Page images

roller removed, the amulet is not at all, to be touched with bare hands, but it ought to be taken hold on by some instrument and buried in a place that nobody may touch it."

Ibid. p. 54, we are told, “ Some hang a cross made of the Elder and Sallow, mutually inwrapping one another, about the children's neck."

“ The Boneshave, a word perhaps nowhere used or understood in Devonshire but in the neighbourhood of Exmoor, means the Sciatica; and the Exmorians, when affected therewith, use the following Charm to be freed from it. The patient must lie upon his back on the bank of the river or brook of water, with a straight staff by his side, between him and the water; and must have the following words repeated over him, viz.

• Boneshave right,

Boneshave straight.
As the water runs by the stave

Good for Boneshave.' They are not to be persuaded but that this ridiculous form of words seldom fails to give them a perfect cure.'

." See Exmoor Scolding, In a receipt in Vicarie's “ T'reasure of Anatomy,” 4to. Lond. 1641, p. 234, the subsequent most curious ingredient, and which must have been introduced into the Materia Medica as a Charm, occurs : fuls of knave child urine of an innocent." Knave child is evidently for male child, and innocent means a harmless idiot.

The Rey. Mr. Shaw, in his “ History of the Province of Moray, in Scotland," p. 248, gives the following account of some physical Charms still used there. In hectic and consumptive diseases they pare the nails of the fingers and toes of the patient, put these parings into a rag cut from his clothes, then wave their hand with the rag thrice round his head, crying Deas soil, after which they bury the rag in some unknown place. He tells us he has seen this done; and Pliny, in his “ Natural History,” mentionis it as practised by the magicians or Druids of his time,

When a contagious disease enters among cattle, the Fire is extinguished in some vil. lages round; then they force fire with a wheel,

or by rubbing a piece of dry wood upon another, and therewith burn Juniper in the stalls of the cattle, that the smoke may purify the air about them; they likewise boil Juniper in water, which they sprinkle upon

the cattle: this done, the fires in the houses are rekindled from the forced fire. All this, he tells, he has seen done, and it is, no doubt, a Druid custom.

The ancient Britons, says Pennant, in his Zoology," vol. iii. p. 31, had a strange superstition in respect of the Viper, and of which there still remains in Wales a strong tradition. The account Pliny gives of it, lib. xxix. c. 12, we find thus translated by Mr. Mason in his “ Caractacus.” The person speaking is a Druid:

“ The potent Adder-stone
Gender d 'fore th'autumnal moon :
When in undulating twine
The foaming Snakes prolific join;
When they hiss, and when they bear
Their wondrous Egg aloof in air;(").
Thence, before to earth it fall,
The Druid, in his hallow'd pall,
Receives the prize,
And instant flies,
Follow'd by th’envenom'd brood

Till he cross the crystal flood.” This wondrous Egg seems to be nothing more than a bead of glass, used by the Druids as a Charm to impose on the vulgar, whom they taught to believe that the possessor would be fortunate in all his attempts, and that it would give him the favour of the great. Our modern Druidesses, he adds, give much the same account of the Ovum Anguinum, Gluin Neidr as the Welsh call it, or the Adder Gem, as the Roman philosopher does, but seem not to have so exalted an opinion of its powers, using it only to assist children in cutting their teeth, or to cure the chincough, or to drive away an ague.

He gives a plate of these Beads, made of glass of a very rich blue colour, some of which are plain and others streaked.

In the “ Diary of Elias Ashmole, Esq.,' 11th April, 1681, is preserved the following curious incident: “ I took early in the morning a good dose of elixir, and hung three Spiders about my neck, and they drove my

p. 8, Note.

- Five spoon

ague away. Deo Gratias !" Ashmole was a hyzi, in the Cornu-British and Armoric, signijudicial astrologer, and the patron of the re fying to dip or drown.(14) nowned Mr. Lilly. Par nobile fratrum.

Iu Bale's “ Interlude Concerning the Three Grose tells us that if a Tree of any kind is Laws of Nature, Moses, and Christ,” 4to. split-and weak, rickety, or ruptured chil 1562, signat. C. 3 b, Idolatry mentions the dren drawn through it, and afterwards the following Physical Charms : tree is bound together, so as to make it unite, as the Tree heals and grows together, so will “ For the coughe take Judas eare, the Child acquire strength. Sir John Cullum, With the

parynge of a Peare, who saw this operation twice performed, thus And drynke them without feare, describes it : “For this purpose a young Ash If ye will have remedy : was each time selected, and split longitudinally, about five feet : the fissure was kept

Thre syppes are fore the hyckocke, wide open by my gardener ; whilst the friend And six more for the chyckocke; of the Child, having first stripped him naked,

Thus, my pretty pyckocke, passed him thrice through it, almost head Recover by and by. foremost. As soon as the operation was per

If ye cannot slepe, but slumber, formed, the wounded tree was bound up with

Geve Otes unto Saynt Uncumber, a packthread ; and as the bark healed the

And Beanes in a certen number Child was to recover.

