Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/368

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368
Southern Historical Society Papers.

This was done, and he then urged that the system of meteorological observations he had already inaugurated at sea should be extended to the land, and thus form a weather bureau with observers in all parts of the world. He spoke of this soon after his return, in an address before the United States Agricultural Society at Washington, and said: "The atmosphere is a great basin which envelops the globe, and every plant and animal that grows there is dependent for its well-being upon the laws which govern and control the 'wind in its circuits,' and none more so than man, 'the Lord of all.' To study these laws we must treat the atmosphere as a whole. We have now the sea made white with floating observatories, all equipped with instruments that are comparable, observing the same things according to a uniform method and recording these observations according to a universal plan. In the process of discussing these observations, thus obtained from the sea, I have arrived at that point at which observations on the land are found to be essential to a successful prosecution of my investigations into the laws which govern the grand atmospherical machine. I want to see the land, therefore, spotted with co-laborers observing also, according to some uniform plan, such as may be agreed upon with the most distinguished meteorologists at home and abroad, and I have addressed myself to the agricultural interests of this country because they have in this matter the most at stake."

In furtherance of this plan he delivered, early in 1858, a series of lectures in the larger cities on the great lakes, urging the extension to the lakes of that system of co-operation and research which has already proved so beneficial for commerce and navigation at sea, with this difference, viz. : "That certain of the observations be reported daily to a central office by telegraph, and my lake scheme proposes to warn you, from observations made to-day, as to the weather you may expect to-morrow, and then, for the further investigation of any particular phenomenon that may present itself, my plan proposes to refer to and consult the monthly records after they have been made and returned to a central office from the observing stations."

By means of the electric telegraph the meteorologist may become well nigh omnipresent. It may tell of the barometric changes at distant points and foretell the coming storm. Then the Associated Press may become another agent. It can take up and bear the news to the bulletin boards in distant cities, which will diffuse the intelligence to all quarters with a speed that "Roderic Dhu and Malise" never dreamed of, and thus all will know of the coming storm while yet thousands of miles away.