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sequently the same hemisphere towards us, which makes her rotation participate in the secular variations in her mean motion of revolution. Even if the angular velocities of rotation and revolution had not been nicely balanced in the beginning of the moon's motion, the attraction of the earth would have recalled the greatest axis to the direction of the line joining the centres of the earth and moon; so that it would vibrate on each side of that line in the same manner as a pendulum oscillates on each side of the vertical from the influence of gravitation.

No such libration is perceptible; and as the smallest disturbance would make it evident, it is clear that if the moon has ever been touched by a comet, the mass of the latter must have been extremely small; for if it had been only the hundred-thousandth part of that of the earth, it would have rendered the libration sensible. A similar libration exists in the motions of Jupiter's satellites; but although the comet of 1767 and 1779 passed through the midst of them, their libration still remains insensible. It is true, the moon is liable to librations depending on the position of the spectator; at her rising, part of the western edge of her disc is visible, which is invisible at her setting, and the contrary takes place with regard to her eastern edge. There are also librations arising from the relative positions of the earth and moon in their respective orbits, but as they are only optical appearances, one hemisphere will be eternally concealed from the earth. For the same reason, the earth, which must be so splendid an object to one lunar hemisphere, will be for ever veiled from the other. On account of these circumstances, the remoter hemisphere of the moon has its day a fortnight long, and a night of the same duration not even enlightened by a moon, while the favoured side is illuminated by the reflection of the earth during its long night. A moon exhibiting a surface thirteen times larger than ours, with all the varieties of clouds, land, and water coming successively into view, would be a splendid object to a lunar traveller in a journey to his antipodes.

The great height of the lunar mountains probably has a considerable influence on the phenomena of her motion, the more so as her compression is small, and her mass considerable.

In the curve passing through the poles, and that diameter of the moon which always points to the earth, nature has furnished a permanent meridian, to which the different spots on her surface have been referred, and their positions determined with as much. accuracy as those of many of the most remarkable places on the surface of our globe.

The rotation of the earth which determines the length of the day may be regarded as one of the most important elements in the system of the world. It serves as a measure of time, and forms the standard of comparison for the revolutions of the celestial bodies, which by their proportional increase or decrease would soon disclose any changes it might sustain. Theory and observation concur in proving, that among the innumerable vicissitudes that prevail throughout creation, the period of the earth's diurnal rotation is immutable. A fluid, as Mr. Babbage observes, in falling from a higher to a lower level, carries with it the velocity due to its revolution with the earth at a greater distance from its centre. It will therefore accelerate, although to an almost infinitesimal extent, the earth's daily rotation. The sum of all these increments of velocity, arising from the descent of all the rivers on the earth's surface, would in time become perceptible, did not nature, by the process of evaporation, raise the waters back to their sources; and thus again by removing matter to a greater distance from the centre, destroy the velocity generated by its previous approach; so that the descent of the rivers does not affect the earth's rotation. Enormous masses projected by volcanoes from the equator to the poles, and the contrary, would indeed affect it, but there is no evidence of such convulsions. The disturbing action of the moon and planets, which has so powerful an effect on the revolution of the earth, in no way influences its rotation: the constant friction of the trade winds on the mountains and continents between the tropics does not impede its velocity, which theory even proves to be the same, as if the sea together with the earth formed one solid mass. But although these circumstances be inefficient, a variation in the mean temperature would certainly occasion a corresponding change in the velocity of rotation; for in the science of dynamics, it is a principle in a system

of bodies, or of particles revolving about a fixed centre, that the momentum, or sum of the products of the mass of each into its angular velocity and distance from the centre is a constant quantity, if the system be not deranged by an external cause. Now since the number of particles in the system is the same whatever its temperature may be, when their distances from the centre are diminished, their angular velocity must be increased in order that the preceding quantity may still remain constant. It follows then, that as the primitive momentum of rotation with which the earth was projected into space must necessarily remain the same, the smallest decrease in heat, by contracting the terrestrial spheroid, would accelerate its rotation, and consequently diminish the length of the day. Notwithstanding the constant accession of heat from the sun's rays, geologists have been induced to believe from the nature of fossil remains, that the mean temperature of the globe is decreasing.