The first of the young Unto Saynt Blase and Saynt Blythe. patients was to be cured of the rickets, the second of a rupture.” This is a very aucient Give Onyons to Saynt Cutlake, and extensive piece of superstition. (12)

Aud Garlycke to Saynt Cyryake, Creeping through Tolmen, or perforated If ye wyll shurne the Heade ake; stones, was a Druidical ceremony, and is prac

Ye shall have them at Quene hyth."(15) tised in the East Indies. Borlase mentions a stone in the parish of Marden through which Mr. Douce's MS. Notes say: "It is usual many persons have crept for pains in their with many persons about Exeter, who are backs and limbs, and many children have affected with Agues, to visit at dead of night been drawn for the rickets. (13) In the North, the nearest cross-road five different times, and children are drawn through a hole cut in the there bury a new-laid egg. The visit is paid Groaning Cheese, on the day they are chris about an hour before the cold fit is expected ; tened.

and they are persuaded that with the egg they Borlase, in his “ Antiquities of Cornwall,” shall bury the ague. If the experiment fail p. 138, tells us : “ Another relic of these (and the agitation it occasions may often renDruid fancies and incantations is doubtless der it successful), they attribute it to some unthe custom of Sleeping on Stones, on a parti lucky accident that may have befallen them cular night, in order to be cured of Lameness.” on the way. In the execution of this matter He observes, “ Natural History of Cornwall,” they observe the strictest silence, taking care p. 302, “a very singular manner of curing not to speak to any one whom they may hapmadness, mentioned by Carew, p. 123, in the pen to meet." See“ Gent. Mag." for 1787, p. parish of Altarnun—to place the disordered in 719. I shall here note another remedy against mind on the brink of a square pool, filled the Ague mentioned as above, viz. by Breakwith water from St. Nun's Well. The pa ing a salted Cake of bran,(16) and giving it to tient, having no intimation of what was in a dog when the fit comes on, by which means tended, was, by a sudden blow on the breast, 'they suppose the malady to be transferred tumbled into the pool, where he was tossed up from them to the animal.(17) and down by some persons of superior strength, King James, in his “ Dæmonology," p. 100, till, being quite debilitated, his fury forsook enumerates thus, “Such kinde of Charmes him; he was then carried to church, and cer as, commonly, daft wives use for healing Fortain masses sung over him. The Cornish call spoken Goods,” (by goods he means here catthis immersion Boossenning, from Beuzi or Bid tle,) " for preserving them from Evill eyes, by

knitting Roun trees, or sundriest kind of herbes, to be conveyed by the hand of a bachelor to a to the haire or tailes of the Goodes; by curing smith that is a bachelor. Noue of the perthe worme; by stemming of blood; by healing sons who give the sixpences are to know for of horse crookes ; by turning of the riddle; what purpose, or to whom, they gave them. or doing of such like innumerable things hy One may trace the same crafty motive for words, without applying any thing meete to this superstition as in the money given upon the part offended, as mediciners doe: or else touching for the King's evil. See also “Gent. by staying married folkes to have naturally Mag." for 1794, p. 889, where it is stated adoe with other, by knitting so many knots that in Devonshire there is a similar custom: zupon a point at the time of their marriage.” the materials however are different; the Ring

I find the following Charms in the “ His must be made of three nails, or screws, which tory of Monsieur Oufle," p. 99:

have been used to fasten a coffin, and must be “Dew cakes with honey were given to those dug out of the churchyard.(18) who entered Trophonius' cave, to free them Boorde, in his “ Introduction to Knowfrom any mischiefs from the phantoms which ledge,” speaking of England, says, “ The should appear. Le Loyer of Spectres, p. 136. kynges of Englande doth halowe every yere

“ Bulbianus says that, where Purslain is Crampe rynges,ye which rynges worne on one's laid in the bed, those in it will not be dis fynger doth helpe them whych hath the turbed by any vision that night. Albertus crampe.” (19) Magnus, Admirable Secrets, 1. i. c. 142. The same author, in his “Breviary of

“ A Diamond fastened to the left arın, so as Health,” fol. 80 b, among the remedies of the to touch the skin, prevents all nocturnal fears. King's evil, has the following: Cardan de Subtilitate, 1. 7.

