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268 THE HEART, AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE PASSIONS ON IT.
It must therefore always be, and cannot but always be.
To suppose it possible that necessary Existence at any time may not be, is contradictory to the supposition that it is necessary. Necessary Existence, therefore, can have no beginning or end of Existence, that is, it must be eternal.
(To be continued.)
THE HEART, AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE
PASSIONS ON IT. The heart is a double muscular bag, of a conical form, lined within and without by a dense membrane, and loosely enclosed in a receptacle of similar material, called the pericardium. It consists of two principal sacs, the right and the left, which lie side by side, and adhere firmly together, so as to form a strong middle wall, but have no internal communication. Each of these is subdivided into two connected pouches, or chambers, termed auricle and ventricle, whereof the auricle is round and thin, the ventricle long and fleshy; the two former constituting the base, and the two latter the body, of the organ. Placed in the centre of the vascular system, the heart promotes and regulates the circulation of the blood, received on each side from two or more large veins of a soft and compressible texture, and discharged through a single artery, which, being firm and elastic, is kept constantly pervious. Returning from all parts of the body except the lungs, blood of nearly a black colour, and become unfit for the purposes of life, is poured by two principal veins, called vena cavæ, into the right auricle, whence, after a momentary delay, it is transferred to the corresponding ventricle, its reflux being prevented by a membranous valve interposed between them. By the powerful contraction of the ventricle, it is transmitted through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, where, by minute subdivision, and contact with atmospheric air inhaled through the wind-pipe, it is purified, and acquires a bright crimson colour. Returning from the lungs by the four pulmonary veins, the renovated blood next passes into the left auricle, and from thence in a similar manner and at the same time as on the right side into the left
ventricle, by the contraction of which it is distributed with great force through the aorta to the remaining parts of the body, whence it was originally derived.
Whilst undisturbed by accident or disease, the actions just described are maintained during the whole of life with admirable energy and regularity, but are liable to be deranged or interrupted by various causes, and particularly by the passions of the mind. Thus it is observed by Baron Haller, the father of modern physiology, that excessive grief occasions palpitation, and sometimes sudden death; that the corporal effects of anger and terror are nearly alike, including increased strength, and violent motions both in the heart and throughout the body, and producing bloody sweats, and other kinds of hemorrhage. “ Anger," says Senac,“ has in certain cases torn the fibres of the heart, and even opened the ventricles. It is not therefore extraordinary that it should be followed by palpitation, and accordingly various Physicians have observed such a result......... But fear and terror are not less powerful causes, especially when they seize suddenly. In that case the nerves act with violence on the heart, and derange the order of its movements. The blood is at the same time propelled in these passions by a general shock, or commotion of all the parts of the body: it therefore necessarily accumulates in the two trunks of the venæ cavæ, rushes into the auricles, and overcharges them, as well as the ventricles. Here, then, are two causes, one the consequence of the other, which, as is proved by numerous examples, produce palpitation. Dilatations are frequent results of fits of passion. Grief and sadness do not act so suddenly, nor with equal force ; but these secret and silent passions induce similar disorder.” “If any one,” remarks Corvisart, “can seriously deny, or even doubt, the fatal physical influence of the passions on the heart, let it suffice him to know that a fit of anger may produce rupture of the heart, and cause sudden death .........Complete rupture of the heart has rarely been observed in the sound state of this organ : some examples may, however, he cited of this lesion, in consequence of a violent effort, a fit of anger, an epileptic paroxysm, &c ......... But of all the causes capable of producing organic diseases in general, and more especially
those of the heart, the most powerful, beyond dispute, are mental affections.........No mental affection can indeed be experienced without the movement of the heart being either augmented, accelerated, retarded, weakened, or disturbed; without its force, in fact, being increased, enfeebled, or almost annihilated. Pleasure, pain, fear, anger, in short all the powerful passions, cause the heart to palpitate, to beat more or less frequently, strongly, slowly, or regularly, or to suspend its action momentarily, sometimes even mortally.”—Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ. By William Stroud, M.D.
FABLES OF ANTIQUITY.
SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS. The readers of the tales of the ancient mythology, the youthful readers especially, will often wonder in what many of them could possibly have originated. Consideration, however, when it recalls the circumstances which characterized these far-distant times, will perceive reasons, which, though not accounting for them all, will greatly diminish the astonishment which they occasion on a first perusal. It will be recollected that in the early days of civilization, the intercourse between nations was very limited; and while navigation was in its infancy, there would be few travellers for pleasure; and even the journeys of those who were engaged in commerce would be confined within a very narrow sphere.
Little was known of geography; nothing of what may be called the geography of the world. Distant nations had not been explored; and few facts in the natural history of man, animals, and vegetables, were thoroughly established, and well understood. Nothing like a systematic knowledge of creation was possessed even by the most learned ; and when so much had to be received on trust, there was ample room for both mistake, exaggeration, and credulity. When we take up Herodotus, and read this father of history in the light of modern science, now that the world has been intersected almost at every point by the paths of enterprising travellers,
and all that it contains ransacked over and over again, and carefully noted down for analysis and arrangement, it is impossible to avoid smiling at the wonders which he relates. Besides, men were at that time very imaginative, and poetry must come in for a large share of the fictitious embellishments which long rendered facts so uncertain, and, while they contributed to the amusement and wonder of the hearers at large, totally obscured the truth even from the searching eye of philosophy.
Almost every young person knows enough of geography to be aware of the shape of Sicily, and its position, with its northeastern angle pointing towards the south-eastern promontory of Italy, the toe of the boot, as Italy itself has been termed, from the form of its outline as delineated on the maps of the Mediterranean, having only a narrow strait between the island and the continent. If acquainted with the ancient mythology, they will remember the fables about Scylla and Charybdis, furnishing a proverb, in reference to those who, in seeking to avoid one danger, fall into another, which has lasted till our own day,—we still speaking of going between Scylla and Charybdis; the supernatural dogs of the one devouring the crew who ventured within their reach, while, on the opposite side of the narrow passage, the whirlpools of the other swallowed up the vessel that sailed within their power. Charybdis, it seems, was a savage female robber, fond of pillaging passengers; and having once stolen away some of the cattle of Hercules, Jupiter struck her down with a thunderbolt, changed her into a terrible monster, and cast her into the gulf which now bears her name; where, with her long arms, she draws down vessels, and devours their crews. Scylla was the daughter of Nisus, King of Megara. Minos besieged the city : Scylla, falling in love with him, slew her father, and delivered up the place. Minos, though he availed himself of the treason, detested the traitor, and had her cast into the sea under the promontory opposite Charybdis, where she, too, was changed into a frightful monster, connected with dogs of horrible form, barking and howling incessantly. Ovid (Met., lib. vii., v. 62—65) makes Medea, while meditating on her purposed wickedness, say, referring
to her anticipated voyage with Jason, (concerning which she had before declared, in words frequently quoted to denote an inward struggle,
Sed trahit invitam nora ris : aliudque Cupido
Deteriora sequor : *) describing the adventures through which she might have to pass,
Quid quod nescio qui mediis concurrere in undis
Scylla rapaz canibus Siculo latrare profundo ? + A very curious passage is found in the history of Justin, who lived in the time of Antoninus Pius, (cir. A.D. 150,) and abridged the larger work of Trogus Pompeius, a writer in the days of Augustus, (cir. B. c. 15,) in reference to these subjects. Even the Heathen had begun to understand the origin of many of their tales. Heathenism was never made for light; even for the light of science, and human knowledge. We think that our readers will be gratified, as well as instructed, by the literal translation which we shall give them. It furnishes a guiding clue to many a labyrinth. How different, especially as to moral effect, the supernatural relations of holy Scripture! Justin is describing Sicily. He says,
“ The nearest promontory of Italy is called, Rhegium; because in Greek things broken off are described by this name. Nor is the fabulous antiquity of this place surprising, in which so many wonders concur. For, first, nowhere besides is the sea such a torrent, not only with a swift, but also a dangerous force; terrible, not only to those who experience it, but to
* “But a new force draws me, unwilling. Love one way, my mind another way, persuades. I see better things, and approve; I follow worse things.”—Mét., lib. vii., v. 19-21.
+ “What, that I know not what mountains are reported to come together in the midst of the waves, and Charybdis, an enemy to vessels, now to swallow up, now to return, the sea; and the rapacious Scylla, girt about with
pl dogs, to bark in the Sicilian deep?" &c.