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er than the air we breathe ; indeed, water is composed of two kinds of air, which chymists call oxygen and hydrogen.
Water lighter than air, Father!
Yes ; look at those clouds, which are gently moving around the horizon; of what are they composed ?
There is rain in those clouds, I think ; and yet they float in the air; but they could not do so, if they were not lighter.
Certainly not; the sun raises them from the mighty ocean, the vast fountain which supplies the whole globe. And God commissions his winds to scatter them abroad, that they may enrich every part of the wide creation.
See, Father, the steam vessel is coming up the channel.
It is ; there, Frank, water changes its form, and becomes a powerful instrument in the hand of man. The application of steam to useful purposes may be yet in its infancy.
Here, Father, water assumes a form which is lighter than air, or else it would not rise up into it.
True. What an immense process is perpetually going on in creation : the sun draws
the vapors from the ocean ; they rise into the air in clouds ; the winds scatter them; they are intercepted by the mountains; they dissolve; they form springs; the living crea'tures partake of them; the gentle showers
fall, and refresh and fertilize the earth; the springs unite, and form rivers, which return again into the sea. Well might the Psalmist exclaim, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all! The earth is full of thy riches !
How wonderful evaporation is, Father.
It is. If we could not prove it unanswerably, but few would believe, that the waters of the ocean could be made to float through the atmosphere; yet, so it is. It is thus that God
waters the hills from his chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works.”
Do you know, Father, how much lighter the vapors are, than the waters of which they are formed ?
About fourteen hundred times. Without evaporation, nothing could be dried. There would be no stacks of hay or of corn. Without evaporation, the clothes of your play-fellow who fell into the river the other day, could never have been dried again.
And a shower of rain, Father, would then have spoiled our dress at any time.
It would. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how we could have had any clothing. But God has arranged every thing in infinite wisdom and goodness, and for the benefit of his creature man,
It would be pleasant, Father, to know how much water such a river as the Thames pours every day into the ocean:
Dr. Halley has made a curious calculation on this subject; he thinks that it must be about two hundred and three millions of tons.
How is it, Father, that the sea is so salt?
It is probable that there are immense mines and mountains of salt in the great deep.
You told me that the saltness of the sea was the principal reason why it did not freeze to any extent.
It is, There is a circumstance well worthy of notice, in reference to our rivers; the air mingles with the water during the process of freezing, so that the frozen waters expand, and they become lighter than they originally
I have often wondered, Father, how it is that ice should swim; but this makes it very plain.
It is well that it does swim. heavier than the water, one quantity after another would sink to the bottom of rivers, till the mass of water would be frozen, and the heat of summer would be unable to dissolve them; so that there would not be a river in our country:
This again, Father, shows the wisdom and goodness of God; does it not? - Assuredly; and so do the tides which are now dashing their billows against the beach: they not only tend to purify the ocean, but they waft into the port, the vessels which are
If it were
laden with the treasures of foreign lands; and then, when they ebb, they bear out those which are laden for foreign countries.
But how is it, Father, that the waters thus ebb and flow?
It is from the attraction of the sun and moon ; but principally from the influence of the moon, as she is so much nearer to the earth than the sun, The tides occur about twelve hours and three-quarters from each other. The moon has the greatest attractive influence when on the meridian. But
you told Charles, Father, the other day, that it was not high water till three hours after the moon had passed the meridian. I did; and it is so.
This arises from that property of matter which I named to you, by which it would continue in the same state.
Will you explain the Spring and Neap tides to me, Father
I will, Frank ; the spring tides happen at the times of the new and full moon; at the new moon, the sun and the moon attract in the same direction; and when it is full moon, the influence of the sun is but little in opposition to that of the moon. The Neap tides, are at the first and last quarters of the moon; then the sun raises the water, where the moon depresses it; and depresses it where the moon raises it. The tides are highest, on the middle of the earth's surface ; because the attraction
of the sun and moon are principally on this part of the globe. What a sublime idea does a Sacred Writer give us of the blessed God, when he says, that he holdeth the mighty waters in the hollow of his hand !
But what is most delightful, Father, is, that this great Being will become our Father !
It is ; seek, my dear Frank, this first of blessings : it is better than life.