Had we discovered, simply, that each atom tended to some one favorite point – to some especially attractive atom – we should still have fallen upon a discovery which, in itself, would have sufficed to overwhelm the mind: – but what is it that we are actually called upon to comprehend? That each atom attracts – sympathizes with the most delicate movements of every other atom, and with each and with all at the same time, and forever, and according to a determinate law of which the complexity, even considered by itself solely, is utterly beyond the grasp of the imagination of man. If I propose to ascertain the influence of one mote in a sunbeam upon its neighboring mote, I cannot accomplish my purpose without first counting and weighing all the atoms in the Universe and defining the precise positions of all at one particular moment. If I venture to displace, by even the billionth part of an inch, the microscopical speck of dust which lies now upon the point of my finger, what is the character of that act upon which I have adventured? I have done a deed which shakes the Moon in her path, which causes the Sun to be no longer the Sun, and which alters forever the destiny of the multitudinous myriads of stars that roll and glow in the majestic presence of their Creator.
These ideas – conceptions such as these – unthought-like thoughts – soul-reveries rather than conclusions or even considerations of the intellect: – ideas, I repeat, such as these, are such as we can alone hope profitably to entertain in any effort at grasping the great principle, Attraction.
But now, – with such ideas – with such a vision of the marvellous complexity of Attraction fairly in his mind – let any person competent of thought on such topics as these, set himself to the task of imagining a principle for the phænomena observed – a condition from which they sprang.
Does not so evident a brotherhood among the atoms point to a common parentage? Does not a sympathy so omniprevalent, so ineradicable, and so thoroughly irrespective, suggest a common paternity as its source? Does not one extreme impel the reason to the other? Does not the infinitude of division refer to the utterness of individuality? Does not the entireness of the complex hint at the perfection of the simple? It is not that the atoms, as we see them, are divided or that they are complex in their relations – but that they are inconceivably divided and unutterably complex: – it is the extremeness of the conditions to which I now allude, rather than to the conditions themselves. In a word, not because the atoms were, at some remote epoch of time, even more than together – is it not because originally, and therefore normally, they were One – that now, in all circumstances – at all points – in all directions – by all modes of approach – in all relations and through all conditions – they struggle back to this absolutely, this irrelatively, this unconditionally one?