OBSERVATIONS ON Popular Antiquities: Including the whole of Mr. BOURNE's Antiquitates Vulgares, With ADDENDA to every Chapter of that Work: As also, An APPENDIX, Containing such Articles on the Subject, as have been omitted by that Author.


Multiludo Vulgi, more magis-quam judicio, post alium alius quasi pru­dentiorem sequitur. SALLUST. ad. CAES.
Somnia, terrores magicos, miracula, sagas,
Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala rides?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE: Printed by T. SAINT, for J. Johnson, No. 72, St Paul's Church-Yard, London, 1777.


TRadition has in no Instance so clearly evinced her Faith­fulness, as in the transmitting of vulgar Rites and po­pular Opinions.

Of these, when we are desirous of tracing them backwards to their Origin, many lose themselves in Antiquity.

They have indeed travelled down to us through a long Succession of Years, and the greatest part of them, it is not improbable, will be of perpetual Observation: for the gene­rality of Men look back with superstitious Veneration on the Ages of their Forefathers: and Authorities, that are grey with Time, seldom fail of commanding those filial Honours, claimed even by the Appearance of hoary old Age.

Many of these it must be confessed are mutilated, and, as in the Remains of antient Statuary, the Parts of not a few of them have been awkwardly transposed: they preserve, however, the principal Traits, that distinguished them in their origin.

Things, composed of such flimsy Materials as the Fancies of a Multitude, do not seem calculated for a long Du [...]tion; yet have these survived Shocks, by which even Empires have been overthrown, and preserved at least some Form and Co­lour of Identity, during a Repetition of Changes, both in religious Opinions, and in the Polity of States.

But the strongest Proof of their remote Antiquity, is▪ that they have outlived the general Knowledge of the very Causes that gave rise to them.

The Reader will find in the subsequent pages an union of Endeavours to rescue many of these Causes from Oblivion. If, on the Investigation, they appear to any so frivolous as not to have deserved the Pains of the Search, the humble Labourers will avoid Censure, by incurring Contempt.

How trivial soever such an Enquiry may seem to some, yet all must be informed that it is attended with no small share of Difficulty and Toil.

A Passage is to be forced through a Wilderness intricate and entangled: few Vestiges of former Labours can be found [Page iv] to direct us; we must oftentimes trace a tedious retrospective Course, perhaps to return at last weary and unsatisfied, from the making of Researches, fruitless as those of some antient enthusiastic Traveller, who ranging the barren African Sands, had in vain attempted to investigate the hidden Sources of the Nile.

Rugged and narrow as this Walk of Study may seem to many, yet Fancy (who shares with Hope the pleasing Office of brightening a Passage through every Route of human Endeavour) opens from hence too Prospects, enriched with the choicest Beauties of her magic Creation.

The prime Origin of the superstitious Notions and Cere­monies of the People is absolutely unattainable; we despair of ever being able to reach the Fountain Head of Streams which have been running and increasing from the Beginning of Time. All that we aspire to do, is only to trace back­wards, as far as possible, the Courses of them on those Charts, that remain, of the distant Countries from whence they were first perceived to flow.

Few, who are desirous of investigating the popular No­tions and vulgar Ceremonies in our Nation, can fail of de­ducing them in their first Direction from the Times when Popery was our established Religion.

We shall not wonder that these were able to survive the Reformation, when we consider, that though our sensible and spirited Forefathers were, upon Conviction, easily in­duced to forego religious Tenets, which had been weighed in the Balance, and sound wanting; yet were the People by no means inclined to annihilate the seemingly innocent Ceremo­nies of their former superstitious Faith.

These, consecrated to the Fancies of Men, by a Usage from Time immemorial, though crazed by public Authority from the written Word, were committed as a venerable De­posit to the keeping of oral Tradition: like the Penates of a­nother Troy, recently destroyed, they were religiously brought off, after having been snatched out of the smoking Ruins of Popery.

It is not improbable that, in the Infancy of Protestantism, the continuance of many of these was connived at by the State. For Men, ‘who are but Children of a larger [Page v] Growth,’ are not weaned all at once, and the Refor­mation of Manners, and of Religion, is always most surely established, when effected by slow Degrees, and as it were imperceptible Gradations.

Thus also at the first Promulgation of Christianity to the Gentile Nations, through the Force of Conviction they yielded indeed to Truth; yet they could not be persuaded to relin­quish many of their Superstitions, which, rather than forego them altogether, they chose to blend and incorporate with their new Faith.

Christian, or rather Papal Rome, borrowed her Rites, Notions, and Ceremonies, in the most luxurious Abundance from an­cient and Heathen Rome; and much the greater Number of these flaunting Externals, which Infallibility has adopted, and used as Feathers to adorn her Triple-Cap, have been stolen out of the Wings of the dying Eagle.

With regard to the Rites, Sports, &c. of the Common People, I am aware that the morose and bigoted Part of Mankind* without distinguishing between the right Use and the Abuse of such Entertainments, cavil at and malign them. Yet must such be told that Shows and Sports have been countenanced by the best and wisest of States; and though it cannot be denied that they have been sometimes prostituted to the Purposes of Riot and Debauchery, yet were we to reprobate every thing that has been thus abused, Religion itself could not be retained; perhaps we should be able to keep nothing.

The Common People, confined by daily Labour, seem to require their proper Intervals of Relaxation; perhaps it is of [Page vi] the highest political Utility to encourage innocent Sports and Games among them. The Revival of many of these, would, I think, be highly pertinent at this particular Season, when the general Spread of Luxury and Dissipation threa­tens more than at any preceding Period to extinguish the Character of our boasted national Bravery. For the Observa­tion of an honest old Writer, Stow, (who tells us, speaking of the May-games, Midsummer-Eve* Rejoicings, &c. an­tiently used in the Streets of London, ‘which open Pastimes in my Youth being now supprest, worse Practices within Doors are to be seared),’ may be with singular propriety adopted on the most transient Survey of our present popular Manners.

Mr. Bourne, my Predecessor in this Walk, has not, from whatever Cause, done Justice to the Subject he undertook to treat of. Far from having the Vanity to think that I have exhausted it, the utmost of my Pretensions is to the Merit of having endeavoured, by making Additions, to improve it. I think him, however, deserving of no small Share of Praise for his imperfect Attempt, for "much is due to those, who first broke the Way to Knowledge, and left only to their Successors the Task of smoothing it."

New Lights have arisen since his Time. The English Antique has become a general and fashionable Study; and the Discoveries of the very respectable Society of Antiquaries have rendered the Recesses of Papal and Heathen Antiquities easier of access.

I flatter myself I have turned all these Circumstances in some measure to Advantage. I have gleaned Passages that seemed to throw Light upon the Subject, from a great Va­riety of Volumes, and those written too in several Lan­guages; in the doing of which, if I shall not be found to having deserved the Praise of Judgment, I must at least make Pretensions to the Merit of Industry,

[Page vii]Elegance of Composition will hardly be expected in a Work of this Kind, which stands much less in need of Attic Wit, than of Roman Perseverance, and Dutch Assiduity.

