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AURORA BOREALIS.

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sions of rays every way, waves of clouds wheeling round in a surprising manner.”

Torfæus, an Icelander and Danish historian, wrote in 1706, when, he

says,

he “ remembers the time when the meteor was an object of terror in his native land.”

In “Traité Physique et Historique de l'Aurore Boreale," published in 1754 by M. de Mairau, is a record of all the aurora from the sixth century to that date, so far, at least, as they are to be met with in the page of history. This writer enumerates no less than 1441 auroral displays, in the following order :From A.D. 583 to A.D.

1354

26 observed 1354

1560 1560

1592 1592

1633 70 1633

1684 1684

219 1721

1745 1745

1751 These are said to have appeared in the following months; viz. January 113 July

22
February
141 August

84
March

• 202 September . 172
April

124
October

212
May
45 November

153
June
22 December

151 From which it will be seen that 972 occurred in the winter half of the year, and 469 in the summer half; being rather more than two to one in favour of the winter displays.

Various opinions are prevalent as to the elevation of auroral phenomena. M. de Mairau considers the mean height to be about 175 French leagues, equal to 464 English miles. Dr. Dalton considers them to be about 100 miles; while Captain Parry, who witnessed the aurora in high northern latitudes, considers that some of them did not appear higher than many clouds are seen. Luminous arches frequently precede or accompany auroral displays: one of the most brilliant of these arches appeared on the 27th of August, 1846, about 10 minutes before 9 o'clock p.M. It passed across the heavens at right angles to the magnetic meridian, and a little above the bright star Vega in Lyra. This band was broader than the common rainbow, and of a pure brilliant white, stretched over the deep blue azure sky. The writer of this article, and a gentleman in Norfolk, both attempted to find its altitude. Taking our base line at 100 miles, we found, by a trigonometrical calculation, that its

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AURORA BOREALIS.

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altitude was about 140 miles. Euler estimated auroral arches at 1000 miles; Boscovich at 800 ; Bergman at 460. At whaterer height these arches may be determined, there is no doubt but the aurora borealis is of the same height, as they appear to be the result of the same operating cause.

The following notices of a recent auroral display will be read with interest :

The Rev. John Nunn, of Gurleiston, N.B., lat. 54° 46' N., long. 41° 18' W., says, “ between 9 and 10 o'clock, Nov. 17th, 1848, I looked out and saw rays of light nearly all around, stretching upwards chiefly from NW. to NE. What appeared to me singular in this phenomenon was, that all the rays concentrated in a point exactly over our heads. The rays were of different colours, chiefly of a reddish tinge.”

“At Frome," writes the Rev. Walter Sheppard, “at a quarter to $ P.M., Nov. 17th, the eastern part of the heavens was tinged with a deep roseate hue. This rapidly stretched across the centre of the sky from east to west, with rays of yellow light shooting across the pink arch. Then the band became broken, and the roseate hue, in various shades of colouring, spread over the southern portion of the heavens from E. to NW., with light cumuli rapidly passing across towards the west, the wind at the time rising to a gale, and then dying away.

At 10 P.M. the roseate hue had disappeared; but in the NW. and W. a bright light continued until after 2 A.m. on the 18th, with high wind. The barometric column had been falling for twelve hours previous."

Mr. Barnes, of Breton, near Sidmouth, says, “the night of the 17th of Nov. 1848 will be long remembered by those who were watching the heavens. Since 1837 I have seen nothing so brilliant and grand as the phenomenon seen here on the 18th of October last; but the appearance of last night (17th of Nov.) was far surpassing that of last month in magnificence. It appeared first of a primrose colour; and so great was the light, that distant objects could be seen as clearly as in the day. Birds could be distinctly seen roosting on the trees, and the smallest print could be read. After a short time, between 9 and 10 o'clock, the whole heavens became crimson-coloured, and distant objects appeared of a deep crimson colour; after 10, the horizon again became white, and remarkably light.”

Geo. Darling, Esq., of Wesler, says, “we had an extraordinary appearance of the aurora borealis last night (Nov. 17th, 1848), which extended from E. to W., as the reflection of some great fire, sending forth innumerable streams of light up to the zenith, the colours of which were intensely brilliant."

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MESMERISM IN INDIA FORTY YEARS AGO.

At Sunderland small print could be distinctly read. The telegraph at Belford, it is said, would not work! This phenomenon was seen all over this kingdom, and also at Naples. Professor Challis observed it at Cambridge, and remarked that the crown of light to which the rays converged was very near the point of the heavens to which the magnetic needle now points.

Various are the opinions as to the cause of auroræ. Most philosophers consider their origin to be of an electrical nature. Dr. Faraday considers it very probable “that it is a luminous accumulation of electricity, flowing from the equator to the poles, for the restoration of electric equilibrium.” But whatever may be its true physical cause, it presents to our view some of the most magnificent, sublime, awful, and mysterious phenomena which appear in the visible portion of the heavens, and evidently displays the majesty and glory of the Creator, and demonstrates his power in causing the invisible elements of nature to produce scenery so grand, majestic, and diversified. Notwithstanding science has not yet entirely unfolded their mysterious origin, they undoubtedly tend to subserve some highly beneficial purposes in the grand system of creation.

The astral causes of this meteor were h and § stat., and four aspects in operation.

MESMERISM IN INDIA FORTY YEARS AGO.

