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sels, whereby its nourishment is conveyed; the allantois, a thin coat seated under the corion, wherein are received the watery separations conveyed by the urachus, that the acrimony thereof should not offend the skin : the amnios is a general investment, containing the sudorous, or thin serosity perspirable through the skin. Now about the time when the infant breaketh these coverings, it sometimes carrieth with it, about the head, a part of the amnios or nearest coat: which, saith Spigelius, either proceedeth from the toughness of the membrane or weaknesse of the infant that cannot get clear thereof, and therefore herein significations are natural and concluding upon the infant, but not to be extended unto magical signalities, or any other person.”!
In the north of England, and in Scotland, a midwife is called a howdy or howdy wife. I take howdy to be a diminutive of how, and to be derived from this almost obsolete opinion of old women. I once heard an etymon of howdy to the following effect : “How d'ye,”-midwives being great gossipers. This is evidently of a piece with Swift's “all eggs under the grate."
I copied the subsequent advertisement from the London Morning Post, No. 2138, Saturday, Aug. 21st, 1779 : “To the gentlemen of the navy, and others going long voyages to
To be disposed of, a Child's Caul. Enquire at the Bartlet Buildings Coffee House in Holborn. N.ß. To avoid unnecessary trouble the price is twenty guineas."
I read also an advertisement, similar to the above, in the Daily Advertiser, in July 1790.
In the Times newspaper for February 20th, 1813, the following advertisement occurred : A Child's Caul to be sold, in the highest perfection. Enquire at No. 2, Church Street, Minories. To prevent trouble, price twelve pounds.” And, in the same newspaper for February 27th, 1813, two adver
1 So Levinus Lemnius, in his Occult Miracles of Nature, tells us, ib. ii. cap. 8, that if this caul be of a blackish colour it is an omen of ill fortune to the child, but if of a reddish one it betokens every thing that is good. He observes : “ That there is an old opinion, not only prevalent amongst the common and ignorant people, but also amongst men of great note, and physicians also, how that children born with a caul over their faces are born with an omen, or sign of good or bad luck: when as they know not that this is common to all, and that the child in the womb was defended by three membranes.”—English Translat. fol. Lond. 1658, p. 105.
tisements of cauls together : “ CAUL. A Child's Caul to be sold. Enquire at No. 2, Greystoke Place, Fetter Lane.” “ To persons going to sea. A Child's Caul, in a perfect state, to be sold cheap. Apply at 5, Duke Street, Manchester Square, where it
be seen. [And again, May 8th, 1848, “A Child's Caul. Price six guineas. Apply at the bar of the Tower Shades, corner of Tower Street. The above article, for which fifteen pounds was originally paid, was afloat with its late owner thirty years in all the perils of a seaman's life, and the owner died at last at the place of his birth.”]
Weston, in his Moral Aphorisms from the Arabic, 8vo. Lond. 1801, p. xii., gives the following: “The caul that enfolds the birth is the powerful guardian, like the sealring of a monarch, for the attainment of the arch of heaven, where, in the car of a bright luminary, it is crowned and revolved.” As a note, he says: “The superstition of the caul comes from the East; there are several words in Arabic for it. It is not out of date with us among the people, and we often see twenty-five and thirty guineas advertised for one."
Lampridius, speaking of Diadumenus, says: “Solent deinde pueri pileo insigniri naturali, quod obstetrices rapiunt et advocatis credulis vendunt, siquidem causidici hoc juvari dicuntur : at iste puer pileum non habuit, sed diadema tenue, sed ita forte ut rumpi non potuerit, venis intercedentibus specii nervi sagittarii.” Douce observes on this : “One is immediately struck with the affinity of the judge's coifl to this practice of antiquity. To strengthen this opinion it may be added, that, if ancient lawyers availed themselves of this popular superstition, or fell into it themseves if they gave great sums to win these cauls, is it not very natural to suppose
that they would feel themselves inclined to wear them? Sir Thomas Browne says :
« Thus we read in the Life of Antonius, by Spartianus, that children are sometimes born
1 Dugdale, in his Origines Judiciales, p. 112, says: “In token or signe that all justices are thus graduate (i.e. serjeants-at-law), every of them always, whilst he sitteth in the king's court, wearing a white coif of silk, which is the principal and chief insignment of habit, wherewith serjeantsat-law in their creation are decked ; and neither the justice, nor yet the serjeant, shall ever put off the quoif, no not in the king's presence, though he be in talk with his majesties highness.”
with this natural cap, which midwives were wont to sell to credulous lawyers, who held an opinion that it contributed to their promotion."
In the Athenian Oracle, iïi. 84, we read : “Some would persuade us that such as are born with cauls about their heads are not subject to the miseries and calamities of humanity, as other persons—are to expect all good fortune, even so far as to become invulnerable, provided they be always careful to carry it about them. Nay, if it should by chance be lost, or surreptitiously taken away, the benefit of it would be transferred to the party that found it.” In Digby's Elvira, act v., Don Zancho says :
“ Were we not born with cauls upon our heads ?
