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spells of Elijah, for “he prayed that it | ing than the Eastern : the huge Atlantic might not rain, and it rained not on the producing a larger amount of vapor than earth by the space of three years and six the petty German Ocean. At Northmonths.” Between 1827 and 1830 a great Shields the fall is twenty-five inches in the water-dearth occurred in the Pampas. year; at Coniston, on the opposite shore, During this gran seco (according to Sir though in nearly the same latitude, it is F. Head) all vegetation failed, the country eighty-five inches, or more than thrice as assumed the appearance of a dusty high much. The tears annually shed by the road, the soil was so blown about that sky in the oriental half of Great Britain landmarks were obliterated, and numerous attain a depth of twenty-seven inches only, disputes afterwards arose respecting the whilst in the other moiety of the kingdom boundaries of property; cattle perished they are gauged at fifty or fifty-five on every side for want of food and drink, inches. one proprietor alone at San Pedro losing In a mountainous region the precipita20,000; and such was the rush of animals tion of moisture increases from the plain to the river Paraña that several hundred to the peak. Why it does so has been thousand were supposed to have died in the subject of much discussion. Some the stream, either from excessive potations, ascribe the result to the low temperature or from inability to crawl up the muddy of the hills; others treat it as a mechanibanks.
cal consequence arising from the arrest of Still, deducting these local or transitory the vapors; but Mr. Rowell seems to look cases, our farmer will find that Nature upon the rocky spires as great lightninghas provided for the due watering of the rods which plunder the clouds of their earth according to the requirements of electricity, and compel the watery gloclimate and geographical position. As a bules to sink by depriving them of their general principle, the quantity of rain in- sustaining element. Be this as it may, the creases as we advance from the poles to mists which wrap themselves round the the equator. In the regions where the heads of the hills are phenomena of daily sun is doing the greatest stroke of business occurrence, and the lachrymose state of in the evaporating way we may expect craggy spots has been tested by repeated that a shower will be a very emphatic observations. Thus, in the year 1845, production. “A black cloud which had whilst the clouds deposited about twenty formed suddenly,” says Mr. Burchell, “ in inches of moisture at Durham, twenty-five an instant, without perhaps more than a at Leeds, thirty-one at Carlisle, and thirtyminute's notice, emptied its contents upon four at Liverpool, the quantity which us, pouring down like a torrent and tumbled amongst the mountains of the drenching every thing with water. The Lake district amounted to eighty-seven parched earth became in the short time inches for Buttermere, one hundred and of five minutes covered with ponds.” nine for Wastdale Head, one hundred and Some of these tropical effusions, indeed, twenty-one for Grasmere, and not less than inight best be described in the graphic one hundred and fifty-one for Seathwaite though inelegant language of a man who, in Borrowdale. The latter place, therein referring to an English storm, informed fore, received from seven to eight times Mr. Rowell that the clouds seemed so as copious a dousing as the staid old city near the earth that he could scarcely get of St. Cuthbert, so renowned for its musunder them: “it did not rain at all, it tard and old maids. Still these British came down any how.” Indeed, you might outpourings are far inferior to the furious fancy that Kühleborn, the water-demon downfalls of Hindustan. Colonel Sykes of Fouque's beautiful tale of Undine, was reports that at Malcompait, on the Mahaabroad with particular diluvial intentions, buleshwar Hills, the annual evacuation of if these sudden cloud-ruptures were not rain from the atmosphere is three hundred usually as brief as they are passionate. and two inches, and that at Cherraponjie,
It is another general law in hygrometry in the Cossya Hills, it amounted, in 1851, that the fall of rain decreases as we leave to the astounding quantity of six hundred the shores of a continent and travel into and ten inches, or fifty feet ten inches ! the interior, because we are continually Singularly enough, too, a slight difference receding from the Great Nursery of vapor. in locality will sometimes produce a great For the same reason the Western Coast difference in humidity. There is a farmof our Island receives a more liberal soak- / house, about a mile and a half from En
