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an additional movement, in its new condition of sphere,
is readily explained. The ring being understood as
yet unbroken, we see that its exterior, while the whole
revolves about the parent body, moves more rapidly
than its interior. When the rupture occurred, then,
some portion in each fragment must have been moving
with greater velocity than the others. The superior
movement prevailing must have whirled each frag
ment round, that is to say, have caused it to rotate;
and the direction of the rotation must, of course, have
been the direction of the revolution whence it arose.
All the fragments having become subject to the rota
tion described, must, hi coalescing, have imparted it
to the one planet constituted by their coalescence.
This planet was Neptune. Its material continuing to
undergo condensation, and the centrifugal force gen
erated in its rotation, getting, at length, the better of
the centripetal, as before in the case of the parent orb,
a ring was whirled also from the equatorial surface of
this planet ; this ring, having been uniform in its con
stitution, was broken up, and its several fragments,
being absorbed by the most massive, were collectively



spherified into a moon. Subsequently the operation
was repeated, and a second moon was the result. We
thus account for the planet Neptune, with the two
satellites which accompany him.

In throwing off a ring from its equator, the sun re
established that equilibrium between its centripetal and
centrifugal forces which had been disturbed in the pro
cess of condensation; but, as this condensation still
proceeded, the equilibrium was again immediately
disturbed, through the increase of rotation. By the
time the mass had so far shrunk that it occupied a
spherical space just that circumscribed by the orbit of
Uranus, we are to understand that the centrifugal
force had so far obtained the ascendency that new
relief was needed ; a second equatorial band was con
sequently thrown off, which, proving ununiform, was
broken up, as before in the case of Neptune, the frag
ments settling into the planet Uranus, the velocity of
whose actual revolution about the sun indicates, of
course, the rotary speed of that sun's equatorial sur
face at the moment of the separation. Uranus, adopt
ing a rotation from the collective rotations of the
fragments composing it, as previously explained, now
threw off ring after ring; each of which, becoming
broken up, settled into a moon, three moons, at differ
ent epochs, having been formed, hi this manner, by
the rupture and general spherification of as many dis
tinct ununiform rings.



By the time the sun had shrunk until it occupied a
space just that circumscribed by the orbit of Saturn,
the balance, we are to suppose, between its centripetal
and centrifugal forces had again become so far dis
turbed, through increase of rotary velocity, the result
of condensation, that a third effort at equilibrium be
came necessary; and an annular band was therefore
whirled off, as twice before, which, on rupture through
ununif ormity, became consolidated into the planet Sat
urn. This latter threw off, in the first place, seven
uniform bands, which, on rupture, were spherified
respectively into as many moons; but, subsequently,
it appears to have discharged, at three distinct but not
very distant epochs, three rings whose equability of
constitution was, by apparent accident, so considerable
as to present no occasion for their rupture ; thus they
continue to revolve as rings. I use the phrase " ap
parent accident " ; for of accident in the ordinary
sense there was, of course, nothing; the term is prop
erly applied only to the result of indistinguishable or
not immediately traceable law.

Shrinking still farther, until it occupied just the
space circumscribed by the orbit of Jupiter, the sun
now found need of further effort to restore the coun
terbalance of its two forces, continually disarranged in
the still continued increase of rotation. Jupiter, ac
cordingly, was now thrown off, passing from the
annular to the planetary condition ; and, on attaining



this latter, threw off in its turn, at four different
epochs, four rings, which finally resolved themselves
into so many moons.

Still shrinking, until its sphere occupied just the
space defined by the orbit of the Asteroids, the sun now
discarded a ring which appears to have had eight
centres of superior solidity, and, on breaking up, to
have separated into eight fragments, no one of which
so far predominated in mass as to absorb the others.
All, therefore, as distinct although comparatively small
planets, proceeded to revolve in orbits whose dis
tances, each from each, may be considered as in some
degree the measure of the force which drove them
asunder, all the orbits, nevertheless, being so closely
coincident as to admit of our calling them one, in view
of the other planetary orbits.