I shall offer some Discoveries, which are peculiarly my own; for there are Customs yet retained here in the North, of which I am persuaded the learned of the Southern Part of the Island have not heard, which is, perhaps, the sole Cause why they have never before been investigated.

In perusing the subsequent Observations, the candid Rea­der, who has never before considered this neglected Subject, is requested not to be rash in passing Sentence, but to suspend his Judgment, at least, till he has carefully examined all the Evidence; by which Caution I do not wish to have it understood, that our Determinations are thought to be in­fallible, or that every Decision here is not amenable to an higher Authority. In the mean time Prejudice may be for­warned, and it will apologize for many seemingly trivial Reasons, assigned for the beginning and transmitting of this or that Notion or Ceremony, to reflect, that what may appear foolish to the enlightened Understandings of Men in the Eighteenth Century, wore a very different Aspect when viewed through the Gloom that prevailed in the seventh or eighth.

I should trespass upon the Patience of my Reader, were I to enumerate all the Books I have consulted on this Oc­casion; to which, however, I shall take Care in their proper Places to refer: but I own myself under particu­lar Obligations to Durand's Ritual of Divine Offices; a Work inimical to every Idea of rational Worship, but to the Enquirer into the Origin of our popular Ceremonies, an in­valuable Magazine of the most interesting Intelligence. I would stile this Performance the great Ceremonial Law of the Romanists, in Comparison with which the Mosaic Code is bar­ren of Rites and Ceremonies. We stand amazed on perusing it at the enormous Weight of a new Yoke which Holy Church fabricating with her own Hands has imposed on her servile Devotees.

Yet the Forgers of these Shackles had artfully contrived to make them sit easy, by twisting Flowers around them. Dark as this Picture, drawn by the Pencil of gloomy Super­stition, [Page viii] appeared upon the whole, yet was its deep Shade contrasted with pleasing Lights.

The Calendar was crowded with Red-Letter Days, nomi­nally indeed consecrated to Saints; but which, by the en­couragement of Idleness ond Dissipation of Manners, gave every kind of countenance to SINNERS.

A Profusion of childish Rites, Pageants and Ceremonies, diverted the Attention of the People from the consideration of their real State, and kept them in humour, if it did not sometimes make them in love with their slavish Modes of Worship,

To the Credit of our sensible and manly Forefathers, they were among the first who felt the Weight of this new and unnecessary Yoke, and had Spirit enough to throw it off.

I have fortunately in my Possession one of those antient Romish Calendars of singular Curiosity, which contains un­der the immoveable Feasts and Fasts, (I regret much its Silence on the moveable ones) a variety of brief Observations, contributing not a little to the elucidation of many of our popular Customs, and proving them to have been sent over from Rome, with Bulls, Indulgencies, and other Baubles, bartered, as it should seem, for our Peter-pence, by those who trafficked in spiritual Merchandize from the Continent.

These I shall carefully translate (though in some Places it is extremely difficult to render the very barbarous Latin, of which I fear the Critic will think I have transfused the Bar­barity, Brevity, and Obscurity into my own English) and lay before my Reader, who will at once see and acknowledge their Utility.

A learned Performance, by a Doctor Moresin in the Time of James I. and dedicated to that Monarch, is also luckily in my Possession. It is written in Latin, and entitled "The Origin and Increase of Depravity in Religion;" containing a very masterly Parallel between the Rites, Notions, &c. of Heathen and those of Papal Rome.

The copious Extracts from this Work, with which I shall adorn the subsequent Pages will be their own Eulogy, and supersede my poor Encomiums.

[Page ix]When I call to remembrance the Poet of * Humanity, who has transmitted his Name to Immortality, by Reflections writ­ten among the little Tomb-stones of the Vulgar, in a Country Church-Yard; I am urged by no false Shame to apologize for the seeming Unimportance of my Subject.

The Antiquities of the Common People cannot be studied without acquiring some useful Knowledge of Mankind. By the chemical Process of Philosophy, even Wisdom may be extracted from the Follies and Superstitions of our Forefathers

The People, of whom Society is chiefly composed, and for whose good, Superiority of Rank is only a Grant made ori­ginally by mutual Concession, is a respectable Subject to every one who is the Friend of Man.

Pride, which, independent of the Idea arising from the Necessity of civil Polity, has portioned out the human Genus into such a variety of different and subordinate Species, must be compelled to own, that the lowest of these derives itself from an Origin, common to it with the highest of the Kind. The beautiful Sentiment of Terence: ‘"Homo sum, humani nihil á me alienum puto."’ may be adopted therefore in this Place, to persuade us that nothing can be foreign to our Enquiry, which concerns the smallest of the Vulgar; of those little ones, who occupy the lowest Place in the political Arrangement of human Beings.

J. B.
N. B. Here follow Mr Bourne's Title Page, Dedi­cation, and Preface.

Antiquitates Vulgares; OR, THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE Common People. GIVING An Account of several of their OPI­NIONS and CEREMONIES. WITH Proper REFLECTIONS upon each of them; shewing which may be retain'd, and which ought to be laid aside.

By HENRY BOURNE, M. A. Curate of the Parochial Chapel of All-Saint's in Newcastle upon Tyne.

NEWCASTLE, Printed by J. WHITE for the AUTHOR.


TO THE Right Worshipful and Worshipful • WILLIAM CARR, Esq Mayor. , and • John Isaacson, Esq Recorder. 


• Sir William Blackett, Bar. , • William Ellison, Esq , • Mat. Featherstonhaugh, Esq , • Henry Reay, Esq , • Richard Ridley, Esq , • Edward Johnson, Esq , • Francis Rudston, Esq , • Nicholas Fenwick, Esq , • Francis Johnson, Esq , and • Nathaniel Clayton, Esq  To James Muncaster, Esq Sheriff, and to the Rest of the Common-Council of the Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne,


I Know none so justly intitled to the Effects and Produce of Study, as those who are the Promoters and Patrons of Learning. They un­doubtedly of all Others, have the best of Claims to a Work of this Nature, whose [Page xiv] Generosity and Benevolence have been conspicuous, in so promoting the Wel­fare of their Country, and the Good of Mankind.

AND such, Gentlemen, are you, the In­couragers of Learning, and, the Re­warders of Merit; there are Numbers to witness the one, and your Clergy may witness the other.

FOR not to mention you in your pri­vate Capacities, as Promoters of Common Learning, as the Helpers and Supporters of Schools of CHARITY, one great Blessing of your Community: You in your pub­lick Stations uphold a nobler Literature, and assist a more generous Education: You not only lay the Ground-works here, but you help to the Top of Arts and Sciences, in the greater Schools of Learning.