“For this matter, let every man make “To expel Phantoms and rid people of frendes to the kynges majestie, for it doth perfolly, take the precious stone Chrysolite, set it teyne to a kynge to helpe this infirmitie by the in gold, and let them wear it about 'em. Al grace of God, the which is geven to a kynge bertus Maguus, Admirable Secrets, 1. ij.c. 100. anoynted.(20) But forasmuch as some men

“ According to Pliny, 1. xxxiv. c. 15, the doth judge divers tymes a fystle or a French ancients believed that a Nail drawn out of a pocke to be the kynge's evyll, in such matsepulchre and placed on the threshold of the ters it behoveth not a kynge to medle withall."

bed-chamber door would drive away phan We now, without the smallest danger of toms and visions which terrified people in the incurring the suspicion of disloyalty, can safely night. Le Loyer, p. 326.

pronounce that the royal touch for the King's “ Herbam urticam tenens in manu cum evil is to be referred to the head of Physical millefolio, securus est ab omni metu, et ab Charms, evincing that no order of men escaped omni phantasmate. Trinum Magicum, p. the ancient contagion of superstition.(?!) 169."

The Hon. Daines Barrington, in his “ObAs also, ibid. p. 281: Ostanes the magician servations on our ancient Statutes,” p. 107, prescribed the dipping of our Feet, in the tells us of an old man who was witness in a morning, in human urine, as a preservative cause, and averred that when Queen Anne was against Charms. Le Loyer, p. 830.

at Oxford she touched him whilst a child for In Berkshire there is a popular superstition the Evil. Mr. Barrington, when he had that a Ring made from a piece of silver col finished his evidence, “ asked him whether he lected at the Communion is a cure for con was really cured ? upon which he answered, vulsions and fits of every kind. It should with a significant smile, that he believed himseem that that collected on Easter Sunday is self never to have had a complaint that depeculiarly efficacious. “Gent. Mag." for May served to be considered as the Evil, but that 1794, vol. lxiv. p. 133; also July 1794, p. his parents were poor, and had no objection to 648. Ibid. p. 598, a curious Ring superstition the bit of Gold." by way of Charm is recorded. That silver This accounts well for the great resort of Ring will cure fits which is made of five six patients and supposed miraculous cures on pences, collected from five different bachelors, this occasion,

This now exploded royal gift is thus de-
scribed by Shakspeare in “ Macbeth :">

“strangely visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery,


cures; Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, Put on with holy prayers."(22)

Camden, in his “ Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish," says: “If they never give fire out of their houses to their neighbours, they fancy their Horses will live the longer and be more healthy. If the owners of Horses eat eggs, they must take care to eat an even number, otherwise some mischief will betide the horses. Grooms are not allowed eggs, and the riders are obliged to wash their hands after eating them. When a Horse dies, his feet and legs are hung up in the house, and even the hoofs are accounted sacred. It is

by no means allowable to praise a Horse or any other animal, unless you say God save him, or spit upon him. If any mischance befals the Horse in three days after, they find out the person who commended him, that he may whisper the Lord's Prayer in his right ear. They believe some men's eyes have a power of bewitching horses; and then they send for certain old women, who by muttering, short prayers restore them to health. Their horses' feet are subject to a Worm, which, gradually creeping upwards, produces others of its own species, and corrupts the body. Against this worm they call in a Witch, who must come to the horse two Mondays and one Thursday, and breathe upon the place where the worm lodges, and after repeating a Charm the horse recovers. This Charm they will, for a sum of money,

teach to many people, aster first swear.. ing them never to disclose it.” (29)


(') Among the ancient Druids “the gene administered to persons going to fight a legal rality of diseases were attempted to be cured duel, that they had ne Charm, ne herb of by Charms and Incantations." See Vallan virtue.' The power of rendering themselves cey's “ Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis," vol. invulnerable is still believed by the Germans : ii. p. 247.

it is performed by divers Charms and cere(3) Grose says the word ABACADABARA,(a) monies ; and so tirm is their belief of its written as under, and worn about the neck, efficacy, that they will rather attribute any will cure an ague:

hurt they may receive, after its performance, Abacadabara

to some omission in the performance than bacadabar

defect in its virtue." acadaba

I find the following in Lord Northampton's cadab

“Defensative against the Poyson of supposed ada

Prophecies,” 4to. Lond. 1583, signat. O o 4, d

6 What godly reason can any man alyve He observes that “ Certain herbs, stones, and alledge why Mother Joane of Stowe, speaking other substances, as also particular words these wordes, and neyther more nor lesse, written on parchment, as a Charm, have the

Our Lord was the fyrst man
property of preserving men from wounds in
the midst of a battle or engagement. This

That ever thorne prick’t upon :
was so universally credited, that an oath was

It never blysted nor it never belted,

And I pray God, nor this not may,'

should cure either Beastes, or Men and Wo(a) It should be ABRACADABRA. On the subject of Amulets much information may be obtained

men, from diseases ?:' from an Academical Dissertation, published in Thomas Lodge, in his “ Incarnate Divels," 1710, at Halle, in Saxony, by Mart. Fr. Blumles. A BRACADABRA is curiously illustrated in p. 19,

4to. Lond. 1596, p. 12, thus glances at the accompanied by two or three etymologies of the superstitious creed with respect to Charms: word.

