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Philosophical Inquiries -Variation of the Seasons.



It is a generally-received opinion, that the Seasons of this Country have of late years undergone a great revolution; that our climate bas lost much of its former temperature, that our Winters are more severe, and our Summers much colder than formerly; and as we possess no register of the weather previously to the invention of the thermometer, we have no positive data upon which we can rely for determining the question; those, however, who entertain this opinion, adduce various facts in support of it, and, amongst others, they mention the circumstance of our formerly having had our vineyards, from which we manufactured our wines; and they go so far as to assert that our orchards are beginning to fail from the same cause, and that we shall probably be as destitute of apples as we now are of vineyards, and be obliged to import them from other countries; and, taking all this as a thing not to be questioned or doubted, they endeavour to discover the cause, which they find in the extension of the Polar Ice to the Southward. As one proof, they tell us that formerly the Danes had their colonies in Greenland, where the climate was then of so mild a temperature, as to afford abundant sustenance for man and beast, and that the whole had perished in consequence of the Ice of the Pole having extended itself to the coast, by which all communication was cut off with the interior of the country, and which, by causing a diminution of temperature, had rendered it a barren waste; this certainly is a powerful argument in their favour, indeed we believe the strongest they can adduce, for not only History, but some recent discoveries, in consequence of this barrier of ice having lately given way, render the fact of Colonies having formerly been established there unquestionable, for the remains of their habitations have been found.

We are now told that the great Arctic bason has broken up, and drifted into the warmer regions of the Atlantic, and hence they predict that we shall have milder seasons, and a return of our former temperature; now we confess that we are by no means satisfied, nor convinced, either by the arguments or opinions of these gentlemen; on the contrary, we believe that our climate has lost nothing of its former temperature, and that it is at this moment just what it was in the days of Tacitus. That Historian describes Britain in his time as liable to frequent vicissitudes; whether he ever visited it himself, we believe, is unknown, but if he did not speak from local observation, his information was probably derived from Agricola, his near


relation, who commanded the Roman legions here for several years, and made a conquest of nearly the whole of this Island, which he circumnavigated completely, as History informs us; and what does that Historian say? he tells us expressly, that it was peculiarly liable to these frequent changes; that there was much more fog and rain than on the neighbouring Continent; that we had less frost and snow, and our summers were considerably cooler than was experienced in Gaul or Germany this we know from our own experience to be the case at this day.

The writer of this article is a Septuagenarian, consequently old enough to have witnessed many of the vicissitudes of our inconstant climate, and perhaps has paid more attention to the weather and seasons than most men.

We shall proceed to give some remarkable instances of these within the period of more than half a century.

In the year 1761 we had an uncommonly dry spring and summer, very much like 1818; the meadows were burnt up, and in many parts of the country the hay failed intirely. The weather changed about the end of July, with some heavy thunder storms, which greatly refreshed the earth, and restored vegetation. An unusual harvest followed, and they were reaping wheat, even in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, the latter end of July or the first week of August.

The succeeding winter had nothing remarkable to distinguish it from our ordinary winters, but that of the following year, 1762-3, was uncommonly cold, severe, and long; it set in attended with much snow early in November, without a break, or any symptom of thaw, till late in February.

The next winter was a mild one, but that of 1764.5, was yet more so; there were some few days frost about Christmas, and a little about the middle of February, after which we had constant open weather, with heavy rains and frequent storms from the South-west and West, which continued till the 14th of April. It might naturally have been expected that such a winter as this would have been followed by an early spring. No such occurrence, however, took place; it was kept back by a series of cold rains and tempests, which put a complete check to vegetation.

The year 1790, was ushered in with weather unusually mild, and an early spring; the gooseberry bushes were in bloom, the elms had began to show forth their leaves. We witnessed the elder in complete leaf on the 6th of February, and gathered the blossom of the hawthorn in our own grounds on the 10th of April that year. But the year 1794 was, perhaps, the most remarkable of any that had oecurred for centuries; for that year we seemed


Philosophical Inquiries.-Variation of the Seasons.

seemed to have changed our climate for that of Italy or Spain.

Many instances of these vicissitudes of our climate have since taken place, and must be in the recollection of many individuals which it would be superfluous to quote. Some years ago, we had such a succession of cold summers and backward harvests, that the shooting season was postponed from the first to the middle of September, by Act of Parliament, and continued in force till the seasons came round to their ordinary course. The summers of 1816 and 1817, were so cold, bleak, and wet, that the harvest did not commence till late in September, even in the more Southern parts of the island'; and in several places the corn never ripened at all, particularly in Scotland.

The summer of 1818 was remarkable for drought and heat, scarcely a drop of rain falling from May till late in September; and the face of the country was so completely scorched by the Sun, that it presented a spectacle more like the arid plains of Hindostan than the verdant fields of Britain.

