The various Theories
that have been advanced to account for the same, and we shall find that they are numerous and in some cases sufficiently ridiculous. As Tyndall says, “Man longs for causes, and the weaker minds, unable to restrain their longing, often barter for the most theoretic pottage the truth which patient enquiry would make their own.” In the first place there is the “Super-natural Theory.” The world is in its death-throes. It has always been foretold that portents in the sky and convulsions of nature should precede the coming dissolution. Scientific men cannot account satisfactorily for the heavenly splendours. It is only in their pride of intellect that they attempt to do so. The sun-glows must be classed with the fearful earthquakes, the terrific volcanic eruptions, the weird colours of the sun and moon;—the spread of the destructive blights, the invention and employment of dynamite for dastardly purposes, the growth of human wickedness, etc., etc., are signs that the end of all things is near! We all know the form this argument takes and how many good people there are who honestly advance it. But it need not detain us here to-night.
Then, there are those who thought that Biela' Comet, which was rushing towards us in January last, might have exercized sufficient influence in some mysterious way to produce the sun-glows; and some New South Welshman who probably had been sun-struck during the fervid days of December last in his colony, attributed the world-wide appearances to the sandy deserts in the interior of Australia. Another theory, scarcely more respectable perhaps, is that the light is such as has been travelling to us from distant suns for thousands of years, and has only just succeeded in penetrating to our dark continents. In connection with which, what explanation is given of the disappearance of the abnormal light does not appear. Then, although the glows were repeatedly seen when there was not the slightest magnetic disturbance, we have, of course, the electrical theory.
This is a convenient one in many difficulties. Here is something we cannot understand. It must, therefore, be caused in some way by that mysterious force, electricity—which in the near future is to produce for us, even artificially, light, heat, motion, and every form of energy. As is the supernatural to one class of people, so is electricity to another, wiser in its own eyes—a key to unlock every dark and mysterious chamber in the universe. And when we consider what electricity has enabled us to do in recent times, we cannot wonder that it should be credited with effects for which it is not at all responsible.