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What then, may I ask, is the natural inference to be drawn from the examination of this great chain of being, which seems to connect even man with the common matter of the universe? What but that which Mr. Hunter drew, that life must be something independent of organization, since it is able to execute the same functions with such diversified structure, and even in some instances with scarcely any appearance of organization at all.
The experiments of Sir Humphrey Davy seem to me to form an important link in the connexion of our knowledge of dead and living matter. He has solved the great and long hidden mystery of chemical attraction, by shewing that it depends upon the electric properties which the atoms of different species of matter
possess. Nay, by giving to an alkali
electric properties which did not originally belong to it, he has been able to: control the ordinary operations of nature, and to make potash pass through a strong acid, without any ..., combination taking. place, That electricity, is something, I, could never, doubt, and, therefore, it follows as a consequence in my opinion, that it must be every where connected with, those atoms of matter, which form the masses that are cognizable to our senses; and that, it enters into the composition of everything, inanimate or animate. If then it be electricity that produces all: the chemical changes, awe-sol constantly. observe, in surrounding inanimate objects, analogy! induces us; to believe that it is, electricity which also performs all the chemical operations in living bodies; that the universal chemist resides: in them, and exercises in some . degree peculiar R
powers because it possesses a peculiar apparatus.
Sir Humphrey Davy's experiments also lead us to believe, that it is electricity, extricated and accumulated in ways not clearly understood, which causes those sudden and powerful motions in masses of inert matter, which we occasionally witness with wonder and dismay; that it is electricity which causes the whirlwind, and the water spout, and which “with its sharp and sulphurous bolt splits the unwedgeable and gnarled oak,” and destroys our most stabile edifices; that it is electricity which by its consequences makes the firm earth tremble, and throws up subterraneous matter from volcanos. * * * 3 When therefore we perceive in the universe at large, a cause of rapid and
powerful motions of masses of inert matter, may we not naturally conclude that the inert molecules of vegetable and animal matter, may be made to move in a similar manner, by a similar cause *
It is not meant to be affirmed that electricity is life. There are strong analogies between electricity and magnetism, and yet I do not know that any one has been hardy enough to assert their absolute identity. I only mean to prove, that Mr. Hunter's Theory is verifiable, by shewing that a subtile substance of a quickly and powerfully mobile nature, seems to pervade every thing, and appears to be the life of the world; and therefore it is probable that a similar substance pervades organized bodies, and produces similar effects in them.
- The experiments of Sir H. Davy seem E 2
to realize the speculations of philosophers, and to verify the deductions of reason, by demonstrating the existence of a subtile, active, wital principle, pervading all nature as has heretofore been surmized, and denominated the Anima Mundi. The opinions, which in former times were a justifiable hypothesis, seem to me now to be converted into a rational theory."
It is then, I; think, manifest, that Mr. Hunter's Theory of Life, presents us with the most probable solution of the phaenomena of irritability, of any that has hitherto been proposed. . . . . . . oilo p
o ~ : . . . . . . .
1. The human mind has been the same at all periods of the world; in all ages there have been men of a sceptical disposition, disinclined to believe any thing that was not directly an object of their senses. At allperiods there have been other men of a contem