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another side. The earth, the globular body thus covered with life, is not the only globe in the universe.
5. There are, circling about our own sun, others, so far as we can judge, perfectly analogous in their nature, besides our moon and other bodies analogous to it.
No one can resist the temptation to conjecture that these globes, some of them much larger than our own, are not dead and barren; that they are, like ours, occupied with organisation, life, intelligence. To conjecture is all that we can do, yet even by the perception of such a possibility our view of the domain of nature is enlarged and elevated. The outermost of the planetary globes, of which we have spoken, is so far from the sun that the central luminary must appear to the inhabitants of that planet, if any
there are, no larger than Venus does to us; and the length of their year will be eighty-two of ours.
6. But astronomy carries us still onwards. It teaches us that, with the exception of the planets already mentioned, the stars which we see have no immediate relation to our system. The obvious supposition is that they are of the nature and order of our sun. The minuteness of their apparent magnitude agrees, on this supposition, with the enormous and almost inconceivable distance which, from all the measurements of astronomers, we are led to attribute to them.
7. If then these are suns, they may, like our sun, have planets revolving round them, and these may, like our planet, be the seats of vegetable and animal and rational life. We may thus have in the universe worlds, no one knows how many, no one can guess how varied: but however many, however varied, they are still but so many provinces in the same empire, subject to common rules, governed by a common power.
1 Dr. Whewell speaks of Uranus. See note at end of lesson.
8. But the stars which we see with the naked eye are but a very small portion of those which the telescope unveils to us.
The most imperfect telescope will discover some that are invisible without it; the very best instrument perhaps does not show us the most remote. The number of stars which crowd some parts of the heavens is truly marvellous: Dr. Herschel calculated that a portion of the Milky Way, about 10 degrees long and 2 broad, contained 258,000. In a sky so occupied the moon would eclipse 2000 of such stars at once.
9. We learn too from the telescope that even in this province the variety of nature is not exhausted. Not only do the stars differ in colour and appearance, but some of them grow periodically fainter and brighter, as if they were dark on one side and revolved on their axes. In other cases two stars appear close to each other, and in some of these cases it has been clearly established that the two have a motion of revolution about each other, thus exhibiting an arrangement new to the astronomer, and giving rise possibly to new conditions of worlds.Adapted from Whewell.
Questions on the lesson :—What is the first thing about our world which gives an idea of the greatness of the power which directs it? Besides the mere number of human beings what enhances the difficulty, so to speak, of providing for them? In what places are other inhabitants of the world found? What of their number and their support? What mighty agencies wait on all these? By what aids is the impression of the greatness of the universe increased ? What conjecture is hazarded about the planets? What two facts are mentioned illustrating the distance from the sun of the farthest of the planets? How must the stars be regarded? What are some of the facts which the telescope reveals regarding the stars, tending to enlarge our ideas of the greatness of the universe ?
Circling about our own sun, there are 8 planets, including the earth, besides 109 small planets, which revolve round the sun. The most distant of these is Neptune, which was discovered in 1846, a number
of years after the passage was written. Its mean distance from the sun is more than 2,700,000,000 miles. Its revolution round the sun occupies about 164 of our years.
The outermost of the planetary globes, until 1846 was Uranus. As mentioned in the last note Neptune, whose existence had already been seen
as Columbus saw America from the shores of Spain," was discovered at a distance from the sun a thousand milliens of miles greater than Uranus. Venus is the second of the great planets as regards nearness to the
It is about 25 millions of miles nearer to the sun than the Earth is.
The stars which the telescope unveils to us, “in powerful telescopes at least 20,000,000 stars down to the fourteenth magnitude are visible.”
THE SONG OF THE ANGELS.
1. No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of angels, with a shout
With these that never fade the spirits elect
Impurpled with celestial roses smiled. 3. Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took,
Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side
Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven. 4. Thee Father first they sung, Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
- Paradise Lost, Book III.
1. He was now in his thirty-seventh year. But both in body and in mind he was older than other men of the same age. Indeed it might be said that he had never
His external appearance is almost as well known to us as to his own captains and counsellors. Sculptors, painters, and medallists exerted their utmost skill in the work of transmitting his features to posterity; and his features were such as no artist could fail to seize, and such as, once seen, could never be forgotten.
1 From Lord Macaulay's History of England, inserted by permission of Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co.