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time which is at present occupied by a single revolution of our globe, but periods of a much longer extent ;* were assertions reserved as privileges for the more enlightened era of the 19th century, and for which we, who have lived to receive and accept them as allowable truths, cannot be sufficiently thankful. The subject often reverted to in the course of the correspondence, is treated, according to the views and good sense of the writers, with every variety of doubt or caution. It will be perceived, however, that Ray entertained sentiments of a far more enlarged and superior cast to the rest, adopting ideas of the truth, well worthy of his fame and character. Mr. Cole, to Mr. Ray, thus expresses himself: “I have found fossils and figured stones, which would put you out of all doubt, that there are many varieties of naturally formed stones, which never were either animals, or vegetables, or any parts of them, not only because no such shell-fishes were ever found, so far as appears by any known authors, or the collections that I have seen or heard of, (and to suppose any species of creatures to cease cannot consist with the divine providence, and is contrary to the opinion of all philosophers, as well as learned divines ;) but it doth evidently appear, by the figure of some of them, that they were never capable of being living creatures;" which he proves from the extreme thinness of the lamina in which they were found. Other stones, “something resembling a nautilus," he found, but so much differing from those he had ever seen, that he is “confident they were never shell-fishes.” Mr. Lwhyd is less positive, and, therefore, more rational : he says, “ whether (these fossil impressions) were ever the tegumenta of animals, or are only primary productions of nature in imitation of them, I am constrained to leave in Medin, and to confess I find in myself no sufficient ability or confidence to maintain either opinion, though I incline much to the latter. However it be, it seems an extraordinary delightful subject, and worthy the inquiry of the most judicious philosophers. On the one hand, it seems strange, if these things are not shells petrified ; whence it proceeds, that we find such great variety of them, so very like shells, in shape and magnitude, and some of them in colour, weight, and consistence, and not only resemblances of sea-shells should be found, but also of the bones and teeth of divers sea-fish ; and that we only find the resemblance of such bodies, as are in their own nature of a stonelike substance. On the other. hand, it seems as remarkable, that we seldom or never find any resemblance of horns, teeth, or bones of land animals, or of birds, which might be apt to petrify, if we respect
* Buckland's Inaugural Lecture, p. 31-32.
their consistence; insomuch, that I suspect few formed stones are found (at least in England,) except in some extraordinary petrifying earth, but what a skilful naturalist may (and that, perhaps, deservedly) assimilate to some marine bodies ; but yet, when we confer them with these bodies they seem most to resemble, they appear but as mock shells and counterfeit teeth; differing from them little less than the works of art do from those of nature, which we endeavour to imitate ; as if the earth, in these productions (to speak vulgarly), should only ape the sea. To find out the truth of this question, nothing would conduce more than a very copious collection of shells, of the skeletons of fish, &c., and of these supposed petrifications." ;
In another letter to Mr. Ray, with a parcel of fossil leaves, he says, “ I heartily wish you may be able to satisfy yourself, upon sight of them, whether they are original productions, or the remains of once real plants, for I must confess that, at present, I cannot acquiesce in the opinion of their having been önce mere plants, growing on the surface of the earth.” Lastly, we quote Mr. Ray's opinion, as given to Dr. Robinson, respecting some fossil remains from Malta ; “which, why we should not esteem to have been originally the shells of fishes, I see no reason; for if, in one and the same place, we find many teeth and bones of fishes entire and unpetrified, and, likewise, stones exactly imitating the shells of other fishes, a great presumption to me it is, that these were originally the things whose shape only they now seem to bear.” What would not such men have given for an anticipatory ticket of admission to the cavern of Kirkdale, or for a copy of the Reliquiæ Diluvianæ, or Cuvier's Theory of the Earth.
Having followed them through their several branches of science, we cannot take our leave, without introducing one more correspondent, of whom we have hitherto not spoken, namely, a certain Rev. Mr. Paschal, or Pascal, of Queen's College, in conjunction with Mr. Ray and others, as supporter of the atomic theory. Upon so abstruse a subject, in this advanced stage of our article, we cannot be expected to expatiate largely ; and it is equally impossible to condense, within a few lines, the essence of theories which have occupied the minds of such men as Cudworth and Boscovich, to say nothing of more ancient and more modern philosophers. The atomic physiology, says the former, supposes that body is nothing else but “ extended bulk, and resolves, therefore, that nothing is to be attributed to it, but what is included in the nature and idea of it, viz. more or less magnitude, with divisibility into parts, figure, and position, together with motion or rest, but so as that no part of body can ever move itself, but is always moved by something
else, &c.* Boscovich (and indeed Liebnitz, though with some inconsistencies) maintained, that the very first elements of matter were void of extension, and perfectly simple, under the influence of forcés strongly attractive and repulsive, and, by this theory, explained all the most remarkable operations of nature; and being accustomed to contemplate so deeply the universe, and the materials of which it is composed, he soon saw the evident necessity of admitting an all-powerful, intelligent, self-existing being, for the creation of those materials, and for the arrangement of them in their present beautiful forms. Newton's views were, probably, not very remote from those of Boscovich; and, had he lived to be acquainted with, he would, probably, have adopted them. This has been conjectured from what he says in his last question of optics, where, after having mentioned those things which might be explained by an attractive force, succeeded by a repulsive one on a change of the distance, he adds, “and if all these things are so, then will all nature be very simple and consistent with itself, effecting all the great motions of the heavenly bodies by the attraction of gravity, which is mutual between all those bodies, and almost all the less motions of its particles by another certain attractive and repulsive force, which is natural between those particles.” This system, differing in no very great degree from the definitions we have briefly given, has lately been introduced into chemistry, as the only means of explaining, on rational grounds, a considerable portion of the phenomena which modern discoveries have brought to light. Thus, Sir H. Davy, in bis Elements of Chem. Philosophy, 223503, observes, that if the “ sublime idea of the ancient philosophers, which has been sanctioned by the approbation of Newton, should be true, namely, that there is only one species of matter, the different chemical, as well as mechanical, forms of which are owing to the different arrangement of its particles, then a method of analysing those forms may, probably, be found, &c.;' and again, " a few undecompounded bodies, which may, perhaps, ultimately be resolved into still fewer elements, or which may be different forms of the same material, constitute the whole of our tangible universe of things. By experiment, they are discovered, even in the most complicated arrangements; and experiment is, as it were, that chain that binds down the Proteus of nature, and obliges it to confess its real form and divine origin.”
