« VorigeDoorgaan »
their bases, than what is just sufficient to break the shock which any violent motion may occasion to the body. A certain degree also of tension of the sinews appears to be essential to an erect posture; for it is by the loss of this, that the dead or paralytic body drops down. The whole is a wonderful result of combined powers, and of very complicated operations. Indeed, that standing is not so simple a business as we imagine it to be, is evident from the strange gesticulations of a drunken man, who has lost the government of the centre of gravity.
We have said that this property is the most worthy of observation in the human body: but a bird, resting upon its perch, or hopping upon a spray, affords no mean specimen of the same faculty. A chicken runs off as soon as it is hatched from the egg; yet a chicken, considered geometrically, and with relation to its centre of gravity, its line of direction, and its equilibrium, is a very irregular solid. Is this gift, therefore, or instruction? May it not he said to be with great attention, that nature hath balanced the body upon its pivots?
I observe also in the same bird a piece of useful mechanism of this kind. In the trussing of a fowl, upon bending the legs and thighs up towards the body, the cook finds that the claws close of their own accord. Now let it be remembered, that this is the position of the limbs, in which the bird rests upon its perch. And in this position it sleeps in safety; for the claws do their office in keeping hold of the support, not by any exertion of voluntary power, which sleep might suspend, but by the traction of the tendons in consequence of the attitude which the legs and thighs take by the bird sitting down, and to which the mere weight of the body gives the force that is necessary.
VI. Regarding the human body as a mass; regarding the general conformations which obtain in it; regarding also particular parts in respect to those conformations; we shall be led to observe what I call “ interrupted analogies.” The following are examples of what I mean by these terms, and I do not know how such critical deviations can, by any possible hypothesis, be accounted for without design.
1. All the bones of the body are covered with a periosteum, except the teeth; where it ceases, and an enamel of ivory, which saws and files will hardly touch, comes into its place. No one can doubt of the use and propriety of this difference; of the “analogy” being thus “interrupted;" of the rule, which belongs to the conformation of the bones
apir.s where it does stop; for, had so exquisitely sensi
ble a membrane as the periosteum invested the teeth, as it invests every other bone of the body, their action, necessary exposure, and irritation, would have subjected the animal to continual pain. General as it is, it was not the sort of integument which suited the teeth. What they stood in need of, was a strong, hard, insensible, defensive coat; and exactly such a covering is given to them, in the ivory enamel which adheres to their surface.
2. The scarf-skin, which clothes all the rest of the body, gives way, at the extremities of the toes and fingers, to nails. A man has only to look at his hand, to observe with what nicety and precision, that covering, which extends over every other part, is here superseded by a different substance, and a different texture. Now, if either the rule had been necessary, or the deviation from it accidental, this effect would not be seen. When I speak of the rule being necessary, I mean the formation of the skin
upon surface being produced by a set of causes constitutedwithout design, and acting, as all ignorant causes must act, by a general operation. Were this the case, no account could be given of the operation being suspended at the fingers' ends, or on the back part of the fingers, and not on the
On the other hand, if the deviation were accidental, an error, an anomalism; were it anything else than settled by intention; we should meet with nails upon other parts of the body. They would be scattered over the sur face, like warts or pimples.
3. All the great cavities of the body are enclosed by membranes, except the skull. Why should not the brain be content with the same covering as that which serves for the other principal organs of the body? The heart, the lungs, the liver, the stomach, the bowels, have all soft integuments, and nothing else. The muscular coats are all soft and membranous. I can see a reason for this distinction in the final cause, but in no other. The importance of the brain to life, (which experience proves to be immediate,) and the extreme tenderness of its substance, make a solid case more necessary for it, than for any other part; and such a case the hardness of the skull supplies. When the smallest portion of this natural casket is lost, how carefully, yet how imperfectly is it replaced by a plate of metal? If an anatomist should say, that this bony protection is not confined to the brain, but is extended along the course of the spine, I answer, that he adds strength to the argument. If he remark, that the chest also is fortified by bones, I reply, that I should have alleged this instance myself, if the ribs
had not appeared subservient to the purpose of motion as well as of defence. What distinguishes the skull from every other cavity is, that the bony covering completely surrounds its contents, and is calculated, not for motion, but solely for defence. Those hollows, likewise, and inequalities, which we observe in the inside of the skull, and which exactly fit the folds of the brain, answer the important design of keeping 'he substance of the brain steady, and of guarding it against concussions
Whenever we find a general plan pursued, yet with such variations in it as are, in each case required by the particular exigency of the subject to which it is applied, we possess, in such plan and such adaptation, the strongest evidence that can be afforded of intelligence and design; an evidence which most completely excludes every other hypothesis. If the general plan proceeded from any fixed necessity in the nature of things, how could it accommodate itself to the various wants and uses which it had to serve under different circumstances, and on different occasions? Arkwright's mill was invented for the spinning of cotton. We see it employed for the spinning of wool, flax, and hemp, with such modifications of the original principle, such variety in the same plan, as the texture of those different materials rendered necessary. Of the machine's heing put together with design, if it were possible to doubt, whilst we saw it only under one mode, and in one form, when we came to observe it in its different applications, with such changes of structure, such additions, and supple ments, as the special and particular use in each case de manded, we could not refuse any longer our assent to the proposition, “that intelligence, properly and strictly so called, (including under that name, foresight, consideration, reference to utility,) had been employed, as well in the primitive plan, as in the several changes and accommodations which it is made to undergo.”
