Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 55.djvu/247

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


stones and gold were found to be false, but the silver of it was roughly estimated as worth about two thousand marks (Suppression of the Monasteries, p. 218).

The old belief as to the influence of St. Swithun's day—the day of his translation—upon the succeeding weather is expressed in the lines—

St. Swithin's Day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
St. Swithin's Day, if thou be fair,
For forty days 't will rain na mair.

(Hone, Every-Day Book, i. 954.). A notice of the superstition appears in Jonson's ‘Every Man out of his Humour’ (1598, act. i. sc. i.). The story that when the monks desired to translate the saint's body into their church it rained so hard for forty days that they were unable to do so, and, believing that the rain was an evidence of the saint's displeasure at their design, finally abandoned it, is an inversion of the contemporary record, which represents the saint as desiring translation, and cannot have arisen until the memory of the famous shrine had died out among the ignorant. No special incident need be sought for to account for the English superstition, for similar beliefs existed in other countries in connection with other saints, as in France in connection with the days of St. Médard (8 June) and of SS. Gervaise and Prothais (4 July), in Flanders with Ste Godeliève's day (6 July), and in Germany with the day of the Seven Sleepers (27 June), and others (Notes and Queries, 1855, xii. 137, 253), though it is just possible that the words of William of Malmesbury, about the raindrops on St. Swithun's grave, which seem to have been an addition to the original story, may have had something to do with the choice of his day rather than that of any other saint of about the same time of year. It has been proved by observations taken at Greenwich during a period of twenty years that ‘a dry St. Swithun’ is not infrequently followed by more or less rain in the next few weeks (Brand). In some parishes, as at Kingston-on-Thames, church dues were gathered on St. Swithun's day (ib.) Forty-three churches in England are dedicated to him. Swithin, as the saint's name is sometimes written, is an incorrect spelling.

[Among the earliest hagiographical accounts of St. Swithun may be mentioned: (1) the history of the translation and miracles in Latin prose, by Lanfrid, a monk of the old minster at Winchester, written not later than 1006, and printed in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum (Lanfrid regrets that he can say little about the saint's life owing to lack of written materials); (2) a work on the same subject, and of about the same date, by Wolstan, also a Winchester monk, written in Latin verse and extant in MS. Reg. 15, C. vii and MS. Bodl. Auct. F. 2, 14, from which extracts are given in Acta Sanctorum (Mabillon), copied in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum; (3) a life by Goscelin, printed by Surius and in Acta Sanctorum (Mabillon), with collations from Capgrave's text; (4) miracles from MS. Reg. Sueciæ 769, Acta Sanctorum (Bolland); and (5) a curious fragment of three leaves in Anglo-Saxon prose extant at Gloucester, printed by Professor Earle, with facsimile, in his Gloucester Fragments, and dated by him about 985. See also Flor. Wig., Kemble's Codex Dipl. (both Engl. Hist. Soc.); Will. Malm. Gesta Regum and Gesta Pont., Annales de Winton, ap. Ann. Monast. ii. (all Rolls Ser.); Haddan and Stubbs's Eccl. Doc. vol. iii.; Bollandists' Acta Sanct. Jul. i. pp. 321 sq.; Acta Sanct. O. S. B. Mabillon sæc. iv. pars ii. 71; Earle's Gloucester Fragments, pt. i. (with essay on Life and Times of St. Swithun); Green's Conquest of England; Willis's Winchester Cathedral, 1846; Notes and Queries, 1855, xii. 137, 253; Brand's Pop. Antiq. ed. Hazlitt, i. 189.]

W. H.

SWITZER, STEPHEN (1682?–1745), agricultural writer, was the son of Thomas Switzer or Sweetzer of East Stratton, and his wife Mary, whose maiden name was probably Hapgood. Switzer's parents were married on 14 Feb. 1676, and he was himself baptised on 25 Feb. 1682 (Par. Reg. of Micheldever and Stratton). An elder brother was named Thomas (1678–1742). Stephen was brought up at Stratton (Ichnographia Rustica, 1718, p. 66), and had an education which he describes as ‘none of the meanest for one of my profession.’ Compelled, as it would appear from his own words, by reduced circumstances (Gardener's Recreation, 1715, pp. vii, viii), he became a gardener, taking service for several years under George London and Henry Wise [q. v.], the acknowledged experts in the gardening profession at the period (Ichnographia Rustica, 1718). In 1706 he is stated to have been employed under London in laying out the grounds at Blenheim. He is also thought to have been engaged under Mr. Lowder, superintendent of the royal gardens at St. James's, as kitchen-gardener (G. W. Johnson, History of English Gardening, 1829, p. 158). Like other horticulturists of the time, he appears to have been invited to Scotland to furnish plans of improvement. About a century later Loudon fancied that he could distinguish in the gardens of many gentlemen's seats round Edinburgh traces of Switzer's style (Encyclopædia of Gardening, 1822, p. 78). In 1724 he was servant in some capacity (probably that of gardener) to the Earl of Orrery (Practical Fruit Gardener, ded. 1724). In 1729, in his ‘Introduction to