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ceremony had given rise to so strange a superstition :” no douht as a charm or peace offering, that the rest might be fertile.

Professor Playfair, in a letter to Mr. Brand, dated St. Andrews, Jan. 26, 1804, mentioning the superstitions of his neighbourhood, says : “In private breweries, to prevent the interference of the fairies, a live coal is thrown into the vat. A cow's milk no fairy can take away, if a burning coal is conducted across her back and under her belly immediately after her delivery. The same mischievous elves cannot enter into a house at night, if, before bedtime, the lower end of the crook, or iron chain, by which a vessel is suspended over the fire, be raised up a few links.”

Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands, p. 120, says: “It is a received opinion in these islands, as well as in the neighbouring part of th

land, that women, by a charm, or some other secret way, are able to convey the increase of their neighbour's cows' milk to their own use; and that the milk so charmed doth not produce the ordinary quantity of butter; and the curds made of that milk are so tough, that it cannot be made so firm as the other cheese, and also is much lighter in weight. The butter so taken away and joined to the charmer's butter is evidently discernible by a mark of separation, viz. the diversity of colour; that which is charmed being paler than the other. If butter, having these marks, be found on a suspected woman, she is presently said to be guilty. To recover this loss they take a little of the rennet from all the suspected persons, and put it into an egg-shell full of milk ; and when that from the charmer is mingled with

c it, it presently curdles, and not before. Some women make use of the root of groundsel as an amulet against such charms, by putting it among the cream.” Ibid. p. 166, speaking of Fladda Chuan, Martin says: “ There is a chapel in the isle dedicated to St. Columbus. It has an altar in the east end, and, therein, a blue stone of a round form on it, which is always moist. It is an ordinary custom, when any of the fishermen are detained in this isle by contrary winds, to wash the blue stone with water all round, expecting thereby to pro cure a favorable wind. . . And so great is the regard they have for this stone, that they swear decisive oaths upon it.” Ibid. p. 109, he says:

It was an ancient custom among the

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islanders to hang a he-goat to the boat's mast, hoping thereby to procure a favourable wind.”

Martin, p. 262, speaking of Jona, says: “ There is a stone erected here, concerning which the credulous natives say,

that whoever reaches out his arm alo the stone three times, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall never err in steering the helm of a vessel.” Ibid. p. 59, speaking of the island Borera, he says: “There is a stone in the form of a cross, in the row opposite to St. Mary's church, about five foot high: the natives call it the Water-cross, for the ancient inhabitants had a custom of erecting this sort of cross to procure rain, and when they had got enough they laid it flat on the ground ; but this custom is now disused.” Ibid. p. 225, Arran. He mentions a green stone, much like a giobe in figure, about the bigness of a goose egg, which for its intrinsic value has been carefully transmitted to posterity for

“ The virtue of it is to remove stitches in the side, by laying it close to the place affected. They say if the patient does not outlive the distemper, the stone removes out of the bed of its own accord, and è contra. The natives use this stone for swearing decisive oaths upon it. The credulous vulgar believe that if this stone is cast among the front of an enemy they will all run away. The custody of it is the peculiar privilege of a family called Clan-Chattons, alias MackIntosh.” See other rural charms in Halliwell's Popular Rhymes, p. 208, et seq.

several ages.


CHARACTS seem to have been charms in the form of inscriptions. See Dugdale's Orig. Jurid. p. 81: “That he use ne hide no charme, ne charecte.” So, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, B. i. :

“ With his carrecte would him enchaunt."
Again, B. vi. fol. 140 :

Through his carectes and figures.”
Again :

“ And his carecte as he was taught
He rad.”


In the Dialogue of Dives and Pauper, printed by Richard Pynson, 1493, among superstitious practices then in use, the following we find censured: “Or use any charmes in gathering of herbes, or hangynge of scrowes aboute man or woman or childe or beest for any seknesse, with any scripture or figures and charects, but if it be pater noster, ave, or the crede, or holy wordes of the Gospel, or of Holy Wryt, for devocion nat for curioustie, and only with the tokene of the holy crosse.

In the Defensative against the Poyson of Supposed Prophecies, 1583, we read : “One of the reysters which served under the Frenche admirall, at the siege of Poictiers, was founde after he was dead to have about his necke a pursse of taffata, and within the same a piece of parchment, full of characters in Hebrew; beside many cycles, semicircles, tryangles, &c. with sundrie shorte cuttes and shreddings of the Psalmes. Deus misereatur nostri, &c.; Angelis suis mandavit de te, &c.; Super aspidem et basiliscum, &c.; as if the prophecies which properly belong to Christe might be wrested to the safeguard and defence of every private man. Lord Northampton çites as his authority, Histor. des Troubles, liv. 8.

