« VorigeDoorgaan »
and spet three times upon it." Scot, p. 152, prescribes the subsequent charm against witchcraft : “To unbewitch the bewitched, you must spit in the pot where you have made water. Otherwise spit into the shoe of your right foot before you put it on; and that Vairus saith is good and wholesome to do before you go into any dangerous place.” Spitting in the right shoe is in Mons. Oufle, p. 282, notes.
Delrio, in his Disquisitiones Magicæ, lib. vi. c. 2, sect. 1, quæst. 1, mentions the following, which with great propriety he calls : " Excogitata nugasissimæ superstitiones-de iis qui crines pectinando evulsos non nisi ter consputos adjiciunt;" i. e. that upon those hairs which come out of the head in combing they spit thrice before they throw them away. This is mentioned also in the History of Mons. Oufle, p. 282, notes.
Grose tells us of a singular superstition in the army, where we shall hope it is not without its use. Cagg, to cagg,” says he, “is a military term used by the private soldiers, signifying a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time, or, as the term is, till their cagg is out; which vow is commonly observed with the strictest exactness. Ex. 'I have cagged myself for six months. Excuse me this time, and I will cagg myself for a year.'
This term is also used in the same sense among the common people in Scotland, where it is performed with divers ceremonies." Vallancey, in his
” Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, No. x. p. 490, tells us : “That cag is an old English word for fasting, or abstaining from meat or drink.”
CHARM IN ODD NUMBERS.
In setting a hen, says Grose, the good women hold it an indispensable rule to put an odd number of eggs. All sorts of remedies are directed to be taken three, seven, or nine times. Salutes with cannon consist of an odd number. A royal salute is thrice seven, or twenty-one guns. [The reader will recollect that Falstaff, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 1, is entrapped a third time in the hope of there being luck or divinity in odd numbers.]
within a year.
This predilection for odd numbers is very ancient, and is mentioned by Virgil in his eighth Eclogue, where many spells and charms, still practised, are recorded ;' but, notwithstanding these opinions in favour of odd numbers, the number thirteen is considered as extremely ominous, it being held that, when thirteen persons meet in a room, one of them will die
A person under the signature of Camilla, in the Gent. Mag. for August 1796, lxvi. 683, suggests that “the ancient popular superstition that it is unlucky to make one in a company of thirteen persons may probably have arisen from the Paschal Supper. We can none of us forget what succeeded that repast, and that thirteen persons were present at it.”2
Fuller, in his Mixt Contemplations on these Times, part ii. 8vo. 1660, p. 53, says: “A covetous courtier complained to King Edward the Sixt of Christ Colledge in Cambridge, that it was a superstitious foundation, consisting of a master and twelve fellowes, in imitation of Christ and his twelve apostles.
1 “ Numero Deus impare gaudet. Aut quemcumque superorum, juxta Pythagoreos, qui ternarium numerum perfectum summo Deo assignant, à quo initium, et medium, et finis est: aut revera Hecaten dicit, cujus triplex potestas esse perhibetur : unde est tria virginis ora Dianæ. Quamvis omnium prope Deorum potestas triplici signo ostendatur, ut Jovis trifidum fulmen, Neptuni tridens, Plutonis canis triceps. Apollo idem sol, idem liber, vel quod omnia ternario numero continentur, ut Parcæ, Furiæ, Hercules etiam trinoctio conceptus. Musæ ternæ : aut impari quemadmodumcumque: nam septem chordæ, septem planetæ, septem dies nominibus Deorum, septem stellæ in septentrione, et multa his similia : et impar numerus immortalis, quia dividi integer non potest, par numerus mortalis, quia dividi potest; licet Varro dicat Pythagoreos putare imparem numerum habere finem, parem esse infinitum ; ideo medendi causa multarumque rerum impares numeros servari.” Servius in P. Virgil. Eclog. viii. ed. varior. In Censorinus De Die Natali, 8vo. Cantab. 1695, p. 121, is the following passage : “ Ea superstitione que impar numerus plenus et magis faustus habebatur.” On which is this note, p. 124 : “ Vid. Servium ad illud Virgilii Eclog. viii. •Numero Deus impare gaudet.' Macrob. lib. i. Saturnal. cap. xiii. Solin. cap. iii.” In Ravenscroft's comedy of Mamamouchi, or the Citizen turn'd Gentleman, 1675, p. 32, Trickmore, habited as a physician, says : " Let the number of his bleedings and purgations be odd, numero Deus impare gaudet."
