" Nescis, mi fill, quantula sapientia gubernatur mundus I" was the remark of Oxenstiern to his son. It has been taken to heart by M. Philip Mathieu, alias Mathieu de la Drome, as touchingly explained in the preface to his weather prophecies for the year 1865. " My family," Mathieu informs the public,'' knows all the documents from which I draw the predictions of the weather ; my family assist me in my calculations, and each of its members is able not only to continue the prophecies, but to extend my work. Very probably my grandchildren will be better prophets than 1. All the genuine weather almanacks bear my signature, with my portrait, on the title-page." Evidently M. Philip Mathieu leas pocketed the saying of the great Swedish statesman and made it a family property. And a very lucrative property it must be, if the statement made by French newspapers is true that more than half a million of M. Mathieu's weather almanacks are sold annually, producing a net revenue of 100,000 francs, or 4,0001.
AI. Philip Mathieu, better known as Mathieu de la DrOrne, is, next to our countryman Zadkiel, or Zadkiel Toa Sze, the greatest weather prophet upon earth. M. Mathieu was not always a pro- phet, but set out in a different line. He began life as a school- master some thirty years ago, but failing, for want of pupils, became a journalist, starting a paper called The Hermit's Voice. The Voice found no echo, that is, had no subscribers, and M. Philip Mathieu thereupon set to work "to awaken the people to a sense of their wrongs," in other words, turned a socialist preacher. This did answer to some extent, for after the revolution of 1818 it got M. Mathieu into notoriety, and he was elected the second representative of the department of the Droine. The lift in the world made a change of name necessary, and "M. Philip Mathieu" was dropped henceforth, in favour of the high-sounding " Mathieu de la Drome." But though with an aristocratic name, M. Mathieu professed anything but aristo- cratic principles; on the contrary, he held with the ultra-Reds, sitting oil the top of the Montague. Elevated as the position was, it did not enable him to foresee coining events; he voted against Louis Napoleon, and Louis Napoleon, in return, gave him a pass to Belgium in the month of January, 1852. Being once more out of work, M. Mathieu tried, in turn, writing, preaching, and teaching, but with as little success as of old. Accident at last brought him on the right track. He heard a farmer exclaim, " What a precious thing it would be to know the weather before- hand ! " and the words forthwith gave him an " idea." What a precious good thing it would be to foretell the weather ! The idea took root in 1857, and produced blossoms forthwith. A little sheet, full of cautious weather prophecies, found favour in the eyes of the redacteur-en-chef of the Siecle, the 211orning Advertiser of France, and was praised to the skies. Henceforth, M. Mathieu's fortune was made. He established himself as a regular prophet of the seasons, in direct intercourse with sun, moon, and stars, but maintaining communion with the nether world by means of annuals and almanacks.
Mathieu de la DrOme—according to portrait, on the "genuine edition," an elderly person, with a velvet collar, a square face, and a bald head—foretells the weather and the coming seasons at three different prices. He prophecies for one franc in his Annuaire ; for half a franc, or fivepence, in his Triple Almanach; and For the small sum of thirty centimes, or threepence, in his Double Almanach. There is an opening for a " Single Almanack," at ten centimes, but Mathieu has not come down to a penny yet. It would be unworthy of prophetic wisdom to do so, as long as the threepenny, fivepenny, and tenpenny oracles find customers, with a net result of 4,0001. cash. Though the prices vary, the prophecies are the same in the three books of Mathieu, and the whole difference between them is that the dearer ones contain a number of other articles on various subjects. As to the prophecies, they are very short, and undoubtedly clever. Here are a few specimens :—
"January, 1865.—Towards the 7th, fall of rain or snow in some parts of France. Towards the 16th, some fall of snow in the mountains. Towards the end of the month, high winds on the sea coast. Dangerous
Annuaire Mathieu de la Drame. Indicateur du Temps pour 1565, Redigd par les Semmites Scientitiquis. Pars: Iferni Pion. 1 franc.
Le Double A7nionach Mathieu de la Di ante. Iudicateur du Temps plur MA Paris: IL Don. Sc cents.
Le 7'rip'e Almanach Mathieu de la Drame. Indicatenr du Temps; indispensable aux Colmateurs at aux Mxrins. P..ris: l'10tr. 50 cents.
Zadkiets Almanac for 1855, containing Predictions of the Weather: Voice of the Stars; a 11ien glyphic; the Year of Fate. By Zadklel Tea Sze. Loudon: G. Berger. navigation. If this announcement which I give is not attended to man- time disasters are to be feared."
This is all that is said about the month of January. What can be more admirable?
"February, 1865.—More rough weather, commencing, in some parts, about the 1st and 2nd. Towards the 14th or 16th and the 21st or 22nd, high winds, with rain or snow, according to the regions."
Brevity is the soul of business. This is all for February.
"_Starch, 1865.—There will be high winds, chiefly in the south, towards the 7th, the 16th, and the 23rd. These latter winds will be dangerous. They will also occur on some points of the coast. In some regions they will be accompanied by rain or snow."
This is the March prophecy, full and entire. Calculating the supposed annual income of M. Philip Mathieu from his weather prophecies at so much per month, it will be found that the above three little paragraphs produce him a clear thousand pounds sterling per annum. Was not Oxenstiern right?
