weight and insight lightly to take up, or lightly to abandon a theory. Faraday therefore resumed the attack in a paper, communicated to the Royal Society on the 6th of February, 1840. In this paper he hampered his antagonists by a crowd of adverse experiments. He hung difficulty after difficulty about the neck of the contact theory, until in its efforts to escape from his assaults it so changed its character as to become a thing totally different from the theory proposed by Volta. The more persistently it was defended, however, the more clearly did it show itself to be a congeries of devices, bearing the stamp of dialectic skill rather than of natural truth.

In conclusion, Faraday brought to bear upon it an argument which, had its full weight and purport been understood at the time, would have instantly decided the controversy. 'The contact theory,' he urged, 'assumed that a force which is able to overcome powerful resistance, as for instance that of the conductors, good or bad, through which the current passes, and that again of the electrolytic action where bodies are decomposed by it, can arise out of nothing; that, without any change in the acting matter, or the consumption of any generating force, a current shall be produced which shall go on for ever against a constant resistance, or only be stopped, as in the voltaic trough, by the ruins which its exertion has heaped up in its own course. This would indeed be a creation of power, and is like no other force in nature. We have many processes by which the form of the power may be so changed, that an apparent conversion of one into the other takes place. So we can change chemical force into the electric current, or the current into chemical force. The beautiful experiments of Seebeck and Peltier show the convertibility of heat and electricity; and others by Oersted and myself show the convertibility of electricity and magnetism. But in no case, not even in those of the Gymnotus and Torpedo, is there a pure creation or a production of power without a corresponding exhaustion of something to supply it.'

These words were published more than two years before either Mayer printed his brief but celebrated essay on the Forces of Inorganic Nature, or Mr. Joule published his first famous experiments on the Mechanical Value of Heat. They illustrate the fact that before any great scientific principle receives distinct enunciation by individuals, it dwells more or less clearly in the general scientific mind. The intellectual plateau is already high, and our discoverers are those who, like peaks above the plateau, rise a little above the general level of thought at the time.

But many years prior even to the foregoing utterance of Faraday, a similar argument had been employed. I quote here with equal pleasure and admiration the following passage written by Dr. Roget so far back as 1829. Speaking of the contact theory, he says:-- 'If there could exist a power having the property ascribed to it by the hypothesis, namely, that of giving continual impulse to a fluid in one constant direction, without being exhausted by its own action, it would differ essentially from all the known powers in nature. All the powers and sources of motion with the operation of which we are acquainted, when producing these peculiar effects, are expended in the same proportion as those effects are produced; and hence arises the impossibility of obtaining by their agency a perpetual effect; or in other words a perpetual motion. But the electro-motive force, ascribed by Volta to the metals, when in contact, is a force which, as long as a free course is allowed to the electricity it sets in motion, is never expended, and continues to be excited with undiminished power in the production of a never-ceasing effect. Against the truth of such a supposition the probabilities are all but infinite.' When this argument, which he employed independently, had clearly fixed itself in his mind, Faraday never cared to experiment further on the source of electricity in the voltaic pile. The argument appeared to him 'to remove the foundation itself of the contact theory,' and he afterwards let it crumble down in peace.1

  By PanEris using Melati.

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