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Easy Chapters on Astronomy.



As I walked up the garden a handsome lady appeared at the window of a room upstairs; evidently she had heard the wheels of my carriage, and had looked out eagerly, probably expecting her husband with news of the child.

As I knocked at the door I remembered that I did not know the name of the lady whom I wanted to see.

“ Is your mistress at home ? " I asked, earnestly hoping that there might not be two mistresses in the house.

“ Yes, sir, but she is not well. Miss Livingstone is at home, sir."

So that was not a married woman after all, and somehow I felt rather glad of it. She entered the drawing-room a few minutes after, and I explained my mission to her.

“Mrs. Kimberley has only a bad cold, and I am sure she will return to town with you at once," she said, and her voice was low and her eyes full of tears. “Excuse me for a moment while I


and tell my sister; I daresay she will like to see

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On my being introduced to the poor anxious mother my professional reputation would not suffer me to allow her to travel that evening. It was foggy and chilly, and she was evidently suffering from a feverish cold, so promising to visit both patients and send her tidings of them on my arrival in London, I left her to come up the next morning.

As I shook hands with Miss Living. stone the thought crossed my mind that Mr. Marmion could not be a man of good taste, for most certainly he had not chosen

A Meteoric Shower at Sea. the nicer of the two sisters. Such was my judgment at least, and as I leant back in the The shape of these orbits is, however, very railway carriage I congratulated myself on my success different from the oval path of the planets ; it is throughout the day.

generally described as a parabola, which may, If I had only known what was going on just then perhaps, be best described by saying that it is a in Causland-street!

circle crushed almost flat, thus :(To be continued).

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The paths, therefore, of comets are so extended that

it is by no means improbable that many of them By F. M. HOLMES,

at least include other systems in their immense Author of Faith's Father,” &c. &c.


Astronomers say that there are great numbers of V.-“ Fiery Rain ;or, Comets and Meteors.

comets passing between this and other systems, and “A pathless comet and a curse,

it is calculated that so long are the orbits around The menace of the universe;

which many of them have to travel, that it takes them Still rolling on with innate force,

thousands of years to complete their journeys. One Without a sphere, without a course.” -the comet of 1844—takes 100,000 years to com0 sang the poets of other days, embodying plete its revolution !

in verse the popular beliefs of their time, What wonders they see, what glorious splendours and, as usual, those popular beliefs were they pass on their mighty journeys, what tales they

wrong. Astronomy reveals, that so far could tell of those other mysterious orbs which stud from comets having no path, no sphere, and no the sky! But they have no speech nor language; course, they all appear to have a welī-defined orbit, silent, voiceless, and alone, they hurry through the and, in fact, revolve around the sun even as do the depths of space, marvellous monuments to the planets.

stupendous power of their Great Creator !

Before Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of from him heat 27,500 times greater than that which universal gravitation it was simply impossible to we receive, and its “ tail,” or the train of light it left account for the apparently erratic movements of behind it, was calculated to be not less than a hun. these singular bodies, and even now but very little dred million of miles in length. Now the centrifugal is known about them. It is not surprising, there force which was necessary to counteract, and which fore, that in former days they should have been the alone could have counteracted, the immense gravitaobjects of terror and amazement. They were repre- ting influence which the sun would exert upon the sented as—

comet when so near, must have been enormous, and * Threat'ning the world with famine, plague, and war;

sufficient to send it round an orbit of rery great To princes, death; to kingdoms, many crosses ;

length. This is actually the case, and the calculaTo all estates, inevitable losses ;

tions made with reference to this comet give a period To herdsmen, rot; to ploughmen, hapless seasons ; To sailors, storms; to cities, civil treasons."

of six hundred years before it could again be seen

from our earth. Some comets that have appeared Certain of the Popes, also, used gravely to excom- to have been attracted to the sun, have passed round municate these “ flaming horrors," and decrees were it, and have rushed off into space, and never been issued that all the faithful should add to Ave seen again. Marias and Paternosters a petition to be saved from To the great astronomer Halley is due the knowthe comet. Wars, plagues, and the deaths of great ledge that many of the comets are but the same as persons were all attributed to their evil influence ! those which have been previously observed; thus

