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place*.” This grave author asserts that all snails are hermaphrodites. But, pace tantı viri, they are capable both of impregnating and of receiving impregnation from each other. The law of retaliation is the law of snails : I would therefore term all this order of animals, not hermaphrodites, because they cannot impregnate themselves as flowers do, but retaliators, because they mutually impregnate one another. O search, search diligently for one of these pretty little arrows. A propos, should not snails be called Cupids, as they wound the amorous heart with arrows ? Your Sheught, in a dewy morning, is a most excellent place for the exploration of snails.
Your query about holding in the breath upon the attack or idea of pain remains to be answered. This, like all other instincts, is a very wise provision in nature. The detention of the air blows up and fortifies the body against external injuries. Sit on a chair and lay your leg carelessly on a stool, and a very
• See this strange explication of the amatory warfare of snails more clearly and truly described in a subsequent letter, on the information of Professor John Hope, M. D.
† Referring to some dell, or hollow place, in the neighbourhood of his friends residence.
small stroke will break it in twain. Apprize you of the danger,--hold in your breath, or, which is the same thing, brace the muscles of your body, and double the stroke will do you no harm. This, I am sufficiently aware, is only the effect; and I imagine the following to be the cause. Pain, or the apprehension of it, powerfully stimulates the mind instantly to use her endeavours to evade the injury. For this purpose, she propels an unusual quantity of the nervous fluid, or whatever you please to call it, towards the particular part affected, in order to strengthen the fibres and to resist the force applied. Wholly intent upon this single object, she, for a moment, neglects or suspends some of the more common functions of her economy.
The natural consequence is that, the mouth being shut, the air previously existing in the lungs is allowed to remain there until the uneasy sensation which it occasions obliges her to throw it out.
So wonderful are the operations of nature, that this very oversight of the sentient principle has a very beneficial effect; for, particularly if the pain exist in any part below the head, the blowing up of the lungs acts upon the nerves, in some measure, as a ligature, interrupting, in a degree, the progress of the pain
to the glandula pinealis. In fact you'll find, if you chuse to try the experiment, that detaining the air in the lungs greatly abates and blunts the painful sensations. Again, slacken the body, or allow the air to get out, and the uneasiness will be greatly increased. Tell me if this be any way satisfactory*.
The Dean says, Praise is like ambergris; draw a little of it gently by your nose, and the odour is very agreeable; suspend your head over a great quantity, and you will be struck down with the stench. I liken praise to a rotten egg. Its colour and figure are pleasant to the
the shell, and the object becomes loathsome both to the opa tic and olfactory nerves.
In your last letter you have not only broken the integuments, but have daubed my nose with the contents, even unto the yolk. Perhaps you'll see no manner of similitude in this simile.
* The great error of the students of the Edinburgh University, in their societies for mutual improvement, long was the perpetual search for thcories and hypotheses, which they mistook for science'. Our young philosopher here falls into the common error of his time, and advances an ephemeral hypothesis of the day, under the idea that he was explaining the cause of a phenomenon.
To Mr WILLIAM SMELLIE from ******
Your account of the stoppage of the breath is extremely satisfactory; only I think the stoppage of the trachea is not the effect of neglect, but rather of set purpose for the effects which you have very well explained. There is a query or two in your penult letter, for which I have at present little other answer than what is commonly given. a man is in love to the very back-bone, and has got a taste which will by no means keep pace with his purse ?”—In such a case, I should think that the emptiness of his purse will prevent the indulgence of his extravagant taste.—Again, “ If the passion is reciprocal, whether is it better to run all risks, or to drag out years in painful expectation ?” -I say neither is the better way_For to run all risks is a very female-like proposal altogether extravagant.-It is repeating in miniature the deed of Eve and ADAM; risk
ing the happiness of yourselves and your posterity on a very perilous adventure.Again, to drag out years in tedious expectation, is to throw away the man, to extinguish your little spark of divinity, and say to every one, “ I am a fool.” What then should be done, but divert the current of the soul into another channel. The ways of doing this, you
know better than I can tell. And now I think I have noticed every thing but the queritur of that admodum reverendus hoarybarbed sage; the which, if it bears the en sample of his noddles furniture, my thoughts enter not into their secret. Yours, &c.
To Mr William SMEĻLIE from ******
I received your Christmas pye in its season, and shall be glad you lay in for some future Christmas. My only thought on it is, that people have instituted the change of the year as a time of merriment to dispel the gloomy reflections of old age and death, which