Continuing to shrink, the sun, on becoming so small
as just to fill the orbit of Mars, now discharged this
planet, of course by the process repeatedly described.
Having no moon, however, Mars could have thrown
off no ring. In fact, an epoch had now arrived in the
career of the parent body, the centre of the system.
The decrease of its nebulosity, which is the increase of
its density, and which again is the decrease of its con
densation, out of which latter arose the constant dis
turbance of equilibrium, must, by this period, have
attained a point at which the efforts for restoration
would have been more and more ineffectual just in



proportion as they were less frequently needed. Thus
the processes of which we have been speaking would
everywhere show signs of exhaustion in the planets,
first; and, secondly, in the original mass. We must
not fall into the error of supposing the decrease of in
terval observed among the planets as we approach the
sun to be in any respect indicative of an increase of
frequency in the periods at which they were discarded.
Exactly the converse is to be understood. The longest
interval of time must have occurred between the dis
charges of the two interior; the shortest, between
those of the two exterior, planets. The decrease of the
interval of space is, nevertheless, the measure of the
density, and thus inversely of the condensation, of
the sun, throughout the processes detailed.

Having shrunk, however, so far as to fill only the
orbit of our earth, the parent sphere whirled from
itself still one other body, the earth, in a condition
so nebulous as to admit of this body's discarding, in
its turn, yet another, which is our moon; but here
terminated the lunar formations.

Finally, subsiding to the orbits first of Venus and
then of Mercury, the sun discarded these two interior
planets, neither of which has given birth to any moon.

Thus from his original bulk, or, to speak more accu
rately, from the condition in which we first considered
him, from a partially spherified nebular mass, cer
tainly much more than 5,600,000,000 of miles in



diameter, the great central orb and origin of our solar-
planetary-lunar system, has gradually descended, by
condensation, in obedience to the law of gravity, to a
globe only 882,000 miles in diameter; but it by no
means follows, either that its condensation is yet com
plete, or that it may not still possess the capacity of
whirling from itself another planet.

I have here given, in outline, of course, but still with
all the detail necessary for distinctness, a view of the
Nebular Theory as its author himself conceived it.
From whatever point we regard it, we shall find it
beautifully true. It is by far too beautiful, indeed,
not to possess truth as its essentiality, and here I am
very profoundly serious in what I say. In the revolu
tion of the satellites of Uranus, there does appear
something seemingly inconsistent with the assump
tions of Laplace; but that one inconsistency can
invalidate a theory constructed from a million of in
tricate consistencies is a fancy fit only for the fantas
tic. In prophesying, confidently, that the apparent
anomaly to which I refer will, sooner or later, be
found one of the strongest possible corroborations of
the general hypothesis, I pretend to no especial spirit
of divination. It is a matter which the only difficulty
seems not to foresee. 1

The bodies whirled off in the processes described,

I 1 am prepared to show that the anomalous revolution of the satellites of
Uranus is a simply perspective anomaly arising from the inclination of the
axis of the planet.



would exchange, it has been seen, the superficial rota
tion of the orbs whence they originated for a revolu
tion of equal velocity about these orbs as distant
centres; and the revolution thus engendered must
proceed, so long as the centripetal force, or that with
which the discarded body gravitates toward its parent,
is neither greater nor less than that by which it was
discarded; that is, than the centrifugal, or, far more
properly, than the tangential, velocity. From the
unity, however, of the origin of these two forces, we
might have expected to find them as they are found,
the one accurately counterbalancing the other. It has
been shown, indeed, that the act of whirling off is, in
every case, merely an act for the preservation of the

