[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


4 under 15 miles.

occasionally hissing noises and loud de15 from 15 to 30

tonations have been distinctly audible, 22 30 45

owing, doubtless, to greater contiguity. 33 45



Windows and doors have rattled, and even 6 above 90

buildings have trembled at the violence 5 from 140 to 460

of the explosions. The meteor which

passed over in Italy, in 1676, disappeared 98

to seaward in the direction of Corsica, The greatest velocity was thirty-six miles with a report which was heard at Leghorn. a second, or double that of the earth in its A similar visitor, witnessed all over Enorbit; but a rate vastly greater has been gland in 1718, passed from northeast to registered, equal to eleven times that of southwest, and the sound of an explosion the earth, and to seven and a half times

was heard through Devon and Cornwall, that of Mercury, the fastest galloper of and along the opposite coast of Brittany. the planets; and much greater altitudes This was a very brilliant object. Sir are on record. Commonly, the time of Hans Sloane, being abroad in the streets visibility involves only a few seconds ; but of London at the time of its appearancethe luminous trains of the globular class

a quarter past eight at night-found his have been seen from several minutes to path suddenly and intensely illumined. He half an hour after the disappearance of the at first thought it proceeded from a disbrilliant balls, while examples of the sta charge of rockets ; but, looking up, he saw tionary amorphous kind have remained in

an orb of fire traveling with immense vesight much longer.

locity aloft, so vividly bright that several 3. Their direction is in general more times he was compelled to turn away his or less oblique, but sometimes it seems

eyes from it. The stars disappeared; the horizontal; and the extraordinary fact is moon—nine days old, and high near the mentioned in one instance of a shooting meridian, the sky being very clear—was star moving away from the earth, or up so effaced as to be scarcely visible. ward, as if caught in the act of deserting 6. On the same night the appearance celestial space, and dragged back into its of falling stars is ordinarily limited to two depths by an attraction superior to terres or three examples, and weeks may pass trial gravitation. It is usually the case away without a single one being observed ; that these objects move from northeast to but at times the number is prodigious, as southwest, which is contrary to the direc- if the whole celestial host had been loostion of the earth in its orbit. This seems ened from the concave to rush in lawless to have an important bearing upon their flight toward the earth, resembling a perphysical history.

fect shower of fiery snow. Mediæval 4. While limited to no particular part chronicles contain records of such events, of the earth, state of the weather, or sea once considered as marvels invented by son of the year, they are most numerously the chroniclers, but now admitted to the seen in tropical localities, under tranquil class of facts, since modern experience is conditions of the atmosphere, toward the familiar with precisely similar displays. close of summer and the commencement Some of these relations are worthy of noof autumn, especially about the middle of tice. August and November.

The displays Arabian annalists state that on the night have been gorgeous and terrific, as seen in of the death of King Ibrahim ben Ahmed, America, when at the same time nothing referring to the month of October, in the remarkable has been observed in European year 902 of our era, an infinite number of skies ; while cotemporaneously, on other falling stars were seen spreading themoccasions, the revelation has been splendid selves like rain over the heavens from in the atmosphere of opposite hemispheres. right to left; and this year was afterward In 1837 a vast number appeared in Eu-called “the year of stars.” In some anrope ; and on the same day, on the other nals of Cairo, it is related that “ in this side of the globe, they were witnessed year, (1029 of our era,) in the month from the French ship“ Bonite."

Redjeb, (August,) many stars passed, with 5. Commonly the sight is the only sense a great noise and brilliant light.” In addressed. “ There is no speech nor another place the document states that language : their voice is not heard.” But “in the year 599, on Saturday night, in:

Vol. XI.-2

the last Moharrem, (1202 of our era, and “about three o'clock in the morning to on the 19th of October,) the stars appeared see the shooting stars, as they are called. like waves upon the sky, toward the east The phenomenon was grand and awful. and west ; they flew about like grass. The whole heavens appeared as if illuhoppers, and were dispersed from left to minated with sky-rockets, which disapright; the people were terror-struck." peared only by the light of the sun toward Mohammed, in a chapter of the Koran, daybreak. The meteors, which at any alludes to the falling stars as the visible one instant of time appeared as numerous flame which the angels, guarding the con as the stars, flew in all possible directions, stellations, hurl at the evil spirits who except from the earth, toward which they come too near. Hence a modern poet all inclined, more or less ; and some of makes his peri fly through space them descended perpendicularly over the

vessel we were in, so that I was in con“Rapidly as comets run To th' embraces of the sun ;

stant expectation of their falling on us." Fleeter than the starry brands

The same appearances were seen on the
Flung at night from angel hands, same night by the Capuchin missionary at
At those dark and daring sprites
Who would climb th’ empyreal heights.” Venezuela ; by the Franciscan monks sta-