Nor is it less certain that you have al­ways been eminent, and that not only in your own Country, but in distant Parts, for the support of an Orthodox and learned Clergy: Your Fame for maintaining them, and your Regard to merit in choosing them, being every where spoken of.

[Page xv]JUSTLY therefore are you intitled to Performances of this Nature, but in a more especial Manner to this in particu­lar; it being the genuine Offspring of your Generosity. As I am sensible that you have bless'd me with the most inesti­mable Favours, so I am bound in Duty, and by all the Tyes of Gratitude, to lay the First-Fruits of my Labours at your Feet; hoping that as you have been very instrumental in occasioning them, so you will receive them under your Care and Protection,

AND this I also hope for, not as they are a Work of Merit, or worthy of being dedicated to such Patrons: For I am justly sensible of the Meanness of their Desert, and their Unworthiness of that Honour; but as they are an Indication of the sin­cerest Thankfulness and Gratitude of,

Your most obliged Most obedient And most humble Servant, HENRY BOURNE.


THE following Sheets are a few of that vast Number of Ceremonies and Opinions, which are held by the Common People; such, as they solely or generally observe. For tho' some of them have been of National and others perhaps of universal Observance, yet at present they would have little or no Being, if not ob­served among the Vulgar.

I would not be thought a Reviver of old Rites and Ceremonies to the Burdening of the People, nor an Abolisher of innocent Customs, which are their Pleasures and Recreations: I aim at nothing, but a Regulation of those which are in Being amongst them, which they themselves are far from thinking burdensome, and aboli­shing such only as are sinful and wicked.

Some of the Customs they hold, have been originally good, tho' at present they retain little of their primitive Purity; the true Meaning and Design of them, being either lost, or very much in the Dark through Folly and Superstition. To wipe off therefore the Dust they have contracted, to clear them of Superstition, and make known their End and Design, may turn to some Account, and be of Advantage; whereas observing them in the [Page xvii] present Way, is not only of no Advantage, but of very great Detriment.

Others they hold, are really sinful, notwithstanding in outward Appearance they seem very harmless, being a Scandal to Religion, and an encouraging of Wicked­ness. And therefore to aim at abolishing these, will I hope be no Crime, tho' they be the Diversions of the People.

As to the Opinions they hold, they are almost all su­perstitious, being generally either the Produce of Hea­thenism; or the Inventions of indolent Monks, who having nothing else to do, were the Forgers of many silly and wicked Opinions, to keep the World in Awe and Ignorance. And indeed the ignorant Part of the World, is so still aw'd, that they follow the idle Tradi­tions of the one, more than the Word of GOD; and have more Dependance upon the lucky Omens of the other than his Providence, more Dread of their un­lucky ones, than his Wrath and Punishment.

The regulating therefore of these Opinions and Cus­toms, is what I propos'd by the following Compositions, whatever has been suggested to the contrary: And as to the Menaces of some, and the Censures of others, I neither fear nor regard them. I shall be always ready to own any Mistake, and in what I justly may, to vindicate myself.


  • CHAP. I OF the Soul-Bell; its Antiquity; the Reason of its Institution; the Benefits and Advantage of it; an Exhortation to the Use of it according to its first Institution. Page 1
  • CHAP. II Of Watching with the Dead. 20
  • CHAP. III. Of following the Corps to the Grave; what it is an Emblem of: Of carrying Greens in our Hand; what it may signifie; what Use it may be of: Of Psalmody, its Antiquity, the Advantage of it. 28
  • CHAP. IV. Of Garlands in Country Churches: Of strawing Flowers on the Grave; the Antiquity of these Customs, the Innocency of them. 39
  • CHAP. V. Of Bowing towards the Altar at the first coming into the Church: a Custom generally observed by ignorant People; it Meaning, and Antiquity. 44
  • CHAP. VI. Of the Time of Cock-crow: Whether evil Spirits wan­der about in the Time of Night; and whether they fly away at the Time of Cock-crow: Reflections upon this encouraging us to have Faith and Trust in GOD. 54
  • CHAP. VII. Of Church-Yards; why the Vulgar are generally afraid of passing through them at Nights: The Original of [Page xvii] this Fear; that there is nothing in them now, more than in other Places to be afraid of. 76
  • CHAP. VIII. Of visiting Wells and Fountains: The Original of this Custom: The naming of them of great Antiquity: The Worship paid them by the Papists, was gross Idolatry. 82
  • CHAP. IX. Of Omens: Their Original: The Observation of them sinful. 87
  • CHAP. X. Of the Country Conversation in a Winter's Evening: Their Opinions of Spirits and Apparitions: Of the Devil's appearing with a Cloven Foot: Of Fairies and Hobgoblins: Of the walking Places of Spirits; And of haunted Houses. 102
  • CHAP. XI. The Form of Exorcising an haunted House. 123
  • CHAP. XII. Of Saturday Afternoon; how observed of old, by the Ancient Christians, the Church of Scotland, and the old Church of England: What End we should observe it for: An Exhortation to the Observation of it. 145
  • CHAP. XIII. Of the Yule-Clog and Christmass-Candle; what they may signifie; their Antiquity; the like Customs in other Places. 155
  • CHAP. XIV. Of adorning the Windows at Christmass with Laurel: What the Laurel is an Emblem of: An Objection against this Custom taken of. 172
  • [Page xviii] CHAP. XV. Of the Christmass-Carol, an antient Custom: The com­mon Observation of it, very unbecoming. 181
  • CHAP XVI. Of New Year's Days Ceremonies: The New-Year's Gift an harmless Custom: Wishing a good New-Year, no way sinful: Mumming a Custom, which ought to be laid aside. 187
  • CHAP. XVII. Of the Twelfth-Day; how observed: The Wickedness of observing the Twelve Days after the common Man­ner. 199
  • CHAP. XVIII. Of St. Paul's-Day: The Observation of the Weather, a Custom of the Heathens, and handed down by the Monks: The Apostle St. Paul, himself is against such Observations: The Opinion of St. Austin upon them. 208
  • CHAP. XIX. Of Candlemass-Day; why it is so called: The Blas­phemy of the Church of Rome in consecrating Wax-Candles. 220
  • CHAP. XX. Of Valentine-Day; its Ceremonies: What the Council of Trullus thought of such Customs; that they had better be omitted. 225
  • CHAP. XXI. Of Shrove-tide; what it signifies: The Custom of the Papists at this Season: That our present Customs are very unbecoming. 230
  • CHAP. XXII. Of Palm-Sunday; why so called: How observed in the Popish Times: What it is truly to carry Palms in our Hands on that Day. 236
  • [Page xix] CHAP. XXIII. Of rising early on Easter-Day: What is meant by the Sun-dancing that Morn: The Antiquity of rising early on this Day: The End and Design of it: The great Advantage of it. 241
  • CHAP. XXIV. Of Easter Holy-days; a Time of Relaxation from Labour: How observed in the dark Ages of Popery: That our Customs at this Time, are sprung from theirs. 249
  • CHAP. XXV. Of May-Day; the Custom of going to the Woods the Night before: This the Practice of other Nations: The Original of it: The Unlawfulness. 255
  • CHAP. XXVI. Of Parochial Perambulations; their Antiquity; the Benefit and Advantage of them. 263
  • CHAP. XXVII. Of Midsummer-Eve: Of kindling Fires, their Origi­nal: That this Custom formerly was Superstitious; but now may be used with Innocence. 271
  • CHAP. XXVIII. Of the Feast of Sheep-shearing, an ancient Custom. 282
  • CHAP. XXIX. Of Michaelmass: Guardian Angels the Discourse of the Country People at this Time: That it seems rather true, that we are protected by a Number of Angels, than by one particular Genius. 288
  • CHAP. XXX. Of the Country Wake: How observed formerly: A Cus­tom of the Heathens, and regulated by Gregory the Great. 296
  • CHAP. XXXI. Of the Harvest-Supper: A Custom of the Heathens, taken from the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. 303


