should also be made of the unknown element conjectured by Huggins to exist in some nebulae. This conception of a first matter or Urstoff has also been maintained by Hinrichs, who has put forward an argument in its favor from a consideration of the wave-lengths in the lines of the spectra of various elements.
It is curious in this connection to note that Lavoisier suggested that hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, with heat and light, might be regarded as simpler forms of matter from which all others were derived. The nebulæ, which we conceive as condensing into suns and planets, show us only two of the three elements of our terrestrial envelope, which is made up of air and aqueous vapor. If now we admit, as I am disposed to do with Mattieu Williams, that our atmosphere and ocean are not simply terrestrial, but cosmical, and are a portion of the medium which, in an attenuated form, fills the interstellary spaces, these same nebulae and their resulting worlds may be evolved by a process of chemical condensation from this universal atmosphere, to which they would sustain a relation somewhat analogous to that of clouds and rain to the aqueous vapor around us. This, though it may be regarded as a legitimate and plausible speculation, is at present nothing more, and we may never advance beyond conjecture as to the relation of the various forms of so-called elemental matter, and to the processes which govern the evolution of the celestial spheres. You will, I trust, pardon this excursion to the regions of space and the realm of imagination into which I have led you, and return with me to the consideration of a new chapter in chemical theory.
|REPLY TO THE CRITICS OF THE BELFAST ADDRESS.|
I TAKE advantage of a pause in the issue of this Address, to add a few prefatory words to those already printed.
The world has been frequently informed of late that I have raised up against myself a host of enemies; and considering, with few exceptions, the deliverances of the press, and more particularly of the religious press, I am forced sadly to admit that the statement is only too true. I derive some comfort, nevertheless, from the reflection of Diogenes, transmitted to us from Plutarch, that "he who would be saved must have good friends or violent enemies; and that he is best off who possesses both." This "best" condition, I have reason to believe, is mine.
Reflecting on the fraction I have read of recent remonstrances, ap-
- Preface to the seventh edition of the Address before the British Association at Belfast, with an Appendix on "Scientific Materialism," etc. D. Appleton & Co.