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was the ground on which they were selected. Professor Henderson commenced his calculations with a different object, and only diverted them into the channel of distance when he ascertained the amount of proper motion which the star has. His observations were not undertaken with a view to this question; they were ordinary meridian observa tions. And it is not to be wondered at that astronomers were very cautious in admitting results so obtained, when it is considered that observations of this kind are beset with such numerous sources of error, in refraction, aberration, and the like. The method adopted by Bessel, on the other hand, obviates those sources of error. It has some analogy to the method of obtaining the distance of the sun by means of a transit of Venus, inasmuch as the observations are not those of the absolute position of one body, but of the relative positions of two.

The basis on which the operations are conducted is this :—Certain stars are so nearly in the same direction in the heavens as not to be easily separated. Some of these are in reality double twin stars revolving about each otherat any rate, physically connected. Others have no such connexion; and it is argued that, in certain cases, the smaller of the two is likely to be at an enormous distance behind the other. When such is actually the case, there will be a change of the relative positions of the two as viewed from different parts of the earth's orbit, and the amount of that change will depend on the proximity of the nearer star to our system, in precisely the same way as a tree will shift its place more or less rapidly, with respect to a distant hill, as the spectator is carried along in his journey. It is on stars so circumstanced that observations with the view of detecting a parallax were in stituted by Bessel. No absolute measures of position of either star are required; simply the relative distances and directions of the one with respect to the other. Thus all sources of error due to refraction, aberration, and many other causes, which equally effect both stars,

The conclusion may be stated in a single sentence. The star selected by Henderson is only a little beyond the parallactic unit (twenty millions of millions of miles); that selected by Bessel is about three times as far away. Other stars have been reached, but these two are the nearest known. With a trembling and uncertain hand, astronomers have stretched out their line to one or two stars ten times as far away as the farthest of these. But the great host of heaven lie incalculably farther back. Shall we ever reach them? Judging from present appearances, we are compelled to answer in the negative. The stars, as we gaze into the sky, seem to defy us. For what do we see there? Close around us we see bright lamps pretty equally distributed over the vault of heaven. They twinkle and dance before us, as though conscious of the close proximity of our gaze. But let us look again. Clasping the whole vault of heaven, we see a belt of faint light, some twelve degrees in breadth. This is the milky way, the galactic circle. To the ancients, it was part of the milk which washed the purple stains from the lily; to the moderns, it is the universe itself-the stupendous whole, of which the brighter stars are but the portions which lie nearest to this little spot of earth. You may understand this if you bear in mind that the spherical appearance of the heavens is a necessary consequence of vast and unknown distance. There is no reality in this appearance. The arrangement of the stars is somewhat like an extended sheet of cardboard, of small thickness. Or, rather, you should imagine a vast plain planted with orange trees, all loaded with yellow fruit. These oranges in countless nyriads are the stars. We are situated near the centre of this grove. Our sun is a small orange ; the earth and the planets are tiny buds grouped around it. The neighbouring branches are thinly supplied with fruit, and few fruit-stalks bear more than a single orange. But the grove is of boundless extent. Look

myriads of golden balls, extending away What imagination shall wing its flight right and left, until individual oranges to those still more shadowy groups are no longer distinguishable, except by which constitute the unresolved nebulæ ? the glow of light which they send to The yard -measure is too puny; the the eye. This glow is the milky way. hand of man is too feeble. An angel's Looking upwards, or downwards, from hand must grasp the rod that shall the milky way, there is no such pro- mete out the length and breadth of fusion of scattering. Much bright fruit this golden grove. Man has gone up does, indeed, cluster on the upper and through the immensity of space and lower branches; and an unpractised eyestrained his line till it will bear no is deceived into the belief that the more. Other generations may mount number is infinite. But the eye of an higher, but only to find the vast circles astronomer, armed with proper instru- ever widening beyond. The position ments, finds it far otherwise. He can which we have reached is a lofty one; count the stars; he can gauge the but, lofty as it is, future ages shall use heavens; and the conclusion to which it as their point of departure. It is an he will arrive is, that the number ennobling thought to console us amid which the eye takes in diminishes our many failures. Man rises by the gradually from the galactic circle up- aid of that Divine faculty which pertains wards or downwards. And this dimi to him alone of all created beings—the nution is not only regular, but is very faculty of accumulating stores of knowgreat indeed. From such considerations ledge, of working in succession, of as these, conjecture has ripened into acting on intelligence transmitted from conviction, that the solar system is a age to age. The great English philosopart of the milky way; that the scat pher, Bacon, describes man as the “intered bright stars are those parts of the terpreter of nature.” But this is not same which lie in our immediate neigh- his highest, not his characteristic desig. bourhood; and that the whole group nation ; for, are not the beasts, are not forms a vast, extended, rolling prairie of the birds, are not the very insects stars. The milky way is, therefore, to interpreters of nature? It is as the human apprehension, nothing less than interpreter of man, the interpreter of the universe itself. True, there may be man's records, that man stands disother galactic systems, other prairies, tinguished. Herein reason transcends other orange groves, as far separated instinct, that its gifts are transmissive from ours as the prairies of America are and cumulative. Mind does not stand from the groves of Europe. Some of the supported by the mind which exists remarkable nebulæ seem to hint at the around it, not simply, not mainly. possibility of the thing. On such a There is a higher and a broader support. subject it is premature to speculate. The minds of the great of bygone ages Now, it is only those oranges that live and work in the breasts of their cluster round us, those which grow on successors. The old Greeks, I suppose, the same branch with our sun, that we knew this, and embodied it in the fable have succeeded in stretching out our of Athene, the goddess of knowledge, hand to. What arithmetic shall suffice who sprang into existence not as a to count the distance of those which lie naked, helpless child, but as a grown-up on the remoter trees of our grove, the being, clad in complete armour, from the faintest groups of the milky way? head of Zeus.

