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1652, p. 34: “I had heard some say that, when a witch had power over one to afflict him, if he could but draw one drop of the witch's blood, the witch would never after do him hurt."
The Observer newspaper of March 6, 1831, copies the following from the newspaper called the Scotsman: "Witchcraft.— During a thunder-storm last week in Edinburgh, an elderly female, who resides near Craigmillar, and who bears the reputation of being uncanny, went to a neighbour's house and asked for a piece of coal; being refused, she said 'they might repent that.' The female to whom this was said instantly concluded that she was bewitched, and was immediately seized with a great tremor. Some days after her husband, while under the influence of liquor, taken we presume to inspire him with sufficient courage for the task, along with another man, went to the house of the old woman, and, with a sharp instrument, inflicted a deep wound across her forehead, under the impression that scoring her above the breath would destroy her evil influence in time coming. The poor woman is so severely injured, that the sheriff has deemed it necessary to take a precognition of the facts."
Coles, in his Art of Simpling, p. 67, observes that, "if one hang misletoe about their neck, the witches can have no power of him. The roots of angelica doe likewise availe much in the same case, if a man carry them about him, as Fuchsius saith." In the comparatively modern song of the Laidley Worm, in Ritson's Northern Garland, p. 63, we read:
Butler, in he could
"The spells were vain; the hag returnes
Hudibras, II. iii. 291, says of his conjuror that
"Chase evil spirits away by dint
Of sickle, horse-shoe, hollow flint."
Aubrey tells us, in his Miscellanies, p. 148, that "it is a thing very common to nail horseshoes on the thresholds of doors, which is to hinder the power of witches that enter into the house. Most houses of the west end of London have the horseshoe on the threshold. It should be a horseshoe that one finds. In the Bermudas they used to put an iron into
the fire when a witch comes in. Mars is enemy to Saturn." He adds, ibid.: "Under the porch of Staninfield Church, in Suffolk, I saw a tile with a horseshoe upon it, placed there for this purpose, though one would imagine that holy water would alone have been sufficient. I am told there are many other similar instances."
Misson, in his Travels in England, p. 192, on the subject of the horseshoe nailed on the door, tells us: "Ayant souvent remarqué un fer de cheval cloüe au seuils des portes (chez les gens de petite etoffe) j'ai demandé a plusieurs ce que cela vouloit dire. On m'a repondu diverses choses differentes, mais la plus generale reponse a eté, que ces fers se mettoient pour empêcher les sorciers d'entrer. Ils rient en disant cela, mais ils ne le disent pourtant pas tout-a-fait en riant; car ils croyent qu'il y a là dedans, ou du moins qu'il peut y avoir quelque vertu secrete; et s'ils n'avoient pas cette opinion, ils ne s'amuseroient pas a clouer ce fer à leur porte."
In Gay's fable of the Old Woman and her Cats, the supposed witch complains as follows:
In Monmouth street, probably the part of London alluded to by Aubrey, many horseshoes nailed to the thresholds are still to be seen (1797). There is one at the corner of Little Queen street, Holborn.
"That the horse-shooe may never be pul'd from your threshold," occurs among the good wishes introduced by Holiday in his comedy of the Marriage of the Arts, Sig. E b. Nailing of horseshoes seems to have been practised as well to keep witches in as to keep them out. See Ramsey's Elminthologia, p. 76, who speaks of nailing horseshoes on the witches' doors and thresholds. Douce's manuscript notes
The editor of this work, April 26, 1813, counted no less than seventeen horseshoes in Monmouth street, nailed against the steps of doors. Five or six are all that now remain, 1841.
say: "The practice of nailing horseshoes to thresholds resembles that of driving nails into the walls of cottages among the Romans, which they believed to be an antidote against the plague for this purpose L. Manlius, A. U. C.. 390, was named dictator, to drive the nail. See Lumisden's Remarks on the Antiquities of Rome, p. 148.
[One of the weaknesses of the late Duchess of St. Albans, which was displayed by her grace in early life, and one which did not fail to operate upon her actions, was that of an excessive degree of superstition. To such an extent, indeed, was the feeling carried by Mr. Coutts, as well as by herself, that they caused two rusty old broken horseshoes to be fastened on the highest marble step, by which the house at Holly Lodge was entered from the lawn. There are anecdotes of her dreams, often mentioned by herself, and attested to this day by those to whom they were related. The fantastic interpretation given to those chance visions by two different dream-readers both parties have lived to see verified, together with their own promised advantage therefrom. One was a dream which haunted her with such peculiar vividness for a length of time, that her mind was filled with it by day also; and when her dresser, and Anderson, the theatrical coiffeur, were preparing her for the theatre, she used to tell them of the dream of each preceding night, viz. "that she was tried for her life, sentenced to be hanged, and was actually executed." The hairdresser, who was considered skilful in the internal vagaries of the head, as well as its external decoration, used to say it was a fine dream, indicating she was to be a grand lady, and to hold her head very high, perhaps to attend the court.]
