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Parish of Kilfinan, Argyleshire, we read; “ There is one pernicious practice that prevails much in this parish, which took its rise from this source, which is, that of carrying their children out to baptism on the first or second day after birth. Many of them, although they had it in their option to have their children baptized in their own houses, by waiting one day, prefer carrying them seven or eight miles to church, in the worst weather in December or January, by which folly they too often sacrifice the lives of their infants to the phantom of superstition.” Ibid. xv. 311, the minister of the parishes of South Ronaldsay and Burray, two of the Orkney Islands, describing the manners of the inhabitants, says :
“ Within these last seven years the minister has been twice interrupted in administering baptism to a female child, before the male child, who was baptised immediately after. When the service was over, he was gravely told he had done very wrong, for, as the female child was first baptised, she would, on her coming to the years of discretion, most certainly have a strong beard, and the boy would have none."
In the above work, v. 83, the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, describing the superstitious opinions and practices in that parish, says: “When a child was baptised privately, it was, not long since, customary to put the child upon a clean basket, having a cloth previously spread over it, with bread and cheese put into the cloth; and thus to move the basket three times successively round the iron crook which hangs over the fire, from the roof of the house, for the purpose of supporting the pots when water is boiled or victuals are prepared. This might be anciently intended to counteract the malignant arts which witches and evil spirits were imagined to practise against new-born infants.”
Bulwer, in his Chirologia, p. 62, remarks, that “There is a tradition our midwives have concerning children borne openhanded, that such will prove of a bountiful disposition and frank-handed.”
The following occurs in the Second Part of Dekker's Honest Whore, 1630 : “I am the most wretched fellow : sure some left-handed priest christened me, I am so unlucky.”
In Herrick’s Hesperides, p. 336, we have the following charms :
“ Bring the holy crust of bread,
Lay it underneath the head ;
Hags away while children sleep.
Neer the child's heart lay a knife;
Keeps the sleeping child from harmes."
" Gryte was the care, and tut'ry that was ha’en,
And Nory was brought up wi' unco care." It appears to have been anciently the custom, at christening entertainments, for the guests not only to eat as much as they pleased, but also, for the ladies at least, to carry away as mueh as they liked in their pockets. In the Batchellor's Banquet, 1677, we read : “What cost and trouble it will be to have all things fine against the christening day; what store of sugar, biskets, comphets, and caraways, marmalet, and marchphane, with all kind of sweet suckers and superfluous banquetting stuff, with a hundred other odd and needless trifles, which at that time must fill the pockets of dainty dames !” I find the mother called here “the childwife.”
In Strype's edition of Stowe's Survey of London, i. 260,
I The linen bed. * For fear.
? I suppose meaning rowen tree.
accounts are given of two great christenings, in 1561 and 1562. After the first was a splendid banquet at home;" and the other, we read, was concluded with a great banquet, consisting of wafers and hypocras, French, Gascoign, and Rhenish wines, with great plenty, and all their servants had a banquet in the hall with divers dishes.” Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, p. 170), speaking of the Manx christenings, says: “The whole country round are invited to them; and, after having baptised the child, which they always do in the church, let them live ever so distant from it, they return to the house, and spend the whole day, and good part of the night, in feasting.' In Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 192, speaking of a yealous (jealous) neighbour, the author says: “Store of bisket, wafers, and careawayes, hee bestowes at his child's christning, yet are his cares nothing lessned; he is perswaded that he may eate his part of this babe, and never breake his fast.”
At the christening entertainments of many of the poorer sort of people in the north of England (who are so unfortunate as to provide more mouths than they can with convenience find meat for), great collections are oftentimes made by the guests, and such as will far more than defray the expenses of the feast of which they have been partaking. Kennett, in a MS. note to Aubrey's Remains of Gentilism, says: “At Burcester, in Oxfordshire, at a christening, the women bring every one a cake, and present one first to the minister, it present. At Wendlebury, and other places, they bring their cakes at a gossiping, and give a large cake to the father of the child, which they call a rocking cake.” Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, tells us that children in that county, when first sent abroad in the arms of the nurse to visit a neighbour, are presented with an egg, salt, and fine bread. It is customary there, also, for the midwife, &c., to provide two slices, one of bread, and the other of cheese, which are presented to the first person they meet in the procession to church at a christening. The person who receives this homely present must give the child in return three different things, wishing it at the same time health and beauty. The gentleman who informed me of this, happening once to fall in the way of such a party, and to receive the above present, was at a loss how to make the triple return, till he bethought himself of laying upon the child which was held out to him, a shilling, a halfpenny, and a pinch of snuff. When they meet more than one person together, it is usual to single out the nearest to the woman that carries the child.
