« VorigeDoorgaan »
In the Museum Tradescantianum, 1660, p. 42, we find an "Indian conjurer's rattle, wherewith he calls up spirits."
Lilly describes one of these berryls or crystals. It was, he says, as large as an orange, set in silver, with a cross at the top, and round about engraved the names of the angels Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel. A delineation of another is engraved in the frontispiece to Aubrey's Miscellanies. This mode of inquiry was practised by Dr. Dee, the celebrated mathematician. His speculator was named Kelly. From him, and others practising this art, we have a long muster-roll of the infernal host, their different natures, tempers, and appearances. Dr. Reginald Scot has given us a list of some of the chiefs of these devils or spirits. These sorcerers, or magicians, do not always employ their art to do mischief; but, on the contrary, frequently exert it to cure diseases inflicted by witches, to discover thieves, recover stolen goods, to foretell future events and the state of absent friends. On this account they are frequently called White Witches.
Ady, in his Candle in the Dark, p. 29, speaking of common jugglers, that go up and down to play their tricks in fayrs and markets, says: "I will speak of one man more excelling in that craft than others, that went about in King James his time, and long since, who called himself the King's Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was he called, because that at the playing of every trick he used to say: 'Hocus pocus, tontus, talontus, vade celeriter jubeo,' a darke compo
' Butler, in his Hudibras, has the following: "With a sleight
Convey men's interest, and right,
P. iii. c. iii. 1. 713. Archbishop Tillotson tells us that "in all probability those common juggling words of hocus pocus are nothing else but a corruption of hoc est corpus, by way of ridiculous imitation of the priests of the Church of Rome in their trick of transubstantiation, &c." Ser. xxvi. Discourse on Transubstant.
Vallancey, in his Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, No. xiii. 93, speaking of hocus pocus, derives it from the Irish "Coic, an omen, a mystery; and bais, the palm of the hand; whence is formed coiche-bais, legerdemain; Persicè, choco-baz : whence the vulgar English hocus pocus.' He is noticing the communication in former days between Ireland and the East.
"Hiccius doctius is a common term among our modern sleight-of-hand
sure of words to blinde the eyes of beholders." Butler's description, in his Hudibras, of a cunning man or fortune-teller, is fraught with a great deal of his usual pleasantry:
"Quoth Ralph, not far from hence doth dwell
Allusions to this character are not uncommon in our old plays. In Albumazar, 1634:
"He tells of lost plate, horses, and straye cattell
Again, in Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 4to. Lond. 1636, signat. B. iii. :—
"Fortune-teller, a pretty rogue
That never saw five shillings in a heape,
Or be hang'd up for pilfering table-cloaths,
In the Character of a Quack-Astrologer, 1673, our wise man, "a gipsy of the upper form," is called "a three-penny
The origin of this is probably to be found among the old Roman Catholics. When the good people of this island were under their thraldom, their priests were looked up to with the greatest veneration, and their presence announced in the assemblies with the terms Hic est doctus! hic est doctus! and this probably is the origin of the modern corruption Hiccius doctius. M. F."
prophet that undertakes the telling of other folks' fortunes, meerly to supply the pinching necessities of his own." Ibid. signat. B. 3, our cunning man is said to "begin with theft; and to help people to what they have lost, picks their pocket afresh: not a ring or a spoon is nim'd away, but payes him twelve-pence toll, and the ale-drapers' often-straying tankard yields him a constant revenue: for that purpose he maintains as strict a correspondence with gilts and lifters as a mountebank with applauding midwives and recommending nurses: and if at any time, to keep up his credit with the rabble, he discovers anything, 'tis done by the same occult hermetic learning, heretofore profest by the renowned Moll Cutpurse."
They are still called "Wise Men" in the villages of Durham and Northumberland.
