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change upon the common opinions relating to such matters. We allude to the shower of stones, which fell near Agen, 24th July 1790, between nine and ten o'clock at night. Firlt, a bright ball of fire was seen traversing the atmosphere with great rapidity, and leaving behind it a train of light which lasted about fifty seconds; a loud explosion was then heard, accompanied with Sparks which few off in all directions. This was followed, afo ter a short interval, by a fall of stones, over a considerable extent of ground, at various distances from each other, and of different sizes; the greater number weighing about half a quarter of a pound, but many a vast deal more. Some fell with a hissing noise, and entered the ground: others (probably the smaller ones) fell without any found, and remained on the surface. In appearance, they were all alike. The shower did no considerable damage ; but it broke the tiles of fome houses. All this was attested in a procès-verbal, signed by the magistrates of the municipality. It was farther substantiated by the teftimony of above three hundred persons, inhahitants of the disa trict; and various men, of more than ordinary information, gave the very fame account to their scientific correspondents. One of these (M. D'Arcet, son of the celebrated chemist of that name) mentions two additional circumstances, of great im. portance, from his own observation. The stones, when they fell upon the houses, had not the fourd of hard and compact substances, but of matter in a soft, half-melted state; and such of them as fell upon straws, adhered to them, so as not to be easily feparated. It is utterly impossible to reconcile these facts with any other fuppofition, than that of the stones having fallen from the air, and in a state of fusion. That they broke the roofs of houses, and were found above pieces of straw adhering to them, is the clearest of all proofs of their having fallen from above.

Although nothing can be more pointed and specific than this evidence, it yet derives great confirmation from the similar accounts which have still more recently been communicated. On the 18th December 1795, the weather being cloudy, several persons in the neighbourhood of Captain Topham's house, in Yorkshire, heard a loud noise in the air, followed by a hilling sound, and afterwards felt a shock, as if a heavy body had fallen to the ground at a little distance from them. One of these, a ploughman, saw a huge stone falling towards the earth, eight or nine yards from the place where he stood. It was seven or eight yards from the ground when he firdt observed it. It threw up the inould on every fide, and buried itself twenty-one inches. This man, afluited by others who were near the spot at the same time, immediately raised the fone, and found that is weighed about

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56 lib. These statements have been authenticated by the figna. tures of the people who made them.

On the 17th March 1798, a body, burning very brightly, passed over the vicinity of Ville-Franche, on the Saone, accompanied with a hiling noise, and leaving a luminous track behind it. It exploded with great noise, about twelve hundred feet from the ground; and one of the shivers, ftill luminous, being observed to fall in a neighbouring vineyard, was traced. At that fpot, a fione above a foot in diameter was found to have penetrated about twenty inches into the soil. It was sent to M. Sage, of the National Institute, accompanied by a narrative of the foregoing circumstances, under the hand of an intelligent eye-witness.

While these observations in Europe were daily confirming the original but long exploded idea of the vulgar, that many of the luminous meteors observed in our horizon are mafles of ignited matter, an account of a phenomenon, precisely of ibe same defcription, was received from the Ealt Indies, vouched by authority peculiarly well adapted to secure general respect. Mi Williams, a member of the Royal Society of London, residing in Bengal, having heard of an explosion, accompanied by a descent of stones, in the province of Bahar, made all possible inquiries into the circumstances of the phenomenon, among the Europeans who happened to be on the spot. He learnt, that on the 19th December 1798, at 8 o'clock P. M., a luminous meteor, like a large ball of fire, was seen at Benares, and in different parts of the country; that it was attended with a rumbling, loud noise; and that, about the same time, the inhabitants of Krakhut, fourteen miles from Benares, saw the light, heard a loud thunder-clap, and, immediarely after, heard the noise of heavy bodies falling in their neighbourhood. Next morning, the fields were found to have been turned up in different spots, which was easily perceived, as the.crop was not more than two or three inches above the ground: and stones of different sizes, but apparently of the same substances, were picked out of the moint foil, generally from a depth of Gx inches. As the occurrence took place in the night, and after the people had retired to rest, no one observed the meteor explode, or the stones fall; but the watchman of an English gentleman who lived near Krakhut, brought him one next morning, which he said had fallen through the top of his hut, and buried itself in the earthen floor.

Several of the foregoing narratives mention the material cir cumstance, of damage done to interposed objects by the stones supposed to have fallen on the earth. In one instance, still more

distinct

distinct traces were left of their progress through the air. During the explosion of a meteor, on the 20th August 1789, near Bordeaux, a stone, about fifteen inches diameter, broke through the roof a cottage, and killed a herdsman and some cattle. Part of the stone is now in the museum of Mr Greville, and the relt in that of Bordeaux. It is fingular that this fact is not men. tioned by M. Izarn, nor by Vauquelin, although he examined a specimen evidently taken from the same stone, and received a procès-verbal of the manner in which it fell. We take the account from Mr Greville's paper, (Phil. Tranf. 1803. part I.); and he appears to have received it from M. St Amand, Professor of Natural Hiltory at the Central School of Agen.

