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the whole presented such a cohe-twenty-four hours around the carth rent scheme for the explanation of at the centre. Ptolemy himself must the heavenly movements, that the have felt, indeed we know that he did Ptolemaic theory was not seriously feel, the extraordinary difficulty inquestioned until the great work of volved iv the supposition that so sluCopernicus appeared. No doubt oth- pendous a fabric as the celestial sphere, ers, before Copernicus, had from time should spin in the way supposed. to time in some vague fashion sur- Such movements required that many of mised, with more or less plausibility, the stars should travel with almost inthat the sun, and not the earth, was conceivable velocity. Though Ptolemy Che centre about which the system was not unmindful of these difficulties, really revolved. It is, however, one yet they appeared to him less grave thing to state a scientific fact; it is than those which would arise from the quite auother thing to be in possession alternative supposition that the celesof the train of reasoning, founded on lial sphere stood still and that the earth observation or experiment, by which revolved in the centre. Copernicus that fact may be established. Pythag- also saw that the daily rising and setoras, it appears, had indeed told his ling of the heavenly bodies could be disciples that it was the sun, and not accounted for either by the supposition the earth, which was the centre of that the celestial sphere moved round movement, but it does not seem at and that the earth remained at rest, or all certain that Pythagoras bad any by the supposition that the celestial grounds which science could recognize sphere was at rest while the earth for the belief which is attributed to turned round in the opposite direction. him. So far as information is avail. He weighed the arguments on both able to us, it would seem that Pythag- sides as Ptolemy had done, and, as the oras associated his scheme of things result of his deliberations, Copernicus celestial with a number of preposterous came to an opposite conclusion from notions in natural philosophy. He Ptolemy. To Copernicus it appeared may certainly have made a correct that the difficulties attending the supstatement as to which was the most position that the celestial sphere reimportant body in the solar system, but volved were vastly greater than those he certainly did not provide any ra- which appeared so weighty to Ptolemy tional demonstration of the fact. Co- as to force him to deny the earth's ropernicus, by a strict train of reasoning, tation. convinced those who would listen to Copernicus shows clearly how the him, that the sun was the centre of the observed phenomena could be system. It is useful for us to consider counted for just as completely by a the arguments which he used, and by rotation of the earth as by a rotation of which he effected that intellectual 'rev- the heavens. He alludes to the fact olution which is always connected with that, to those on board a vessel which his name.

is moving through smooth water, the The first of the great discoveries vessel itself appears to be at rest, while which Copernicus made relates to the the objects on shore seem to be movrotation of the earth on its axis. That ing past. If, therefore, the earth were general diurnal movement by which rotating uniformly, we dwellers upon the stars and all other celestial bodies the earth, oblivious of our own moveappear to move completely round the ment, would wrongly attribute to the heavens once every twenty-four hours, stars the displacement which was actuhad been accounted for by Ptolemy, on ally the consequence of our own mothe supposition that the apparent move- tion. ments were the real movements. In Copernicus saw the futility of the his view, the whole celestial sphere, arguments by which Ptolemy had encontaining all the stars stuck on its deavored to demonstrate that a revolusurface, did in reality rotate once every tion of the earth was impossible. It


was plain to him, that there was noth- same distance from the earth. Of ing whatever to warrant any refusal to course no one will say that this or any believe in the rotation of the earth. In other arbitrary dispositivu of the stars his clear-sightedness on this matter we is actually impossible, but as there was have specially to admire the sagacity of no known physical reason why the disCopernicus as a natural philosopher. tances of all the stars, from the earth, It had been urged that, if the earth should be identical, it seemed in the moved round, its motion would not be very bighest degree improbable that imparted to the air, and that therefore the stars should be so placed. the earth would be uninhabitable by Doubtless, also, Copernicus felt a the terrific winds which would be the cousiderable difficulty as to the nature result of our being carried through the of the materials from which Ptolemy's air. Copernicus convinced himself that wonderful sphere was to be constructed. this deduction was preposterous. He Nor could a philosopher of his penetraproved that the air must accompany lion have failed to observe that, unless the earth, just as his coat remains Wat sphere were infinitely large, there round him, notwithstanding the fact must have been space outside it, which that he is walking down the street. In consideration would open up other diffithis way he was able to show that all cult questions. Whether infinite or a priori objections to the earth's move- not, it was obvious that the celestial ments were absurd, and therefore he sphere must have a diameter hundreds was able to compare together the plau- or thousands of times as great as the sibilities of the two rival schemes for earth. Copernicus observed that this explaining the diurnal movement. fact showed that the stars and other

