The idea of chemical structure, as founded on that of atomicity (or the equivalence of atoms), enables us to divide any molecule, whose chemical structure is known, into radicals. The number of ways in which this may be done increases with the complexity of the molecule. Each of these modes of division corresponds to a series of conceivable reactions, some of which have been observed. Any one of these series may be made the basis of classification; but it is obviously most convenient to select for this purpose the most characteristic reactions, and those which are common to such substances as form natural groups. In studying these, we find that each series implies the presence of a particular radical, within which the reactions in question take place. We may call such series of reactions the Generic reactions, and the corresponding radicals Generic radicals. These are sometimes residues of double decomposition, but very frequently this is not the case, and this may account for the fact, that the importance of these generic radicals has been very much overlooked.
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