Page images

The putting a cold iron bar upon the barrels, to preserve the beer from being soured by Thunder, has been noticed in a former section. This is particularly practised in Kent and Herefordshire.

(8) Professor Playfair, in a letter to Mr. Brand, dated St. Andrew's, Jan. 26, 1804, mentioning the superstitions of his neighbourhood, says:

“ In private breweries, to prevent the interference of the fairies, a live coal is thrown into the vat. A cow's milk no fairy can take away, if a burning coal is conducted across her back and under her belly immediately after her delivery. The same mischievous elves cannot enter into a house at night, if, before bed-time, the lower end of the crook, or iron chain, by which a vessel is suspended over the fire, be raised up a few links."

(*) Martin, p. 262, speaking of Jona, says, “ There is a stone erected here, concerning which the credulous natives say, that whoever reaches out his arm along the stone three times in name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall never err in steering the helm of a vessel."

Ibid. p. 59, speaking of the island Borera, he says:

“ There is a stone in the form of a cross, in the row opposite to St. Mary's Church, about five foot high: the natives call it the Water-Cross, for the ancient inhabitants had a custom of erecting this sort of cross to procure rain, and when they had got enough they laid it flat on the ground; but this custom is now disused." Ibid.


225, Arran. He mentions a green stone, much like a globe in figure, about the bigness of a goose egg, which for its intrinsic value has been carefully transmitted to posterity for several ages.

a cart, &c. has been already noticed in the former volume of this work.

Carew, in his “ Survey of Cornwall,” p. 24, tells us :

« Each Oxe hath his several name, upon which the drivers call aloud, both to direct and give them courage as they are at worke."

(5) Turner, in his “ British Physician,” 8vo. Lond. 1687, p. 209, is confident that tho' Moonwort “ be the Moon's herb, yet it is neither smith, farrier, nor picklock.'

Withers, in allusion to the supposed virtues of the Moonwort, in the introduction to his " Abuses stript and whipt,” 1622, says: “There is an Herb, some say, whose ver

tue's such It in the pasture, only with a touch,

Unshooes the new-shod steed.” Among Tree-Superstitions must be ranked what Armstrong says in his “ History of Mi. norca," p. 191 : “ The Vine excepted, the Minorquins never prune a tree, thinking it irreligious in some degree to presume to direct its growth; and if you express your wonder that they forbear this useful practice, and inform them of the advantages that attend it in other countries, their answer is ever ready : God knows best how a tree should grow.

(6) Bishop of Chichester. Born in 1591. Died 1669. There is an edition of his poems in 1657. Another in 1664, entitled

Poems, Elegies, Paradoxes, and Sonets.” 8yo.

(1) In a most rare piece, entitled “ Diogenes in his Singularitie: wherein is comprehended his merrie baighting, fit for all men's benefits: christened by him a Nettle for nice Noses : by T. L. of Lincolne's Inne, gent. 1591, at London, printed by W. Hoskins and John Danter, for John Busbie," 4to. p. 2, b, is the following passage :

You beare the feather of a Phænix in your bosome against all wethers and Thunders, Laurel to escape Lightning, &c.

Sheridan, in his Notes on Persius, Sat. ii. v. Bidental, says: “It was a custom, whenever a person fell by Thunder, there to let him lie, and to fence in the place; to sacrifice a sheep and erect an altar there.” edit. 1739,

ir The virtue of it is to remove stitches in the side, by laying it close to the place affected. They say if the patient does not outlive the distemper, the stone removes out of the bed of its own accord, and è contra. The natives use this stone for swearing decisive oaths upon it. The credulous vulgar believe that if this stone is cast among the front of an enemy, they will all run away. The custody of it is the peculiar privilege of a family called Clan-Chattous, alias Mack-Intosh."

p. 33.


CHARACTS seem to have been Charms in the London, 1561, and the 4 day of June by form of Inscriptions. See Dugdale's “ Orig. Lyghtuynge, at Three of the Clocke at AfterJurid." p. 81: “That he use ne hide no noone, &c." 8vo. London, 1563, signat. I. 8 b, Charme, ne Charecte."

we read : “ What wieked blindenes is this So, in Gower, “ De Confessione Amantis,” | than, to thinke that wearing prayers written in Bi.:

rolles about with theym, as S. John's Gospell,

the length of our Lord, the measure of our “ With his Carrecte would him enchaunt."

