« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
THE FIXED STARS.
are carefully avoided, to prevent an over
into black on the limbs. The body is of turn. This hardness is, perhaps, owing an elongated form, the tail being long and rather to the nature of the soil than to a tapering. Total length of our specimen, different species of insect. The height of four feet six inches. the hillocks was generally from two to We give a figure of the animal, surthree feet, but higher were not unfrequently rounded by ants' nests, with one of the
M. seen. Their structure was irregularly cellu- insects on which it feeds. lar, not unlike a volcanic honey-comb stone ; or, rather, consisted of perforations, or passages, opening into each other, without any apparently methodical plan. Such is the solid and firm work of these little
We attempted to show, in a former paarchitects, which the aardvark spends its per, the great distances at which some of life in assaulting for the sake of the builders the planets of our system are placed from and inmates, which it devours by whole- the sun. Every one who is possessed of sale. Not, however, that it completely even a moderate acquaintance with astrodemolishes the domes of compact earth ; nomy, is aware that the distances of the it suffices to make a breach, out of which fixed stars far exceed even the most remote as the terrified population emerge, they fall of the planets yet discovered in the solar into the power of their foe. The dwelling system. Indeed, so great is the disproporof the ant-eater itself is a burrow, at a tion between them, that the distance of little distance beneath the surface of the Herschel, contrasted with the distance of ground, ouť of which it comes forth only the nearest of the fixed stars, sinks almost during the night; for in its habits it is com- | into absolute insignificance. They are conpletely nocturnal ; hence, during the day, sidered by all modern astronomers as suns, it is seldom to be seen, but may be ob- shining by their own native light, and most served as the dusk approaches, creeping probably the centres of other systems. The from its hole intent upon its prey.” nearest of the fixed stars yet observed, is
The talented traveller, from whom we supposed, on good grounds, to be not less have already quoted, details an instance in than 41,040,000,000,000 (or forty-one which one of his wagons had been nearly billions) of miles distant. The reader may overturned by the sinking of one of the perhaps be ready to ask how this can be wheels in the burrow of an aardvark. This ascertained ; we answer, By means of their name he goes on to say is the colonial ap- annual parallax, which we will endeavour pellation of the animal, and is justified to explain. by its general similarity in outward figure As the earth revolves round the sun, at to a hog, though its habits are very dif- the distance of 95,000,000 miles, its orbit ferent. “ With its fore-feet, which are ad-(which differs but little, comparatively, mirably formed for that use, it digs a deep from a circle) must be 190,000,000 miles hole, wherein it lies concealed the whole of in diameter; consequently, whatever part of the day, never venturing out but at night, her orbit the earth may occupy at any given when it repairs to feed at the ant-hills, time, she will. in half a revolution, answerwhich abound in many parts of the coun- ing to half a year, be 190,000,000 miles try. Scratching a hole on one side of distant from the spot she occupied before. them, it disturbs the little community; This, it is natural to suppose, causes on which the insects, running about in the fixed stars to be viewed at different confusion, are easily drawn into the ani- angles to the plane of the earth's orbit, at mal's mouth, by the long slender tongue different times of the year: this angle is with which nature has provided it for this called the parallax, and as whatever changes purpose. Without tusks, or any efficient of position a star may make, will all be teeth, this animal is quite defenceless, and gone through in the course of a year, this is depends for its safety solely on conceal- called their annual parallax. It necessarily ment, in which it so completely succeeds, follows that the greater the distance of any that no animal is so seldom seen; and star, the less will be its annual parallax. from its power of burrowing, with incredible Modern astronomers, amongst whom Dr. rapidity, away from those who endeavour Bradley may be mentioned, have endeato dig it out of its retreat, few are more voured to ascertain what this parallax might difficult to be obtained. Its flesh is whole- amount to. The star y in Draco was some and well-tasted."
