Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the furious murderers; who, running from all parts, forced open the houses, and cried aloud, " kill, kill, massacre the Huguenots:" the blood which I saw shed before my eyes redoubled my terror. I fell into the midst of a body of guards; they stopped me, interrogated me, and were beginning to use me ill, when, happily for me, the book that I carried was perceived, and served me for a passport. Twice after this I fell into the same danger, from which I extricated myself with the same good fortune.

"At last, I arrived at the college of Burgundy, where a danger still greater than any I had yet met with, awaited me. The porter having twice refused me entrance, I continued standing in the midst of the street, at the mercy of the furious murderers, whose numbers increased every moment, and who were evidently seeking for their prey; when it came into my mind to ask for La Faye, the principal of this college, a good man, by whom I was tenderly beloved. The porter, prevailed upon by some small pieces of money which I put into his hand, admitted me; and my friend carried me to his apartment, where two inhuman priests, whom I heard mention Sicilian vespers, wanted to force me from him, that they might cut me in pieces ; saying the order was, not to spare even in. fants at the breast. All the good man could do, was to conduct me privately to a distant chamber, where he locked me up. Here I was confined three days, uncertain of my destiny; and saw no one but a servant of iny friend's, who came from time to time to bring me provisions. The Duke, three days afterwards, left his cell, and the murdering and pillaging were at an end.

28.--SAINT AUGUSTINE. Augustine was born at Thagaste, a town in Numidia, in the year 354. He early applied. himself to the study of polite literature, and became a professor of philosophy and rhetoric, first at Rome, and afterwards at Milan. He next diligently

[ocr errors]

studied theology, in which he was instructed by St. Ambrose, with whom he contracted an intimate ac. quaintance. In the year 388, he returned to his native country, and, three years afterwards, was chosen Bishop of Hippo. Augustine was a judicious divine, and the most voluminous writer of all the Fathers. He died in 430, at the age of 77.

29.--JOHN BAPTIST BEHEADED. This day was formerly denominated Festum Cola lectionis Sancti Johannis Baptistæ, or the Feast of gathering up St. John the Baptist's Relics; but afterwards, by corruption, Festum Decollationis, the festival in remembrance of his being beheaded. His nativity is celebrated on the 24th of June, which see.

Astronomical Occurrences.

Miscellaneous Observations respecting the Sun and

Moon.

Sir Isaac Newton has shown that the Sun, by its attractive power, retains the planets belonging to our system in their orbits; he has likewise pointed out the method whereby the quantity of matter contained in the Sun may be accurately determined. Dr. Bradley has assigned to light a certain velocity, with a precision exceeding our utmost expectation. Galileo and others have ascertained, by means of the spots on its surface, the rotation of the Sun on its axis, and determined the position of its equator. By means of the transits of Venus over the disk of the Sun in the years 1761 and 1769, mathematicians have calculated its distance from the Earth ;-its real diameter and magnitude; the density of the matter of which it is composed ;-and the laws of the fall of heavy bodies on its surface. . In the year 1779, there was a spot on the Sun

which was large enough to be seen with the naked eye : it was divided into two parts, and must have been 50,000 miles in diameter : this and other phenomena of the same kind may be accounted for from some natural change of an atmosphere. For if some of the fluids which enter into its composition be of a shining brilliancy, while others are merely transparent, then any temporary cause which should remove. the lucid fluid, will permit us to see the body of the Sun through the transparent ones. An observer on the Moon could see the solid body of the earth only in those places where the transparent fluids of our atmosphere would permit him. In others, the opaque vapours reflect the light of the Sun without permitting his view to penetrate the surface of our globe. ' He would probably find that our planet had, occasionally, some shining fluids in its atmosphere, such as the Auroræ Boreales; and there is good reason to believe that all the planets emit light in some degree; for the illumination which remains on the Moon, in a total eclipse, cannot be entirely ascribed to the light which may reach it by the refraction of the earth's atmosphere.

