'The reasoning,' he says, 'ends in a subversion of that theory altogether; for if space be an insulator it cannot exist in conducting bodies, and if it be a conductor it cannot exist in insulating bodies. Any ground of reasoning,' he adds, as if carried away by the ardour of argument, 'which tends to such conclusions as these must in itself be false.'

He then tosses the atomic theory from horn to horn of his dilemmas. What do we know, he asks, of the atom apart from its force? You imagine a nucleus which may be called a, and surround it by forces which may be called m; 'to my mind the a or nucleus vanishes, and the substance consists in the powers of m. And indeed what notion can we form of the nucleus independent of its powers? What thought remains on which to hang the imagination of an a independent of the acknowledged forces?' Like Boscovich, he abolishes the atom, and puts a 'centre of force' in its place.

With his usual courage and sincerity he pushes his view to its utmost consequences. 'This view of the constitution of matter,' he continues, 'would seem to involve necessarily the conclusion that matter fills all space, or at least all space to which gravitation extends; for gravitation is a property of matter dependent on a certain force, and it is this force which constitutes the matter. In that view matter is not merely mutually penetrable;1

but each atom extends, so to say, throughout the whole of the solar system, yet always retaining its own centre of force.'

It is the operation of a mind filled with thoughts of this profound, strange, and subtle character that we have to take into account in dealing with Faraday's later researches. A similar cast of thought pervades a letter addressed by Faraday to Mr. Richard Phillips, and published in the 'Philosophical Magazine' for May, 1846. It is entitled 'Thoughts on Ray-vibrations,' and it contains one of the most singular speculations that ever emanated from a scientific mind. It must be remembered here, that though Faraday lived amid such speculations he did not rate them highly, and that he was prepared at any moment to change them or let them go. They spurred him on, but they did not hamper him. His theoretic notions were fluent; and when minds less plastic than his own attempted to render those fluxional images rigid, he rebelled. He warns Phillips moreover, that from first to last, 'he merely threw out as matter for speculation the vague impressions of his mind; for he gave nothing as the result of sufficient consideration, or as the settled conviction, or even probable conclusion at which he had arrived.'

The gist of this communication is that gravitating force acts in lines across space, and that the vibrations of light and radiant heat consist in the tremors of these lines of force. 'This notion,' he says, 'as far as it is admitted, will dispense with the ether, which, in another view is supposed to be the medium in which these vibrations take place.' And he adds further on, that his view 'endeavours to dismiss the ether but not the vibrations.' The idea here set forth is the natural supplement of his previous notion, that it is gravitating force which constitutes matter, each atom extending, so to say, throughout the whole of the solar system.

The letter to Mr. Phillips winds up with this beautiful conclusion:--

'I think it likely that I have made many mistakes in the preceding pages, for even to myself my ideas on this point appear only as the shadow of a speculation, or as one of those impressions upon the mind which are allowable for a time as guides to thought and research. He who labours in experimental inquiries, knows how numerous these are, and how often their apparent fitness and beauty vanish before the progress and development of real natural truth.'

Let it then be remembered that Faraday entertained notions regarding matter and force altogether distinct from the views generally held by scientific men. Force seemed to him an entity dwelling along the line in which it is exerted. The lines along which gravity acts between the sun and earth seem figured in his mind as so many elastic strings; indeed he accepts the assumed instantaneity of gravity as the expression of the enormous elasticity of the 'lines of weight.' Such views, fruitful in the case of magnetism, barren, as yet, in the case of gravity, explain his efforts to transform this latter force. When he goes into the open air and permits his helices to fall, to his mind's eye they are tearing through the lines of gravitating power, and hence his hope and conviction that an effect would and ought to be produced. It must ever

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