It is probable, however, that even if the earth the comet which was seen in 1682, and which is now were to pass through the tail of a comet, or if this known by his name-Halley's Comet-is the same planet were to be “struck" by one, no harm would as that which appeared in 1607, 1581, and 1456, and ensue, for, writes Mr. Lockyer, " the mass of the is calculated to reappear in about every 75 years. comet is so small that one need not be alarmed ;" | Before he died he predicted it would appear again in the effect would therefore be, I suppose, simply like 1759 (which it did); it was also observed in 1885, striking a man with a feather.

and will again be visible in 1910. Halley fixed the It is said by astronomers (I again quote Mr. identity of several comets, and predicted their return. Lockyer), that on the 30th June, 1861, we did With unwearied labour he collected all the informaactually pass through the tail of the glorious comet tion of the observations upon previous comets which which then became so suddenly visible to us, but no were procurable, and out of 415 mentioned by damage was done.

ancient writers, was able to trace the orbits of 24. Again in 1776 a comet passed so near to Jupiter There was not sufficient accuracy in the observathat it got entangled among the satellites of that tions concerning the others for bim to form a sufficiplånet, but those bodies pursued the even tenour of ently strong opinion about them. These twenty-four their way as if the comet never existed. This, how comets were arranged into a table, to which additions ever, was by no means the case with the poor comet; have since been made. The labours of Halley, there. it was thrown entirely out of its course, and its orbit fore, still further strengthened Newton's views. has become changed from a long to a short one. It The length of the orbits of comets varies rery now seems to revisit the earth every twenty years. considerably, and thus they are divided into two It would seem, therefore, that comets appear far classes : Short Period and Long Period Comets. The more terrible than they are in reality.

first of the former class revolves round the sun in five Let us, however, examine the matter a little more years ; it is known as Encke's Comet, because he closely to see if this view is confirmed.

was the first to compute the elliptic force of its orbit. The first scientific knowledge concerning comets The times of the revolutions of the various comets appears to have been obtained by Sir Isaac Newton. continue to increase in length, until we get one He believed them to be subject to the law of gravita- (Halley's comet) which is computed to take seventytion like the other heavenly bodies; and that when five years to complete its orbit ! they aj proached the sun, the centre of our system, Now, what do we know of the physical constitution they would become visible; whilst when they jour- of these strange bodies ? Astronomers seem to agree neyed to the remoter parts of their orbits they in stating that they are probably wbite-hot masses of would, of course, become invisible to us, at least. matter, which, as they get nearer the sun, gradually In due time his theory was firmly established. increase in speed and in heat; as, indeed, do all

Certain facts, gleaned from watching the splendid bodies the more they come under the influence of comet of 1680, tended materially to strengthen his that great luminary. When they are far away from view. When first observed, it was sweeping with the sun they can only be seen as a faint mist through inconceivable rapidity towards the sun. Astronomers the most powerful telescope, but as they get nearer, were anxiously on the watch, eager to discover new and become more and more intensely hot, a greater facts, or verify old theories. Would this flaming light is thrown out; gas, gleaming with heat, is star come into collision with the sun, and, if so, with driven off and left behind it, constituting its “ tail.” what result ? Would it be proved that comets were

re The brighter part, or top of the comet, is known but emanations from the sun, and that this one was as its head, or the coma. Within the coma, again, is but returning to its mighty source ?

often seen a still brighter portion, which is called the These questions were duly answered in the nega- nucleus. The tail is the train of luminous vapours,

With increasing, and still more increasing or vapours rendered luminous by reflecting the light speed, it rushed onward round the sun at the fearful of the sun, which is expelled from the head by rate of a million miles an hour! It approached so extreme heat, and left behind by the comet in its vear to our great luminary that it must have received hurried flight.

ages, and


- St.

Easy Chapters on Astronomy.

449 This tail may be long or short, straight or bent, now almost universally believed that these bodies are single, double, or even multiple—thus the comet of collected into groups which travel round the sun, and 1744 had six tails—and may also differ very materi- therefore, what is usually called a shower of meteors ally in length, Thus the train of Donati's Comet- is due to the earth sailing through one of these so called from having first been seen by Dr. Donati, groups. This fact also gives the reason for not of Florence, in 1858—was computed to be 40,000,000 seeing a splendid star-shower every year, because it miles long, whilst that which appeared in 1811, and is only when we pass through the mass of meteors which was so remarkably conspicuous, was computed that such a scene is possible, and this mass takes by Herschel to be upwards of 100,000,000 miles in about thirty-three years to revolve round the sun. length, and its breadth 15,000,000 miles. The The generic term meteors includes shooting-stars, heated gas, however, forming these tails is very, very bolides, fireballs, and aërolites; all these bodies are, thin; and Sir Isaac Newton said that the whole tail in fact, the same, but differ in size and brilliancy; for could be condensed into one or two cubic inches ! this reason their various names have been given.

