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Philosophical Transactions. For the months of Jan. Febr. and March, 1716 - Part V.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Ⅴ. An account of the late surprizing appearance of the lights seen in the air, on the sixth of March last; with an attempt to explain the principal phænomena thereof; as it was laid before the Royal Society by Edmund Halley, J.V.D. Savilian Professor of Geom. Oxon, and Reg. Soc. Secr.

The Royal Society, having received accounts from very many parts of Great Britain, of the unusual lights which have of late appeared in the heavens; were pleased to signify their desires to me, that I should draw up a general relation of the fact, and explain more at large some conceptions of mine I had proposed to them about it, as seeming to some of them to render a tollerable solution of the very strange and surprizing phænomena thereof. The desires of the Society having with me the force of commands, I shall not decline the task; only premising that if, in delivering the etiology of a matter so uncommon, never before seen by myself, nor fully described by any either of the ancients or moderns, I fail to answer their expectation or my own desires; yet 'tis hoped a good history of the fact deduced partly from our own observations, and partly collected from the uniform relations of credible persons, or from the letters of such, may not be unacceptable to the curious; and may perhaps excite the genius of some more able meteorologist to a more satisfactory enquiry. The account of this appearance take as follows.

On Tuesday the sixth of March, st. vet. in the current year 1716, (the afternoon having been very serene and calm, and somewhat warmer than ordinary) about the time it began to grow dark, that is much about 7 of the clock, not only in London, but in all parts of England, where the beginning of this wonderful sight was seen; out of what seemed a dusky cloud, in the N.E. parts of the heaven and scarce ten degrees high, the edges whereof were tinged with a reddish yellow like as if the moon had been hid behind it, there arose very long, luminous rays or streaks perpendicular to the horizon, some of which seem'd nearly to ascend to the zenith. Presently after, that reddish cloud was swiftly propagated along the northern horizon, into the N.W. and still farther Westerly; and immediately sent forth its rays after the same manner from all parts, now here, now there, they observing no rule or order in their rising. Many of these rays seeming to concur near the zenith, formed there a corona, or image which drew the attention of all spectators, who according to their several conceptions made very differing resemblances thereof; but by which compared together, those that saw it not, may well comprehend after what manner it appeared. Some likened it to that representation of Glory wherewith our painters in churches surround the Holy Name of God. Others to those radiating starrs wherewith the breasts of the knights of the most noble order of the garter are adorned. Many compared it to the concave of the great cupola of St. Paul's Church, distinguisht with streaks alternably light and obscure and having in the middle a space less bright than the rest, resembling the lantern. Whilst others, to express as well the motion as figure thereof, would have it to be like the flame in an oven, reverberated and rouling against the arched roof thereof; and some there were that thought it liker to that tremulous light which is cast against a ceiling by the beams of the sun, reflected from the surface of water in a bason that's a little shaken; whose reciprocal vibrating motion it very much imitated. But all agree that this spectrum lasted only a few minutes, and show'd itself variously tinged with colours, yellow, red and a dusky green; nor did it keep in the same place; fro when first it began to appear, it was seen a little to the Northwards of the Zenith, but by degrees declining towards the South, the long stria of light, which arose from all parts of the Northern semicircle of the horizon, seemed to meet together, not much above the head of Castor or the Northern Twin, and soon disappeared.

After the first impetus of this ascending vapour was over, the corona we have been describing appeared no more; but still, without any order as to time, or place, or size, luminous radii like the former continued to arise perpendicularly, now often and again seldomer, now here, now there, now longer, now shorter. Nor did they proceed at first out of a cloud, but oftner would emerge at once out of the pure sky, which was at that time more than ordinary serene and still. Nor were they all of the same form. Most of them seemed to end in a point upwards, like erect cones; other truncate cones or cylinders, so much resembled the long tails of comets, that at first sight they might well betaken for such. Again, some of these rays would continue visible for several minutes; when others, and those the much greater part, just shew'd themselves and died away. Some seem'd to have little motion, and to stand as it were fix'd among the stars, whilst other with a very perceptible translation moved from East to West under the pole, contrary to the motion of the heavens; by which means they would sometimes seem to run together, and at other times to fly one another; affording thereby a surprizing spectacle to the beholders.

After this sight had continued about an hour and a half, those beams began to rise much fewer in number and not near so high, and by degrees that diffused the light, which had illustrated the Northern parts of the hemisphere, seemed to subside, and settling on the horizon formed the resemblance of a very bright crepusculum; that this was the state of this phænomenon, in the first hours, is abundantly confirmed by the unanimous consent and concurring testimony of several very worthy persons no ways enclined to deceive. For by the letters we have received from almost all the extream parts of the kingdom, there is found very little difference in the description from what appeared at London and Oxford; unless that in the North of England, and in Scotland, the light seemed somewhat stronger and brighter.

Hitherto I am forced to relate the observations of others, wherein I fear many very material circumstances may be omitted; and assuredly I am not a little concern'd that I had no notice of this matter, till between nine and ten of the clock, being at that time at a friend's house, and no ways suspecting what past without doors. But upon the first impression of the thing, we immediately ran to the windows, which hapned to regard the South and South-West quarter; and soon perceived, that through the sky was very clear, yet it was tinged with a strange sort of light; so that the smaller stars were scarce to be seen, and much as it is when the moon of four days old appears after twilight. And whilst we regarded the heavens with attention, we perceived a very thin vapour to pass before us, which arose from the precise East part of the horizon, ascending obliquely, so as to leave the zenith about 15 or 20 degrees to the Northward. But the swiftness wherewith it proceeded was scarce to be believed, seeming not inferiour to that of lightening; and exhibiting, as it past on, a sort of momentaneous Nubecula, which discovered itself by a very diluted and faint whiteness; and was no sooner formed, but before the eye could well take it, it was gone, and left no signs behind it. Nor was this a single appearance; but for several minutes that we regarded it, about six or seven times in a minute, the same was again and again repeated; these waves of vapour (if I may be allowed to use the word) regularly succeeding one another, and, as we guest, at intervals very nearly equal; all of them in their ascent producing a like transient Nubecula.

By this particular we were first assured, that the vapour we saw, whatever it were, became conspicuous by its own proper light, without help of the sun beams; for these Nubecula did not discover themselves in any other part of their passage, but only between the South-East, and South, where being opposite to the sun they were deepest immerst in the cone of the earths shadow; nor were they visible before or after. Whereas the contrary must have happened, had they borrowed their light from the sun.

We then made all the hast we could to a place where there is a free prospect of the Northern horizon. Being come there, not much past ten of the clock, we found, on the Western size, viz. between the W. and N.W. the representation of a very bright twilight, contiguous to the horizon; out of which there arose very long beams of light, not exactly erect toward the vertex, but something declining to the South, which ascending by a quick and undulating motion to a considerable height, vanished in a little time, whilst others, tho' at uncertain intervals, supply'd their place. But at the same time, through all the rest of the Northern horizon, viz. from the North-West to the true East, there did not appear any sign of light to arise from, or joyn to, the horizon; but on the contrary, what appeared to be an exceeding black and dismal cloud seem'd to hang over all that part of it. Yet was it no cloud, but only the serene sky more than ordinary pure and limpid, so that the bright stars shone clearly in it, and particularly Cauda Cygni then very low in the North; the great blackness manifestly proceeding from the neighbourhood of the light which was collected above it. For the light had now put on a form quite different from all that we have hiterto described, and had fashioned itself into the shape of two Lamina or streaks, lying in a position parallel to the horizon, whose edges were but ill terminated. They extended themselves from the N. by E. to the North East, and were each about a degree broad; the undermost about eight or nine degrees high, and the other about four or five degrees over it; these kept their places for a long time, and made the sky so light, that I believe a man might easily have read an ordinary print by the help thereof.

Whilst we stood astonished at this suprizing sight, and expecting what was further to come, the Northern end of the upper Lamina by degrees bent downwards, and at length closed with the end of the other that was under it, so as to shut up on the Northside an intermediate space, which still continued open to the East. Not long after this, in the said included space, we saw a great number of small columns or whitish streaks to appear suddenly, erect to the horizon, and reaching from the one Lamina to the other; which instantly disappearing were too quick for the eye, so that we could not judge whether they arose from the under or fell from the upper, but by their sudden alterations they made such an appearance, as might well be taken to resemble the conflicts of men in battle.

And much about the same time, to encrease our wonder, there began on a sudden to appear low under the pole and very near due North, three or four lucid areas like clouds, discovering themselves, in the pure but very black sky, by their yellowish light. These, as they broke out at once, so after they had continued a few minutes, disappeared as quick as if a curtain had been drawn over them; nor were they of any determined figure, but both in shape and size might properly be compared to small clouds illuminated by the full moon, but brighter.

Not long after this, from above the aforesaid two Lamina, there arose a very great pyramidal figure, like a spear, sharp at the top, whose sides were inclined to each other with an angle of about four or five degrees, and which seemed to reach up to the zenith or beyond it. This was carried with an equable and not very slow motion, from the N.E. where it arose, into the N.W. where it disappeared, still keeping in a perpendicular situation, or very near it; and passing successively over all the stars of the Little Bear, did not efface the smaller ones in the tail, which are but the fifth magnitude; such was the extream rarity and perspicuity of the matter where of it consisted.

This single beam was so far remarkable above all those that for a great while before had preceeded it, or that followed it, that if the situation thereof among the circumpolar stars had at the same instant been accurately noted, for example, at London and Oxford, whose difference of longitude is well known, we might be enabled thereby with some certainty to pronounce, by its diversitas aspectus1, concerning the distance and height thereof; which were undoubtedly very great, tho' as yet we can no ways determine them. But as this phænomenon found all those that are skill'd in the observation of the heavens unprepared, and unacquainted with what was to be expected, so it left all of them surprized and astonished at the novelty thereof. When therefore for the future any such thing shall happen, all those that are curious in astronomical matters, are hereby admonished and entreated to set their clocks to the apparent time at London, for example, by allowing so many minutes as is the difference of meridians; and then to note at the end of every half hour precisely, the exact situation of what at that time appears remarkable in the sky; and particularly the Azimuths of those very small pyramids so eminent above the rest, and therefore likely to be seen furthest; to the intent that by comparing those observations taken in the same moment in distant places, the difference of their Aziumuths may serve to determine how far those pyramids are from us.

