Page images
PDF
EPUB

physicians, were, by the use of these waters (after paying their due offerings), restored to their pristine health."

[The well of St. Keyne, in Cornwall, had a very curious superstition attached to it, mentioned by Carew, 1602, and alluded to in the modern ballad on the subject :

“ Now art thou a bachelor, stranger ?' quoth he,

* For an if thou hast a wife,
The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day

That ever thou didst in thy life.
Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,

Ever here in Cornwall been?
For an if she have, I'll venture my life

She has drunk of the well of St. Keyne.'
• I have left a good woman who never was here,'

The stranger he made reply,
* But that my draught should be better for that,

I pray you answer me why?'
·St. Keyne,' quoth the Cornishman, 'many a time

Drank of this crystal well,
And before the angel summon'd her,

She laid on the water a spell :-
If the husband-of this gifted well

Shall drink before his wife,
A happy man henceforth is he,

For he shall be master for life.
But if the wife should drink of it first,

Oh, pity the husband then !'
The stranger stoop'd to the well of St. Keyne,

And drank of the water again.
You drank of the well I warrant betimes?'

He to the Cornishman said:
But the Cornishman smiled as the stranger spake,

And sheepishly shook his head."'] Mr. Shaw, in his History of the Province of Moray, tells us “that true rational Christian knowledge, which was almost quite lost under Popery, made very slow progress after the Reformation. That the prevailing ignorance was attended with much superstition and credulity; heathenism and Romish customs were much practised: pilgrimages to wells and chapels were frequent,” &c.

Martin, ut supra, p. 140, observes : “Lochsiant Well in Skie is much frequented by strangers as well as by the inhabitants of the isle, who generally believe it to be a specific for

several diseases; such as stitches, headaches, stone, consumptions, megrim. Several of the common people oblige themselves by a vow to come to this well and make the ordinary tour about it, called Dessil, which is performed thus: they move thrice round the well, proceeding sun-ways, from east to west, and so on. This is done after drinking of the water ; and when one goes away from the well it's a never-failing custom to leave some small offering on the stone which covers the well. There is a small coppice near it, of which none of the natives dare venture to cut the least branch, for fear of some signal judgment to follow upon it.” Ibid. p. 242: He speaks of a well of similar quality, at which, after drinking, they make a tour, and then leave an offering of some small token, such as a pin, needle, farthing, or the like, on the stone cover which is above the well.

In the Irish Hudibras, a burlesque of Virgil's account of Æneas's descent into hell, p. 119, we have the following allusion to the Irish visits to holy wells on the patron’s day:

“ Have you beheld, when people pray,

At St. John's Well,' on patron-day,
By charm of priest and miracle,
To cure diseases at this well,
The valley's fill'd with blind and lame,

And go as limping as they came ?' Hasted, in his History of Kent, iii. 333, speaking of nailbourns, or temporary land-springs, which are not unusual in Kent, in the parts eastward of Sittingbourne, says that “their time of breaking forth, or continuance of running, is very uncertain ; but, whenever they do break forth, it is held by the common people as the forerunner of scarcity and dearness of corn and victuals. Sometimes they break out for one, or perhaps two, successive years, and at others, with two, three, or more years' intervention, and their running continues sometimes only for a few months, and at others for three or four years.” See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 569.

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, v. 185, the minister of Unst, in Shetland, says: “A custom formerly prevailed for persons to throw three stones, as a tribute to the source of the salubrious waters, when they first approach a copious spring called Yelaburn, or liclaburn (the Burn of Health), in that

' In the north of Ireland.

neighbourhood. A considerable pile has thus been raised. But the reputation of the spring begins to decline, and the superstitious offering is now no longer so religiously paid.”

Two presaging fountains have been already noticed in a former page, from Alexander Ross. In the Living Librarie, or Historical Meditations, 1621, p. 284, the author gives us the following more minute account of them : “I have heard a prince say that there is in his territories a fountaine that yeelds a current of water which runs continually; and ever when it decreaseth it presageth dearnesse of victuals; but when it groweth drie it signifieth a dearth. There is a fountaine in Glomutz, a citie of Misnia, a league from the river Elbis, which of itselfe making a pond, produceth oftentimes certaine strange effects, as the inhabitants of the country say, and many that have seene the same witnesse. When there was like to be a good and fruitful peace in all the places about, this fountaine would appeare covered with wheat, oats, and akornes, to the great joy of the countrey people that flock thether from all parts to see the same. If any cruell war doe threaten the countrey, the water is all thick with blood and with ashes, a certaine presage of miserie and ruine to come. In old times the Vandals Sorabes came everie yeare in great troupes to this wonderfull fountaine, where they sacrificed to their idols, and inquired after the fruitfulnesse of the reare following. And myselfe know some gentlemen that confesse, if a certaine fountaine (being otherwise very cleane and cleare) be suddenly troubled by meanes of a worme unknowne, that the same is a personall summons for some of them to depart out of the world."||