Bring him but a Table of lead, with Crosses

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

(and “Adonai,' or • Elohim,' written in it), he thinks it will heal the Ague.” In the same work, speaking of Lying, p. 35, “ He will tell you that a league from Poitiers, neere to Crontelles, there is a familie, that, by a speciall grace from the father to the sonne, can heale the Byting of mad Dogs : and that there is another companie and rte of people called Sauveurs, that have Saint Catherine's wheele in the pallate of their mouthes, that can heale the Stinging of Serpents."

The subsequent Charms are from a MS. quarto of the date of 1475, formerly in the collection of the late Mr. Herbert, now in my library :

« A Charme to staunch Blood. “ Jesus that was in Bethleem born, and baptyzed was in the flumen Jordane, as stente the water at hys comyng, so stente the blood of thys man N. thy servvaunt, thorow the vertu of thy holy name Jesu 1 and of thy cosyn swete Sent Jon. And sey thys Charme fyve tymes with fyve Pater Nosters, in the worschep of the fyve woundys."

For Fever. “Wryt thys wordys on a lorell lef Ysmael

Ysmael 1 adjuro vos per Angelum ut soporetur iste homo N. and ley thys lef under hys head that he wete not therof, and let hym ete Letuse oft and drynk Ip'e seed smal grounden in a morter, and temper yt with Ale."

A Charme to draw out Yren de Quarell.

Longius Miles Ebreus percussit latus Domini nostri Jesu Christi; Sanguis exuit etiam latus; ad se traxit lancea 1 tetragramaton Messyas Sother Emanuel Sabaoth Adonay Uude sicut verba ista fuerunt verba Christi, sic exeat ferrum istud sive quarellum ab isto Christiano. Amen. And sey thys Charme five tymes in the worschip of the fyve woundys of Chryst.”

Numerous Charms and Incantations occur in the Harleian Manuscript, No. 273, “ Charme pur Sang estauncher,” “ Charme pour dolour le Playe,” “Charme pur Fievre," fol. 112 b.“ Charme pur Festre, e pur Cancre, e pur Gute. Gallicè,” fol. 213.

“ Carmen sive Incantatio pro fæmina parturiente,” ibid. “ Ut Oves capias. Incantatio."

66 Ut So

rides, &c. non noceant Garbas," fol. 215.

Hec est Conjuracio contra Mures que nascuntur in horreo, et ne destruant Bladum; et contra Volucres et Vermes Terræ ne destruant Segetes,” fol. 215 b.

In that rare work, entitled “ The Burnynge of St. Paule's Church in London, 1561, and the 4th day of June, by Lyglitnynge," &c., 8vo. Lond. 1563, signat. I 8 b, we read : “ They be superstitious that put holinesse in S. Agathe's Letters for burninge houses, thorne bushes () for lightnings, &c." Also, signat. G 1, a, we find “ Charmes, as S. Agathe's Letters for burning of houses.”

(3) The Pool of Strathfillan (or St. Fillan) has been already noticed, vol. ii. p. 230, under the head of “ Customs at Wells and Fountains." In Sir John Sinclair's “Statistical Account of Scotland," vol. v. 8vo. Edinb. 1795, p. 84, the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, speaking of superstitious opi. nions and practices in the parish, says, course is often had to Charms for the cure of diseases of Horses and Cows, no less than in the human species. In the case of various diseases, a pilgrimage is performed to a place called Strathfillan, forty miles distant from Logierait, where the patient bathes in a certain pool, and performs some other rites in a chapel which stands near. It is chiefly in the case of Madness, however, that the pilgrimage to Strathfillan is believed to be salutary. The unfortunate person is first bathed in the pool, then left for a night bound in the chapel, and, if found loose in the morning, is expected to recover.

There is a disease called Glacach by the Highlanders, which, as it affects the chest and lungs, evidently of a consumptive nature. It is called the Macdonalds' disease, “because there are particular tribes of Macdonalds who are believed to cure it with the Charm of their touch, and the use of a certain set of words. There must be no fee given of any

(b) In the “ Statistical Account of Scotland,” vol. iii. 8vo. Edinb. 1792, p. 609, parish of Newparish, “ There is a quick thorn, of a very antique appearance, for which the people have superstitious veneration. They have a mortal dread to lop off or cut any part of it, and affirm, with a religious horror, that some persons, who had the temórity to hurt it, were afterwards severely punished for their sacrilege.”

« PreviousContinue »