(From the Zoist, October 1848.) The first instance I can recollect occurred to me so far back as 1808; yet every circumstance attending it is as fresh now in my memory as though but yesterday. A poor young Hindoo female had fallen into a miserable state of health, the effects of severe privation during the previous great famine, was epileptic, and subject to occasional fits of insanity. A veyragey (mendicant devotee) offered to undertake her cure by performing a religious ceremony or muntra; and as the family lived in the same building with me and my military detachment, and had no objection to my being present, I attended. The man commenced with the usual Hindoo offerings, such as burning frankincense, breaking a cocoa-nut, and invoking some god, and particularly Seetaram; seated the woman on the ground with her back and head against the wall; took from his long matted hair a string of large sandal-wood beads, which he held up before her eyes and directed her to look at ; then made passes with it from her head downwards, occasionally stopping to breathe upon or lay his hand

MESMERISM IN INDIA FORTY YEARS AGO.

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upon her chest. She soon became drowsy, and appeared to sleep, when a handful of wood-ashes were called for, waved over head, thrown in the air, and the charm was pronounced complete; he then retired to a little distance, and sat counting the beads, but with his eyes attentively fixed on her, and muttering as if in prayer. În about half an hour he started up, snapped his fingers, called out loudly, “Seetaram !!” which was loudly responded to by the Hindoos present; took his patient by the hand, and told her to go about her family work. To the astonishment of her family and all present she obeyed, walked direct to the quern or hand-mill, and began grinding corn for the evening's meal—a work, I am certain, she had been incapable of performing for months. Looking upon this as mere priestly deception, I declined being present at any future visits. However, her mother, brother, and several men of the detachment, assured me afterwards that this man not only put her to sleep whenever he came, but made her speak during that sleep, describe her disease, and what would cure it.

Among other things, she particularly mentioned animal food, eggs, fowls, &c., and which I laughingly advised them to give her by all means. I laughed at the poor people as fools, and

abused the man as a knave. But his mild good-humoured rebuke is often now present to my mind. “ Youth! the hair on your chin is incomplete; by the time it is like mine you will think differently of me.” The woman recovered, and rapidly so. When the cholera first made its appearance at Surat, in 1817 or 1818, I was one day active in assisting the native adjutant of my regiment in causing the poor fellows attacked with this dreadful disease to be carried as quickly as possible from the barrack-sheds to the hospital. I found one, a Sipahee of my own company, lying under a tree with one of these veyrageys exorcising him, as I thought, with a bangle or ornamental ring, worn on the wrist, made of curiously-twisted iron. My first feeling was the wish to roll one into the river close by, and carry the other into the building. However, the sufferer called out lustily, “Captain, for God's sake leave us alone; he is doing me more good than the doctor will.He got over the attack, as I dare say many others have done, without medical assistance; but frequently declared to me his conviction that the Fakeer and his ring had cured him, for he felt it reducing the spasms. Of course, I could only look

upon this as the effect of imagination, and, whenever I related the case, always attached the story of my poor old rheumatic aunt and her metallic tractors of the year '97.

In the year 1826 I was at Mocha, on the Red Sea, and suf

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MESMERISM IN INDIA FORTY YEARS AGO.

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fering from fever, without any European medical attendant. My native hucheem or doctor, whom I only valued as an excellent nurse, introduced a certain Syed to me as a celebrated traveller; but, in reality, to charm me to sleep. Perfectly unaware of his intentions, I must acknowledge that whenever this man sat before me, counting his beads with a peculiar fixed look, I always felt a strong tendency to sleep; and once, I believe, actually fell fast asleep before him. On awaking up with his hand upon my chest, I angrily ordered him out of the house, when the hucheem confessed the deception. The fever, however, increased until delirium came on. About midnight the hucheem left me for the purpose of seeing his family. The moment he was out of the room, I flew to the water jars, and indulged in what he had always strenuously interdicted—a cold douche-returned to bed in my wet shirt, and fell asleep. At daylight I awoke, and found the poor hucheem standing by the bed, his hand upon my pulse, tears in his eyes, exclaiming, “O thank God, thank God, your fever is gone, and all Abdalla, the mad man, told me is true.” In explanation, he confessed that, becoming alarmed at my delirium, he had gone in search of the mad man, for a fall or prediction as to my eventual recovery. “I found him," said he,“ in the very mood I wished for, moaning and talking quietly to himself; and in reply to my question, whether you would recover, he said, “ Away with you, wretch! the Captain is quite well : I see him now, sleeping under the white curtains, his shirt and bed clothes wet, a towel round his head, and his servant, Kassim, watching over him. Guess the joy of your slave when I returned and found you exactly as he had said."

When at Jeddah, the following year, a Turkish durveish volunteered to cure me of a nervous head-ache. I felt relief; but as the pain returned, I declined his further services. His practice was to make passes over the forehead with an iron stile, as if writing the la illa, &c. of the Muhamedan creed. The

process of Ootar—from the Oordoo verb ootarna, to take down—is common all over India for the cure of snake and scorpion bites. I will relate one instance. When returning from Bombay to Aurungabad, in 1845, one of my palanquin-bearers was bitten in the foot by a snake; but, as it was nearly dark, and the reptile escaping into a hedge, we could not ascertain its class. A village was fortunately at hand, and a charmer was sent for. He and, for the promise of a small fee, undertook the cure. He made passes over the leg, from the knee downwards, sometimes with his hand merely, sometimes with wood-ashes, which he also sprinkled on the wound, but principally with a small palm-leaf

came,

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