Dr. Herschel supposes that the spots in the Sun are mountains on its surface, which, considering the great attraction exerted by the Sun upon bodies placed at its surface, and the slow revolution it has about its axis, he thinks may be more than 300 miles in height, and yet stand very firmly. He says that, in 1792, he examined the Sun with several powers from 90 to 500; and it evidently appeared that the black spots are the opaque ground or body of the Sun; and that the luminous part is an atmosphere, which, being intercepted or broken, gives us a glimpse of the Sun itself. Hence he concludes that the Sun has a very extensive atmosphere, which consists of elastic fluids that are more or less lucid and transparent, and of these the lucid ones furnish us with light. This atmosphere he imagines to be somewhere between

1800 and 2780 miles in height; and he supposes that the density of the luminous solar clouds need not be exceedingly more than that of our aurora borealis, in order to produce the effects with which we are acquainted. The Sun, then, appears to be a very eminent, large, and lucid planet, the first and only primary one belonging to our system. Its -șimilarity to the other globes of the solar system, with regard to its solidity; its atmosphere ; its surface diversified with inountains and valleys; its rotation on its axis ; and the fall of heavy bodies on its surface; lead us to conclude that it is inost probably inhabited, like the other planets, by beings whose organs are adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the vast globe.

By analogical reasoning, likewise, we infer that the Moon and planets are the abodes of happiness to indefinite numbers of animated, and, perhaps, rational and intelligent creatures, who may speculate and rea, son upon our supposed existence as we do of theirs ; who may be pursuing scientific knowledge in a way similar to our Newtons, Herschels, and Davys. To take the Moon, for instance; and what is applicable to her may, unquestionably, be inferred of the superior planets, and of their Moons or satellites also. 7. The Moon is a secondary planet of considerable magnitude; its surface is, as we have seen, diversified, like that of the earth, with hills and valleys. Its situation with respect to the Sun is much like that of the earth ; and, by a rotation on its axis, it enjoy's an agreeable variety of seasons, and of day and night. To the Moon, our globe would appear a capital satellité, undergoing the same changes of illumination as the Moon does to the earth. The Sun, planets, and the starry constellations of the heavens, will rise and set there as they do here; and heavy bodies will fall on the Moon as they do on the earth. There seems,

... X 2

In anse betwe finds

then, only to be wanting, in order to complete the analogy, that it should be inhabited like the earth.

It may be objected, that, in the Moon, there are no large seas"; and its atmosphere (the existence of which is doubted by many) is extremely rare, and unfit for the purposes of animal life; that its climates, its seasons, and the length of its days' and nights, totally differ from ours; that without dense clouds, which the Moon has not, there can be no rain, perhaps no rivers and lakes.

In answer to this it may be observed, that the very difference between the two planets strengthens the argument. We find, even on our own globe, that there is a most striking dissimilarity in the situation of the creatures that live upon it. While man walks on the ground, the birds fly in the air, and the fishes swim in the water. We cannot, surely, object to the conveniences afforded by the Moon, if those that are to inhabit its regions are fitted to their conditions as well as we on this globe of ours. The analogy already mentioned establishes a high probability that the Moon is inhabited. Suppose, then, an inhabitant of the Moon, who has not properly considered such analogical reasonings as might induce him to surmise that our earth is inhabited, were to give it as his opinion, that the use of that great body, which he sees in his neighbourhood, is to carry about his little globe, in order that it may be properly exposed to the light of the Sun, so as to enjoy an agreeable and useful variety of illumination, as well as to give it light by reflection, when direct light cannot be had; should we not condemn his ignorance and want of reflection? The earth, it is true, not only performs those offices which have been named, for the inhabitants of the Moon, but we know that it also affords magnificent dwelling-places to numberless intelligent beings. From experience, therefore, we affirm, that the performance of the most salutary offices to inferior planets is not inconsistent with the dignity of superior

« ElőzőTovább »