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which have been used to fasten a coffin, and must be dug out of the churchyard.
Lupton, in his second book of Notable Things, 1660, p. 40, says: "Three nails made in the vigil of the Nativity of St. John Baptist, called Midsommer Eve, and driven in so deep that they cannot be seen, in the place where the party doth fall that hath the falling sicknesse, and naming the said partie's name while it is doing, doth drive away the disease quite. Mizaldus." He says in the same page, "the root of vervain hanged at the neck of such as have the king's evil, it brings a marvellous and unhoped help."
The late Rev. George Ashby says: "Squire Morley of Essex used to say a prayer which he hoped would do no harm when he hung a bit of vervain-root from a scrophulous person's neck. My aunt Freeman had a very high opinion of a baked toad in a silk bag, hung round the neck. For live toads thus used, see Pennant's British Zoology."
Boorde, in his Introduction to Knowledge, speaking of England, says: "The kynges of Englande doth halowe every yere crampe rynges, the which rynges worne on one's fynger doth helpe them whych hath the crampe.'
From the Minute Book of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Nov. 12, 1772, I learn that "Dr. Morell communicated from a gentleman who was present as a visitor (Mr. Penneck), the following extract of a letter, copied from the Harleian Manuscripts, which shews the great prevalence of superstition in those days, even among the most exalted characters, with regard to the prevention or cure of diseases by charms only. The letter is from Lord Chancellor Hatton to Sir Thomas Smith, dated Sept. 11th, 158—, and relates to an epidemical disorder, at that time very alarming. The extract runs thus: 'I am likewise bold to recommend my most humble duty to our dear mistress (Queen Elizabeth) by this letter and ring, which hath the virtue to expell infectious airs, and is (as it telleth me) to be worn betwixt the sweet duggs, the chaste nest of pure constancy. I trust, sir, when the virtue is known, it shall not be refused for the value.'" Also, March 11, 1773:
1 Mr. Douce's MS. Notes say: " Rings made from coffin-hinges are supposed to prevent the cramp. See Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. v. Scower. The ceremonies of blessing cramp-rings on Good Friday will be found in Waldron's Literary Museum."
"Mr. Wright presented an engraving from a sardonyx, which formerly belonged to the monastery of St. Albans; the use of it, we are told, was to procure easy births to labouring women, by being laid, in the time of travail, inter mammas. A transcript of the MS. describing it will be inserted in Latin, and explained in English, in the History of St. Albans, intended to be published by Mr. Wright."
["The curing of the king's evil by the touch of the king does much puzzle our philosophers; for whether our kings were of the House of York or Lancaster, it did the cure, i. e. for the most part. It is true indeed at the touching there are prayers read, but perhaps neither the king attends them nor his chaplains. In Somersetshire, it is confidently reported that some were cured of the king's evil, by the touch of the Duke of Monmouth. The Lord Chancellor Bacon saith: That imagination is next kin to miracle-working faith."" Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 130.]
Boorde, in his Breviary of Health, fol. 80 b, among the remedies of the king's evil, has the following: "For this matter, let every man make frendes to the kynges majestie, for it doth perteyne to a kynge to helpe this infirmitie by the grace of God, the which is geven to a kynge anoynted. But forasmuch as some men doth judge divers tymes a fystle or a French pocke to be the kynge's evyll, in such matters it behoveth not a kynge to medle withall.”
Touching for the evil continued in France at least till 1657. The Publick Intelligencer, January 5 to 12, 1657, says: “The other day the king touched a great number of people that were sick of the evill, in the great gallerie at the Louvre."
In Bulwer's Chirologia, 1644, p. 149, we read: "This miraculous imposition of the hand in curing the disease called the struma, which, from the constant effect of that sovereign salve, is called the king's evil, his sacred majesty that now is hath practised with as good successe as any of his royal progenitours." We now, without the smallest danger of incurring the suspicion of disloyalty, can safely pronounce that the royal touch for the king's evil is to be referred to the head of physical charms, evincing that no order of men escaped the ancient contagion of superstition.
The best and most interesting particulars respecting the king's evil will be found in Mr. Pettigrew's work on Medical Superstitions, 8vo.
Barrington, in his Observations on our Ancient Statutes, p. 107, tells us of an old man who was witness in a cause, and averred that when Queen Anne was at Oxford, she touched him whilst a child for the evil. Mr. Barrington, when he had finished his evidence, "asked him whether he was really cured. Upon which he answered, with a significant smile, that he believed himself never to have had a complaint that deserved to be considered as the evil, but that his parents were poor, and had no objection to the bit of gold." This accounts well for the great resort of patients and supposed miraculous cures on this occasion.
