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Our British Solomon, James the First, who was a great opponent of the Devil, and even wrote a book against witchcraft, made a formidable attack also upon this “invention of Satan,” in a learned performance, which he called a Counterblaste to Tobacco. It is printed in the edition of his works by Barker and Bill, London, 1616. He concludes this bitter blast of his, his sulphureous invective against this transmarine weed, with the following peroration : “Have you not reason then to be ashamed and to forbear this filthy novelty, so basely grounded, so foolishly received, and so grossly mistaken in the right use thereof! In your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming yourselves both in persons and goods, and taking also thereby (look to it, ye that take snuff in profusion !) the marks and notes of vanity upon you; by the custom thereof making yourselves to be wondered at by all foreign civil nations, and by all strangers that come among you, to be scorned and contemned ; a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”
If even this small specimen of our learned monarch's oratory, which seems well adapted to the understanding of old women, does not prevail upon them all to break in pieces their tobacco-pipes and forego smoking, it will perhaps be impossible to say what can. The subject, as his majesty well observes, is smoke, and no doubt many of his readers will think the arguments of our royal author no more than the fumes of an idle brain, and it may be added, too, of an empty head!
How widely different to the anathemas of King James are the strains of the subsequent Parody on the style of Ambrose Phillips !
“Little tube of mighty pow'r,
1 His majesty in the course of his work informs us, “that some of the gentry of the land bestowed (at that time) three, some four hundred pounds a yeere upon this precious stink!” An incredible sum, especially when we consider the value of money in his time. They could not surely have been sterling, but Scottish pounds.
And thy snowy taper waist,
With my little stopper prest," &c.
“ Critics avaunt, tobacco is my theme;
Tremble like hornets at the blasting steam.
For which we drink, eat, sleep, smoke-ev'rything."
“ Hail, Indian plant, to ancient times unknown,
A modern truly thou, of all our own;
In smoak, thou’rt wisdom ; and in snuff, thou'rt wit." The following extraordinary account of a Buckinghamshire parson who abandoned himself to the use of tobacco is worth quoting. It may be found in Lilly's History of his Life and Times, p. 44: “ In this year also, William Breedon, parson or vicar of Thornton in Bucks, was living, a profound divine, but absolutely the most polite person for nativities in that age, strictly adhering to Ptolemy, which he well understood ; he had a hand in composing Sir Christopher Heydon's Defence of Judicial Astrology, being at that time his chaplain ; he was so given over to tobacco and drink, that when he had no tobacco (and I suppose too much drink) he would cut the bellropes and smoke them !”
WELLS AND FOUNTAINS. The custom of giving names to wells and fountains is of the most remote antiquity. In giving particular names to inanimate things it is obviously the principal intention to secure or distinguish the property of them. A well was a most valuable treasure in those dry and parched countries which composed the scene of the patriarchal history, and therefore we find in one of the earliest of writings, the Book of Genesis, that it was a frequent subject of contention.
In the Papal times there was a custom in this country, if a well had an awful situation, if its waters were bright and clear, or if it was considered as having a medicinal quality, to dedicate it to some saint, 1 by honouring it with his name.?
In the Travels of Tom Thumb, p. 35, we read : “A man would be inexcusable that should come into North Wales and not visit Holywell or St. Winifride's Well, and hear attentively all the stories that are told about it. It is indeed a natural
1 Bourne, in his Antiquitates Vulgares, chap. viii., enumerates “St. John's, St. Mary Magdalen's, St. Mary's Well," &c. To these may be added many others. Thus, in the Muses Threnodie, St. Conil's Well, in Scotland. “This well, dedicated to St. Conwall, whose anniversary was celebrated on the 18th of May, is near to Ruthven Castle, or Hunting Tower. It is sufficient to serve the town of Perth with pure, wholesome water, if it were brought down by pipes. In the days of superstition this well was much resorted to." p. 175, note.
