Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/495

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479
A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE CORRIDORS OF TIME.

age. I have seen old oysters obtained from newly discovered and crowded beds that as food were literally worthless; but the specimens discussed were not found in such conditions.

It is fortunate for science when some intelligent man like Captain Brown puts the student in the way of a fact so interesting; and that interest grows into an intense enjoyment when the tradition is ratified by a reading of Nature's own writing. I remember the case of an oyster-grower at Keyport, who noticed that a fine "prime" oyster was spoiled for market because the dredge had broken a piece, measuring three quarters of an inch, off the nib, so that the mollusk itself was exposed. This was in October. He took the broken oyster and put it in the water by the side of a pile. Next summer he examined it, and found that the animal had completely repaired his house, thus establishing two important facts—the great damage which the mollusk can repair, and the time needed for the reparation.

 

A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE CORRIDORS OF TIME.[1]
By ROBERT S. BALL, LL. D., F. R. S.,

ANDREWS PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN, AND ROYAL ASTRONOMER OF IRELAND.

YOUR committee has done me much honor by inviting me to deliver the first lecture in this large and very beautiful hall. In accepting the task I was aware that it involved a great responsibility, but I had various grounds of encouragement. I remembered that I was not coming among you as a stranger, and I knew that I had a subject worthy of a memorable occasion. I would I were equally confident of my ability to do justice to so noble a theme.

The lecture bears the somewhat poetic title of "A Glimpse through the Corridors of Time." A poetic title has been chosen, because, if I can properly exhibit the subject, you will see that it appeals powerfully to the imagination as well as to the reason. I shall invite you to use your imagination to aid in looking back into the very remotest recesses of antiquity. And when I speak of antiquity I do not mean the paltry centuries with which our historians have to deal. The ancient days to which I refer are vastly anterior to those of the "grand old masters" and those of the "bards sublime." Nor do we even allude to the thousands of years which have elapsed since Babylon and Nineveh were splendid and populous cities. Even the noble pyramids of Egypt are but of yesterday when compared with the æons of years which must pass before our review.

The most ancient human monuments that now exist can not, I sup-

  1. Lecture delivered at the Midland Institute, Birmingham, October 24, 1881.