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BY J. NORMAN LOCKYER.
as last the Queen made a movement towards found; it was the funeral procession of a the door, and they all four advanced; at dynasty two centuries old, which had just that moment a Spanish general, who stood breathed its last sigh in the Biarritz station. beside me, exclaimed, 'No nos queda mas The signal is given, the train is put in moque marchar' (we have nothing left but to tion, everybody bows, and all is over." depart). The words betrayed the hopes This well-written and interesting account cherished until then, and at that moment of a most interesting and extraordinary dissipated.
event appeared in a newspaper known to " The parting was brief, silent, mournful. be patronised by Prince Napoleon, and The Emperor was unmoved, the Empress was probably addressed to him by some hardly restrained her tears, the Imperial friend at Biarritz. Prince looked astonished. The Queen endeavoured, but in vain, to smile; the little King fidgeted about to hide his emotion ;
From Macmillan's Magazine. the suite looked aghast. The Queen got
THE SUN'S DISTANCE, into the carriage again, then the King, the Prince of Asturias, whom the Emperor had kissed, and the royal children.
A SOMEWHAT important error in our “ At that moment the Queen, alone upon measurement of the distance of the Sun the gallery of the saloon carriage with from the earth has recently been discov. Count Espeleta, exclaimed in Spanish, ' No, ered. It is now proved that we have been hé dado un abrazo a la Imperatriz' (I accustomed to over-estimate the distance have not given the Empress a kiss), and by four millions of miles, and that, instead made a movement as if to get down; but of ninety-five millions, the real figure is the Empress forestalled her and got upon ninety-one.
How this came about, the the gallery, saying, Subo a ricibirlo. (I following observations are an attempt to ascend to receive it). She offered her explain : cheek to the Queen, who kissed it, and then This time last century the celebrated Capshe immediately stepped down again, so tain Cook (then only Lieutenant) was on that the Queen, who was about to kiss her his way in H. M. S. Endeavour to Otaheite, on the other cheek, found only the empty to observe the transit of Venus, which took air.
place in 1769. The observations were “ General de Castelnau, a chamberlain, made in due course, not only by Cook, but and an orderly officer, who had come with in Lapland, Hudson's Bay, St. Joseph, and the Queen from Ilendaye, then took leave elsewhere; and the result was a value of of her and of the King, the Queen saying the Sun's distance which, after a century's to them in French, Thank you, gentle- existence, has just given way to a new one. men. These were the last words spoken. For some years this new value has been The three officers got down and resumed dawning upon us, for, with our modern their places near the Emperor.
methods and appliances, the problem is now It was at that moment that I beheld no longer dependent upon transits of Veuus the saddest spectacle it is possible to im- for its solution. Wheatstone and Foucault agine, and of which I shall ever retain the have enabled us to measure the velocity of uneffaceable impression. The Emperor light by a chamber experiment, and, as we stands with uncovered head on the plat- know how long light is in reaching us from form of the station at two paces from the the Sun, the Sun's distance is, as we may carriage; the Empress is on his right, her say, found by the rule of three. It has eyes full of tears; and on her right stands been so found, and appears to be less than the Imperial Prince, agitated and astonished was formerly thought. by all he sees passing before him. In the Again, elaborate investigations into the royal carriage the King and his suite are motion of the Moon, and of Mars and Veon their legs; the Queen is on the gallery, nus, have yielded evidence to Hansen and of which Charles, the piqueur, has just Le Verrier that the old distance was too bolted the entrance; before her, looking great, and by assuming a smaller one they bowed down, bending under this immense have brought the theoretical and observed misfortune, stands Count Espeleta. The motions into unison; finally, observations guards close the carriage-doors of the royal on Mars have all gone in the same direction. train. Four minutes thus elapse amidst the In fact all the modern work shows that the most profound 'silence, all looking at each Sun's distance is about 91,000,000 miles, other with an air of gloom and consternation. whereas the value determined in 1769 gave
“I never was present at a funeral where a distance of 95,000,000. the grief of the mourners was more pro- Now humanity has a sort of vested inter
est in that time-honoured ninety-five mil- | most probably, of the existence of a dense lions of miles; it is not lightly to be med- atmosphere round Venus, it is extremely alled with ; and in certain quarters not only difficult to determine when the planet apwas the new value altogether rejected, but pears to come into contact with the Sun, or astronomers were considerably twitted with when it is exactly just within his disc, and their discovery that their very unit of meas- vice versa. urement wis wrong, and that to an extent Before anything is seen of Venus itself of some 4,000,000 miles! although in fact, that portion of the Sun on which it is about as Mr. Pritchard has ingeniously put it, the to enter appears agitated, and the planet difference amounts to no more than the enters, not as a sharply-defined black ball, breadth of' a human hair viewed at a dis- but with a many-pointed tremulous edge as tance of 125 feet.
