The Botanic Garden - A Poem in Two Parts. Part 1: The Economy of Vegetation
by Erasmus Darwin
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5. The immediate cause why the barometer sinks before rain is, first, because a region of warm air, brought to us in the place of the cold air which it had displaced, must weigh lighter, both specifically and absolutely, if the height of the warm atmosphere be supposed to be equal to that of the preceeding cold one. And secondly, after the drops of rain begin to fall in any column of air, that column becomes lighter, the falling drops only adding to the pressure of the air in proportion to the resistance which they meet with in passing through that fluid.

If we could suppose water to be dissolved in air without heat, or in very low degrees of heat, I suppose the air would become heavier, as happens in many chemical solutions, but if water dissolved in the matter of heat, or calorique, be mixed with an aerial solution of water, there can be no doubt but an atmosphere consisting of such a mixture must become lighter in proportion to the quantity of calorique. On the same circumstance depends the visible vapour produced from the breath of animals in cold weather, or from a boiling kettle; the particles of cold air, with which it is mixed, steal a part of its heat, and become themselves raised in temperature, whence part of the water is precipitated in visible vapour, which, if in great quantity sinks to the ground; if in small quantity, and the surrounding air is not previously saturated, it spreads itself till it becomes again dissolved.


Your lucid bands condense with fingers chill The blue mist hovering round the gelid hill.

CANTO III. l. 19.

The surface of the earth consists of strata many of which were formed originally beneath the sea, the mountains were afterwards forced up by subterraneous fires, as appears from the fissures in the rocks of which they consist, the quantity of volcanic productions all over the world, and the numerous remains of craters of volcanos in mountainous countries. Hence the strata which compose the sides of mountains lie slanting downwards, and one or two or more of the external strata not reaching to the summit when the mountain was raised up, the second or third stratum or a more inferior one is there exposed to day; this may be well represented by forceably thrusting a blunt instrument through several sheets of paper, a bur will stand up with the lowermost sheet standing highest in the center of it. On this uppermost stratum, which is colder as it is more elevated, the dews are condensed in large quantities; and sliding down pass under the first or second or third stratum which compose the sides of the hill; and either form a morass below, or a weeping rock, by oozing out in numerous places, or many of these less currents meeting together burst out in a more copious rill.

The summits of mountains are much colder than the plains in their vicinity, owing to several causes; 1. Their being in a manner insulated or cut off from the common heat of the earth, which is always of 48 degrees, and perpetually counteracts the effects of external cold beneath that degree. 2. From their surfaces being larger in proportion to their solid contents, and hence their heat more expeditiously carried away by the ever-moving atmosphere. 3. The increasing rarity of the air as the mountain rises. All those bodies which conduct electricity well or ill, conduct the matter of heat likewise well or ill. See note VII. Atmospheric air is a bad conductor of electricity and thence confines it on the body where it is accumulated, but when it is made very rare, as in the exhausted receiver, the electric aura passes away immediately to any distance. The same circumstance probably happens in respect to heat, which is thus kept by the denser air on the plains from escaping, but is dissipated on the hills where the air is thinner. 4. As the currents of air rise up the sides of mountains they become mechanically rarefied, the pressure of the incumbent column lessening as they ascend. Hence the expanding air absorbs heat from the mountain as it ascends, as explained in note VII. 5. There is another, and perhaps more powerful cause, I suspect, which may occasion the great cold on mountains, and in the higher parts of the atmosphere, and which has not yet been attended to; I mean that the fluid matter of heat may probably gravitate round the earth, and form an atmosphere on its surface, mixed with the aerial atmosphere, which may diminish or become rarer, as it recedes from the earth's surface, in a greater proportion than the air diminishes.

6. The great condensation of moisture on the summits of hills has another cause, which is the dashing of moving clouds against them, in misty days this is often seen to have great effect on plains, where an eminent tree by obstructing the mist as it moves along shall have a much greater quantity of moisture drop from its leaves than falls at the same time on the ground in its vicinity. Mr. White, in his History of Selborne gives an account of a large tree so situated, from which a stream flowed during a moving mist so as to fill the cart-ruts in a lane otherwise not very moist, and ingeniously adds, that trees planted about ponds of stagnant water contribute much by these means to supply the reservoir. The spherules which constitute a mist or cloud are kept from uniting by so small a power that a little agitation against the leaves of a tree, or the greater attraction of a flat moist surface, condenses or precipitates them.

If a leaf has its surface moistened and particles of water separate from each other as in a mist be brought near the moistened surface of a leaf, each particle will be attracted more by that plain surface of water on the leaf than it can be by the surrounding particles of the mist, because globules only attract each other in one point, whereas a plain attracts a globule by a greater extent of its surface.

The common cold springs are thus formed on elevated grounds by the condensed vapours, and hence are stronger when the nights are cold after hot days in spring, than even in the wet days of winter. For the warm atmosphere during the day has dissolved much more water than it can support in solution during the cold of the night, which is thus deposited in large quantities on the hills, and yet so gradually as to soak in between the strata of them, rather than to slide off over their surfaces like showers of rain. The common heat of the internal parts of the earth is ascertained by springs which arise from strata of earth too deep to be affected by the heat of summer or the frosts of winter. Those in this country are of 48 degrees of heat, those about Philidelphia were said by Dr. Franklin to be 52; whether this variation is to be accounted for by the difference of the sun's heat on that country, according to the ingenious theory of Mr. Kirwan, or to the vicinity of subterranean fires is not yet, I think, decided. There are however subterraneous streams of water not exactly produced in this manner, as streams issuing from fissures in the earth, communicating with the craters of old volcanoes; in the Peak of Derbyshire are many hollows, called swallows, where the land floods sink into the earth, and come out at some miles distant, as at Ilam near Ashborne. See note on Fica, Vol. II.

Other streams of cold water arise from beneath the snow on the Alps and Andes, and other high mountains, which is perpetualy thawing at its under surface by the common heat of the earth, and gives rise to large rivers. For the origin of warm springs see note on Fucus, Vol. II.


You round Echinus ray his arrowy mail, Give the keel'd Nautilus his oar and sail. Firm to his rock with silver cords suspend The anchored Pinna, and his Cancer-friend.

CANTO III. l. 67.

The armour of the Echinus, or Sea-hedge Hog, consists generally of moveable spines; (Linnei System. Nat. Vol. I. p. 1102.) and in that respect resembles the armour of the land animal of the same name. The irregular protuberances on other sea-shells, as on some species of the Purpura, and Murex, serve them as a fortification against the attacks of their enemies.

It is said that this animal foresees tempestuous weather, and sinking to the bottom of the sea adheres firmly to sea-plants, or other bodies by means of a substance which resembles the horns of snails. Above twelve hundred of these fillets have been counted by which this animal fixes itself; and when afloat, it contracts these fillets between the bases of its points, the number of which often amounts to two thousand. Dict raisonne. art. Oursin. de mer.

There is a kind of Nautilus, called by Linneus, Argonauta, whose shell has but one cell; of this animal Pliny affirms, that having exonerated its shell by throwing out the water, it swims upon the surface, extending a web of wonderful tenuity, and bending back two of its arms and rowing with the rest, makes a sail, and at length receiving the water dives again. Plin. IX. 29. Linneus adds to his description of this animal, that like the Crab Diogenes or Bernhard, it occupies a house not its own, as it is not connected to its shell, and is therefore foreign to it; who could have given credit to this if it had not been attested by so many who have with their own eyes seen this argonaut in the act of sailing? Syst. Nat p. 1161.

The Nautilus, properly so named by Linneus, has a shell consisting of many chambers, of which cups are made in the East with beautiful painting and carving on the mother-pearl. The animal is said to inhabit only the uppermost or open chamber, which is larger than the rest; and that the rest remain empty except that the pipe, or siphunculus, which communicates from one to the other of them is filled with an appendage of the animal like a gut or string. Mr. Hook in his Philos. Exper. p. 306, imagines this to be a dilatable or compressible tube, like the air- bladders of fish, and that by contracting or permitting it to expand, it renders its shell boyant or the contrary. See Note on Ulva, Vol. II.

The Pinna, or Sea-wing, is contained in a two-valve shell, weighing sometimes fifteen pounds, and emits a beard of fine long glossy silk- like fibres, by which it is suspended to the rocks twenty or thirty feet beneath the surface of the sea. In this situation it is so successfully attacked by the eight-footed Polypus, that the species perhaps could not exist but for the exertions of the Cancer Pinnotheris, who lives in the same shell as a guard and companion. Amoen. Academ. Vol. II. p. 48. Lin. Syst. Nat. Vol. I. p. 1159, and p. 1040.

The Pinnotheris, or Pinnophylax, is a small crab naked like Bernard the Hermit, but is furnished with good eyes, and lives in the same shell with the Pinna; when they want food the Pinna opens its shell, and sends its faithful ally to forage; but if the Cancer sees the Polypus, he returns suddenly to the arms of his blind hostess, who by closing the shell avoids the fury of her enemy; otherwise, when it has procured a booty, it brings it to the opening of the shell, where it is admitted, and they divide the prey. This was observed by Haslequist in his voyage to Palestine.