We have adduced the above observa. tions, in order to show how far the opinion entertained of the deterioration of the temperature of our climate is well founded or otherwise. The Roman historian says, it was such in his time; and the Monkish historians of the middle ages assure us it was the same in their day, and thus confirm their assertions. They relate various instances of rigorous winters; one mentions a winter which commenced in November, and continued till the middle of April and another tells us of a severe frost at Midsummer, which destroyed the corn and fruits, and produced a famine. The weather and seasons seem to depend entirely upon the prevailing winds: if Easterly winds predominate during the winter months, we are sure to have severe frosts and backward springs; if they occur at later periods, we experience cold summers and backward harvests; but if Southerly winds prevail, we then experience the reverse, when the continent becomes heated by the powerful influence of a summer's sun. If the wind comes from the South or South-east, then we feel oppressed with extreme beat, as was the case some few years ago, when the thermometer rose for two successive days to 924 degrees; the wind was from the South-east, and if its course could have been traced, would probably have been found to have been an emanation of the Sirocco of the Mediterranean, which is well known to be a hot blast from the African deserts, somewhat diluted and softened by blending itself with the more temperate atmosphere of the European continent.

Our insular situation too, doubtless, is


another, perhaps the principal cause of these variations of seasons and climate, and subjects us to more humidity than the countries of the Continent more distant from the Atlantic ocean. Accordingly, when a Westerly wind predominates in winter, we have heavy rains and stormy weather; and when, unattended with these, we have a mild temperature, and nothing to remind us of winter but the shortness of the days whilst in the same latitudes, upon the neighbouring Continent, the rivers and waters are bound up in ice.

At the sea side, the weather in the month of January 1817 was so unusually mild, that the thermometer ranged the greater part of the month between 50 and 58, and on one day rose to 60. The wind was from the South-west, and it probably came from the vicinity of the Tropic.

Such appear to be the real causes of the varieties of season we so frequently experience; but why these only occur occasionally, and are not uniform, would puzzle the wisest to account for. The two cold and wet summers of 1816 and 1817, have by some been imputed to the disruption of the Arctic ice, which by drifting by the tides and winds down the Atlantic, had chilled the atmosphere to a great extent, and extended its influence to us. This, however, appears perfectly visionary; for had that been the cause, how will they account for those varieties in our seasons for the last fifty years and more, when no such event was known to have taken place. We can easily believe, that these immense bodies of ice might lower the temperature of the air in their immediate vicinity, but this would be too inconsiderable to have any influence upon the atmosphere of our Island. Besides, it is to be observed, that these have been found nearer to the American continent than the British shores, and yet we have no information that any change has taken place in the temperature of America; but after all, great as they are said to be, the largest of them are mere specks, minute points floating and drifting in that vast body of water the Atlantic, too insignificant to operate any sensible change on its surrounding atmosphere. That these have proceeded from the Arctic regions, is unquestionable; they may be part of the ice which had so long barred all access to the coast of Greenland, or they may be fragments detached from the main body of the Polar ice, by storms and tides, or both. But the two expeditions of 1818 have fully demonstrated, that the main body of ice has sustained no sensible diminution, that it was found compact and united in every part, as before, all the way between Spitzbergen and Greenland, presenting every where an insurmountable

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surmountable barrier not to be passed; nor indeed, were they able to penetrate so far to the Northward as many former navigators. What then, let us ask, becomes of the fancied amelioration of the climate of Britain, which certain Northern Philosophers predict, and would persuade us to look for from this supposed disruption and dispersion of the ice of the Polar regions? It is allowed, likewise, that all these islands of ice have been encountered by late navigators far to the West. experience teaches us, that our hottest weather proceeds from Southerly winds, not from the West or North-west, where these have been generally discovered; and it was from this quarter the wind came during the dry and hot spring and summer of 1818. Yet most of these floating islands of ice, the supposed cause of our two cold summers and late harvests of 1816 and 1817, must still exist; for it would take years to melt them under the Tropick.

But we are told, that we once had vineyards, which no longer exist, and that our orchards have become less productive. With respect to the former, as we do not admit any diminution of temperature to have taken place in our climate, we consider that we are equally capable of having them at present. We know that the common grape ripens with us in most years: and will any one say, that we could not have made our own wines in 1818 if we bad bad vineyards? But the loss of them must be sought for in other causes. From the changeable nature of our climate, the produce of our vineyards must have always been uncertain, and their culture hazardous and expensive. And when we had obtained considerable acquisitions in the Southern parts of France, it was found that we could always obtain our wines cheaper and of better quality, and in any quantity, from that part of our empire, than we could afford to raise them at home; and to that cause alone do we im. pute the neglect and ultimate loss of our vineyards, which were grubbed up to make room for a more certain and more profitableculture: nor have we the smallest doubt, but that if due encouragement were given, they might be again established. The present high price of foreign wines strongly encourages the attempt; but no encouragement is to be expected from Government, which would


countenance a measure so highly detrimental to the revenue. Besides, we all know there is a fashion even in wines, and the public taste has been so long habituated to those of France and other countries, that it might be long before the publie prejudice would yield to the produce of our own vineyards.

