Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

ter dispersed from the tails of comets. been dark bodies, like vast planets, It is common to speak of the height of which, from some conflagration or other our atmosphere ; but, in fact, on the convulsion of nature, became luminous supposition of the infinite divisibility of for a time; and such phenomena sugmatter, every atmosphere must be in- gest that the prophecies of the Scrip. finitely extended, * each stratum being tures about the surface of our globe thinner than the one below it. And being destroyed, or perhaps repovated, meteors have been heard to explode at by fire, may be fulfilled literally. We estimated heights of fifty and seventy cannot know where the oxygen is to miles ; heights at which the air is so come from to support such a conflagrarare, that it does not appear to refract tion—perhaps froin the atmosphere of the sun's light, as the lower strata of some comet. the atmosphere do, producing twilight; There are other lights in nature beyet there must be air to transmit sound. sides those emitted in any process that The hypothesis of a rare atmosphere can be identified with combustion. Humfilling space derives still more plausi- boldt, in his “ Cosmos, remarks of the bility from the remark of Olbers, that aurora borealis:-there is reason to suppose the celestial spaces not to be perfectly transparent,

“This phenomenon derives the greater

. part of its importance from the fact, that The starry heavens are, in all probabi

" the earth becomes self-luminous, and that, lity, infinite, because the Creator in- as a planet. besides the light which it habits infinity, and is of infinite power. receives from the central body, the sun, it Were the number of stars, however, in- shows itself capable in itself of developing finite in every direction, and the celes- light. The intensity of the terrestrial light, tial spaces perfectly transparent, the eyo or rather the luminosity which is diffused, would meet a star at every point of the exceeds, in cases of the brightest coloured heavens, and the whole sky would be a radiation towards the zenith, the light of blaze of light. But air is not perfectly the moon in its first quarter. Occasionally, transparent: and if an almost infinitely as on the 7th of January 1831, printed rare atmosphere fills all space, the num

characters could be read without difficulty.

This almost uninterrupted development of ber of stars may be infinite without our in

our light in the earth leads us by analogy to being able to see any except some mil

the remarkable process exhibited in Venus. lions of the nearest.

The portion of this planet which is not illuThere are no more wonderful pheno- mined by the sun often shines with a phosmena in nature than those of variable, phorescent light of its own. It is not new, and extinguished stars. Some improbable that the moon, Jupiter, and the stars alternately appear and disappear. comets, shine with an independent light, When these variations are at short and besides the reflected solar light visible regular periods. we may suppose that through the polariscope. Without speakthe light is intercepted by some dark ing

dopring of the problematical, but yet ordinary revolving body during the periods of

& mode in which the sky is illuminated, when

a low cloud may be seen to shine with an obscuration ; or that the star rotates, uninterrupted Aickering light for many mis as all celestial bodies appear to do, al- nutes together, we still meet with many ternately presenting a bright and a dark other instances of terrestrial development side to us. But when the appearance of light in our atmosphere. In this cateand disappearance of a star occurs at gory we may reckon the celebrated lumilong or uncertain periods, neither of nous mists seen in 1783 and 1831 ; the these suppositions will account for the steady luminous appearance exhibited withfact: we can only conclude that some out any flickering in great clouds observed extraordinary and vast changes are at by Rosier and Beccaria; and lastly, as Arago work, at the nature of which we cannot

cannot well remarks, the faint, diffused light which even guess. Many stars have disap- 8

guides the steps of the traveller in cloudy,

" starless, and moonless nights, in autumn peared from their place in the firma.

irma. and winter." ment, and there are several instances of new ones having burst forth, shone The aurora borealis brings us back brightly for a few months, and vanished to the subject of magnetism again; for into darkness again. These must have it is well known to be accompanied by

* This does not imply that every atmosphere must contain an infinite quantity of air. The sum of an infinite but constantly diminishing series may be finite.

