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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/274

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274
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

And the careful foster-mother? She too, as it appears to me, has widened her studies, and must, I should think, recognize with pride the stalwart growth of her early friend. May they be drawn nearer together, and feel the warm glow which is produced by the sympathy of a common love for truth!

 


SKETCH OF ZADOC THOMPSON.

THE slopes and intervales of the Green Mountains have ever been a home of sterling worth. Much of it has lain modestly hidden unless some compelling occasion called it forth, as the Revolution brought out Ethan Allen and Stark of Bennington. This region has had its workers in science, who, with more generous facilities or a more assertive spirit, could have equaled in prominence many whom the world calls famous. The subject of the present sketch is an example, for he became known in his lifetime only so far as the patient performance of valuable labors of necessity brought him into notice.

Zadoc Thompson was born in Bridgewater, Windsor County, Vt., May 23, 1796. He was the second son of Barnabas Thompson, whose father was one of the early settlers in that part of the country.

His early life was a continual struggle with poverty. Having from childhood a passion for writing and publishing books, he earned part of the expenses of his education in this way. His first publications were almanacs, which he sold traveling about the State on foot. Thompson's Almanack became as famous in Vermont as Robert B. Thomas's in Massachusetts, and shared the honors with the latter publication in adjoining States. Its success was to a large extent due, it is said by those who should know, to a chance remark—it can hardly be called a prediction—which came one day when a clerk, who was at work upon the almanac, found that no weather forecast had been given for July. Prof. Thompson was at the time much absorbed in some investigations, and, when interrupted by the printer's inquiry as to the July weather, hastily replied, "Say, Snow about this time." The printer took him at his word and printed snow as a part of the probable weather for July. Contrary to all expectations or precedent, in July of that year there was in Vermont a fall of snow! This apparently remarkable knowledge of the probabilities of the weather made Prof. Thompson famous as a weather prophet, and greatly increased the sale of his almanacs. It should be added that Prof. Thompson made constant use of such meteorological instruments as he could obtain, and that he was one of the first in his State to study the weather in a careful and scientific manner.