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other matter mixed with the lighter air, woula descend, 1 and the two, meeting, would form the shell of the first earth, leaving the upper atmosphere nearly clear. The origical movement of the parts towards their coinmon coutre would form a whirl there; which would continue in the turning of the new-formed globe upon its axis, and the greatest diameter of the shell would be in its equator. If by any accident afterwards the axis should be changed, the dense internal fluid, by a'cering its forin, must burst the shell, and throw all as substance into the confusion in which w find it. I will not trouble you at present with my fancies ce cerning the manner of forming the rest of our system. Superior beings smile on our theories, and at our presumption in making them. I will just mention that your observation of the ferruginous nai ture of the lava which is thrown out from the depths
of our volcanoes, gave me great pleasure. It has long been a supposition of mine, that the iron contained in the substance of the globe has made it capa. ble of becoming, as it is, a great magnet; that the fluid of magnetism exists perhaps in all space; so that there is a magnetical North and South of the uni. verse, as well as of this globe; and that if it were possible for a man to fly from star to st 2, he might govern his course by the coinpass; that it was by the power of this general magnetisin this glote be..ame a particular magnet. In soft or hot iron ihe quid of magnetism is naturally diffused equally; when with. in the intiuence of a magnet, it is drawn to 0.11 end of the iron, made denser there and rarer at the other. While the iron continues soft and hot, it is only a temporary magnet. if it cools or grows hard in that situation, it becomes a permanent one, the magietia fluid not easily resuming its equilibrium. Perhap it may be owing to the perinanent magnetism of this globe, which it had not at first, that its axis is at pro sent kept parallel to itself, and not liable to the changes
it forinerly suffered, which occasioned the rupture of • its shell, the submersions and emersions of its lands
and the confusion of its seasons. The present polas and equatorial diameters differing from each other near ten leagues, it is easy to conceive, in case soms
power should shift the axis gradually, and placn itn the present equator, and make the new equator paie through the present poles, what a sinking of the way ters would happen in the present equatorial regions, and what a rising in the present polar regions; so that vast tracts would be discovered that now are under water, and others covered that now are dry, the water rising and sinking in the differet extremes near tive leagues! Such an operation as this possibly occasion ed much of Europe, and, among the rest, of this mountain of Passy, on which I live, and which is composed of limestone, ruck and sea shells, to be abandoned by the sea, and to change its ancient climate, which seems to have been a hot one. The globe being now become a perfect magnet, we are perhaps sale froin any fiture change of its axis. But we are still subject to the accidents on the surface, which are occasioned by a wave in the interna' ponderous duid; and such a wave is produced by the sudden violent explosion you mention, happening from the junctim ot' water an: fire uniler the earth, which not only lifts the incucibent earth that is over the explosion, but, impressing with the same force the fluid under it, creates a ware that may run a thousand leagues, lifting, and thereby shaking surcessiveiy, all the commiries under which it passes. I know not whether I have expressed myselt so clearly, as not to get out of your sight in these reveries. If they occasion any new inquiries, and produce a better hypothesis, they will not be quite useless. You see I have given a loose to imagination, but I approve much more your inetliod of philosophising. wbick proceeds upon actual ohservation, makes a collection of facts, and concludee no farther than ihose facts wi warrant. In any present circumstances, that mod of stullying the nature of the giove is out of my power and therefore I have permitied myself to wander a little in the wilds of fancy. With great esteem," have the nonour to be,
P. S. I have heard that chemists can by their Ft decompose stone and wood, extracting a consideble quantity of water from the one, and air froin e other. It seems natural to conclude from this, at water and air were ingred.ents in their originel mposition : for men cannot make new matter of y kind. In the same manner do we not suppose, ut when we consume combustibles of all kinds, d picduce heat or light, we do not create the hea ught, we only decompose a subs.ance which re ved it originally as a part of its composition sport may thus be cousidered as originally in a fuid te: but, attracted by crganized bodies in their wu, becomes a part of the solid. Besides this, can conceive that, in the first assemblage of the rticios of this earth is composed, each brought its rtion of the loose heat that had been connected th į and the whole, when pressed together, proeed ine intenial fire which still subsists.