It being now past eleven of the clock, and nothing new offering itself to our view, but repeated phases of the same spectacle; we thought it no longer worth while to bear the chill of the night-air sub dio2. Wherefore being returned to my house, I made haste to my upper windows, which conveniently enough regard the N.E. parts of heaven, and soon found that the two lamina or streaks parallel to the horizon, of which we have been speaking, had now wholly disappeared; and the whole spectacle reduced itself to the resemblance of a very bright crepusculum setling on the Northern horizon, so as to be brightest and highest under the pole itself; from whence it spread both ways, into the N.E. and N.W. Under this, in the middle thereof, there appeared a very black space, as it were the segment of a lesser circle of the sphere cut off by the horizon. It seemed to the eye like a dark cloud, but was not so; for by the telescope the small stars appeared through it more clearly than usual, considering how low thy were; and upon this as a basis our lumen auroriforme rested, which was no other than a segment of a ring or zone of the sphere, intercepted between two parallel lesser circles, cut off likewise by the horizon; or, if you please, the segment of a very broad iris, but of one uniform colour; viz. a flame colour inclining to yellow, the center thereof being about forty degrees below the horizon. And above this there were seen some rudiments of a much larger segment, with an interval of dark sky between, but this was so exceeding faint and uncertain that I could make no proper estimate thereof.

I was very desirous to have seen how this phænomenon would end, and attended it till near three in the morning, and the rising of the moon; but for above two hours together it had no manner of change in its appearance, nor diminution nor encrease of light; only sometimes for very short intervals, as if new fuel had been cast on a fire, the light seem'd to undulate and sparkle, not unlike the rising of vaporous smoak out of a great blaze when agitated. But one thing I assured myself of by this attendance and watching, viz. that this iris-like figure did by no means owe its origine to the sun's beams; for that about three in the morning, the sun being in the middle between the North and East, our aurora had not follow'd him, but ended in that very point where he then was; whereas in the true North, which the sun had long past, the light remained unchanged and in its full lustre.

Hitherto I have endeavoured by words to represent what I saw, but being sensible how insufficient such a verbal description of a thing so extraordinary and unknown may be to most readers, I have thought fit to annex a figure exhibiting that particular appearance of the two lamina, which I saw at London between the hours of ten and eleven; more especially, because I do not find, among the many relations I have seen, any one that has taken notice of it. In this figure AB is the under lamina, somewhat broader and brighter than the upper CD; it had near its under edge the lucida lyra, and below its Northern extremity, on the left-hand, cauda cygni; and as well above and below these, as in the intermediate space between them, and indeed all round about that part of the heavens, the sky was so unusually dark and black, as if all that exotick light that had shew'd itself before, had been then collected into those two streaks. only at L between the West and Northwest and no where else, out of a brightness adjoining to the horizion, there arose conical beams as M, L, N, after the same manner as at first.

Whilst we stood looking on, the streak CD at its Northern end bent downward, and joyned with the under AB at E, and included the space DCEAB, which still kept open at the other end towards the East and in the mean time, out of the very clear sky, some luminous spots, situated and figured as in the scheme at G, G, G, G, presented themselves to the eye, in colour much like the lamina. These did not shew themselves all together, but came successively, yet so as two or three of them were seen at a time; and as their coming was instantaneous, so they went away in a moment. At the same time likewise, the several little white columns marked F, F, F, F, occupied that part of the space between the two streaks next to E, and by their sudden and very irregular motion, and the vanishing of some whilst others at the same time emerged, gave occasion to the conception of those that fancy'd battles fought in the air. Lastly from about the middle of CD, there arose suddenly a cone or obelisk of a pale whitish light, greater than any we had yet seen, as H; which moving from East to West, with a motion sufficiently regular, was translated to K, in the North West, and there disappeared.
That we might by the same scheme shew the appearance of the last hours, after midnight; the reader is desired to take notice that we have made the light at L, much bigger than what appeared in the West about ten of the clock; so as to represent truly that other. In this case the point L must, by the imagination, be supposed transferred to the intersection of the horizon and meridian under the pole. And that we might the better be understood in what follows, we have made this short recapitulation as annex'd to, and explicative of, the scheme, which could by no means be contrived to answer the wonderful variety this phænomena afforded; since even the eye of no one single observer, was sufficient to follow it in the suddenness and frequency of its alterations.

Thus far I have attempted to describe what was seen, and am heartily sorry I can say no more as to the first and most suprizing part thereof, which however frightful and amazing it might seem to the vulgar beholder, would have been to me a most agreeable and wish'd for spectacle; for then I should have contemplated propriis oculis all the several sorts of meteors I remember to have hitherto heard or read of. This was the only one I had not as yet seen, and of which I began to despair, since it is certain it hath not happen'd to any remarkable degree in this part of England since I was born; nor is the like recorded in the English annals since the year of our Lord 1574, that is above one hundred and forty years ago, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Then, as we are told by the historians of those times, Cambden and Stow, eye witnesses of sufficient credit, for two nights successively, viz. on the 14th and 15th of November that year, much the same wonderful phænomena were seen, with almost all the same circumstances as now.
Nor indeed, during the reign of that glorious Princess, was this so rare a sight as it has been since. For we find in a book entituled a Description of Meteors, reprinted at London in the year 1654, whose author writes himself W.F.D.D. that the same thing, which he there calls burning spears, was seen at London on January 30, 1560; and again by the testimony of Stow, on the 7th of October, 1554. And from foreign authors we learn, that in the year 1575, the same was twice repeated in Brabant, viz. on the 13th of February and 28th of September; and seen and described by Cornelius Gemma, Professor of Medicine in the University of Lovain, and son of Gemma Frisius the mathematician. He, in a discourse he wrote of the prodigies of those times, after several ill-boding prognosticks, thus very properly describes the cupola and corona that he saw in the Chasma (as he calls it) of February. Paulo post undecunque surgentibus hastis & flammis nouis flagrare coelum a borea parte vsque adverticem videbatur; ac denique ne nibil qua contigerunt hactenus prafiguratum antea videretur, conversa est coeli facies, per bora spatium, in fritillia aleatorii speciem peregrinam; alternantibus sese caruleo & candido, non minore vertigine motusque celeritate, quam solares radii solent, quoties ab objecto speculo regeruntur. Here it is not a little remarkable, that all these four already mentioned fell exactly upon the same age of the moon, viz. about two days after the change.

As to the other of September in the same year 1575, these are the words of gemma. Minus quidem horrendum, sed varia tamen magisque confula nobis apparuit alterius chasmatis forma, quarto calendas Octobreis subsecuti, statim ab occasu solis. Nam in illo visi sunt arcus illustres plurimi, ex quibus hasta sensim eminentes, urbesque turrita & acies militares. Erant hinc radiorum excursus quaquaversum, & nubium fluctus & pralia; insectabantur invicem & fugiebant, facta in orbem conversione mirabilt. From hence 'tis manifest that this phaenomenon appeared in our neighbourhood three several times, and that with considerable intervals, within the compass of one year; though our English historians have not recorded the two latter; nor did Gemma see that of November 1574, as 'tis most likely by reason of clouds. After this, in the year 1580, we have the authority of Michael Mastlin, *3 (himself a good astronomer, and still more famous for having had the honour to be the great Kepler's tutor in sciences) that at Baknang in the country of Wirtemburg in Germany, these Chasmata, as he likewise stiles them, were seen by himself no less than seven times within the space of twelve months. The first of these, and most considerable, fell out on the very same day of the month with ours, viz. on Sunday the sixth of March, and was attended with much the same circumstances, which, for brevity's sake, I omit. And again the same things were seen in a very extraordinary manner on the 9th of April and 10th of September following; but in a less degree, on the 6th of April, 21st of September, 26th of December and 16th of February, 1581; the last of which, and that of the 21st of September must needs have been more considerable than they then appeared, because the moon being near the full, necessarily effaced all the fainter lights. Of all these however no one is mentioned in our annals to have been seen in England, nor in any other place that I can find; such was the neglect of curious matters in those days.

The next in order that we hear of, was that of the year 1621, on September the 2d. st. vet. seen all over France, and well described by Gassendus in his physicks, who gives it the name of Aurora Borealis. This tho' little inferiour to what we lately saw, and appearing to the Northwards both Rouen and Paris, is no where said to have been observed in England, over which the light seemed to lie. And since then for above 80 years, we have no account of any such sight either from home or abroad; notwithstanding that for above half that time, these Philosophical Transactions have been a constant register of all such extraordinary occurrences. The first we find on our books, was one of small continuance seen in Ireland by Mr. Neve on the 16th of November 1707, both on the 24th of January and 18th of February, st. vet. something of this kind was seen by M. Olaus Romer at Copenhagen; and again on the 23d of February, the same excellent astronomer observed there such another appearance, but much more considerable; of which yet he only saw the beginning, clouds interposing. But the same was seen that night by Mr. Gotfried Kirch, at Berlin above 200 miles from Copenhagen, and lasted there till past ten at night. To these add another small one of short duration, seen near London, a little before midnight between the ninth and tenth of August, 1708, by the Right Reverend Philip Lord Bishop of Hereford, and by his Lordship communicated to the Royal Society; so that, it seems, in little more than eighteen months this sort of light has been seen in the sky, no less than five times; in the years 1707 and 1708.

Hence we may reasonably conclude that the air, or earth, or both, are sometimes, though but seldom and with great intervals, disposed to produce this phænomenon; for though it be probable that many times, when it happens, it may not be observed, as falling out in the day time, or in cloudy weather, or bright moon-shine; yet that it should be so very often seen at some times, and so seldom at others, is what cannot well be that way accounted for. Wherefore casting about and considering what might be most probably the material cause of these appearances; what first occur'd was the vapour of water rarified exceedingly by subterraneous fire, and tinged with sulfureous steams; which vapour is now generally taken by our naturalists to be the cause of earthquakes. And as earthquakes happen with great uncertainty, and have been sometimes frequent in places, where for many years before and after they have not been felt; so these, which we might be allowed to suppose produced by the eruption of the pent vapour through the pores of the earth, when it is not in sufficient quantity, nor sudden enough to shake its surface, or to open itself a passage by rending it. And as these vapours are suddenly produced by the fall of water upon the nitro-sulphurous fires under ground, they might well be thought to get from thence a tincture which might dispose them to shine in the night, and a tendency contrary to that of gravity; as we find the vapours of gun-powder, when heated in vacuo, to shine in the dark, and ascend to the top of the receiver though exhausted; the experiment of which I saw very neatly performed by Mr. J Whiteside keeper of Ashmole's Museum in Oxford.

