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are crimsoned with a ruby blush. The eyes are brilliant
"The human body," says a medical writer,' "maintains a successful warfare with, and effectually resists the incessant and combined attack of all the forces of the elements, often, for more than an hundred years, and then, when the divine principle does at length retire and yield up its fortress, it is in consequence of subjection to a cause widely different from that of being expelled by the triumphant power of its assailants. But when the soul has once fled, then, indeed, the chemical affinities come into play, and the rapidity of their devastation is terrible. In a few days all traces of organization are destroyed, and in a few years two or three gaseous substances distributed through the at
1 Dr. Ward's Introductory Lecture.
mosphere, some saline solutions as widely diffused among the waters of the earth, and a few particles of earthy. mat. ter, are all that remain of the proud fabric of man,
The theory of sensibility and contractility, as constituting vital properties, though apparently solving many more of the phenomena of life, and much more satisfactorily than that of the chemical affinities, will be found also to fail in some important respects. What are called vital properties may be distinguished into voluntary and involuntary. The involuntary may be admitted as properties of matter, but what are the voluntary? What is the will that creates the difference? It is surely something different from the properties themselves: so that more is necessary to the solution of the phenomena of life, than merely to predicate sensibility and contractility of particular modifications of matter, and to make life consist in them.
It is unnecessary to notice all the different theories of life. Each one has had its admirers and its day, but has given place in due season to some more imposing and successful rival; so that, at this hour, notwithstanding all the discoveries that have been made with regard to the more hidden operations of nature, the subject of life remains exceedingly perplexed. And we venture to assert it will never be entirely extricated from this perplexity. In general, theories on the subject have been partial, comprehending but a small portion of the innumerable varieties of life. In treating of such a general subject, it will not do to refer its origin to particular causes which apply only to one, or at most, to few species.
We have already traced the origination of life to God the Holy Spirit, the common fountain of all animated being—the unit of this interminable series. Not presuming to search the mind of the Spirit, nor to know how He exerts His energies, we are content to remain ignorant of life in so far as it is connected with His agency, and believe that its precise nature is beyond the reach of human scrutiny and cannot be subjected to the investigation of human faculties.
Yet is it of importance, as far as it is practicable, to have precise ideas on the subject, and not be liable to the charge of utter and absolute ignorance. Life is a term which is in every one's mouth, and a thing, of which every one, at first, is disposed to think he has sufficient knowledge: but when asked to define it, who does not find himself greatly at a loss? Some definitions are too limited-others too general. Some describe only particular modifications of it-others generalize too much. It is not presumed that, on a subject where so much time and thought have been expended, we should have any thing new to communicate, or be more successful in attempting to give a definition of life. We feel that the utmost we can do is merely to approximate the truth. We hope none will accuse us of vanity, if we venture to define it, and say
that II. LIFE CONSISTS IN THE REGULAR SERIES OF RELATIVE APPROPRIATE CHARACTERISTIC ACTIONS IN AN INDIVIDUAL BEING.
Motion of some sort is essential to our i dea of life. Mere organization—understanding by this term the regular are rangement of the particles composing any body, so as to give it its specific character--does not imply life. The whole mineral kingdom is subject to certain determinate rules, according to which, the particles in any mineral substance are arranged and associated in some assuming the form of cubes, in others of rhomboids, in others that of a six-sided prism terminated by twelve scalene triangles, and in others of a different dodecahedron with pentagonal faces.
None, nor all of the innumerable phenomena of crystallization, presuppose or suggest the idea of life. The
particles that compose minerals are at rest, maintaining, except when subjected to external violence their relative positions. Whatever motion among them is excited by solvents or in the crystallizing process, is referred to the play of chemical affinities, without the idea of vivification; so that all motion does not imply lise.
Neither does that motion which is simply appropriate to a body convey this idea. The whole planetary system is kept in perpetual motion, exhibiting to the eye of the astronomer the amazing phenomena of gravitation, but life is not predicable of these motions.
Even what may be termed the actions of bodies, do not always imply the existence of life. One object acts upon another, and produces certain motions, and this action, with its corresponding motions, is as various as the different species of attraction whose phenomena arrest the eye of the natural philosopher. The ascent of water by capillary attraction, the motions of the magnetic needle, the electrical excitement, &c., do not not convey the idea of Jife.
The motions of which we predicate life, are confined to bodies of peculiar structure, those only which, strictly speaking, possess organization. By organization here we understand the combination and union of solid and fluid "matter in a state of perpetual action, tending to the preserving of an individual being, and its reproduction. In the primary and more popular sense of the term organiza-, tion, it is synonymous nearly with that of arrangement, conveying the idea of some juxta-position of the parts of a body as visible to the eye, and depending simply upon the mechanical strueture of its partieles. In another and higher sense it denotes a system composed of parts, possessing appropriate powers and functions essential, or at least conducive to the existence and preservation of the whole. These different parts, are called organs, each having its
specific mode of action, but all combining to resist external violence, and promote the well-being, and perpetuate the existence, of the individual being or system uniting them. It is of these series of varied and relative actions that we predicate life.
Whether organic action, or the actions appropriate in an organized being, be life itsell, or the result of life, is . a question that has agitated and divided physiological inquirers. It is of some moment, in order to understand and ascertain the correctness of our definition of life, that we should determine whether it is the result of organization, or a principle having a primary and controling influence on organization itself, or the totality of that series of ac. tions or motions observable in an organized body. This differs from the inquiry whether life is dependent on or connected with organization. We can conceive of organization and life being so connected,' that the destruction of the one must secure that of the other, and the one cannot exist without the other, and yet of their being entirely distinct. But while we distinguish carefully between them, we cannot be. legitimately accused with maintaining that life is itself an essence involved in organization. .
If life be not identical with organization, it must be either a property, or a state, or a principle, or a series of actions and motions. It is not a property of organization, for it will be admitted that death eventuates where organization is yet perfect. Perhaps it is preferred, to represent life under the idea of a state, and to describe it as that state of an organized body, in which there is eventuating a process of characteristic actions. We must confess that we are less inclined to object against this view of its nature than the former; but still we decm it objectionable, because however it might do in common parlanee, it is not philosophically correct to call it a state, when it is more properly that which characterizes the state or condition,