In Pilkington's Burnynge of Paule's Church, 1561, 8vo. 1563, we read : “What wicked blindenes is this than, to thinke that wearing prayers written in rolles about with theym, as S. John's Gospell, the length of our Lord, the measure of our Lady, or other like, thei shall die no sodain death, nor be hanged, or yf he be hanged, he shall not die. There is to manye suche, though ye laugh, and beleve it not, and not hard to shewe them with a wet finger.” Our author continues to observe that our devotion ought to "stande in depe sighes and groninges, wyth a full consideration of our miserable state and Goddes majestye, in the heart, and not in ynke or paper : not in hangyng written scrolles about the necke, but lamentinge unfeignedlye our synnes from the hart.”

Lodge, in his Incarnate Devils, 1596, speaking of curiosity, says : : “If you long to know this slave, you shall never take him without a book of characters in his bosome. Promise to bring him to treasure-trove, and he will sell his land for it, but he will be cousened. Bring him but a table of lead, with crosses (and Adonai or Elohim written in it), he thinks it will heal


the ague.”

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The following "charm, or protection," was "found in a linen purse of Jackson, the murderer and smuggler, who died (a Roman Catholic) in Chichester gaol, Feb. 1749. He was struck with such horror on being measured for his irons, that he soon afterwards expired.

• Ye three holy kings,
Gaspar, Melchior, Balthasar,

Pray for us, now, and the hour of death.' “ These papers have touched the three heads of the holy kings at Cologne. They are to preserve travellers from accidents on the road, head-achs, falling sickness, fevers, witchcraft, all kinds of mischief, and sudden death.” See Gent. Mag. for Feb. 1749, xix. 88.

In a curious and very rare tract, entitled Beware of Pickpurses, or a Caveat for Sick Folkes to take heede of Unlearned Physitians and Unskilfull Chyrurgians, 1605, p. 16, is the following passage : "Others, that they may colourably and cunningly hide their grosse ignorance, when they know not the cause of the disease, referre it unto charmes, witchcraft, magnifical incantations, and sorcerie, vainly, and with a brazen forehead, affirming that there is no way to help them but by characters, circles, figure-castings, exorcismes, conjurations, and other impious and godlesse meanes, Others set to sale, at a great price, certaine amulets of gold and silver, stamped under an appropriate and selected constellation of the planets, with some magical character, shamelessly boasting that they will cure all diseases, and worke I know not what other wonders.” The author, p. 42, concludes with the very sensible observation of “a great learned clarke in our land, who, in a daungerous sicknesse, being moved by some friends to use an unlettered empiricke, 'Nay,' quoth he, 'I have lived all my life by the booke, and I will now (God willing) likewise dye by tbe booke.'

Blagrave, in his Astrological Practice of Physick, p. 135, prescribes a cure of agues by a certain writing which the patient weareth, as follows : “When Jesus went up to the cross to be crucified, the Jews asked him saying, “ Art thou afraid ? or hast thou the ague ? Jesus answered, and said, 'I am not afraid, neither have I the ague. All those which bear the name of Jesus about them shall not be afraid, nor yet have the ague.' Amen, sweet Jesus, amen! sweet Jehovah, amen.” He adds :


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“I have known many who have been cured of the ague by this writing only worn about them; and I had the receipt from one whose daughter was cured thereby, who had the ague upon her two years.” To this charact, then, may be given, on the joint authority of the old woman and our doctor,-probatum est.

Ramesey, in his Elminthologia, 1668, p. 259, says: “Neither doth fansie only cause, but also as easily cure diseases ; as I may justly refer all magical and jugling cures thereunto, performed, as is thought by saints, images, relicts, holy waters, shrines, avemarys, crucifixes, benedictions, charms, characters, sigils of the planets and of the signs, inverted words, &c.; and therefore all such cures are rather to be ascribed to the force of the imagination, than any virtue in them, or their rings, amulets, lamens, &c.”

In the Character of a Quack Astrologer, 1673, we are told : “He offers, for five pieces, to give you home with you a talisman against flies ; à sigil to make you fortunate at gaming; and a spell that shall as certainly preserve you from being rob’d for the future ; a sympathetical powder for the violent pains of the tooth-ach.”

Cotta, in his Short Discoverie of the Unobserved Dangers of severall sorts of Ignorant and Unconsiderate Practisers of Physicke in England, 1612, p. 50, very sensibly observes : “ If there be any good or use unto the health by spels, they have that prerogative by accident, and by the power and vertue of fancie. If fancie then be the foundation whereupon buildeth the good of spels, spels must needs be as fancies are, uncertaine and vaine : so must also, by consequent, be their use and helpe, and no lesse all they that trust unto them.” He elsewhere says:

“How can religion or reason suffer men that are not voyd of both, to give such impious credit unto an unsignificant and senselesse mumbling of idle words contrary to reason, without president of any truly wise or learned, and justly suspected of all sensible men ?” citing " Fernel. de abd. rer. Causis : Scripta, verba, annuli, caracteres, signa, nihil valent ad profligandos morbos, si nulla superior potestas divina vel magica accesserit."

Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, folio, p. 175), mentions a charect, a copy of an inscription found under a cross (which was carefully preserved and car

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