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to occur, on an average, twice in three deals, or in the course of 80 coups, which is equal to about 14 per cent—this per centage, be it ob. served, is not per annum, nor per diem, but (would you credit it?) per horam ! for three, four, and five deals have been completed within the hour. Who, in the possession of his senses, can feel surprise at the fatal consequences that result from the infatuation, that leaves men to contend with such fearful odds?
With the coolness and indifference of a stoic, I remained wholly unmoved by the events of the game-totally regardless of the favourable or other result to my own trifling speculations, which, by the way, were left to the management and controul of my more experienced friend, my whole attention was given to the group around me. Some I observed to double their stakes from time to time as they lost, thinking by one successful coup, to retrieve all previous misfortunes—an error, which, was informed, was most destructive in its consequences, and had ruined the most opulent; others adopted an opposite system, and increased their stakes only when they had been successful in their previous venture, thus augmenting their speculations and consequent chance of gain from the resources gained from the bank, a plan which appeared to me to afford greater probability (as far as probability can exist in such a case), of leaning to a more favorable issue, but requiring much more patience and temper in its accomplishment, than players (more particularly the more needy portion), are ordinarily gifted with, and hence I arrived at one unalterable conclusion, viz. that the enormous per centage of the game, and the rashness and irritability of the players, were odds so incalculable in favour of the bank, that the capital of a Rothschild must, opposed thereto, dwindle into nothing. Amidst all these varieties, fluctuations, fancies and workings of the game, my crown or two occasionally found place with those of my companion, on one or other of the colours—the speculation was usually made in opposition to the colour which really exhibited the larger amount of risk-I say really, for my friend gave me to understand that appearances were much at variance with the true state of things in this respect, and that very frequently, the amount of money on a colour was fictitious, and occasioned by confederacy, with a view to create or stimulate play or other beneficial result to the bank—whether from chance or some other cause, I know not, but after an occupation of above two hours, we found ourselves a trifle richer than we were on our entrance, and with this, we very prudently retired.
In accordance with the instructions given me, I had, during my sojourn at the table, been a close observer of the different individuals forming the party, that I might subsequently recognise each in the anticipated description to be given of them by my intelligent friendwhose interesting communication, I must of necessity postpone until my next.
LIFE AND DEATH.
Who has not put to himself the question-What is life? Who would not listen with interest to a clear solution of that enquiry? We knowwe can see the mechanism by which life acts—we feel its results. We perceive that that mechanism is so slight-so easily set wrong; while, when it is disordered, we ourselves acutely feel that we possess a deep interest that it should be right. This knowledge makes us, if possible, more earnest in our endeavours to see beyond the mechanism alone, and know the real principle which constitutes life. But, great as have been the exertions of the wisest of philosophers to discover this principle, and numerous as have been the theories to explain it, still every attempt to draw aside the veil which hides it from our eyes has, hitherto, been unsuccessful—and we are still in complete ignorance as to what the vivifying principle really is. To mortify the pride of man, philosophy leaves many things unexplained; the really ignorant are those who think they can penetrate into every secret of nature, whereas the truly, wise will see that there is much placed out of the reach of human comprehension, and many things yet left to be discovered by the industry and the patience of man.
But although we do not comprehend what the vivifying principle really is, still we know that there are certain signs, in the absence of which life cannot exist–or in other words, that there are five properties which are peculiar to living beings, and by which therefore they are distinguished-and it will be our endeavour in this paper to lay before our readers a brief account of these properties.
Life then, or in other words, the vivifying principle, is an emanation from the Deity, and is the common source of all that respires. Obscure and feeble in plants and the most imperfect animals: it developes itself as it animates the most perfect creatures. It animates all beings that respire. It is a subtle fire, pervading all creatures, penetrating the vessels of plants, and all tremble at the presence of this divine essence, the primitive agent of reproductions, the meteor of all living beings. “In Deo vivimus, movemus, et sumus.' The hand of God holds the thread of our lives—all possess a part of the Divinity, it is expanded through all the universe; but organized bodies are habitations where this divine power is concentrated, whilst brute matter is dependent on the general qualities of mechanical and chemical power. Nevertheless we observe the germ of life elevate itself from the crude earth to the mushroom, from the mushroom to the oak, from the worm of the earth to the human species. It exists in some minerals—it perfects itself more in vegetables, and it exalts itself in all the genera of animals to man, the lord of the creation, in whom it is most elaborated. The signs of life when carefully considered may be reduced to five, as follow :
First, the power which living beings possess of resisting, within certain limits, the operations of the ordinary laws of matter. Physical agents exert over inorganic bodies a constant and irresistible influence.
