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VITALITY. 41 1

were by no means prepared to see a rigid mechanical sig-
nification attached to their words. This, however, is the
peculiarity of modern conclusions: that there is no creative
energy whatever in the vegetable or animal organism, but
that all the power which we obtain from the muscles of
men and animals, as much as that which we deve10p by
the combustion of wood or coal, has been produced at the
sun’s expense. The sun is so much colder that we may
have our fires; he is also so much colder that we may have
our horse-racing and Alpine climbing. It is, for example,
certain that the sun has been chilled to an extent capable
of being accurately expressed in numbers, in order to fur-
nish the power which lifted this year a certain number of
tourists from the vale of Chamouni to the summit of Mont
Blanc.

To most minds, however, the energy of light and heat
presents itself as a thing totally distinct from ordinary me-
chanical energy. But either of them can be derived from
the other. By the friction of wood a savage can raise it
to the temperature of ignition ; by properly striking a piece
of iron a skilful blacksmith can cause it to glow, and thus,
by the rude agency of his hammer, he generates light and
heat. This action, if carried far enough, would produce the
light and heat of the sun. In fact the sun’s light and heat
have actually been referred to the fall of meteoric matter
upon his surface ; and whether the sun is thus supported or
not, it is perfectly certain that he might be thus supported.
Whether, moreover, the whilom molten condition of our
planet was, as supposed by eminent men, due to the collision
of cosmic masses or not, it is perfectly certain that the mol-
ten condition might be thus brought about. If, then, solar
light and heat can be produced by the impact of dead mat
ter, and if from the light and heat thus produced we can
derive the energies which we have been accustomed to call
vital, it indubitably follows that vital energy may have a
proximately mechanical origin.

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