Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/188

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178
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tween faculty and trustees there ought to be perfect concert of action; when either body distrusts the other, mischief is sure to happen. The method by which teachers are appointed should be a matter of usage and policy, not of prescribed rule; and the method above laid down seems to be the safest in the long run. A faculty can not maintain the highest efficiency unless it is thoroughly harmonious; any jar or friction in it leads to dissatisfactions which quickly spread to the students, and the result is disastrous to all the parties concerned.

 

SIR CHARLES BELL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTATION.
By Dr. WILLIAM B. CARPENTER.

IT has been repeatedly urged, by the opponents of physiological experimentation, that Sir Charles Bell in his later life declared that his physiological discoveries had been really made by anatomy only, and that he had only made experiments for the satisfaction of others; and a quotation to this effect has been lately brought prominently forward by Mrs. Dr. A. Kingsford, in order to set in the most unfavorable light what she characterizes as the needless, fruitless, and barbarous experiments of Magendie on the same subject.

As it is probable that the vivisection question will be again brought before Parliament, I think it important that the public should be informed of the real history of the discoveries with which Sir Charles Bell is commonly credited; that history having been most erroneously narrated by his brother-in-law, Mr. A. Shaw[1] (who may be presumed to have written with Bell's sanction and authority), and its errors, though fully exposed at the time[2] (during Bell's life), having been repeated and even exaggerated by the most recent of his biographers.[3]

The great discovery ordinarily attributed to Sir Charles Bell is that of the distinctness of the motor and sensory nerve-fibers; as shown by the separate existence of motor and sensory endowments, (1) in the anterior and posterior roots of the spinal nerves, in whose trunks these two orders of fibers are bound up together; and (2) in certain nerves of the head, some of which are motor only, while others are sensory only. These doctrines, according to Mr. A. Shaw, had been conceived as far back as 1809; and were then embodied in a tract which Bell printed for private distribution among his friends,[4]

  1. "Narrative of the Discoveries of Sir Charles Bell in the Nervous System" (1839).
  2. "British and Foreign Medical Review," January, 1840.
  3. "Encyclopædia Britannica," vol. iii (1875).
  4. Sir Charles Bell himself fixed the date as 1811.