THE ASTRONOMICAL NOTICE TO QUIT.
[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR.")
Six,—The subject referred to in your issue of the 28th ult. is exciting some little attention in Manchester, both among men of faith and scientific men ; and the Bishop of Manchester, in
a recent sermon, put the end of the world before his hearers as a proximate event, and quoted Mr. Proctor as an authority re- specting the possible mode in which this might be accomplished, remarking that he was surprised to find how some of the con- clusions (?) of science approached some of the teachings of the Bible. I do not, however, quite see how an hypothesis can be styled one of " the conclusions of science." You, Sir, express a desire for the judgment of other astronomers on the correct- ness or otherwise of Mr. Proctor's facts. Allow me, then, to quote as an authority the Rev. Thomas Mackereth, F.R.A.S., at once an astronomer and a "man of faith."
In a letter on the subject of " Astronomical Portents," which appeared in the Manchester Examiner of the 3rd inst., Mr.
Mackereth, referring to the Bishop of Manchester's sermon, states that the Bishop's quotation from Mr. Proctor about a comet falling into the Sun, " and forming such an accession of
heat, that the earth and all that is therein will be burned up, is a pure speculation, and with little or no foundation in fact." Farther, Mr. Mackereth states that " no one knows of what-
comets consist. They are not self-luminous, nor are they either opaque or solid bodies. In density, they are not supposed to differ from the density of our atmosphere at the surface of the earth. If, therefore, we know not actually of what they consist, and yet they are such flimsy things, we need not fear for any conflagration they can cause." This is reassuring to purchasers of reversions, as well as to those whose terms of imprisonment extend over fifteen years. But he must have acquired great credulity who can believe in the sudden, total destruction of human life and happiness in this world by the phenomena of Nature, controlled as these are by laws of spiritual origin. The Lord created the spiritual and natural universes for uses ; to destroy the world would be to act contrary to his purpose in Creation, which was that men may dwell in it, receive his love and wisdom, thus be conjoined with him, and enter into angelic life.—I am, Sir, &c., [Mr. Proctor's view is that comets not only have some mass themselves, which, when multiplied by the enormous velocity of a million miles an hour, would produce a momentum the sudden arrest of which must involve a tremendous outburst of heat,— but that they are frequently followed by meteoric showers of very considerable mass. As to the moral point, does Mr. Bogg expect to escape death ? If not, what is the moral difference between killing everybody some day, and everybody on one day P—En. Spectator.]