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Hartwell proper has an area amounting to six hundred and seventy acres, of which two hundred and eighty are laid out in pasture land, one hundred and sixty in arable, twenty in wood land, and the rest in meadow: but the whole manorial estate, extending into Stone parish and the hamlet of Bishopstone so named from being the site of Bishop Odo's share of the winning—comprehends nearly two thousand six hundred acres, the whole of which may be considered as included in the following observations :
Although placed on an undulating plain, the estate is elevated about five hundred feet above the level of the sea; and the situation is airy and open without bleakness. It is bounded on the north by the meanders of the river Thame, one of the most considerable tributaries of the thrice-noble
, Thames; on the east by Aylesbury parish and Walton lordship; on the west by Morton and Upton lordships ; and on the south by Bishopstone brook. A small spring rising near Wendover, enters Hartwell on the east, and runs to the north-west, where it joins the brook which separates this parish from that of Aylesbury. The locality is therefore on the whole well watered, and, during the winter season, is consequently not exempt from the maladies fostered by cold and humidity. But though catarrhs, rheumatism, and remittents may be looked for, the local influence in their production and modification is not exerted to any extraordinary degree; and by no means so much so as among the surrounding hills. The situation must, for this reason, be pronounced healthy; and, although there are times and seasons in which ailments are more general than at others, the diseases are mostly of a simple character.
This condition as to salubrity, though not entirely dependent on the local meteorology, is no doubt largely influenced by it; for, though we can readily account for the atmospheric variations of density, electricity, and temperature, there may yet be many chemical affinities with which we are at present utterly unacquainted. Particular soils radiate the heat in greater or less abundance, and ranges of hills—such as those of the Chilterns, Winchendon, Pitchcot, Weedon, and Wing, which surround Hartwell—will modify the condensation of atmospherical vapour: but the effects ascribable to such causes, can as yet only be estimated by a patient study of the phenomena which they produce. The various consequences of a particular temperature on local situation, as relative to agriculture and comfort, are sufficiently obvious, although from inattention we are less sensitive of weather affections than other animals; but it must be confessed that experience has anticipated theory, and intelligent diligence has still to detect the art which nature uses, to direct and govern the physical forces and complicated alternations of meteorology.
The general bearing of the local climate is pretty well shown in records of the weather which Dr. Lee has had regularly kept, since 1829 to the present time; from which, and from many observations I have been enabled to make in numerous visits during each of the elapsed years, some tolerable conclusions may be drawn. My remarks, however, will principally relate to a group of ten years; for the highly improved system of register introduced lately by Mr. Glaisher, of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, will no doubt form a future discussion of the Hartwell meteorology. From the data already collected, it is seen that the usual annual extremes of weather take place in January and July; but that certain conditions of wind, and other atmospheric phenomena, occasion interruptions, so that the greatest cold may occur in a range between December and March. The prevalent winds are from W.S.W. to S.S.W., and the E.N.E. wind is the coldest in spring. The most intense heat happens during settled weather and south-easterly winds, in the summer, the maximum of the thermometer occurring between 1 and 2 P.M., and the minimum just before sunrise; and, though, of course, there are frequent anomalies under atmospheric vicissitudes, the following summary is a passable average for the local seasons of this district :
JANUARY. — Usually cold and frosty, with the thermometer near its minimum, under very small variation. In the milder winters there are strong gales, with rain, from S.W. to N.W. The mean pressure of the atmosphere is 30·20 inches, and range of the barometer 1:19 inch. The sky during this month is frequently clear and bright, but the vegetable kingdom remains in its winter quarters, protected from the rigour of the season.
FEBRUARY.—Generally gloomy and chilly, yet the mean temperature on the rise. The prevailing winds are from S. to W., followed by thaws and rain, but with occasional sharp gales from N.W. and N. The mean range of the barometer is 1:42 inch, and that of the thermometer about 25o. The trees still retain the appearance of lifeless skeletons, and the aspect of nature is dreary, although a few heralds of spring are observable.
MARCH.—This is a very fickle month, humidity and warmth in attendance on each other, and occasional bright days are followed by sleet, dry winds, and hard gales, especially about the time of the vernal equinox. The barometer ranges 1.24 inch, and the thermometer about 30°. The buds of the trees and shrubs are now swelling, and the meadow's wear a livelier green, in token of renewed life.
