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clover, &c., are blended together in sweet harmony, while the scarlet berry of the mountain-ash stood out in bold relief, proclaiming to the world that the erection was 'gratitude to a benefactor. The delicious green of the fir and box afforded excellent material for borders and division of the more gaudy flowers, and the introduction of a few flowers of the fuchsia gracilis imparted a fine effect. It is impossible to do full justice to the variety of the arrangement, as each separate panel was unique and distinct ; suffice it that on the whole it was a decided improvement on its predecessors. About two o'clock the morris-dancers started on their round, accompanied by the Duke of Devonshire's and the Pilsley bands, but their graceful evolutions were frequently interrupted by showers of rain. About six o'clock the clouds all cleared away, and we had as fine an evening as ever shone from the heavens. Various descriptions of music were to be heard all over the town, and when the weather became clear nearly every public-house had its own knot of dancers. There was a ball at the Eagle.”]
We find the superstitious adoration of fountains, a not unpleasing species of idolatry in sultry weather, is forbidden so early as in the sixteenth of the canons made in the reign of King Edgar, A. D. 960;' as also in the canons of St. Anselm, made in the year of Christ 1102. This superstition appears to have been very prevalent in this island till the age before the Reformation, and is not even yet entirely extinguished among the Roman Catholics and the common people.
In the curious MS, account of the customs in North Wales, by Pennant, I find the following passage: “If there be a fynnon vair, well of our lady or other saint, in the parish,
" Johnson's collection of Eccl. Laws, Canons, &c., sub an. DCCCCLX. 16: “ That every priest industriously advance Christianity, and extinguish heathenism, and forbid the worship of fountains, and necromancy, and auguries,” &c.
Ibid. A.D. mcu. can. 26 : “Let no one attribute reverence or sanctity to a dead body, or a fountain, or other thing (as it sometimes is, to our knowledge), without the bishop's authority.” There are interdictions of this superstition in the laws of King Canute also preserved, in Wheloc's edition of Lambard's Archaionomia, 1644, p. 108 : Pædenscyre bid * man idola peorpige-oppe flödpærer .pylls. obbe sranas, &c. The Lansdowne MS. 465, however, “ Pontificale ad usum Ecclesiæ Romanæ et Anglicanæ," fol. 193, gives the form of benediction for a new well.
the water that is used for baptism in the font is fetched thence. Old women are very fond of washing their eyes with the water after baptism.” In his Tour in Wales, i. 405, speaking of the village of Llandegla, where is a church dedicated to St. Tecla, virgin and martyr, who, after her conversion by St. Paul, suffered under Nero, at Iconium, says: “ About two hundred yards from the church, in a quillet called Gwern Degla, rises a small spring. The water is under the tutelage of the saint, and to this day held to be extremely beneficial in the falling sickness. The patient washes his limbs in the well, makes an offering into it of fourpence, walks round it three times, and thrice repeats the Lord's prayer. These ceremonies are never begun till after sunset, in order to inspire the votaries with greater awe. If the afflicted be of the male sex, like Socrates, he makes an offering of a cock to his Æsculapius, or rather to Tecla, Hygeia; if of the fair sex, a hen. The fowl is carried in a basket, first round the well, after that into the churchyard, when the same orisons and the same circum-ambulations are performed round the church. The votary then enters the church, gets under the communion table, lies down with the Bible under his or her head, is covered with the carpet or cloth, and rests there till break of day, departing after offering sixpence, and leaving the fowl in the church. If the bird dies, the cure is supposed to have been effected, and the disease transferred to the devoted victim."
In some parts of the North of England it has been a custom from time immemorial for the lads and lasses of the neighbouring villages to collect together at springs or rivers on some Sunday in May, to drink sugar and water, where the lasses give the treat : this is called Sugar-and-Water Sunday. They afterwards adjourn to the public-house, and the lads return the compliment in cakes, ale, punch, &c. A vast concourse of both sexes assemble for the above purpose at the Giant's Cave, near Eden Hall, in Cumberland, on the third Sunday in May. See Gent. Mag. for 1791, lxi. 991.
Hutchinson, in his History of Cumberland, ii. 323, speaking of the parish of Bromfield, and a custom in the neighbourhood of Blencogo, tells us : “On the common to the east of that village, not far from Ware-Brig, near a pretty large rock of granite, called St. Cuthbert's Stane, is a fine copious spring of remarkably pure and sweet water, which (probably from its having been anciently dedicated to the same St. Cuthbert) is called Helly-Well, i. e. Haly or Holy Well. It formerly was the custom for the youth of all the neighbouring villages to assemble at this well early in the afternoon of the second Sunday in May, and there to join in a variety of rural sports. It was the village wake, and took place here, it is possible, when the keeping of wakes and fairs in the churchyard was discontinued. And it differed from the wakes of later times chiefly in this, that though it was a meeting entirely devoted to festivity and mirth, no strong drink of any kind was ever seen there, nor anything ever drunk but the beverage furnished by the Naiad of the place. A curate of the parish, about twenty years ago, on the idea that it was a profanation of the Sabbath, saw fit to set his face against it; and having deservedly great influence in the parish, the meetings at Helly-Well have ever since been discontinued.”
