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The subsequent charms are from a MS. quarto of the date of 1475, formerly in the collection of the late Mr. Herbert, now in my library :
"A charme to staunch blood.-Jesus that was in Bethleem born, and baptyzed was in the flumen Jordane, as stente the water at hys comyng, so stente the blood of thys man N. thy servvaunt, thorow the vertu of thy holy name Jesu and of thy cosyn swete Sent Jon. And sey thys charme fyve tymes with fyve pater nosters, in the worschep of the fyve woundys.'
"For fever.-Wryt thys wordys on a lorell lef Ysmael Ysmael adjuro vos per angelum ut soporetur iste homo N. and ley thys lef under hys head that he wete not thereof, and let hym ete letuse oft and drynk ip'e seed smal grounden in a morter, and temper yt with ale."
"A charme to draw out yren de quarell.-Longius Miles Ebreus percussit latus Domini nostri Jesu Christi; sanguis exuit etiam latus; ad se traxit lancea tetragramaton Messyas
Sother Emanuel SabaothAdonay Unde sicut verba ista fuerunt verba Christi, sic exeat ferrum istud sive quarellum ab isto Christiano. Amen. And sey thys charme five tymes in the worschip of the fyve woundys of Chryst."
In that rare work, entitled the Burnynge of St. Paule's Church in London, 1561, 8vo. 1563, b. we read: "They be superstitious that put holinesse in St. Agathe's Letters for burninge houses, thorne bushes for lightnings, &c." Also, signat. G 1, a, we find " Charmes, as S. Agathe's Letters for burning of houses."
[The following charms, which seem to have enjoyed considerable repute in the neighbourhood of Gloucester, have been kindly forwarded to the publisher by Mr. Robert Bond, of Gloucester :
"For a canker.2-O, canker, I do come to tell and to let
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, iii. 609, parish of Newparish: "There is a quick thorn, of a very antique appearance, for which the people have a superstitious veneration. They have a mortal dread to lop aff or cut any part of it, and affirm, with a religious horror, that some persons, who had the temerity to hurt it, were afterwards severely punished for their sacrilege."
2 The canker is a painful affection of the lips very prevalent amongst children.
thee know whereas not to be, and if thou do not soon be gone, some other course I will take with thee.
For a swell or thorn.-Jesus was born in Bethlehem and they crowned him with nails and thorns, which neither blisted nor swelled, so may not this, through our blessed Jesus. Amen. (See p. 270.)
"For a burn or cald.-Mary Miles has burnt her child with a spark of fire.-Out fire, in frost, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
The charm required is to be repeated nine times, and the charmer each time to make a movement (in the form of a cross), with his third finger, over the part affected.]1
Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands, p. 248, speaking of the isle of Collonsay, says that, in confidence of curing the patient by it, the inhabitants had an ancient custom of fanning the face of the sick with the leaves of the Bible.
There is a vulgar superstition still remaining in Devonshire and Cornwall, that any person who rides on a piebald horse can cure the chincough. [Contriving to get a woman, who on her marriage did not change her surname, to give the child a piece of bread and butter, or other edible, in a morning before the child has broken its fast, is said to be an infallible remedy! The matter, however, must be so managed, that the woman give it voluntarily, or quasi voluntarily; for those who believe in the absurdity generally contrive for some neighbour to hint to the party that a child will be carried over
' [The original document, of which the above is a literal copy, was about forty years since presented to a gentleman (well known to me) by a person who had received many marks of kindness from him, and to evince his gratitude for the same, he resolved on transferring to him the gift he so highly prized, to wit, the power of healing those several maladies by a repetition of the incantation, and otherwise conforming to the specified directions. The recipient, on his part, imagined he had an invaluable boon conferred upon him, and hundreds were the persons who flocked to him to solicit an exercise of his miraculous gift, amongst whom were young and old, rich and poor; sometimes persons entreating it for themselves, sometimes parents entreating it for their children; and, strange as it may appear, I have known an instance of a surgeon having sent his child to be charmed for the canker. The possessor of the charms dying in 1837, they immediately fell into disuse; for the son, on whom they devolved, doubting their efficacy, gave them to me, thinking I might wish to preserve them as a curiosity.]
some morning to her for the purpose. Some hold the opinion that the intended remedy will be powerless, unless the child be carried over a river, or brook, to the woman's residence!!]
Aubrey gives the following receipt to cure an ague. Gather cinquefoil in a good aspect of to the D, and let the moone be in the mid-heaven, if you can, and take ***** of the powder of it in white wine. If it be not thus gathered according to the rules of astrology, it hath little or no virtue in it. See his Miscellanies, p. 144, where there follow other superstitious cures for the thrush, the toothache, the jaundice, bleeding, &c.
In the Muses Threnodie, p. 213, we read that "Many are the instances, even to this day, of charms practised among the vulgar, especially in the Highlands, attended with forms. of prayer. In the Miscellaneous MS. cited before, written by Baillie Dundee, among several medicinal receipts I find an exorcism against all kinds of worms in the body, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be repeated three mornings, as a certain remedy. The poor women who were prosecuted for witchcraft administered herbs and exorcized their sick patients."
