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was done by the mother three times. This however, as I remember, was not alone considered effective; it was necessary that the child should be washed for three successive mornings in the dew from the leaves of the 'charmed tree.' Something similar to this is required in Cornwall, before the ceremony of drawing a child through the holed stones' is thought to be of any virtue. It is not difficult to understand that the exposure of the infant to the genial influences of the morning air, and the washing which is also required, may in some cases give rise to an improved condition in the health of the child, which has been, no doubt, often attributed to the influence of the ash tree and the holed stone.
"The Ash a cure for Ague.-Speaking one day to an old woman, a native of Worcestershire, respecting your articles on Folk Lore, she furnished me with the following infallible recipe for the cure of ague: 'Of course you know what a maiden ash tree is. Well, if you are troubled with the ague, you go to a grafter of trees, and tell him your complaint (every grafter notices the first branch of a maiden ash). You must not give him any money, or there will be no cure. You go home, and in your absence the grafter cuts the first branch.' Upon this I asked her, "How long it was before the patient felt any relief?' "Relief!' said the old lady; 'why he is cured that instant that the brauch is cut from the tree.'
"A friend in Wiltshire reminds me of some lines regarding the ash. It was once the practice, and in some obscure places may be so now, to pluck the leaf in every case where the leaflets were of equal number, and to say—
Even-ash, I thee do pluck,
Hoping thus to meet good luck,
If no luck I get from thee,
I shall wish I'd left thee on the tree.'
My friend further remarks: 'This indicates traditionary reverence for the ash among the trees of the forest.' The miseltoe is often found on the ash."-Athenæum.]
White, in the Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, informs us, p. 202, that "in a farmyard near the middle of this village stands, at this day, a row of pollard-ashes, which, by the seams and long cicatrices down their sides, manifestly
show that in former times they have been cleft asunder. These trees, when young and flexible, were severed and held open by wedges, while ruptured children, stripped naked, were pushed through the apertures, under a persuasion that, by such a process, the poor babes would be cured of their infirmity. As soon as the operation was over, the tree, in the suffering part, was plastered with loam, and carefully swathed up. If the parts coalesced and soldered together, as usually fell out where the feat was performed with any adroitness at all, the party was cured; but where the cleft continued to gape, the operation, it was supposed, would prove ineffectual. Having occasion to enlarge my garden not long since, I cut down two or three such trees, one of which did not grow together. We have several persons now living in the village, who, in their childhood, were supposed to be healed by this superstitious ceremony, derived down perhaps from our Saxon ancestors, who practised it before their conversion to Christianity. At the south corner of the plestor, or area, near the church, there stood, about twenty years ago, a very old, grotesque, hollow pollard-ash, which for ages had been looked on with no small veneration as a shrew-ash. Now a shrew-ash is an ash whose twigs or branches, when gently applied to the limbs of cattle, will immediately relieve the pains which a beast suffers from the running of a shrew-mouse over the part affected; for it is supposed that a shrew-mouse is of so baneful and deleterious a nature, that wherever it creeps over a beast, be it horse, cow, or sheep, the suffering animal is afflicted with cruel anguish, and threatened with the loss of the use of the limb. Against this accident, to which they were continually liable, our provident forefathers always kept a shrew-ash at hand, which, when once medicated, would maintain its virtue for ever. A shrew-ash was made thus [for a similar practice see Plott's Staffordshire]: Into the body of the tree a deep hole was bored with an auger, and a poor devoted shrew-mouse was thrust in alive, and plugged in, no doubt, with several quaint incantations long since forgotten. As the ceremonies necessary for such a consecration are no longer understood, all succession is at an end, and no such tree is known to subsist in the manor or hundred. As to that on the plestor, 'the late vicar stubb'd and burnt it,' when he was way-warden, regardless of the remonstrances of the by-standers,
who interceded in vain for its preservation, urging its power and efficacy, and alleging that it had been
'Religione patrum multos servata per annos.'
Creeping through Tolmen, or perforated stones, was a Druidical ceremony, and is practised in the East Indies. Borlase mentions a stone in the parish of Marden through which many persons have crept for pains in their backs and limbs, and many children have been drawn for the rickets.2 In the North, children are drawn through a hole cut in the groaning cheese, on the day they are christened.