? So Petri Molinæi Vates, p. 219: “Si in convivio sunt tredecim con. vivæ, creditur intra annum aliquem de istis moriturum; totidem enim personæ accumbebant mensæ, quando Christus celebravit eucharistiam pridie quàm mortuus est. Sic inter superstitiosos trigesimus numerus ominosus est, quia Christus triginta denariis venditus est.”
He advised the king also to take away one or two fellowships, so to discompose that superstitious number. • Oh no,' said the king, 'I have a better way than that to mar their conceit, I will add a thirteenth fellowship unto them;' which he did accordingly, and so it remaineth unto this day.”
In the Gent. Mag. for July 1796, lxvi. 573, is an account of a dinner-party consisting of thirteen, and of a maiden lady's observation, that, as none of her married friends were likely to make an addition to the number, she was sure that one of the company would die within the twelvemonth. Another writer in the same journal for 1798, lxviii. 423, says: “The superstition that, where a company of persons amount to thirteen, one of them will die within the twelvemonth afterwards, seems to have been founded on the calculation adhered to by the insurance-offices, which presume that, out of thirteen people taken indiscriminately, one will die within a year.” Insurance-offices, however, are not of such remote antiquity.
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man, Works, 1731, p. 104, speaking of a crypt, or souterrain chapel, near Peel Castle, says:
“Within it are thirteen pillars, on which the whole chapel is supported. They have a superstition that whatsoever stranger goes to see this cavern out of curiosity, and omits to count the pillars, shall do something to occasion being confined there."
The seventh son of a seventh son is accounted an infallible doctor. Lupton, in his second book of Notable Things, edit. 1660, p. 25, No. 2, says:
“ It is manifest, by experience, that the seventh male child, by just order (never a girle or wench being born between), doth heal only with touching (through a natural gift) the king's evil: which is a special gift of God, given to kings and queens, as daily experience doth witnesse.".
We read in the Traité des Superstitions, &c., par M. Jean Baptiste Thiers, 12mo. 1679, i. 436-7 : “ Plusieurs croyent qu'en France les septiemes garçons, nez de legitimes mariages, sans que la suitte des sept ait, esté interrompue par la naissance d'aucune fille, peuvent aussi guerir des fievres tierces, des fievres quartes, et mesme des ecrouelles, aprés avoir jeûné trois ou neuf jours avant que de toucher les malades. Mais ils font trop de fond sur le nombre septenaire, en attribuant au septieme garçon, preferablement a tous autres, une puissance qu'il y a autant de raison d'attribüer au sixieme ou au huitieme, sur le nombre de trois, et sur celuy de neuf, pour ne pas s'engager dans la superstition. Joint que de trois
So, in a MS. in the Cotton Library, marked Julius, F. vi., relating to superstitions in the lordship of Gisborough in Cleveland, in Yorkshire: “ The seventh son of a seventh son is born a physician ; having an intuitive knowledge of the art of curing all disorders, and sometimes the faculty of performing wonderful cures by touching only.” A friend, writing in 1819, says: “It is a very general superstition in Yorkshire, that, if any woman has seven boys in succession, the last should be bred to the profession of medicine, in which he would be sure of being successful.”
In a manuscript on Witchcraft, by John Bell, a Scottish minister, 1705, which has been already quoted more than once, I find the following passage, p. 48: “Are there not some who cure by observing number? After the example of Balaam, who used magiam geometricam, Numb. xxiii. 4: • Build me here seven altars, and prepare me seven oxen and seven rams,' &c. There are some witches who enjoin the sick to dip their shirt seven times in south-running water. Elisha sends Naaman to wash in Jordan seven times. Elijah, on the top of Carmel, sends his servant seven times to look out for rain. When Jericho was taken they compassed the city seven times.”
