The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 55

as to form a drop, that drop begins to fall. If it freezes
into a grain of ice, that ice descends. In descending, both the
drop of water and the grain of ice are augmented by particles of
the vapour they pass through in falling, and which they condense by
coldness, and attach to themselves.

It is possible that, in summer, much of what is rain, when it arrives
at the surface of the earth, might have been snow when it began its
descent; but being thawed, in passing through the warm air near the
surface, it is changed from snow into rain.

How immensely cold must be the original particle of hail, which
forms the centre of the future hailstone, since it is capable of
communicating sufficient cold, if I may so speak, to freeze all the
mass of vapour condensed round it, and form a lump of perhaps six or
eight ounces in weight!

When, in summer time, the sun is high, and continues long every day
above the horizon, his rays strike the earth more directly, and with
longer continuance, than in the winter; hence the surface is more
heated, and to a greater depth, by the effect of those rays.

When rain falls on the heated earth, and soaks down into it, it
carries down with it a great part of the heat, which by that means
descends still deeper.

The mass of earth, to the depth perhaps of thirty feet, being thus
heated to a certain degree, continues to retain its heat for some
time. Thus the first snows that fall in the beginning of winter,
seldom lie long on the surface, but are soon melted, and soon
absorbed. After which, the winds, that blow over the country on which
the snows had fallen, are not rendered so cold as they would have
been, by those snows, if they had remained, and thus the approach of
the severity of winter is retarded; and the extreme degree of its
cold is not always at the time we might expect it, viz. when the sun
is at its greatest distance, and the day shortest, but some time
after that period, according to the English proverb, which says, "as
the day lengthens, the cold strengthens;" the causes of refrigeration
continuing to operate, while the sun returns too slowly, and his
force continues too weak to counteract them.

During several of the summer months of the year 1783, when the
effects of the sun's rays to heat the earth in these northern regions
should have been the greatest, there existed a constant fog over all
Europe, and

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P.