페이지 이미지

to consider the whole via lactea, as but at such a view of the profound of a single nebula ; and that the whole nature, thought turns giddy ; and region of fixed stars visible to the past doubt, 'tis deep pbilosophy naked eye, is included in that nebula; above!" and that our sun is but one among the 3. Their light. That the fixed stars countless millions which constitute are suns, that they shine with a lustre this single nebula ;-when the Doctor native and unborrowed, admits of the speculates and soars in this way, he most satisfactory proof. It is well speculates where it is hard to believe, known that the rays of light diverge, and soars to heights it is difficult, if or, what amounts to the same thing, not dangerous, to follow !

that light diminishes in its quantum We have mentioned nebulæ ; and and intensity, as the squares of the as this subject makes so conspicuous distances from a luminous object ina figure in modern astronomy, it may crease ; i. e. if, at one foot distance be necessary to speak to it a little from the flame of a candle, light posmore distinctly, Nebula, is a word sess a given force and intensity, at which signifies a mist, fog, or cloud, four feet distance it will possess only and is used by astronomers to denote one sixteenth part of that intensity a collection of fixed stars, which show and force. Now this being the case, a dim, hazy light, something resem- it is easy to conceive, how very much bling a cloud. There is no longer diverged, how extremely rare and any doubt, as to these nebulous spots scattered, the rays of the sun must be, being real collections of stars; for as when they reach those immensely disthat, which to the naked eye, or to a tant bodies, the fixed stars; and how moderate telescope, appears a cloudy impossible it is, that in that diminishspot, is clearly resolvable into stars ed state, it should be reflected back by telescopes of a greater power; so, to us, in the quantities we actually there is every reason to believe, that receive from the fixed stars. There the spots which appear nebulous to is something too, in the appearance instruments of the utmost power, owe of the stellar light, very different that appearance to the imperfection of from that which is planetary ; the lusthose instruments; or in other words, tre of the star Sirius is incomparably to their vast, their incalculable remove more brilliant than that of Mercury from our system. Dr. Herschel is and Venus, the planets which receive reported to have observed the posi- the most light from the sun; and yet tion, magnitude, and structure, of no most unquestionably Sirius is situated fewer than 2500 of these nebulæ; and far, very far without the orbit of Georaccording to him, their appearances giuni Sidus. We must therefore are very various : some of them exhi- conclude, that as the sun of our sysbit a whitish light, elongated like the tem shines by its own light, and as flame of a taper; some are round, the fixed stars, to the highest degree bright in the centre, and gradually of probability, do the same; the Great fade away to the circumference; some Source of light and happiness, instead have a very faint light; and the light of one sun, has sent from his band of others is divided into several millions of millions of suns, to shine parts.

forth and display his wisdom, and Although by no means prepared to goodness, and power! subscribe to all that astronomers have 4. Of variable Stars. Among other said upon the subject of nebulæ, yet phenomena which the industry of we cannot but know, that if stars had astronomers has discovered, are, the been thrown into space at random, the extraordinary changes which take place odds were many millions to one, in some of those remote celestial boagainst their taking a station so near dies. It is certain that several stars to each other, as in the nebulæ they enumerated by the ancients, are not really do. And the fair inference is, now to be found. This is notoriously that there is something of order, har- the case with the Pleiades or seven mony, and design, in these congre- stars; whereof only six are now to be gated celestial bodies ; nor can seen by the naked eye. And on the resist the conclusion, that they are other hand, several stars have apassemblages of shining suns, and re-peared in later times, of which the volving planets; systems of systems; ancients have taken no notice. In without measure, without end! But the year 1572, a new star was disco


Lecture on Astronomy.


122 vered in the constellation Cassiopeia; , and heat, and then obtaining a fresh and was observed by Tycho Brahe. supply of fewel, by the falling of a Its brightness suddenly became so comet into their body, or some other great, that it exceeded that of Sirius way, they blaze out afresh, so as to and Lyra, and of Venus and Mercury, appear brighter than other stars. This when those planets are nearest the was the hypothesis of Sir Isaac Newearth, and was seen in fair day-light. ton; who also thought, that the It continued visible for sixteen comet which appeared in 1680, will, months, but toward the latter part of sooner or later, fall into the body of that time, it began to dwindle, and at the sun, perhaps to replenish its wastlast totally disappeared, without any ed powers. apparent change of place. Particular (4.) If we may be allowed to add to mention is made of a star which was this list of theories, we would suggest, seen in the year 1604, by Kepler and concerning those stars which suddenly his friends ; so bright and sparkling, disappear, whether they be not suns as far to exceed any thing they bad removed to another place in creation ; ever seen before; and, what is very or perhaps, what is painful to imagine, surprising, it was observed to change suns with their revolving planets, its colour through all the colours of struck from the list of existence, for the rainbew every moment. It con- the obdurate wickedness of their inha. tinued visible for about a year, then bitants ! And does not this justify the disappeared, and has not been seen supposition, that perhaps, ere long, since. There have been several theo- the innumerable observers, of other, rics proposed, in order to account for and of distant worlds, will look tothe appearing and disappearing of ward our system; and, where once these variable stars.

