« PreviousContinue »
DIVINATION BY THE ERECTING OF FIGURES
In Lilly's "History of his Life and Times,” there is a curious experiment of this sort made, it should seem, by the desire of Charles the First, to know in what quarter of the nation he might be most safe, after he should have effected his escape, and not be discovered until himself pleased. Madame Whorewood was deputed to receive Lilly's judgement. He seems to have had high fees, for he owns he got on this occasion twenty pieces of gold. (")
By the “ Nauticum Astrologicum, directing Merchants, Mariners, Captains of Ships, Ensurers, &c. how (by God's blessing) they may escape divers dangers which commonly happen in the Ocean," &c., the posthumous work of John Gadbury, 8vo. Lond. 1710, it appears that Figures were often erected concerning the voyages of ships from London to Newcastle, &c. In p. 123, the predictor tells us his answer was verified; the ship, though not lost, had been in great danger thereof, having unhappily run aground at Newcastle, sprung a shrowd, and wholly lost her keel. At p. 93, there is a Figure given of a ship that set sail from London towards Newcastle, Aug. 27, 11 P. m. 1669. This proved a fortunate voyage. (?)
Henry, in his History of Great Britain, vol. iii. 575, speaking of Astrology, tells us, “Nor did this passion for penetrating into futurity prevail only among the common people, but also among persons of the highest ranke and greatest learning. All our kings, and many of our earls and great barons, had their Astrologers, who resided in their families, and were consulted by them in all undertakings of great importance.” (3) The great man, he observes, ibid. chap. iv. p. 403, kept these sto cast the horoscopes of his children, discover the success of his designs, and the public events that were to happen." dictions," he adds, “were couched in very general and artful terms.” In another part of his history, however, Dr. Henry says: “Astrology, though ridiculous and delusive in itself, hath been the best friend of the excel. lent and useful science of Astronomy.”
Mason, in his “ Anatomie of Sorcerie," ało. Lond. 1612, p. 91, mentions in his list of the prevailing superstitions, “erecting of a figure to tell of stolne goods.”
In the Dialogue of “ Dives and Pauper," printed by Pynson, A.D. 1493. folio, signat.E2, among superstitious practices then in use and censured, we meet with the following: “Or take hede to the Judicial of Astronomy-or dyvyne a mans lyf or deth by nombres and by the spere of Pyctagorus, or make any dy. vyning therby, or by Songuary or Sompnarye, the boke of dremes, or by the boke that is clepid the Apostles lottis.”
The severe author adds: “and alle that use any maner of wichecraft or any misbileve, that alle suche forsaken the feyth of holy Churche and their Cristendome, and bicome Goddes enmyes, and greve God full grevously, and falle into dampnacion withouten ende, but they amende theym the soner." (9)
Thomas Lodge, in his “ Incarnate Devils," 4to. Lond. 1596, p. 12, thus glances at the superstitious follower of the planetary Houses : “And he is so busie in finding out the houses of the planets, that at last he is either faine to house himselfe in an hospitall, or take up his inne in a prison. At. p. 11, also, is the following : “His name is Curiositie, who not content with the studies of profite and the practise of commendable sciences, setteth his mind wholie on Astrologie, Negromancie, and Magicke. This divel prefers an Ephimerides before a Bible; and his Ptolemey and Hali before Ambrose, golden Chrisostome, or S. Augustine: promise him a familiar, and he will take a flie in a box for good paiment." “ He will shew you the devill in a christal, calculate the nativitie of his gelding, talke of nothing but gold and silver, elixir, calcination, augmentation, citrination, commentation ; and swearing to enrich the world in a month, he is not able to buy himself a new cloake in a whole year. Such a divell I knewe in my daies, that having sold all his land in England to the benefite of the Coose
“ Their pre
DIVINATION BY THE ERECTING OF FIGURES-ASTROLOGICAL.
ner, went to Andwerpe with protestation to enrich Monsieur the king's brother of France, le feu Roy Harie I meane; and missing his purpose, died miserably in spight at Hermes in Flushing.” Ibid. p. 95, speaking of desperation, Lodge says: “ He persuades the merchant not to trafhique, because it is given him in his nativity to have losse by sea; and not to lend, least he never receive again.'
Hall, in his “Virgidemiarum,” book ii. sat. 7, says: “ Thou damned mock-art, and thou brain
sick tale Of old Astrologie".“Some doting gossip 'mongst the Chaldee
wives Did to the credulous world thee first
derive: And superstition nurs'd thee ever sence, And publisht in profounder arts pretence: That now, who
pares his nailes, or libs his swine, But he must first take counsell of the
signe." In “A Map of the Microcosme, or a Morall Description of Man,” newly compiled into Essayes, by H. (Humphry) Browne, 12mo. Lond. 1642, signat D. 8 b, we read : “Surely all Astrologers are Erra Pater's disciples, and the Divel's professors, telling their opinions in spurious ænigmatical doubtful tearmes, like the oracle at Delphos. What a blind dotage and shameless impudence is in these men, who pretend to know more than saints and angels. Can they read other men's fates by those glorious characters the starres, being ignorant of their owne? Qui sibi nescius, cui præscius ? Thracias the sooth-sayer, in the nine years drought of Egypt, came to Busiris the tyrant and told him that Jupiter's wrath might bee expiated by sacrificing the blood of a stranger : the tyrant asked him whether he was a stranger : he told him be was, 'Thou, quoth Busiris, shalt that stranger bee, Whose blood shall wet our soyle by
destinie.' “ If all were served so, we should have none that would relye so confidently on the falshood of their Ephemerides, and in some manner shake off all Divine providence, m.a
king themselves equal to God, between whom and man the greatest difference is taken away, if man should foreknow future events.”
Fuller, in his “Good Thoughts in bad Times,” 12mo. Lond. 1669, p. 37, has this passage : Lord, hereafter I will admire thee more and fear Astrologers lesse : not affrighted with their doleful predictions of dearth and drought, collected from the collections of the planets. Must the earth of necessity be sad, because some ill-natured star is sullen? As if the grass could not grow without asking it leave. Whereas thy power, which made herbs before the stars, can preserve them without their propitious, yea, against their malignant aspects.
In “ The Character of a Quack Astrologer," 4to. Lond. 1673, signat. B. 3. b, we are told : “First, he gravely inquires the business, and by subtle questions pumps out certain particulars which he treasures up in his memory; next, he consults his old rusty clock, which has got a trick of lying as fast as its master, and amuses you for a quarter of an hour, with scrawling out the all-revealing figure, and placing the planets in their respective pues; all which being dispatched you must lay down your money on his book, as you do the wedding fees to the parson at the delivery of the ring; for 'tis a fundamental axiome in his art, that, without crossing his hand with silver, no scheme can be radical: then he begins to tell you back your own tale in other language, and you take that for Divination which is but repetition.' Also, signat. B. 3, “ His groundlesse guesses he calls resolves, and compels the stars (like knights o'th' Post) to depose things they know no more than the man i'th' moon : as if hell were accessary to all the cheating tricks hell inspires him with." Also, in the last page : “He impairs God's universal monarchy, by making the stars sole keepers of the liberties of the sublunary world; and, not content they should domineer over naturals, will needs promote their tyranny in things artificial too, asserting that all manufactures receive good or ill fortunes and qualities from some particular radix, and therefore elects a time for stuiug of pruins, and chuses a pisspot by its horoscope. Nothing pusles him more than fatal necessity: he is loth to deny it, yet dares not justify it, and therefore
DIVINATION BY THE ERECTING OF FIGURES-ASTROLOGICAL.
prudently banishes it his theory, but hugs it in his practice, yet knows not how to avoid the horns of that excellent dilemma propounded by a most ingenious modern poet:
If fate be not, how shall we ought foresee?
Werenfels, in his “Dissertation upon Superstition,” p. 6, says, speaking of a superstitious man : “He will be more afraid of the Constellation-fires, than the flame of his next neighbour's house. He will not open a vein till he has asked leave of the planets. He will avoid the sea whenever Mars is in the middle of Heaven, lest that warrior god should stir up pirates against him. In Taurus he will plant his trees, that this sign, which the astrologers are pleased to call lix'd, may fasten them deeper in the earth.” “He will make use of no herbs but such as are gathered in the planetary hour. Against any sort of misfortune he will arm himself with a ring, to which he has fixed the benevolent aspect of the stars, and the lucky hour that was just at the instant of flying away, but which, by a wonderful nimbleness, he has seized and detain
called the Horoscope,) shewing the form and complexion of the Child then born; and likewisethe rest had their several significations, too tedious to be inserted here, because of no use in the least. The heathen Astrologers, in casting nativities, held, that every man's genius was the companion of his horoscope, and that the horoscope was tempered by it: hence proceeded that union of minds and friendship which was observed among some. This appears from Plutarch in his life of Anthony, concerning the Genii of Anthony and C. Octavius. Those who have the curiosity of being farther informed in these astrological traditions, let them consult Ptolemy, Alcabitius, Albo Hali, Guido Bonat,
Sheridan, in his notes on "Persius,” 2d. edit. 8vo. 1739, p. 79, says: “ To give some little notion of the Ancients concerning Horoscopes. The Ascendant was understood by them to be that part of Heaven which arises in the east the moment of the child's birth. This containing thirty degrees, was called the first house. In this point the Astrologers observed the position of the celestial constellations the planets, and the fixed stars, placing the planets and the signs of the zodiack in a figure which they divided into twelve houses, representing the whole circumference of Heaven. The first was Angulus Orientis, (by some
Dallaway in his 6. Tour to Constantinople,” p. 390, tells us that Astrology is a favourite folly with the Turks. “Ulugh-bey,” he says, “amongst very numerous treatises is most esteemed. He remarks the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each month as the most fortunate; the Ruz-nameh has likewise its three unlucky days, to which little attention is paid by the better sort. The Sultan retains his chief Astrologer, who is consulted by the Council on state emergencies. When the treaty of peace was signed at Kainargi in 1774, he was directed to name the hour most propitious for that ceremony. The Vizer's court swarms with such im posters. It was asserted that they foretold the great fire at Constantinople in 1782. There was likewise an insurrection of the Janissaries which they did not foretel, but their credit was saved by the same word bearing two interpretations of Insurrection and Fire. It may now be considered rather as a state expedient to consult the Astrologer, that the enthusiasm of the army may be fed and subordination maintained by the prognostication of victory."
