Attempting to establish 'physiological laws [...] based on a sufficiently wide induction to give them authority as standards, like the laws of gravitation in chemistry', Hinton firstly considers the origins of the 'active power' in animal bodies (21). He concludes that the body resembles a machine, and maintains an equilibrium between the chemical affinities of its elements and a force opposed to these affinities. This equilibrium is constantly overthrown by various stimuli, thereby inducing the performance of the body's functions. The functions of the animal body, he insists, are part of the 'ceaseless round of force-mutation throughout nature, each one generating, or changing into, the other' (23). In this view of physiology 'the vital organism ceases to be contrasted with the rest of nature, and becomes to us an example of universal and familiar laws' (32). Hinton nevertheless maintains that the complex organism is 'a divinely made machine' (24), while the laws of energy conservation are merely 'the plan on which the animal creation is constructed'. Furthermore, the action of forces 'perpetually destroyed and perpetually renewed' operates throughout the universe, and is 'the bond which ties all in one Brotherhood, [and] proclaims one Author'. (32)
In order to make 'the question of the application of electricity to telegraphy [...] more intelligible to the uninitiated' (65), Stephen traces the long history of the scientific understanding of electricity right back to William GilbertGilbert, William
DSB CloseView the register entry >>. The 'first electric telegraph', he avers, was 'invented' in 1753 by the 'obscure' Scottish inventor Charles MarshallMarshall, Charles
CM1/2/1/2 CloseView the register entry >>, another in the line of 'humble Scotchmen, who gave to civilization the steam-engine, the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, and the gas with which we light our houses and our streets' (66). In the nineteenth century, it is 'the "needle" instrument of CookeCooke, William
NSTC CloseView the register entry >> and WheatstoneWheatstone, Charles
DSB CloseView the register entry >>, the electro-magnetic one of MorseMorse, Samuel Finley Breese
CBD CloseView the register entry >>, and the electro-chemical one of BainBain, Alexander
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>' (67) which 'form the grand type of the telegraphic system, and are more extensively used than any other' (67–68). The needle instrument, for example, is 'now in operation over probably 25,000 miles of wire in England and Scotland alone' (69). With the rapid spread of the telegraphic system, 'science, in this her most brilliant achievement' can bridge over the 'chasms which separate nation from nation and race from race' and will have an 'influence on the future of civilization it is impossible to estimate'. Nevertheless, the man of science remains in the position of a 'physiognomist' who 'may indeed decipher something of Nature from the aspect of her countenance, but [...] cannot see the workings of her inmost heart'. (73)
The existence of a peculiar 'rapport' between the minds of the narrator and Lady Alice Hilton, which 'generate[s] in the brain of the one the vision present in the brain of the other', means that both witness the fulfilment of the prevision of his elderly nurse maid. The story closes with Lady Alice, who earlier exhibits the same mesmeric powers as the narrator, apparently confined in 'an asylum for the insane' on the Continent (83).
The threat to public health posed by the 'strange, disgusting, and poisonous demon' (86) adulteration has recently been brought to 'almost universal attention' by the campaign waged by the LancetLancet
Directory CloseView the register entry >> (88). Traditionally, chemistry has been used for 'the detection of the various chemical substances and salts used for adulteration' (89), but more recently it has been surpassed by the microscope. The first applications of this 'wonder-revealing instrument [...] created no little surprise and alarm amongst the perpetrators of such frauds. Hundreds of sophistications were brought to light which had for years escaped discovery' (90). Lampoons the Parliamentary Bill for Preventing Adulteration of Articles of Food and Drink as 'weak, diluted, and itself adulterated' (96), and notes that it omits the adulteration of drugs by doctors whose 'best friends [...] prove to be the adulterator', a practice which introduces the 'greatest uncertainty and confusion' into medicine (91).
