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Greek historians; and the frequent allusion to atmospheric phaenomena by their poets shows the attention which was generally paid to such subjects. The simplicity and correctness of narration adopted by the Greeks was probably the result of the prevailing perfection of their physical organization which is one of the principal conditions of intellectual excellence, and in which their philosophers excelled most of those of more modern times. The heads of the ancient Greek philosophers are of a remarkably fine form for intelligence.* The Romans who
* The heads of many of the Roman philosophers, and indeed of those of all countries, ancient and modern, did certainly, as well as those of the Greeks, refute Juvenal's satirical assertion fronti nulla fides, if he ever really intended such as a serious observation; but the configuration of the heads of those celebrated ancient nations, who gave birth to the sciences from the native energies of their intellectual faculties, is more particularly calculated to illustrate and confirm the notions of modern physiologists respecting the intimate connexion between the physical strength of the organs of the brain and the intellectual and moral character of the individual. A subject which has been ably treated of by the celebrated anatomists, Gall and Spurzheim, who by their elegant dissections of the brain, and their comparison of the brains of different animals with the proper habits of each, seem to have roused human and comparative anatomy into something like a systematic science.
wrote on meteorology of any note were Pliny, who in his Natural History, lib. xviii. cap. 35, wherein he treats of the prognosticks of the weather, confounded his observations with abundance of fabulous and absurd narrations; Virgil, who in his Georgics imitated the prognosticks of Aratus; Lucretius, who endeavoured to assign physical causes for most of the popular phaenomena of the heavens; and, lastly, Seneca, with whose superfluous tautology in his Natural Questions, every one who has read them must have been heartily tired. In the works too of many of their other writers we find traces of their meteorological knowledge. It is a pity we know so little of the collateral history of this as well as of the sciences among the Chinese and Arabians; and among other eastern tribes of the present day.
Little account of the state of our science can be traced from the time of the ancient Romans to the revival of letters in Europe; and it was not till the middle of the last century that any advancement was made in meteorology. During the middle ages which elapsed between the decay of the Roman Empire and the general revival of literature, meteorology like every science, was confined to the monasteries and re
ligious institutions of seclusion. Shortly after learning again began to flourish, and the energies of the human mind again exerted themselves on a more general scale, according to the particular genius of individuals, there appeared persons who delighted in aërial phaenomena, and Saussure, De Luc, Bertholon, and others at length roused the attention of mankind to the production of our atmosphere. The attention of philosophers since their writings seem more particularly to have been directed to these subjects, which can only be brought towards perfection by the repeated observations of people in different places. To add what few I have made myself, and to engage the attention of more able and industrious meteorologists to some facts in the science at present little known, is the reason of the present publication.
In conclusion of this rude sketch of the science from its earliest records to the present day, we are naturally led to reflect on the melancholy picture of the revolution of human society, which the history of almost any science or art will always excite. Science seems to have illumined first the banks of the Nile, and to have. dawned on the early tribes of Egypt; travelling down from Thebes to Memphis, Cairo, and
to Alexandria, it took a westerly course to Athens, to Rome, and to the many illustrious states which afterwards distinguished modern Europe. But in tracing her progress we find nothing left in her course, but the skeleton of former greatness. The ruins of stupendous cities once the ornament of the East; the numerous fortifications, walls, temples, aqueducts, and other works of art, now nothing but the desolated habitations of wild animals, and the traces left of sciences which, like fruitless flowers, bloomed in the spring of time only to decay, are monuments of human fatality which must impress reflecting persons with gloomy notions of the instability of society, and incline us to fear that, in spite of all the efforts of genius and of art of modern times, the light of knowledge which rose in the East, and civilized the oriental nations, will set on the Western parts of the world, and leave us, ere long, a monument to future ages of the fluctuating nature of human perfection, unless by a strict attention to the improvement of the physical organization of our species, conjoined with the adoption of some general plan of education superior to any hitherto enforced, we should permanently improve the moral and intellectual character of
future generations; without which all the scientific records imaginable would be to them only as cyphers scrawled on the barrenness of intellect.
Two large impressions of this work having been sold, the Author has yielded to the solicitations of his friends in preparing for the press a THIRD, in which he has added a considerable number of new observations, and has appended a Journal of Natural History, in order that the reader, by comparing the Calendar of Flora, &c. with the weather, may arrive to a more perfect notion of the particular climate of this part of Britain.