Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/433

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influences, by chemical influences; that they, in turn, cease to communicate impressions, or, in other words, to stimulate the voluntary muscles; and that then there is sleep which lasts until there is resolution of structure, whereupon there is wakefulness, from renewed motion in brain-matter, and renewed stimulation of voluntary muscle, through nerve.

The change of structure of the brain which I assume to be the proximate cause of sleep is possibly the same change as occurs in a more extreme degree when the brain and its subordinate parts actually die. The effects of a concussion of the brain from a blow, the effects of a simple puncture of nervous matter in centres essential to life—as the point in the medulla oblongata which Flourens has designated the vital point—have never been explained, and admit, I imagine, of no explanation except the change of structure I have now ventured to suggest.

Here, for the moment, my task must end. My object has been to make the reader conversant with what has been said by philosophers upon the subject of sleep and its proximate cause, and to indicate briefly a new Line of scientific inquiry. I shall hope on some future occasion to be able to announce further and more fruitful labor.




THE Calmucks primitively inhabited the countries northeast of the Chinese Empire. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, they arrived on the shores of the Caspian Sea; and they have camped there to the present day.

The first glance at a Calmuck suffices to recognize in him the model representative of the true Mongol type. They are of middle stature, robust, and broad in the shoulders. Their skin is swarthy, face flat, fissure of the eyelids narrow and oblique, nose depressed, nostrils wide, lips thick, teeth white and regular, ears long and prominent, hair black, and beard thin.

The principal trait in the character of the Calmucks, after their simplicity, want of cleanliness, and laziness, is that, after the manner of all nomad people, they are extremely superstitious. The Calmuck never undertakes any serious matter without having previously consulted a sorcerer. He never dares to kill a fly, for fear of assailing the soul of one of his ancestors, which may perhaps animate this insect. When, on a journey, a Calmuck perceives a certain bird which he esteems