Political Economy, Analogy, Gas Chemistry, Experiment, Human Species, Machinery, Soul, Medical Practitioners, Humanism, Experiment
Denouncing the 'modern soi-disant science of political economy', Ruskin compares it to a series of 'learned experiments upon pure nitrogen' that establish the laws of this 'very manageable gas' but fail to recognise that 'the thing which we have practically to deal with is its chloride' (155). Political economy considers man to be 'an engine of which the motive power [is] steam, magnetism, gravitation, or any other agent of calculable force' (157), but he is 'on the contrary, an engine whose motive power is a Soul' (157–58), and his 'proper fuel' is the 'affections'. This 'unknown quantity' will always falsify the empirical calculations of the political economists. (158) While physicians warrant their incomes according to the principle of the 'presumed difficulty of the work, or number of candidates for the office' (160), the actual 'ground of the honour we render' them is their disinterestedness and concern for humanity. Ruskin asserts of medical practitioners, 'Whatever his science, we should shrink from him in horror if we found him regard his patients merely as subjects to experiment upon'. (163)
Reports that the 'figment' of a 'Vital Principle' independent of matter has 'long been overthrown' by the labours of physiologists such as William B CarpenterCarpenter, William Benjamin
DSB CloseView the register entry >>, whose work has 'revealed the proofs of a profounder harmony in Nature' (167). Indeed, 'Life is in league with universal forces, and subsists by universal law' (168). Like a yeast-plant, the growth of the animal body is necessarily concomitant with the processes of decay: 'Life is an action produced by its opposite. It has its root in death, and is nourished by decay' (171). In his account of 'the labyrinth of the vital phenomena' (172), Hinton pointedly 'leaves on one side' the controversial question of 'the first origination of Life' (168).
In a preliminary footnote William M ThackerayThackeray, William Makepeace
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> avows, 'As Editor of this Magazine, I can vouch for the good faith and honourable character of our correspondent, a friend of twenty-five years' standing', but he allows that 'readers are [...] free to give or withhold their belief' (211n.). Bell begins by noting that scepticism is 'one of the safe and cautious characteristics of the English people' (211). He nevertheless reminds the reader that 'in Shakespeare'sShakespeare, William
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> time the sun was believed to go round the earth', and, rebuking the 'intellectual pride' of the nineteenth century, asserts, 'who shall presume to say that there is nothing more to be learned in time to come?' (212). Conscious that he is 'not addressing the initiated' (213), Bell gives 'the driest and most literal account' of his experiences at several séances during which various pieces of furniture exhibited spontaneous movement. He rejects the accusation that these phenomena are merely 'illogical absurdities' perpetrated by 'trickery or imposition' (215). Although 'they may be the unconscious work of the imagination' (223), we cannot refuse 'to receive any facts, except such as shall appear to us likely to be true' (224). Rather, it is 'the province of men of science to investigate alleged phenomena irrespective of extrinsic incidents' (215). Bell gives a sympathetic account of the notorious American medium Daniel D HomeHome, Daniel Dunglas
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>, who he describes as 'exceedingly modest in his self-assertion, considering how sorely he is tempted to put on airs of mystical egotism'. He also comments that 'people of the highest rank [...] seem to be impelled by a much more eager passion for the marvellous than the working bulk of the population—perhaps, because they have more idle time on their hands'. (219)
Health, Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Human Species, Railways, Class
In arguing for the necessity of regular holidays in order to get 'the largest possible amount of yearly work out of a human machine' (245), expresses surprise 'that men, who in their dealings with the brute creation have so clear an understanding of this matter, should in their transactions with what horse-doctors somewhat disparagingly call "the human subject", exhibit so great a deficiency of common sense'. To illustrate the point, recounts the concern of some Welsh farmers for an over-worked 'fast-trotting mare'. (246) Notes that railways have made trips to the coast possible for even the 'toil-worn artisan', and observes that 'There is nothing pleasanter than the sight of a railway train freighted with excursionists outward-bound' (248).
Political Economy, Analogy, Electricity, Physiology, Mathematics, Manufactories, Soul
Ruskin's condemnation of political economy draws on several analogies with natural science. Wealth and riches, for instance, are 'a power like that of electricity, acting only through inequalities or negations of itself' (278). Similarly, the 'circulation of wealth in a nation resembles that of the blood in the natural body', an analogy, Ruskin claims, which 'will hold, down even to minute particulars' (281). In conclusion, he asks whether 'among national manufactures, that of Souls of a good quality may not at least turn out a quite leadingly lucrative one?' (286).
