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SHOOTING STABS.

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simultaneously seen in the New Continent, from the equator, to New Herrnhut in Greenland, 64° 14' lat., and between 46° and 82° long. The identity of the epoch was recognised with astonishment. The stream, which had been seen from Jamaica to Boston (40° 21' lat.) to traverse the whole vault of heaven on the 12th and 13th of November, 1833, was again observed in the United States in 1834, on the night between the 13th and 14th of November, although on this latter occasion it showed itself with somewhat less intensity. In Europe the periodicity of the phenomenon has since been manifested with great regularity.

"Another and a like regularly recurring phenomenon is that noticed in the month of August, the meteoric stream of St. Lawrence appearing between the 9th and 14th of August. Muschenbroek, as early as in the middle of the last century, drew attention to the frequency of meteors in the month of August; but their certain periodic return, about the time of St. Lawrence's day, was first shown by Quetelet, Olbers, and Benzenberg. We shall, no doubt, in time discover other periodically appearing streams, probably about the 22nd to the 25th of April, between the 6th and 12th of December, and, to judge by the number of true falls of aerolites enumerated by Capocci, also between the 27th and 29th of November, or about the 17th of July.

"Although the phenomena hitherto observed appear to have been independent of the distance from the pole, the temperature of the air, and other climatic relations,.there is, however, one perhaps accidentally coincident phenomenon which must not be wholly disregarded. The Northern Light, the Aurora Borealis, was unusually brilliant on the occurrence of the splendid fall of meteors of the 12th and 13th of November, 1833, described by Olmsted. It was also observed at Bremen in 1838, where the periodic meteoric fall was, however, less remarkable than at Richmond, near London. I have mentioned in another work the singular fact observed by Admiral Wrangel, and frequently confirmed to me by himself, that when he was on the Siberian coast of the Polar sea, he observed during an Aurora Borealis, certain portions of the vault of heaven, which were not illuminated, light up, and continue luminous whenever a shooting-star passed over them.

"The different meteoric streams, each of which is composed of myriads of small cosmical bodies, probably intersect our earth's orbit in the same manner as Biela's comet. According to this hypothesis, we may represent to ourselves these asteroid-meteors as composing a closed ring or zone, within which they all pursue one common orbit. The smaller planets between Mars and Jupiter, present us, if we except Pallas, with an analogous relation in these constantly intersecting orbits. As yet, however, we have no certain knowledge as to whether changes in the periods at which the stream becomes visible, or the retardations of the phenomena of which I have already spoken, indicate a regular percussion or oscillation of the nodes—that is to say, of the points of intersection of the earth's orbit and of that of the ring; or whether this ring or zone attains so considerable a degree of breadth from the irregular grouping and distances apart of the small bodies, that it requires several days for the earth to traverse it. The system of Saturn's satellites shows us likewise a group of immense width, composed of most intimately connected cosmical bodies. In this system, the orbit of the outermost, the seventh, satellite has such a vast diameter, that the earth, in her revolution round the sun, requires three days to traverse an extent of space equal to this diameter. If, therefore in one of these rings, which we regard as the orbit of a periodical stream, the asteroids should be so irregularly distributed as to consist of but few groups sufficiently dense to give rise to these phenomena, we may easily understand why we so seldom witness such glorious spectacles as those exhibited in the November months of 1799 and 1833. The acute mind of Olbers led him almost to predict that the next appearance of the phenomenon of shooting-stars and fire-balls intermixed, falling like flakes of snow, would not recur until between the 12th and 14th of November, 1867.

"The stream of the November asteroids has occasionally only been visible in a small section of the earth. Thus, for instance, a very splendid meteoric shower was seen in England in the year 1837, whilst a most attentive and skilful

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observer at Braunsberg in Prussia, only saw on the same night, which was there uninterruptedly clear, a few sporadic shooting-stars fall between seven o'clock in the evening and sunrise the next morning. Bessel concluded from this, 'that a dense group of the bodies composing the great ring, may have reached that part of the earth in which England is situated, whilst the more eastern districts of the earth might be passing it at the time through a part of the meteoric ring proportionally less densely studded with bodies.'

