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the general result being a tendency of all, with a simi
lar force, to a general centre."

The reversal of our processes has thus brought us to
an identical result; but while in the one process in
tuition was the starting-point, in the other it was the
goal. In commencing the former journey I could only
say that, with an irresistible intuition, I felt simplicity



to have been made the characteristic of the original
action of God ; in ending the latter, I can only declare
that, with an irresistible intuition, I perceive unity to
have been the source of the observed phenomena of
the Newtonian gravitation. Thus, according to the
schools, I prove nothing. So be it; I design but to
suggest, and to convince through the suggestion. I
am proudly aware that there exist many of the most
profound and cautiously discriminative human intel
lects which cannot help being abundantly content with
my suggestions. To these intellects, as to my own,
there is no mathematical demonstration which could
bring the least additional true proof of the great truth
which I have advanced the truth of original unity as
the source, as the principle, of the universal phenom
ena. For my part I am not sure that I speak and see,
I am not so sure that my heart beats and that my soul
lives ; of the rising of to-morrow's sun a probability
that as yet lies in the future I do not pretend to be
one thousandth part as sure as I am of the irretrievably
bygone fact that all things and all thoughts of things,
with all their ineffable multiplicity of relation, sprang
at once into being from the primordial and irrelative

Referring to the Newtonian gravity, Dr. Nichol, the
eloquent author of The Architecture of the Heavens,
says : " In truth we have no reason to suppose this
great law, as now revealed, to be the ultimate or



simplest, and therefore the universal and all-compre
hensive, form of a great ordinance. The mode in
which its intensity diminishes with the element of dis
tance has not the aspect of an ultimate principle ; which
always assumes the simplicity and self-evidence of
those axioms which constitute the basis of geometry."

Now, it is quite true that " ultimate principles," in
the common understanding of the words, always
assume the simplicity of geometrical axioms (as for
" self -evidence," there is no such thing), but these
principles are clearly not " ultimate " ; in other terms,
what we are in the habit of calling principles are no
principles, properly speaking, since there can be but
one principle, the volition of God. We have no right
to assume, then, from what we observe in rules that
we choose foolishly to name " principles," anything at
all in respect to the characteristics of a principle proper.
The " ultimate principles," of which Dr. Nichol speaks
as having geometrical simplicity, may and do have
this geometrical turn, as being part and parcel of a
vast geometrical system, and thus a system of sim
plicity itself, in which, nevertheless, the truly ultimate
principle is, as we know, the consummation of the
complex, that is to say, of the unintelligible, for is it
not the spiritual capacity of God ?

I quoted Dr. Nichol's remark, however, not so much
to question its philosophy as by way of calling atten
tion to the fact that while all men have admitted some



principle as existing behind the law of gravity, no
attempt has been yet made to point out what this prin
ciple in particular is, if we except, perhaps, occasional
fantastic efforts at referring it to magnetism, or mes
merism, or Swedenborgianism, or transcendentalism, or
some other equally delicious " ism" of the same species,
and invariably patronized by one and the same species
of people. The great mind of Newton, while boldly
grasping the law itself, shrank from the principle of
the law. The more fluent and comprehensive, at least,
if not the more patient and profound sagacity of La
place had not the courage to attack it. But hesitation
on the part of these two astronomers it is, perhaps,
not so very difficult to understand. They, as well as
all the first class of mathematicians, were mathema
ticians solely ; their intellect at least had a firmly pro
nounced mathematico-physical tone. What lay not
distinctly within the domain of physics or of mathe
matics seemed to them either non-entity or shadow.
Nevertheless, we may well wonder that Leibnitz, who
was a marked exception to the general rule in these
respects, and whose mental temperament was a singu
lar admixture of the mathematical with the physico-
metaphysical, did not at once investigate and establish
the point at issue. Either Newton or Laplace, seeking
a principle and discovering none physical, would have
rested contentedly in the conclusion that there was
absolutely none; but it is almost impossible to fancy



of Leibnitz that, having exhausted in his search the
physical dominions, he would not have stepped at once,
boldly and hopefully, amid his old familiar haunts in
the kingdom of metaphysics. Here, indeed, it is clear
that he must have adventured in search of the treasure ;
that he did not find it after all, was, perhaps, because
his fairy guide, Imagination, was not sufficiently well
grown, or well educated, to direct him aright.