It is quite impossible, we apprehend, to deny very great weight to all these testimonies; some of them given by intelligent eyewitnesses; others by people of less information, indeed, but prepossessed with no theory; all concurring in their descriptions; and examined by various persons of acuteness and respectability, immediately after the phenomena had been exhibited. With. out offering any farther remarks, then, upon this mass of external evidence, we shall only remind our readers of the main points which it seems satisfactorily to substantiate. It proves, that, in various parts of the world, luminous meteors have been seen moving through the air, in a direction more or less oblique, accompanied by a noise, generally like the hissing of large shot, followed by explofion, and the fall of hard, ftony, or semimetallic mafles, in a heated state. The hilling found, so universally mentioned; the fact of stones being found, unlike all those in the neighbourhood, at the spots towards which the luminous body or its fragments were seen to move; the scattering or ploughing up of the soil at those spots, always in proportion to ihe size of the stones; the concussion of the neighbouring ground at the time; and, above all, the impinging of the stones upon bodies somewhat removed from the earth, or lying loole upon its surface--are circumstances perfectly well authenticated in these reports; and, when taken together, are obviously fatal to any theory, either of the masses having previously existed in the foil ready formed, and having been disclosed by the electric fluid-or of their component parts having existed there, and having been united and consolidated by that fluid.

II. While the internal evidence on this question, that is, the inference arising from an examination of the stones themselves, agrees moft harmoniously with the conclusion to which the narratives above analyzed force our assent, and greatly strengthens that conclufion, it also leads to a farther knowledge of the sub

caminatio conclufion greatly for the public,

ject, than the mere external evidence could of itself have afforded us.

The reports from all those who observed the meteors, and found the stones in the neighbourhood, after the explosions, agree in describing those substances as different from all the surrounding bodies, and as presenting, in every case, the same external appearance of semi-metallic matter, coated on the outfide with a thin black crust, and bearing strong marks of recent fusion. This general resemblance we should be perfectly entitled to infer from the various accounts of eye-witnesses, even if no more particular observations had been made by' men of fcience, to whose inspection many of the fallen bodies were submitted. But fortunately a considerable number of these fingular substances have been examined, with the greatest care, by the first chemists and naturalists of the age ; and their investigations have put us in pofseflion of a mass of information, capable of convincing the most scrupulous inquirer, that the bodies in question have a common origin, and that we are as yet wholly unacquainted with any natural process which could have formed them on our globe.

M. De la Lande appears to have examined the stones which fell near Bourg, in the province of Bresle, 1753, with some attention. He remarks their external coating of black vitrified matter, the metallic or pyritical threads interspersed through them, and more particularly the cracks filled with metallic particles. His chemical analysis is very meagre and unsatisfactory; but such as it was, its results, as well as the general observations of external character, corresponded with the inferences drawn by him from a similar examination of the stone which fell, in 1750, near Coutances, in Normandy, at the distance of three hundred and fixty miles from Bourg.

The external appearance of the three stones prefented to the Academy of Sciences, as having fallen in different parts of France during the year 1768, was precisely the fame. But Mellrs Lavoiser, &c. the committee appointed to examine them, performed the chemical analysis with much greater accuracy and fulness than M. De la Lande had done. That which fell in the Maine, and was presented by the Abbe Bachelay, underwent the most careful process. It was found to contain, of sulphur, 8C per cent.; iron, 36; and vitrifiable earth, 554: It must be remarked, however, that this decomposition was effected by means of experiments performed upon an integral part of the whole stone, considered as a homogeneous substance; whereas, it is in fact a congeries of substances, which ought to have been separately analyzed. This confideration will, ia part at lealt,

enabl: enable us to account for the apparent discrepancy between the results obtained by the academicians and those of later experimentalists. Meffis Lavoisier, &c. also examined particularly another stone, said to have fallen in a different part of France, and obtained very nearly the same results. The only difference was, that it did not give out fulphurated hydrogenous gas when acted upon by the muriatic acid; a peculiarity distinctly obsery. able in the other substance.

The description which Profeffor Barthold gives of the external character of the stone which fell near Enstheim, in the fifteenth century, corresponds exactly with the descriptions given of these stones, and of the ores examined by M. De la Lande. The Iesults of his analysis are somewhat different; but he examined the whole heterogeneous compound, and not the parts separately. He concluded, that this mass contained 2 per cent. of sulphur, 20 of iron, 14 magnesia, 17 alumina, 2 lime, 42 filica. Mr Howard has very juftly remarked, that the Profeflor's own account of his experiments is at variance with the idea of lime being contained in the substance; and that he has given no fufficient proof of the existence of alunina. It is also to be observed, that from the exceptionable method of analysis pursued both by Barthold and the academicians, the metallic particles were not examined with sufficient precision. The specific gra. vity of the stones examined by the academicians was to that of water, as 3535 to 1000. The specific gravity of the stone of Engsheim, as tried by Barthold, was 3233; that of the stone examined by Gassendi (who saw it fall) was 14, common marble being i1 ; and, taking the specific gravity of marble to that of water, as 2716 to 1600, the specific gravity of the stone obferved by Gafiendi will be to that of water as 3456 to 1000. So near a coincidence between observations, made at such a distance of time, upon these various substances, cannot fail to Itrike us as very remarkable, and to prepare us for that fuller demonstration of their identity, which was reserved for the la. bours of our countryman Mr Howard.

This excellent philosopher has elucidated the subject of our present consideration, by a course of experiments as interesting and instructive as any that the science of chemical analysis can boast of. He fortunately obtained specimens of the stones which fell in several very diftant quarters of the globe; at Benares, and in Yorkshire (as we have already described); near Sienna, and in Bohemia, according to evidence not altogether so satisfactory as that upon which the other narratives rest.

He began his inquiries, very judicioufly, by a minute examination of the external mineralogical characters of these four

substances;

er, an, as triedi (who fate {pecific fic gravity

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