this severe form—and I am somewhat proud of having always, in spite of the reproach of pedantry, firmly adhered to it—only since that time can it be said that a simple form has been obtained which we can everywhere again expect to find, and which, though different in size and external shape, is yet always identical in its essential constituents.

In such a simple cell we can distinguish dissimilar constituents, and it is important that we should accurately define their nature also.

In the first place, we expect to find a nucleus within the cell; and with regard to this nucleus, which has usually a round or oval form, we know that, particularly in the case of young cells, it offers greater resistance to the action of chemical agents than do the external parts of the cell, and that, in spite of the greatest variations in the external form of the cell, it generally maintains its form. The nucleus is accordingly, in cells of all shapes, that part which is the most constantly found unchanged. There are indeed isolated cases, which lie scattered throughout the whole series of facts in comparative anatomy and pathology, in which the nucleus also has a stellate or angular appearance; but these are extremely rare excep

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