Imágenes de páginas

milky light comes from orbs really smaller than the seventh magnitude stars in the same field, and clustering round these stars in reality as well as in appearance.

The observations applied to this spot may be extended to all clusters of globular form; and where a cluster is not globular in form, but exhibits, on examination, either (1) any tendency within its bounds to stream-formation, or (2) a uniform increase in density as we proceed from any part of the circumference towards the centre, it appears wholly inconceivable that the apparent cluster is—not really a cluster, but—a long range of stars extending to an enormous distance directly from the eye of the observer. When, in such a case, many stars of the higher magnitudes appear within the cluster, we seem compelled to admit the probability that they belong to it; and, in any case, we cannot assign to the farthest parts of the cluster a distance greatly exceeding (proportionally) that of the nearest parts.

Of a like character is the evidence afforded by narrow streams and necks within the galactic circle. If we consider the convolutions over Scorpio, it will seem highly improbable that in each of these we see, not a real convolution or stream, but the edge of a roll of stars. For instance, if a spiral roll of paper be viewed from any point taken at random, the chances are thousands to one against its appearing as a spiral curve, and, of course, the chance against several such rolls so appearing is indefinitely greater. The fact that we are assumed to be not very far from the supposed mean plane of the Milky Way would partly remove the difficulty here considered, if it were not that the thickness and extent of the stratum, as compared with the distances of the lucid stars must necessarily be supposed so very great, on the assumption of any approach to uniformity of distribution.

Evidence pointing the same way is afforded by circular apertures in the galaxy, or indeed by apertures of other forms, since a moment's inspection of Figs. 3 and 5 will show the improbability of any tunnelling (so to speak) through the star stratum, being so situate as to be discernible from S. Another peculiarity of these cavities is also noticeable; whereas on the borders of every one there are many lucid stars, or in some cases two or three very bright stars, within the cavity there is a marked paucity of stars. This phenomenon seems to indicate a much closer connection between the brighter stars, and the milky light beyond, than is supposed in the stratum theory. One can hardly conceive the phenomenon to be wholly accidental.

There are some other points on which I would fain dwell, but space will not permit me. I may, perhaps, on another

occasion, return to the consideration of the subject. For the present, I will merely note that there are peculiarities in the distribution of double and multiple stars, in the position in which temporary stars have made their appearance, and in the distribution of nebulæ, which seem very worthy of notice.

Ore point, however, immediately connected with my subject, remains to be mentioned. I have traced streams of stars more conspicuous than those forming the Milky Way: we have also evidence of streams of light yet more delicate and evanescent than the light of our galaxy. In Sir John Herschel's great work on the southern skies, he notes the frequent recurrence of “ an exceedingly delicate and uniform dotting, or stippling of the field of view by points of light too small to admit of any one being steadily or fully examined, and too numerous for counting, were it possible so to view them.” In thirty-seven places he detected this remarkable and significant phenomenon; a phenomenon so faint, that he says, “The idea of illusion has continually arisen subsequently ;” an idea well befitting the modesty of the philosophic observer, but which those who appreciate Sir John Herschel's skill as an observer will be very unwilling to accept. As Professor Nichol remarks, “It is enough to read from Herschel's note-book—'I feel satisfied the stippling is no illusion, as its dark mottling moves with the stars as I move the tube to and fro'-to feel convinced that the phenomenon is real.” Now, a remarkable fact connected with those observations is, that when Sir J. Herschel marked down in a star-chart the places in which he had detected this nebulous appearance, he found that, “ with the exception of three, which appeared outlying and disconnected, they formed several distinct but continuous streams."


BY JOSEPH NEWTON, H. M. MINT. It is highly probable, if it be not morally certain, that, ere many years shall have passed away, the thick veil of mystery which has so long, and so effectually concealed from us an exact knowledge of the laws which govern, and the peculiar habits which distinguish the inhabitants of Japan, will be removed. Such a consummation we believe must result from the more enlightened, and, it may also be said, far more rational mode of conducting negotiations with the authorities of that strange empire of islands which now prevails. This country, indeed, is particularly fortunate at present in having as its chief representative at the Court of the Tycoon so able & diplomatist, and so dispassionate a man as Sir Rutherford Alcock. If it be true that

“A wise physician skilled our woes to heal,
Is more than armies for the public weal,”

it is equally certain that a talented and honest statesman may contribute largely to the promotion of the social and commercial intercourse, and the happiness of nations. In time past it has been too much the custom for ambassadors and others, while “ dressed in a little brief authority,” to play very “fantastic tricks” indeed with those to whom they were accredited, and thus to create, or widen breaches instead of promoting peace and confidence. The fact, which is sustained by abundant evidence, has had the effeet, in too many instances, of preventing instead of aiding the extension of commerce, and thereby arresting the progress of civilization and of Christianity itself.

