, as you like, you find when you're in them they wet your whiskers, or take out your curls, and when you're out of them, they don't; and therefore you may with probability assume--not with certainty, observe, but with probability--that there's more water in the air where it damps your curls than where it doesn't. If it gets much denser than that, it will begin to rain; and then you may assert, certainly with safety, that there is a shower in one place, and not in another; and not allow the scientific people to tell you that the rain is everywhere, but palpable in Tooley Street, and impalpable in Grosvenor Square.
That, I say, is broadly and comfortably so on the whole,--and yet with this kind of qualification and farther condition in the matter. If you watch the steam coming strongly out of an engine-funnel,--at the top of the funnel it is transparent,--you can't see it, though it is more densely and intensely there than anywhere else. Six inches out of the funnel it becomes snow-white,--you see it,
The title might sound allegorical, but the bulk of this lecture is really about clouds. His thesis is that the weather in early-1880s London is unusually gray, terrible and foreboding, and that this terrible weather has given rise to some equally terrible social conditions. If you're a student of weather and enjoy books like The Little Ice Age, this will be completely fascinating. It's also nifty to see the mind of an art critic applied to natural phenomena. This book is odd, to be sure, but worth checking out.