There are anomalies of Season in all


climates of the earth, and in all countries
where the Seasons are most regular.-The
periodical rains sometimes fail in Tropical
countries, and famine ensues, as happen-
ed in Bengal, in the years 1768 and 1769,
when they failed partially the first, and
almost totally the second; the famine of
1770 was the consequence. There are
likewise certain current opinions, both as
to climate and weather, which, however
generally admitted, are quite unfounded,
and have long since classed with many
other vulgar errors which require to be
eradicated; for there is nothing more dif-
ficult than to combat long-established
W. Y.

March 16, 1819.


At the recent Anniversary of the Whitehaven Philosophical Society, two specimens of meat cured with the pyroligneous acid were exhibited. They were prepared on the 7th of September, 1819. One was hung up at home, and the other sent out by a vessel to the West Indies, to try the effect of climate upon it, and brought back on the return of the ship to that port. Both specimens were pronounced by all present who tasted them, to be perfectly fresh, sweet, and fit for use after a lapse of 15 months.


The recently-discovered planet Vesta may now be perceived with a telescope of moderate power, in the constellation of Cancer; it appears like a star of the fifth or sixth magnitude.

GEOCENTRIC AND HELIOCENTRIC TABLES. "The Chevalier Theodore Carezzini, a Piedmontese, has invented two kinds of round tables, which he calls geocentric and heliocentric tables, and by their aid, a person without any knowledge of mathematics can, in a very short time, thoroughly observe the course of the stars, and explain the celestial phenomena. Ladies and youths, whom the inventor bas instructed in his method, have, without much previous knowledge of astronomy, satisfactorily solved various problems respecting the sun, the moon, the planets, fixed stars, eclipses, &c. By means of these instruments, you may, in the open air, obtain a meridian line in a few minutes; and, in a journey by land, never miss the direction to the North. You may also learn the hour during the night without a watch. It is remarkable, that in the country the geocentric table may appear in the shape of an astronomical garden, of whatever size you please."




HAIL! sepulchre of mighty dead,

Congenial to the Poet's tread; Thine is the glen I love to pace, Thine is the tale I love to trace; Dear are thy walls, thy thronged town, Remembrance of thine old renown, And though thy Names have pass'd away, They leave behind a beamy ray.

Yes, Woburn, tho' thy cloister'd pile, Thy groined roof, thy fretted aile, With holy Abbots, great and just, Are mingled in one common dust! Yet hast thou glories-thou canst claim The memory of unsullied fame: Strange turn of fate! the orphan child O'er thine obscurity had smil'd, Nor curs'd the glories yet they tell, That rose but as his parent fell.

Peace gilds that roof, yet once that wall Hath known the stern oppressor's thrall; The moon that set on Pingrith's bower Saw Woburn sadden'd in that hour; The sun that rose on Kymble's hill Beheld her children weeping still. 'Woe' might each native voice exclaim, For Woburn was a ruiu'd name.

It was a sad, a dreary day That saw thy warrior ride away, It was a sadder, drearier noon That saw his steps retrac'd so soon:From Leighton's vale, in martial throng, Yon black battalion moves along.

Where was the Russell in that hour, Or Duncombe with the Brickhill power? Say-did not Luke's broad pennon beam, Sent not his helm its wonted gleam; Withheld'st thou, Pingrith, aw'd by fear, Thy battle's pride-thy Boteler's spear? Yet as the fearless eagle flies, Swift to her post did Woburn rise; Kaye to the front of battle came, And the young hope of Staunton's name.

'Tis past-the trumpet's martial tone Brac'd thee with valour scarce thine own; Unequal to her foemen's might

Pale Woburn bore the shock of fight.
Vain were her hopes-some new dismay
Stamps ruin on the well-fought day;
Lo Staunton writhing quits the field,
Death strikes his dart at Kaye's broad

And as a torrent o'er the corn
Through Woburn's streets is ruin borne !

