Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small]

tion of getting more clothing was so great that the sharp chill was preferable.1

The stars shone constantly clearer, and toward midnight we had the instruments all at work. A few yards from the long row of huts was a small open space, where the telescope might command a clear horizon view in every direction. A stiff wind blew out of the west, with the thermometer below the freezing-point. To the east were the precipitous slopes of the mountain-side, and, opposite us, the overhanging crags of the cavernous crater. The telescope was mounted upon a large lava boulder, and much of the time had to be held in position lest it should be upset by the wind. Any one in quest of comfort would not elect to make astronomical observations under conditions such as these—and on top of a mountain two or three miles high, besides. However, the program was executed in spite of merely physical obstacles, and the hours of clearest sky lasted until even astronomers became weary. At stars in every part of the sky, to the north, south, east, and west, and at all altitudes from the zenith to the horizon, the telescope was pointed, and the conditions of vision tested by the steadiness of the spectral disks or images, just as in the case of the artificial star. So fine were these images, so nearly optically perfect the air, that for moments together there was scarcely a trace of atmospheric effects.

These were general tests. If they were satisfactory, of course the telescope could not fail to do its best work upon any special objects of whatever sort. A few double stars, suited to the capacity of the instrument, were tried, and the advantages were at once strikingly apparent. Companion stars hard to see, and "doubles" hard to divide, with the same glass at lower elevations, here were readily discerned. Even in looking at so ordinary an object as the moon, the edge or limb of which has been seen absolutely sharp by few astronomers, the effect was indescribable. So sharply defined were the details of the lunar surface, that if a suitable object-glass had been at hand, a magnifying power of 2000 diameters would at first have been used. The structural irregularities of the limb were so marked, and in many parts the moon's edge was so excessively jagged, as to lead one to wonder that the usual type of lunar observations can be made as accurately as they are. As dawn approached, Saturn had risen to an available altitude, and the ring-system was seen to the best advantage. While with

1 The low temperature generally prevalent on Fujisan is at one spot slightly modified by the intrinsic heat of the mountain. Satow and Hawes, without whose admirable "Guide-book to Northern and Central Ja pan" no one should attempt extended travel in the empire, say, at page 118, of the ascent of Fuji-san:

the moon high up it was impossible to detect even the slightest trace of "boiling at the limb," as the astronomer sometimes says, Saturn was less favorably situated, and a slender trace of undulation was now and then evident. Still, had the glass been large enough, a power of 1500 might have been used.

Of course these results were not surprising after the spectral images of the stars had behaved so finely. One great advantage of the spectral-image tests is that they can be made satisfactorily with a small telescope, while the tests upon specific objects usually require large and bulky instruments, which are hard to manage in mountain work. Just at sunrise we found that while all the lower world lay impenetrably shrouded in a thick white cloud, out of this smooth, soft sea Fuji-san rose like a volcanic island. -a deep blue sky above without a fleck of mist, and the sun shining as through lambent crystal. After sunrise the astronomical observations were continued upon the sun, in order to detect the gradual changes in the optical quality of the atmosphere. At first, with the sun about half an hour high, there was very fine solar definition, with slight flickering of the limb, but little or no genuine "boiling." Rarely is the sun better seen. A crag of the crater wall was found whose shadow would, during the morning, fall at an accessible point within the cavity, several hundred feet away. Upon this crag was set a disk just a little larger than necessary to occult the sun. At the proper point behind this disk the eye was placed, and, when the sun came in range, the corona was carefully looked for. The degree of atmospheric illumination immediately around the sun was surprisingly small, and the conditions for seeing the corona without an eclipse seemed in every way favorable; but not a trace of it could be detected. There was still enough atmospheric and other matter above the mountain-summit to catch the sunlight and to render the background of the corona as bright as the object itself, and thus make it invisible. There is, of course, very little reason for expecting to see the corona in this way, but so simple an experiment seems always worth trying.

The usual unpleasant effects of the direct rays of the sun upon the complexion were not escaped by all of the party, and the skin of several faces gradually peeled off. Mountaineers often maintain that snow-reflection is the cause of this well-known trouble; but such could not have been the case here, as there

"The interesting phenomenon may be observed of steam still issuing from the soil in several places. A few inches below the surface the heat is great enough to be unbearable, and an egg may be fairly cooked in about half an hour."

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

was no snow on the mountain, except in protected gorges in the farther side of the crater half a mile away.