The following was communicated to the editor of the present work by a Yorkshire gentleman, in the year 1819: "Impostors who feed and live on the superstitions of the lower orders are still to be found in Yorkshire. These are called 'Wise Men,' and are believed to possess the most extraordinary power in remedying all diseases incidental to the brute creation, as well as the human race, to discover lost or stolen property, and to foretell future events. One of these wretches was a few years ago living at Stokesley, in the North Riding of Yorkshire; his name was John Wrightson, and he called himself the seventh son of a seventh son,' and professed ostensibly the trade of a cow-doctor. To this fellow, people, whose education it might have been expected would have raised them above such weakness, flocked; many to ascertain the thief, when they had lost any property; others for him to cure themselves or their cattle of some indescribable complaint. Another class visited him to know their future fortunes; and some to get him to save them from being balloted into the militia; all of which he professed himself able to accomplish. All the diseases which he was sought to remedy be invariably imputed to witchcraft, and although he gave drugs which have been known to do good, yet he always enjoined some incantation to be observed, without which he declared they could never be cured; this was sometimes an act of the most wanton barbarity, as that of roasting a game cock alive, &c. The charges of this man were always extravagant;
and such was the confidence in his skill and knowledge, that he had only to name any person as a witch, and the public indignation was sure to be directed against the poor unoffending creature for the remainder of her life. An instance of the fatal consequences of this superstition occurred within my knowledge, about the year 1800. A farmer of the name of Hodgson had been robbed of some money. He went to a 'wise man to learn the thief, and was directed to some process by which he should discover it. A servant of his, of the name of Simpson, who had committed the robbery, fearing the discovery by such means, determined to add murder to the crime, by killing his master. The better to do this without detection, he forged a letter as from the wise man' to Mr. Hodgson, inclosing a quantity of arsenic, which he was directed to take on going to bed, and assuring him that in the morning he would find his money in the pantry under a wooden bowl. Hodgson took the powder, which killed him. Simpson was taken up, tried at York Assises, and convicted on strong circumstantial evidence. He received sentence of death, and when on the scaffold confessed his crime."
Vallancey, in his Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, No. xiii. 10, tells us that in Ireland they are called Tamans. "I know," says he, " a farmer's wife in the county of Waterford, that lost a parcel of linen. She travelled three days' journey to a taman, in the county of Tipperary: he consulted his black book, and assured her she would recover the goods. The robbery was proclaimed at the chapel, offering a reward, and the linen was recovered. It was not the money but the taman that recovered it."
In Strype's edition of Stow's Survey of London, B. i. 257, we read: "A.D. 1560, a skinner of Southwark was set on the pillory with a paper over his head, shewing the cause, viz. for sundry practices of great falsehood, and much untruth, and all set forth under the colour of southsaying."
Andrews, in his Continuation of Dr. Henry's History of Great Britain, p. 194, speaking of the death of the Earl of Angus in 1588, tells us, as a proof of the blind superstition of the age, "he died (says a venerable author) of sorcery and incantation. A wizard, after the physicians had pronounced him to be under the power of witchcraft, made offer to cure him, saying (as the manner of these wizards is) that he had
received wrong. But the stout and pious earl declared that his life was not so dear unto him as that, for the continuance of some years, he would be beholden to any of the devil's instruments, and died."
The following curious passage is from Lodge's Incarnate Devils, 1596, p. 13: "There are many in London now adaies that are besotted with this sinne, one of whom I saw on a white horse in Fleet street, a tanner knave I never lookt on, who with one figure (cast out of a scholler's studie for a necessary servant at Bocordo) promised to find any man's oxen were they lost, restore any man's goods if they were stolne, and win any man love, where or howsoever he settled it, but his jugling knacks were quickly discovered."
In Articles of Inquirie given in Charge by the Bishop of Sarum, A.D. 1614, is the following: "67. Item, whether you have any conjurers, charmers, calcours, witches, or fortunetellers, who they are, and who do resort unto them for counsell?"
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xii. 465, in the account of the parish of Kirkmichael, county of Banff, we read: "Among the branches into which the moss-grown trunk of superstition divides itself, may be reckoned witchcraft and magic. These, though decayed and withered by time, still retain some faint traces of their ancient verdure. Even at present witches are supposed, as of old, to ride on broomsticks through the air. In this country, the 12th of May is one of their festivals. On the morning of that day they are frequently seen dancing on the surface of the water of Avon, brushing the dews of the lawn, and milking cows in their fold. Any uncommon sickness is generally attributed to their demoniacal practices. They make fields barren or fertile, raise or still whirlwinds, give or take away milk at pleasure. The force of their incantations is not to be resisted, and extends even to the moon in the midst of her aerial career. It is the good fortune, however, of this country to be provided with an anti-conjuror that defeats both them and their sable patron in their combined efforts. His fame is widely diffused, and wherever he goes crescit eundo. If the spouse is jealous of her husband, the anti-conjuror is consulted to restore the affections of his bewitched heart. If a near connexion lies confined to the bed of sickness, it is in vain to expect relief