Air, moisture, heat, produce in all such bodies incessant changes, subverting the closest union between their integral particles, and forming them into combinations entirely new. If, however, a living being be brought under the influence of these agents, it is found capable of resisting such changes within a very considerable range, and it retains this power as long as it continues to exist. Thus the living body is not decomposed under degrees of temperature and moisture, which begin to resolve it into its primitive elements the moment the principle of vitality has fled. The power of the supreme animals, and especially of man, to resist high degrees of temperature, at first discovered by accident, and afterwards made the subject of many experiments both in France and England, is very extraordinary. In the year 1760, two French philosophers having occasion to use a public oven on the same day on which bread had been baked in it, wished to ascertain with precision its degree of temperature. This they endeavoured to accomplish by introducing a thermometer into the oven at the end of a shovel. On being withdrawn, the thermometer indicated a degree of heat considerably above that of boiling water; but although they were convinced that the thermometer had fallen several degrees on approaching the mouth of the oven, yet they appeared to be at a loss how to rectify the error; while they were occupied in endeavouring' to discover the degree of heat at the back of the oven, a girl, one of its attendants, offered to enter and mark with a pencil the height at which the thermometer stood within the oven. The girl smiled at their appearing to hesitate at this strange proposition, and, entering the oven, marked with a pencil the thermometer as standing at 260° of Fahrenheit's scale. One of these philosophers began to express his anxiety for the welfare of his assistant, and to press her return. This female salamander, however, assuring him that she felt no inconvenience from her situation, remained there ten minutes longer, when at length, the thermometer at that time standing at 288° or 76° above that of boiling water, she came out of the oven, her complexion indeed considerably heightened, but her respiration by no means quick or laborious. The publication of this transaction exciting a great degree of interest, several philosophers repeated similar experiments, and it is now universally acknowledged that the human frame can support a heat of even 315o ; and M. Chabert, the well known fire king, says he could bear 400°. But in a scientific view, the most curious and important point to be noticed is that in all these experiments, while the body was exposed to a high degree of temperature considerably above that of boiling water, the heat of the body itself never rose above 102°. In one experiment, while the heat to which the body was subjected was 202°, the heat of the body itself was only 994°, its natural temperature in the state of health being 98o. But animals are capable of living in temperatures of extraordinary elevation even in the dense medium of water. Some fishes are said to be found in hot springs at 180°; and others were thrown out alive from a volcano, the water of which raised the thermometer to 210°. Some plants are likewise found to possess a power of this kind, being discovered
in boiling springs. In this case also the plant is found to possess only its natural temperature. The heat of a tree examined by Mr. Hunter was found to be always several degrees above that of the atmosphere when the atmospheric temperature was below 56. Fahrenheit; but it was also several degrees below it when the weather was warmer. All these examples clearly prove that living bodies do possess the power of resisting, within certain limits, the operations of the ordinary laws of matter.
The second power possessed by the living body, is that of assimilating foreign matter to its own substance. The particles of which inorganic bodies consist, are held together by mutual attraction, and they can only be increased by the addition of new particles to the pre-existing
The living body, however, is endowed with the far higher power of converting materials of different natures into one homogeneous substance, from which it elaborates the various fluid and solid parts of which it is composed. The plant puts forth its roots into the ground, and from the surrounding soil abstracts the nutrient particles it finds for the purpose of converting them into its own proper substance. The animal receives into the interior of its body the different substances from which it derives its nourishment, dissolves them, decomposes them, recombines their elements in new proportions and in different modes, and thus forms all the tissues and all the organs of which anatomy teaches us that it is composed.
The third character by which the living body is distinguished is derived from the peculiar disposition of the materials of which it consists. That disposition is always regular and determinate, and is denominated structure.
The fourth characteristic by which all living bodies are distinguished is the power they possess of forming a being similar to themselves by a peculiar process termed generation.
The last characteristic of the living body is that of terminating its existence by the process of death. Inorganic bodies preserve their existence unalterably and for ever, unless some mechanical force or some chemical agent separate their particles, or alter their composition. But in every living body, its vital motions inevitably cease sooner or later from the operation of causes that are internal and inherent. This is termed death. And when at length death does take place, how instantaneous and how entire is the change which the body undergoes. That body, which, perhaps, but a few days, nay, perhaps but a few hours before was rejoicing in the possession of full health and vigor, now lies cold and pale—the spark of life has fled from its habitation, and left it but motionless clay. That eye which once beamed with love and tenderness, which brightened with joy, or was clouded with griefwhich flushed with anger or revenge which lowered with jealousywhich was, as it were, the index of the mind within, has now lost all its lustre and is closed for ever. That tongue. whose eloquence drew down the applause of listening thousands, or the brilliancy of whose wit was wont " to set the table in a roar” is now silent as the grave that claims it. Those lips which but a few fleeting days back echoed melody, now wear the pallid hue of death, and are closed never to move again. That hand which once wielded a kingdom's sceptre or brandished the deadly sword—which, perhaps hurled a tyrant from his throne, or raised a nation from its bondage, now lies stiff, straight, and indifferent to what is done to it. That heart which once glowed with all the finer feelings which exalt humanity, or which was racked with all those passions which are its bane and its disgrace, has for ever. ceased to beat.
Death is the excrementitious function of nature, and by an indefinite wisdom, all these same excrements return to life.
“ Circulus eternus motus." says Becher. All is organization and successive destruction. Animated nature passes into new transformations-death is only a species of hidden life, a sleep of matter of which the organization is awakened. - The ox changeth the grass which he eats into his flesh- this is transformed into human flesh when we live on this animal; the earth which conceals the tombs of men, furnishes to plants and worms an abundant nourishment; plants and worms in their turn become the food of other species—so that all circulate without ceasing; from individual to individual all change to change again. They die but to live under other forms. The brilliant flower enriches itself with nutritive molecules from the dead carcass concealed at its roots. Organ is composed of other organ-nothing dies for ever.
For the present, our limits compel us to take leave of this iuteresting subject, but we shall certainly recur to it in our next.
G. T. F.
By black Calumny's cloud be obscured
In the chill of reserve be immured;
And Friendship awhile lend an ear-
And calm 'midst its workings appear.
How transient, alas ! are the vapours that skim
O'er the bright face of Heaven's blue way;
Honest Truth, that shines out like the day-
Which Malignity's venom hath breathed ;