Once the issue had been placed in celestial bodies must be all vast objects. this form, the result could not be long He was thus enabled to put the quesin doubt. Here is the question : Which lion in a still more conclusive form : is it more likely - that the earth, like Which is it more rational to suppose, a grain of sand at the centre of a that the carth should turu round on its mighty globe, should turn round once axis once in twenty-four hours, or that in twenty-four hours, or that the whole thousands of mighty stars should circle of that vast globe should complete a round the carth in the same time, rotation in the opposite direction in many of them having to describe cirthe same time? Obviously the for-cles a thousand times greater in cirmer is far the more simple suppo- cumference than the circuit of the sition. But the case is really much earth at the equator? The obvious stronger than this. Ptolemy had sup- answer pressed upon Copernicus with posed that all the stars were stuck on so much force that he was compelled the surface of a sphere. He had no to reject Ptolemy's theory of the staground whatever for this supposition, tionary earth, and to attribute the except that otherwise it would have diurnal rotation of the heavens to the been well-nigh impossible to have de- revolution of the earth on its axis. vised a scheme by which the rotation Once this tremendous step had been of the heavens around a fixed earth taken, the great difficulties which beset could have been arranged. Copernicus, the monstrous conception of the celeshowever, with the just instinct of a tial sphere vanished, for the stars need philosopher, considered that the celes- no longer be regarded as all situated at tial sphere, however convenient from the same distances from the earth. a geometrical point of view, as a means Copernicus saw that they might lie at of representing apparent phenomena, the most varied degrees of remoteness, could not actually have a material ex- some being hundreds of thousands of istence. For, see all that the existence times further away than others. The of the celestial sphere would involve. complicated structure of the celestial In the first place it required that all the sphere as a material object, disappeared myriad stars should be exactly at the altogether, it remained only as a geo



metrical entity, whereon we find it which he is himself advancing forconvenient to indicate the places of the wards. By an application of this prinstars. Once the Copernican doctrine ciple, we account for all the had been fully set forth, it was impos- phenomena of the movements of the sible for any one who had both the planets, which Ptolemy had so ingeninclination and the capacity to under- iously represented by his moving cirstand it, to withhold their acceptance cles. Let us take, for instance, the of its truth. The doctrine of a station- most characteristic feature in the irregary earth bad gone forever.

ularities of the outer planets. It is Copernicus having established a the well known that Mars, though generory of the celestial movements which ally advancing from west to east among deliberately set aside the stability of the stars, occasionally pauses, retraces the earth, it seemed natural that he his steps for a while, again pauses, and should endeavor to extend this doctrine then

his ordinary onward still further. It had been universally progress. Copernicus showed clearly admitted that the earth lay unsup- how this effect was produced by the ported in space. Copernicus had real motion of the earth, combined with further shown that it possessed a the real motion of Mars. If it so hapmovement of rotation. Its want of pened that the earth was moving with stability being thus recognized, it the same speed as Mars, then the apparseemed reasonable to inquire whether cnt movement would exactly neutralize the earth might not also have some the real movement, and Mars would other kind of movements as well. In seem to be at rest relatively to the this, Copernicus essayed to solve a surrounding stars. Under the actual problem far more difficult than that circumstances, however, the earth is which had hitherto occupied bis atten- moving faster than Mars, and the contion. It was a comparatively easy task sequence is, that the apparent moveto show how the diurnal movements ment of the planet backwards exceeds coulil be accounted for by the rotation the real movement forwards, the net of the earth. It was a much more result being the apparent retrograde difficult undertaking to demonstrate movement. that the planetary movements which With consummate skill, Copernicus Ptolemy had represented with such showed how the applications of the success, could be completely explained same principles could account for the by the supposition that each of those characteristic movements of the planets. planets revolved uniformly round the His reasoning in due time bore down all sun, and that the earth was also a opposition. The supreme importance planet, accomplishing a complete cir- of the earth in the systeni vanished. cuit of the sun once in the course of a It had now merely to take rank as one year.

