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In the name of God, let the oddset and the risk be what they will I will fight Edmund Butler rather than leave these poor creatures behind me. Let the army, therefore, draw up in line of battle instead of retreating.”
4. The story had a singular conclusion; for the English general, seeing that Robert the Bruce halted and offered him battle, and knowing that the Scottish king was one of the best generale then living, conceived that he must have received some large supply of for res, and was afraid to attack him. And thus Bruce had an opportunity to send off the poor woman and her child, and then to retreat at his leisure, without suffering any inconvenience from the halt.
SIR WALTER SCOTT
LXXVII. — THE FIRST PREDICTOR OF AN ECLIPSE. 1. To those who have given but little attention to the subject, even in our own day, with all the aids of modern science, the prediction of an eclipse El seems sufficiently mysterious and unintelligible. How, then, it was possible, thousands of years ago, to accomplish the same great object, without any just views of the structure of the system, Et seems utterly incredible. Follow me, then, while I attempt to reveal the train of reasoning which led to the prediction of the first eclipse of the sun, the most daring prophecy ever made by human genius.
2. Follow in imagination this bold intěr'rogator of the skies to his solitary mountain summit, withdrawn from the world, surrounded by his mysterious circles, there to watch and ponder through the long nights of many, many years. But hope cheers him on, and smooths his rugged pathway. Dark and deep is the problem ; he sternly grapples with it, and resolves never to give over till victory crown his efforts.
3. He has already remarked that the moon's track in the heavens crossed the sun's, and that this point of crossing was in some way intimately connected with the coming of the dread eclipse. He determines to watch and learn whether the point of crossing was fixed, or whether the moon in each successive revolution crossed the sun's path at a different point. If the sun in its annual revolution could leave behind him a track of fire marking his journey among the stars, it is found that this same track was followed from year to year, and from centurykl to century, with andeviating precision.
4. But it was soon discovered that it was far different with the moan. In case she, too, could leave behind her a silver thread of
light sweeping round the avens, in completing one revolution, this thread would not join, but would wind around among the stars, in each revolution crossing the sun's fiery track at a point Trest of the previous crossing. These points of crossing were alled the moon's nodes. El At each revolution the node occurred urther west, until after a circle of about nineteen years it had irculated in the same direction entirely round the ecliptic. EI
5. Long and patiently did the astronomer watch and wait; ach eclipse is duly observed, and its attendant circumstances are recorded; when at last the darkness begins to give way, and a ray of light breaks in upon his mind. He finds that no eclipse of the sun ever occurs unless the new moon is in the act of crossing the sun's track. Here was a grand discovery. EI He holds the key which he believes will unlock the dread mystery, and now, with redoubled energy, he resolves to thrust it into the wardski and drive back the bolts.
6. To predict an eclipse of the sun, he must sweep forward from new moon to new moon, until he finds some new moon which should occur while the moon was in the act of crossing from one side to the other of the sun's track. This certainly was possible. He knew the exact period from new moon to new moon, and from one crossing of the ecliptic to another. With eager eye he seizes the moon's place in the heavens, and her age, and rapidly com- . putes where she will be at her next change.
7. He finds the new moon occurring far from the sun's track ; he runs round another revolution; the place of the new moon falls closer to the sun's path, and the next year closer, until, reaching forward with piercing intellectual vigor, he at last finds a new moon which occurs precisely at the computed time of her passage across the sun's track. Here he makes his stand, and on the day of the occurrence of that new moon he announces to the startled inhabitants of the world that the sun shall expire in dark eclipse.
8. Bold prediction! Mysterious prophet! with what scorn nust the unthinking world have received this solemn declaration ! How slowly do the moons roll away, and with what intenso anxiety does the stern philosopherEl await the coming of that day which should crown him with victory, or dash him to the ground in ruin and disgrace. Time to him moves on leaden wings; day after day, and, at last, hour after hour, roll heavily away. The last night is gone; the moon has disappeared from his eagle gaze in her approach to the sun, and the dawn of the eventful day breaks in beauty on a slumbering world.