We shall now proceed to give Mr. Ray's opinion, “ that there are fixed and physically indivisible principles in nature, I
* Cudworth Int. Sys. b. l., ch. 1.
thus argue:-if there be no such, but bodies are infinitely divisible, how can there be any constancy in generations or productions ?” This is followed up by a chain of reasoning which induces him to conclude, that, were bodies infinitely divisible and, consequently, of no certain figure (the minima I mean) “I do not see how we could ever come to such regular concretions, at least to such multitudes and masses of them; but that the world must have continued, as the poets first fancied it, a chaos.”
As matter more of curiosity than information, we will now add Mr. Pascal's opinion, though, with the worthy editor of our book, Dr. Denham, we must say, his letters are rather“ tedious, by reason the hypothesis is abstruse and somewhat strained.” In fact, we are by no means sure, that we have very clear conceptions of the theory he wishes to develope; we can, therefore, only suspect, that if he could have elucidated it, or we could have understood it, the result would have been coincident with those of Mr. Ray, and the others we have alluded to. This opinion forms the sum and substance of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Pascal to Mr. Ray, dated Cedsey, near Bridgewater: the whole of it we shall not insert, leaving it for our readers, if they approve of the specimen, to consult the origiginal in page 274. “There seems to be throughout the universe a mutual concranitency between parts central and circumferential; those emitting and propelling outwards; these resisting and repelling inwards :" of this, I have three instances now in my thoughts: we shall only insert the first. 1st. “In this, or any other planetary system, the sun sends forth chiefly by its ecliptic parts; and the ambient fixed stars in their respective æthers, and according to their powers, give bounds, and beat back; from whence proceeds a plenitude as absolute, and entire, and close as the nature of such a fluid can admit of.” By these reasons, he thinks he can contribute something towards “an explication of sundry phenomena in nature ; such as gravity, the orders and distances of the planets, the Estus Atmosphæræ, or air tides; and, lastly, what he calls culinary or vital fires; both which kinds move a centro ; particularly life, as to its nature, original progress, state sane or morbose, decay, and dissolution, may have some light from a nearer and accurate inspection into these. Sir, my narrow and but late observation, and that much interrupted, supplies me with enough to make a volume upon this subject." We cannot but congratulate ourselves that this volume, never having been published, is not now a Retrospective work, the mysteries of which we, as Retrospective Reviewers, might have felt it our duty to develope.
In page 279, he suggests, that the "globe, in several parts, and times, and states of it, sends forth various effluvia, sulphu
reous, nitrous, aqueous, &c. in great abundance, one or other, or compositions of them, as causes occur.” And to the motions and state of the earth, thus actively operative, he attributes some curious effects; for instance, increase of health, depression of spirits, clearness of atmosphere, and internal activity of medicines : for he observes, “I knew one who commonly finds, that if he take but a very gentle purgative in a rising senary or the former part of a tide, it works not till the ebbing senary begins, and then doth very kindly.” No doubt, it must have been by a fortunate attention to these senaries, that Mr. Ray experienced so much benefit in a case of jaundice, from rather a curious and novel sort of medicine, (an infusion of stone-horse dung with saffron in ale,) under similar circumstances : we are, however, inclined to agree with Mr. Ray, who adds, “ I believe any other medicine (of which, for the disease, there are good store,) if I had been constant to the use of it for some time, would have wrought the same effect.” We find, in two letters from Sir Philip Skippon, one of the earliest accounts, probably, of the transfusion of blood. They are without date; but, as we believe the experiments were first introduced in London, on human beings, in 1667, they must have been written about that time. “Yesterday, the transfusion of blood was experimented upon the same body they hired at first; they let out eight or ten ounces of his own, and then transfused of the sheep's arterial blood about fourteen or sixteen ounces. There was a great company present.” Unfortunately, public opinion or vulgar prejudice appears to have opposed itself to any accession of knowledge which this novel operation might have afforded; for, in the second letter, he says, “ the effects of the transfusion are not seen, the coffee-houses having endeavoured to debauch the fel. low, and so, consequently, discredit the Royal Society, and make the experiment ridiculous.” In which, by the by, we find a confirmation of the suspicions we before expressed, respecting the any thing but sober and sedate character of the coffee-houses of those days. In a letter from the same person, we meet with an interesting account, which, as it relates to so distinguished a person as the celebrated Dr. Wotton, we insert: “ I believe I shall somewhat surprise you with what I have seen in a little boy, Will. Wotton, five years' old the last month, the son of Mr. Wotton, minister of this parish, who hath instructed this child, within the last three quarters of a year, in the reading of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, which he can read almost as well as English ; and that tongue he could read at fourteen years and three months old as well as most lads twice his age.”
It would be unpardonable in these our days, when lions bold tournaments, and elephants, renouncing their allegiance, wage