NOTES TO DIVINATION BY THE ERECTING OF FIGURES-ASTROLOGICAL.
(1) Dr. Johnson prohably alluded to this fact in his Lives of the Poets. Speaking of Hudibras, he says: “Astrology, against which so much of this satire is directed, was not more
the folly of the Puritans than of others. It had at that time a very extensive dominion. Its predictions raised hopes and fears in minds which ought to have rejected it with
Moses, Isaias, Job, Jeremiah, and all the other Prophets of the ancient law; and among the Catholick writers, St. Austin condemns it to be utterly expelled and banished out of the territories of Christianity. St. Hierome argues the same to be a kind of idolatry. Basil and Cyprian laugh at it as most.contemptible. Chrysostome, Eusebius, and Lactantius utterly condemn it. Gregory, Ambrose, and Severianus inveigh against it. The Council of Toledo utterly abandon and prohibit it. In the Synod of Martinus, and by Gregory the younger, and Alexander the third, it was anathematized and punished by the Civil laws of the Emperors. Among the ancient Romans it was prohibited by Tiberius, Vitellius, Dioclesian, Constantin, Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, ejected also, and punished. By Justinian made a capital crime, as may appear in his Codex." " He pleasantly observes of Astrologers, that “. dertaking to tell all people most obscure and hidden secrets abroad, they at the same know not what happens in their own houses and in their own chambers. Even such an Astrologer as More laught at them in his Epigram: • The stars, ethereal bard, to thee shine clear, And all our future fates thou mak'st appear. But that thy wife is common all men know, Yet what all see, there's not a star doth show. Saturn is blinde, or some long journey gone, Not able to discern an infant from a stone. The moon is fair, and as she's fair she's
contempt. In hazardous undertakings care was taken to begin under the influence of a propitious planet; and when the king was prisoner in Carisbrook Castle, an Astrologer was consulted what hour would be found most favourable to an escape."
(*) “As indeed," saith our author, “under so auspicious a position of aven it had been strange if she had missed so to have done; for herein you see Jupiter in the ascendant in sextile aspect of the sun; and the moon,
who is lady of the Horoscope, and governess of the hour in which she weighed anchor, is applying ad Trinum Veneris. She returned to London again very well laden, in three weeks time, to the great content as well as advantage of the owner.” I have to observe here that the ship-owners in the Newcastle trade are now much wiser than to throw away money on such fooleries, and, with much greater propriety, when things augur ill, apply to the Assurance Office, in preference to that of the diviner or fortune-teller.
(3) “Of this," he says, “we meet with a very curious example, in the account given by Matthew Paris of the marriage of Frederick Emperor of Germany and Isabella, sister of Henry III. A.D. 1235. Nocte vero prima qua concubuit Imperator cum ea, noluit eam carnaliter cognoscere, donec competens hora ab astrologis ei nunciaretur.'
M. Paris, p. 285. ad ann. 1235. See Henry, vol. iv.
chaste, And wont behold thy wife so leudly em
bract, Europa Jove, Mars Venus, she Mars courts, With Daphne Sol, with Hirce Hermes
sports. Thus while the stars their wanton love
pursue, No wonder, cuckold, they'll not tell thee
true.” Strype, in his “ Annals of the Reformation," vol. ii. p. 16, sub ann. 1570, says, “ And because the welfare of the nation did so much depend upon the Queen's marriage, it seems were employed secretly by calculating her Nativity, to enquire into her marriage. For which art even Secretary Cecil himself had some opinion. I have met among his papers
Zouch, in his edition of " Walton's Lives," 4to. York, 1796, p. 131, note, says, mentioning Queen Mary's reign, “ Judicial Astrology was much in vise long after this time. Its predictions were received with reverential awe; and men even of the most enlightened understandings were inclined to believe that the conjunctions and oppositions of the planets had no little influence in the affairs of the world. Even the excellent Joseph Mede disdained not to apply himself to the study of Astrology."
Astrology is ridiculed in a masterly manner in Shakspeare's King Lear, Act i. sc. 8.
(*) Cornelius Agrippa, in his “ Vanity of Sciences,” p. 98, exposes Astrology as the mother of heresy, and adds: “Besides this same fortune-telling Astrology, not only the best of moral philosophers explode, but also,