Nor should I seek for any other cause than this, if in some of these instances, and particularly this whereof we treat, the appearance had not been seen over a much greater part of the earth's surface that can be thus accounted for. It having in this last been visible from the West side of Ireland to the confines of Russia and Poland on the East (nor do we yet know its limits on that side) extending over at least thirty degrees of longitude; and in latitude, from about fifty degrees over almost all the North of Europe; and in all places exhibiting at the same time the same wonderous circumstances, as we are informed by the publick news. Now this is a space much too wide to be shaken at any one time by the greatest of earthquakes, or to be affected by the perspiration of that vapour, which being included and wanting vent, might have occasioned the earth to tremble. Nor can we this way account for that remarkable particular attending these lights, of being always seen on the Northside of the horizon and never to the South.

Wherefore laying aside all hopes of being able to explain these things by the ordinary vapours or exhalations of the earth or waters, we are forced to have recourse to other sorts of effluvia of a much more subtile nature, and which perhaps may seem more adapted to bring about those wonderful and surprizingly quick motions we have seen. Such are the magnetical effluvia, whose atoms freely permeate the pores of the most solid bodies, meeting with no obstacle from the interposition of glass or marble or even gold itself. These by a perpetual efflux do, some of them, arise from the parts near the poles of the magnet whilst others of the like kind of atoms, but with a contrary tendency, enter in at the same parts of the stone, through which they freely pass; and by a kind of circulation surround it on all sides, as with an atmosphere, to the distance of some diameters of the body. This thing des Cartes has endeavoured to explain (Princip. Philsoph. Lib IV.) by the hypothesis of the circulation of certain skrewed or striate particles, adapted to the pores they are to enter.

But without enquiring how sufficient the Cartesian hypothesis may be for answering the several phænomena of the magnet; that the fact may be the better comprehended we shall endeavour to exhibit the manner of the circulation of the atoms concerned therein, as they are exposed to view, by placing the poles of a terrella or spherical magnet on a plane, as the globe on the horizon of a right sphere; then strewing fine steel dust or filings very thin on the plain all round it, the particles of steel, upon a continued gentle knocking on the underside of the plain, will by degrees conform themselves to the figures in which the circulation is performed. Thus in Fig. II. Let ABCD be a terrella, and its poles A the South, and B the North; and by doing as prescribed, it will be found that the filings will lie in a right line perpendicular to the surface of the ball, when in the line of the magnetical axis continued. But for about forty five degrees on either side, from B to G or l, and from A to H or K, they will form themselves into curves, more and more crooked as they are remoter from the poles; and withall more and more oblique to the surface of the stone; as our figure truly represents, and as may readily be shewn by the terrella and apparatus for that purpose in the repository of the Royal Society. Hence it may appear how this exceeding subtile matter resolves; and particularly how it permeates the magnet with more force and in greater quantity in the circumpolar parts, entring into it on the one side, and emerging from it on the other, under the same oblique angles; whilst in the middle zone about C and D, near the magnet's equator (if I may use the word) very few if any of these particles do impinge and those very obliquely.

Now by many and very evident arguments it appears that our globe of earth is no other than one great magnet, or (if I may be allowed to alledge an invention of my own) rather two; the one including the other as the shell includes the kernel (for so and not otherwise we may explain the changes of the variation of the magnetical needle) but to our present purpose the result is the same. It suffices that we may suppose the same sort of circulation of such an exceeding fine matter to be perpetually performed in the earth, as we observe in the terella; which subtile matter freely pervading the pores of the earth, and entring into it near its Southern pole, may pass out again into the ether, at the same distance from the Northern, and with a like force; its direction being still more oblique, as the distance from the poles is greater. To this we beg leave to suppose, that this subtile matter, no otherways discovering itself but by its effects on the magnetick needle, wholly imperceptible and at other times invisible, may now and then, by the concourse of several causes very rarely coincident, and to us yet unknown, be capable of producing a small degree of light; perhaps from the greater density of the matter, or the greater velocity of its motion; after the same manner as we see effluvia of electrick bodies by a strong and quick friction emit light in the dark; to which sort of light this seems to have a great affinity.

This being allowed me, I think we may readily assign a cause for many of the strange appearances we have been treating of, and for some of the most difficult to account for otherwise; as why these lights are rarely seen any where else but in the North, and never, that we hear of, near the equator; as also why they are more frequently seen in Iceland and Groenland, than in Norway, though nearer the pole of the world. For the magnetical poles, in this age, we are to the Westward of our meridian and more so of that of Norway, and not far from Groenland; as appears by the variation of the needle this year observed, full twelve degrees at London to the West.

The erect position of the luminous beams or stria so often repeated that night, was occasioned by the rising of the vapour or lucid matter nearly perpendicular to the Earth's surface. For that any line erected perpendicularly upon the surface of the globe, will appear erect to the horizon of an eye placed any where in the same spherical superficies; as euclid demonstrates in a plain, that any line erected at right angles to it, will appear to be perpendicular to that plain from any point thereof. That it should be so in the sphere is a very pretty proposition not very obvious, but demonstrated Prop. 5. Lib. I. Theodosii Spharic. For by it all lines erect on the surface pass through the center, where meeting with those from the eye, they form the plains of vertical circles thereto. And by the converse hereof it is evident, that this luminous matter arose nearly perpendicular to the earth's position. And whereas in this appearance (and perhaps in all others of the kind) those beams which arose near the East and West, as L, M, N, were furthest from the perpendicular, on both sides inclining towards the South, whilst those in the North were directly upright;the cause thereof may well be explained by the obliquity of the magnetical curves, making still obtuser angles with the meridians of the terrella, as they are further from its poles.

Hence also it is manifest how that wonderful corona that was seen to the Southwards vertex, in the beginning of the night, and so very remarkable for it's tremulous and vibrating light, was produced; to wit, by the concourse of many of those beams arising very high out of the circumjacent regions, and meeting near the zenith; the effluvia whereof they consisted mixing and interfering one with another, and thereby occasioning a much stronger but uncertain wavering light. And since it is agreed by all our accounts that this corona was tinged with various colours, 'tis more than probable that these vapours were carried up to such a height, as to emerge out of the shadow of the earth, and to be illustrated by the direct beams of the sun; whence it might come to pass that this first corona was seen coloured and much brighter than what appeared afterwards in some places, where the sight thereof was more than once repeated, after the sun was gone down much lower under the horizon. Hence also it will be easily understood that this corona was not one and the same in all places, but was different in every differing horizon; exactly after the same manner as the rainbow seen in the same cloud is not the same bow, but different to every several eye.

Nor is it to be doubted, by the pyramidical figure of these ascending beams i opticall; since according to all likelyhood they are parallel-sided, or rather taporing the otherway. But by the rules of perspective, their sides ought to converge to a point, as we see in pictures the parallel borders of streight walks, and all other lines parallel to the axis of vision, meet as in a center. Wherefore those rays which arose highest above the earth and were nearest the eye, seemed to terminate in cusps sufficiently acute, and have been for that reason supposed by the vulgar to represent spears. Others seen from afar, and perhaps not rising so high as the former, would terminate as if cut off with plains parallel to the horizon, like truncate cones or cylinders; these have been taken to look like the battlements and towers on the walls of cities fortified after the ancient manner. Whilst others yet further off, by reason of their great distance, good part of them being intercepted by the interposition of the convexity of the earth, would only shew their pointed tops, and because of their shortness have gotten the name of swords.

Next the motion of these beams, furnishes us with a new and, as it seems to me, most evident argument to prove the diurnal rotation of the earth; (though that be a matter which, at present, is generally taken by the learned to be past dispute) For those beams which rose up to a point, and did not presently disappear, but continued for some time, had most of them a sensible motion from East to West, contrary to that of the heavens; the biggest and tallest of them, as being nearest, swiftest; and the more remote and shorter, flower. By which means, the one overtaking the other, they would sometimes seem to meet and jostle; and at other times to separate, and fly one another. But this motion was only optical, and occasioned by the eye of the spectator being carried away with the earth into the East; whilst the exceeding rare vapour of which those beams did consist, being, as I take it, raised far above the atmosphere, was either wholly left behind, or else followed with but part of its velocity, and therefore could not but seem to recede and move the contrary way. And after the same manner as the stars that go near the zenith, pass over those vertical circles which border on the meridian, much swifter than those stars which are more distant therefrom; so these luminous rays would seem to recede faster from East to West, as their bases were nearer the eye of the spectator; and è contra, flower as they were further off.

Nor are we to think it strange, if after so great a quantity of luminous vapour had been carried up into the ether out of the pores of the earth, the cause of its effervescence at length abating, or perhaps the matter thereof consumed; these effluvia should at length subside, and form those two bright lamina which we have described, and whose edges being turn'd to us were capable to emit so much light that we might read by them. I choose to call them lamina, because, without doubt, though they were but thin, they spread horizontally over a large tract of the earth surface. And whilst this luminous matter dropt down from the upper plate to the under, the many little white columns were formed between them by its descent, only visible for the moment of their fall. These by the swiftness with which they vanished and their great number, shewing themselves and disappearing without any order, exhibited a very odd appearance; those on the right seeming sometimes to drive and push those on the left, and vice versa.

I have been obliged to omit several particulars of less moment; but these are the principal phænomena; of whose causes I should have more willingly and with more certainty given my thoughts, if I had the good luck to have seen the whole from beginning to end; and to have added my own remarks to the relations of others; and especially if we could by any means have come at the distances thereof. If it shall by any be thought a hard supposition that I assume the effluvia of the magnetical matter for this purpose, which in certain cases may themselves become luminous, or rather may sometimes carry with them out the bowels of the earth a sort of atom proper to produce light in the ether. I answer that we are not as yet informed of any other kinds of effluvia of terrestrial matter which may serve for our purpose, than those we have here considered, viz. the magnetical atoms, and those of water highly rarified into vapour. Nor do we find anything like it in what we see of the celestial bodies, unless it be the effluvia projected out of the bodies of comets to a vast height, and which seem by a vis centrifuga to fly with an incredible swiftness the centers of both the sun and comet, and to go off into tails of a scarce conceivable length. What may be the constitution of these cometical vapours, we inhabitants of the earth can know but little, and only that they are evidently excited by the heat of the sun; where as this meteor, if I may so call it, seldom is seen but in the polar regions of the world, and that most commonly in the winter months. But whatever may be the cause thereof, if this be not, I have followed the old axiom of the schools. Entia non esse temere neque absque necessitate multiplicanda.

