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THE WEATHER DURING THE FROST.
The coaches on most of the roads ceased running, and about Birmingham and Coventry the snow drifts were said to be in some spots 24 feet, and impassable.
The snow even in the street of Dublin was 6 feet in depth, and the number of deaths from cold and distress was very great. There were 80 funerals on one Sunday in Dublin, and the coffin-makers could not complete their orders, and multitudes of the poor lay unburied.
From the 13th to 21st the thermometer ranged from 36° to 11°, and on the snow 6o.
On the 22nd a little snow fell, and the temperature fell to 8o.
26th and 27th. S.W. wind, and the thermometer rose to 36o. Thaw and extensive floods.
29th of January, day of minimum barometer 28.22. Stormy S.E. wind, with snow and rain.
30th. The barometer began to rise as the wind drew round to S.W. and ultimately to W.N.W. Strong gales with hail squalls.
February began with hoar frost and extensive rime. On the 3rd, a thermometer on the snow was only 2o.
On the 4th, temperature 12°. Mr. Howard exposed in a metallic dish 2600 grains of snow, which had become very hard by freezing ; in ten hours, the temperature having risen to 28', the snow had lost 27 grains in weight, showing the amount of evaporation from snow.
On the 6th and 7th of February a gale S.W. with rain. Temperature 40°.
HEIGHT OF THE FAIR.
On the 8th, temperature 50°, S.W. and frost gone.
The fair began on Sunday, 30th of January. The immense masses of ice that floated down from the upper part of the river, in consequence of the thaw of the 26th and 27th, completely blocked up the Thames between Blackfriars and London Bridges, and as the frost immediately set in again, it cemented the pieces of ice together, and presented a complete surface of ice in a day or two, and multitudes of persons walked over the Thames.
By the 1st of February, the bosom of old Father Thames presented a very busy scene, and a large town was erected, and a vast multitude thronged to the fair, which extended from Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge. Sheep were roasted, and the delicate meat was sold at 1d. per slice, and called Lapland mutton, and found a ready sale. Highly ornamental booths were erected; mirth, merriment, and fun seemed to pervade the whole mass, and all was glee and joy. Swings, dancing booths, skittles, and every gaiety belonging to a fair. Thousands and tens of thousands were present night as well as day, dancing, gaming, drinking, etc., etc.
Printing presses were erected to commemorate the great fair, and the following is a specimen of one of the hand bills :
“Printed to commemorate a remarkably severe frost, which commenced 27th of December, 1813, accompanied by an unusual thick fog, that continued eight days, succeeded by a tremendous fall of snow, which prevented all communications on northern and western
THE THAW-END OF FAIR.
roads. The Thames presented a complete field of ice between London and Blackfriars Bridges on 31st of January. A fair is held this day, 4th of February, and the whole space between the two bridges is completely covered with spectators.”
On Saturday, 5th, the wind suddenly veered to the south, rain began to fall and the ice to crack, and all of a sudden it floated away-printing presses, flags, and booths—to the no small dismay and grief of the people. With this appeared the following Jeu d'esprit.
“Dear dissolving Dame-Father Frost and sister Snow formed an idol of ioe upon my bosom, and all the lads and lasses of London came to make merry. But now, as you love mischief, treat the multitude to a few cracks, and by your gracious visit obtain the prayers of the poor upon both banks. “ Given at my own press, 5th of February.
“ THOMAS THAMES.”
The thaw advanced rapidly, and on Sunday the 6th, thousands of persons thronged the banks, and sighed at the sudden and unlooked-for destruction of the frost fair.
On Monday, 7th, old Father Thames attained its wonted fluidity, and looked as cheerful and busy as ever, and the sons of commerce pursued their avocations, and the relief afforded to the labouring population was a source of heart-felt gratification and thankfulness. The mischief done on the river was estimated at £10,000.
The following passage in one of the leading journals announced the opening of the river :
THE WINTER IN NORTH OF EUROPE.
“Feb. 11.-We are happy to see the lately perturbed bosom of Father Thames resume its former serenity. The busy oar is now plied with its wonted alacrity and the sons of commerce are pursuing their avocations with redoubled energy. Cheerfulness is seated on the brow of the industrious labourer : those who were reduced to receive alms as paupers, again taste the sweets of that comparative independence with which labor crowns the efforts of the industrious. What a fruitful source of congratulation does this prospect afford ! Nor can the contemplative mind dwell on the subject without feeling gratitude to that beneficent Being, who, in a time of such calamity, opened the hearts of the benevolent to administer from their abundance, to the necessities of their
poorer brethren, and thus add cement to the bond by which all mankind are linked together.
Mr. James, in his work of “Travels in Sweden,” etc. says :-" It is impossible to recount the horrors of such a winter as this of 1814, and no example has occurred within the last sixty years of one so severe. The peasants came into Stockholm with their faces, arms, and legs frozen ; the soldiers on guard were relieved every hour, yet many were frozen to death. Frequently, we saw the dead white patch on the cheeks,
, ears, and noses of the poor. The gentry wore masks, or their skins were greased with oil. Salutations in the street were short, scarce a word or an answer; the N.E. wind was like the chill blast of death."
Mr. James crossed the grand channel that separates the Aland group from Sweden, which is forty miles
THE OLD-FASHIONED WINTERS,
broad and of a great depth, so that it is rarely ever frozen. But this year it was one mass of ice, which no one living recollected before. On the 21st of January the Fahrenheit thermometer was 28° below zero, and at St. Petersburg, 42° below.
But the season had its blessings, for the season was not interrupted by a single thaw, so that the poor kept their provisions untainted in the frozen state and fit for market, which was their chief dependance,
“ But 40 years have fled since the great frost fair and its snowy fabrics have melted away, and of all who danced there how many are there now alive ; but, as it would never do to live for ever, let us live well and wisely.
“ The old-fashioned winters are said to have passed away, when the slides were a quarter of a mile long on level meadows, and when the snow-drifts formed pillared porches like in fancy to the Parthenon, and its roof strewed with diamonds. In these the boys assembled together, where old airs were sung, and tales were told of goblin, ghosts, and fairies. throne at the upper end sat young Christopher North, then king of boys, and proud were his subjects to do him homage. Oft did he tell his tales in the Snow House, and preside over the fantastic festivities, and delight in the jigs and the reels which enlivened the hours.”