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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/536

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But one piece of Biela's comet, so far as known, was found—a fragment weighing eight pounds falling at Mazapil, Mexico, where it remains one of the most inspiring and interesting of inanimate objects. For years the vast metallic mass, of which this piece formed a part, rushed through space, covering millions of miles; now near the burning surface of the sun, now in regions of space where its heat was scarcely perceptible. For over a century this monster was observed by the inhabitants of the earth, and finally a portion fell and human beings handled and examined it.

The fiery messengers which dash down singly upon the earth, the showers of meteoric stones which flash through our atmosphere with ephemeral gleams, are, then, the remains of gigantic comets which have been seen rushing with apparent erratic course through space, and which by unknown causes have been destroyed and now as meteoric clusters, one of which is estimated to be one billion miles in length and one hundred thousand miles in thickness, and to contain one hundred thousand million meteors, are swinging through space, with many erratic and wandering forms, pouring upon the earth and all the planets of the solar system a mighty and continuous bombardment.



THE spirit of conquest produces a gigantic aggregation of calamities and sufferings. A large number of persons still regard conquests with a favoring eye. Now, what does a conquest signify? It is the arming of a band of soldiers and going and taking possession of a territory. Although such expeditions may appear useful, lucrative, legitimate, and even glorious, little regard is paid, in conducting them, to the good of societies; for, in spite of all euphemisms, such military enterprises are robbery, and nothing else, all the time. Generous spirits who talk about suppressing war do great injury to mankind. Setting themselves in pursuit of a chimera, they abandon the road that leads to concrete and positive results. Realists treat the partisans of perpetual peace as Utopian dreamers, and refuse to follow them. The noblest and most generous efforts are thus wholly lost. The direction of public opinion is left to empirics and retrogrades, to narrow-minded people, who are satisfied with living from day to day and have not the courage to look the social problems of the time in the face. War will never be abolished any more than murder. The propaganda should not be directed on that side. The spirit of conquest is the thing to combat. And this