Thus rarely from such dangerous adventures ?”
« Yes and that Yo' were born with a cawl o' your head." Melton, in his Astrologaster, p. 45, mentions this superstition : “ 22. That if a child be borne with a cawle on his head he shall be very fortunate.” See also upon this subject Le Brun in his Superstitions Anciennes et Modernes.
I am of opinion that the vulgar saying, “Oh, you are a lucky man ; you were wrapped up in a part of your mother's smock," originated in this superstition. In the Athenian Oracle, iii. 84, speaking of this cawl, the authors say: We believe no such correspondences betwixt the actions of human life and that shirt."
In Willis's Mount Tabor, or Private Exercises of a Penitent Sinner, 1639, p. 89: “Ther was one special remarkable thing concerning myself, who being my parents' first son, but their second child (they having a daughter before me), when I came into the world, my head, face, and foreparts of the body were all covered over with a thin kell or skin, wrought like an artificial veile; as also my eldest sonne, being likewise my second childe, was borne with the like extraordinary covering: our midwives and gossips holding such children as come so veiled into the world, to be very fortunate (as they call it), there being not one child amongst many hundreds that are so borne; and this to fall out in the same manner both to the
father and the sonne being much more rare," &c. He goes on to make religious reflections thereupon, which are foreign to our present purpose. He entitles this chapter, “ Concerning an extraordinary Veile which covered my Body at my comming into the World.”
In Advice to a Painter, a poem, printed for J. Davis, 1681, 4to. (no place), is the following passage, canto ii. p. 2:
May females prove.”-
SNEEZING has been held ominous from times of the most remote antiquity.! Eustathius upon Homer has long ago observed, that sneezing to the left was unlucky, but prosperous to the right. Aristotle has a problem : “Why sneezing from noon to midnight was good, but from night to noon unlucky.” St. Austin tells us that “the ancients were wont to go to bed again, if they sneezed while they put on their shoe.
Xenophon having ended a speech to his soldiers with these words : viz. “We have many reasons to hope for preserva
1 “She spoke: Telemachus then sneez'd aloud ;
Constrain’d, his nostril echo'd through the crowd.
Odyss. B. xvii.
tion;” they were scarce uttered when a soldier sneezed : the whole army took the omen, and at once paid adoration to the gods. Then Xenophon, resuming his discourse, proceeded : “ Since, my fellow-soldiers, at the mention of your preservation, Jupiter has sent this omen,” &c. Cambridge's Scribleriard, b. iji. note on 1. 199.
In Hormanni Vulgaria we read : “Two or three neses be holsom; one is a shrewd token. Bina aut terna sternutatio salutaris; solitaria vero gravis.” Hornmannus de Miraculis Mortuorum, cap. clxiii., cites Scot, c. 57, for the following passage on the subject : “Si duæ sternutationes fiant omni nocte ab aliquo, et illud continuitur per tres noctes, signo est, quod aliquis vel aliqua de domo morietur vel aliud damnum domui continget vel maximum Lucrum.”
In Alexander Ross's Appendix to Arcana Microscomi, p. 222, we read : “Prometheus was the first that wisht well to the sneezer, when the man, which he had made of clay, fell into a fit of sternutation, upon the approach of that celestial fire which he stole from the sun. This gave original to that custome among the Gentiles in saluting the sneezer. They used also to worship the head in sternutation, as being a divine part and seat of the senses and cogitation.”
When Themistocles sacrificed in his galley before the battle of Xeres, and one of the assistants upon the right hand
1 In the Convivia of G. Pictorius, Basil, 1554, p. 273, is the following curious passage relative to sneezing : “Cr. Sed nares mihi pruriunt et sternutandum est. Ho. Age gratias, nam salva res est et bonum omen. Cr. Qui dum ? Ho. Quod uxorem tuam feliciter parituram sternutatio præsagiat. Nam rei, cujus inter sternutandum mentio fit, bonum successum sternutatio significat: maximè si ad symposii fuerit initium, quoniam ad medium, dirum prænuntiat. Homerus exemplo est, qui Telemacho sternutante malum procis Penelopes futurum ab Ulysse prædixit; et Xenophon, qui dum sternutasset inter concionandum ad milites, totius exercitus se futurum speravit ducem et sic casus dedit. Sed Hyppiæ quod sternutando dens excidisset, futuræ calamitatis augurium rati sunt. Oen. Et alias quoque sternutando habuerunt observationes antiquitus. Nam si esset matutina sternutatio, nefanda ominari dicebant et rei inceptandæ irritos conatus. Si vero meridiana, potissimum a dextris, saluberrimi auspicii et symbolum veritatis et prognosticum quandoque liberationis a metu insidiarum. Cr. Hinc fortassis obrepit ut sternutanti salutem precamur. Oen. Sic Tiberium Cæsarem statuisse fama est, qui sternutationem sacram rem arbitratus est et dixit, salute optata, averti omne quod nefandum aut dirum immineat."