There is a singular custom prevailing in the country of the Lesgins, one of the seventeen Tartarian nations. “Whenever the Usmei, or chief, has a son, he is carried round from village to village, and alternately suckled by every woman who has a child at her breast, till he is weaned. This custom by establishing a kind of brotherhood between the prince and his subjects, singularly endears them to each other.” See the Europ. Mag. for June, 1801, p. 408.
Hutchinson observes that “the egg was a sacred emblem, and seems a gift well adapted to infancy.” Bryant says, “An egg, containing in it the elements of life, was thought no improper emblem of the ark, in which were preserved the rudiments of the future world; hence in the Dionusiaca and in other Mysteries, one part of the nocturnal ceremony consisted in the consecration of an egg. By this, as we are informed by Porphyry, was signified the world. It seems to have been a favorite symbol, and very ancient, and we find it adopted among many nations. It was said by the Persians of Orosmasdes, that he formed mankind, and inclosed them in an egg. Cakes and salt were used in religious rites by the ancients. The Jews probably adopted their appropriation from the Egyptians : ‘And if thou bring an oblation of a meatoffering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour,' &c., Levit. ii. 4.—With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.' Ibid.
13. Cowell, in his Law Dictionary, on the word “Kichell,” says: “ It was a good old custom for godfathers and godmothers, every time their godchildren asked them blessing, to give them a cake, which was a gods-kichell; it is still a proverbial saying in some countries, · Ask me a blessing, and I will give you some plum-cake.'
Among superstitions relating to children, the following is cited by Bourne, in the Antiquitates Vulgares, chap. xviii., from Bingham on St. Austin : "If when two friends are talking together, a stone, or a dog, or a child, happens to come between them, they tread the stone to pieces, as the divider of their friendship, and this is tolerable in comparison of beating an innocent child that comes between them. But it is more pleasant that sometimes the children's quarrel is revenged by the dogs : for many times they are so superstitious as to dare to beat the dog that comes between them, who turning again upon him that smites him, sends him from seeking a vain remedy, to seek a real physician indeed.”
It was anciently the custom for the sponsors at christenings to offer gilt spoons as presents to the child : these spoons were called Apostle spoons, because the figures of the twelve Apostles were chased or carved on the tops of the handles. Opulent sponsors gave the whole twelve. Those in middling circumstances gave four; and the poorer sort contented themselves with the gift of one, exhibiting the figure of
saint in honour of whom the child received its name. It is in allusion to this custom that when Cranmer professes to be unworthy of being sponsor to the young Princess, Shakespeare makes the King reply, “Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your spoons.” In the year 1560, we find entered in the books of the Stationers' Company: “A spoyne, the gyfte of Master Reginold Wolfe, all gylte, with the pyeture of St. John.” Ben Jonson, also, in his Bartholomew Fair, meutions spoons of this kind : “And all this for the hope of a couple of Apostle spoons and a cup to eat caudle in.” So, in Middleton's Comedy of a Chaste Maid of Cheapside, 1620. “ Second Gossip. What has he given her? What is it, Gossip ?-Third Gos. A faire high-standing cup and two great postle spoons, one of them gilt.” Again, in Sir William Davenant's Comedy of the Wits, 1639 :
“My pendants, carcanets, and rings,
My christening caudie-cup and spoons,
Are dissolved into that lump." Again, in the Noble Gentleman, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
“I'll be a gossip. Bewford,
I have an odd Apostle spoon.” In Shipman's Gossips, 1666, Poems, 1683, p. 113, we read :
“Since friends are scarce, and neighbours many,
Must e'en provide a chrisome pye;" i. e. serve up the child in a pie. Our author is pleasant on