Page images


Like Micheli, he took the male involucres for germens, the anthers for seeds, and the hairs on the leaves for stamens ; but since his time, the organs of generation have been very carefully described in this genus by Guettard; and M. Vaucher has explained its mode of germination. But after all, the manner in which impregnation takes place in it is still a problem; and until this is solved, it behoves us to suspend our opinion concerning the stamens, and not to take for granted facts which have not been duly demonstrated.

ISOETES, Quill-wort, represents a fascicle of narrow elongated leaves. The base of the exterior one swells out and becomes an involucre, in which are enclosed one hundred pistils. Adanson asserts, that these pistils are accompanied by stamens; but Linnæus puts the stamens at the base of the interior leaves, and pretends that they consist of a scale surmounted by an onecelled anther. But all this is very obscure; and we can decide nothing concerning either the opinions of Linnæus or Adanson," without a fresh investigation of the parts of this genus.

We already find in this, the very foremost group, that the customary forms of the sexual organs of phænogamous plants have disappeared; and in fact, many botanists are of opinion, that all the plants that rank in it have neither pistils, stamens, or seeds. Necker, for instance, maintains that the involucres of PILLULARIA, MARSILEA, and SALVINIA, contain nothing but what he calls Bésimences, which he defines to be reproductive bodies, originally of a mucilaginous consistence, that become solid, and form themselves into a germen without the co-operation of impregnation. But still it is right that we should keep in our minds, that the involucres in PILLULARIA, MARSILEA, and SALVINIA, inclose bodies of two distinct kinds, and that Bernard de Jussieu has witnessed the transverse dehiscence of those which he considers as anthers.

To be continued.

ART. VIII. Case of a Child aged six months, who swal
lowed a double-bladed Knife without Injury.
Few subjects are more interesting, than the contemplation of

the wonderful manner in which the human frame accommodates itself to the various violences to which it is subject: compression upon the brain; the effusion of fluids into the pericardium, thorax, and abdomen; a musquet ball or other extraneous body in the midst of muscle, &c.; all may remain a considerable length of time, without necessarily proving destructive: the human stomach is daily exposed to severe trials by the glutton and the drunkard, and daily it evinces its power of contending against such attacks, although it ultimately falls a sacrifice to their repetition or continuance.

If we are surprized at the efforts it is capable of in such instances, how much more must we wonder at those remarkable powers of adaptation by which it is sometimes enabled to remain uninjured when such substances as nails, pins, knives, &c. are swallowed by accident.

The painful and ridiculous feat of the Indian jugglers in passing a blunt piece of iron, under the name of a sword, into their stomach, which certainly contributes to render them short lived; and the instances we have of men actually swallowing knives to the number of 12 or 13, for a reward of spirits, or wine, do not come within the intention of these observations: they are meant chiefly to apply to those cases where foreign substances have been inadvertently swallowed.

In the Transactions of the Royal Society, cases are recorded, of knives being swallowed by adults, which forced their way through the coats of the stomach by producing inflammation, &c. or were removed by incision: we have also many histories of nails, padlocks, knives, &c. being swallowed without producing fatal consequences; but I am not aware of any case being recorded where a knife remained so long in the stomach of so young a child, as in that of which I now give the particulars, and which, on that account, deserves to be

preserved, if it has not already been communicated by the very respectable persons who, with myself, were witnesses to the facts.


March 16th, 1802. A child of Jonathan White's, Southgate, Chichester, about six months old, had a small double-bladed knife, about two inches and a half in length, given it to play with. On the return of its mother to the room, she sought in vain for the knife, in all parts of the cradle in which the infant was lying: the child expressed some uneasiness at the stomach, from which the mother concluded it had swallowed the knife; the bowels were kept lax by the use of castor oil; and the fæces soon began to grow black. The child took no food, but milk; seemed often very uneasy in its stomach, and had slight febrile indisposition; yet it continued to look well, and was sufficiently fat.

May 24th. The shortest blade was discharged by the bowels; the back of it very much corroded, its edges being ragged, uneven, and saw-like: the rivet was entirely dissolved. The general state of the child's health, as stated above.

