John Winthrop.

Two lectures on comets online

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an investigation of the motions and orbits of '^^ii-ts,
that there could be no injurious interference Dr.
Winthrop has well explained their perfect adjustment
to the system, from the great inclination of their orbits^
and the diversity of their motions. La Place observes,
that though from the inconsiderable quantity of matter
which they contain, comets may be, and frequently
are, afPecied in their motions by the planets, and
particularly by Jupiter ; yet there is no evidence of
their disturbing even the satellites of Jupiter, though
not unfrequently passing near to them. He con-
cludes with a remark, particularly consoling to an as*
tronomer, that the astronomical tables, which have
been calculated and settled with so much laborious
accuracy, are in no sort of danger of being affected
by any disturbances of the planets or satellites, from
the intervention of comets. -^More general views,
however, are sufficiently satisfactory on this head.
Such admirable harmony and reciprocal adaptation,
such marks of consummate wisdom and goodness,
appear to every spectator, in objects with which we
are familiar, that we readily cherish a persuasion,
that the same characteristics are extended to the


whole frame of the universe. Thus the sober me-
dium is produced between disquietude and indif-
ference. This repose of the imagination, however,
should not induce a remission of our inquiries. In
addition to their beneficial effect on the mind, by
affording it innocent occupation and wholesome ex-
ercise, and by promoting that fairness and impartial-
ity, so necessary in other investigations more imme-
diately interesting to our present state and condition)
it is certain that our veneration of the Infinite Deity
will increase with a knowledge of his works. We
shall cherish a grateful sense of his adorable benevo-
lence, that has given us a place in one of his "many
mansions," made us intelligent spectators of his fair
creation, instruments and agents in the operations of
beneficence, and the sensible recipients of his bounty.

Boston, Dec. 20, 1811.



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Online LibraryJohn WinthropTwo lectures on comets → online text (page 14 of 14)