“The Moon” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, June 1841; p. 173)
It is night! The stars are so distant that the seem to be very small; but the moon, though really less than the stars, is nearer, and therefore appears to be larger.
It is a very interesting object, and is even more talked about than the sun. At once time it seems like a silver bow, hung in the west. It increases in size, till it looks like a large bowl. It grows larger and larger, till it is quite round, and is then fancied by some people to resemble a mighty green cheese.
The moon does not shine at all times. Even when it is in the sky above us, it gives no light during the day, for the sun is so much brighter, that it appears quite dim. And often at night it is hidden behind the earth, and gives us no light.
But when it does shine at night, it is indeed beautiful. We cannot look at the sun with the naked eye, for it is too bright. But we can look at the moon, and though it seems almost like a ball of melted metal, yet we can see figures upon it.
Some persons imagine, that they can see the face of a man in the moon, and others that they can spy the figure of a crooked old woman. But those who have looked at it with telescopes, tell us, that it is a world, with mountains, and rivers, and valleys upon its surface. There is very little doubt that animals and people live upon it.
Would it not be pleasant, if we could sail through the air, and go up to the moon, and come back and tell the people of this world what sort of place the moon is, and what kind of folks the moonites are?
But this cannot be. We may travel by railroads over the land, and by ships across the waters of this world, but we have no ladder long enough to reach to other worlds. We must therefore, for the present, stay where we are and be content.
But I was talking of the moon. Can you tell me why a dog will often bark at it almost all night? If you can, you can do more than any one else.
But you may ask what good the moon does to us. In the first place, it is very beautiful, and gives us great pleasure. It is also useful, as it frequently shines at night, and seems to relieve us partly from the darkness. The landscape is often charming when viewed by moonlight, and water never looks so lovely as when the moon is shining upon it.
Besides this, the moon causes that ebbing and flowing of the ocean called the tides. These keep it from being stagnant and prevent its becoming putrid. Were it not for the moon, the whole ocean would be unfit for the fishes that live in it, and they would all die. Men and beasts, too, would also perish from the unhealthiness of the land, were not the sea kept pure by the tides.