PERHAPS all have seen, on certain occasions, beautiful arches of light stretching across the heavens, rapidly changing in form and color, with now and again bright rays flashing out perpendicularly from them. To observe these phenomena, however, in all their beauty, we must pay a visit to higher latitudes, where they are seen much more frequently, and in far greater splendor.

These appearances are most generally known as the Northern Lights, the Merry Dancers, or the Aurora Borealis, owing to the fact that the high northern latitudes have been much more visited than the southern. The same phenomena, however, are to be seen as we go southward, and so they are sometimes spoken of under the name of the Aurora Australia. We have chosen the most popular name for our title, though perhaps the most appropriate one that has been applied to them is that of Aurora Polaris.

As few of those who read this will never have the opportunity of actually visiting either the northern or the southern polar regions, let us imagine ourselves for a brief season to be upon the deck of a vessel, far away in the North let us say in the autumn, just before the approach of the long Arctic night. As we glance around, all looks cold and bleak. There is light enough for us to see on every hand the fantastic forms of the icebergs looming up in the darkness. We hear the grinding of the bergs together, and cannot suppress an uncomfortable feeling as the contingency presents itself to our mind of the ship getting aground between two of those huge floating ice-islands.

As we look, the scene changes as completely as though a magician's wand had transferred us to one of the jeweled palaces of the "Arabian Nights." We see arches of light stretching across the heavens from east to west, sometimes remaining stationary, and sometimes moving slowly toward the south. Rays of light shoot out perpendicularly from the arches, and if the arches are below the horizon we only see these rays, which, though really parallel, often appear, as an effect of perspective, to meet in a point in the zenith. These rays very seldom remain stationary, but shoot upward toward the zenith, at the same time moving eastward, often with a tremulous, snake-like motion from end to end, till sometimes they cover the whole sky.

If now we turn our eyes from this magnificent sight to look down again upon the surrounding mass of bergs which just now looked so weird and gloomy, we can scarcely believe that, they are the same; for now they throw back to us in a thousand colors the light that flashes on them from above, and the peaks and pinnacles of the bergs appear to be set with jewels of the most varied hues and the most dazzling brightness. The rays appear in the most varied forms and patterns, in one of the most beautiful of which, though seldom seen, the rays seem to hang from the sky in folds like a mantle. Frank Leslie for February, 1879.

C. F. Hall, in his "Arctic Researches," gives an interesting description of a gorgeous display of December 17, 1860; and Capt. Budington, who had spent eleven years in the Arctic regions, testified that it surpassed anything of the aurora approach that he had ever witnessed; and, to tell the truth, he did not care to see the like again.

No mortal hand can truthfully describe it. My first thought was, "Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works." It seemed as if the world was really ablaze under the agency of some gorgeously-colored fires. No sun, no moon, .et the heavens were a glorious sight, Molded with light. Even ordinary print could have been easily read on deck.