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unreasoning tenacity with which the Wiltshire labourer will cling to any old saying handed down to him from his fathers : I was opposing the above proverb, which an old man quoted to me at the beginning of the year 1854, and expressing my disbelief in it, though not at all to his conviction : and in the summer I recalled to his recollection the same proverb, remarking that we had had unusually few deaths in the parish that year, to which he replied, “Wait a bit, Sir, the year isn't come to an end yet : but before the end of the
after the battles of Alma and Inkermann had taken place, he came to me with triumph in his face, and said, “I told you, Sir, the proverb would come true; the green Christmas last year has made a fat churchyard, for see how many poor fellows have been killed in the Crimea.” After this nothing more was to be said ; with the rationale of the proverb he had nothing to do: it had come true, and that was all that concerned him; and he is is now a firmer believer than ever in that ancient tradition.
And now let me say a word about almanacks which pretend to foretell the weather. It is perfectly marvellous how gullible is John Bull, eager to swallow any prognostics, be they never so unreliable; if only their authors are bold enough to be decisive in their predictions : and when in the year 1838, by a fortuitous coincidence, "an adroit Hibernian” (as he has been happily styled), named Patrick Murphy, accurately foretold the coldest day of the season (which from the law of chances must occur occasionally within a great number of conjectures), the rage for weather almanacks rose to its height; the wildest predictions were hazarded ; and though their failures were generally manifested, nothing would convince the determined believer; and I myself knew of a case where an agriculturalist on a small scale, with more credulity than wisdom, wrote to the Editor of the almanack to which he pinned his faith, and entreated him to name the most fortunate day for wheat-sowing! In justice to Wiltshire let me hasten to add that this man was a native and inhabitant of Somersetshire. I suppose too it is allowable to presume there is a larger amount of Boeotian dulness to be found in the more western counties, as the famous Lord Thurlow once remarked, after holding an assize at Bodmin, in Cornwall, “ That the farther West he went, he was more and more convinced that the wise men came from the East !"
Now let me in conclusion assure the inhabitants of Wiltshire that the almanack makers know nothing about it, and that the time is not yet come, when
“ Careful observers might foretell the hour
By sure prognostics when to dread a shower.”
If they rely on the almanack makers, or the moon, and leave their umbrella at home in consequence, they will infallibly be drenched, as they deserve to be: whereas if they listen to the experience of the labourer or the shepherd; still better, if they use their own eyes and judgments, and observe the sky, and the clouds, and the wind; not forgetting the plain lessons read to them by many branches of the animal world, in this particular, they will rarely be led astray. The signs to be derived from the animal world are very numerous and very reliable; and are much observed amongst our people in consequence. As examples of the most common in this county they will tell you that seldom indeed will a wet day be found to follow, when in the morning cows are seen lying down in their pastures ; still more seldom when rooks are noticed high in the air, or swallows are seen at a great height hawking after flies: but rarest of all when three white butterflies are seen together, in the garden or field; the latter a sure sign of a fine day which I have hardly ever known to fail. They will tell you on the other hand that when the distant downs look near ; ' or the Common Plover or Peewit, which frequents our downs in such numbers, becomes restless; or the bees hurry home, and none leave the hive; or partridges grow wild; or seagulls make their appearance so far inland; or pigs carry straw in their mouths; or insects fly low; rain is at hand.
These are but samples of many similar instances of unfailing instinct in regard to weather, which every student of Nature admires in the various branches of the animal kingdom. Perhaps I may
1 Darwin, in his “Zoonomia,” thinks the presence of vapour in the air increases its transparency, on the same principle as saturating a white opaque sheet of paper with oil renders it transparent.
return to this part of the question another day. I will conclude now with the clever lines of Dr. Jenner, which sum up the matter very accurately S
6. The hollow winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black, the glass is low:
The Names of Places in Wiltshire. .
By the Rev. Prebendary W. H. JONES, F.S.A.,
Vicar of Bradford-on-Avon.
(Continued.) II.-ON THE TEUTONIC ELEMENT IN WILTSHIRE LOCAL NAMES.
36. In an essay published in the pages of this Magazine an attempt has already been made to explain those Names of Places in Wiltshire which are derived from a Celtic source, and so illustrate the times when Britons occupied this country. We proceed now to speak of those which belong to a later period, introduced at the first by the Anglo-Saxon settlers, in which is contained what is usually termed the Teutonic element. From circumstances which are easily understood, these are far more numerous than any others in our local nomenclature. An occupancy of the country, by themselves and their descendants, for more than fourteen centuries, has enabled them literally to “call the land after their own names.” Though both in our ordinary speech, and, as we have shewn, in our River-Names, there is a strong Celtic element, yet from the Anglo-Saxon is derived the staple of our present language, and hence naturally enough comes also the principal portion of the Names of Places.
In this part of our enquiry we tread on much firmer ground. The valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon Charters still preserved to us, some dating from as early a period as the seventh century, enables us with far greater accuracy to come to a conclusion as to the original forms, and consequently the meaning, of the names. Many of the charters are no doubt but copies of the originals, made often by scribes who were evidently ignorant of the language in which the land-limits of estates are usually given; still, with all these drawbacks, no one can study these charters which relate to a county with which he is himself familiar, without perceiving what a flood of light is poured forth by them on the meaning of names, without which in many cases he must simply trust to some guess more or less happy, or leave them altogether unexplained.
It is still necessary here, as in the previous essay, to come to conclusions with much caution. Even in Anglo-Saxon charters, especially when they are not originals but copies, we meet with names evidently in a corrupt form. To draw inferences too readily from the entries in Domesday Book is unsafe; the Norman scribes spelt the names as best they could, and the effect of their own language on the Anglo-Saxon is evident even in that early record. The influence of centuries moreover has been at work in changing the form, or modifying the pronunciation, of a name, till at last it becomes so disguised that hardly a trace of its true origin remains. The well-known tendency of names when corrupted to assume a feasible form, the counterfeit in fact being specious enough and looking just like sterling coin, is most misleading. Every careful student of Local Nomenclature must often feel suspicious of interpretations that are accepted readily—and, strange as it may seem, almost for the very reason that they are apparently so selfevident.
37. As an illustration of my meaning I will give one or two examples :
(a) Sometimes names derived from the same source assume very different forms. Thus the Anglo-Saxon Fearn-dún becomes FaRRINGDON, whilst Fearn-lege becomes FAR-LEGH, and Fearn-ham retains almost its original form in FARN-HAM. Again the Anglo-Saxon Stán-ford, i.e., the stone, or paved, ford, becomes Stow-FORD; whilst the compound Stán-ford-tún (i.e., the village by the Stone-ford) becomes softened down to STA-VER-TON.
16) In other cases names derived from different sources assume similar forms. Thus UPTON is the name of two villages at no great distance from each other not far from Warminster. One of them, , Upton Scudamore, is literally the “Up (=upper) Town” or village, and is sometimes called the “North Town." The other UPTON LOVELL is a contraction of Ulban-tún, i.e., “Ubba's Town,” and so a memorial of a celebrated Danish chieftain, or at all events of his name-sake. Another good instance is in the name WOOLLEY, which