CHAP. I. Of the Soul-Bell, its Antiquity, the Reason of its Institution, the Benefit and Advantage of it, an Exhortation to the Use of it according to its first Institution.

THE Ceremony of tolling the Bell at the Time of Death, seems to be as ancient as the having of Bells them­selves; we are told,* it was about the seventh Century when Bells were first in the Church, and that venerable Bede is the first that men­tions them. If this be true, then it is as true, that the tolling of the Bell was instituted about that Time; for where our Countryman [Page 2] mentions the Word Campana, or Bell, there it also is, that we find a Bell made use of for the Dead:* For at the Death of the Abbess St. Hilda, he tells us that one of the Sisters of a distant Monastery, as she was sleeping, thought she heard the well-known Sound of that Bell, which called them to Prayers, when any of them had departed this Life. But be that as it will, it is evident that the Bell was tolled upon this Occasion about Bede's Time, and consequently that the Ceremony is as an­cient as his Days.

The Reason why this custom was instituted, was not, as some seem to imagine, for no other End than to acquaint the Neighbourhood, that such a Person was dead; but chiefly, that whoever heard the Noise of the Bell, should put up their Prayers for the Soul: Thus the Father above-mentioned tells us again, That she who presided in this Monastery, had no sooner heard this, than she raised all the Sis­ters, and called them into the Church, where she exhorted them to pray fervently, and sing a Requiem for the Soul of their Mother. Cas­salion [Page 3] also upon this Place of Bede, says, That * the same Custom is still observed in England, that as soon as any hath departed this Life, the Bell belonging to the Parish he liv'd in, was imme­diately tolled, and for some Time.—And though (says he) the English now deny, that Prayers are of any Service to the Dead; yet I could meet with no other Account of this Ceremony, than that it was a Custom of the old Church of Eng­land.

And for this Reason it is, that this Custom was first observed, and should be still retained among us, viz. That the Prayers of the Faith­ful may be assisting to the Soul; and certainly it might be more profitably retained, were it so ordered, that the Bell should be tolled be­fore the Person's Departure, as was undoubtedly designed when this Ceremony was continued, that good men might give him their Prayers. Was this always so observed, there might be some Moses amongst the Number of the Faith­ful, whose Prayers could prevail upon God to beat back the Amalekites of Darkness; some whose Faith might remove a Mountain of Sins, [Page 4] and some whose Tears procure a Multitude of Mercies. O the Comfort of the Forgiveness of Sins! Of being guided safely through the Sha­dow of Death! Of arriving securely at the heavenly Country! What is it that Prayer can't obtain?

But though the Wickedness and Impeni­tency of the dying Person be such, as that the Prayers of the Faithful will not be suffi­cient to avert the Wrath and Punishment of a justly incensed God; yet as this can be only known to God, it will not discharge Men from recommending him to the Divine Mercy, in the most passionate and affectionate Manner. They thereby express the most laudable Zeal, the most disinterested Charity; and whilst they are so solicitous for the Happiness and Welfare of other Men's Souls, they cannot but be thereby influenced to have the greatest Con­cern for their own, and be both encouraged and directed to proceed with an holy Emula­tion from Strength to Strength, and endeavour as the* Apostle advises, to go on to Perfection.

But, alas! we are fallen into Times of such Irreligion and Prejudice, such Contempt of An­tiquity, and such too great Reformation, that what with Indolence on one Hand, and Igno­rance on the other; what with no Zeal on this [Page 5] Side, and too* false a one on that; we either neglect the most decent Ceremonies of Reli­gion, or we think it is Religion to have no Ceremonies at all. No Wonder then, that, in the Midst of such a crooked and perverse Genera­tion, when the most of Men are negligent of themselves, they are also negligent of others: No Wonder, that when there is such a ge­neral Contempt of Religion, and Men are care­less of their own Souls, they are not careful for the Souls of their Friends.

But it is called Popish and Superstitious; for what true Reason, I know not. Did we [Page 6] indeed imagine with the Papists, that there is any* Virtue or extraordinary Power in a Bell, that it is hallowed by Baptism, and drives away the Spirits of Darkness, then it might justly be called Superstition, and therefore just­ly abolished. But when we retain the Custom, only to procure the Prayers of the Faithful for a departing Soul, it would surely be of Advan­tage to observe it, if the Prayers of a righteous Man avail any Thing at all; which, if we may believe an inspired Apostle, are of very great Efficacy and Validity.

Art thou then attending a Friend in his last Moments? Art thou careful for his Soul, and solicitous for his Salvation? Dost thou wish him safe through the Valley of Death to the ever­lasting Hills? Wouldst thou have the good An­gels protect him, and be his Shield against the Powers of Darkness? In short, wouldst thou have him crown'd with the Joys of Paradise? Be assured then, that the Prayers of good men [Page 7] will very much contribute to the gaining of these Things. But how shall they then pray for him, if they know not of his Departure? And how can they know that, without the tolling of the Bell? Do thou therefore put in Practice this decent and profitable Custom, not as our Age generally does, after the Death of thy Friend, but before it; before he leave the World, when the Prayers of good Men can assist him, and facilitate his Journey into the other Life.

Or, art thou working in the Field, or grind­ing at the Mill? Remember then, when thou hearest the Sound of the Bell for one depart­ing, that thou put up thy Prayers for him. Be thy Business what it will, it will always permit thee to say at least, LORD, now lettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace: Or to use the Words of St. Oswald, when he and his Sol­diers were ready to be slain, Lord, have Mercy on the Soul of thy * Servant. It will not be [Page 8] long, till thou thyself shalt have Occasion for such Prayers, till thou come to die, and enter on thy Journey to the other State: If then thou hast been merciful, thou shalt obtain Mercy; if by thy Prayers thou hast assisted the Souls of thy Brethren, thou shalt either be remem­bered in the Prayers of good Men, or surely these thy Prayers for others will be of Service to thyself also, at that dreadful hour.