Celebrating the wonder and mystery of 'nature's inmost being' (313), Hinton advises that the study of the 'unity of the vital and other laws', and of 'the organic and inorganic worlds', leads to a higher appreciation of the Creation because it prevents us from putting 'asunder in our thought what God has joined together' (314). The main determinant of organic form, he contends, is 'the resistance of the structures which surround the growing organism'. This is 'the simple means employed by the Creator for bringing into being the marvels of the organic world' (319). Organic bodies develop in accordance with the 'universal law' of taking 'the direction of least resistance' (320), and invariably assume a 'spiral form' which is 'a general characteristic both of the vegetable and animal creation'. This is illustrated by a passage from John Ruskin'sRuskin, John
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> 'recent volume' of Modern PaintersRuskin, John
1857–60. Modern Painters, 6th edn, 5 vols, London: Smith, Elder
CloseView the register entry >>. (321)
Details the uses of crime statistics, though remaining sceptical as to their actual impact on the reduction of criminality. The 'virus of future thieving' is 'like the worm in the naked foot of the negro, the reptile can never be killed until its head is drawn out' (340).
Invention, Political Economy, Domestic Economy, Health
Notes that the post-Waterloo process of wealth accumulation has been 'dignified by the application to it of a vast number of scientific inventions'. Political economy is 'the only branch of inquiry [...] which, being conversant with human action, has attained anything approaching to the precision of a science'. (346) Also remarks upon the 'extreme costliness' of modern standards of health which require 'a roomy house, good drainage, plenty of food, careful nursing, proper medical attendance, and occasional change of air' (348).
Political Economy, Adulteration, Utilitarianism, Human Species, Soul
The 'science of getting rich' includes the 'adulteration of food of people of small estates', a method 'employed largely now' (409). In a footnote Ruskin avows that it is 'the privilege of the fishes, as it is of rats and wolves, to live by the laws of demand and supply; but the distinction of humanity, to live by those of right' (410n.).
Although conceding that the 'union of mind and body is in our experience so intimate, that we naturally think of them together', Hinton insists that the 'purely physical life of the body' remains 'subservient' to 'the spiritual faculties of feeling and will', and proposes that physiology must continue 'distinguishing the mental and the material life, [...] fixing our thoughts upon the body, over which, as over an obedient instrument, the conscious man bears sway' (421). In this examination of the animal body, Hinton locates it within the universal system of energy conservation that operates in accordance with the law: 'Every giving off of force has for its necessary effect the storing up of force in equal amount elsewhere' (424). The perpetual process of 'an equal loss and gain' of force is analogous to the principles of political economy: 'Nature in this respect is like the books of a commercial firm [...]. We are but borrowers from Nature's store, and what she showers on us with open hand, with a stern clutch she snatches from our fellows. But we are honest debtors, and pay to the last farthing' (425). Samuel T ColeridgeColeridge, Samuel Taylor
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> in his posthumous book Hints Towards the Formation of a More Comprehensive Theory of LifeColeridge, Samuel
Taylor 1848. Hints Towards the Formation of a More Comprehensive
Theory of Life, ed. by Seth B Watson, London: John Churchill
CloseView the register entry >> is seen to have 'anticipated, so far as his general view is concerned, almost the entire advance of physiological knowledge since his day' (426). The essential unity of the organic and inorganic worlds, expressed by Coleridge and others, leads to the necessary conclusion that 'the apparently inorganic world is truly living too' (428). All structures are made up of lifeless atoms ('The ultimate atoms of oxygen and hydrogen, for example, are the same in the human brain as they are in water'), and the existence of life depends only upon their mode of organization (429). In this view, inorganic planets might be considered as atomic particles that are organized into the living whole of a galaxy. Hinton concludes his series of articles by explaining to the reader, who has remained 'tolerant of the abstruse discussions which some of the papers contain' (431), that 'the name "Riddles" has not been given to them without meaning, or merely to stimulate a jaded curiosity' (430–31), but in order to signify our still 'feeble powers' of comprehension with regard to the 'laws and methods of the Highest and Universal Worker' (431).