Lastly I beg leave on this occasion to mention what, near 25 years since, I publish'd in No. 195. of these Transactions, viz. That supposing the earth to be concave with a lesser globe included, in order to make that inner globe capable of being inhabited, there might not improbably be contained some luminous medium between the balls, so as to make a perpetual day below. That very great tracts of the etherial space are occupied by such a shining medium is evident from the instances given in the first paper of this transaction; and if such a medium should be thus inclosed within us; what should hinder but we may be allowed to suppose that some parts of this lucid substance may, on very rare and extraordinary occasions, transude through and penetrate the cortex of our earth, and being got loose may afford the matter whereof this our meteor consists. This seems favoured by one considerable circumstance, viz. that the earth, because of its diurnal rotation, being necessarily of the figure of a flat spheroid, the thickness of the cortex, in the polar parts of the globe, is considerably less than towards the equator; and therefore more likely to give passage to these vapours; whence a reason may be given why these lights are always seen in the North. But I desire to lay no more stress upon this conceit than it will bear.

It having been noted that in the years 1575 and 1580, wherein this appearance was frequent, that it was seen not far from the times of the two equinoxes; it may be worth while for the curious, to bestow some attention on the heavens in the months of September and October next; and in case it should again happen, to endeavour to observe, by the method I have here laid down, what may determine, with some degree of exactness, the distance and height thereof; without which we can scarce come to any just conclusion.


A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 406).

  1. diversitas aspectus: the diversity of appearance []
  2. sub dio: under god []
  3. The foodnote indicated here is shown within the text as:

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of September and October, 1715 - Part IV.

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Ⅳ. A ready description and quadrature of a curve of the third order, resembling that commonly call'd the Foliate. Communicated by Mr. Abr. de Moivre, F.R.S.

I have look'd a little farther into that curve which fell lately under my consideration. It is not the Foliate as I did at first imagine, but I believe it ought not to make a species distinct from it. AEB (Fig. I.) is the curve I thus describe. Let AB and BK be perpendicular to each other. From the point A draw AR cutting BK in R, and make RE=BR, the point E belongs to the curve draw BC making an angle of 45 grad. with AB, this line BC touches the curve in B; from the point E draw ED perpendicular to BC, and calling BD, x; DE, y;AB, a; and making √8aa=n the equation belonging to that curve is x3+xxy+xyy+y3=nxy or x4−y4x−y=nxy. Taking BG=AB, and drawing GP perpendicular to BG, PG is an asymptote. In the Foliate the equation is x3+y3=½nxy, in which the two terms xxy+xyy of the former equation are wanting; and its asymptote is distant from B by ⅓ BA. Again draw EF perpendicular to AB; let BF be called z and FE v; the equation belonging to the curve AEB is vv= azz−z3a+z. In the Foliate the equation is vv= azz−z3a+3z
From these two last equations it seems that these curves differ no more from one another than the circle from the ellipsis. I should be very glad to know your opinion thereupon.
The quadrature of the curve here described has something of simplicity with which I was well pleased. With the radius BA and center B describe a circle AKG, let the square HPST circumscribe it, so that HP be parallel to AG; prolong FE till it meet the circumference of the circle in M, and through M draw LMQ parallel to HP. The area BFE is equal to the area KHLM, comprehended by KH, HL, LM and the arc KM. And the area BFe is equal to the area KmLH or KMPQ. Therefore if BF and Bf are equal to the rectangle HQ and therefore the whole space comprehended by BEAXBeTGZ (supposing T and Z to be at an infinite distance) is equal to the circumscribed square HS.
N.B. This quadrature is easily demonstrated from the equation; for by it a+z:a−z::zz:vv, that is AF:EF::MF:FB, and so of the fluxion of AF to Ll the fluxion of MF. Hence the areola EFoe will be always equal to the areola MLlu, and therefore the area AEF always equal to the area MAL.
Hence it appears that this curve requires the quadrature of the circle to square it; whereas the Foliate is exactly quadrable, the whole leaf thereof being but one third of the square of AB, which in this is above three sevenths of the same. Again in our curve, the greatest breadth is when the point F divides the line AB in extream and mean proportion; whereas in the Foliate it is when AB is triple in power to BF. And the greatest EF or ordinate in the Foliate is to that of our curve nearly as 3 to 4, or exactly as ⁄√⅔√−⅓ to ⁄√5√5⁄4−5½.
But still these differences are not enough to make them two distinct species, they being both defined by a like equation, if the asymptote SGP be taken for the diameter. And they are both comprehended under the fortieth kind of the curves of the third oder, as they stand enumerate by Sir Isaac Newton, in his incomparable treatise on that subject.


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Philosophical Transactions. For the months of June, July and August, 1715. - Part I.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Ⅰ. Experimenta Barometrica pro varia diverst aeris elasticitate exploranda, in variis helvetiae locis, occasione excurfionis alpine, mense sept. anni preteriti suscepta. ope tubi 23 digit. parisin longi, 2 linn diametro. a Johanne Jacobo Scheuchzero, M.D. Math. P. Tigurino. & R.S.S

Columna prima notat aerem in tubo relictum. Secunda altitudinem mercurii fupra argenti vivi superficiem; tertia spatia aeris expansi. quarta notat descensum mercurii propter aerem relictum.

D. 6. Septembr. Tiguri, barometri totius altitudo hor. 8. ant. erat. 26 digit. parisiens. 4 linn. h. 9 ½ ero 26 digg. 4 ½ linn.


D. 1 I. Sept. in pascuo Alpino philo-trans-33
Montis Liberi, Glaronesis ditionis, h. I. pom. coelo sereno altitudo totius barometri 23. 10 bis.


12 Sept. h.7. ant. coelo sereno, philo-trans-53 jugo editiore Montis Liberi. Altitudo totius barometri 21. 8


D. 12. Sept. h.9. ant. coelo sereno, philo-trans-71 jugo editiore Montis Liberi, altitudo tot. barom. 21.6.



D. 14. Sept. h. 12. intra ipsam venam chalybis sarunetanam, 300. incirca passus ab ostio, coelo foris sereno. Barometri totius altitudo. 24. 4. & 24. 3.


Extra hanc venam metallicam sub dio eandem altitudinem observavi mercurii in barometro integro, item in 3 & 9 digg. aeris in tubo relict. sed notandum est aerem in intimis fodinae partibus, ubi experimenta feci, fuisse ob ignem praeterito die accensum (quo venam durissimam coquunt fossores) rarefactum, & locum hypocausti instar moderate calefactum.

N.B. Multis experimentis coram R. Societate factis compertum est, aeris comprissivires elasticas esse ut pondera comprimentia directe. His Cl. Schuechzeri observatis patct eandem in acre rarifacto obtinere regulam quam proxime; nam licet differentia aliqua reperiatur, tanta non est, ut ab inaqualite diametri tubinon facile oriatur. ut autem experimenta hacrite fiant, oportebit tubi capacitatem, immisso unciatim mercurio, in aquales partes dividi, loco partium longitudine equalium.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 266).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of April, May and June, 1716. - Part III.

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Ⅲ. A plain and easy experiment to confirm Sir Isaac Newton's doctrine of the different refrangibility of the rays of light.
By the same.

After the Experimentum Crucis made by two prisms, I shou'd not give the following experiment, but that it is so easy to be made, that by it those who want the apparatus (or are unwilling to be at the pains) to make the Experimentum Crucis, may at any time satisfy themselves of the truth of the fore-mention'd doctrine.
Let the candle A be set before the bar of a chimney looking-glass, such as is represented by HH (Fig. 25.) which is a piece of looking-glass plate consisting of four planes, seen in the section of it af dB, viz. dB which is quick-silver'd behind, fa a plane parallel to it, fd one of the side-planes bezell'd towards dB, or inclin'd to it in an angle of about 40 degrees (tho' from 30 to 40 will do, but the greater the angle the better, if it does not exceed 45°.) aB the other side-plane inclin'd in the same angle to Bd.
The rays of the candle which come from A to y fall obliquely on the plane aB, so that instead of going on to a, they are by refraction made to incline more towards the perpendicular pp, namely to go on in the line yc, and then are reflected from the point c on the quick-silver'd surface, in the direction cx, so as to make the angle xcd=ycB. Now as the rays which wou'd go to x, if not refracted, emergey obliquely from the plane aB, they leave the direction cx, and decline from the perpendicular ℼℼ, and, being differently refracted, open into four differently colour'd rays; viz. bR a red ray, b10 a ray mde up of orange and yellow; bGB a ray made up of green and blue or a sea green, and bP a purple ray.
If from the place Ee you look full upon the point b, the spectrum or image of the candle at b will appear double, but not mix'd; that is, there will appear a sea-green spot and a red spot, as it were, one upon another; but not so as to produce a mix'd or intermediate colour. Then if the right eye or eye at E be shut, there will appear only a green spot to the eye at e; if the eye at e be shut, the eye at E will see only a red spot.
If you come nearer to b, so that the eyes at EI, E2 receive the most and the least refrangible rays, there will be a double spectrum, viz. a red and a purple one just touching, or upon one another; and the phænomenon will answer as before. (Fig. 25.)
If keeping both eyes open, you direct their axes towards O a point nearer than the usual place of the compound spectrum S, (Fig. 26.) which point is in a line from the nose N to the point S; or in other words, if you look full at O, or at the end of your finger held in O, the red and the blue (or purple spot) will appear to be divided from each other after the manner represented at pr (in Fig. 27.) where the red will appear to be on the right hand, and the blue on the left.
To make plain what is meant by seeing the spectrap and r whilst we look full at O, I beg leave to explain the distinction between looking and seeing; that I may the better shew how this phænomenon proves that the sensation of different colours is caus'd by rays differently refracted.

Ⅰ. Definition.

The optic axis is a line which going thro' the center of the convexity of all the coats and humours of the eye, falls upon the middle of the retina, as aa or Aa Fig. 28.

Ⅱ. Definition.

To look at any point, is to turn both eyes towards it in such manner, that the optic axes making an angle at the said point as a, the rays from a may have the optic axis for their axis, and (by their convergence upon the retina after refraction in the eye) may paint the image of the said point upon the middle of the retina of each eye, where the optics axis in each eye falls.

