Page images

Christian world, (3) where it generally prevails, from the times of heathenism. (4) Carolus Sigonius, in his “ History of Italy," would deduce it, but most certainly erroneously, from a pestilence that happened in the time of Gregory the Great, (5) that proved mortal to such as sneezed.

The custom has an older era. Apuleius mentions it three hundred years before; as does Pliny ) also in his problem, “cur Sternutantes salutantur.” Petronius Arbiter too describes it. (*) Cælius Rhodoginus has an example of it among the Greeks, in the time of Cyrus the younger :(8) and it occurs as

omen in the eighteenth Idyllium of Theocritus, (*) In the “Greek Anthology it is alluded to in an Epigram. (10)

It is received at this day in the remotest parts of Africa. So we read in Codignus, that, upon a sneeze of the Emperor of Monomotapha, there passed acclamations through the city. And as remarkable an example there is of the same custom in the remotest parts of the East, in the Travels of Pinto.

Sir Thomas Browne supposes that the ground of this ancient custom was the opinion the ancients held of sternutation, (11) which they generally conceived to be a good sign or a bad, and so upon this motion accordingly used a “Salve," or Z:v owooy, as a gratulation from the one, and a deprecation from the other.



(1) “She spoke : Telemachus then sneez'd successum Sternutatio significat: maximè si aloud;

ad Symposii fuerit initium, quoniam ad me. Constrain’d, his nostril echo'd through dium, dirum prænuntiat. Homerus exemplo the crowd.

est, qui Telemacho sternutante malum procis The smiling queen the happy omen Penelopes futurum ab Ulysse prædixit; et blest:

Xenophon, qui dum sternutasset inter conSo may these impious fall, by fate op cionandum ad milites, totius Exercitus se prest."

futurum speravit Ducem et sic casus dedit.

Odyss. b. xviii. Sed Hyppiæ quod sternutando dens excidisset, Xenophon having ended a speech to his futuræ Calamitatis augurium rati sunt. Oen. soldiers with these words: viz. “We have Et alias quoque sternutando habuerunt obsermany reasons to hope for preservation;" they vationes antiquitus. Nam si esset matutina were scarce uttered when a soldier sneezed : sternutatio, nefanda ominari dicebant et rei the whole army took the omen, and at once inceptandæ irritos Conatus. Sil vero meripaid adoration to the gods. Then Xenophon, diana, potissimum a dextris, saluberrimi auresuming his discourse, proceeded : “Since, spicii & symbolum veritatis et prognosticum my fellow-soldiers, at the mention of your quandoque liberationis a metu insidiarum. preservation, Jupiter has sent this omen,” &c. Cr. Hinc fortassis obrepit ut sternutanti saluCambridge's “Scribleriad,” b. iii. note on tem precamur. Oen. Sic Tiberium Cæsarem 1. 199.

statuisse fama est, qui sternutationem sacram In the Convivia of G. Pictorius, Basil, rem arbitratus est et dixit, salute optata, 1554, p. 273, is the following curious passage averti omne quod nefandum aut dirum imrelative to sreezing : “ Cr. Sed nares mihi mineat.” pruriunt et sternutandum est. Ho. Age tad In Hormanni Vulgaria we read : “ Two or tias, nam salva res est et bonum omen. Cr. three Neses be holsom: one is a shrewd token. Qui dum? Ho. Quod uxorem tuam feliciter Bina aut terna Sternutatio salutaris solitaria parituram Sternutatio præsagiat. Nam rei, vero gravis.' cujus inter sternutandum mentio fit, bonum Hornmannus de Miraculis Mortuorum, cap.

clxiii., cites Scot, c. 57, for the following pas- (4) This custom is universally observed in sage on this subject: “Si duæ Sternutationes Portugal. It would be considered as a great fiantomni nocte ab aliquo, & illud continuitur breach of good manners to omit it. per tres noctes, signo est, quod aliquis vel Bishop Hall, in his “ Characters of Vertues aliqua de Domo morietur vel aliud damnum and Vices," speaking of the superstitious Domui continget vel maximum Lucrum." man, says : And when he neeseth, thinks

In Alexander Ross's Appendix to " Arcana them not his friends that uncover not.' Microcosmi,” p. 222, we read : “Prometheus (5) In the “ Gent. Mag." for April, 1771, was the first that wisht well to the Sneezer, are the following remarks on Sneezing, from when the man, which he had made of clay, “ Historical Extracts,” transl. from the “New fell into a fit of sternutation, upon the ap- History of France," begun by Velley, conproach of that celestial fire which he stole tinued by Villaret, and now finishing by from the sun. This gave original to that Garnier : custome among the Gentiles in saluting the

