Climate and Culture

When He uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Jeremiah 10:13

People made and left for posterity records of unusual weather since the time immemorial. Pliny, Cato, Columella, Varro, Palladius and Vergil write about the weather in connection with agriculture; Procopius of Caesarea in connection with war.

Some seacoast nations were more susceptible and attentive to bad weather: that’s where the elements of the earth and water come into contact. Historical chronicles describe great famines of the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries caused by bad weather, failed crops, severe winters, and unusually cold summers, in which people saw apocalyptic signs.

The Scripture is also quite clear about the source of catastrophic weather—drought, flood, famine, thunderstorms and earthquakes. In our collections we have a large number of old British pamphlets filled with sermons on different subjects; some treat disastrous weather as God’s judgment. You can see in our display several British sermons of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, as well as Melville’s Moby Dick, open to Father Mapple’s sermon on the Book of Jonah, who was on board the ship that suffered a catastrophic storm, with the well-known story that followed; a magnificent edition of the Pennyroyal Bible, and surprisingly amusing interpretation of the aurora borealis by German astrologer Peter Creutzer.