it encroaches more and more on the Sun's The thing certainly was embarrassing, for disc; not only is the side of the planet furthe observations of 1769 were well planned, ther from the Sun lit up by a curious light, and made under fair conditions by skilled but a penumbra seems formed round the men, and further, the received value was planet itself; and after it has really entered deduced by such a man as Encke, whose on the disc, the edges of the Sun and planreduction no one thought even of question et seem joined together by what has been ing. But still the closeness of the agree- variously called a black drop, ligament, or ment inter se of the four independent meth- protuberance, on the rupture or breaking ods to which we have referred — all of which of which, and not before, the planet seems differed from the old value — made it evi- fairly off on its journey across the Sun. dent that there was something wrong some- It is thus very difficult to determine the where — where, it was impossible, most exact moment of ingress or egress, and if people said, to know until the next transit the matter is not considered even in great in 1882.
detail — if all the phenomena are not absoOne astronomer, however, has not been lutely acknowledged and separated — the content to let the matter thus rest. Mr. reduction of the observation is valueless. Stone, of the Greenwich Observatory, thinking that a new discussion of the obser
“ The first appearance of Venus on the Sun," vations of 1769 must necessarily lead to a and the contact of the limbs did not happen till
(says Cook), “was certainly only a penumbra, clearer view of the sources of systematic several seconds after; this appearance was oberror or wrong interpretation to be guarded served both by Mr. Green and me; but the time against in 1874 and 1882, has with infinite it happened was not noted by either of us : it pains re-collected all the observations; re- appeared to be very difficult to judge precisely duced them as if they had been made yes- of the times that the internal contacts of the terday; and has been rewarded by the dis- body of Venus happened, by reason of the darkcovery, not only of several material errors ness of the penumbra at the Sun's limb, it bein the prior discussions, but by a value of ing there nearly, if not quite, as dark as the the Sun's distance from these old observa- planet. At this time a faint light, much weaker tions almost identical with that required by than the rest of the penumbra, appeared to conall the modern methods.
verge towards the point of contact, but did not To understand this result, it must be re- quite reach it. This was seen by myself and the membered that the observations in 1769 two other observers, and was of great assistance were to determine how long Venus took to tacts of the dark body of Venus with the Sun's
to us in judging of the times of the internal con(ross the Sun's dise at the different stations ; limb." the time would be different for each station, and the amonnt of difference would depend Both when the planet enters and leaves upon the Sun's distance; the nearer Venus the Sun's disc, then, two phenomena are obwas to the Sun the nearer would the ob- servable - the actual contact, and the breakserved times approximate to each other, ing of the ligament or black drop. It is since it is obvious that, if the Sun were a clear that the duration of the transit, screen immediately behind the planet, the measured from contact to contact, would be times observed at all stations on the Earth longer than if measured from rupture to would be absolutely identical.
rupture. Hence it is essential that the obNow, to the uninitiated, this mere deter- servers at the various stations should obmination of the length of passage may seem serve the same phenomena, or that due alabsurdly easy, and even those who are gen- lowance should be made if a contact is erally acquainted with such phenomena im- observed at one station and a rupture at the agine that Venus enters on the Sun as the other. shadow of Jupiter's satellites do on Jupiter. It is here that Mr. Stone's labours come But this is not the case. In consequence, lin. They have been chiefly directed to a
SKETCHED BY A LADY.