But now it may be objected, That as the Bell is seldom tolled till after the Person's De­parture, it is to no Purpose to pray for the Soul; nay to pray for it, would be praying for the Dead: And since that is repugnant to the Doctrine of our Church, our Prayers at that Time had much better be omitted.

Indeed it is too true, this Custom is not so common as it should be; but however, it is so much observed, as will be able to vindicate the putting up of constant Prayers. I know several religious Families in this Place, and I hope it is so in other Places too, who always observe it, whenever the melancholy Season offers; and therefore it will at least sometimes happen, when we put up our Prayers constantly at the tolling of the Bell, that we shall pray for a Soul departing. And tho' it be granted, that it will oftener happen otherwise, as the regular Custom is so little followed; yet that can be no harmful praying for the Dead. We [Page 9] believe that the Soul is but departing, and it is charitably done to offer up our Prayers: And therefore when it proves otherwise, our * Prayer shall turn into our own Bosom; and like as that Peace, which the Disciples wished to an unworthy House, returned to the Disciples again; so, though our Prayers at that Time may be of no Service to the Soul, yet they will be of no Disservice to us. They will re­turn to us again, but it will be no Fault to have misplaced them.

PRAYERS upon this OCCASION from Bishop TAYLOR.


‘O Holy and most Gracious JESU, we humbly recommend the Soul of thy Servant into thy Hands, thy most merciful Hands: Let thy blessed Angels stand in Ministry about thy Servant, and defend him from the Violence and Malice of all his ghostly Enemies: And drive far from him all the Spirits of Darkness.’ Amen.


‘LORD, receive the Soul of this thy Ser­vant: Enter not into Judgment with him: Spare him whom thou hast redeemed [Page 10] with thy most precious Blood: And deliver him, for whose sake thou didst suffer Death, from all Evil and Mischief, from the Crafts and Assaults of the Devil, from the Fear of Death, and from everlasting Death.’ Amen.


‘LORD, impute not unto him the Follies of his Youth, nor any of the Errors and Miscarriages of his Life: But strengthen him in his Agony, and carry him safely through his last Distress. Let not his Faith waver, nor his Hope fail, nor his Charity be disordered: Let him die in Peace, and rest in Hope, and rise in Glory.’ Amen.


‘LORD, we know and believe assuredly, that whatsoever is under thy Custody, cannot be taken out of thy Hands, nor by all the Violences of Hell robbed of thy Pro­tection: Preserve the Work of thy Hands, rescue him from all Evil, and let his Por­tion be with the Patriarchs and Prophets, with the Apostles and Martyrs, and all thy holy Saints, in the Arms of CHRIST, in the Bosom of Felicity, and in the Kingdom of God for ever.’ Amen.


‘O SAVIOUR of the World, who by thy Cross, and precious Blood hast re­deemed us, save, and help this thy departing Servant, we beseech thee, O LORD.’ Amen.


‘O Almighty LORD, who art a most strong Tower to all them that put their Trust in thee; to whom all Things in Heaven, in Earth, and under the Earth, do bow and obey; be now and evermore his Defence; and make him to know and feel, by a pow­erful Sense of thy Goodness, that there is no other Name under Heaven given to Man, in whom and through whom we may receive Health and Salvation, but only the Name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.’ Amen.


‘O LORD, unto thy gracious Mercy and Protection we commit him. O GOD the Father, bless him and keep him. O GOD the Son, make thy Face to shine upon him, and be gracious unto him. O GOD the Ho­ly Ghost, lift up thy Countenance upon him, and give him thy Peace, both now and ever­more. Amen.


OUR Author seems of Opinion, that the Ce­remony of tolling a Bell* at the Time of Death, is as antient as the Use of Bells. This is somewhat improbable. It has rather been an After-Invention of Superstition. Thus praying for the Dying was improved upon into praying for the Dead. Bells must have been first used as Signals to con­vene the People to their public Devotions.

Mr. Bourne has overlooked a Passage in Du­rand's Ritual that would have been much to his Purpose:— ‘When any one is dying, says that [Page 13] Ritualist, Bells must be tolled, that the People may put up their Prayers.—Let this be done twice for a Woman and thrice for a Man: (The superstitious Reasons he assigns for these Numbers are too contemptible for Translation) ‘If for a Clergyman, as many Times as he had Orders, and at the Conclusion a Peal on all the Bells, to distinguish the Quality of the Person for whom the People are to put up their Prayers. A Bell too must be rung while we are conduct­ing the Corpse to Church, and during the bring­ing it out of the Church to the Grave.’ I think this a curious and pertinent Quotation. It seems to account for a Custom still preserved in the North, of making numeral Distinctions at the Conclusion of this Ceremony—nine Knells for a Man, six for a Woman, and three for a Child, which are without Doubt the Vestiges of this antient Injunction of Popery.

The Quotation our Author gives us from Bede* is very apposite, as is that from Cassalion's occa­sional [Page 14] Comment. The latter however appears to no great Advantage as an Antiquary, when he tells us ‘he could meet with no other Account of this Ceremony, than that it was a Custom of the old Church of England.’ The Passage above cited from Durand would have informed him from whence it must have been imported into this King­dom.

It may gratify the Curiosity of some to peruse the following general Observations on Bells*.—I have not been able to ascertain precisely the Date of this useful Invention. The Antients had some Sort of Bells. I find the Word Tintinnabula, (which we usually render Bells) in Martial, Juvenal, and Suetonius. The Romans were summoned by these (of whatever Size or Form they were) to their hot Baths, and to the Business of public Places.

The large Kind of Bells now in Use are said to have been invented by Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, in Campania, (whence the Latin Name Campana) [Page 15] about the Year 400*, and to have been generally used in Churches about the 600th Year of the Christian Aera. Mr. Bingham however thinks this a vulgar Error. In short, we are left much in the Dark concerning the Antiquities of the ear­lier Ages of the Church.—Ecclesiastical Writers frequently clash in their Accounts. The Jews used Trumpets for Bells: The Turks permit not the Use of Bells: The Greek Church under them still follow their old Custom of using wooden Boards, or Iron Plates full of holes, which they hold in their Hands, and knock with a Hammer or Mallet, to call the People together to Church: China has been remarkably famous for its Bells— Father le Compte tells us, that at Pekin there are seven Bells, each of which weighs one hundred and twenty thousand Pounds.

Baronius‡‡ informs us, that Pope John XIII. AD. 968, consecrated a very large new-cast Bell [Page 16] in the Lateran Church, and gave it the Name of John.—This is the first Instance I meet with of what has been since called "the baptizing of Bells," a Superstition which the Reader may find ridiculed in the Romish* Beehive.—The Vestiges of this Cus­tom may be yet traced in England in Tom of Lin­coln, and great Tom ("the mighty Tom") at Christ Church, Oxford.