After referring, however, the centripetal force to the
omniprevalent law of gravity, it has been the fashion
with astronomical treatises to seek beyond the limits
of mere nature, that is to say, of secondary cause, a
solution of the phenomenon of tangential velocity.
This latter they attribute directly to a First Cause, to
God. The force which carries a stellar body around
its primary they assert to have originated in an im
pulse given immediately by the finger, this is the
childish phraseology employed, by the finger of
Deity itself. In this view, the planets, fully formed,
are conceived to have been hurled from the Divine
hand to a position in the vicinity of the suns, with an



impetus mathematically adapted to the masses, or
attractive capacities, of the suns themselves. An idea
so grossly unphilosophical, although so supinely
adopted, could have arisen only from the difficulty of
otherwise accounting for the absolutely accurate adap
tation, each to each, of two forces so seemingly inde
pendent, one of the other, as are the gravitating and
tangential. But it should be remembered that, for a
long time, the coincidence between the moon's rota
tion and her sidereal revolution, two matters seem
ingly far more independent than those now considered,
was looked upon as positively miraculous; and
there was a strong disposition, even among astron
omers, to attribute the marvel to the direct and con
tinual agency of God, who, in this case, it was said,
had found it necessary to interpose, specially, among
His general laws, a set of subsidiary regulations for the
purpose of forever concealing from mortal eyes the
glories, or perhaps the horrors, of the other side of
the moon, of that mysterious hemisphere which has
always avoided, and must perpetually avoid, the tele
scopic scrutiny of mankind. The advance of science,
however, soon demonstrated, what to the philosophi
cal instinct needed no demonstration, that the one
movement is but a portion, something more, even,
than a consequence, of the other.

For my part, I have no patience with fantasies at
once so timorous, so idle, and so awkward. They



belong to the veriest cowardice of thought. That na
ture and the God of nature are distinct, no thinking
being can long doubt. By the former we imply merely
the laws of the latter. But with the very idea of God,
omnipotent, omniscient, we entertain, also, the idea
of the infallibility of His laws. With Him there being
neither past nor future, with Him all being now, do
we not insult Him in supposing His law so contrived
as not to provide for every possible contingency ? or,
rather, what idea can we have of any possible con
tingency except that it is at once a result and a mani
festation of His laws ? He who, divesting himself of
prejudice, shall have the rare courage to think abso
lutely for himself, cannot fail to arrive, in the end, at
the condensation " laws " into " Law," cannot fail of
reaching the conclusion that each law of nature is
dependent at all points upon all other laws, and that
all are but consequences of but one primary exercise of
the Divine Volition. Such is the principle of the
cosmogony which, with all necessary deference, I here
venture to suggest and to maintain.

In this view it will be seen that, dismissing as frivo
lous, and even impious, the fancy of the tangential
force having been imparted to the planets immediately
by " the finger of God," I consider this force as orig
inating in the rotation of the stars; this rotation as
brought about by the in-rushing of the primary atoms
toward their respective centres of aggregation; this



in-rushing as the consequence of the law of gravity;
this law as but the mode in which is necessarily mani
fested the tendency of the atoms to return into im-
particularity ; this tendency to return as but the
inevitable reaction of the first and most sublime of
acts, that act by which a God, self-existing and alone
existing, became all things at once, through dint of His
volition, while all things were thus constituted a por
tion of God.

The radical assumptions of this discourse suggest to
me, and in fact imply, certain important modifications
of the Nebular Theory as given by Laplace. The efforts
of the repulsive power I have considered as made for
the purpose of preventing contact among the atoms,
and thus as made in the ratio of the approach to con
tact, that is to say, in the ratio of condensation. 1 In
other words, electricity, with its involute phenomena,
heat, light, and magnetism, is to be understood as
proceeding as condensation proceeds, and, of course,
inversely, as destiny proceeds, or the cessation to con
dense. Thus the sun, in the process of its aggregation,
must soon, in developing repulsion, have become ex
cessively heated, perhaps incandescent; and we can
perceive how the operation of discarding its rings must
have been materially assisted by the slight incrustation
of its surface consequent on cooling. Any common
experiment shows us how readily a crust of the char-

