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In the British Apollo, fol. Lond. 1708, i. No. 24, it is said :
“ Wee'l tell you the reason
Why spilling of salt
Is esteem'd such a fault:
Th' antiques did opine
'Twas of friendship a sign,
And thought love decay'd
When the negligent maid
In the Rules of Civility, 12mo. Lond. 1695 (transl. from the French), p. 134, we read : “Some are so exact, they think it uncivil to help anybody that sits by them either with salt or with brains ; but in my judgment that is but a ridiculous scruple, and, if your neighbour desires you to furnish him, you must either take out some with your knife, and lay it upon his plate, or, if they be more than one, present them with the salt, that they may furnish themselves,"
Salt was equally used in the sacrifices both by Jews and Pagans ; but the use of salt in baptism was taken from the Gentile idolatry, and not from the Jewish sacrifices. Salt, as an emblem of preservation, was ordered by the law of Moses to be strewed on all flesh that was offered in sacrifice. But among the Pagans it was not only made use of as an adjunct, or necessary concomitant of the sacrifice, but was offered itself as a propitiation. Thus in the Ferialia, or Offerings to the Diis Manibus, when no animal was slain :
“Parva petunt Manes, pietas pro divite grata est
Munere; non avidos Styx habet una Deos
Et parcæ fruges, parvaque mica salis.”
Their richest sacrifice is piety.
A little flour and little grain of salt." That the flour and salt were both designed as propitiatory offerings to redeem them from the vengeance of the Stygian or infernal gods, may be proved from a like custom in the Lemuria, another festival to the Diis Manibus, where beans
are flung instead of the flour and salt; and when flung, the person says,
“ His, inquit, redimo, meque, meosque fabis." Fast. lib. v.
“ And with these beans I me and mine redeem.” “It is plain, therefore, that the salt in the former ceremony was offered as a redemption, which property the Papists impiously ascribe to it still; and the parva mica, a little grain, is the very thing put into the child's mouth at present.” Seward's Conformity between Popery and Paganism, p. 53. Ibid. p. 50, we read: “Then he, the priest, exorcises and expels the impure spirits from the salt, which stands by him in a little silver box ; and, putting a bit of it into the mouth of the person to be baptized, he says, 'Receive the salt of wisdom, and may it be a propitiation to thee for eternal life.” By the following extract from Dekker's Honest Whore, 1635, the taking of bread and salt seems to have been used as a form of an oath or strong asseveration :
“ Scena 13.
Never open his lips."
“ He damned himself to hel, if he speak on't agein." Of the oath of bread and salt, see Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, i. 236.
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, fol. p. 187), says: “No
go out on any material affair without taking some salt in their pockets, much less remove from one house to another, marry, put out a child, or take one to nurse, without salt being mutually interchanged; nay, though a poor creature be almost famished in the streets, he will not accept any food you will give him, unless you join salt to the rest of your benevolence.” The reason assigned by the natives for this is too ridiculous to be transcribed, i. e. the account given by a pilgrim of the dissolution of an enchanted palace on the island, occasioned by salt spilled on the ground.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xvi. 121, parish of Killearn, co. Sterling, we read : “Superstition yet continues
to operate so strongly on some people, that they put a small quantity of salt into the first milk of a cow, after calving, that is given any person to drink. This is done with a view to prevent skaith (harm), if it should happen that the person is not canny."
Camden, in his Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish, says: “In the town when any enter upon a public office, women in the streets, and girls from the windows, sprinkle them and their attendants with wheat and salt. And before the seed is put into the ground, the mistress of the family sends salt into the field." Gough's Camden, fol. 1789, üi. 659. See also Memorable Things noted in the Description of the World, p. 112.
Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 139, tells us : extracted out of the earth, water, or any mineral, hath these properties to foreshew the weather ; for, if well kept, in fair weather it will be dry, and apt to dissolve against wet into its proper element; on boards that it hath lain
and got into the pores of the wood, it will be dry in fair and serene weather, but when the air inclines to wet it will dissolve; and that
you shall see by the board venting his brackish tears ; and salt-sellers will have a dew hang upon them, and those made of mettal look dim against rainy weather.”
Park, in his Travels in the Interior of Africa, tells us : * It would appear strange to an European to see a child suck a piece of rock salt as if it were sugar; this is frequent in Africa ; but the poorer sort of inhabitants are so rarely indulged with this precious article, that to say, 'A man eats salt with his victuals,' is to say he is a rich man.