Egelrick, Abbot of Croyland, about the Time of King Edgar, cast a Ring of six Bells, to all which he gave Names, as Bartholomew, Bethhelm, Turketul, &c. The Historian tells us, ‘his Predecessor Tur­ketul had led the Way in this Fancy.

The Custom of rejoicing with Bells on high Fes­tivals, Christmas-Day, &c. is derived to us from the Times of Popery. The ringing of Bells on the Arrival of Emperors, Bishops, Abbots, &c. at Places under their own Jurisdiction, was also an old Custom: Whence we seem to have derived the [Page 17] modern Compliment of welcoming Persons of Consequence by a chearful Peal

Durand*, whose Superstition often makes one smile, is of Opinion that Devils are much afraid of Bells, and fly away at the Sound of them That Ritualist would have thought it a Prostitution of the sacred Utensils, had he heard them rung, as they are here with the greatest Impropriety, on winning a long Main at Cock-fighting.— He would perhaps have talked in another Strain, and have represented these aerial Enemies as lending their Assistance to ring them.

In the populous, commercial Town, from whence I date these observations, Church Bells have not been confined to ecclesiastical Uses; they have also with great Propriety been adapted to civil Purpo­ses:—The tolling of the great Bell of St. Nicholas' Church here, is an antient Signal for our Burgesses to convene on Guild-Days, and on the Day of electing Magistrates:—Our little Carnival on Pan­cake Tuesday commences by the same Signal:— A Bell, usually called the Thief and Reever Bell, proclaims our two annual Fairs:—A peculiar Kind of Alarm is given by a Bell on Accidents of Fire: [Page 18] —A Bell is rung at six every Morning (except Sundays and Holidays) with a view it should seem of calling up the Artisans to their daily Em­ployment; —and we retain also a Vestige of the old Norman Curfew* at eight in the evening.— Our Bells are muffled on the 30th of January; for which I find no precedent of Antiquity; their sound on that occasion is peculiarly plaintive.

Distinction of Rank is preserved here in the tol­ling of the Soul-Bell; an high Fee excludes the common People, and appropriates to the Death of Persons of Consequence the tolling the great Bell of each Church on this Occasion.—With us too (as Durand orders above) a Bell is tolled, and sometimes Chimes are rung, a little before the Burial, and while they are conducting the Corps to Church: They chime or ring too in some places while the grave is filling up.

There seems to be nothing intended by tolling the passing Bell at present, but to inform the Neighbourhood of any Person's Death, and I am much mistaken if our Author's very pious Ex­hortation [Page 19] will ever be able to revive the primitive Use of it.

I know not how the present Generation will re­lish his Reflections in this and many subsequent Chapters: Serious Animadversions of this Sort seem by no Means pleasing to the refined Taste of our Age. We plainly discover an Intention of uni­ting Entertainment with Utility in his little Ser­mons; which, it must be confessed, are not always delivered in the most agreeable Manner.—He does not always stick by his Text:—His Inferences are of­ten far fetched:—His good Meaning, however, must atone for some little Deficiencies of Stile, and Pe­nury of Composition.—Men, provided with keen Appetites for this Kind of Entertainment, will con­tent themselves with the homely Manner in which he has served it up to them.—Indeed Squeamish­ness in this Particular would but ill suit the Study of the English Antique. A great deal of wholsome Meat of this Sort has been brought on upon wooden Platters. Nice Guests will think our famous old Cook, Mr. Hearne himself, but a very coarse and greasy Kind of Host.

In fine, I have not presumed to violate my Au­thor's Text, lest I should seem to play the Empiric, and lay the Foundation of my own little Structure upon the Ruins of his.

CHAP. II. Of Watching with the Dead.

WATCHING with the Corps was an an­tient Custom of the Church, and every where practised. They were wont to sit by it, from the Time of its Death till its Expor­tation to the Grave, either in the House it died in, or in the Church itself. Agreeable to this, we read in St. Austin, That as they watched his Mother Monica, * Euodius took the Psalter, and began to sing a Psalm, which the whole Family answered with that of the Psalmist David, I will sing of Mercy and Judg­ment, unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. And we are told, That at the Death of St. Am­brose, his Body was carried into the Church before Day, the same Hour he died. It was the Night before Easter, and they watched with him there.

How unlike to this antient Custom of watch­ing is the modern one, of locking up the Corps [Page 21] in a Room, and leaving it there alone? How unlike to this decent Manner of watching, is that watching of the Vulgar, which is a Scene of Sport and Drinking and Lewdness? Watch­ing at that Time with a dear Friend, is the last Kindness and Respect we can shew him; and how unfriendly is it, to change it into Negligence and too great Resignation? How unchristian, instead of a becoming Sorrow and decent Gravity, to put on an unbecoming Joy and undecent Pastime.


OUR Author, for what Reason I know not, has omitted the vulgar Name given here to this watching with a Corps. It is called the Lake­wake; a Word plainly derived from the Anglo-Saxon Lic or Lice, a Corpse, and Waecce, a Wake, Vigil, or Watching. It is used in this Sense by Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale:

—Shall not be told for me,
How that Arcite is brent to Ashen cold,
Ne how that there the Liche-wake was yhold
All that Night long.

[Page 22] Thus also I read in the Article Walkin, in the learned* Glossary to Douglas' Virgil, ‘Properly Like-wakes (Scotch) are the Meetings of the Friends of the Deceased, a Night, or Nights be­fore the Burial.’

I am not satisfied with either of the Quotations he has given us in Proof of the Antiquity of the Custom: They are indeed something to the Pur­pose; but in the last cited Passage, one would be inclined to think from the Words of the Original, that the Watching was on Account of its being the Vigil of Easter-Day.

The subsequent Extract from one of the antient Councils quoted in Durant, p. 232, is, I think, much more apposite:—‘Now it must be observed, that Psalms are wont to be sung not only when the Corps is conducted to Church, but that the Antients watched on the Night before the Burial, and spent the Vigil in singing Psalms.’ So also Gregory, in the Epistle that treats of the Death of his Sister Macrina, has these Words: "Now when the nightly Watching, as is usual" &c.

I could give numerous Passages from the An­tients, were there any Doubt of the Antiquity of a Custom, which probably owes its Origin to the tenderest Affections of human Nature, and has per­haps on that Account been used from the Infancy of Time.

[Page 23]I find in Durant a pretty exact Account of some of the Ceremonies used at present in what we call laying out or streeking * in the North:— Mention is made of the closing the Eyes and Lips —the decent washing—dressing—and wrapping in a Linen Shroud:—Of which Shroud Pruden­tius, the Christian Poet, has these Words:

Candore nitentia claro
Praetendere lintea mos est.
—Hymn. ad Exequias Defunct.

