Monday, 13 February 2012

On Rain, Poetry and The Law.

This has, by common agreement, been the most miserable summer here in Hawkes Bay that most people seem to be able to recall.  Of course these statements are often made when the weather is miserable but there is absolutely no doubt that this is the most miserable summer since I first came here to New Zealand in 2005.

It has always been one of our family sayings that:

“The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

I wondered this evening whether that saying was just a family one or whether it had wider provenance.  Lo and behold I discovered that it was attributed to the English Judge, Lord Bowen (Charles Synge Christopher Bowen, Baron Bowen QC, PC (1 January 1835 – 10 April 1894)).

Now I wouldn't expect any of my readers to have heard of this august member of the judiciary however, as it so happens, the name was known to me.  Why?  Well when I read law one of the most famous and basic tests was that of the "man on the back of the Clapham omnibus".  (The man on the Clapham omnibus is a hypothetical reasonable person, used by the courts in English law where it is necessary to decide whether a party has acted in the way that a reasonable person should.)

Who had originated this test?  You guessed it: Charles Bowen as he then was as Counsel in the famous Tichborne Case.

As an aside Lord Bowen was no literary slouch either and amongst many other things translated Virgil's Eclogues, and Aeneid, books i.-vi.  

More interestingly, for me at least, was another of his quotes:  “When I hear of an 'equity' in a case like this, I am reminded of a blind man in a dark room - looking for a black hat - which isn't there”  I just love that.

Having said all that, despite the dreary day and the rain, I played a game of Association Croquet this afternoon and played much to my personal satisfaction.   Then I played a hugely enjoyable game of one-ball with my original AC mentor and at the end he won by the narrowest margin possible.  We finished, wet and very happy. 
I had originally intended to quote Longfellow's poem The Rainy Day but felt that it's tenor, though very apt in some ways, in no way reflected the joy and lightness of my mood.  Nevertheless as I'd looked the words up to remind myself of them I shall quote them anyway:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Tomorrow the forecast is for showers; Wednesday it's rain; Thursday and Friday showers.  In fact the weather map is almost totally devoid of sun this week.  The vignerons are getting worried.

Me?  Tonight I couldn't be happier.


  1. I never knew where "into each life some rain must fall" came from...merci beaucoup!

    Be glad it isn't snow! I'll be glad to see the back of ours.


  2. I concur with SP. Stiil snowed in at Ramond.

  3. Not exactly snowed in here, but sick and tired of winter nonetheless, and hoping for spring to arrive soon.
    Congratulations on the successful croquet games! And that judge sounds like someone I wouldn't mind spend an evening with.

  4. Damp and chilly here, but none the less we are heading out for chowder and crab-cakes later. Your Judge fellow sounds like quite the smarty pants!

  5. Still mild and damp - but - every cloud has a silver lining and just to cheer you up - the daffodils in the garden at Tigh na Mara are just about to break into flower. Nice. x

  6. Well you all seem unanimously fed up of your Northern hemisphere winters. Oh dear Spesh it's so long since I saw a daffodil! I'm too late for them here and I'm too late for them there. I really do miss them.

  7. I spoke to a lady today who told of her delight at standing out in a rain shower yesterday until she was soaking wet, she was so glad to see the rain. I know I didn't hurry when caught in the same shower. But to hear the vignerons are worried - that is unsettling, a shortage of beautiful HB wine would be serious!

  8. Oh I don't think there will be too much of a shortage unless the mould sets in but it might turn out to be a less than excellent vintage.