and, from the improved state of collateral branches of knowledge, together with the addition of new sources, and methods of investigation, it may not be unreasonable to hope for an ultimate solution of these phenomena, no less complete, and consistent, than that of any other desideratum in physical science.
The present attempt to forward such designs is limited to circumstances which are connected with muscular motion, considered as causes, or rather as a series of events, all of which contribute, more or less, as conveniences, or essential requisites, to the phenomena; the details of muscular applications being distinct from the objects of this lecture.
No satisfactory explanation has yet been given of the state or changes which obtain in muscles during their contractions or relaxations, neither are their corresponding connections with the vascular, respiratory, and nervous systems, sufficiently traced. These subjects are therefore open for the present enquiry, and although I may totally fail in this attempt to elucidate any one of the subjects proposed, nevertheless I shall not esteem my labour useless, or the time of the Royal Society altogether unprofitably consumed, if I succeed in pointing out the way to the future attainment of knowledge so deeply interesting to mankind.
The muscular parts of animals are most frequently composed of many substances, in addition to those which are purely muscular. In this gross state, they constitute a flexible, compressible solid, whose texture is generally fibrous, the fibres being compacted into fasciculi, or bundles of various thickness. These fibres are elastic during the contracted state of muscles after death, being capable of extension to more than one-fifth