Farewell, proud hopes-around her wall, Her children fight, and bravely fall;

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He comes the Victor comes-his eye
Beams the wild of clemency,
While mindful of his arms' renown,
He prances through the yielding town;
Borne onward by the rushing horde,
Still bade he Conquest sheath her sword:
And grateful thousands yet had blest,
The generous flame in Bridges' breast,
Vaio was his wish-an hostile spear,
Hath reach'd him in his proud career.
Weep, Woburn, weep, that dying sound,
Shall spread destruction's signal round;
Lo, where the scorching, ruthless brand,
Glares in each soldier's madden'd band!
And he, whose voice had bid them spare
The vanquish'd-town, lies bleeding there!
Discord, who shrinks from Pity's breath,
Hath stopp'd his quivering tongue in death.

I will not paint the woes, the shame
Impending o'er a foeman's name;
Suffice it, that no soldier came
To work thy fall: some lawless band,
The terror of a peaceful land,
Snatch'd at the dark occasion's call,
And sought their prize in Woburn's thrall.
Such sorrows were-those sorrows past,
Confer a deathless fame at last.

And while such joys her name can shed,
Through Woburn's shade I love to tread;
There flows the voice I love to hear,
There lives each reminiscence dear.
Ah-shut from valour's deathless beam,
I court Love's transitory dream:
And what are joys like these to me
Or the proud gift of Poesie,
If I through life am doom'd to prove
The pangs of unrequited Love?
Vain would the laurel wreath adorn me,
Did she for whom I prize it, scorn me.
J. T. M.


TRIUMPHANT arch, that fill'st the sky
When storms prepare to part,

I ask not proud philosophy

To teach me what thou art.
Still seem as to my childhood's sight
A midway station given,
For happy spirits to alight

Betwixt the earth and Heaven.
Can all that opticks teach unfold
Thy form to please me so,
As when I dream of gems and gold
Hid in thy radiant bow?

When Science from Creation's face
Enchantment's veil withdraws,
What lovely visions yield their place
To cold material laws!


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And yet fair bow, no fabling dreams,
But words of the Most High,
Have told why first thy robe of beams
Was woven in the sky.
When o'er the green undeluged earth
Heaven's covenant thou didst shine,
How came the world's grey fathers forth
To watch the sacred sign?
And when its yellow lustre smil'd
O'er mountains yet untrod,
Each mother held aloft her child
To bless the bow of God.
Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
The first made anthem rang,
On earth deliver'd from the deep,
And the first Poet sang.
Nor ever shall the Muse's eye
Unraptured greet thy beam:
Theme of primeval prophecy,

Be still the Poet's theme.
The earth to thee its incense yields,

The lark thy welcome sings,
When glittering in the freshen'd fields
The snowy mushroom springs.
How glorious is thy girdle cast

O'er mountain, tower, and town,
Or mirror'd in the ocean vast
A thousand fathoms down.
As fresh in yon horizon dark,

As young thy beauties seem
As when the eagle from the Ark
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page,

Heaven still rebuilds thy span, Nor lets the type grow pale with age That first spoke peace to man.

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In the greenwood shade, Beneath the covert of waving trees, GENT. MAG. January, 1821.

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MY boat is on the shore,

And my bark is on the sea:
But ere I go, Tom Moore,
Here's a double health to thee.
Here's a sigh for those I love,
And a smile for those I hate,
And, whatever sky's above,
Here's heart for any fate.

Though the ocean roar around me,
It still shall bear me on ;

Though a desert should surround me, It hath springs that may be won. Were it the last drop in the well, As I gasp'd on the brink,

Ere my fainting spirits fell, 'Tis to thee that I would drink.

In that water, as this wine, The libation I would pour

Should be--Peace to thee and thine, And a health to thee, Tom Moore.


POETS were scarce in former ages,

At least so thought our antient sages; "Three Poets in three distant ages born, Greece, Italy, and England did adorn!" But in this age of worth and wit, All-bounteous Nature has thought fit To bless us with three bards at once, To whom each Antient seems a dunce ;Scarce Homer's self can stand his ground, Where BYRON, SCOTT, and MOORE are found:

And, lest these sons of fire should quarrel, For Beauty's smile, or Phoebus' laurel, Kind Nature to prevent a wrangle, Has placed 'em) in a fair triangle, Which plan appears most right to me, As Wit should always pointed be:The Northern point a Minstrel guards, Whom Scotia hails the first of bards; The Western point, green Ireland's shore, Enraptur'd hails the name of Moore; The Southern point is England's Isle, Where BYRON woos the Muse's smile, With phrenzied eye, and song divine, Bright favourite of the dark-haired line! Might one of these but condescend, This troublous year, to stand my friend, To touch with spark of seraph fire, Old JOHN TROTT's bald and broken lyre(Who still his arduous circle goes, Through Summer's heat, and Winter's


And News of every colour brings then,
To Whigs and Tories, Queen's and King's

men ;)

Might one of these, with fluent strains,

But irrigate his barren brains,


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