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From Blackwood's Magazine.
but Science as yet has been unable to furnish any sufficient explanation. Between the HUNGER is one of the beneficent and terri- gentle and agreeable stimulus known as ble instincts. It is, indeed, the very fire of Appetite, and the agony of Starvation, there life, underlying all impulses to labor, and are infinite gradations. The early stages moving man to noble activities by its imperi- are familiar even to the wealthy; but only ous demands. Look where we may, we see the very poor, or those who have undergone it as the motive power which sets the vast exceptional calamities, such as shipwreck and array of human machinery in action. It is the like, know anything of the later stages. Hunger which brings these stalwart navvies We all know what it is to be hungry, even together in orderly gangs to cut paths very hungry; but the terrible approaches of through mountains, to throw bridges across protracted hunger are exceptional experirivers, to intersect the land with the great ences. From materials furnished by sad exiron-ways which bring city into daily com- periences, both familiar and exceptional, I munication with city. Hunger is the over-will endeavor to state the capital phenomena seer of those men erecting palaces, prison- and their causes. houses, barracks, and villas. Hunger sits at the loom, which with stealthy power is weaving the wondrous fabrics of cotton and silk. Hunger labors at the furnace and the plough, coercing the native indolence of man into strenuous and incessant activity. Let food be abundant and easy of access, and civilization becomes impossible; for our higher efforts are dependent on our lower impulses in an indissoluble manner. Nothing but the necessities of food will force man to labor, which he hates, and will always avoid when possible. And although this seems obvious only when applied to the laboring classes, it is equally though less obviously true when applied to all other classes, for the money we all labor to gain is nothing but food, and the surplus of food, which will buy other men's labor.
In every living organism there is an incessant and reciprocal activity of waste and repair. The living fabric in the very actions which constitute its life, is momently yielding up its particles to destruction, like the coal which is burned in the furnace: so much coal to so much heat, so much waste of tissue to so much vital activity. You cannot wink your eye, move your finger, or think a thought, but some minute particle of your substance must be sacrificed in doing so. Unless the coal which is burning be from time to time replaced, the fire soon smoulders, and finally goes out; unless the substance of your body which is wasting be from time to time furnished with fresh food, life flickers, and at length becomes extinct. Hunger is the instinct which teaches us to replenish the empty furnace. But although If in this sense Hunger is seen to be a the want of food, necessary to repair the beneficent instinct, in another sense it is ter-waste of life, is the primary cause of Hunrible, for when its progress is unchecked it ger, it does not, as is often erroneously becomes a devouring flame, destroying all that is noble in man, subjugating his humanity, and making the brute dominant in him, till finally life itself is extinguished. Beside the picture of the activities it inspires, we might also place a picture of the ferocities it evokes. Many an appalling story might be cited, from that of Ugolino in the faminetower, to those of wretched shipwrecked men and women who have been impelled by the madness of starvation to murder their companions that they might feed upon their flesh.
What is this Hunger-what its causes and effects? In one sense we may all be said to know what Hunger is; in another sense no man can enlighten us; we have all felt it,
stated, in itself constitute Hunger. The absence of necessary food causes the sensation, but it is not itself the sensation. Food may be absent without any sensation, such as we express by the word Hunger, being felt; as in the case of insane people, who frequently subject themselves to prolonged abstinence from food, without any hungry cravings; and, in a lesser degree, it is familiar to us all how any violent emotion of grief or joy will completely destroy, not only the sense of Hunger, but our possibility of even swallowing the food which an hour before was cravingly desired. Further, it is known that the feeling of Hunger may be allayed by opium,. tobacco, or even inorganic substances introduced into the stomach, although none of
these can supply the deficiency of food. The animal body is often compared with a Want of food is therefore the primary, but steam-engine, of which the food is the fuel not the proximate, cause of Hunger. I am in the furnace, furnishing the motor power. using the word Hunger in its popular sense As an illustration, this may be acceptable here, as indicating that specific sensation enough, but, like many other illustrations, it which impels us to eat; when the subject is often accepted as if it were a real analogy, has been more fully unfolded, the reader will a true expression of the facts. As an analosee how far this popular sense of the word is gy, its failure is conspicuous. No engine applicable to all the phenomena. burns its own substance as fuel: its motor We can now understand why Hunger power is all derived from the coke which is should recur periodically, and with a fre- burning in the furnace, and is in direct conquency in proportion to the demands of stant proportion to the amount of coke