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spectful to a cherished article of housewifery. It “Is my cousin Mary very pretty ?” asked Lucy, was quite characteristic of Tom that he instantly with a meaning in her tone which Thomas easily pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, and began enough understood. therewith to restore the brightness of the desecrated He could not help blushing, for he remembered, iron. This went at once to the old lady's heart. as well he might. And she could not help seeing, for She spatched the handkerchief out of bis hand. she had eyes, very large ones, and at least as loving
“Come, come, Mr. Thomas. Don't ye mind an as they were large. old woman like that. To think of using your hand- “Yes, she is very pretty," answered Thomas ; kerchief that way! And cambric, too !”
“but not nearly so pretty as you, Lucy.” Thomas looked up in surprise, and straightway Thomas, then, was not stupid, although my recovered his behaviour.
reader will see that he was weak enough. And "I didn't think of your fender,” he said.
Lucy was more than half satisfied, though she did “Oh, drat the fender !” exclaimed Mrs. Boxall, not half like that blush. But Thomas himself did with more energy than refinement.
not like either the blush or its cause. And so the matter dropped, and all sat silent Mary knew nothing of either, only meditated upon for a few moments, Mrs. Boxall with her knitting, another blush, quite like this as far as appearance and Tom and Lucy beside each other with their went, but with a different heart to it. thoughts. Lucy presently returned to their talk on Thomas did not stop more than half-an-hour. the staircase.
When he left, instead of walking straight out of “So you were out at dinner on Wednesday, Guild Court by the narrow paved passage, he Thomas ?"
crossed to the opposite side of the court, opened the “Yes. It was a great bore, but I had to go.— door of a more ancient-looking house, and entered. Poxall's, you know. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Reappearing-that is, to the watchful eyes of Lucy Poxall; but that's how fellows like me talk, you maneuvring with the window-blind-after about know. I should have said Mr. Boxall. And I two minutes, he walked home to Highbury, and d.dn't mean that he was a bore. That he is not, told his mother that he had come straight from his though he is a little particular—of course. I only German master, who gave him hopes of being able, Ileant it was a bore to go there when I wanted to before many months should have passed, to write a come here."
business-letter in intelligible German.
THE METEORIC SHOWER OF NOVEMBER 14, 1866.
THERE are some Aspects of Nature” the first and the hiss, and the boom, the inevitable attendants sight of which always constitutes a memorable on the busy works of man; but here, in the epoch in the personal histories of those who behold unbroken stillness of the night, we have the fairy them; an earthquake for instance, or a total eclipse scene of some high festival of celestial spirits, illuof the sun, or even the first view of the glorious minations devised and lighted by no human hands, snow-topped Alps. There is also another " Aspect but starting into brightness in all the majesty of oi Nature," and that in her wildest and grandest the depth of utter silence. There are fires unearthly Inood, which it is hoped thousands of our country and innumerable, but there is no sound. An earth. men, of this generation, witnessed a few nights ago, quake may be more terrible in the mysterious bat such as there is no record that our fathers ever heaving or the crash, yet the terror is the terror of saw, and no certainty that our children after us a moment : an eclipse of the sun may be more may have the privilege to see. The chance of a gorgeous, and appalling, and strange, yet that cloudy night at one of the cloudiest seasons of the gloomy standstill of universal nature is gone in year may render the spectacle for them, as it might the space of minutes few to count, though never to have done for us, impossible. The reader will have be forgotten ; but in this November star shower 2.ticipated that the phenomenon alluded to is the the spectacle rose and culminated, and fell, with a J'eriodic November shower of meteors at its maxi- gradation and a magnificence, which kept the mium display. It is the memorable sight of thousands spectator entranced for a full hour together. It is tipon thousands of momentary lights with fiery and will be an epoch of the century. trails, and of many hues, lighting up the landscape We now proceed to more sober particulars, and aud the midnight sky, and spreading often in volleys shall first of all endeavour to describe the phenomena lize fans of rockets over the blue vault and amidst actually observed, a task in itself of no small diffitie stars of heaven, and that incessantly and for a culty, and then see what light science, or theory, long space of time. Meanwhile there is this notable or conjecture, can throw upon the meaning and diference : there is the consciousness that rockets origin of the spectacle. have a human birthplace, and there is the whirr, The astronomical world had been duly reminded
of the expected star-shower by means of the we ascended the Beacon Hill, a mile distant, as