APRIL. Though it has bright and balmy days, this is often a cold month, with ungenial frost at times. The barometer is pretty steady, with an average range of 1.15 inch, and the mean temperature rising; but there is great vicissitude in the weather at this, the season for blossoms and leafing.
MAY.—This month generally completes the verdure of the fields, and all vegetation is in rapid progress; still there are parching winds from the N.E. quarter, with chilly nights. The energy of the solar beams strengthens, the atmosphere attains great dryness, the thermometer rises, and the mean variations of the barometer do not exceed 1.01 inch.
JUNE.—The foliage and verdure are now in full development; and the summer quarter opens with fine seasonable weather, though there is occasionally thunder and rain. Twilight continues all night, and the dews fall heavily : much against observing clusters of stars and nebulæ. The thermometer now indicates a great increase of temperature-usually between 75o and 80°—and
the mean range of the barometer is only 0.89 inch. At or about mid-summer, the hay-harvest is in hand here; and the trees are in their richest clothing.
JULY.—As the high temperature continues, the weather is warm and fine, and the summer is now perfect. The winds are variable, but generally hang in the S.W. quarter, with frequent rain and occasional thunder and lightning. Though the summer solstice has impinged on the direct influence of the sun, yet the earth and air have been so acted on that the solar rays attain a maximum of energy in this month, and the barometer has its minimum range, it being only 0·81 inch. While the mowed grounds exhibit their emerald green surfaces, the sober hues of maturity overspread the wheat and barley fields, and the corn is fit for the sickle by St. James's Day.
AUGUST.—In weather details the “rich array'd” August continues very like July, being generally fine and genial, with occasional storms of wind, thunder, and rain. Under the full influence of the solar rays, the temperature remains warm, with a high maximum of barometer, the which only varies 0.98 inch of the column. By the middle of this month, the harvest is secured and carried by good practical farmers, even whether the season is marked by backwardness or not.
SEPTEMBER.— With the commencement of autumn, a falling temperature is perceptible; and, though the weather is generally fine, it is stormy at times, with thunder, especially at or about the equinox-less so, however, than during the March passage. The mean pressure of the atmosphere is 29.94 inches, and the mean range of the barometer 1:09 inch. The days are sensibly shortened, and we are reminded of the decline of the year by various changes on the face of nature.
OCTOBER.—This is usually a fine month, though with a reduction of temperature and increase of humidity in gradual transition; but, as the fruits are gathered and stored, the foliage exhibits its richly-diversified autumnal tints without exciting regret for the decrease of solar power. The thermometer, however, sometimes still attains the height of 70° in the shade, or even higher; while the barometer range increases to an average of 1.32 inch. The open
fields are again the scene of active industry, and various occupations demand the attention of the farmer.
NOVEMBER.—A cold and dreary month, the murky atmosphere heavy with moisture, venting itself in high winds and rain, the foliage gone, and the trees in their winter preparation for hard gales. Yet occasionally very fine days break the gloom, and make the still decreasing temperature less sensibly felt. The pressure of the whole atmosphere amounts to 29.97 inches, and the range of the barometer to 1:10 inch. The field-work is generally completed this month, and the farming implements are laid aside.
DECEMBER. — This month opens, not unlike its predecessor, in high winds, humidity, and darkness; but towards its close, winter's full rigour becomes stamped. Severe frost does not usually set in till after the winter solstice; but a damp and chilly state of the atmosphere, more unpleasant than frost, often prevails. Northerly and easterly winds bring snow, and those south to west are charged with heavy rains. Mean range of the barometer 1:36 inch. Except for the presence of certain evergreens, vegetable nature seems to have fallen into a torpor.
The climate of Ilartwell may be further illustrated by submitting the general annual mean derived from the average monthly results of the register for 1837, a year in which I had occasion to pay some marked attention to the details, in order to compare them with a summary of those observed at Oxford and Bedford. Two barometers were usually noted, but the reliance is on one made by Mr. Jones, of Charing Cross, for the observatory; and the thermometer is the self-registering one of Mr. James Six, as described in the Philosophical Transactions for 1782. There were three hygrometers, but the one selected for the comparison was similar to that by which I registered at Bedford; it was made with twisted filaments of the andropogon contortum, a grass of extreme sensibility, brought from India by my late friend Captain Henry Kater.
The indications of this were shown by an index graduated to one thousand parts, from immersion in unslaked lime to saturation in moisture, and were afterwards reduced to degrees and tenths; and the dew-point was