« PreviousContinue »
dry, refracts more red or heat-making rays; and as dry air is not perfectly transparent, they are again reflected in the horizon.
2. A coppery or yellow sunset generally foretells rain; but as an indication of wet weather approaching, nothing is more certain than the halo around the moon, which is produced by the precipitated water; and the larger the circle the nearer the clouds, and consequently the more ready to fall. The old proverb is often correct:
“A rainbow in the morning is the shepherd's warning;
A rainbow at night is the shepherd's delight.” 3. A rainbow can only occur when the clouds containing the rain are opposite to the sun. In the evening the rainbow is in the east, and in the morning in the west; and as our heavy rains in this climate are usually brought by the westerly wind, a rainbow in the west indicates that the bad weather is on the road to us; whereas the rainbow in the east proves that the rain in these clouds is passing from us.
4. When the swallows fly high, fine weather may be expected or continued; but when they fly low, and close to the ground, rain is almost surely approaching This is explained as follows: Swallows pursue the flies and gnats, and flies and gnats usually delight in warm strata of air; and as warm air is lighter, and usually moister, than cold air, when the warm strata of our air are high, there is less chance of moisture being thrown down from them by the mixture with cold air; but when the warm and moist air is close to the surface, it is
almost certain that, as the cold air flows down into it, a deposition of water will take place.
5. When sea-gulls assemble on the land, stormy and rainy weather is almost always approaching; the reason of which might be thought to be that these animals, sensible of a current of air approaching from the ocean, retire to the land to shelter themselves from the storm. This is not the case, however. The storm is their element; • and the little petrel enjoys the heaviest gale, because, living on the smaller sea insects, he is sure to find his food in the spray of a heavy wave, and he may be seen flitting above the edge of the highest surge.
6. The reason of this migration of gulls and other sea-birds to the land is their security of finding food; and they may be observed, at this time, feeding greedily on the earth-worms driven out of the ground by severe floods; and the fish on which they prey in fine weather on the sea leave the surface, and go deeper in storms. The search after food is the principal cause why animals change their places.
7. The different tribes of the wading birds always migrate when rain is about to take place. The vulture, upon the same principle, follows armies; and there is no doubt that the augury of the ancients was a good deal founded upon the observation of the instinct of birds. There are many superstitions of the vulgar owing to the same
8. For anglers, in spring, it is always unlucky to see single magpies, but two may be always regarded as a favourable omen; and the reason is that, in cold and stormy weather, one magpie alone leaves the nest in search of food, the other remaining sitting upon the eggs or the young ones; but if two go out together, it is only when the weather is warm and mild, and favourable for fishing.
Sir Humphry Davy. 1. Prognostics.—Means of foretelling.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF
That crown the watery glade,
Her Henry's holy shade ;?
And ye that from the stately brow
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
His silver-windinge way ;
2. Ah, happy hills ! ah, pleasing shade!
Ah, fields beloved in vain !5
A stranger yet to pain!
blow A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing, My weary soul they seem to soothe, And, redolente of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring!
3. Say, Father Thames !? for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
The paths of pleasure trace,
The captive linnet which enthral ?
Or urge the flying ball?
Their murmuring labours ply,
To sweeten liberty,
And unknown regions dare descry;
And snatch a fearful joy.
5. Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest;
The sunshine of the breast;
And lively cheer, of vigour born;
That fly the approach of morn.
6. Alas! regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No care beyond to-day ;
And black Misfortune's baleful train !
Ah! tell them they are men.
7. Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
And grinning Infamy;