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such a lump of emptiness as myself round your neck. Even your overflow of life would not suffice long to vivify me. A man whose wife has been forced to desert him six months after marriage-a man who, merely by being himself, could change an innocent and highspirited girl into a miserable outcast-such a fellow as that has neither the power nor the right to claim the love of a woman like you. Perdita, I am not fit even to commit a genuine sin ! May God help me to the decency of keeping henceforth to myself! What would be, at least, generosity and courage in you, would be selfish and dastardly in me. It amazes me that I can feel even the shame and self-contempt that I am trying to give utterance to. But probably I shall have forgotten that too by to-morrow !'
"All that is very extravagant and impolite," said Perdita, pleasantly. “You should know better than to abuse a gentleman whom I esteem, and ... who cannot defend himself! Seriously, Philip, if I am angry with you, it is because you are quite right. I will not compliment you on your virtue, because you don't seem to think of that so much as to be afraid of becoming a burden on my hands. No-I perceive, underneath your disguise, a courteous desire to save me from the consequences of my own rashness. It is the act of a true gentleman and ... I shall never forgive it! I must, like you, have some occupation, and since you will not let me love you, you shall give employment to my hate. It will be just as amusing, and a great deal more comme il faut! And then, some day--who knows?-your lost Marion may turn up again, neither better nor worse than other men's wives, and with her curiosity as to the world gratified. And then you will be happier than ever. Will you
drink another glass of wine ?”
“Yes !” said Philip, pouring it out, and taking the glass in his hand. “I drink to your new occupation, Perdita. May it bring you satisfaction : and may you long enjoy it !”
“ Stay !” exclaimed she : “let me drink too. But my toast shall be different. May the day on which I forgive you be the last day I live !"
They drank, and set down their glasses ; and exchanged a final look. Was it hate that he saw in her eyes, or love? Often afterwards that question recurred to Philip's mind, and never found a certain answer. But he always remembered Perdita as she stood there, erect and bright, with a smile on her beautiful face, and her red lips wet with the red wine.
(To be continued.)
ATMOSPHERE versus ETHER.
NE of the most remarkable meteors of which we have a reliable
record appeared on February 6, 1818. Several accounts of it were published, the fullest being that in The Gentleman's Magazine of the time. (I may here add, parenthetically, that one reason why I have especial pleasure in writing these notes is that they contribute something towards the restoration of the ancient status of this Magazine, which was at one time the only English serial that ventured upon any notable degree of exposition of popular science.)
Upon the data supplied by this account, Mr. Joule has calculated the height of the meteor to have been 61 miles above the surface of the earth, and he states that “this meteor is one of the few that have been seen in the daytime, and is also interesting as having been one of the first whose observation afforded materials for the estimation of its altitude." It was seen in the neighbourhood of Cambridge at 2 P.M., also at Swaffham in Norfolk, and at Middleton Cheney near Banbury. The distance between this and Cambridge is sufficient to afford a measurement of its height, provided its position above the horizon at both places was determined with tolerable accuracy.
According to the orthodox text-books, the atmosphere of this earth terminates at a height of about 45 or 50 miles, or, if not absolutely ended there, it ceases to be of appreciable density anywhere above this elevation.
But here we have a fact which flatly contradicts the calculation. At 6 miles above the earth's surface there must be atmospheric matter of sufficient density to offer to the passage of this meteor through it an amount of resistance which produced an intense white heat, visible by its luminosity in broad daylight.
In the above-quoted paper, read by Mr. Joule at the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society on December 1, 1863, he refers to subsequent observations, and estimates 116 miles as “the elevation at which meteors in general are first observed”-ie. where our atmóssphere is susticiently dense to generate a white-heat by the resistance it offers to the rapidly flying meteor.
It is curious to observe how, in dealing with actual physical facts, a mathematician of the solid practical character of Joule becomes compelled to practically throw overboard the orthodox theory of limited atmospheric extension. Here, in making his calculations of the resistance of atmospheric matter at this elevation, he bases them on the assumption of a decrease of density at the rate of “one quarter for every seven miles,” and indicates no limit at which this rate shall vary. Very simple arithmetic is sufficient to show that this leads us to the unlimited atmospheric extension, for which I have contended we may go on for ever taking off a quarter at every seven miles, and there will still remain the three-quarters of the quantity upon which we last operated, or, more practically stated, we shall thus go on seven after seven until we reach the boundaries of the atmospheric grasp of the gravitation of some other sphere.
Surely the time has arrived for the full reconsideration of this fundamental question of whether the universe is filled with atmospheric matter or is the vacuum of the molecular mathematicians plus the imaginary "ether," which has been invented by its mathematical creators only to extricate them from the absurd dilemma into which they are plunged when they attempt to explain the transmission of light and heat by undulations travelling through space containing nothing to undulate.