This now-exploded royal gift is thus described by Shakespeare in Macbeth :
"strangely visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
In the Gent. Mag. for 1751, xxi. 415, we read: "The solemn words, 'I touch, but God healeth,' were those our former kings always pronounced when they touched for the evil; but this was never done but in the presence of a bishop or priest, who introduced the patient to the royal presence for that salutary intention. Then also, a form of prayer for the divine blessing was used, and the king hung a small piece of silver about the person's neck, which he was required to wear
during his life.' For a proclamation concerning the cure of the king's evil, see Rushworth's Collections, Part II. i. 47. The
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xiv. 210, parishes of Kilfynichen and Kilviceuen, co. of Argyll, we read: “ A man in I. of the name of Mr. Innis, touches for the king's evil. He is the seventh son; and it is firmly believed in the country that he has this gift of curing. He touches or rubs over the sore with his hand, two Thursdays and two Sundays successively, in the name of the Trinity, and says, ' It is God that cures.' He asks nothing for his trouble. It is believed if he did, there would be no cure. He is often sent for out of the country; and, though he asks nothing, yet the patients, or their friends, make him presents. He is perfectly illiterate, and says he does not know how the cure is effected, but that God is pleased to work it in consequence of his touch." The same supposed quality of curing the king's evil by touch in a seventh male child, has been before noticed among the charms in Odd Numbers. See an account of Mr. Valentine Greatrakes' stroking for different disorders, in the Gent. Mag. for Jan. 1779, xlix. 22.
small piece of silver noticed in the quotation from Gent. Mag. appears erroneous: "As often as the king putteth the angel about their necks, repeat these words: "That light was the true light which lighteth every man into the world.' After this the Lord's Prayer is said, and another prayer on the behalf of the diseased, that they, receiving health, may give thanks to God," &c.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, vii. 560, parishes of Kirkwall and St. Ola, we read: "In the time of sickness or danger, they often make vows to this or the other favourite saint, at whose church or chapel in the place they lodge a piece of money, as a reward for their protection; and they imagine that if any person steals or carries off that money, he will instantly fall into the same danger from which they, by their pious offering, had been so lately delivered."
Camden, in his Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish, says: "If they never give fire out of their houses to their neighbours, they fancy their horses will live the longer and be more healthy. If the owners of horses eat eggs, they must take care to eat an even number, otherwise some mischief will betide the horses. Grooms are not allowed eggs, and the riders are obliged to wash their hands after eating them. When a horse dies, his feet and legs are hung up in the house, and even the hoofs are accounted sacred. It is by no means allowable to praise a horse or any other animal, unless you say 'God save him,' or spit upon him. If any mischance befalls the horse in three days after, they find out the person who commended him, that he may whisper the Lord's Prayer in his right ear. They believe some men's eyes have a power of bewitching horses; and then they send for certain old women, who by muttering short prayers restore them to health. Their horses' feet are subject to a worm, which, gradually creeping upwards, produces others of its own species, and corrupts the body. Against this worm they call in a witch, who must come to the horse two Mondays and one Thursday, and breathe upon the place where the worm lodges, and after repeating a charm the horse recovers. This charm they will, for a sum of money, teach to many people, after first swearing them never to disclose it."
In Dr. Jorden's Briefe Discourse of a Disease called the Suffocation of the Mother, 4to. 1603, p. 24, we have the fol
owing on the subject of physical charms: "If we cannot moderate these perturbations of the minde, by reason and perswasions, or by alluring their (the patients) mindes another way, we may politikely confirme them in their fantasies, that wee may the better fasten some cure upon them; as Constantinus Affriccanus (if it be his booke which is inserted among Galen's works, de Incantatione, Adjuratione, &c.) affirmeth, and practised with good successe, upon one who was impotens ad venerem, and thought himself bewitched therewith, by reading unto him a foolish medicine out of Cleopatra, made with a crowe's gall and oyle: whereof the patient tooke so great conceit that, upon the use of it, he presently recovered his strength and abilitie againe. The like opinion is to bee helde of all those superstitious remedies which have crept into our profession, of charmes, exorcismes, constellations, characters, periapts, amulets, incense, holie-water, clouts crossed and folded superstitiously, repeating of a certaine number and forme of prayers or Ave Maries, offering to certaine saints, through the wedding ring, and a hundred such like toyes and gambols; which when they prevaile in the cure of diseases, it is not for any supernaturall vertue in them, either from God or the divell [although perhaps the divell may have a collaterall intent or worke therein, namely, to drawe us unto superstition], but by reason of the confident perswasion which melancholike and passionate people may have in them; according to the saying of Avicen, that the confidence of the patient in the meanes used is oftentimes more available to cure diseases than all other remedies whatsoever."
In Osbourne's Advice to a Son, also, 1656, p. 125, we read: "Be not therefore hasty to register all you understand not in the black calendar of hell, as some have done the weapon salve, passing by the cure of the king's evill altogether, as improbable to sense; lest you resemble the pope, who anathematized the Bishop of Saltzburge for maintaining Antipodes; or the Consistory for decreeing against the probable opinion of the earth's motion."
Werenfels, p. 8, says: "If the superstitious person be wounded by any chance, he applies the salve, not to the wound, but, what is more effectual, to the weapon by which he received it. By a new kind of art, he will transplant his disease, like a scion, and graft it into what tree he pleases. The