Abbildungen der Seite

of that island; and we should have been much pleased to find, in the present volume, such a clear description of the district in which the caves are situated, as might be intelligible to the general reader; and the scientific details in accordance with the present state of geology. That our author has failed in these respects is, we think, rather owing to the want of proper arrangement, than of ability. There appears a desire of display, by a parade of new names, “to amaze the unlearned, and make the learned stare;” while the exploded terms “geognosy,” and “geognostic,” are still retained, and the reader left in doubt whether he is among strata equivalent to the lias and alum slate of England, or to slates and limestones of the transition series, or whether the older and newer strata are here in juxtaposition. Only one fossil is named to elucidate the subject. From the form in which the book is published, and the woodcuts that accompany it, the author evidently intended the work to be popular. To have insured this, the physical structure and scenery should have been under one head; the geology under another; and the mineralogy and natural history under a third : in place of which arrangement, the parts are so intermixed as to prevent the reader from obtaining a clear connected notion either of the parts or of the whole. The caves of Ballybunian are excavations in the cliffs, formed by the action of water impelled by winds and tides into fissures, or excavating softer portions of strata in the cliffs. These caves, arches, and excavations are not of great magnitude, when compared with those in Scotland and the Hebrides, but they present many grotesque forms, and are well represented in the woodcuts in the present small volume. From the nearly horizontal form of the stratification, as represented in the cuts, and the description of the alum slate, and from its spontaneous combustion, we should rather have inferred that the strata belong to the lias group, than to the soft slates of the transition series; but the mineral characters of the limestones identify them with the mountain limestone so extensively spread over many of the Irish counties. The principal metallic substances are iron pyrites and copper pyrites. The latter mineral is, however, so much intermixed with extraneous matter as to offer little prospect of its being advantageously worked. Our author says that “the richness of the ore at Ballybunian, the abundance of the veins, and the facilities of working them, from their geognostic position and association, do not hold out any sanguine hopes of their ever being turned to very lucrative purposes.” From the former part of this sentence, the reader would have in

ferred a different conclusion; the author evidently means from the poorness of the ore, and the want of facilities of working the veins; the sentence would then be intelligible to English readers.

We have given a fuller account of this small volume, and offered our remarks more freely, than we should have done, had not the author informed us that he is engaged in more important researches on the mineralogy of Ireland. Should he publish the result of his labours, we hope he will not, as in the present volume, disguise every well-known mineral under the pedantic names given to them by some Continental mineralogists. This absurd jargon is justly falling into contempt among the best informed geologists and mineralogists of South Britain. The writer who would be a successful author, in any science, should recollect that his object ought not to be to make a parade of his own learning, but to convey information in a form which shall be the most generally intelligible.

ART. II. Literary Notices. A series of Lives of celebrated Naturalists is in preparation for the Edinburgh Cabinet Library. The series is to be in the order of time, and to embrace the promoters of all branches of natural history; and is to estimate the relative effects of the influence of each naturalist on the science.

A Prodromus of the Characters of the Plants of the Peninsula of India is in preparation by Dr. Wight and Mr. Arnott. The work will be written in English.

L'Institut ; Journal Général des Sociétés et Travaux Scientifiques de la France et de l'Etranger. — From No. 41., sent to us, published at Paris on Feb. 22. 1834, we learn that L'Institut is published every Saturday; and is designed to include, in its eight pages quarto, notices of the titles and gist of papers read at all institutions, in France and out of France, on subjects of science; together with notices of newly published works on science. Messrs. Richter and Co., and M. Baillière, are the London agents for this work.

A Popular Introduction to the Modern Classification of Insects is in preparation, by J. O. Westwood, F.L.S., &c. It is to serve also as a sequel to the Introduction to Entomology of the Rev. W. Kirby and W. Spence Esq., and to comprise an account of the habits and transformations of the different families; and a synopsis of the British, and a notice of the more remarkable exotic, genera; and is to be illustrated with several hundred figures, some of them coloured.




JULY, 1834.


ART. I. On certain recent Meteoric Phenomena, Vicissitudes in the Seasons, prevalent Disorders, &c., contemporaneous, and in supposed connection, with Volcanic Emanations. No. 3. By the Rev. W. B. CLARKE, A.M. F.G.S. &c.

“Quid sit, unde sit, quare sit. . . . . quod ipsum explorare et eruere sine universitatis inquisitione non possumus, cum ita cohaerentia, connexa, concatenata sint.”— M. MINUtius FElix, xvii.