connutrition. Young animals demand food sumed; when the coke is exhausted, the more frequently than the adult; birds and engine stops. But every organism consumes mammalia more frequently than reptiles and its own body; it does not burn food, but fishes. A lethargic boa-constrictor will only tissue. The fervid wheels of life were made feed about once a-month, a lively rabbit out of food, and in their action motor power twenty times a-day. Temperature has also is evolved. The difference between the orits influence on the frequency of the recur-ganism and the mechanism is this; the prorence: cold excites the appetite of warm- duction of heat in the organism is not the blooded animals, but diminishes that of the cause of its activity, but the result of it; cold-blooded, the majority of which cease whereas in the mechanism the activity origito take any food at the temperature of nates in and is sustained by the heat. Refreezing. Those warm-blooded animals move the coals which generate the steam, which present the curious phenomena of and you immediately arrest the action of the "winter-sleep," resemble the cold-blooded mechanism; but long after all the food has animals in this respect; during hybernation disappeared, and become transformed into they need no food, because almost all the the solids and liquids of the living fabric, vital actions are suspended. It is found that, the organism continues to manifest all the at this temperature of freezing, even diges-powers which it manifested before. There tion is suspended. Hunter fed lizards at is of course a limit to this continuance, inasthe commencement of winter, and from time much as vital activity is dependent on the to time opened them, without perceiving any destruction of tissue. The man who takes indications of digestion having gone on; and when spring returned, those lizards which were still living, vomited the food which they had retained undigested in their stomachs during the whole winter."
no food lives like a spendthrift on his capital, and cannot survive his capital. He is observed to get thin, pale, and feeble, because he is spending without replenishing his coffers he is gradually impoverishing himself, because Life is waste; for Life moves along the stepping-stones of change, and change is death.
Besides the usual conditions of recurring appetite, there are some unusual conditions, depending on peculiarities in the individual, If we examine the blood of a starving or on certain states of the organism. Thus man, we shall find its elementary composiduring convalescence after some maladies, tion to be precisely similar to that of the especially fevers, the appetite is almost in- same man in his healthy state, but the processant; and Admiral Byron relates that, portions of that composition will be greatly after suffering from a month's starvation altered; the globules-which may be deduring a shipwreck, he and his companions, nominated the nutritive solids of the bloodwhen on shore, were not content with gorg- are much diminished in quantity, the inoring themselves while at table, but filled their ganic constituents, which are the products of pockets that they might eat during the inter- destroyed tissues, much increased. In fact, vals of meals. In certain diseases there is a these inorganic products, like the pawncraving for food which no supplies allay; tickets found in the spendthrift's desk, are but of this we need not speak here. significant of the extravagance and the poverty which point to ruin.
HUNTER: Observations on Certain Parts of the Animal Economy.
DCCXVI. LIVING AGE. VOL. XX. 27
We cannot say how long such a spend
thrift life may continue, because Time has | answer; and as a contribution towards the no definite relation to the phenomena of formation of a definite and philosophical starvation; these depend on certain specific judgment, I will state some of the most changes going on in the body, which may striking cases on record, and the physiologioccur with indefinite rapidity. Within the cal principles implied in them. same period of time the whole cycle of change necessary for destruction may have completed itself, or only a few of the stages in this cycle may have been gone through; a man under certain conditions will not survive six days' fasting, and under other conditions he will survive six weeks. But if we cannot with any precision say how long starvation will be in effecting its fatal end, we can say how much waste is fatal. From the celebrated experiments of Chossat on Inanition,* it appears that death arrives whenever the waste reaches an average proportion of 0.4. That is to say, supposing an animal to weigh 100 lb., it will succumb when its weight is reduced to 60 lb. Death may of course ensue before that point is reached, but not be prolonged after it. The average loss which can be sustained is 40 per cent; sometimes the loss is greater, especially if the animal be very fat: thus in the Transactions of the Linnean Society, a case is reported of a fat pig which was buried under thirty feet of chalk for one hundred and sixty days; his weight fell in that period no less than 75 per cent. Curiously enough, as an illustration of what was just said respecting Time not being an index, fishes and reptiles were found by Chossat to perish at precisely the same limit of weight as warm-blooded animals, but they required a period three-andtwenty times as long to do it in: thus if the experiment be performed of starving a bird and a frog during the warm weather, although both will perish when their loss of weight reaches 40 per cent, the one will not survive a week, the other will survive threeand-twenty weeks.
