DIRECTOR   Charles Ibbott


The energy of vitality, as utilised and controllable by ourselves, is chiefly through the agency of muscles. The physiologist regards these muscles, with their attached tendons and nerves, as to the functions and offices they discharge in the economy of the individual; we are to regard them as to the external use to which they may be applied, and the work to be obtained from them. How much we copy from Nature may be concluded when we refer to the earliest attempt at locomotion from machinery. It was by basing the form and structure upon the muscles of animals. To thus imitate muscular action has hitherto baffled the ingenuity of man. If anyone has not satisfied himself of the nature of this aiftion, let him put the hand on the muscles of the arm when it is in repose; they are soft and yielding. Let him now make an exertion with the arm, such as raising a weight; the muscles become tense and hard. The weight raised is extraordinary compared with the weight of muscle employed, for it may be from 16,000 to 17,000 times its own weight. The physiologist considers the striated and unstriated variety of muscle, the nucleated cells, the vitality in each cell, the electrical relations of various tissues. With none of these need we be concerned. Engineers regard muscles as machines for doing work, and, as it is needful to know the structure of a machine before we can say how it can be made to work, so now the structure of muscle, as a machine, must be considered. When a muscle is examined after vitality has ceased, it is found to consist of a great number of separate parts, or strings. If this piece of string were a muscle, there would be a bundle of strings or fibres together—just the same as if I had doubled the string several times,— and encasing them there is a covering or sheath, much the same as an india-rubber tube, which covering encloses a number of muscular fibres or strings. That covering has none of the contraftile elements of the muscle in it; it is merely an elastic covering enclosing that which has the contradlile powers. Then, side by side with this bundle of fibres or strings, in its case, is another one, also covered in the same way, and another, and another. These are kept in their place by the tubing or covering spoken of, and a combination of these is called a muscle, which consists, then, of these fibres, which, again, are separated into fibrillae. With such a peculiar arrangement of contractile strings, it is clearly a problem for the mathematician and the mechanic to obtain a solution to the question of how much work can vital energy do when operating through the means of such apparatus as is thus supplied. The muscles are so varied in form, combination, and number, that but little progress has hitherto been made to deduce results and biing them into measurement.