RECURRENCE (1.) [The author of this article takes pleasure in commencing it with an acknowledgement of indebtedness to a valuable thesis upon this subject, written y W. J. Baner, M. D., of this city, whose kindness permitted him the use of it ] -All motion, change, or life, seem to transpire only through the act of an universal law of periodicity; that is, by revolutions, the orbit being defined by completion, such completion being recognized by the commencement of a repetition. View Nature as we will, in detail, or in its larger and more complex relations, still Periodicity would seem to be the organon of the universal economy of Action. Be never so minute the fragment which we study, yet is ever preserved the perfect though miniatured image of this Method:
Turn in whatever direction you may, this-Nature's solid law-obtains: action and reaction; day and night, again day and night, and so on forevermore. It appears as regular and inflexible, except as a species it be encroached upon by a generic law, as is the rhythm of the heart.
The planetary satellites have their recurrence of days and seasons; the same in serial order, though of greater magnitude, have the planets, and observation goes far to prove that each of the numberless suns of our sidereal cluster sustain stated relative recurrences, even though human history may embrace but a scarcely appreciable segment of one such cycle. (1.) [It was Sir Wm. Herschel who, in 1783, evolved the idea that our whole solar system had a proper unitary movement, and that the point in the heavens towards which it at present seemed moving, was in the constellation Herculis. His observations upon this subject were immediately succeeded by these of M. Argelander, M. Luhndahl, M. Otto Struve and others, since which it has become a subject of much interest to all astronomers.
It is not improbable that as the Moon revolves around the Earth, the Earth around the Sun, so also the Sun, with its planets, may describe an orbit around some greater centre, and this greater centre with its retinue may in turn be a portion of a grand system, embracing the whole of our cluster, ( Via Lactea), and this may again hold similar relations with other clusters in the universe, and so on, extending beyond the pale of human conception.
There have been discovered over 5,000 double stars, or stars which revolve about each other; and it may be that our Sun like some of the other stars, may have a motion around some remote centre, the location of which can only be approximated after many ages of observation. Though accepting the first supposition, that we revolve around a larger star, our period of revolution may yet be so extended that thousands of years of observation might be necessary to any definite clue of the whereabouts of our centre. There are evidences that the stars Mizar and Alcor (Ursae Majoris) revolve the one around the other, and the period occupied in the completion of one revolution is about 200,000 years ( Vide “Stellar Universe,” by J. P. Nichols, L. L. D., part II, ch. 5.)] Moreover, in respect to time, there seems to be a serial infinity of recurrence, from the major periods that embrace incomprehensible spaces of time, down to those that are completed within its most minute degree.
This prevails throughout nature in total and in minutia; not only in the physical universe, but also the mental. And not only is natural and human history marked with extraordinary tidal epochs of rise and fall, of bloom, summer flush, maturity and winter-time; but so in each individual biography.
Periodicity is the result of that great element, Momentum, which is the parent of all change in the universe, and which, in the vegetable and animal we term Life, in the mineral, chrystalism; and in the relation that one heavenly body bears towards another, Gravity. Constantly it stares us in the face-in astronomy, in geology, in the rise and fall of the human race, in the history of nations and of forms of government, in religion, in individual experience, in the lamina of the tree or the bone-all, in the very nature of their being proclaim that so soon as recurrence ceases, the object has no longer an individual existence, but, decaying, its elements again traverse space and are appropriated to the formation of other bodies.
Such being the fact would justify the deduction that animal life and all pertaining thereto are under the same regency. In philosophical researches however, the constant temptation to surrender one's self to dazzling theories must always be contended against, and by patient but hard labor, a foundation of facts must be elaborated. Nor do analogies, as read by human understanding, always lead to safe inductions.
In treating of this subject it perhaps will be of service to separate the phenomena into two classes : Generic and Idiocratic; the first embracing all such periodical events as transpire without being much under the control of the will; and the second, such as may be established by individual volition or by accidental circumstances.
As a type of Generic periodicity in animal life, possibly the most happy and the least variable illustration is presented in the mysterious phenomenon of sleep. Why, and how it is that this strange similutude of death should have been chosen to afford the condition most favorable to the process of life, of reparation, is, of course, not within human ken. We know however, that its demands are, of all habits in animal life, the most imperative; that for every infringement of its mandates, the transgressor must suffer the immutable penalty.
But why does sleep periodically belong to night? Ah! says the physiologist, it is because Light, the great stimulant of vegetable and animal life is withdrawn. Very true: and so far as vegetable and animal life are concerned, it is not impossible, nor to my mind improbable that this alternation of day and night may serve as a conduit for enacting the ultimate which are thus reached down from the great law which propels universality. As we proceed, perhaps we shall learn that this law permeates and gives character to every minutia of life.
Humboldt has proven by experiment that there are barometrical and thermometrical atmospheric tides of a double quotidian type, and of regular sequence; and such being the fact, it cannot but extend the influence of its different states to all life belonging to its domains.
In a measure disconnected, however, from the more general or external law, (Generic) there seems to be a nisus of individual or idiocratic periodicity imparted to each instance of life, in such degree that voluntary habit may soon establish an instance of periodicity, that tho' at first an act of volition, may secondarily become an involuntary recurrence of regular consecution as related to an individual, but not necessarily synchronous with the great pulsations of the more Generic periods. We observe this in the readiness with which we, by a few repetitions acquire the habit of dropping to sleep and of waking at certain given times:-in the involuntary sensations of hunger, occurring at such hours as we have been accustomed to partake of food, which sensation subsides after the usual hour has passed, even though no food may have been taken.
