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The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) online

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and tubular ; some few round, with a small cavity in the centre, others quite
flat, and some, as it were, excavated on one side, as if the chalky laminas had
extended themselves round a piece of bark ; but all of them hollowed within,
agreeable to their exterior shape, very few excepted.

This valley formerly was probably over-run with wood, if not wholly, at least
for some considerable length and breadth : wild boars tusks, which are known
by their length ; stags-horns, and a flint-knife, which have been found buried
to some depth, in the malm, seem to evince as much. That trees of con-
siderable dimensions have grown in it, is very evident ; for, in a drain, lately
made to convey the water from the main river to the adjacent meadows, trees
of a vast size may be seen, at 2 or 3 feet depth, in no small number, retaining
both shape and substance in some measure, though much decayed, and not so
compact and solid in those parts, which have been exposed to the water ; these
lie out of the verge of this bed of malm, and are not consequently affected
by it.

Now probably these trees, with the rest of the wood, might, by age, and
some accident combining with it, have fallen; the uppermost might have served
to bury the rest, and preserve them from a more immediate decay, by cutting
ofF their communication with the exterior air. Rains, in process of time, must
have washed oflT from the adjacent hills to some certain distance, and deposited
in the neighbouring valley, but mixed with other heterogeneous substances, as
decayed wood, earth, &c. a quantity of chalky particles, sufficient to involve,
by a continual addition of new laminae, roots, trunks, branches, twigs, and
the broken extremities of twigs ; and tending continually to form masses re-
sembling the supposed particulars. He supposes, that the pieces of wood have
been invested continually by additional laminae; that the first laminae must have
adapted itself to, and assumed the exterior shape, whether smooth or knotty, of
the inclosed wood ; that the others have proceeded accordingly ; that the ex-
tremities have gradually rounded themselves ; and that in the interim, till they
were wholly closed, the included wood has been insensibly attenuated by the
passing moisture, and, particle by particle, either entirely, or in part only,
wasted away. And though it may be objected against this supposition, that
some pieces are entirely solid, and have the resemblance of white-thorn ; yet



VOL. XLII.3 PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS. 731

these are but rarely found, and may very well be supposed to have been a species
of wood of a more solid and durable contexture ; which might consequently
withstand any considerable attenuation by water, long enough to permit the
chalky particles to penetrate, fix, and convert it into its own substance ; while
other woods, less tenacious, insensibly waste, and are carried off by the in-
sinuating liquid, together with the chalky particles, which they not only could
not arrest, but prevented effectually, by a blending and interposition of their
own parts, from adhering to each other.

The reasons, why he apprehends the process of the whole to have been in
the manner described above, are, first, the close vicinity, and almost contact
of the chalky hills, on which this bed of malm attends throughout the whole
line, and no farther. Secondly, That this malm is an alkalizate body, in a de-
gree something inferior to chalk. Thirdly, The reasons for supposing that this
valley formerly has been over-run with wood. Fourthly, The disposal of the
several detached pieces of malm, which lie in all manner of directions.
Fifthly, The resemblance which they bear to roots, trunks, branches, twigs,
&c. Sixthly, In the hollow of some of the oblong tubular pieces, which were
closed at both ends, on breaking them open, he found the remains of the in-
cluded wood attenuated to a mere thread, which, though extremely tender, he
could plainly discover to be wood, both by its exterior appearance, and by rub-
bing in his hand, to try if it would colour it, as decayed wood, that has imbibed
moisture, will do. Within the laminae of several, he found a fair impression
of leaves, in no small number, and with little trouble. Some pieces he found
quite flat, as if the chalky laminae had involved a chip, and the cavity conse-
quently went off insensibly less towards each extremity. Others he found,
whose cavities at the extremities were irregularly shaped, agreeable to the
jagged ends of broken sticks. Some, in short, he found excavated on one side,
and convex on the other, as if the laminae had surrounded a piece of bark.

As to the microscopical discoveries ; on viewing an infusion of the farina
foecundans of the lilium rubrum flore reflexo, in common water, he thought he
perceived some alteration in several of these minute bodies, as if the outward
shell or husk had, at a small lateral orifice, shed a long train of globules ad-
hering to each other, and enveloped in a filmy substance. Immediately he ap-
plied some fresh farina, adapted the microscope before-hand, with the tip of a
brush dropped a small globule of water on the object, and in a few seconds, he
plainly perceived a rope of exceedingly small globules to be ejaculated with some
force from within, and contorting itself from one side to the other, throughout
the whole line, during the time of action, which does not last above a second
or two, and is to be expected from a few only of these farinaceous globules.



732 PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS. [aNNO 1743,

These emitted particles are very different from the small globules of oil, with
which the farina of the lily abounds ; for these diffuse themselves equally on all
sides, while those, on the contrary, go off in one continued train, like the
ejected pulp of a roasting apple ; and are involved in a filmy substance, as the
eggs of some aquatic insects are.

He has since chosen the farina of a pompion to repeat this experiment on,
which is not of an oily nature ; and, on account of its size, may be conveni-
ently observed with the 2d magnifier, which has the advantage of a larger field.
He viewed some few of these also out of the many farinaceous globules, which
were within the area of the microscope, with the same success, and yet greater
pleasure : for he could plainly perceive, during the time of action, by 2 or 3
lucid specks in the centre of the globule, which continually shifted their places,
an intestine commotion within the farinaceous corpuscle, and a stronger ejacu-
lation of the emitted particles.

Upon opening lately the small black grains of smutty wheat, which is here
distinguished from blighted corn, the latter affording nothing but a black dust,
into which the whole substance of the ear is converted, he perceived a soft
white fibrous substance, a small portion of which he placed on the object-plate:
it seemed to consist wholly of longitudinal fibres bundled together, and without
any the least sign of life or motion. He dropped a globule of water on it, to
try if the parts, when separated, might be viewed more conveniently ; when, to
his great surprise, these imaginary fibres, as it were, instantly separated from
each other, took life, moved irregularly, not with a progressive, but twisting
motion; and so continued for the space of Q or 10 hours, when he threw them
away. He is satisfied they are a species of aquatic animals, and may be deno-
minated worms, eels, or serpents, which they much resemble. He repeated
the experiment several times, with the same success, and gratified others with
a sight of it.

END OP THE FOKTY-SECOND VOLUME OP THE ORIGINAL.



END OF VOLUME EIGHTH.



C. and R. Baldwin, Printers,
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Online LibraryRoyal Society (Great Britain)The Philosophical transactions of the Royal society of London, from their commencement in 1665, in the year 1800 (Volume 8) → online text (page 85 of 85)