Monthly Notices” of the Royal Astronomical originally intended, the view would have been one Society, and the public at large had been similarly uninterrupted panorama of land and sea ; but then warned by the daily journals that an unusually the well known November winds were dreaded, and grand display of meteors might be expected during the weather bore no promise propitious for a bivouac. the early morning hours of the thirteenth or the We determined therefore to leave well alone ; the fourteenth of November. About this period of the members of the writer's family were instructed what year, namely from the ninth to the fourteenth of to look for and when to look, while the writer him. November, shooting stars are commonly seen in self proposed to keep his eye well fixed nigh to that considerable abundance, but Professor Newton of point of the heavens (that is, the radiant point) from Yale College in America, by searching ancient the neighbourhood of which it was expected the records, had discovered that three times in about aerial flights would take their origin, or back to every century the November display had hitherto which their fiery trails might be traced. attained to a remarkable magnificence. The intelli- The night, or rather the early morning of the gent observation of meteors is of comparatively thirteenth, was watched with intense but natural recent date, and consequently there as yet always anxiety. Wind and cloud and rain soon dashed remains a small amount of uncertainty as to the our expectations, and we could only hope that precise hours of the particular nights when, and as other observers were favoured with better weather to the particular points of the heavens from which, than ourselves, but have since learned that almost a meteor display may be expected. Nevertheless throughout the country they were doomed to there are perhaps during each year some fifty similar disappointment, and in their turns were particular epochs approximately ascertained, and wishing a better fate for us. And this explains also the particular spots, or radiant points as they what we have already said regarding the doubtful are called, from which the fiery flights may be prospect which awaits our children in England, expected to originate. On the particular occasion that they, thirty-three years hence, may be perof this year it was not quite certain whether the mitted to witness a repetition of the spectacle meteor shower would occur on the thirteenth or on their fathers saw in 1866. the fourteenth, nor in fact whether it would be At intervals, however, during the early morning visible in Europe at all ; but, if visible, the radiant of the thirteenth there were occasional breaks id point back to which the trails of the shooting stars the clouds, and now and then, had bright meteors would appear to be traceable, was predicted to be existed in any abundance, some of them must have situated near to certain particular stars in the been seen. But the heavevs gave no sign. Thus, constellation Leo. The latter prediction turned out none having been recorded by any of our watchers, to be very nearly, though not exactly correct. we consoled ourselves that Alexander Herschel's
The locality from which the following observa- prediction, or rather forewarding of the fourteenth tions were made is peculiarly well suited for the rather than the thirteenth, might yet remain to be purpose, both with respect to that large portion of fulfilled. With this forced but consolatory hope, the heavens, the view of which it commands, and we, and no doubt hundreds of others, discontinued on account of the surrounding scenery, the exquisite our fruitless watch and retired to bed. beauty of which would be enhanced if the expected The late hours of the evening of Tuesday the display occurred. This locality is on a hill some thirteenth of November, here, as almost every150 feet above the level of the sea, not far from the where throughout England, were such western extremity of the Isle of Wight, and rendered astronomer longs, but often longs in vain, to all the more classical from its proximity to the see. At one minute before midnight we first residence of the greatest of living poets. From the looked through a large window commanding the west, through the north and east, to the south there north-west nearly to the north-east, and before we is an uninterrupted view. From west to east, and had time to exclaim, “What a magnificent sky!” from the Needles to Southampton Water, runs the the train of a bright meteor sailed before our eyes. Solent, more like a majestic river or a winding lake But now arose the crucial question, “Where did it than a portion of the Channel : due north is Hurst come from?” “Is it one of our meteors, our Castle, with its twin light-house and its long white proper November meteors ?” It seemed indeed to line of fortifications; while over and beyond them have come from low in the north-east, just where stretches, in clear prospect, almost the whole of the radiant point in Leo ought to be, but which Hampshire. Due east lies the vale of Freshwater, from our position was not at the moment actually and over it, in the far distence, lie the Royal Woods, visible. A moment after, and while we were in and the hills which conceal Newport and the two doubt, a second meteor shot, not pow in the same towers of Osborne. Exactly on the southern meri- line as the former, but across Ursa Major, and dian rises the Beacon, which crowns one of the which, when its trail was in imagination traced highest chalk downs in England. A scene this, if backwards, beyond all doubt intersected the course indeed any scene, almost worthy of the unearthly of the former meteor rather low in the north-east. lights which at a moonless midnight were soon to Thus the question was decided, and it became clear throw it into one broad visible perspective. Had that the long-expected display had commenced.
