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is some signe of tempests and troubles in the aire the sommer after."
The Rev. Mr. Shaw, in his Account of Elgin and the shire of Murray (see the Appendix to Pennant's Tour), informs us that at the full moon in March the inhabitants cut withies of the misletoe or ivy, make circles of them, keep them all the year, and pretend to cure hectics and other troubles by them. Dr. Johnson, in his Journey to the Western Islands, tells us, they expect better crops of grain by sowing their seed in the moon's increase.
In Barnabe Googe's translation of Naogeorgus's Popish Kingdome, 4to. Lond. 1570, fol. 44, we have the following lines concerning moon superstitions : “No vaine they pearse, nor enter in the bathes at any day,
Nor pare their nayles, nor from their hed do cut the heare away;
They marke the moone how she is placed, and standeth evermore." [Howell records an old proverb, “so many days old the moon is on Michaelmas-day, so many floods after.” This maxim also occurs in the work of Stevenson, quoted above.]
Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, p. 174, speaking of Skie, says : “ The natives are very much disposed to observe the influence of the moon on human bodies, and for that cause they never dig their peats but in the decrease ; for they observe that, if they are cut in the increase, they continue still moist and never burn clear, nor are they without smoak, but the contrary is daily observed of peats cut in the increase. They make up their earthen dykes in the decrease only, for such as are made at the increase are still observed to fall.”
The ancients chiefly regarded the age of the moon in felling their timber : their rule was to fell it in the wane, or four days after the new moon, or sometimes in the last quarter. Pliny advises it to be in the very moment of the change, which happening to be in the last day of the winter solstice, the timber, he says, will be incorruptible.
Melton, in his Astrologaster, p. 56, tells us that “St. Augustine in his Enchiridion, sayth that it is a great offence for any man to observe the time and course of the moone when
they plant any trees or sowe any corne ; for he sayth, none puts any trust in them but they that worship them : beliering there is some divine power in them, according to those things they believe concerning the nativities of men."
In Lloyd's Stratagems of Jerusalem, 4to. 1602, p. 286, we read : “At any eclipse of the moone the Romans would take their brazen pots and pannes and beate them, lifting up many torches and linckes lighted and firebrandes into the aire, thinking by these superstitious meanes to reclaime the moone to her light. So the Macedonians were as superstitious as the Romanes were at any eclipse of the moone. Nothing terrified the Gentils more in their warres than the eclipse of the sunne and the moone. There was a lawe in Sparta that every ninth
yeare the chief magistrates called Ephori would choose a bright night without moone-light, in some open place, to behold the starres, and if they had seene any star shoot or move from one place to another, straight these ephori accused their kings that they offended the gods, and thereby deposed them from their kingdome. So did Lysander depose King Leonidas.”
In Annotations on Medea, &c., Englished by Edward Sherburn, Esq., 8vo. Lond. 1648, p. 105, the author says: “Of the beating of kettles, basons, and other brazen vessells, used by the ancients when the moone was eclipsed (which they did to drowne the charmes of witches, that the moon might not heare them, and so be drawne from her spheare as they supposed), I shall not need to speake, being a thing so generally knowne, a custom continued among the Turks at this day: yet I cannot but adde, and wonder at, what Joseph Scaliger, in his annotations upon Manilius, reports out of Bonincontrius, an ancient commentator upon the same poet; who affirmes that, in a towne of Italy where he lived (within these two centuries of yeares), he saw the same peece of Paganisme acted upon the like occasion.”
In the General History of China, done from the French of P. Du Halde, 8vo. Lond. 1736, iii. 88, we are told : “ The very moment the inhabitants perceive the sun or moon begin to be darkened, they fall on their knees and beat the ground with their forehead; at the same time is heard a dreadful rattling of drums and kettle-drums throughout Pekin, according to the persuasion the Chinese formerly had that by this
noise they assisted the sun or moon, and prevented the cælestial dragon from devouring such useful planets. Though the learned, and people of quality, are quite free from this ancient error, and are persuaded that eclipses are owing to a natural cause, yet such a prevalence has custom over them, that they will not leave their ancient ceremonies : these ceremonies are practised in the same manner in all parts of the empire.”
