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nucleus be a concentration of that fluid, attracted forward to one point by the influence of the sun, at one time so bright as to overpower the brilliance of a fixed star behind it, at another so faint as to allow its rays to pierce through, it will afford, what no other supposition can, a reason why astronomers have been divided in their opinions on this point, supposing the opinions of both parties to have been correctly formed.
If it be asked what becomes of the immense quantities of electricity carried off from the planets by the comets, it may be replied, in the language of the old-fashioned definition of a comet, It is the sun's fuel-carrier.' And it may be a literally correct definition. It does not appear that any absurdity is involved in the supposition, that the sun (particularly if light, as many suppose, is material,) is constantly giving out a portion of his substance to the surrounding orbs, and that the waste is repaired by the comets, which in their perihelion may give out to that body the stores which they have collected in their erratic wanderings. Certain it is, that on their from the great luminary, they appear with diminished size, and less extent of tail ; and there is no reason to be assigned why this should not proceed, in part at least, from the cause before mentioned.
The theory here adduced, like most other theories, does not admit of proof. Its highest boast is, that it has probability on its side, and that it enables us to reconcile difficulties in respect to the nature of comets, and their effects upon our atmosphere, which no other can. The writer does not expect to make converts to his opinions by these remarks, loosely thrown together: he will be perfectly satisfied, if he succeeds in drawing attention to the subject, leaving it to more able hands to finish the structure of which he has merely drawn a rough and undigested plan.
J. H. C.
What riches may be worth, I know full well,
Yet, yet I love — and oft have felt a dread To see ihe girl my heart holds dearest, tell
On her fair fingers o'er, our years long sped; It is the sun that sits on her brown cheeks,
'Tis in the summer-time love's smiles are free: She whom I love hears not when fortune speaks,
The gold be thine — give back my youth to me!
Within the crucible what dost thou feel?
Nothing! Thou art more poor and I more old. 'No, no! thou say'st, ‘to-morrow, with fresh zeal,
Begin anew! then sure success we hold.' Thy dream is false, old man! yet love I so
The sweet delusions, still I eling to thee, Though gathering wrinkles throng my naked brow.
The gold be thine — give back my youth to me!
THE MARINE FREE BOOTER:
AN AUTHENTIC STORY OF ROBERT KIDD, AND HARLEY, THE LONG-ISLAND WRECKER.
My name was Robert Kidd,
As I sailed.'
Who has not heard of Captain Robert KIDD? What man, with a spice of superstition in his nature, has not listened, when a boy, with a strange interest, to many various and highly spiritual traditions concerning him ? A most remarkable man was that same pirate, who for so long a period evaded the pursuit of both England and her American colonies, until at last, in the year 1699, if I remember aright, he was captured, and sent by Lord Bellamont a prisoner to His Majesty, at London, where, at Execution Dock,'he was executed, in atonement for divers robberies and murders committed by him on the high seas, ' as he sailed. I record below one of the traditions of this world-renowned freebooter, which was related to me by a firm and solemn believer in its reality over, who possessėd a sound and comprehensive mind, in union with the strictest religious principles.
Kidd, as is well-known, was supposed to have buried vast quantities of money, much of which is still believed to sleep in the bowels of the earth, along various portions of the Atlantic coast. After his death, numerous attempts were made to recover it, by effecting a resurrection among the iron chests of specie, and yellow bars of gold. It is supposed that the bulk of his spoils was deposited on the shores of New Jersey and Long-Island, and the margin of Connecticut River. He always selected some shadowy and romantic spot, far away from the busy settlements of the whites, whither he repaired, under cover of a nocturnal storm, to commit his wealth to the guardianship of the earth, and the magic power which he so enchantingly flung around it.
Long-Island has long been famous for the number of wreckers who infest its coasts.* This class of people made it their business to decoy vessels among the breakers, by elevating false lights, and so disguising the genuine beacons, as to throw all the ship-commanders into doubt and confusion. These schemes were more particularly resorted to, when the heavens portended a furious gale, and the wind blew strongly toward the land. The wreckers, with their vagabond families, usually resided in miserable huts, near the beach, screened by the shadow of some impenetrable wood, or still more impenetrable wild and rocky upland. Their plunder, which consisted of specie, silks, satins, broadcloths, barrels, etc., was buried on the seashore, above high-water mark, and there suffered to remain until the underwriters had made sale of the wreck, when they were transported to New York, and disposed of at the various junk-shops, etc., which have for so long a time infested the city.
Jim Harley,' as he was familiarly termed, had from his youth pursued this most unworthy occupation. His father, who had been
* Its reputation in this respect is but little diminished. Witness the scenes attending the receni wreck of the Bristol.
similarly engaged for fifty years, bred his only child to follow his only profession. Many a noble ship has Jim Harley drawn to destruction, the loss of which was charged upon its commander, and to his want of skill and care in its management. The wrecker resided in a quiet valley, which ran retiringly up from the beach of the ocean, and served as a pathway for a busy little stream that came tumbling and foaming down its declivity. It was a cool, romantic spot, and so narrow, that the trees which lined the summit of each hill, threw their green foliage together, shutting the beams of day from below, and casting all the objects there into a dim and uncertain twilight. Harley was a hermit, and though not perhaps a poet, he had nevertheless a most exquisite ear for the voice of nature. The solemn, eternal anthem of the deep was ever pealing, in varied thunder, in his ear; and he had at least sufficient knowledge to divine the prospect of the coming storm or calm, from the changing tone of the winds.
