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places. Arcturus, for instance, has a progressive motion amounting to more than two seconds annually, Dr. Maskelyne also found, that, of the thirtysix stars of which he determined the places with great correctness, thirty-five of them were subject to variation; and, in catalogues of the stars, this annual difference of their positions is generally annexed with the sign plus or minus, showing whether it is to be added to, or subtracted from, the numbers previously given.
Here let the young astronomer pause, and reflect to what these observations lead him. The stars, shining by their own light, have been conceived by many able astronomers to be suns, each forming the centre of a system, and having its planetary bodies revolving round it, like those in the system to which the earth belongs. As we know that Infinite Wisdom cannot: create any thing in vain, it is reasonable to conclude that all these bodies are the abodes of intelligent beings, equally capable of enjoying their Creator's bounties, and reflecting their Maker's praise. When, in addition to this, we reflect upon the immense distances they are from us, that myriads of these suns exist far beyond the utmost power of mortal art to view, and even so distant that their light (notwithstanding its amazing velocity) may not have reached us since the creation of the world; this presents a view of the works of the great CREATOR too august for the human mind adequately to conceive. Instead of one sun, and one world, as the uninstructed and unreflecting generally suppose, we must admit an expanse so boundless, filled with suns and systems so infinite, that, were our Sun and his whole attendant train annihilated, by the Word of the same Power who called them into existence, it would not be missed by an eye that could take in the whole universe. This idea the poet exemplifies, when he says,
be Wer who callednibilated, by the Sun and bids and
• One single system is as nought in estimate
Or on the blade the dew-drop to the sea. If millions of suns at inconceivable distances from each other, attended by tens of millions of worlds, all revolving round them with incalculable rapidity and inexpressible harmony, and peopled by millions of millions of rational beings formed for endless felicity; if thus
The Great Sovereign sends ten thonsand worlds
YOUNG may we not justly exclaim with another poet, in reference to the great Author of their existence, without participating in the Platonic sentiment his excellent lines express:
Hail! Source of Being ! Universal Soul
THOMSON. Nor is this magnificent spectacle confined to one age or one country: wherever man exists it is equally visible; and the language of David, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work;' was not more applicable in his day than in ours. Yes; the same stars which shed their radiance on the antideluvian world still shine with undiminished brightness, and shall only be extinguished at the final consummation of all things, when “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. This idea of immutability is finely illustrated in Gillespie's Seasons contemplated in the Spirit of the Gospel,' where he says, “The stars which arrested the attention and directed the motions of the antient Patriarch, in his desert migrations with his flocks and his herds,—the constellations which rose upon the adventurous bark of the Phoenician, as he boldly braved the uncertainty and turbulence of the Adrian wave; the same twilight Hesperus, whose ascent taught the shepherd of Syria to pen his flocks, and secure his fold,—the same undiminished Light which rose in beauty upon Eden, and in all the gleam of fiery indignation over the devoted cities of the plain,—the same sister Luminary, whose withdrawings and renewals have interested the feelings and commanded the oblations of successive and countless generations,—these eternal demonstrations of God remain still the same, declaring from age to age, that, while subordinate objects are exposed to alteration and change, in form and composition, there is, behind the whole of this passing system, an Essence, and an Existence, which is fixed and immutable.'
The Naturalist's Diary
For AUGUST 1823. i SUMMER and Winter, day and night, shall not cease.—Gen. viii, v. 22.
The rich and glowing scenes of summer are now spread abroad in all their attractive magnificence; fields of waving corn, presenting to the eye a sea of elegant bending stems,--the embrowned surface of vegetation,-and the full-leafed forest trees bowing their stupendous heads to the wind,- the orchards and gardens teeming with golden fruit, and produce of almost every tint-form a picture at once grand and delightful. But upon all this goodly scene of summer-joy, and festivity,' (observes a powerful writer) “there is a “ MENE"" of departing glory
i Dan. v, 26.
legibly inscribed. History has preserved the record of his conduct, who wept over the limited extent of universal conquest :-and after the great plan of nature has actually been accomplished, and nothing more of growth or decoration remains to be exhibited,
and the very next stage conducts inevitably and invariably to decay and dissolution, is it not natural for man to experience a like sentiment of vacuity and disappointment ? During the winter season the seeds lay buried in the earth, and we condoled ourselves by the anticipation of spring. In spring, too, we were pleased and gratified by the reflection that there still remained another stage of advance towards maturity. But on the establishment of summer, when the year is at length crowned with accomplishment, the heart sickens at the chilling reflection that nothing further can be looked for!-How curiously was the plant formed which sprung up into maturity before us! How variegated with colour, and shape, and elegance, were the leaf, and the bud, and the flower! To impart strength, and secure progression, and a full development of character, the west wind blew kindly—the earth lent her nourishing juices--the sun returned from his distant excursion-and the whole agency of nature appeared to be overruled and directed. But now that the shrub has attained its destined growth-that the finishing touch has been put to the object of so much aim and arrangement, the sun has commenced his retreat. Decay approaches; the process is henceforward reversed; and down again to the dust, by inches and by hours, must descend the hope of spring and the pride of summer!
The powerful influence of the solar rays now contributes to ripen the various sorts of grain which are benevolently given for the food of man and cattle. The time of commencing the harvest and the manner of taking it vary in different districts, as do the ceremonies, now almost extinct, which are observed
at its conclusion'. In Scotland it is usual for the women to reap as well as the men. They choose their partners for the harvest; each by the lass he loves, has his station in the field—the maid takes part of the reap, and goes on before, leaving what corn she cuts in small heaps, called cats, which when her partner comes up, he adds to the sheaf; the whole business being enlivened by the occasional song of hope and merriment:
Such have I heard in Scottish land,
On lowland plains, the ripened ear.
W ALTER SCOTT. In antient times, persons were allowed to glean in orchards and vineyards, as well as in corn-fields. Esdras seems to allude to this custom : In an orchard of olives, upon every tree there are left three or four olives; when a vineyard is gathered, there are left some clusters for them that diligently seek through the vineyard.-Book II, chap. xvi, v, 29, 30. -- An interesting account of an Italian harvest, in the neighbourhood of Rome, is given by Mrs. Graham, in her recent work descriptive of that country. "The wheat is reaped towards the end of June, and throughout July, ten days later than the harvest of the Campagna. As soon as a large field, or two or three adjoining fields, are reaped, a threshing floor is prepared, and the grain is trodden out by horses; so that it is.threshed before it is stored, or even removed from the field ; a practice that could not obtain in our uncertain climate. The clayey nature of the soil renders Virgil's precept, to
chard of ons to alludes as well as
Delve of convenient depth your threshing floor,. . With tempered clay then fill and face it o'er,
1 For an account of the manner of taking the harvest in Swisser. land, consult our last volume, pp. 234-236.
62 Dryden's Virgil, Georg. 1. v. 258. We saw threshing floors, such as Virgil describes, in the neighbourhood of Naples.