Smith, in his MS. Life of William Marques Berkeley, Berkeley MSS. ii. 562, tells us he was born A.D. 1426, and observes : “This Lord William closeth the second septenary number from Harding the Dane, as much differing from his last ancestors, as the Lord Thomas, the first septenary lord, did from his six former forefathers. I will not be superstitiously opinionated of the misteries of numbers, though it bee of longe standing amongst many learned men; neither will I poque je connois de ces septiemes garçons, il y en a deux qui ne guerissent de rien, et que le troisieme m'a avoué de bonne foy qu'il avoit en autrefois la reputation de guerir de quantité des maux, quoique en effet il n'ait jamais guery d'aucun. C'est pourquoy Monsieur du Laurent a grande raison de rejetter ce pretendu pouvoir, et de le mettre au rang des fables, en ce qui concerne la guerison des ecroüelles. • Commentitia sunt, dit il, • quæ vulgus narrat omnes qui septimi nati sunt, nulla interveniente sorore in tota ditione Regis Franciæ curare strumas in nomine Domini et Sancti Marculfi, si ternis aut novenis diebus jejuni contigerint; quasi, ait Paschalius, sic hoc vestigium divinum legis Salicæ excludentis feminas.'” The following occurs in Delrio's Disquisit. Magic. lib. i. c. 3, qu. 4, p. 26 : “ Tale curationis donum; sed a febribus tantùm sanandi, habere putantur in Flandria, quotquot nati sunt ipso die parasceues et quotquot, nullo fæmineo fætu intercedente, septimi masculi legitimo thoro sunt nati."
sitively affirm that the number of six is fatall to weomen, and the numbers of seaven and nine of men; or, that those numbers have (as many have written), magnum in tota rerum natura potestatem, great power in kingdoms and comonwealths, in families, ages, of bodies, sickness, health, wealth, losse, &c. : or with Seneca and others ; septimus quisque annus, &c. Each seaventh year is remarkable with men, as the sixth is with weomen. Or, as divines teach ; that in the numbers of seaven there is a misticall perfection which our understandinge cannot attaine unto; and that nature herself is observant of this number.” His marginal references are as follow : “Philo the Jewe de Legis Alleg. lib. i. ; Hipocrates ; Bodin de Republica, lib. iv. cap. 2; see the Practize of Piety, fol. 418, 419 ; Censorinus de Die Natali, cap. 12; Seneca ; Varro in Gellius, lib. iii. ; Bucholcer, Jerom in Amos, 5."
Levinus Lemnius observes, English Transl. 1658, p. 142: “ Augustus Cæsar, as Gellius saith, was glad and hoped that he was to live long, because he had passed his sixty-third year. For olde men seldome passe that year but they are in danger of their lives, and I have observed in the Low Countries almost infinite examples thereof. Now there are two years, the seventh and ninth, that commonly bring great changes in a man's life and great dangers; wherefore sixty-three, that containes both these numbers multiplied together, comes not without heaps of dangers, for nine times seven, or seven times nine, are sixty-three. And thereupon that is called the climactericall year, because, beginning from seven, it doth as it were by steps finish a man's life.” He adds: “ From this observation of years there hath been a long custome in many countries, that the lord of the maror makes new agreements with his tenant
seventh yeare.' Werenfels, in his Dissertation upon Superstition, p. 7, speaking of a superstitious man, says : " Upon passing the
· climacterick year, he is as much rejoiced as if he had escaped out of the paws of death. When he is sick, he will never swallow the pills he is ordered to take in equal number.”
In Richard Flecknoe's Ænigmatical Characters, being rather a new Work than a new Impression of the old, 1665, p. 109, he describes “One who troubles herself with everything," as follows: “She is perpetually haunted with a panic fear of Oh what will become of us !' &c.; and the stories of appa