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come down to us in the form of proverbs. It seems highly probable that these observers, wishing to draw attention to a likely time of wet, should connect it with some saint's day, in order that the people might remember it the better. It is rather curious that several saints have had the character of patrons of

rain attributed to them; but St. Swithin has FULY, 1882.

beaten the others out of the field, and his fame has survived to the present day. The

Rev. Leonard Blomefield (late Jenyns), a St. Swithin's Day.

veteran meteorologist, has given some attenBy HENRY B. WHEATLEY, F.S.A.

tion to these weather saints, and written a

valuable and interesting Paper upon them, OPULAR delusions often appear which is printed in the Proceedings of the

to be endowed with a perpetual Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field youth ; and this perhaps may be Club. The days of these rainy saints are,

accounted for by the fact that they with one exception, all in June and July, are seldom entirely false. Thus, the wide- and Thomas Forster, the meteorologist, respread faith in the meteorological influence gards this as a proof that the superstition was of St. Swithin is not altogether without a “founded on the experience of those who certain foundation in truth. An industrious had observed, that whatever weather set in sceptic actually took the trouble to examine soon after the summer solstice was of long the Greenwich observations for twenty years, continuance.” Mr. Blomefield also points in order to prove the fallacy of this popular out that meteorological observations, extendsuperstition, and he found that during that ing over a long period of time, indicate the period there were six wet St. Swithins and percentage of wet to be very high both in fourteen dry ones. Moreover, he found that July and August. The first in point of the average of rainy days was greater after time of the ominous saints' days is that of the dry than after the wet fifteenths of July. St. Vitus, which falls on the 15th of June, Such a result might, very naturally have been but as he comes so early he is only allowed expected, for statistics and general assertions thirty days of wet. In the Sententiæ are not likely to run amicably together; Rythmicæ of Buchlerus the following lines nevertheless, the original spirit of the super- occur : stition may have been correct in the main, although the letter was wrong in the particu

Lux sacrata Vito si sit pluviosa, sequentes lar instances. The period fixed for the

Triginta facient omne madere solum. duration of the wet should have caused us to A few days after this, on the 24th, is St. see that the prophecy was not intended to be John the Baptist's Day, rain on which is taken literally, for the number forty has been sure to be followed by forty days of wet, as generally used to imply the indefinite ; and an old Latin proverb informs us. The 2nd we must

, therefore, allow the same latitude of July is the Festival of the Visitation of as to the exact time as we do in the case of the Virgin Mary, the day of Saints Processus quarantine, a word in which the original idea and Martinianus, and the festival of St. of forty is now entirely lost. If we under- Swithin in the Roman Martyrology, and the stand the prophecy to mean that when rain same prophecy about forty days of wet has sets in in July it is likely to last for two or been applied to it. The 4th is the day three weeks, we shall find that it is in the of the translation of St. Martin, and rain main correct.

then betokens either twenty or forty days of Those persons in all ages whose occupa- wet weather, the prophets disagreeing a little tions have taken them much in the open air in the matter. In Scotland it used to be have usually been observers of Nature, and called St. Martin of Bullion's day, and there the result of much of their observation has was a proverb that if the deer rose dry and

VOL. VI.

B

lay down dry on that day it was a sign of a The English notion as to St. Bartholomew good harvest, in accordance with the old arises from the fact that his day falls exactly couplet

forty days after St. Swithin, so that should the Bullion's day gif ye be fair,

latter be wet, the former brings about a For forty days there'll be nae mair.

change of weather. In considering these different dates, we Having dismissed the rivals who have in ought not to forget that they are not the vain attempted to drive St. Swithin from his same as when the superstitions first grew up. chief place as a prophetic meteorologist, we If we take into consideration the change will now say a few words about the saint made in our calendar in the year 1752, and himself and his day. Most of us are famiadd eleven days, which is the difference lair with the lines— between the old and the new style, we shall

In this month is St. Swithin's day, find that St. Vitus's Day would fall on the

On which is that it rain they say, 26th of June, St. John the Baptist's on the

Full forty days after it will, 5th of July, the Festival of the Virgin's

Or more or less some rain distil. Visitation on the 13th of July, St. Martin of These were amplified by Gay in his Trivia, Bullion's Day on the 15th of July, and St. who added to them a little moral lecture Swithin's on the 26th of July.

Now if on Swithin's feast the welkin lours, Foreigners do not recognize our rainy

And every penthouse streams with hasty showers, saints, but have different ones of their own.

Twice twenty days shalt clouds their fleeces drain, In France, Saints Médard, Gervais, and And wash the pavement with incessant rain. Protais are looked upon as exerting con- Let not such vulgar tales debase thy mind; siderable influence over the weather. St.

Nor Paul nor Swithin rule the clouds and wind. Médard's day falls on the 8th of July, and Gay here glances at the popular belief, to some old lines say

which we shall refer further on, that the S'il pleut le jour de Saint Médard,

weather on St. Paul's Day (January 25) was Il pleut quarante jours plus tard.

an omen of what the year would turn out. The 19th of the same month is dedicated The most usual belief as to St. Swithin's to Saints Gervais and Protais

Day is limited to the wet; but some say that S'il pleut le jour de Saint Gervais et de Saint

if the 15th of July is fine, the forty following Protais

days will also be fine, and this view is taken Il pleut guarante jours après.

in the Northern proverbSaint Médard's Day is still watched with

St. Swithin's day, gif ye do rain, anxiety in the rural districts of France, and

For forty daies it will remain ; the old proverb quoted above has been

St. Swithin's day, an ye be fair, amplified into the following lines :

For forty daies 'twill rain nae mair.
Du jour de St. Médard, qu'est in Juin,

Ben Jonson mentions the belief in St.
Le laboureur se donne soin,
Car les vieux disent que s'il pleut,

Swithin's in his play of Every Man out of his
Quarante jours durer il peut;

Humour ; but it does not appear to have Et s'il fait beau tu est certain

been more literally true in the seventeenth D'avoir abondance en grain.

than in the nineteenth centuryOf the rainy saints' day in other countries

O, here's St. Swithin's, the fifteenth day; variable we may mention St. Godelieve in Flanders, weather, for the most part rain ; good ! for the most the Festival of the Seven Sleepers (July 27),

part rain.

Why it should rain forty days after, and two others in Germany, St. Galla (Oc

no more or less it was a rule held afore I was able tober 5) in Tuscany, and any day within

10 hold a plough, and yet here are two days no rain,

ha! it makes me musc.-Act i. sc. I. the octave of the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle (August 24), at Rome. This It is time now to ask who St. Swithin last is in contradiction to the English coup- and why he should be connected with wet let, which says that-

weather, but the first part of the question All the tears that Swithin can cry

is easier to answer than the last. St. Bartlemy's dusty mantle wipes dry..

St. Swithin, or more properly speaking

was,

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