Of Sneezing. Sneezer. They used also to worship the head in sternutation, as being a divine part “The year 750 is commonly reckoned the and seat of the senses and cogitation."

era of the custom of saying God bless you, (2) Buxtorf. Lexicon Chald.

to one who happens to sneeze. It is said that, When Themistocles sacrificed in his galley in the time of the pontificate of St. Gregory before the battle of Xerxes, and one of the the Great, the air was filled with such a deleassistants upon the right hand sneezed, Eu- terious influence, that they who sneezed imphrantides, the soothsayer, presaged the vic- mediately expired. On this the devout pontiff tory of the Greeks and the overthrow of the appointed a form of prayer, and a wish to be Persians. See Plutarch, in his “ Life of The- said to persons Sneezing, for averting them mistocles."

from the fatal effects of this malignancy. A (3) “Sternutamenta inter Auguria Plinius fable contrived against all the rules of pro(lib. ii. cap. 7) recenset: et cur illud pro bability, it being certain that this custom has Numine potiusquam Tussis et Gravedo ha- from time immemorial subsisted in all parts beatur, Aristoteles, sectione xxxiii. Proble- of the known world. According to mythology, matum Quæst. 7, inquirit, addens deinceps the first sign of life Prometheus's artificial Sternutamentum potissimum observandum man gave was by sternutation. This supposed esse, cum rem aliquam exorilimur; igitur creator is said to have stolen a portion of the quia inter omina habitum, ut Dii bone ver- solar rays; and filling with them a phial, terent, sternuenti salus ab audientibus im- which he had made on purpose, sealed it up precata est, quomodo memorat Petronius de hermetically. He instantly flies back to his Eumolpo, quod sternutantem Gitona salvere favourite automaton, and opening the phial jusserit : et quidam apud Apuleium, Meta- held it close to the statue; the rays, still remor. l. 9, sonum sternutationis accipiens, taining all their activity, insinuate themselves solito sermone salutem ei, a quả putabat pro- through the pores, and set the factitious man a fectum imprecatur, & iterato rursum et fre- sneezing. Prometheus, transported with the quentato sæpius. Traductus itaque sine dubio success of his machine, offers up a fervent ab Ethnicis ad Christianos mos est; licet prayer, with wishes for the preservation of so velint Historici recentiores, et eos inter Sigo- singular a being. His automaton observed nius Historiarum de Regno Italiæ libro primo, him, remembering his ejaculations, was very quod pestilentiâ anno quingentesimo nonage- careful, on the like occasions, to offer these simo sæviente, cum sternutarent; Consuetu- wishes in behalf of his descendants, who perdinem inductam esse, ut sternutantibus salu- petuated it from father to son in all their tem precando, præsidium multi repente spi- colonies. ritum emitterent, cum quærerent." Bartholini “ The Rabbies, speaking of this custom, do de Causis contemptæ a Danis adhuc Genti- likewise give it a very ancient date. They say libus Mortis, lib. iii. c. iii. p. 677.

that, not long after the Creation, God made a


general decree that every man living should because his ear is so far from his nose that he sneeze but once, and that at the very instant cannot hear himself sneeze.' Vid. Rhodig. de of his sneezing his soul should depart with Ammiano, 1. xvii. c. 11. 'Oudi aéysı Zū oãoor, out any previous indisposition. Jacob by no etc. (a) Aristot. Problem. sect. xxxiii. 9. means liked so precipitate a way of leaving “ Meridianæ Sternutationes faustæ-matuthe world, as being desirous of settling his tinæ infelices. Plin. l. xxviii. c. 2, de Caus. family affairs, and those of his conscience : he Sternut. prostrated himself before the Lord, wrestled a second time with him, and earnestly entreated

Aureus argutum sternuit, omen Amor. the favour of being excepted from the decree.

Propert. 2, 234. His prayer was heard, and he sneezed without Odyss. Hom. q. v. 541.-ény irrupsy—ubi dying. All the princes of the universe, being

vid. Schol. acquainted with the fact, unanimously or

Catullus Epigr. 45.-Dextram sternuit ad dered that, for the future, sneezing should be

probationem. accompanied with thanksgivings for the pre

“ S. W." servation, and wishes for the prolongation, of There are some superstitions relating to life. We perceive, even in these fictions, the Sneezing mentioned in the notes to the vari. vestiges of tradition and history, which place orum edition of “Minutius Felix,” p. 243. the epocha of this civility long before that of See also “ Chevræana,” tom. i. p. 170, and Christianity. It was accounted very ancient Beloe's “ Herodotus,” vol. iii. P.