those disturbances of the magnetic aurora is brightest when meteors are needle technically called “magnetic falling. The part of the sky where a storms," though we know vothing of shooting.star appears is often imme. the manner in which the light is pro- diately lit up by the aurora. This may duced. It is even debateable whether perhaps be accounted for by the electhe magnetic disturbance is the cause, tricity which a meteor must excite by or the effect, of the atmospheric distur- its friction against the air, for electricity bance that takes place where the light is most closely connected with mag. of the aurora is emitted. It is a very netism. And the fact, wbich the pasgeneral belief that storms of wind follow sage we have given from Humboldt the anrora; and it is accompanied and establishes, that the earth's magnetism followed by peculiar depse clouds on the has an influence on the clouds, is renhorizon,* and light ones at a higher ele- dered less unaccountable by Faraday's vation. We quote again from Hum- discovery, that almost all bodies are boldt's “ Cosmos :"

affected by the magnet in one way or ". The connexion of polar light with the the other-by attraction or repulsion. f * most delicate cirrous clouds deserves sre- NOW, When we know that magnetism cial attention, because it shows that the has an atmospheric influence, and electro-magnetic evolution of light is a part when it is highly probable that the sun of a meteorological process. Terrestrial and moon influence our planet's magmagnetism here manifests its influence on netism, it seems likely that some conthe atmosphere and on the condensation of nexion may yet be proved between the aqueous vapour. The fleecy clouds seen motions of those bodies and the changes in Iceland by Thienemann, and which he that go on in our atmosphere. Arago considered to be the northern light, bave i

te is of, opinion “ that the barometrical been seen in recent times by Franklin and

variations, corresponding to the phases Richardson near the American north pole, and by Admiral Wrangell on the Siberian of the moon, are the effects of some coast of the Polar Sea. All remarked that special cause, totally different from sunithe aurora flashed forth in the most vivid versal] attraction, of which the nature beams when masses of cirrous strata were and mode of action are unknown." S hovering in the upper regions of the air, Aud we have been assured by a scienand when these were so thin that their pre- tific friend of ours, whom we believe to sence could only be recognised by the for- be free from both superstition and cremation of a halo round the moon.' These dulity, that the air is generally more clouds range themselves, even by day, in a free from clouds and mists when the similar manner to the beams of the aurora,

urora, moon is at the full than at other times, and then disturb the course of the magnetic

All these circumstances make us think needle in the same manner as the latter. On the morning after every distinct noc

it probable that the idea of the moon's turnal aurora, the same superimposed strata mfluence on the weather may yet be of clouds have still been observed that had elevated from a popular notion to a previously been luminous. The apparently scientific fact. Many laugh at this opi. converging polar zones (streaks of clouds in pion, but they ought to recollect for how the magnetic meridian), which constantly long men of science laughed at a far occupied my attention during my journeys more extraordinary fact--the existence on the elevated plateaux of Mexico, and in of meteoric stones, Northern Asia, belong, probably, to the We intend to glance at some more of same group of diurnal phenomena.”

the unsolved problems of science in a Humboldt also mentions that the future number.

* They must be in the zenith somewhere, but we have met with no mention of them, except at the horizon. It is probable that they have often been seen overhead, but not identified.

The magnetic pole appears to be meant.

The repulsive action of the magnet on most non-magnetic bodies is called diamagnetism.

Mrs. Somerville's “ Connexion of the Physical Sciences.”

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

The world proves to be much richer in the gold mines being soon exhausted; minerals than we thought it was. The on the contrary, it is probable that, in coal mines of England, invaluable as a country so richly stored with minerals they are, are far surpassed, in extent of every kind, every day may reveal and facility of working, by those of the some new treasure. We have alluded United States. The copper mines of to the copper mines of Adelaide, and Australia were the wonder of the world the eastern part of Australia is known for the abundance and richness of their to be very rich in coal and iron. ore, until we were startled by hearing It is not to be supposed that goldof great discoveries of copper-not ore mining can long continue to absorb all at all, but pure metalmon the shores of the attention of the people of such a Lake Superior. And now the gold country. When the present wild exmines of California, astonishingly pro- citement has subsided, the colonists will ductive though we know them to be, begin to turn the varied resources of are far surpassed by those of Australia. their country to account; and a great

