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we see anything beside the light, but because that light doth as much resemble a material candle-light, as eggs do eggs, saving, that in their journey these candles be modo apparentes, modo disparentes, especially when one comes near them; and if one come in the way against them, unto whom they vanish ; but presently appear behind and hold on their course. If it be a little candle pale or bluish, then follows the corps
either of an abortive or some infant.” Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 176.
Sacheverell, in his Account of the Isle of Man, p. 15, relates that “Captain Leather, chief magistrate of Belfast, in the year 1690, who had been previously shipwrecked on the coast of Man, assured him that, when he landed after shipwreck, several people told him that he had lost thirteen men, for they had seen so many lights move towards the churchyard, which was exactly the number of the drowned.”]
Sometimes these appearances have been seen by the persons whose death they foretold ; two instances of which Mr. Davis records as having happened in his own family. For a particular relation of the appearance of a fetch-light, or dead-man's candle, to a gentleman in Carmarthenshire, see the Athenian Oracle, vol. i. pp. 76, 77. See also, ibid. vol. iii. p. 150.
Bishop Hall, in his Characters of Vertues and Vices, speaking of the superstitious man, says:
he will not go, and
some he dares not ; either there are bugs, or he faineth them. Every lanterne is a ghost, and every noise is of chaines. He knowes not why, but his custom is to go a little about, and to leave the crosse still on the right hand.'
In the Cambrian Register, 8vo. 1796, p. 431, we read : “That, among the lower class of people, there is a general belief in the existence of apparitions, is unquestionable ; but as to the lighted candle springing up upon the errand of love, I believe that no person in Wales has ever before heard of it (the author is remarking on Pratt's Gleaner); the traveller has probably confounded it with a very commonlyreceived opinion, that within the diocese of St. David's, a short space before death, a light is seen proceeding from the house, and sometimes, as has been asserted, from the very bed where the sick person lies, and pursues its way to the church where he or she is to be interred, precisely in the same track in which the funeral is afterwards to follow. This light is called canwyll corpt, or the corpse-candle.
OMENS AMONG SAILORS.
THERE is a very singular marine superstition wied in Petronius Arbiter ; it is that no person in a ship must pare
his nails or cut his hair, except in a storm.' Bishop Hall, in his Characters of Vertues and Vices, speaking of the superstitious man, observes that“ he will never set to sea but on a Sunday.” Sailors have various puerile apprehensions of its being ominous to whistle on shipboard, to carry a corpse in their vessel, &c.
Sailors, usually the boldest men alive, are yet frequently the very abject slaves of superstitious fear. “Innumerable," says Scot on Witchcraft, p. 53, “are the reports of accidents unto such as frequent the seas, as fishermen and sailors, who discourse of noises, flashes, shadows, echoes, and other visible appearances, nightly seen and heard upon the surface of the water.”
Andrews, in his Anecdotes, p. 331, says: “Superstition and profaneness, those extremes of human conduct, are too often found united in the sailor; and the man who dreads the stormy effects of drowning a cat, or of whistling a countrydance while he leans over the gunwale, will, too often, wantonly defy his Creator by the most daring execrations and the most licentious behaviour." He softens, however, the severity of this charge by owning "that most assuredly he is thoughtless of the faults he commits."
I find the following in a Helpe to Memory and Discourse, 12mo. Lond. 1630, p. 56:“Q. Whether doth a dead body in a shippe cause the shippe to sayle slower, and if it doe, what is thought to be the reason thereof ?--A. The shippe is as insensible of the living as of the dead ; and as the living make it goe the faster, so the dead make it not goe the slower, for the dead are no Rhemoras to alter the course of her passage, though some there be that thinke so, and that by a kind of mournful sympathy."
“Our sailors," says Dr. Pegge (under the signature of T.
1 « Audio enim non licere cuiquam mortalium in nave neque ungues neque capillos deponere, nisi quum pelago ventus irascitur.” Petron. 369, edit. Mich. Hadrianid. And Juvenal, Sat. xii. 1.81, says:
“ Tum stagnante sinu, gaudent ubi vertice raso
Garrula securi narrare pericula nautæ."
Row), in the Gent. Mag. for January, 1763, xxxiii. 14, “I am told, at this very day, I mean the vulgar sort of them, have a strange opinion of the devil's power and agency in stirring up winds, and that is the reason they so seldom whistle on shipboard, esteeming that to be a mocking, and consequently an enraging, of the devil. And it appears now that even Zoroaster himself imagined there was an evil spirit, called Vato, that could excite violent storms of wind.”