In the order for the house at Denton, by Tho. Lord Fairfax, among Croft's Excerpta Antiqua, p. 32, I find, “ For the chamber let the best fashioned and apparell’d servants attend above the salt, the rest below,”
[“ If salt fall tow'rds him, he looks pale and red,
Stares as the house were tumbling on his head,
Tate's Characters, 1691, p. 21.] Reginald Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 95, observes that “ to recount it good or bad luck when salt or wine falleth on the table, or is shed, is altogether vanity and super
stition.” See also Mason's Anatomy of Sorcery, 4to. Lond. 1612, p. 90. Melton, in his Astrolagaster, p. 45, No. 27, observes that “ If the beere fall next a man it is a signe of good luck.” 1
tells us :
The casual putting the left shoe on the right foot, or the right on the left, was thought anciently to be the forerunner of some unlucky accident. Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft,
“He that receiveth a mischance will consider whether he put not on his shirt the wrong side outwards, or his left shoe on his right foot.” Thus Butler, in his Hudibras :
Augustus, having b' oversight
By soldiers mutin'yng for pay.”
Similar to this, says Grose, is putting on one stocking with the wrong side outward, without design ; though changing it alters the luck.
A great deal of learning might be adduced on the subject of shoe superstitions. For the ancient religious use of the shoe, see Stuckius's Convivial Antiquities, p. 228.
! " The Lydians, Persians, and Thracians, esteeme not soothsaying by birds, but by powring of wine upon the ground, upon their cloathes, with certain superstitious praiers to their gods that their warres should have good successe." Lloyd's Stratagems of Jerusalem, 4to. 1602, signat. P.P.
2 The following is in St. Foix, Essais sur Paris, tom. v. p. 145 : “ Auguste, cet empereur qui gouverna avec tant de sagesse, et dont le règne fut si florissant, restoit immobile et consterné lorsqu'il lui arrivoit par mégarde de mettre le soulier droit au pied gauche, et le soulier gauche au pied droit."
3 The following curious passage occurs in Bynæus on the shoe of the Hebrews, lib. i.: “ Solea sive calceo aliquem cædere olim contemptus atque contumeliæ rem fuisse habitam quod varia scriptorum veterum loca ostendunt.” “Over Edom will I cast out my shoe,” p. 353. As does the subsequent, p. 358 : “Apud Arabes calceum sibi detractum in alium jacere, servandæ fidei signum et pignus esse certissimum.” So is the following to our purpose, ibid. p. 360 :“An mos iste obtinuerit apud Hebræos veteres, ut reges, cum urbem aliquem obsiderent, calceum in eam proji
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xiv. 541, parish of Forglen, in the county of Banff, we read ; “The superstition of former times is now much worn out. There remains, however, still a little. There are happy and unhappy feet. Thus, they wish bridegrooms and brides a happy foot; and, to prevent any bad effect, they salute those they meet on the road with a kiss. It is hard, however, if any misfortune happens when you are passing, that you should be blamed, when neither you nor your feet ever thought of the matter. The tongue too must be guarded, even when it commends : it had more need, one would think, when it discommends. Thus, to prevent what is called forespeaking, they say of a person, God save them : of a beast, Luck sair it.”
[Train, in his History of the Isle of Man, ii. 129, says: “On the bridegroom leaving his house, it was customary to throw an old shoe after him, and in like manner an old shoe after the bride on leaving her home to proceed to church, in order to ensure good luck to each respectively; and, if by stratagem either of the bride's shoes could be taken off by any spectator on her way from church, it had to be ransomed by the bridegroom.”]
Leo Modena, speaking of the customs of the present Jews, tells us that " some of them observe, in dressing themselves in the morning, to put on the right stocking and right shoe first, without tying it; then afterward to put on the left, and so to return to the right; that so they may begin and end with the right side, which they account to be the most fortunate.” Transl. by Chilmead, 8vo. Lond. 1650, p. 17.
Gaule, in his Mag-astromancers posed and puzzel’d, p. 181, does not leave out, among vain observations and superstitious ominations thereupon, the "putting on the hose uneven, or a crosse, and the shooe upon the wrong foot; the band cerent, in signum pertinacis propositi non solvendæ obsidionis, priusquam urbs sit redacta in potestatem, omnino non liquet. De Chirotheca quoque non memini me quicquam legisse.” Ibid. lib. i. p. 179, I read the following: “Balduinus observat veteres, cum calceamenta pedibus inducerent, eaque pressius adstringerent, si quando corrigiam contingeret effringi, malum omen credidisse, adeo ut suscepta negotia desererent, uti disertè testatur Cicero in Divinatione, ubi sic ait : «Quæ si suscipiamus, pedis offensio nobis et abruptio, corrigiæ et sternutamenta erunt observanda,' &c., atque illud omen veteres portendere credidisse, rem susceptam haud feliciter progressaram aut sinistro aliquo casu impediendam.”