The Byssus of the antients, according to Aristotle, was the beard of the Pinna above mentioned, but seems to have been used by other writers indiscriminately for any spun material, which was esteemed finer or more valuable than wool. Reaumur says the threads of this Byssus are not less fine or less beautiful than the silk, as it is spun by the silk-worm; the Pinna on the coasts of Italy and Provence (where it is fished up by iron-hooks fixed on long poles) is called the silk-worm of the sea. The stockings and gloves manufactured from it, are of exquisite fineness, but too warm for common wear, and are thence esteemed useful in rhumatism and gout. Dict. raisonne art. Pinne-marine. The warmth of the Byssus, like that of silk, is probably owing to their being bad conductors of heat, as well as of electricity. When these fibres are broken by violence, this animal as well as the muscle has the power to reproduce them like the common spiders, as was observed by M. Adanson. As raw silk, and raw cobwebs, when swallowed, are liable to produce great sickness (as I am informed) it is probable the part of muscles, which sometimes disagrees with the people who eat them, may be this silky web, by which they attach themselves to stones. The large kind of Pinna contains some mother-pearl of a reddish tinge, according to M. d'Argenville. The substance sold under the name of Indian weed, and used at the bottom of fish-lines, is probably a production of this kind; which however is scarcely to be distinguished by the eye from the tendons of a rat's tail, after they have been separated by putrefaction in water, and well cleaned and rubbed; a production, which I was once shewn as a great curiosity; it had the uppermost bone of the tail adhering to it, and was said to have been used as an ornament in a lady's hair.


With worm-like hard his toothless lips array, And teach the unweildy Sturgeon to betray.

CANTO III. l. 71.

The Sturgeon, Acipenser, Strurio. Lin. Syst. Nat. Vol. I. p. 403. is a fish of great curiosity as well as of great importance; his mouth is placed under the head, without teeth, like the opening of a purse, which he has the power to push suddenly out or retract. Before this mouth under the beak or nose hang four tendrils some inches long, and which so resemble earth-worms that at first sight they may be mistaken for them. This clumsy toothless fish is supposed by this contrivance to keep himself in good condition, the solidity of his flesh evidently shewing him to be a fish of prey. He is said to hide his large body amongst the weeds near the sea-coast, or at the mouths of large rivers, only exposing his cirrhi or tendrils, which small fish or sea-insects mistaking for real worms approach for plunder, and are sucked into the jaws of their enemy. He has been supposed by some to root into the soil at the bottom of the sea or rivers; but the cirrhi, or tendrills abovementioned, which hang from his snout over his mouth, must themselves be very inconvenient for this purpose, and as it has no jaws it evidently lives by suction, and during its residence in the sea a quantity of sea-insects are found in its stomach.

The flesh was so valued in the time of the Emperor Severus, that it was brought to table by servants with coronets on their heads, and preceded by music, which might give rise to its being in our country presented by the Lord Mayor to the King. At present it is caught in the Danube, and the Walga, the Don, and other large rivers for various purposes. The skin makes the best covering for carriages; isinglass is prepared from parts of the skin; cavear from the spawn; and the flesh is pickled or salted, and sent all over Europe.


Who with fine films, suspended o'er the deep, Of Oil effusive lull the waves to sleep.

CANTO III. l. 87.

There is reason to believe that when oil is poured upon water, the two surfaces do not touch each other, but that the oil is suspended over the water by their mutual repulsion. This seems to be rendered probable by the following experiment: if one drop of oil be droped on a bason of water, it will immediately diffuse itself over the whole, for there being no friction between the two surfaces, there is nothing to prevent its spreading itself by the gravity of the upper part of it, except its own tenacity, into a pellicle of the greatest tenuity. But if a second drop of oil be put upon the former, it does not spread itself, but remains in the form of a drop, as the other already occupied the whole surface of the bason, and there is friction in oil passing over oil, though none in oil passing over water.

Hence when oil is diffused on the surface of water gentle breezes have no influence in raising waves upon it; for a small quantity of oil will cover a very great surface of water, (I suppose a spoonful will diffuse itself over some acres) and the wind blowing upon this carries it gradually forwards; and there being no friction between the two surfaces the water is not affected. On which account oil has no effect in stilling the agitation of the water after the wind ceases, as was found by the experiments of Dr. Franklin.

This circumstance lately brought into notice by Dr. Franklin had been mentioned by Pliny, and is said to be in use by the divers for pearls, who in windy weather take down with them a little oil in their mouths, which they occasionally give out when the inequality of the supernatant waves prevents them from seeing sufficiently distinctly for their purpose.

The wonderful tenuity with which oil can be spread upon water is evinced by a few drops projected from a bridge, where the eye is properly placed over it, passing through all the prismatic colours as it diffuses itself. And also from another curious experiment of Dr. Franklin's: he cut a piece of cork to about the size of a letter-wafer, leaving a point standing off like a tangent at one edge of the circle. This piece of cork was then dipped in oil and thrown into a large pond of water, and as the oil flowed off at the point, the cork-wafer continued to revolve in a contrary direction for several minutes. The oil flowing off all that time at the pointed tangent in coloured streams. In a small pond of water this experiment does not so well succeed, as the circulation of the cork stops as soon as the water becomes covered with the pellicle of oil. See Additional Note, No. XIII. and Note on Fucus, Vol. II.

The ease with which oil and water slide over each other is agreeably seen if a phial be about half filled with equal parts of oil and water, and made to oscillate suspended by a string, the upper surface of the oil and the lower one of the water will always keep smooth; but the agitation of the surfaces where the oil and water meet, is curious; for their specific gravities being not very different, and their friction on each other nothing, the highest side of the water, as the phial descends in its oscillation, having acquired a greater momentum than the lowest side (from its having descended further) would rise the highest on the ascending side of the oscillation, and thence pushes the then uppermost part of the water amongst the oil.


Meet fell Teredo, as he mines the keel With beaked head, and break his lips of steel.

CANTO III. l. 91.

The Teredo, or ship-worm, has two calcareous jaws, hemispherical, flat before, and angular behind. The shell is taper, winding, penetrating ships and submarine wood, and was brought from India into Europe, Linnei System. Nat. p. 1267. The Tarieres, or sea-worms, attack and erode ships with such fury, and in such numbers, as often greatly to endanger them. It is said that our vessels have not known this new enemy above fifty years, that they were brought from the sea about the Antilles to our parts of the ocean, where they have increased prodigiously. They bore their passage in the direction of the fibres of the wood, which is their nourishment, and cannot return or pass obliquely, and thence when they come to a knot in the wood, or when two of them meet together with their stony mouths, they perish for want of food.

In the years 1731 and 1732 the United Provinces were under a dreadful alarm concerning these insects, which had made great depredation on the piles which support the banks of Zeland, but it was happily discovered a few years afterwards that these insects had totally abandoned that island, (Dict Raisonne, art, Vers Rongeurs,) which might have been occasioned by their not being able to live in that latitude when the winter was rather severer than usual.


Turn the broad helm, the fluttering canvas urge From Maelstrom's fierce innavigable surge.

CANTO III. l. 93.

On the coast of Norway there is an extensive vortex, or eddy, which lies between the islands of Moskoe and Moskenas, and is called Moskoestrom, or Maelstrom; it occupies some leagues in circumference, and is said to be very dangerous and often destructive to vessels navigating these seas. It is not easy to understand the existence of a constant descending stream without supposing it must pass through a subterranean cavity to some other part of the earth or ocean which may lie beneath its level; as the Mediterranean seems to lie beneath the level of the Atlantic ocean, which therefore constantly flows into it through the Straits; and the waters of the Gulph of Mexico lie much above the level of the sea about the Floridas and further northward, which gives rise to the Gulph-stream, as described in note on Cassia in Vol. II.

The Maelstrom is said to be still twice in about twenty-four hours when the tide is up, and most violent at the opposite times of the day. This is not difficult to account for, since when so much water is brought over the subterraneous passage, if such exists, as compleatly to fill it and stand many feet above it, less disturbance must appear on the surface. The Maelstrom is described in the Memoires of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Pontoppiden's Hist. of Norway, and in Universal Museum for 1763, p. 131.

The reason why eddies of water become hollow in the middle is because the water immediately over the centre of the well, or cavity, falls faster, having less friction to oppose its descent, than the water over the circumference or edges of the well. The circular motion or gyration of eddies depends on the obliquity of the course of the stream, or to the friction or opposition to it being greater on one side of the well than the other; I have observed in water passing through a hole in the bottom of a trough, which was always kept full, the gyration of the stream might be turned either way by increasing the opposition of one side of the eddy with ones finger, or by turning the spout, through which the water was introduced, a little more obliquely to the hole on one side or on the other. Lighter bodies are liable to be retained long in eddies of water, while those rather heavier than water are soon thrown out beyond the circumference by their acquired momentum becoming greater than that of the water. Thus if equal portions of oil and water be put into a phial, and by means of a string be whirled in a circle round the hand, the water will always keep at the greater distance from the centre, whence in the eddies formed in rivers during a flood a person who endeavours to keep above water or to swim is liable to be detained in them, but on suffering himself to sink or dive he is said readily to escape. This circulation of water in descending through a hole in a vessel Dr. Franklin has ingeniously applied to the explanation of hurricanes or eddies of air.


