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If rain water on almost pure sandy soils can raise, nurture, and sustain the smallest portions of vegetation, without its receiving anything from the soil, the air and its rain water may be regarded as containing the elements of vegetation.
But even organic compounds do not make life.
But life, on the contrary, forms them. It requires, therefore, something more.
The air has motion in perfection, for it is in perpetual motion; not ideal and philosophical, but real ; for the water barometer, of 33 feet and more in length, is in incessant motion, has a gentle oscillation or breathing, heaving up and down, and beating almost like the pulse-glass. It has the voice of melody and of music; and of terror in the thunder. It has strength, power, weight, and substance. It has all these material qualities, but it has, moreover, light, heat, and electricity, all dwelling within its bosom, and diffused throughout every part.
It has feeling and sympathetic action, for what more quick and sensitive than electricity ? And over and above all these endowments, it never dies, but is as fresh
at creation's dawn it has high conservative powers, and remains unchanged from generation to generation.
“ Thinkest thou, proud man,
The following observations, by Sir John Herschel, are the best exposition I can give of the progress of my investigations, which led to the Recurring Monthly Periods.
“The steps by which we arrive at the laws of natural phenomena are necessarily successive. Gross results and palpable laws are arrived at by rude observation with coarse instruments, or without any instruments at all; and these are corrected and refined upon by nicer scrutiny with more delicate means. In the progress of this, subordinate laws are brought into view, which modify both the verbal statement and numerical results of those which first offered themselves to our notice ; and when these are traced out, and reduced to certainty, others again, subordinate to them, make their appearance, and become subjects of further inquiry. Now it invariably happens (and the reason is evident) that the first glimpse we catch of such subordinate laws—the first form in which they are dimly shadowed out to our minds
is that of errors. We perceive a discordance between what we expect and what we find. The first occurrence of such a discordance we attribute to accident. It happens again and again ; and we begin to suspect our instruments or our observations. In the course of our inquiries other discordances strike us. Taught by experience, we suspect the existence of some natural law before unknown; we tabulate, i.e., draw out in order the results of our observations, and we perceive, in this synoptic statement of them, distinct indications of a regular
progression. When these are thoroughly investigated, we recognize among them some law which coincides in its nature and progression with that of our observations."
My attention, in the first instance, was excited by the Voyages of Captain Parry. And Lieutenant Foster, subsequently the commander of the “
Chanticleer," who was the officer appointed to superintend the meteorological department, was an observer almost unequalled for delicacy and accuracy. These tables, therefore, afforded me the best means of research, but I gained very little from them, until I transferred them to a delineation-somewhat similar to the one prefixed to this work—and at the same time introduced, as
of comparison, a delineation from Mr. Howard's work, “ The Climate of London.”
I then began to perceive some alternating and some corresponding actions between the instruments; that the hottest day in the polar regions was sometimes the coldest day in London, and the reverse ; at the other times, and for the most part, no correspondence. The instances were, however, too many to admit of that careless licence called casual. I continued to delineate from the few sources I could procure, and the same circumstances appeared. The barometer was subjected to the same mode and with the same partial result.
From these inquiries I inferred the transfer of heat, and the reciprocating actions of distant areas, both in respect to the barometer and thermometer.
Here I rested, and drew up a paper which was read to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at its Annual Meeting, in 1851, held in Ipswich, honoured with the presence of Prince Albert. George Biddell Airy, Esq., Astronomer Royal, was the President.
Continuing my inquiries, other appearances arose, and partly from observation, Recurring Monthly Periods gleamed. I eagerly searched Mr. Howard's tables completely through from 1806 to 1830, and was gratified with the extraordinary number of recurring monthly periods in every year, both in the barometer and thermometer. I searched every work I could obtain, and from the year 1800 to 1856 inclusive, being more than half a century, found that all the observations gave the same result, not in the same degree, but varying slightly in the number only of the recurring monthly periods. And I was surprised at the quickness with which I could run over a bulky mass of tables, and at once go to the expected day, and mostly find the fact. But I was puzzled with the discordance between what I expected, and what I found, for I
perceived reverse occurrences, and I found no general accordance between the barometer and thermometer. An abstract of my inquiry constitutes the present volume; its merits and demerits others must tell.
The “Remarks on the Present State of Meteorological Science," by John Ruskin, Esq., of Christ Church College, Oxford, are so peculiarly apposite and expressive of the objects and the mode of prosecuting meteorological pursuits, that it can only be conveyed in his own elegant language.
“The comparison and estimation of the relative advantages of separate departments of science is a task which is always partially executed; because it is never entered upon with an unbiassed mind; for since it is only the accurate knowledge of a science which can enable us to perceive its beauty, or estimate its utility, the branch of knowledge with which we are most familiar will always appear the most important. The endeavour therefore to judge of the relative beauty or interest of the sciences is utterly hopeless. We do not, therefore, advance any proud or unjustifiable claims to the superiority of meteorology. As to its beauty, it is a science of pure air and the bright heaven; its thoughts are amidst the loveliness of creation ; it leads the mind, as well as the eye, to the morning mist, and the noon-day glory, and the twilight cloud, to the purple peace of the mountain heaven, to the cloudy repose of the green valley; now expatiating in the silence of stormless ether, now on the rushing of the wings of the wind.
“ It is indeed a knowledge which must be felt to be, in its very essence, full of the soul of the beautiful. For its interest, it is