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I select Dr. S. L. Mitchill, Sir H. Davy, and Baron Alex. de Humboldt, as my protectors. I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia in the fall season, with reindeer and sleigh, on the ice of the frozen sea. I engage we find warm and rich land, stocked with thrifty vegetables and animals, if not men, on reaching one degree northward of lati
ART. 15. CABINET OF VARIETIES.
Those of our readers who delight in the eccentricities of nature, as well as those who profess to account for them, will be gratified with the following, “Meteorological Retrospect for the last Half of the Year 1817," translated from the Bibliothèque Physico-Economique, for Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine.
Storms and Hurricanes.
FEW years have been more distinguished for an extraordinary frequency of violent storms than the last. In the year 824, when, if we may believe the annals of that period, a hailstone fifteen feet in length fell upon the city of Autun ;-in those of 1680, 1720, 1739, and 1740, when there were storm of hail of one foot in thickness; in 1767, when Potsdam was devastated by hailstones of the size of an ordinary gourd; in 1771, when the environs of Namur were ravaged by others of nearly eight pounds weight; in 1788, and 1812, which were also remarkable for their storms, and the congelations which accompanied them ;there was still nothing in point of extent of suffering to compare with 1817.
The city of Rheims will long remember the 19th of May. After having experienced on the day preceding an extraordinary and stifling heat, about half past one in the morning there appeared in the heavens an igneous meteor, the red light of which, reflected from all the houses, gave to this ancient Gallic city the semblance of a town involved in one vast conflagration; some strokes of thunder were followed with rain, which fell in extraordinary abundance for two hours; soon after, a large black cloud gathered over the city and burst upon it with a horrible crash. For five minutes the hail fell in torrents; whole roofs were broken; the trees of the gardens hashed, and some animals killed. The same day the hail ravaged with equal severity many communes of the department of the Upper Garonne; and on the following day Semur (Côte-d'Or) and the rich vineyards in its environs were visited by another frightful storm, in which the rain and hail fell for a whole hour in one continued flood.
The month of June was especially remarkable for the number and severity of its storms. On the 7th, a part of the communes of Courcon, Beangas, Moulinet, and
tude 82; we will return in the succeeding spring. J. C. S. [Capt. Symmes is said to be a "very respectable man, a man of intelligence, and really sane in mind." He is diligently employed in forwarding his scheme, and it is reported that "upwards of twenty persons have actually engaged in the expedition."]
Bondi, in the arrondissement of Villeneuve (Lot and Garonne) was laid entirely waste; not a stalk of corn was to be seen standing, nor a leaf remaining on a vine, in those places which the hail attacked: a heavy rain which fell on the night of that day did still more harm, the quantity of earth which it unsettled being so great as to cover all the meadows with san The same day a violent storm assailed the canton of Zurich in Switzerland, the city of Pau (Lower Pyrenees) and some surrounding communes.-Some hail fell of such a size that roofs were broken and animals killed. On the 8th, fourteen communes situated in the valley of the Loire, and on the 9th, twenty-seven in the arrondissement of Ambert, were nearly inundated by the quantity of rain which fell, accompanied with large hail. On the 10th, a storm of such severity swept over the canton of Saint Gall, in Switzerland, that a great number of houses were thrown down at Wittenbach, Berg, Horn, and Ober-Steinbach. On the 12th, the environs of Casan (Russia) were devastated; the ravages of the storm fell particularly upon the village of Oura, inhabited by Tartars living in a state of ease, and famous for their fabrics of redcoloured cotton; the rivulet which traverses this village formed all of a sudden an immense torrent, carrying along with it men, trees and habitations, to the distance of twenty versts. On the 14th, another storm still more horrible desolated Belgium: the thunder raged for three-quarters of an hour without intermission; the storm driven by a south-east wind was so violent, that it tore up a number of large trees, overturned many granaries and some houses, and shook all the houses for the space of a league. · On the 15th, a shower of hailstones fell upon the town of Lierre in the Low Countries, most of which were of the bulk of a pigeon's egg. The 22d, the 26th, the 27th, and 29th, were also distinguished by violent storms which committed great havoc.