selected for this purpose, as, from its being The general colour of the Cape ant- situated near the zenith, it was the less eater is a dark or blackish brown, passing | liable to error arising from refraction. A
series of most careful and accurate observa-, of c D, then the angle at E will be just one tions were made upon this star, and the re- half of the angle at d, or fifteen degrees. sult was, that Dr. Bradley did not think Now it is easy to find out by calculation, the parallax to amount to a second ; and how many times the length of the base a c the exceedingly numerous and careful ob- of the triangle must be repeated, in order servations made by astronomers since his to make an angle of one second at its apex. time, corroborate his opinion. It is difficult As sixty seconds make one minute, and to ascertain correctly so small a quantity as sixty minutes one degree, we have only to the fraction of a second, and hardly perhaps take the cube of sixty, which is 216,000 : will the observations of any two persons the number of times the base of an equiexactly correspond. By comparing to lateral triangle must be repeated to form an gether numerous observations, the differ- angle of one second at its apex. If we ence between one observer and another is conceive the circle in the preceding figure greatly neutralizeá; and, if they are very to denote the earth's orbit, and a c, the numerous, it may almost be made to disap- base of the triangle, its diameter, then it is pear altogether. Let us, however, take it plain that we have only to multiply a c, the for granted, in order to arrive at the conclu- diameter of the earth's orbit, or 190,000,000 sion to which it will conduct us, that a star miles, by 216,000, to find the distance of a has one second parallax. Then it can be star whose parallax is one second. This proved by the most rigid demonstration that will amount to 41,040,000,000,000 of such a star cannot be less distant than miles ! as we stated before.
A distance so 41,040,000,000,000, or forty-one billions great that even light itself, travelling as it and forty thousand millions of miles! The does at the rate of twelve million miles a following figure will show how this may minute, would not traverse in less time than be proved.
years and a half! Indeed, it has been thought by some astronomers, that some of the fixed stars are so distant that their light has not reached us yet, supposing 6000 years to have elapsed since they were created. All the researches of astronomers since Dr. Bradley's time, have tended to corroborate his opinion; and there is but little doubt that the allowance of even one second parallax to any of the fixed stars, is greater than the truth, and that consequently their absolute distance must be considerably greater than we have stated.
How astonishing, how overwhelming are numbers and distances like these! The human mind is not formed to grasp them, and hardly, perhaps, can any finite intellects conceive them. All the seconds of time that have elapsed since the creation of the world until now, would not exceed the fifth part of one billion ! Surely it becomes us to exclaim with the psalmist, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy
fingers, the moon and the stars which thou Let A B C represent an equilateral tri- hast ordained, Lord, what is man, that thou angle, and upon the same base a c, draw art mindful of him ?”
E. the triangle A DC, making the side c d double the length of c B, by continuing the line c B to D. Then whatever may be the width of the angle at B, the angle at D will
RANUNCULACEÆ. exactly equal one half of the angle at B. If the triangle A B C be equilateral, then the
This order embraces the various species angle at B will be sixty degrees, and the of ranunculus, or crow-foot, hellebore, coangle at d thirty degrees. In liké manner, lum bine, larkspur, clematis, and several if we draw another triangle A E c upon the other field and garden flowers, which are same base a c by continuing the line cd pretty generally known to all classes of to e, and making c E just double the length readers. The leading characters which are
BOTANY. No. V.
common to all the members of this order, he soon after expired, in the greatest agoconsist in the presence of a calyx, or nies. Now, had he been acquainted with outer cup, composed of several distinct this poison-mark which we have pointed leaves, and a corolla of several petals, out, he would not have been so rash as to which may each of them be separated with encounter such a terrible risk. out disturbing the rest. Another charac- From the stamens, the student should teristic of still more importance than the next direct his attention to the seed-vessels, last-mentioned, is founded in the number which are generally numerous, and are gaand situation of the stamens. These are thered into a cluster upon the little central always more than twenty in number, and pillar, as in the crow-foot, anemone, and the are seated upon the receptacle below the clematis. The petals of this order, when seed vessels.
present, are objects of curiosity, and will If the attentive reader will take a always repay the trouble of a closer examinflower of the common buttercup, and ation. Few things, perhaps, are better known pull off the calyx leaves and petals, one than the flower of the buttercup; but there by one, he will find that all the stamens is a piece of information about the petals are left behind. This is what we mean of this familiar plant, which will be new to by saying that the stamens are seated our readers, who have not turned their upon the receptacle, intending by the re- minds to this subject. At the base of each ceptacle that point upon which the seed-petal there is a small cavity, easily seen vessels or fruit are immediately placed. when the eye is in search of it, which If, for the sake of mutual comparison, he secretes a small quantity of pure honey. will in the next place take a rose, and The species of the ranunculus or butterfollow the same proceeding, in plucking off cup, natives of this country, amount to fifthe leaves of the calyx and the petals one teen; but in every one of them is this little by one, he will perceive that very few, if honied pore, as it is called, to be found, any, of the stamens are left behind. For, and thus furnishes a ready and unerring in this last instance, they are seated upon character of the genus. The drop of honey the calyx, and consequently were removed lodged in this cavity is, in a singular with it.