A most brilliant comet appeared in 1769. It came The periodicity of the star showers about August within two millions of miles of our globe, and was 10 was observed in the middle

appears to be seen stretched across the sky like an immense arch the only one noticed ; they were then known of splendid light. Its tail was calculated to be Lawrence's Tears,” but as science made greater ad36,000,000 miles in length.

vances it has been found that there are fifty-six similar The number of comets reported to have been seen groups moving round the sun in parabolic, elliptical, from the earliest times, including those mentioned in or circular orbits. The meteors belonging to these Chinese records, is nearly 800, but many more are different groups vary very much in their appearance, now noticed, as the telescope reveals numbers, the some being large and bright, some red, and some existence of which no one had previously any idea. white; some also are much more swift than others. Moreover, the old chronicles only took notice of those Let us now endeavour to explain the origin and which were brilliant enough to attract universal physical constitution of these curious bodies. Astro. attention, and give rise to general apprehension. nomers have good reasons for believing that the

There are said to be no less than 17,500,000 immense spaces between the planets are not simple comets in the solar system, but we see but few of voids, as they were once supposed to be. There them, because those only are visible to us which pass appear to be rings and masses of planetary “dust" the earth when they come nearest the sun; there are circulating at different distances around the sun, and thousands which come no nearer the sun than the occupying a portion of the spaces; some of these orbit of Neptune.

particles of dust weigh only a few grains, some a few Moreover, there are many comets which very fre-pounds, while there are some weighing hundredquently offer no appearance of tail, and appear only weights, and tons. Now these bodies are rushing as round or somewhat oval vaporous masses, more through space at the rate of forty or fifty miles per dense towards the centre. These at times, however, second, and if they should meet the earth's atmoshoot out tails, whilst two comets as they approached sphere the heat evolved by the friction of the collision the sun, contrary to the general rule, decreased in would be intense ; in fact, no known material (says size, until they appeared only like a star. Still for Mr. Pritchard) could escape first melting and then all that, says Mr. Lockyer, in the great majority of being vapourised into ignited gas under such cirinstances comets increase in brilliancy, and their cumstances. Do not think that this is improbable tails lengthen as they near the sun—so much so, that or incredible, or even uncommon. It is an illusin some instances they have been visible in broad tration of a simple scientific fact. Immense velocity daylight. The enormous effect of a near approach whenever meeting with any opposing force always to the sun may be gathered from the fact that the generates heat; for instance, when a cannon-ball comet of 1680, at its perihelion passage, while it was strikes the target, shooting against it with a rapidity travelling at the rate of 1,200,000 miles an hour, in of only some 400 yards per second, great heat is two days shot out a tail 20,000,000 leagues long! evolved, and as great heat is always accompanied by

Consider them, however, as we will, comets seem light, so this impact of the ball against the target is to be the most eccentric and least known members accompanied by a flash of light. But consider of the solar system, although we need not now what tremendous heat would be evolved if the view them with alarm, because we find that they are cannon-ball struck the target at, say, 1,500 times as subject to immovable laws as are the other greater speed. The ball, and target also, would be heavenly bodies.

vapourised into gas with the intense heat. And So far from being troubled at their appearance, we this is just what occurs when the meteors rushing might say with the Ettrick Shepherd, who wrote along at the enormous speed of 50 miles per second when he gazed on the comet of 1811

strike our atmosphere—they are vapourised into “Stranger of heaven, I bid thee hail!

gas. Shred from the pall of glory riven,

Consequently, if the collision between the dust " That flashest in celestial gale

or “ ball” and the earth's atmosphere occur on a Broad pennon of the King of Heaven.

clear night, we shall have the appearance of a shootWhate'er portends thy front of fire,

ing star with a bright tail, the whole of the dust And streaming locks so lovely pale ;

having been vapourised by the heat into a flash of inOr

peace to man, or judgment dire,
Stranger of Heaven, I bid thee hail!"

tensely hot gas; if it be a large piece of matter we

may have the spectacle of a fiery mass splitting into There is also another class of bodies which, like the fragments with a loud report, and then scattered over comets, have parabolic orbits, viz., meteors. It is the earth below, in the form of aërolites.