June 16th. The child after being for a day or two more than usually uneasy, and rejecting every thing offered as food, brought from its stomach, in vomiting, one side of the horn handle about two inches in length, very much softened and bent double: a small bit of iron was passed a few days afterwards by stool. He frequently expresses great pain in his stomach and bowels, and starts much when asleep; has retained no nourishment for three days, and now looks much emaciated.

July 8th. The child more emaciated, takes little food, and unless when quieted by a decoction of poppies expresses more pain, continually writhing. Its bowels are lax, and the stools have a black appearance, and the abdomen exhibits externally a degree of inflammation. His pulse is soft and moderate while asleep; the skin feels rough; has voided nothing since

the horn handle.

July 24th. To day he passed a bit of iron, which was about

half an inch in length, of a wedge-like shape, much corroded, and full of holes, and appearing to have been the large blade.

August 11th. The child has been in a convalescent state for the last fortnight, grows fatter, and looks much better; has been more quiet, although he has not slept much; the decoction of poppies has been omitted for some time past; the pulse full and strong; sucks more heartily, and now eats sopped bread three or four times a day. Yesterday and to day it has been more uneasy: about five o'clock in the evening vomited up its milk, together with the back of the knife, 24 inches in length, pointed, and corroded at one end; the other nearly perfect, and first presented itself at the mouth; soon after, it vomited the other side of the horn handle, softened, the edges uneven, and dissolved. The child was much exhausted by its efforts, and soon fell asleep. The stools are some days of their natural colour, and sometimes black.

Dec. 20th. The child is now in perfect health, remarkably robust, and has not experienced a day's illness since August.

The Notes from whence I have taken the above particulars were made at the moment by Mr. J. N. Shelley, now a surgeon in the army, who was at that period my senior, and whose observations I can corroborate most fully.

Whether we look on this Case, as proving the possibility of so large a substance as a knife remaining so many months without material injury, in the stomach of so young an infant, or whether we consider the state in which the separated parts of the knife, at distant intervals, came away, it affords equally curious and useful matter for contemplation. It shews the remarkable power possessed by the gastric juice, even in so young an infant, of acting upon the metal, by which the rivets of the knife and the sharp edges of it were dissolved, and the life of the individual saved.

Manifold are the precautions which the adult takes, to preserve his health and to guard against accidents; he is capable of explaining the nature of his sufferings, readily takes the most nauseous drugs to subdue disease, and submits to severe

pain to obviate the effects of accident; but the infant cannot describe its feelings, cannot be treated with certainty, and will not endure restraint to effect a cure of the consequences of accidents; how bountiful, then, is Providence, in guarding it from the accidents of birth, by rendering its bones flexible, in restoring union of fractures by the rapidity with which callus is secreted, and in enabling the stomach to meet so successfully, such calls upon the solvent powers of its juices, as are exemplified in this Case.

W. H. BANKS, Surgeon, Royal Navy.

Ryde, Isle of Wight, May Sth. 1818.

ART. IX. On the Production of Ice at the Bottoms of Rivers.

THE phænomenon of the production of ice at the bottoms of rivers, has been repeatedly noticed; but I am not aware that any satisfactory solution has hitherto been given of the cause. In Nicholson's Dictionary of Chemistry, several different hypotheses are enumerated, which I shall not now stop to examine; since it may be safely asserted, that they neither accord with the established principles of chemistry, nor with the facts for which they endeavour to account. The most recent theory with which I am acquainted, is that of Mr. A. Knight; who, in a Paper lately published in the Philosophical Transactions, seems to consider the particles of ice as originally formed at the surface, and afterwards absorbed by the eddies of streams to the bottom. He states in support of this idea, that he did not observe any similar appearance in still water. I shall advert to this hypothesis in the sequel; and, at present, it may suffice to remark of it and all others which I have hitherto seen,

that supposing any of them to be correct, the same effects ought regularly to be produced, whenever the atmosphere is at a similar temperature; or in other words, that whenever the

« PreviousContinue »