It is not our intention at present to proportion of the emigrants will be despeak of the effect which the influx of sirous of abandoning so laborious an gold must have on the value of commo- occupation as gold-mining, and turning dities, and the rate of interest, and, to some easier, though perhaps less luthrough them, on our whole mercantile crative, pursuit. We have no doubt and social system. This is only one that the ultimate effect of the gold disclass of results which the gold disco- coveries will be to increase the supply veries will produce. We intend to speak of labour available for other employof the results which those discoveries ments than gold-mining, although at will produce in Australia itself, and of first they drew labour off from all other the duty of the parent State towards the employments. There is, however, not colony.

the slightest danger that such a counThe first effect of the news from the try as Australia can be overstocked Australian mines has been to attract a with a labouring population. Emigravast crowd of emigrants in that direc- tion is beneficial to all : to the emigrant, tion ; for nothing excites men's ima- who brings his labour to a better marginations like the notion of gather- ket; to the colony, which requires hands ing gold out of the ground. A cer- to cultivate its soil, and work its mises ; tainty of equal rewards to labour in and to the mother country, where emicopper-mining, or any other branch of gration has the effect of raising wages, industry, would not have produced any, and improving the position of the lathing like the excitement which the bouring class. Australian gold mines are causing in Since emigration has increased so this country. This emigration will con- enormously of its own accord, we have tinue, and perhaps increase. The peo- heard but little of“ systematic colonisaple of England are rapidly becoming tion ;" that is to say, colonisation under thoroughly familiar with the idea of government direction. It is the same seeking a home in another hemisphere, with colonisation as with commerce; the and there is not the slightest danger of bust that a government can do to aid either, is by giving the most unrestricted money, not an investment; the society's facility to private enterprise. The ex- fuud is not reproductive, as no interest pense of the emigration that is now is charged, and there is a risk of loss going on from Ireland to America—the from emigrants dying, or absconding vastest emigration which has yet been without making repayment; and nothing known in the history of mankind-is of this sort can be done on a great scale, defrayed either by the emigrants them- unless it, at least, pays its own exselves, or, in perhaps the majority of penses. We have seen it suggested cases, by their relatives who have gone that the legislature should facilitate the before them; and, in comparison with extension of the system of loans to emi. this unassisted and spontaneous emi- grants, by authorising contracts by gration, the “systematic colonisation" which emigrants should bind themof the Colonial Land and Emigration selves to repay their passage-money, Commissioners appears perfectly insig- with interest, in instalments, payment ficant in its results. But Mrs. Chisholm, to be recoverable by a summary prowho is probably the best authority in cess before the colonial magistrates. In the empire on such a subject, says, her consequence of the certainty of a perintercourse with emigrants has con- centage of loss from emigrants dying vinced her that the English, who chiefly or absconding, it would be necessary, in colonise Australia, would be willing to order to render the making of such addo as much as the Irish emigrants in Vances a safe and profitable investment, America towards assisting their friends to charge an additional amount as preat home, if equal facilities were af- mium of insurance against such risk ; forded them. At present it is difficult or, what would perhaps be better, as and expensive to make small remite tending more to enlist the feelings of tances (that is, ander £5) from Australia emigrants on the side of honesty, to to England, as the banks do not seek for unite a party of them into a group, as that kind of business; and it seems to us is done, though for different purposes, that scarcely anything would be so use- by the“ Family Colonisation Loan Soful to emigrants, and their relatives and ciety," and hold all the members of a friends at home, as the organisation of group answerable for the debt of each. à post-office order system between Aus- There is nothing unjust or new in such tralia and the mother country. This a system of insurance against fraud ; would have no tendency to supersede or it is merely an application of the prininterfere with private exertions in emi. ciple of the Guarantee Society, the gration, but would greatly facilitate members of which association hold them, and would probably do more good themselves jointly responsible for fraud in one year than any emigration com- committed by auy one of them on his missioners could do in ten.

