A REPRINT OF THE ORNITHOLOGICAL WRITINGS OF C. S. RAFINESQUE
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A REPRINT OF THE ORNITHOLOGICAL WRITINGS OF C. S. RAFINESQUE

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  • expression écrite - matière potentielle : c. s. rafinesque
  • expression écrite
248 Rc_ioN), Ornithological Writings o/ Rafinesque. [Auk [July 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Loc. cit., p. 153. 17. Loc. cit., p. 152. 18. Loc. cit., p. 159. 19. Loc. cit., p. 148. 20. Loc. cit., pp. 150-151. 21.
  • altra specie del
  • rostro
  • vicino alla
  • c. w. r.
  • ornithological writings
  • partiene alia divisione delle gazette
  • pare che venissero alla fila
  • penne della coda
  • qualche somiglianza colla s.

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Nature and Life
FACTS AND DOCTRINES RELATING TO
THE CONSTITUTION OF MATTER, THE NEW DYNAMICS,
AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE.
BY
FERNAND PAPILLON.
TRANSLATED FROM THE SECOND FRENCH
EDITION, BY
A. R . MACDONOUGH, Esq .
November 200 5
For Free Distrubution Only
Created By Arfalpha.com
All Rights Reserved
NEW YORK:
D . APPLETON AND COMPANY
548 AND 551 BROADWAY.
1875.Entered, according to Act of Congress, in
the year 1875, by D. Appleton &
Company. In the Office of the Librarian of
Congress, At Washington
Thanks to Cam Scott
Who Helped Make This
Book PossiblePREFACE BY THE AUTHOR.
This volume contains a series of essays written and published
at different times, some of a general character, and others
more special, and all relating to the activity of natural forces,
especially those of life.
The mere bringing together of these fragments has presented
an opportunity of completing a methodical and uniform whole,
combining exactness in details with generality of doctrines,
and distinctly tracing the precise aspect of each group of
phenomena in the picture of the close and universal relations
that bind the whole together. An exposition is thus offered
under an elementary form, in language freed from technical
dress, of the most essential truths established of late by
physics, chemistry, and biology, regarding the mechanism of
natural forces, and the arrangement and combination of the
fundamental springs of being in the world, especially in the
living world. I indulge the hope that such a work might meet a
kindly welcome from minds, ever increasingly numerous, that
regard science as the subject neither of idle curiosity nor of
passing entertainment, but as the object of earnest sympathy
and of serious examination. Such, at least, is the principal
purpose of this book. It has another, also. The evident
disposition of the present day is to repose infinite hopes on the
natural sciences, and to expect unlimited benefits from them. I
certainly shall not view this inclination as an illusion, and this
volume sufficiently attests the high value I set upon all that
can encourage and foster such feelings. But precisely because
I am not suspected of enmity to those sciences, it has seemed
to me the more necessary to indicate a fatal mistake
accompanying those commendable sentiments; I mean the
mistake of those who, after loudly praising the excellence of
science, denounce the weakness and deny the authority of
metaphysics. Now, my reader will come upon more than one
page manifestly inspired by the conviction that science,
properly so called, does not satiate the mind eager to know
and to understand, and that therefore metaphysics holds a
large and an authorized place in the activity of human
thought.
3BY THE AUTHOR.
While I have retouched every thing in these essays which
seemed to me, from an exclusively scientific point of view,
susceptible of a higher degree of exactness and precision, I
have, on the contrary, reserved with jealous care the literal
tenor of all the passages expressly written under the influence
of that conviction. And I have done so, not because of any
peculiar value in those reflections, many of which are nothing
more than a very imperfect representation of my way of seeing,
but because those reflections were then made for the first
time, with absolute spontaneousness, and without the
slightest system or premeditation. The reader will thus be able
to see how general ideas naturally emerge from deep and close
contemplation of a group of various details, how forcible their
unsought impression is; in other words, how surely thought,
following orderly and regular evolution, without studied
intention as without dogmatic aim, arrives at the loftiest
philosophic certainties.
The thinker who freely seeks for truth, continuously changes
his position in his aspirations toward mind and the ideal. He
deserts the regions of phenomena and concrete things, to rise
to those of the absolute and eternal. The farther he withdraws
from the former, which had at first absorbed all his attention,
the more strikingly does the perspective in which he viewed
them alter. At last, he discerns nothing else in them but
spectres without substance, and delusive phantoms. And in
the degree and extent of his drawing near to the eternal and
the absolute, reality comes more surely within his ken, and he
gains a more vivid feeling and a keener conception of it. He
measures the distance he has traversed, and values the worth
of his own contemplations by the fullness of lucid clearness
which enlightens his faint view of the first principles of things,
and by the depth of humble reverence with which he bows
before the mysterious Power which created all!
CONCARNEAU (FINISTERRE), May, 1878.