While round dark crags imprison'd waters bend Through rifted ice, in ivory veins descend.

CANTO III. l. 113.

The common heat of the interior parts of the earth being always 48 degrees, both in winter and summer, the snow which lies in contact with it is always in a thawing state; Hence in ice-houses the external parts of the collection of ice is perpetually thawing and thus preserves the internal part of it; so that it is necessary to lay up many tons for the preservation of one ton. Hence in Italy considerable rivers have their source from beneath the eternal glaciers, or mountains of snow and ice.

In our country when the air in the course of a frost continues a day or two at very near 32 degrees, the common heat of the earth thaws the ice on its surface, while the thermometer remains at the freezing point. This circumstance is often observable in the rimy mornings of spring; the thermometer shall continue at the freezing point, yet all the rime will vanish, except that which happens to lie on a bridge, a board, or on a cake of cow-dung, which being thus as it were insulated or cut off from so free a communication with the common heat of the earth by means of the air under the bridge, or wood, or dung, which are bad conductors of heat, continues some time longer unthawed. Hence when the ground is covered thick with snow, though the frost continues, and the sun does not shine, yet the snow is observed to decrease very sensibly. For the common heat of the earth melts the under surface of it, and the upper one evaporates by its solution in the air. The great evaporation of ice was observed by Mr. Boyle, which experiment I repeated some time ago. Having suspended a piece of ice by a wire and weighed it with care without touching it with my hand, I hung it out the whole of a clear frosty night, and found in the morning it had lost nearly a fifth of its weight. Mr. N. Wallerius has since observed that ice at the time of its congelation evaporates faster than water in its fluid form; which may be accounted for from the heat given out at the instant of freezing; (Saussure's Essais sur Hygromet. p. 249.) but this effect is only momentary.

Thus the vegetables that are covered with snow are seldom injured; since, as they lie between the thawing snow, which has 32 degrees of heat, and the covered earth which has 48, they are preserved in a degree of heat between these; viz. in 40 degrees of heat. Whence the moss on which the rein-deer feed in the northern latitudes vegetates beneath the snow; (See note on Muschus, Vol. II.) and hence many Lapland and Alpine plants perished through cold in the botanic garden at Upsal, for in their native situations, though the cold is much more intense, yet at its very commencement they are covered deep with snow, which remains till late in the spring. For this fact see Amaenit. Academ. Vol. I. No. 48. In our climate such plants do well covered with dried fern, under which they will grow, and even flower, till the severe vernal frosts cease. For the increase of glaciers see Note on Canto I. l. 529.


While southern gales o'er western oceans roll, And Eurus steals his ice-winds from the pole.

CANTO IV. l. 15.

The theory of the winds is yet very imperfect, in part perhaps owing to the want of observations sufficiently numerous of the exact times and places where they begin and cease to blow, but chiefly to our yet imperfect knowledge of the means by which great regions of air are either suddenly produced or suddenly destroyed.

The air is perpetually subject to increase or diminution from its combination with other bodies, or its evolution from them. The vital part of the air, called oxygene, is continually produced in this climate from the perspiration of vegetables in the sunshine, and probably from the action of light on clouds or on water in the tropical climates, where the sun has greater power, and may exert some yet unknown laws of luminous combination. Another part of the atmosphere, which is called azote, is perpetually set at liberty from animal and vegetable bodies by putrefaction or combustion, from many springs of water, from volatile alcali, and probably from fixed alcali, of which there is an exhaustless source in the water of the ocean. Both these component parts of the air are perpetually again diminished by their contact with the soil, which covers the surface of the earth, producing nitre. The oxygene is diminished in the production of all acids, of which the carbonic and muriatic exist in great abundance. The azote is diminished in the growth of animal bodies, of which it constitutes an important part, and in its combinations with many other natural productions.

They are both probably diminished in immense quantities by uniting with the inflammable air, which arises from the mud of rivers and lakes at some seasons, when the atmosphere is light: the oxygene of the air producing water, and the azote producing volatile alcali by their combinations with this inflammable air. At other seasons of the year these principles may again change their combinations, and the atmospheric air be reproduced.

Mr. Lavoisier found that one pound of charcoal in burning consumed two pounds nine ounces of vital air, or oxygene. The consumption of vital air in the process of making red lead may readily be reduced to calculation; a small barrel contains about twelve hundred weight of this commodity, 1200 pounds of lead by calcination absorb about 144 pounds of vital air; now as a cubic foot of water weighs 1000 averdupois ounces, and as vital air is above 800 times lighter than water, it follows that every barrel of red lead contains nearly 2000 cubic feet of vital air. If this can be performed in miniature in a small oven, what may not be done in the immense elaboratories of nature!

These great elaboratories of nature include almost all her fossil as well as her animal and vegetable productions. Dr. Priestley obtained air of greater or less purity, both vital and azotic, from almost all the fossil substances he subjected to experiment. Four ounce-weight of lava from Iceland heated in an earthen retort yielded twenty ounce-measures of air.

4 ounce-weight of lava gave 20 ounce measures of air. 7 ............... basaltes .... 104 ...................... 2 ............... toadstone .... 40 ...................... 11/2 ............... granite .... 20 ...................... 1 ............... elvain .... 30 ...................... 7 ............... gypsum .... 230 ...................... 4 ............... blue slate .... 230 ...................... 4 ............... clay .... 20 ...................... 4 ............... limestone-spar .... 830 ...................... 5 ............... limestone .... 1160 ...................... 3 ............... chalk .... 630 ...................... 31/2 ............... white iron-ore .... 560 ...................... 4 ............... dark iron-ore .... 410 ...................... 1/2 ............... molybdena .... 25 ...................... 1/2 ............... stream tin .... 20 ...................... 2 ............... steatites .... 40 ...................... 2 ............... barytes .... 26 ...................... 2 ............... black wad .... 80 ...................... 4 ............... sand stone .... 75 ...................... 3 ............... coal .... 700 ......................

In this account the fixed air was previously extracted from the limestones by acids, and the heat applied was much less than was necessary to extract all the air from the bodies employed. Add to this the known quantities of air which are combined with the calciform ores, as the ochres of iron, manganese, calamy, grey ore of lead, and some idea may be formed of the great production of air in volcanic eruptions, as mentioned in note on Chunda, Vol. II. and of the perpetual absorptions and evolutions of whole oceans of air from every part of the earth.

But there would seem to be an officina aeris, a shop where air is both manufactured and destroyed in the greatest abundance within the polar circles, as will hereafter be spoken of. Can this be effected by some yet unknown law of the congelation of aqueous or saline fluids, which may set at liberty their combined heat, and convert a part both of the acid and alcali of sea-water into their component airs? Or on the contrary can the electricity of the northern lights convert inflammable air and oxygene into water, whilst the great degree of cold at the poles unites the azote with some other base? Another officina aeris, or manufacture of air, would seem to exist within the tropics or at the line, though in a much less quantity than at the poles, owing perhaps to the action of the sun's light on the moisture suspended in the air, as will also be spoken of hereafter; but in all other parts of the earth these absorptions and evolutions of air in a greater or less degree are perpetually going on in inconceivable abundance; increased probably, and diminished at different seasons of the year by the approach or retrocession of the sun's light; future discoveries must elucidate this part of the subject. To this should be added that as heat and electricity, and perhaps magnetism, are known to displace air, that it is not impossible but that the increased or diminished quantities of these fluids diffused in the atmosphere may increase its weight a well as its bulk; since their specific attractions or affinities to matter are very strong, they probably also possess general gravitation to the earth; a subject which wants further investigation. See Note XXVI.


The velocity of the surface of the earth in moving round its axis diminishes from the equator to the poles. Whence if a region of air in this country should be suddenly removed a few degrees towards the north it must constitute a western wind, because from the velocity it had previously acquired in this climate by its friction with the earth it would for a time move quicker than the surface of the country it was removed to; the contrary must ensue when a region of air is transported from this country a few degrees southward, because the velocity it had acquired in this climate would be less than that of the earth's surface where it was removed to, whence it would appear to constitute a wind from the east, while in reality the eminent parts of the earth would be carried against the too slow air. But if this transportation of air from south to north be performed gradually, the motion of the wind will blow in the diagonal between south and west. And on the contrary if a region of air be gradually removed from north to south it would also blow diagonally between the north and east, from whence we may safely conclude that all our winds in this country which blow from the north or east, or any point between them, consist of regions of air brought from the north; and that all our winds blowing from the south or west, or from any point between them, are regions of air brought from the south.

