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ritions in the air, and prognostics of extraordinary to happen in the year sixty-six (when perhaps 'tis nothing but the extraordinary gingle of numbers), makes her almost out of

Gaule, in his Mag-astromancers Posed and Puzzel'd, p. 181, classes with vain observations and superstitious ominations thereupon, “to collect or predict men's manners and fortunes by their names, or the anagram upon the name, or the allusion to the name, or the numbers in the name,” &c.

There is a little history extant of the unfortunate reigns of William II., Henry II., Edward II., Richard II., Charles II., and James II., 12mo. Lond. 1689, entitled Numerus Infaustus, &c. In the preface, speaking of Heylin's Fatal Observation of the Letter H., Geography, p. 225, the author says:

“ A sudden conceit darted into my thoughts (from the remembrance of former reading), that such kings of England as were the second of any name proved very unfortunate princes ;” and he proceeds, in confirmation of this hypothesis, to write the lives of the above kings.

Vallancey, in his Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, ii. 12, 13, note, tells us : “In unenlightened times we find persons of the brightest characters tainted with superstition. St. Irenæus says, there must be four gospels and no more, from the four winds and four corners of the earth ;' and St. Austin, to prove that Christ was to have twelve apostles, uses a very singular argument, for, says he, 'the gospel was to be preached in the four corners of the world in the name of the Trinity, and three times four makes twelve.'

In the MS. of Mr. John Bell, from which an extract is given above, communicated to me by Mr. Pinkerton, I find the following: 2. Guard against devilish charms for men or beasts. There are many sorceries practised in our day, against which I would on this occasion bear my testimony, and do therefore seriously ask you, what is it you mean by your observation of times and seasons as lucky or unlucky? What mean you by your many spells, verses, words, so often repeated, said fasting, or going backward ? How mean you to have success by carrying about with you certain herbs, plants, and branches of trees? Why is it, that, fearing certain events, you do use such superstitious means to prevent them, by laying bits of timber at doors, carrying a Bible meerly for a

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charm, without any farther use of it? What intend ve by opposing witchcraft to witchcraft, in such sort that, when ye suppose one to be bewitched, ye endeavour his relief by burnings, bottles, horseshoes, and such like magical ceremonies? How think ye to have secrets revealed unto you, your doubts resolved, and your minds informed, by turning a sieve or a key? or to discover by basons and glasses how you shall be related before you die ? Or do you think to escape the guilt of sorcery, who let your Bible fall open on purpose to determine what the state of your souls is by the first word ye light upon ?”


Bishop Hall, in his Characters of Vertues and Vices, speaking of the superstitious man, observes, that “old wives and starres are his counsellors : his night-spell is his guard, and charms his physicians. He wears Paracelsian characters for the toothache; and a little hallowed wax is his antidote for all evils.”

Melton, in his Astrologaster, p. 45, gives a catalogue of many superstitious ceremonies, &c., the second of which is, That toothaches, agues, cramps, and fevers, and many

other diseases, may be healed by mumbling a few strange words over the head of the diseased. Grose

says the word Abacadabara,? written as under, and worn about the neck, will cure an ague :



Among the ancient Druids “the generality of diseases were attempted to be cured by charms and incantations." See Vallancey's Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, ii. 247.

2 It should be Abracadabra. On the subject of amulets much in. formation may be obtained from an Academical Dissertation, published in 1710, at Halle, in Saxony, by Mart. Fr. Blumles. Abracadabra is curiously illustrated in p. 19, accompanied by two or three etymologies of the word.

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He observes that “certain herbs, stones, and other substances, as also particular words written on parchment, as a charm, have the property of preserving men from wounds in the midst of a battle or engagement. This was so universally credited, that an oath was administered to persons going to fight a legal duel, 'that they had ne charm, ne herb of virtue.' The power of rendering themselves invulnerable is still believed by the Germans : it is performed by divers charms and ceremonies ; and so firm is their belief of its efficacy, that they will rather attribute any hurt they may receive, after its performance, to some omission in the performance than defect in its virtue.”

I find the following in Lord Northampton's Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies, 1583, “What godly reason can any man alyve alledge why Mother Joane of Stowe, speaking these wordes, and neyther more nor lesse,

Our Lord was the fyrst man
That ever thorne prick’t upon :
It never blysted nor it never belted,

And I pray God, nor this not may,' should cure either beastes, or men and women, from diseases ?

Thomas Lodge, in his Incarnate Divels, 1596, p. 12, thus glances at the superstitious creed with respect to charms :

Bring him but a table of lead, with crosses (and Adonai, or.. Elohim,' written in it), he thinks it will heal the ague.” In the same work, speaking of lying, p. 35: “He will tell you that a league from Poitiers, neere to Crontelles, there is à familie, that, by a speciall grace from the father to the sonne, can heale the byting of mad dogs : and that there is another companie and sorte of people called Sauveurs, that have Saint Catherine's wheele in the pallate of their mouthes, that can heale the stinging of serpents.”