9. This daring man, stern in his faith, climos alone to his rocky home, and greets the sun as he rises and mounts the heavens, scattering brightness and glory in his path. Beneath him is
spread out the activity. The } reaches the wate. thousands below 1 with life, joyous! of amusement. * the present day, I with rigorous exa What, then, must those ages of the terrific exhibition
10. The sun sl full-orbed. The waver in the ster: But the time of l. dawn; a pale and sun has reached h' light is feeble. A round disc ;EI ont moves, blacker th: ghastly hue of di and horror reigns !
11. A wail oft trumpets resound, lions to the grou summit, with arms ful gushings of hi with triumphanty point me, if you ca is to me the prou
. .. tu was inu conquering of nati
w, or superstition, of terror, all at a single blow, anu mnat blow struck by a single arm.
12. And now do you demand the name of this wonderful man ? Alas! what a lesson of the instability of earthly fame are we taught in this simple recital! He who had raised himself im. measurably above his race, who must have been regarded by his fellows as little less than a god, who had inscribed his fame on the very heavens, and had written it in the sun, with a “pen of iron, and the point of a diamond,”el even this one has perished from the earth ; name, age, country, are all swept into oblivion. But his proud achievement stands. The monumental reared to his honor stands, and although the touch of time has effaced the lettering of his name, it is powerless, and cannot destroy the fruits of his victory.
0. M MITCHELL
LXXX — INCONVENIENT IGNORANCE. 1. ALTHOUGI desirous of reaching the Lake of Constance DJ with all possible speed, I was obliged to stop at Vadutz.El Since nur journey began it had rained in torrents, and now both horse
ahatinately refused to go a step further; the beast
O answer, all ye winds of even,
That watch in yonder darkening heaven;
As when His angels first arrayed thee,
Why man should love the Mind that made thee
There's not a flower that decks the vale,
There 's not a beam that lights the mountain,
There's not a wind that stirs the fountain,
There 's not a leaf around us lying,
True love to us, and love undying !
LXXIX. — ADVANCE. 24
1. God både the Sun with golden step sublime
2. The river at its bubbling fountain cries,
spread out the populous city, already teeming with life and activity. The busy morning hum rises on the still air, and reaches the watching place of the solitary astronomer. Et The thousands below him, unconscious of his intense anxiety, buoyant with life, joyously pursue their rounds of business, their cycles of amusement. No one can witness an eclipse of the sun, even at the present day, when its most minute phenomenaEr are predicted with rigorous exactitude, without an involuntary feeling of dismay. What, then, must have been the effect upon the human mind in those ages of the world, when the cause was unknown, and the terrific exhibition unlooked for ?
10. The sun slowly climbs the heaven, round and bright and full-orbed. The lone tenant of the mountain top almost begins to waver in the sternness of his faith as the morning hours roll away. But the time of his triumph, long delayed, at length begins to dawn; a pale and sickly hue creeps over the face of nature. The sun has reached his highest point, but his splendor is dimmed, his light is feeble. At last it comes! Blackness is eating away his round disc;£1 onward with slow but steady pace the dark veil moves, blacker than a thousand nights; the gloom deepens; the ghastly hue of death covers the universe; the last ray is gone, and horror reigns!
11. A wail of terror fills the murky air, the clangor of brazen trumpets resounds, an agony of despair dashes the stricken mil. lions to the ground; while that lone man, erect on his rocky summit, with arms outstretched to heaven, pours forth the grateful gushings of his heart to God, who had crowned his efforts with triumphant victory. Search the rec'ords of our race, and point me, if you can, to a scene more grand, more beautiful. It is to me the proudest victory that genius ever won. It was thu conquering of nature, of ignorance, of superstition, of terror, all at a single blow, and that blow struck by a single arm.
12. And now do you demand the name of this wonderful man? Alas! what a lesson El of the instability of earthly fame are we taught in this simple recital! He who had raised himself immeasurably above his race, who must have been regarded by his fellows as little less than a god, who had inscribed his fame on the very heavens, and had written it in the sun, with a “pen of iron, and the point of a diamond,”el even this one has perished from the earth ; name, age, country, are all swept into oblivion. But his proud achievement stands. The monumental reared to his honor stands, and although the touch of time has effaced the lettering of his name, it is powerless, and cannot destroy the fruits of his victory.
0. M MITCHELL