The high temperature of mines, hot springs, and above all, the internal fires that have produced, and do still occasion such devastation on our planet, indicate an augmentation of heat towards its centre; the increase of density in the strata corresponding to the depth and the form of the spheroid, being what theory assigns to a fluid mass in rotation, concur to induce the idea that the temperature of the earth was originally so high as to reduce all the substances of which it is composed to a state of fusion, and that in the course of ages it has cooled down to its present state; that it is still becoming colder, and that it will continue to do so, till the whole mass arrives at the temperature of the medium in which it is placed, or rather at a state of equilibrium between this temperature, the cooling power of its own radiation, and the heating effect of the sun's rays. But even if this cause be sufficient to produce the observed effects, it must be extremely slow in its operation; for in consequence of the rotation of the earth being a measure of the periods of the celestial motions, it has been proved, that if the length of the day had decreased by the three hundredth part of a second since the observations of Hipparchus two thousand years ago, it would have diminished the secular


equation of the moon by 4".4. It is therefore beyond a doubt, that the mean temperature of the earth cannot have sensibly varied during that time; if then the appearances exhibited by the strata are really owing to a decrease of internal temperature, it either shows the immense periods requisite to produce geological changes to which two thousand years are as nothing, or that the mean temperature of the earth had arrived at a state of equilibrium before these observations. However strong the indications of the primitive fluidity of the earth, as there is no direct proof, it can only be regarded as a very probable hypothesis; but one of the most profound philosophers and elegant writers of modern times has found, in the secular variation of the eccentricity of the terrestrial orbit, an evident cause of decreasing temperature. That accomplished author, in pointing out the mutual dependences of phenomena, says-' It is evident that the mean temperature of the whole surface of the globe, in so far as it is maintained by the action of the sun at a higher degree than it would have were the sun extinguished, must depend on the mean quantity of the sun's rays which it receives, or, which comes to the same thing, on the total quantity received in a given invariable time: and the length of the year being unchangeable in all the fluctuations of the planetary system, it follows, that the total amount of solar radiation will determine, cæteris paribus, the general climate of the earth. Now it is not difficult to show, that this amount is inversely proportional to the minor axis of the ellipse described by the earth about the sun, regarded as slowly variable; and that, therefore, the major axis remaining, as we know it to be, constant, and the orbit being actually in a state of approach to a circle, and consequently the minor axis being on the increase, the mean annual amount of solar radiation received by the whole earth must be actually on the decrease. We have, therefore, an evident real cause to account for the phenomenon.' The limits of the variation in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit are unknown; but if its ellipticity has ever been as great as that of the orbit of Mercury or Pallas, the mean temperature of the earth must have been sensibly higher than it is at present; whether it was great enough to render our

northern climates fit for the production of tropical plants, and for the residence of the elephant, and the other inhabitants of the torrid zone, it is impossible to say.

The relative quantity of heat received by the earth at different moments during a single revolution, varies with the position of the perigee of its orbit, which accomplishes a tropical revolution in 20935 years. In the year 1250 of our era, and 29653 years before it, the perigee coincided with the summer solstice; at both these periods the earth was nearer the sun during the summer, and farther from him in the winter than in any other position of the apsides: the extremes of temperature must therefore have been greater than at present; + but as the terrestrial orbit was probably more elliptical at the distant epoch, the heat of the summers must have been very great, though possibly compensated by the rigour of the winters; at all events, none of these changes affect the length of the day.

It appears from the marine shells found on the tops of the highest mountains, and in almost every part of the globe, that immense continents have been elevated above the ocean, which must have engulphed others. Such a catastrophe would be occasioned by a variation in the position of the axis of rotation on the surface of the earth; for the seas tending to the new equator would leave some portions of the globe, and overwhelm others.

But theory proves that neither nutation, precession, nor any of the disturbing forces that affect the system, have the smallest influence on the axis of rotation, which maintains a permanent position on the surface, if the earth be not disturbed in its rotation by some foreign cause, as the collision of a comet which may have happened in the immensity of time. Then indeed, the equilibrium could only have been restored by the rushing of the seas to the new equator, which they would continue to do, till the surface was every where perpendicular to the direction of gravity. But it is probable that such an accumulation of the waters would not be sufficient to restore equilibrium if the derangement had been great; for the mean density of the sea is only about a fifth part of the mean density of the earth, and the mean depth even of the Pacific ocean is not

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