The Interests of our Woollen Manufactories have interfered with this antient Rite in England.

It is customary at this Day in Northumberland, to set a Pewter Plate, containing a little Salt , upon [Page 24] the Corps; as also a Candle in some Places.—The learned Moresin tells us, ‘That Salt is the Emblem of Eternity and Immortality: It is not liable to Putrefaction itself, and it preserves Things that are seasoned with it from Decay.’—He gives us also his Conjecture on the Use of a Candle * on this Occasion: ‘It was an Egyptian Hieroglyphic for Life, meant to express the ardent Desire of having had the Life of the Deceased prolonged.’

Our Funeral Entertainments are of old Date.— Cecrops is said to have instituted them, for the Purposes of renewing decayed Friendship amongst old Friends, &c.—Moresin tells us, that in England they were so profuse on this Occasion, that it cost less to portion off a Daughter, than to bury a dead [Page 25] Wife. These Burial Feasts are still retained in the North.

We have the very Coffin of the present Age de­scribed in Durant*.

It appears that among the primitive Christians the Corps was sometimes kept four Days. Pe­lagia, in Gregory of Turon, requests of her Son, that her Corps may not be interred till after four Days.

The Payment of Mortuaries is of great Anti­quity: It was antiently done by leading or driving a Horse or Cow, &c. before the Corps of the De­ceased at his Funeral. It was considered as a Gift left by a Man at his Death, by Way of Recom­pence for all Failures in the Payment of Tithes and Oblations, and called a Corse-present. It is mentioned in the national Council of Engsham, about the Year 1006. Some Antiquaries have been led into a Mistake by this leading a Horse before the Corps, and have erroneously represented it as peculiar to Military Characters.

The Abuse of this Vigil, or Lake-wake, is of pretty old standing.—I find the following Account [Page 26] of a Canon, made at the provincial Synod held in London in the Time of Edward III. in Collier's Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I. p. 546, ‘The 10th Canon endeavours to prevent the Disorders com­mitted at People's watching a Corps before Bu­rial. Here the Synod takes Notice, that the De­sign of People's meeting together upon such Oc­casions, was to join their Prayers for the Benefit of the dead Person; that this antient and ser­viceable Usage was over-grown with Supersti­tion, and turned into a Convenience for Theft and Debauchery: Therefore for a Remedy against this Disorder, 'tis decreed, that upon the Death of any Person, none should be allowed to watch before the Corps in a private House, excepting near Relations and Friends of the Deceased, and such as offered to repeat a set Number of Psalms for the Benefit of his Soul.’ The Penalty an­nexed is Excommunication.—This is also men­tioned in Becon's* Reliques of Rome, and com­prised in the Catalogue of those Crimes that were antiently cursed with Bell, Book, and Candle.

Mr. Bourne complains of the Sport, Drinking, and Lewdness used at these Lake-wakes in his [Page 27] Time.—They still continue to resemble too much the antient Bacchanalian Orgies.—An Instance of Depravity that highly disgraces human Nature! It would be treating the serious Subject with two much levity, to say, that if the inconsiderate Wretches, who abuse such solemn Meetings, think at all, they think with Epicurean licentiousness, that since Life is so uncertain, no Opportunity should be neglected of transmitting it, and that the Loss, by the Death of one Relation, should be made up as soon as possible by the Birth of ano­ther

Our Author uses a remarkable Metaphor in this Passage; he talks, or rather babbles, concerning "putting on undecent Pastime."—If one were disposed to banter, it might be observed, that a Wardrobe of "undecent Pastime" must consist of very light Habits! It may be questioned also, whe­ther in any Affliction we can discover ‘too great Resignation?’

CHAP. III. Of following the Corps to the Grave, what it is an Emblem of: Of carrying Greens in our Hand, what it signifies, what Use it may be of: Of Psalmody, its Antiquity, the Advan­tage and Use of it.

IT hath been observed among all Nations, both in the Heathen and the Christian World, as a becoming and profitable Cere­mony, to follow the Corps to the Grave. The Heathens observed it,* because it presented to them, what would shortly follow, how they themselves should be so carried out, and laid down in the Grave. The going of the Corps before, shewed that their Friend was gone before them to the State of Death; and their following after, was as much as to say, that they must also in a short Time follow him thither. For this Reason the Christian also observes the Custom, and may, if he plea­ses, as he follows the Body to the Grave, en­tertain himself with a pious Meditation upon it, in such like Thoughts as these of the Psal­mist, [Page 29] * Thou art GOD from Everlasting, and World without End; Thou turnest Man to De­struction; again, Thou sayest, Come again ye Chil­dren of Men. For a thousand Years in thy Sight are but as Yesterday, seeing that is past as a Watch in the Night. As soon as thou scatterest them, they are even as a Sleep, and fade away suddenly like the Grass. In the Morning it is green and groweth up, but in the Evening it is cut down, dried up and withered. Do thou therefore, O LORD, let me know my End, and the Number of my Days, that I may be certified how long I have to live. Behold thou hast made my Days, as it were a Span long, and mine Age is nothing in respect of Thee; and verily every Man living is altogether Vanity. And now, LORD, what is my Hope? Truly my Hope is even in Thee. Deliver me from all mine Offences, and O spare me a little that I may recover my Strength, before I go hence and be no more seen. Such Thoughts as these of our Friend's, and of our own Mortality, would excite us to pre­pare for our own Change.

And as this Form of Procession is an Em­blem of our dying shortly after our Friend, so the carrying of Ivy, or Laurel, or Rosemary, or some of those Ever-Greens, is an Emblem of the Soul's Immortality. It is as much as [Page 30] to say, That though the Body be dead, yet the Soul is Ever-Green and always in Life: It is not like the Body, and those other Greens which die and revive again at their proper Seasons, no Autumn nor Winter can make a Change in it, but it is unalterably the same, perpetually in Life, and never dying.

The Romans, and other Heathens upon this Occasion, made Use of Cypress, which being once cut, will never flourish nor grow any more, as an Emblem of their dying for ever, and being no more in Life. But instead of that, the antient Christians used the Things before mentioned; they* laid them under the Corps in the Grave, to signify, that they who die in CHRIST, do not cease to live. For though, as to the Body they die to the World, yet, as to their Souls, they live to GOD.

And as the carrying of these Ever-Greens is an Emblem of the Soul's Immortality, so it is also of the Resurrection of the Body: For as these Herbs are not entirely pluck'd up, but only cut down, and will, at the returning Season, revive and spring up again; so the Body, like them, is but cut down for a while, [Page 31] and will rise and shoot up again at the Resur­rection. For, as the Prophet Isaiah says,* Our Bones shall flourish like an Herb.

