It is not, however, our business to discuss either of these questions here, but to consider duly the natural faculties
, which, to the number of four, exist in each organ. Returning then, to this point, let us [p. 285]
recall what has already been said, and set a crown to the whole subject by adding what is still wanting. For when every part of the animal has been shewn to draw into itself the juice which is proper to it (this being practically the first of the natural faculties
), the next point to realise is that the part does not get rid either of this attracted nutriment as a whole, or even of any superfluous portion of it, until either the organ itself, or the major part of its contents also have their condition reversed. Thus, when the stomach is sufficiently filled with the food and has absorbed and stored away the most useful part of it in its own coats, it then rejects the rest like an alien burden. The same happens to the bladders, when the matter attracted into them begins to give trouble either because it distends them through its quantity or irritates them by its quality.
And this also happens in the case of the uterus; for it is either because it can no longer bear to be stretched that it strives to relieve itself of its annoyance, or else because it is irritated by the quality of the fluids poured out into it. Now both of these conditions sometimes occur with actual violence, and then miscarriage
takes place. But for the most part they happen in a normal way, this being then called not miscarriage but delivery
. Now abortifacient drugs or certain other conditions which destroy the embryo or rupture certain of its membranes are followed by abortion
, and similarly also when the uterus is in pain from being in a bad state of tension; and, as has been well said by Hippocrates, excessive movement on the part of the embryo itself brings on labour. Now [p. 287]pain
is common to all these conditions, and of this there are three possible causes- either excessive bulk, or weight, or irritation; bulk when the uterus can no longer support the stretching, weight when the contents surpass its strength, and irritation when the fluids which had previously been pent up in the membranes, flow out, on the rupture of these, into the uterus itself, or else when the whole foetus perishes, putrefies, and is resolved into pernicious ichors, and so irritates and bites the coat of the uterus.
In all organs, then, both their natural effects and their disorders and maladies plainly take place on analogous lines,1
some so clearly and manifestly as to need no demonstration, and others less plainly, although not entirely unrecognizable to those who are willing to pay attention.
Thus, to take the case of the stomach: the irritation is evident here because this organ possesses most sensibility, and among its other affections those producing nausea and the so-called heartburn clearly demonstrate the eliminative faculty which expels foreign matter. So also in the case of the uterus and the urinary bladder; this latter also may be plainly observed to receive and accumulate fluid until it is so stretched by the amount of this as to be incapable of enduring the pain; or it may be the quality of the urine which irritates it; for every superfluous substance which lingers in the body must obviously putrefy, some in a shorter, and some in a longer time, and thus it becomes pungent, acrid, and burdensome to the organ which contains it. This [p. 289]
does not apply, however, in the case of the bladder alongside the liver, whence it is clear that it possesses fewer nerves than do the other organs. Here too, however, at least the physiologist2
must discover an analogy. For since it was shown that the gall-bladder attracts its own special juice, so as to be often found full, and that it discharges it soon after, this desire to discharge must be either due to the fact that it is burdened by the quantity or that the bile has changed in quality to pungent and acrid. For while food does not change its original quality so fast that it is already ordure as soon as it falls into the small intestine, on the other hand the bile even more readily than the urine becomes altered in quality as soon as ever it leaves the veins, and rapidly undergoes change and putrefaction. Now, if there be clear evidence in relation to the uterus, stomach, and intestines, as well as to the urinary bladder, that there is either some distention, irritation, or burden inciting each of these organs to elimination, there is no difficulty in imagining this in the case of the gall-bladder also, as well as in the other organs,- to which obviously the arteries and veins also belong.