Habit will also establish a periodic demand for exfecation: in verity the knowledge of this kind of facts is so universal and the opportunity of witnessing them so frequent, that it is almost superfluous to more than mention it.
Another illustration, however, of Generic periodicity, less subject to idiocratic influence, is the menses of the female. That this naturally occurs at periods of about 28 days, is a fact, the reason of which has elicited much speculation, with no very satisfactory scientific solution. Whether the period of its recurrence is determined, or implanted by the synodical, the siderial, or the solar month, is a question of dispute, and by some they are denied any connection whatever. For my own part I strongly incline to the opinion that the radix of this phenomena, is from the combined influences of the synodical and siderial months-that these furnish the nisus, and that the ultimates, of which the menses is but a myriad, are under the regulation of a law more or less nearly approaching the idiocratic order: thus the menstrual period may naturally belong to the order of lunar recurrences, and may confirm the relationship by a correspondence in frequency; but the date of its occurrence may not be synchronous with any given lunar change, because of the intervention of this idiocratic law, which serves to sustain order at the same time that it grants greater freedom in choice of period.
Mr. W. H. B. Webster of the British navy, has recently (1857) made public a work of nearly three hundred pages, entitled, “Recurring Atmospheric Periods”-in which he adduces much proof to sustain, what he says is a fact, that there are meteorological registers of a monthly recurrence of atmospherical states, and these also, (a point somewhat perplexing to Mr. Webster,) he finds are not coincident with any given portion of a zodiacal sign.
In connection with this subject of monthly periodicity, I had chance to observe in one of my patients, a curious and exceedingly interesting case of monthly recurrence in one who was, and still is laboring under pulmonary phthisis, and who at the monthly crises has been subject to pulmonary hemorrhages.
The patient, Mr. S. R. M—–, had his first attack of bleeding upon the morning of July 8th, 1857. The hemorrhage was quite severe, but being arrested, he rapidly rallied and grew daily stronger until August 6th, (28 days) when he had a second severe bleeding which continued at intervals until the 12th, when it again ceased, and, as in the month previous he went on rapidly mending. On the 4th of Sept. (29 days,) there was an evidently strong attempt at recurrence, which was doubtless prevented by some quinine that had been given on the 2nd and 3rd.
Oct. 8th (28 days and seven,) there were threatenings of hemorrhage which did occur on the tenth and continued at intervals until the 31st. From this time he did very well until Nov. 27 (27 days from Oct. 31st) when there were premonitory symptoms and nothing more until Dec. 28th (31 days,) when he was attacked with a severe chill and slight bleeding. On Jan. 6th, 1858, he had another slight chill with a trace of hemorrhage, being just six 28 days, plus six days from the cessation of his bleeding on July 11th, 1857.
Here are seven critical periods all occurring at intervals of about 28 days; one period falling one day short, and three periods somewhat exceeding 28 days. The last period would however, seem irregular until upon equation of the aggregate it is found to correspond periodically (assuming 28 days as the period;) with the first attack, except that there is a gain of six days, which, perhaps, may be owing to another element-that of Repair.
At this juncture, my patient left New York for Florida and by my request kept a daily record of his health, which record, to July 27th 1858, I have in possession. I have just stated that Jan. 6, 1858 he suffered an attack of bleeding and this lasted until the 13th when there followed a remission until Feb. 11th (29 days) when he had another bleeding, and no more until March 11th, (29 days) when the hemorrhage .again recurred and again ceasing until April 25th (30 days.) From overexertion (1.) [The accidental production of a periodical occurrence out of its regular order of time, may result in the establishing of a new time table; the periods accepting the accidental occurrence as a new point from which to reckon: and, in illustration, it will be observed that the succeeding periods in the case above cited, exhibit order relatively to this irregular one of May 11th.
On the other hand, the transpiration of a periodical event may seem hastened and out of order when it is not so in fact: especially when the periods, through agency of what we above termed Repair, have been gradually exceeding the normal term of that order of periodicity by which they are governed, for there is an inherent disposition to observe that order which would have been maintained had there been no interference from the element, Repair.
Thus we see that the bleeding which occurred in the case under consideration, on the 6th Jan., 9 days from proceeding period, was irregular as connected with its predecessor, but not as related to the commencement of these periods, July 8th and so the next apparently irregular period, May 14th, 19 days from the previous one, was 11 28 day periods, plus 3 days, from the first one of July 8th.] in getting from Savannah to Aikin (S. C.) a hemorrhage was induced on the 14th May; (19 days) this ceased, but left him more poorly, and upon June 11th (28 days) again bled, and continued bleeding more or less until the 29th, when there was an interval to July 27th (28 days.)
We have then a complete register of twelve months, and the intervals in sequence are as follows:-28-29-35-27-31-9-29-29-30-19-28-28; or, not paying attention to sequence, they may be stated thus;-35-31-30-29-29- 29-28-28-28-27-19-9.
It is a fact full of significance, that the longer intervals were always at such times as the patient was decidedly gaining, and that they became shortened whenever the general conditions became lowered.
Now, that these should be circumstances of chance is mathematically preposterous. When thirteen occurrences maintain so nearly a given order of recurrence against millions of equal chances, that mind is indeed blinded that does not suspect a law of order and period, and perceive the misnomer in the term chance;at all events as related to such occurrences. In fact, it seems highly unphilosophical to entertain a belief in the existence of mere chance, and is totally incompatible with belief in the Deity, or in cause and effect.
|The AMERICAN HOMOEOPATHIC REVIEW Vol. 01 No. 07, 1859, pages 289-295
|Fragmenta II by Analectes.
|errors only; interlinks; formatting