Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 203

by any means
unequally supported or unequal in its weight, the heaviest part descends
first, and the rest follows impetuously. Hence gusts after heats, and
hurricanes in hot climates. Hence the air of gusts and hurricanes is
cold, though in hot climates and seasons; it coming from above.

The cold air descending from above, as it penetrates our warm region
full of watery particles, condenses them, renders them visible, forms a
cloud thick and dark, overcasting sometimes, at once, large and
extensive; sometimes, when seen at a distance, small at first, gradually
increasing; the cold edge or surface of the cloud condensing the vapours
next it, which form smaller clouds that join it, increase its bulk, it
descends with the wind and its acquired weight, draws nearer the earth,
grows denser with continual additions of water, and discharges heavy

Small black clouds thus appearing in a clear sky, in hot climates
portend storms, and warn seamen to hand their sails.

The earth turning on its axis in about twenty-four hours, the equatorial
parts must move about fifteen miles in each minute; in northern and
southern latitudes this motion is gradually less to the poles, and there

If there was a general calm over the face of the globe, it must be by
the air's moving in every part as fast as the earth or sea it covers. *
* *

The air under the equator and between the tropics being constantly
heated and rarefied by the sun, rises. Its place is supplied by air from
northern and southern latitudes, which, coming from parts wherein the
earth and air had less motion, and not suddenly acquiring the quicker
motion of the equatorial earth, appears an east wind blowing westward;
the earth moving from west to east, and slipping under the air.[37]

[37] See a paper on this subject, by the late ingenious Mr. Hadley,
in the Philadelphia Transactions, wherein this hypothesis of
explaining the tradewinds first appeared.

Thus, when we ride in a calm, it seems a wind against us: if we ride
with the wind, and faster, even that will seem a small wind against us.

The air rarefied between the tropics, and rising, must flow in the
higher region north and south. Before it rose it had acquired the
greatest motion the earth's rotation could give it. It retains some
degree of this motion, and descending in higher latitudes, where the
earth's motion is less, will appear a westerly wind, yet tending towards
the equatorial parts, to supply the vacancy occasioned

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