Ⅲ. Definition.

To see without looking, is to direct the optics axes to some other place than to the point which is then seen; and in such a case, the image of the point seen will be projected upon a part of the retina of each eye, where the optic axis does not fall, namely either nearer to the nose N as in (Fig. 26.) at the points of the retina mark'd nn; or farther from the nose than the middle of the retina, as at oo in Fig. 29.
Whatever is seen, by being look'd at with both eyes, always appears single, by reason of the communication between the middle of the retina in one eye, and the middle of the retina of the other; there being no such communication between any other part of the retina in one eye, and the correspondent part of the retina in the other, when these correspondent parts are equally distant from the nose.
There is indeed a communication between the nervous fibres on the right side of the retina of one eye, and the nervous fibres on the right side of the retina of the other eye, and so of those on the left; but no single object can be so painted in each eye, as to have its image on the right or left part of one retina that communicates with the right or left part of the other, of the same bigness and at the same time as in the other; because in whatever position the object is, it must be nearer to one eye than to the other, except it be just in a line from the nose betwixt the two eyes streight forward.
Hence it is that if there be two candles set before any one, the first at the distance of one foot, and the second at the distance of two feet, from the eyes; he that looks at the second candle at B will see it single, but see the first candle or the candle A double; one apperance being in the line ADy, the other in oAE, because it paints itself upon oo in the retina of each eye, which points are not the middle points, but farther from the nose than the middles mm.
So if B be the fist candle, and C the second, he that looks at B will see C double, because it is painted in the retina at the points nn nearer the nose than mm; and so will appear to be in the same position as pr. in Fig. 27.
If yq be two candles so disposed, Fig. 30. that by the interposition of a perforated board FF, y can paint itself only in the eye R, and p in the eye L. Upon making the optic axes meet at B and to tend towards p and y, p and y will each pain an image on the middle of the retina of each eye, by crossing their rays at B; and thus the two candles will appear to be but one, or rather to be in one place, upon the account of the communication of the middle of each retina. But if instead of the candles, q be a piece of red silk, and y a piece of green silk, the same position of the eyes will make an image at B, appearing like a red and green spot together without a mixture of the colours. If p be a red hot iron, and y a candle of sulphur, the phænomenon will be more distinct. If the optic axes be turn'd directly towards y and p, as if there was no board FF in the way, there will appear two holes in the board, the on having the red hot iron in it, the other the candle.
Now if, of the refracted rays of the candle in the first case (Fig. 25.) those which diverge from each other, so as to fall into each eye, cause the same sensations respectively, as the rays which come from a red hot iron and those which come from a blue candle; it is evident that the candle in the first case affords red-making and blue-making rays after refraction, and that those rays are differently refrangible; the red bR (Fig. 25.) the least refrangible, as declining less from the perpendicular ϖϖ; and the purple as bP declining most from the said perpendicular.
The same will (ceteris paribus) be found true in the intermediate rays; and to be certain that the experiment is as I have related it, the planes af and fd of the barr may be covered with paper.


A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 448).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of July, August and September, 1716. - Part IX.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Ⅸ. An account of a book. Dissertatio de Dea Salute, In qua illius symbola, templa, statuæ, nummi, inscriptiones exhibentur, illustrantur, auctore guilhelmo musgrave G.F. e Coll. exon. oxonii; typis leon. lichfield; impensis phil. Teo, bibliopolæExon. Anno MDCCXVI.

The author of this treatise, as the occasion of it, observes that the little God Telesphorus had just cause to complain, that so much respect was paid to Dea Febris, and a book lately publisht de Dea Podagra, yet no such honour was done his Mother 'Tyiea, (who certainly was more to be esteemed, than all the tribes of diseases). Upon this conceit, he took what books he had in his reach, of the antient Latin and Greek, and having collected out of them, what he met with relating to this Goddess, put it together, as now it appears in print.
It consists of VI chapters; of which the first is introductory, speaks of health in general, has, in praise of it, that memorable ode of Ariphron the Sicyonian, publisht by Athenaus, and translated by Sennertus; together with a hymn, said to be composed by Orpheus, on the same subject; he ranks this Goddess among the Dii Medioxumi, and gives an account of her from the mythologists.
Chap. II. de Salutis Symbolo, which he takes to be a serpent, an omen of good things, and a frequent companion of the Gods; as appears from Virgil, Valerius Flaccus, Statius, and Macrobius. He mentions another symbolum salutis, used by Antiochus Soter, now to be seen in some of his coins, and sometimes printed in physick books in the following form.


The III. chapter treats of the temples erected to this Goddess; in which prayers were offer'd up to her, sometimes for the health of private persons, and often for the welfare of the publick; of which many instances are here produced. To the account of temples is subjoyned the divination, known by the name of Salutis Augurium, which is often mentioned by Roman authors, as Dion Cassius, Tully, and Tacitus.
In the IV, chapter, the statues of this Goddess are consider'd. Some of these represent her and æsculapius together, tamqum1, Pliny, Pausanias, Lucian, Plutarch and Monsaucon afford instances of this kind.
Plutarch and Monsaucon afford instances of this kind.
Coins relating to this Goddess, come next in view, Chap. V. These either express her effigies, or her worship under some symbol or other. Of the first order, one out of Fulvius Ursinus has the head of the Goddess, with SALUS inscribed. Another like this, is in gevartius. Some, together with this Goddess have also her father æsculapius as a coin of Trajan; and in one of Aurelius Antoninus, stuck in memory of the remedies reveal'd to him in a dream, which cured the Emperor of a sputum sanguinis and vertigo. As indeed most of these coins were (in all likelihood) struck on some such occasion, viz. the recovery of some great person. A noble expression of gratitude, fit and worthy of imitation.
Of the second order is the coin of dossenus, having an alter with a serpent, taken from ursinus. Another of Tibererius, with an alter and SALAUG. Another of nero in which is a serpens tortuosus; with many others.
The gemma of the antients, according to Leonardus Augustinus, are of use to set forth the sarcrifices made of old to this Goddess. One of these gemma represents æsculapius, his daughter Hygieia and grand-son Telesphorus so call'd2 a Valetudine post morbum confirmati. This God, being young and tender, had (I suppose, by the scare of his mother Hygiaa) a Bardocucullus, or cloket, to keep him from taking cold. These three Gods are represented in one figure, with the following inscription under them, EYZETEME, i.e. Salvere me Jubete, which Augustinus happily conjectures to have been a form of prayer offer'd up to them.
In the last chapter come the inscriptions, which are taken out of Gruter and Reinesius. They are chiefly to æsculapius and Hygiaa, but to confirm the divinity of Telesphorus the little God of the Pergameni, he is mentioned in one of their inscriptions dug up at Verona.
The author makes no manner of doubt, but there are many more coins and inscriptions relating to this Goddess to be found in other books. But these being all, or most of such as came in his way, and enough to give a specimen of the devotion paid by the antients to this Goddess, he has contented himself with this small number; leaving it to others to make such additions, as from greater opportunities and abilities, they shall think fit.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 502).

  1. philotrans-2 []
  2. philotrans-3 []

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of June, July and August, 1715. - Part III.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Ⅲ. Observationes coelestes britannicæ, Grenovici in observatorio regio habita, anno MDCCⅩⅢ.


N.B. Stella illa telescopica a qua die Januarii 25° lunam pracessit, ascensionem rectam tune habuit 81° 28 ½, & distabat a polo 66° 58' 20", unde fit longitudo ejus II 22° 9 123 cum latitudine australi o° 13' ½. Hac autem est ea ipsa stella ad quam applicabatur jupiter in statione secunda, anne 1634 Februatti 6, eamque non nisi tribus sui corporis diameris ad austrum reliquit, observante Gassendo ut habetur inter observata ejus pag 174. Et ad eandem Mars observatus est Septembris 6to anno 1644 mane, ut videre est in prolegomenis selenographia hevelianae pag. 65 & Fig. I. veram multum usui erit, ad accuratam nodi jovis determinationem, ejusque motus, si modo inter stellas fixas planum orbita Jovialis non bareat immobile. Etenim post decursum 83 annorum, quibus Jupiter satis accurate septem absolvit periodos, anna scil. 1717. Januarri 10. mane, planeta stellam illam corporaliter teget vel saltem stringet, spectaculo quidem raro neque hactenos quod sciam astronomis in jove concesso.

Stella antem ipsa, etiamsi telescopica vocetur, sudo cælo & absente lunâ inermis oculi aclem non fugit; comitemque habet sequentem ad austrum,& semidiametro solis circiter distantem, apud quam conspicietur Jupiter arctissime conjunctus, die vicesimo julii anni proximi 1716 mane.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 285).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of November and December, 1715. - Part V.

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

V. Remarks upon the aforesaid letter and teeth, by Thomas Molyneux, M.D. and R.S.S. physician to the state in Ireland; Address'd to his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Dublin.

My Lord,

When your Grace was pleased to communicato to me a letter you received some while since, containing an account of an extraordinary natural curiosity, lately discover'd in the North of Ireland, in the country of Cavan, you desired I would give you my thoughts concerning it, and the purport of the letter; but truly when first your Grace gave me the opportunity of perusing this account and I consider'd the imperfect sketches of the teeth annex'd to it, I was not a little concern'd, that upon the making so surprizing a discovery, I could not command a sight of the originals themselves, from whence the draughts were taken; or that so great a curiosity should be exprest by the hand of an artist that shew'd so little skill; however, by the best judgment I could make from so imperfect an information, I told your Grace then, I was pretty well convinced they must have been the grinding teeth of an elephant; yet I ingaged, if hereafter I might be so lucky as to procure a view of the teeth themselves, I would be more positive in my opinion, and give the reasons on which I grounded my conjecture; as likewise I would have the shape of the teeth exprest in their full dimensions, by more true and exact figures.

Since that the four teeth, with some of the fragments of the bones that were found with them, have been brought here to Dublin, where, by the favour and assistance of my ingenious friend Sir Thomas Southwell, I procured the loan of them, so long as to examine them particularly, make some remarks, and take the following correct sketches, that express their from truly, just as big as the life; and your Lordship seem'd well satisfied with the performance of the artist, when at the same time I produced the draughts and the originals from whence they were copied, that we might compare them both together.

Upon the whole, I am now fully convinced, and I can upon sure grounds affirm to your Lordship, that they must certainly have been the four grinding teeth in the lower jaw of an elephant; and that the many loose fragments of those large bones that were found with them, must have been remains of the same animal. This I take to be one of the greatest rarities that has been yet discovered in this country.