Ethnography, Race, Imperialism, Morality, Steamships, Military Technology, Progress, Adulteration
Describes the instinctual cowardice, avarice and criminality of the Chinese people, which means that 'you cannot easily persuade a Chinese that there is anything objectionable in piracy' (435). In that vast country 'There are so many mouths to feed that human life is a drug in the market, and every man's head [...] sits loosely on his shoulders' (436). The deceitful cunning of Chinese pirates, however, cannot overcome the steam-powered might of 'an English cruiser'. In any battle 'Discipline, race, and civilization are too much for fierceness and greed [...] the deep British cheer rising louder and clearer over the yells of the savages'. (435)
The various governmental shortcomings revealed by the Royal Commission on State Fortifications for Defence of UKRoyal Commission on State Fortifications for Defence of the United Kingdom
CloseView the register entry >> are contrasted with scientific contributions to the defence of England. For example, 'we have a power of concentrating our forces, by means of our railways and telegraphs, unrivalled in any other country' (496). Furthermore, 'Our natural advantages are great; and it seems now to be admitted that those arising from scientific improvements and discoveries are greater for our defence than for any attack upon our shores'. Among these advances is 'the new portable electric light' for which the 'Scientific Committee of the War Department are now busily engaged in devising a system of signals by light-flashes'. Most importantly, successful 'experiments' have been made on 'steel and iron armour for ships, scientifically constructed with the view of diverting the shot and causing it to glance off, instead of clumsily attempting to resist it by mere strength of material alone'. (497) With these 'invulnerable vessels of a new and scientific construction [...] what enemy will dare approach us?'. The article concludes that 'our future Bulwarks must be of IRON'. (500)
Reflects that 'your railroad starts the new era, and we of a certain age belong to the new time and the old one [...]. We are of the age of steam. We have stepped out of the old world on to Brunel'sBrunel, Isambard Kingdom
ODNB CloseView the register entry >> vast deck, and across the waters ingens patet tellus. Towards what continent are we wending?'. The narrator relates how he 'used to know a man who had invented a flying-machine', but who failed to make it for the want of five hundred pounds, and then remarks, 'somebody else must make the flying-machine. But that will only be a step forward on the journey already begun since we quitted the old world'. Suggests that 'We who lived before railways [...] are like Father Noah and his family out of the Ark'. (504) These 'prærailroadites' are compared with 'the hippopotamus, and the elephant, and the long-necked giraffe' in a zoological gardens, who, 'when the keepers are asleep [...] lay their heads together and have a colloquy about the great silent antediluvian world which they remember, where mighty monsters floundered around the ooze, crocodiles basked on the banks, and dragons darted out of the caves and waters before men were made to slay them' (504–05).
Political Economy, Heterodoxy, Boundary Formation, Natural Law, Energy, Human Species, Population, Utilitarianism, Environmentalism, Theology of Nature
Contends that 'the real science of political economy', which teaches the love of virtue and life, 'has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology' (547). Ruskin also invokes the laws of energy conservation to invalidate the assertion that everybody can make a profit: 'by the unfortunate constitution of the world we live in, the laws both of matter and motion have quite rigorously forbidden universal acquisition of this kind [...] for every plus there is a precisely equal minus' (551). While for Thomas R MalthusMalthus, Thomas Robert
DSB CloseView the register entry >> and his followers 'Man [is] considered as an animal [...] limited by the same laws' that check the 'multiplication of animals' like gnats and swallows, Ruskin insists that 'the law of human population differs wholly from that of animal life', and it is 'limited only by the limits of his courage and his love' (559). Expressing his environmental concerns, Ruskin alleges that although 'All England may, if it so chooses, become one manufacturing town [...] the world cannot become a factory or a mine'. Rather, 'so long as men live by bread, the far away vallies must laugh as they are covered with the gold of God', and men will always continue to love the 'triplets of birds, and murmur and chirps of insects'. (562)
Begins by defining the difference between weather and climate. Even without complex instruments, 'our own observations of the external world' can help us become 'weather-wise' (567). Indeed, the 'life-long observation of small signs' made by the 'weather-beaten sailor or the old shepherd [...] combine all that a dozen instruments and as many careful meteorologists could discover' (575). Reports that a 'great magnetic storm' in August 1859 caused 'an extraordinary disturbance of currents along telegraph wires' (572). The 'ultimate causes of weather' are traced back to the sun (576), the varieties of climate being determined by 'those rays which communicate light, heat, chemical action and electricity'. It has recently been observed, moreover, that the appearance of 'large dark spots' obscuring the face of the sun are accompanied by 'magnetic disturbances on the earth ' which induce a 'great general derangement of the weather over large areas'. (577) The 'study of the weather', then, involves the observation of 'the course of vegetation and the habit of animals' as well as 'some of the highest problems and most remarkable speculations of physical astronomy'. Furthermore, there is 'probably no department of science in which more real advance has been made within the last quarter of a century than in meteorology'. (578) Noting the 'mutual dependence that exists between the material and immaterial parts of the great system of creation', speculates that 'we may almost recognize the reality of an existence unhampered by material impediments, when we find an instantaneous response of our innermost sense and sensations to a material stimulus applied within the burning atmosphere of the sun'. The 'peculiarities of constitution' endured by 'persons of high nervous organization' may have their origin in 'a more ready sensibility to these real but indefinable natural forces'. (579)
Alleges that 'there is a vis medicatrix in work as there is in nothing else' (603). Work is 'verily a coat of mail' against all the minor sicknesses and bodily ailments which are 'the common lot of us poor worldlings' (604–05). Even though some 'theorists have written or declaimed about animal food clogging or deadening the intellectual faculties', insists that 'intellectual labour demands good physical support even more than bodily work', and recommends 'Beefsteaks' rather than 'salad' (607). Also considers the work patterns of 'men occupying an important position in an "office"' who 'do supplementary work, write books or articles, or solve mighty problems in science', as well as those who 'having no official labours, choose their own time for literary labour or scientific research' (611).
