Imatges de pàgina

tain laws of the economy, supposed to rest on a secure foun. dation. Other organs certainly follow a different mode, and exhibit, after any increase in their functions, signs of exhaustion or weakened energy. Such a law seems to hold with regard to the nervous system, in particular with the digestive organs and the respiratory.*

2do, No stimulant which I have hitherto tried, has excited the pulse so much even as moderate exercise.

3tio, Various observations have rendered it probable, that the increase in the number of the arterial pulsations accompanying muscular motion, is greatly influenced by the debility or weakness of the individual. Were it allowable to apply the rigorous language of calculation to a science which cannot be called exact, we would say that such increase is in the direct ratio of that debility. Hence, in fever, the slightest change of posture shall often produce an incredible velocity of pulse. Persons who have suffered much from loss of blood, or by chronic complaints, cannot bear the erect posture for any length of time; and hence, in the debilitated, who, it is well known, are very subject to faintings, the slightest muscular motion by inducing or necessitating a rapid motion of the blood (in them too rapid,) shall give rise to that distressing accident.

As exercise increases, so other stimulants diminish the frequency of the pulse in the debilitated, at least generally. But as there may be various kinds of debility, in each of which the pulse may be differently affected by exercise, and as this increase of the pulse, when it does take place, is often accompanied with irregularity, a very extensive series of experiments is required, before we can implicitly agree with the above rule. On this latter principle, even in its present state, we may explain, I think, satisfactorily, many of the supposed stimulant effects of foxglove, which drug debilitates, directly and greatly, most systems of the animal economy.

4to, The time of the day has a very considerable effect on the augmentation of the arterial pulsations by moderate exercise. As this relation has already been considered at some length, I shall here confine myself to the statement of a few general results. During the morning, the mere change of

Annals of Philosophy for Noveinber 1813, p. 328.

posture from the horizontal to the erect, shall increase the pulse by about 15 or 20 beats. At mid-day, this increase shall be 10; and, in the evening, 4 or 6. The effects produced by the sitting posture, assumed after the horizontal, are not half so considerable as those occasioned by the erect posture. The above is the manner in which the arterial pulsations are affected by posture, at different periods of the day; and though the results here stated may be greatly magnified in some, and equally diminished in others, it may, I think, be laid down as a general rule, that similar laws constantly regulate the healthy pulse.

From the above observation, we readily perceive, of how little consequence the details of physicians are, regarding the diseased pulse. If the slightest change of posture can in an instant excite the pulse by 50 or 60 beats, how easily may the medical man deceive himself and others! how often, without a previous knowledge of these facts, may drugs seem to benefit the sick, when they are inert, or actually pernicious.

5to, The increase of the pulsations occasioned by change of posture, may shortly prove a valuable asthenometer. There are others, but they do not seem so certainly to indicate debility as the above. Some of them, indeed, are more calculated to detect disease than simple debility. These asthenometers are* the hot-bath, the cold-bath, or cold air, also the non-excitation of the pulse by stimulants, supposed to happen in those habituated to spirituous liquors. Some may allege, and perhaps with justice, that this shall be found to indicate rather a state of disease than debility. This condition of the arterial, or perhaps nervous system, which renders the pulse non-excitable by stimulants, is supposed to arise from other causes besides the abuse of spirituous liquors. “Unet observation très remarquable que j'ai eu occasion de faire, c'est que, lorsque la sensibilité a été émoussée par une affection chronique, les opiacées finissent par n'avoir plus de prise sur l'economie animale." I have seen one case which favoured somewhat the above opinion,--the case of a young man, who, without doubt, laboured

* Beddoes's Hygeia. † Nouveaux Elémens de Therapeut. et de Mat. Med. par Alibert, Tom. II. 506.

under hereditary predisposition to consumption. His pulse, on one occasion, I found to be not at all affected by a very great quantity of spirituous liquors. The opinion remains to be proved or refuted by additional observation. Indeed, as it is customary with those labouring under chronic complaints to resort to the use of narcotics, (this practice had not been adopted in the case just mentioned), it is not to be wondered at that this class of drugs should at last cease to produce their wonted effects.

Somewhat connected with this subject is the detection of commencing disease in the lungs, or pulmonic debility. This, according to Beddoes,* is indicated by a continued high pulse. "When consumption is advancing, it will be more frequent than natural, and, in general, much more frequent towards the close of day." The whole subject is novel, and deserves atten tion.