was the ground on which they were The conclusion may be stated in a selected. Professor Henderson com- singlo sentence. The star selected by menced his calculations with a different Henderson is only a little beyond the object, and only diverted them into the parallactic unit (twenty millions of channel of distance when he ascertained millions of miles); that selected by the amount of proper motion which the Bessel is about three times as far away. star has. His observations were not Other stars have been reached, but undertaken with a view to this question ; these two are the nearest known. With they were ordinary meridian observa- a trembling and uncertain hand, astrotions. And it is not to be wondered at nomers have stretched out their line that astronomers were very cautious in to one or two stars ten times as far admitting results so obtained, when it away as the farthest of these. But the is considered that observations of this great host of heaven lie incalculably kind are beset with such numerous farther back. Shall we ever reach sources of error, in refraction, aberration, them ? Judging from present appearand the like. The method adopted by ances, we are compelled to answer in Bessel, on the other hand, obviates those the negative. The stars, as we gaze sources of error. It has some analogy into the sky, seem to defy us. For to the method of obtaining the distance what do we see there? Close around of the aun by means of a transit of us we see bright lamps pretty equally Venus, inasmuch as the observations are distributed over the vault of heaven. not those of the absolute position of one They twinkle and dance before us, as body, but of the relative positions of two though conscious of the close proximity

The basis on which the operations are of our gaze. But let us look again. conducted is this :-Certain stars are so Clasping the whole vault of heaven, we nearly in the same direction in the see a belt of faint light, some twelve deheavens as not to be easily separated. grees in breadth. This is the milky way, Some of these are in reality double- the galactic circle. To the ancients, it twin stars revolving about each other, was part of the milk which washed the at any rate, physically connected. Others purple stains from the lily; to the have no such connexion; and it is argued moderns, it is the universe itself—the that, in certain cases, the smaller of the stupendous whole, of which the brighter two is likely to be at an enormous dis- stars are but the portions which lie tance behind the other. When such is nearest to this little spot of earth. You actually the case, there will be a change may understand this if you bear in mind of the relative positions of the two as that the spherical appearance of the viewed from different parts of the earth's heavens is a necessary consequence of orbit, and the amount of that change vast and unknown distance. There is will depend on the proximity of the no reality in this appearance. The nearer star to our system, in precisely the arrangement of the stars is somewhat same way as a tree will shift its place like an extended sheet of cardboard, of more or less rapidly, with respect to a small thickness. Or, rather, you should distant hill, as the spectator is carried imagine a vast plain planted with orange along in his journey. It is on stars so trees, all loaded with yellow fruit. circumstanced that observations with the These oranges in countless myriads are view of detecting a parallax were in the stars. We are situated near the stituted by Bessel. No absolute measures centre of this grove. Our sun is a of position of either star are required; small orange; the earth and the planets simply the relative distances and direc- are tiny buds grouped around it. The tions of the one with respect to the neighbouring branches are thinly supother. Thus all sources of error due to plied with fruit, and few fruit-stalks refraction, aberration, and many other bear more than a single orange. But causes, which equally effect both stars, the grove is of boundless extent. Lookmyriads of golden balls, extending away What imagination shall wing its flight right and left, until individual oranges to those still more shadowy groups are no longer distinguishable, except by which constitute the unresolved nebulæ ? the glow of light which they send to The yard-measure is too puny; the the eye. This glow is the milky way. hand of man is too feeble. An angel's Looking upwards, or downwards, from hand must grasp the rod that shall the milky way, there is no such pro- mete out the length and breadth of fusion of scattering. Much bright fruit this golden grove. Man has gone up does, indeed, cluster on the upper and through the immensity of space and lower branches; and an unpractised eye strained his line till it will bear no is deceived into the belief that the more. Other generations may mount number is infinite. But the eye of an higher, but only to find the vast circles astronomer, armed with proper instru- ever widening beyond. The position ments, finds it far otherwise. He can which we have reached is a lofty one; count the stars ; he can gauge the but, lofty as it is, future ages shall use heavens; and the conclusion to which it as their point of departure. It is an he will arrive is, that the number ennobling thought to console us amid which the eye takes in diminishes our many failures. Man rises by the gradually from the galactic circle up- aid of that Divine faculty which pertains wards or downwards. And this dimi- to him alone of all created beings—the nution is not only regular, but is very faculty of accumulating stores of knowgreat indeed. From such considerations ledge, of working in succession, of as these, conjecture has ripened into acting on intelligence transmitted from conviction, that the solar system is a age to age. The great English philosopart of the milky way; that the scat- pher, Bacon, describes man as the “intered bright stars are those parts of the terpreter of nature." But this is not same which lie in our immediate neigh his highest, not his characteristic desigbourhood; and that the whole group nation ; for, are not the beasts, are not forms a vast, extended, rolling prairie of the birds, are not the very insects stars. The milky way is, therefore, to interpreters of nature? It is as the human apprehension, nothing less than interpreter of man, the interpreter of the universe itself. True, there may be man's records, that man stands disother galactic systems, other prairies, tinguished. Herein reason transcends other orange groves, as far separated instinct, that its gifts are transmissive from ours as the prairies of America are and cumulative. Mind does not stand from the groves of Europe. Some of the supported by the mind which exists remarkable nebulæ seem to hint at the around it, not simply, not mainly. possibility of the thing. On such a There is a higher and a broader support. subject it is premature to speculate. The minds of the great of bygone ages Now, it is only those oranges that live and work in the breasts of their cluster round us, those which grow on successors. The old Greeks, I suppose, the same branch with our sun, that we knew this, and embodied it in the fable have succeeded in stretching out our of Athene, the goddess of knowledge, hand to. What arithmetic shall suffice who sprang into existence not as a to count the distance of those which lie naked, helpless child, but as a grown-up on the remoter trees of our grove, the being, clad in complete armour, from the faintest groups of the milky way? head of Zeus.

