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some strange news. These, says Browne, with his usual pedantry of style, which is well atoned for by his good sense and learning, "only indicate a moist and pluvious air, which hinders the avolation of the light and favillous particles, whereupon they settle upon the snast." That candles and lights, he observes also, "burn blue and dim at the apparition of spirits, may be true, if the ambient air be full of sulphureous spirits, as it happens often in mines."
Melton, in his Astrologaster, p. 45, says: "28. That if a candle burne blew, it is a signe that there is a spirit in the house, or not farre from it."
A collection of tallow, says Grose, rising up against the wick of a candle, is styled a winding-sheet, and deemed an omen of death in the family. A spark at the candle, says the same author, denotes that the party opposite to it will shortly receive a letter. A kind of fungus in the candle, observes the same writer, predicts the visit of a stranger from that part of the country nearest the object. Others say it implies the arrival of a parcel.
Dr. Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, speaking of the waking dreams of his hero's daughters, says: "The girls had their omens too, they saw rings in the candle."
Jodrell, in his Illustrations of Euripides, i. 127, tells us, from Brodæus, that among the Greeks the votary was sensible of the acceptation of his prayer by the manner in which the flame darted its ejaculation. If the flame was bright, this was an auspicious omen, but it was esteemed the contrary, if it corresponded with the description of the sacrifice in the Antigone of Sophocles :
"When, from the victim, lo! the sullen flame
Aspir'd not; smother'd in the ashes still
Lay the moist flesh, and, roll'd in smoke, repell'd
Franklin, ii. 57.
Sir Thomas Browne, in his Hydriotaphia, p. 59, speaking of the ancients, observes: "That they poured oyle upon the pyre was a tolerable practise, while the intention rested in facilitating the ascension; but to place good omens in the quick and speedy burning, to sacrifice unto the windes for a dispatch in this office, was a low form of superstition."
Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 120, tells us: "If
the flame of a candle, lamp, or any other fire, does wave or wind itself where there is no sensible or visible cause, expect some windy weather. When candles or lamps will not so readily kindle as at other times, it is a sign of wet weather neer at hand. When candles or lamps do sparkle and rise up with little fumes, or their wicks swell, with things on them like mushrooms, are all signs of ensuing wet weather."
The innkeepers and owners of brothels at Amsterdam are said to account these "fungous parcels" lucky, when they burn long and brilliant, in which case they suppose them to bring customers. But when they soon go out, they imagine the customers already under their roofs will presently depart. See Putanisme d'Amsterdam, 12mo. 1681, p. 92. They call these puffs of the candle "good men.'
The Hon. Mr. Boyle, in his Occasional Reflections upon several Subjects, 8vo. Lond. 1665, p. 218, makes his "Meditation 10th upon a thief in a candle"-" which, by its irregular way of making the flame blaze, melts down a good part of the tallow, and will soon spoil the rest, if the remains are not rescued by the removal of the thief (as they call it) in the candle."
In Secret Memoirs of the late Mr. Duncan Campbell, 8vo, Lond. 1732, p. 62, the author says: "I have seen people who, after writing a letter, have prognosticated to themselves the ill success of it, if by any accident it happened to fall on the ground; others have seemed as impatient, and exclaiming against their want of thought, if through haste or forgetfulness they have chanced to hold it before the fire to dry; but the mistake of a word in it is a sure omen that whatever requests it carries shall be refused."
"The Irish, when they put out a candle, say, May the Lord renew, or send us the light of Heaven!'"-Gent. Mag. 1795, p. 202.
AT THE BARS OF GRATES, PURSES, AND COFFINS.
A FLAKE of soot hanging at the bars of the grate, says Grose, denotes the visit of a stranger, like the fungus of the candle, from that part of the country nearest the object. Dr. Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, among the omens of his hero's daughters, tells us, "purses bounded from the fire." In the north of England, the cinders that bound from the fire are carefully examined by old women and children, and according to their respective forms are called either coffins or purses; and consequently thought to be the presages of death or wealth: aut Cæsar aut nullus. A coal, says Grose, in the shape of a coffin, flying out of the fire to any particular person, betokens their death not far off.
