But the importance of the inquiry (as well as of those other spectroscopic researches in which Dr. Huggins had been so successful) was manifest to our scientific societies; and accordingly a large sum was granted by the Royal Society for the construction of a refracting telescope, fifteen inches in aperture, to enable Dr. Huggins to extend his researches to the leading stars of our northern heavens. This fine instrument was ready for use in the spring of this year, and before many weeks had passed Dr. Huggins had obtained results of surpassing interest and importance. He had recognised motions of recession and approach in no less than thirty stars, and had traced laws before unknown in the phenomena of these stellar motions.

One of the most striking features in the series of star-motions observed and measured by Dr. Huggins, is the amazing velocity with which some of the stars are moving. Astronomers had ascertained that Sirius is moving athwart the line of vision much more rapidly than the sun is travelling through space. But Sirius is so exceptional both in his brightness and in his estimated bulk, that his enormous velocity did not appear altogether surprising. It did not lead the generality of astronomers to consider that the sun's velocity and the average velocity of the stars had been greatly underestimated. But now we learn from a method of research which is far more trustworthy than any applied to the measurement of thwart motions, that some of the stars are moving from or towards the earth with a velocity far exceeding that of Sirius. If we take the thwart motion of Sirius at twenty-five miles per second, and his motion of recession at twenty miles (this being the value assigned by the latest and best measurements), we find for this absolute motion the amazing velocity of about thirty-two miles per second. But Dr. Huggins finds that Arcturus is receding from the sun at the rate of 55 miles per second, Vega at the rate of about 50 miles, Arided (the chief brilliant of the Swan) at the rate of 39 miles, Pollux 49 miles, and Dubhe of the Great Bear at the rate of fr6m 46 to 60 miles per second. Beside such motions as these, our sun's estimated velocity of about 4| miles per second, which had seemed so imposing when it was considered that he bore with him at this enormous rate his whole family of planets, sinks into relative insignificance. We here recognise stellar rates of motion nearly equalling that at which our earth circuits around the sun. But a velocity which, considered with reference to a minute orb like the earth, is intelligible, becomes altogether startling in the case of orbs like Arcturus and Vega, which undoubtedly exceed our own sun many times in volume. I use the word ' intelligible' with a purpose; for I am not considering here what is conceivable or the reverse. We can in reality understand why the earth should be possessed of the velocity she actually displays. We know that the sun's attraction is competent to generate such a velocity, or a much greater velocity. But in the case of a star these swift motions cannot be thus explained. The stars are too far apart to be so influenced by their mutual attractions that great velocities would be generated. And thus the thoughtful mind cannot but recognise in the stellar motions a subject of contemplation far more impressive than the subordinate, though even swifter motions of the Earth, Venus, or Mercury. Whence sprang that amazing energy which is represented by the proper motions of the suns ? If we admit the possibility that forces of eruption or expulsion could account for the observed motions, we shall have to answer the startling question, Of what order are the orbs whence the giant suns are expelled ? and the yet more difficult questions, Where are these orbs? and, How is it that, inordinately large though they must be, we are yet unable to distinguish them from ordinary suns ? If, on the other hand, we prefer to regard the stellar velocities as generated by the attractions of larger orders of bodies than the stars (as planetary velocities may be regarded as generated by their parent suns), we still have the last two questions to answer; and, so far as can be judged, these questions are at present unanswerable.1

Another striking feature in the results announced by Dr. Huggins is the absence of any systematic agreement between the stellar motions he has recognised, and the motion of our sun towards Hercules. It is manifest that if our sun were alone in motion, the actual rates of approach and recession of all the stars in the heavens would be at once determined when the rate of the sun's motion was determined. If, for example, he were moving at the rate of twenty miles per second towards the star Lambda of Hercules, he would be approaching every star lying in that direction at the same rate; he would be receding from all stars lying in the opposite direction at the same rate; and he would be approaching or receding from stars lying in opposite directions at a less rate (readily calculable). A certain half of the heavens would contain all the stars which the sun was approaching; the other half would contain all the stars from which he was receding; and the circle separating these halves would mark the place of stars which the sun was neither receding from nor approaching. But nothing of this sort can be recognised in the observed stellar rates of approach and recession. Sirius (which lies nearly opposite to Hercules) is receding at the rate of about 20 miles per second; but Vega (which lies close to Hercules), instead of approaching at about the same rate, is actually approaching at the rate of about 50 miles per second. Castor, which is very near the border line between the two hemispheres just mentioned, and should therefore neither be approaching nor receding, is in fact receding at the rate of about 25 miles per second; while Pollux, though similarly placed, is approaching the sun at the rate of about 49 miles per second. Again, of the seven bright stars forming Charles's Wain, six are approaching (five of them at the rate of about 20 miles per second), while the seventh is receding at a rate probably exceeding 50 miles per second.