It had for many months been a dull and indolent life with the wrecker. The heavens had worn a continual serenity, and each succeeding day there was a pleasant seaward breeze. Not a sail bore in sight, to fix his wandering eye, save now and then one that glided like a speck on the distant verge of the horizon. He lounged about his rustic hut, watching his children as they climbed the slopes of the valley; and he prayed within himself that the whirlwind and the storm might once more be loosed, to sweep in death and destruction on their pitiless path.
One evening, during the summer solstice, a most tremendous gale arose, such as had never before been known. The sun sank the preceding evening round and red, and ere it kissed the trembling deep, became completely wrapped in a dun bank of clouds. The wrecker's eyes brightened, as he looked upon this ominous robe of the sky, and he immediately proceeded to gather his hooks, ropes, boats, etc., that they might be ready for use, if suddenly necessary. As night came on, the tempest gathered wilder and more fierce, and the winds blew directly toward the land. The breakers, which ran far out from the beach, in front of the wrecker's hut, threw their foam, white as milk, midway in the heavens, and threatened instant destruction to any vessel which might be caught within their reach. The wrecker went out on the upland, and hoisted false beacons upon the trees ; and, more successfully to imitate a revolving light, ' hobbled' a horse, and suspended a lanthorn to his neck. In short, he left nothing undone to secure the ruin of his victims, and was now fully prepared to plunder them of the last garment the waves might in mercy spare them.
Harley had stationed himself on a small promontory, and with a spy-glass in his hand, caught a hurried glance of the raging ocean, as the quick flashes of lightning suddenly lit up the horrors around him. He saw innumerable ships rolling and plunging afar in the main, and presently caught a glimpse of a sail rushing full and fair toward the breakers. He raised his glass again - the heavens flamed upand lo! she was painted as black as the night itself. Above, her sails were snowy white, while below, the milky and curling crests of an infinity of billows gave the craft a strange and startling appearance. VOL. IX.
The wrecker, however, viewed her closely, and finally concluded that she must be a piratical craft, and that her destruction would be a benefit not only to himself, but to the world at large. As she neared the breakers, he trembled; for he fancied he already heard the crash and the shriek the mast crack like steel, and disappear in the foaming abyss. Another flash, and she was just driving on! He wiped his telescope, and elevated it once more — but it fell suddenly from his hands upon
the earth. What did he behold ? The ship was gliding through the terrific surge around her her sails all set her masts standing firm - and yet she dashed along, leaping the billows, apparently wholly unconscious of the dreadful tumult and danger which beset her. The wrecker's superstitious fears were now awakened. Like all who follow nautical pursuits, he had an abundance of the supernatural in his composition. At first, he imagined it might be the terrible genius of the storm itself, careering to and fro, and superintending the raging winds and waters. Of all the breakers on the Long-Island coast, those which spread out before him had always been considered the most terrible. He had seen a vessel disappear like a bubble, as it touched their frowning border; a common skipper could not navigate even his light vessel among any portion of them; and yet he beheld this phantom-ship playing among them, and running onward toward the shore, as smoothly and freely as if she were buoyed up and guided by invisible wings.
Soon after the wrecker dropped his telescope, the winds began to lull — the clouds to break and scatter from the west — and the deep thunder, which had so long ruttered hoarsely through the sky, was now but faintly reverberating along the eastern hills. A tranquil serenity was imparted to the scene by the light of a full moon, which suddenly burst forth, and streamed in long columns of radiance over the rolling waves. The sable vessel was now plainly visible, and it was discovered that she had run up under the faint shadow of a rocky bluff, her masts just tipped with the bright yet mellow beams of the moon.
The wrecker hurried down to the spot and concealed himself, but presently became wholly enraptured with the songs of the jovial sailors. They were indeed a merry, roystering crew, and extremely comical in their costume. They were attired in uniforms of bloodred, without a thread or patch to relieve the harmonious simplicity of their garb. Their sides were fully equipped with cutlasses and pistols, whose sheathings, being richly bound and inlaid with silver and gold, glittered and flashed with a rich brilliancy. Their heads were covered with conical caps, at the peak of which flaunted a long tassel. Their breeches reached to their knees, where they were met by a heavy pair of top-boots, and a kind of doublet that served as a coat, which was tightly bound around them by a long row of heavy buttons.
Harley thought them the most eccentric little crew he had ever had the honor of meeting on those shores. He was somewhat startled at their curious aspect; and at last the little merry company became so tumultuous, that the bays and hills fairly echoed back their carousings. The glass circulated freely, and the wrecker's mouth grew unusually moist, as the wine sparkled, and the bottom of their glasses were turned toward the moon. He was just on the point of eleva