In the same month the heat was more excessive in England than it had been for several years, and brought on storms which did every where a great deal of damage. At Tewkesbury they were accompanied with large hail; at Salisbury there was one attended with an extraordinary obscurity, and followed by torrents of rain and large pieces of ice, the ravages of which were frightful--
trees shattered—men and beasts woundedhouses overturned, &c.
On the 3d of July, a storm of the greatest violence, mixed with large hail, burst in the night-time upon the town of Agen and many communes of the department of Tarn. It continued till ten o'clock the next day, which was also distinguished by another tempest, which carried ruin and devastation into the valley between the two mountains of Lure and Leberon (the mouths of the Rhone) over a space of more than fifteen leagues. On the 4th, hail of the size of filberts fell at Munich and Lons Le Saulnier; and on the 10th, many leagues in the departments of the Yonne and Ain were in less than an hour laid entirely waste by another storm of hail as large as pigeon's eggs, and precipitated with astonishing impetuosity. The 11th was marked by a storm of still greater fury. Pforzheim in the duchy of Baden, and on the frontiers of Hungary and Lower Austria, bail-stenes were collected of the bulk of the largest hen's eggs; several men and beasts were killed, and the hopes of a fine harvest wholly destroyed. The night of the same day was most ruinous to the cartons of Chateauneuf and Eymoutiers in the department of Upper Vienne.-The hail was of such force that even the chesnut-trees were destroyed, and in such abundance that two days afterwards it was found in heaps upon the ground. On the 31st, there fell at Manchester in England, and its environs, hail of such an extraordinary bulk that two persons were killed by it at Pendleton, and several others grievously wounded.
On the 8th of August, a thunder-storm burst on the town of St. Avold (Moselle,) and caused a fire which consumed thirtythree houses and thirty-eight barns. The 16th was a day cruelly memorable to the departments of the Aisne and Ardennes. The reapers were occupied in collecting one of the finest karvests which had been known for a long time; the heavens became suddenly obscured by thick and heavy clouds; and soon a storm of hail burst forth of such impetuous ferce, that in ten minutes the crops and fruits of every description in the territory of four villages were hashed in pieces. Some of the hail-stones found were three pounds in weight. These congelations resembled a bullet cut in two; the centre of each hemisphere was harder than the rest, and of a brownish colour. On the 22d, after two months of excessive dryness, Rome was the scene of another dreadful tempest: some vineyards were quite ruined, and more than thirty of the largest trees of the villa
*A popular error augments the evils occasioned by such storms at many places. When assistance should be run for, the women discour age the men with the greatest earnestness, saying, that when the fire of bearen descends, it is in vin to seek for relief; and that water, far from alloying it, will only increase its force and activity.
Panfili were torn up by the roots. On the 26th, there was a hurricane at the estate of of Gonrgivaux near Epernay, which, though it only lasted three minutes, tore up and shattered a number of trees, carried off several roofs, knocked the barn of a farm topsy-turvy, and scattered to the winds 300 well-bound sheaves. On the 27th, in the valley of Pia near Genoa, there was a similar hurricane, but of a longer duration; the damage occasioned by which it will take many years of prosperity to repair;-vines, trees of every kind, even garden walls, fell prostrate before it.
The 3d of September, at Liverpool; the 11th, at Paris; the 12th, at Antwerp, Brussels, and several other places in the Low Countries-the 22d at Schaffhausen, &c. and the 28th at Memel, were distinguished by violent and destructive storms, in most of which the size and quantity of the hail was still the chiefly remarkable circumstance.