I observed just now that, in fact, there had been
certain vague attempts at referring gravity to some
very uncertain " isms." These attempts, however,
although considered bold, and justly so considered,
looked no further than to the generality, the merest
generality, of the Newtonian law. Its modus operand!
has never, to my knowledge, been approached in the
way of an effort at explanation. It is, therefore, with
no unwarrantable fear of being taken for a madman
at the outset, and before I can bring my propositions
fairly to the eye of those who alone are competent to
decide upon them, that I here declare the modus oper*
andi of the law of gravity to be an exceedingly simple
and perfectly explicable thing, that is to say, when we
make our advances toward it in just gradations and
in the true direction; when we regard it from the
proper point of view.

Whether we reach the idea of absolute unity as the
source of all things, from a consideration of simplicity
as the most probable characteristic of the original



action of God; whether we arrive at it from an in
spection of the universality of the relation in the
gravitating phenomena, or whether we attain it as a
result of the mutual corroboration afforded by both
processes, still, the idea itself, if entertained at all, is
entertained in inseparable connection with another
idea, that of the condition of the universe of stars as we
now perceive it, that is to say, a condition of immeasur
able diffusion through space. Now, a connection
between these two ideas, unity and diffusion, can
not be established unless through the entertainment
of a third idea, that of irradiation. Absolute unity
being taken as a centre, then the existing universe of
stars is the result of irradiation from that centre.

Now, the laws of irradiation are known. They are
part and parcel of the sphere. They belong to the
class of indisputable geometrical properties. We say
of them, " They are true, they are evident." To de
mand why they are true would be to demand why the
axioms are true upon which their demonstration is
based. Nothing is demonstrable, strictly speaking;
but if anything be, then the properties, the laws in
question, are demonstrated.

But these laws, what do they declare ? Irradiation
how? by what steps does it proceed outwardly from
a centre ?

From a luminous centre light issues by irradiation ;
and the quantities of light received upon any given



plane, supposed to be shifting its position so as to be
now nearer the centre and now farther from it, will be

diminished in the same proportion as the squares of
the distances of the plane from the luminous body are
increased; and will be increased in the same propor
tion as these squares are diminished.

The expression of the law may be thus generalized :
the number of light-particles (or, if the phrase be pre
ferred, the number of light-impressions) received upon
the shifting plane will be inversely proportional with
the squares of the distances of the plane. Generalizing
yet again, we may say that the diffusion, the scatter
ing, the irradiation, in a word, is directly propor
tional with the squares of the distances.

For example : at the distance B, from the luminous
centre A, a certain number of particles are so diffused
as to occupy the surface B. Then at double the dis
tance, that is to say, at C, they will be so much farther
diffused as to occupy four such surfaces; at treble the
distance, or at D, they will be so much farther sep-



arated as to occupy nine such surfaces; while, at
quadruple the distance, or at E, they will have become
so scattered as to spread themselves over sixteen such
surfaces, and so on forever.

In saying, generally, that the irradiation proceeds in
direct proportion with the squares of the distances, we
use the term " irradiation " to express the degree of the
diffusion as we proceed outwardly from the centre.
Conversing the idea, and employing the word " con-
centralization " to express the degree of the drawing
together as we come back toward the centre from an
outward position, we may say that concentralization
proceeds inversely as the squares of the distances. In
other words, we have reached the conclusion that, on
the hypothesis that matter was originally irradiated
from a centre and is now returning to it, the concen
tralization, in the return, proceeds exactly as we know
the force of gravitation to proceed.