nersdale Lake, at which there falls only one in seven. High as this estimate may as much rain as descends at the lake itself. I appear, we have particular places in our Even forests have influence in drawing out island where it is far exceeded. There is the moisture from the air, for, when Manchester for example. What a terrible extensive woods have been reduced or city is that for people who love fine weadestroyed, as at Marseilles, a notable ther and brilliant sunshine ! For six decline in humidity has ensued. It is days in the week it is reputed to be in also an interesting, and to many may seem a state of melancholy drizzle ; and though a paradoxical fact, that rain appears to there may be much malice in the assertion, increase in quantity as it approaches the no one can doubt that the place is excesearth ; so that, if a series of pluviometers sively addicted to sky - weeping. Its were stationed at various elevations, as if atmosphere is generally dripping with on the staves of a ladder, the lowest would grimy tears, and the streets are lavishly exhibit a greater charge than the highest. laved with a strong solution of soot. In There is, in fact, generally more rain at fact, the mere mention of a visit to the the foot of a tower than at its top. Nor metropolis of cotton may elicit an exclamis the difference trifling; for, whilst one ation similar to Fuseli's, when proceeding of Dr. Heberden's gauges on the roof of to inspect sone humid paintings of a Westminster Abbey indicated a fall of brother artist : “Give me my coat and 12.099 inches, another at the base showed umbrella : I am going to look at Mr. a depth of 22:608 or nearly twice as Constable's pictures." much.
Sometimes, however, showers of an In similar experiments by Professor Phi- anomolous description have been known lips and Mr. Gray, at York Minster, a de- to fall. Our agriculturist would look posit of 14.903 in. was chronicled at a hight rather blank if he discovered that his rain of two hundred and twelve feet, whilst was salt. Not wishing his farm to be put 25.706 in. of fluid were found in a gauge in pickle, he would decidedly object to a on the ground. A difference in altitude precipitation of brine. When such cases of seventy yards thus made a difference have occurred, the trees have been found of seventy per cent in the amount of rain. whitened by the crystals, and the herbage To explain this curious circumstance it is has become so pungent that the cattle generally supposed that the drops, which could not touch it until compelled by are exceedingly small at the commence- hunger; and though there could be no ment of their journey from the cloud, are difficulty in ascribing the origin of these argumented by the condensation of vapor, saline particles to the sea, whence they or that they pick up moisture as they tum- had doubtless been whirled by high ble through the humid strata they must winds, yet a storm of chloride of sodium necessarily traverse. It should be observ- has been experienced in Suffolk, at a ed, however, that the quantity of rain distance of twenty miles from the ocean. precipitated in any particular region may Or what would our farmer say to a be great, whilst the number of rainy days shower of ashes or dust ? In Zetland, a is comparatively limited. Within the dark powder was once rained from the tropics, where the clouds are most prodi- heavens, and grimed the faces of the gal in their effusions, there are regular people as if it were lampblack. Heavy seasons of dryness, when the natives can drizzles of sand or ashes, the former not reasonably expect any showers; but whisked from the desert, the latter ejected in the temperate zones, an almanac-maker from some volcano, have frequently might book one for any day in the calendar been encountered at sea; and so thickly without appearing to violate a single has the material strewn the decks of passmeteorological law. In England it seems ing vessels that it was necessary to shovel that you ought to be waterproof on an it away like snow. The dust-storms of average for one hundred and fifty-two or India are quaint productions. “The sky one hundred and fifty-five days out of the is clear,” says Mr. Baddeley, “and not a three hundred and sixty-five; in the Neth- breath moving; presently a low bank of erlands for one hundred and seventy; and cloud is seen in the horizon, which you in the east of Ireland for two hundred and are surprised you did not observe before; eight In other words, it rains every other a few seconds have passed, and the cloud day with us, whilst in Siberia it rains only has half-filled the hemisphere; and now one in six; and in the north of Syria, about there is no time to lose-it is a dust-storm
and helter-skelter every one rushes to get did not reject it, but fed in the fields into the house in order to escape being where it lay; and country people who caught in it.” It is, in fact, a revolving had sore heads anointed them with it, spout or shower, with dust for its burden declaring that it healed them. This instead of water.