Sir Thomas Browne has the following singular passage : “That a kingfisher, hanged by the bill
, showeth us what quarter the wind is, by an occult and secret propriety, converting the breast to that point of the horizon from whence the wind doth blow, is a received opinion and very strange-introducing natural weathercocks, and extending magnetical positions as far as animal natures ; a conceit supported chiefly by present practice, yet not made out by reason or experience.
The common sailors account it very unlucky to lose a waterbucket or a mop. To throw a cat overboard, or drown one at sea, is the same. Children are deemed lucky to a ship. Whistling at sea is supposed to cause increase of wind, and is therefore much disliked by seamen, though sometimes they themselves practise it when there is a dead calm.
[Davy Jones.-“This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, shipwrecks, and other disasters, to which a seafaring life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.”Peregrine Pickle, chap. 13.]
In Canterbury Guests, or a Bargain Broken, a comedy, by Ravenscroft, 4to. p. 24, we read : “ My heart begins to leap, and play like a porpice before a storm.” Pennant says, in his Zoology, iïi. 67, that “the appearance of the dolphin and the porpesse are far from being esteemed favorable omens by the seamen, for their boundings, springs, and frolics in the water are held to be sure signs of an approaching gale."
Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 135, tells us : Pora paises, or sea-hogs, when observed to sport and chase one another about ships, expect then some stormy weather. Dolphins, in fair and calm weather, persuing one another as one of their waterish pastimes, foreshews wind, and from that part whence
they fetch their frisks; but if they play thus when the seas are rough and troubled, it is a sign of fair and calm weather to ensue. Cuttles, with their many legs, swimming on the top of the water, and striving to be above the waves, do presage a storm.
Sea-urchins thrusting themselves into the mud, or striving to cover their bodies with sand, foreshews a storm. Cockles, and most shell-fish, are observed against a tempest to have gravel sticking hard unto their shells, as a providence of nature to stay or poise themselves, and to help weigh them down, if raised from the bottome by surges. ral, both in salt and fresh waters, are observed to sport most, and bite more eagerly, against rain than at any other time.”
Fishes in gene
The learned Moresin, in his Papatus, reckons among omens the hornedness of the moon, the shooting of the stars, and the cloudy rising of the sun.' Shakespeare, in his Richard II., act ii. sc. 4, tells us :
“ Meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven; The pale-fac'd moon looks bloody on the earth, And lean-look'd prophets whisper fearful change :
These signs forerun the death or fall of kings.” In a Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies, by the Earl of Northampton, 1583, we read : “When dyvers, uppon greater scrupulosity than cause, went about to disswade her Majestye (Queen Elizabeth), lying then at Richmonde, from looking on the comet which appeared last ; with a courage aunswerable to the greatnesse of her state, shee caused the windowe to be sette open, and cast out thys worde, jacta est alea, the dyce are throwne, affirming that her stedfast hope and confidence was too firmly planted in the providence of God to be blasted or affrighted with those beames, which either had a ground in nature whereuppon to rise, or at least no warrant out of scripture to portend the
“Lunæ corniculationem, solis nubilum ortum, stellarum trajectiones in aere.” Papatus, p. 21. III.
mislappes of princes.” He adds: “I can affirm thus much, as a present witnesse, by mine owne experience.”
There is nothing superstitious in prognostications of weather from aches and corns. “Aches and corns,” says Lord Verulam, “ do engrieve (afflict) either towards rain or frost; the one makes the humours to abound more, and the other makes them sharper.” Thus also Butler, in his Hudibras, p. iii. c.ü. 1. 405 :
“ As old sinners have all points
O'th' compass in their bones and joints,
Feel in their own the age of moons.” Googe, in his translation of Naogeorgus's Popish Kingdome, fol. 44, has the following passage on Sky Omens :
“ Beside they give attentive eare to blinde astronomars,
About th' aspects in every howre of sundrie shining stars ;
By mooving of the planets, and the whirling of the speare." In the Secret Memoirs of the late Mr. Duncan Campbell, 1732, pp. 61-2, we read: “There are others, who from the clouds calculate the incidents that are to befal them, and see men on horseback, mountains, ships, forests, and a thousand other fine things in the air."
In the following passage from Gay's first Pastoral are some curious rural omens of the weather :
“ We learnt to read the skies,
He told us that the welkin would be clear.” Thus also in the Trivia of the same poet, similar omens occur for those who live in towns :
“ But when the swinging signs your ears offend
With creaking noise, then rainy floods impend;