The smaller meteors are entirely evolved into space, these strange wanderers from their distant gaseous products, and are finally deposited in the homes, these mysterious half-melted masses of form of unseen fine dust.

metal, these links between the known and the un. Now what is the material of which these particles known, that so suddenly and so mysteriously burst are composed ? On submitting aërolites to chemical in upon us, prove unmistakably that many at least analysis they are found to consist of iron, nickel, and of the theories of astronomers are correct, and that various compounds of magnesia and silica, but prin- we are surrounded by worlds upon worlds, as solid cipally iron in a metallic state. We find, therefore, and real as our own. They are, one might say, absolute proof that there are worlds revolving around sudden, palpable evidences of the smallness of our us, composed in great part at least of the same own world and the magnificent greatness of God's matter as that which constitutes our globe.

wide universe. These silent messengers from the far-off realms of


Author of Mission Life in Greece and Palestine," Heroines of the Mission Fiell," “ Vestina's Martyrdom,” fc.



that he has caught the departed spirit. He then places the box under the head of the corpse, takes

his presents, and departs, laying the blame of his ANY romantic

non-success upon some fault in those who employed stories of es- him. capes and suf

The Red Indians have been pictured by the pens ferings have of practised writers so fully and frequently, that come to

many readers of YOUNG ENGLAND must possess a from

among certain acquaintance with the peculiar habits and the North

customs, traits of character, and mode of life American In- adopted by this peculiar people. They are brave, dians,

Not cruel, mighty hunters, faithful to friends, yet only travellers revengeful to foes, capable of enduring great fatigue and prisoners and bardship, known as merciless enemies and of war, but untiring haters. A feud between two tribes would missionaries be perpetuated from generation to generation, until also have had bloody frays would succeed in extirpating the weaker

these escapes, of the two tribes. They lived afar in the forests, while the records of the lives and amid the hunting grounds of their fathers, and labours of such heroes as until white men dispossessed them and drove them Elliot, Zeisberger, and Brain

away. erd testify to the real self-denial Many terrible tales of reprisals could be recounted

and frequent suffering by the early settlers of North America, wherein which missionary service sometimes the whites and sometimes the Indians entailed.

gained the advantage, but all full of sudden surNorth American Indians seem bound fast in the prises, hideous slaughter, tortures, scalpings, burnchains of superstition and witchcraft. They talk of ings, and deaths. Woe to the captives who were the “Great Spirit,” and they seem to have some dim caught on either side! Reserved for torture or for notion of a powerful deity who presides over "the slavery, their lot was infinitely worse than that of happy hunting grounds," to which all Red Indians those who were killed in cold blood. desire to go after death ; but still they have no idea About the time that the colonisation of the United how to secure the “Great Spirit's ” favour. Should States took place, before Washington's presidency, one of them fall sick, they send for the “medicine it became a favourite torture with the Red Indians, man," or conjuror, to heal the patient. A bear, or after killing the women and children of the early some other animal, is ordered to be slaughtered and settlers, to bind the husbands and fathers flat on roasted. The sick person is then placed in the their backs on the ground, and to kindle a fire on middle of a number of Indians, who beat drums, the breast of each prostrate man. Then they would sing, scream, dance, whoop, and howl, until the dance around their victims, and gloat over their patient either declares himself well, or loses his sufferings, until death ended the terrible scene. senses. In the latter case the conjuror demands Others were enclosed within a circle of fire and slowly increased payment, to bring back the lost reason. broiled to death. One historian of that time speaks

Supposing the patient dies, the conjuror goes into of the Red Indians as “incarnate devils." Certain a small house and screams to the beasts and birds it is that blackened and burnt homesteads and to bring back the soul which has flown away. He mangled bodies testified in all directions to their rattles à few stones about in a box, until he declares fiendish cruelties.


Among North American Indians.


The cruelty of heathenism is yet to be found in fourteen towns, with rows of houses and streets, like their habitations. Women and girls are treated as English towns, while the chiefs and warriors united beasts of burden, and sometimes sold to the highest in worshipping God in the neat little sanctuaries bidder. All the work of the tribe, save hunting and which might have been seen on every hand. But fighting, falls upon the shoulders of the squaws war came, and ten of the towns were burnt, or deduring the years in which they are able to drudge, stroyed, while the people were scattered hither and and when old age comes to them, sapping their thither. Still he clung to his work, and laboured on strength, and unfitting them for work, they are either amid discouragement and loss. So the evening of stoned, choked, or speared and left to be eaten by his life drew on, and when he could do nothing but the dogs. Sometimes an old squaw will ask to die. lie in bed, he taught a young Indian boy to read At She is then stupefied with drugs and bled to death, last, at the age of ninety, this bonoured servant of amid incantations of medicine men.

