Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/817

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A CHAPTER IN METEOROLOGICAL DISCOVERY.

of the very foremost of American physicists, put into execution a plan long conceived and long agitated, securing a system of daily observations throughout the United States and Canada. He first arranged for daily reports by telegraph, and was the first to have the atmospheric conditions over a large territory indicated on a map. He paved the way for the systematic researches of that department of the public service which has since been organized as the Weather Bureau, established in 1870, the most important work in the interests of this science which has ever been undertaken. For it is now possible to put in the hands of a few trained minds at Washington, three times in every day, an amount of data many times more than all that Redfield or Espy or Hare collected in years of study. It is to the efforts of Dr. Henry, following upon the patient research of the men whose work we have thus slightly traced, that we owe the rise and growth of the science as it stands to-day. An army of observers, drilled to the greatest precision of scrutiny, on land and on sea, on hill-tops and in the valleys, in every latitude from the equator to the polar circle, scans the heavens and watches the earth for every meteorological change. The charting of great storms, the making of forecasts, the posting of storm-warnings, all indicate the condition which this science has slowly attained, through the combined and cumulative labors of so many patient observers. From the conjecture of Benjamin Franklin, about the northeast storms beginning to leeward, to the splendid system by which the movements of a great storm are announced and described almost as regularly and clearly as the movements of trains on a railway system is a long advance. It is an advance which shows how much we have to be proud of in this great national work, as it has grown and developed at the hands of our own countrymen. It illustrates, moreover, the fact that in the researches of science, as in all the labors of humanity, every man's work tells, and enters into the great result. Patient toil concentrated upon chosen subjects never fails to yield its due results, valuable for all men. Even the most abstruse scientific research may have, nay, will surely have, its issue in practical good to men; and the most retiring and isolated student in his solitary studies is as true a servant of his kind as he who sows and reaps acres of wheat, or weaves the cloth that clothes men's bodies. When William C. Redfield was gathering the facts about his Three Great Atlantic Storms, he was doing as direct a service to the future shippers and navigators of the Atlantic coast, and the cotton-growers of Georgia and Alabama, as if he had furnished cargoes for their ships or markets for their cargoes.