In order to clear this matter 'twill be first requisite to have recourse to, and explain the annext figures.

Figure the 1st. AA is the large grinder of the under jaw on the right side, weighing two pounds and three quarters of a pound.

b.b.b.b.b.b.b. are white, rough, indented borders, seven in number, of an irregular shape, rising about the tenth of an inch higher than the hard black shining surface of the tooth; this rough raised work serves for the bruising and grinding the animal's food, the tough grains of rize, leaves, fruits and the boughs of trees; and is made of so extream an hard texture, that it resembles large knotted threads of white glass, laid on and closely fastned to the dark superficies of the tooth; and answers that glassy surface wherewith nature has armed the outside of the teeth of most animals, to prevent their wearing from the constant attrition in chewing of their foods.

c.c.c.c.c. is that part of the tooth which rises above the gumms, and continues even now distinguish'd from the rest of the bone, by having its colour of a different shade.

d.d.d.d.d.d.d. are many strong tangs of roots, seemingly unite altogether, by which the tooth received its sense and nourishment, and tho' it was so large and ponderous by these it kept firmly fixt into the jaw.

For the mechanism nature shews itself to have followed in framing the teeth of this animal, is no more than this; whereas in other creatures, she has divided that bony substance wherewith they chew their food, each having its peculiar roots to secure its articulation in the jawbone; she has in this of so great bulk (as Pliny the Naturalist stiles it Terrestrium Maximum Elephas,) for the greater strength, stabiliment, and duration of it's teeth, and the better to provide for a compleat attrition of the aliment, in order to perfect the digestion so thoroughly, as to sustain the life of the animal for two or three hundred years (as it is a common received opinion on in the East) she has, I say, contrived to make the substance of the teeth in their roots below, and in the upper parts above the gumms, closely unite together; and coalescing thus, form a few large massy teeth instead of many small ones.

As for instance, in man's body, that is of so much a less size, the number of teeth, (when the whole sett is compleat) reckons to thirty two, whereas in the large elephant, the teeth of both the jaws amount in all but to eight, besides it's two great tusks, which rather serve as horns for its defence than teeth to prepare it's food, and therefore I think not so very properly call'd teeth.

Figure be 2d. E.E. is the smaller grinding teeth of the under jaw on the same side; it's surface covered over with the same white indented work, as before describ'd for grinding of the food.

f.f.f. are three large roots that kept it firmly fixt in the jaw bone.

This smaller tooth weighed full six ounces.

Figure the 3d G.G. is the large grinder of the under jaw on the left side, much of the size and shape and weight with its fellow tooth describ'd figure the st. It shews its roots and all its parts, with the rough protuberant white work on its upper surface made after the same contrivance, and formed after the same strong model as the former.

And truly if one considers it, 'tis plain that were not the teeth of this creature made of so large a size, and withal of so massy and firm a substance, 'twere absolutely impossible they could resist the force, and bear all that pressure wherewith those vast muscles exert themselves, that move the lower jaw in mastication in this so strong an animal.

Figure the 4th. H.H. is the smaller grinding tooth of the under jaw on the same side; it is less compleat than the small tooth describ'd before in Figure 2d. for some of the root is wanting, and part of its outward grinding surface is broke off at k.k. so that it weighs somewhat less; yet what remains exactly shews the same kind of work and shape of the other tooth, that answer'd it on the right side.

These four teeth here describ'd, fully compleat the sett of the teeth, wherewith nature has furnished the lower jaw of the elephant; and are answered by just as many more, formed after the same manner in the upper jaw, as Dr. Moulins informs us, who dissected the elephant that was burnt here at Dublin in 1681. In it's anatomy p.40. speaking of the teeth he assures, there were besides the tusks only four teeth in each jaw, two in every side; and that these eight teeth were all molares, so that he had no incisores.

But notwithstanding this, perhaps it will be said, we may not hastily conclude from hence, that our great teeth dug up in Ireland must certainly have been the four grinders of an elephant, since they might as well belong to some other kind of terrestrial or marine animal. As for the hint of their being human or gigantick, 'tis so groundless a thought, and so contradictory to comparative anatomy and all natural history, it does not deserve our consideration.

To observe this, I shall take notice first in general, that the differing kinds of living creatures, wherewith nature has stock'd the world, are not more distingusih'd by the make of any part of their bodies from one another than by the various shape and disposition of their teeth; and hence it is, we shall not find any two distinct classes of animals that do exactly agree in the same make and ranging of their teeth.

But yet to be more particular, and make this point so plain, I hope, as that it may admit of no controversy, I shall here set down at length, as I find them the words of two late authors, that purposely have described the teeth of the elephant.

The first I shall mention is Mr. Patrick Blair, who has publish'd a treatise he calls Osteographia Elephantina, or a description of the bones and other parts of an elephant, that died and was dissected near Dundee in Scotland, anno 1706. in the London Philosophical Transactions for April, May, June, July, August and September, 1710. Numb. 326 and 327. Here giving us a description of the teeth of this animal pag. 110. he says, Dr. Moulins well observes that they are all molares, being two inches broad in that part of them wherewith they grind, and six inches and a half long on the right side, and five inches and a half on the left their surface, tho' flat, is yet very unequal, for they have alternately placed, running from th right to the left side, an Hollowness and then an Eminence; and this Eminence is surrounded by a rough protuberant border. There are nine of these hollownesses and as many eminences, undulated as they paint sea waves.

'Tis remarkable how very exactly all this agrees with our figures; 'tis true those hollownesses and eminences which he mentions to be nine, do not so nicely hit with the number of those in our teeth; but this difference proceeds from hence, that he describes here the grinders of the upper, whereas ours are the teeth of the lower jaw; tho' such a distinction as this, I am apt to think, may very well arise even in those of the same jaw, in various animals, from some peculiar disposition in one from another, nay and perhaps in the same animal, at differing times, according as it happens to be older or younger, but this by the bye.

A littler farther pag. 114. and 115. where he gives an account of those of the under jaw, he says

The hind tooth of the right side is four inches, and that on the left five; the one half of their surface, where they begin to appear above the gumms, is semicircular, with the forementioned ridges and sulci running transversly, four on the right side and five on the left, the other half (or tooth I suppose he means) has five of these eminences where it grinds on the right, and four on the left; each of the four teeth is six inches long, and has six or seven of the forementioned eminences as many depressions; these teeth are the most firm, solid and weighty bones of any animal yet known.

So much from Mr. Blair.

The other author I shall produce for the further illustration of this matter, is the laborious and accurate naturalist Mr. Ray, who, in his synopsis Animalium Quadrupedum, when he comes to give us the description of the elephant, has the following words. Os pro mole belua parvum, quatuor in utraque maxilla dentibus molaribus seu dentium molarium massis instructum; si quidem plutimi dentes in os solidum & durum ita infixi sunt, ut cum eo & inter se unum & continuum corpus efficiant. dentes hi lineas parallelas undulatas octo vel novem in superficie massa efficiunt; suntque reliquo osse candidiores; massa integra, dentium singularium modo, per gomphosin maxillis inseruntur. incisoribus omnino caret.

Thus Mr. Ray in very proper and expressive terms describes the teeth of this animal; and truly if your Grace will but compare Mr. Blair's words with his, and the particulars of both accounts with the description and figures we have before given of the teeth dug up in Ireland, and observe how they all agree exactly, even so as one may say they tally together, I think it will amount to nothing less than demonstration, and that all our ideas have been taken from one and the same natural object; and as they, so we, must certainly have described no other teeth but those of the elephant.

But then perhaps it will be ask'd what is become of all the rest of the teeth that were in the upper jaw, which being as firm and solid bones as those that are her preserved, might for the same reason have still remained intire.

But since we find it otherwise, 'tis obvious to imagine a probable conjecture how this might come about. From what Mr. Nevil mentions in his letter, 'tis plain that the bed where all these bones were found, must once have been the outward surface of the earth, the green-sod, producing rushes, fern and nutts; and when the heavy beast first fell dead upon this spot, the skull, with all the bones and teeth of the upper jaw, being the highest parts of the animal, might likely fall in such a posture, as to be exposed some while above the earth; tho' those of the under jaw first coming to the ground, might make themselves a bed, and being covered with the mould remain preserv'd, whilst the upper teeth, and most of the other bones, lying exposed to the injuries of the air and weather, before they got a covering, might rot and quickly moulder all away.

But tho' this be allowed, yet still a greater difficulty remains unsolv'd; how this large body'd animal, a native of the remote warm climates of the world, should be deposited in this wild Northern Ireland, (where Greeks or Romans never had a footing) so many miles from the sea, and distant from those places of the Isle where people might most probably resort.

And still to make the difficulty yet greater, we must consider, not only from the dark black colour of the teeth, contracted by their lying long under ground, and the remarkable alteration wrough on their bony substance, which (by the mineral streams and exhalations it has imbib'd whilst it was in the earth) is now become more solid, hard, and ponderous, than it was naturally at first, (nay in some parts we find it plainly petrified) but also from the perishing of all the other bones of the animal's body, and from the considerable depth of earth that covered those that were found; we must conclude, I say, from hence, that they have lain in this lace for many centuries; 'I won't say with Mr. Nevil ever since the flood, because I can't suppose that the flight texture of vegetable substances, nutts and the seeds of the rushes, could possibly have been preserv'd so long; but this, at least, may safely be affirmed, that these remains must be contemporaries with some of the remote ages of the world; which carries us so far back into the earliest times, that we can ne'er imagine the rude inhabitants of Ireland, or any of their neighbouring countries, were masters of so much art, in those days of ignorance and darkness, as to make carriages by sea strong and capable or of curiosity and politeness enough, to transport a beast of this large size from those far distant countries where 'twas bred; which they that now attempt do find a work of vast care, trouble and expence, even in this age wherein navigation is brought to such perfection.

These considerations, my Lord, grounded on other instances of the like kind, make me inclined to think this elephant we are speaking of, might not be brought hither by any care or industry of man; but the surface of this terraqueous globe might, in the earliest ages of the world, after the deluge, but before all records of our oldest histories, differ widely from its present geography, as to the distribution of the ocean and dry-land, its islands, continents and shores, so as to allow this beast, and others of its kind, for ought I know, that may be some such accident hereafter be luckily discovered, a free and open passage into this country from the continent.

