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the earth, was dispensing her brightest beams, a few of her sister lamps were beginning to appear, and my ar. rival at the house of a friend, changed the train of my reflections. If they should subserve the usefulness of the Monitor, I should not have thought or written in vain. Yours,
The following interesting desc: iption of an animal whose plumes
adorn the persons of many of our youthful readers, is taken from the Rev. DR. HARRIS'S “ Natural History of the Bible.”
The Ostrich is generally thought to be the largest, at least it is one of the tallest birds in the world; being full seven and sometimes eight feet in height, from the top of the head to the ground, and about four from the back to the ground. When the neck is stretched out in a right line it measures six feet from the head to the rump, and the tail about a foot more. One of the wings is a foot and a half long, without the feathers; and with
them three feet The plumage is generally blaek and white, though it is said to be sometimes grey. The largest feathers which are at the extremities of the wings and tail, are usually white; and the small feathers on the back and belly, are a mixture of black and white. This fowl has no feathers on the sides of the thighs, nor under the wings. That half of the neck which is next to the body is covered with smaller feathers than those on the belly and back, and like them are a mixture of white and black. These feathers are peculiar to the Ostrich. Other birds have several sorts ; some of which are soft and downy, and others hard and strong: but almost all the feathers of an Ostrich are as soft as down, and utterly unfit to serve for iging, or to defend it against external injury.The webs on the feathers of other birds are broader on one side than on the other, but in those of the Ostrich the shaft is exactly in the middle. As the wings are not large enough in proportion to the body to raise it from
the ground, they serve as sails or oars, to cut through, or impel the air, and add great swiftness to their feet, which are shodden with a horny substance, enabling them to tread firmly and run a great while without hurting themselves. The head and the upper part of the neck of this animal are covered with very fine white, shining hairs; with small tufts in some places, consisting of about ten or twelve hairs, which grow from a single shaft about the thickness of a pin. The wings are furnished with a kind of spur, resembling the quill of a porcupine, which is of a horny substance, hollow, and about an inch long. There are two of these on each wing, the largest of which is at the extremity of the bone of the wing, and the other about a foot lower. The neck appears proportionably more slender than that of other birds from its not being covered all over with feathers. The bill is short, and shaped somewhat like that of the duck. The external form of the eye, resembles that of a man, the upper eyelid being furnished with eyelashes which are longer than those on the lid below. The tongue is very short and small. The thighs which are large and plump, are covered with a flesh coloured skin which appears greatly wrinkled. Some of them have a few scattered hairs on their thighs, and others are entirely with. out The legs are covered with scales; and the ends of the feet are cloven, baving two very large toes on each, wbieh are also covered with scales. The toes are of unequal sizes; that on the ipside is the largest. and is about seven inches long, including the elaw, which is three quarters of an inch in length, and nearly the same in breath. The other two have no claws, and do not exceed four inches in length.
Ostriches are inhabitants of the deserts of Arabia, where they live chiefly upon vegetables ; lead a sorial and inoffensive life, the male assorting with the female with connubial fidelity. Their eggs are very large, some of them measuring about five inches in diameter, and weighing twelve or fifteen pounds. The animals are very prolifie, laying forty or fifty eggs at a clutch.
Of all animals this is the most voracious. It will de. vour leather, grass, hair, stone, metals, or any thing that is given to it; but those substances which the coats of the stomach cannot operate upon, pass whole.
AURORA BOREALIS.-AN EXTRACT.
“ AURORA BOREALIS, is an extraordinary luminous appearance or meteor, showing itself in the night time, in northern latitudes, whence it has got its name of Northern Lights.