Very much of this reasoning is applicable to what has been called Comparative Anatomy. In their general economy, in the outlines of the plan, in the construction as well 23 offices of their principal parts, there exists between all
large terrestrial animals a close resemblance. In all life is sustained, and the body nourished by nearly the same apparatus. The heart, the lungs, the stomach; the liver, the kidneys, are much alike in all. The same fluid (for no distinction of blood has been observed) circulates through their vessels, and nearly in the same order.
The same cause, therefore, whatever that cause was, has been concerned in the origin, has governed the production of these different animal forms.
When we pass on to smaller animals, or to the inhabitants of a different element, the resemblance becomes more distant and more obscure; but still the plan accompanies
And, what we can never enough commend, and which it is our business at present to exemplify, the plan is attended, through all its varieties and deflections, by subserviencies to special occasions and utilities.
1. The covering of different animals (though whether I am correct in classing this under their anatomy I do not know) is the first thing which presents itself to our observation; and is, in truth, both for its variety, and its suitableness to their several natures, as much to be admired as any part of their structure. We have bristles, hair, wool, furs, feathers, quills, prickles, scales; yet in this diversity, both of material and form, we cannot change one animal's coat for another, without evidently changing it for the worse; taking care however to remark, that these coverings are, in many cases, armor as well as clothing; intended for protection as well as warmth.
The human animal is the only one which is naked, and the only one which can clothe itself
. This is one of the properties which renders him an animal of all climates, and of all seasons. He can adapt the warmth or lightness of his covering to the temperature of his habitation. Had he been born with a fleece upon his back, although he might have been comforted by its warmth in high latitudes, it would have oppressed him by its weight and heat, as the species spread towards the equator.
What art, however, does for men, nature has, in many instances, done for those animals which are incapable of art. Their clothing, of its own accord, changes with their necessities. This is particularly the case with that large tribe of quadrupeds which are covered with furs. Every dealer in hare-skins and rabbit-skins, knows how much the fur is thickened by the approach of winter.
It seems to be a part of the same constitution and the same
design, that wool in hot countries, degenerates, as it is called, but n truth (most happily for the animal's ease) passes into hair; whilst, on the contrary, that hair on the dogs of the polar regions, is turned into wool, or something very like it. To which may be referred, what naturalists have remarked, that bears, wolves, foxes, hares, which do not take the water, have the fur much thicker on the back than the belly: whereas in the beaver it is the thickest upon the belly; as are the feathers on waterfowl. We know the final cause of all this; and we know no other.
The covering of birds cannot escape the most vulgar observation. Its lightness, its smoothness, its warmth;—the disposition of the feathers all inclined backward, the down about their stem, the overlapping of their tips, their different configuration in different parts, not to mention the variety of their colors, constitute a vestment for the body, so beautiful, and so appropriate to the life which the animal is to lead, as that, I think, we should have had no conception of anything equally perfect, if we had never seen it, or can now imagine anything more so.
Let us suppose (what is possible only in supposition) a person who had never seen a bird, to be presented with a plucked pheasant, and bid to set his wits to work, how to contrive for it a covering which shall unite the qualities of warmth, levity, and least resistance to the air, and the highest degree of each; giving it also as much of beauty and ornament as he could afford. He is the person to behold the work of the Deity, in this part of his creation, with the sentiments ? which are due to it.
The commendation, which the general aspect of the feathered world seldom fails of exciting, will be increased by farther examination. It is one of those cases in which the philosopher has more to admire than the common ob
Every feather is a mechanical wonder. look at the quill, we find properties not easily brought together, -strength and lightness. I know few things more remarkable than the strength and lightness of the very pen with which I am writing. If we cast our eye to the upper part of the stem, we see a material, made for the purpose, used in no other class of animals, and in no othe: part of birds; tough, light, pliant, elastic. The pith, also, which feeds the feathers, is, amongst animal substances, sui generis: neither bone, flesh, membrane, nor tendon.
But the artificia? part of a feather is the beard, or, as it