sted with the poisonous Simple as the fact elicited by this expe- plant which produces it. How it magniriment may appear, its interpretation is of fies the wisdom of the contrivance, when the highest importance; for the stamens, by we see a drop of sweetness, encompassed remaining after the calyx is removed, indi- by poison of a most fatal and acrid chacate, almost without exception, that the racter. For the poisonous qualities of plant is poisonous; but by following the these plants are not confined to one part, calyx in its departure, they inform us, that but the flowers, leaves, stem, and root, the fruit, when ripe, will certainly be harm- have been found to be equally full of the less, and not only harmless, but grateful same pernicious juices. What an emblem and friendly to man.
of all earthly pleasure, without religion, is This proves beyond a question, that, this little drop of honey, presented in its however dry and uninteresting botanical poisonous cup! the eye sees the honey and details may sometimes be thought, they are longs to obtain it, but it is so small, that it not without their practical consequences. cannot be tasted without tasting the poison We cannot, therefore, sufficiently admire also. The petals in the hellebore, figured the goodness of the Almighty Creator, who on p. 157, in which they consist of a minute has inscribed a caution on one hand, and tube, with a two-lipped mouth or opening; an invitation on the other, if men would in the columbine, (aquilegia vulgaris) be at the pains to read and understand they resemble little horns or cornets. In it. We have somewhere read that a per- various other plants belonging to this order, son in Sweden, baving eaten some of the a curious diversity is noticed in the shape fresh leaves of the common garden Monks of the petals, which diversity or singularity hood, became maniacal. But the surgeon of shape is connected with, and indicative who was called to his assistance, being of another fact—the secretion of honey. informed the cause of the unfortunate per- It generally happens, not only among son's ravings, declared that the plant these, but in all plants, where any odd apcould not occasion them, and to convince pearance is noticed in the conformation of the bystanders, as he thought, that they its blossoms, that honey will be found in were mistaken, he ate himself very freely some little obscure nook or corner. of the same fresh leaves, and, sad to teli, The first genus to which we shall call the
attention of our readers, is the ranunculus, , heart-shaped leaves. Common in all shalwhich is, as we have described, readily dis- low streams of water. tinguished from similar plants, as the marsh Aquilegia.—Distinguished by the five marigold, for example, by the presence of horn-shaped petals. the honied pore. All plants of this genus A. Vulgaris, Columbine. This name is are poisonous, and the bruised leaves may derived from the Latin term for a dove, be used in raising blisters instead of the and given to this plant from a fancied reSpanish fly, which gives the biting effect to semblance which the petals bear to the neck blister-salve. Care should be taken in ex- / and bill of that bird. amining these plants, that they do not come Helleborus --The generic character conin contact with a sore or cut upon the hand, sists in the eight tubular petals represented for they will certainly create an inflamma- in the following figure of the helleborus tion in the part. Some botanists have had their hands inflamed by merely carrying them home, but this was perhaps owing to some peculiar state of the skin, for we have often handled them without any ill effects from it.
As these plants are poisonous, they ought to be known, that we may be on our guard against them; we will therefore describe the common species by such marks as cannot fail of distinguishing them from each other; while the student, with a little care and a pair of gloves, will find a very interesting and instructive employment in tracing their respective differences.
R. Flammula, Less Spear-wort.-Leaves narrow, flowers small and yellow, in boggy places. Hampstead Heath, plentiful.
viridis, or green hellebore, where b directs R.Sceleratus, Round-leaved Water-crow the eye to three of them. The reader who foot.—Lower leaves pale shining green, has a relish for botanical pursuits, will find round, like the palm of the hand, upper entertainment in attentively surveying these ones resembling two or three fingers laid curiously formed organs: their tubular together.
structure, like a little sack ending in a two. R. Aquatilis, Water-crowfoot.-Flowers lipped opening, which to a fanciful eye rewhite, floating on the surface of the water.
sembles a mouth, with the drop of honey Leaves of two sorts, one round and float- lodged in their bottom: a a are the leaves ing, the other hair-like, and under water. of calyx, which in this species are green, Seen almost in every pond.
whence the name. R. Acris, Buttercups.—Leaves divided
The green hellebore is a native of this into many sharp segments. Pastures and country, and is found in woods. We found road sides. Our readers will be, perhaps, it some years ago under a bank by the roada little surprised when we tell them that side, whence it was conveyed, planted in a some of those terrible sores which, upon the garden, and seemed to flourish well in its legs and feet of beggars, have excited their
new situation. pity, are kept in that frightful state by the
H. Niger, Black hellebore or Christmas application of this plant.
dose.—Common in our gardens. It is a R. Bulbosus, Bulbous-rooted Crow-foot. native of Austria and Italy, and was first -Pull up the plant, and the large bulbous cultivated in this country by Gerarde, in swelling upon it will show to what species 1596. This appears to be the plant of anit belongs.
tiquity, which was so famous for repairing R. Repens, Creeping Crow-foot.-Stem the lost wits of distracted people. It grew lying upon the ground, and shooting out
at two places, both called Anticyra, in roots at its joints.
