Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 131.djvu/324

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



the sterling stuff of which she is made to the first impertinent inquisitor, who may be unworthy alike of her confidence and her regard. She will continue to astonish those who pretend to understand her by rising to heights, when she is summoned thither, which are unapproachable to her complacent and courted critics. Yet, in spite of all this, it may happen that quiet girls of the best type may lack the wit, the adaptability to that with which they have no sympathy, the glibness, and that unlimited faith in themselves which must be possessed by those who desire to attract the notice of the more shallow portion of society. The truth is that the noisy girl is as much the product of education and training as anything else, and it may as well be frankly admitted that in her own horrible way she is unapproachable.

We do not wish to be misunderstood. We have no desire to imply that all quiet girls are endowed with genius and the virtues, for some are simply fools who would be noisy enough if they could find anything to say. What we do protest against is the habit which prevails of slighting quiet girls and speaking ill of them before they have been fairly tried, and of paying sickening homage to the conceited chatterboxes of little moral sense and principle. What we would indicate is that while noisy damsels will often turn out to be gaudy impostors, many quiet ones will amply repay the time, trouble, and love which any one may bestow upon them.

From The Spectator.


During the last few weeks, attention has been directed afresh to the planet which, seventeen years ago, the French doctor, Lescarbault, was said to have discovered. For years none saw any trace of it, and it seemed about to take its place among astronomical myths, like the rings of Uranus, the satellite of Venus, and the second moon of our earth (seen by Petit, of Toulouse, but usually escaping discovery, because concealed by the earth's shadow). Other objects which had held an apparently more secure position, as the second moon of Neptune, and the four extra satellites of Uranus, which Sir W. Herschel supposed he had discovered, have quite recently been dismissed from our text-books of astronomy, where they had long been recorded without any expression of doubt or suspicion. We ourselves, who write, had done battle for the Uranian satellites, trusting in Sir W. Herschel's care and customary accuracy; but there can be now no question that these satellites no more exist than the ring which the forty-feet reflector of the great astronomer seemed to show round Uranus. As for the satellite of Venus, though few now suppose the planet has any attendant, such faith was once placed in its existence, that Frederick the Great proposed to give to it the name of his illustrious friend D'Alembert. It does not appear from D'Alembert's reply that he doubted the reality of that astronomical phantasm. "Your Majesty," he said, "does me too much honor, in wishing to baptize this new planet with my name. I am not great enough to become the satellite of Venus in the heavens, nor young enough to be so on the earth. I know too well how small a place I occupy in this lower world to covet one in the sky." To this day, French writers on astronomy regard the question as undecided, and it was but a month or so ago that the Abbé Moigno devoted several pages of his journal, Les Mondes, to consider the evidence for and against that mysterious attendant upon the planet of love.

The case of Vulcan is somewhat different. If Venus has a satellite, the smaller body cannot usually be concealed behind the planet, or (lying between the planet and us) be lost to view upon her disc. Therefore, the satellite should have been seen thousands of times by the hundreds of observers who have studied Venus, whereas there have been but twenty or thirty observations of the supposed satellite. But if there is really a planet travelling nearer to the sun than Mercury, we should only expect to see this planet on very rare occasions. During total eclipse it might be seen, and indeed, as Sir J. Herschel said, it ought long since to have been seen during eclipse, if it has any real existence. When passing between the sun and the earth, too, it would sometimes pass across the sun's face, like Venus in transit; and for the same reasons which render transits of Mercury far more common than transits of Venus, transits of Vulcan would be far more common than transits of Mercury. It was during a transit, if Lescarbault's account be correct, that Vulcan was seen by him seventeen years ago, and news recently received from China respecting the planet describe another passage which Vulcan is said to have made across the face of the sun.

The account given by Lescarbault in