Page images
PDF
EPUB

8. And he who has not learned to know
How false its sparkling bubbles show,
How bitter are the drops of woe,
With which its brim may overflow,

He has not learned to live.

9. The prayer of Ajax was for light;
Through all that dark and desperate fight,
The blackness of that noonday night,
He asked but the return of sight,

To see his foeman's face.

10. Let our unceasing, earnest prayer
Be, too, for light, — for strength to bear
Our portion of the weight of care,
That crushes into dumb despair

One half the human race.

11. O suffering, sad humanity!
O ye afflicted ones, who lie
Steeped to the lips in misery,
Longing, and yet afraid to die,

Patient, though sorely tried !

12. I pledge you in this cup of grief,
Where floats the fennel's bitter leaf,
The battle of our life is brief,
The alarm,- the struggle, — the relief, —

Then sleep we side by side.

Questions. What is the lesson taught by this piece? Make a clear explanation of the allusion to fennel.

XXVII.- UNFINISHED PROBLEMS OF THE UNI

VERSE.

0. M, MITCHEL. 1. I cannot detain you to speak of the other departments of astronomical observation, to which I have given much attention. Suffice it to say, we are now recording the places of the stars, in our observatory, with a rapidity and accuracy I think hitherto unheard of. The observer takes his place at the telescope. An assistant is located in such a manner as to read the difference of north polar distance between any assumed standard star and the stars whose places are required, and, just as fast as the stars can come into the field of view, we find it possible to mark their places, and fix their position, and catalogue their magnitudes and peculiarities. Thus we are sweeping a zore of five degrees in width, with an accuracy and precision equal to that of micrometric work. How many stars, think you, we are thus enabled to mark down in a single minute of time? I have taken that group of the Pleiades, and in five minutes I have fastened the places of from thirty to forty stars. In a single hour, in the richer portions of the Milky Way, in a zone of a single degree in width, I have recorded the places of more than one hundred stars.

2. I hope, therefore, that the time is coming when the stars cannot take refuge in their numbers and distance, and defy the power of man to dislodge them from the high concave in which they are entrenched. We shall grapple with them there; we shall hunt them down; we shall record their places; we shall number them as they come out from the depths of heaven under the penetrating gaze of the great telescopic eye which man has turned toward the stellar sphere! Will you do your part in this grand work ? Are you ready to begin? Are you prepared to give a helping hand to the sentinel who gives his time, his talents, and all that he has on earth, to this grand and magnificent investigation ?

3. We have passed from planet to planet, from sun to sun, from system to system. We have reached beyond the limits of this mighty stellar cluster with which we are allied. We have found other island universes sweeping through space. The great unfinished problem still remains—Whence came this universe ? Have all these stars which glitter in the heavens been shining from all eternity ? Has our globe been rolling around the sun for ceaseless ages? Whence, whence this magnificent architecture, whose architraves rise in splendor before us in every direction? Is it all the work of chance?

4. I answer, No! It is not the work of chance. Who shall reveal to us the true cosmogony of the universe by which we are surrounded? Is it the work of an Omnipotent Architect? If so, who is this August Being? Go with me to-night, in imagination, and stand with old Paul, the great Apostle, upon Mars-hill, and there look around you as he did. Here rises that magnificent building, the Parthenon, sacred to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. There towers her colossal statue, rising in its majesty above the city of which she was the guardian—the first object to catch the rays of the rising, and the last to be kissed by the rays of the setting, sun. There are the temples of all the gods; and there are the shrines of every divinity. And yet, I tell you these gods and these divinities, though created under the inspiring fire of poetic fancy and Greek imagination, never reared this stupendous structure by which we are surrounded. The Olympic Jove never built these heavens. The wisdom of Minerva never organized these magnificent systems. I say, with St. Paul, “Oh, Athenians, in all things I find you too superstitious; for, in passing along your streets, I find an altar inscribed, To the Unknown God— Him whom ye ignorantly worship; and this is the God I declare unto you — the God that made heaven and earth, who dwells not in temples made with hands."

5. No, here is the temple of our Divinity. Around us and above us rise sun and system, cluster and universe. And I doubt not that in every region of this vast empire of God, hymns of praise and anthems of glory are rising and reverberating from sun to sun and from system to system—heard by Omnipotence alone across immensity and through eternity!

XXVIII.—THE COMET.

THOMAS Hood.
1. Amongst professors of astronomy,
Adepts in the celestial economy,
The name of Herschel's very often cited;

And justly so, for he is hand and glove
With every bright intelligence above;
Indeed, it was his custom so to stop,
Watching the stars upon the house's top,
That once upon a time he got benighted
2. In his observatory thus coquetting

With Venus, or with Juno gone astray,
All sublunary matters quite forgetting
In his flirtations with the winking stars,
Acting the spy,-- it might be upon Mars-

A new Andre;
Or, like a Tom of Coventry, sly peeping
At Dian sleeping;
Or ogling through his glass
Some heavenly lass
Tripping with pails along the Milky Way;
Or looking at that wain of Charles, the Martyr

Thus he was sitting, watchman of the sky,

When lo! a something with a tail of flame
Made him exclaim,

My stars !” — he always puts that stress on myMy stars and garters! 3. “A comet, sure as I'm alive!

A noble one as I should wish to view;

It can't be Halley's though, that is not due
Till eighteen thirty-five.
Magnificent !- how fine his fiery trail !

Zounds ! 'tis a pity, though, he comes unsought-
Unasked — unreckoned,- in no human thought-
He ought—he ought-he ought

To have been caught
With scientific salt upon his tail !

4. “I looked no more for it, I do declare, Than the Great Bear!

As sure as Tycho Brahe is dead,

It really entered in my head No more than Berenice's Hair!" Thus musing, heaven's grand inquisitor Sat gazing on the uninvited visitor, Till John, the serving man, came to the upper Regions, with,“ Please your honor, come to supper.”

5. “Supper! good John, to-night I shall not sup, Except on that phenomenon - look up!” “Not sup !” cried John, thinking with consternation That supping on a star must be star-vation, Or ev'n to batten On ignes fatui would never fatten. His visage seemed to say, — that very odd is,

But still his master the same tunc ran on,

« PreviousContinue »