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that our earth was fuddenly enlarged to the dimenfions of the fun; in this cafe it would become the centre of the system, and merely by its magnitude would attract toward itself
The idea of attraction is extremely fimple: fuppofe a body containing ten particles, it will attract a body containing but one particle, with ten times greater power than that single particle will attract the body of ten particles; as a body of one hundred particles: will attract the one of ten, and ftill by very much greater power, the fingle particle. It was neceffary therefore, that the fun should be immenfely large, that his dimenfions might forbid every dispute or rivality, that he might maintain his station immoveably, and that his attraction might reach to the very extremity of the fyftem. What the folar ftation is, I think is not difficult to conceive; fince reafon would incline us to imagine, that the largest and most attractive body muft be placed in the centre; around which the fmaller must circulate: moreover, the fource of light feems moft properly there to be expected. In fact, the fun is the centre, the focus of the system and around him circulate the planets, and their attendants, (one of these planets is our earth); all at such lar distances, and proportionate intervals, as counterbalance the effect of folar attraction, which conftantly weakens, as diftance increases. From the fun then, we calculate the distance of his attendant planets, and therefore the distance of the fun from the earth, &c. is rather an improper expreffion; the distance of the earth from the fun, will be noticed in its place.
Thus we have conjectured, at the nature of the fun's body,
As it is, and under no fuch apprehenfions, we part with him with regret; and were not his abfence the time for repose, and repofe indifpenfable to our wearied nature, we should never willingly forego the light of the Sun: Very justly, therefore, may he claim pre-eminence in our esteem, and the firft engagement of our thoughts; accordingly, I mean, at this time, to request your attention, LADIES and GENTLEMEN, to a few remarks on the folar luminary.
That circumftance which, in the first place, diftinguishes the Sun from every object around us, is his LIGHT; this first ftrikes us, and is fo neceffary, and pleasant to us, and so peculiar to this heavenly orb, that we pity those eyes that never beheld the Sun.
It is natural, therefore, to inquire of what is this fountain and fource of light compofed? In reply to which question, I beg leave to premise, (1) that we have nothing on earth, in any degree, comparable to it, fo as to determine its properties by comparison; for as our earth is an opaque body, void of native light, it affords no example perfectly applicable; (2) what we call fire, or light, what fire or light we on earth may be supposed to poffefs, is not elementary, but grofs, terrestrial, and impure, even after we have made every allowance and distinction between fuel and fire; therefore, (3) that we can only conjecture on this subject, and support our conjectures by the analogy of fuch fubftances or circumftances as come under our examination.
We may conceive of any matter whatever as either a folid, or a fluid. Solidity, you know, LADIES and GENTLE
MEN, is fuch a fixity of parts, as does not permit the motion of one over others: You cannot, in pushing a solid body, push what parts of it you please, but muft, of neceffity, push from the whole of fuch a body; whereas, of a fluid, you may roll over and over again, may difplace and remove, any of its parts: As in water, you may agitate the furface without moving the bottom; you may even furrow one part of it, and yet a distant part be unaffected. By the bye, we are apt, when we instance a fluid, to take up the idea of water, that fluid being our most intimate acquaintance: we ought rather to recollect that there are fluids of much greater weight and compactness (fubftance fhall I call it ?) than water; oils we know are fo, quickfilver, or mercury, we know is fo (fourteen times heavier than water), and continuing this progrefs, we may easily conceive of a fluid extremely denfe and fubstantial, and yet permitting a motion of a part or parts of its quantity without disturbing the reft; whereby it will ever be diftinguished from a folid.
Of fome fuch fluid the Sun is prefumed to be compofed; a clofe, adhesive fluid of light; a confolidated fluid is, I acknowledge, an improper expreffion, yet it may ferve to impart an idea of a fluid fo compreffed, fo united, as to leave fcarce any vacancy between its component particles; confequently, the fame extent of space may contain a very great many more of fuch particles, than if they were loofe, and at a distance, or separated, in any degree, from each other; we will only fay at present ten times as many; confequently alfo, if any given number of particles be fuppofed to quit this incorporated G
flashing below; when I hear the thunder burfting below, how interesting the scene! but when the piercing cold cramps the very bones, when the rarefied air render refpiration difficult, but efpecially, when the defcending mule brings all his feet to a point, when he ftands reconnoitring at the brink of the precipice, when he flides down the mountain's fide, league after league defcending; without a guide, without a path, without a rein, without a possibility of turning, if wrong, and furrounded on every fide by steep down gulphs—not even the Indian Huzza! keeps me from shuddering terror! Or when, on a wide extended defart of burning foil, I watch the course of fome sandy cloud, when it advances, when it obfcures the air, when it envelopes all around, I turn with regret from the general devaflation, and rejoice that the dying groans are only imaginary; Or, if the Samiel breathe its peftiferous vapour, inftant death! I rejoice that I need not proftrate myself to avoid it, or examine the joints of my companions if they retain life enough to crack. In my closet I fear not the fiery glare of northern meteors, nor the fultry beams of a vertical Sun, nor the deftructive damps of deep-funk mines. In my closet I defy the probofcis of the elephant, the roar of the lion, the rapidity of the tyger, the fang of the rattle-fnake, the poison of the serpent: the hungry eagle excites no alarm, the rapacious condour no affright; the enormous whale, the ravenous fhark, I furvey,—but without dread: and, although unable to name every creature according to its properties, as ADAM did, yet, like him,
been fo, we should have had little occafion to thank him for his refplendence; it is exceedingly probable we should scarce have feen him. But, if we suppose him a globe, and revolving on his axis, we suppose a power which caufes inceffant agitation and motion (among his exterior particles especially), and which by its conftant and perpetual activity, fhoots his luminous beams. in every direction around him.
[The fun revolves about his axis in twenty-five days, fifteen hours, fixteen minutes.]
Let me here obferve, that of all matter hitherto known or examined, light is composed of the smallest particles; they are the most minute and atomical: and of all globes hitherto explored, the fun is immenfely the largest and most capacious, being 793,000 miles in diameter; his fuperficial contents 10,000 times the furface of the earth: a momentary reflection is fufficient to evince, that the rapid revolution of a globe fo prodigious, must have most powerful effect upon particles fo diminutive; it must hurl them through every space of free ethereal medium, and nothing can obftruct their progrefs, but fuch opaque and folid bodies as forbid their penetration. Yet even by them they fcorn to be confined, and rebound, diverging every way; fuch reflected light it is which shews us the moon, and the planets of our fyftem, they stopping the paffage of fo great a quantity of light, that even when reflected on all fides, it is sensible through a very extensive distance.
I request the attention of my auditory to what I just hinted of the MAGNITUDE of the fun; and, as closely connected with it, his SITUATION in the fyftem. I may here obferve, that according