? Bourne's Antiq. Vulg. ut supra. I found on a visit to the source of the New River between Hertford and Ware, in August, 1793, an old stone inscribed " Chadwell," a corruption, no doubt, of St. Chad's Well. So copious a spring could not fail of attracting the notice of the inhabitants in the earliest times, who accordingly dedicated it to St. Chad, never once dreaming, perhaps, that in succeeding ages it should be converted to so beneficial a purpose as to supply more than half the capital of England with one of the most indispensable necessaries of human life.
wonder, though we believe nothing of the virgin and her rape ; for I never felt a colder spring, nor saw any one that affords such a quantity of water. It forms alone a considerable brook which is immediately able to drive a mill.” Pennant, in his account of this well, says: “After the death of that saint, the waters were almost as sanative as those of the Pool of Bethesda: all infirmities incident to the human body met with relief : the votive crutches, the barrows, and other proofs of cures, to this moment remain as evidences pendent over the well. The resort of pilgrims of late years to these fontanalia has considerably decreased. In the summer, still, a few are to be seen in the water in deep devotion up to their chins for hours, sending up their prayers, or performing a number of evolutions round the polygonal well, or threading the arch between well and well a prescribed number of times.” In the History of Whiteford Parish, p. 223, he adds: “The bathing well is an oblong, 38 feet by 16, with steps for the descent of the fair sex, or of invalids. Near the steps, two feet beneath the water, is a large stone, called the wishing-stone. It receives many a kiss from the faithful, who are supposed never to fail in experiencing the completion of their desires, provided the wish is delivered with full devotion and confidence. On the outside of the great well, close to the road, is a small spring, once famed for the cure of weak eyes. The patient made an offering to the nymph of the spring of a crooked pin, and sent up at the same time a certain ejaculation, by way of charm : but the charm is forgotten, and the efficacy of the waters lost. The well is common.”
Lilly, in the History of his Life and Times, p. 32, relates that in 1635 Sir George Peckham, Knt. died in St. Winifred's Well, “having continued so long mumbling his pater nosters and Sancta Winifreda ora pro me, that the cold struck into his body, and after his coming forth of that well he never spoke more.” 1
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xv. 613, Avoch
1 An account of a miracle pretended to have been recently wrought at this well will be found in a pamphlet entitled, Authentic Documentsr elative to the miraculous Cure of Winefrid White, of Wolverhampton, at St. Winefrid's Well, alias Holywell, in Flintshire, on the 28th of June, 1805 ; with Observations thereon, by the R. R.
J M , D.D. V.A. F.S.A. Lond., and C. Acad. Rome," 1806.
parish, co. Ross, we read of “a well called Craiguck, issuing from å rock near the shore of Bennetsfield, resorted to in the month of May by whimsical or superstitious persons, who, after drinking, commonly leave some threads or rags tied to a bush in the neighbourhood.”
In the antiquities of heathen Rome, fontinalia was a religious feast, celebrated on the 13th of October, in honour of the nymphs of wells and fountains. The ceremony consisted in throwing nosegays into the fountains, and putting crowns of flowers upon the wells.
Alexander Ross, in his Appendix to the Arcana Microcosmi, p. 220, tells us that “ Camerarius, out of Dietmarus and Erasmus Stella, writes of a certain fountain near the river Albis or Elbe, in Germany, which presageth wars by turning red and bloody-coloured; of another which portendeth death, if the water, which before was limpid, becomes troubled and thick, so caused by an unknown worm.” This brings to my remembrance a superstitious notion I have heard of in Northumberland, that, when the Earl of Derwentwater was beheaded, the brook that runs past his seat at Dilston Hall flowed with blood.!
Dallaway, in his Constantinople Ancient and Modern, 1797, p. 144, speaking of the Bosphorus, tells us : “ Frequent foudtains are seen on the shore, of the purest water, to which is attached one of the strongest and most ancient superstitions of the Greek Church. They are called 'ayasmà ;' and to repeat certain prayers at stated seasons, and to drink deeply of them, is held to be a most salutary act of their religion.”
Fitzstephen, monk of Canterbury, in his description of the
I Concerning fountain superstitions, see the authorities quoted by Ihre in his Gloss. Suio-Goth. tom. i. p. 1042, under Offekælla. See also Lindebrogii Codex Legum Antiquorum, p. 1402, and Hearne's pref. to Rob. Glouc. p. 47. In Muratori, Antiq. Italicæ Medii Evi, tom. v. fol. Mil. 1741, p. 66, c. Diss. de superstitionum semine in obscuris Italia sæculis, we read : “ Sub regibus Langobardis eo audaciæ processerat in. consulta rudis popelli credulitas, ut arbores quasdam (sanctiras appellabant) summa in veneratione haberent, veluti sacras, neque ab iis tantum exscindendis aut tondendis abstinerent, sed etiam iis adorationis signa exhiberent. Idem quoque fontibus nonnullis præstabant. Deum-ne, ejusque sanctos, an dæmones, ibi colerent, exploratum minime est. Quum tamen ejusmodi superstitiosi cultus Paganice interdum appellentur ab antiquis, idcirco par est credere Paganismi reliquias fuisse."