It frequently happens during the vernal months that after a north-east wind has passed over us for several weeks, during which time the barometer has flood at above 301/2 inches, it becomes suddenly succeeded by a south-west wind, which also continues several weeks, and the barometer sinks to nearly 281/2 inches. Now as two inches of the mercury in the barometer balance one-fifteenth part of the whole atmosphere, an important question here presents itself, what is become of all this air.

1. This great quantity of air can not be carried in a superior current towards the line, while the inferior current slows towards the poles, because then it would equally affect the barometer, which should not therefore subside from 301/2 inches to 281/2 for six weeks together.

2. It cannot be owing to the air having lost all the moisture which was previously dissolved in it, because these warm south-west winds are replete with moisture, and the cold north-east winds, which weigh up the mercury in the barometer to 31 inches, consist of dry air.

3. It can not be carried over the polar regions and be accumulated on the meridian, opposite to us in its passage towards the line, as such an accumulation would equal one-fifteenth of the whole atmosphere, and can not be supposed to remain in that situation for six weeks together.

4. It can not depend on the existence of tides in the atmosphere, since it must then correspond to lunar periods. Nor to accumulations of air from the specific levity of the upper regions of the atmosphere, since its degree of fluidity must correspond with its tenuity, and consequently such great mountains of air can not be supposed to exist for so many weeks together as the south west winds sometimes continue.

5. It remains therefore that there must be at this time a great and sudden absorption of air in the polar circle by some unknown operation of nature, and that the south wind runs in to supply the deficiency. Now as this south wind consists of air brought from a part of the earth's surface which moves faster than it does in this climate it must have at the same time a direction from the west by retaining part of the velocity it had previously acquired. These south-west winds coming from a warmer country, and becoming colder by their contact with the earth of this climate, and by their expansion, (so great a part of the superincumbent atmosphere having vanished,) precipitate their moisture; and as they continue for several weeks to be absorbed in the polar circle would seem to receive a perpetual supply from the tropical regions, especially over the line, as will hereafter be spoken of.

It may sometimes happen that a north-east wind having passed over us may be bent down and driven back before it has acquired any heat from the climate, and may thus for a few hours or a day have a south-west direction, and from its descending from a higher region of the atmosphere may possess a greater degree of cold than an inferior north east current of air.

The extreme cold of Jan. 13, 1709, at Paris came on with a gentle south wind, and was diminished when the wind changed to the north, which is accounted for by Mr. Homberg from a reflux of air which had been flowing for some time from the north. Chemical Essays by R. Watson, Vol. V. p. 182.

It may happen that a north-east current may for a day or two pass over us and produce incessant rain by mixing with the inferior south-west current; but this as well as the former is of short duration, as its friction will soon carry the inferior current along with it, and dry or frosty weather will then succeed.


The north-east winds of this country consist of regions of air from the north, travelling sometimes at the rate of about a mile in two minutes during the vernal months for several weeks together from the polar regions toward the south, the mercury in the barometer standing above 30. These winds consist of air greatly cooled by the evaporation of the ice and snow over which it passes, and as they become warmer by their contact with the earth of this climate are capable of dissolving more moisture as they pass along, and are thence attended with frosts in winter and with dry hot weather in summer.

1. This great quantity of air can not be supplied by superior currents passing in a contrary direction from south to north, because such currents must as they arise into the atmosphere a mile or two high become exposed to so great cold as to occasion them to deposit their moisture, which would fall through the inferior current upon the earth in some part of their passage.

2. The whole atmosphere must have increased in quantity, because it appears by the barometer that there exists one-fifteenth part more air over us for many weeks together, which could not be thus accumulated by difference of temperature in respect to heat, or by any aerostatic laws at present known, or by any lunar influence.

From whence it would appear that immense masses of air were set at liberty from their combinations with solid bodies, along with a sufficient quantity of combined heat, within the polar circle, or in some region to the north of us; and that they thus perpetually increase the quantity of the atmosphere; and that this is again at certain times re-absorbed, or enters into new combinations at the line or tropical regions. By which wonderful contrivance the atmosphere is perpetually renewed and rendered fit for the support of animal and vegetable life.


The south-east winds of this country consist of air from the north which had passed by us, or over us, and before it had obtained the velocity of the earth's surface in this climate had been driven back, owing to a deficiency of air now commencing at the polar regions. Hence these are generally dry or freezing winds, and if they succeed north-east winds should prognosticate a change of wind from north-east to south-west; the barometer is generally about 30. They are sometimes attended with cloudy weather, or rain, owing to their having acquired an increased degree of warmth and moisture before they became retrograde; or to their being mixed with air from the south.

2. Sometimes these south-east winds consist of a vertical eddy of north- east air, without any mixture of south-west air; in that case the barometer continues above 30, and the weather is dry or frosty for four or five days together.

It should here be observed, that air being an elastic fluid must be more liable to eddies than water, and that these eddies must extend into cylinders or vortexes of greater diameter, and that if a vertical eddy of north-east air be of small diameter or has passed but a little way to the south of us before its return, it will not have gained the velocity of the earth's surface to the south of us, and will in consequence become a south-east wind.—But if the vertical eddy be of large diameter, or has passed much to the south of us, it will have acquired velocity from its friction with the earth's surface to the south of us, and will in consequence on its return become a south-west wind, producing great cold.


There seem to be three sources of the north-west winds of this hemisphere of the earth. 1. When a portion of southern air, which was passing over us, is driven back by accumulation of new air in the polar regions. In this case I suppose they are generally moist or rainy winds, with the barometer under 30, and if the wind had previously been in the south-west, it would seem to prognosticate a change to the north-east.

2. If a current of north wind is passing over us but a few miles high, without any easterly direction; and is bent down upon us, it must immediately possess a westerly direction, because it will now move faster than the surface of the earth where it arrives; and thus becomes changed from a north-east to a north-west wind. This descent of a north- east current of air producing a north-west wind may continue some days with clear or freezing weather, as it may be simply owing to a vertical eddy of north-east air, as will be spoken of below. It may otherwise be forced down by a current of south-west wind passing over it, and in this case it will be attended with rain for a few days by the mixture of the two airs of different degrees of heat; and will prognosticate a change of wind from north-east to south-west if the wind was previously in the north-east quarter.

3. On the eastern coast of North America the north-west winds bring frost, as the north-east winds do in this country, as appears from variety of testimony. This seems to happen from a vertical spiral eddy made in the atmosphere between the shore and the ridge of mountains which form the spine or back-bone of that continent. If a current of water runs along the hypothenuse of a triangle an eddy will be made in the included angle, which will turn round like a water-wheel as the stream passes in contact with one edge of it. The same must happen when a sheet of air flowing along from the north-east rises from the shore in a straight line to the summit of the Apalachian mountains, a part of the stream of north-east air will flow over the mountains, another part will revert and circulate spirally between the summit of the country and the eastern shore, continuing to move toward the south; and thus be changed from a north-east to a north-west wind.

This vertical spiral eddy having been in contact with the cold summits of these mountains, and descending from higher parts of the atmosphere will lose part of its heat, and thus constitute one cause of the greater coldness of the eastern sides of North America than of the European shores opposite to them, which is said to be equal to twelve degrees of north latitude, which is a wonderful fact, not otherwise easy to be explained, since the heat of the springs at Philadelphia is said to be 50, which is greater than the medium heat of the earth in this country.

The existence of vertical eddies, or great cylinders of air rolling on the surface of the earth, is agreeable to the observations of the constructors of windmills; who on this idea place the area of the sails leaning backwards, inclined to the horizon; and believe that then they have greater power than when they are placed quite perpendicularly. The same kind of rolling cylinders of water obtain in rivers owing to the friction of the water against the earth at their bottoms; as is known by bodies having been observed to float upon their surfaces quicker than when immersed to a certain depth. These vertical eddies of air probably exist all over the earth's surface, but particularly at the bottom or sides of mountains; and more so probably in the course of the south-west than of the north-east winds; because the former fall from an eminence, as it were, on a part of the earth where there is a deficiency of the quantity of air; as is shewn by the sinking of the barometer: whereas the latter are pushed or squeezed forward by an addition to the atmosphere behind them, as appears by the rising of the barometer.


A column of heated air becomes lighter than before, and will therefore ascend, by the pressure of the cold air which surrounds it, like a cork in water, or like heated smoke in a chimney.

Now as the sun passes twice over the equator for once over either tropic, the equator has not time to become cool; and on this account it is in general hotter at the line than at the tropics; and therefore the air over the line, except in some few instances hereafter to be mentioned, continues to ascend at all seasons of the year, pressed upwards by regions of air brought from the tropics.