Mathieu, the prophet, like all great men, has his drummers and bottle-holders. At the head of them figures M. Alexandre Dumas, pere. The great Alexandre contributes a remarkable article to the Annuaire and the Triple and Double Almanach, under the title of "Italy and the predictions of M. Mathieu de la DrOme." With that infinite grace which distinguishes all the productions of the great Alexandre, lie sings, first, the praises of his "distinguished friend M. Mathieu de la Dream," and then, in a somewhat higher key, his own. How neither the greatest heat nor the most severe cold affects him ; how he is absolutely free from the maladie denier; how he "accompanied from Italy to France a young and most beautiful lady, who had put herself under my protection," and sundry other details of his life, Dumas, pere, rattles off with charming artlessness, repeating in every other line that he thinks M. Mathieu de la Drome the greatest man living—next to himself. Minor drummers follow in the wake of the great Alexandre, all playing the same tune :—There is but one God, and Mathieu (tie la Drama) is His prophet. "No copies genuine except those bearing the signature and portrait of M. Mathieu (de la Drtime) on the tithe-page."
Our countryman Zadkiel is a very humble fellow compared with the great Mathieu. Having no drummers of anything like the stature of the world-renowned Alexandre, poor Zadkiel has to march in front of himself, which difficult feat reduces him to the level of an ordinary ghost. Instead of standing out like a lu- minous prophet of the universe, with an income of £4,000 per annum, he has to hide his face in the dust, in want even of post- age-stamps. There is a melancholy announcement at the very beginning of the "Voice of the Stars, Hieroglyphic, and Year of Fate." It runs, "Those persons who desire to correspond with Zadkiel, must address him under cover, to the printer of this work. A stamp must always be enclosed for reply." The prophet's longing for stamps is daep, for the next line states that the " Voices of the Stars" of past years " may still be had by sending stamps to Zadkiel." However great, though, the want of stamps, greater and fiercer still is the seer's pride. Zadkiel's preface to the starry voices is all thunder and lightning. Hark how Zadkiel thunders :—" I once more tell the ignorant men who write against me in newspapers and reviews, that the way to bring the public round and to demolish my prestige is not the way they adopt ; for it is a vain thing to suppose that in the nine- teenth century people are to be prevailed on to believe that all the lore of antiquity, all tha science of the East, which uphold my theories, are to be written down and smothered by personal abuse and the very vulgar habit of calling names. No, indeed, this will not do! The public are not so foolish." Well thun- dered, Zadkiel! Thou knowest, indeed, the public are not so foolish.
In justice to poor, ill-used Zadkiel, manly proud, though in want of stamps, we must say that his sixpenny-worth of weather prophecies is quite as good, if not better, than the tenpenny oracle of the distinguished friend of Alexandre Dumas, pere. Zadkiel boldly descends into details, from which Mathieu escapes by a convenient generality. Nevertheless, the family likeness between the two weather-prophets is unmistakable. Here is a specimen of Zadkiel :-
1p January, 1865.—The year begins mild and seasonable, 4th, windy ; 5th, rainy ; Gth and 7th, mild ; 8th and 9th, stormy, fog, and snow showers, full moon, fair and seasonable ; 13th and 14th, high wind, fair generally; 16th, cold air, fog and snow prevail; 18th, cold increases: 19th and 20th, a storm period, much snow; 21st and 22nd, foggy and gloomy ; 23rd to 25th, milder and fairer; 26th and 27th, some snow, but generally clear and fair ; 29th and 30th, cold, with snow showers, stormy, and high tides."
Comparing Zadkiel and Mathieu, it will be seen that,*though not agreeing in special matters, they are in harmony on the main point. Both announce snow in January ; also cold ; ditto high winds. Zadkiel, boldest of prophets, predicts the weather to be " seasonable," while Mathieu is sure of " winds on the sea coast." Est-il possible?
Zadkiel's weather predictions for February announce cold and fogs, with "snow probable ;" while for March the prophet saga- ciously foretells wind and rain. Equally acute are the predic- tions for the remaining nine months of the year, and, we venture to think, decidedly as useful to the agricultural mind as the solemn warnings of the French oracle. We are sorry to say, however, that here our recommendations of Zadkiel's sixpenny- worth must end. There is, if not shrewdness, at least an average amount of sense in the weather prophesies ; but the rest of Zadkiel's Almanac is made up of the most inane rubbish that can well be conceived. The " Solar revolutional influences on royal and other personages," the "Cosmogony, or creation of the world," the story of the " Celestial Angels and their powers and influences on mankind," and various other articles of the same calibre, bear internal evidence of having been issued from some lunatic asylum. And as if Colney-Hatch prose was not enough, the contents wind up with an "Ode to Darkness," beginning " Hail, great primeval state, original," and " Hail darkness durable ; dread emblem of eternal wrath." It is quite a relief to turn away from this "darkness durable," and look again for a moment at Zadkiel's French brother. Mathieu de la Dreme, we are delighted to see, has no " Voices of the Stars," or " Hiero- glyphics," but a long article on "the management of pigs." The author, an evidently practical man, maintains that not only grown- up sows, but even sucking-pigs are endowed with a considerable amount of intelligence, highly creditable to them and their race. This intelligence, he argues, can be developed, " and at the same time the meat greatly improved," by giving once a day clean straw to all swine and pure water ad libitum. Here breathes a benign philanthropic spirit, enough to reconcile one with much else in the weather books of Mathieu de la Thome. A Zadkiel may be tolerated, and, if necessary, weather prophecies may gu hand in hand with "solar revolutional influences on royal and other per- sonages ;" but to keep the balance between sense and nonsense, the British Zadkiel should take a leaf out of Mathieu's alrnanack, and give his readers now and then a treatise upon pigs.