Heart

n. An automatic, muscular blood-pump. Figuratively, this useful organ is said to be the seat of emotions and sentiments—a very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once universal belief. It is now known that the sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid. The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a feeling—tender or not, according to the age of the animal from which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh of sensibility—these things have been patiently ascertained by M. Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity. (See, also, my monograph, The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and Certain Intestinal Gases Freed in Digestion—4to, 687 pp.) In a scientific work entitled, I believe, Delectatio Demonorum (John Camden Hotton, London, 1873) this view of the sentiments receives a striking illustration; and for further light consult Professor Dam's famous treatise on Love as a Product of Alimentary Maceration.

The Heart.—The heart  is at the lower part of the chest, between the two lungs. It is a fleshy  or muscular organ, about the size of the fist—flat above, and pointed below like a sugar-loaf. It lies in a slanting direction behind the breastbone—the broad part, or the base, of the heart being upwards and partly to the right  of the breast-bone; the point, or apex of the heart, being downwards and to the left, where it can often be seen beating against the chestwall.

The heart is hollow, and acts like a pump, forcing the blood all over the body through the great vessel that leaves the heart at the upper part. The heart, like the lungs, is enclosed in a double layer of folded bag, called the pericardium, because it is round the heart.

The gullet  runs right down the back of the thorax, and passes out through the diaphragm, which forms the floor, into the abdomen.

The abdomen  forms the lower half of the trunk, and is often called the stomach. It is full of organs belonging to the digestive system  and secretory system, by which the fuel or food is rendered fit for use in the blood and the body.

The walls  of the abdomen are not protected by ribs like the thorax, but are all formed of flesh or muscle. The principal organs they contain are the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, or sweetbread, the spleen  or milt, the kidneys, the intestines, and the bladder.

How the Heart Works

Probably some of you have seen a fire-engine throwing a stream of water through a hose upon a burning building.

As the engine forces the water through the hose, so the heart, by the working of its strong muscles, pumps the blood through tubes, shaped like hose, which lead by thousands of little branches all through the body. These tubes are called arteries (är´tĕr iz).

Those tubes which bring the blood back again to the heart, are called veins (vānz). You can see some of the smaller veins in your wrist.

If you press your finger upon an artery in your wrist, you can feel the steady beating of the pulse. This tells just how fast the heart is pumping and the blood flowing.

The doctor feels your pulse when you are sick, to find out whether the heart is working too fast, or too slowly, or just right.

Some way is needed to send the gray fluid that is made from the food we eat and drink, to every part of the body.

To send the food with the blood is a sure way of making it reach every part.

So, when the stomach has prepared the food, the blood takes it up and carries it to every part of the body. It then leaves with each part, just what it needs.

The Blood and the Brain

As the brain has so much work to attend to, it must have very pure, good blood sent to it, to keep it strong. Good blood is made from good food. It can not be good if it has been poisoned with alcohol or tobacco.

We must also remember that the brain needs a great deal of blood. If we take alcohol into our blood, much of it goes to the brain. There it affects the nerves, and makes a man lose control over his actions.

Exercise

When you run, you can feel your heart beating. It gets an instant of rest between the beats.

Good exercise in the fresh air makes the heart work well and warms the body better than a fire could do.

Does Alcohol Do Any Harm to the Heart?

Your heart is made of muscle. You know what harm alcohol does to the muscles.

Could a fatty heart work as well as a muscular heart? No more than a fatty arm could do the work of a muscular arm. Besides, alcohol makes the heart beat too fast, and so it gets too tired.