On the 20th, the sun shone out for the first time since the frost began; a circumstance that has been remarked before, much in favour of vegetation. All this time the cold was not very intense, for the thermometer stood at 29 deg., 28 deg. 25 deg. and thereabout; but on the 21st it descended to 20 deg.. The birds now began to be in a very pitiable and starving condition. Tamed by the season, sky-larks settled in the streets of towns, because they saw the ground was bare; rooks frequented dung-hills close to houses; hares now came into men’s gardens, and scraping away the snow, devoured such plants as they could find.
On the 22nd, the author had occasion to go to London; through a sort of Laplandian scene very wild and grotesque indeed. But the metropolis itself exhibited a still more singular appearance than the country; for, being bedded deep in snow, the pavement could not be touched by the wheels or the horses’ feet, so that the carriages ran about without the least noise. Such an exemption from din and clatter was strange, but not pleasant; it seemed to convey an uncomfortable idea of desolation.
On the 27th, much snow fell all day, and in the evening the frost became very intense. At South Lambeth, for the four following nights, the thermometer fell to 11 deg., 7 deg., 0 deg., 6 deg.; and at Selborne to 7 deg., 6 deg., 10 deg.; and on the 31st of January, just before sunrise, with rime on the trees, and on the tube of the glass, the quicksilver sunk exactly to zero, being 32 deg. below freezing point; but by eleven in the morning, though in the shade, it sprung up to 16-1/2 deg.—a most unusual degree of cold this for the south of England. During these four nights the cold was so penetrating that it occasioned ice in warm and protected chambers; and in the day the wind was so keen that persons of robust constitutions could scarcely endure to face it. The Thames was at once so frozen over, both above and below the bridge, that crowds ran about on the ice. The streets were now strangely encumbered with snow, which crumbled and trod dusty, mid, turning gray, resembled bay-salt; what had fallen on the roofs was so perfectly dry, that from first to last it lay twenty-six days on the houses in the city—a longer time than had been remembered by the oldest housekeepers living. According to all appearances, we might now have expected the continuance of this rigorous weather for weeks to come, since every night increased in severity; but behold, without any apparent on the 1st of February a thaw took place, and some rain followed before night; making good the observation, that frosts often go off, as it were, at once, without any gradual declension of cold. On the 2nd of February, the thaw persisted; and on the 3rd, swarms of little insects were frisking and sporting in a court-yard at South Lambeth, as if they had felt no frost. Why the juices in the small bodies and smaller limbs of such minute beings are not frozen, is a matter of curious inquiry.