Page images


Willspord, in his “ Nature's Secrets," p. ral will shake and tremble against a tempest 136, tells us that “ TREFOILE, or CLAVER- more than ordinary. GRASSE, against stormy and tempestuous wea- “All tevder buds, blossoms, and delicate ther, will seem rough, and the leaves of it flowers, against the incursion of a storm, do stare and rise up, as if it were afraid of an contract and withdraw themselves within their assault.

husks and leaves, whereby each may preserve “ Tezils, or Fuller's Thistle, being ga- itself from the injury of the weather." thered and hanged up in the house, where He says, ibid. p. 144: “ Leaves in the wind, the air may come freely to it, upon the alter- or down floating upon the water, are signs of ation of cold and windy weather, will grow tempests. In autumn (some say), in the Gall, smoother, and against rain will close up his or Oak- Apple, one of these three things will prickles.

be found (if cut in pieces): a flie, denoting “HELIOTROPES and MARIGOLDS do not only want; a worın, plenty; but, if a spider, morpresage stormy weather, by closing or con- tality." () tracting together their leaves, but turn towards He tells us, ibid., that “the Broom having the sun's rays all the day, and in the evening plenty of blossoms, or the Walnut Tree, is a shut up shop.

sign of a fruitful year of Corn." That “great “ PINE-APPLES, hanging up in the house store of Nuts and Almonds presage a plentiful where they freely may enjoy the air, will close year of Corn, especially Filberds.” themselves against wet and cold weather, and " When Roses and VIOLETS flourish in open against hot and dry times.

autumn, it is an evil sign of an insuing plague “ The Leaves of Trees and Plants in gene. the year following, or some pestiferous disease.”


() Lupton, in his third “ Book of Notable truth.—Mizaldus." He says, ibid. 25 : “ The Things” (edit. Syo. 1660, p. 52), No. 7, says: leaves of an Elm Tree, or of a Peach Tree, “ If you take an Oak Apple from an Oak falling before their time, do foreshew or beTree, and upon the same you shall find a token a murrain or death of cattle.-Carlittle worm therein, which if it doth flye away. danus.' it signifies wars; if it creeps, it betokens scarce- In the Supplement to the "Athenian Oracle," ness of Corn; if it run about, then it fore- p. 476 : “The fly in the Oak Apple is exshews the plague. This is the countryman's plained as denoting war; the spider, pestiastrology, which they have long observed for lence; the small worm, plenty.”


We gather, from Congreve's “ Love for Love,” where, in the character of Old Foresight, he so forcibly and wittily satirizes Su

perstition, that to stumble in going down stairs is held to be a bad omen.


“It is lucky,” says Grose, “to tumble up stairs." Probably this is a jocular observation, meaning it was lucky the party did not tumble down stairs.

Melton, in his “ Astrologaster,” p. 45, says: “10. That if a man stumbles in a morning as soon as he comes out of dores, it is a signe of ill lucke." He adds: “ 30. That if a horse stumble on the highway, it is a signe of ill lucke."

Bishop Hall, in his “ Characters of Vertues and Vices,” under the bead of The Supersti

tious Man, observes, that“ if he stumbled at the threshold, he feares a mischief." (?)

Stumbling at a grave was anciently reckoned ominous; thus Shakspeare :

“ How oft to-night Have my old feet stumbled at graves!" ()

Gaule, in his “ Mag-astromancers posed and puzzel'd," p. 181, omits not, in his very full catalogue of vain Observations and Superstitious ominations thereupon, “the stumbling at first going about an enterprise."


From him, as well as from the “Specator,” we gather, that sometimes “a rusty nail, or a crooked pin, shoots up into prodigies !"

Cicero, in his second book “de Divinatione," $ 40, observes: “Quæ si suscipiainus, pedis offensio nobis, et abruptio corrigiæ et sternutamenta erunt observanda."

In Pet. Molinæi “Vates," p. 218, we read : “ Si quis in limine impegit, ominosum est."

“ That you may never stumble at your going out in the morning,” is found among the omens deprecated in Barton Holiday's comedy, called “ TEXNOTAMIA, or the Marriage of the Arts,” 4to. signat. E b.

(2) Poor Robin, in his Almanac for

1695, thus ridicules the superstitious Charms to avert ill luck in Stumbling: “All those wbo, walking the streets, stumble at a stick or stone, and when they are past it turn back again to spurn or kick the stone they stumbled at, are liable to turn students in Goatam College; and, upon admittance, to have a coat put upon him, with a cap, a bauble, and other ornaments belonging to his degree.'

(3) In “Whimzies; or, a New Cast of Characters," 12mo. Lond. 1631, speaking of a yealous (jealous) neighbour, the author says: “ His earth-reverting body (according to his mind) is to be buried in some cell, roach, or vault, and in no open place, lest passengers (belike) might stumble on his grave.”


It is unlucky, says Grose, to lay one's Knife and Fork crosswise ; crosses and misfortunes are likely to follow. Melton, in his “ Astrologaster," p. 45, in his catalogue of many superstitious ceremonies, observes : “25. That it is naught for any man to give a pair of Knives to his sweetheart, for feare it cuts away all love that is betweene them.” Thus Gay, in his second Pastoral of “ The Shepherd's Week :"

“But woe is me ! such presents luckless prove,

For Knives, they tell me, always sever love."

It is, says Grose, unlucky to present a Knife, Scissors, Razor, or any sharp or cutting instrument, to one's Mistress or Friend, as they are apt to cut love and friendship. To avoid the ill effects of this, a pin, a farthing, or some trifling recompense, must be taken in return. To find a Knife or Razor denotes illluck and disappointment to the party.(')


( ) A Knife Charm has been already cited vol. ii. p. 50, under CHRISTENING CUSTOMS, from Herrick's “Hesperides." It likewise occurs in “Wit a Sporting in a Pleasant Grove of New Faucies,' 8vo. Lond. 1657,

The following is found in Delrio, “Disquisit. Magic.” p. 494, from Beezius: “Item ne Alf, vel Mar equitet Mulierem in puerperio jacentem, vel ne Iufans rapiatur (a strigibus) debet poni Cultellus vel Corrigia super Lectum.”

p. 78.


Melton, in his “Astrologaster," p. 46, says : Doctor Nathaniel Home, in his “ Dæmon“11. That if a man, walking in the fields, ologie, or the Character of the Crying Evils of finde any foure-leaved Grasse, he shall, in a the Present Times," &c., 8vo. Lond. 1650, small while after, finde some good thing." p. 60, tells us : “How frequent is it with He tells us, ibid.:“ 15. That it is naught for people (especially of the more ignorant sort, a man or woman to lose their bose Garter.” As which makes the things more suspected) to also, ibid.: "14. That it is a sign of ill lucke think and say (as Master Perkins relates), if to finde Money."

they finde some pieces of Iron,() it is a preGreene, in his “ Art of Conny-Catching," diction of good lucke to the Finders! If they signat. B, tells us, “ 'Tis ill lucke to keepe find a piece of Silver, it is a foretoken of ill found Money.” Therefore it must be spent. luck to them."


() Mason, in his “ Anatomie of Sorcerie,” 4to. Lond. 1612, p. 90, enumerating our superstitions, mentions as an Omen of good luck, “If drinke be spilled upon a man; or if he find old iron.” Hence it is accounted a lucky Omen to find a Horse-Shoe.

The Hon. Robt. Boyle, in his “ Occasional Reflections," 8vo. Lond. 1665, p. 217, says : “ The common people of this country have a tradition that 'tis a lucky thing to find a HorseShoe. And, though 'twas to make myself merry with this fond conceit of the superstitious vulgar, I stooped to take this up.'

There is a popular custom of crying out “ Halves!" on seeing another pick up anything which he has found, and this exclamation entitles the person who makes it to one half of the value. This is alluded to as follows in Dr. John Savage's “ Horace to Scæva imitated," 8vo. Lond. 1730, p. “ And he, who sees you stoop to th' ground,

Cries, Halves! to everything you've found.”

The well-known trick of dropping the Ring is founded on this custom.



Among the Greeks it was an ancient custom this invention to Lycophron, who was one of to refer Misfortunes to the signification of pro- those they called the Seven Starres, or Pleiades; per Names. The Scholiast upon Sophocles, as afterwards (as witnesses Eustachius) there were cited by Jodrell in his “Euripides,” vol i. p. divers Greek wits that disported themselves 319, &c., observes, that this ludicrous custom herein, as he which turned Atlas, for his heavy of analyzing the proper Names of persons, and burtben in supporting heaven, into Talas, that deriving ominous inferences from their dif- is, wretched. Some will maintain, that each ferent siguifications in their state of analysis, man's fortune is written in his Name, which appears to have prevailed among the Grecian they call Anagramatism, or Metragramatism : poets of the first reputation. Shakspeare, he poetical liberty will not blush to use e for æ, adds, was much addicted to it. He instances v for w, s for z. That amorous youth did “ Richard II.," act ii. sc. 1.: “How is 't with very queintly sure (resolving a mysterious exaged Gaunt?

pression of his love to Rose Hill), when in the In an alphabetical explanation of hard border of a painted cloth he caused to be words, at the end of “ The Academy of painted, as rudely as he had devised grossly, a Pleasure,” 12mo. Lond. 1658, an anagram is rose, a hill, an eye, a loaf, and a well, that is, defined to be “ a divination by Names, called if you spell it, I love Rose Hill well." by the ancients Onomantia. The Greeks referre


IN “ The Husbandman's Practice; or Prognostication for Ever, as Teacheth Albert, Alkind, Haly, and Ptolomy," 8vo. Lond. 1658, p. 153, there is a considerable waste of words to show what Moles in several parts of the body denote, almost too ridiculous to be transcribed. Some of the first are as follow :

“If the man shall have a Mole on the place right against the heart, doth denote him undoubtedly to be wicked.”

“ If a Mole shall be seen either on the man's or woman's belly, doth demonstrate that he or she to be a great feeder, glutton."

“ If a Mole, in either the man or woman, shall appear on the place right against the spleen, doth signify that he or she shall be much passionated and oftentimes sick."

As all the remaining ones are equally absurd with the above specimens, I shall not trouble the reader with any more of them. (1)

Misson, in his “ Travels in England," translated by Ozell, observes, p. 358, that “ When Englislımen, i.e. the common people,

have Warts or Moles on their faces, they are very careful of the great hairs that grow out of those excrescences; and several have told me they look upon those hairs as tokens of good luck."

In “ The Claim, Pedigree, and Proceedings of James Percy,” (the trunk-maker,) who claimed the earldom of Northumberland in 1680, folio, signat. D, occurs the following passage : 6 When you came first to me, I shewed you a Mold like a half-moon upon my body (born into the world with it), as hath been the like on some of the Percys formerly. Now search William Percy, and see if God hath marked him so; surely God did foresee the troubles, although the law takes no notice : but God makes a true decisioni, even as he was pleased to make Esau hairy and Jacob smooth." It is almost superfluous to observe that the parliament paid no regard to this divine signature, as James called it, for he did not succeed to the earldom of Northumberland.


☺) The following on this most ridiculous subject is preserved in the twelfth book of “ A Thousand Notable Things :"

“ 9. A Mole on the feet and hands shews there are others on the testes, and denotes many children.

66 10. Moles on the arm and shoulder denote great wisdom; on the left, debate and contention. Moles near the armhole, riches and honour. A Mole on the neck commonly denotes one near the stomack, which denotes strength.

“11. A Mole on the neck and throat denotes riches and health. A Mole on the chin, another near the heart, and signifies riches.

“12. A Mole on the lip another on the testes, and signifies good stomacks and great talkers.

“ 13. A Mole on the right side of the forehead is a sign of great riches both to men and women ; and on the other side, the quite con



The following notice of CHARMs occurs in Barnaby Googe's translation of Naogeorgus's Popish Kingdom,” fol. 57 b: Besides, for Charmes and Sorceries, in all

trary. Moles on the right ear of men or women denote riches and honour; and on the left, the quite contrary.

“14. A Mole between the eye-brow and edge of the eye-lid, there will be another between the navel and the secrets.

6 15. A red Mole on the nose of a man or woman, there will be another on the most secret parts, and sometimes on the ribs, and denotes great lechery. Moles on the ankles or feet signify modesty in men, and courage in women.

“16. A Mole or Moles on the belly denote great eaters. A Mole on or about the knees signifies riches and virtue; if on a woman's left knee, many children. A Mole on the left side of the heart denotes very ill qualities. A Mole on the breast denotes poverty. A Mole on the thighs denotes great poverty and infelicity."

things they excell, Both Dardan and the Witches foule, that

by Mæotis dwell. The reason is, that yet to trust in God they

have no skill, Nor will commit themselves unto th’ Al

mightie Father's will. If any woman brought abed, amongst them

haps to lie, Then every place, enchaunter lyke, they

clense and purifie, For feare of Sprightes, least harme she take,

or caried cleane away, Be stolne from thence, as though she than

in greatest daunger lay;

When as hir travailes overpast, and ended

well hir paine, With rest and sleepe she seekes to get her

strength decayde againe. The like in travailes hard they use, and

mariages as well, And eke in all things that they buy, and

every thing they sell. About these Catholikes necks and bands

are always hanging Charmes, That serve against all miseries, and all vn

happie harmes;
Amongst the which, the threatning writ of

Michael maketh one,
And also the beginning of the Gospell of

Saint John:
But these alone they do not trust, but with

the same they have
Theyr barbrous wordes and crosses drawne,

with bloud, or painted brave.

« PreviousContinue »