As the sun ascended higher toward meridian, the telescopic definition grew somewhat worse, but it never became so bad as at sea-level. The vast ocean of cloud below gradually rose as the morning advanced, and about noon the great mountain seemed entirely immersed. Celestial observations being no longer possible, we addressed ourselves to the task of locating the future observatory, should one ever be built on Fuji-san. A short distance northwest of Chodjo we discovered a fine plateau which with little labor might be enlarged for the reception of a permanent structure. Here the lesser apparatus and the observers' quarters might be established, there being ample means of protection against the severe and prevalent west winds. This point commands an incomparable view to the north and east, and communication by heliotrope with any of the towns below would be simple. If a great telescope were to be mounted on Fuji-san, an ideal

location is available on a saddle inside the crater, a few yards below the summit, where the buildings might be perfectly protected against the wind. Many advantages of a highlevel observatory on Fuji-san are not realizable elsewhere. For a period of four or five months each year, the continual ascent of the mountain by pilgrims would make it possible to communicate directly with the world below. Furthermore, the keepers of a dozen or more huts at the tenth station are always living there during the season, and the little company of observers would never be quite alone. On no other isolated peak of like elevation on the globe would these advantages be gained. If, as often occurs, the series of high-level observations requires a corresponding series at a lower level, Fuji-san meets such conditions perfectly. For example, at Subashiri and on the summit might be established a pair of sta tions, each plainly visible from the other, with a vertical difference of nearly 10,000 feet and a horizontal distance of about seven miles.

While scientific men are supposed to be ob

[merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

a glad farewell to that frowning peak, plunging joyfully into the yielding lava of the downward path. From that unique summit the kingdoms of the earth and their glory lay spread out to the gaze, but too far, too foreign, too remote, for companionship or sympathy. Grandeur and majesty, with desolation and loneliness unspeakable, form the crown of Fuji-san. After descending two or three thousand feet, headaches disappeared suddenly, our heartbeats ceased their abnormal rush, and the heaviness in every motion turned into a renewed delight in life. On we plunged through the soft lava, aided by our long sticks, and with fresh patts of straw sandals over our boots every ten or hteen minutes. The mist was very thick; the coolica in front and those behind became inyalde, the dull thud of their approaching footpo was a positive relief from the sensation od bond bolation, and even more so their dim Leadow, dowly growing into recognizable figThe enthusiasm of delight in reaching tition at last can never be forgotten. The La 1, fuck white and pink flowers which folof the cinde is far up the height were wel 1. an advance guard of joy; we could lly pby the oases of verdure with their Cd strawberries, and when we reached was like a region enchanted. It

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

emerged from the cloud, and its last traces floated calmly off above us, leaving a wide and sunny landscape, which even the volcanic soil could not render dreary. But long before we reached Subashiri the great triangular shadow of Fuji began to spread over the hills and fields. Growing larger and more portentous with every moment, it swept irresistibly onward, until we too became enshrouded in its veil, and as we rode along the one street to the Yona-yama, night was already come.

Once more in the same little rooms as before, with the hibachi full of red-hot coals set near, and the chicken and rice well under way for dinner, life had few unsatisfied desires. Warmth, comfort, ease of breathing, had acquired a new significance.

When, many days after this climb and descent, we steamed slowly at evening out of the beautiful bay of Yokohama, Fuji graciously vouchsafed a glorious parting glimpse of his majesty. Deep purple against a yellow sky, his regular, matchless cone rose solitary and superb over a foreground of coast-bluffs, and water rippling with sunset fire. Insensible, calm, unmoved by homage or effort, he lives his vast, pulseless life-the mighty landmark of all Japan.

Mabel Loomis Todd. David P. Todd.



HE first world-sound that fell upon my ear
Was that of the great winds along the coast
Crushing the deep-sea beryl on the rocks-
The distant breakers' sullen cannonade.
Against the spires and gables of the town
The white fog drifted, catching here and there

At over-leaning cornice or peaked roof,

And hung-weird gonfalons. The garden walks
Were choked with leaves, and on their ragged biers
Lay dead the sweets of summer-damask rose,
Clove-pink, old-fashioned, loved New England flowers.
Only keen salt sea-odors filled the air.

Sea-sounds, sea-odors, these were all my world.
Hence is it that life languishes with me
Inland; the valleys stifle me with gloom
And pent-up prospect; in their narrow bound
Imagination flutters futile wings.

Vainly I seek the sloping pearl-white sands
And the mirage's phantom citadels
Miraculous, a moment seen, then gone,
Bastion and turret crumbled into air!
Among the mountains I am ill at ease,
Missing the stretched horizon's level line
And the illimitable restless blue.

The crag-torn sky is not the sky I love,
But one unbroken sapphire spanning all;
And nobler than the branches of a pine
Aslant upon a precipice's edge

Are the strained spars of some great battle-ship
Plowing across the sunset. No bird's lilt
So takes me as the whistling of the gale
Among the shrouds. My cradle-song was this,
Strange, inarticulate sorrows of the sea,

Blithe rhythms upgathered from the sirens' caves.
So have I coastwise longings evermore.

May the last sound that lingers on my sense-
Save that of one low voice which not to hear
Were death itself-be some sea-message blown
Over the dim salt-marshes on the winds
At dusk, or when the red autumnal dawn
Turns all the pools and willow-stems to gold.

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »