is that of fine weather, and in some places is thought to counteract and displace him, for the proverb runs :—

"All the tears St. Swithun can cry,
St. Bartlemy's mantle wipes dry."

Let it however, in common justice, be observed, that St. Bartholemew's day1 does not occur until the expiration of the forty days following St. Swithun.2

Again we have:

"If Bartlemy's day be fair and clear,

We may hope for a prosperous autumn that year."

But yet another proverb says:

"Saint Bartholemew
Brings the cold dew;"

because the nights are now beginning to be cold.

St. Michael's day was also in old time, if not now, in Wiltshire, as it certainly is to this day in Sweden, a festival from which many prognostics of the ensuing season might be drawn: thus if a north or east wind should chance to blow on that day, the following winter would be very severe; if the day should chance to be fine, the next year would be dry; but if the day should be wet, the year ensuing would be mild but damp.3 St. Thomas's day was another festival, which was much observed by the credulous, for careful examination at the right moment would infallibly result in an accurate foreknowledge of weather for a quarter of a year! The proverb runs thus: "Look at the weathercock on St. Thomas's day at twelve

1 August 24th; O.S. September 5th.

2 In various countries in Europe, the same belief of a rainy saint prevails, though differences exist as to the period of the particular day in question,


In France, St. Medard (June 8th) and SS. Gervase and Protasius (June 19th) have a similar character assigned to them.

In Belgium, St. Godelieve (July 6th).

In Germany, the Seven Sleepers (June 27th).

In Poland, St. Harold (July 19th).

In Denmark (July 2nd and 9th).

In North Italy (July 26th).

3 Lloyd's " "Peasant Life in Sweden," p. 283.

4 December 21st; O.S. January 2nd.

o'clock, and see which way the wind is: there it will stick for the next three months " Christmas day too was another epoch worthy of observation, as the following wise saws show: "A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year;" "A warm Christmas foretells a cold Easter: a green Christmas, a white Easter." And again on New Year's eve very anxious were the enquiries as to the direction of the wind, as from that token the weather of the entire coming year might be foreknown:

"If New Year's Eve night wind blows South,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;

If West, much milk and fish in the sea,

If North, much cold and storms there'll be ;

If East, the trees will bear much fruit,

If North-East, flee it man and brute."

The festival of the Conversion of St. Paul' was another day from which accurate prognostics of coming seasons might be framed, and not only of the seasons but even of the welfare of the nation. The rhymes run thus:

"If St. Paule's daie be faire and clear,
It doth betide a happy yeare;

But if perchance it then should raine,
It will make dear all kinds of graine:
And if the clouds make dark the skie,
Then neate and fowls this yeare shall die;
If blustering winds doe blowe aloft,
Then war shall vex the realm full oft."


But the Feast of Purification was perhaps the most noted, as a day by which to foretell the coming weather. This is embodied in the following well-known monkish legend to the effect that a bright sun on the Feast of the Purification betokens more frost after than before that festival:-

"Si sol splendescat Mariâ Purificante,

Major erit glacies post festum quam fuit ante."*

These prognostics from the state of the heavens on Christmas day are carried to a great extent in Russia, where they have a proverb that “a dark Christmas foretells that cows will give much milk; and a bright Christmas that hens will lay well."

2 January 25th; 0.8. February 6th.
* February 2nd; O.S. February 14th.

• Sir Thomas Brown's "Vulgar Errors," edit. folio., London, 1646, p. 289,

A proverb which has thus found its way into English

"If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;

But if Candlemas day be clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.'

17 #

I must also call attention to the remarkable prejudice against Leap-year, a prejudice as common and as widely spread as it is unfounded. It is popularly supposed that neither children nor domestic animals born in that year will thrive, and that neither

"When the wind's in the East on Candlemas day
There it will stick till the second of May."

⚫ There are other well-known proverbs founded on the state of the weather at this festival, as :

"If Candlemas day be fair and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year."

And of the prevalence of cold at this period of the year :

"At Candlemas

Cold comes to us."

As in Germany, with equally feeble rhyme :


Winter gewis."

"A good deal of rain on Easter day

Gives a crop of good corn, but little good hay." "When Easter falls in our Lady's lap (March 25th), Then let England beware of a rap."

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Other popular notions with regard to certain days might be mentioned, though not rife in this county, e.g. :

"If it thunders on All Fools day (April 1st),
It brings good crops of corn and hay.”


Very curious too is the fancy with regard to the weather on the moveable feasts of Ascension, Trinity, Pentecost, &c. :-

"If it rain on Ascension Day ever so little, it foretells scarcity and murrain, but if it be fair, then the contrary, aud fine weather to Michaelmas."

"Ascensionis vel modica pluvia pabuli inopiam, serenitas copiam signant."

"S'il pleut le jour de l'Ascension
C'est comme du poison."

"Penticostis pluviæ nil boni signant.".

"S'il pleut le jour de la Trinité,
Il pleut tous les dimanches de l'année."

"Ist es Corporis Christi Klar
Bringt es uns ein gutes Jahr,"

"Corporis Christi serenitas laudatur."


grafts nor young shoots will come to their full growth. So we have the Wiltshire proverb :

"Leap year

Never was a good sheep year."

I need scarcely say that these are all popular delusions, founded on no reliable basis, though doubtless they do occasionally, however unfrequently, by accident, come true; and then they attract unmerited attention, and are held up to admiring disciples as infallible weather-guides.

One thing however seems quite certain, and that is that if our obervations are recorded through a long period of time, there will be found to be a balance of averages, both as regards heat and cold, and wet and dry weather and in short the general average through the whole period will be found to be maintained.

So true is another Wiltshire proverb :

"No one so surely pays his debt,
As wet to dry, and dry to wet; "

or, as they have it in Scotland :—

"Lang foul, lang fair."

More or less accurate too, as generally founded on experience, are other common proverbs we have with reference to rain and wind ; thus:

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"When the wind veers against the sun
Trust it not, for back 'twill run."

Not so accurate, I think, is another, though it is the exclusive property of the inhabitants of this county, and was certainly implicitly believed in by our ancestors :

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a proverb as poor in rhyme as in reason, though doubtless to be honored for its antiquity, as also because it belongs to Wiltshire.

Highly poetical too are some of our weather-proverbs, and betoken no little sentiment in the minds of those who use them; such is the really beautiful notion :

"The dews of the evening industriously shun,

They're the tears of the sky for the loss of the sun."

And again :

"The sun sets weeping in the lowly West
Witnessing storms to come, woe and unrest."

Such again is the saying, when it rains on All Souls Day :-1

"The dead are weeping."

And the apostrophe to April may be mentioned:

"Hail, April, true Medea of the year,

That makes all nature young and fresh appear."

There is also a saying current in this county, as elsewhere, to the effect that "a green Christmas makes a fat churchyard." This I believe to be wholly a mistake, and that on the contrary the milder the Christmas the more healthy for the human race, as was indeed triumphantly proved by the returns of the Registrar-General in the winter of 1872-3. But to show the pertinacity, and I may say the

1 November 2nd; O.S. November 14th.

In Germany this proverb is applied to May, "Heissen Mai macht den Kirchhof fett," and is another instance of the suspicion with which a prematurely early summer was regarded.

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