ORGANIC STABILITY. 21
likings of each individual insect in a flying swarm may be supposed to determine the position that he occupies in it. Every particle must have many immediate neighbours. Even a sphere surrounded by other spheres of equal sizes, like a cannon-ball in the middle of a heap, when they are piled in the most compact form, is in actual contact with no less than twelve others. We may therefore feel assured that the particles which are still unfixed must be affected by very numerous influences acting from all sides and varying with slight changes of place, and that they may occupy many positions of temporary and unsteady equilibrium, and be subject to repeated unsettlement, before they finally assume the positions in which they severally remain at rest.
The whimsical effects of chance in producing stable results are common enough. Tangled strings variously twitched, soon get themselves into tight knots. Rubbish thrown down a sink is pretty sure in time to choke the pipe ; no one bit may be so large as its bore, but several bits in their numerous chance encounters will at length so come into collision as to wedge themselves into a sort of arch across the tube, and effectually plug it. Many years ago there was a fall of large stones from the ruinous walls of Kenilworth Castle. Three of them, if I recollect rightly, or possibly four, fell into a very peculiar arrangement, and bridged the interval between the jambs of an old window. There they stuck fast,
showing clearly against the sky. The oddity of the
structure attracted continual attention, and its stability
was much commented on. These hanging stones, as