Page images
PDF
EPUB

in every instance, when we take a series of years together, that is without any perceptible change or variation whatever. If there be not evidence overwhelming, of arrangement and design in this, such as could result only from a union of power and intellect beyond our limited ability to measure,

then w

may distrust not only the plainest conclu. sions of our reason, but the very fact of our own existence, or the ex. istence of any thing that we see and handle.

The individual who would seriously assert that the movement communicated to the machinery of a clock or a steam-engine could be the result of a self-acting principle belonging to the things themselves; or that motion when once communicated to them would continue to act until the machine itself wore out; would be regarded as a promising candidate for bedlam : but if he asserted that the motion originally communicated to the planetary bodies was to be ascribed to the inherent forces and qualities of matter, and that this motion once given would act forever without diminution or change, unless a counteracting force should change the direction; and that this could be done without diminishing the rate of motion, which would still go on, notwithstanding the direction of the original movement, should be controlled and over. come by a master power; then indeed, according to the received theory, he might be regarded as a profound investigator of the laws which govern the universe !

How the grosser forms of matter are directly operated upon by what are supposed to be immaterial and spiritual agencies or powers, is a matter beyond our comprehension; but some faint conception of it may be deduced from the known operations of the human will upon the powers of our bodies, which are directed and controlled at pleasure, as we all know from experience, by the conscious intellectual operation of our wills: The mystery in both cases is beyond the reach of our understanding ; but if to doubt the fact of our own experience in the one case would be more than folly, to disbelieve in the other would argue far greater unsoundness of the intellect. But how much is our astonishment increased by the overwhelming reflection, that the solar system itself is but a mere point in the universe ; one only of a congregation of systems in which every visible fixed star is the centre of attraction to systems of worlds like ours, and what there is beyond; how much the visible displays and evidences of Almighty power may be exceeded by the unseen and invisible, can only be a subject of conjecture ; but reasoning from analogy, and from the fact that our telescopes reveal a multitude of similar wonders that are hidden from the naked eye, it is reasonable to suppose that the boundaries of creation exceed any limits that our finite conceptions may be able at their utmost stretch, to imagine. That there is a limit, however, seems proba. ble, from the consideration that every thing created has assignable limits given to it; and that space itself being illimitable, beyond the depths of creation, there must be depths of endless and eternal void, to form any definite conception of which our minds, overwhelmed and awe-struck, recoil from the attempt with dismay.

In order to make his objections to the received theory of planetary motion better understood by those who may not have reflected upon the

WI

subject; and in the hope that some one among your readers may be induced to give a satisfactory explanation of it, if that be possible ; your correspondent hopes, by the aid of the following figure, to put the theory and his objections in a more distinct and tangible form than he would otherwise be able :

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

D

F

Supposing E, the earth, to be put in motion and to move forward in a straight line; the received theory teaches that when it arrives at A, or within the power of the sun's attraction at S, it will be diverted from a right line; and approach the sun by the elliptical line AC D, with a steadily accelerated movement until it arrives at F, when the centrifu. gal force becomes so powerful from its continually accelerated motion in passing from A to F, as to overcome the sun's attraction ; and that it then in consequence pursues the diverging line F O to A, where it first began to be drawn from a straight line; when the continued operation of the same causes keeps up the same movement forever.

Now supposing the first part of the theory to be demonstrably true, that when the earth is first diverted from a straight line and drawn toward S or the sun, that it would describe the curve line A CDF, and that the centrifugal movement would be accelerated by the increased power of attraction at S; what reason is there for assuming that when the earth arrives at F, the nearest point on the line to the power attracting it, that it should not continue to approach the sun until it fell upon him ? Because, says the advocate of the received theory, the centrifugal force of the earth's motion has become so greatly increased that the centripetal power of the sun's attraction is overcome. Now here lies the difficulty. The centrifugal motion of the earth is unquestionably increased, but it cannot have increased in the same ratio as the power of attraction, for it is evident that when the earth arrives at F, the attraction of the sun will be many times greater than when it is at A.

It will be recollected, too, that notwithstanding the accelerated centrifugal motion while the earth is describing the curve line A CDF, and it is steadily approaching the sun, that the centripetal power maintains its uniform ascendency over the centrifugal ; how is it then when the earth arrives at F, where the centripetal power acts with the greatest energy, that this power should not continue to act with increasing force ? Such clearly must be the case, notwithstanding the accelerated centrifugal motion. To suppose that the master-power would be overcome by its own action at the very point where its power is greatest, seems to involve a downright absurdity. It is evident enough that the centripetal power is steadily and rapidly overcoming the antagonist movement until the earth arrives at F, and to suppose that its power must then lessen when it is several times greater than at A, on account of the increased rapidity of the earth's movement toward the very power that is attracting it, is to suppose, according to the view of your correspondent, a downright impossibility.

There is another difficulty in relation to the supposed effect of the centripetal power. If this be so great as is assumed, how happens it that the sun's attraction, which is supposed to keep the planets in their courses, does not stop or arrest their rotary motion ? The power of the sun, for instance, is supposed to act so powerfully on our earth, by the law of attraction, as actually to have changed its shape by enlarging it at the equator and flattening it at the poles. Would not such a power unceasingly acting with such energy upon those parts of the earth's surface which are always acted upon from one direction, arrest in time its rotary motion ? And yet we believe that for the last six thousand years certainly, it has not caused the period of the diurnal motion of the earth to vary one single minute ?

It would seem indeed as if there are many more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy ;' and however humbling the reflection may be to our pride, it is by no means impossible that other theories 'will rise with other years,' in relation to this and many other subjects, which are now supposed to rest upon the immoveable basis of truth.

