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years between the previous visits having been | Yet we have positive proof that no such lengthened by the causes of perturbation to effects followed, and are therefore justified three centuries. The previous observations in concluding that the mass of the comet was are unfortunately not very exact, and our excessively small. Had a solid body of author sums up thus :
cometary dimensions traversed the system of “An attentive consideration of the various Jupiter in the same way the results would points leads us to infer that the comet of doubtless have been widely different, and the 1556 will return between the years 1857 and Jopian Times might have announced some 1861 (always supposing it to be the same as
awkward facts.” that of 1264), but that it is impracticable to It is of source impossible to say what determine the exact* epoch with the imper- effect the mixing of a comet's atmosphere fect data in our possession. There are one with our own might have, or what derangeor two reasons why a preference might be ment in compasses and telegraphs, or in the claimed for the year 1858: not, however, of general electrical equilibrium of our sphere sufficient importance to outweigh the evidence might ensue. But we may safely conclude in favor of a later period.”
that such an encounter would be
awkShould this comet return there is still ab- ward--for the comet. Nevertheless, there solutely no reason for thinking it will come is only just the merest possibility that we or into contact with the earth, indeed its calcu- our grandchildren should ever astonish by lated orbit lies in a different direction, and our impact one of these airy visitors, and the chances are many millions to one against exchange our present speculation for experiit; but supposing it or some similar stranger mental knowledge. were actually to do so, if there be a solid
There is one point connected with these pucleus' a blow might be given, but if the bodies which we have not yet alluded to, body really consist of such films as we pre- namely, the acceleration observed in the sume, there would be rather less likelihood periods of Encke's comet. The amount of of its damaging the solid globe or drawing it this is small, but regular, and it is precisely away from its orbit, than there is of a light what would happen were there some slight mist blown against an express train injuring resisting medium, causing the cometto the iron locomotive by its collision or throw- gravitate ever nearer and nearer the sun. ing it off the rails. We are not left, how- Now, the commonly received theory of light ever, wholly to à priori reasoning to deter- supposes the presence of an ether throughmine what would be the effect on our stability thinner than air, but still material, and thus,
out the whole visible universe incomparably of a comet coming close to the earth. " More than one comet we know has ex- unsubstantial a body. This is the explana
perhaps, capable of affecting the flight of so perienced an entire change of orbit from ap- tion usually given ; but an American astrono proaching near the great planet Jupiter, by mer suggests that Eneke’s comet far the most massive in the system. The terfered with by the meteorites, myriads of
he incomet of 1770 on two occasions became which are supposed to occupy the space beentangled among the satellites of this planet. tween the earth and the sun. The fact that In descending towards the sun in July, this comet approaches the great luminary 1779, so large were the perturbations it un- within a third of the distance of our orbit derwent, thai instead of completing its revol- is very consistent with this view, but we ution, and paying us a visit in the year doubt whether the acceleration would be so 1780 or thereabouts, it was thrown off into quite a different path which will not permit nebulous matter through irregular groups of
regular were it due to the passage of of its coming sufficiently near the sun to be within reach even of our most powerful tele
little planetoids. With comets, indeed, scopes. The distance between the comet and speculation has been busy: some contend Jupiter towards the end of July, 1779, was process of formation, that they are gradually
that these nebulous films are globes in the little more than 450,000 miles, or about the condensing, and becoming more circular in distance of the second of his moons. might thence infer that if the comet possessed into meteoric stones
their orbits—nay, that some have condensed
5 while others see in the any attraction, i.e., if it were sufficiently strange movements of the jets and tail new massive to attract, it must have reacted upon polar forces of wondrous energy. We await Jupiter and his satellites, and have left un- further observations, and the conjoined mistakeable signs of its having passed in thinking of the physicist and astronomer. their vicinity, either by diminishing or length- Let us now stop lest, leaving the bright sun ening their periods of revolution, or by dis- of ascertained truth, we should ourselves fly torting in some way or other the relative off in an eccentric path to the dim regions positions of the paths they described prior of hypothesis. to the comet's appearance amongst them.
CONTENTS OF NO. 717.-20 FEBRUARY, 1858.
462 Fraser's Magazine,
473 N. Y. Evening Post,
494 N. Y. Journal of Commerce, 496 British Quarterly Review, 499
SHORT ARTICLES.- Copyright Treaty with Spain, 461. A Story from Munich, 461. Op eration on an Elephant, 472. The Grave of Patrick Henry, 498. Walter Scott's Poems in “Blue and Gold,” 498.