Now here, if we could be permitted to assume that
concentralization exactly represented the force of the
tendency to the centre, that the one was exactly pro
portional to the other, and that the two proceeded
together, we should have shown all that is required.
The sole difficulty existing, then, is to establish a direct
proportion between concentralization and the force
of concentralization; and this is done, of course, if
we establish such proportions between irradiation and
the force of irradiation.



A very slight inspection of the heavens assures us
that the stars have a certain general uniformity, equa
bility, or equidistance of distribution through that re
gion of space in which, collectively, and in a roughly
globular form, they are situated; this species of very
general, rather than absolute, equability being in full
keeping with my deduction of inequidistance, within
certain limits, among the originally diffused atoms, as
a corollary from the evident design of infinite com
plexity of relation out of irrelation. I started, it will
be remembered, with the idea of a generally uniform
but particularly ununiform distribution of the atoms,
an idea, I repeat, which an inspection of the stars,
as they exist, confirms.

But even in the merely general equability of distribu
tion, as regards the atoms, there appears a difficulty
which, no doubt, has already suggested itself to those
among my readers who have borne in mind that I
suppose this equability of distribution effected through
irradiation from a centre. The very first glance at the
idea, irradiation, forces us to the entertainment of the
hitherto unseparated and seemingly inseparable idea of
agglomeration about a centre, with dispersion as we
recede from it, the idea, in a word, of inequability of
distribution in respect to the matter irradiated.

Now, I have elsewhere x observed that it is by just
such difficulties as the one now in question, such

1 Murders in the Rue Morgue,



roughnesses, such peculiarities, such protuberances
above the plane of the ordinary, that Reason feels her
way, if at all, in her search for the true. By the diffi
culty, the " peculiarity," now presented, I leap at once
to the secret a secret which I might never have at
tained but for the peculiarity and the inferences which,
in its mere character of peculiarity, it affords me.

The process of thought, at this point, may be thus
roughly sketched. I say to myself : " Unity, as I have
explained it, is a truth ; I feel it. Diffusion is a truth ;
I see it. Irradiation, by which alone these two truths
are reconciled, is a consequent truth; I perceive it.
Equability of diffusion, first deduced a priori and
then corroborated by the inspection of phenomena, is
also a truth; I fully admit it. So far all is clear
around me; there are no clouds behind which the
secret the great secret of the gravitating modus oper*
andi can possibly lie hidden; but this secret lies
hereabouts, most assuredly; and were there but a
cloud in view I should be driven to suspicion of that
cloud." And now, just as I say this, there actually
comes a cloud into view. This cloud is the seeming
impossibility of reconciling my truth, irradiation, with
my truth, equability of diffusion. I say now : " Be
hind this seeming impossibility is to be found what
I desire." I do not say " real impossibility " ; for
invincible faith in my truths assures me that it is a
mere difficulty after all; but I go on to say, with



unflinching confidence, that, when this difficulty shall
be solved, we shall find, wrapped up in the process of
solution, the key to the secret at which we aim. More
over, I feel that we shall discover but one possible
solution of the difficulty ; this for the reason that, were
there two, one would be supererogatory, would be
fruitless, would be empty, would contain no key, since
no duplicate key can be needed to any secret of nature.
And now, let us see : Our usual notions of irradia
tion, in fact, all our distinct notions of it, are caught
merely from the process as we see it exemplified in
light. Here there is a continuous outpouring of ray-
streams, and with a force which we have at least no
right to suppose ever varies at all. Now, in any such
irradiation as this, continuous and of unvarying force,
the regions nearer the centre must inevitably be always
more crowded with the irradiated matter than the
regions more remote. But I have assumed no such
irradiation as this. I assumed no continuous irra
diation ; and for the simple reason that such an as
sumption would have involved, first, the necessity of
entertaining a conception which I have shown no man
can entertain, and which (as I will more fully explain
hereafter) all observation of the firmament refutes
the conception of the absolute infinity of the universe
of stars; and would have involved, secondly, the im
possibility of understanding a reaction, that is, gravi
tation, as existing now, since, while an act is continued,



no reaction, of course, can take place. My assump
tion, then, or rather my inevitable deduction from just
premises, was that of a determinate irradiation, one
finally discontinued.