In the month of October, the place which suffered most from the elements was the old town Nocera, at the foot of the Appennines. For the third time in the course of five months, it was visited on the 4th by a hailstorm of such tremendous violence that all that had been spared by the previous tempests,—its superb olives, its fruit-trees, and its vines-were completely destroyed. A number of cattle were killed, owing chiefly, perhaps, to the very angular shape of the hail-stones in this instance, the largest of which were found to weigh about six ounces. The other places visited by remarkable storms during this month, were the communes of Mesmes-sur-Yevre, Vasselay, and others in the department of Cher, on the first;-the environs of Cahors on the 3d;-Foligno, Assisi, and Perugia, on the same day as Nocera;-and Alicant on the 13th. In one quarter of an hour this last town and its environs, which produced a great abundance of exquisite fruits and an excellent wine, presented the spectacle of one great wreck.*
*For near half a century the people in the Maconnais (Saone et Loire) have been in the custom, for averting damage by hail, of firing mortars from the heights at the approach of storms. The first who introduced this scheme was M. de Chevriers, an old officer of marine, proprietor of Vaurenard. The experience of many years having convinced the inhabitants of the neighbouring country of the excellence of this practice, it has been adopted by the communes of Iger, Aze, Romaneche, Julnat, Le Torrins, Ponilly, Fleury, Saint Sorlin, Viviers, and many others, which have ever since been exempt from any ravages by hail. The size of the mortars, and the number of times they are fired, varies according to circumstances and localities. The commune of Fleury makes use of a mortar which carries a charge of one pound of powder at a time. It is ordinarily begun to be fired before the clouds have had time to accumulate in any great number, and the firing is kept up until the stormy clouds are wholly dispersed. The annual consumption for this pur
Other misfortunes not less diastrous sig. nalized the period under our review. The inundations of rivers and lakes desolated almost all the countries of Europe, particularly Switzerland, the west of Germany, the Low Countries, Holland, the north of Spain; and in the United States, the two provinces of Kentucky and New-York. In the first days of June, the Rhone tumultuously burst its banks, at the same moment that the waters of the Rhine and the Aar attained a prodigious height;*-that the lakes, the rivers and the torrents of Switzerland, the Grand, Lake of Constance, the Necker, the Mein, the Meuse, the Wahl, &c. overflowed upon all points. The detail of the disasters which they caused is fearful. During three months their waters covered whole countries, menaced the foundations of the most solid edifices, and scarcely left in some places the roofs of the houses to be seen, while they kept constantly sweeping away trees and flocks, and a vast wreck of things of all sorts. Fields cultivated with the greatest care were converted into morasses; large tracts were turned into deserts of mire; the finest harvests were every where destroyed. On the 26th, 27th, and 28th of August, a south wind which had prevailed for more than a month was followed by a hot rain, which melted the glaciers in such a manner that the Rhine rose anew beyond all former example, and presented, until the 23d of September, the appearance of a vast lake: the torrents of the Tyrol were swollen higher than their greatest height in 1789; and the Sill, which falls into the Inn near Inspruck, burst its banks and carried away several bridges,
with a vast quantity of trees, houses, cattle, &c. On the 9th of November, a very violent storm burst upon the department of Ardeche, the waters rose to a prodigious height, and committed great havoc in the arondissements of Tournon, Privas, and Argentiere. Earthquakes.
June 30th. After a storm, accompanied with a hot rain, two shocks, very violent, were felt at Inverness and in the environs of Loch Ness in Scotland. July 4. At Barcelona.
pose is from 4 to 500 kilogrammes (820 to 1022 lbs.) of coarse powder. This practice, which costs little, which is attended with no inconvenience, which is so simple in execution as to be practicable every where, and which is supported not only by theory, but by the experience of a great many years, ought to be generally substituted for the ruinous system of conjuring storms by the sound of the church bells. The misfortunes which every year befall those who
have recourse to the clocks, may in the end des troy a prejudice which originated in an era when the laws of physics were unknown; and when fanaticism attributed to the sound of the bells a supreme power, in virtue of the benedictions and unctions which they received from the hands of the priests. At the same time that the villages of Maconnais adopted the practice of firing mortars, Guenaut-de-Montbelliard, the celebrated co-operator and friend of Buffon, having observed that the hail never formed itself ull after violent claps of thunder, proposed to with draw the electric matter, so as to prevent at the same time both the explosion of the thunder, and the formation of the hail. (Journal de Physique, tom. xxi. p. 146.) Guyton-de-Morveau has further demonstrated the accuracy of this theory. (Journal de Physique tom. ix. p. 60-67.)
The Rhine rose on the 7th of July, thirtytwo centimetres (one foot) above its greatest theight in 1770.