4TABLE OF CONTENTS
______________________
PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR. ....................................... 3
THE CONSTITUTION OF MATTER, AND THE NEW DYNAMISM. ....... 6
THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE, AND LEIBNITZ'S IDEAS. ........ .... 33
THE GENERAL CONSTITUTION OF LIVING BEINGS. ............ .... 61
LIGHT AND LIFE ............................................ .... 97
HEAT AND LIFE. ... 123
ELECTRICITY AND LIFE. ..................................... ... 147
ODORS AND LIFE. .............................................. 170
MEDICAMENTS AND LIFE. ................................... ... 193
ANIMAL GRAFTS AND REGENERATIONS. ..................... ... 215
FERMENTS, FERMENTATIONS, AND LIFE. ... 239
GREAT EPIDEMICS-ASIATIC CHOLERA. ....................... ... 260
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF DEATH. ................................ ... 283
HEREDITY IN PHYSIOLOGY, MEDICINE & PSYCHOLOGY. .......... 308
INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SERIES ............................ 340
OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON THE "INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC
SERIES" .................................................... ... 342THE CONSTITUTION OF MATTER, AND THE NEW
DYNAMISM.
WHATEVER empirics and utilitarians may say on the
subject, there are certainties apart from the experimental
method, and there is progress disconnected with brilliant or
beneficent applications. The mind of man may put forth its
power in laboring in harmony with reason, yet discover
genuine truths in a sphere as far above that of laboratories
and manufactures as their sphere is above the region of the
coarsest arts. In a word, there is a temple of light that
unfolds its portals to the soul neither through calculation nor
rough experiment, which the soul nevertheless enters with
authority and confidence, so long as it holds the
consciousness of its sovereign prerogatives. When will
professed scientists, better informed of the close connection
between metaphysics and science, whence our modern
knowledge of Nature has sprung, better taught in the
necessary laws that govern the conflict of reason with the
vast unknown, confess that there are realities beyond those
they attain? When will science, instead of the arrogant
indifference it assumes in presence of philosophy, admit the
fertility beyond estimate of the latter ? It may be that the
hour of this reconciliation, so much to be longed for, is less
remote than many suppose; at least, every day brings us
nearer to it. The spirit of Descartes cannot fail to arouse before
long some genius mighty enough to revive among us a taste and
respect for thought in all the departments of scientific activity.
Deserted as high abstractions are for the moment, they are not,
thank Heaven, so utterly abandoned as to deprive study of its
ardor, and essays of their success, when these relate to the
problem of the constitution of matter.
6NATURE AND LIFE.
In fact, this is a question which for several years past has
occupied some among our own savants and thinkers, as
completely as it has employed most of those of the rest of
Europe, a question which bears witness with peculiar eloquence
to this fact, that, if philosophers are forced to borrow largely
from science, in its turn science can retain clearness, and
elevation, and strength, only by drawing its inspiration from,
and recognizing its inseparable connection with, the abstract
consideration of hidden causes and of first principles.
I.
Matter is presented under a great variety of appearances. Let us
consider it in its most complicated state, in the human body, for
instance. In this, ordinary dissection distinguishes organs,
which may be resolved into tissues. The disintegration of the
latter yields anatomical elements from which direct analysis
extracts a certain number of chemical principles. Here the
anatomist's work ends. The chemist steps in, and recognizes in
these principles definite kinds arising from the combination, in
fixed and determinate proportions, of a certain number of
principles that cannot be decomposed, substantially
indestructible, to which he gives the name of simple bodies.
Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur, phosphorus,
calcium, iron, which thus set a limit to experimental analysis of
the most complex bodies, are simple substances, that is to say,
they are the original and irresolvable radicals of the tissue of
things. We now know that matter is not indefinitely divisible,
and that the smallest parts of the various simple substances
existing in those that are naturally compound have not all
the same dimensions, nor equal weights. Chemistry, by a
course of analyses and measurements, has succeeded in
determining the weights of atoms of the different elements,
that is to say, taking as a unit an atom of the lightest
element, hydrogen, in determining the weight of the atoms
which are equivalent to this conventional unit in the various
combinations.
7THE CONSTITUTION OF MATTER.