of the planets. It would be inipossible in a sketch The same great astronomer now for like the present to enter into any detail the first time rendered something ike as to the geometrical propositions on a rational account of the changes of which this beautiful investigation of the seasons. Nor did certain of the Copernicus depended. We can only more obscure astronomical phenomena just mention a few of the leading prin- escape his attention, but we must forciples. It may be laid down in general bear to enter into further details. that, if an observer is in movement, he He delayed publishing his wonderful will, if unconscious of his movement, discoveries to the world until he was attribute to the fixed objects around quite an old man. He had a wellhim a movement equal and opposite to founded apprehension of the storm of that which he actually possesses. A opposition which they would arouse. passenger on a canal-boat sees the ob- However, he yielded at last to the enjects on the banks appear to move treaties of his friends, and his book backward with a speed equal to that by was sent to the press. Ere it made its


upon him.

appearance to the world, Copernicus had been wealthy, but he was a roamwas seized by mortal illness. A copying and restless man, who so far recog. of the book was brought to him on vized his duty towards his children as May 23, 1543. We are told that he to relieve them of all the temptations was able to touch it and to see it, but that come with riches. And so it came no more, and a few hours afterwards about that the best years of Sydney he died. He was buried in that cathe- Smith's life were spent in a poor Yorkdral of Frauenburg, with which bis life shire parishı, Foston-le-Clay, which till had been so closely associated.

then had not known a resident clergyman for more than a century and a half; wliere lie had to build himself a

parsonage, and to furnish it, with the From The Sunday Magazine.

scantiest of resources. Then, twenty SYDNEY SMITH AND SOCIAL REFORM. years later, promotion came in the

shape of a prebendary's stall at Bris

tol, to which he was appointed, not by It is just fifty years since Sydney his own political friends, but by a Tory Smith died. His name still keeps its chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst, who had place in the roll of our famous men, the wisdom to recognize and the courbut the noblest part of what he was

age to reward the devotion and the and of what he did has been practically genius of one of the brightest ornaforgotten. His jests are still repeated; ments of the English Church. The some, not of his making, are fathered

stall brought with it the living of But comparatively few Combe-Florey, near Taunton, and bepeople remember that he was a cham, fore long the Whig government,

under pion of causes once unpopular and

the leadership of Earl Grey, conferred apparently hopeless; that he was

on him a canonry at St. Paul's. But denounced by the supporters of op

prosperity, though it came at last, was pression and iniquity ; that he was for slow in coming. Sydney Smith during years an object of cruel calumny, and his early and mature manhood, had ihat for his courage and genius he was known what it was to endure privation, condemned for most of his days to live had been harassed by anxiety, and at - on the north side of the wall.” Such times had almost sunk under the burav experience is not unfrequent. It is

den and the strain. There is a passage

a not always the most solid elements of a in one of his own sermons — it rose to man's work and character that most his lips during his last hours — which easily survive. Father Thomas Burke,

reveals the bitterness of the experithe great Dominican preacher, even in

ence through which he had passed. the pages of his biography, appears as

" We talk of human life as a journey, the jester and not as the orator ; and but how variously is that journey perSydney Smith's reputation has suffered formed ! There are some who come in the same way.

