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I HAD first to go back to Barton to pay a few bills and pack up the books, instruments, etc., we had left there to be sent by carrier's waggon. I therefore left home on the 12th, and I think walked back to Barton, and the next day did what was required, took leave of my friends there, and on the morning of the 14th, after an early breakfast, started to walk to Turvey through Bedford, a distance of about twenty miles.

The reason I am able, without any diary, note, or letter to refer to, to fix the date of this particular walk, is rather a curious one. While I was at home, or shortly before, a new almanack had appeared, which professed to predict the weather on every day of the year, on scientific principles, and the first week was said to be wonderfully correct. I was so much interested in this, and talked so much about it, that my mother procured it for me just before I left home as a New Year's present. It was called "Murphy's Weather Almanack," and was published, I think, at a shilling. The first three days were marked "Fair, frost," and the next three Change." This was, I believe, nearly correct, but how near I cannot remember. The next fortnight, however, impressed itself upon my memory, partly because I had the book and marked it day by day, and partly on account of the remarkable weather and its exact fulfilment. From the 7th to the 13th every day was set down as " Fair, frost," and so it was. Then came the 14th, marked "Change;" then again "Fair, frost," every day to the 20th, which was marked "Lowest temperature;" after which the indications were change, followed by rain.


Now, as the 14th was the day of my walk to Bedford and

Turvey, I was rather anxious, and when I got up in the morning and saw that the sky was clear, I thought the alamanack was wrong, and was glad of it; but as soon as I began my journey I found the air milder and the roads decidedly softer than the day before, and this soon increased, till by midday there was a regular thaw, which made the roads quite soft, but as there had been no snow, not disagreeably wet. I had, therefore, a very pleasant walk. I dined at Bedford, and reached Turvey before dark.

For the next six days we were at work laying out the main lines for the survey of the parish, cutting hedges, ranging flags, ascertaining boundaries, and beginning the actual measurements, and every day the frost continued exactly as predicted by Murphy, culminating in the greatest cold on the 20th, after which there was a break.

I may here state that the rest of the year was very inaccurate, though there were certain striking coincidences. The hottest day was nearly, or quite, correct. In August nine days consecutively were exactly as predicted, and in December the very mild weather and fine Christmas Day was correct.

But the perfect accuracy of the fourteen consecutive days with the break on one day of an otherwise continuous frost, and that day being fixed on my memory by the circumstance of my having then to walk twenty miles, forced me to the conclusion that there must have been "something in it "— that this could not have been attained by pure guess-work, even once in a year, and though the most striking, it was not by any means the only success. My copy of the almanack disappeared half a century ago, but wishing to refresh my memory of the circumstances, and to fix definitely the year and day of my journey, I applied to the Meteorological Society to lend me the almanack, if they possessed it. They very courteously obliged me, sending me the five years, 1838 to 1842, all that ever appeared, bound together. I then found that my memory of the weather for a week before and after my walk had been quite correct and as I have stated here, and I also had the advantage of examining the succeeding years, with notes of the actual weather in a considerable proportion

of the days entered in a space left for the purpose by the owner of this copy. The place of observation, however, is not given, and it is obvious that, as the weather is usually very different in widely separated parts of the country, only. those features of it can have any chance of being predicted which are common to the greater part of our island, and are persistent for a considerable period. Looking over these records from this point of view, I find the following points worthy of notice:

In 1839 the lowest winter temperature was predicted for January 9, and this was correct.

In 1840 sixteen days of frost were predicted in February; eleven of these are noted, and all are on the right days. In March only seven days' rain were predicted, and it is noted as a very dry month throughout. April was predicted to be a mild and fine month, and it was so, though the days of rain, etc., did not agree. In May the prediction was two days' rain, thirteen days changeable, the rest fair. Rain was noted on nine days, the rest being fine and mild. June was about equally correct. In the winter frost was predicted for the last two weeks of the year, which was correct.

In 1841 March was predicted to be a fine, dry, and mild month, which was correct. There was nothing very marked in the rest of the year.