7. Porentruy and Schaffhausen. Aug. 11. Saanen, canton of Bern.
14. Rougemont, and the valleys of Gessenay and Senimenthal in Switzerland. Aug. 19. Inspruck. Sep. 12. Saanen.
17. Inverness-the fifth since August, 1816.
21. St. Helena. The oscillation lasted two minutes, and was felt throughout the whole island and neighbouring sea; also at Saanen, Rothenberg, and environs of Rublihorn. Sep. 22. Angouleme (Charente-Inferieure), followed immediately by a loud detonation.
Oct. 17. Pays de Vaud, particularly at Yvonaud and its environs. Oct. 18. Messina.
23. Vostizza in the Morea:-The most violent that has occurred this year. It lasted about a minute and a half. The sca was thrown back to a great distance, so that the ships in the roads of Vostizza were left quite dry: it immediately returned with great fury, rose five metres above its ordinary level, and inundated a considerable space of ground; soon afterwards it subsided into its original position. But the cape which formed the mouth of the river Gaidouroupneiti, after ejecting a very thick smoke, precipitated itself into the sea, and carried along with it the town of Vostizza, the villages of Mourla Dimitropoulu, Loumari, Temeni, and part of their inhabitants. For eight succeeding days shocks, less strong, but very frequent, continued to be felt.
Nov. 11 and 12. At Geneva, and the two sides of the lake, the shocks were stronger than were ever experienced in this quarter before.
In the early part of this year the south of Europe was almost desolated by a severe drought, which still continued in a manner truly distressing. In June it dried up the lake of Ouveillan in the arrondissement of Narbonne, and drained the fountains and wells in the greater part of the departinents of the mouths of the Rhone, the Var, and the Lower Alps. In July, such was its intensity in the department of the Eastern Pyrenees, that it converted into salt a great part of the waters of the lakes of Saint Nazaire and Vil leneuve. At Marseilles and Montpelier the
Cabinet of Varieties.
greatest inconvenience was also felt for the
We have had daily the most remarkable
The months of June, July, August and September were of a stifling heat, especially at Rome, at Naples, and at Trieste, where it was impossible to go abroad till evening. The warmest day at Perpignan was the 4th of July; at Marseilles, the 17th of August, when the thermometer, exposed to the sun, At Cayenne, remained stationary at 44°. winter, which is the rainy season in that country, was unknown; it ordinarily lasts six months complete, but last year there were only sixty-two days of rain, and that slight and intermittent.
land and the environs of Gefle, and in Fran-
On the 27th of June, at two o'clock, P. M.some women of the commune of Vauvert (Gard) having washed a number of pieces of cotton muslin, and others of linen, spread them on a meadow newly cut to dry. Shortly after there was a great deal of very vivid lightning, which played particularly about the meadow where the clothes were lying; and on examining them it was found that all the pieces of cotton had become tinged with a yellow colour similar to that of nankeen, while those of linen had lost none of their whiteness. The yellow tinged stuffs were washed repeatedly with soap, but to no purpose; it was found impossible to take the colour out of them, or even to free them from the sulphurous odour which they had acquired.
About the same period numerous swarms of those beautiful insects which are vulgarly named Demoiselles or Libellules tiques (but of a sort apparently new and very large) were observed in several parts of East Holland, particularly in the environs of the town of Sneeck, subsequently at Hamburg, and lastly at Stockholm, and several other parts of the north of Sweden, where they disappeared. They came from the south-west. They formed so dense a body that they resembled the thick clouds which precede a fall of snow. When they wanted nourishment, they descended all at once upon some field, sojourned there for some hours, and afterwards resumed their course. At night the air was quite crowded with these insects.
On the 2d of Judy, the mountain of Hang
After long intervals of heat, of abundant
The damage occasioned by this unseasonable cold, in the two nights of the 22d and 24th of August, to the standing crops of all descriptions, was very great in the northern provinces of Sweden, particularly Helsing.
ruck, in Upper Austria, disappeared and gave place to a lake. This mountain was of great elevation, and gave its name to the country around. During the preceding month there had been various phenomena, which augured some ruinous event:-subterraneous noises-slight explosions on the exterior, &c. they had disquieted the people of the country greatly, and seemed as if designed to forewarn them of their danger.