The following illustration of the barbarous practice of inclosing fieldmice was received by Mr. Brand, in a letter from Robt. Studley Vidal, Esq., of Cornborough, near Bideford, a gentleman to whom he was much indebted for incidental information on the local customs of Devonshire, dated May 9, 1806:
"An usage of the superstitious kind has just come under my notice, and which, as the pen is in my hand, I will shortly describe, though I rather think it is not peculiar to these parts. A neighbour of mine, on examining his sheep the other day, found that one of them had entirely lost the use of its binder parts. On seeing it I expressed an opinion that the animal must have received a blow across the back, or some other sort of violence which had injured the spinal marrow, and thus rendered it paralytic; but I was soon given to understand that my remarks only served to prove how little I knew of country affairs, for that the affection of the sheep was nothing uncommon, and that the cause of it was well known, namely, a mouse having crept over its back. I could not but smile at the idea; which my instructor considering as a mark of incredulity, he proceeded very gravely to inform me that I should be convinced of the truth of what he said by the means which he would use to restore the animal, and which were never known to fail. He accordingly despatched his people here and there in quest of a field-mouse; and, having procured one, he told me that he should carry it to a particular tree at some distance, and, inclosing it within a hollow in the trunk, leave it there to perish. He further informed me that he should bring back some of the branches of the tree with him, for the purpose of their being drawn now and then across the sheep's back; and concluded by assuring me, with a very scientific look, that I should soon be convinced of the efficacy of this process, for that, as soon as the poor devoted mouse had yielded up his life a prey to famine, the sheep would be restored to its former strength and vigour. 1 can, however, state with certainty, that the sheep was not at all benefited by this mysterious sacrifice of the mouse. The tree, I find, is of the sort called witch-elm, or witch-hazel."
2 Two brass pins, he adds, were carefully laid across each other on the top edge of this stone, for oracular purposes. See Nat. Hist. of Cornwall, p. 179.
In the catalogue of stone superstitions we must not omit to mention London Stone, and the stone in Westminster Abbey, brought from Scotland by King Edward the First, which Monsieur Jorevin saw, and thus describes: "Jacob's Stone, whereon he rested his head when he had the vision of the angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth on a long ladder. This stone is like marble, of a blueish colour, it may be about a foot and a half in breadth, and is inclosed in a chair, on which the kings of England are seated at their coronation; wherefore, to do honour to strangers who come to see it, they cause them to sit down on it."-Antiq. Repertory, ii. 32.
"London Stone," says Mr. King, in his Munimenta Antiqua, 1799, i. 117, "preserved with such reverential care through so many ages, and now having its top incased within another stone, in Cannon street, was plainly deemed a record of the highest antiquity, of some still more important kind, though we are at present unacquainted with the original intent and purport for which it was placed. It is fixed, at present, close under the south wall of St. Swithin's church, but was formerly a little nearer the channel facing the same place; which seems to prove its having had some more ancient and peculiar designation than that of having been a Roman milliary, even if it ever were used for that purpose afterwards. It was fixed deep in the ground, and is mentioned so early as the time of Ethelstan, King of the West Saxons, without any particular reference to its having been considered as a Roman milliary stone. There are some curious observations with regard to this stone, in the Gentleman's Magazine, xlii. 126. See also Pennant's London, p. 4, and the Parentalia, p. 265, in which it appears that Sir Christopher Wren, in consequence of the depth and largeness of its foundation, was convinced that it must have been some more considerable monument than a mere milliary stone."
In Pasquill and Marforius, 4to. Lond. 1589, we read" Set up this bill at London Stone.-Let it be doone sollemnly with drum and trumpet, and looke you advance my cullours on the top of the steeple right over against it." Also: "If it please them, these dark winter nights, to sticke uppe their papers uppon London Stone."
Of the Stone of Scone, Mr. King observes (Munimenta An
tiqua, i. 118): "The famous Stone of Scone, formerly in Scotland, on which the kings of England and Scotland are still crowned, though now removed to Westminster, and inclosed in a chair of wood, is yet well known to have been an ancient stone of record and most solemn designation, even long before it was first placed at Scone.
Buchanan tells us it formerly stood in Argyleshire, and that King Kenneth, in the ninth century, transferred it from thence to Scone, and inclosed it in a wooden chair. It was believed by some to have been that which Jacob used for a pillow, and to have travelled into Scotland from Ireland and from Spain. But whatever may be thought of such a monkish tradition, it is clear enough that before the time of Kenneth, that is, before the year 834, it had been placed simply and plainly, as a stone of great import and of great notoriety, in Argyleshire; and on account of the reverence paid to it was removed by Kenneth.
It would not be just to omit mentioning that a curious investigation of the history of this stone may be seen in the Gentleman's Magazine, li. 452, lii. 23.
Borlase, in his Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 138, tells us : "Another relic of these Druid fancies and incantations is doubtless the custom of sleeping on stones, on a particular night, in order to be cured of lameness." He observes (Natural History of Cornwall, p. 302): "A very singular manner of curing madness, mentioned by Carew, p. 123, in the parish of Altarnun-to place the disordered in mind on the brink of a square pool, filled with water from St. Nun's Well. The patient, having no intimation of what was intended, was, by a sudden blow on the breast, tumbled into the pool, where he was tossed up and down by some persons of superior strength, till, being quite debilitated, his fury forsook him; he was then carried to church, and certain masses sung over him. The Cornish call this immersion Boossenning, from Beuzi or Bidhyzi, in the Cornu-British and Armoric, signifying to dip or drown." In the second volume of the present work an account of the superstitions practised at the pool of St. Fillan has been already given from Heron's Journey. Some further particulars have also been noticed in this volume, and others more immediately to our present purpose are here given from Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, xvii. 377, in the account of Killin parish, county of Perth, given by the