employer. Neither is there anything There is another measure, of the be- new in the proposal to authorise such nefit of which we do not speak with the contracts for repayment of money adsame confidence, but it is certainly vanced, and to grant summary powers worthy of consideration as a means of for their enforcement ; such a system enabling emigrants to assist themselves exists in the United States, and is said and their relatives. A society is at to work well, and to facilitate emigrapresent in operation, called the “Fa- tion, an emigrant in that country somemily Colonisation Loan Society," which times borrows money, even before he owes its existence to the admirable Mrs. sets to work, for the purpose of romitChisholm. Its manner of working is ting home to bring out a wife or broto advance money to emigrants in or- ther. der to take thern out, to be repaid after Whether or not it is desirable to intheir arrival in Australia. No interest troduce such a system of loans into our is charged, and the emigrant, on mak. colonies, we have no doubt that coloniing the repayment, is allowed to name sation can proceed on a great and sucsome other person to whom the same cessful scale only when the expense of sum is to be advanced on the same emigration is paid by the emigrants terms. There is, perhaps, no way in themselves, or their relatives--that is to which more good could be done with say, when it is spontaneous. The "sysa comparatively small sum of money, tematic colonisation" of the Colonial But this is a charitable application of Land and Emigration Commissioners

was based on a different principle—that The artificial systein of land sales of paying for emigration with the pro- and emigration of which we have spoken ceeds of the sale of land in the colonies. Was so completely inapplicable to a pas. We do not say that such a system never toral country, that even the officials of can succeed, though we have not much Downing Street did not endeavour to faith in any systein that requires Go- enforce it in the case of pasture; they vernment regulation, and the setting of evaded their own regulation by granting an arbitrary price on land. The right grazing licenses at very low rates, but way of dealing with national lands for required payment of the full price of a the purpose of colonisation is, in our guinea an acre for cultivated land. opinion, to sell them at only such a price This was imposing a differential tax on as will pay the expense of survey and agriculture, as distinguished from passale.* The notion of selling Australiar. ture ; and it was a complete surrender lands at a higher price in other words, of the principle of the system, for it levying a tax on colonisation-for the made an exception which was almost purpose of bringing out labouring emi- as extensive as the rule. We cannot grants, was based on the perfectly true guess how much injury has been done theory that colonisation ought to pay by this most absurd tax on agriculture; its own expenses. But setting an ar- for, owing, no doubt, partly to its opetificially high price on wild land is a ration, we know comparatively little as most objectionable and oppressive way yet of the agricultural resources of Austo attain this end ; for it deprives the tralia. agricultural colonist of part of his capi. The colonists are well aware of the tal at the very time that he needs it mischief done by their public lands bemost, and it tends to prevent the popu- ing under the ignorant management of lation from dispersing themselves as the Colonial Office; and this subject much as circumstances may demand. held a prominent place in the “ Grand This last was one of the recommenda- Remonstrance," as we have seen it called, tions of the scheme in the eyes of its from the Legislature of New South propounder, Gibbon Wakefield, who, Wales, which was laid before the lmwith strange inconsistency in a disciple perial Parliament during the recent of Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham, session. The Australians do not ask thought that settlers in a new country for this or that administrative reform have a tendency to disperse themselves they demand that the management of too much, and that Government regu- colonial land be handed over to themlations are desirable to keep them con- selves. We know the argument against centrated. In colonisation, however, as this claim that colonial lands are not in commerce, the less interference with colonial but imperial property, and are the free action of individuals the better. to be administered for the benefit, not It is, perhaps, possible that, in the case of the colonies only, but of the whole of a purely agricultural colony, the sys- empire. This is true. But, whatever tem of paying for emigration by the administration of colonial lands is most sale of land might succeed; but Aus- for the advantage of Australia, is also tralia was till lately a pastoral country, most for our advantage ; and Austraand now it is chiefly a miping one. The lian lands will certainly be better adColonial Office attempted to introduce ministered by a commission at Sydney that system many years ago, but it than by a knot of functionaries in Lon. broke down in the pastoral times ; and don. We have no doubt that the pubno one can think of carrying it out now, lic lands of the United States are more when tens of thousands of emigrants useful to us than if they were adminis. are flocking out at their own expense. tered by our own Governinent. It would, It is a much better, simpler, and more no doubt, be quite reasonable, and inight universally applicable plan of making be desirable, to require, in any arrangecolonisation pay its own expenses, to ment made with the colonists, that the require emigrants to pay their own pas- laud revenue should be kept distinct sages, and, if thought desirable, to as- from the ordinary revenue, and that it sist them by advancing the passage. should be administered by a commission money in the way described.

appointed half by the home Government * Sce the article (in Nos. II., III., and IV.) on “Our American Empire."

« НазадПродовжити »