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and we must bear that in mind always, and I am glad to have an opporiunity of expressing my conviction of it here ; but, granted the capability of understanding the Bible, which comes from the Holy Spirit teaching the individual heart ; granted, too, the capability of understanding natural science: then we start on parallel roads, we must have the honest mind and the clear intellect, and I believe the canons of interpretation in the two cases will be found analogous. It has been objected to my essay that it is not complete, and here I fully agree with what has been said. The subject is very large. If, indeed, I have only taken up some particular lines of thought, why, I have left other lines of thought for other persons to pursue. I have dwelt more upon that analogy between the methods of interpretation, because it is one very little written upon or spoken about, and I thought it better to treat of it at greater length. I trust we shall find our efforts will be of service to natural science, and natural science helpful to theology. I believe it is so, and the arguments of others this evening convince me still more that we must enter on the study of theology in the same way in which we enter on studies of natural science, in order to arrive at full comprehension of the truth. There are other points that have been stated by some of the speakers, which, if I had time, I should like to enter upon ; but I must conclude, again thanking you for the friendly spirit in which you have considered my paper.

The Meeting was then adjourned.

NOTE.--The asterisks on pp. 397, 398, and 400, indicate that certain passages in Dr. Gladstone's original Paper were omitted at the request of the Council, as trenching upon purely theological and controversial points.

ORDINARY MEETING, FEBRUARY 4, 1867.

CAPTAIN E. GARDINER FISHBOURNE, R.N., C.B., Hon. TREAS.,

IN THE CHAIR.

The minutes of the previous Meeting were read and confirmed.

The following Paper was then read :

in

&c.;

ON FALLING STARS AND METEORITES. By the

Rev. WALTER MITCHELL, M.A., Vice-President, Vict. Inst.

JHE term Meteor, taken in its literal signification as a atmospheric phenomena, such as clouds, rain, snow, rainbows, mock suns, but in a more restricted sense it is applied to falling stars and flaming bodies seen passing through the atmosphere. A falling star is a phenomenon with which every one must be familiar. Yet familiar as it may be, it is far more frequent than many would suppose. A star is seen to shoot across a portion of the heavens, vanishing as suddenly as it appeared, sometimes leaving a slight luminous track behind it, to mark for a few moments its course. Generally speaking, few of these falling stars are seen on the same night; but there are occasions when they are so numerous as to fall for hours together in perfect showers,—so numerous as to be compared to a dense snow-storm where every flake is a burning star. Brilliant and startling as was the display last November, when between six and seven thousand falling stars are estimated to have pursued their fiery course in one hour, and at the time of the maximum display at the rate of one hundred per minute, this falls short of the awful majesty of some of the star-storms that have been observed.

A remarkable display of falling stars, seen by Humboldt when travelling in South America, was thus described by him :-"Towards the morning of the 13th November, 1799, we witnessed a most extraordinary scene of shooting meteors. Thousands of bolides and falling stars succeeded each other during four hours. Their direction was very regular from north to south. From the beginning of the phenomenon there was not a space in the firmament equal in extent to three diameters of the moon which was not filled with bolides or falling

All the meteors left luminous traces, or phosphorescent bands, behind them, which lasted seven or eight seconds.” Mr. Ellicott, an agent of the United States, thus describes the same phenomenon, as seen by him from the sea between Cape Florida and the West-India Islands :-“I was called up about three o'clock in the morning, to see the shooting stars, as they are called. The phenomenon was grand and awful. The whole heavens appeared as if illuminated by skyrockets, which disappeared only by the light of the sun after daybreak. The meteors, which at any one instant of time appeared as numerous as the stars, flew in all possible directions, except from the earth, towards which they all inclined more or less; and some of them descended perpendicularly over the vessel we were in, so that I was in constant expectation of their falling on us. This particular display of falling stars seems to have been visible from the equator to Greenland in America, and was also observed at Weimar in Germany.

On the 13th of November, 1833, another splendid shower of falling stars was observed over the whole of North and a considerable portion of South America, some of the meteors being of a very large size,-one described as greater than the full moon appears when in the horizon. Another, over the Falls of Niagara, remained for some time almost stationary in the zenith, emitting streams of light. No wonder that many, calling to mind the vision of St. John the Divine, when “the stars fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind,” felt awestruck, and imagined that the day of wrath was come. “I was suddenly awakened," says a South Carolina planter, “by the most distressing cries that ever fell on my ears. Shrieks of horror and cries for mercy, I could hear from most of the negroes of three plantations, amounting in all to about six or eight hundred. While earnestly listening for the cause, I heard a faint voice near the door calling my name. I arose, and taking my sword, stood at the door. At this moment, I heard the same voice still beseeching me to rise, and saying, 'O my God, the world is on fire.' I then opened the door, and it is difficult to say which excited me most,—the awfulness of the scene or the distressed cries of the negroes. Upwards of one hundred lay prostrate on the ground, some speechless, and some with the bitterest cries, but with their hands raised, imploring God to save the world and them. The scene was truly awful ; for

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never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same.”