=> LOOSE THOUGHTS ON THE UNIVER
SAL FLUID, &c.
Passy, June 25, 1784.
UXIYERSAL space, as far as we know of it, seems t ; Gilled with a subtle fluid, whose motion, or vibra. m, is called liglit.
This fluid may possibly be the same with that hion, being attracted by and entering into other bre solid inatter, dilates (he substance, by sepa. ting the constituent particles, and so rendering sne solids fluid, and maintaining the fluidity of others: of which Auid when our bodies are totally deprived, they are said to be frozen; when they have a proper quantity, they are in health, and fit to perforin all their functions; it is then called nato ral heat: when too much, it is called fever; and when forced into the hody in too great a quantity from without, it gives pain by separating and des troying the flesh, and is then called burning; and th Ruid so entering and acting is called fire.
While organized bodies, animal or vegetable, ar augmenting in growth, oi are supplying their con tinual waste, is not this done by attracting and con solidating this fiuid called fire, so as to form of it a part of their substance and it is not a separatiou of ihe parts of such substance, whichi, dissolving its solid state, sets that subtle furc at liberty, when it again makes its appearance as fire ?
For the power of a man relative to matter seems limited to the dividing it, or mixing the various kinds of it, or changing its form and appcarance by differ 11 ng compositions of it; but does not extend to the making or creating of new matter, or annihilatin the old : thus, if fire be an original element, or kind of matter, its quantity is fixed and perinanent in the world. We cannot destroy any part of it, or inake 1 aduition to it; we can only separate it from that which confines it, and so set it at liberty, as when we put wood in a situation to be burnt ; or transfer it from one solid to another, as when we make lime by burning stone, a part of the tire dislodged from the woud being left in the stone. May not this fluid, when at liberty, be capable of penetrating and enter ing into all bodies, organized or not; quitting easily n totally those not organized ; and quitting easily is art those which are; the part assumed and fixet remaining till the body is dissolved?
Is it 1;t this fuid which keeps asunder the particles of air, permitting them to approach, or separat. ing them more, in proportion as its quantity is dimin ished or augmented ? Is it not the greater gravity of the particles of air, which forces the particles of
this Nuid to mount with the matters to which it is
attached, as smoke or vapour? . ? Does it not seem to have a great affinity witla
water, since it will quit a solid to unite with that fluid, and go off with it in vapour, leaving the soliit cold to the louch, and the degree ineasurable by tije thermoneter?
The vapour rises attached to this fluid; but at a certain height they separate, and the vapour de
cends in rain, retaining but little of it, in snow (f. hail less. What becoines of that fluid? Does it riso above our atmosphere, and mix equally with tho universal mass of the same kind? Or does a spheriial stratum of it, denser, or less inixed with air, attracted by this globe, and repelleri oy pushed up only to a certain neight from its surface, by tlie greater weight of air remain ihere surrounding the globe, and proceeding with it round the sun!
In such case, as there may be a continuity or communication of this Quid through the air quite down to the easit, is it not by the vibrations given to it by the sun that light appears to us, and may it not be, that every one of the infinitely smal vibrations, striking common matter with a certain force,enterits substance, Ire held there by atraction, and augmented by sixreeding vibrations, 111! the waiter has received as
much as their force car drive into it? - Is it not thus that the surface of this glube is con
tinually heated by such repeated vibracions in the say, and cooled by the escape of thai heat when those vibrations are discontinued in the night, or in
lercepted and refleciej by clouds ? - Is it not thus that fire is amassed, and makes the greatest part of the substance of combustible bodies?
Perhaps when this globe was first formed, and its original particles took their place at certain distances from the centre, in proportion to their greater or les's gravity, the Buid fire, attracted towards that ce, tre, migh: in great part be obliged, as lightest, to laks place above the rest, and thus form the sphere ot tiro above supposed, which would afterwards we convinu. ally diminishing by the substance it afforded 10 Organ.