This air thus brought from the tropics to the equator, would constitute a north wind on one side of the equator, and a south wind on the other; but as the surface of the earth at the equator moves quicker than the surface of the earth at the tropics, it is evident that a region of air brought from either tropic to the equator, and which had previously only acquired the velocity of the earth's surface at the tropics, will now move too slow for the earth's surface at the equator, and will thence appear to move in a direction contrary to the motion of the earth. Hence the trade-winds, though they consist of regions of air brought from the north on one side of the line, and from the south on the other, will appear to have the diagonal direction of north-east and south-west winds.

Now it is commonly believed that there are superior currents of air passing over these north-east and south-west currents in a contrary direction, and which descending near the tropics produce vertical whirlpools of air. An important question here again presents itself, What becomes of the moisture which this heated air ought to deposit, as it cools in the upper regions of the atmosphere in its journey to the tropics? It has been shewn by Dr. Priestley and Mr. Ingenhouz that the green matter at the bottom of cisterns, and the fresh leaves of plants immersed in water, give out considerable quantities of vital air in the sun-shine; that is, the perspirable matter of plants (which is water much divided in its egress from their minute pores) becomes decomposed by the sun's light, and converted into two kinds of air, the vital and inflammable airs. The moisture contained or dissolved in the ascending heated air at the line must exist in great tenuity; and by being exposed to the great light of the sun in that climate, the water may be decomposed, and the new airs spread on the atmosphere from the line to the poles.

1. From there being no constant deposition of rains in the usual course of the trade-winds, it would appear that the water rising at the line is decomposed in its ascent.

2. From the observations of M. Bougner on the mountain Pinchinca, one of the Cordelieres immediately under the line, there appears to be no condensible vapour above three or four miles high. Now though the atmosphere at that height may be cold to a very considerable degree; yet its total deprivation of condensible vapour would seem to shew, that its water was decomposed; as there are no experiments to evince that any degree of cold hitherto known has been able to deprive air of its moisture; and great abundance of snow is deposited from the air that flows to the polar regions, though it is exposed to no greater degrees of cold in its journey thither than probably exists at four miles height in the atmosphere at the line.

3. The hygrometer of Mr. Sauffure also pointed to dryness as he ascended into rarer air; the single hair of which it was constructed, contracting from deficiency of moisture. Essais sur l'Hygromet. p. 143.

From these observations it appears either that rare and cold air requires more moisture to saturate it than dense air; or that the moisture becomes decomposed and converted into air, as it ascends into these cold and rare regions of the atmosphere.

4. There seems some analogy between the circumstance of air being produced or generated in the cold parts of the atmosphere both at the line and at the poles.


1. In the Arabian and Indian seas are winds, which blow six months one way, and six months the other, and are called Monsoons; by the accidental dispositions of land and sea it happens, that in some places the air near the tropic is supposed to become warmer when the sun is vertical over it, than at the line. The air in these places consequently ascends pressed upon one side by the north-east regions of air, and on the other side by the south-west regions of air. For as the air brought from the south has previously obtained the velocity of the earth's surface at the line, it moves faster than the earth's surface near the tropic where it now arrives, and becomes a south-west wind, while the air from the north becomes a north-east wind as before explained. These two winds do not so quietly join and ascend as the north-east and south-east winds, which meet at the line with equal warmth and velocity and form the trade-winds; but as they meet in contrary directions before they ascend, and cannot be supposed accurately to balance each other, a rotatory motion will be produced as they ascend like water falling through a hole, and an horizontal or spiral eddy is the consequence; these eddies are more or less rapid, and are called Tornadoes in their most violent state, raising water from the ocean in the west or sand from the deserts of the east, in less violent degrees they only mix together the two currents of north-east and south- west air, and produce by this means incessant rains, as the air of the north-east acquires some of the heat from the south-west wind, as explained in Note XXV. This circumstance of the eddies produced by the monsoon-winds was seen by Mr. Bruce in Abyssinia; he relates that for many successive mornings at the commencement of the rainy monsoon, he observed a cloud of apparently small dimensions whirling round with great rapidity, and in few minutes the heavens became covered with dark clouds with consequent great rains. See Note on Canto III. l. 129.

2. But it is not only at the place where the air ascends at the northern extremity of the rainy monsoon, and where it forms tornadoes, as observed above by Mr. Bruce, but over a great tract of country several degrees in length in certain parts as in the Arabian sea, a perpetual rain for several months descends, similar to what happens for weeks together in our own climate in a less degree during the south-west winds. Another important question presents itself here, if the climate to which this south-west wind arrives, it not colder than that it comes from, why should it deposit its moisture during its whole journey? if it be a colder climate, why does it come thither? The tornadoes of air above described can extend but a little way, and it is not easy to conceive that a superior cold current of air can mix with an inferior one, and thus produce showers over ten degrees of country, since at about three miles high there is perpetual frost; and what can induce these narrow and shallow currents to flow over each other so many hundred miles?

Though the earth at the northren extremity of this monsoon may be more heated by certain circumstances of situation than at the line, yet it seems probable that the intermediate country between that and the line, may continue colder than the line (as in other parts of the earth) and hence that the air coming from the line to supply this ascent or destruction of air at the northern extremity of the monsoon will be cooled all the way in its approach, and in consequence deposit its water. It seems probable that at the northern extremity of this monsoon, where the tornadoes or hurricanes exist, that the air not only ascends but is in part converted into water, or otherwise diminished in quantity, as no account is given of the existence of any superior currents of it.

As the south-west winds are always attended with a light atmosphere, an incipient vacancy, or a great diminution of air must have taken place to the northward of them in all parts of the earth wherever they exist, and a deposition of their moisture succeeds their being cooled by the climate they arrive at, and not by a contrary current of cold air over them, since in that case the barometer would not sink. They may thus in our own country be termed monsoons without very regular periods.

3. Another cause of TORNADOES independent of the monsoons is ingeniously explained by Dr. Franklin, when in the tropical countries a stratum of inferior air becomes so heated by its contact with the warm earth, that its expansion is increased more than is equivalent to the pressure of the stratum of air over it; or when the superior stratum becomes more condensed by cold than the inferior one by pressure, the upper region will descend and the lower one ascend. In this situation if one part of the atmosphere be hotter from some fortuitous circumstances, or, has less pressure over it, the lower stratum will begin to ascend at this part, and resemble water falling through a hole as mentioned above. If the lower region of air was going forwards with considerable velocity, it will gain an eddy by riling up this hole in the incumbent heavy air, so that the whirlpool or tornado has not only its progressive velocity, but its circular one also, which thus lifts up or overturns every thing within its spiral whirl. By the weaker whirlwinds in this country the trees are sometimes thrown down in a line of only twenty or forty yards in breadth, making a kind of avenue through a country. In the West Indies the sea rises like a cone in the whirl, and is met by black clouds produced by the cold upper air and the warm lower air being rapidly mixed; whence are produced the great and sudden rains called water-spouts; while the upper and lower airs exchange their plus or minus electricity in perpetual lightenings.


The sea being a transparent mass is less heated at its surface by the sun's rays than the land, and its continual change of surface contributes to preserve a greater uniformity in the heat of the air which hangs over it. Hence the surface of the tropical islands is more heated during the day than the sea that surrounds them, and cools more in the night by its greater elevation: whence in the afternoon when the lands of the tropical islands have been much heated by the sun, the air over them ascends pressed upwards by the cooler air of the incircling ocean, in the morning again the land becoming cooled more than the sea, the air over it descends by its increased gravity, and blows over the ocean near its shores.


1. There are various irregular winds besides those above described, which consist of horizontal or vertical eddies of air owing to the inequality of the earth's surface, or the juxtaposition of the sea. Other irregular winds have their origin from increased evaporation of water, or its sudden devaporation and descent in showers; others from the partial expansion and condensation of air by heat and cold; by the accumulation or defect of electric fluid, or to the air's new production or absorption occasioned by local causes not yet discovered. See Notes VII. and XXV.

2. There seem to exist only two original winds: one consisting of air brought from the north, and the other of air brought from the south. The former of these winds has also generally an apparent direction from the east, and the latter from the west, arising from the different velocities of the earth's surface. All the other winds above described are deflections or retrogressions of some parts of these currents of air from the north or south.

3. One fifteenth part of the atmosphere is occasionally destroyed, and occasionally reproduced by unknown causes. These causes are brought into immediate activity over a great part of the surface of the earth at nearly the same time, but always act more powerful to the northward than to the southward of any given place; and would hence seem to have their principal effect in the polar circles, existing nevertheless though with less power toward the tropics or at the line.

For when the north-east wind blows the barometer rises, sometimes from 281/2 inches to 301/2, which shews a great new generation of air in the north; and when the south-west wind blows the barometer sinks as much, which shews a great destruction of air in the north. But as the north- east winds sometimes continue for five or six weeks, the newly-generated air must be destroyed at those times in the warmer climates to the south of us, or circulate in superior currents, which has been shewn to be improbable from its not depositing its water. And as the south-west winds sometimes continue for some weeks, there must be a generation of air to the south at those times, or superior currents, which last has been shewn to be improbable.