Greece. Hence it was customary, instead Caltha.-Distinguished from the ranun- of telling a man to go to bedlam, to proculus by the absence of the honied pore.
pose a voyage to Anticyra, which might be C. Palustris, Marsh Marigold.- Easily construed as only a gentle recommendation known from all other plants by its large to travel for the benefit of his health. The conspicuous yellow flowers, and its broad I wisdom-restoring virtues of this weed admit of an easy explanation. The mind character of a child of God when he affects the stomach, and the stomach in its says of himself, “ I delight in the law of turn affects the mind. If the digestive or- God after the inward man.” That degans are out of order, the mind is troubled. scription suits no unregenerate person. Now, when the stomach was burdened, the The law of God is so holy, spiritual, and active properties of the hellebore afforded good, and so opposed to the bias of relief, and consequently removed the cause fallen man's corruptions, that the natural that had disordered the wits.
man cannot look up to the heart-searching Clematis.-Several species of this genus God, and say with sincerity and truth, are cultivated in our gardens, where they “ I delight in thy law, O God, after the are distinguished by a climbing habit, and inward man.”
On the contrary, be a copious display of white flowers. The heartily hates that law, wishes it were clematis vitalba, or traveller's joy, is less holy, or even that there were no law a native of this country, and in autumn of God at all. Is it not so ? When in forms a conspicuous object in our hedges, your ungodly state, was there not a deby its polished green leaves, and the fine sire that the law of God did not thwart hackled threads which form a tail-like ap- you, that there were no account to be pendage to the seed. The following cut given hereafter, that you mig! be left to
live as you list? But if there were no law, there were no God. For the law is the copy of God's will: if God is, he must have a will; if he is holy, his will, and therefore his law, must be holy.
Perhaps, you thought it not, but in fact ď
you used to wish, either that there were no God, or that he were an unholy being. Oh, what an atheist's wish in the former case! What a heathen's wish in the latter! In either case, how full of ignorance, presumption, and guilt! May God,
who knew it, forgive thee, for Christ's represents the flower and its parts: a is sake, that thought of thy heart ! one of the calyx leaves, c the central bundle
This then, I maintain, that although of filaments, each of which terminates the there is in all men a natural conscience, seed, and is finally expanded into the fea- which confesses a distinction between thered tail d. At the bottom is the seed, good and evil; although there is in virwhich is conveyed to a distance by the ele- tue a majesty, which often commands gant appendage just described : 6 points to the respect even of the vicious ; yet one cell of the anther, which is placed upon
there is nothing in an unregenerate the outside of the filament, and at a dis- soul, which corresponds with this printance from the other cell. In many plants ciple of delighting in the law of God these cells are placed like a pair of tubes, after the inward man. No, brethren, side by side, but in the ranunculacea they
the charmer may charm ever so are distinct, and lie upon the back of the wisely, but in vain; the minstrel may filament. This distinction is minute, but exert bis utmost skill, and pour forth important, and if the garden clematis be strains sweet as the melodies of heaven, examined just before the flower opens, this but there is no chord which vibrates to peculiarity will be obvious. If the cle- his touch when he appeals to sinners, matis be not at hand, a bud, just ready to
dead in trespasses and sins, in praise of bloom, of the buttercup, will furnish sta
the beauty of holiness and the loveliness mens to exemplify this characteristic of the of spiritual religion. Listen, for instance, present order.
to the sweet singer of Israel, and see whether any carnal heart rejoices to echo his sentiments : “I will delight myself in thy statutes," Psalm cxix. 16.
testimonies are my delight, and my counOF GOD'S GRACE!
sellors," Psalm cxix. 24. “ I will delight
myself in thy commandments, which I The true believer is a regenerate per- have loved,” Psalm cxix. 47. “The law
The apostle describes the new of thy mouth is better unto me than
THE LOVE OF HOLINESS IS THE WORK