For otherwise, how can we e're explain that that other vast large stately animal the moose-deer, little inferior to the elephant itself, could have been brought to Ireland, (where elsewhere I have shewn it formerly was common) from distant North America, even long before that quarter of the world was known, and is the only region I can hear, where this great beast is found at present.

And can we well imagine that foxes, otters, badgers, tigers, wolves, with linxes and such ravenous animals as we have been told, have lately been discovered by the great snows that fell this present winter in the Island of Sardinia and other places, should ever be imported (being useless noxious beasts of prey) by the industry of man, to propagate in Islands, that they might destroy men's food and flocks, and make their lives not only uneasy but unsafe?

Nay how can we suppose that birds of shortest flight, the various sorts of poisonous serpents, and of offensive creeping vermin, with all the various tribes of smaller insects, could possibly be found in Islands, unless they had been stock'd with those inhabitants when the intercourse between them and the continent was free and open.

But in whatever manner this elephant (to return to our subject) might first have made its way for Ireland; this is beyond dispute, that the bones of elephants have been discovered deep under ground, in other places as well as this kingdom; and those too out of the way, far distant from the native countries of this animal.

For not many years ago, in a hill near Erfurt, a town of the upper Saxony in Germany, several parts of the skeleton of an elephant were dug up; on which occasion Wilhelmus Ernestus Tentzelius historiographer to the Duke of Saxony, writ a letter to the very learned Antonio Magliabechi, Library Keeper to the great Duke of Florence. This treatise is published, but I have not been so lucky as to procure a sight of it, and know no more but just the title-page Wilhelmi Ernesti Tentzelii Historiographi Ducalis Saxonia Epistola, de Sceleto Elephantino Tonna nuper effosso, and Antoniam Magliabechium, Magni Ducis Hetruria Bibliothecarium.

And I am well persuaded, by the the best construction I can make of those imperfect and obscure accounts, we have in Evert Isbrand Iddes curious travels from Muscovy to China over land; Chap. the 6th, (which he confesses he only gathered from the barbarous Ostiacks inhabitants of that country) concerning the vast teeth and bones and limbs of philo-trans-25 as he calls them, frequently found (and diligently sought after to make profit of them) in the hills, and banks of several rivers in Siberia, the Keta, Fenize, Trugan, Montgamsea and Lena; that they are nothing else but the remains and skeletons of elephants buried there, and accidentally discovered by the Earth's opening, and falling down on the sudden thaws, after severe long frosts. But of this, please to consult the author, whose words are too prolix to be inserted here.

But to bring this matter still nearer home to ourselves, Mr. Cambden in his Britannia is of opinion, that those great monstrous teeth and bones, which he takes notice to have been at several times dug up in many parts of Great Britain, must have been the remains of elephants; but then he thinks, they must be of those that Dion Cassius the Historian, tells us, the Roman Emperor Claudius brought over, when he made his expedition into that Island. But that this truly is so, I own is but surmise as yet, and had not been so fairly proved by him or any other, as that we can rely upon't with satisfaction.

What Mr. William Somner the learned Antiquary has published in his discourse of Chartham News is more remarkable; (this is reprinted lately in the Philosophical Transactions for July 1701. No. 272.) where he informs us, that in the year 1668 in the village of Chartbam near Canterbury in England, digging within 12 rods of a river, they found a parcel of strange monstrous bones, some whole, some broken, together with four teeth perfect and sound, each weighing something above half a pound, and some of them almost as big as a Man's fist. They are all cheek-teeth or grinders; the earth in which they lay being like a sea earth, or fulling earth with not a stone in it.

'Tis observable how this account in many of it's circumstances, agrees with that of Mr. Nevil in his letter to your Grace; as that the teeth were all grinders, four in number found with other large broken bones near a brook, and in a claiey earth, without a stone; but then the weight and magnitude of our largest teeth, so far surpass those that were found in England, that these did not come up to a fifth part of those, which shows they could not be the teeth of the same animal. I must confess the author does not so much as suspect they were elephant's teeth, but on the contrary is of opinion that they belong'd to another species, the hippopotamus or river-horse, a beast that's yet a greater stranger in these parts of the world, than the elephant itself; and therefore it's passage hither can never be accounted for, but by some such like supposition as we have made.

However Mr. John Luffkins in his letter, wherein he designs to have reference to that discourse; and which is inserted in the Philosophical Transactions for Sept. 1701. No. 274. differs in his judgments from Mr. Somners about these teeth; as he is positive those large bones he describes in the same letter, and found near Harwich in Essex, certainly must have been.

Not having seen, much less examined, any of the bones or teeth concern'd in this controversy; either those that were found in Kent or those in Essex; I cannot well take upon me to determine anything in this matter; tho' those dug up at Chartham, as I understand, may still be perused by the curious among the natural rarities of the Royal Society in their repository at London. But this at present I can safely say, that if the figures of the teeth given us by Mr. Somner, and represented in the plate of the foremention'd Transaction No. 272. be genuine and well exprest (as I have no reason to doubt, as coming from one so skilful and so accurate) they no way seem to agree either in shape or make, or in that particular and characteristick work on the grinding supersicie, with the teeth of the elephant; or with the description and figures we have given, which I am sure are both correct and natural.

I should now, my Lord, make some apology for detaining your Grace so long upon what may seem so light and trivial a subject, a piece of meer curiosity; but I am so vain as to hope, whatever others may fancy, it may not appear so inconsiderable altogether to your Lordship's more discerning judgment.

For I am inclined to think, (even from these imperfect hints) that if we had more correct histories and observations of this kind, made in distant countries, and skilfully registered, with all their instructive circumstances, they might lead us into great and momentous truths relating to the Deluge; to the wise methods of providence, in replenishing all regions of the world with animal beings soon after the flood; and to the knowledge of several important changes that may have happen'd on the surface of this our terraqueous globe; inquiries that are truly worthy the utmost application of the most learned Divine and the most sagacious philosopher.

But I shall stop here, and only beg leave to subscribe myself, with the utmost respect,

My Lord,
Your Graces most devoted
faithful and humble servant.
T. Molyneux.

This letter of Mr. Nevile with Dr. Molineux's curious draughts of the teeth and his learned remarks upon them, having been produced and read before the Royal-Society, they ordered that what teeth they had of like sort should be look'd out and laid before them; to which Sir Hans Sloane was pleased to furnish a yet greater variety, out of his incomparable collection of natural rarities. And to obviate all doubts, there being at this time in Westminster the entire skull of a large elephant with the teeth in it, that was likewise ordered to be viewed and compared with the figures; which done, it appeared that the teeth in question could no other than those of an elephant.

By this enquiry we were likewise satisfied, that the number of teeth found, being but four, was no objection; it appearing that the number of molares in this animal is not certain. Pliny Lib. XI. Cap, 37. says exprestly Dentes Elephantointus ad mandendum quatuor, praeter eos qui prominent. And in the remains of that mighty elephant described by Tenzelius. Phil. Trans. No. 236, there were no more than four teeth found. In that at Westminster there are six, viz. One in each lower jaw, and two in each of the upper, whereof the inner tooth is about three times as long as the other, and both together longer than those of the under jaw by about an inch; the upper small teeth being much worn by grinding. These we have thought fit to represent by Fig. 5. shewing the rough grinding surface of the left under tooth, being considerably concave; and by Fig. 6. the same roughness on the upper teeth is shewn, having a convexity tallying with the concavity of the under, which is a circumstance not observed by any of those that have described them.

And also, by the observation of Mr. Du Verney, Dr. Moulins, and Mr. Blaire, who dissected three different elephants, it appear that each of them had eight molares; yet from them it is also evident that in the division of them nature observes no rule, for Mr. Moulins found the two teeth in each of the upper jaws of that he dissected, to be divided after a different manner; so that the inner tooth on the one side, and the outer on the other, was bigger than its adjoining fellow, yet not so as to be very unequal; and Mr. Duverney and Mr. Blaire had on both sides the much greater tooth outwards; whereas the Westminster-skull on the contrary, has only a small one outwards, and the much greater grinderwithin. All which considered, we may with assurance conclude, that this elephant found in Ireland had but four teeth in his head when he died; and that the two greater were those of the upper jaws, and the other two those of the under.

Again, by the size of the grinding part, we may conclude these to be the teeth of a very young and small elephant; since they are not much above half the length of those that are to be seen at Westminster, which belonged to a beast of not more than between 10 and 11 foot high; nor much above one third of the length of a fossile elephant's grinder in the Royal Society's repository, the which is here represented by Fig. 7. (all the figures being drawn to the scale of half their true dimensions). Hence it is not to be marvelled that the bones of so young an animal, having not acquired their firmity, as being in a growing state, should be dissolved by lying in the earth, as also the roots of the teeth.

On this occasion, perhaps it may not be amiss to quote a passage out of Mathew Paris his History, who assures us, that in his time Louis IX. (afterwards St. Louis) King of France, made a present of an elephant to his contemporary Henry III. of England; and that in the year 1255, after the English had been fourscore years master of Ireland. Of this says Mathew, Nec credimus quod unquam aliquis elephas visus est in Anglia praeter illum.


A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 370).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of July, August and September, 1716. - Part VIII.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Ⅷ. Observations on the glands in the human spleen; and on a fracture in the upper part of the thigh-bone. By J.Douglass, M.D. and R.S.S.

