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Having in the preceding chapter taken a cursory view of some general facts, with popular demonstrations, I have now to enter upon the more rigid course of evidence in full. In all the tables and registers which I give, I am solely indebted for the figures to those already published
published by the best and most eminent authorities ; consequently, they are accessible to all persons desirous of collating them with the inferences I have deduced. I have searched through a period of more than forty successive years, from 1810 to 1856, and find the same general result in each year ; but as it would be unnecessary, and more especially expensive, to publish so long a detail, I have selected a few of the more memorable remarkable years as the witnesses in the case I have undertaken-premising, that the testimony of all would be to the same effect. The figures are fairly and honestly given, the errors being unintentional.
The tables of the barometer and thermometer for 26
METEOROLOGY A PLEASURABLE PURSUIT.
the year 1814 are entirely from “The Climate of London,” by Luke Howard, 1833; a work of considerable ability and fidelity. It is the best and most important work extant, and contains a large mass of valuable facts extending from 1806 to 1830.
It has been a matter of great surprise to me, that meteorology should find such little favour with the public in general, considering how much the weather is the subject of conversation. The beauty of the scenery of the sky, and grandeur of the scale of the atmospheric actions, their amazing variety and elegance, and the admirable laws which pervade and regulate the motions of the air, are every way worthy of our admiration and study, even as a pleasurable pursuit. Whether the extremely dry and dull detail of mere figures from day to day has deterred many from such an uninteresting exercise of mind, or whether such an unsatisfactory exhibition, without one useful inference, one ray of light to cheer the student through the long roll of figures, has been the case, I know not, but certainly the subject has but little claim upon public patronage.
I cannot conceive why the meteorologist, who is in possession of two of the most delicate and accurate instruments, should neglect the important part of analyzing his day's work; of endeavouring to ascertain and to account for the differences between the instruments on two successive days; to investigate why to-day differs from yesterday; what has caused the different aspects of sky; and to introduce into his dry
register some notice of the face of the sky-of those pictures, so lovely, so enchanting—some notice of those fleeting clouds; those banners, or storm flags, and their rapid alterations—the signals of the electric line which present a series of dissolving views, aerial tints and ever-pleasing hues. A multitude of pictorial effects are daily exhibited ; but notice is rarely taken of them—no explanations are attempted, and no instructive observations. Surely, these in part are omissions, and might be made useful adjuncts to the register of the instruments.
Besides the mere local observations, mere isolated facts are of small value, meteorology requires an expansive intellect; a spirit of research and inquiry into things abroad, distant, and wide apart; the habit of comparing those with our own opens a wide and instructive field of research, rich in valuable results.
The chemist appeals in all his analytical researches to the balance—that is his unerring test. What balance so delicate and true as the barometer ? why not then use it as the chemist? What instrument more useful to the chemist than the thermometer? Is not specific gravity the practical test of everything in nature ? and the temperature of a body is the element of its specific gravity.
And yet, with these two instruments of unrivalled excellence, the meteorologist does not avail himself sufficiently. The great object is to analyze the figures, states, and conditions, as we do any natural substance.