The ascertained movements of several of the comets all of which it is probable are subject to fixed laws, and perform their revolutions in nearly uniform periods — involve this subject in yet greater mystery. The comet of 1680, for instance, is supposed to be upward of five hundred years in performing a single revolution of its orbit, and to be thousands of millions of miles distant when farthest from the sun, and but a few thousands of miles from the sun's surface when nearest to him. Is it credible that a power which is supposed to retain this comet in its orbit when at a distance of eleven thousand millions of miles, would not overcome its centrifugal motion when it approaches so near the sun's surface as almost to touch it?

If it be urged in support of the received theory, that satellites, planets, suns, and systems of worlds, by a constantly operating mutual attraction exert a powerful agency in preventing the power of gravitation from destroying planetary motion, it may be answered, that the reason is a sound one, as far as it may have an application, provided the number of

systems be infinite. But if the number be finite, and there be a mutual and counteracting attraction between these systems of the worlds, 'then it is evident that those on the confines of creation, according to this theory, would be subjected to an influence from the centre only, and would be drawn in that direction. The theory then requires its advocates to believe that there are no limits to creation ; that there is no real distinction between time and eternity, and that matter itself is eternal ; for if there be no limits to its extent, there can be no limit to its duration. There would seem to be nothing to warrant this belief but the most un. philosophical assumption alone; for if matter be thus limitless and selfsustained, the received theory of planetary motion involves a practical denial of the necessary agency of a Great Controlling Mind in the system of the universe.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The widow's home is desolate, and lonely is its hearth,
That echoes not with cheerful tones nor sounds of household mirth ;
And when the golden sunshine falls within each lonely room,
It only lends to her sad heart a deeper shade of gloom.
The perfumed breath of summer winds, revealing early flowers,
Steals softly through the open sash from out the garden bowers,
But bears not on its freshening breeze the sounds of childish glee
That fell upon that mother's heart, like music wild and free.

11.

Yet often to the casement still, with anxious steps she flies,
But turns away with bitter tears and agonizing sighs;
The voices that were calling her with tones of tenderest love,
The restless and unquiet dreams of yearning fancy prove;
For she has laid them all to rest, the earliest and the last;
The bourne to which their steps are gone, no traveller e'er repassed!
On earth those fondly-cherished ones will meet her not again —
The memory of her vanished bliss is all she may retain.

111.

But ever dwells she on their words, their kisses and their tears,
As if they parted yesterday, and not in long.past years;
And well can she remember yet, each gentle look and tone,
The pressure of the soft white arms that round her neck were thrown;
The pleading eyes so sadly raised in sickness and in pain,
As meekly asking aid from her who felt it was in vain;
The dying clasp ; the parting sigh; life's lowest, faintest moan,
Deep graven on her heart will be, till life itself is flown.

Iv.

And now her thoughts to others seem but memory of the dead,
For all save interest in the past for her has ever fled;
A locket with the differing braids of brown and golden hair,
Is dearer to her aching sight than jewels rich and rare;
The broken toy, the faded Aower, that last their young hands pressed,
Are daily wet with burning tears, and clasped upon her breast;
And but one soothing hope can cheer the path yet to be trod,
The children that are lost to her, have found a home with God.

GUARD - HOU SE T A L E S.

NUMBER ONE.

STORY

OF

JOHN JOHNSON

say :

I was born with the present century, or nearly so ; for in February, 1800, in a quiet town in England, I drew my first breath. My father gained some notoriety, and considerable money, at the bar of my native place. He had the misfortune to be a younger brother. My mother was the daughter of a Scottish nobleman, and was rich only in family pride. I was educated in Scotland; and a mistake made in my school, may be attributed much of my subsequent misfortunes. My first development' was impetuosity, and I was permitted to be arrogant and domineering. If I had been properly curbed, this evil might have been avoided. I was suffered, at the instance of my too-indulgent parents, to visit in certain families of the neighborhood. Among them was that of a clergyman, who was a class-mate of my father's. In his presence my general manner was so disguised that I retained his esteem; and it seemed that he was not the only one whose regard I had secured. Even when I sat in his presence, self.condemned, he would look at me and • How like you are to your father when he was young, both in appearance

and manners ! Once he told me an anecdote of the bash. fulness of my father and himself: “They had called upon some ladies, and finding the room quite full, neither could muster courage to knock at the door, and by mutual consent both retired unnoticed! His daugħter, like himself, mixed in society only to see its bright side ; she knew no guile, and thought none. Finding that her father had so much confidence in me, the daughter gave me hers, and it was the only instance in which I did not abuse it. Why it was, I know not; but I could never bring my mind to do her a wrong. It is a hard matter to sustain two characters; and my real one was known to every one else.

A circumstance at last occurred, which drove me from my last hold upon virtuous society. A poor girl, who had been deluded by myself and companions, was brought to a sense of her lost condition. moment of penitence, she sought the consolation of a full confession of her errors to my father's friend, the pastor. What were his surprise and my mortification, I will not attempt to describe. It was the first thing to call me to a sense of my degradation. I had many misgivings as to my course. I would have quitted the place at once, but I could not think of doing so without an attempt, at least, tó excuse myself to

In a

* OUR friend 'ROPER,' to whose pen we were indebted for the admirable sketch of The White Fawn,' has sent us a series of Guard-House Tales,' founded on fact, which we have reason to believe will prove of no common interest to our readers. The present story was written down from the lips of a soldier in the American army, during the Seminole war. It bears upon its face the air of perfect truthfulness; and while its jucidents are spirited though simple, its lessons are highly valuable, in a moral point of view.

ED. KNIOXERDOCKS VOL. XXV.

68

« PreviousContinue »