RAVENSHO E.

BY HENRY KINGSLEY, AUTHOR OF “GEOFFRY HAMLYN."

CHAPTER XLIV.

ANOTHER MEETING.

LORD Ascot had been moved into South Audley Street, his town house, and Lady Ascot was there nursing him. General Mainwaring was off for Varna. But Lord Saltire had been a constant visitor, bringing with him very often Marston, who was, you will remember, an old friend of Lady Ascot.

It was not at all an unpleasant house to be in. Lord Ascot was crippled — he had been seized with paralysis at Epsom; and he was ruined. But every one knew the worst, and felt relieved by thinking that things could get no worse than worst, and so must get better.

In fact, every one admitted to the family party about that time remembered it as a very happy and quiet time indeed. Lord Ascot was their first objectof course; and a more gentle and biddable invalid than the poor fellow made can hardly be conceived. He was passionately fond of reading novels (a most reprehensible practice), and so was easily amused. Lord Saltire and he would play picquet; and every evening there would be three hours of whist, until the doctor looked in the last thing, and Lord Ascot was helped to bed.

Marston was always set to play with Lord Ascot, because Lord Saltire and Lady Ascot would not play against one another. Lord Saltire was, of course, one of the best players in Europe ; and I really believe that Lady Ascot was not the worst by any means. I can see the party now. I can see Lady Ascot lay ing dowo a card, and looking at the same time at her partner, to call his attention to her lead. And I can see Lord Saltire take out his snuff-box

alarmed. William would come sometimes and sit quietly behind Marston, or Lord Saltire, watching the game. In short, they were a very quiet pleasant party indeed.

One night-it was the very night on which Adelaide had lost her hat in the Park—there was no whist. Marston had gone down to Oxford suddenly, and William came in to tell them so. Lady Ascot was rather glad, she said, for she had a friend coming to tea, who did not play whist; so Lord Saltire and Lord Ascot sat down to picquet, and William talked to his aunt.

Who is your friend, Maria ?” asked Lord Saltire.

“A Mr. Bidder, a minister. He has written a book on the Revelations, which you really ought to read, James; it would suit you.”

They both laughed.

“ About the seven seals, hey?" said Lord Saltire ; " septem phocce,' as I remember Machynleth translated it at Eton once. We called him “Vitulina' ever after. The name stuck to him through life with some of us. A capital name for him, too! His fussy blundering in this war-business is just like his old headlong way of looking out words in his dictionary. He is an ass, Maria ; and I will bet fifty pounds that your friend, the minister, is another."

“How can you know? at all events, the man he brings with him is none."

“ Another minister ?

“Yes, a Moravian missionary from Australia."

“ Then certainly another ass, or he would have gone as missionary to a less abominably detestable hole. They were all burnt into the sea there the other day. Immediately after which the rivers rose seventy feet, and drowned the rest of

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