Though many savants continue to maintain that atomic
weights are nothing but relations, and that the existence of
atoms is a mere logical device, it seems more reasonable to
admit, with the majority of those who have studied this
difficult problem closely, that these atoms are actual
realities, while it may be very far from easy to settle precisely
their absolute dimensions. In any case, we may affirm that
these dimensions are very much less than those presented by
the particles of matter subjected to the most powerful and
subtile methods of division, or decomposed by the
imagination into its minutest elements. "Let man," says
Pascal, " investigate the smallest things of all he knows; let
this dot of an insect, for instance, exhibit to him in its
diminutive body parts incomparably more diminutive, jointed
limbs, veins in those limbs, blood in those veins, in that
blood humors, and drops within those humors - let him, still
subdividing these finest points, exhaust his power of
conception, and let the minutest object his fancy can shape
be that one of which we are now speaking-he may, perhaps,
suppose that to be the extreme of minuteness in Nature. I
will make him discover yet a new abyss within it. I will draw
for him not merely the visible universe but all besides that
his imagination can grasp, the immensity of Nature, within
the confines of that imperceptible atom." In this Pascal
displays a feeling as true as it is deep of the infinitely small,
and it is interesting to observe how the amazing revelations of
the microscopic world have justified his eloquence and
foresight; and yet this microscopic world, whose minutest
representatives, such as vibrios and bacteria, are hardly less
than the ten-thousandth part of 1/25th of an inch, how coarse
it is compared with the particles thrown off by odorous bodies,
and with the inconceivably minute quantities which chemistry,
physics, and mechanics, now measure without seeing them, or
make their existence plain without grasping them. We may
mention some instances which can give us an idea of these.
According to Tyndall, when very minute solid particles, smaller
than the luminous waves, are diffused
8NATURE AND LIFE.
in a medium traversed by light, the light is decomposed in
such a way that the least waves, the blue ones, predominate in
the reflected rays, and the largest ones, the red waves, in the
transmitted rays. This ingenious physicist thus explains how
the blue color of the sky depends and must depend on the
existence of solid particles, excessively minute, diffused in
infinite quantity through the atmosphere. Tyndall is not
disinclined to the idea that these imperceptible atoms might
very well be no other than those germs of microscopic
organisms the presence of which in the atmosphere has been
proved by the labors of Pasteur, as well as the part they take
in the phenomena of putrefaction and fermentation.
The ova of these beings, which are barely visible under the
microscope after attaining full development, and of which the
number, ascertained by the most decisive evidence, confounds
the boldest imagination, these would be the elements of that
vital ether, as we have termed it, that dust which gives its
lovely blue tint to the vault of the sky. "There exist in the
atmosphere," Tyndall says in closing, "particles of matter that
elude the microscope and the scales, which do not disturb its
clearness, and yet are present in it in so immense a multitude
that the Hebrew hyperbole of the number of grains of sand on
the sea-shore becomes comparatively unmeaning." And, to
give an idea of the minuteness of these particles, Tyndall adds
that they might be condensed till they would all go into a
lady's traveling bag. Manifestly these particles escape any
kind of direct measurement and observation. Their objective
reality can no more be demonstrated than that of the particles
of ether can be made evident. Yet there are certain facts which
aid us to form a clear conception of them. Let us dissolve a
gramme of resin in a hundred times its weight of alcohol, then
pour the clear solution into a large flask full of pure water,
and shake it briskly. The resin is precipitated in the form of
an impalpable and invisible powder, which does not
perceptibly cloud the, fluid. If, now, we place a black surface
behind the flask, and let the light strike it.
9THE CONSTITUTION OF MATTER.
either from above or in front, the liquid appears sky-blue. Yet,
if this mixture of water and alcohol filled with resinous dust is
examined with the strongest microscope, nothing is seen. The
size of the grains of this dust is much less than the
ten-thousandth part of 1/25th of an inch. Morren makes
another experiment, proving in a still more surprising way
the extreme divisibility of matter: Sulphur and oxygen form a
close combination, called by chemists sulphuric-acid gas. It
is that colorless and suffocating vapor thrown off when a
sulphur-match is burned. Morren confines a certain quantity
of this gas in a receiver, places the whole in a dark medium,
and sends a bright ray of light through it. At first nothing is
visible. But very soon in the path of the luminous ray we
perceive a delicate blue color. It is because the gas is
decomposed by the luminous waves, and the invisible
particles of sulphur set free decompose the light in turn The
blue of the vapor deepens, then it turns whitish, and at last a
white cloud is produced. The particles composing this cloud
are still each by itself invisible, even under strong
microscopes, and yet they are infinitely more coarse than the
primitive atoms that occasioned the sky-blue tint at first seen
in the receiver. In this experiment we pass in steady progress
from the free atom of sulphur parted from the oxygen-atom
by the ether-waves to a mass apparent to the senses; but, if
this mass is made up of free molecules which defy the
strongest magnifiers, what must be the particles which have
produced those very molecules!
A last instance of another kind will complete the proof as to
the minuteness of the elements of matter. When a clear
solution of sulphate of aluminum is poured into an equally
clear solution of sulphate of potassa, the mixture at once
grows turbid, and after a few seconds myriads of little
crystals, sparkling like diamonds, make their appearance in
the liquid, which are nothing else than crystals of alum. If we
suppose the diameter of these crystals to be 1/25th of an
inch, it will follow from this experiment that in the lapse of
10