4. The north-east winds being generated about the poles are pushed forwards towards the tropics or line, by the pressure from behind, and hence they become warmer, as explained in Note VII. as well as by their coming into contact with a warmer part of the earth which contributes to make these winds greedily absorb moisture in their passage. On the contrary, the south-west winds, as the atmosphere is suddenly diminished in the polar regions, are drawn as it were into an incipient vacancy, and become therefore expanded in their passage, and thus generate cold, as explained in Note VII. and are thus induced to part with their moisture, as well as by their contact with a colder part of the earth's surface. Add to this, that the difference in the sound of the north-east and south-west winds may depend on the former being pushed forwards by a pressure behind, and the latter falling as it were into a partial or incipient vacancy before; whence the former becomes more condensed, and the latter more rarefied as it passes. There is a whistle, termed a lark-call, which consists of a hollow cylinder of tin-plate, closed at each end, about half an inch in diameter and a quarter of an inch high, with opposite holes about the size of a goose-quill through the centre of each end; if this lark-whistle be held between the lips the sound of it is manifestly different when the breath is forceably blown through it from within outwards, and when it is sucked from without inwards. Perhaps this might be worthy the attention of organ-builders.

5. A stop is put to this new generation of air, when about a fifteenth of the whole is produced, by its increasing pressure; and a similar boundary is fixed to its absorption or destruction by the decrease of atmospheric pressure. As water requires more heat to convert it into vapour under a heavy atmosphere than under a light one, so in letting off the water from muddy fish-ponds great quantities of air-bubbles are seen to ascend from the bottom, which were previously confined there by the pressure of the water. Similar bubbles of inflammable air are seen to arise from lakes in many seasons of the year, when the atmosphere suddenly becomes light.

6. The increased absorptions and evolutions of air must, like its simple expansions, depend much on the presence or absence of heat and light, and will hence, in respect to the times and places of its production and destruction, be governed by the approach or retrocession of the sun, and on the temperature, in regard to heat, of various latitudes, and parts of the same latitude, so well explained by Mr. Kirwan.

7. Though the immediate cause of the destruction or reproduction of great masses of air at certain times, when the wind changes from north to south, or from south to north can not yet be ascertained; yet as there appears greater difficulty in accounting for this change of wind for any other known causes, we may still suspect that there exists in the arctic and antarctic circles a BEAR or DRAGON yet unknown to philosophers, which at times suddenly drinks up, and as suddenly at other times vomits out one-fifteenth part of the atmosphere: and hope that this or some future age will learn how to govern and domesticate a monster which might be rendered of such important service to mankind.


If along with the usual registers of the weather observations were made on the winds in many parts of the earth with the three following instruments, which might be constructed at no great expence, some useful information might be acquired.

1. To mark the hour when the wind changes from north-east to south-west, and the contrary. This might be managed by making a communication from the vane of a weathercock to a clock; in such a manner, that if the vane mould revolve quite round, a tooth on its revolving axis should stop the clock, or put back a small bolt on the edge of a wheel revolving once in twenty-four hours.

2. To discover whether in a year more air passed from north to south, or the contrary. This might be effected by placing a windmill-sail of copper about nine inches diameter in a hollow cylinder about six inches long, open at both ends, and fixed on an eminent situation exactly north and south. Thence only a part of the north-east and south-west currents would affect the sail so as to turn it; and if its revolutions were counted by an adapted machinery, as the sail would turn one way with the north currents of air, and the contrary one with the south currents, the advance of the counting finger either way would shew which wind had prevailed most at the end of the year.

3. To discover the rolling cylinders of air, the vane of a weathercock might be so suspended as to dip or rise vertically, as well as to have its horizontal rotation.


NORTH-EAST WINDS consist of air flowing from the north, where it seems to be occasionally produced; has an apparent direction from the east owing to its not having acquired in its journey the increasing velocity of the earth's surface; these winds are analogous to the trade-winds between the tropics, and frequently continue in the vernal months for four and six weeks together, with a high barometer, and fair or frosty weather. 2. They sometimes consist of south-west air, which had passed by us or over us, driven back by a new accumulation of air in the north, These continue but a day or two, and are attended with rain. See Note XXV.

SOUTH-WEST WIND consists of air flowing from the south, and seems occasionally absorbed at its arrival to the more northern latitudes. It has a real direction from the west owing to its not having lost in its journey the greater velocity it had acquired from the earth's surface from whence it came. These winds are analogous to the monsoons between the tropics, and frequently continue for four or six weeks together, with a low barometer and rainy weather. 2. They sometimes consist of north-east air, which had passed by us or over us, which becomes retrograde by a commencing deficiency of air in the north. These winds continue but a day or two, attended with severer frost with a sinking barometer; their cold being increased by their expansion, as they return, into an incipient vacancy.

NORTH-WEST WINDS consist, first, of south-west winds, which have passed over us, bent down and driven back towards the south by newly generated northern air. They continue but a day or two, and are attended with rain or clouds. 2. They consist of north-east winds bent down from the higher parts of the atmosphere, and having there acquired a greater velocity than, the earth's surface; are frosty or fair. 3. They consist of north- east winds formed into a vertical spiral eddy, as on the eastern coasts of North America, and bring severe frost.

SOUTH-EAST WINDS consist, first, of north-east winds become retrograde, continue for a day or two, frosty or fair, sinking barometer. 2. They consist of north-east winds formed into a vertical eddy not a spiral one, frost or fair.

NORTH WINDS consist, first, of air flowing slowly from the north, so that they acquire the velocity of the earth's surface as they approach, are fair or frosty, seldom occur. 2. They consist of retrograde south winds; these continue but a day or two, are preceded by south-west winds; and are generally succeeded by north-east winds, cloudy or rainy, barometer rising.

SOUTH WINDS consist, first, of air flowing slowly from the south, loosing their previous western velocity by the friction of the earth's surface as they approach, moist, seldom occur, 2. They consist of retrograde north winds; these continue but a day or two, are preceded by north-east winds, and generally succeeded by south-west winds, colder, barometer sinking.

EAST WINDS consist of air brought hastily from the north, and not impelled farther southward, owing to a sudden beginning absorption of air in the northern regions, very cold, barometer high, generally succeeded by south-west wind.

WEST WINDS consist of air brought hastily from the south, and checked from proceeding further to the north by a beginning production of air in the northern regions, warm and moist, generally succeeded by north-east wind. 2. They consist of air bent down from the higher regions of the atmosphere, if this air be from the south, and brought hastily it becomes a wind of great velocity, moving perhaps 60 miles an hour, is warm and rainy; if it consists of northern air bent down it is of less velocity and colder.

Application of the preceding Theory to Some Extracts from a Journal of the Weather.

Dec. 1, 1790. The barometer sunk suddenly, and the wind, which had been some days north-east with frost, changed to south-east with an incessant though moderate fall of snow. A part of the northern air, which had passed by us I suppose, now became retrograde before it had acquired the velocity of the earth's surface to the south of us, and being attended by some of the southern air in its journey, the moisture of the latter became condensed and frozen by its mixture mith the former.

Dec. 2, 3. The wind changed to north-west and thawed the snow. A part of the southern air, which had passed by us or over us, with the retrograde northern air above described, was now in its turn driven back, before it had lost the velocity of the surface of the earth to the south of us, and consequently became a north-west wind; and not having lost the warmth it brought from the south produced a thaw.

Dec. 4, 5. Wind changed to north-east with frost and a rising barometer. The air from the north continuing to blow, after it had driven back the southern air as above described, became a north-east wind, having less velocity than the surface of the earth in this climate, and produced frost from its coldness.

Dec. 6, 7. Wind now changed to the south-west with incessant rain and a sinking barometer. From unknown causes I suppose the quantity of air to be diminished in the polar regions, and the southern air cooled by the earth's surface, which was previously frozen, deposits its moisture for a day or two; afterwards the wind continued south-west without rain, as the surface of the earth became warmer.

March 18, 1785. There has been a long frost; a few days ago the barometer sunk to 291/2, and the frost became more severe. Because the air being expanded by a part of the pressure being taken off became colder. This day the mercury rose to 30, and the frost ceased, the wind continuing as before between north and east. March 19. Mercury above 30, weather still milder, no frost, wind north-east. March 20. The same, for the mercury rising shews that the air becomes more compressed by the weight above, and in consequence gives out warmth.

April 4, 5. Frost, wind north-east, the wind changed in the middle of the day to the north-west without rain, and has done so for three or four days, becoming again north-east at night. For the sun now giving greater degrees of heat, the air ascends as the sun passes the zenith, and is supplied below by the air on the western side as well as on the eastern side of the zenith during the hot part of the day; whence for a few hours, on the approach of the hot part of the day, the air acquires a westerly direction in this longitude. If the north-west wind had been caused by a retrograde motion of some southern air, which had passed over us, it would have been attended with rain or clouds.