strict interpretation of the language of the and, have we the entrée; a town-built swimformer observers, having regard to these ming-bath is all we have prosaic access details and to the introduction of the ne- to, and the payment of the admission-moncessary corrections just mentioned. ey, a few pence, is the only preparation
Hence, from what we may almost term for which there is any need. The day is Mr. Stone's re-observation of the transit of one that is devoted exclusively to ladies, 1769 — for he has more than reduced the and after being conducted through intricate observations, he has infused into them'mod- passages of closed bath doors, we ern scientific accuracy. one of the most suddenly upon a chorus of the gay laugh important questions in science may be of girls. It is a merry prelude, and we looked upon as now definitely settled. stop, enjoyingly, to listen. As we do so
It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful the manageress, who is our leader, opens instance than this of the value of one side a large thick door, and there the laughers of the scientific mind - the doubtful, the are. There are a dozen of them, perhaps, suspicious side, the side of unrest. Till not more; their faces rising out of the now " 95,000,000 miles " almost represented clear green water with so lively an expresa dogma; for a century it has been an arti-sion of enjoyment on them, it at once accle of faith; and all our tremendous modern counts for the jubilance of their tongues. scientific appliances and power of minute Their pretty dresses must have some intiuinquiry might in the present instance have ence, too, on their unmistakable combeen rendered powerless and ineffectual for placency. As girl by girl grows tired of a time if this other scientific power had her graceful exercise, and leans against the been allowed to remain dormant, or had steps leading down the bath, or sits upon been less energetically employed.
the tiled ledge surrounding - it, she looks so charming in
her woollen caleçons and “Garibaldi," it is easy to
see she From The Gentleman's Magazine. knows it, and that the knowledge makes A SWIMMING LESSON.
her more charming still. We see, too, what a mistake it is to suppose that robes
bring dignity, and that the only way to L'Art de natation is undoubtedly la make kings and queens appear of consemode. Potichomanie reigned once; so, quence is to weld them to the earth with more recently, did “ tatting;” so, many folds and encumbrances of velvet and heavy years before, did Berlin wool. And there was silk. Look at that massive matron, inducthe sway of netted purses, when every silken ing the pert little person beside her to deft and dainty pair of bands was threaded join her in a bold plunge. She raises her in and out with nooses of purse-twist; and arms to show the best attitude for the that of ornamental pens, when quills (the performance, and she is as regal as a only media then of correspondence) were Norma, as imposing as a grave Greek godcabled round and round with sewing-silk, dess. As for the lithe creature she is stimand made prickly and uncomfortable with ulating, she is at once an expression of high love messages in small glass beads; and art and a distraction. there was the reign, also, of crochet, em- "I can't !" she says, cowering on the broidery, and revived knitting, when a brink. “I am afraid !” And she looks mystic literature was consulted, and male down at the green water, and turns from it readers, looking at the engrossing pages with the most captivating crouch and shudjealously, saw curt commands noose der. Then she raises her arms — bare from one, drop one, slip three, and so forth, a little above the elbow - in imitation of with wild ideas as to their meaning, and the action to which she is again and again irreverent incredulity about their being of invited; she lays the palms of her pointed the least import. But Le roi est mort has hands together; she looks round for the been uttered over each of these ; Vire le admiration she knows her pretty attitude roi again echoes it. A new kingdom gives rise to, and leaps in. A round of established. Swimming has it, both sani- clapping greets her when her head comes tarily and by properly-succeeding inheri- up again, and she dashes the water from her tance; and for its lour we take our cap off saucy face; and then we can see she is an to it, and make it a reverential bow. expert swimmer. Courage and love of ap
Here is a peep at the sovereign, while probation have brought this expertness to yet under the glory of its crown. For this her; and courage and love of approbation we have no especially eligible locale ; to no urge her to hurry up the steps again, when French watering-place, with belles and her swimming has brought her near them, beaux in mutual contest for the blue rib-l that she may repeat her applauded plungt.
