Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/421

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409
CORRESPONDENCE.

should make: In answering a possible objection, namely, that the question in hand is not within the province of the supreme ecclesiastical authority's defining power—"that is, outside the depositum fidei"—he says: "What is or is not within the supreme authority's province to decide must be known tu that authority. An infallible authority must know the limits of its revealed message. If authority can make a mistake in determining its own limits, it may make a mistake in a matter of faith." Now, the gist of the first half of Mr. Mivart's paper is taken up by the extended assumption that ecclesiastical authority did make a mistake in determining its own limits in the case of Galileo. Therefore it must logically follow, according to Mr. Mivart's proposition, that (supreme?) ecclesiastical authority may make a mistake in a matter of faith. Again he says: "Men of science may have a truer perception of what Scripture must be held (since it is inspired) to teach than may be granted to ecclesiastical authorities"; that "God has taught us (in the instance of Galileo) that it is not to ecclesiastical congregations, but to men of science, that he has committed the elucidation of scientific questions, whether such questions are or are not treated of by Holy Scripture, etc."; that "it must be admitted that men of science so succeeded, and that ecclesiastical authority so failed, in interpreting the true and inspired meaning of God's written word." It is the duty of men of science, therefore, to point out the limits of infallible authority, is Mr. Mivart's assertion. Certainly this is a contradiction to his former proposition, that "an infallible authority must know the limits of its revealed message." Moreover, in the concluding portion of his article, Mr. Mivart coolly tells us up to what limits ecclesiastical authority infallibly extends, and weighs it in the balance against scientific probability with an implied inference in favor of the latter. Mr. Mivart never learned such logic from Catholic sources. He poses in the exact attitude of the objector he so cogently answered in the beginning. Therefore does his own reply rebound upon himself—an infallible authority must certainly determine its own limits.

While respecting Mr. Mivart's attainments to the utmost. Catholics can not do such violence to their faith and their reason as to follow him upon the rash ground whither, no doubt, some hasty and inconsiderate motive has hurried him.

Yours respectfully,
Condé B. Pallen.
St. Louis, October 27, 1885.
 

 

THE GENESIS OF A TORNADO.

Mssrs. Editors:

At Orange Heights, in Central Florida, on Sunday, October 11th, a stiff breeze was blowing from the north, as it had blown for some forty-eight hours previously. Masses of clouds, with which the air was laden, were scudding by like ships under full sail. Several times during the day I had noted that an upper current was bearing the higher clouds in an exactly opposite direction. During the afternoon the upper current gradually settled down, until it squarely opposed its adversary, presenting the singular spectacle of two cloud-laden currents of air rushing rapidly together from opposite directions. My point of observation being on an eminence, commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country, I had a fine opportunity to watch the progress of events. For perhaps half an hour these two air-currents flowed swiftly together without apparent result; but presently there appeared in the west, scarcely a mile distant, and just where the two currents came together, a heavy mass of clouds, which constantly increased in density and blackness. The south wind grew constantly more persistent, and although its antagonist showed no signs of weakening, it was gradually crowded out of its course toward the west, and for a quarter of an hour the direction of the two currents was squarely at right angles. Then the great cloud-nucleus, which bad so far remained stationary, began slowly to rotate, the east wind passing across the north side, and thence around toward the south; the south wind passing up the east side, and thence around toward the west.

As soon as the rotary motion was established, a progressive motion began. In a few minutes the whole mass had moved out of sight in a northerly direction, and the south wind had full sway. When it was reported next day that buildings and their occupants had been injured by a "cyclone," a few miles to the northward, I was perhaps the only person to whom the news was not unexpected. Fortunately, the aerial monster made its first descent in the pinewoods before attaining great velocity, and was torn and dissipated by the forest before it could rebound.

It seems unfortunate that the terms "tornado" and "cyclone," whose primary meanings afford no clew by which they may be distinguished, are popularly used in exactly the opposite sense from that in which the Signal Service and scientific writers use them.

Charles B. Palmer.
Orange heights, Florida, October 18, 1885.