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The sources from which I had to obtain my information were the logs of fourteen vessels which arrived at Calcutta, having felt the effects of the gale or of the hurricane; the reports of the Pilot and Light vessels, kindly furnished to me, with the permission of Captain Harrington, by my worthy friend Captain Clapperton of the Bankshall; and accounts obtained from Balasore, Poree (Juggernaut), Masulipatam, and other places, in all about thirty different authorities.
These sources form the amount of what was available here; but, that the inquiry might be as complete as possible, I addressed the following letter to the President of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
To R. H. COCKERELL, ESQ.
President of the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
SIR,-I beg to state that I have undertaken the investigation of the course and effects of the gale of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th instant, with reference to the theory of Colonel Reid on the Law of Storms.
'I have applied, personally or by letter, to most of the captains or consignees of the inward-bound vessels which were exposed to it; and with the permission of Captain Harrington, and kind assistance of Captain Clapperton, shall obtain from the Bankshall reports from the H. C. Pilot and Light vessels. My chart is already drawn, and I am only waiting for the logs and reports.
So far, I trust, we shall be able to embody all the information which can be obtained here, and perhaps furnish a valuable supplement to Col. Reid's book; but it is evident that our work will not be complete without the statements to be obtained from the logs of the homewardbound ships from hence; which, having stood to the south-eastward on leaving their pilots, were more towards the middle of the Bay than the inward-bound ones, whose track is toward Point Palmiras.
'It is therefore my intention to print the information obtained here, with a lithographed chart, and to forward it to the President of the East India and China Association, by whom it will be forwarded to Col. Reid if in London, or if absent to Mr. Babbage; to whom I am, by the kind assistance of Sir Edward Ryan, allowed to refer; and who will take up the completion of the investigation, or refer it to competent hands.
'But it has occurred to me that less attention might be paid to the application of an individual than to that of a public body; and I therefore take the liberty of addressing you, Sir, as President of the Chamber of Commerce, to request that it will be pleased to direct its Secretary to write to the Chambers of Bristol and Liverpool, the East India and China Association, and the owners and commanders of the vessels in the accompanying list, praying from them their
exertions in collecting and transmitting the required information to the President of the East India and China Association. I add a draft of a letter which states what are the points on which it is desired.
'It is unnecessary for me to add that, to a naval and a commercial nation, the value and importance of a correct knowledge of the laws by which storms are governed is such, that, in the words of Sir John Herschell it cannot be overrated;' and this I doubt not will excuse my intruding upon you and the Chamber for your kind assistance. 'I am Sir, x Your obedient servant,
CALCUTTA, June 25th, 1839.
List of Homeward-bound vessels from Calcutta, the logs of which it is desirable to obtain for the investigation at home.
Barque Cape Packet,
F. Ship Emma,
DRAFT OF A LETTER TO COMMANDERS AND OWNERS.
SIR,-I am directed by the Chamber of Calcutta to state that Mr. Piddington, of this city, has undertaken the investigation of the course and effects of the gale experienced in the Bay of Bengal between the 2nd and 6th June, 1839, with reference to Colonel Reid's theory of the Law of Storms. The immense importance of this subject to commerce and navigation it is not necessary to point out. All the information collected here will be printed and sent home with a litho
graphed chart, but it is evident that the inquiry can only be completed by having the tracks and weather experienced by the ships homeward-bound from hence also laid down upon the chart; and I have therefore to request that as of the ship
you will be pleased to forward, free of expense, the information requested below to A. H. De Larpent, Esq., President of the East India and China Association, by whom it will be placed in the hands of Colonel Reid, or, in his absence of Mr. Babbage, to complete the investigation begun here. The information desired, is
1. Copy of the ship's log from the Pilot to 15° north latitude, with any information obtainable from the journals of the captain, officers, or passengers.
2. Notes of the heights of Barometer, Thermometer, and Simpiesometer; these are very desirable.
3. Peculiar appearance and states of the weather as to clearness, heavy dark clouds, &c., as noted at the time, or from recollection.
4. Electrical or other phænomena, as remarkable lightning, waterspouts, &c. and generally the most detailed information which can be afforded, particularly from the 2nd to the 6th June, 1839. The more details the better.