"If the hypothesis of a regular progression, or oscillation of the nodes, should acquire greater weight, special interest will be attached to the investigation of older observations. The Chinese annals, in which great falls of shooting-stars, as well as the phenomena of comets are recorded, go back beyond the age of Tyrtaeus, or the second Messenian war. They give a description of two streams in the month of March, one of which is 687 years anterior to the Christian era. Edward Biot has observed that, amongst the fifty-two phenomena which he has collected from the Chinese annals, those that were of most frequent recurrence are recorded at periods nearly corresponding with the 20th and 22nd of July, 0. S., and might consequently be identical with the stream of St. Lawrence's day, taking into account that it has advanced since the epochs indicated. If the fall of shooting-stars of the 21st of October, 1366, O. S.—a notice of which was found by the younger Van Boguslowski in Benessius de Horowic's ' Chronicon Ecclesia? Pragensis'— be identical with our November phenomenon, although the occurrence in the fourteenth century was seen in broad daylight, we find by the precession in 477 years, that this system of meteors, or rather its common centre of gravity, must describe a retrograde orbit round the sun. It also follows from the views thus developed that the non-appearance during certain years, in any portion of the earth, of the two streams hitherto observed in November, and about the time of St. Lawrence's day, must be ascribed either to an interruption in the meteoric ring, that is to say, to intervals occurring between the asteroid groups ; or, according to Poisson, to the action of the larger planets on the form and position of this annulus."

In a delightful and instructive little work by Dr. W. H. Harvey, entitled " The Sea-Side Book:" it is said that "An eloquent modern writer, in arguing for the existence on this earth of an invisible world of spirits, draws a striking illustration of his subject from our connection with the lower animals, whose forms we indeed see around us, but the secrets of whose being, whose motives of action, and whose final destiny, remain unfathomable mysteries. We are," says he, "in a world of spirits, as well as in a world of sense, and we hold communion with it, and take part in it, though we are not conscious of so doing. If this seems strange to any one, let him reflect that we are undeniably taking part in a third world, which we do indeed see, but about which we do not know more than about the angelic host—the world of dumb animals. Can anything be more marvellous or startling, unless we were used to it, than that we should have a race of beings about us whom we do but see, and as little know of their state, or can describe their interests, or their destiny, as we can tell of the inhabitants of the sun and moon? It is, indeed, a very overpowering thought, when we get to fix our minds upon it, that we familiarly use, I may say hold intercourse with, creatures who are as much strangers to us, and as mysterious as if they were fabulous unearthly beings, which Eastern superstitions have invented. They have apparently passions, habits, and a certain accountableness; but all is mystery about them. We do not know whether they can sin or not, whether they are under punishment, whether they are to live after this life. We inflict very great sufferings on a portion of them, and they in turn every now and then seem to retaliate upon us, as if by a wonderful law. We depend on them in various important ways; we use their labour, we eat their flesh. This, however, relates to such as come near us. Cast your thoughts abroad on the whole number of them, large and small, in vast forests, or in water, or in the air, and then say whether the presence of such countless multitudes, so various in their natures, so strange and wild in their shapes, living on the earth without ascertainable object, is not as mysterious as anything which Scripture says about the angels? Is it not plain to us that there is a world inferior to us in the scale of beings with which we

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are connected without understanding what it is? And is it difficult to admit the word of Scripture concerning our connections with a world superior to us?

"If illustrations and instances of the truth of all this be needed, how inauy start up to our minds. What do we know of the ox but to eat his beef, and trade with his hide and horns? What of the sheep, but his mutton and wool? Of the elephant ?—we know that he furnishes us with ivory, and, moreover, that he is a wiser beast, and comprehends many things that relate to us; but then our knowledge of all that is within him stops abruptly. We see him die—his body decays, his bones lie strewn about like a great wreck—and we conclude there is an end of him for ever and ever. Why so? The same fate await ourselves, yet we have very different expectations. The physical conformation of all animals being identical in principle with our own—one general law, with special adaptations, and the apparent, or physical, finality of us all being exactly the same, can be no sort of argument for the annihilation of any class, however inferior. We assume that dumb creatures disform—more absolutely than the grass they eat, which springs up again in its season; but, honestly speaking, we know no more of the matter than the dumb creatures themselves. When the dog, whose intelligence and faithfulness had won our admiration and regard, stretches himself out and dies, a something has departed very different from skin and bones which remain. What has become of it? Oh, it was merely instinct. Well, where is that gone? Perhaps it has gone out like a candle-flame blown by the wind, and lost in the wide atmosphere? A death-puff has settled it. But the candle-flame had no instinct, no perceptions; its diffusion is not the same thing as the departure of the smallest degree of affection or intelligence.

"' What!' it will be asked,' do you argue an immortality for the dumb creatures?' certainly not; but we do think some such inference would be far more logical by close analogy, than their utter annihilation.

"Hath not a dog eyes? hath not a dog limbs, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions P fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapon, warmed and cooled with the same winter and summer that a prize-fighter is? We

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