Imágenes de página

had not assumed their present state, and consequently thaf there is not one of them, which can have existed, where they now are, fore ever. The Mineralogist has ascertained that Granite is a compound substance, made up of three distinct and dissimilar simple mineral bodies, Quartz, Felspar, and Mica, each presenting certain regular combinations of external form and internal structure, with physical properties peculiar to itself. And Chemical Analysis has shown that these several bodies are made up of other bodies, all of which had a prior existence in some more simple state, before they entered on their present union in the mineral constituents of. what are supposed to be the most ancient rocks accessible to human observation. The Crystallographer also has farther shown that the several ingredients of Granite, and of all other kinds of Crystalline Rocks are composed of Molecules which are invisibly minute, and that each of these Molecules is made up of still smaller and moresimple Molecules, every one of them combined in fixed and definite proportions, and affording at all the successive stages; of their analysis, presumptive proof that they possess determinate geometrical figures. These combinations and figures are so far from indicating the fortuitous result of accident; that they are disposed according to laws the most severely rigid, and in proportions mathematically exact.*

The Atheistical Theory assuming the gratuitous postulate of the eternity of matter and motion, would represent the question thus. All matter, it would contend, must of necessity have assumed some form or other, and therefore may fortuitously have settled into any of those under which it actually appears. Now, on this hypothesis, we ought to find all kinds of substances presented occasionally under an infinite number of external forms, and combined in endless varieties of indefinite proportions; but observation has shown that crystalline mineral bodies occur under a fixed and limited number of external forms called secondary, and that these are constructed on a series of more simple primary forms, which are demonstrable by cleavage and mechanical division, without chemical analysis; the integrant molecules* of these primary forms of crystals are usually compound bodies, made up of an ulterior series of constituent molecules, i. e. molecules of the first substances obtained by chemical analysis; and these in many cases are also compound bodies, made up of the elementary molecules, or final indivisible atoms,f of which the ultimate particles of matter are probably composed.J

* The above Paragraphs of this Chapter excepting- the first, are taken almost verbatim from the Author's MS. Notes of his Lectures on Mineralogy, bearing the date of June 1822, and he has adhered more closely to the form under which they appear, than he might otherwise have done, for the sake of showing that no part of them has been suggested by any recent publications; and that the views here taken have not originated in express consi. derations called forth by the occasion of the present Treatise, but are the natural result of ordinary serious attention to the phenomena of Geology and Mineralogy, viewed in their conjoint relations to one another, and of inquiry pursued a few steps farther beyond the facts towards the causes- in which, they originated.

* Ce que j'ai dit de la forme deviendra encore plus evident, si, en penetrant dans le mecanisme intine de la structure, on congoit tous ces cristaux comme des assemblages de molecules integrantes parfaitement semblables par leurs formes, et subordonnees, a un arrangement regulier. Ainsi, au lieu qu'une etude superficielle des cristaux n'y laissait voir que des singularity de la nature, une etude approfondie nous conduit t cette consequence que le meme Dieu dont la puissance et la sagesse ont soumis la course des astres a des lois qui ne sc dementent jamais, en a aussi etabli auxquelles ont obei aveo la meme fidelite les molecules qui se sont reunies donner naissance aux corps caches dans les retraites du globe que nous habitons. Hauy, Ta-. bleau comparatif des lltsultats de la Cristallographie et de VAnalyse Chi.mique. P. xvii.

t "We seem to be justified in concluding, that a limit is to be assigned tifthe divisibility of matter, and consequently that we must suppose the existence of certain ultimate particles, stamped, as Newton conjectured, in the beginning of time by the hands of the Almighty with permanent characters, and retaining the exact size and figure, no less than the other more subtle qualities and relations which were given to them at the first moment of their creation.

"The particles of the several substances existing in nature may thus deserve to be regarded as the alphabet, composing the great volume which records the wisdom and goodness of the Creator."

Daubney's Atomic Theory, p. 107.

t We may once for all illustrate the combinations of exact and methodical arrangements under which the ordinary crystalline forms of minerals have been produced, by the phenomena of a single species; viz. the well-known substance of Carbonate of Lime.

When we have in this manner traced back all kinds of mineral bodies, to the first and most simple condition of their component Elements, we find these elements to have been at all times regulated by the self-same system of fixed and universal laws, which still maintains the mechanism of the material world. In the operation of these laws we recognise such direct and constant subserviency of means to ends, so much of harmony, and order, and methodical arrangement, in the physical properties and proportional quantities, and chemical functions of the inorganic Elements, and we farther see such convincing evidence of intelligence and foresight in the adaptation of these primordial Elements to an infinity of complex uses, under many future systems of animal and vegetable organizations, that we can find no reasonable account of the existence of all this beautiful and exact machinery, if we accept not that which would refer its origin to the antecedent Will and Power of a Supreme Creator; a Being, whose nature is confessedly incomprehensible to our finite faculties, but whom the "things which do appear" proclaim to be supremely Wise, and Great, and Good.

