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6. But it is when we turn our observation and our thoughts from our own system to the systems which lie beyond it in the heavenly spaces, that we approach a more adequate conception of the vastness of creation. All analogy teaches us that the sun which gives light to us is but one of those countless stellar fires which deck the firmament, and that every glittering star in that shining host is the center of a system, as vast and as full of subordinate luminaries as our own. Of these suns— centers of planetary systems-thousands are visible to the naked eye, millions are discovered by the telescope.
7. Sir John Herschel, in the account of his operations at the Cape of Good Hope, calculates that about five and a half millions of stars are visible enough to be distinctly counted in a twenty-foot reflector in both hemispheres. He adds, "That the actual number is much greater, there can be little doubt." His illustrious father estimated, on one occasion, that one hundred and twentyfive thousand stars passed through the field of his fortyfoot reflector in a quarter of an hour. This would give twelve millions for the entire circuit of the heavens, in a single telescopic zone; and this estimate was made under the assumption that the nebulæ were masses of luminous matter not yet condensed into suns.
8. These stupendous calculations, however, form but the first column of the inventory of the universe. Faint white specks are visible even to the naked eye of a practiced observer in different parts of the heavens. Under high magnifying powers, several thousands of such spots are visible—no longer, however, faint white specks, but many of them resolved by powerful telescopes into vast aggregations of stars, each of which may with propriety be compared with the Milky Way of our system.
9. It may be thought that conceptions like these are calculated rather to depress than to elevate us in the scale of being; that, banished as he is by these contemplations to a corner of creation, and there reduced to an atom, man sinks to nothingness in this infinity of worlds. But a second thought corrects the impression. These vast contemplations are well calculated to inspire awe, but not abasement. Mind and matter are incommensurable. An immortal soul, even while clothed in this "muddy vesture of decay," is, in the eye of God and reason, a purer essence than the brightest sun that lights the depths of heaven. The organized human eye, instinct with life and spirit, which, gazing through the telescope, travels up to the cloudy speck in the handle of Orion's sword, and bids it blaze forth into a galaxy as vast as ours, stands higher in the order of being than all that host of luminaries. The intellect of Newton, which discovered the law that holds the revolving worlds together, is a nobler work of God than a universe of universes of unthinking matter.
10. If we adopt the supposition that the countless planetary worlds which attend these countless suns are the abodes of rational beings like man, instead of bringing back from this exalted conception a feeling of insignificance, as if the individuals of our race were but poor atoms in the infinity of being, I regard it, on the contrary, as a glory of our human nature that it belongs to a family, which no man can number, of rational natures like itself. In the order of being they may stand beneath us, or they may stand above us; he may well be content with his place who is made "a little lower than the angels."
FOR PREPARATION.-I. From a discourse delivered at Albany on occasion of the inauguration of Dudley Observatory, August 28, 1856. "Pointers" (the two stars in the so-called "Dipper" that point to the north star);
Plē'-ia-dēş (the so-called "Seven Stars "); Jū'-pi-ter (the largest planet of our system, ten times the diameter of the earth); Lỹ'-rå (the group or constellation of "the Harp," containing the brightest fixed star in the northern hemisphere of the heavens); An-drŏm'-e-då (a northern constellation, known by three bright stars nearly in a line); Ma'-gi-anş (the Persian wise men); O-ri'-on's sword (Orion is the most noteworthy constellation of the heavens on a winter's evening).
II. Pre-çēd'-ençe, as-tròn'-o-my, çîr'-cuit, în-eom-měn'-su-ra-ble, trans-fig-u-rā'-tion, A'-sĬ-a (-shi-), lùs'-ter, il-lus'-tri-oùs, fir'-ma-ment.
III. Make a list of the compound words in the piece, and explain the use and omission of the hyphen in such words.
IV. Palpable, intellectual, velocity, constellation, "stellar fires," "subordinate luminaries" (i. e., planets that revolve round central suns), telescope reflector (a telescope using a mirror instead of a glass lens to collect the light from distant objects-the one used by Herschel being two feet in diameter and twenty feet long), inventory, aggregations, “stupendous calculations,” “telescopic zone” (the zone taken in by the field of the telescope the strip of the sky that passes through the field of vision when the telescope is fixed permanently to one point of observation), atom, abasement, galaxy (the so-called "Milky Way "), equilibrium.
V. This piece is an elegant specimen of the literary treatment of a scientific subject, but it contains too many words used in a technical sense for the style of a popular article. "The Milky Way of our system." (If all the stars that we can see on a clear night were removed to the distance of the "faint white specks" spoken of, no one of them could be distinguished separately, but the whole would appear only as a faint patch of light.)
VIII.-METRIC REGULARITY AND RHYTHMIC VARIETY.
The poems which have charmed the most and the longest have great rhythmic variety, such as is found in "The Burial of Sir John Moore," by Charles Wolfe.
While the meter of four and three feet, in alternate lines, is never broken, or even marred, the rhythm changes to almost every form the metric time will allow.
The standard measure is "trisyllabic." The prevalent foot has the accent on the last of the three syllables.
"Not a drum' | was heard', nor a fu'- | neral note',
Yet the second foot of the first line has but two syllables; the second and fourth lines end with a foot of four syllables; and the third line ends with two dissyllabic feet.
"We bur'ied him dark'ly at dead' of night',
In the second verse, the first line begins and ends with a foot of two syllables. The second line begins with a foot of two syllables, has the regular foot in the middle, and ends with a foot of four syllables. The third line has three of its four feet dissyllabic. The fourth line has two syllables for its second foot, and its last has the middle accent.
“Few' | and short' | were the prayers' | we said'."
In this line, but one foot-the third-keeps to the eye the standard form and "trisyllabic measure." But poetry must be measured by the ear, and the natural emphasis of time required by the monosyllabic foot "few" fills the measure to th ear.
"Light'ly they'll talk' | of the spir'- | it that's gone', And o'er' his cold ash'es | upbraid' him; But lit'tle he'll reck', | if they let' | him sleep on',
In the grave' where a Brit'on | has laid' him."
In the first foot of this verse-"Lightly"-we have a double change from the "standard foot." It has but two syllables, and the accent is on the first. The second syllable of this first foot is very short, yet, as this is the emphatic word of the line, the sense requires the lengthened time on "Light" which fills the measure. In the second foot-"they'll talk”—the two syllables are both long, and so naturally equal in time to the ordinary three (one long and two short).
In the second line,
"And o'er' his cold ash'es | upbraid' him,”
the three feet are regular in the number and length of their syllables, but the accent falls on the middle one of the three. The first foot of the third line also has the middle accent, and the second foot-"he'll reck"-is another of two long syllables in place of the “regular three.” The second foot of the last line-" where a Briton"-has four syllables, and the last foot has the middle accent.
Yet, through all these changes, the same faultless measure flows. Indeed, in nearly every line of this famous poem we may find some felicitous changes of rhythm, which never fail to accord the sense and the metric time.
It is from this happy union of METRIC REGULARITY and RHYTHMIC VARIETY that such poems derive their double charm. In this rhythmic union of the sense and the measure lies the "open secret" of good poetic reading.
"Machine poetry," as it is called, is written with re gard for "meter" only, and is therefore painfully regular. Singsong in reading does what it can to turn good poetry into this same mechanical verse, by making the metric