Lady, or other like, thei shall die no sodain Again, B vi. fol. 140 :

death, nor be hanged, (1) or yf he be hanged,

be shall not die. There is to manye suche, “ Through his Carectes and figures.”

though ye laugh, and beleve it not, and not Again :

hard to shewe them with a wet finger.” Our “ And his Carecte as he was tawght

author continues to observe that our devotion He rad.”

ought to “stande in depe sighes and groninges, See Reed's edit. of Shaksp. 1803, vol. vi. p.

wyth a full consideration of our miserable 385.

state and Goddes majestye, in the heart, and

not in ynke or paper : not in hangyng written In the “ Dialogue of Dives and Pauper," Scrolles about the necke, but lamentinge unprinted by Richard Pynson, 1493, folio, sig- feignedlye our synnes from the hart.” nat. C2, among superstitious practices then in Lodge, in his “ Incarnate Devils,” 4to. Lond. use; the following we find censured :

1596, signat. C 2, speaking of curiosity, says: “Or use any Charmes in gadering of herbes, “If you long to know this slave, you shall or hangynge of Scrowes aboute man or woman never take him without a Book of Charucters in or childe or beest for any seknesse, with any his bosome. Promise to bring him to treasureScripture or figures and Charects, but if it be trove, and he will sell his land for it, but he pater noster, ave, or the crede, or holy wordes will be cousened. Bring him but a table of of the Gospel, or of Holy Wryt, for devocion lead, with crosses (and Adonai or Elohim writnat for curioustie, and only with the tokene of ten in it), he thiuks it will heal the Ague.”(?) the holy Crosse."

Cotta, in his “Short Discoverie of the Un. In the “Defensative against the Poyson of observed Dangers of severall sorts of Ignorant Supposed Prophecies,” 4to. Lond. 1583, sig- and Unconsiderate Practisers of Physicke in nat. O o, 4 b. we read : “One of the reysters England,” 4to. Lond. 1612, p.50, very sensibly which served under the Frenche Admirall, at observes : “ If there be any good or use unto the siege of Poictiers, was founde after he was the health by Spels, they have that prerogative dead to have about his necke a pursse of Taf- by accident, and by the power and vertue of fata, and within the same a piece of parch- fancie. If fancie then be the foundation wherement full of characters in Hebrew; beside upon buildeth the good of spels, spels must many cycles, semicircles, tryangles, &c. with needs be as fancies are, uncertaine and vaine : sundrie shorte cuttes and shreddings of the 80 must also, by consequent, be their use and Psalmes. Deus misereatur nostri &c. An- helpe, and no lesse all they that trust unto gelis suis mandavit de te, &c. Super Aspidem them." & Basiliscum, &c., as if the prophecies which

He elsewhere says : “ How can religion or properly belong to Christe might be wrested reason suffer men that are not voyd of both, to to the safeguard and defence of every private give such impious credit unto an unsignificant

Lord Northampton cites as his autho- and senselesse mumbling of idle words conrity, “ Histor. des Troubles,” Liv. 8.

trary to reason, without president of any truly In “The Burnynge of Paule's Church in wise or learned, and justly suspected of all


sensible men ?" citing “ Fernel, de abd. rer. Causis :" Scripta, Verba, Annuli, Caracteres, Signa, nihil valent ad profligandos morbos, si nulla superior potestas divina vel magica accesserit.”

Waldron, in his description of the Isle of Man (Works, folio, p. 175) mentions a Cha-. rect, a copy of an inscription, found uuder a cross (which was carefully preserved and carried to the Vicar, who wrote copies of it and dispersed them over the island). “They tell you," says he, “that they are of such wonderful virtue to such as wear them, that on whatever business they go, they are certain of success. They also defend from witchcraft, evil tongues, and all efforts of the Devil or his agents; and that a woman wearing one of them in her bosom, while she is pregnant, shall hy no accident whatever lose the fruit of her womb. I have frequently rode by the stone under which they say the original paper was found, but it would now be looked on as the worst sacrilege to make any attempt to move it from the place.” He gives also the tenor of the inscription : “ Fear God, obey the priesthood, and do by your neighbour as you would have him to do to you.'

Andrews, in his “ Continuation of Dr. Henry's History," p. 502, tells us, from Arnot's “ History of Edinburgh," that “On all the old houses still existing in Edinburgh there are remains of talismanic or cabalistical



(1) The following “ Charm, or Protection,"

“ found in a linen purse of Jackson, the murderer and smuggler, who died (a Roman Catholic) in Chichester gaol, Feb. 1749. He was struck with such horror on being measured for his irons, that he soon after expired.

