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Weather Notes of Evelyn, Pepys, and Swift in Relation to British Climate

Naturevolume 105pages393394 (1920) | Download Citation



THE interest in weather notes from old diaries lies in the fact that they may throw some light on the vexed question whether meteorological conditions in Western Europe are changing. The diaries of Evelyn and Pepys have been quoted by both believers and unbelievers in changing conditions, and it must regretfully be admitted that the question is, as yet, by no means easy to answer. Evelyn's diary extends from 1620 to 1706, but during this long period there are, on the average, only about eight weather notes to every three years. As a rule, we find only very outstanding phenomena recorded, such as serious droughts, great storms, or hard frosts. Evelyn's diary has, however, never been published in full, and it is quite possible that the complete diary may contain a great deal more information on the subject. Pepys's diary extends only from 1660 to 1669, and is, therefore, too short to enable us to draw any safe conclusions. His weather notes are, however, far more numerous than Evelyn's, there being remarks bearing on the weather on an average of sixty-two days a year. Like Evelyn, he mentions outstanding features, but he also frequently mentions the weather as it affected his movements or his health, so that we get a much better record for the few years during which Pepys kept a diary than we do for the longer period from Evelyn. Neither writer is by any means infallible in his recollection of past weather, and both can be confuted from their own writings regarding events that they describe as unprecedented in their memories.


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