Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/691

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673
ON RAINBOWS.

some brink, but they are drawn to it by the hope of beholding the mysterious apparition known as the "Fo-Kuang," or "Glory of Buddha," which floats in mid-air, half-way down. So many eye-witnesses had told me of this wonder, that I could not doubt; but I gazed long and steadfastly into the gulf without success, and came away disappointed, but not incredulous. It was described to me as a circle of brilliant and many-colored radiance, broken on the outside with quick flashes and surrounding a central disk as bright as the sun, but more beautiful. Devout Buddhists assert that it is an emanation from the aureole of Buddha, and a visible sign of the holiness of Mount O.

Impossible as it may be deemed, the phenomenon does really exist. I suppose no better evidence could be desired for the attestation of a Buddhist miracle than that of a Baptist missionary, unless, indeed, it be, as in this case, that of two Baptist missionaries. Two gentlemen of that persuasion have ascended the mountain since my visit, and have seen the Glory of Buddha several times. They relate that it resembles a golden sun-like disk, inclosed in a ring of prismatic colors more closely blended than in the rainbow. . . . The missionaries inform me that it was about three o'clock in the afternoon, near the middle of August, when they saw the meteor, and that it was only visible when the precipice was more or less clothed in mist. It appeared to lie on the surface of the mist, and was always in the direction of a line drawn from the sun through their heads, as is certified by the fact that the shadow of their heads was seen on the meteor. They could get their heads out of the way, so to speak, by stooping down, but are not sure if they could do so by stepping aside. Each spectator, however, could see the shadows of the by-standers as well as his own projected on to the appearance. They did not observe any rays spreading from it. The central disk, they think, is a reflected image of the sun, and the inclosing ring is a rainbow. The ring was in thickness about one fourth of the diameter of the disk, and distant from it by about the same extent; but the recollection of one informant was that the ring touched the disk, without any intervening space. The shadow of a head, when thrown upon it, covered about one eighth of the whole diameter of the meteor. The rainbow ring was not quite complete in its lower part, but they attribute this to the interposition of the edge of the precipice. They see no reason why the appearance should not be visible at night when the moon is brilliant and appositely placed. They profess themselves to have been a good deal surprised, but not startled, by the spectacle. They would consider it remarkable rather than astonishing, and are disposed to call it a very impressive phenomenon.

It is to be regretted that Mr. Baber failed to see the "Glory," and that we in consequence miss his own description of it. There seems a slight inadvertence in the statement that the head could be got out of the way by stooping; for, as long as the "Glory" remained a circle, the shadow of the head must have occupied its center. Stepping aside would simply displace the bow, but not abolish the shadow.

Thus, starting from the first faint circle seen drawn through the thick darkness at Alp Lusgen, we have steadily followed and developed our phenomenon, and ended by rendering the "Glory of Buddha" a captive of the laboratory. The result might be taken as typical of larger things.