The manner in which our intercommunication with the Japanese has been conducted during the last few years is happily not amenable to any such painful criticism. Confidence, it has been truly asserted, is a “plant of slow growth,” but it appears to be one in process of rapid cultivation between England and Japan, and we all know the value of the production when fully matured. At this moment, there are in this country many intelligent young Japanese, some of them of noble birth, and destined for future legislators, under course of educating and training in Great Britain, whilst several of the vexatious restrictions which heretofore prevented the admission of Englishmen into Japan bave disappeared. In short, a quiet and gradual, yet sure and steady revolution in

these directions is going on, and its course is fraught with advantage to the peoples of both countries.

In the magnificent exhibition of fruits and flowers of the world's industrial gardens, now in full display at Paris, a considerable section is devoted to the exposition of articles from Japan. This forms, indeed, one of the most interesting portions of the wondrous show, and the ingenuity and originality manifested by the artists and work people who have prepared the articles are extraordinary. The fact of their transmitting so much valuable property to France, and taking so palpable an interest in the success of the gigantic undertaking, is in itself a strong proof that the Japanese are becoming fully alive to the advantages of international traffic ; as it certainly proves that the councils of the Tycoon are not now under the influence of the old spirit of exclusiveness. Taking this, with other signs and portents of a similar character into account, there can be little danger in predicting that closer and far more familiar relations between the states of Europe generally and Japan will soon exist. Such a result cannot but be productive of good to all, and we hail its approach as a certain guarantee of increasing commercial prosperity, for this country especially.

If, however, there are externally to Japan, as it were, symptoms of an increasing intercourse such as has been indi. cated, there are corresponding symptoms within its own limits. To one of these latter it is proposed now to invite attention, namely, that of a proposed reformation of the metallic currency, which subject is under discussion by the Japanese Government. On matters of trade and currency which, as we so well know, have the most direct and vital bearing upon each other, the people of Japan have been instructed to some extent by the Dutch, with whom their trading transactions have hitherto been almost exclusively carried on. The information thus gained nevertheless was of a limited kind, and was probably sought for the purpose of meeting the internal wants of the country, and the consequence was the establishment of a system of coinage by no means cosmopolitan in its application, but, on the contrary, most narrow and artificial. The coinage of Japan was, however, it must be admitted, carefully devised, from one point of view, for its especial object, and its arrangement, though presenting startling anomalies to those unaccustomed to it, was not ill adapted to the daily necessities of the native population. The treaty which was completed in 1858, conjointly between Great Britain, America, and Japan, and which, to a very limited degree, opened up commerce between the three countries, first induced the Japanese to take into earnest consideration the nature and

peculiarities of their own metallic currency, and its adaptability or otherwise to the purposes of foreign trade. This consideration was a fact forced upon them by pressure of the strongest influence which it is said can operate upon traders in generalthat of self-interest. To make this point more clear and intelligible, let us describe the coinage of Japan, as it was arranged at the period just cited.

The principal coins circulating anterior to 1858, were the gold kobang, the gold itzebu, and the silver itzebu. The original kobang of gold was worth about 183. 3 d., or 18s. 5d. British. The gold itzebu was worth one-third of the gold kobang, and the silver itzebu equalled in value ls. 4d. English money. At the time of the partial opening up of foreign trading transactions, the kobang circulated in Japan at four itzebus, although its European value was actually nearly fourteen itzebus! The immediate consequence of this latter circumstance on the sharp traders of America and England, was to induce them to buy up all the kobangs that came in their way at the Japanese valuation. By this proceeding, which no doubt enlightened the poor natives, and revealed to them the truly commercial character of their new customers, the latter gained large sums of money. The lesson thus practically taught and forcibly illustrated, was speedily learnt by the Japanese, who set about purchasing the remaining kobangs. The result necessarily was a total disappearance of the kobang from the channels of general circulation.

At present, therefore, gold and silver itzebus are the coins which mainly do duty as the circulating media of Japan. These are supplemented, however, by a silver coin known as the itacune, and which is equal in value to 12s. British. There are also in use among the humbler classes of the native population, subsidiary pieces of copper and of iron, and which are known individually as the sen, or cash.* Of these 376 are required to equal in value an English shilling. The obsolete kobangs were thin and oval-shaped discs of flattened gold, two inches in length, and 14 inches in width. Their weight averaged 200 English grains, and their almost universal degree of fineness was 15. The ornamentation of the kobang was of the most primitive and simple nature. A kind of scroll like a floreated design at the top, and at the bottom of the obverse, was supposed to represent the coat of arms of the Dairi. Characters stamped in immediately beneath the upper coat of arms indicated the exact weight and value of the coin and the date of its production. Above the lower coat of arms was the name of the Master of the Mint at which it was

# The coar:est specimens of mintage extant, and not equal to the Chinese "cash," illustrated at page 121, vol. iii. of INTELLECTUAL OBSERVER.

« AnteriorContinuar »