San Fernando, a village in the Ilanos of On the night of April 25, 1095, both in tioned near the cataracts of the Orinoco; France and England, the stars were seen at Marca, on the banks of the Rio Negro ; “ falling like a shower of rain from heaven at Quito, Cumana, and Santa Fé de Boupon the earth.” The Chronicle of Rheims gota ; in French Guiana and Western describes them as driven like dust before Brazil; at Nain and Hoffenthal, in Labthe wind; and great commotions in Christ-rador; and even at Weimar, Halle, and endom were foreboded in consequence by Carlsruhe, in Germany, shooting stars the members of the incil of Clermont. were numerous. The area of visibility em

To come down to modern times. The braced 640 of latitude, and 940 of longitude. last century was drawing to a close, when Passing by several meteoric showers, a grand meteoric shower was seen over a more or less remarkable, we come to the very considerable portion of the area of most stupendous hitherto witnessed, that the globe. It became conspicuous toward of the 13th of November, 1833 ; which, midnight on the 12th of November, 1799, being the third in successive years, all ocand rapidly waxed terrible, continuing for curring in the same month, and on the several hours. To the Moravian mission- same day of the month, seemed to intimate aries in Greenland, who witnessed the periodicity, and originated the title of the scene, the contrast was of the strangest November meteors. The night of the 12th description—a landscape of unvarying ice was singularly fine. Not a cloud obscured and snow around them, and the semblance the sky. Toward midnight the spectacle of the heavens on fire above ; for glowing commenced, and was at its height between points and masses, thick as hail, filled the four and six o'clock in the morning. It firmament, as if some vast magazine of was seen all over the United States, from combustible materials had exploded in the the Canadian lakes to the West Indies, far-off depths of space. Humboldt and and from about longitude 610 in the AtBonpland observed the spectacle on the lantic Ocean, to that of 1000 in the center coast of Mexico. The former remarks : of Mexico. It included the three classes “ Thousands of bolides and falling stars of forms previously mentioned-phosphoric succeeded each other during four hours. lines, large fire-balls, and luminous bodies Their direction was very regular from of irregular shape. One of the latter, obnorth to south. From the beginning of served in the State of Ohio, resembled a the phenomenon there was not a space in brilliant pruning-hook, apparently about the firmament equal in extent to three twenty feet long by eighteen inches broad. diameters of the moon which was not It was distinctly visible in the northeast filled every instant with them. All the more than an hour, and gradually declined meteors left luminous traces or phospho- toward the horizon till it disappeared. rescent bands behind them, which lasted | Another of tabular contour, appeared near seven or eight seconds." Mr. Ellicott, the zenith, over the Falls of Niagara, and at sea, off Cape Florida, was another spec- remained stat for considerable tator, “I was called up,” he states, I time, emitting large streams of light. The

roar of the cataract, the wild dash and in- tion eastward, it attended the stars in their cessant plunging of the waters below it, apparent movement westward. Thus the with the fiery storm overhead, combined common focus from which the meteors to form a scene of unequaled sublimity. seemed to emanate was clearly in the reSome persons died of fright. Many gions of space exterior to our atmosphere. thought that the last great day had come. Secondly. The height of the place whence In the slave states, the terror of the ne- they proceeded, though not accurately degroes was extreme. “I was suddenly termined, must have been several thousand awakened,” says a planter in South Caro- miles above the surface of the earth. This lina, “ by the most distressing cries that was inferred from observations of parallax. ever fell on my ears. Shrieks of horror Thirdly. The meteors did not fall by the and cries for mercy I could hear from force of gravity alone, for the velocity most of the negroes of three plantations, observed was estimated to be much greater amounting to from six to eight hundred. than could possibly result from the law of While earnestly listening for the cause, I gravitation. Fourthly. They consisted of heard a faint voice near the door calling combustible matter, took fire, and were my name. I arose, and, taking my sword, consumed in traversing the atmosphere. stood at the door. At this moment I heard They were not luminous in their original the same voice still beseeching me to rise, situations in space, otherwise the body and saying, “0, master! the world is on would have been seen from which they fire! I then opened the door, and it is emanated. Combustion ensued upon reachdifficult to say which excited me most, ing the atmosphere, owing to the heat the awfulness of the scene, or the dis- evolved by the sudden and powerful com: tressed shrieks of the negroes. Upward pression of the air consequent on their of one hundred lay prostrate on the ground tremendous velocity; and the combustion -some speechless, and some with the bit was complete, since no particles, notwithterest cries, but most with their hands, standing the momentum, made their way raised, imploring God to save the world to the surface of the earth. Fifthly. and them. The scene was truly awful ; Some of the meteors were evidently bodies for never did the rain fall much thicker of considerable size. Several fire-balls than the meteors fell toward the earth. were observed apparently as large as the East, west, north, and south, it was the full moon. Dr. Smith, of North Carolina, same.” An observer at Boston compared who was traveling all night on professional them, when at the maximum, to half the business, thus describes one: " In size it number of flakes seen in the air during an appeared somewhat larger than the full ordinary snow-storm. When they became moon rising. I was startled by the splenless dense, so as to admit of being indi-did light in which the surrounding scene vidualized, he counted six hundred and was exhibited, rendering even small obfifty in fifteen minutes, in a vertical zone, jects quite visible ; but I heard no noise, which did not include a tenth part of the although every sense seemed to be sudvisible horizon.