Ye three holy kings,
Gaspar, Melchior, Balthasar,
Pray for us, now, and the hour of death.'

“ These papers have touch'd the three heads of the holy kings at Cologne. They are to preserve travellers from accidents on the road, head-achs, falling sickness, fevers, witchcraft,

characters, which the superstition of earlier ages had caused to be engraven on their fronts. These were generally composed of some text of Scripture, of the name of God, or, perhaps, of an emblematic representation of the Resurrection.”(8)

Park, in his “ Travels in the Interior of Africa,” speaking of “ certain Charms or Amulets called Saphies, which the negroes constantly wear about them,” says : “These Saphies are prayers or sentences from the Koran, which the Mahometan priests write on scraps of paper and sell to the natives, who suppose them to possess extraordinary virtues. Some wear them to guard against the attack of snakes and alligators: on such an occasion, the Saphie is enclosed in a snake or alligator's skin, and tied round the ancle. Others have recourse to them in time of war, to protect their persons from hostile attacks; but the general use of these Amulets is to prevent or cure bodily diseases, to preserve from hunger and thirst, and to conciliate the favour of superior powers." He informs us, in another place, that his landlord requested him to give him a lock of his hair to make a Saphie, as he said he had been told it would give to the possessor all the knowledge of white men. Another person desired him to write a Saphie : Mr. Park furnished him with one containing the Lord's Prayer.

He gave away several others.

all kinds of mischief, and sudden death.” See “ Gent. Mag.” for Feb. 1749, vol. xix. p.

88. (3) In a curious and very rare tract, entitled “ Beware of Pick-purses, or a Caveat for Sick Folkes to take heede of Unlearned Physitians and Unskilfull Chyrurgians,” 4to. Lond. 1605, p. 16, is the following passage : “ Others, that they may colourably and cunningly hide their grosse ignorance, when they know not the cause of the disease, referre it unto Charmes, witchcraft, magnifical incantations, and sorcerie, vainly, and with a brazen forehead, affirming that there is no way to help them, but by Characters, circles,

figure-castings, exorcismes, conjurations, and any virtue in them, or their rings, amulets, other impious and godlesse meanes.

lamens, &c.” “Others set to sale, at a great price, cer In “The Character of a Quack Astrologer," taine Amulets of gold and silver, stamped 4to. Lond. 1673. signat. C, 1 b, we are told : under an appropriate and selected constella “He offers, for five pieces, to give you home tion of the planets, with some magical cha with you a talisman against flies; a sigil to racter, shamelessly boasting that they will make you fortunate at gaming ; and a spell cure all diseases, and worke I know not what that shall as certainly preserve you from being other wonders.”

rob’d for the future ; a sympathetical Powder The author, p. 42, concludes with the very for the violent pains of the tooth-ach." sensible observation of“ a great learned clarke 3) “ It is recorded in divers authors, that in our land, who, in a daungerous sicknesse, in the image of Diana, which was worshipped being moved by some friends to use an unlet at Ephesus, there were certain obscure words tered empericke, Nay,' quoth he, “I have or sentences, not agreeing together, nor delived all my life by the booke, and I will now pending one upon another: much like unto (God willing) likewise dye by the booke.” riddles written upon the feete, girdle, and

Blagrave, in his “ Astrological Practice of crowne of the said Diana : the which, if a Physick," p. 135, prescribes a cure of Agues man did use, having written them out, and by a certain writing which the patient weareth, carrying them about him, hee should have as follows: “When Jesus went up to the Cross good lucke in all his businesses; and hereof to be crucified, the Jews asked him, saying, sprung the proverbe Ephese Litera, where

Art thou afraid? or hast thou the Ague ?' one useth anything which bringeth good.sucJesus answered, and said, 'I am not afraid, cesse.”—Mason's Anatomie of Sorcerie, 4to. neither have I the Ague. All those which bear Lond. 1612, p. 90. the name of Jesus about them shall not be afraid, Ibid. p. 91, our author mentions the supernor yet have the Ague. Amen, sweet Jesus, stition of " curing diseases with certaine words amen, sweet Jehovah, amen. He adds, “I or characters." have known many who have been cured of the Cotta, in his “Short Discoverie, &c. 4to. Ague by this writing only worn about them; Lond., p. 49, inserts-“ a merrie historie of an and I had the receipt from one whose daughter approved famous Spell for sore eyes. By many was cured thereby, who had the Ague upon honest testimonies, it was a long time worne her two years.” To this Charact, then, may as a jewell about many necks, written in paper, be given, on the joint authority of the old and inclosed in silke, never failing to do sówoman and our doctor, probatum est." veraigne good when all other helps were help

