Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/493

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scape, or in the appearance of the sky above him; some wonderful transformation of Nature, as though the spot where he stands were her tiring-room, and she were trying on robe after robe to see which became her best; some striking incident, which might well inspire him with the wish to catch the happy moment, and give it a permanent existence. Such are the simple, refining, and enduring pleasures which the cryptogamic botanist enjoys in the pursuit of his favorite study amid the scenes of Nature.

Add to all these recommendations this last important advantage, that these plants can be observed and collected without interruption throughout the whole year, and in situations where other vegetation is reduced to zero. They can be studied alike under the cloudy skies of December, as when illumined by the sunshine of June. When the flowers and ferns have vanished, when the lights are fled, and the garlands are dead, the deserted banquet-hall of Flora is still relieved by the presence of these humble retainers, whose fidelity is proof against every change of circumstance, and whose better qualities are displayed when the storm is wildest and the desolation most complete. They are no summer friends. As Ruskin has beautifully observed: "Unfading as motionless, the worm frets them not, and the autumn wastes not. Strong in lowliness, they neither blanch in heat, nor pine in frost. To them, slow-fingered, constant-hearted, is intrusted the weaving of the dark eternal tapestries of the hills; to them, slow-pencilled, iris-dyed, the tender framing of their endless imagery. Sharing the stillness of the unimpassioned rock, they share also its endurance; and while the winds of departing spring scatter the white hawthorn-blossoms like drifted snow, and summer duns in the parched meadow the drooping of its cowslip gold, far above among the mountains, the silver lichen-spots rest, starlike on the stone, and the gathering orange-stain upon the edge of yonder western peak reflects the sunsets of a thousand years."—Foot-Notes from the Page of Nature.


THERE are few scientific questions of greater interest than the inquiry whether it is possible to find a means of predicting the weather for a long time in advance. In former ages many attempts were made to solve this problem by a reference to the motions of the heavenly bodies. Other methods of prediction were, indeed, in vogue; but I am not here considering ordinary weather portents, or mere scientific schemes for anticipating the weather of two or three coming days: and, with a few trifling exceptions, depending on observations