GOD AND THE WEATHER.
WITH characteristic inconsistency the Christian will exclaim "Here is another blasphemous title. What has God to do with the weather?" Everything, sir. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge, and do you think he fails to regulate the clouds? The hairs of your head are numbered, and do you think he cannot count the rain-drops? Besides, your clergy pray for a change in the weather when they find it necessary; and to whom do they pray but God? True, they are getting chary of such requests, but the theory is not disavowed, nor can it be unless the Bible is discarded as waste-paper; and the forms of supplication for rain and fine weather still remain in the Prayer Book, although many parsons must feel like the parish clerk who asked "What's the use of praying for rain with the wind in that quarter?"
We might also observe that as God is omnipotent he does everything, or at least everything which is not left (as parsons would say) to man's freewill, and clearly the weather is not included in that list. God is also omniscient, and what he foresees and does not alter is virtually his own work. Even if a tile drops on a man's head in a gale of wind, it falls, like the sparrow, by a divine rule; and it is really the Lord who batters the poor fellow's skull. An action for assault would undoubtedly lie, if there were any court in which the case could be pleaded. What a frightful total of damages would be run up against the defendant if every plaintiff got a proper verdict! For, besides all the injuries inflicted on mankind by "accident," which only means the Lord's malice or neglect, it is a solemn fact (on the Theist's hypothesis) that God has killed every man, woman, and child that ever died since the human race began. We are born here without being consulted, and hurried away without the least regard to our convenience.
But let us keep to the weather. A gentleman who was feeding the fish at sea heard a sailor singing "Britannia rules the waves." "Does she?" he groaned, "Then I wish she'd rule them straighter." Most of us might as fervently wish that the Lord ruled the weather better. Some parts of the world are parched and others flooded. In some places the crops are spoiled with too much sun, and in others with too little. Some people sigh for the sight of a cloud, and others people see nothing else. Occasionally a famine occurs in India which might have been averted by half our superfluity of water. Even at home the weather is always more or less of a plague. Its variation is so great that it is always a safe topic of conversation. You may go out in the morning with a light heart, tempted by the sunshine to leave your overcoat and umbrella at home; and in the evening you may return wet through, with a sensation in the nose that prognosticates a doctor's bill. You may enter a theatre, or a hall, with dry feet, and walk home through a deluge. In the morning a south wind breathes like zephyr on your cheeks, and in the evening your face is pinched with a vile and freezing north-easter.
"Oh," say the pious, "it would be hard to please everybody, and foolish to try it. Remember the old man and his ass." Perhaps so, but the Lord should have thought of that before he made us; and if he cannot give us all we want, he might show us a little consideration now and then. But instead of occasionally accommodating the weather to us, he invariably makes us accommodate ourselves to the weather. That is, if we can. But we cannot, at any rate in a climate like this. Men cannot be walking almanacks, nor carry about a wardrobe to suit all contingencies. In the long run the weather gets the better of the wisest and toughest, and when the doctors have done with us we head our own funeral procession. The doctor's certificate says asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary consumption, or something of that sort. But the document ought to read "Died of the weather."
Poets have sung the glory of snowy landscapes, and there is no prettier sight than the earth covered with a virgin mantle, on which the trees gleam like silver jewels. But what an abomination snow is in cities. The slush seems all the blacker for its whiteness, and the pure flakes turn into the vilest mud. Men and horses are in a purgatory. Gloom sits on every face. Pedestrians trudge along, glaring at each other with murderous eyes; and the amount of swearing done is enough to prove the whole thing a beastly mistake.
It seems perfectly clear that when the Lord designed the
weather, two or three hundred million years ago, he forgot that men
would build cities. He continues to treat us as agriculturalists,
even in a manufacturing and commercial country like this. Why
should people get drenched in Fleet-street while the
Buckinghamshire farmers want rain? The arrangement is obviously
stupid. God Almighty ought to drop the rain and snow in the
country, and only turn on enough water in the cities to flush the
sewers. He ought also to let the rain fall in the night. During the
daytime we want the world for our business and pleasure, and the
Rain Department should operate when we are snug in bed. This is a
reforming age. Gods, as well as men, must move on. It is really
ridiculous for the Clerk of the Weather to be acting on the old
lines when everybody down below can see they are behind the time.
If he does not improve we shall have to agitate on the subject.
Home Rule is the order of the day. We need Home for the globe, and
we cannot afford to let the weather be included in the imperial
functions. It is a domestic affair. And as the Lord has
considerably mismanaged it, he had better hand it over to us, with
full power to arrange it as we please.