A series of severe winters in the seventeenth century moved observers to attend carefully to the weather and to attribute a powerful agency to the cold. Drawing on Hippocratic theories on how specific climatic conditions confer physical and intellectual advantages on the inhabitants of a region, they devised new techniques for reading the elements and new arguments for understanding the interrelatedness of the body and the world. In England, the winter of 1683–84 stood out in its harshness, and many observers recorded the effects of the cold. This essay takes up Royal Society reports, diaries, ballads, painting, sermons, and other documents to explore concerns that the temperate climate that supposedly made the English better suited for ascendancy than peoples in frigid or torrid zones could vanish into history. In these texts we see how English weather mediates between exterior and interior realms, and how English identities are constituted in the operations of climate.


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pp. 8-32
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