greasy exudation was supposed by some As little would the gentleman be pleased to have been chemically elaborated in the with a fall of “sulphur.” Yellow rains air, though it is much more probable that have happened in certain quarters of it was an animal product, like the honeyEurope; and from the color of the sub- dew which is excreted by certain insects. stance as well as the readiness with which But better things than ostensible butter it inflamed-matches, it is said, having have been reported in the meteorological been produced by its means in Germany way. “On Saturday last,” so runs a letter
-the good people assumed that it must communicated to the Royal Society in needs consist of genuine brimstone. These 1661, “it was rumored that it rained effusions, however, are now known to be wheat at Tuchbrooke, a village about two botanical. The pollen of the flowers of miles from Warwick. Whereupon some the pine, birch, alder, and other trees is a of the inhabitants of this town went light, yellow material, which may be easily thither, where they saw great quantities transported by the breezes, and deposited on the way, on the fields, and on the leads in the form of a gamboge shower. of the church, castle, and priory, and
More appalling still are the red rains, upon the hearths of the chimneys of the which have been mistaken for blood. chambers. And Arthur Mason, coming Imagine the consternation of weak-minded out of Shropshire, reports that it hath people in the palmy days of superstition, rained the like in many places of the when there was a witch in every hamlet, county. God make us thankful for this and a specter attached to every hall, if the miraculous blessing.” But the learned heavens began to distil gore! In the Society, instead of being grateful for the year 1608, great red drops were observed substance, concluded that it was nothing upon the walls of various building at Aix more than the seeds of ivy-berries conveyand the vicinity; and the event so shooked to the spot by starlings. the nerves of the neighborhood, that the Many, however, are the illegitimate very husbandmen-fellows whose sensa- forms of rain with which that poor agritional fibers were probably as tough if not culturist might be puzzled or tormented. as thick as cart-ropes—ran from the fields He would feel quite cross with the world in order to escape the sanguinary shower, if his lands were visited by a shower of believing it must have originated with grubs or worms such as appeared in the Satan, or some of his myrmidons at least. Government of Tver, in October, 1827; Peiresc scrutinized the marvelous occur- or a rain consisting of herrings, such as rence with some care, and found that it happened at Ula in Argyleshire, in March, was due to a butterfly, which, on passing 1830; or falls of fish of other kinds, such from the chrysalis state, discharged a as have occurred in India and many parts ruddy substance not very dissimilar in of the world; or, worse still, by outpourappearance to blood. In other instances ings of frogs, such as have been experiof red rain, the peculiar hue has been enced in France. In 1804 a cloud burst traced to infusoria, or to the minute cells near Toulouse, and a host of these reptiles of certain vegetables. The red snow of came pattering to the ground, covering the mountain regions is tinged with the the fields so thickly, that in some places Hoematococcus nivalis ; the green snow there were three or four living layers, and with the Protococcus viridis.