shone the splendid orb of day, there (1.) It has been conjectured, that darkness, awful midnight darkness, portions of the surface of some of the will assert its reign! stars are covered with large black The Aberration of the fixed Stars.-spots, something like the spots on the Perhaps I shall not have an opportusun, but vastly larger; which spots, nity more fit than the present, to adduring the diurnal rotation of the vert to that noble and delicate subject stars, present themselves under vari- in astronomy, the aberration of the ous angles, and thus produce a varia- axed stars. But as this subject is tion in their brilliancy.

among the most difficult branches of (2.) Another hypothesis is, that of physical astronomy, and as it is imMaupertius, who is of opinion, that possible to communicate any thing as the earth takes the form of an like an adequate idea of it, without oblate spheroid, (i. e. compressed at lines and figures, our notice of it its poles, and elevated at its equator, must necessarily be short and imlike an orange) in consequence of its perfect. diurnal revolution, so some of the The word aberration is compounded celestial bodies have a rotation round of ab, from, and erro, to wander,-to their axis, so great that the centrifu- wander from ; and is applied to the gal force throws off the equatorial stars, because the stars appear to parts, till they take the figure of mill- wander from their true situation. We stones; or, are reduced to flat circu- are indebted for this important discolar planes, so thin, as to be quite very, to Dr. James Bradley, astronoinvisible when their edges are turned mer royal, who terminated a noble to us; as is the case with the ring of career of science, in the year 1762. Saturn when in such a position. He In concert with Mr. Mollineux, he further supposes, that the inclination was engaged in making a series of obof the axis of such stars, is altered by servations upon the bright star in the the attraction of their planets or head of the Dragon, marked 7

Gamcomets, and that they appear more or ma, by Bayer, when they found that less large and laminous, as their this star shifted its place a little in the broad side is more or less turned to- heavens, from north to south, and wards us.

then again from south to north. This (3.) It is a third theory concerning unexpected phenomenon perplexed this matter, that the fixed stars are the observers much, and put them vast fiery globes, which, by degrees, upon inquiring into its cause; but disappear through a waste of light Mr. Mollineux died before the true No. 37,- VOL. IV.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]


cause was discovered. Dr. Bradley, | it followed as a matter of course from however, followed up the observa- the rotatory motion of the sun. What tions with the most laudable perseve- was hypothetical with these astronorance, and with the happiest success; mers, is said to have reached defor, as those observations were made, monstration in the hands of Dr. Hernot only on the star we have mention- schel. That indefatigable, and most ed, but many others, and made in all successful astronomer, has, it is said, parts of the year, the Doctor was fully actually determined the part of the convinced of a small, regular, orbicu- heavens, toward which the whole solar lar motion, apparent in the fixed system is in motion. Norindeed does stars. But the cause of it was long a there want any thing but correct obproblem unsolved. At length, through servation, and sufficient time, to aca most amazing sagacity, this acute complish this : for, as a person walking philosopher conjectured, that the phe- in a forest, perceives the trees which nomenon proceeded from the combin- he leaves, gather closer together, and ed action of two causes,—the progres- those before him appear more and sive motion of light, and the annual more apart;'so, if there be a motion motion of the earth in its orbit: for of the sun and his system in space, he perceived that if light was propa- the stars from which we recede must gated in time, the app ent place of a appear closer together, and those tofixed object would not be the same ward which we advance, must appear when the eye is at rest, as when it is wider apart; and this it seems is what moving in any other direction than actually takes place. And according that of the line passing through the to Herschel, the constellation Hercuobject and the eye; and that if the les, is the part toward which we are eye move in a circle or ellipse, the advancing; and to a point in that object will appear to describe the constellation 250° 52' 30" right as

