7 JUNE 1873, Page 24

Essays on Astronomy. By Richard A. Proctor. (Longmans.)—The astronomical papers

which have appeared from time to time in Fraser's Magazine have been read with so much admiration and pleasure that the re-appearance of them in a collected form, together with other of Mr. Proctor's contributions to science, will be heartily welcomed. The three first essays in the volume are thoughtful efforts to appreciate the value of the astronomical work of Sir John Herschel. Then follow papers on the planets Mars and Saturn. These are, to our minds, the most interesting in the book. One has a sympathy with the planets. The stars are too intolerably distant. Who can care about a body that can advance towards us and retreat from us any number of millions of miles without making the smallest difference to us ? But there is something 'human,' so to speak, about Mars. He has snow, and rain, and clouds, as we have. One can imagine that Martialists, as the hypothetical race is called, may be like ourselves. But who can imagine an inhabitant of Sirius, or, rather, as Sirius is probably a sun, an inhabitant of one of Sirius's planets, which one never has seen or can see ? As for the Martialists, Mr. Proctor holds out a hope that if we will build an observatory on some place really suitable for continuous observations, we may learn something about them, or at least their dwelling-place. Meanwhile, he has himself drawn for us a very inter- esting chart of tho world which they occupy. To the prejudiced views of " tollurists," if we may so call ourselves, this chart seems somewhat bizarre, sea and land being mixed up together in a very queer fashion. After this we have essays on the November meteors, on the Sun's corona, and on a variety of subjects included in sidereal astronomy.