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have found the Oracle but too certain. I have
subjoined the lines as printed in Dryden's
“ Miscellanies," vol. vi.
“At bello audacis populi vexatus et armis,

Finibus extorris, complexu avulsus Iuli,
Auxilium imploret, videatque indigna su-
Funera ; nec, cum se sub leges pacis iniquæ
Tradiderit; regno aut optatâ luce fruatur :
Sed cadat ante diem: mediâque inhumatus
arenâ." (?)

Æneid, lib. iv. 1. 615. Dr. Johnson, in his “Life of Cowley,” suspects that great poet to have been tinctured with this superstition, and to have consulted the Virgilian Lots on the great occasion of the Scottish treaty, and that he gave credit to the answer of the Oracle. ()

Jodrell, in his “Illustrations of Euripides," vol. i. p. 174, informs us that a similar practice prevailed among the Hebrews, by whom it was called Bath-Kol.

The superstitious among the ancient Christians practised a similar kind of Divination by opening the Old and New Testament. See Gibbon's “ Decline and Fall,” vol. vi. p. 333. He is speaking of Clovis, A. D. 507, who, marching from Paris, as he proceeded with decent reverence through the holy diocese of Tours, consulted the Shrine of St. Martin, the sanctuary and oracle of Gaul. His messengers were instructed to remark the words of the psalm which should happen to be chaunted at the precise moment when they entered the church. These words most fortunately expressed the valour and victory of the cham

pions of Heaven, and the application was easily transferred to the new Joshua, the new Gideon, who went forth to battle against the enemies of the Lord. He adds: “ This mode of Divination by accepting as an omen the first sacred words which in particular circumstances should be presented to the eye or ear, was derived from the Pagans, and the Psalter or Bible was substituted to the poems of Homer and Virgil. From the fourth to the fourteenth century, these Sortes Sanctorum, as they are styled, were repeatedly condemned by the decrees of councils, and repeatedly practised by kings, bishops, and saints. See a curious dissertation of the Abbe de Resnel, in the "Memoires de l'Academie,' tom. xix. p. 287 -310."

It appears from “ Eccho to the Voice from Heaven," 1652, p. 227, that the fanatic Arise Evans, in the time of the Commonwealth, used this species of Divination by the Bible. It appears also from Lord Berkeley's “Histo_rical Applications," 8vo. Lond. 1670, p. 90, that the good Earl, being sick and under some dejection of spirit, had recourse to this then prevailing superstition. His words are: “I being sick and under some dejection of spirit, opening my Bible to see what place I could first light upon, which might administer comfort to me, casually I fixed upon the sixth of Hosea : the three first verses are these. I am willing to decline superstition upon all occasions, yet think myself obliged to make this use of such a providential place of Scripture : Ist, by hearty repenting me of my sins past: 2dly, by sincere reformation for the time to come." (*)


() See Wren's “Parentalia,” p. 56, from Dr. Welwood's Memoirs, 6th edit. Lond. 1718.(a)

(a) Dr. Welwood says that King Charles the First and Lord Falkland, being in the Bodleian Library, made this experiment of their future fortunes, and met with passages equally ominous to each. Aubrey, however, in his manuscript on the “ Remains of Gentilism," tells the story of consulting the Virgilian Lots differently. _He says: “In December, 1648, King Charles the First being in great trouble,

and prisoner at Carisbrooke, or to be brought to London to his tryal, Charles, Prince of Wales, being then at Paris, and in profound sorrow for his father, Mr. Abraham Cowley went to wayte on him. His Highnesse asked him whether he would play at cards, to divert his sad thoughts. Mr. Cowley replied he did not care to play at cards, but if his Highness pleased they would use Surtes Virgilianæ : (Mr. Cowley always had a Virgil in his pocket :) the Prince liked the proposal, and pricked a pin in the fourth book of the Æneid,” &c. “ The Prince understood not Latin well, and desired Mr. Cowley to translate the verses, which he did admirably well."

Allan Ramsay, in his poems, 4to. Edinb. 1721, p. 81, has these lines: 66 Waes me, for baith I canna get,

To ane by law we're stented;
Then I'll draw Cutts, and take my fate,

And be with ane contented."

(2)“ “ But vex'd with rebels and a stubborn

race, His country banish’d, and his son's embrace, Some foreign Prince for fruitless succours

try, And see his friends ingloriously die : Nor, when he shall to faithless terms submit, His throne enjoy, nor comfortable light, But, immature, a shameful death receive, And in the ground th' unbury'd body

leave.” (3) Dr. Ferrand, in his “ Love Melancholy," 8vo. Oxford, 1640, p. 177, mentions the “kinde of Divination by the opening of a booke at all adventures ; and this was called the Valentinian Chance, and by some Sortes Virgilianæ : of which the Emperor Adrian was wont to make very much use." He adds, “ I shall omit to speak here of Astragalomancy, that was done with buckle bones; Ceromancy, and all other such like fooleries.'

Dr. Nathaniel Home, in his “Dæmonologie,” 1650, p. 81, says: "For sorcery, properly so called, viz. Divination by Lotts, it is too much apparent how it abounds. For lusory Lots, the state groans under the losse by them, to the ruine of many men and families; as the churches lament under the sins by them: and for other Lots, by sieves, books, &c. they abound, as witchery, &c. abounds."

