Young Folks' Library: Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky HTML version

there are other groups scattered through the length and depth of space. It is thus we obtain
a notion of the rank which our earth holds in the scheme of things celestial.
The Rank of the Earth as a Globe in Space.
Let me give an illustration with the view of explaining more fully the nature of the
relation which the earth bears to the other globes which abound through space, and you
must allow me to draw a little upon my imagination. I shall suppose that the mails of our
country extend not only over this globe, but that they also communicate with other
worlds; that postal arrangements exist between Mars and the earth, between the sun and
Orion—in fact, everywhere throughout the whole extent of the universe. We shall
consider how our letters are to be addressed. Let us take the case of Mr. John Smith,
merchant, who lives at 1001, Piccadilly; and let us suppose that Mr. John Smith's
business transactions are of such an extensive nature that they reach not only all over this
globe, but away throughout space. [pg
1001 Piccadilly,
Near the Sun,
Milky Way,
The Universe.
Let us now see what the several lines of this address mean. Of course we put down the
name of Mr. John Smith in the first line, and then we will add "1001 Piccadilly" for the
second; but as the people in the Great Bear are not likely to know where Piccadilly is, we
shall add "London" underneath. As even London itself cannot be well known
everywhere, it is better to write "England." This would surely find Mr. John Smith from
any post-office on this globe. From other globes, however, the supreme importance of
England may not be so immediately recognized, and therefore it is as well to add another
line, "Europe." This ought to be sufficient, I think, for any post-office in the solar system.
Europe is big enough to be visible from Mars or Venus, and should be known to the post-
office people there, just as we know and have names for the continents on Mars. But
further away there might be a [pg 308] little difficulty; from Uranus and Neptune the different
regions on our earth can never have been distinguished, and therefore we must add
another line to indicate the particular globe of the solar system which contains Europe.
Mark Twain tells us that there was always one thing in astronomy which specially
puzzled him, and that was to know how we found out the names of the stars. We are, of
course, in hopeless ignorance of the name by which this earth is called among other
intelligent beings elsewhere who can see it. I can only adopt the title of "Earth," and
therefore I add this line. Now our address is so complete that from anywhere in the solar
system—from Mercury, from Jupiter, or Neptune—there ought to be no mistake about
the letter finding its way to Mr. John Smith. But from his correspondent in the Great Bear
this address would be still incomplete; they cannot see our earth from there, and even the
sun himself only looks like a small star—like one, in fact, of thousands of stars
I shall suppose that the firm has a correspondent
residing—let us say in the constellation of the Great Bear; and when this man of business
wants to write to Mr. Smith from these remote regions, what address must he put upon
the letter, so that the Postmaster-General of the universe shall make no mistake about its
delivery? He will write as follows:—