1 See page 242.



acter suggested is separated, through heterogeneity,
from the interior mass. But, on every successive re
jection of the crust, the new surface would appear in
candescent as before ; and the period at which it would
again become so far incrusted as to be readily loosened
and discharged may well be imagined as exactly coin
cident with that at which a new effort would be needed,
by the whole mass, to restore the equilibrium of the
two forces, disarranged through condensation. In
other words, by the time the electric influence (repul
sion) has prepared the surface for rejection, we are
to understand that the gravitating influence (attrac
tion) is precisely ready to reject it. Here, then, as
everywhere, the body and the soul walk hand in hand.
These ideas are empirically confirmed at' all points.
Since condensation can never, in any body, be con
sidered as absolutely at an end, we are warranted in
anticipating that whenever we have an opportunity of
testing the matter, we shall find indications of resident
luminosity in all the stellar bodies, moons and planets
as well as suns. That our moon is strongly self-
luminous we see at every total eclipse, when, if not so,
she would disappear. On the dark part of the satel
lite, too, during her phases, we often observe flashes
like our own Auroras ; and that these latter, with our
various other so-called electrical phenomena, without
reference to any more steady radiance, must give
our earth a certain appearance of luminosity to an


inhabitant of the moon, is quite evident. In fact, we
should regard all the phenomena referred to as mere
manifestations, in different moods and degrees, of the
earth's feebly continued condensation.

If my views are tenable, we should be prepared to
find the newer planets, that is to say, those nearer the
sun, more luminous than those older and more remote ;
and the extreme brilliancy of Venus (on whose dark
portions, during her phases, the Auroras are frequently
visible) does not seem to be altogether accounted for
by her proximity to the central orb. She is no doubt
vividly self-luminous, although less so than Mercury;
while the luminosity of Neptune may be comparatively

Admitting what I have urged, it is clear that, from
the moment of the sun's discarding a ring, there must
be a continuous diminution both of his heat and light,
on account of the continuous incrustation of his sur
face ; and that a period would arrive, the period im
mediately previous to a new discharge, when a very
material decrease of both light and heat must become
apparent. Now, we know that tokens of such changes
are distinctly recognizable. On the Melville Islands, to
adduce merely one out of a hundred examples, we find
traces of ultra-tropical vegetation, of plants that never
could have flourished without immensely more light
and heat than are at present afforded by our sun to any
portion of the surface of the earth. Is such vegetation



referable to an epoch immediately subsequent to the
whirling off of Venus ? At this epoch must have
occurred to us our greatest access of solar influence;
and, in fact, this influence must then have attained its
maximum, leaving out of view, of course, the period
when the earth itself was discarded the period of its
mere organization.

Again, we know that there exist non-luminous suns,
that is to say, suns whose existence we determine
through the movements of others, but whose lumin
osity is not sufficient to impress us. Are these suns
invisible merely on account of the length of time
elapsed since their discharge of a planet ? And yet
again : may we not, at least in certain cases, account
for the sudden appearances of suns where none had
been previously suspected, by the hypothesis that,
having rolled with incrusted surfaces throughout a few
thousand years of our astronomical history, each of
these suns, in whirling off a new secondary, has at
length been enabled to display the glories of its still
incandescent interior ? To the well-ascertained fact
of the proportional increase of heat as we descend into
the earth, I need of course do nothing more than refer ;
it comes in the strongest possible corroboration of all
that I have said on the topic now at issue.

In speaking, not long ago, of the repulsive or
electrical influence, I remarked that " the important
phenomena of vitality, consciousness, and thought,



whether we observe them generally or in detail, seem
to proceed at least in the ratio of the heterogeneous." x
I mentioned, too, that I would recur to the suggestion,
and this is the proper point at which to do so. Look
ing at the matter first in detail, we perceive that not
merely the manifestation of vitality, but its importance,
consequences, and elevation of character, keep pace
very closely with the heterogeneity or complexity of
the animal structure. Looking at the question now
in its generality, and referring to the first movements
of the atoms toward mass-constitution, we find that
heterogeneousness, brought about directly through
condensation, is proportional with it forever. We
thus reach the proposition that the importance of the
development of the terrestrial vitality proceeds equably
with the terrestrial condensation.