That anatomy, as well as physick and surgery, has received much improvement from a careful and true observation of what was found in the dissection of morbid bodies, will appear from the two following instances, among many more that might be adduced for that purpose. For it is certain, that nothing has contributed so much towards forming a right notion of nature of the several diseases, and a true knowledge of the structure of many parts of the human body, as their appearance in a preternatural state.
My first observation is of the glands visible to the naked eye, that appear dispersed thro' the fibrous substance of the human spleen. The subject I found them in, was a boy of about 4 or 5 years old, that died of general atrophy, or consumption of all the muscular fleshy parts of the body, occasioned without all doubt from the numerous glandulous swellings scattered up and down the whole mescentery; which by compressing the lymphatick vessels, called in this place vasa lactea, prevented the access and supply of the chyle, so necessary for the continued nourishment and increase of the parts. For without the constant recruit of this whitish balsamick liquor, the mass of blood will in a short time be unfit to perform any of those good offices, which a fresh accession of chyle qualifies it for.
In a piece of this spleen we might see, without the assistance of a glass, several round whitish bodies of a pretty hard consistence, and abundance of small white and softer specks; but both of the same nature. These, to me at least, appear to be so many distinct glands become visible; which in a natural state are only to be seen by a fine glass, as the curious malpighius first observed. Vid. his treatise de Liene, Cap. V. de quibusdam corpribus per lienem dispersis. Minima ha glandula, says he, non aque facile sese produnt in quocunque animalium liene; imsola Lienis laceratione innotescunt in Bove, Ove, &. In homine vero dissicilius emergunt; si tamen ex morbo unlversun glandularum genus turgeat, manifestiores redduntur, auita ipsaraum magnitudine, ut in defuncta puella observavi; in qua lien globulis conspicuis racematim dispersis totus scatebat. Which case was the very same with mine.
The second observation. We had still been in the dark, about the nature of luxation of the head of the thigh bone, had we not carefully examined the part in the dead body. For by that sort of enquiry, the common mistake of surgeons was detected, and what was esteemed and treated by them as a luxation of the head of the femur, was discover'd to be nothing else but a fracture of the same bone, near its neck; the globular head being still retained close in its own socket, called the acetabulum coxendicis.
Amongst all the writers of surgery and anatomy, I know but three that were apprised to this mistake. The first was Ambrose-Parec, the second Dr. Ruysch at Amsterdam, and Mr Cheselden, a member of the Royal-Society; whose obvervations on this subject I intend to communicate at another time, together with an account of the true structure of this joint; all in which I will consider the depth of the articulation; the wonderful strength of the muscles that surround it; the many strong ligaments that bind the head within the socket; the smallness of the neck of the bone; its poreous and spungy substance, which makes it much weaker than the rest; and last of all the disadvantages oblique position of this neck, which exposes it the more to outward accidents. From a review of such like considerations, it will plainly appear that a fracture can much more easily happen, than a dislocation in that part from an external cause.
This os femoris belonged to an old woman turn'd of fourscore, who only fell from her chair whereon she was sitting, and thereby suffered this breach of continuity in the substance of the bone. She lived three weeks after it; and tho' it never was reduc'd ,yet she complained of very little or no pain, which may seem very extraordinary. It is observable that the fracture is not only oblique, near the neck of the bone; but that each trochanter, i.e. the two processes near its cervix, are likewise broke short off; and that they were both drawn up almost as high as the head of the bone itself, by the strong contraction of the glutci and other muscles.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 499).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of April, May and June, 1716. - Part IV.

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Ⅳ. An account of what appear'd on opening the big belly'd woman near Haman in Shropshire, who was suppos'd to have continued many years with child. Communicated by Dr. Hollings M.D. from Shrewsbury.

A marry'd woman, near Haman about three miles from Shrewsbury, about the 40th year of her age, had then first the common reasons to believe she was with child; at the time of her account she had the usual signs of labour, and a good midwife, tho' mistaken, assur'd her it was so, but that the child was so big she could not be delivered without bringing it away in pieces. She not submitting to that, her pains went soon off, and she continued without any other disorders nine months longer, when she had again the signs of labour; and the same midwife assur'd her as before, and she persisting in her former resolution, her pains, after a day or two went off. Soon after her belly swell'd to a surprizing size, by which she got subsistance for her family by being seen as a shew. I saw her first above twenty years since, when her belly was almost even with her chin, the weight of it so great, that she was oblig'd to support it with a stool. She could not stand without the help of a rope from the cieling, which assisted her in changing her posture of fitting. She slept commonly with her arms folded on her belly, and her head rested between them. Sh had no swelling in her legs; every other part emaciated as usual in the like cases. Thus this poor creature liv'd without any other considerable complaint above thirty years, the most remarkable circumstance, I think, in her case. She died in May 1715, when this appear'd to be an ascites.
I need not mention the state the common teguments must necessarily be in from so great a distention, which had distorted may of her ribs, and forc'd the diaphragm so high, that it was suprizing to find her breathing could be so long continu'd. The water was all contain'd in the duplicature of the peritonaum, 13 gallons besides a quart that was split; it was saltish, with some little fat upon it, and towards the latter running ting'd with blood as usual. There was not any water in the cavity of the abdomen, except what was contain'd in a kind of bladder of the shape I have sent, Fig 31. which lay a-cross the pundus uteri. This was divided by a cartilaginous substance into two cavities; in one there was a pint and a half, in the other three parts of a pint of water. I believe it was this (I know not how) impos'd on the midwife. The uterus was of the natural size without any alteration, except that the os tinca and collum minus were fill'd with a gritty substance, hard as stone, which I take to be the humour separated there, and coagulated by time. Mr. Cooper Tab. 15. Fig. 4. says he found the same parts fill'd with a glutinous matter, which he think is useful to prevent the abortion; which if vitiated, impregnation is hinder'd.
The liver and other parts contain'd in the abdomen, were forc'd into an incredible small compass (and by that pressure a little chang'd in shape) to perform their office so long; to which the muscles of the abdomen, distended so as to be scarce discernible, could give but little, if any assistance.
The awe that people have here for dead bodies, tho' never so prejudicial to the living, would not suffer her friends to let me make any farther enquiry; so that I can send no account of any other part. The same error hindered me examining another woman, who died here about a week after, of an ascites which she had forty years, any farther than to be satisfied she had seven gallons of water contain'd between the duplicatures of the peritonaum, and none in the cavity of the abdomen.


A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 452).

Philosophical Transactions. For the months of November and December, 1715. - Part VI.

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Ⅵ. An account of a book. Guilhelmi Musgrave Reg. Societ. Utriusque Socii, Geta Britannicus. Accedit Domus Severianæ Synopsis Chronologica; & de Icuncula Quondam M. Regis Ælfredi dissertatio. 8vo. Iscae Dumnoniorum. MDCCXV.

The author, having some1 years since publish'd a comment on Julius Vitalis his epitaph, which, (together with his monument) is to be seen at bath; does not present the publick with another volume of Belgic Antiquities; intending hereby, to illustrate part of a statue, which was found likewise near that city, and is at this time immured near the monument aforesaid, at the Eastern end of the Abby-Church, looking toward the grove.
This fragment of an Equestrian statue, is in Basse Releise; the rider has in his right hand a Hasta pura, and a parma in his left; as in Fig. I. of the book. It appears from2 Dio that Caius and Lucius, Cæsars, (the nephews, and adopted sons of Augustus) had each of them a Parma and an Hasta given him; and there being no instance of this honour paid to any of an inferiour rank among the Romans, but only to such as were of very great quality; if not to Casars only; we are from hence be a'lowed to think, that this statue represented some person of that quality.
But to discover the particular person, (if it might be done) the author compared a very good draught he had procured of this horseman, which such Roman Coyns, as he could meet with. This comparison shewed a great resemblance between the face in the statue, and that in two of Geta's coyns.
This argument, drawn from the similitude of faces (of great force to determine the reader's judgement in favour of Geta) is farther confirmed by the horse; a creature of which Geta was very fond; insomuch, as that he affected to be represented under the figure of Castor, (as the Roman Emperors often were under the figures of their Gods) of whom it is said, Castor gaudet Equis; — of this figure there is in3 Oiselius, a coyn of Geta's, very much to this purpose; represented Tab. IV. Fig. 5. of this book.
These things bring to mind, the authority which Geta had in South-Britain; where (as4 Herodian affirms) all matters were under his administration, during the stay which Severus and Caracalla made in the North; which was a year, or more. In this time, Geta had it in his power, to do many things, in favour of cities and countreys, here in the South. The great generosity of his mind prompted him to publick works; such as are, to this day, attested by5 inscriptions, with his name in them; and it is highly probable, [That this statue was erected to Geta on some such account.]
If this be granted, (as from the concurrence of so much, and so good testimony, it seems highly probable) here is a large and pleasant view opened into antiquity; not of late taken notice of by any writer; it shews, that Geta was a great benefactor to old Bath; either by laying, in a perfect morass, the foundation of that town; or by preserving the hot-springs, entire, from the influx of other waters; or both; works of great Munisicence, and becoming Geta's spirit. By these, or some such ways, it is probable, this people was obliged to Geta; but no one is more probable, than that of preserving the Aqua Calida; which were in those days so famous, as to give a denomination to the place. It is well know, that Rome had her Therma Severiana and Antoniniana, so called from their respective founders; the former being built by Severus, the father; the latter by Antoninus, the brother of Geta; so that to take care of baths, was a sort of greatness, that family seemed to delight in; and Geta may reasonably be supposed,to have his share of this delight.
From the great probability of this opinion, the author has, out of love to his native country, and the honour due to Geta, collected and put together, what he can meet with relating to that Emperor. He has made a new edition of Geta's Life, from the Historia Augusta Scriptores; restoring it to its true author, Julius Capitolinus; and explaining it, with the notes of Casaubon, Gruter, and Salmasius; to which he has added some of his own. He has reprinted all the inscriptions he can meet with, of Geta's, and many of his coyns; with short notes on both.
After all this, he is not so far engaged in his opinion, but that if, (by any inscription on the basis of this statue, or any other testimony) it shall hereafter appear, that this fragment deserves another explication, he shall readily comply with any such clearer testimony; being no way disposed, to give farther credit to this broken monument, than shall answer the imperfect condition it is now in.
To this dissertation, de Geta Britannico, he has added the chronology of his illustrious house; shewing, how his Father, Severus, from a private gentleman in Africa came by degrees to be Emperor of Rome; and indeed one of the greatest, that ever Rome had; how he, with his two sons, Bassiamus and Geta, (three Roman Emperors) resided, at one and the same time, here in Britain) and from hence sent their imperial edicts, orders, and dispatches, into all parts of the empire; and after an amazing greatness of about twenty four years, and a course of almost all virtues and vices, at length tumbled down; submitting to the accidents and fate of other men; and were all buried at Rome, in the Septizodium built by Severus.
To these Memoirs of Geta, the author has subjoyned a discourse, concerning that curious cimclium, which was, some years since, found at Athelney in Somerset. It did belong to K. Ælfred, and is now in the possession of Col. Palmer of Fairfield, in that country. Beside the critical use made of it, by the learned6 Dr. Hickes, our author writes of it, as an undeniable instance of the use of images, coming from the heathens into the Christian Church.
The book is adorned with several cuts, of the broken statue at Bath, of two of Geta's silver-coyns, of the Septizodium Severi, (out of Perac) and three sides of the philotrans2 Ælfredi.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 385).

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