I find the following recipe for making a Holy Well in Tom of all Trades, or the Plain Pathway to Preferment, by Thomas Powell, 1631, p. 31: “Let them finde out some strange water, some unheard of spring. It is an easie matter to discolour or alter the taste of it in some measure (it makes no matter how little). Report strange cures that it hath done. Beget a superstitious opinion of it. Good fellowship shall uphold it, and the neighbouring townes shall all sweare for it."

1 The custom of affixing ladles of iron, &c. by a chain, to wells, is of great antiquity. Strutt, in his Anglo-Saxon Æra, tells us, that Edwine caused ladles or cups of brass to be fastened to the clear springs and wells, for the refreshment of the passengers. Venerable Bede is his au. thority, Eccl. Hist. ii. 16. The passage is as follows: “ Tantum quoque rex idem utilitati suæ gentis consuluit, ut plerisque in locis ubi fontes lucidos juxta publicos viarum transitus conspexit, ibi ob refrigerium viantium erectis stipitibus et æreos caucos suspendi juberet, neque bos quisquam nisi ad usum necessarium contingere præ magnitudine vel timoris ejus auderet, vel amoris vellet."

AVERSION TO CHEESE.

I FIND the following account, I know not whether it will be thought satisfactory, of the aversion which some persons have to cheese. “L’aversione qui quelques personnes ont du fromage vient de ci. Quand une nourice devient grosse, son lait s'epaissit, s'engrummelle et se tourne comme en fromage, de sorte que l'enfant qui est encore à la mamelle, n'y trouvant plus in lą saveure, in la nourriture accoutumée, s'en degoute aisement, se severe de lui meme et en prend une aversion si forte, qu'il la conserve tout le reste de sa vie.”—Tractat. de Butyro, Groningæ, Mart. Schookii.

SPORTS AND GAMES. Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 304, says: “Besides the sports and diversions common to most other European nations, as tennis, billiards, chess, ticktack, dancing, plays, &c., the English have some which are particular to them, or at least which they love and use more than any other people.”

The following is an Account of the Games, &c., represented in the margin of the Roman d'Alexandre (preserved in the Bodleian Library, No. 264), from Strutt's notes, taken upon its inspection, with some corrections in explanation of the games, communicated by Douce.

This superbly illuminated manuscript is entitled, Romans du boin Roi Alexandre-qui fu prescrip le xviij. jor Decembre l'an M.ccc.xxxviij. Che livre fu perfais de le enluminure au xviij. jour d'avryl par Jehan de Guse l'an de grace M.ccc.xliiij. The last sentence in gold letters.

1. A dance of men and women, the men in fancy dresses masked, one with a stag's head, another with a bear's, and a third with a wolf's.

2. Cock-fighting. No appearance of artificial spurs. 3. Hot cockles.

4. A tub elevated on a pole, and three naked boys running at it with a long stick.

5. Playing at chess. (D. Jeu de Merilles.) 6. Shooting at rabbits, fowls, &c., with long and cross bows. 7. Fighting with sword and round buckler. 8. Playing at bowls. 9. Whipping-tops, as at present.

10. Playing at dice; one stakes his cloak against the other's money.

11. A man leaping through a hoop held by two men, his clothes being placed on the other side for him to leap on.

12. Walking on stilts.

13. Dogs sitting up; and a man with a stick commanding them.

14. A man dancing, babited as a stag, with a drum before him. 15. Boy blindfold, others buffeting him with their hoods.

16. Boys dressed up as dancing dogs, passing by a man seated in a chair with a stick.

17. A man with a small shield and club, fighting a horse rearing up to fall upon him.

18. One boy carrying another with his back upwards, as if to place him upon a pole and sort of cushion suspended by two ropes, carried on the shoulders of two others.

19. Morris-dancers.

20. Balancing a sword on the finger, and a wheel on the shoulder.

21. A boy seated on a stool, holding up his leg. Another in a sling, made by a rope round a pulley, holding up his foot, and swung by a third boy, so that his foot may come in contact with the foot of the first boy, who, if he did not receive the foot of the swinging boy properly, would risk a severe blow on the body.

22. A dancing bear, with a man holding something not understood in his hand.

« PreviousContinue »