She crouches and shudders again, standing miles. Or she could save lives from drownperched high up there above us; and with ing, instead of losing them; and would be her dress of russet colour, and its edge of sure not to paralyse the nerves of others by warm red, and her untrammelled limbs, no uttering appalling screams. She would be tinted statue could have more beauty than as cool in danger as any others who see a has her every pose.
clear way out of it; and yet she could swim, “One! two! three! and away!” cries she assures us, after she bad only tried five the matron, initiating her. And she is times. She was always a good bather, one bravely in again, with a splash and scatter not afraid of cold water; none of your hotof the water, and a renewal of her very flat- house folk, who stand shivering on the edge tering applause.
of a wave, and run to a dry place the moShe has had a swim, and is bounding up the ment they feel its white foam. She had steps again, when a timorous lady brings Hoated and taken “ headers ” before she had her to a stop.
had the ambition to try to swim; but still, “You have matriculated now," she says. she says, this preparation only caused the “Surely you don't want to venture any skill to come to her the quicker: she does more!
not mean that without it it never would “Oh! I have done nothing yet!” is the come at all. Here is a lady who bas none little person's dauntless cry. And she springs of this experience, who has nothing, indeed, on the platform, making the petticoated but the great requisite for all of it ladies shrink from her to be beyond the courage. Tyro as she is, she disdains the terror of her spray; and she makes her steps to go gradually into the water, and third plunge, and is up again on the level jumps in from above them with the help of of the swimmers, the swiftest and gayest of rope, which rubs her hands cruelly in the them all.
transit, as we can see when she holds them But there are novices here, as well as up, to show how much she has been hurt. such bright adepts. For these former there She is a handsome woman, rather too bulky are ropes hanging from the vaulted ceiling to be quite so satisfactory a picture as some - swing ropes, on which the ladies can be who are in the water with her; and it is seated, or on which they can rest themselves possible her size and thickness that put a whilst learning the way to stroke, at which limit to her ambition. At any rate to float, they can catch, too, if they chance to lose and that by means of the rope that has so their footing; so any may venture into the ill-used her, is the extent of her aim; and water, without being at all afraid. And to do it she puts out all her power. Putting though there is no professed teacher, all are her head back to lie flat upon the water, she thoroughly helpful to one another, and good- loses her cap (all the ladies wear caps, as tempered, and will freely tell the best way coquettish as they can be, and trimmed anything is to be done. There steps solidly smartly with quilled scarlet braid, or someinto the water, for instance, a lady who thing equally gay), and when she has reconfesses she knows nothing of how to swim covered this and tied it firmly on, she has a at all; and an habituée, who chances to new disaster. She gets herself so entangled bear her, shows her how to make the in the rope she cannot touch the ground strokes, and holds her round the waist while with both feet, but stands there uncomfortshe has a bewildering try. Another habituée ably and dangerously poised on one. holds a second beginner by the chin, and “Help me!” she cries out. Minnie, walks the whole length of the bath beside Minnie, do come and help! If you don't, her, with her face thus resting on her hand. I shall never get right !" A third lady, bound up in a swimming-belt, At which Minnie wades to her as quickly is none the better for her cumbersome ac- as she can. She is so tall and slim she is coutrement, but is fain to be led by a fellow- shapeless, and so timid she has merely crept bather, just as if it were away: Then, for into the water after trembling for a long a specimen of skill, look at this lady under time upon the brink; but she is able to give us, close below our feet. She is swimining the assistance wanted, and in a minute her with only one hand, holding in the other a large friend is free. Then she begins her folded towel, which she shows dry and un- efforts again. She sits on the rope; she touched, without a spot of water on it, when puts her feet up-higher — higher — till she reaches the bath's end. This accom- they are level with the surface of the water; plished creature could undress and cross a she gradually bends back her head. river (if she were put to it), and by carry- Minnie !” she cries, * I'm atloat! I'm ing her clothes thus cleverly, could dress afloat!” And the bath-house resounds herself upon the opposite bank, and so be with laughter at this comical triumph, - at spared a journey round of many toilsome her great fait being at length accompli; and Minnie and all look at her, and her pable of an ache. But she has a remedy, certificate may be said to be taken out. not a whit less characteristic than anything
