Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/382

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ther damage, and ordered the stone to be suspended in the parish church."

In 1768 a stone was seen to fall at Lucé, in France, and three French Academicians, one of whom was Lavoisier, were appointed to investigate it. As they were convinced beforehand that the stone could not have fallen from the sky, they reported to the Academy that it was an ordinary stone, which had been struck by lightning.

The German philosopher Chladni, in 1794, was the first to bring together the accounts of bodies said to have fallen from the sky, and he felt confident in his conclusion that at least two of these came from outer space. One was the now well-known Pallas meteorite, found by a Cossack, in 1749, on the top of a lofty mountain, and brought by the traveler Pallas from Krasnojarsk, Siberia, in 1772. The mass, consisting largely of iron, weighed fifteen hundred pounds, and was thought by the Tartars to be a holy thing fallen from heaven, because it differed entirely from all the rocks of the country. The second was one found, in 1783, by Indians, projecting a foot above the ground, at Otumpa, province of Tucuman, Argentine Republic. It was thought to be an iron mine, and Don Michael Rubin de Celis was sent to investigate it. He reported that it was a mass of iron weighing about thirty thousand pounds, and that there was no other iron in the neighborhood, and no stones, and no human habitations.

Chladni argued that these two masses of iron must have been formed through fire, and, as there were no signs of volcanoes in the countries where they were found, and as volcanoes had never been known to eject masses of iron, he concluded that they must have come to our earth from space.

Two months after Chladni had advanced his theory, there fell a shower of stones at Siena, in Tuscany, an account of which was given in a letter received by Sir William Hamilton from the Earl of Bristol, dated Siena, July 12, 1794:

"In the midst of a most violent thunder-storm, about a dozen stones of various weights and dimensions fell at the feet of different persons, men, women, and children. The stones are of a quality not found in any part of the Siennese territory: they fell about eighteen hours after the enormous eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which circumstance leaves a choice of difficulties in the solution of this extraordinary phenomenon. Either these stones have been generated in this igneous mass of clouds which produced such unusual thunder, or, which is equally incredible, they were thrown from Vesuvius at a distance of at least two hundred and fifty miles; judge, then, of its parabola. The philosophers here incline to the first solution. I wish much, sir, to know your sentiments. My first objection was to the fact itself, but of this there are so