The Aurora Borealis may with propriety be distinguished into two kinds, the tranquil, and the varying.The tranquil shines with a mild and steady light, very much resembling the clearness of twilight; and preserves, for a considerable time, the form in which it first appears, with little or no variation. Different names have been given by the ancient philosophers to this kind of Aurora, according to the forms which it
The varying Aurora is still more remarkable in its appearance and occasionally exhibits the most brilliant and rapidly diversified forms. It has been minutely described by Muschenbroek, who paid great attention to its peculiarities; and from whose description we select the following particulars. In that region of the air which is directly towards the north, or which stretches from the north towards the east or' west, there appears at first a cloud in the horizon, which rarely rises to the height of forty degrees. This cloud is sometimes contiguous to the horizon, sometimes detached from it; in which last case, the intermediate sky appears of a bright blue colour. The cloud occupies a portion of the heavens extending in length from five to a hundred degrees, and sometimes still further. It is generally white and shining, but sometimes black and thick. Its upper edge is parallel to the horizon, bordered by a long train of light which rises higher in some places than in others. It appears also bent in the form of a bow, or like the segment of a sphere which has its centre considerably beneath the horizon; and sometimes a large white or luminous band is visible skirting the superior edge of the black cloud. The dark part of the cloud becomes white and luminous when the Aurora has shone for some time, and after it has sent forth several bright and fiery, rays. Then from the superior edge of the cloud, there issue ray 2d Edit.
in the form of jets, which are sometimes many, sometimes few in number, sometimes close together, sometimes removed several degrees asunder. These jets diffuse a very brilliant light, as if a luminous or fiery liquor were driven with impetuosity from a syringe. The jet increases in brightness, and has less bulk at the place where it issues from the cloud; while it dilates itself and grows dimmer as it goes further and further off. Then there arises from a large opening in the cloud, a luminous train or column, of which the motion is at first gentle and uniform, and which increases in size as it advances.The dimensions and duration of these columns, however vary considerably. Their light is sometimes white, sometimes reddish, or even blood colour; and, as they advance, their colours change, till they form a kind of arch in the heavens. When several of the columns, which have issued from different places, encounter each other in the zenith, they intermingle with each other, and form at their junction a small thick cloud, which seems as it were to kindle, and sends forth a light considerably more brilliant than that of any of the separate columns. This light changes to green, blue, and purple; and quitting its original situation, it directs itself towards the south, under the form of a small bright cloud. When no more columns are seen to issue, the cloud assumes the appearance of the morning dawn, and insensibly dissipates itself.
The duration of the Aurora is very various. Some. times it is formed and disappears in the course of a few minutes. At other times it lasts during the whole night, or even for two or three days together; and Muschenbroek observed one in 1734, that lasted ten days and nights successively; and another in 1735, that lasted from the 22d to the 31st of March. The lucid columns are so transparent, that stars of the first and second magnitude are easily seen through them; these also frequently shine through the white border of the horizontal cloud, and sometimes, though rarely, through the opaque cloud itself.
But many parts of the luminous substance are so thin, that the smallest stars which are visible to the naked eye may be distinguished through them.
In high northern latitudes, as those of Sweden, Lapland and Siberia, the auroræ borealēs are sigularly resplendent, and even terrific. They frequently oceupy the whole of the heavens; and, according to the testimony of Maupertuis, Middleton, Krafft and others, eclipse the splendour of the moon, and sometimes even of the sun binself. In the northern districts of Siberia, according to the description of Gmelin, eited and translated by Dr. Blagden, the aurora is observed to “ begin with single bright pillars, rising in the north, and almost at the same time in the north-east, which, gradally inereasing, comprehend a large space of the heavens, rush about from place to place with ineredible velocity, and finally almost cover the whole sky up to the zenith, and produce an appearance as if a vast extent was ex. panded in the heavens, glittering with gold, rubies, and sapphire. A more beautiful spectacle cannot be painted; but whoever should see such a northern light for the first time, could not behold it without terror. For, however fine the illuminuation may be, it is attended, as I have learned from the relation of many persons, with such a hissing, crackling, and rushing noise through the air, as if the largest fire-works were playing off. To Jescribe what they then hear, they make use of the expression spolochi chodjat, that is, the raging host is passing. The hunters, who pursue the white and blue foxes in the confines of the Icy sea, are often overtaken in their course by these northern lights. Their dogs are then so much frightened that they will not move, but lie obstinately on the ground till the noise has passed. Commonly, clear and calm weather follow this kind of porthern lights. I have heard this account not from one person only, but confirmed by the uniform testimony of many who have spent part of several years in these very northern regions, and inhabited different countries from the Yenisei to the Lega; so that no doubt of its truth can remain. This seems, indeed, to be the real birth-place of the Aurora Borealis."
Maopertuis describes a very remarkable Aurora which be saw at Oswer-Zorneå, on the 18th of December, 1786, and which he says excited his admiration, notwithstanding the many extraordinary appearances of this kind which he had been accustomed to in the Arctic regions.