Meteoric phenomena have been exhibited, during the last few years, on a scale of unusual magnitude, and more frequently than at many previous epochs. We will endeavour, in the present Number, to exhibit some prominent examples, and to trace their connection with corresponding derangements of the earth; illustrating their occurrences by reference to more ancient events of similar complexion and character, and in conjunction, at the same time, with the other subjects which these papers [VI. 289., VII. 193.] profess to discuss. The most extraordinary instance, perhaps, on record is that given in Silliman's American Journal gf Science and Arts, xxv. 354–411. From the statements there published, of more than fifty credible observers, it appears that the whole of that part of the United States which is comprehended between the latitudes of 23° and 43° N., and the longitudes of 61° and 94°w., was visited by a most extraordinary display of falling and shooting stars, for nine hours (from 9 P.M. to daylight), on the night of November 12–13, 1833. The henomenon was also visible to the passengers on board the Hilah from Liverpool, then on St. George's Bank, 300 miles from the coast. (p. 388.) It is impossible to compress into a reasonable bulk analyses of the separate accounts: I shall,

Vol. VII. – No. 40. u

therefore, merely give the general description as collected from them all, the parallel cases, and the accompanying phenomena. Nothing will express the remarkable appearance displayed, so well as comparing it to the most brilliant exhibition of rockets and fireworks. One observer calculates (Amer. Jour., p. 389.) that at least 207,840 meteors were seen at Boston | They varied in size from that of the full moon (p. 379.) to that of a teacup (p. 384.), and even a point (p. 389.). Some of them were followed by a train of pale or bluish and reddish light, which, in one particular case, seemed acted upon by the wind. Phosphoric lines also marked the display. In some cases an explosion was heard *; and a gelatinous substance was found, in three instances, where balls had struck the earth. (p. 396.) The height of these phenomena varied from a short distance from the surface of the earth to a considerable elevation (as calculated by the editor) above the atmosphere: in one case, clouds obscured the cause, though the light was seen through. But the immense arcs traversed, the parallaxes, and the perspective, proved that the height must have been immense, where they first appeared; though, in descending through the atmosphere, they exploded, in some few instances, within 10 ft. of the earth; and, in others, struck it. The weather, it seems, throughout the whole extent of the region visited, was suddenly changed, immediately before the display, from warm to cold, accompanied by extraordinary transparency of the atmosphere. Calmness and frosts succeeded to storms and intense heat. (p. 386.) The wind had changed from S.E. to N.W., and, during the display, to N.E.; upon which the meteors increased in brightness and number. (p. 384.) The direction was generally to the west; but they appeared, to different observers, differently directed. “They fell,” says one, “ in every direction, resembling a fall of snow.” (p. 394.) The air was excessively electric during the display: clothes, hair, &c., were visibly affected. The declination of the needle is also, on good authority, supposed to have been increased. (p. 397.) The aurora borealis preceded, accompanied, and succeeded the meteors, as seen in different localities. (p. 397.) All the observers seem to agree in one fact, that the radiant

* One observer, Mr. Palmer (Newhaven), mentions a peculiar odour, which was compared by the whole company to a smell of sulphur or onions. (p. 384.) Mr. Trevelyan states, that, during the display of the aurora in the Island of Faroe, he has observed the peculiar odour present durin electrical discharges from the earth. (Encyc. Brit., viii. 623, 7th ed. This, again, serves to connect these phenomena.

point was in the constellation of Leo; and that it agreed exactly with the point to which the magnetic needle would point when left free to move both vertically and horizontally." (p. 356.) * From this and other circumstances, it is concluded that this phenomenon was of similar character to that of the aurora borealis. + The concurrent phenomena" are, the sinking down of an acre and a half of wood at Hudson, New York, full 30 ft. below the surface; the occurrence of a trembling of the earth, previously observed there, at Lynchburg; a fall of rain, on Nov. 13., A.M., at Harvard, when not a cloud was to be seen [and a luminous appearance, like the zodiacal light, on Dec. 3., at Newbaven]; and terrible gales of wind, on Nov. 13., between lat. 40° and 50°, and long. 30° and 50° W.

These are the principal particulars of the statements in Silliman's Journal. The authors mention, that it is their intention to consider, in a future number, previous examples of like phenomena ; and to collect farther information, from distant parts of the west, before coming to any distinct conclusion. They dwell, however, on the fact of the appearances corresponding with the aurora, and on the light seen in the west on Dec. 3. ; which, they state, was again visible on Dec. 29.1

A similar phenomenon is also quoted (that of Nov. 12. 1799), seen by Humboldt and Bonpland, in Cumana; the particulars of which agree in all respects with those above mentioned. This was ascertained to have been observed through 60° of latitude and 91° of longitude (p. 369.); and the wind, as in 1833, changed its direction, and the weather became suddenly cold, a well-known condition of the aurora. (p. 360.) $ It is also mentioned, that a similar occurrence took place about eighty years since; when so many falling

* Maskelyne states the same fact of the aurora of Oct. 24. 1769; and Humboldt of the meteor of 1799. The aurora of Sept., 1828, corresponded in this and in all the above-mentioned particulars.

. This opinion has been held by some, and disputed by others. Hof, Celsius, and Gisler are for the connection; but Bergman, Bernstoff, and Blagden are not inclined to admit it.

† “ That the other luminous phenomena of the atmosphere have their origin in its electricity, cannot be doubted. . . . . Falling and shooting stars are only the same phenomena on a smaller scale; they appear at all seasons, but most frequently during the prevalence of the northern lights, and generally in the lower regions of the atmosphere.” (Encyc. Brit., viii. 623., 7th ed.)

Ś That the aurora itself gives out heat, in high latitudes, is equally concluded from facts. It raises the thermometer, and affects the magnetic needle. (See Q. R., xvi. 171.) Cold may be produced by the restoration of the equilibrium, though the heat must be electric.

« ZurückWeiter »