cension, and 40° 23' declination The proportion which the motion of north. light bears to the motion of the earth But whether this motion be rectiliin its orbit, and the apparent change near; or, whether the sun, with all of place a fixed object, which is his revolving planets, be carried the consequence, forms the doctrine round some far distant and unknown of aberration; a doctrine, which, be- centre; and if so, where and what sides its use in ascertaining the true that centre is—these are questions it places of the heavenly bodies, has is easy to propound, but their soluhappily confirmed by experiment, if tion must surely rest with more than we may so express ourselves, those mortal mind! two important matters in science, Moral tendency of the subject. It is the progression of light, and the an- recessary that our remarks should nual motion of the earth round the now draw towards a close, although

we have by no means furnished any Proper motion of the fixed Stars.- thing like a perfect account, even of It would be inexcusable to dismiss that single branch of astronomy, the our observations on the fixed stars, fixed stars. We at first most sincere. without a few words on what, in the ly intended to go through the science technicale of astronomy, is called of astronomy at once, and to present their proper motion. By comparing the substance of our very limited rethe ancient observations with the mo- searches therein, at a single view; but dern, it would appear, that the decli- science is too broad, and high, and nation of the fixed stars is variable; deep, to be compressed into those diand that the variation is different in minutive epitomes, designed to enterdifferent stars; in some decreasing, tain us for an hour. The Solar System in others increasing: This circum- is yet, by us, untouched. stance long excited the curiosity and The individual who has thus had the inquiries of astronomers: Dr. the honour to occupy your attention, Wilson, of Glasgow, modestly sug- has frequently heard gentlemen, when gested the possibility of the sun's hav- lecturing at this board, give their subing an orbicular motion in space, and jects a moral, nay, even a religious carrying along with him the planets cast; and he has seen this received as so many secondaries ; La Lande, by the society with the most marked not only thought this possible, but that approbation. And what but a society



Memoir of Major-General Wolf.


most conscientiously to be shunned, and certainly, a single moon would would receive them otherwise! Need afford us more light, than the whole he say, that he has heard these salu- host of them put together! However, tary remarks, and beheld their recep- therefore, the mind may labour under tion with a satisfaction he can but ill the stupendous conception, doubtless express. And surely on such a subject the fixed stars, and the thousands of as that which has employed us this thousands of worlds, that, with such evening, the liberty—the liberty, did rapidity, and yet with such calmness, I say? no, this right, assumed by gen- revolve round them, are peopled with tlemen who have gone before, will be myriads of intelligent creatures, formindulged me!

ed for endless progression in perfecThen let our thought awake ;--let tion and felicity! Surely the favour it take the lightning's wing, and of the Monarch, who upholds and glance from east to west, from pole to sways his benign and equitable sceppole ;-behold, “ one sun by day, by tre over such an empire, is above all night, ten thousand shine;”-take its things to be sought; surely the disflight through the mighty range of the pleasure of such a Monarch is, above fixed stars,

all things, to be dreaded !

One other thought, and we have “Those sov’reign glories of the skies

done. Let not the wise and virtuous Of independent, native lustre proud, The souls of systems, and the lords of life; suppose that their contemplation of

their Creator's works, will terminate to the region of unassisted sight, add with the present mortal state! That that of the telescope ; and to what the event, which is the terror of princes, telescope perceives, add what reason and the lot of us all, will most cerdemonstrates ;-then ask, If such be tainly open to them an arena of stuthe effect, what must be the cause ! pendous and infinitely varied being, if such the work, what must be the of which, in this infancy of our existworkman! if such the building, how ence, we cannot form the most diswise, how mighty, the architect, that tant conception. reared and beautified, and still sus

“ When even at last the solemn hour shall * tains the whole! To the Author of

such a mass of wonders, who can for- And wing my mystic flight to future worlds, bear to say,

“Great and marvellous I cheerful will obey; there, with new powers, are thy works!

Will, rising, wonders sing : I cannot go Nor let the mind stagger at the posi- Where universal love not smiles around, tion, that all these worlds on worlds, Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their suns.”