paving the high road so profusely that the Perhaps, however, our farmer might be diligence crunched its way through their better pleased if the skies were to secrete bodies for a considerable distance, and a sort of “butter!" Such was the case, thousands were slaughtered beneath the we are assured, in many parts of Munster horses' hoofs. Could the atmosphere and Leinster in the year 1695-6. Ac- well be in a more diseased condition, even cording to the Bishop of Cloyne, the if it were to indulge in that oft-quoted substance was so called from its consist- but rarely-witnessed phenomenon-a rain ency and color, being soft, clammy, and of cats and dogs ? of a dark yellow; it fell in lumps, often But leaving our fancy farmer in the enas large as the end of a finger; the cattle Ijoyment of a genuine shower, let us brief
ly advert to the theory which Mr. Rowell as salt is dissolved in water ; but that só ably but so modestly supports. This when repudiated, the aqueous particles meteorologist has quite a passion for rain. still remained in suspension by adhering He fell in love with the phenomenon whilst to the molecules of air. Mr. Rowell's hya mere boy, and his affection appears to pothesis is : “That the atoms of water behave ripened into philosophical furor being so minute, are, when completely enfore he became a man. From his earliest veloped in their natural coatings of elecdays there seems to have been for him a tricity, rendered so buoyant as to be liable, peculiar charm in a shower, and a fearful even when in their most condensed state, fascination in a thunderstorm. He thought to be carried off by slight currents of air; of them whilst walking, dreamt of them but if expanded by heat, their capacity for whilst sleeping, and in seasons of sickness, electricity being increased by their inwhen the body was incapable of effort, crease of surface, they are then rendered the mind was busily employed in the study buoyant at all times, and are buoyed up of his favorite meteor. Fearing that the into the air by their coatings of electricity; scientific sprite which had taken posses- when, if condensed, they become positively sion of his brain would exert a mischievous electrified, but are still buoyed up by the influence over his health, he made strenu- electricity, till, on the escape of the surous efforts to exorcise the intruder, but to charge, the particles fall as rain.” In little purpose; for a single gleam of light- other words, the water-atoms are enabled ning, or any passing oddity in the weather, to rise when their electric charge is aug. was enough to rekindle the passion of this mented by heat, but compelled to fall cloud-haunted man. Now, familiar as we when the surplus is withdrawn. If the are in practice with the subject of rain, vapor, when condensed by cold, should be the theory is surrounded with a number in a position to part with a portion of its of difficulties—so much so, that in the electricity, the particles will approach each opinion of many, perhaps, we may well other by virtue of their natural attraction, wonder how it could ever rain at all. See- and thus become visible as clouds; but if ing that water is many hundred times the surcharge totally escapes, they will heavier than air, by what means, it has unite into large drops, and descend as been asked, does it climb into the atmo- rain. To explain the peculiarities of a sphere and continue floating in the thin thunder-cloud, Mr. Rowell says that it altitudes which the cirrhi undoubtedly may be regardedattain ? How is the vapor condensed into particles which become visible to the eye; minute particles of water, the former being in
" as a vast mass of electricity interspersed with and compose the various species of cloud ? the proportion of not less than one thousand to Are these particles simply drops of dimin- one of the latter. Let us consider what would utive size-mere water-dust, if we may so be the consequences of a formation of rain in speak—or are they vesicular, that is, little such a cloud. If but a few particles of vapor balloons, consisting of an aqueous film coalesce and form one drop, they would be no with air or vapor inclosed? What is it longer buoyant, and the drop in falling through compels them to condense and occasion- the dense vapor would increase in bulk from ally to descend in torrents, accompanied tricity set free by this agglomeration of parti
contact with other particles. Now, as the elecby fearful explosions of electricity, or to cles would instantaneously pass away, either to freeze into lumps of ice as large as oran- the surface of the cloud or by dispersion amongst ges or pumpkins ?”
the particles composing it, å vacuum or rarefied These, with many other questions, have space would result on the instant of the formabeen thorns in the sides of meteorologists, tion of rain, when the sudden pressure of the which theorists have endeavored to ex- surrounding portion of the cloud into the space tract with various degrees of skill
. Des- would bring more particles into contact, and cartes supposed that the vesicles were lit- more rain would be formed.” tle spheres of water rendered buoyant by Now, we make no attempt to appraise the materia subtilis of space. Dr. Halley the exact quantum of originality which suggested that the rise of the vapor-atoms belongs to this theory. It is true that the might be due to a “flatus, or warm spirit, doctrine of electrical atmospheres has been or perhaps to a certain kind of matter asserted in one form or another by Eeles, whose conatus might be contrary to that Monge, Eason, and other writers, and that of gravity.” Franklin contended that the influence of electricity upon the phenomoisture was dissolved in the atmosphere mena of rain has been maintained by Dr.
