Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/499

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483
IS ELECTRICITY LIFE?

chain, we have had the intermittent current, which can be regulated, from a gentle vibratory motion to shocks as powerful as could be gained from a huge or cumbrous battery, and far more powerful than we cared to endure.

But, if these chains and bands are small, they are not only powerful but valuable; and, as money is the great test of value in this eminently commercial country, it may be right to state that £10,000 was the penalty inflicted by the Imperial Court of Appeals in Paris, for the infringement of the patent.

Here, then, we have an electric source divested of all machinery and complication, which could be carried in a cigar-case, and which can be made to furnish both the interrupted and the continuous current in large quantities. It can be set in action by the simplest means—merely a little vinegar and a little water; and it can be applied not only, as in the old mode, to the extremities, but so as to surround the body of the patient.

Although we are not continually made sensible of it, men and women are electrical machines. The researches of Matteucci, Dubois-Reymond, Rutter, and Faraday, prove that there exists, both in the muscles and nerves of human beings and all animals, a natural electricity, independent of mechanical, physical, or chemical actions, exterior or interior; that this electricity is manifested under the form of closed currents circulating along the muscles or nerves; that the presence of this free electricity is subordinate to the state of the life of the animal, and disappears with the vital force; that all parts of the body furnish signs of free positive electricity, especially when the circulation is excited, which signs disappear under the action of cold and in rheumatic fever; that quantity currents of low tension are constantly acting throughout the vascular system, while currents of high tension, but of inferior quantity, are to be found in the cerebral, spinal, and nervous systems, flowing, in a state of rest of the individual, in directions defined by Nature, from the centre to the circumference.

The direction of this current is modified by voluntary muscular contractions, but its flow may be obstructed by hostile, poisonous influences. A deficiency of the powers of the body for this electro-generation, or a deficiency in the conducting powers of the vascular and nervous systems, is to be remedied by an artificial supply of electricity, precisely as we go to the fire to warm ourselves. But, precisely as we do not put ourselves on the fire, but take its heat steadily and lastingly, so we do not now take a dose of electricity sufficient to shake us to pieces, but, by these chains and bands, keep up and sustain a genial warmth of the parts affected, or of the whole system. Nor is there the slightest inconvenience in wearing: the bands, which are made to fit any part of the body, or to surround it altogether, as is advised in cases of general weakness. Having once been wetted with vinegar-and-water, the action commences, and the moisture of the body is suffi-