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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/860

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ances in the equilibrium of temperature, whence follow ascending currents, cloud and rain. He spent much effort in trying to secure an experimental demonstration of this scheme, and made unsuccessful petitions to Congress and the Legislature of Pennsylvania for appropriations to enable him to carry them out on an adequate scale. The scheme was not regarded as practicable, and he became the object of some ridicule for his enthusiasm—to which he replied in his book with the self-possession of a man who believes to the full in his purposes: "Gentlemen have made their puns on this project, and had their laugh: and I am sorry to see, by letters which I have received, that my friends and relations at a distance are much troubled by these innocent laughs; but let them be consoled: I have laughed too, well knowing that those who laughed the most heartily would be most willing to encourage the experiment as soon as they discovered they had nothing to laugh at. As a proof that I was right in this anticipation, I may be permitted to say that I have lately received a letter from a highly distinguished member of the American Legislature,[1] who laughed as heartily as any one when my petition was presented them, containing many kind expressions, and promising me, by way of amends for his levity, to avail himself of the earliest opportunity of being better informed on the subject of my new philosophy. Such conduct as this is all I want; I fear not the strictest scrutiny." The same confident spirit is exhibited in his letter to his superior in the War Department, suggesting a second year of employment in the official study of storms, and which is given in fac-simile on the following page.

In 1843 Prof. Espy was given a position in the War Department, where he could pursue his investigations in atmospheric currents and disturbances, and receive reports from distant points of observation. He instituted a service of daily weather reports, out of which our present Signal-Service system has grown; and, on the basis of this enterprise, as Mrs. Morehead relates in her book. Prof. Henry once remarked to her that there was no question in his mind that "Prof. Espy should be regarded as the father of the present Signal Service of the United States, his 'Theory of Storms' having led the way to its establishment and present success." Prof. Henry added that the charts now used in the service were identical (with some modifications ) with those that the "Old Storm King" constructed for use in the Meteorological Bureau of the War Department when he was at its head. A similar acknowledgment was made by General Myer. Prof. Espy was for several years a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and was brought into close relations and friendship with Prof. Henry. On the occasion of his death, Prof.

  1. ↑ Hon. J. J. Crittenden.