As my only wish in prosecuting these experiments has been to correct a few notions regarding the physiology of the human body, and to advance that estimable science, I shall feel gratified with an examination of my experiments, whether that lead to a refutation or to a confirmation of the opinions maintained throughout this essay.

Observations respecting the Natural Production of Saltpetre on the Walls of subterraneous and other Buildings. By JOHN KIDD, M. D. Professor of Chemistry at Oxford. Communicated by WILLIAM HYDE WOLLASTON, M.D. Sec. R.S. [From the Philosophical Magazine and Journal, for December, 1814.]

ALTHOUGH the following observations afford no positive evidence of the source of that saline efflorescence which is o frequently seen on the walls of subterraneous and other buildings, and which, as consisting principally if not entirely of common nitre, long since gave rise to the name‡ by which that salt is most commonly known; yet as tending to throw some

* Essay on Consumption, p. 252.

From the Philosophical Transactions for 1814, part ii.

+ Saltpetre (Sal Petræ)


light on a very obscure part of natural history, they will not, perhaps, be unacceptable to this honourable and learned society.

There can be no doubt that the production of saltpetre or nitre, in the situations above alluded to, had been observed long before there existed any general inducement to collect it from those sources; but after the invention and subsequent extensive employment of gunpowder, it became an object not only to search out every natural source of the principal ingredient of that important compound, but also to investigate the circumstances of its production; for the purpose either of accelerating the natural process, or of imitating it by artificial means.

The usual and almost exclusive occurrence of salopetre on walls constructed of limestone, and in situations exposed to animal and vegetable effuvia, in all probability led to the empirical practice of heaping together the mortar and refuse of old buildings with putrescent animal and vegetable matter; from a mixture of which kind, after exposure for a sufficient length of time to the action of the air, a quantity of nitre may usually be obtained by lixiviation: but it would be a question of mere curiosity, on this occasion at least, to investigate the origin of the practice. The intention of the present paper is to state the result of a series of observations, made duriog the last year, on the connexion that exists between the natural production of nitre and the state of the atmosphere. In detailing these observations, it will be convenient to give previously a description of the laboratory of the Ashmole Museum, in which building they were principally made: nor shall I be afraid of being thought too minute in this description, or in any other part of the following detail, by those at least who know the precision that is requisite in every induction, which like the present rests on phenomena of an obscure and equivocal na. ture.

The Ashmole Museum, which was built by Sir C. Wren in the reign of Charles the Second, is an insulated building, constructed entirely of calcareous freestone, and consisting of three stories. The lowermost of these stories was originally designed for, and has constantly been used as, a chemical laboratory VOL. VI.


No. 22.

The pavement of the laboratory, on its easter, northern, and western sides, is about nine feet below the level of the street in which the Museum stands; on its southern side it is on the same level with an area, about ten feet in breadth, which in part occupies the site of the ditch of the old town, and insulates a quadrangular projecting part of the whole building of the Museum. The laboratory itself is a single room sixty feet in length from east to west, and twenty-five in breadth; having an arched stone cieling, the centre of which is seventeen feet above the level of the pavement. The walls of this room, which are nearly three feet in thickness, are constructed of squared calcareous freestone, which I have reason to believe was dug from a quarry near Burford, and is technically called Windrush stone, from the river of the same name. There are four windows in the upper part of the north side of the laboratory, formed in the curve of the arched cieling; the dimensions of each of which are five feet by four and a half.

There is no window either on the eastern or western side of the laboratory

On the south side there are two windows, one at each extremity, looking into the area above described; and these win. dows are placed at the usual distance from the ground, that is, about three feet: and all that part of the south side intermediate to these two windows separates the laboratory from the quadrangular projecting part of the whole building of the Museum already mentioned.

The salide efflorescence takes place most copiously on the north wall, and it occurs on various parts of it from nearly the level of the pavement to within three or four feet of the centre of the arched cieling. It takes place also, though not so abundantly, on the east and west walls; and also at the eastern and western extremity of the south wall; but it is worth noticing, that I have never seen it on that part of the south wall which is common to the laboratory and the attached projecting building of the Museum. It is true that there are chimneys in this wall connected with fires that are lighted daily; but this circumstance does not seem sufficient to account for the absence of the nitre, because its formation takes place in another part of the laboratory equally near a chimney, and in which, from

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