An incident of another nature causes a laugh that has emanated from her before, and she yet more merry still. A new arrival has just proceeds at once to make an application entered trippingly from the street. She has of it. on a short petticoat of the newest mode, a “ Turn on the water," she coaxes of the dress looped up to be shorter still, a jacket woman in attendance. “ Just for a few considerably shorter even than that, a hat and minutes. Do." coiffure of the most striking fashion, and And when the good soul - old, of course, such a quantity of rows of beads, and and somewhat more grave than agile – hobfringes of “bugles,” and bunches of rib- bles off to do as she is bidden, the girl ands, the wonder is why she should have swims to the far end of the bath, and stands been at such pains to get herself up, when with her back against the wall. Projecting it was only to come there to be immedi-over her chiselled in fair wbite marble, is a ately got down; but she receives only a gigantic wide-lipped shell. It is topped by a nod' from those who have bathed with her lioness's head, with a large, open mouth ; before, and into her dressing closet she and through this opened mouth pours a goes. This is one of a row ranged in the stream of fresh, cold water, spreading into usual manner along the side of the bath, the lap of the shell, pouring over its tluted and in a few moments her voice is heard brim with a hard and heavy sound; and the from it high above all the others, and high harder and more forcible, the better for the above even the sharp and rapid rattle of the girl who has ordered it to come, and she handle of her door.
stands under the thickest pour of it, with “ I'm tocked in!” is her cry. “ I'm her eyes hidden in her hands, and her head locked in! I'm locked in!”
bent that she may feel the weight of every Upon which all laughter is concentrated drop. It looks now as it were only for adon her difficulty, and every other cause is miration she did it. No sculpture-room, gone. The absurd young people find a de- certainly, could have furnished a prettier light in everything. There is such exhila- tigure than hers, with the water feathering ration in the cold green water, it is like a over her, forming such a limpid covering to sea-side to them, and there is no lamenta- her limbs; and she stands there, getting retion anywhere, but a perpetual shout of covery from it, and then swims animatedly joy. Hark! here is a fresh one, as the im- away. prisoned girl is released by the bath-attend- "Oh! dear me!” she cries a short time after ant, and shows herself at her open door. as she sits on the bath-steps to rest, “ this She holds up a large biscuit, and feigns to is my last swim this season. I am going throw it in to the busy swimmers, as if they out of town to-morrow, and when I come were hippopotami or polar bears.
back the place will be closed. Oh dear!" “ Ha! ha! ha!” they all give out, “ That is a pity," the lady she speaks to crowding fish-wise, or seal-wise, or duck- commiserates. “I am sure you will miss wise, to the side, and advancing their eager it greatly." hands. And Ha! ha! ha! again when the “I shall, indeed!” the girl petulantly girl, wit
a knowing nod, holds the biscuit sighs, an then she begins to count up the all the tighter, and makes a gesture of how months upon her fingers that must go by much she shall enjoy it when her swim is before she can be once more a mermaid, done. Her descent into the water, too, is and resume her aquatic revels. “ October," the signal for another peal. She stands a she says, laying her right-hand fore-finger moment on the ledge, while she ties a upon her left-hand_thumb, “November, woollen sash about her, and the attendant December, January, February, March ;" and fastens on her decorated cap; and then she then pretending to think she has not counted makes such a sudden plunge into the midst properly, she commences her calculation of the swimmers, slie and all of them are all again. November,” she repeats, this lost in the splash and scatter. · Ha! ba! time consolingly letting a month go, “ Deha!" is the sound then predominant (and cember - January – February March dominant, for that matter; and good oh!” with a charming scream, only five tonic, too,) when the right stroke is recov- months after all! How nice! And then," ered; and there are little races run (all she remembers with further ecstacy of concausing more merriment), and leaps ef- solation, “then there's skating! Think fected, and feats essayed, till the new- of skating! Oh, skating is delicious! Do comer has been so demonstrative in her en- you like it ? " joyment, she begins to feel she bas a head, · No,” is the sober answer from a very and that her head, like others, is quite ca- sober voice. “I never tried.”