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, vii. 213, parish of Nigg, co. Kincardine, we read : “Customs. In the month of May, many of the lower ranks from around the adjacent city (Aberdeen) come to drink of a well in the bay of Nigg, called Downy Well; and, proceeding a little farther, go over a narrow pass, the Brigge of ae Hair (Bridge of one Hair), to Downy-Hill
, a green island in the sea, where young people cut their favorites' names in the sward. It seems to be the remains of some superstitious respect to the fountain and retreat of a reputed saint, gone into an innocent amusement." Ibid. xii. 463, parish of Kirkmichael, Banffshire, we read: “ The same credulity that gives air-formed habitations to green hillocks and solitary groves has given their portion of genii to rivers and fountains. The presiding spirit of that element, in Celtic mythology, was called Neithe. The primitive of this word signifies to wash or purify with water. To this day fountains are regarded with particular veneration over every part of the Highlands. The sick, who resort to them for health, address their vows to the presiding powers, and offer presents to conciliate their favour. These presents generally consist of a small piece of money, or a few fragrant flowers. The same reverence, in ancient times, seems to have been entertained for fountains by every people in Europe. The Romans, who extended their worship to almost every ob
ject in nature, did not forget in their ritual the homage due to fountains.” Consult Horace in his Address to the Fountain of Blandusia. "The vulgar in many parts of the Highlands, even at present,” says a note, “not only pay a sacred regard to particular fountains, but are firmly persuaded that certain lakes are inhabited by spirits. In Strathspey there is a lake called Loch nan Spoiradan, the Lake of Spirits.” Two frequently make their appearance—the horse and the bull of the water. The mermaid is another : “ Before the rivers are swelled by heavy rains she is frequently seen, and is always considered as a sure prognostication of drowning. In Celtic mythology, to the above named is a fourth spirit added. When the waters are agitated by a violent current of wind, and streams are swept from their surface and driven before the blast, or whirled in circling eddies aloft in the air, the vulgar, to this day, consider this phenomenon as the effect of the angry spirit operating upon that element. They call it by a very expressive name, the Mariach Shine, or the Rider of the Storm. In the same volume, p. 173, parish of St. Vigeans, co. Caithness, we are told: “A tradition had long prevailed here, that the water-kelpy (called in Home's Douglas the angry spirit of the water) carried the stones for building the church, under the fabric of which there was a lake of great depth.”
Very anciently a species of hydromancy appears to have been practised at wells. The Druids,” says Borlase, “ (as we have great reason to think,) pretended to predict future events, not only from holy wells and running streams, but from the rain and snow water, which when settled and afterwards stirred either by oak-leaf, or branch, or magic wand, might exhibit appearances of great information to the quicksighted Druid, or seem so to do to the credulous inquirer, when the priest was at full liberty to represent the appearances as he thought most fit for his purpose.” Antiquities of Cornwall,
Various rites appear to have been performed on Holy Thursday at wells, in different parts of the kingdom ; such as decorating them with boughs of trees, garlands of tulips, and other flowers, placed in various fancied devices. In some places, indeed, it was the custom, after prayers for the day at the church, for the clergyman and singers even to pray and sing psalms at the wells.
(According to Aubrey, writing about the year 1690, “the fellows of New College have, time out of mind, every Holy Thursday, betwixt the hours of eight and nine, gonne to the hospitall called Bartlemews neer Oxford, when they retire into the chapell, and certaine prayers are read, and an antheme sung: from thence they goe to the upper end of the grove adjoyning to the chapell (the way being beforehand strewed with flowers by the poor people of the hospitall), they place themselves round about the well there, where they warble forth melodiously a song of three, four, or five parts; which being performed, they refresh themselves with a morning's draught there, and retire to Oxford before sermon."]
Dr. Plott, in his History of Staffordshire, p. 318, tells us : “They have a custom in this county, which I observed on Holy Thursday at Brewood and Bilbrook, of adorning their wells with boughs and flowers. This, it seems, they do, too, at all Gospel-places, whether wells, trees, or hills ; which being now observed only for decency and custom sake, is innocent enough. Heretofore, too, it was usual to pay this respect to such wells as were eminent for curing distempers, on the saint's day whose name the well bore, diverting themselves with cakes and ale, and a little music and dancing ; which, whilst within these bounds, was also an innocent recreation. But whenever they began to place sanctity in them, to bring alms and offerings, or make vows at them, as the ancient Germans and Britons did, and the Saxons and English were too much inclined to, for which St. Edmund's Well without St. Clement's, near Oxford, and St. Laurence's at Peterborough, were famous heretofore, I do not find but they were forbid in those times, as well as now; this superstitious devotion being called Wilpeorðunga, which Somner rightly translates well-worship, and was strictly prohibited by our Anglican councils as long
" At the village of Tissington, in the county of Derby, a place remarkable for fine springs of water, it has been the custom time immemorial. See Gent. Mag. for Feb. 1794, lxiv. 115. Another writer, ibid. March, 1794, p. 226, says : “ The same custom was observed of late years, if not at the present time at Brewood and Bilbrook, two places in the county of Stafford."