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intend to call after my youngest daughter Hepsabeth Starbuck; and I shall necessarily be absent from the island until she is launched; but when I return, I shall be pleased to see thee at my house in Coffin-street, and thou shalt then decide whether thy friend James could make a better Chowder than my youngest daughter Hepsabeth. And remain, thy friend, with esteem,
HEZEDIAH STARBUCK, THIRD.
Gone is the beauty from violet blue,
We paused near a maiden with rosy cheek,
We stood by the cot of a widowed dame;
At a palace we tarried, and there one lay
We hovered around where a christian sire
We crossed the path of a beautiful bark,
We asked of a miser to yield up his gold,
We paused awhile where a family stood,
Was ended iny first wild ride with Death.
In one of those planets which revolve around the star called Sirius, there was a young man of much talent, whom I had the honor of knowing in the last journey that he made to our little ant-hill. He was called Micromegas,* a name which well befits all the great. He was eight leagues in height: by eight leagues, I mean twenty-four thousand geometrical paces of five feet each.
Certain algebraists, gentlemen exceedingly useful to the public, will instantly take the pen, and find, that since Mr. Micromegas, inhabitant of the country of Sirius, is from head to foot twenty-four thousand paces, which make one hundred and twenty thousand royal feet, and since citizens of this our earth are scarcely more than five feet, and yet our globe is nine thousand leagues in circumference; they will find, I say, that it is absolutely necessary that the globe wbich has produced him should be, by due proportion, twenty-one millions six hundred thousand times larger in circumference tha our little world. Nothing is plainer or more ordinary in nature. The territories of certain German or Italian princes, which we can walk round in half an hour, compared with the empires of Turkey,
the 'Little-Great.' – TRANSLATOR.
Russia, or China, are but a feeble image of the prodigious disparities which Nature every where exhibits.
The stature of his excellency being such as I have stated, all our sculptors and painters will readily agree that his waist must be fifty thousand royal feet in circumference; a very fair proportion.
As for his intellect, it is one of the best cultivated I know. He has learned many things, and discovered others. He was only two hundred and fifty years old, and was studying, according to custom, in the Jesuit's college of his planet, when, by mere intuition, he discovered more than fifty of the propositions of Euclid; that is, eighteen more than Blaise Pascal, who, having discovered thirty-two in his games, as his sister tells us, became afterward a tolerable geometer, and an intolerable metaphysician. When abont four hundred and fifty years old, advancing toward manhood, he dissected many small insects, not more than one hundred feet in diameter, imperceptible to ordinary microscopes, and composed a very curious book upon the subject, which however caused him great misfortunes. The mufti of bis country, very scrupulous and very ignorant, found in his book propositions, suspicious, inconsistent, rash, and heretical, or smelling of heresy; and he prosecuted him with virulence. His inquiry had been, whether the substantial forms of the Sirian fleas were of the same nature with that of snails.
Micromegas defended himself with spirit; he brought over the ladies to his side; and the trial lasted two hundred and twenty years. At last the mufti procured the condemnation of the book, by lawyers who had never read it, and the author was forbidden to appear at court for eight hundred years.
He was little distressed by banishment from a court filled with intrigue and trifling. He wrote a very amusing epigram upon the mufti, and thought no more about him, but set out on his travels from planet to planet, to “finish,' in popular phrase, the cultivation of his mind and heart. Those who have never travelled but in a post-chaise or berlin, will doubtless be astonished at the carriages of the world above; for we, on our little heap of mud, can conceive of nothing beyond our customs. Our traveller was familiar with the laws of gravitation, and all the attractive and repulsive forces. He availed himself of this knowledge, to such purpose, that, sometimes by the help of a sunbeam, sometimes by the accommodation of a comet, he and his servants went from globe to globe, as a bird hops from branch to branch. He crossed the Milky Way in a trice; and I am compelled to say, that amid the stars with which it is sown, he did not see that beautiful empyrean sky which the illustrious vicar, Derham, boasts of having seen at the end of his telescope. I would not insinuate that Mr. Derham had bad eyes ; God forbid! But Micromegas was on the spot, is a good observer, and I never contradict.
Micromegas, having travelled much, came to the globe of Saturn. Accustomed as he was to novelty, he could not at first, beholding the smallness of the globe and its inhabitants, avoid that supercilious smile which sometimes crosses the most sage. The fact is, Saturn is only nine hundred times larger than the earth, and the citizens of that country are dwarfs of only six thousand feet high, or thereabout. He amused himself at first, with his servants, just as an Italian musi
cian smiles at the music of Lulli, when he comes into France. But as the Sirian was a man of sense, he saw very soon that a rational being should not be laughed at for being only a thousand toises high. He got acquainted with the Saturnians, after having astonished them. Не formed a strict friendship with the Secretary* of the Saturnian Academy, a man of much talent, who had not, it is true, discovered any thing, but who could give a very good account of the discoveries of others, and who made tolerable verses, and long calculations. For the gratification of my readers, I will repeat here a curious conversation which Micromegas held one day with the Secretary.
