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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 rainy 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."
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 excentric 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 give 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
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.
“ 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 landowners in England, for that he was heir to a considerable landed estate from which he never received anything, and probably never should, owing to family circumstances, which he stated. I then asked him if he knew a place called Turvey, in Bedfordshire, to which he replied, "I ought to know it, for I was born there, and my father owned the estate there to which I am heir." I then felt pretty sure of my man, and asked him if he remembered, during a very hard frost about fifty years ago, shooting a pair of wild swans at Turvey. “Why, of course I do,” said he. “But how do you know it?" "Because I
, was there at the time and saw you shoot them. Do not you remember a thin tall lad who came up to you and said, *That was a good shot,' and you replied, 'Oh! you can't miss them, they are as big as a barn door'?" "No," he said, "I don't remember you at all, but that is just what I should have said." His delight was great, for his story of how he shot the two wild swans was not credited even by his own family, and he made me promise to go to his house after the lecture on the next night, and prove to them that he had not been romancing. And when I went, I was duly introduced to his grown-up sons and daughters as one who had been present at the shooting of the swans, which I had been the first to mention. That was a proud moment for the Rev. H. H. Higgins, and a very pleasant one to myself.
Let us now return to Turvey and my experiences there. We lived at the chief inn in the place—perhaps the only one except some small beer-shops-called The Tinker of Turvey. The painted sign was a man with a staff, a woman, and a dog, and we were told in the village that the tinker meant was John Bunyan. But recent inquiry by a friend both in Bedford and at Turvey shows that this is perhaps a mistake. In a little book, “Turvey and the Mordaunts," by G. F. W. Munby, Rector of Turvey, and Thomas Wright (of Olney), we are told that there is a very rare pamphlet in
the British Museum, entitled, “The Tincker of Turvey, his merry pastime from Billingsgate to Gravesend. The Barge being freighted with mirth, and mann'd with Trotter the tincker, Yerker a cobbler, Thumper a smith, and other merry fellows, every one of them telling his tale" (dated, London, 1630, 4to). There is a verse on the signboard as follows :
“The Tinker of Turvey, his dog, and his staff,
Old Nell with her Budget will make a man laugh."
This may, perhaps, be taken from the old pamphlet, which certainly proves that “ The Tinker of Turvey” was a character known before Bunyan's time, and as the tales told by the tinker and his companions are said to be exceedingly coarse, they were probably well known in country places, and the name would seem appropriate for an inn in the village named. It is possible, however, that the sign may have been first painted at a later date, and as Bunyan would no doubt have been well known at Turvey, as at other villages round Bedford, where he was accustomed to preach, he may have been represented or caricatured as the Tinker of Turvey on the signboard.
In this inn we had the use of a large room on the groundfloor, also used as a dining-room for the rare visitors requiring that meal, and in the evening as a farmers' room, where two or three often dropped in for an hour or two, while once a week there was a regular farmers' club, at which from half a dozen to a dozen usually attended. While at Barton I had become well acquainted with the labourers, mechanics, and small village shopkeepers ; I here had an equal opportunity of observing how well-to-do farmers occupied their leisure. These seemed to be rather a serious class, whose conversation was slow, and devoted mainly to their own business, especially as to the condition of their sheep, how their “tegs” were getting on, or of a fat sheep being cast—that is, turned over on its back, and vainly struggling to get up again, when, if not seen and helped, they sometimes died. Most of the time was spent in silent smoking or sipping their glasses of ale or of spirits