In the Secret Memoirs of Mr. Duncan Campbell, p. 61, is the following observation: "The fire also affords a kind of divination to these omen-mongers; they see swords, guns, castles, churches, prisons, coffins, wedding-rings, bags of money, men and women, or whatever they either wish or fear, plainly deciphered in the glowing coals."
Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 120, tells us : "When our common fires do burn with a pale flame, they presage foul weather. If the fire do make a buzzing noise, it is a sign of tempests near at hand. When the fire sparkleth very much, it is a sign of rain. If the ashes on the hearth do clodder together of themselves, it is a sign of rain. When pots are newly taken off the fire, if they sparkle (the soot upon them being incensed), it presages rain. When the fire scorcheth and burneth more vehemently than it useth to do,
"Me oft has fancy, ludicrous and wild,
Sooth'd with a waking dream of houses, tow'rs,
I gaz'd, myself creating what I saw.
Though still deceiv'd, some stranger's near approach.”
it is a sign of frosty weather; but if the living coals do shine brighter than commonly at other times, expect then rain. If wood, or any other fuel, do crackle and break forth wind more than ordinary, it is an evident sign of some tempestuous weather neer at hand; the much and suddain falling of soot presages rain."
Ramesey, in his Elminthologia, 8vo. Lond. 1668, p. 271, making observations on superstitious persons, says: "If the salt fall but towards them, or the fire, then they expect anger: and an hundred such-like foolish and groundless conceits." In Petri Molinæi Vates, p. 219, we read: "Si flamma ex cineribus subito erupit, felicitatis omen est."
The subsequent childish sport, so elegantly described by Cowper, Poems, ed. 1798, i. 272, may not improperly be referred to the ancient fire divinations:
"So when a child, as playful children use,
THE HOWLING OF DOGS.
A SUPERSTITIOUS opinion vulgarly prevails that the howling of a dog by night in a neighbourhood is the presage of death to any that are sick in it. I know not what has given rise to this dogs have been known to stand and howl over the bodies of their masters, when they have been murdered, or died an accidental or sudden death: taking such note of
The following occurs in Roberti Keuchenii Crepundia, p. 113: "Canum ululatus.
"Præfica nox, aliquam portendunt nubila mortem :
A cane, præviso funere disce mori."
The subsequent, which is found ibid. p. 211, informs us that when dogs rolled themselves in the dust it was a sign of wind: "Canis in pulvere volutans
"Præscia ventorum, se volvit odora canum vis:
what is past, is an instance of great sensibility in this faithful animal, without supposing that it has in the smallest degree any prescience of the future. Shakespeare ranks this among
"The owl shriek'd at thy birth; an evil sign!
The night-crow cry'd aboding luckless time;
Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees."
The howling of dogs, says Grose, is a certain sign that some one of the family will very shortly die. The following passage is in the Merry Devil of Edmonton, 4to. 1631:
and the subsequent is cited in Poole's English Parnassus, voce Omens:
"The air that night was fill'd with dismal groans,
And people oft awaked with the howls
Of wolves and fatal dogs."
So Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 131: "Dogs tumbling and wallowing themselves much and often upon the earth, if their guts rumble and stinke very much, are signs of rain or wind for certain." Gaule, in his Mag-astromancers Posed and Puzzel'd, p. 181, inserts in his long list of vain observations and superstitious ominations thereupon, "The Dogs Howling."
Dr. Nathaniel Home, in his Dæmonologie, p. 60, says: "If doggs houle in the night neer an house where somebody is sick, 'tis a signe of death." Alexander Ross, in his Appendix to Arcana Microcosmi, 8vo. Lond. 1652, p. 218, says: "That dogs by their howling portend death and calamities is plaine by historie and experience. Julius Obsequens (c. 122) showeth that there was an extraordinary howling of dogs before the sedition in Rome about the dictatorship of Pompey; he showeth also (c. 127) that before the civil wars between Augustus and Antonius, among many other prodigies, there was great howling of dogs, near the house of Lepidus the Pontifice. Camerarius tells us (c. 73, cent. i.) that some German princes have certain tokens and peculiar presages of their deaths; amongst others are the howling of dogs. Capitolinus tells us that the dogs by their howling presaged