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first sight altogether different. Their digestive organs are less simple, and their food consists of vegetables, the great mass of which contains but little nitrogen.
From what substances, it may be asked, is the blood formed, by means of which their organs are developed? This question may be answered with certainty.
Chemical researches have shown, that all such parts of vegetables as can afford nutriment to animals contain certain constituents which are rich in nitrogen; and the most ordinary experience proves that animals require for their support and nutrition less of these parts of plants in proportion as they abound in the nitrogenized constituents. Animals cannot be fed on matters destitute of these nitrogenized constituents.
These important products of vegetation are especially abundant in the sceds of the different kinds of grain, and of peas, beans, and lentils; in the roots and in the juices of what are commonly called vegetables. They exist, however, in all plants, without exception, and in every part of plants in larger or smaller quantity.
These nitrogenized forms of nutriment in the vegetable kingdom may be reduced to three substances, which are easily distinguished by their external characters. Two of them are soluble in water, the third is insoluble.
When the newly-expressed juices of vegetables are allowed to stand, a separation takes place in a few minutes. A gelatinous precipitate, commonly of a green tinge, is deposited, and this, when acted on by liquids which remove the coloring matter, leaves a grayish white substance, well known to druggists as the deposite from vegetable juices. This is one of the nitrogenized compounds which serves for the nutrition of animals, and has been named vegetable fibrine. The juice of grapes is especially rich in this constituent, but it is most abundant in the seeds of wheat, and of the cerealia generally. It may be obtained from wheat flour by a mechanical operation, and in a state of tolerable purity; it is then called gluten, but the glutinous property belongs, not to vegetable fibrine, but to a foreign substance, present in small quantity, which is not found in the other cerealia.
The method by which it is obtained sufficiently proves that it is insoluble in water; although we cannot doubt that it was originally dissolved in the vegetable juice, from which it afterward separated, exactly as fibrine does from blood.
The second nitrogenized compound remains dissolved in the juice after the separation of the fibrine. It does not separate from the juice at the ordinary temperature, but is instantly coagulated when the liquid containing it is heated to the boiling point.
When the clarified juice of nutritious vegetables, such as cauliflower, asparagus, mangel-wurzel, or turnips, is made to boil, a
coagulum is formed, which it is absolutely impossible to distinguish from the substance which separates as a coagulum, when the serum of blood, or the white of an egg, diluted with water, are heated to a boiling point. This is vegetable albumen. It is found in the greatest abundance in certain seeds, in nuts, almonds, and others, in which the starch of the gramineæ is replaced by oil.
The third nitrogenized constituent of the vegetable food of animals is vegctable caseine. It is chiefly found in the seeds of peas, beans, lentils, and similar leguminous seeds. Like vegetable albumen, it is soluble in water, but differs from it in this, that its solution is not coagulated by heat. When the solution is heated or evaporated, a skin forms on its surface, and the addition of an acid causes a coagulum, just as in animal milk.
These three nitrogenized compounds, vegetable fibrine, albumen, and caseine, are the true nitrogenized constituents of the food of graminivorous animals : all other nitrogenized compounds occurring in plants, are either rejected by animals, 'as in the case of the characteristic principles of poisonous and medical plants, or else they occur in the food in such very small proportion, that they cannot possibly contribute to the increase of mass in the animal body.
The chemical analysis of these three substances has led to the very interesting result that they contain the same organic elements, united in the same proportion by weight; and what is still more remarkable, that they are identical in composition with the chief constituents of blood, animal fibrine, and albumen. They all three dissolve in concentrated muriatic acid with the same deep purple color, and even in their physical characters, animal fibrine and albumen are in no respect different from vegetable fibrine and albumen. It is especially to be noticed, that by the phrase, identity of composition, we do not here intend mere similarity, but that even in regard to the presence and relative amount of sulphur, phosphorus, and phosphate of lime, no difference can be observed.
How beautifully and admirably simple, with the aid of these discoveries, appears the process of nutrition in animals, the formation of their organs, in which vitality chiefly resides! Those vegetable principles, which in animals are used to form blood, contain the chief constituents of blood, fibrine and albumen, ready formed, as far as regards their composition. All plants, besides, contain a certain quantity of iron, which appears in the coloring matter of the blood. Vegetable fibrine, vegetable albumen and animal albumen, hardly differ, even in form: if these principles be wanting in the food, the nutrition of the animal is arrested; and when they are present, the graminivorous animal obtains in its food the very same principles on the presence of which the nutrition of the carnivora entirely depends.
Vegetables produce in their organism the blood of all animals; for the carnivora, in consuming the blood and flesh of the graminivora, consume, strictly speaking, only the vegetable principles which have served for the nutrition of the latter. Vegetable fibrine and albumen take the same form in the stomach of the graminivorous animal as animal fibrine and albumen do in that of the canivorous animal.
From what has been said, it follows that the development of the animal organism and its growth are dependent on the reception of certain principles identical with the chief constituents of the blood.
In this sense we may say, that the animal organism gives to blood only its form; that it is incapable of creating blood out of other substances which do not already contain the chief constituents of that fluid. We cannot, indeed, maintain, that the animal organism has no power to form other compounds, for we know that it is capable of producing an extensive series of compounds, differing in composition from the chief constituents of blood; but these last, which form the starting point of the series, it cannot produce.
The animal organism is a higher kind of vegetable, the development of which begins with those substances with the production of which the life of an ordinary vegetable ends. As soon as the latter has borne seed, it dies, or a period of its life comes to a termination.