God passed away to his reward. Missionaries have gone among this singular people, Another self-denying missionary was Zeisberger. from time to time, in order to teach them something He was too poor to travel otherwise than by foot to of religion. Sometimes they have succeeded in a the Indian tribe whom he desired to teach, and even small measure, at other times they have fallen on this preliminary journey he endured much hardvictims to the lust for blood which seems to ship. He was driven to sleep at night on the ground, characterise the Indian nature. Among some of among serpents, bears, and wolves, and even if he the hair-breadth escapes and perils consequent upon had no attack from savage beasts, his clothes were intercourse with these warlike people, we give the generally soaked with rain or dew before morning. following:

However, he survived the dangers of the journey, Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a and met the tribe. This first meeting was at night; French priest, named Sebastian Rasles, went across the Indians sat round the large fires which had been the Atlantic, and took up his abode among a tribe prepared, and, by their light, the white visitor told of North American Indians. He resigned all the the news which was his errand there. The Indians comforts and dignities of sunny France, in order to looked frightfully ugly in white and red paint, instruct these children of the forest in the truths feathers, and foxes' tails, but they listened with of Christianity. He built his own house, cultivated attention. This first sermon made an impression on his own little plot of land, lived chiefly on Indian them, and they consented to let Zeisberger dwell corn, and mixed daily with the savages in their among them, in order to preach the Gospel. wigwams. He became servant of all, becoming all At first he made friends, but soon the old women things to all men “if so be that he might gain of the tribe and the medicine men made plots against some.' He built and consecrated a little chapel in him, alleging that all the scarcity and misfortunes of the wilderness, conducted religious services, and the tribe were the result of his coming among them. gained such a power over the affections of the Plots were laid against his life, and several times he Red men by whom he was surrounded, that they narrowly escaped assassination. Nevertheless, he would have died for him.

laboured on, regardless of all obstacles, and formed For forty years he thus laboured, when war broke several Churches among the denizens of those savage out between the French and English, and Rasles wilds. His life was given to them, and when at was slain in the conflict. He was scalped and last he was "gathered to his fathers,” old and full of mutilated by the Indian allies of the English, and days, the Indians stood weeping and sobbing around burned within sight of the little chapel, on which his bedside. stood the cross —the sign of his faith.

As the consequence of these and other efforts some Missionaries have done much good work among of the Red men have sought Christian instruction, the North American Indians, and gone through long, Not long since, a missionary who had gone from patient sowing times, before any fruit of their labours Minnesota to preach to an Indian tribe was sitting have appeared. The first missionary of whom we in his house when a knock came to the door. On have authentic record was John Elliot, who devoted opening it he found an Indian who had come 600 his life, some two hundred and forty years since, to miles to learn something about the Gospel. As he the evangelisation of the children of the forest. He entered the house, he knelt down at the missionary's resigned a good position in the ministry, among a feet, saying, "I kneel, to tell you of my gratitude loving people, in order to devote his life to the that you pitied the Red man. I am a wild man living Indians. He had to make a language, and reduce it to in the depths of the woods. I knew that my people writing, before he could convey much instruction to were perishing. I never looked in the face of my their benighted minds. It is said that some Indian child that I was not sick. My fathers told me that words contained thirty or forty letters. Here is a there was a Great Spirit, and I have often gone to specimen : Nummatchakodtantamoonganunnonash. But the woods and asked him for help, but I only got the John Elliot brought a brave heart to a steep lill, and sound of my voice. You don't know what I mean ! conquered the difficulty. He engaged a young One day, an Indian came to my wigwam, and said Indian to teach him the language, constructed å that he had heard you tell a wonderful story at Red grammar, wrote a spelling-book, and actually trans- Lake ; that you said the Great Spirit's Son had come lated some portions of the Bible into the Indian down to earth to save all the people that needed help ; tongue. At the end of the grammar, John Elliot that the reason why the white man was so much more wrote: " Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ blessed than the Red man, was because he had the Jesus, will do anything."

true religion, because he knew about the Son of The "Indian Evangelist" did not labour in vain. the Great Spirit. I felt I must see you, and have In course of time his converts located themselves in travelled all these miles to do so."

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