After his excellency had lain down, and the Secretary had approached his face, “ We must allow,' said Micromegas, ‘that Nature is infinitely varied. Yes,' said the Saturnian ; ' Nature is like a garden, wbose flowers —Ah !' said the other, ' away with your garden of flowers.' • It is,' resumed the Secretary,' like an assembly of blondes and brunettes, whose dresses What have I to do with your brunettes?' says the other. 'It is, then, like a gallery of portraits, the features of which -'. 'No, no !' says the traveller, once more, • Nature is like Nature. Why seek for comparisons ? To please you,' says the Secretary. I wish to be informed, not amused,' replied the traveller, Begin by telling me how many senses the people of your world possess. We have seventy-two,' said the academician, . and we are complaining every day that the number is so small. Our imagination outstrips our necessities : we find that with our seventytwo senses, our ring, and our five moons, we are too much confined ; and despite all our curiosity, and the sufficient number of passions originating in our seventy-two senses, we have plenty of time for weariness.' . Very likely,' said Micromegas, ' for in our world we have near a thousand senses, and yet there remains an indefinite, vague desire, an ill-defined disquietude, which constantly informs us that we are insignificant, and that there are beings far more perfect than we. I have travelled a little ; I have seen beings much below us ; I have seen them far above us; but I have met with none who had not more wishes than real wants, and more wants than they could satisfy. Perhaps I shall some day arrive at a country where there are on wants ; but hitherto I have received no certain information of any such country.
The Saturnian and the Sirian then exhausted themselves in conjectures; but, after many very ingenious and very unsatisfactory reasonings, they were obliged to return to facts. How long do
Alas! but little time,' replied the little Saturnian. Just as with us,' said the Sirian. We are always complaining of the shortness of time. It must be a universal law of Nature.' “Alas !' said the Saturnian,: we live only five hundred great
* It is supposed that Fontenelli is here intended. He was secretary of a French Philosophical Society. - TRANSLATOR.
revolutions of the sun, (which comes to about fifteen thousand years, in our way of calculating.) You see plainly that this is to die almost at the moment one is born. Our existence is a point, our duration an instant, our globe an atom. Scarcely do we begin to learn a little, when death comes in, before we have any experience. For myself, I dare not advance my projects : I find myself like a drop of water in an immense ocean. I am especially ashamed, in your presence, of the insignificant figure wbich I am sure I must make in the universe.'
Micromegas replied: 'If you were not a philosopher, I should be afraid of distressing you with the information, that our life is seven bundred times as long as yours; but you know too well, that when we must restore our body to its elements, that it may reanimate nature under another form, which is called dying, when that moment of metamorphosis arrives, to have lived an eternity, or to have lived one day, is precisely the same thing. I have been in countries where they live much longer than in mine, and have found that they were murmuring still. But there are every where men of good sense, who know how to take their own places, and thank the Author of Nature. He has shed over this universe a profusion of specific differences, with an admirable uniformity. For example: all thinking beings are different, yet all resemble each other at the bottom, by the gift of thought and of desire. Matter is every where extended, but it has in each globe different properties. How many of these properties do you reckon ? If you speak of those properties,' replied the Saturnian, without whieh we believe that this globe could not exist such as it is, we count three hundred of them; as extension, impenetrability, mobility, gravitation, divisibility, and others.'
Apparently,' said the traveller, this small number suffices for the views which the Creator had for your little habitation. I admire his wisdorn in every thing : I see differences every where, but proprieties everywhere, also. Your globe is small; its inhabitants are so too. You have few sensations; your matter has few properties : all this is the work of Providence. What is the color of your sun, when accurately examined ?' 'A very yellowish white,' answered the Saturnian ; and when we divide one of its rays, we find that it contains seven colors.' • Our sun approaches the red,' said the Sirian, and we have thirty-nine primitive colors. There is not one among all the suns I have approached, which resembles another; as among you, there is no countenance which does not differ from all the others.'
After many questions of this nature, the traveller inquired how many substances essentially different were enumerated in Saturn. He learned there were thirty; as God, space, matter; thinking beings who have no extension; those who are penetrable by each other; those who are impenetrable to each other, and others. The Sirian, in whose country three hundred were known, and who had discovered three thousand others in his travels, was greatly amazed at the philosopher of Saturn. At last, after having communicated to each other a little of what they knew, and a great deal of what they did not know, and after having reasoned during one revolution of the sun, they resolved to make together a short philosophical excursion.