Abbildungen der Seite

SECOND SIGHT. So called, from being a supplemental faculty added to that of common vision, whereby certain appearances, predictive of future events, present themselves suddenly before persons so gifted, without any desire on their part to see them. Some make this faculty hereditary in cestain persons. It is a superstition confined to the Highlands of Scotland, the Western Isles, the Isle of Man, and some parts of Ireland.

OMENS, CHARMS, AND DIVINATION. A SCREECH-OWL, flapping its wings against the windows of a sick person's chamber, or screeching at him, portends death.

A coal, in the shape of a coffin, flying out of the fire to any particular person, denotes his death is not far off. A collection of tallow rising up against the wick of a candle, is styled a Winding-sheet, and deemed an omen of mortality. '

Any person fasting on Midsummer Eve, and sitting in the church porch, will, at midnight, see the spirits of the persons of the parish who will die that year, come and knock at the church door in the order and succession in which they

will die.

Any unmarried woman fasting on Midsummer Eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down, as if going to eat the street door being left open the person whom she is afterwards to marry, will come into the room and drink to her by bowing, afterwards fill the glass, make another bow, and retire.

The same important fact may be ascertained another way: At the first appearance of the New Moon, next after New Year's Day—though some say any other New Moon is as good -go out in the evening, and stand over the spars of a gate or stile, and, looking on the moon, repeat the following lines :

“ All hail to the Moon! all hail to thee !
I pr’ythee, good Moon, reveal to me,

This night, who my busband must be." Then go directly to bed, and you will dream of your future husband.

A slice of the bride-cake, thrice drawn through the wedding ring, and laid under the head of an unmarried man

or woman, will make them dream of their future wife or husband.

To discover a thief, take a sieve and shears; stick the points of the shears in the wood of the sieve, and let two persons support it, balanced upright with their two fingers : then read a chapter in the Bible, and afterwards ask St. Peter and St. Paul if a certain person, naming all you suspect, is the thief. On naming the real thief, the sieve will turn suddenly round.-N. B. This receipt may be very useful at Bow-street, or the Old Bailey.

A ring made of the hinge of a coffin is good for the cramp. A halter, with which a man has been hanged, if tied about the head, will cure the head-ache.

Touching a dead body prevents dreaming of it.

A stone, with a hole in it, hung at the bed's head, or two stones inside the bed, will prevent the night-mare : the for. mer also prevents Witches riding horses, for which purpose it is often tied to the stable key.

If a tree, of any kind, is split--and weak, ricketty, or ruptured children drawn through it, and afterwards the tree is bound together, so as to make it unite-as the tree heals and grows together, so will the child acquire strength. This is a very ancient and wide-spread piece of superstition. Creeping through tolmen, or perforated stones, was a Druidical ceremony, and at this day is practised in the East Indies. Mr. Borlace mentions a stone, in the parish of Morden, having a hole in it, fourteen inches diameter, through which many persons have crept for pains in their backs and limbs; and many children have been drawn for the rickets. In some parts of the North, children are drawn through a hole cut in the groaning cheese, on the day they are christened.

The wounds of a murdered person will bleed afresh, by sympathy, on the body being touched, ever so lightly, in any part by the murderer.

When a person's cheek or ear burns, it is a sign that some one is then talking of him or her. If it is on the right side, the discourse is to their advantage ; if on the left, to the contrary. When the right eye itches, the party affected will shortly cry; if the left, they will laugh.

ABRACADĄBRA is a magical word; and, written in a peculiar form, will cure an ague.

It is customary for women to offer to sit cross-legged, to procure luck at cards for their friends. Sitting cross-legged,

with the fingers interlaced, was anciently deemed a magical posture.

It is deemed lucky to be born with a caul or mombrane over the face. In France it is proverbial : être coäffée, is an expression, signifying that a person is extremely fortunate. It is esteemed an infalible preservatire against drowning, and under that idea, is frequently advertised for sale in the news. papers, and purchased by seamen. If bought by lawyers, it makes them as eloquent as Demosthenes or Cicero, and procures a great deal of practice. .

It is reckoned a good omen, if the sun shines on a couple coming out of the church after having been married. Ii is also esteemed a good sign if it rains whilst a corpse is burying.

“ Happy is the bride that the sun shines on;

Happy is the corpse that the rain rains on." . If in a family the youngest daughter should be married before her elder sisters, they must all dance at her wedding without shoes; this will counteract their ill-luck, and procure them husbands.

If in eating you miss your mouth, and the victuals fall, it is very unlucky, and denotes sickness.

When a person goes out to transact business, it is lucky to throw an old shọc after him.

It is a common practice among the lower class of huck. sters, or dealers in fruit or fish, on receiving the price of the first goods sold on that day, which they call hansel, to spit on the money for good luck; and boxers formerly used to spit in their hands, before they set-to, for luck's sake.. .

Spilling of salt, crossing a knife and fork, or presenting a knife, scissors, or any sharp instrument, are all considered unlucky, and to be avoided.

Washing hands in the same bason, or with the same water, as another person has washed in, is extremely unlucky, as the parties will infallibly quarrel. · Whistling at sea is supposed to cause an increase of wind, if not a storm, and, therefore, much disliked by seamen; though sometimes they themselves practise it when there is a dead calm.

The Hand of Glory is a foreign piece of superstition, com: mon in France, Germany, and Spain ; and is a charm used by house-breakers and assassins. It is the hand of a hanged man, holding a candle, made of the fat of a hanged man, virgin wax, and sisame of Lapland. It stupifies those to whom it is presented, and renders them motionless, inson uch that they could not stir, any more than if they were dead.

A flake of soot hanging at the bars of the grate, denotes the visit of a stranger. A spark in the candle denotes that the person opposite to it will shortly receive a letter.

In setting a hen, it is lucky 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. Healths are always drank odd. Yet the number thirteen is deemed ominous ; it being held that when thirteen persons meet in a room, one of them will die within the year.

Most persons break the shells of eggs, after they have eaten the meat: it is done to prevent their being used as boats by Witches.

A coal flying out of the fire in the shape of a purse, predicts a sudden acquisition of riches.

Although the Devil can partly transform himself into any shape, he cannot change his cloven foot, by which he may be always known under every appearance.

** In concluding the article on Popular Superstitions, one cannot help adverting to the many advantages resulting to society from the discoveries of science, “If ignorance be bliss,” it must be confessed it is a bliss not unalloyed with inconveniences, from which superior intelligence is exempted. Two of the greatest misfortunes of former times, were the absence of religious toleration, and the universal ignorance on the causes of natural phenomena : from the former flowed bloody wars, relentless persecutions, massacres, burnings, and torturings; while the latter, if possible, was attended with still greater calamities-because more minutely diffused, and filling the minds of individuals of al) ranks with indescribable terrors and apprehensions.

If knowledge had only dispelled the single delusion respecting spectral appearances, it would have conferred on mankind incalculable advantages. The dread of these mysterious agents haunted men at home and abroad-by night and by day; and the fear they had of the burglar or assas

sin, was infinitely less than that of some ghastly spectre at the lonely hour of midnight :

"Gloster. Oh, Catesby, I have had such horrid dreams ! Catesby. Shadows, my lord !-below the soldier's heeding.

Gloster. Now, by my this day's hope's, shadows, to-night, Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard, Than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers, Arm'd all in proof.

Act v. Sc. 5. Such were the fears of one whose " firma nerves" were not easily shaken. Let us then rejoice that all the trumpery superstition of ghosts, witches, fairies, and omens, have gone to the “ tomb of the Capulets;" let us give honour, too, to the illustrious names to the Bacons, Lockes, and Newtons, who have contributed to so blessed a consummation. Grown people, at least, are now divested of fear at the sight of an old woman; they can pass through a lonely church yard, a ruined tower, over a wild heath, or even sleep in an old manor house-though the wind whistle ever so shrill-without fear of supernatural visitations; and have become wise enough to trace private and public calamities to other causes than the crossing of knives, the click of an insect, or even the portentous advent of a comet!

« ZurückWeiter »