We have more then five hundred varieties of secondary forms presented by the crystals of this abundant earthy mineral. In each of these we trace a fivefold series of subordinate relations of one system of combinations to another system, under which every individual crystal has been adjusted by laws, acting correlatively to produce harmonious results.

Every crystal of Carbonate of Lime is made up of millions of particles of the same compound substance, having one invariable primary form, viz. that of a rhomboidal solid, which may be obtained to an indefinite extent by mechanical division.

The integrant molecules these rhomboidal solids form the smallest particles to which the Limestone can be reduced without chemical decomposition.

The first result of chemical analysis divides these integrant molecules of Carbonate of Lime into two compound substances, namely, Quick Lime and Carbonic Acid, each of which is made up of an incalculable number of constituent molecules.

A farther analysis of these constituent molecules shows that they also are compound bodies, each made up of two elementary substances, viz. the Lime made up of elementary molecules of the metal Calcium, and Oxygen; and the Carbonic Acid, of elementary molecules of Carbon and Oxygen.

These ultimate molecules of Calcium Carbon, and Oxygen, form the final indivisible atoms into which every secondary crystal of Carbonate of Lime Qan be resolved,

To attribute all this harmony and order to any fortuitous causes that would exclude Design, would be to reject conclusions founded on that kind of evidence, on which the human mind reposes with undoubting confidence in all the ordinary business of life, as well as in physical and metaphysical investigations. "Si mundum efficere potest concursus atomorum, cur porticum, cur templem, cur domum, cur urbem non potest? quae sunt minus operosa et multo quidem faciliora."*

Such was the interrogatory of the Roman Moralist, arising from his contemplation of the obvious phenomena of the natural world; and the conclusion of Bentley from a wider view of more recondite phenomena, in an age remarkable for the advancement of some of the highest branches of Physical Science, has been most abundantly confirmed by the manifold discoveries of a succeeding century. We therefore of the present age have a thousand additional reasons to affirm with him, that "though universal matter should have endured from everlasting, divided into infinite particles in the Epicurean way, and though motion should have been coeval and coeternal with it; yet those particles or atoms could never of themselves, by omnifarious kinds of motion, whether fortuitous or mechanical, have fallen, or been disposed into this or a like visible system."j-— Bentley, Serm. vi. of Atheism, p. 192.

• Cicero de Natura Deorum, lib. ii. 37.

f Dr. Prout has pursued this subject still farther in the third Chapter of his Bridgewater Treatise, and shown that the molecular constitution of mattei with its admirable adaptations to the economy of the natural world, cannot have endured from eternity, and is by no means a necessary condition of its existence; but has resulted from the Will of some intelligent and voluntary Agent, possessing power commensurate with his Will.



In our last Chapter we have considered the Nature of the Evidence afforded by unorganized mineral bodies, in proof of the existence of design in the original adaptation of the material Elements to their various functions, in the inorganic and organic departments of the Natural World, and have seen that the only sufficient Explanation we can discover, of the orderly and wonderful dispositions of the material Elements "in measure and number and weight," throughout the terraqueous globe, is that which refers the origin of every thing above us, and beneath us, and around us, to the will and workings of One Omnipotent Creator. If the properties imparted to these Elements at the moment of their Creation, adapted them beforehand to the infinity of complicated useful purposes, which they have already answered, and may have farther still to answer, under many successive Dispensations in the material World, such an aboriginal constitution so far from superseding an intelligent Agent, would only exalt our conceptions of the consummate skill and power, that could comprehend such an infinity of future uses under future systems, in the original groundwork of his Creation.

In an early part of our Inquiry, we traced back the his

In the first Section of his fourth Chapter the same author has also so clearly shown the great extent to which several of the most common mineral substances e. g. lime, magnesia, and iron, enter into the composition of animal and vegetable bodies, and has so fully set forth the evidences of design in the constitution and properties of the few simple substances, viz. fifty-four Elementary principles, into some one or more of which the component materials of all the three great kingdoms of Nature can be resolved, that I deem it superfluous to repeat in another form, the substance of arguments which have been so well and fully drawn by my learned Colleague, from those phenomena of the mineral Elements, which form no small part of the evidence afforded by the Chemistry of Mineralogy, in proof of the Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness of the Creator.

« AnteriorContinuar »