Warns that 'a cheap and obtrusive photographer' will make a bad neighbour (621). He will 'get cheaper still, and more obtrusive; his operations will spread from the house and garden to the public pathway, where he will stand with an inky specimen of his art, and stop the passers-by' (621–22).
Reflecting that 'Bodily, I may be in 1860, inert, silent, torpid; but in the spirit I am walking about in 1828', the narrator asks, 'Have you read Mr. Dale Owen'sOwen, Robert Dale
ODNB CloseView the register entry >>Footsteps on the Confines of Another WorldOwen, Robert Dale
1860. Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World: With Narrative
Illustrations, Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott & Co
CloseView the register entry >>?—(My dear sir, it will make your hair stand quite refreshingly on end). In that work you will read that when gentlemen's or ladies' spirits travel off a few score or thousand miles to visit a friend, their bodies lie quiet and in a torpid state in their beds or in their arm-chairs at home. So, in this way, I am absent' (625).
Education, Schools, Mathematics, Scientific Practitioners, Status
Reports that 'although a rather pompous pretence has at last been made of teaching the EtonEton College, Berkshire CloseView the register entry >> boys arithmetic, mathematics, and modern languages, it is but a pretence' (643), and the subjects remain 'systematically neglected' (644). As a consequence 'the most eminent Englishmen in every art and science [...] have not been educated at our public schools' (648). Also notes that undistinguished tutors at Eton earn more than 'three or four times as much as Professor OwenOwen, Richard
DSB CloseView the register entry >> himself' (646), whose salary as 'Superintendent of Natural History' at the British MuseumBritish Museum
CloseView the register entry >> is 'but 800l. a-year' (647n.)
Disease, Religion, Sanitation, Medical Practitioners, Status
When his wife contracts typhus, Josiah Crawley resolves to 'take upon himself the duties of [...] a nurse'. In his 'absolute ignorance of all sanatory measures', however, he merely 'throw[s] himself on his knees to pray'. The charitable Lucy Lufton considers that, as well as prayer, 'other aid [is] also wanting to' Crawley's wife (656). She reports that although a 'doctor's assistant' has visited the sick woman 'they are greatly in want of better advice' (658).
Warns that, as well as hostile nations, 'we have other enemies'. These are the agents of pollution—'worms or boring animals [...]; the fungus called dry rot [...]; and the moisture and gases in the air'—which threaten even the most prestigious buildings in the country (709). Advises that 'if there be any defence, it must come from the mineral kingdom' and that the 'architect and builder must appeal to the chemist' for a protective substance that will penetrate behind the surface of stone (713). Such a substance, based on a solution of flint called water-glass, was pioneered in France by Charles F KuhlmannKuhlmann, Charles Frédéric
WBI CloseView the register entry >>, and has recently been further developed in England by Frederick RansomeRansome, Frederick
WBI CloseView the register entry >>. The initial trials of Ransome's 'patented [...] method' (716) have been successful, although they are 'manifestly too recent to justify an opinion' (717). Also notes that 'any allusion to chemical technicalities' has been 'purposely avoided' in the main text of the article (instead they are dealt with in a brief footnote) (715–16n.).
Specialization, Medical Practitioners, Status, Health, Darwinism
Applauds the 'universal tendency amongst us to go in search of specialities'. For example, 'General practitioners seldom get beyond a respectable mediocrity, whilst your specialists attain to eminence and wealth. If an eye or an ear be affected, we seek out the man who has made that particular organ the study of his life'. (734) Also comments on the importance of good health in 'the great Olympics of life' (736).