Thomson and several eminent men; but portion may disappear after the fashion we can readily believe that Mr. Rowell which these nebulous masses are known has worked out the hypothesis from his to affect. Should the particles, however, own observations, and purely by the aid instead of being vesicular, prove to be of his own intellectual funds. And a solid, as Dr. Waller and others have enneat, handy hypothesis it certainly is. It deavored to show, still the minuteness of satisfies many conditions, and harmonizes the spherules may be sufficient to explain with various well-known facts. Volta, their suspension as clouds, whilst their infor example, discovered that when water crease in size and weight by further conwas converted into vapor it carried away densation should account for their fall as electricity; and it has been clearly ascer- rain. tained that if a vessel be insulated, the Mr. Rowell's theory does not, and inquantity of moisture evaporated in a given deed can not dispense with the agency of time is much less than if it were in free heat. To spiritualize the water into vacommunication with the earth. When por, heat must be absorbed; to secularize this
vapor again is condensed into mist, it into rain, heat must be discharged : 960° we know, from Mr. Crosse's pryings into F. of latent caloric must be received in a November fog, that under certain cir- the one case, rejected in the other. It is cumstances it bristles with electric fire; by augmenting the temperature of the and when it is suddenly precipitated, as in liquid atoms that they are expanded, and thunderstorm, we find the angry fluid their capacity for electricity enlarged; it passing from cloud to cloud in blinding is by lowering that temperature that they flashes, or returning to the earth in death- are subsequently brought into a state of dealing bolts.
surcharge. The question is, therefore, Facts like these must necessarily afford whether we acquire any very substantial considerable countenance to the theory. leverage after all by assuming the existThat it is free from difficulties Mr. Rowellence of “ coatings”—for the point does himself would not wish to assert. With not yet admit of proof-particularly as the regard to the buoyant power of vapor, we materiality of the electric fluid, and therethink that the demand for electrical coat- fore its buoyant qualites, have never been ings is over-estimated. The well-known established.” On the other hand, Mr. Rolaw by which one aeriform fluid spreads well has a right to say that, if the changes through the interstices of another as if the through which vapor runs, in its circulaspace were vacuous, though at a slower tion from earth to heaven and heaven to rate, strips the question of ascent of much earth, can be accomplished by the fluctuaof its mystery. Water-vapor is lighter tions of caloric, as the ordinary theories than air-lighter even than the vapor of imply, may they not be much better effectsuch volatile liquids as muriatic or sul- ed through the combined agency of heat phuric ether. It not only rises eagerly and electricity ? therefore in the atmosphere, but, in the From this theory a curious corollary opinion of Sir John Herschel, carries up may be deduced. An interesting but with it much of the air with which it is somewhat quixotic question has occasionintermixed, disengaging itself no doubt ally been asked-Can we produce rain at from it in its upward progress, to become pleasure? In Africa we know there are entangled, however with fresh particles, Caffre conjurors who profess to perform which again it “carries upward to aban- this feat. With them rain-making is as don them for others.” In like manner, much a business as the manufacture of when the risen vapor undergoes conden- umbrellas or waterproof clothing is with sation, we are inclined to believe that if us. You want a few showers ? certainly! it molds itself into true bubbles or vesi- They can be had for a satisfactory fee. cles, it does so by settling upon the parti. Hasten to the dwelling of the magician, cles of air and imprisoning them within a carrying with you the most seductive preswatery shell, and these, increasing in ents you can command, and if your terms weight by further accessions of moisture, are liberal, the cloud-compelling man will will sink to the earth when they become execute a variety of incantations, and then too ponderous for the medium in which dismiss you with instructions to return in they swim. But as the included air will perfect silence, never once looking back, expand if heated by the sun, we see why but constraining every person you meet a cloud may rise, or its upper and exposed I to turn on his steps and accompany you