« ZurückWeiter »
ous vapor. The whole water power, with which the rain completes its retreat to the sea, through all the streams of a continent, measures but a very small fraction of the force of atmospheric movements so suddenly generated by the fall of rain. Here, then, is a fruitful source of disturbance, capable of disconcerting all other atmospheric movements in their influence on the lower strata of the air, and dependent on such nice adjustments of temperature and moisture and previous movement, while these again depend on the character and previous condition of different areas of land, and these in turn on relative positions and altitudes, the nature of the soil, the seasons of the year, and the previous history of the weather, that we may perhaps appropriately define the weather as such a combination of regular, periodic, and constant causes, that the result is the most irregular, unperiodic, and inconstant thing in nature.
Still, those constant averages, which the isothermal lines and rain charts illustrate, show that there are constant local influences in the surface of the earth, which rise like islands above the ocean of change. Moreover, many of the movements of the atmosphere are very extensive and regular.
Our author has studied with great care the principal and characteristic storms of the United States, which are of greater extent and regularity than the storms of other known regions, and therefore peculiarly fitted to illustrate the dynamics of the atmosphere. No causes, however, have yet been discovered, which determine the time or duration of storms. Perhaps there are no principal causes.
66 The last drop makes the cup run over,” may be the proverb of the weather. The waters that have risen from the sea may begin their stormy retreat on any slight occasion, and rain once begun will continue to fall till the atmosphere is drained, according to the theory of Professor Espy; for the rising and consequent expansion and cooling of the saturated air causes the precipitation of moisture; and this lightens and at the same time warms the air, which consequently rises still higher, yielding to the pressure of the denser air around it. New air follows the rising cloud, and goes through the same process, till all the moisture of the stormy district is precipitated.
We naturally seek for special causes to explain special and well-marked effects, but often unwisely, for who can tell when the obstructed waters of a stream shall gather force enough to break the barrier? The changes of the weather ought perhaps to be regarded as crises in the operations of many causes, rather than the special effects of any single
The tendency to simplify and to isolate the causes of nature, in our speculations about them, is not less human than to err. Hence in ancient superstitions each wind had its source and special superintendent, and in the superstitions even of our times the moon is the general superintendent of the weather. Common observation confirms the belief in this agency of the moon by a very common fallacy of statistical evidence. If our hypotheses multiply sufficiently the chances of coincidence, statistics will always confirm them. Now the moon changes once a week, and the weather perhaps, on the average, as often as twice a week; hence the moon's changes will be likely by the rules of chance to happen within less than a day of some change in the weather. This, then, will account for one half of the changes of the weather, and the other half can be referred to the instability of the fickle atmosphere.
Modern speculators on the weather have invented other governing causes, some within and some beyond the atmosphere, and have even ventured predictions for long periods; but the weather always compels them to multiply exceptions, conditions, and chances of coincidence to such an extent, that these theories become useless just as they begin to agree with the phenomena; as the horse of Scholastikos expired just as it had learned to live without eating. Now, when mathematical science shall have followed the known causes of atmospheric movements through all their intricate operations, and predicted the weather even for a single day, it will be time to seek for new causes.
When the influences of such apparently insignificant causes as the distribution of land and water, the character of soils, and the relative positions of mountains, plains, and seas, shall be fully determined, and the work shall be finished, to which our author, following in the footsteps of the illustrious Humboldt, has contributed so much; then shall we find ourselves in possession, - not yet of the means of predicting the weather, but only of their elements. Then will be required a greater than Newton or Lagrange to invent the mathematical method by which these elements can be wrought into prophetic formulas, and Proteus be bound in fetters. Till then we must be contented with the signs of changes near at hand. But even these signs, like the changes themselves, depend upon so many circumstances, that they cannot be exactly defined, and they are clearly apparent only to that incommunicable synthetic skill of long experience which we call weather-wisdom. All knowledge of the weather, then, is still in the hands of its prophets. To them we must go for counsel.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL.
1. The Life and Epistles of St. Paul. By the Rev. W. J. Cony
BEARE, M. A., and the Rev. J. S. Howson, M. A. Sixth Edition.
