Page images

perceiving one, they anticipate and prepare against the occurrence of another. Their prognostication, however, of weather seems in fact to result rather from some impressions on their feelings, than from any accurate observation of what is going on in the sky.* Peculiarities in the electric state of the atmosphere may, think, be supposed to affect the constitutions of animals in the same manner as they appear to do ours, and may thereby excite either pleasurable or uneasy sensations.†


Rain may be expected, when the Swallow flies low, and skims backward and forward over

* It is a pity that among all our works of comparative anatomy, we have actually no accounts of the structure and Organs of the Brain of different animals. The discoveries of Gall and Spurzheim seem likely to throw some light on this most interesting part of Natural History.

+ "Haud equidem credo quia sit divinitus illis
Ingenium, aut rerum fato prudentia major:
Verum ubi tempestas et coeli mobilis humor
Mutavêre vias, et Jupiter uvidus austris
Denset erant quae rara modo, et quae densa relaxat,
Vertuntur species animorum, et pectora motus
Nunc alios, alios dum nubila ventus agebat,
Concipiunt; hinc ille avium concentus in agris
Et laetae pecudes et ovantes gutture corvi."
Virgil. Georg. lib. i.

the surface of the earth and waters, frequently dipping the tips of her wings into the latter.*

When Bees do not range abroad as usual, but keep in or near to their hives,† or when Ducks, Geese, and other Waterfowl, are unusually clamorous, we may also expect wet.

Before Rain, Swine, as well as Poultry, appear very uneasy, and rub in the dust.

Before and during Rain, Ducks, Geese, and other Fowls wash and dive in the waters more

* Among the signs of Rain, Pliny enumerates Hirundo tam juxta aquam volitans ut penna saepe percutiat. See also Obser. Brum. Retr. Swal. 3d. Edit. London, 1813. Swallows have always been considered as weather guides. They arrive somewhat earlier at Rome than at Paris or London. See the Notes to that immense Body of Meteorological Observations, collected by the Met. Soc. of the Elector of Palatine, in 6 vols. 4to.

+ "Nec vero a stabulis, pluvia impendente recedunt
Longius, aut credunt coelo adventantibus Euris
Sed circum tutae sub moenibus urbis aquantur,
Excursusque' breves tentant.”

Virg. Georg. lib. iv. 194.

Η λίμνην περὶ δῆθα χελιδονες ἄΐσσωσι.
Γαστρι τυπίουσαι αὐτως ειλυμενον ὑδῶς.

Arat. Dios.

Theophrastus observes as a sign of Rain χελίδονες τη γαςρι inlovoi ras Xivas. Linnaeus also notices this prognostick, speaking of Hirundo rustica.

than usual. Pidgeons also wash before Rain; and Cats wash their faces; they have been observed also before Rain to scratch the bark off the trees. In autumn, Flies sting and become unusually troublesome, on the approach of Rain.

Dogs, and other domestic animals, likewise express signs of uneasiness, and are very sleepy and dull before Rain and Snow. Dogs are said to dig great holes in the ground in rainy weather. We had a Dog always busy in digging deep caverns in the earth which he laid in during particular kinds of weather This Dog was a cross breed between a pug and terrier, remarkable for his sagacity.

If we happen to be abroad, when, after long continued dry weather, the sky is thickening, and Rain approaching, we may frequently observe the Cattle stretching out their necks, and snuffing in the air with distended nostrils; and often, before Storms, assembled in a corner of the field, with their heads to the leeward.*

The loud and continued croaking of Frogs heard from the pool; the squalling of the

* Boves coelum olfactantes seque lambentes contra pilum Plin. Hist. Nat. xviii. 35.

Pintado* and the Peacock, the appearance of Spiders crawling on the walls more than ordinary, and the coming forth of Worms, have also been considered as signs of Rain, Most of these have been noticed by Virgil, who has likewise added several more, which have never fallen under my notice,† but which

* This bird is called the Comeback in Norfolk, and regarded as the invoker of Rain. It often continues clamorous throughout the whole of rainy days.


"Numquam imprudentibus imber

Obfuit, aut illum surgentem vallibus imis
Aeriae fugere grues, aut bucula coelum
Suspiciens patulis captavit naribus auras
Aut arguta lacus circumvolitavit hirundo
Et veterem in limo ranae cecinere querelam.
Saepius et tectis penetralibus extulit ova
Augustum formica terens iter, et bibit ingens
Arcus, et e pastu decedens agmine magno
Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis.
Jam varias pelagi volucres et quae Asia circum
Dulcibus in stagnis rimantur prata Caystri
Certatim largos humeris infundere rores
Nunc caput objectare fretis nunc currere in undas
Et studio incassum videas gestire lavandi,
Tum cornix plena pluviam vocat improba voce
Et sola in sicca secum spatiatur arena
Nec nocturna quidem carpentes pensa puellae
Nescivere hyemem testa quum ardente viderent
Scintillare oleum et putres concrescere fungos.
Virg. Geor. lib. i. 392.

have been mentioned by many writers, both ancient and modern:* When Cocks crow at uncommon hours, and clap their wings a great deal, it is said to be a sign of Rain; as is the appearance of the Redbreast near houses.

Sparrows chirp particularly loud during Rain, and often begin before it falls, affording thereby for some time previously a prognostick of its coming.


Cornicum ut saecla vetusta

Corvorumque greges ubi aquam dicuntur et imbres
Poscere et interdum ventos aurasque vocare.
Lucret. de Rer. Nat. v. 1085.


quum terrestres volucres contra aquam clangores dabunt, perfundentes sese, sed maxime cornix.

Plin, xviii. 35.

Rava fulix itidem fugiens e gurgite ponti
Clamans nunciat horribles instare procellas
Haud modicos tremulo fundens ex gutture cantus
Saepe etiam pertriste canit de pectore carmen
Et matutinis acredula vocibus instat
Vocibus instat et adsiduas jacit ore querelas
Quum primum gelidos rores Aurora remittit
Fuscaque nonnumquam cursans per littora cornix
Demersit caput et fluctum cervice recepit.

Cicero ex Arat, de Div. lib. 1.
Ηπg και λακέρυζα παρ' ἠιόνι πρεκεση
Χειματος αρχομενε χέρσῳ ὑπέκυψε κορωνη.

Arat. Dios. 217.

See also Aelian de Anim. viii. 7.

« PreviousContinue »