+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

whence and when rain is coming, but with
fair good sense lay aside any claim to the
power of producing it. Not so the medicine-
men of North America, who (if the
exceedingly troublesome Red Man still
retain his ancient characteristics) are looked
to as potent influences in times of
unwonted dry weather. Arabia can say
something of the same kind. When Carsten
Niebuhr was in that country, he stopped
some time in the province of Nedjeram,
which was under the rule of a sheikh
named Mecrami. Of this sheikh, Niebuhr
said: "He honours Mahomet as the prophet
of God, but looks with little respect upon his
successors and commentators. Some of the
more sensible Arabs say that the sheikh has
found means to avail himself of heaven even
in this life; for (to use their expression) he
sells Paradise by the yard, and assigns more
or less favourable places in that mansion
according to the sums paid him. Simple
superstitious persons actually purchase
assignments upon heaven from him and his
procurators, and hope to profit thereby. A
Persian of the province of Kerman, too,
has lately begun to issue similar bills upon
heaven, and has gained considerably by the
traffic." Niebuhr dryly remarks upon
this: "The people of the East appear to
approach, daily, nearer to the ingenious
inventions of Europeans in these matters."
He then proceeds: "The knowledge of
many secrets, and among others of one for
obtaining rain when he pleases, is likewise
ascribed to the sheikh. When the country
suffers from drought, he appoints a fast,
and after it a public procession, in which
all must assist, with an air of humility,
without their turbans, and in a garb
suitably mean. Some Arabs of distinction
assured me that this never fails to procure
an immediate fall of rain."

We may, in imagination, leap over Egypt
and sundry other hot regions, and pass from
Arabia to Morocco, where Lempriere tells
us of doings somewhat similar. (Not
Lemprière the dictionary maker, but William
Lempriere, an army-surgeon attached to the
British garrison at Gibraltar.) The
Emperor of Morocco, during the illness of his
son and heir, applied through the English
consul for the services of this gentleman;
and Lempriere had opportunities thus
afforded him of penetrating further into the
recesses of domestic life than is often
permitted in Mohammedan countries. Speaking
of the harem at Morocco in 1790, he
said: "In one of my visits I observed a
procession, which upon inquiry I found was
intended as an invocation to God and
Mahomet for rain, of which there had been a
scarcity for several preceding months. The
procession was commenced by the youngest
children in the harem, who were barely able
to walk, two abreast; and these were
followed by the next in age, till at length a
great part of the women fell into the group,
making altogether upwards of a hundred
persons. They carried on their heads their
prayers written on paper, pasted on a square
board, and proceeded through all the courts
singing hymns, the purport of which was
adapted to the solemn occasion. I was
informed that they continued this ceremony
every day during the whole of the dry
weather, and were to repeat it till their prayers
were attended with success."—A safe
proceeding, at all events: seeing that the
desired rain was sure to come sooner or

Whether any other people in the East
besides the Burmese perform the rope-pulling
mode of producing rain, we do not
know; but the women in some parts of
India adopt a peculiar method of their own.
The Bengal Hurkaru, a newspaper published
in Calcutta, had the following paragraph less
than five years ago, in relation to a drought
which affected a large portion of India:
"The pundits and moulvies were called into
the service, and muntras and beits (prayers)
were read with intense but unavailing
fervour. Finding the efforts of the priests
fail them, the ryots (peasants) next had
recourse to an ancient and somewhat
singular custom. At night all the women of
many of the villages walked naked to
some neighbouring tank or stream, and
there, with songs and invocations, sought
to propitiate the offended heavens, and
to induce the gods to send them rain.
This device was also without immediate

But, while the medicine-men and weather
doctors are trying to bring rain where there
is none, what are we to say of a semi, or
demi-semi, scientific man who attempts to
drive away rain when he doesn't want it,
and make it fall somewhere else? One
M. Otto, of Leipzic, has not only broached
this problem, but has actually had his
scheme brought before the Académie des
Sciences at Paris. He proposes a machine
called a pluvifuge, or rain-expeller, to be
hoisted on a very elevated platform. The
machine is to consist of an enormous pair
of bellows worked by steam power; and
its purpose is to blow away any rainy
clouds which may be accumulating. If