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LITTELL'S LIVING AGE.—No. 718.-27 FEBRUARY, 1858.
From The National Review. it to ourselves in a distinct shape when we GEORGE SAND.
observe how much greater the influence of Histoire de ma Vie. Par George Sand. society is in England than in France or GerParis, 1855.
many. An Englishman has his place in Euvres de George Sand. Paris, 1857.
family life, in a locality, in a political system. Few travellers can have crossed the Chan- When he speculates, he never suffers himself nel on a fine day, and have reached the point to leave the limits of the social sphere. He where the coasts of both countries are visible is content to accept the results of experience, at once, without reflecting how wide and by the acceptance of which, practical statesvast are the moral and intellectual differences manship is made possible in a free country. which separate lands divided by a material He refers all propositions to the standard of barrier so narrow. It is not only that race, I what English institutions will admit. His religion, language, history, are all different, notions of love and marriage are subordinated for this we should, of course, be prepared ; to his conception of the exigencies of family but the whole tone and turn of thought is life. He wants a religion that will practidissimilar ; and whatever efforts are made cally work, which real bishops can expound to attain a superficial harmony, however to real public meetings, which will suit the familiar we become with the languages and man who desires to be left alone in the literatures of the Continent, we are always bosom of his family, and yet join with his separated from the continental nations. neighbors in occasions of sacred solemnity. Englishmen take much greater pains to But on the Continent there is a large numunderstand the manners, traditions, language, ber of persons, especially among those emiand writings of the leading nations beyond nent in literature, of whom we may say that the Channel than are expended by the in- each individnal seems left to himself. The habitants of those countries in gaining an first principles of every thing are debatable acquaintance with us, or with each other. ground to him. He receives aid neither And yet we never cease to seem to them from State nor Church. All that he has to insular. We cannot judge by their standard, do is to shape his own particular career by or feel with their feelings. There are whole reason, by sympathies, by submitting to the portions of thought in which our minds run teaching of events, by trusting to the protecin an entirely distinct channel. More espe- tion of that vaguest of deities, le bon Dieu.. cially with regard to those two cardinal We cannot abandon our own position, or points of human society, religion and the admit for an instant that things which we relations of the sexes, we seem to think with fully believe are morally wrong in themselves an irreconcilable difference—our right is not cease to be wrong because foreigners choose : their right, nor their wrong our wrong. to make light of them. But if we wish to They reproach us as much as we reproach comprehend rather than condemn, our best them. We talk as if the whole of French road is, by the exercise of what imagination fiction was a vast mass of corruption; they we possess, to throw ourselves into the posisbrink from the iron conventionalism of Eng. tion assumed by those whom we are criticislish society, and the coarseness of our public ing, and divesting ourselves of everything in immorality. What we call license, they society and established institutions which think the honest obedience to a divine pas- shackles or assists us, look on human life sion. What we consider delicacy of lan- with the eyes of a man who has nothing to guage, they consider the affectation of pru- trust to but the play of his own feelings, the dery.
whispers of his own conscience, and the dicSuch a difference pervades national life tates of his own reason. far too deeply and widely to be referred to It is not easy to do this; and after our any one cause, or reduced under any one most honest efforts to understand them, head; but we seen, at any rate, to present French novels, the most characteristic ex
pression of what we refer to, will remain their fellow-men did not step in the way. It very different compositions from any that we is difficult to say that either women or the can fancy ourselves or any of our country- poor find this the best of all possible worlds. men to have written. And no writer is at In England, when such a thought arises, we once more typical and more incomprehensible test it by the standard of social institutions. than George Sand. To all the difficulties We think whether society does not demand implied in the fact that she is a French writer a subordination of sex and rank, and strive of the nineteenth century, we must add those to hit on the principles by which this subimplied in the fact that she is a woman, and ordination should be regulated and modified. what is more a woman with a philosophical But in a country where problems of thought turn of mind. We have no English writer and morals exist for the individual rather at all resembling her ; but we know enough than for society, it is natural to give vent to of philosophical ladies generally, to be aware the sense of injustice without any calculations that it requires considerable nicety of percep- of expediency, and to believe that there is tion to distingnish the exact point on which in man at large that power of quick and they are speaking, and the precise object radical change which the individual fancies which they have in view. Sometimes, in he can recognise in himself. George Sand reading George Sand, we might fancy that is one of the prophets who take up this parashe had shaped out a definite system of life ble, and she has a large number of votar and morals for herself, sufficiently ascertained to sympathise with her. to command her own belief and to become To this, her primary attraction, she adds the topic of persuasion to others. Some others of a secondary but powerful nature. times it seems as if she must be writing for She has a true and a wide appreciation of mere writing's sake, meaning nothing, be- beauty, a constant command of rich and lieving nothing, wishing nothing. As a gene- glowing language, and a considerable faculty ral result, we see that she is possessed with of self-analysis and self-reflection. And do one or two leading ideas. She thinks the one could possess more completely the charm world of modern society decidedly wrong on of unreserve.
