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Sin ortu quarto (namque is cetissimus auctor). Pura, neque obtusis per column cornibus ibit, Totus et ille dies, et qui nascentur ab illo Exactum ad mensem, pluvia ventisque carebunt.
Virg. Georg. 132.
But four nights old, (for that's the strest sign,)
N. B. A gentletnan who cuts hay for his own consumption, will seldom fail to find his account in marking this observation ; but a farmer who has much business to do, cannot contract his work into so small a compass, as to save himself by the benefit of this observation, because some of his work must be done to make way for the rest.
Signs from the Winds. When the wind veers about, uncertainly, to several points of the compass, rain is pretty sure to follow.
Some have remarked, that if the wind, as it veers about, follows the course of the sun, from the east towards the west, it brings fair weather ; if the contrary, foul ; but there is no prognostic of rain more infallible, than a whistling or howl. ing noise of the wind.
From Nocturnal Meteors. When an Aurora borealis appears, after some warm days, it is generally succeeded by a coldness
of the air: as if the matter of heat was carried upwards from the earth to the sky.
Signs of the Change of Weather from the
Animal Creation. So long as the swallows fly aloft after their prey, we think ourselves sure of a serene sky; but when they skim along near the ground, or the surface of the water, we judge the rain is not far off, and the observation will seldom fail : in the year 1775, a draught of three months continuance broke up at the summer solstice : the day before the rain came upon us, the swallows flew very near the ground, which they had never done in the fine weather.
In the mountainous country of Derbyshire, which goes by the name of the Peak, the inhabitants observe, that if the sheep wind up the hills in the morning to their pasture, and feed near the tops, the weather, though cloudy and drizzling, which is very frequently the case in those parts, will clear away by degrees, and terminate in a fine day ; but if they feed in the bottoms, the rains will continue and increase.
Dogs grow sleepy and stupid before rain, and shew that their stomachs are out of order, by refusing their food, and eating grass, that sort which is hence called dog's grass: this they cast up again soon afterwards, and with it the foulness that of fended their stomachs. Water-foul dive and wash themselves more than ordinary ; and even the fish in rivers are affected, because all anglers agree, that they never bite freely when rain is depending. Vide part Ist, rule 16th. Flies, on the contrary, are particularly troublesome, and seemn to be more hungry than usual; and toads are seen in the even
ing.. ing, crawling across the road or beaten path, where they seldom appear but when they are restless with an approaching change.
Before any considerable quantity of rain is to fall, most living creatures are affected in such sort, as to render them some way sensible of its approach, and of the access of something new to the surface of the earth, and of the atmosphere. Moles work harder than ordinary, they throw up more earth, and sometimes comes forth: the worms do so too; ants are observed to stir about, and bustle more than usually for some time, and then retire to their burrows before the rain falls. All sorts of insects and flies are more stirring and busy than ordinary. Bees are ever on this occasion in fullest employ ; but betake themselves all to their hives, if not too far for them to reach before the storm arises. The common flesh-flies are more bold and greedy: snails, frogs, and toads, appear disturbed and uneasy.
Fishes are sullen', and made, qualmish by the water, now more torbid than before. Birds of all sorts are in action : crows are more earnest after their prey, as are also swallows and other small birds, and therefore they fall lower, and fly nearer to the earth in search of insects and other such things as they feed upony. When the mountains of the north begin to be capped with fogy; 'the moor-cocks and other birds quit them, fly off in flocks, and betake themselves to the lower lands for the time. Swine discover great uneasiness; as do likewise sheep, cows, and oxen, appearing more solicitous and
pasture than usual. Even mankind themselves are not exempt from some sense of a change in their bodies.
Prognostics Prognostics continued. 1o. A dark, thick, sky, lasting for some time without either sun or rain, always become first fair, then foul, i.e. Changes to a fair, clear sky, before it turns to rain. This the Rev. Mr. Clarke, who kept a register of the weather for thirty years, since put into Mr. Derhain's hands, by his grandson, the learned Dr. Samuel Clarke: this, he says, he scarce ever knew to fail; at least when the wind was in any of the easterly points : but Mr. Derham has observed the rule to hold good, be the wind where it will. And the cause is obvious : The atmosphere is replete with vapours, which, though sufficient to reflect and intercept the sun's
from us, yet want density to descend ; and while the vapours continue in the same state, the weather will do so to.
Accordingly, such weather is generally attended with moderate warmth, and with little or no wind to disturb the vapours, and an heavy atmosphere to sustain them, the baroneter being cominonly high. But when the cold approaches, and by condensing, drives the vapours into clouds or drops, then way
is made for the sun-beams; till the saine vapours being, by further condensation, formed into rain, fail down into drops.
20. A change in the warmth of the weather, is generally followed by a change in the wind. Thus, the northerly and southerly winds, commonly esteemed the causes of cold and warm-weather, are really the effects of the cold or warmth of the atmosphere : of which Mr. Derham assures us he has had so many confirmations, that he makes no doubt of it.
Thus it is common to see a warm southerly wind suddenly changed to the north, by a fall of snow or hail; or to see the wind, in a cold frosty morning, north, when the sun has well warmed the earth and air, wheel fowards the south ; and again turn northerly or easterly in a cold evening.
39. Most vegetables expand their flowers and down in sun-shiny weather, and towards the evening; and against rain close them again ; especially at the beginning of their flowering, when their seeds are tender and sensible. This is visible enough in the down of dandelion, and other downs: and eminently in the flowers of pimpernel ; the opening and shutting of which, Gerard observes, are the countryman's weather-wiser, whereby he tells the weather of the following day. The rule is, if the flowers are close shut up, it betokens rain and foul weather : if they are spread abroad, fair weather. Ger. Herb. Lib.2.
Est et alia (arbor in Tylis) similis, foliosior tamen, roseique foris ; quem noctu comprimens aperire incipit solis exhortu, meridie expandit. Incolæ dormire eum dicunt. Plin. Nat. Hist. Lib. 12.0.2.
The stalk of trefoil, my Lord Bacon observes, swells against rain, and grows more upright: and the like may be observed, though not so sensibly, in the stalks of most other plants. He adds, that in the stubble-fields there is found a small red flower, called by the country people wincopipe; which, opening in the morning, is a sure indication of a fine day.
That vegetables should be affected by the same causes that affect the weather, is
conceivable ; if we consider them as so many hygrometers and thermometers, consisting of an infinite number of