Let me now describe the sole possible mode in which
it is conceivable that matter could have been diffused
through space, so as to fulfil the conditions at once of
irradiation and of generally equable distribution.

For convenience of illustration, let us imagine, in
the first place, a hollow sphere of glass, or anything
else, occupying the space throughout which the uni
versal matter is to be thus equally diffused, by means
of irradiation, from the absolute, irrelative, uncon
ditional particle, placed in the centre of the sphere.

Now, a certain exertion of the diffusive power (pre
sumed to be the Divine Volition) in other words, a
certain force, whose measure is the quantity of mat
ter, that is to say, the number of atoms emitted
emits, by irradiation, this certain number of atoms;
forcing them in all directions outwardly from the
centre, their proximity to each other diminishing as
they proceed, until, finally, they are distributed, loosely,
over the interior surface of the sphere.

When these atoms have attained this position, or
while proceeding to attain it, a second and inferior
exercise of the same force, or a second and inferior
force of the same character, emits, in the same man
ner, that is to say, by irradiation as before, a second

VOL. X. 15. 225


stratum of atoms which proceeds to deposit itself upon
the first ; the number of atoms, in this case as in the
former, being, of course, the measure of the force
which emitted them; in other words, the force being
precisely adapted to the purpose it effects, the force,
and the number of atoms sent out by the force, being
directly proportional.

When this second stratum has reached its destined
position, or while approaching it, a third still inferior
exertion of the force, or a third inferior force of a simi
lar character the number of atoms emitted being in
all cases the measure of the force proceeds to deposit
a third stratum upon the second ; and so on, until these
concentric strata, growing gradually less and less,
come down at length to the central point; and the
diffusive matter, simultaneously with the diffusive
force, is exhausted.

We have now the sphere filled, through means of
irradiation, with atoms equably diffused. The two
necessary conditions, those of irradiation and of
equable diffusion, are satisfied, and by the sole pro
cess in which the possibility of their simultaneous
satisfaction is conceivable. For this reason, I confi
dently expect to find, lurking in the present condition
of the atoms as distributed throughout the sphere,
the secret of which I am in search the all-important
principle of the modus opetandi of the Newtonian law.
Let us examine, then, the actual condition of the atoms.



They lie in a state of concentric strata. They are
equably diffused throughout the sphere. They have
been irradiated into these states.

The atoms being equably distributed, the greater
the superficial extent of any of these concentric strata,
or spheres, the more atoms will lie upon it. In other
words, the number of atoms lying upon the surface of
any one of the concentric spheres is directly propor
tional with the extent of that surface.

But in any series of concentric spheres the surfaces
are directly proportional with the squares of the dis
tances from the centre. 1

Therefore the number of atoms in any stratum is
directly proportional with the square of that stratum's
distance from the centre.

But the number of atoms in any stratum is the
measure of the force which emitted that stratum, that
is to say, is directly proportional with the force.

Therefore the force which irradiated any stratum is
directly proportional with the square of that stratum's
distance from the centre; or, generally:

The force of the irradiation has been directly pro
portional with the squares of the distances.

Now, reaction, as far as we know anything of it, is
action conversed. The general principle of gravity
being, in the first place, understood as the reaction of
an act, as the expression of a desire on the part of

1 Succinctly The surfaces of spheres are as the squares of their radii.



matter, while existing in a state of diffusion, to return
into the unity whence it was diffused; and, in the
second place, the mind being called upon to determine
the character of the desire, the manner in which it
would naturally be manifested ; in other words, being
called upon to conceive a probable law, or modus
opetandi, for the return, could not well help arriving
at the conclusion that this law or return would be pre
cisely the converse of the law of departure. That such
would be the case, any one, at least, would be abun
dantly justified in taking for granted until such time
as some persons should suggest something like a plau
sible reason why it should not be the case ; until such
period as a law of return shall be imagined which the
intellect can consider as preferable.