Ramesey, in his “Elminthologia,” 8vo. lesse. No sight might dare to reade or open. Lond. 1668, p. 259, says: “Neither doth At length a curious mind, while the patient fansie only cause, but also as easily cure dis slept, by stealth ripped open the mystical eases; as I may justly refer all magical and cover, and found the powerful characters Lajugling cures thereunto, performed, as is tin: “Diabolus effodiat tibi oculos, impleat thought, by saints, images, relicts, holy wa foramini stercoribus.'" ters, shrines, avemarys, crucifixes, benedic Nash, in his Notes on “Hudibras," says: tions, Charms, Characters, sigils of the planets “ Cato recommends the following as a Charm and of the signs, inverted words, &c.; and against sprains: “Haut, haut, hista pista therefore all such cures are rather to be ascribed to the force of the imagination, than




the cramp:

Burton, in bis “ Anatomy of Melancholy," I remember it was a custom in the North edit. 4to. 1621, p. 476, has the following pas of England for boys that swam, to wear an sage on this subject: “ Amulets, and things eel’s-skin about their naked leg to prevent to be borne about, I find prescribed, taxed by some, approved by others : looke for them in Armstrong, in his “History of Minorca," Mizaldus, Porta, Albertus, &c. A ring made p. 212, says: “I have seen an old woman of the hoofe of an Asse's right fore-foot carried placed on a bier, dressed like a Franciscan about, &c. I say with Renodeus, they are monk, and so conducted by the good brothers not altogether to be rejected. Piony doth of that order, with singing, and the tinckling help Epilepsies. Pretious stones most dis of the hand-bell, to their church. This sueases. A Wolf's dung carried about helps the perstition was observed by Milton in his cholick. A Spider, an ague, &c.

travels through Roman Catholic Countries; “ Such medicines are to be exploded that for when describing the Paradise of Fools, he consist of words, characters, spells, and does not forget to mention those, charms, which can do no good at all, but out of a strong conceit, as Pomponatius proves,

.“ Who, to be sure of Paradise, or the Divel's policy, that is the first founder Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick, and teacher of them."

Or in Franciscan think to pass disguis'd." Dr. Herring, in his “ Preservatives against

Par. Lost, b. iii. the Pestilence,” 4to. Lond. 1625, signat. B 2 b, has the following: “Perceiving many in That this practice was not unknown in our this citie to weare about their necks, upon own country at an earlier period will be seen the region of the heart, certaine Placents, or by the following extract from the “Berkeley Amulets, (as preservatives against the pesti- Manuscripts," by Smith, vol. i. p. 117. “It lence,) confected of arsenicke, my opinion is is recorded that on the 13th of May, 1220, that they are so farre from effecting any good (4th Hen. III.) died Robert the second Lord in that kinde, as a preservative, that they are Berkeley, ætis 55, or thereabouts, and was very dangerous and hurtfull, if not pernitious, buried in the north isle of the church of the to those that weare them.”

monastery of St. Augustines (Bristol) over Bourne, chap. xviii. cites a passage of Bing- against the high altar, in a monck's cowle, an ham, from St. Austin, on these superstitious usual fashion for great peeres in those tymes, observations. “ To this kind,” says he,“ be esteemed as an Amulet, or defensative to the long all ligatures and remedies, which the soule, and as a Scala Cali, a ladder of life schools of physitians reject and condemn;

eternal." (0) whether in inchantments or in certain marks, In Douce's “Illustrations of Shakspeare, which they call characters, or in some other and of Ancient Manners," vol. i. p. 493, are things which are to be hanged and bound wood engravings of several Roman Amulets : about the body, and kept in a dancing pos these were intended against fascination in ture. Such are ear-rings hanged upon the general, but more particularly against that of tip of each ear, and rings made of an ostriche's the Evil Eye. Such he observes, p. 497, are bones for the finger; or, when you are told, in still used in Spain by women and children, a fit of convulsions, or shortness of breath, precisely in the same manner as formerly to hold your left thumb with your right among the Romans. hand.”

« PreviousContinue »