We now were looking, at all events, at the first saw him at 2h.' A, M., the fiery wounds were redroppings of the November fiery shower. We duced to three only in the minute, and half-ancounted fifty-five meteors shooting from the north hour after, the rate was two; while at 3h. A.M. it east towards the north in the twenty-six minutes be- had subsided to about nine in ten minutes. Thus tween Ilh. 59m. and 12h. 25m., i.e., at the rate of two it was evident that our part of the earth was now per minute in the very limited portion of the sky to clear of the thick of the sparkling storm. which at the time we mainly directed our attention During all this grand spectacle, the reader must and our eyes. It now became apparent that the fiery remember that our counting and our eyes were shower was commencing in right earnest, and that directed to but one inconsiderable patch of the our earth, or rather its atmosphere, was approaching heavens, in fact to a single constellation. To other the very thick of the meteors, consequently each eyes the meteor trains were starting in all directions of us went to the post assigned to him or to her. over the whole expanse of the sky; but the trails
After the lapse of a few minutes, it became of all that we saw, with but one exception, when evident to the writer that any attempt to count the traced backwards, passed through the one charmed, number of the meteors with an available amount of fated spot in the forementioned Sickle in Leo, and precision must, by dint of their very abundance, somewhat near to the upper part of the hook. To prove abortive; he therefore and another watcher the eyes of two of us this spot was as definitely agreed to keep their eyes well fixed upon the neigh marked as if a small hole had been punched in a bourhood of "the Sickle," and simply count the star map. It was curious and interesting to see, number of the shooting stars which pelted or how, as time went on, and as Leo gradually rose in pierced the constellation Orion, and meanwhile the the heavens, continuing his inevitable march towards other inmates of the house were directed to watch the south, so the radiant point rose with it, and the things in general, and record any circumstance trails of the fire stars obeyed the new direction, just which seemed more striking than the rest.
