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114 FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

steps resembling those up which the Egyptian traveller is
dragged by his guides. The human mind is as little dis-
posed to look unquestioning at these pyramidal salt-crys-
tals as to look at the pyramids of Egypt without inquiring
whence they came. How, then, are those salt-pyramids
built up ?

Guided by analogy, you may, if you like, suppose that
swarming among the constituent molecules of the salt,
there is an invisible population, controlled and coerced by
some invisible master, and placing the atomic blocks in
their positions. This, however, is not the scientific idea,
nor do I think your good sense will accept it as a likely
one. The scientific idea is that the molecules act upon each
other Without the intervention of slave labor; that they
attract each other and repel each other at certain definite
points, or poles, and in certain definite directions ; and that
the pyramidal form is the result of this play of attraction
and repulsion. While, then, the blocks of Egypt were laid
down by a power external to themselves, these molecular
blocks of salt are self-posited, being fixed in their places by
the forces with which they act upon each other.

I take common salt as an illustration because it is so
familiar to us all; but any other crystalline substance would
answer my purpose equally well. Everywhere, in fact,
throughout inorganic Nature, we have this formative power,
as Fichte would call it——this structural energy ready to
come into play, and build the ultimate particles of matter
into definite shapes. The ice of our winters "and of our
polar regions is its handywork, and so equally are the
quartz, felspar, and mica of our rocks. Our chalk-beds are
for the most part composed of minute shells, which are also
the product of structural energy; but, behind the shell, as
a whole, lies a more remote and subtle formative act. These
shells are built up of little crystals of calc-spar, and to form
these crystals the structural force had to deal With the

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