« PreviousContinue »
The Evening of the Yeur ; - When Woods, with Juniper and Chesnuts crown'd, With falling, Fruits and Berries, paint the Ground; And lavish Nature laughs, and streius her Stores around.
Euphrof. This Season of the Year, I think, is remarkable upon some other Accounts; for Instance, the Harvest Moon, which I have heard much Talk of, but thould be glad to know the Reason of it better than I do: Can you explain it, Cleonicus ?
Cleon. That which is called the Harvest, or Shepherd's Moon, is a very considerable Phænomenon; but I chuse to defer the Explication of it 'till we come to the Use of the Celestial Globe, where it will be much easier understood than by the Orrery.
Euphros. I am obliged to you, Cleonicus. Is there any Thing more to be noticed at this Season of the Year? For I would not tire you with Impertinencies.
Cleon. I need not observe to you, that the Ancients made much more ado about th's Season of the Year than we in this Age. They had now their Festivals of Bacchus and Pomona, the Deities of their Vintage and Orchards; and their extravagant Mirth, Rejoicings, and Revels, on these Occasions, ought rather to be fupprefied, than related to the Disgrace of our Species. And it were to be wished, indeed, that the Harvest-Populace of the present Age were more sensible of the Dignity of human Nature 5 for they would then not debase it so much as they do, by some of their antique and ridiculous Customs at this Season of the Year in many Parts of England.-But we shall dwell no longer on this disagreeable Topic.
Season is over in the Orrery, and the Winter begins ; which brings on the cold Conclusion of the Year. Euphrof. I can scarce help shuddering at the Muntion
of Winter; and methinks, the northern Parts of the Globe seem to enter upon a horrid StateGloom and Darkness are now their Portion. They are turning farther and farther from the Sun, which now begins to chear the inferior Regions of the Earth. How dismal is the Face of Winter, even in Machinery !
Cleon. A heavy and dreary Season, indeed! The Sun, as the Earth moves towards Cancer (3), declines from its meridian Height, and the Polar Parts go gradually into Darkness, till at length, when the Earth is got to Cancer (5), the northern frigid Zone will be overwhelmed in Obscurity, like that of the Evening Twilight.
Euphrof. So I observe. And at the same Time, I see the southern Pole, and its Regions, became more and more illuminated ; and when the Sun has reached Cancer, I suppose the whole polar Circle will enjoy its Light uninterruptedly for a while.
Cleon. It will be so for one Day; and then the Sun will begin to leave the Pole, and the Parts about it by Degrees,
-Thus all Things will appear reverse to what they were in the Summer Season. The Days are short, and the Nights long; which you plainly discern by the northern Parallels continuing but a short Time in the Light, or illumined Hemisphere, and a much longer Time in the dark one. And therefore, by a natural Consequence, the Cold must greatly increase in all north Latitudes, and this, together with the Shortness of Days, constitute the Nature of this season, and make what we call Winter ; which is one great Cause of the increasing Coldness of this Season.
Euphrof. You have already taught me to understand, that as the Sun's Rays falling more directly on us in Summer helped to augment the Heat of that Season ; so his Rays falling now more obliquely on our Parallel, and all the northern ones, conduce to increase the Cold, and render it more intense *.
• The Reader, by cafting his Eye on the Diagram in Plate XXIII, will see an exact and natural Representation of the Earth in its Winter-Situation in the Orrery, and fuch as it really has it. Orbit, with respect to the Sun, in the Middle of Winter; whence as ealy an Idea of the concurring Causes of Cold
Cleon. Very good, you remember and apprehend the Thing well. But see, the Earth has now reached the critical Point, I mean the Beginning of Cancer,-and now is the Depth of Winter to all the northern Latitudes, and the Height of Summer to all the southern Parts.The Sun, you observe, appears now to enter Capricorn (6).—The highest Part of the enlightened Hemisphere, you see, reaches but to the Aritic Circle, and leaves all beyond it to the Pole in Darkness, or rather Twilight.— For, as I shall shew you hereafter on the Globe, there are but five Degrees about the Pole, which are now in abfolute Darkness.
Euphrof. Well, 'tis very admirable to see Nature thus mimicked and represented by Art! To see the Change and Succeffion of Seasons all performed in so short a Space, is wondrous and delightful. The Earth, I fee, is advancing a-pace towards the Vernal Equinox, whence it first set out; and there our artificial Year will end.
Cleon. It will ;-and as the Earth moves on, you'll fee, by Means of the Parallelism of the Earth's Axis, how all the northern Parts are gradually turned towards the Sun again, and re-enjoy his Beams ;-how the Days lengthen, and the Nights decrease, contrary to what happens beyond the
Equator ;--and how the chilly, darksome Season moves off, succeeded by the smiling Spring. The Qualities of this Season afford a copious Theme to the Poets; among whom we find many beautiful Descriptions of Winter ; the first and principal of which is that of old Homer, in his 12th Iliad, which is thus :
As when farp Boreas blows abroad, and brings
Descend, and whiten all the Fields below.
in this Seafon may be collected, as from a View of the Earth itself in the Machine; and indeed there is no other Way by which this important Affair can be so justly and naturally represented to the Understanding. I hope no one will think he has too much Aslistance in a Matter so little understood, as the Rationale of the Seasons.
High Jove his farp Artillery forms,
And the white Ruin riles o'er the Plain. Euphrof. This is very beautiful, indeed! Pray, what does Virgil say on this cold Subject ?
Cleon. The Theme is a frozen one, 'tis true; but it does not abate the Poet's Fire. - For he very copiously defcribes the Winter and all its various Incidents in the following admirable Manner; where speaking of the northorn Climates, he gives us the Description of a Seythrian Winter in the fubfequent Lines.
Early they fall their Flocks and Herds; for there
Mean Time, perpetual Sleet, and driving Snow
Dryd. Virg. Georg. III. And thus Sir Richard Blackmore :
At length, forsaken by the solar Rays,
Creation, Book II,