SIR, I am directed by the Chamber of Commerce to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 27th ultimo, explaining how you are engaged in tracing the course and effects of the late gale in the Bay of Bengal, to ascertain how far the phænomena observed will support the theory recently promulgated as to the Law of Storms. And I have to inform you, that the Chamber will be happy to address the East India and China Association of London, and the Chambers of Commerce of Liverpool and Bristol, to obtain the particulars required from the homeward ships to complete the interesting investigation which you have undertaken.
There was no other nautical source from which information could be obtained. I made a public request, in the newspapers, for the heights of barometers at noon from the captains who had obliged me with their logs, so as to compare these with the register kept at the Surveyor General's Office, and obtain thereby, as nearly as possible, the correct barometrical state of the atmosphere during the gale; for it was evident that, if one barometer had an error above, and another below the truth, their difference would appear much greater than it really was. In only one or two instances was this request attended to. As stated above, I found on the part of every public officer, as well as on that of the merchants and agents whom I addressed, the greatest readiness to assist me, and this was also the case with the majority of the captains of ships; some of whom seemed to take a pleasure in affording all the information they could furnish, accompanying their logs with detailed notes; but a few were sadly churlish, and had to be written to or called upon three or four times, before they could be persuaded to take the trouble of furnishing me with the extract of the four or five days' logs, which was all that was required;* and others, still more provokingly, having given me a valuable extract, paid no attention to my repeated applications for further information on points which would evidently have been of the greatest interest. I abstain from mentioning names. But in one instance I called and wrote seven different times, to obtain further notes, or a sight of the ship's log book, and without success! The subject was new to some, and they were not aware of its importance. "I don't think they will make much of it" was the remark of more than one; until what had been "made" of it was explained to them. Unfortunately indisposition prevented me latterly from going on board of the few vessels which have thus escaped me. There is, it is true, some excuse for men so hurried and vexed as commanders of ships, having to discharge and re-load in Calcutta, often are; but I trust on a future occasion that, as I shall elsewhere suggest, authority will be given to the Master Attendant to compel the fulfilment of this public duty; so exceedingly trifling in itself from each individual, and yet so deeply important to the community at large, and indeed to the very individuals from whom it is required, did they rightly understand their own interests.
It will be necessary first to place upon record the materials, before proceeding to the deductions they afford; but to do this within a more
*The answer to my second or third chit in one instance is worth inserting. "MR. PIDDINGTON,
"Sir, I received your note, but I have not time to attend to such trifles. But if you call on board the ship, in all probability the Mate will allow you to see it."
convenient compass, and to the landsman in a more readable shape, I have, when the captains of vessels themselves have not given me a summary, made one from the logs, comprising all that is essential to our purpose. The seaman will, I hope, be satisfied when I say that I have commanded a vessel, and have therefore I trust omitted nothing of consequence. The logs themselves will be sent to Europe for the use of Mr. Babbage or Col. Reid.
No. 1.-In Calcutta.
The Meteorological registers from the Surveyor General's Officethe notes on the weather I have added as it appeared within the town.
Fresh gales with squalls.
A gale with very severe squalls & rain.
J Strong squalls veering to SEd.
No. 2.-Diamond Harbour. Latitude 22° 11'.
2nd, Variable, cloudy, and 4th, Strong NNE. breezes squally East to SSE. and Thermometer from 1st
On the 1st June, Light variable airs. frequent rain. 3rd, NE. breezes and rain. and frequent rain. 5th, Strong gales and heavy rain. 6th, Wind at SSE. and cloudy. to 6th 83° to 85°.
Latitude 21° 52′ north.
June 1st.-Light variable Easterly winds, cloudy, and rain, thunder, and lightning. 2nd, Cloudy, N. Easterly squalls and rain with calms, heavy rain, thunder and lightning. 3rd, Heavy squalls from North to East and rain, very unsettled appearance. 4th, Heavy Easterly squalls and rain, unsettled weather. 5th, Smart gale from SE. to E. and rain. 6th, Strong breezes, SE. to S. and cloudy.