Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

*3° OF THE VITAL AND 
laxed; or rather the mufcle, upon the firft application of theftimulus, 
ought to be fuddenly contraded ; which contradion fhould become 
weaker by flow degrees, till at length the mufcle has returned to its 
natural ftate of relaxation. If a few drops of any acrid liquor let 
fall on a bare mufcle, or pricking it with a needle, excites it into 
contradion, as a mechanical caufe admg upon a mechanical orphan ; 
tlien, fo long as the caufe ads on the organ, the efled muft continue 
to follow ; and if the caufe becomes gradually weaker, fo alfo muft 
the effed, till it ceafes altogether, i. e. the mufcle ought not to be a- 
gitated with alternate convulfive motions ; but, after its firft and 
ftrongeft degree of contradion, it fhould begin to lofe fome of its 
force, and continue to do fo, till it returned again to its natural 
ftate. 
W H at moft refembles mufcular contradion from an irritation, 
is the falling or clofing of the leaves of the fenfitive plant after being 
touched : but this equally happens, whether thefe leaves be touched 
with the fharp point of a penknife, or the blunt end of a pencil, 
with a piece of fmooth wax or rough iron, with brandy or with wa¬ 
ter. Here, there are no alternate contradions and relaxations, as 
in the mufcular fibres of animals; no indication of feeling or of be¬ 
ing peculiarly affeded by ftimulating fubftances ; but all is affed- 
ed by mere contad or mechanical impulfe. I cannot help obfer- 
ving in this place, though foreign to my prefent purpofe, that the 
clofing of the leaves of the fenfitive plant upon their being touched, 
cannot be owing, as fome have imagined, to the eledrical matter 
ifluing from them; fince the touch of wax, which repels this mat¬ 
ter, makes them dole as remarkably as that of non-eledric bodies : 
nay, a piece of wax ftrongly eledrifted by rubbing, made the leaves 
of this plant quickly clofe, by attrading them. 
If it be faid, that the elaftic fibres of the mufcles, or the nervous 
fluid fuppofed to be contained in their cavities, are excited by fiimuli 
into ftrong ofcillations, which are repeated till the irritation ceafesy 
or even for fome time after; I anfwer, 
“That it is not eafy to conceive how fuch fiimuli as do not ad 
by any mechanical force, but merely by their acrimony, fhould ex¬ 
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