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ions they hold. Before we give full faith to deductions from experiments made upon living animals, we ought to assure ourselves that the operator is competent to the undertaking. The qualities necessary to it are rarely to be met with; one should have, not only the anatomical knowledge and manual dexterity of the most accomplished surgeon ; but a thorough acquaintance with the whole science of physiology, and more especially of the particular subject before him. He should add also to these qualifications a clear, unprejudiced, and philosophical mind, capable of drawing accurate inferences from the phenomena that occur. Yet these circumstances are seldom taken into consideration, and an experiment would be received as conclusive from a quarter, whence an opinion merely would meet with little regard.
But it should be recollected, that there are probably more men qualified to form an opinion deserving of attention, than to perform an experiment ; the latter presupposing even more rare qualities than the former. And, besides, when we decide between the comparative value of opinion and argument on the one hand, and experiment upon the other, we ought to consider that we are more competent judges of the former, than of the latter; we can estimate the weight and importance of men's arguments, and the grounds of their reasoning; but we cannot their powers of observing accurately, or of reporting truly. Hence the remark, we believe of Dr Cullen, that there were more false facts than false theories in medicine, is found abundantly true.
The zeal for matter of fact philosophy, which is so prevalent among some at the present day, makes it necessary that much caution should be used in placing dependence upon its results. This philosophy, when implicitly relied on, is fully as dangerous to the cause of truth as the theoretical, or even
Men generally theorize upon common and acknowledged facts, so that others can detect the fallacy of their opinions, if they are fallacious; but when they pretend to have opened a new field in nature and to found opinions upon discoveries made by themselves, the evil is more difficult to be remedied, because in such cases we commonly have just as much theory built upon facts, of the evidence for which we are not competent judges. We find, in truth, that experiments, apparently conclusive, are brought in favor of the most opposite opinions; and it would seem as if men formed their opinions first, and then looked about for experiments to support them. It seems impossible, after even the laceration occasioned by.
the preparation for an experiment, and especially after the lesion or separation of the noble organs which are so frequently the subjects of them, that life should retain enough of the harmony, regularity, and consistency of its operations, for us to judge with certainty of the principles and laws, by which they are governed. Such, it appears to us, must be the disturbance among those functions, whose mutual relation is their mutual support, by so great violence to any of them, that no legitimate inferences can be drawn from the phenomena which occur.
We have only to look at the history of some physiological questions for evidence of the truth of these remarks; in which, after some important facts have been brought to light with regard to them by men of genius, they have been involved in fresh darkness by the accumulation around them of a mass of ill-contrived and ill-digested experiments. Let us not be mistaken; we do not intend to deny, that experiments upon living animals, performed by those competent to the task, with relation to subjects which are capable of being illustrated in this way, and without such injury and laceration of organs as throw into complete disorder all the functions of the system, may be of much service in enlightening some parts of the science of physiology. But when they are performed in the mere wantonness of philosophy, with scarce any other definite object, than that of gaining a name by eliciting some striking phenomena in the struggles of nature, which shall have the air of important discoveries, they are useless at best.*
* That we do not exaggerate in speaking on this subject, we think will be made evident by the following sketch of some interesting experiment on vomiting, performed within a few years at Paris.
M. Magendie, in order to prove that the stomach was inert in the act of vomiting, asserts, that when two fingers were introduced through an incision into the abdomen, the stomach was found not to act itself, but to be compressed between the diaphragm and abdominal muscles; that if the incision was enlarged so as to bring the stomach out of the wound, vomiting ceased, and the stomach remained quiet, although tartar emetic was injected into the veins : that if the abdominal muscles are cut away, vomiting is still produced by the compression of the stomach against the linea alba by the diaphragm, but that if this latter organ be incapacitated by dividing the phrenic nerves, vomiting is at an end. To crown all, M. Magendie removed the stomach, substituted a pig's bladder, which he connected with the @sophagus, and then having sewed up the abdomen, injected tartar emetic into the veins, and succeeded in producing vomiting.
So far all seems very well ; but another inquirer, M. Maingault, having taken up the same subject, arrived by experiments performed like Magendie, on living animals, at results directly opposite. He succeeded in producing vomiting, by strangulating an intestine, and by injecting tartar emetic, after dividing the abdominal muscles, cutting them off from the body, dividing the
There are other sources of investigation, from which, if we are willing to resort to them, we can derive nearly all the information and the facts which we need. Nature presents, in the different kinds of animals, the organs and functions so variously constructed and so variously combined, that by tracing out their history accurately through all their varieties, we can come at the truth on most difficult subjects, as well as by having recourse to experiments upon living animals. Nature, in fact, does that which is equivalent to the experiments we perform, by presenting to us, in different classes of animals, the organs in those combinations and under those relations and circumstances, which it is the object of our operations to establish. Thus, it has been doubted by some, whether the bile were formed in the liver, or in the gall-bladder, or in both. How are we to proceed, if we would settle the question by experiment on living animals? We must lay open the abdomen and dissect out the liver, or tie the duct which communicates it with the common biliary canal, or have recourse to some other expedient more ingenious still. How does Haller decide this question ? By comparative anatomy.
• It is found,' says he, ‘that in many, even large animals, true bile is prepared by a liver alone, without any gall-bladder. That, on the other hand, no animal has a gall-bladder, without having also a liver-and none a gall-bladder so far separated from the liver, but that it is either connected with it directly or communicates with its excretory duct. We conclude then, that a liver, is necessary for the secretion of bile, but that a gall-bladder is not necessary-and that it passes from the liver into the gall-bladder.' Now who will doubt which method of investigation is most likely to give a satisfactory result? We are convinced that many subjects which still remain involved in obscurity, notwithstanding the innumerable experiments made upon living animals in order to illustrate them—and we may mention particularly the functions and relations of the nervous system-might be placed in a much clearer point of view, by throwing upon them the light which may be derived from the careful study of comparative anatomy and general physiology. phrenic nerves, and even after completely removing the diaplıragm itself. Memoire sur le Vomissement, 1813.
We know of no way of reconciling conclusions so diametrically opposite, from a course of investigation so similar in each case; and fear there is no other mode of deciding the controversy, but by engaging afresh in the perpe tration of these truly edifying experiments.
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