Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/125

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115
AMERICAN CLIMATE AND CHARACTER.

of headlong service of the devil to which unregenerate, raw, brute humanity can be tempted, are very much worse in England than they are in America. And the air said to favor such characters is much more found in England than in America. I was myself under the impression, before I lived in England, that we had in America more electrical excitement than is known in England. But now I find that it shuts down on you more in England, and that while you see more in America, at a great height above the earth, you feel more of it in England, and have it dropping on you more; and that, although the climate is characteristically damp, there occur more and longer times of irritating dryness and electrical aggravation than are known in America. I am fortunately able to cite a testimony which will make clear what I mean, and prove that I do not imagine my facts. In "Nature" for September 9th, page 437, Professor Tait quotes from an account given him by an Irish correspondent, who tells how the dryness I speak of may come out of the same quarter from which at other times moist air comes, and who expressly says that the same dryness comes with the east wind which is such a curse to the British Isles. Professor Tait's correspondent wrote as follows:

"At the commencement of the present unprecedentedly long and severe storm the wind blew from southwest, and was very warm. After blowing about two days it became, without change of direction, exceedingly bitter and cold, and the rain was from time to time mixed with sleet and hail, and lightning was occasional. This special weather is common for weeks together in March or early April. The air is (like what an east wind brings in Edinburgh) cold, raw, dry, and in every way uncomfortable, especially to people accustomed to the moist Atlantic winds. During these weeks a series of small clouds seem to start at regular intervals from the peaks of hills in Connemara and Mayo. They are all more or less charged with electricity. I have at one time seen such a cloud break into lightning over the spire of the Jesuits' church. At another, I have seen such a cloud pour down in a thin line of fire, and fall into the bay in the shape of a small, incandescent ball. On one occasion I was walking with a friend, when I remarked: 'Let us turn and make a run for it. We have walked unwittingly right underneath a little thunder-cloud.' I had scarcely spoken, when a something flashed on the stony ground at our very feet, a tremendous crash pealed over our heads, and the smell of sulphur was unmistakable."

This sort of greater nearness of the electrical demonstrations is the rule in Great Britain; and the horrid dryness, rawness, and aggravation spoken of in the above account, as due to the east wind when that blows, as it does for weeks together, and also due for weeks together to other wind, are a greater and a more grievous infliction in Great Britain than anything known in America over the chief settled region.