Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/310

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imagination tires in winging its way to these star-clusters, so far removed from us that each one may be called another universe of God. From them nothing comes to us but the faint, palpitating throb of an ethereal wave; no tidings cross that gulf save what flew throughout the universe when He who made these systems first said, "Let there be light." And, if thought falters and figures fail in the presence of these infinitudes of distance, no less do they when the dimensions of these nebulous fields are contemplated. The nearest star, viewed with a power of 6,000 diameters, shows no proper disk, and is still only a brilliant point. Its diameter, though perhaps greater than that of our own sun, is still at least 6,000 times too small to come within the limits of unaided vision. But many nebulaæ, though almost infinitely farther removed, are still of extent sufficient to more than fill the telescopic field. Who, then, can estimate their absolute dimensions?

Such, then, are the magnitudes and distances which the godlike human intellect has undertaken to determine. And still art vies with science to fashion lenses that shall gather at their focus still more and more of that luminous intelligence that discloses to the mind of man the secrets of the outside universe. But as the space-penetrating power of the telescope is increased, and the bright spots of light are resolved into groups of brilliant stars, more nebulous haze comes up from the deep distance, indicating that the visual ray is not yet long enough to fathom the mighty depths. There is still haze behind, independent of those nebulæ shown to be gaseous by the spectroscope. The telescopic ray has not yet shot entirely through the mighty distance, leaving only the deep, dark heavens beyond as the background of the brilliant picture. The words uttered by David spring to our lips with fuller meaning when we look out upon the glorious heavens illumined by the concentrated light of these latter days: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?"


QUESTION (Chairman). I need hardly ask, you are a writer of philosophical and scientific books?

Answer. I am.

Q. Would you give the commission your experience of the terms on which you published your first book?

  1. Tuesday, March 6, 1877: Lord John Manners, M.P., in the chair. Members of the commission present, Sir Henry T. Holland, Sir Louis Mallet, Sir Julius Benedict, Farrer Herschell, Dr. William Smith, J. A. Froude, Esq., Anthony Trollope, Esq., F. R. Daldy, Esq.