105. Pliny, the time of Aristotle, who, in his in addition to what has been already quoted, • Problems,' has endeavoured to account for says that to sneeze to the right was deemed it, but knew nothing of its origin. According fortunate, to the left and near a place of buto him, the first men, prepossessed with the rial the reverse. highest ideas concerning the head, as the prin () It is said that Tiberius, the emperor, cipal seat of the soul, that intelligent substance otherwise a very sour man, would perform governing and animating the whole human this rite most punctually to others, and expect system, carried their respect even to sternu the same from others to himself. tation, as the most manifest and most sensible (V) Petronius Arbiter, who lived before operation of the head. Hence those several them both, has these words, “Gyton collecforms of compliments used on similar occa tione spiritus plenus, ter continuò ita sternusions amongst Greeks and Romans: Long tavit ut grabatum concuteret, ad quem motum may you live!. May you enjoy health! Jupiter Eumolpus conversus, salvere Gytona jubet.”. preserve you!"

(8) When consulting about their retreat, it The following notes on this subject were chanced that one of them sneezed, at the noise communicated by the Rev. Stephen Weston, whereof the rest of the soldiers called upon B.D., F.S.A.:

Jupiter Soter. « Περί κληδονισμώ πταρμικώ, De Omina The custom here noticed was found by our tione sternutaria.

first navigators in the remotest parts of Africa “Sternutationem pro Dæmonio habuit So and the East. When the King of Mesopotacrates. Τον πταρμον Θεόν ηγούμεθα, Aristot. in mia sneezes, acclamations are made in all Problem. Iltaguos ex držiūr, Victoriæ sig parts of his dominions. The Siamese wish num. Plutarch in Themist. ut supra; unde long life to persons sneezing: for they believe lepide Aristophanes in Equitibus

that one of the judges of Hell keeps a register ταύτα φροντίζοντί μου

wherein the duration of men's lives is written, 'Εκ δεξιάς απέπαρδε καταπύγων ανής and that, when he opens this register and looks Κάγω προσεκυσα. .

upon any particular leaf, all those whose ITTH. v. 635.

names happen to be entered in such leaf never “ Sternutantibus apprecabantur antiqui so. fail to sneeze immediately. See the “Dictionn. lenne illud Zev oãoov, unde Epigr. Ammiani des Origines.” in hominem cum pravo naso, i. e. longissimo. 'When he sneezes he never cries God save,

(a) See the epigram at length, p. 66.


Hanway, in his “ Travels into Persia," tells illustrates from the practice of physicians, us that sneezing is held a happy omen among who in persons near death use sternutatories the Persians, especially when repeated often. (medicines to provoke Sneezing), when if the

There is a pretty story on this subject in faculty arise, and sternutation ensues, they “ Menagiana," tom. iii. ad finem.

conceive hopes of life and with gratulation “ Un petit-maitre, apres mauvaise chance,

receive the sign of safety. Thus far Sir

Thomas Browne.
Sortoit du jeu la tabatiére en main.
Un gueux passoit, qui vient à lui soudain

(1) He adds: “Some finding, depending Lui demandant l'aumône avec instance.

it, effects to ensue; others ascribing hereto as Des deux côtez grande étoit l'indigence.

a cause, what perhaps but casually or inconIl ne me reste, ami, dit le joueur

nexedly succeeded; they might proceed into Que du tabac. En vueux tu ? Serviteur,

forms of speeches, felicitating the good and Répond le gueux, qui n'étoit pas trop nice,

deprecating the evil to follow.” Nul besoin n'ai d'eternuer, seigneur,

In Langley's Abridgment of Polydore Chacun me dit assez, Dieu vous bénisse."

Vergil, fol. 130 b, it is said : “ There was

a plage whereby many as they neesed dyed Sir Thomas Browne, on the authority of sodeynly, wherof it grew into a custome Hippocrates, says that “Sneezing cures the that they that were present when any man hiccup, is profitable to parturient women, in neezed should say, 'God helpe you.' A like lethargies, apoplexies, catalepsies. It is bad deadly plage was sometyme in yawning, and pernicious in diseases of the chest, in the wherfore menne used to fence themselves beginning of catarrhs, in new and tender con with the signe of the Crosse : bothe whiche ceptions, for then it endangers abortion." customes we reteyne styl at this day."

To the inquiry (9) 16. « "Ολβιε γάμβρ, αγαθός τις επέκταρεν

Why people say “God

bless you,' when any one sneezes,” the “ Briέρχομενω του

tish Apollo," vol. ii. No. 10, (fol. Lond. 1709) Ες Σπαρταν. .

