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they fetch their frisks; but if they play thus when the seas are rough and troubled, it is a sign of fair and calm weather to ensue. Cuttles, with their many legs, swimming on the top of the water, and striving to be above the waves, do presage a storm. Sea-urchins thrusting themselves into the mud, or striving to cover their bodies with sand, foreshews a storm. Cockles, and most shell-fish, are observed against a tempest to have gravel sticking hard unto their shells, as a providence of nature to stay or poise themselves, and to help weigh them down, if raised from the bottome by surges. Fishes in general, both in salt and fresh waters, are observed to sport most, and bite more eagerly, against rain than at any other time."
THE learned Moresin, in his Papatus, reckons among omens the hornedness of the moon, the shooting of the stars, and the cloudy rising of the sun. Shakespeare, in his Richard II., act ii. sc. 4, tells us :
"Meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven;
In a Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies, by the Earl of Northampton, 1583, we read: "When dyvers, uppon greater scrupulosity than cause, went about to disswade her Majestye (Queen Elizabeth), lying then at Richmonde, from looking on the comet which appeared last; with a courage auswerable to the greatnesse of her state, shee caused the windowe to be sette open, and cast out thys worde, jacta est alea, the dyce are throwne, affirming that her stedfast hope and confidence was too firmly planted in the providence of God to be blasted or affrighted with those beames, which either had a ground in nature whereuppon to rise, or at least no warrant out of scripture to portend the
1 "Lunæ corniculationem, solis nubilum ortum, stellarum trajectiones in aere." Papatus, p. 21.
mishappes of princes." He adds: "I can affirm thus much, as a present witnesse, by mine owne experience."
There is nothing superstitious in prognostications of weather from aches and corns. "Aches and corns," says Lord Verulam, "do engrieve (afflict) either towards rain or frost; the one makes the humours to abound more, and the other makes them sharper." Thus also Butler, in his Hudibras, p. iii. c. ii. 1. 405:
"As old sinners have all points
O' th' compass in their bones and joints,
Googe, in his translation of Naogeorgus's Popish Kingdome, fol. 44, has the following passage on Sky Omens :
"Beside they give attentive eare to blinde astronomars,
About th' aspects in every howre of sundrie shining stars;
In the Secret Memoirs of the late Mr. Duncan Campbell, 1732, pp. 61-2, we read: "There are others, who from the clouds calculate the incidents that are to befal them, and see men on horseback, mountains, ships, forests, and a thousand other fine things in the air."
In the following passage from Gay's first Pastoral are some curious rural omens of the weather:
"We learnt to read the skies, To know when hail will fall, or winds arise. He taught us erst the heifer's tail to view,
When stuck aloft, that show'rs would straight ensue ;
He first that useful secret did explain,
Why pricking corns foretold the gath'ring rain;
When swallows fleet soar high and sport in air,
Thus also in the Trivia of the same poet, similar omens oc
cur for those who live in towns:
"But when the swinging signs your ears offend
On hosier's poles depending stockings tied
And sweats with secret grief; you'll hear the sounds
In the British Apollo, fol. Lond. 1708, i. No. 51, is said:
"A learned case I now propound,
Pray give an answer as profound;
In Tottenham Court, a comedy, 4to. Lond. 1638, p. 21, we read: "I am sure I have foretold weather from the turning up of my cowe's tayle."
[The following curious lines respecting the hedgehog occur in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1733:
"Observe which way the hedge-hog builds her nest,
From the following simile given by Bodenham, in his Belvedere, or the Garden of the Muses, p. 153, it should seem that our ancestors held somehow or other the hedgehog to be a prognosticator of the weather. Edit. 8vo. Lond. 1600:
"As hedge-hogs doe fore-see ensuing stormes,
The following simile is found in Bishop Hall's Virgidemiarum, 12mo. 1598, p. 85:
"So lookes he like a marble toward rayne."
In the Husbandman's Practice, or Prognostication for Ever, Svo. Lond. 1664, p. 137, I find the following omens of rain: "Ducks and drakes shaking and fluttering their wings when they rise-young horses rubbing their backs against the ground -sheep bleating, playing, or skipping wantonly-swine being
seen to carry bottles of hay or straw to any place and hide them-oxen licking themselves against the hair-the sparkling of a lamp or candle-the falling of soot down a chimney more than ordinary-frogs croaking-swallows flying low,' &c. &c.
I find the following in the Curiosities or the Cabinet of Nature, 1637, p. 262: Q. Why is a storme said to followe presently when a company of hogges runne crying home? 4. Some say that a hog is most dull and of a melancholy nature; and so by reason doth foresee the raine that cometh; and in time of raine, indeed I have observed that most cattell doe pricke up their eares: as for example an asse will, when he perceiveth a storme of raine or hail doth follow." In Dekker's Match me in London, act iv. we read:
"Beasts licking 'gainst the hayre
Foreshew some storme, and I fore-see some snare."
Thus also in Smart's Hop-garden, b. ii. 1. 105, p. 127:
"And oft, alas! the long-experienc'd wights
(Oh! could they too prevent them!) storms foresee,
And, screaming, skim the brook; and fen-bred frogs
Heaves her huge legs along the narrow way;
How the curst raven, with her harmless voice,
To soak thy hops, and brew thy generous beer."
Coles, in his Introduction to the Knowledge of Plants,
p. 38, says: "If the down flyeth off colt's-foot, dandelyon, and thistles, when there is no winde, it is a signe of rain."
On thunder-superstitions our testimonies are as numerous as those of rain. Leonard Digges, gentleman, in his rare work entitled A Prognostication Everlasting of ryght good Effecte," &c. 4to. Lond. 1556, fol. 6 b, tells us: "Thunders in the morning signifie wynde; about noone, rayne; in the evening, great tempest. Somme wryte (their ground I see not) that Sondayes thundre shoulde brynge the death of learned men, judges, and others; Mondaye's thundre, the death of women; Tuesdaye's thundre, plentie of graine; Wednesday's thundre, the deathe of harlottes, and other blodshede; Thursday's thundre, plentie of shepe and corne; Fridaie's thundre, the slaughter of a great man, and other horrible murders; Saturdaye's thundre, a generall pestilent plague and great deathe."
Among Extraordinarie Tokens for the Knowledge of Weather, he adds: "Some have observed evil weather to folow when watry foules leave the sea, desiring lande; the foules of the lande flying hyghe: the crying of fowles about waters, making a great noyse with their wynges; also the sees swellyng with uncustomed waves; if beastes eate gredely; if they lycke their hooves; if they sodaynlye move here and there, makyng a noyse, brethyng up the ayre with open nostrels, rayne foloweth. Also the busy heving of moules: the appering or coming out of wormes; hennes resorting to the perche or reste, covered with dust, declare rayne. The ample working of the spinnar in the ayre; the ant busied with her egges; the bees in fayre weather not farre wandryng; the continuall pratyng of the crowe, chiefly twyse or thryse quycke calling, shew tempest. Whan the crowe or raven gapeth against the sunne, in summer, heate foloweth. If they busy themselfes in proyning or washyng, and that in wynter, loke for raine. The uncustomed noise of pultry, the noise of swine, of pecokes,
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xiii. 557, parish of Lochcarron, co. Ross, we read: "Everything almost is reckoned a sign of rain. If there be a warm or hot day, we shall soon have rain; if a crow begin to chatter, she is calling for rain; if the clouds be heavy, or if there be a mist upon the top of the hills, we shall see rain. In a word, a Highlander may make anything a sign of rain, and there is no danger he shall fail in his prognostication."