I've gazed upon you till this world became
A very point-and still, far, far beyond,
Before the imagination, brightly rose
Creation on creation.

What is man,
I asked, with all his powers ? Creation's lord
They call him—and he treads the flowering fields,
And climbs the hills, and in the quiet vales,
Bends him to listen to the music there--
Brushes, at dawn, the dewy copse, and bathes
His fevered brow, at noon, in the cool fount;
Looks out at evening on the coronet
Of gems that binds the azure brow of Heaven
And sleeps, at morning, in a nameless grave!
Or, numbering out his most extended span,
And left, amid the wreck of all beloved,
Save Hope, that lights him on-Affection's chain
So fondly bound about his heart in youth,
Severed in broken links--his summer gone,
His gray hairs come, in sorrow, down to death!

This glorious universe of earth and sky,
And suns and systems pass from change to change,
With beauty unimpaired--but he is gone!
The frailest of her flowers outlives him oft.
Nature's rich bosom swells with silent joy,
The stars shine on in peace—the sun on wings
Of dimless glory keeps his joyous way-
And all is happy--but this lord of all!
No wonder that he pauses and repeats:
“Oh what a mystery to man-is man!"

But lo! a voice speaks out--a vision comes-
And with it other worlds, another home
A higher service, and a nobler song!
The scene is changed; this bright and teeming earth,
All redolent of life, from age to age,
Follows the track of time-till, worn and old,
The long, long record of its centuries lost,
It sinks forever; and the sun and stars
Are blotted out of being. But afar,
Fresh as the blush of spring, in glowing youth,
The immortal spirit gazes on the wreck
Of all that seemed eternal-but itself!

Is such the glorious destiny of man,
The image of his Maker? When the storms
Of his brief night of trial shall be o'er,
Opens before him an eternal day?
Does he thus melt, like a sweet star, that o'er

The mountain trembles, at the dawn of day,
Softly away into the light of Heaven?
Let God be praised--and to his unsurpassed
And boundless goodness be the glory given !



" An inconstant blaze,
That trembles in the Northern sky,
And glares on midnight's startled eye!"

One of the most remarkable phenomena which we behold and admire, but are at a loss to comprehend, is that brilliant meteor, which in its faintest glimmerings on the Northern sky, resembles the light which precedes the rising sun, and hence derives its name, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern dawn, more commonly called the Northern Lights. The phenomenon has always been familiar to our sight, and if the study of its properties and probable causes, will repay our curiosity, as much as its appearance, unexplained, has commanded our admiration, we shall have little reason to regret that we have chosen it for the subject of an article.

The Aurora Borealis has so often lent a transient lustre to the cool nights of our latitude, that few need be told the variety of shapes which it assumes. Its most common appearance is that of a broad sheet of pale, yellow light, blended at times with red, intermingled with long streaks of whitish light, darting upwards from the horizon to the zenith. But it has a multiplicity of forms, varying in the intensity and color of light, velocity of motion, and duration of appearance, from the faint, quick flashes—like the heat lightning of a sultry evening—to the steady, brilliant column, standing like a pillar of fire in the sky. Sometimes, like an immense magic lantern, it flings its fanciful forms along the whole Northern space, spire mingling with column in beautiful array—now a wavy fold of light, like the shaking of gilded tapestry, and now a broad sheet of molten radiance, laid on, as it were, with a feathery brush. Sometimes it appears directly overhead, as a glittering crown about the zenith ; and once in half a century, perhaps, as if to startle the mind with its wonderful character, rivalling the rainbow in grandeur and beauty, it spans with a bright arch this nether world, winging its sublime and majestic flight across the firmament.

This dazzling meteor has been a perfect Jack-o'-lantern to the philosophers of the last century, for its various appearances have been scarcely equal in number to the theories which have been proposed in explanation of its character.