Now, this is in precise accordance with what we
know of the succession of animals on the earth. As
it has proceeded in its condensation, superior and still
superior races have appeared. Is it impossible that
the successive geological revolutions which have at
tended, at least, if not immediately caused, these suc
cessive elevations of vitalic character is it improbable
that these revolutions have themselves been produced
by the successive planetary discharges from the sun,
in other words, by the successive variations in the
solar influence on the earth ? Were this idea tenable,

1 Page 203.



we should not be unwarranted in the fancy that the
discharge of yet a new planet, interior to Mercury,
may give rise to yet a new modification of the terres
trial surface, a modification from which may spring a
race both materially and spiritually superior to man.
These thoughts impress me with all the force of truth,
but I throw them out, of course, merely in their obvi
ous character of suggestion.

The Nebular Theory of Laplace has lately received
far more confirmation than it needed at the hands
of the philosopher, Comte. These two have thus to
gether shown, not, to be sure, that matter at any
period actually existed as described, in a state of nebu
lar diffusion, but that, admitting it so to have existed
through the space and much beyond the space now
occupied by our solar system, and to have commenced
a movement toward a centre, it must gradually have
assumed the various forms and motions which are
now seen, in that system, to obtain. A demonstration
such as this, a dynamical and mathematical demon
stration, as far as demonstration can be, unques
tionable and unquestioned, unless, indeed, by that
unprofitable and disreputable tribe, the professional
questioners, the mere madmen who deny the New
tonian law of gravity on which the results of the
French mathematicians are based, a demonstration,
I say, such as this, would to most intellects be con
clusive, and I confess that it is so to mine, of the



validity of the nebular hypothesis upon which the
demonstration depends.

That the demonstration does not prove the hypoth
esis, according to the common understanding of the
word " proof," I admit, of course. To show that cer
tain existing results, that certain established facts,
may be, even mathematically, accounted for by the
assumption of a certain hypothesis, is by no means to
establish the hypothesis itself. In other words, to
show that, certain data being given, a certain existing
result might, or even must, have ensued, will fail to
prove that this result did ensue, from the data, until
such time as it shall be also shown that there are, and
can be, no other data from which the result in ques
tion might equally have ensued. But, in the case now
discussed, although all must admit the deficiency, of
what we are in the habit of terming " proof," still
there are many intellects, and those of the loftiest
order, to which no proof could bring one iota of addi
tional conviction. Without going into details which
might impinge upon the cloud-land of metaphysics, I
may as well here observe that the force of conviction,
in cases such as this, will always, with the right-
thinking, be proportional to the amount of complexity
intervening between the hypothesis and the result. To
be less abstract : The greatness of the complexity found
existing among cosmical conditions, by rendering great
in the same proportion the difficulty of accounting for



all these conditions, at once strengthens, also in the
same proportion, our faith in that hypothesis which
does, in such manner, satisfactorily account for them ;
and as no complexity can well be conceived greater
than that of the astronomical conditions, so no con
viction can be stronger, to my mind at least, than that
with which I am impressed by an hypothesis that not
only reconciles these conditions, with mathematical
accuracy, and reduces them into a consistent and in
telligible whole, but is, at the same time, the sole
hypothesis by means of which the human intellect has
been ever enabled to account for them at all.

A most unfounded opinion has been latterly current
in gossiping and even hi scientific circles, the opinion
that the so-called Nebular Cosmogony has been over
thrown. This fancy has arisen from the report of
late observations made, among what hitherto have
been termed the " nebulae," through the large tele
scope of Cincinnati and the world-renowned instrument
of Lord Rosse. Certain spots in the firmament which
presented, even to the most powerful of the old tele
scopes, the appearance of nebulosity or haze, had been
regarded for a long time as confirming the theory of
Laplace. They were looked upon as stars in that very

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