as a compass in motion continues to turn to the In front of the writer, but a little to the north magnetic pole. To the writer's mind this was all and the left, stood out in the sky unmistakeable, the more remarkable, because the spot was not the now charmed region of the six stars in Leo, precisely in the exact situation predicted, and he which, without stretch of imagination, seem to knew from the first that the exact determination of form the contour of the handle and hook of a the radiant point was a matter of prime importance reaper's sickle. Regulus, the brightest star in the in the observations before us. Before mid-day of constellation, marks the extremity of the handle, the fourteenth the spot was marked with a dot in a while five other conspicuous stars form the figure of star-chart with the words Nov. 14, G. M. T. XIII, as a the hook. To the right and the south-east stood record of the events, and three days afterwards a out Orion, the glory of our northern skies : the eye, letter came from one of the ablest and most cautious following the three stars in his belt downwards, of living astronomers recording the same precise spot lights upon Sirins, perhaps the brightest star in the as the result of his own observations, and drawing heavens, and upwards in pretty much the same line, certain most interesting and, in this respect, most it falls in with Aldebaran and the Pleiades. To the important conclusions therefrom. left of Orion, and high up, blazed Castor and But to return to our meteors. Between the hours Pollax, and beneath them hung the ruddy lamp of of one and two in the morning, a single person lookMars. Almost over our heads was that well-known ing east counted nearly 1500, and many must have triple sun in Andromeda, wherewith astronomers been missed. At three minutes past one 60 were are wont to test the powers of their instru. counted in a minute; in the next minute 60 again, ments, and where the inhabitants, if such there be, and then 30, and then 36, and then 34, and at seven of the worlds which circulate around those won- minutes past one the number suddenly shot up to drous suns, enjoy alternate days of golden and of 64, and in the next waned to 38. Thus the meteors emerald light. At one o'clock in the morning, with evidently came, as has been already stated, and as us not a cloud obscured a single star in the heavens, we saw then, oft-times in volleys, and spread over
from north to south, and from the horizon to the the sky like the ends of the veins of an open fan. li zenith: the stars had trimmed their lights as for But what was very curious and extremely in| some high festival: it was a night much to be teresting to our eyes, directed as they were in the
remembered. From 12h. 30m. to lh. 30m. the main to the afore-mentioned Sickle, every now and star storm waxed, and culminated, and waned. then there would break out, close to the radiant At 12h. 30m. the fiery trains shot into or through point, a little bright fiery spangle
, burning for a Orion at the rate of two per minute, and with a velo- moment or two without a train, and then gradually city probably of some thirty miles per second. By going out. At first these apparitions puzzled us, lk. A. M. the pelting had ivcreased to five per and perplexed our notions of the actual stars which minute ; at lh. 5m. A. M. it was at the rate of we knew and had seen formed the constellation. six; at lh. 12m. it was at the rate of eight. Soon Once the writer rubbed his eyes, to see or to feel if after this a long dark rain-cloud for a time inter- there were something wrong with him, but the true cepted our view of this now much suffering but significance of these new temporary stars soon famous hunter of ancient days. When we next occurred to his mind, and he rejoiced to observe that all was right and consistent, and just what in man when he comes to explain to others or to himfact ought to have been expected.
self, the meaning, the indications, the causes, so far Very few of the meteors appeared to have luminous as he knows them, of the phenomena observed. heads, they mostly resembled the trails of squibs or Somehow these meteors get mixed up with the rockets, and were of various lengths, hues, and whole theory of the universe; to grasp or to explain directions. One fire-ball, however, with a long the little that we know of them, we have to traverse train, did shoot I was told right into the thick of almost the whole domain of scientific knowledge ; Ursa Major, shining much brighter than Sirius. I and then, too, unbidden thoughts come in, remindsaw another sail with a stately light over the ing us of that still greater thing, the human mind;shoulders of Orion towards the stars in Aries, but how little and how feeble it is when viewed on the before it got there, it dissolved, and spread rather side of its ignorance, and yet how magnificent must than burst, into a fleecy fiery cloud which as it be the capacities with which it is endowed, seein wafted away remained visible for nearly four that it pierces its way and penetrates right to the minutes. Another observer, but not of our party, throne of Him who made it like to Himself. observed a luminous trail for some few minutes To proceed then with our explanation of meteoric persistently pointing backwards to the radiant point, phenomena, as far at least as learned and thoughtful and then commence the vagary of turning round at men are as yet able to penetrate into their mysteries ; right angles to its original direction.