April 10. It rained all day yesterday, the wind north-west, this morning there was a sharp frost. The evaporation of the moisture, (which fell yesterday) occasioned by the continuance of the wind, produced so much cold as to freeze the dew.

May 12. Frequent showers with a current of colder wind preceding every shower. The sinking of the rain or cloud pressed away the air from beneath it in its descent, which having been for a time shaded from the sun by the floating cloud, became cooled in some degree.

June 20. The barometer sunk, the wind became south-west, and the whole heaven was instantly covered with clouds. A part of the incumbent atmosphere having vanished, as appeared by the sinking of the barometer, the remainder became expanded by its elasticity, and thence attracted some of the matter of heat from the vapour intermixed with it, and thus in a few minutes a total devaporation took place, as in exhausting the receiver of an air-pump. See note XXV. At the place where the air is destroyed, currents both from the north and south flow in to supply the deficiency, (for it has been shewn that there are no other proper winds but these two) and the mixture of these winds produces so sudden condensation of the moisture, both by the coldness of the northern air and the expansion of both of them, that lightning is given out, and an incipient tornado takes place; whence thunder is said frequently to approach against the wind.

August 28, 1732. Barometer was at 31, and Dec. 30, in the same year, it was at 28 2-tenths. Medical Essays, Edinburgh, Vol. II. p. 7. It appears from these journals that the mercury at Edinburgh varies sometimes nearly three inches, or one tenth of the whole atmosphere. From the journals kept by the Royal Society at London it appears seldom to vary more than two inches, or one-fifteenth of the whole atmosphere. The quantity of the variation is said still to decrease nearer the line, and to increase in the more northern latitudes; which much confirms the idea that there exists at certain times a great destruction or production of air within the polar circle.

July 2, 1732. The westerly winds in the journal in the Medical Essays, Vol. II. above referred to, are frequently marked with the number three to shew their greater velocity, whereas the easterly winds seldom approach to the number two. The greater velocity of the westerly winds than the easterly ones is well known I believe in every climate of the world; which may be thus explained from the theory above delivered. 1. When the air is still, the higher parts of the atmosphere move quicker than those parts which touch the earth, because they are at a greater distance from the axis of motion. 2. The part of the atmosphere where the north or south wind comes from is higher than the part of it where it comes to, hence the more elevated parts of the atmosphere continue to descend towards the earth as either of those winds approach. 3. When southern air is brought to us it possesses a westerly direction also, owing to the velocity it had previously acquired from the earth's surface; and if it consists of air from the higher parts of the atmosphere descending nearer the earth, this westerly velocity becomes increased. But when northern air is brought to us, it possesses an apparent easterly direction also, owing to the velocity which it had previously acquired from the earth's surface being less than that of the earth's surface in this latitude; now if the north-east wind consists of air descending from higher parts of the atmosphere, this deficiency of velocity will be less, in consequence of the same cause, viz. The higher parts of the atmosphere descending, as the wind approaches, increases the real velocity of the western winds, and decreases the apparent velocity of the eastern ones.

October 22. Wind changed from south-east to south-west. There is a popular prognostication that if the wind changes from the north towards the south passing through the east, it is more likely to continue in the south, than if it passes through the west, which may be thus accounted for. If the north-east wind changes to a north-west wind, it shews either that a part of the northern air descends upon us in a spiral eddy, or that a superior current of southern air is driven back; but if a north-east wind be changed into a south-east wind it shews that the northern air is become retrograde, and that in a day or two, as soon as that part of it has passed, which has not gained the velocity of the earth's surface in this latitude, it will become a south wind for a few hours, and then a south-west wind.

The writer of this imperfect sketch of anemology wishes it may incite some person of greater leizure and ability to attend to this subject, and by comparing the various meteorological journals and observations already published, to construct a more accurate and methodical treatise on this interesting branch of philosophy.


And wed the enamoured Oxygene to Light.

CANTO IV. l. 34.

When points or hairs are put into spring-water, as in the experiments of Sir B. Thompson, (Philos. Trans. Vol. LXXVII.) and exposed to the light of the sun, much air, which loosely adhered to the water, rises in bubbles, as explained in note on Fucus, Vol. II. A still greater quantity of air, and of a purer kind, is emitted by Dr. Priestley's green matter, and by vegetable leaves growing in water in the sun-shine, according to Mr. Ingenhouze's experiments; both which I suspect to be owing to a decomposition of the water perspired by the plant, for the edge of a capillary tube of great tenuity may be considered as a circle of points, and as the oxygene, or principle of vital air, may be expanded into a gas by the sun's light; the hydrogene or inflammable air may be detained in the pores of the vegetable.

Hence plants growing in the shade are white, and become green by being exposed to the sun's light; for their natural colour being blue, the addition of hydrogene adds yellow to this blue, and tans them green. I suppose a similar circumstance takes place in animal bodies; their perspirable matter as it escapes in the sun-shine becomes decomposed by the edges of their pores as in vegetables, though in less quantity, as their perspiration is less, and by the hydrogene being retained the skin becomes tanned yellow. In proof of this it must be observed that both vegetable and animal substances become bleached white by the sun-beams when they are dead, as cabbage-stalks, bones, ivory, tallow, bees-wax, linen and cotton cloth; and hence I suppose the copper-coloured natives of sunny countries might become etiolated or blanched by being kept from their infancy in the dark, or removed for a few generations to more northerly climates.

It is probable that on a sunny morning much pure air becomes separated from the dew by means of the points of vegetables on which it adheres, and much inflammable air imbibed by the vegetable, or combined with it; and by the sun's light thus decomposing water the effects of it in bleaching linen seems to depend (as described in Note X.): the water is decomposed by the light at the ends or points of the cotton or thread, and the vital air unites with the phlogistic or colouring matters of the cloth, and produces a new acid, which is either itself colourless or washes out, at the same time the inflammable part of the water escapes. Hence there seems a reason why cotton bleaches so much sooner than linen, viz. because its fibres are three or four times shorter, and therefore protrude so many more points, which seem to facilitate the liberation of the vital air from the inflammable part of the water.

Bee's wax becomes bleached by exposure to the sun and dews in a similar manner as metals become calcined or rusty, viz. by the water on their surface being decomposed; and hence the inflammable material which caused the colour becomes united with vital air forming a new acid, and is washed away.

Oil close stopped in a phial not full, and exposed long to the sun's light, becomes bleached, as I suppose, by the decomposition of the water it contains; the inflammable air rising above the surface, and the vital air uniting with the colouring matter of the oil. For it is remarkable, that by shutting up a phial of bleached oil in a dark drawer, it in a little time becomes coloured again.

The following experiment shews the power of light in separating vital air from another basis, viz. from azote. Mr. Scheel inverted a glass vessel filled with colourless nitrous acid into another glass containing the same acid, and on exposing them to the sun's light, the inverted glass became partly filled with pure air, and the acid at the same time became coloured. Scheel in Crell's Annal. 1786. But if the vessel of colourless nitrous acid be quite full and stopped, so that no space is left for the air produced to expand itself into, no change of colour takes place. Priestley's Exp. VI. p. 344. See Keir's very excellent Chemical Dictionary, p. 99. new edition.

A sun-flower three feet and half high according to the experiment of Dr. Hales, perspired two pints in one day (Vegetable Statics.) which is many times as much in proportion to its surface, as is perspired from the surface and lungs of animal bodies; it follows that the vital air liberated from the surfaces of plants by the sunshine must much exceed the quantity of it absorbed by their respiration, and that hence they improve the air in which they live during the light part of the day, and thus blanched vegetables will sooner become tanned into green by the sun's light, than etiolated animal bodies will become tanned yellow by the same means.

It is hence evident, that the curious discovery of Dr. Priestley, that his green vegetable matter and other aquatic plants gave out vital air when the sun shone upon them, and the leaves of other plants did the same when immersed in water, as observed by Mr. Ingenhouze, refer to the perspiration of vegetables not to their respiration. Because Dr. Priestley observed the pure air to come from both sides of the leaves and even from the stalks of a water-flag, whereas one side of the leaf only serves the office of lungs, and certainly not the stalks. Exper. on Air, Vol. III. And thus in respect to the circumstance in which plants and animals seemed the furtherest removed from each other, I mean in their supposed mode of respiration, by which one was believed to purify the air which the other had injured, they seem to differ only in degree, and the analogy between them remains unbroken.

Plants are said by many writers to grow much faster in the night than in the day; as is particularly observable in seedlings at their rising out of the ground. This probably is a consequence of their sleep rather than of the absence of light; and in this I suppose they also resemble animal bodies.


_While in bright veins the silvery sap ascends.

CANTO IV. l. 419.

As buds are the viviparous offspring of vegetables, it becomes necessary that they should be furnished with placental vessels for their nourishment, till they acquire lungs or leaves for the purpose of elaborating the common juices of the earth into nutriment. These vessels exist in bulbs and in seeds, and supply the young plant with a sweet juice till it acquires leaves, as is seen in converting barley into malt, and appears from the sweet taste of onions and potatoes, when they begin to grow.

