The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening Science - Soils, Manure and the Environment
Chapter: Chapter 4: Weather and Climate


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1412. Thunderbolts. When lightning acts with extraordinary violence, and breaks or shatters any thing, it is called a thunderbolt, which the vulgar, to fit it for such effects, suppose to be a hard body, and even a stone. But that we need not have recourse to a hard solid body to account for the effects commonly attributed to the thunderbolt, will be evident to any one who considers those of gunpowder, and the several chemical fulminating powders, but more especially the astonishing powers of electricity, when only collected and employed by human art, and much more when directed and exercised in the course of nature. When we consider the known effects of electrical explosions, and those produced by lightning, we shall be at no loss to account for the extraordinary operations vulgarly ascribed to thunderbolts. As stones and bricks struck by lightning are often found in a vitrified state, we may reasonably suppose, with Beccaria, that some stones in the earth, having been struck in this manner, gave occasion to the common opinion of the thunderbolt. Some of the small smooth flints which are shown as thunderbolts appear to have been ancient arrow-heads.