we are, to such a variety of changes in the state of the atmosphere, and these changes so constantly recurring, far more frequently indeed than in continental districts, as very slight consideration of the principles of atmospheric variation at once demonstrates to be necessarily the case; the state of the weather is really a subject of paramount importance to us; and while a cold damp raw day is a fair subject of condolence, a bright warm sunny day is unquestionably a legitimate subject of congratulation.

It is for the same reason, as I imagine, that proverbs on the weather have been so universal in the mouths of our peasantry; and now that the advance of education is driving away our folk-lore, and the vast accumulation of modern literature is thrusting out of sight the quaint old sayings, generally replete with wisdom and truth, though clad in never so homely a garb, which still linger in our country parishes, it is time for the archæologist to rescue them from oblivion, and to collect and store up these pithy maxims, the result of patient observation of Nature's prognostics; and which (I will venture to say), being founded on such true principles, are often more to be relied upon than the dicta of the Meteorological Society, with all its delicate and sensitive instruments, its barometers, its wet and dry bulb thermometers, its aneroids and ozonometers to boot: for these may be faulty, and deceive us, but Nature never errs, and if we can but read her aright, spreads out the page with undeviating accuracy.

Now the labourer, and above all the shepherd, employed all his life long on our open Wiltshire Downs and fields, has remarkable opportunities for studying the sky, and noting the signs of the seasons; and I have very often been amazed at the accuracy with which he can forecast a change in the weather, when to ordinary eyes not the slightest symptoms of alteration were apparent: but this is an instinct derived from constant observation; and, to a mind not overburdened with many thoughts, has become a habit monopolizing no small part of his attention. It is an instinct too which depends more upon prolonged experience than abstract reasoning; and it is an instinct shared, though in still larger measure, by many branches of the animal and even the vegetable world, beasts and birds and inseets and plants. Still let us be just to the humble countryman, who is not guided as these latter are, by a natural inborn instinct in regard to the weather, any more than his fellows are in other conditions of life : but let us allow him the credit he deserves for his careful and accurate observation on a subject which requires many years experience, and no little balancing of evidence, before an accurate verdict can be arrived at.

I proceed now to mention such of the proverbs as are in most general use among us, but I would premise that many of them are common to every other county in England, and some of them are in use throughout Europe. How true is the well-known saying :

Evening grey, and morning red

Sends the shepherd wet to bed :
Evening red, and morning grey
Is the sure sign of a very fine day.”

• This is perhaps one of the most universal wea ther proverbs variously expressed, throughout Europe. Thus elsewhere we have:

"If red the sun begins his race

Be sure the rain will fall apace."

“ If the sun goes pale to bed

'Twill rain tomorrow, it is said,”

" Bero rubens oclum cras indicat esse serenum,

At si manè rubet, venturos indicat imbres."

“Rouge le matin

C'est de la pluie pour le voisin;
Rouge du couchant
Promet beau temps."

Rouge du soir

Bon espoir';
Rouge du matin
Trompe le voisin,"

" Abends roih ist Morgens gut;
Morgens roth thut selten gut.”

" Der Morgen grau, der Abend roth

Ist ein guter Wetterbot;
Der Abend roth, der Morgen grau,
Bringt das schönste Tages blau.”

“ Morgenroth


" Rosso di sera
Bon tempo se spera;
Bianco di matina,
Bon temps se ineamina."

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Or, as it is rendered in the vernacular of our downs :

"The rainbow in the marnin

Gives the shepherd warnin

To car er's gurt cwoat on er's back;

The rainbow at night

Is the shepherd's delight

For then no gurt cwoat will er lack;"

Another cloud proverb, though unknown in Wiltshire, is:

"If woolly fleeces spread the heavenly way,
Be sure no rain disturbs the summer's day."

The following proverbs with reference to rain and wind are to be heard amongst our seafaring people on the coasts:

"When the rain comes before the winds

You may reef when it begins;

But when the wind comes before the rain
You may hoist your topsails up again."

