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A dram of a shepe's tyrdle,
Are wholsom for the pyppe :
Whom nowe I over hyppe."
[In the west of England we have a version of the charm for a prick by a thorn, given in the Athenæum :
"Christ was of a virgin born,
And he was pricked by a thorn;
As I trust in Jesus this never will."
The following is a common charm for the cramp, in both Devonshire and Cornwall:
"Cramp, be thou painless!
And for a scald or burn, I have been told this, although the act of telling destroys the charm:
"There came three angels out of the west,
One brought fire, and two brought frost :
Out fire, and in frost,
In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
Another version is in Halliwell's Popular Rhymes, p. 211. I send you a charm which the old women in Wiltshire vow to be very efficacious. When I came home from bird's-nesting, with my hands, and sometimes my face, well studded with thorns, they were extracted with a needle, and the finger passed over the wound with these words:
"Unto the Virgin Mary our Saviour was born,
And on his head he wore the crown of thorn;
The following charm and prayer is used at this day in
In the Athenian Oracle, i. 158, is preserved the following charm to stop bleeding at the nose, and all other hemorrhages in the country : "In the blood of Adam sin was taken,
In the blood of Christ it was all to shaken,
And by the same blood I do the charge,
That the blood of
run no langer at large."
Westmoreland. It is taught by mothers, as well as nurses, to young children; and is repeated by them on retiring to
"Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
God bless the bed that I lie on;
If anything appear to me,
Sweet Christ arise and comfort me.
Four corners to this bed,
Six angels round me spread;
Two to guard me till daybreak.
I lay me down upon my side,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Sometimes this variation is heard:
"Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
All the four corners round about,
Ady, in his Candle in the Dark, 1655, p. 58, says: "It appeareth still among common silly country people, how they had learned charms by tradition from popish times, for curing cattle, men, women, and children; for churning of butter, for baking their bread, and many other occasions; one or two whereof I will rehearse only, for brevity. An old woman in Essex, who was living in my time, she had lived also in Queen Marie's time, had learned thence many popish charms, one whereof was this: every night when she lay down to sleep she charmed her bed, saying
'Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
and this would she repeat three times, reposing great confidence therein, because (she said) she had been taught it, when she was a young maid, by the churchmen of those times.
"Another old woman came into an house at a time whenas the maid was churning of butter, and having laboured long and could not make her butter come, the old woman told the maid what was wont to be done when she was a maid, and also in her mother's young time, that if it happened their
butter would not come readily, they used a charm to be said over it, whilst yet it was in beating, and it would come straightways, and that was this:
'Come, butter, come,
Come, butter, come:
Peter stands at the gate,
This, said the old woman, being said three times, will make your butter come, for it was taught my mother by a learned churchman in Queen Marie's days, whenas churchmen had more cunning, and could teach the people many a trick that our ministers now a days know not."
In Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, the witty anonymous author, in his description of a ballad-monger, has the following: "His ballads, cashiered the city, must now ride poast for the country; where they are no lesse admired than a gyant in a pageant: till at last they grow so common there too, as every poore milk-maid can chant and chirpe it under her cow, which she useth as an harmeless charme to make her let downe her milk." Grose tells us that "a slunk or abortive calf, buried in the highway, over which cattle frequently pass, will greatly prevent that misfortune happening to cows. This is commonly practised in Suffolk."
Lupton, in his third book of Notable Things (ed. 1660, p. 53), 12, says: Mousear, any manner of way ministered to horses, brings this help unto them, that they cannot be hurt whiles the smith is shooing of them; therefore it is called of many Herba clavorum, the herb of nails." Mizaldus.
The well-known interjection used by the country people to their horses when yoked to a cart, &c. has been already noticed in the former volume of this work. Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, p. 24, tells us : "Each oxe hath his several name, upon which the drivers call aloud, both to direct and give them courage as they are at worke."
Coles, in his Art of Simpling, p. 68, says: "It is said that if a handful of arsmart be put under the saddle, upon a tired horse's back, it will make him travaile fresh and lustily;" and "If a footman take mugwort and put it into his shoes in the morning, he may goe forty miles before noon, and not be weary," p. 70. "The seed of fleabane strewed between the
sheets causeth chastity," p. 71. "If one that hath eaten comin doe but breathe on a painted face the colour will vanish away straight... The seeds of docks tyed to the left arme of a woman do helpe barrennesse," p. 70. "All kinde of docks have this property, that what flesh, or meat, is sod therewith, though it be never so old, hard, or tough, it will become tender and meet to be eaten. . . . Calamint will recover stinking meat, if it be laid amongst it whilst it is raw. The often smelling to basil breedeth a scorpion in the brain," p. 69. "That the root of male-piony dryed, tied to the neck, doth help the incubus, which we call the mare," p. 68. "That if maids will take wilde tansey, and lay it to soake in buttermilke nine dayes, and wash their faces therewith, it will make them looke very faire."
The same author, in his Adam in Eden, p. 561, tells us: "It is said, yea, and believed by many, that moonwort will open the locks wherewith dwelling-houses are made fast, if it be put into the key-hole; as also that it will loosen the locks, fetters, and shoes from those horses' feet that goe on the places where it groweth; and of this opinion was Master Culpeper, who, though he railed against superstition in others, yet had enough of it himselfe, as may appear by his story of the Earl of Essex his horses, which being drawn up in a body, many of them lost their shoes upon White Downe in Devonshire, near Tiverton, because moonwort grows upon heaths." Turner, in his British Physician, 8vo. Lond. 1687, p. 209, is confident that though moonwort "be the moon's herb, yet it is neither smith, farrier, nor picklock." Withers, in allusion to the supposed virtues of the moonwort, in the introduction to his Abuses Stript and Whipt, 1622, says: "There is an herb, some say, whose vertue's such
It in the pasture, only with a touch,
Unshooes the new-shod steed."
[Round-dock, the common mallow, malva sylvestris, called round-dock from the roundness of its leaves. Chaucer has the following expression, which has a good deal puzzled the glossarists:
"But canst thou playin raket to and fro,
Nettle in, docke out, now this, now that, Pandare?"
The round-dock leaves are used at this day as a remedy, or supposed remedy or charm, for the sting of a nettle, by being
rubbed on the stung part; and the rubbing is accompanied, by the more superstitious, with the following words:
"In dock, out nettle,
Nettle have a stingd me."
That is, Go in dock, go out nettle. Now, to play Nettle in dock out, is to make use of such expedients as shall drive away or remove some precious evil.
"For women have such different fits,
And when her triumph all is past,
The game being up she's caught at last."
Among tree-superstitions must be ranked what Armstrong says in his History of Minorca, p. 191: "The vine excepted, the Minorquins never prune a tree, thinking it irreligious in some degree to presume to direct its growth; and if you express your wonder that they forbear this useful practice, and inform them of the advantages that attend it in other countries, their answer is ever ready: God knows best how a tree should grow."
Rue was hung about the neck as an amulet against witchcraft in Aristotle's time. "Rutam fascini amuletum esse tradit Aristoteles." Wierii de Praestigiis Dæmonum, lib. V. cap. xxi. col. 584. Shakespeare, in Hamlet, act iv. sc. 7, has this passage: "There's rue for you and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace on Sundays." Rue was called herb of grace by the country people, and probably for the reason assigned by Mr. Warburton, that it was used on Sundays by the Romanists in their exorcisms. See Grey's Notes on Shakespeare, ii. 301.
Thunder-superstitions have been in part considered under Omens. The charms and superstitious preservatives against