This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading.
There was a succession of cold winters and chilly summers around this time. Summer 1888 was the coldest and wettest on record, and the summer of 1890 was also notably cold.
American 'prior-to-date forecasts': a very topical reference, as the United States Weather Bureau was created as a civilian operation under the Department of Agriculture in 1890.
'H. J. Byron' was Henry James Byron, playwright, whose record-breaking runs included Our Boys in the 1870s and Charley's Aunt in the 1890s. —— David Skilton
here is something terribly aggravating about weather in general, and the weather in this country in particular. It is so unreliable. There is no placing the slightest confidence in it, and the way it ignores the barometers and the prophets is simply appalling. It seems to have lost all sense of the fitness of things of late years.
In the good old days of which we hear so much, we are told 'the weather was worth calling weather.' In those much-vaunted days they had – so say the chroniclers – regular seasons, and spring, summer, autumn, and winter could be relied upon to turn up with the atmospheric surroundings expected in connection with them.
A spring reality.
We have no such things, now-a-days, and snow-storms in July are as likely to be chronicled as the fact that there is not the slightest use for skates from December to March. The whole system is disarranged, and the erratic movements of the weather seem to have been more pronounced since the Americans began to anticipate it by their prior-to-date forecasts. When you come to look at it, the thing is hardly surprising, and the perverse way in which the weather upsets the tables of the prophets may be put down as its practical and peculiar method of telling interfering weather prophets to mind their own business, and not interfere with things they do not understand. I say this may be the case, but, whatever be the cause, there is a wide difference between the prophets and the weather they predict. For the sake of suffering humanity they really ought to try and conciliate the elements. The uncertainty of the elements is likely to result in an unlooked-for calamity, for it will, if it goes on, put to rout a stock theme of conversation. For years the weather has been a stock theme for opening or helping on a conversation, and the salutation. 'Good morning, glorious morning isn't it?' has frequently led to many an interesting chat. Then how entertaining and interesting the discussions as to the probable weather the day would bring forth. The man who foretold rain felt that if his friend did not provide for the coming downpour he has not any confidence in his, the prophet's, acumen. And if it did rain, how self-satisfied he felt. Now this kind of conversation is apt to be dangerous, for so erratic have the elements become that at the very moment you are stating it is a fine day, it is as likely as not that the rain will come down in torr[e]nts, and the people to whom you have expressed your opinion will go away with the impression that you are not an observant person, which is, to say the least of it, annoying. A curious phase of remarks relating to the weather is that they are mostly bare statements of fact which must be palpable to every one they are made to. It has always seemed to me to be an inference that there was something wanting in a man’s powers of perception to tell him in the midst of blue sky and bright sunshine that it is a fine day, or to inform him when the rain is spoiling his best suit and getting through his thin shoes that it is a wet day. Yet these absurd truisms are repeated by the hundred daily, whereas on any other subject than the weather people would as soon think of flying as of indulging in them.
A summer costume.
I suppose the fact is that weather has become such an anomaly that people do not consider it worth treating rationally. And then look at the way it treats the spring poets, who must be imbued with a faith only equalled by that of a Salvation Army soldier in his general. Season after season they try to convince the world that spring is all they paint it – a lovely season where nature and the birds burst forth with equal success. But it won't do in the present state of affairs. There is nothing poetic about catarrh, and very little sentiment attached to influenza. But they both come round with the spring. If things go on as they are much longer the calendar will have to [be] re-arranged, and the position of the various seasons transposed, but even then there would be no certainty that the weather might not, just for spite, turn round altogether. It might be worth while to try the experiment on the off chance.
There is a keen sense of annoyance experienced when one looks at some of the old pictures dealing with picnics and other pleasures of that summer. Picnics, in the pictures, are depicted as taking place in the midst of the most delightful weather and surroundings. The light, gauzy. frocks of the ladies flutter in the breeze, and the flannels of the gentlemen tell of the heat of a: glorious afternoon. This is in the pictures. Now-a-days the whole thing is changed and people go to picnics with a liberal supply of macintoshes and umbrellas, and have their pleasure largely spoiled by anticipations of a visit from Jupiter Pluvius [Jupiter as the bringer of rain]. And yet we are living; in the much-praised nineteenth century. with its phonographs, its electric light, and its scientific research. The Australian prelate who refused to pray for rain on the ground that the people did not give the rain a chance had, in all probability, other reasons for his non-compliance with his flock's request. He doubtless knew how unreliable the weather is, and he did not care to experiment where the prophets and the almanacks had failed. He was a wise man. One thing that it is always safe to do when dealing with the weather is to grumble at it and sneer at the weather forecasts and their producers. Not only does this relieve you, but it coincides with the feelings of your friends who grumble with you in a sympathetic spirit.
If the weather prophets would get within reasonable distance of the weather they might be tolerated, but when they prophesy storms they don't come, and when their prognostications point to delightful weather it is certain to rain. And yet there are people who daily turn to the forecasts in their morning papers with a firm belief that they are going to be informed with accuracy as to the kind of weather that will be around during the day. Poor deluded mortals. They are the people whom experience does not teach. They store up old almanacks, and when. by accident, a prophecy comes off they show it to their friends, and tell of the wonders in store for them in the way of weather predictions for the future. They are judiciously silent as to the failures of their pet prophets. These people live in fond anticipation that some of these days we shall again be favoured with that much-talked-of season, 'a good, old- fashioned Christmas.'
As it is no use crying over spilt milk (it only makes it more watery, as H. J. Byron said), so it, is but little use to shed tears about the failure of. the prophets and the state of the weather. We can only growl and bear it, and wait patiently until such times as it sees fit to leave off fooling and stick to its business with some semblance of seriousness. It has got on the loose, and, as is usual in such cases, it will have to have its own time to come round in.
So in the meantime we can only study the almanacks, barometers, and forecasts in the hope that one of these days things may get righted. At the same time let us get what consolation we can from the lines of that truthful idyll which says:
'Whether it's cold or whether it's hot, We've got to weather it, whether or not.'
Last modified 9 April 2022