"When the wind is in the North,
The skilful fisher goes not forth."

In considering this prognostic, it should be borne in mind that in the former case the rainbow will appear in the west, and in the latter in the east. The same proverb is in use also across the Channel:

"Arc en ciel du soir

Fait beau temps prevoir;
Arc en ciel du matineé

Du laboureur finit la journée,"

But elsewhere in France it is differently read:

"Are en eiel du levant

Beau temps;
Arc en ciel du midi


The rainbow however has always attracted especial notice as a weather guide, though its intelligence is variously interpreted. It is also generally known throughout Europe by some term of endearment or title of honour, testifying to the universal reverence in which it is held. Thus by the old Norsemen it was called “Asbrû " or "The Bridge of the Gods." In Lithuania, "Laima's Girdle," the "weather rod," or "Heaven's bow." In Catalonia, "St. Martin's bow." In Lorraine, "St. Leonard's Belt," or "St. Bernard's Crown." In Bavaria, "Heaven's Ring," or "The Sun's Ring." In Finland, "Heaven's Bow." In Croatia, "The God's Seat," (Swainson's Handbook of Weather Lore.)

which is only our homely way of expressing the famous lines of Byron :

“ Be thou the rainbow to the storms of life,

The evening beam that smiles the clouds away

And tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.Then again how true is the old Wiltshire saying :

“ When the wind is North-West,

The weather is at the best :
But if the rain comes out of the East,
'Twill rain twice twenty-four hours at the least.”

These are general proverbs, applicable to all times; but we have an unusual number of proverbs in Wiltshire, which describe the evils of too advanced vegetation in a precocious spring : indeed on a careful comparison of all the Wiltshire weather proverbs with which I am acquainted, by far the larger portion refers to this fact; which is perhaps brought home to us in our confessedly cold county more than elsewhere.

In a healthy orthodox winter, the middle of January was looked upon as the coldest period of the year, and the Feast of St. Hilary! was in many places regarded as the coldest day, as indeed it oftentimes is. There is a proverb to this effect in the mouths of all Wiltshiremen :

“ As the day lengthens

So the cold strengthens.”
But nothing is more deprecated than a mild January;

“ So hoch der Schnee

So hoch das Gras," is the German way of expressing their appreciation of a hard winter : while we have:

“ If the grass grows in Janiveer,
It grows the worse for't all the year.”

1 January 13th ; 0.8. January 25th. • Exactly the same proverb prevails in Germany :

" Wenn's Gras wachst in Januar,

Wachst es schlecht durch's ganze Jahr."

Elsewhere the same sentiment appears in the following proverbs :

“ March in Janiveer,

Janiveer in March, I fear."

And again :

" A January spring

Is worth nothing."
“ December's frost and January's flood

Never boded the husbandman good.”

For February, we have :

“ Of all the months in the year,

Curse a fair Februeer.” This is strong language; but even this is preferable to the undutiful saying attributed to the inhabitants of Wales, who repeat :

“ The Welshman would rather see his mother on the bier,

Than see a fair Februeer."

The month of March again, or the “Marchen month," as it it often called in Wiltshire, is acknowledged as a spring month; and we repeat the saying, which endorses its spring character :

" Saint Mattbie

Sends sap into the tree.” And the French express in another form the same sentiment:

“ Saint Matthias

Casse les glaces.”

But yet no month in the year is so little trusted, and looked upon with such suspicion and misgiving as this : indeed all the proverbs

“ In January should sun sppear,

March and April pay full dear."
“ If January Kalends be summerly gay
'Twill be winterly weather to the Kalends of May."

“ The blackest month in all the year,

Is the month of Janiveer.” And in France;

“ Si les mouches dansent en Janvier

Le cultivateur devra s'inquieter de ses fourrages;" That is ;

When you see midges in January,

Treasure up every bit of forage." To the same effect in Germany :

“ Tanzen in Januar die Mucken

Muss der Bauer nach dem Futter gucken."

• Now February 24th, but 0.8. March 8th,

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