In the endless series of compounds, which begins with carbonic acid, ammonia, and water, the sources of the nutrition of vegetables, and includes the most complex constituents of the animal brain, there is no blank, no interruption. The first substance capable of affording nutriment to animals is the last product of the creative energy of vegetables.
The substance of cellular tissue and of membranes, of the brain and nerves, these the vegetable cannot produce.
The seemingly miraculous in the productive agency of vegetables disappears, in a great degree, when we reflect that the production of the constituents of blood cannot appear more surprising than the occurrence of the fat of beef and mutton in cocoa beans, of human fat in olive oil, of the principal ingredient of butter in palm oil, and of horse fat and train oil in certain oily seeds.
GROWTH OF ANIMALS. USE OF BUTTER AND MILK. METAMOR
PHOSES OF TISSUES. FOOD OF CARNIVORA, AND OF THE HORSE.
MY DEAR SIR: The facts detailed in my last letter, will satisfy you as to the manner in which the increase of mass in an animal, that is its growth, is accomplished; we have still to consider a most important question, namely, the function performed in the
of the sound bones of milk
animal system by substances destitute of nitrogen, such as sugar, starch, gum, pectine, &c.
The most extensive class of animals, the graminivora, cannot live without these substances; their food must contain a certain amount of one or more of them, and if these compounds are not supplied, death quickly ensues.
This important inquiry extends also to the constituents of the food of carnivorous animals in the earliest period of life ; for this food also contains substances which are not necessary for their support in the adult state. The nutrition of the young of carnivora is obviously accomplished by means similar to those by which the graminivora are nourished; their development is dependent on the supply of a fluid, which the body of the mother secretes in the shape of milk.
Milk contains only one nitrogenised constituent, known under the name of caseine : besides this, its chief ingredients are butter (fat,) and sugar of milk. The blood of the young animal, its muscular fibre, cellular tissue, nervous matter, and bones, must have derived their origin from the nitrogenized constituent of milk -the caseine ; for butter and sugar of milk contain no nitrogen.
Now, the analysis of caseine has led to the result, which, after the details I have given, can hardly excite your surprise, that this substance also is identical in composition with the chief constituents of blood, fibrine and albumen. Nay more-a comparison of its properties with those of vegetable caseine has shown—that these two substances are identical in all their properties; insomuch, that certain plants, such as peas, and lentils, are capable of producing the same substance which is formed from the blood of the mother, and employed in yielding the blood of the young animal.
The young animal, therefore, receives, in the form of caseinewhich is distinguished from fibrine and albumen by its great solubility, and by not coagulating when heated—the chief constituent of the mother's blood. To convert caseine into blood no foreign substance is required, and in the conversion of the mother's blood into caseine, no elements of the constituents of the blood have been separated. When chemically examined, caseine is found to contain a much larger proportion of the earth of bones than blood does, and that in a very soluble form, capable of reaching every part of the body. Thus, even in the earliest period of its life, the development of the organs, in which vitality resides, is, in the carnivorous animal, dependent on the supply of a substance, identical in organic composition with the chief constituents of its blood.
What, then, is the use of the butter and the sugar of milk? How does it happen that these substances are indispensable to life?
Butter and sugar of milk contain no fixed bases, no soda or pot
ash. Sugar of milk has a composition closely allied to that of the other kinds of sugar, of starch, and of gum; all of them contain carbon and the elements of water, the latter precisely in the proportion to form water.
There is added, therefore, by means of these compounds, to the nitrogenized constituents of food, a certain amount of carbon: or, as in the case of butter, of carbon and hydrogen; that is, an excess of elements, which cannot possibly be employed in the production of blood, because the nitrogenized substances contained in the food already contain exactly the amount of carbon which is required for the production of fibrine and albumen.
The following considerations will show that hardly a doubt can be entertained, that this excess of carbon alone, or of carbon and hydrogen, is expended in the production of animal heat, and serves to protect the organism from the action of the atmospheric oxigen, which is required for the production of fibrine and albumen.
In an adult canivorous animal, which neither gains nor loses weight, perceptibly, from day to day, its nourishment, the waste of organized tissue, and its consumption of oxygen, stand to each other in a well-defined and fixed relation.
The carbon of the carbonic acid given off with that of the urine; the nitrogen of the urine, and the hydrogen given off as ammonia and water; these elements, taken together, must be exactly equal in weight to the carbon, nitrogen and hpdrogen of the metarmorphosed tissues, and since these last are exactly replaced by the food, to the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen of the food. Were this not the case, the weight of the animal could not possibly remain unchanged.
But, in the young of the carnivora, the weight does not remain unchanged; on the contrary, it increases from day to day by an appreciable quantity.
This fact presupposes, that the assimilative process in the young animal is more energetic, more intense, than the process of transformation in the existing tissues. If both processess were equally active, the weight of the body could not increase; and were the waste by transformation greater, the weight of the body would decrease.
Now the circulation in the young animal is not weaker, but, on the contrary, more rapid; the respirations are more frequent; and, for equal bulks, the consumption of oxygen must be greater rather than smaller in the younger than in the adult animal. But, since the metamorphosis of organized parts goes on more slowly, there would ensue a deficiency of those substances, the carbon and hydrogen of which are adapted for combination with oxygen ; because in the carnivora, it is the new compounds, produced by the metamorphosis of organized parts, which nature has