Imatges de pàgina
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actions of the muscular system were almost entirely suspended; more especially when I recollected, that the opinions of most, perhaps of all physiologists, led us to conclude, that rest greatly favoured the digestion of our food. The objection, that during sleep, in which state the repose of the body is complete, digestion, nevertheless, is generally ill performed, seemed at first insurmountable; and it is not a little remarkable, that those physiologists who have so repeatedly stated the fact, have as constantly failed to note the objection. On observing that practical men expressly stated the necessity of rest for the right performance of the function of digestion, and experiencing daily the truth of the observation, I was convinced that the above objection was rather inexplicable than hostile to the opinions of physiologists, which I then, and still do consider as strictly correct. But this phenomenon is no longer difficult of explanation, if a daily revolution in the functions of the stomach be demonstrated by experiments, or even rendered probable by analogy.

On this subject, the opinion of those, whose profession it is to train men to the performance of great muscular feats, when they speak the truth, is of much more consequence than that of any medical man. Experience has taught them that the evening is not a proper time for the digestion of the food; and accordingly we never find any substantial meal taken by their pupils after 5 P. M.; indeed they lay it down as a rule, that on going to bed, the stomach should have as little to do as possible. Thus it is recommended* to sup about 9 o'clock on a chicken, or some food that is nourishing, not gross. In another place you must retire early to rest, on a supper of runnet-milk, or milk-pottage. Againt, two meals a-day, viz. at 8 A. M. and 5 P. M. But these hours are rather later than the ones laid down by Jackson, who says,9" they breakfast upon meat about 8 o'clock, and dine at 2. Suppers are not recommended, but they may take a biscuit and a little cold water about 8 o'clock (I never heard of a more moderate supper) two hours before they go to bed.”

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* Sinclair's Code of Health, Vol. 11. p. 163. t Ibid p. 112. Ibid p. 104.

§ Ibid p. 94. Vol. VI.

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No. 22.

The object kept in view during the training, is to enable the human frame to acquire the utmost degree of vigour consistent with health. To accomplish this, they employ the organs at the time when they ought to be employed, that is, during the early part of the day. “ The exercise is always begun early in the morning, in summer at five; in winter at half past six, or as soon as it is light. We prefer rising early in the morning, indeed it is indispensable.”

Strictly speaking, this increase in the functions of the body, may be more properly called an augmentation and diurnal revolution in the functions of the nervous system. But this is too indefinite a term; no two individuals attaching precisely the same meaning to it; and we shall therefore consider the above facts, brought forward by Mr. Jackson, as proofs of an increase in the powers of the muscular system, without offering any conjecture on what that peculiarly depends; whether it be connected with increased energy of the brain, or be totally independent of it.

I shall close this part with a single additional observation. It is this: The regular decrease in the powers of the stomach is not dependent on any previous exertion of that organ, for I have found that a dinner taken at a late hour, with or without previous exhaustion, was always digested painfully and laboriously, with feverish nights, distressing dreams, and, instead of refreshment, further exhaustion. This arises not from the food stimulating at that time the system more powerfully than in the morning. If we may judge from the pulse, it stimulates the body much less at midnight than at nine in the morning; but it arises from this, that the powers of the stomach are more languid; it does not digest the food taken into it; and should a feverish night follow, it is neither wonderful nor inexplicable. Hence we see the propriety of no function being much employed during the evening; not because it will greatly excite the pulse, and so produce fever (ridiculous idea! the excitation of the pulse does not produce or constitute fever); on the contrary, the stimulation is actually less, it is almost as nothing, so far as regards the pulse; but the phenomenon is occasioned by this, that all the organs are less powerful, less capable of exertion; in short less able to perform their functions, or undergo fatigue. A remark made by Cullen also illustrates in some degree the doctrine I have brought forward. " It is indeed to be observed, that in almost every person the taking of food occasions some degree of fever; but I am persuaded this would not appear so considerable in a hectic, were it not that an exacerbation of fever is present from another cause; and accordingly the taking of food in the morning has hardly any sensible effect.Here we see what so seldom happens, all the facts throwing light on the doctrine, and it on them; for al. though the morning be the time when the action of food over the pulse is greatest, yet is there no febrile state excited. On the contrary, in the evening, as Cullen has remarked, a febrile paroxysm occurs in hectic, independent of food, aggravated perhaps by its presence, but whose real cause has totally escaped him.