The human body is in many respects so different from that of animals, especially in its complexity, that we can draw no very accurate conclusion from their powers of enduring abstinence; but after all, the differ ences will only be differences of degree, and and the same physiological laws must regulate both, so that we may be certain of the effect of abstinence on man not being essentially dissimilar to that on all other warmblooded animals. Let us therefore first see how the case stands with animals. The experiments of Pommer establish that carnivorous animals resist starvation longer than the herbivorous; birds of prey longer than birds feeding on seeds and fruits. I think we might a priori have deduced this conclusion from the known differences in the intervals of recurring Hunger, and in the different quantities of food eaten by the two classes. The carnivorous animal eats voraciously when food is within reach, but having satisfied his appetite, he remains several hours before again feeling hungry; and in a state of nature the intervals between his meals are necessarily variable, and often much prolonged, because his food is neither abundant or easy of access. The herbivorous animal, on the other hand, has his food constantly within reach, and is almost always eating, because an enormous amount of vegetable food is needed to furnish him with sustenance. The lion, or the cat, becomes inured to long abstinence; the rabbit or the cow scarcely knows the feeling. It is clear, therefore, that the one will better endure long fasting than the other. Chossat's experiments on eight-and-forty birds and animals Having clearly fixed these principles, we show that the average duration of life exmay proceed to consider the many remarka- ceeded nine days and a half-the maximum ble cases of prolonged fasting which appeal being twenty days and a half, the minimum to the credulity of the public, and which find a little more than two days. The young ala place even in very grave treatises, as well ways die first, the adult before the aged: this as in the less critical columns of newspapers. is true of men as of animals. Some of the 'Are we to believe these marvels, or reject simpler animals exhibit remarkable powers of them? and on what grounds are we justified endurance. Latreille pinned a spider to a in rejecting them? Such questions the cork, and after four months found it still reader will frequently be called upon to alive. Baker kept a stag-beetle three years *CHOSSAT: Recherches Expérimentales sur l' in a box without food, and at the end of that Inanition. period it flew away. Müller relates that
scorpion not only survived the voyage from "But all these stories are surpassed by Africa to Holland, but continued without food that of a woman who remained fifty years for nine months afterwards. Rondelet kept without food; it is added, however, that she a fish three years without food, and Rudolphi sometimes took skimmed milk." Admitting," says M. Bérard, "that there a Proteus anguineus five years! Snakes, has been deception in some of these cases, we know, live for many months without eat- and that the love of the marvellous has preing; and Redi found that a seal lived, out of sided over the narrations of others, we canwater and without food, four weeks. In not refuse to believe that some are authentic. these cases, except the fish kept by Rondelet, the animals were quiescent, and did not waste their substance by the ordinary activities; and with regard to the fish, some doubts may be entertained whether it did not find worms and larvæ in the water.
Every year such cases are registered. In 1836, M. Lavigne invited me to visit a woman of fifty-two, who, after having reduced teen months, had taken nothing in the shape herself to a glass of milk daily during eighof food or drink during the last five months. In 1839, M. Parizot communicated to me the fact of a girl at Marcilly who had taken no solid nutriment for six years, and for the last five years no liquid or solid. In 1838, seen a woman at Ayrens, aged eight-andM. Plongeau wrote to me to say that he had forty, who during the last eight years had received no nourishment whatever."*
Passing from animals to man, we find that death arrives on the fifth or sixth day of total abstinence from food and drink. But this is a general statement to which various exceptions may be named. Much depends on the peculiar constitution of the individual, his age, health and other conditions. Some die It is rather startling to find so learned a on the second and third days; others sur-physiologist as M. Bérard recording such vive till the tenth, eleventh, and even sixcases, and trying to explain them. The teenth days. Again, considerable differences possibility of deception and exaggeration is will result from the different situations in so great, that we are tempted to reject alwhich the men are placed-such as those of most every one of these cases rather than requiescence or activity, of temperature, mois-ject all physiological teaching.
The examples of protracted fasting recorded are, as usual, deficient for the most part in that rigorous authenticity which is demanded by science; many of them are obviously fabulous exaggerations. M. Bérard has borrowed the following from Haller, adding some cases which came under his own knowledge. I give them as specimens, not as data.
"A young girl, ashamed to confess her poverty, went without food for seventy-eight days, during which she only sucked lemons. "Another woman of the same place remained four months without food, and another fasted a whole year.
"Haller reports two other cases of fasting for three and four years.
"Mackenzie reports in the Philosophical Transactions the story of a young girl who had lockjaw for eighteen years, and had taken no food during four years.
"A Scotchwoman is reported in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. lxvii., to have lived eight years without taking any thing except a little water on one or two occasions. "A case of fasting for ten years is celebrated in many works. Fabrice de Hilden, who took precautions against deception, says that Eva Flegen neither ate nor drank during six years.