The bawds of Amsterdam believed (in 1687) that a horseshoe, which had either been found or stolen, placed on the chimney-hearth, would bring good luck to their houses. They also believed that horses' dung, dropped before the house, and put fresh behind the door, would produce the same effect. See Putanisme d'Amsterdam, 12mo. pp. 56-7.
In Beaumont and Fletcher's play of Women Pleased are the following lines:
"The devil should think of purchasing that egg-shell
To break the eggshell after the meat is out is a relique of
superstition thus mentioned in Pliny: "Huc pertinet ovorum, ut exsorbuerit quisque, calices, cochlearumque, protinus frangi aut eosdem cochlearibus perforari." Sir Thomas Browne tells us that the intent of this was to prevent witchcraft; for lest witches should draw or prick their names therein, and veneficiously mischief their persons, they broke the shell, as Dalecampius has observed. Delrio, in his Disquisit. Magicæ, lib. vi. c. 2, sect. 1, quæst. 1, has the following passage on this subject: "Et si ova comederint, eorum testas, non nisi ter cultro perfossas in catinum projiciunt, timentes neglectum veneficiis nocendi occasionem præbere."
Scot, in his Discovery, p. 157, says: "Men are preserved from witchcraft by sprinkling of holy water, receiving consecrated salt, by candles hallowed on Candlemas-day, and by green leaves consecrated on Palm Sunday." Coles, in his Art of Simpling, p. 67, tells us that "Matthiolus saith that herba paris takes away evill done by witchcraft, and affirms that he knew it to be true by experience." Heath, in his History of the Scilly Islands, p. 120, tells us that "some few of the inhabitants imagine (but mostly old women) that women with child, and the first-born, are exempted from the power of witchcraft." The following occurs in Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 147:
"Vervain and dill
Hinders witches from their will."
[SUPERSTITION IN THE FENS.-A carpenter residing at Ely, named Bartingale, being lately taken ill, imagined that a woman named Gotobed, whom he had ejected from one of his houses, had bewitched him. Some matrons assembled in the sick man's chamber agreed that the only way to protect him from the sorceries of the witch was to send for the blacksmith, and have three horseshoes nailed to the door. An operation to this effect was performed, much to the anger of the supposed witch, who at first complained to the Dean, but She then rushed in wrath was laughed at by his reverence.
1 We read in Persius :
"Tunc nigri Lemures ovoque pericula rupto."-Sat. v. 185. Among the wild Irish," to eat an odd egg endangered the death of their horse." See Memorable Things noted in the Description of the World, p. 112. Ibid. p. 113, we read: "The hoofs of dead horses they accounted and held sacred."
to the sick man's room, and, miraculous to tell, passed the Rubicon despite the horseshoes. But this wonder ceased when it was discovered that, in order to make the most of the job, Vulcan had substituted donkey's shoes. The patient is now happily recovering.-Cambridge Advertiser.]
I find the subsequent in Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 152: "To be delivered from witches, they hang in their entries an herb called pentaphyllon, cinquefoil, also an olivebranch; also frankincense, myrrh, valerian, verven, palm, antirchmon, &c.; also hay-thorn, otherwise whitethorn, gathered on May-day." He tells us, p. 151: "Against witches, in some countries, they nail a wolf's head on the door. Otherwise they hang scilla (which is either a root, or rather in this place garlick) in the roof of the house, to keep away witches and spirits; and so they do alicium also. Item. Perfume made of the gall of a black dog, and his blood besmeared on the posts and walls of the house, driveth out of the doors both devils and witches. Otherwise the house where herba betonica is sown is free from all mischiefs," &c.
[A respectable farmer near Helmsley having, within the last few months, lost a number of ewes and lambs, besides other cattle, imbibed the idea that they were bewitched by some poor old woman. He applied to a person called a wise man, who pretends to lay these malignant wretches, and who has, no doubt, made pretty good inroads upon the farmer's pocket, but without having the desired effect. The following are a few of the methods they practised. Three small twigs of elder wood, in which they cut a small number of notches, were concealed beneath a bowl, in the garden, according to the instructions of their advisers, who asserted that the sorceress would come and remove them, as she would have no power as long as they were there. Strict watch was kept during the night, but nothing appeared; yet strange, as they relate, on examination next morning, one of the twigs had The next somehow or other escaped from its confinement. night the twigs were replaced, and a few bold adventurers were stationed to watch; but about midnight they were much alarmed by a rustling in the hedge, and a shaking of the trees, and made their exit without any further discovery. As soon as a calf is dropt, they immediately lacerate the ear by slitting it with a knife; and in passing through the fields it is ridicu