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232
CARITA.

that, so far as our reasoning powers can be relied upon at all, the inference, from what we know, appears a just one, that the life of the universe will have practically departed when the largest and therefore longest-lived of all the orbs peopling space has passed on to the stage of cosmical death. So far as we know, there is but one way of escape from this seemingly demonstrated, but in reality incredible, conclusion. May it not be that as men have erred in former times in regarding the earth as the centre of the universe, as they have erred in regarding this period of time through which the earth is now passing as though it were central in all time, so possibly they may have erred in regarding the universe we live in, and can alone comprehend, as though it were the only universe? May there not be a higher order of universe than ours, to which ours bears some such relation as the ether of space bears to the matter of our universe? and may there not, above that higher order, be higher and higher orders of universe, absolutely without limit? And, in like manner, may not the ether of space, of which we know only indirectly though very certainly, be the material substance of a universe next below ours,[1] while below that are lower and lower orders of universe absolutely without limit? And, as the seemingly wasted energies of our universe are poured into the universe next below ours, may it not well be that our universe receives the supplies of energy wasted (in seeming) from the universe next in order above it? So that, instead of the absolute beginning and the absolute end which we had seemed to recognize, there may be in reality but a continual interchange between the various orders of universe constituting the true universe, these orders being infinite in number even as each one of them is infinite in extent. We find ourselves lost, no doubt, in the contemplation of these multiplied infinities; but we are equally lost in the contemplation of the unquestioned infinities of space and time amidst which our little lives are cast, while the mystery of infinite waste, which seems so inscrutable when we consider the universe as we know it, finds a possible interpretation when we admit the existence of other orders of universe than the order to which our lives belong. Thus should we find a new argument for the teaching of the poet who has said, —

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster;

a new significance in the vision of him who said,

See all things with each other blending,
Each to all its being lending,
All on each in turn depending;
Heavenly ministers descending,
And again to heaven uptending,
Floating, mingling, interweaving,
Rising, sinking, and receiving —
Each from each, while each is giving
On to each, and each relieving
Each — the pails of gold; the living
Current through the air is heaving;
Breathing blessings see them bending,
Balanced worlds from change defending,
While everywhere diffus'd is harmony unending.




From The Cornhill Magazine.

CARITA.

BY MRS. OLIPHANT.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE HAND OF FATE.

The afternoon was still, softer, brighter, warmer than the morning; the wind went down, and turned into the softest puff of a caressing breeze; the white caps of the waves melted away into a delicious ripple which crisped without agitating the broad, blue, sunny surface of the water. Over head a few flitting specks of white cloud sailed softly by like motes upon the unfathomable blue in which one lost one's self when one looked up. What a day it was! and what a strange dream of happiness to be floating there, between one blue and the other, suspended in that liquid world of air between the two, with soft blessedness of motion, and delicious tinkle of sound, and caressing of the air and of the sun! It was not too warm nor too bright, nor too anything, for the two who were afloat upon that summer sea. Their boat glided along as it pleased, with a little white sail to catch the little air that was blowing; and kind fortune watched over the voyage to see that no harm came — kind fortune, or some of the younger angels who watch over true lovers, for the captain of the little craft gave but small attention to the helm. Fortunately, the sea was broad, and they were out of the way of the many vessels issuing from

  1. The work called "The Unseen Universe," presents a portion of the evidence to this effect, hut unfortunately the style of that work is not sufficiently lucid to bring its reasoning within the range of the general non-scientific reader.