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When we think of the roaring vortices of flame that spangle the heavens night by night, at distances that beggar conception: when we think of our tiny earth, wrapped in its little film of atmosphere, spinning safely for ages untold amid all these appalling immensities: and when we think, on the other hand, of the battles of claw and maw going on, beneath the starry vault, in that most miraculous of jewels, a drop of water: we cannot but own that the Power which set all this whirl of atoms agoing is worthy of all admiration.

It is also the recipient of impulse and of energy, which is all we can affirm of matter; and these ring-vortices are capable of such varied connexions and knotted self-involutions, that the properties of differently knotted vortices must be as different as those of different kinds of molecules can be.

The snow fell over Paris with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices; sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake descended out of the black night air, silent, circuitous, interminable. To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from.

The vortices of Descartes would have been a perfectly legitimate hypothesis, if it had been possible, by any mode of exploration which we could entertain the hope of ever possessing, to bring the reality of the vortices, as a fact in nature, conclusively to the test of observation.

About them the air was heavy with the damp odors of decaying leaves, for the road they followed was shut in by the autumn woods, that now arched the way with sere foliage, rustling and whirring and thinly complaining overhead, and now left it open to broad splashes of moonlight, where fallen leaves scuttled about in the wind vortices.

At Paris the universe is seen composed of vortices of subtile matter; but nothing like it is seen in London. In France, it is the pressure of the moon that causes the tides; but in England it is the sea that gravitates towards the moon; so that when you think that the moon should make it flood with us, those gentlemen fancy it should be ebb, which very unluckily cannot be proved.

Matter, as Descartes believed, is uniform in character throughout the entire universe, and since motion cannot take place in any part of a space completely filled, without simultaneous movement in all other parts, there are constant more or less circular movements, vortices, or whirlpools of particles, varying, of course, in size and velocity.

Thus the so-called "ether" is supposed to fill all space; and within it there are imagined or inferred innumerable "tourbillons" or "vortices," which, though parts of the indefinitely extended ether, form by their self-contained motion little worlds in themselves. These little worlds are by some regarded as the atoms which, by composition, and differentiation, build up our palpable universe.

The snow fell over Paris with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices; sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake descended out of the black night air, silent, circuitous, interminable. To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from.

What really takes place, however, is that the solid matter, as we have been accustomed to conceive it, is resolved into its finer constituent parts not only into the material atoms of which it is composed, but these atoms are in turn dissociated and resolved into a series of etheric vortices, invisible to normal sense perception.