The placental vessels belonging to the buds of trees are placed about the roots of most, as the vine; so many roots are furnished with sweet or mealy matter as fern-root, bryony, carrot, turnip, potatoe, or in the alburnum or sap-wood as in those trees which produce manna, which is deposited about the month of August, or in the joints of sugar cane, and grasses; early in the spring the absorbent mouths of these vessels drink up moisture from the earth, with a saccharine matter lodged for that purpose during the preceding autumn, and push this nutritive fluid up the vessels of the alburnum to every individual bud, as is evinced by the experiments of Dr. Hales, and of Mr. Walker in the Edinburgh Philosophical Transact. The former observed that the sap from the stump of a vine, which he had cut off in the beginning of April, arose twenty- one feet high in tubes affixed to it for that purpose, but in a few weeks it ceased to bleed at all, and Dr. Walker marked the progress of the ascending sap, and found likewise that as soon as the leaves became expanded the sap ceased to rise; the ascending juice of some trees is so copious and so sweet during the sap-season that it is used to make wine, as the birch, betula, and sycamore, acer pseudo-platinus, and particularly the palm.

During this ascent of the sap-juice each individual leaf-bud expands its new leaves, and shoots down new roots, covering by their intertexture the old bark with a new one; and as soon as these new roots (or bark) are capable of absorbing sufficient juices from the earth for the support of each bud, and the new leaves are capable of performing their office of exposing these juices to the influence of the air; the placental vessels cease to act, coalesce, and are transformed from sap- wood, or alburnum, into inert wood; serving only for the support of the new tree, which grows over them.

Thus from the pith of the new bud of the horse-chesnut five vessels pass out through the circle of the placental vessels above described, and carry with them a minuter circle of those vessels; these five bundles of vessels unite after their exit, and form the footstalk or petiole of the new five-fingered leaf, to be spoken of hereafter. This structure is well seen by cutting off a leaf of the horse-chesnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum) in September before it falls, as the buds of this tree are so large that the flower may be seen in them with the naked eye.

After a time, perhaps about midsummer, another bundle of vessels passes from the pith through the alburnum or sap-vessels in the bosom of each leaf, and unites by the new bark with the leaf, which becomes either a flower-bud or a leaf-bud to be expanded in the ensuing spring, for which purpose an apparatus of placental vessels are produced with proper nutriment during the progress of the summer and autumn, and thus the vegetable becomes annually increased, ten thousand buds often existing on one tree, according to the estimate of Linneus. Phil. Bot.

The vascular connection of vegetable buds with the leaves in whose bosoms they are formed is confirmed by the following experiment, (Oct. 20, 1781.) On the extremity of a young bud of the Mimosa (sensitive plant) a small drop of acid of vitriol was put by means of a pen, and, after a few seconds, the leaf in whose axilla it dwelt closed and opened no more, though the drop of vitriolic acid was so small as apparently only to injure the summit of the bud. Does not this seem to shew that the leaf and its bud have connecting vessels though they arise at different times and from different parts of the medulla or pith? And, as it exists previously to it, that the leaf is the parent of the bud?

This placentation of vegetable buds is clearly evinced from the sweetness of the rising sap, and from its ceasing to rise as soon as the leaves are expanded, and thus compleats the analogy between buds and bulbs. Nor need we wonder at the length of the umbilical cords of buds since that must correspond with their situation on the tree, in the same manner as their lymphatics and arteries are proportionally elongated.

It does not appear probable that any umbilical artery attends these placental absorbents, since, as there seems to be no system of veins in vegetables to bring back the blood from the extremities of their arteries, (except their pulmonary veins,) there could not be any vegetable fluids to be returned to their placenta, which in vegetables seems to be simply an organ for nutrition, whereas the placenta of the animal foetus seems likewise to serve as a respiratory organ like the gills of fishes.


And refluent blood in milky eddies bends.

CANTO IV. l. 420.

The individuality of vegetable buds was spoken of before, and is confirmed by the method of raising all kinds of trees by Mr. Barnes. (Method of propagating Fruit Trees. 1759. Lond. Baldwin.) He cut a branch into as many pieces as there were buds or leaves upon it, and wiping the two wounded ends dry he quickly applied to each a cement, previously warmed a little, which consisted principally of pitch, and planted them in the earth. The use of this cement I suppose to consist in its preventing the bud from bleeding to death, though the author ascribes it to its antisceptic quality.

These buds of plants, which are thus each an individual vegetable, in many circumstances resemble individual animals, but as animal bodies are detached from the earth, and move from place to place in search of food, and take that food at considerable intervals of time, and prepare it for their nourishiment within their own bodies after it is taken, it is evident they must require many organs and powers which are not necessary to a stationary bud. As vegetables are immoveably fixed to the soil from whence they draw their nourishment ready prepared, and this uniformly not at returning intervals, it follows that in examining their anatome we are not to look for muscles of locomotion, as arms and legs; nor for organs to receive and prepare their nourishment, as a stomach and bowels; nor for a reservoir for it after it is prepared, as a general system of veins, which in locomotive animals contains and returns the superfluous blood which is left after the various organs of secretion have been supplied, by which contrivance they are enabled to live a long time without new supplies of food.

The parts which we may expert to find in the anatome of vegetables correspondent to those in the animal economy are, 1. A system of absorbent vessels to imbibe the moisture of the earth similar to the lacteal vessels, as in the roots of plants; and another system of absorbents similar to the lymphatics of animal bodies, opening its mouths on the internal cells and external surfaces of vegetables; and a third system of absorbent vessels correspondent with those of the placentation of the animal foetus. 2. A pulmonary system correspondent to the lungs or gills of quadrupeds and fish, by which the fluid absorbed by the lacteals and lymphatics may be exposed to the influence of the air, this is done by the green leaves of plants, those in the air resembling lungs, and those in the water resembling gills; and by the petals of flowers. 3. Arterial systems to convey the fluid thus elaborated to the various glands of the vegetable for the purposes of its growth, nutrition, and various secretions. 4. The various glands which separate from the vegetable blood the honey, wax, gum, resin, starch, sugar, essential oil, &c. 5. The organs adapted for their propagation or reproduction. 6. Muscles to perform several motions of their parts.

I. The existence of that branch of the absorbent vessels of vegetables which resembles the lacteals of animal bodies, and imbibes their nutriment from the moist earth, is evinced by their growth so long as moisture is applied to their roots, and their quickly withering when it is withdrawn.

Besides these absorbents in the roots of plants there are others which open their mouths on the external surfaces of the bark and leaves, and on the internal surfaces of all the cells, and between the bark and the alburnum or sap-wood; the existence of these is shewn, because a leaf plucked off and laid with its under side on water will not wither so soon as if left in the dry air,—the same if the bark alone of a branch which is separated from a tree be kept moist with water,—and lastly, by moistening the alburnum or sap-wood alone of a branch detached from a tree it will not so soon wither as if left in the dry air. By the following experiment these vessels were agreeably visible by a common magnifying glass, I placed in the summer of 1781 the footstalks of some large fig-leaves about an inch deep in a decoction of madder, (rubia tinctorum,) and others in a decoction of logwood, (haematoxylum campechense,) along with some sprigs cut off from a plant of picris, these plants were chosen because their blood is white, after some hours, and on the next day, on taking out either of these and cutting off from its bottom about a quarter of an inch of the stalk an internal circle of red points appeared, which were the ends of absorbent vessels coloured red with the decoction, while an external ring of arteries was seen to bleed out hastily a milky juice, and at once evinced both the absorbent and arterial system. These absorbent vessels have been called by Grew, and Malphigi, and some other philosophers, bronchi, and erroneously supposed to be air-vessels. It is probable that these vessels, when cut through, may effuse their fluids, and receive air, their sides being too stiff to collapse; since dry wood emits air-bubles in the exhausted receiver in the same manner as moist wood.

The structure of these vegetable absorbents consists of a spiral line, and not of a vessel interrupted with valves like the animal lymphatics, since on breaking almost any tender leaf and drawing out some of the fibres which adhere longest this spiral structure becomes visible even to the naked eye, and distinctly so by the use of a common lens. See Grew, Plate 51.

In such a structure it is easy to conceive how a vermicular or peristaltic motion of the vessel beginning at the lowest part of it, each spiral ring successively contracting itself till it fills up the tube, must forcibly push forwards its contents, as from the roots of vines in the bleeding season; and if this vermicular motion should begin at the upper end of the vessel it is as easy to see how it must carry its contained fluid in a contrary direction. The retrograde motion of the vegetable absorbent vessels is shewn by cutting a forked branch from a tree, and immersing a part of one of the forks in water, which will for many days prevent the other from withering; or it is shewn by planting a willow branch with the wrong end upwards. This structure in some degree obtains in the esophagus or throat of cows, who by similar means convey their food first downwards and afterward upwards by a retrograde motion of the annular muscles or cartilages for the purpose of a second mastication of it.

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