The subsequent passage is in Osborne's Advice to his Son, 850. Oxford, 1656, p. 79 : “ The Irish or Welch, during eclipses, run about beating kettles and pans, thinking their clamour and vexations available to the assistance of the higher orbes.”
From a passage, Dr. Jamieson says, in one of Dunbar's poems, it should appear to have been customary, in former times, to svear by the moon :
“ Fra Symon saw it ferd upon this wyse,
He had greit wounder; and sueris by the mone,
Freyr Robert has richt weil his devoir done.” [And the practice is mentioned more than once by Shakespeare. Our readers will recollect how Juliet reproves her lover for availing himself of that mode of testifying his affection :
"O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.” Yet however inconstant may be that light, who amongst us has not felt in all its witchery the truth of the same poet's description :
" How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
MAN IN THE MOON.
This is one of the most ancient as well as one of the most popular superstitions. It is supposed to have originated in the account given in the book of Numbers, xv. 32 et seq, of a man punished with death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day.
In Ritson's Ancient Songs, 8vo. 1790, p. 34, we read: “ The man in the moon is represented leaning upon a fork, on which he carries a bush of thorn, because it was for ‘pycchynde stake' on a Sunday that he is reported to have been thus confined. In the Midsummer Night's Dream, Peter Quince, the carpenter, in arranging his dramatis personæ for the play before the duke, directs that One must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, and say, he comes in to disfigure, or to present, the person of moonshine,' which we afterwards find done. All that I have to say,' concludes the performer of this strange part, ‘is, to tell you that the lantern is the moon; 1, the man in the moon; this thorn bush, my thorn bush; and this dog, my dog.' And such a character appears to have been familiar to the old English stage. Vide also Tempest, act ii. sc. 2.”
The man in the moon is thus alluded to in the second part of Dekker's Honest Whore, 4to. Lond. 1630, signat. D. 2: “ Thou art more than the moone, for thou hast neither changing quarters, nor a man standing in thy circle with a bush of thornes.” Butler, describing an astrologer, says:
“ He made an instrument to know
If the moon shine at full or no;
Cape Snout’s from Promontory Tail." A complete collection of the old superstitions connected with the man in the moon, with all the ballads on the subject, will be found in Halliwell's Introduction to A Midsummer Night's Dream, 8vo. 1841.
I RANK this among omens, as it is an indication of some future thing, which the persons to whom it is communicated get, as it were, by accident, and without their seeking for, as is always the case in divination. Dr. Johnson, who, a few years before his death, visited the scene of the declining influence of second sight, has superseded every other account of it by what he has left us on the subject. “We should have had little claim,” says he, “to the praise of curiosity, if we had not endeavoured with particular attention to examine the question of the second sight. Of an opinion received for centuries by a whole nation, and supposed to be confirmed through its whole descent by a series of successive facts, it is desirable that the truth should be established, or the fallacy detected.
“ The second sight is an impression made either by the mind upon
the eye, or by the eye upon the mind, by which things distant or future are perceived and seen as if they were present. A man on a journey, far from home, falls from his horse; another, who is perhaps at work about the house, sees him bleeding on the ground, commonly with a landscape of the place where the accident befalls him. Another seer, driving home his cattle, or wandering in idleness, or musing in the sunshine, is suddenly surprised by the appearance of a bridal ceremony, or funeral procession, and counts the mourners or attendants, of whom, if he knows them, he relates the names; if he knows them not, he can describe the dresses. Things distant are seen at the instant when they happen. Of things future I know not that there is any rule for determining the time between the sight and the event.
“This receptive faculty, for power it cannot be called, is neither voluntary nor constant. The appearances have no dependence upon choice : they cannot be summoned, detained, or recalled. The impression is sudden, and the effect often painful. By the term second sight seems to be meant & mode of seeing superadded to that which nature generally bestows. In the Erse it is called taisch; which signifies likewise a spectre or a vision. I know not, nor is it likely that the Highlanders ever examined, whether by taisch, used for