correspondence Battles in the Heavens: Military Metaphors and "Fronts" in the Early Eighteenth Century James Rodger Fleming Program in Science—Technology Studies, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Colby College, Waterville, Maine Although the terms cold front and warm front were being much abated by the defendant, as the yielding side; yet it becomes more dreadful, by the addition of introduced in 1920 by J. Bjerknes and H. Solberg, the fire-arms to their fury, especially amidst the heats of use of military metaphors in meteorology did not begin summer, while the air is, on all sides, impregnated with with World War I. Edward Barlow (1639-1719)1 used sulphurous and combustible matter; which both sides fronts and other military terminology to describe a sweep together in their encounter; and by compress- veritable battle in the heavens in his Meteorological ing it into a ferment, and overheating it by their Essays, published in 1715:2 agitation, makes it take fire and discharge it self [sic] in claps of thunder; which, being involv'd in the mani- And, in case the welkin be dispos'd to let more storms fold furls of the compressing clouds; each crack fall, in several places at the same time .. . And if their breaking the shell of its inclosure, gives fire to another motion s prove adverse to one another, their of the same rank, till all be discharged in order at the rencounters grow more violent;. . . [so as] to rid up congress of their encounter; as if the fronts of their oaks by the roots; and overthrow castles, by shocking battles fir'd their small shot upon each other. the earth and sapping their foundations: nay, some- And if it so chance, that any of the cavities, between times swallowing up whole armies, by assaulting 'em the fronts of those embodied clouds, be not so en- from the four quarters of the heavens at once, with an folded within the rest; but directly extended, as it were, irresistible indignation. drawn out into a long hollow tube; the train of ethereal When but one single storm, how fierce soever it be, gunpowder, inclosed therein, taking fire at the upper sets against the wind, the conflict is not so sharp, end, presently displodes a thunderbolt of most refined matter out of the lower; as quick as a continued rarefaction and lightning can drive it; and much swifter that a ball of lead passeth out of the mouth of a cannon; 1A biographical sketch of Barlow appears in Dictionary of National and withal it is of so subtle and penetrative a nature, Biography, Vol. 1 (London, 1908), page 1139. Barlow, priest and and well fitted to do execution, expecially where it mechanician of Lancashire, was primarily employed in ministering finds most opposition; as sometimes to melt the sword to the poor. In addition to his religious and classical training, he and spare the scabbard. studied natural philosophy and mathematics and was the inventor of repeating pendulum clocks and watches. He was also the author This first discharge being over, presently succeeds of An Exact Survey of the Tide (London, 1717;2d ed., 1722), which a second; and this is back'd with a third, fourth, fifth, revised and extended his Meteorological Essays. &c. as long as their common store of ammunition 2Edward Barlow, Meteorological Essays, Concerning the Origin of holds out to maintain the fight; for the prevailing storm Springs, Generation of Rain, and Production of Wind. With a rational beating back the yielding wind, and still encountering and historical account of the causes and course of the tide: its the fresh supplies of fiery matter, while it brings up the propagation thro' the great ocean: and its reception into the narrow rear; They jointly fill the air with repeated volleys of seas, and channels: more especially near the coasts of Great Britain shot, till the assailant storm be spent in the pursuit; and and Ireland. Explicating all along its various appearances and the defendant wind be so reinforced to resist by its seeming irregularities. 2 vols., London, 1715. The quote is from retreat; that both sides after all are well content to pages 76-78. The format of the quote, including capitalization and acquiesce with a drawn battel [sic]: the air's equilib- use of italics, was modernized; emphasis was added. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term front was rium, for which they engaged, being at last perfectly used in a military sense as early as the mid-fourteenth century. In restored. 1598, we find the following definition attributed to Robert Barret, Theorike andPractike ofModerne Warres (1598): "Fronte, a French word, is the face or foreparte of a squadron or battell [sic]." ©1992 American Meteorological Society Bulletin American Meteorological Society
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jun 1, 1992
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