He has retained his faniu ig a wit and a humorist, while his walk on velvet lawns and smooth ter

forth girt, and shod, and mantled, to title to rank among the pioneers of

races, where cvery gale is arrested, social and political reform has been

and every beam is tempered. There suffered to lapse and to fade. The

are others who walk on the Alpine occasion, therefore, seems a fit one for paths of life, against driving misery, recalling some of the services which lie

and through stormy sorrows, over rendered to his fellow-countrymen.

sharp afflictions ; walk with bare feet, As regards his personal history a and naked breast, jaded, mangled, and very few words will suffice. He was chilled.” Struggle and 'adversity bad not born to luxury ; he had his own been the lot of his earlier years, and be way in the world to make. His father knew well that the “happy valleys "

· Sydney Smith : born June 3rd, 1771 ; died Feb- might have been his portion long beruary 22nd, 1845.

fore, if he had chosen to avoid “ dangerous " subjects, and to use his powers was not only the village parson, but to amuse rather than to mend the the doctor, the magistrate, and the world. But for a brave man silence comforter as well. He was not merely was impossible. Abroad, the accumu- the centre of civilization in the place; lated crimes of generations had avenged he was also the link that united class themselves in blood. At home, the with class, so destroying one of the whole sky was dark with signs of most fruitful causes of estr gement storm. England had to choose be- and suspicion. The system even as he tween reform and ruin ; Sydney Smith | handled it, may not represent the nohad no small share in guiding the blest type of social development. A nation to a wise decision.

despot, however benevolent, must be Like a wise man, the rector of Fos- autocratic and may sometimes be hasty ton began the work of reform at home. and obstinate. But in those days such General principles are excellent, but an influence was invaluable, and could personal and particular application is only make for good. more effectual. He practised what he Efficient and energetic as Sydney preached. By the exercise of tact and Smith was in his own parislı, he never good sense he succeeded · in making forgot that he had larger duties outside. friends among all classes. He concil. As one of the most powerful contribuiated the squire by not "smiting the tors to the Edinburgh Review, which partridge,” and by taking a kindly in- he had founded and for a short time terest in his kennels. To his poor edited, he could speak to the men who parishioners his doors were always led the nation. Periodical literature open ; he had medicine for both soul has now become so plentiful that it is and body. He became known as the difficult adequately to appreciate its doctor-parson. When called out to importance in the opening years of the baptize a baby that was very ill, he century. Steain and electricity have comes back and says that he baptized it transformed the conditions of life. first and gave it a dose of castor-oil Public opinion is shaped by the daily afterwarıls, so preparing it for either newspapers and not by quarterly reworld. He sits on the Bench and views. And as taste has altered with administers justice, not with undue the times, it has become the fashion to severity, making the best of bad laws; depreciate the merits of the earlier voland if youthful offender is umcs of the Edinburgh Review ; for we brought before him, he calls out to his are all more or less apt to disparage attendant, “ Johu, bring me my private both men and books that have done gallows; an order which melts the their work. But such criticism is culprit into a flood of tears, while he essentially trivial ; in sum and subpromises that if he escapes hanging stance it practically amounts to this : this time he will never break the law that the Edinburgh articles were not again. He provided milk for the child written by the man of the moment for dren, then as now one of the hardest the wbim of the hour. The review had things to obtain in country places. He a creed. It was based on social and also let out part of his glebe in allot- political principles. It was practical in ment gardens to the laborers, and its efforts. It aimed at something defiencouraged them to grow fruit and nite and hit it. It was a rifle not a vegetables for themselves. Seventy rocket. years later this boon was still remem- Among the questions which then bered, and Mr. Reid, when he visited agitated the public mind, Roman Caththe place, found “the gnarled branches olic Disabilities held the first place. of the old trees” in “Sydney's Or- Any suggestion of relief was fiercely chards," as they are still called, resented. Even during the years in “ richly laden with pink and white blossoms."

J. Reid, to whose work I am largely indebted for In fact Sydney Smith the substance of this and the succeeding para1 The Life and Times of Sydney Smith, by Stuart graphs.



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