What she thinks she says, at least two distinct points. Her opinion is without hesitation or subterfuge. She is unclear against the conventional system of deterred by any regard for the proprieties of marriages, and the established relations of her station or her sex. She thus creates an the rich and poor. But when we ask with impression of truthfulness which makes us what she wishes to replace them, we are at ready to defend her against the numberless sea; we are lost in the beautiful but obscure attacks of criticism to which she exposes her language of feminine philosophy.
self. In spite of all her defects, she awakens But a person may be vague in thought and an admiration which cannot be reasoned language, and yet have a great deal to say, away. Her novels are often unmeaning, and exercise a great infi by saying it. false to the realities of life, weak in plot, Every century has stirring within its breast a deficient in artistic arrangement, dismally number of feelings dimly felt, of aspirations long, tecious, and wearisome to get through; imperfectly understood, of desires faintly ex- but still they are never poor. They suggest pressed. It is possible that a writer may many new thoughts. They are lit up with acquire a great power by giving utterance to the glow of genuine feeling. They are these first flutterings of thought and hops, stamped with the impress of an indisputable and may be all the more successful because honesty. Such a woman is worth studying, the utterance has an appropriate feebleness even at the risk of some shock to our moral and indistinctness. There is a wide and very feeling and our insular prejudices, and under vague feeling afloat in the present day that the penalty of some weary hours spent in some classes, though it is not known exactly wading through her rhapsodies. which, have not the fair chance in the world She has written her life in twenty volumes, that they ought to have. There is a sort of and the mere fact that she has done so is readiness to take up the cause of sinners, a characteristic. What has a woman who has distrust of respectability, a recoil from the done little more than live in a country-house worship of success. Something large and in Berry, write novels, and quarrel with noble seems within the grasp of mortals, if her husband, to say, that she must take
twenty octavo volumes to express it? The son, Maurice Dupin; and Maurice was the
break of popular fury, and delighted in the Madame Dudevant traces her parentage security of which she herself, as a friend to by the father's side up to royalty. The progress and liberty, was assured. But the famous Marshal de Saxe was her great- hour of misfortune and danger was at hand. grandfather ; and he was the offspring of The proprietor of the house in which she Frederic Augustus king of Poland, by the resided informed her that there were secret Countess of Kænigsmark. It is not, as hiding-places in the walls, where papers and Madame Dudevant modestly acknowledges, valuables could stowed away. She availed any very distinguished honor to be numbered herself of the information ; but, unfortunately, among the descendants of this sovereign; at the commencement of the Reign of Terror for he had several hundred illegitimate suspicion was excited, and an order was given children. None, however, of his bastards to search the house. A guard was placed was so famous as the Marshal de Saxe ; and over the apartments occupied by her ; but Madame Dudevant displays some pride in Deschartres and her son Maurice, then a lad" claiming that coarse but able general as her of fifteen, contrived by night to obtain access forefather.
The marshal had an intrigue to the room, and removed all the papers with a lady of the opera, Mademoiselle Ver- likely to compromise her very seriously. She rières; and a daughter was the result of the was, however, sent as a prisoner to the union,
When Aurore de Saxe, as the Couvent des Anglaises, and her son daughter was called, came to years of discre- debarred from communicating with her and tion, she was married to the Count of Horn. forced to reside outside the limits of Paris. But her husband was soon killed in a duel; In August 1794 she was released, and retired and some years afterwards she was again to Nohant, a country-seat in Berry which she married to M. Dupin de Francueil.
This had purchased a short time before she was lady, having been iwice legally and honor- imprisoned. ably married, forms a marked exception to
Her son had from boyhood a strong desire the general standard of Madame Dudevant's for a military life ; but Madame Dupin felt a ancestors, who were mostly accustomed to natural reluctance to her only child embracing illicit connections. By M. Dupin she had a
a career so full of danger. When, however,