Notwithstanding, says Humboldt, the great quantity of falling stars and fire-balls of the most various dimensions which were seen to fall at Potsdam on the night of the 12th and 13th November, 1822, and on the same night of the year 1832, throughout the whole of Europe from Portsmouth to Orenburg on the Ural river, and even in the Southern hemisphere at the Isle of France, no one seemed to remark the coincidence of so many of these displays happening on the same day of the month. Olmsted and Palmer were the two principal scientific men who described the great meteoric shower of 1833 in America. The latter, calling to mind that the date of the shower described by Humboldt and Ellicott in 1799, was the 13th of November, first suspected the periodicity of these showers,-a fact fully confirmed by a historical investigation into the dates of extraordinary showers of meteors.

On the 9th and 10th of November, 1787, many falling stars were observed at Manheim, in southern Germany. Besides the manifestations already mentioned on the 13th November in the years 1799, 1822, 1832 and 1833, on the same day of the month in 1831, at four o'clock in the morning, a great shower of falling stars was seen by Captain Bérard on the Spanish coast near Carthagena. On the same date in 1834 a similar shower, though not so great as that of 1833, was seen. Olmsted was the first to remark that nearly all the falling stars on the 13th of November, 1833, seemed to radiate from one point in the heavens, namely near the star y in the constellation Leo. The point of radiation did not change, but followed the apparent height and azimuth of the star during the continuance of the shower. This remarkable fact has been confirmed by observation of all the showers witnessed on this date since 1833. According to Enke's computation, this radiant point in space marks the direction in which the earth was moving on the 13th of November in its annual course round the sun.

The periodical appearance of falling stars on the same day of the year, all radiating from a point in the direction of the earth's motion, led Humboldt to conjecture that at that particular period the earth was passing through a ring or belt of minute planetary bodies, which were then drawn within the sphere of the earth's attraction,-a conjecture since pretty generally adopted. He also conjectured that there was, owing to the earth's or other planetary disturbance, a gradual retardation of the November phenomenon, owing to the change of the points where the ring of meteoric bodies intersected the earth's course. He sought for records of falling stars in ancient histories. On the night when king Ibrahim Ben Ahmed died, in October, 902, there fell a heavy shower of shooting stars “like a fiery rain," on which account that year was called the year of stars. On the 19th of October, 1202, the stars were in motion all night, and “fell like locusts." On the 21st of October, O.S., 1366, stars fell in such multitudes that they could not be counted. On the night between the 9th and 10th of November, 1787, many falling stars were observed at Manheim. Adopting the conjecture of Humboldt as to the gradual retardation of the November shower, others, more than twenty-three years since, ventured to predict that the great November shower of shooting stars and fire-balls intermixed, falling like flakes of snow, would not recur till between the 12th and 14th of November, 1867, taking for granted that the great November star-showers occurred once in thirtythree years, when the earth intersected the hypothetical ring of minute planetary bodies.

These showers are not equally visible from all parts of the earth's surface. The shower of 1799 was only seen in America; those of 1831 and 1832 were only visible in Europe ; those of 1833 and 1834 only in the United States of America; and while a very splendid meteoric shower was seen in England in the year 1837, a most attentive observer at Braunsberg, in Prussia, on the same night, which was there uninterruptedly clear, only saw a few shooting stars, radiating from no particular point of the heavens, between the hours of seven in the evening and sunrise the next morning.

Though such occurrences as the great star-shower on the 19th of October, 1202, and 21st of October, 1366, seem to indicate a gradual retardation of the November shower, the relation of Theophanes, one of the Byzantine historians, that in November of the year 472 the sky appeared to be on fire over the city of Constantinople with the coruscations of flying meteors, may make us pause before assuming the November shower to be the retardation of the October phenomenon. Again, in the year 1766, just before the fearful earthquake at Quito, Humboldt states that the volcano of Cayambe was so enveloped with falling stars for the space of an hour, that the inhabitants fancied the mountain on fire, and endeavoured to appease Heaven by religious processions. The year corresponds with the 33-year period; but as the earthquake occurred on the 21st of October, the shower would seem to belong rather to the October manifestations of the 19th of October, 1202, and 21st of October, 1366. This should caution us not to generalize too hastily on a few recurrences of similar dates. Again, not to speak of the November showers for two years pre

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