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22   NATURAL INHERITANCE.   [CHAP.

they were called, remained quite firm for many years ,• at length a storm shook .hem down.

In every congregation of mutually reacting elements, some characteristic groupings are usually recognised that have become familiar through their frequent recurrence and partial persistence. Being less evanescent than other combinations, they may be regarded as temporarily Stable Forms. No demonstration is needed to show that their number must be greatly smaller than that of all the possible combinations of the same elements. I will briefly give as great a diversity of instances as I can think of, taken from Governments, Crowds, Landscapes, and even from Cookery, and shall afterwards draw some illustrations from Mechanical Inventions, to illustrate what is meant by characteristic and stable groupings. From some of them it will also be gathered that secondary and other orders of stability exist besides the primary ones.

In Governments, the primary varieties of stable forms are very few in number, being such as autocracies, constitutional monarchies, oligarchies, or republics. The secondary forms are far more numerous ; still it is hard to meet with an instance of one that cannot be pretty closely paralleled by another. A curious evidence of the small variety,of possible governments is to be found in the constitutions of the governing bodies of the Scientific Societies of London and the Provinces, which are numerous and independent, Their development seems to follow a single course that has many stages,