for it must be clearly borne in mind that the intelliWhat struck us almost as much as any other gent study of these fiery messengers is comparatively phenomenon of the whole spectacle, was the ominous a thing of yesterday. We have good reason to noiselessness; the dead, utter silence of the entire believe that the interplanetary spaces are not mere fiery display. One of our party did indeed imagine voids as they were once supposed to be. Almost that she heard some crackling and booming noise during the memory of living men nearly ninety proceed from the bright-headed meteor which shot masses, revolving round the sun between the orbits into Ursa Major : but her companions did not verify of Mars and Jupiter, have already been added to the remark. The writer well remembers that when, the planetary system, and every year of late has at the great solar eclipse of 1860, viewed from the contributed to swell their number. These masses. Spanish mountains, the shadow the moon shot are very much smaller than those of the well-known from Bilbao to his station at Cujuli, covering in an planets, and in fact most of them are too small to instant, as with the rapid motion of a shawl, the admit as yet of weight or measurement. But entire intervening country, and wrapping it in besides these there are rings of matter, of disconsudden darkness, it was almost impossible not to nected matter, revolving round the sun as the believe that the imaginary shawl passed by with a planets do, and these small bodies thus arranged in whiff and a wind, whereas all was in reality as rings may be regarded as planetary dust, for their motionless as death ; so now, in the midst of all weight varies from a few grains to possibly as many these fiery trains, it was difficult for us to silence pounds. These rings of cosmical dust appear to lie the imagination, and hear with the mind's ear no at various distances from the sun, and are inclined hissing and no sound. It is this circumstance of at all sorts of angles to the earth's orbit. We have the entire absence of sound which probably, was reason also to conjecture these dust rings to be of unconsciously the cause, why some observers have variable thicknesses, both in comparison with each assimilated a meteor shower to a fall of snow, for, other and with the various portions of each parin other respects, no simile can be less adequate to ticular ring. Moreover there probably are very reproduce the impression of wbat actually occurs. many larger masses comparable rather with hundredAn able astronomer very pertinently remarks, that weights and tous, than with grains and oances, the scene often resembled salvos of artillery dis- wbich circulate round the sun sporadically, and charged from the other side of the sky with the perhaps sometimes in very eccentric or parabolic evident determination to hit something on the side orbits like the comets. We begin to think also that nearer to the spectator.
those mysterious appendages to Saturn, which we Such was the November star-shower as we saw it call his rings, and which in the most powerful telefrom our lovely watch-place. It was a night much scopes and to the sharpest and most scrutinising to be remembered. An epoch in the lives of those eyes appear to be numerous, are nothing more than who were permitted merely to see the beauty of the the same sort of dust rings which we have seen spectacle, much more so to those who could read circulate round the sun. It is quite certain that something of the grandeur of its meaning.
through the matter (or the interstices of the matter) But now, and after all, what was the meaning of of one of these rings, the body of the planet is the things we had witnessed? If the reader has visible. Akin to these, it is not impossible, gone with us through the utterly inadequate de- may be that something which surrounds the sun scription given above, without enthusiasm or with like a thick lens, and from whence proceeds the no emotion, very different was the state of mind zodiacal light.* Thus, as in the organic world the with which we kept our midnight watch. We must plead guilty if we are impeached with excitement.