“ Violent Sneezing was once an epithus translated by Creech :

demical and mortal distemper, from whence “ O happy bridegroom! Thee a lucky

the custom specified took its rise. In one of

Martial's epigrams we find that the Romans To Sparta welcom’d."

had the same custom; and not improbably

derived from the same reason." So also in the seventh Idyllium, 1. 96:

The same work, vol. ii. No. 15, adds,

“ But 'tis a mistake to think that sneezing is « Σιμιχίδα μ' "Έρωτες επέκταρον 66 The Loves sneezed on Smichid.”

any more a sign of recovery now than for

merly: for it is still sometimes a forerunner (10) ου δύναται τη χειρί Πρόκλος την δίν of dangerous distempers, as catarrhs and epiαπομύσσειν,

lepsies, which have likewise been sometimes Της ρινός γάρ έχει την χέρα μικροτέρην. . epidemical. And this is the occasion of the Ουδε λέγει ΖΕΥ ΣΩΣΟΝ, εάν πταρή. Ου custom of blessing people when they sneeze.” γαρ ακούει

Gaule, in his “ Mag-astromancers posed Της ρινός, πολύ γαρ της ακοής απέχει. and puzzel’d,” p. 181, with various other vain Antholog. Gr. ex recens. Brunckii. observations and superstitious ominations 8vo, Lips. 1794, tom. iii. p. 95.

thereupon, mentions “ The Sneezing at meat.”

In Howel's “ Proverbs,' fol. Lond. 1659, Sneezing being properly a motion of the the following occurs : brain suddenly expelling through the nostrils what is offensive to it, it cannot but afford

“ He hath sneezed thrice, turn him out of some evidence of its vigour, and therefore,

the hospital;" saith Aristotle, they that hear it

προσκυνεσιν that is, he will now do well. You need keep ws repov, honour it as something sacred and a

him no longer as a patient, but may dissign of sanity in the diviner part, and this he charge him.

answers :


In “ The Rules of Civility,” 12mo. Lond. 1685, (translated from the French,) we read, p. 64, “ If his lordship chances to sneeze, you are not to bawl out, . God bless you, sir,' but, pulling off your hat, bow to him handsomely, and make that obsecration to yourself.'

In “ The Schoole of Slovenrie; or Cato turn'd wrong side outward: translated out of Latine into English Verse, to the use of all English Christendome except Court and Cittie: by R. F., Gent." 4to. Lond. 1605, p. 6, is the following: “ When you would sneeze, strait turne your

selfe unto your neibour's face : As for my part, wherein to sneeze, I know

no fitter place; It is an order, when you sneeze good men

will pray for you : Marke him that doth so, for I thinke he is

your friend most true. And that your friend may know who

sneezes, and may for you pray, Be sure you not forget to sneeze full in his

face alway. But when thou hear’st another sneeze,

although he be thy father, Say not God bless him, but Choak up, or some

such matter, rather.

The original of this ironical advice runs thus : “ Sternutare volens vicino obvertito vultum :

Quo potius vertas vix reor esse locum. Mas habet ut quidam bene sternutantibus

Id tibi qui faciat forsan amicus erit.
Quo sciat ergo suum te sternutasse sodalem,

Illius ad faciem sit tua versa velim.
Tu tamen in simili causa bona nulla pre-

ceris, Vel tua si graviter sternutet ipsa parens." The following are found in Roberti Keuchenii “ Crepundia,” p. 113 :

Sternutamentum. “ Sternutamentum medici prodesse loquun

tur :
Sterno tamen mentem, critici sic esse lo-

Sim vitium, sim morbusve, Salus mihi suf-

ficit: ana
De nihili præscribe pari medicamine :



Οναρ εκ Διoς εστι.

Ном. .

“Omnia quæ sensu volvuntur vota diurno,

Pectore sopito reddit amica Quies. Venator defessa toro cum membra reponit,

Mens tamen ad Silvas, et sua lustra redit. Judicibus lites, Auriga somnia currus,

Vanaque nocturnis meta cavetur equis. Me quoque Musarum stadium, sub nocte silenti Artibus assuetis sollicitare solet." Claudiani in lib. iii. de Raptu Proserpinæ.


« Dreams are but the rais'd

Impressions of premeditated things,
Our serious apprehension left upon
Our minds, or else th' imaginary shapes
Of objects proper to the complexion ,
Or disposition of our bodies.'

Cotgrave's English Treasury of Wit

and Language, p. 263.

DREAMS, as the Sacred Writings inform us, have on certain occasions been used as the divine mediums of revelation. The consideration of them in this view is foreign to our

present purpose. The reader, inquisitive on this head, may be referred to Amyraldus on “ Divine Dreams," as translated by Ja. Lowde, 8vo. Lond. 1676. Dreanis, as connected with

« PreviousContinue »