The Pool of Strathfillan (or St. Fillan) has been already noticed, under the head of Wells and Fountains. In Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, v. 84, the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, speaking of superstitious opinions and practices in the parish, says: "Recourse is often had to charms for the cure of diseases of horses and cows, no less than in the human species. In the case of various diseases, a pilgrimage is performed to a place called Strathfillan, forty miles distant from Logierait, where the patient bathes in a certain pool, and performs some other rites in a chapel which stands near. It is chiefly in the case of madness, however, that the pilgrimage to Strathfillan is believed to be salutary. The unfortunate person is first bathed in the pool, then left for a night bound in the chapel, and, if found loose in the morning, is expected to recover. There is a disease called Glacach by the Highlanders, which, as it affects the chest and lungs, is evidently of a consumptive nature. It is called the Macdonalds' disease, "because there are particular tribes of Macdonalds who are believed to cure it with the charm of their touch, and the use of a certain set of words. There 18
must be no fee given of any kind. Their faith in the touch of a Macdonald is very great." Ibid. iii. 379. The minister of Applecross, in the county of Ross, speaking of the superstitions of the parish, says: "There are none of the common
calamities or distressful accidents incident to man or beast but hath had its particular charm or incantation: they are generally made up of a group of unconnected words, and an irregular address to the deity, or to some one of the saints. The desire of health, and the power of superstition, reconciled many to the use of them; nor are they, as yet, among the lower class, wholly fallen into disuse. Credulity and ignorance are congenial; every country hath its vulgar errors; opinions early imbibed and cherished for generations are difficult to be eradicated." Ibid. i. 507: "The minister of Meigle parish, having informed us that in the churchyard of Meigle are the remains of the grand sepulchral monument of Vanora, called also Vanera, Wanor, and Guinevar, the British Helena," adds: "The fabulous Boece records a tradition prevailing in his time, viz. that if a young woman should walk over the grave of Vanora, she shall entail on herself perpetual sterility."
Brand, in his Description of Orkney, pp. 61, 62, tells us, as has been already mentioned, that when the beasts, as oxen, sheep, horses, &c., are sick, they sprinkle them with a water made up by them, which they call Fore-spoken Water. They have a charm also whereby they try if persons be in a decay, or not, and if they will die thereof, which they call Casting of the Heart. "Several other charms also they have, about their marriage, when their cow is calving, when churning their milk, or when brewing, or when their children are sick, by taking them to a smith (without premonishing him) who hath had a smith to his father, and a smith to his grandfather. . . . They have a charm whereby they stop excessive bleeding in any, whatever way they come by it, whether by or without external violence. The name of the patient being sent to the charmer, he saith over some words (which I heard), upon which the blood instantly stoppeth, though the bleeding patient were at the greatest distance from the charmer. Yea, upon the saying of these words, the blood will stop in the bleeding throats of oxen or sheep, to the astonishment of spectators. Which account we had from the ministers of the country."
["That the inhabitants of the south of Scotland were formerly exceedingly superstitious is well known, but that which I am about to relate is of a darker shade of benighted credulity than has I think taken place elsewhere in this country, so near the middle of the nineteenth century.
"A highly respectable yeoman, who occupies an extensive farm in the parish of Buittle, near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, not more than two years since, submitting to the advice of his medical attendant, permitted one of his arms, which was diseased, to be amputated, and though the operation was skilfully performed, his health recovered very slowly. A few weeks after the amputated limb had been consigned to the family burial-place, a cannie old woman in the neighbourhood, being consulted as to the cause of the decline of the farmer's health, recommended that his arm should be forthwith raised from the grave, and boiled till the flesh could be separated freely from the bones, and that a certain bone of one of the fingers of the hand should be taken from the others, which if worn by the former owner, either in his vest pocket, or sewn into his dress, on the same side from which the limb was cut, all pain or disease would be thereby soon dispelled, and robust health return to the suffering individual.
"Two neighbours, on hearing this advice, volunteered to superintend the resuscitation and boiling of the arm in question, and without delay proceeded with the sexton to the parish churchyard, where a strong peat fire was soon kindled, and a large pot, full of water, placed over the flame. So soon as the limb was raised out the grave, it was plunged into the scalding water in the pot, and allowed to remain there, till by boiling, the occult joint was easily separated from the rest.
"The grave-digger in this instance takes praise to himself for having returned to the grave all the remaining bones, flesh, and extract, as carefully as if it had been a common burial.
"Subsequently the unfortunate yeoman informed the writer of this brief memorandum, that although he had kept the old knuckle-bone carefully in his vest pocket, as foolishly directed, for a considerable time, he was not sensible of any beneficial effect received by his so doing.
"In the eastern corner of the ivy, covered walls of the ruin of the old parish church of Buittle, the curious visitor