In 1842 frost was predicted for several days at the end of January and the first week in February, which was correct. April was foretold to have only four days' rain, and the remark of the observer is, “A very dry month." May was to have five days' rain and three changeable, and it is noted as having had "rain on nine days," and as being "a very fine month." In August rain was announced for six days only, and the remark is, "Splendid August weather." Then at the end came a great failure, for the last half of December was predicted to be fine and frosty, but turned out to be very mild and rainy."

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Thus ended the "Weather Almanack," and I am not aware whether the writer ever disclosed the exact method by which he arrived at his predictions. In each of the issues he had a

somewhat lengthy introduction, the first of which purported to explain the principles of his system. But it was so exceedingly general and vague that it seemed more intended to conceal than to explain. It appears to me almost certain that the author must have had access to some old weather records for a long succession of years, and finding that very similar weather occurred at each recurring lunar cycle of nineteen years, he simply predicted day by day what the weather had been nineteen years before. This method has been recently applied by means of a longer cycle, which leads to a more accurate correspondence of the positions of the sun and moon, and has been said to produce very striking results. If that was really his method, his successes, though very partial, were yet, I think, sufficient to prove that the larger and more lasting phases of the weather in our latitudes are to a considerable extent dependent on the relative positions of the moon and sun, and that the moon really is, as has been so long and so generally believed, one of the factors in determining our very eccentric weather phenomena.

Another curious little personal incident connected with this winter's frost may here be noted. One day I was out on the frozen meadows across the river Ouse, assisting in marking out one of our main lines which had to cross the windings of the river, when I saw a pleasant-looking young man coming towards me carrying a double-barrelled gun. When he was a few yards off, two very large birds, looking like wild geese, came flying towards us, and as they passed overhead at a moderate height, he threw up his gun, fired both barrels, and brought them both to the ground. Of course I went up to look at them, and found they were a fine pair of wild swans, the male being about five feet long from beak to end of tail. "That was a good shot," I remarked; to which he replied, "Oh! you can't miss them, they are as big as a barn door." Afterwards I found that this was young Mr. Higgins, of Turvey Abbey, his father being one of the principal landowners in the parish; and in making out the reference books which gave the owners of all the separate farms, etc., we found

that he himself owned some property, and that his name was H. H. Higgins. This interested me, because one of my schoolfellow's initials had been H. H. H., his name being Henry Holman Hogsflesh, and I thought it curious that I should so soon again come across another H. H. H., and this made me remember the name of Mr. Higgins, which I might otherwise have totally forgotten.

More than half a century later (in November, 1889), I was invited to Liverpool to give some lectures, and some time before the date fixed upon I received a very kind letter from the Rev. H. H. Higgins, inviting me to dine with him on my arrival, and offering to assist me in every way he could. I declined the invitation, but told him what hotel I was going to, and said that I should be glad to see him. His letter recalled to me my acquaintance at Turvey, but I did not see how a Liverpool clergyman could have any close relationship to a wealthy Bedfordshire landowner. I found Mr. Higgins at the station with a carriage ready, and he told me that, as I did not wish to go out to dinner, he and some friends had taken the liberty of ordering a dinner at my hotel, and hoped I would dine with them. He was as pleasant as an old friend, and of course I accepted. He was a short, rubicund, exceedingly good-humoured and benevolent-looking man, apparently some years older than myself, and looking very like what young Mr. Higgins of Turvey might have grown into. He somehow reminded me of Chaucer's description of a priest:

"A little round, fat, oily man of God

Was one I chiefly marked among the fry,
He had a rogueish twinkle in his eye❞—

except that he could hardly be described as round, or fat, but simply "jolly" in person as in manner. So when his friends left about an hour after dinner, I asked him, if he had no engagement, to stay a little longer, as I wished to find out the mystery. He was an enthusiastic naturalist, and we talked of many things, and the conversation turning on the land question, he remarked that he was perhaps one of the poorest

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