The Aurora Borealis appears in the Frigid and Temperate Zones, in a great variety of shapes and colors, usually increasing in brilliancy and intensity of light as we approach the Polar regions. In our latitude, it is seen in the north-east, and north, when the atmosphere is cold and clear, as a sheet of pale light, of a yellowish hue, although it sometimes changes to a deep red. In the higher latitudes, the phenomenon is more varied and beautiful; while in the Arctic regions, it assumes shapes and colors truly terrific, and is far more frequent. In the Shetland Islands, it appears almost constantly during the clear evenings of autumn, where some of its forms, called the merry dancers, are described as first ap

pearing in the horizon of a pale yellow color, sometimes continuing for hours without any sensible motion. Suddenly they shoot into columns, then disappear, and again dart from the clear sky in a thousand fanciful shapes, blending the yellow with the red, in all the beautiful variety of shades. Portions of the sky, where none have been seen before, are suddenly traversed by brilliant flashes of light, which, as suddenly extinguished, leave as dark a void as before. Sometimes they assume the shape of battlements and towers, spears and swords, and the conflict of armed warriors ;—and in ; articular states of the atmosphere, the light becomes tinged with the hue of blood, awakening the sears of the superstitious people, and causing them to lend a willing ear to prophetic warnings of woe and destruction. To a highly wrought imagination, the short columns of light may indeed seem to be battlements on high, and the rapid intermingling of the pointed spires may well be likened to the clashing of spears, and the fierce war of the spirits of light. If, with these vivid and strange appearances, we also consider the fact, that in the Northern regions, during the near approach of the meteor to the earth, a hissing, crackling noise is frequently heard, like the explosion of a rocket, or the sound which proceeds from a building on fire, we need not wonder that the unlearned and superstitious inhabitants of those regions have peopled the sky with a race of fiery beings, whose terrible warfare is at times revealed. No doubt many traditions of strange sights in the air, which come to us through the ancient poets, refer to some unusual appearance of the Aurora, which superstition magnifies into terrific omens, and which, unexplained, serve to increase the superstition of the unphilosophical observers. They have found their way into Shakspeare's grand repository of ancient customs, traditions, and superstitious observances, where much of the fine imagery is derived, not from the fancy of the great poet, but from his wonderful faculty of working up the materials which nature supplied. When Owen Glendower, in Henry IV., arrogantly declared, that at his nativity,

“The port of heaven was full of fiery shapes,

Of burning cressets," he boasted of no unreal prodigy, perhaps, but of some portentous light in the sky, which, it may be, was an unusual and frightful appearance of the Aurora Borealis. Nor are these superstitions peculiar to modern nations. The ancients drew omens from the same source, and had different names for the various forms which the meteor assumed. The Romans saw in such phenomena, the bolts of Jupiter, presaging wrath to the offending people; and caught the inspiration of certain victory, at the sight of the glittering spear and standard, which blazed upon the heavens. Shakspeare has not failed to seize upon this illustration of ancient superstition. Thus, in Julius Cæsar, Calphurnia, in her vain attempt to deter Cæsar from venturing forth to the Capitol, in addition to her own dreams, recounts the sights seen by the night watch :

· Fierce, fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
In ranks, and squadrons, in right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol ;
The noise of battle hurtled in the air!"

The Aurora Borealis appears more frequently in the higher latitudes, and more frequently in all places, at some seasons than at others. Its appearance, then, seems to depend on the state of the atmosphere; for sometimes none will be seen for several years; and again, it will appear many times during a single season. In this climate, it is seen, in its ordinary form, usually two or three times in the course of the year. It is brightest after a sudden change in the temperature of the air, as from a thaw to a frost. We see it in almost as many varieties as the inhabitants of countries nearer the Pole, though it is neither so frequent nor so brilliant. We have the vivid streamers, the wavy columns, the glittering crown about the zenith, where the streamers from different quarters converge, like the sticks of an open umbrella, and the splendid arch across the heavens. But there has been no very remarkable Aurora since the splendid and magnificent arch, which, it will be recollected, appeared on the twenty-eighth of August, 1827. It was seen in nearly all the states as far south as Maryland, and was first observed at half past nine o'clock, as a whitish light, like a fire at some distance. It soon became more intense, and of a columnar shape. In a few minutes, waves of light, in detached masses, began to flow from East to West, until the whole were blended, and the heavens were adorned with the beautiful arch, extending from N. N. West to E. N. East, with its centre about fifteen degrees north of the zenith. Its greatest breadth at the centre was about ten degrees, tapering almost to a point at the West, where the light was much brighter. The Eastern segment was at no time so distinct as the Western, but was rendered beautiful by the constant passage of waves of apparently illuminated vapor, the lines of which were at right angles to the line of the arch. The whole arch moved with a gradual and uniform motion towards the South, and passed the zenith at a quarter past ten o'clock, presenting throughout its whole length a broad, bright band of wavy light, studded with stars, which were seen distinctly through it. As it passed the zenith, it broke up into columns of great brightness. The color of the light was a bright white. The Aurora had for several evenings been unusually bright, and the atmosphere was cool and clear. During the continuance of the arch, the common Aurora was not very brilliant, but afterwards it was unusually splendid. A great bank of light lay almost permanently in the Northern horizon, sometimes surmounted by, and sometimes resting on, a dark cloud, which was occasionally illuminated by broad flashes.

