Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/809

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A CHAPTER IN METEOROLOGICAL DISCOVERY.

observed the accounts of newspapers from New England, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and South. Carolina, and I find it to be a constant fact that the northeast storms begin to leeward, and are often more violent there than to windward."

Those letters are probably the earliest literature on the subject of North American storms, the first documents of scientific value in the long series of observations and of studies which have brought us to our present valuable knowledge. Undoubtedly, this fact, which had suggested itself to Franklin, had been observed before by fishermen, by mariners, and others, accustomed to the practical observation of the weather. But this is the initial point of its treatment as a scientific phenomenon. Between the two kinds of observation there is a world-wide difference. The observer is not always nor often the seer. There are a hundred thousand who can note a fact for one who can draw an inference from it. A good many myriads of generations had noted the ebb and flow of the tides before anybody noted a connection between these facts and the daily passage of the moon across the meridian. It is likely that a good many fishermen and sailors and captains had talked over the curious fact that the first signs of the coming northeaster seemed to be from the leeward of its characteristic wind. Perhaps some of these unscientific folk had propounded their crude theories about the motions of storms to the little knots of comrades about the cabin fire or under the forecastle's dim lantern. But, being unscientific people, they did not know how to gather and marshal their facts, draw their inferences, and declare their hypotheses. And so Dr. Franklin must have the credit of first propounding this doctrine about American storms. Many years elapsed before his became the accepted view, and people understood that the easterly storms of New England, and indeed of the whole country, were travelers from west to east, and not visitants from the sea, drifting up the coasts and inland. The lack of facilities for observation, the dearth of data, the infrequency of communication, the almost utter neglect of the phenomena whose study in recent years has founded the science of meteorology, were all conditions which greatly retarded the knowledge of meteorology in our own country, and made it impossible to trace the connection of weather in one region with that in others.

William C. Redfield.—The serious and consecutive study of the motions of North American storms may be said to have begun with the investigations of William C. Redfield, one of the most painstaking, broad-minded, and sagacious of American scientists. So competent an authority as Commodore Maury has called him "the Kepler of storm physics." Prof. Denison Olmstead, of Yale College, in a brief memoir published in the American Jour-