Miraculous Sense of Smell from The Complete Works of Thomas Dick, LL.D

Finally, that we might be regaled with the scent of flowers, and the aromatic perfumes of spring and summer, and that none of the pleasures of nature might be lost, the organ of smelling was constructed to catch the invisible odoriferous effluvia which are continually wafted through the air. For this purpose it was requisite that bones, nerves, muscles, arteries, veins, cartilages, and membranes, peculiarly adapted to produce this effect, should be arranged, and placed in a certain part of the body. As the bones of the head are too hard for this purpose, the nerves of smelling required to have a bone of a peculiar texture, of a spongy nature, full of little holes, like a sieve, through which they might transmit their slender threads or branches to the papillous membrane which lines the cavities of the bone and the top of the nostrils. The nostrils required to be cartilaginous and not fleshy, in order to be kept open, and to be furnished with appropriate muscles to dilate or contract them as the occasion might require. It was likewise requisite, that they should be wide at the bottom, to collect a large quantity of effluvia, and narrow at the top, where the olfactory nerves are condensed, that the effluvia might act with the greatest vigor, and convey the sensation to the brain. By means of these and numerous other contrivances, connected with this organ, we are enabled to distinguish the qualities of our food, and to regale ourselves on those invisible effluvia which are incessantly flying off from the vegetable tribes, and wafted in every direction through the atmosphere.

Of all the senses with which we are furnished, the sense of smelling is that which we are apt to consider as of the least importance; and some have even been ready to imagine, that our enjoyments would scarcely have been diminished although its organs had never existed. But, it is presumptuous in man to hazard such an opinion in reference to any of the beneficent designs of the Creator. We know not what relation the minutest operations, within us or around us, may bear to the whole economy of nature, or what disastrous effects might be produced, were a single pin of the machinery of our bodies broken or destroyed. The exhalations which are, at this moment, rising from a putrid marsh in the center of New Holland, and "Hovering in an invisible form, over that desolate region, may be forming those identical clouds which, the next month, shall water our fields and gardens, and draw forth from the flowers their aromatic perfumes. The sense of smelling may be essentially requisite to tho perfection of several of the other senses; as we know that the sense of feeling is inseparably connected with the senses of seeing, hearing, and tasting. Let us consider, for a moment, some of the agencies which require to be exerted when this sense is exercised and gratified. Before we could derive pleasure from the fragrance of a flower, it was requisite that a system of the finest tubes, filaments, and membranes should be organized, endowed with powers of absorption and perspiration, furnished with hundreds of vessels for convoying the sap through all its parts, and perforated with thousands of pores to give passage to myriads of odoriferous particles, secreted from the internal juices. It was also requisite that the atmosphere should be formed, for the purpose of affording nourishment to the plant, and for conveying its odoriferous effluvia to the olfactory nerves. The rains, the dews, the principle of heat, the revolution of the seasons, the succession of day and night, tho principle of evaporation, the agitation of the air by winds, and the solar light,— all combine their influence and their agencies in producing the grateful sensation we feel from the smell of a rose. So that the sense of smelling is not only connected with the agency of all the terrestrial elements around us, but bears a relation to the vast globe of the sun himself; for an energy exerted at the distance of ninety-five millions of miles, and a motion of 200,000 miles every second, in the particles of light, are necessary to its existence; and consequently, it forms one of the subordinate ends for which that luminary was created:—and, being related to the sun, it may bear a certain relation to similar agencies which that central globe is producing among the inhabitants of surrounding worlds.
The Intricate Sense of Smell from The Complete Works of Thomas Dick, LL.D