At Utica, New Haven, and several other places, this exhibition of the Aurora was attended with loud reports, a sharp, snapping noise, like the discharge of an electric battery. These noises—which serve to prove the near approach of the meteor to the earth, and afford a strong presumption that electricity is the cause of it-although quite frequent in the Polar regions, are rarely heard in our latitude. The late venerable Dr. Holyoke, of Salem, Mass., declared that he had heard them more than once, and that they resembled the sound of a rocket. And there have been several other well-attested instances in this country during the last century, within which period three Auroras, similar to that of August, 1827, were observed in New England. One appeared in 1754,

another in 1769, the third in 1781. The light of the former, which has been fully described by Dr. Holyoke, obscured that of the moon three days after the full, and its appearances far surpassed in splendor and variety those of 1827. He describes the light as resting upon a dark cloud, a common feature of the phenomenon, which will assist us in determining the constitution of the meteor.

Although we have mentioned only three Auroras of a similar appearance to that of August, 1827, yet there have been several other remarkable exhibitions of this meteor in this country, in which the arch was the most prominent feature. Two were seen in the month of September immediately following, one of which has been described by Dr. Hayes of Canandaigua, as consisting of a series of columns, forming a part of an arch, having first appeared as a light cloud hanging in the clear sky. The other, a very extraordinary one, was observed in the state of Maine, by Professor Cleveland, of Brunswick, and was remarkable for its position in the Southern quarter of the heavens, extending from S. E. to N. W. about thirty-five degrees above the horizon. The month of September of that year, as it is generally in the Northern regions, was remarkable for the frequent displays of the Aurora, both in this country and in Europe. On the 25th. the same day on which the arch was seen in the South by Professor Cleveland, the Aurora exhibited itself in Paris, being the first that had appeared for twenty years, and according to the testimony of M. Arago, a distinguished natural philosopher, announced itself by a very perceptible disturbance of the Magnetic Needle. During the continuance of the phenomenon, this disturbance “became enormous !” These facts, showing the magnetic influence of the Aurora, should be borne in mind, as we shall have occasion to advert to them, in pursuing what we consider the most unexceptionable theory that has ever been offered, in explanation of this splendid phenomenon.

In higher Northern latitudes, the Aurora of the 25th of September had an extraordinary and very beautiful appearance. It was observed at the Gosport Observatory, about eighty miles from London, and was remarkable for its sudden changes of color, from a bright yellow to a blood red, through all the intermediate shades; and still more, for its long continuance, it having been visible till past two o'clock in the morning; whereas the ordinary displays of the Aurora are limited in duration to about midnight. This is so uniformly the case, that the fact has been adduced with much confidence, in support of the theory that the phenomenon is occasioned by the refracted light of the sun, after it has descended far below the horizon. The instance just related may be urged as an objection to this theory.

The more frequent and vivid appearance of the Aurora in the regions nearer the Pole, has already been noticed. Travellers on scientific expeditions, and voyagers to the North-west, have given lively descriptions of its most prominent features. M. Biot, the celebrated French mathematician, who spent a considerable time in the Shetland Islands, observed several remarkable Auroras, which he examined with the closest attention, with a view of ascertaining their causes and constitution. In its ordinary features, the Aurora is almost a constant visitor in that latitude

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