In the “Glossary,” he explains Cutts, Lots. These Cuts are usually made of straws unequally cut, which one hides between his finger and thumb, while another draws his fate."

(4) In “ Mount Tabor,” pp. 199, 200, we read : “As I was to passe through the roome where my little grand childe was set by her grandmother to read her morning's chapter, the 9th of Matthew's Gospell, just as I came in she was uttering these words in the second verse, • Jesus said to the sicke of the palsie, Sonne, be of good comfort, thy sinnes are forgiven thee,' which words sorting so fitly with my case, whose whole left side is taken with that kind of disease, I stood at a stand at the uttering of them, and could not but conceive some joy and comfort in those blessed words, though by the childe's reading, as if the Lord by her had spoken them to myselfe, a paralytick and a sinner, as that sicke man was," &c. This may be called a Bible omen.


p. 282, for another instance of the use of the Speal Bone. The word Speal is evidently derived from the French espaule, bumerus.

Drayton, in his “ Polyolbion,” song v. mentions :

MR. PENNANT gives an account of another sort of Divination used in Scotland, called Sleina-nachd, or reading the Speal Bone, or the Blade Bone of a Shoulder of Mutton, well scraped. (Mr. Shaw says picked ; no iron must touch it.) See Tacitus's “ Annals,” xiv. When Lord Loudon, he says, was obliged to retreat before the rebels to the Isle of Skie, a common soldier, on the very moment the battle of Culloden was decided, proclaimed the victory at that distance, pretending to have discovered the event by looking through the Bone. “ Tour in Scotland,” 1769, p. 155.

See also Pennant's “ Tour to the Hebrides,"

"A Divination strange the Dutch-made En

glish have Appropriate to that place (as though some

power it gave) By th' shoulder of a ram from off the right

side par’d, Which usually they boile, the spade-bone being bar’d,


Which when the wizard takes, and gazing spot in it darker than ordinary, foretell that thereupon

somebody will be buried out of the house." Things long to come foreshowes, as things | Gough's “ Camden,” 1789, vol. iii. p. 659.

done lone agone." He alludes to a colony of Flemings planted There is a rustic species of Divination by about Pembrokeshire. (')

Bachelors' Buttons, a plant so called. There In Caxton's " Description of England," at an ancient custom, says Grey, in his the end of the “ Scholemaster of St. Alban's

“ Notes upon Shakespear," vol. i. p. 108, Chronicle," fol. Lond. 1500, Signat. C lb, amongst the country fellows, of trying whewe read : “ It semeth of these men a grete ther they should succeed with their mistresses wonder that in a Boon of a wetliers ryght by carrying the Batchellour's Buttons, a plant Sholder whan the fleshe is soden awaye and of this Lychnis kind, whose flowers resemble not rosted, they knowe what have be done, is also a Button in form, in their pockets ; and done, and shall be done, as it were by spyryte they judged of their good or bad success by of prophecye and a wonderful crafte. They their growing or not growing there. In telle what is done in ferre countries, tokenes Greene's “Quip for an Upstart Courtier,” 4to. of peas or of warre, the state of the royame, Lond. 1620. fol. 2 b, Batchelors’ Buttons are sleynge of men, and spousebreche, such thynges described as having been worn also by the theye declare certayne of tokenes and sygues

young women, and that too under their aprons. that is in suche a Sholder Bone."

“ Thereby I saw the Batchelor's Buttons, Camden, in his ancient and możern man- whose virtue is to make wanton maidens weepe ners of the Irish, says: “They look through when they have worne it forty weekes under the Blade Bone of a sheep, and if they see any their aprons for a favour." (2)



☺) Selden, in a note on this passage, tells flocke it was, as the other secret, when I have

“ Under Henry the Second one William more skill in Osteomantie, I will tell you." Mangunel, a gentleman of those parts, finding He refers to Girald. Itin. i. cap. 11. by his skill of prediction that his wife had Hanway, in his “ Travels into Persia," vol. played false with him, and conceived by his i. p. 177, tells us, that in that country too own nephew, formally dresses the Shoulder- they have a kind of Divination by the Bone Bone of one of his own rammes, and sitting of a sheep. at dinner (pretending it to be taken out of his (2) “Germanos veteres ex hinnitu et fremitu neighbour's flocke) requests his wife (equalling equorum cepisse Auguria, nec ulli auspicio him in these Divinations) to give her judge majorem fidem adhibitam, testatur Tacitus, ment. She curiously observes, and at last Lib. de Moribus Germanorum." “ Pet. Moli. with great laughter casts it from her. The næi Vates,” p. 218. gentleman importuning her reason of so vehe- Borlase, in his “ Antiquities of Cornwall," ment an affection, receives answer of her, that p. 133, says : that “the Druids, besides the his wife, out of whose flocke that ramme was ominous appearances of the entrails, had setaken, had by incestuous copulation with her veral ways of Divining. They Divined by husband's nephew fraughted herself with a Augury, that is, from the observations they young one. Lay alltogether and judge, gen- made on the voices, flying, eating, mirth or tlewomen, the sequell of this crosse accident. sadness, health or sickness of birds." But why she could not as well divine of whose

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