denly aroused, in sympathy with the vioSome leading features of this magnifi- lent impression on the sight.” Sixthly. cent spectacle, as noted by intelligent The large meteors were still high in the eyewitnesses, may be concisely stated. atmosphere when they exploded, or reFirst. The meteors had their origin be- solved themselves into smoke, for eviyond the limits of our atmosphere. They dently the same objects were observed all, without exception, moved in lines which from far distant points; and while the converged in one and the same point of the explosions were seen, no report of any heavens. But their course commenced kind reached the ear. at different distances from it, while around While the eye was alone appealed to the point itself there was a circular space upon this occasion, the ear, as before reof several degrees in which none appeared. marked, has been addressed ; and the The position of this radiating point, with sense of touch has taken cognizance of reference to the stars, was near y in the solid bodies which have fallen from surconstellation Leo. It was stationary among rounding space. But these bits of stars," the stars during the whole period of ob with the hypotheses proposed to explain servation, or, in other words, instead of the entire phenomena, must be reserved accompanying the earth in its diurnal rota- ! for future notice.

[graphic][merged small]


curiosities of the age is the Bearded he is long, and weighs ninety-six pounds. Boy, who has recently been exhibited to He has a very black but pleasant eye: a crowds of wondering spectators in this dark, full, childish face, but the expression city. The portrait of this singular freak is old and calm. His abdomen is enorof nature was taken by daguerreotype in mously developed, and he drinks very this city, and copied by our engraver, and copiously of water. He appears to have is an excellent likeness. He is but three good sense, but not to be precocious in years and six months old, as proved by mental development. well-attested documents, from high offi He was born in the town of Culm, in cial sources in Prussia, the boy's native Prussia, September 24th, 1853, of parents country.

having no peculiarities, and whose six His head, above the eyes, is rather large, older children have nothing to distinguish and is thickly covered with a very stout them in appearance. The press of Berlin growth of wiry black hair, which appears and other continental cities published long like that of a man of thirty. His upper accounts of him, and the scientific and lip is covered with a downy mustache, a curious from all parts of Prussia thronged considerable beard is on his cheeks and to Culm to see him. chin, and his back and chest are covered We understand that after leaving this with a perfect swamp of hair from half an city, those who have him in charge will inch to an inch and a half in length, which exhibit him in different parts of the counis smooth and silky. He measures thirty-try.


[ocr errors]

THE SMALL TRADES OF NAPLE S. THE famous market of Santa

Lucia is set, like a many-colored bit of enamel, in the midst of the silver horn of Naples. It draws itself out, along the very verge of the bay; just lifted above the break of the gentle swell, but catching every fresh Do breath of the sea, and every ripple, sob, and murmur of the waves. Here are displayed all those differing shades of character which go to make up the brilliant mosaic of Southern life, and here flutter every cut and color of national costume. You had better resort thither very early in the morning, before man grows drowsy, and before Nature seems to swoon away, in faint and dreamy luxury, under the resistless spell of the midday sun.

“ Bono!" we are in good time this morning ; so early that the coffee-seller is making his first round; but not too early for that portly brother of the Order of Sant' Antonio to be out in his white serge gown, ringing his obtrusive little bell to warn the votaries of the Romish Church that they had better not eat or drink, buy or sell, until the merchandise of the day be blessed, and the confessional. However, on this bright monkish fraternities receive their due. morning he encounters the stout brother There is something ringing on our mem in a point-blank way, which admits of no ory that sounds strangely opposite to this doubting ; so he pulls off his broad straw scene of the bell and the blessing ; but let hat, and stands reverently by, while St. us quote the significant words with solemn Anthony's deputy mutters his Latin incanreverence : “And he caused all, both tation over the little portable stove, with small and great, rich and poor, free and its boiling coffee and its tray of small cups. bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, Shortly after this sacerdotal mockery, or in their foreheads; and that no man he may be seen carrying his small estabmight buy or sell, save he that had the lishment to the foot of the turreted gatemark, or the name of the beast, or the way which spans the entrance to a meannumber of his name.”

looking court. A little lattice opens high Poor Andrea looks chafed, though he up in the old building. A pale and worn strives to preserve a smooth and placid man appears, glances rapidly up and down brow; for he knows well, by many a dayly the passage, and, seeing that the way is calculation, that the fee for St. Anthony's clear, lowers a little tray carefully balanced blessing sorely infringes upon the little by strings, bearing an empty cup and a earnings of the day, swallowing up the small coin. Andrea silently takes the profits of many a cup of smoking coffee, money, exchanges the empty cup for a full and leading him into many crooked de- one, and, without a word, moves on. The vices in order to elude the white brother pale man at the window carefully draws with the blue and red cross on his breast; up the precious drink, closes his lattice, while these palpable evasions make him and, raking out his hot chestnuts from the feel very uncomfortable at the sight of a wood ashes of a small chafing-dish, pro



« VorigeDoorgaan »