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on incombustible materials, they would be absorbed or extinguished without showing any signs of heat. There is but one substance known, in which light is kept in a luminous state without the aid of external or internal combustion, and this substance is the diamond. This very fact should convince us of the materiality of light, for here it is luminousness per se, that attaches itself to the surface of the diamond. It is part of the mass of light which fell on the stone from a self-luminous body, and being a real material itself, it adheres to a substance known to admit and reflect light.
When the sparks from flint and steel fall on our hands there is a sensation of heat, because they come in contact and combine with the oleaginous particles emitted by the pores, thus producing a slight combustion. If they fall on substances such as are partially decomposed or destroyed by combustion, a still further process goes on, and if substances of a higher inflammable nature are presented to them, flame is the result.
The flint and steel, therefore, contain no light in themselves; they only, as ponderous bodies, by their sudden approximation, force the matter which is traversing through and around them into a closer union with the abraded particles which the concussion struck off from their own bodies. In the sudden forcing together of two extremely dense substances, the free passage of latent matter is obstructed; light is always set free in such concussions.
If light and heat in a latent state pervade all space, as they most assuredly do, and if they can be rendered visible and perceptible at pleasure, it need not be a necessary consequence that they should, either one or both, necessarily emanate from the sun. If the mere sudden compression of latent matter can disengage light, why may not an indefinite quantity be generated in this way? There certainly is one point in space where a greater accumulation of latent matter must be concentrated, for we know that both latent and perceptible matter are perpetually driven off from our surface into space. There must be a point beyond which this matter cannot be forced by our centrifugal repulsion. If there be an accumulation, there must be a power stronger than our centrifugal power which prevents the gaseous compounds and latent compounds from proceeding further. As there most assuredly is such a point of conflict in space between the matter driven off from our surface, and the matter driven off from the surface of the sun, the friction amongst the particles of those two revolving bodies-the sun and the earthmust be immense.
We consider the sun to be a solid body, similar to that of the earth, and like this planet possessing no individual luminousness, but, equally with the earth, receiving all its light and heat from
the excited particles of its own abraded, decomposed, and latent matter. We consider that the light and heat which sustain us, are generated at a point very distant from the solid body of the sun itself, and which point we conceive to be much nearer to us than the sun is now supposed to be.
According to this opinion the solid body of the sun must possess as many luminous points as there are planets revolving around it; the rotary motion of its own body, in conjunction with the like rotary motion of the planets, being sufficient to produce all the friction, and thus creating all the luminous suns or points attached to each planet. This luminous sun or point we imagine to proceed from the focus between each planet and the sun.
The sun is therefore a dense body like the earth, turning on its own axis, and never moving from its place in consequence of its superior size, and of the regular motion and position as well as the general balancing of all the planets—its satellites. It can have no individual heat, or light; all the heat and light which it may possess originating from the collision of certain latent and perceptible matter which has accumulated at a definite point between itself and the planets which revolve around it.
This is likewise the case with the planets of our system; all the light and heat which they may possess proceeding from the excited point beyond their own atmosphere. Ignition can only take place in those atmospheres which are supplied with matter that is capable of combustion. Those planets which throw off no inflammable particles can have nothing on their surface equivalent to our organization ; for the light which is generated at their focal point can only fall as luminous rays, without heat.
An aeronaut cannot test the truth of these conjectures, for though he may be suspended above the clouds, beyond the point where the greatest quantity of heat is generated, yet he is still in our atmosphere, and the lighter parts of combustible matter are still ascending there. If he collected the rays of light on a lens, heat would be abundantly perceptible, for his hand alone, when presented to the focus, would present combustible materials on which light could operate, or with which it could unite.
In this view of the subject, therefore, the great ball of fire which is considered as the true sun, is only the luminousness arising from the sudden approximation and union of certain gaseous compounds, driven together by opposite forces to a point where these forces must come in perpetual contact. The dense body—the solid muscles—the primum mobile, which in its revolutions produces the friction and pressure, is so immediately parallel with the axes of the illuminated sun and our
earth, that it is hidden from us. We can only, at certain intervals, see a small portion of the opaque body, when the illuminated focus is less dense in particular parts. In these transparent openings, as they may be termed, we get a glimpse of these “spots in the sun."
The world has been so long accustomed to look upon the sun as possessing light and heat in itself, that opinions and suggestions such as these will be rejected. But neither scripture nor philosophy need revolt at these doctrines, for although the manner in which we conceive the sun to dispense light and heat be different from that generally comprehended, yet we acknowledge that it is owing to the impetus which a dense revolving body gives to gaseous compounds, that light and heat are made apparent. The sun is the exciting cause in the first place, and the earth in the second ; these two powers in their rotary movements causing light to be set free.
Art. VII.—Dictionary of the English Language. By Noah
WEBSTER, LL. D.