The following is one of the most extraordinary of the cases which are repeated by modern writers with confidence. M'Leod after epilepsy and fever, remained five years in bed, seldom speaking, and receiving food only by constraint. At length she obstinately refused all sustenance, her jaws became locked, and in attempting to force them open two of her teeth were broken. A small quantity of liquid was introduced by the aperture, none of which she swallowed, and dough made of oatmeal was likewise rejected. She slept much, and her head was bent down on her breast. In this deplorable state she continued four years, without her relatives being aware of her receiving any aliment except a little water; but after a longer interval she revived, and subsisted on crumbs of bread with milk, or water sucked from her hand.
Attention is called to the two facts of Janet's seldom speaking and sleeping much, because, supposing the case to be true, they materially affect the question. In a state of such quiescence as is here implied, the waste of the body would be reduced to a minimum, BERARD: Cours de Physiologie, 1848, vol. i.
consequently the need of food would be min- |change going on in the organism; it is proimised. Nevertheless, in the present state of duced by "direct combustion" (according to Physiology, I think we are justified in assert- the chemical school of physiologists), by "the ing that some deception or exaggeration, disengagement of heat in chemical composinot now ascertainable, is at the bottom of tions and decompositions" (according to anthis as of all similar cases; and until a case other school), and according to all schools free from all suspicion shall have been pro- the high temperature of the body depends duced for the satisfaction of Science, we are on organic processes, which necessarily imply bound to deny the probability of such stories; waste of tissue. The warmth of the bed in since that which all our knowledge shows to which the patient lies is not sufficient to prebe in itself contradictory, and, as far as we serve her temperature at its proper height; can judge, not possible, must necessarily she must burn her own substance to keep have the highest improbability, and can only up her animal heat; and when we think of be accepted on the most rigorous evidence. the high degree of temperature maintained Either we must give up our Physiology altogether, or we must reject these stories.
during a period of four years, solely by the combustion of the body itself, we shall see For observe, on the one hand, several of at once that it is utterly impossible any orthe reported cases of long fasting have been ganism, during so long a period, could sussubsequently proved to be impostures, and tain such waste without repair. Here, then, this naturally throws a suspicion over all is the dilemma: either Janet M'Leod did similar cases. On the other hand, physiolog- maintain the ordinary temperature of the ical laws, established by induction from body during these four years, in which case thousands of facts tested in every variety of she must have destroyed more tissue to promethod, pronounce these cases to be not posi-duce that heat than she could have had origsible and we are called upon to decide whether it is more probable that these inductions should be wrong, or that some imposture or exaggeration should lie at the bottom of the narrated marvels? There cannot be a moment's hesitation as to which Let us now consider the second source of alternative we must accept; but the reader waste. Janet breathed during these four will naturally desire a clear conception of years; gently we may suppose, and with no the physiological contradictions which I have deep inspirations, yet constantly, day and asserted to be implied in these marvellous night without interruption. Now, what does narratives-the more so as many professed this breathing depend on? It depends on physiologists do not seem to be aware of them.
Supposing the waste of the body to be reduced to a minimum by the perfect quiescence in which the patients remained, we must still bear in mind that this diminution is not total arrest of waste. The patient scarcely moves, seldom speaks, and sleeps much. Very little destruction of tissue will take place, compared with the amount destroyed by the same person in ordinary activity, and very little food will be needed to repair such waste; but although comparatively small, the amount of waste will be absolutely large; we cannot say how large it will be, we can only say that it must be large. Let us fix our attention on only two sources of this waste, and the proof will be evident. The production of animal heat is only possible through a large amount of chemical
inally; or she did not maintain the ordinary temperature, in which case she would have died from the very want of this animal heat, since all organisms perish when their normal temperature is considerably lowered.
the constant interchange between carbonic acid in the blood, and oxygen in the air. Unless there were carbonic acid in the blood no exchange could take place, no breathing could be effected. Every moment, therefore, some small portion of carbonic acid must be separated from the blood, and replaced by oxygen. Whence came this carbonic acid? From destruction of tissue. Directly, or indirectly, carbonic acid was produced in the act of waste. Its presence implies waste, and the act of breathing implies a continuous supply of such waste. That this is no hypothesis, but the simple expression of the facts, every physiologist knows. It may be rendered generally intelligible by referring to what is observed with the hybernating animals. The dormouse begins its winter sleep well clothed with fat. It never moves for months; its respiration is slow and feeble,