On the 24th of the same month, the very opposite of this phenomenon occurred in Italy. An astonishing noise was heard in the territory of Ferentino; after which the waters of the lake of Porciano suddenly disappeared, and left their ancient bed quite dry. Eastward of the lake, at the foot of a neighbouring mountain, they discovered an enormous chasm, produced by some violent commotion, down which the waters had precipitated themselves into certain subterranean caverns which now serve as their receptacle.-The Romans prevented accidents of this sort by their famous canals of outlet, as we see in the lake of Albano; but the modern inhabitants of the volcanic country of Rome have not the same foresight.
In the month of August, another displacement, owing without doubt to the subterraneous conflagration of a bed of coal or sulphurous matters, happened near Salzbourg in Bavaria, on the borders of the Salza. A space of ground, of the extent of about fifteen acres, sunk down, and, from the chasm left, flames continued to issue for four days afterwards, exhaling a strong phurous odour.
wick of still mo
1.ountain 4nto a depied valley. The cau to which this bas cu attributed was the enormous quantity of snow which fell in the Tyrol in February, March, 51 April, and which sudden change of ten. perature na abundant hot rams had precpitately melted.
On the 5th of July, at one o'clock » morning, the wices of the sea with w from the port : Marseilles, »* 1 left it for some morscats munte dry; bit scom after returned, and spread as far even as !IM city. The sate phenoma non was observed with still more remarkable characters on the 27th of June, 1812, and occurred also in 1775, at the time of the famous earthquake of Lisbon.
tumbled down, and franc ́»! sert a very fertile and w
The atmospheric whirlpools, which are attributed to a displacement of heated air, and by the action of which it is easy to explain the pretended showers of sand, insects, &c. have presented two singular enough phenomena in the state of NewYork and in the kingdom of Naples. The first was distinguished by some extraordinary VOL. I.-No. II.
circumstances:-it raised a young man to a great height, afterwards pitched him on a tree, from which it again snatched him and conveyed him to the foot of a mountain at some distance. The second happened on the 10th of August. Some washerwomen at work beside a fountain, out of the city of St. Angelo, saw in a serene sky a whirlpool advancing upon them: seized with fear they fled in great haste; immediately afterwards the whirlpool dashed upon the fountain, absorbed all the water out of it, and carried off the linen spread out on the neighbouring meadows to a distance of more than a mile, whence it returned in about an hour to the environs of the fountain, where it ceased, and redeposited all that it had carried off. The linen was found torn and full of holes, as if it had been perforated by gunshot. Celestial Phenomena.
In the period of time under our survey the spots of the sun were successively dissipated and renewed. The grand spot, which covered nearly all the disc of that orb on the 23d of July, disappeared on the 4th of August. A great number of small spots were afterwards formed, which gradually united and concentrated into one:-subsequently in the month of September a division again took place into several groups, which be tween the 23d and 27th of October totally disappeared, before having touched the west limb of the sun. On the 5th and 6th of November, a large spot was observed on the southern part of this orb: it is n into groups more or less nu ve isolated her more apprcvuus
On the 7th of Angusi. Profes. 21 Sturk, astrone Lier at Augsburg, observeu a immidors band in the direction of the bindat s jenteus in the constellation For 1 1 2.
this, see account airea ly go on it for August. 1817 On the sta of pár per te: o'ock at night there we 1 t vich ty of Racataond, in Egid a.. seer in 526 C bpz in a GP". tio; f south, to w Impra ed of emasder 'de size, and emi
wis Gäserved on the 1o qo, Noven ber et three o cock in the po ting, at iv Curtle.
On the 9th of September a beautiful aurora borealis was observed at Glasgow. (For which, also, see account in Phil. Mag. for January, 1818, by M. Chev. Dupin.)
The barometer on the 26th of January and 1st of April attained the extraordinary height of 73 centimetres (27 inches); and on the 1st of November, at 52 minutes past eleven at night, it exceeded that by one degree and 6-10ths of a line, which is a millemetre more than the height to which the mercury rose on the 23d of February 1815.