It has ever been a just cause of complaint against the English language, that its orthography is varied and unsettled. Hence any effort to reduce the anomalies which abound in it, to something like system, deserves the approbation of every lover of English literature, provided the end is attempted to be gained by suitable and proper means. Many thanks, therefore, are due to Dr. Webster, for the unwearied diligence with which he has pursued this object; and though we do not consider this as one of his happiest efforts, he has accomplished much for which he deserves praise. If we were to instance the point in which we think the doctor has been most successful, we should direct the reader to the etymology of his Dictionary; and though we cannot say we think it all sound, we believe he has done that which will perpetuate his name, while philology shall be studied as a science. And we attribute his greater success in this department to the apparent fact, that this has been pursued less with reference to a preconceived theory, than his system of orthography. We shall therefore notice some points where we think his orthography is at variance with the true principles of
English spelling, and which seem to have been induced by an adherence to theory rather than by deference to principle.
But before we proceed to the main object of this article, we beg leave to tarry long enough to venture a remark as to the cause of the varieties of orthography which abound in our language. The base of our language, and by far the most important part of it, is Teutonic, and has mostly been subject to the laws which have governed the orthography of the Teutonic languages, while an important part of it has been derived from the Latin, and mainly through the medium of the Romance language. Words of the latter class have generally obeyed the laws which prevailed in the Romance dialects, and the reason for their orthography is to be sought in those dialects. We have, therefore, what for convenience may be denominated a Teutonic and a Latin side to our language, and the reason for the original orthography of words, from either side, is to be sought in the laws which regulated contemporaneous changes in the kindred dialects. But neither of these can properly be called a standard of English orthography. Such a standard must lie between the two extremes, and to it we can only refer such words as, borrowed from either side, have become perfectly Anglicised. Bearing this in mind, we shall proceed to consider some of the things above referred to.
The first point to which we shall turn our attention, relates to the use of the letter u in honour and other similar words; and that we may see distinctly the reason why Dr. Webster excludes this letter in that class of words, we will quote his own language from the Introduction to the Quarto Dictionary.
Soon after the revival of letters in Europe, English authors began to borrow words from the French and Italian, and usually with some little alteration of orthography. Thus they wrote authour, embassadour, predecessour, &c., using our for the Latin termination or and the French eur, and writing similar words in like manner, though not of Latin or French original. What motive could induce them to unite these words, errour, honour, favour, inferiour, in this manner, following neither the Latin nor the French, I cannot conceive."
These principles are recognised and repeated in an article on Philology in the Knickerbocker for 1836, page 235, et seq. From the foregoing quotation the following positions are sustained.
1. The practice of spelling these words with u, commenced with the revival of English literature; and in the section from which the above is copied the doctor admits that it continued down to the seventeenth century.
2. That this orthography was used, whether the words were borrowed from the French, Italian, or other languages. To this
we may add, that it frequently extended to words from the Teutonic side, as in neighbour; Sax. nehbur, nehgbur ; Germ. nachbar; Dutch, nabur ; Sw. nabo; Dan. nabor ; &c.
3. The doctor omits this letter on account of the supposed fact that our is neither French nor Latin, and because he cannot imagine the existence of any motive for introducing it.
Upon these we remark, that since this letter was uniformly used, “ from the revival of English literature to the seventeenth century,” it is to be presumed, in the absence of all proof to the contrary, that it is really part and parcel of the English language, and as such ought to be retained. And farther, the idea entertained by the doctor, that our is neither Latin nor French, we take to be altogether erroneous. If we are correct in the foregoing, then upon the principles by which the doctor professes to guide himself, the letter should be retained. These principles are laid down in the Knickerbocker, (vol. vii. pp. 356, 357,) where he says, “ By research into the history and principles of the language, I have attempted to ascertain what is genuine English, and what is error and corruption ; and by moderate reform to rectify what is clearly wrong.” Now it is altogether surprising that it did not occur to the doctor, if this letter has been in use so long, and so uniformly as he supposed, and if he was so much at a loss to know how it came there, as that he was wholly unprepared to say that our was not "genuine English," that he could not pronounce that “error and corruption," of which he did not know the origin or cause. The doctor, therefore, has made out a case against himself, upon his own principles.
But there is another point of view in which this subject should be considered, by omitting which, the doctor, as we suppose, fell into the error under consideration. We refer to the analogy of the Romance languages. By the “ Romance languages," we mean those derived from the Latin, including Provençal, Italian, Spanish, and French. By comparing the changes which the words under consideration have undergone in those languages, it will be seen that a law has operated to change the orthography in this and other similar classes of words in all those dialects. And if we find such a law, governing the whole class, we presume it will not be denied that that orthography alone can be philologically correct which is in conformity with it. To the same law the English has had reference, when borrowing words directly from the Latin, and also from the Saxon.
OR.—This termination in Latin embraces two distinct classes of words, those denoting persons, as pastor, author, &c., and those denoting qualities, as honor, favor, &c. Concerning the first of these we have now nothing to say, as the question at