Matter, then, irradiated into space with a force vary
ing as the squares of the distances, might, a priori, be
supposed to return toward its centre of irradiation
with a force varying inversely as the squares of the
distances : and I have already shown x that any prin
ciple which will explain why the atoms should tend,
according to any law, to the general centre, must be
admitted as satisfactorily explaining, at the same time,
why, according to the same law, they should tend each
to each. For, in fact, the tendency to the general
centre is not to a centre as such, but because of its
being a point in tending toward which each atom tends

1 Page 214.



most directly to its real and essential centre, unity
the absolute and final union of all.

The consideration here involved presents to my own
mind no embarrassment whatever, but this fact does
not blind me to the possibility of its being obscure to
those who may have been less in the habit of dealing
with abstractions; and, upon the whole, it may be as
well to look at the matter from one or two other points
of view.

The absolute, irrelative particle primarily created by
the volition of God must have been in a condition of
positive normality, or rightf ulness ; for wrongfulness
implies relation. Right is positive; wrong is nega
tive, is merely the negation of right; as cold is the
negation of heat, darkness of light. That a thing
may be wrong, it is necessary that there be some other
thing in relation to which it is wrong, some condition
which it fails to satisfy; some law which it violates;
some being whom it aggrieves. If there be no such
being, law, or condition, in respect to which the thing
is wrong, and, still more especially, if no beings, laws,
or conditions exist at all, then the thing can not be
wrong, and consequently must be right. Any devi
ation from normality involves a tendency to return to
it. A difference from the normal, from the right, from
the just, can be understood as effected only by the
overcoming a difficulty; and if the force which over
comes the difficulty be not infinitely continued, the



ineradicable tendency to return will at length be per
mitted to act for its own satisfaction. Upon with
drawal of the force, the tendency acts. This is the
principle of reaction as the inevitable consequence of
finite action. Employing a phraseology of which the
seeming affectation will be pardoned for its expressive
ness, we may say that reaction is the return from the
condition of " as it is and ought not to be " into the
condition of " as it was, originally, and therefore ought
to be " ; and let me add here that the absolute force
of reaction would, no doubt, be always found in direct
proportion with the reality, the truth, the absoluteness,
of the originality, if ever it were possible to measure
this latter ; and, consequently, the greatest of all con
ceivable reactions must be that produced by the ten
dency which we now discuss the tendency to return
into the absolutely original, into the supremely primi
tive. Gravity, then, must be the strongest of forces,
an idea reached a priori and abundantly confirmed by
induction. What use I make of the idea will be seen
in the sequel.

The atoms, now, having been diffused from their
normal condition of unity, seek to return to what ?
Not to any particular point, certainly; for it is clear
that if, upon the diffusion, the whole universe of mat
ter had been projected, collectively, to a distance from
the point of irradiation, the atomic tendency to the
general centre of the sphere would not have been dis-



turbed in the least ; the atoms would not have sought
the point in absolute space from which they were
originally impelled. It is merely the condition, and
not the point or locality at which this condition took
its rise, that these atoms seek to re-establish; it is
merely that condition which is their normality that
they desire. " But they seek a centre," it will be said,
" and a centre is a point." True ; but they seek this
point not in its character of point (for, were the whole
sphere moved from its position, they would seek,
equally, the centre; and the centre then would be a
new point), but because it so happens, on account of
the form in which they collectively exist (that of the
sphere), that only through the point in question, the
sphere's centre, they can attain their true object,
unity. In the direction of the centre each atom per
ceives more atoms than hi any other direction. Each
atom is impelled toward the centre because along the
straight line joining it and the centre and passing on

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