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men, would scorn to give his paw to one,
in whose eye, and in whose face, he, by his
fine instinct, in some respects the equal, if
not the superior, of reason, discovered
treachery or evil.


IN a paper headed The Universe,* we
put on record facts proving that the great
whole (of which our solar system is but an
infinitely small fraction) is one in material
constitution. The spectral analysis of light
has shown that the most distant visible
heavenly bodies contain substances exactly
the same as those which make up the solid
crust of the earth. Thus, Aldebaran (the
star marked 8 in the Bull) has soda,
magnesia, hydrogen, lime, iron, bismuth,
tellurium, antimony, and mercury. Sirius, the
Dog Star, likewise confesses to soda,
magnesia, hydrogen, and probably iron; and not
only the stars but many of the nebulæ have
been made to avow their possession of
similar, if not exactly identical elements.

* See ALL THE YEAR ROUND, New Series, vol, ii., p. 10.

In the Annuaire of the Bureau des Longitudes,
for 1870, M. Delaunay confirms the
theory of the unity of the constitution of
the universe by a different set of facts and
arguments which have all the charm of
novelty. For ages, nobody knew what they
meant; and we read his lucid explanation
with the pleasure enjoyed in guessing a
riddle which has long puzzled our brains,
if we may compare the solution of a play
on words with the satisfaction of obtaining
the grandest views of nature. In the present
"notice" he treats of what we may learn
from the various kinds of meteorsa term
which, in its Greek original, means merely
something hanging aloft.

Spectral analysis has enabled us to study
the material elements of the heavenly
bodies; but this is not the only means we
possess of discovering directly the secrets
of the constitution of the universe.
Certain phenomena, now to be examined, put
it in our power to make a close inspection
of a considerable number of bodies
distributed in space. "We can even handle
some of these bodies, and analyse them by
the various processes which our laboratories
have at their command. The results have
been valuable, from their verifying, directly
and undeniably, the notions already derived
from other sources respecting the condition
and nature of the matter dispersed throughout
celestial space.

While gazing at the starry heavens, we
often see a bright point dart rapidly across
the constellations, and then disappear without
leaving any trace. This is what we
call a shooting star. Sometimes the
brilliant point marks the line of its passage
by leaving behind it a luminous train,
which lasts a few instants, but vanishes
soon afterwards. The path of the shooting
star is usually rectilinear or straight, or
rather it would coincide with the arc of a
great circle traced on the celestial
hemisphere. In a few cases, which are very
rare, the path presents successive
sinuosities, or takes a decided bend, making an
angle, sometimes very large, with the direction
it followed at the outset. In other
words, the shooting star seems to travel
in a serpentine course, or rapidly to change
its direction, and even, in certain instances,
it seems to go back again, returning
towards its starting-point. Shooting stars
constitute a special class of luminous
meteors, which appear at all times and
seasons. Not a night passes without
several of them being observed. The
frequency with which they show themselves,
as we shall see by-and-bye, is more or less
great, according to circumstances.

From time to time, but much less rarely,
there occurs a phenomenon, the same in
kind, but much greater in intensity. A
luminous body of considerable and
appreciable dimensions rapidly traverses the
heavens, shedding a bright light in all
directions. It resembles a ball of fire,
whose apparent magnitude is often
comparable to that of the moon. This body
generally leaves behind it a very visible
luminous train. Often, during or immediately
after its appearance, an explosion
takes place, and even occasionally several
explosions, which are heard at different and
widely distant places on the surface of the
earth. Frequently, also, the explosion is
accompanied by the bursting of the ball of
fire into luminous fragments, which seem
projected in different directions. This
phenomenon constitutes what is called a
meteor proper, or, by French naturalists, a
bolide- a word we might well naturalise,
as it is used in that sense by Pliny, and is
derived from a Greek verb to throw, to
shoot out. The phenomenon occurs by
day as well as by nightonly in the first
case the light it emits is very much
diminished by the light of the sun, and,
in fact, is only perceptible when developed
with considerable intensity.

On the other hand, on the earth's