A wet March makes a sad autumn? How Victorians viewed weather

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The Victorians did not have much idea what caused weather patterns but they knew what effect they had on their welfare.

Enquire Within Upon Everything, “the indispensable guide to living”, published in 1856, poses many important questions and provides answers. Among the topics is spring weather and the effect it will have on future harvests. For example: what is the use of March winds? “They dry the soil, (which is saturated by the floods of February) break up the heavy clods, and fit the land for the seeds which are committed to it.”

This theme is repeated in seven other questions about this month’s weather, such as why “a dry cold March never begs bread” and “a wet March makes a sad autumn”. The answers are that a dry month allows the seed to germinate in the soil and produce fruit in the autumn and in a wet one “much of the seed rots in the ground, and the autumn crops are spoiled”.

The helpful and pretty accurate explanation of the meaning of common sayings continues: “Why is it said that March flowers make no summer bowers?” Because, “if the spring be very mild vegetation gets too forward, and is pinched by the nightly frosts, so as to produce neither fruits nor flowers”.

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