Portsea, Nov. 9th, 1821. and systems on systems, are inhabited; the residences of animated, and most likely, of intelligent creatures ! MEMOIR OF MAJOR-GENERAL WOLFE. As far as analogical reasoning can go, no truth, whatever, is more certain. To appreciate the merits of a deseryIf the Author of nature has not left us ing character, to bestow plaudits on a drop of water unpeopled ;-if, o'er the virtuous and praiseworthy, and the whole surface of our earth, his censure on the corrupt and degenebounty has sent the streams of happi- rate, is the most difficult task a bioness, flowing through millions of grapher can undertake. Those who channels, to as many forms of life ; have ever felt the glow of courage can it be, for a moment, supposed, animating their bosoms, will see, by that he has left those immeasurable perusing the life of Wolfe, to what regions, (compared with which our heights it can ascend. To adhere to earth is but a corner, an atom, a mere what is just and honourable, regardspeck,) waste, and desolate, and less of what is expedient or profitable; void ? Such a supposition is unworthy to be careless of our own comfort and of our reason, and utterly inadequate happiness in comparison with that of to our conceptions of the Author of our fellow mortals; is, indeed, the nature. And what can possibly be character of a great and a good man. more unreasonable than to suppose To what extent, and in what respects, those shining orbs were formed mere- Major-General James Wolfe is dely to give light to the inhabitants of serving of this most honourable title, this earth; when, perhaps, not one in will be seen from a brief survey of ten thousand of them is ever seen: his life.


James Wolfe was the son of an offi- mage. When this force sailed, the cer, whose life had been spent in the council had it in contemplation for service of his country. When a child, Brigadier Murray to wait till the arrihe displayed signs of partiality for a val of General Amherst, but learning military life, and his choice agreeing what numerous obstacles he had to with his father's wishes, he received combat, the worst of which was the his education accordingly. His in- weather, the order was countermandstructors found but little difficulty in ed. At their return they found Genetraining him to his profession, on ac- ral Wolfe ill of a fever and flux, count of his robust constitution, guick brought on by anxiety and fatigue. understanding, and unparalleled abi. He had contrived, he had done every lity. He was by nature formed for thing to ensure success ; he had faced military greatness. His memory was every danger in person, and braved retentive; his judgment clear; and he every privation and hardship, and the possessed that strength and steadi- thought of returning unsuccessful was ness of mind, which neither danger worse than death. At last, single and could deter, nor difficulty obstruct. alone in opinion, he executed that Generous almost to profusion, every dangerous, though necessary plan, deserving unfortunate character, not which will for ever denominate him only excited his compassion, but re- the Conqueror of Canada. Having in ceived relief from bris beneficent hand. the defenceless hours of night gained Sorry are we that the span of life per- the heights of Abraham, on which mitted him not to furnish more nume- side the city of Quebec was most exrous instances; but all its passages posed, hitherto unnoticed, they perare replete with glory. He had the ceived the enemy crossing the river honour to introduce into the army, by St. Charles ; upon which Genera} his example and kindness, rather than Wolfe immediately formed his lines. by his severity, such regularity and When the battle began to waver, and exactness of discipline into bis corps, victory seemed doubtful, Wolfe made “that, as long as the six British batta- a desperate charge at the head of a lions on the plain of Minden are re- column, when a ball entered bis corded in the annals of Europe, so wrist, which he immediately wrapped long will Kingsley's stand among the up, and went on with the same alaforemost in the glories of that day.” crity, animating his troops by precept It appears the first battle he was in, and example; but, in a few minutes was that of La Feldt, when scarcely after, a second ball through his body, twenty years of age, where he exerted and a third above bis breast, obliged himself in such a manner, as to draw him to be carried into the rear, where forth the highest encomiums. The roused from fainting by the cry " they Duke of Cumberland recognized his run, they run;" Who run, cried he, promising talents, and rewarded them gasping for breath, and being told the by promotion : but the gradations of French, and that they were defeated, his rank are not known. We shall he said, “ Then I thank God, I die pass over his magnanimous conduct contented;" and with a faint smile at Louisbourg, bis manly advice at playing over his gallant countenance, Rochfort, and come to his Herculean almost instantly expired. labours at Quebec.

When his body was brought to In 1759, by the advice of Mr. Pitt, Portsmouth, the scene was most imthe reduction of Quebec was under pressively solemn. Minute guns were taken. Here the abilities and courage fired from the men of war, from the of Wolfe shone forth in the fullest lus- time that the corpse was taken out of tre. After publishing a manifesto, the ship, to its landing at the point, and summoning the Governor of Que- where it was received by the military bec to surrender, which he refused, with arms reversed. The coffin was and also after an attack had been put into a hearse; and, preceded by made at Montmorenci, which, with a band, playing the dead march, passother minor ones, proved abortive, ed through tht garrison, who were Wolfe dispatched Brigadier Murray under arms. During this awful prowith 1200 men, to make an attempt cession, the Fort colours were struck above the town. After a third essay, half-mast high, while the deep and 'the troops landed unexpectedly at solemn tolling of the muffled bells, Chambaud, and did considerable da- | fell like bolts on the heart of every

« 이전계속 »