. The zodiacal light is not often visible in this country, Nor will this excitement cease with any thoughtful and probably very few persons have ever seen it. Åt
microscope discloses all things, whether drop, or bustion, all appear (in general) to meet in one point. dust, or mote, to be teeming with life, so in the This appearance necessarily follows from the laws interplanetary spaces, which to the unaided eye of perspective. The earth and its atmosphere seem so clear, so transparent, so void, science and during the small time of their motion through the the telescope reveal the existence of myriads upon ring of revolving meteors, may be considered as myriads of inorganic bodies. Such being the case moving in a straight line, and successively impingit cannot but be that our atmosphere must some ing on a vast number of small bodies, themselves times, and perhaps continually, come into collision moving parallel to each other; the consequence of with not a few of these fiery planets swarming the collision will be an equal number of parallel round the sun, almost as thickly as bees swarm fiery streaks proceeding from the various points of round their queen. But we must here note the the atmosphere which come into contact with the violence of the impact ; it may vary from almost meteors. Now, all such parallel fiery streaks being nothing to the terrific speed of some 40 or 50 miles at a great distance from the spectator, will to his per second, according as the earth and the planetary eye appear to diverge from one single point, just dust happen to be moving in the same or in opposite as the four or more parallel iron lines of a railroad directions. In this latter case no known terrestrial appear so to meet in one distant point; and just as material could escape first a melting, and then a they would all appear to meet in a point if the vaporising into ignited gas, by the reason of the parallel lines were piled in successive tiers to the heat evolved by the collision. If the collision occur right and to the left, above and below. Such then in a clear night, and the meteoric mass be small, we is the radiant point of a meteoric shower; shall have the appearance of a shooting star with a it is the vanishing point of all the parallel fiery tail oply; if it be larger, we may have a fire-ball flights of the several meteoric bodies as they succesand tail; if larger still, we may have the spectacle sively enter into combustion. The course which of a fiery mass splitting into pieces with a crash and the distant meteor appears to describe will be a boom, and then scattered over a larger or a smaller determined by joining the radiant point with the portion of the fields below. Op the other hand the last spot at which the meteor is seen as it apcollision will, in general, but not in extreme cases, proaches the observer. escape human notice, if it occur in broad daylight ; In the recent case of the November star-shower and the only result will be, first, an evolution of there is strong reason to Believe the circular ring of gaseous products, and then a gradual deposition of meteors was very nearly at the same distance from the unseen fine meteoric dust.
sun in its centre, as the earth is in her own orbit; Such, then, we believe to be the origin of meteoric but this meteor ring is inclined to the plane of the showers; and it was by observing the velocity of the earth's orbit at nearly twenty degrees. The thickest, flight of some such burning masses, and comparing or most crowded part of this ring of meteors crossed the intensity of the light evolved from them with the earth's path just where the earth was, about the light evolved from the burning of known weights 1h. 15m, on the morning of the fourteenth of Noof terrestrial matter, that a Herschel of the third vember. The meteors in this ring circulate round generation recently approximated, with great in the sun in a retrograde direction, and consequently genuity, to the probable weight of certain meteoric the “motes of this meteoric beam" and the earth's bodies. We may not here stop to explain the atmosphere, shoot into each other with a velocity process, but must rest contented with the indication nearly double that of the earth's orbital velocity, of the fact. The results of this indirent method of and probably at the rate of between thirty and weighing a shooting star, varied from about the forty miles a second. When we take into due consixteenth of an ounce to a few pounds.
sideration, and combine together, the motion of the Our next endeavour must be the explanation of earth itself, and that of the meteors in their inclined the phenomenon of the radiant point, to which we and retrograde orbits just described, we have a have so frequently adverted. In a star shower, the complete explanation of the reason why the trains trains which the meteors leave behind them, i.e. the appeared to have their vanishing point on that very directions in which they had been moving during com- spot or radiant point in the constellation Leo, which
was so definitely and clearly observed on the partiClapham, near London, one zealous and highly competent observer sat up the whole night, and the whole of cular occasion before us. the preceding one, resolved that no circumstance should We are now also in a condition to explain a cirEscape him through want of vigilance. The reward of cumstance already alluded to, viz., why, close in his perseverance was a sight of the zodiacal light, which the neighbourhood of the radiant point, there would made its appearance at 5h. 10m, on the morning of the 14th, in the shape of a brilliant cone, the base of which every now and then occur a sort of temporary fiery was on the eastern horizon, with its summit reaching spangle, which, as we have said, at the first greatly nearly to the constellation Leo. “This,'' our informant very naively adds, “completed my observations for the puzzled us from its resemblance to some star of the zásion.” It is somewhat unfortunate that this gentle constellation, which we well knew did not in reality man was not at the moment provided with an instrument exist. These apparitions were nothing more than for the spectrum analysis of this light. M. du Chaillu the perspective appearances of meteors, whose fiery zodiacal light is sufficiently intense to render the Milky trains had either been greatly foreshortened, or Way not discernible.
even reduced to a point, like the lamp of a locomo.