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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/858

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In 1840 Prof. Espy, by invitation, visited England for the purpose of explaining his theory of storms before the British Association. He presented it, in an elaborate paper, in September, 1840, Prof. Forbes being the presiding officer of the meeting, after which it was subjected to a lively discussion, in which some of the most eminent British scientific men of the day took part, some sustaining it, and some presenting objections to it. He afterward visited Paris, and presented a communication to the Academy of Sciences. The committee to whom the communication was referred, consisting of MM. Arago, Pouillet, and Babinet, at the conclusion of their report, admitted that the memoir "contains a great number of well-observed and well-described facts. His theory in the present state of science alone accounts for the phenomena, and when completed, as Mr. Espy intends, by the study of the action of electricity when it intervenes, will leave nothing to be desired. In a word, for physical geography, agriculture, navigation, and meteorology, it gives us new explanations, indications useful for ulterior researches, and redresses many accredited errors. The committee expresses, then, the wish that Mr. Espy may be placed by the Government of the United States in a position to continue his important investigations, and to complete his theory, already so remarkable, by means of all the observations and all the experiments which the deductions even of his theory may suggest to him in a vast country, where enlightened men are not wanting to science, and which is, besides, the home of those fearful storms. The work of Mr. Espy causes us to feel the necessity of undertaking a retrospective examination of the numerous documents already collected in Europe, to arrange them, and draw from them deductions which they can furnish, and more especially at the present period, when the diluvial rains which have ravaged the southeast of France have directed attention to all the possible causes of similar phenomena. Consequently, the committee proposes to the Academy to give its approbation to the labors of Mr. Espy, and to solicit him to continue his researches, and especially to try to ascertain the influence which electricity exerts in these great phenomena, of which a complete theory will be one of the most precious acquisitions of modern science."

This report was incorporated in full in the introduction to "The Philosophy of Storms"—"not merely," as the author says with characteristic independence of opinion, "for the purpose of showing the reader that I have the highest authority on my side—for I do not submit to authority myself—but to exhibit a beautiful analysis of my theory by three of the most distinguished philosophers in Europe. As a matter of authority, however, I should be justified in bringing forward the report to rebut authority. It had been sneeringly said before a large audience, by