Friday, September 25, 2020

The Complete Weather Guide

My apologies for not providing a monthly blog in the past three months. Certainly the challenges of Covid-19 have thrown me off my stride, and also I am working on a couple of large projects which are distracting me, and keeping me busy. Please bear with me as we continue through these difficult days of 2020. In the new year, I should have more information about my projects. In the meantime, I offer this blog on a very interesting book. Stay safe and well...


 In the Regency era, as now, everyone wanted to know what the future held in terms of the weather.

"The Complete Weather Guide" published in 1813 by Joseph Taylor, offered numerous ways of predicting the day's weather and forecasting conditions for the days and weeks to come. Mr. Taylor discusses in detail making predictions from appearances of nature, and appearances of atmosphere, and using barometers, hygrometers, and thermometers.

And then there is this:

The Shepherd's Rules are based in observation, and are probably as valid as any forecast our modern weather people offer. They are sometimes expressed in wonderful, ancient couplets.

If red the sun begins his race, be sure the rain will fall apace.

The evening red, and the morning grey, is a sign of a fair day.

In the decay of the moon, a cloudy morning bodes a fair afternoon.

Interspersed with the weather details, are useful facts and fanciful fictions.

Even more interesting than the text, I think, are the handwritten notes and newspaper clippings that generations of the book's owners have added in the back of the book.

There are no dates on the information, or sources for the author's research, but the notes are interesting and possibly very useful!

The Complete Weather Guide may be found on Google Books by a simple search, and is available for free download. 

'Til next time,




Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Sporting Tour 1804

 In 1804, Colonel Thomas Thornton published an accounting of his extensive tour of northern England and the Highlands of Scotland.

 The tour, it appears, took place in about 1786 the year in which the portrait below of Thornton may have been painted. A brief but comprehensive entry on Colonel Thornton may be found on Wikipedia. He was a most unusual man who lived a varied and uncommon life.

But it is his book that is my topic here. As interesting in its way as the diaries of Parson Woodforde and even Samuel Pepys, the journal is detailed and exhaustive, and very entertaining. It contains countless descriptions of 'sport'--that is, fishing, shooting, hunting and hawking. He would shoot, it seemed, anything that moved, and fished endlessly. One can only hope that the spoils of this orgy of killing were distributed to the needy of the areas through which the Colonel's party passed. Certainly there was too much foodstuff caught to be eaten by his fellows alone.

The sporting tour was planned with the precision of a military campaign, though I don't believe Thornton ever saw active service.

 There was a plethora of supplies ordered.
Ordered in two large chests of biscuits, several Cheshire and Gloucester
Besides the accounts of 'sport', which can become a little tedious unless you are as devoted to them as Thornton was, the Colonel had a fine, poetical turn of phrase in describing the countryside through which his party passed.  
 In order to record his epic tour, Thornton hired an artist, George Garrard (31 May 1760 – 8 October 1826), who was just coming into prominence with talented landscape and animal studies. Garrard produced numerous drawings and paintings during the tour and sixteen were engraved for inclusion in the book.
 Thornton waxed poetic on the many lochs of the Highlands and Garrard painted them.

 In addition Colonel Thornton commented on the social activities and social conditions he encountered on his trip,
and some unusual local pursuits. He encountered Golf at Glasgow on July 21.

And Mr. Garrard continued to draw and paint:

So, nearly twenty years after the trip, Thornton (in common with many British travellers in the 1800s) published a record of his excursion. His work is entertaining and as he says in his conclusion
I cannot better repay my obligations to that romantic country, for the amusement it has afforded me, than by recommending its highly-varied charms to the notice of future travellers...
The Sporting Tour by Colonel Thomas Thornton may be downloaded from Google Books. Enjoy!

'Til next time,


Friday, May 15, 2020

"A melancholy accident"

Please be warned--this is not a cheerful topic today! But it is, I think, quite fascinating. I have been looking at carriage accidents.

We might tend to think longingly of the quieter life of Regency England; the slower pace of everything, including horses and carriages. But as these newspaper clippings show, carriage, cart and coach traffic was as dangerous as your local freeway and accidents could be deadly.

Inattentive drivers, equipment failure, speed and impairment all caused accidents, then as now. And there was the additional wild card of the horse--a temperamental, easily startled, sensitive creature entrusted with lives.

These clips require no explanation; they offer an interesting perspective on day to day life in Regency England.

Leicester Chronicle - Saturday 15 November 1817
Cambridge Intelligencer - Saturday 15 November 1800

Gloucester Journal - Monday 23 November 1801

Morning Advertiser - Monday 20 March 1809

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 10 June 1809

Oxford University and City Herald - Saturday 17 January 1807

Stamford Mercury - Friday 21 October 1814

Star (London) - Saturday 06 October 1804

Windsor and Eton Express - Sunday 04 February 1816
The facts speak for themselves--transportation traffic is dangerous and always has been. Although one hesitates to benefit from the tribulations of the people involved in these accidents, there is much material for story-telling in these newspaper clippings.