*. Nymphs of primeval fire. l. 97. The fluid matter of heat is perhaps the most exten∣sive element in nature; all other bodies are immersed in it, and are preserved in their present state of solidity or fluidity by the attraction of their particles to the matter of heat. Since all known bodies are contractible into less space by depriving them of some portion of their heat, and as there is no part of nature totally deprived of heat, there is reason to believe that the particles of bodies do not touch, but are held towards each other by their self-attraction, and recede from each other by their attraction to the mass of heat which surrounds them; and thus exist in an equilibrium between these two powers. If more of the matter of heat be applied to them, they recede further from each other, and become fluid; if still more be applied, they take an aerial form, and are termed Gasses by the modern chemists. Thus when water is heated to a certain degree, it would instantly assume the form of steam, but for the pressure of the atmo∣sphere, which prevents this change from taking place so easily; the same is true of quicksilver, diamonds, and of perhaps all other bodies in Nature; they would first become fluid, and then aeriform by appropriated degrees of heat. On the contrary, this elastic matter of heat, termed Calorique in the new nomenclature of the French Academicians, is liable to become consolidated itself in its combinations with some bodies, as perhaps in nitre, and probably in combustible bodies as sulphur and char∣coal. See note on l. 232, of this Canto. Modern philosophers have not yet been able to decide whether light and heat be different fluids, or modifications of the same fluid, as they have many properties in common. See note on l. 468 of this Canto.
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