They have filled it with immaterial matter evolved entirely from their own consciousness, which they have gratuitously endowed with whatever properties are required for the fitting of their theoriesproperties that are self-contradictory and without any counterpart in anything seen or known outside of the fertile imagination of these reckless theorists.
We know of nothing that can penetrate every form of matter without adding either to its weight or its bulk; we know of nothing that can communicate motion to ponderable matter without itself being ponderable-i.c. having the primary property of matter viz. mass, or weight, and consequent vis viva when moving ; we know of nothing that can set bodies in motion without proportionally resisting the motion of bodies through it; and if the waving of the ether is (as Tyndall describes it)" as real and as truly mechanical as the breaking of sea-waves upon the shore,” the material of the breakers must be like the "jelly” to which he compares it, and have some viscosity, or resistance to penetration, or pushing aside.
We have not a shadow of direct evidence of the existence of
the "interatomic” spaces occupied by the ether, and in the midst of which the atoms are made to theoretically swing, nor even of the existence of the atoms themselves.
The “ether” of to-day, with its imaginary penetrations and its material action without material properties, has merely taken the place of the equally imaginary phlogiston, caloric, electric, and magnetic fluids, the “imponderables” of the past. I have little doubt that ere long the modern modification of these physical superstitions will share their fate, and we shall all adopt the simple conception that heat, light, and electricity are, like sound, merely transmissible states or affections of matter itself regarded bodily, as it is seen and felt to exist.
This may possibly throw a good many mathematicians out of work--or into more useful work; but, however that may be, it will certainly aid the general diffusion of science as the intellectual inheritance of every human being. At present the explanations of the simple phenomena of light and heat are incomparably more difficult to understand and to account for than the facts which they attempt to elucidate.
A NEGLECTED DISINFECTANT.
HEN the household of our grandmothers was threatened
with infection, the common practice was to sprinkle brimstone on a hot shovel or on hot coals on a shovel, and carry the burning result through the house. But now this simple method of disinfecting has gone out of fashion without any good and sufficient reason. The principal reason is neither good nor sufficient, viz. that nobody can patent it and sell it in shilling and half-crown bottles.
On September 18th last, M. d'Abbadie read a paper at the Academy of Sciences on “ Marsh Fevers,” and stated that in the dangerous regions of African river mouths immunity from such fevers is often secured by sulphur fumigations on the naked body. Also that the Sicilian workers in low ground sulphur mines suffer much less than the rest of the surrounding population from intermittent fevers. M. Fouqué has shown that Zephyria (on the volcanic island of Milo or Melos, the most westerly of the Cyclades), which had a population of 40,000 when it was the centre of sulphur-mining operations, became nearly depopulated by marsh fever when the sulphurmining was moved farther east, and the emanations prevented by a mountain from reaching the town. Other similar cases were stated.
It is well understood by chemists that bleaching agents are usually good disinfectants; that which can so disturb an organic
compound as to destroy its colour, is capable of either arresting or completing the decompositions that produce vile odours and nourish the organic germs or ferments which usually accompany, or, as some affirm, cause them. Sulphurous acid is, next to hypochlorous acid, one of the most effective bleaching agents within easy reach.
I should add that sulphurous acid is the gas that is directly formed by burning sulphur. By taking up another dose of oxygen it becomes sulphuric acid, which, combined with water, is oil of vitriol. The bleaching and disinfecting action of the sulphurous acid is connected with its activity in appropriating the oxygen which is loosely held or being given off by organic matter. Chlorine and hypochlorous acid (which is still more effective than chlorine itself) act in the opposite way, so do the permanganates, such as Condy's fluid, &c. They supply oxygen in the presence of water. It is curious that opposite actions should produce like results. A disquisition on this and its suggestions would carry me beyond the limits of a note.
"HE above-named disinfectants are objectionable on account of
their own odours and their corrosive action. Both sulphurous acid and hypochlorous acid (the active principle of the so-called “ chloride of lime ") have a disagreeable habit of rusting iron and suggesting antique green bronzes by their action on brass ornaments. Under serious conditions this should be endured, but in many cases where the danger is not already developed, the desired end may be attained without these annoyances.
Sulphate of copper, which is not patented or “ brought out ” by a Limited Company, may be bought at its fair retail value of 6d. or less per lb. (the oil-shop name for it is “ blue vitriol "), in crystals, readily soluble in water.
I have lately used it in the case of a trouble to which English households are too commonly liable, and one that has in many cases done serious mischief. The stoppage of a soil-pipe caused the overflow of a closet, and a consequent saturation of floor boards, that in time would probably have developed danger by nourishing and developing those germs of bacteria, bacilli, &c., which abound in the air, and are ready to increase and multiply wherever their unsavoury food abounds.
By simply mopping the floor with a solution of these green crystals, and allowing it to soak well into the pores of the wood,