New York: Charles Scribner. 2 vols. 2. The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Galatians, Romans.
With Critical Notes and Dissertations. By BENJAMIN JOWETT, M. A. London: John Murray.
1855. 2 vols. 3. Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. Sein Leben und Wirken, seine Briefe und seine Lehre.
Ein Beitrag zur kritischen Geschichte des Urchristenthums. Von DR. FERDINAND CHRISTIAN BAUR. Stuttgart: Becker und Müller. 1845.
The recent death of the Rev. Mr. Conybeare gives fresh significance to these volumes in the composition of which he bore so important a part. They are now become his best monument, and none the less so that another name is coupled with his in the credit so liberally accorded to them in both hemispheres.
Association in literary effort is seldom attended with the same advantage as co-operation in other walks. What is gained in material, is generally lost in method and form. “ The Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” with all its merits, is no exception to this truth. We gratefully accept the joint production, but we cannot help thinking that either of the authors concerned in it, following his own bent, and acting independently of the other, would have given us a better book than the two have produced in concert. Or if Mr. Howson, with his archæological and geographical learning, had composed an “ Introduction to the Writings of St. Paul," and Mr. Conybeare had thrown his critical and exegetical researches into the form of a commentary; and if the two works thus separately conceived had then been combined, we should have had the matter contained in these volumes in a more available shape and more systematically arranged. The chaotic amorphousness of the present work is a grave deduction from its literary value. It has the disjointedness of a collectanea without the completeness and method of a Cyclo. pædia Paulina.
But with any arrangement of their material that might have been adopted, there would still be wanting to these volumes an adequate biography of St. Paul. The true individuality of the great Apostle, the constituent idea, the forma formans of his life, is nowhere brought out. With all the light that is thrown, by geographical and archæological investigation, on his movements and surroundings, the interior life of the man, is very imperfectly illustrated. A complete exhibition of Paul from the subjective side is something the world still waits for. Perhaps the best medium for such an exhibition would be fiction. We have often thought that an imaginary autobiography, in letters addressed to contemporaries, would do more to illustrate Paul's theology than all the cornmentaries ever written.
Those contemporaries should be representatives of the three classes of minds with which the Apostle came most in contact. Seneca might answer for the Gentile correspondent, Gamaliel for the Jewish, and Ananias of Damascus for the Christian.
In Mr. Howson's chapters the accessories are altogether disproportioned to the subject. The Apostle is smothered with illustrations. The promised “Life is an islet of biography in an ocean of historico-geographical lore.
A characteristic trait of the English mind is unpleasantly prominent in these pages, - a pragmatical bias which confounds the function of the commentator with that of the preacher, and displays itself in moral reflections better adapted to Sunday-school instruction than to scientific research ; reflections which the reader had better be left to make for himself, and is not very likely to profit by if impertinently thrust upon him.
Mr. Howson * has attempted to arrange the narrative, after the conversion, in conformity both with the Epistle to the Galatians and with the Acts, ignoring the utter contradiction between the two, - a contradiction so glaring that not to notice it argues want of observation or want of candor. To whichever of these defects the blinking of so obvious a fact be ascribed, it is not very creditable to Mr. Howson as a critic.
Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians † states expressly, that for some time after his conversion he took no counsel of his fellow-Christians, but sojourned for a while in Arabia, and then returned to Damascus. The writer of the account in the Acts knows nothing of the visit to Arabia, but states that Paul immediately after his conversion associated himself with the other disciples, and began to preach Christianity at Damascus." Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues.” $ Paul, again, affirms that after his return to Damascus three years had elapsed before his first visit to Jerusalem as a disciple. The Acts includes the whole period from the conversion to the quitting of Damascus for Jerusalem in the phrase "after many days were fulfilled," — an expression which Paley, s arguing as special pleader for the authenticity of the Acts, would construe to mean three years, but which no one would dream of stretching to that extent, except to accommodate the statement in Galatians. Then, having come to Jerusalem, according to his own account, Paul went directly to Peter, who, for aught that appears, received him without hesita
* Vol. I. Chap. III.
| Acts ix. 19, 20.