Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/41

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on muscular Motion.

luntary muscles are each acted upon by different substances, which appear to be their peculiar stimuli; and these stimuli co-operate with the sensorial influence in producing their contractions: for example, the bile appears to be the appropriate stimulus of the muscular fibres of the alimentary canal below the stomach, because the absence of it renders those passages torpid. The digested aliment, or perhaps the gastric juice in a certain state, excites the stomach. The blood stimulates the heart, light the iris of the eye, and mechanical pressure seems to excite the muscles of the œsophagus. The last cause may perhaps be illustrated by the instances of compression upon the voluntary muscles, when partially contracted, of which there are many familiar examples. Probably the muscles of the ossicula auditûs are awakened by the tremors of sound; and this may be the occasion of the peculiar arrangement observable in the chorda tympani, which serves those muscles.

These extraneous stimuli seem only to act in conjunction with the sensorial power, derived by those muscles from the gangliated nerves, because the passions of the mind alter the muscular actions of the heart, the alimentary canal, the respiratory muscles, and the iris; so that probably the respective stimuli already enumerated, only act subserviently, by awakening the attention of the sensorial power, (if that expression may be allowed,) and thereby calling forth the nervous influence, which, from the peculiar organization of the great chain of sympathetic nerves, is effected without consciousness: for, when the attention of the mind, or the more interesting passions prevail, all the involuntary muscles act irregularly, and unsteadily, or wholly cease. The movements of the iris of the common parrot is a striking example of the mixed influence.

The muscles of the lower tribes of animals, which are often