9. Nor does this law seem confined to the functions of the brain, stomach, muscular, and arterial systems,-it extends, if I mistake not, to that of the lungs. Dr. Prout found, “that the quantity of carbonic acid gas, formed during respiration, is not uniformly the same during the twenty-four hours, but is always greater at one and the same part of the day than at any other, that is to say, its maximum occurs between 10, A. M. and 2, P. M., or generally between 11, A. M. and 1, P. M.; and its minimum commences about half past 8, P. M., and continues nearly uniform till about half past 3, A. M.”* The same gentleman observes, that the quantity of carbonic acid given off during respiration, bears no proportion to the numerical state of the pulse; in fact, he imagines that most carbonic acid is given out when the pulse is least frequent. My own experiments undoubtedly disprove this idea. The greatest quantity of acid, according to Dr. Prout, was given off during the forenoon, when the pulse is, in general, higher, and always more easily excited by any exertion; we may almost say, that the capa. bilities of the arterial system are at that time greater; and the importance of this remark, as it regards secretions, must be obvious. Besides, from what I can judge of the tables given by Dr. Prout, they refer principally to the afternoon and evening, unless some of the tables be wrong marked. Notwithstanding this, I am much inclined to agree with him in this, that the quantity of carbonic acid given off during respiration is not

. Annals of Philosophy, Vol. II. p. 330.

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particularly connected with, at all events, not dependent on, the state of the circulation. His experiments on the state of the respiratory organs after exercise-after the taking of spirituous liquors-during a mercurial course;*-in short, after every thing which could excite the circulation, show this in a decided manner. These experiments, however, require repetition. Many of them are too scanty to enable us to draw any certain conclusion from them, whilst others are contrary to all analogy.

The opinions contained in the excellent essay of Dr. Prout do not seem to invalidate the conclusions which I have ven. tured to draw from my experiments: they amount to this—that all the functions, or at least many of them, are more vigorous in the morning than in the evening; that their capability for action is certainly greater; and that this increase in the functions commences at a much earlier hour than is generally imagined.

Were it lawful for me to speculate, in this experimental age, I would venture to support an opinion, at present, I allow, something antiquated, and very unfashionable, that early rising may be conductive to long life, as it most certainly is to the perfect enjoyment of all our faculties. It was from repeated violations of all these dietetic maxims that I first perceived their importance; perhaps by a similar experience alone can others be convinced of their value,

Before concluding this section, it is my duty to observe, that, on mentioning the results of some of these experiments to a medical friend, he assured me that experiments, performed by him about ten years ago, led to conclusions which were, in his opinion, extremely similar to mine. This circumstance, he observed, was very satisfactory to him, as my experiments had been performed, and my conclusions drawn, without any communication of ideas: it will be equally so to me, if I find the results exactly to correspond;-results of experiments performed by individuals so opposite in habits, temperament, and opinions.

SECTION II. In this section, we propose considering the effects of muscular motion on the pulsations of the heart and arteries. In what

Dissertatio de Copia Acidi Carbonici, &c. Andrea Fyfe auctore, Edin. 1814.

manner these pulsations are augmented in number, vigour, fulness, &c. by exercise, or, to speak more generally and correctly, by muscular motion, it is perhaps impossible, in the present state of our knowledge, to say. It seems however probable, that farther research may shortly lead to notions more precise than the ones we at present possess. Our concern is with the fact itself; viz. that, by muscular action, the pulsations of the heart and arteries are augmented in power, velocity, &c. This fact, apparently so unproductive, and, by reason of its perpetual occurrence, so little apt to excite attention, shall yet, on examination, be found to throw some light on the physiology of the human body, and may perhaps assist in exonerating it from a charge so lavishly and inconsiderately bestowed,--that it is a science destitute of fixed principles; or at least, that à knowledge of the laws by which the animal economy is regulated, is, in a great measure, placed beyond the sphere of human intellect.

At all times it must have been observed, that muscular exertion, almost of any kind, but more especially violent exercise, increased greatly the powers of the heart and arterial system; but that this extended even to the slightest muscular motion, such, for example, as is made use of during a change of posture, does not appear to have been suspected, or if so, its importance has been greatly overlooked. We may reduce the section to the following heads:

1mo, The most powerful stimulant which can be applied, in order to increase the action of the heart, is exercise. Walking at the rate of four miles an hour, requires at least a pulse equal

a to 132 per minute; and the time of the day, and the continuance of the exertion, less affect the rate of pulsation than one would a priori imagine. When I say, that walking at such a rate requires a certain increase in the arterial pulsations, I do not mean to assert, that an equal increase must necessarily occur in every individual. These numbers are added only to render the subject more definite; in short, as a single example, as a proof that the increase is great, even in the strong and healthy. We shall immediately see how very differently the debilitated are affected. This high excitement is not followed by proportional exhaustion, in so far as regards the arterial system; a fact singular enough, since it is at variance with cer

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