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Numerous charms and incantations occur in the Harleian Manuscript, No. 273, “ Charme pur sang estauncher,” “ Charme pour dolour de playe," “ Charme pur fievre," fol. 112, b. “ Charme pur festre, e pur cancre, e per gute. Gallicè," fol. 213. “Carmen sive incantatio pro fæmina parturiente,” ibid. “ Ut oves capias. incantatio." “ Ut sorides, &c., non noceant garbas," fol. 215. “ Hec est conjuracio contra mures quæ nascuntur in horreo, et ne destruant bladum; et contra volucres et vermes terræ ne destruant segetes,'' fol. 215, b.


The subsequent charms are from a MS. quarto of the date of 1475, formerly in the collection of the late Mr. Herbert, now in my library :

A charme to staunch blood.- Jesus that was in Bethleem born, and baptyzed was in he flu en Jordane, as stente the water at hys comyng, so stente the blood of thys man N. thy servvaunt, thorow the vertu of thy holy name Jesu and of thy cosyn swete Sent Jon. And sey thys charme fyve tymes with fyve pater nosters, in the worschep of the fyve wonndys.”

For fever.-Wryt thys wordys on a lorell lef Ysmael

Ysmael {adjuro vos per angelum ut soporetur iste homo N. and ley thys lef under hys head that he wete not thereof, and let hym ete letuse oft and drynk ip'e seed smal grounden in a morter, and temper yt with ale."

A charme to draw out yren de quarell.Longius Miles Ebreus percussit latus Domini nostri Jesu Christi; sanguis exuit etiam latus ; ad se traxit lancear/tetragramaton / Messyas Sother Emanuel Sabaoth Adonay Unde sicat verba ista fuerunt verba Christi, sic exeat ferrum istud sive quarellum ab isto Christiano. Amen. And sey thys charme five tymes in the worschip of the fyve woundys of Chryst."

In that rare work, entitled the Burnynge of St. Paule's Church in London, 1561, 8vo. 1563, b. we read: “They be superstitious that put holinesse in St. Agathe's Letters for burninge houses, thorne bushes' for lightnings, &c.” Also, signat. G 1, a, we find “Charmes, as S. Agathe's Letters for burning of houses."

[The following charms, which seem to have enjoyed considerable repute in the neighbourhood of Gloucester, have been kindly forwarded to the publisher by Mr. Robert Bond, of Gloucester :

For a canker.2-0, canker, I do come to tell and to let


| In the Statistical Account of Scotland, iii. 609, parish of Newparish : “ There is a quick thorn, of a very antique appearance, for which the people have a superstitious veneration. They have a mortal dread to lop off or cut any part of it, and affirm, with a religious horror, that some persons, who had the temerity to hurt it, were afterwards severely punished for their sacrilege.”

? The canker is a painful affection of the lips very prevalent amongst children.

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thee know whereas not to be, and if thou do not soon be gone, some other course I will take with thee.

For a swell or thorn.- Jesus was born in Bethlehem and they crowned him with nails and thorns, which neither blisted nor swelled, so may not this, through our blessed Jesus. Amen. (See p. 270.)

For a burn or scald.Mary Miles has burnt her child with a spark of fire.-Out fire, in frost, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

The charm required is to be repeated nine times, and the charmer each time to make a movement (in the form of a cross), with his third finger, over the part affected.]"

Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands, p. 248, speaking of the isle of Collonsay, says that, in confidence of curing the patient by it, the inhabitants had an ancient custom of fanning the face of the sick with the leaves of the Bible.

There is a vulgar superstition still remaining in Devonshire and Cornwall, that any person who rides on a piebald horse can cure the chincough. [Contriving to get a woman, who on her marriage did not change her surname, to give the child a piece of bread and butter, or other edible, in a morning before the child has broken its fast, is said to be an infallible remedy! The matter, however, must be so managed, that the woman give it voluntarily, or quasi voluntarily; for those who believe in the absurdity generally contrive for some neighbour to hint to the party that a child will be carried over

· [The original document, of which the above is a literal copy, wasťabout forty years since presented to a gentleman (well known to me) by a person who had received many marks of kindness from him, and to evince his gratitude for the same, he resolved on transferring to him the gift he so highly prized, to wit, the power of healing those several maladies by a repetition of the incantation, and otherwise conforming to the specified directions. The recipient, on his part, imagined he had an invaluable boon conferred upon him, and bundreds were the persons who flocked to him to solicit an exercise of his miraculous gift, amongst whom were young and old, rich and poor; sometimes persons entreating it for themselves, sometimes parents entreating it for their children; and, strange as it may appear, I have known an instance of a surgeon having sent his child to be charmed for the canker. The possessor of the charms dying in 1837, they immediately fell into disuse; for the son, on whom they devolved, doubting their efficacy, gave them to me, thinking I might wish to preserve them as a curiosity.]

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