It was customary among the antient Jews, as they returned from the Grave, to pluck up the Grass two or three Times, and then throw it behind them, saying these Words of the Psalmist, They shall flourish out of the City like Grass upon the Earth: Which they did, to shew, that the Body, though dead, should spring up again as the Grass. Thus by these two antient Ceremonies, we have placed before our Eyes, our Mortality and Immortality; the one speaks the Death of the Body, the other the Life of the Soul, nay, and the Life of the Body too; for like that Herb we carry, it is not quite pluck'd up, but shall one Day be alive again. When it hath laid in the Earth the Winter Season, the Continuance of this World, and the Warmth and Influence of the Spring is come, the joyful Spring of the Re­surrection, it shall be enliven'd, and shoot up, and eternally flourish. For this Corruptible must put on Incorruption, and this Mortal must put on Immortality. O Death, where is thy Sting! O Grave, where is thy Victory! Thanks be to GOD, who giveth us the Victory through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

[Page 32]There is another Custom used in some Places, at the Procession of Funerals, which pays a due Honour to the Dead, and gives Comfort and Consolation to the Living; and that is, the carrying out the Dead with Psalmody. This was an antient Custom of the Church; for in some of the earliest Ages, they carried out their Dead to the Grave with singing of Psalms and Hymns. Thus Socrates tells us, That when the Body of Babylas the Martyr was removed by the Order of Julian the Apo­state, the Christians* with their Women and Children, rejoiced and sung Psalms all the Way, as they bore the Corps from Dauphne to Antioch: Thus was Paula buried at Bethle­hem; thus did St. Anthony bury Paul the Her­mite; and thus were the Generality of Men buried after the three first Centuries, when Persecution ceased. In Imitation of this, it is still customary in several Parts of this Nation, to carry out the Dead with singing of Psalms and Hymns of Triumph; to shew that they have ended their spiritual Warfare, that they have finished their Course with Joy, and are become Conquerors; which surely is a Matter of no little Consolation for the loosing of our Friend. And how becoming is it to pay such [Page 33] Honour to the Body! How is it imitating the blessed Angels, who rejoyced at Meeting of the Soul, and carrying it to Heaven. For as they rejoyce at her Conversion on Earth, so most certainly they rejoyce at her going to Heaven. And as they rejoyce at the carrying of the Soul thither, so we, in Imitation of them, at the carrying out the Body to the Grave. They rejoyce that the Soul hath got out of a World of Sin, we that the Body out of a World of Trouble; they that the Soul can sin no more, we that the Body can no more suffer; they that the Soul enjoys Glory and Happiness, we that the Body rests from its Labours.

When therefore we attend the Corps of a Neighbour or Relation, and this decent Cere­mony is perform'd, let it also have a Share of our Thoughts, and excite in us Joy and Com­fort, and Thanksgiving and Praise. And when these Customs are so observed, they will be of great Advantage to us, making us still fitter for the heavenly Life. And surely a Thing of this Good and Profit, is much to be preferr'd to what hath in it nothing but Undecency and Irreverence; such is our laughing and jesting, and telling of News, when we accompany a Neighbour to the Grave. There is indeed a Mean to be observed, as in all other Things, so in this; we must neither be too sad, nor [Page 34] too merry; we must not be so merry as to throw off all the Signs of Affection and Love, all the Tokens of Esteem and Humanity; nor must we* sorrow even as others, which have no Hope. But we must be so merry as to be able to sing Psalms, and so afflicted as to be ex­cited to pray.


THE antient Christians testified their Abhor­rence of Heathen Rites: They rejected there­fore the Pagan Custom of burning the Dead, de­positing the inanimate Body entire in the Ground. —The carrying forth to the Church, and from thence to the Grave, was performed by near Rela­tions, or Persons of such Dignity as the Cir­cumstances of the Deceased required.—Singing of Psalms, in Exultation for the Conquest of the de­ceased Friend over Hell, Sin, and Death, was the great Ceremony used in all Funeral Processions among the antient Christians.—* St. Jerom, in the Epitaph of Paula, informs us, that Bishops were [Page 35] what in modern Language we call Under-bearers at her Funeral.—The learned Durant* gives us many Quotations from the antient Christian Writers, to prove that those of the highest Orders of Clergy thought it not a Reproach to their Dignity to carry the Bier. How different an Idea of this Office pre­vails in our Times!—Something instead of the Pall used at present to cover the Coffin, appears by the same Writer to have been of great Antiquity.—He speaks also of black used in Mourning.—St Cyprian seemed to inveigh against it, as the Indication of Sorrow upon an Event which to the Christian was Matter of Joy.—Mr. Bourne takes no Notice of Torches , which are still in Use on particular Occasions in Funeral Processions.—It appears by Du­rant, that this Custom has been of a long standing. [Page 36] —We farther learn from this Ritualist, that it was customary to invite the Poor * to Funerals.

I find a beautiful Thought on this Subject, in St. Ambrose's Funeral Oration on Satyrus, cited by Durant, which I flatter myself will be thought to have deserved a translation:—‘The Poor also shed their Tears—precious and fruitful Tears! that washed away the Sins of the Deceased.— They let fall Floods of redeeming Tears.

Funeral Sermons also are of great Antiquity.

Doles were used at Funerals, as we learn from St. Chrysostom§, to procure Rest to the Soul of the Deceased, and that he might find his Judge pro­pitious.

Dr. Browne, in his Urne Burial, observes, that the Custom of carrying the Corps as it were out of the [Page 37] World with its Feet forward, is not inconsonant to Reason, ‘as contrary to the native Posture of Man, and his Production first into it.’

It may be added to Mr. Bourne's Observations on Ever-greens used at Funerals*, that the planting of Yew Trees in Church-yards seems to derive its Origin from antient Funeral Rites; in which, (the Doctor conjectures) from its perpetual Verdure, it was used as an Emblem of the Resurrection.—He observes farther, that the christian Custom of deck­ing the Coffin with Bay, is a most elegant Emblem. It is said that this Tree, when seemingly dead, will revive from the Root, and its dry Leaves resume their wonted Verdure.

The Custom of laying flat Stones in our Churches and Church-yards, over the Graves of better Sort of Persons, on which are inscribed Epi­taphs containing the Name, Age, Character, &c. has been transmitted from very antient Times, as appears from Cicero and others. I cannot better close these additional Remarks on the obsolete Cus­tom of carrying Ever-greens at Funerals, than with a Description of it in the Words of the elegant Mr. Gay, in his Pastoral Dirge.—He paints the rustic, [Page 38] vulgar Ceremonies with great Truth, though his Stile is intended for that of affected Simplicity.

To shew their Love, the Neighbours far and near,
Follow'd with wistful Look the Damsel's Bier:
Sprigg'd Rosemary the Lads and Lasses bore,
While dismally the Parson walk'd before.*

The Reader, conversant in classical Learning, will call to mind here the beautiful Thought in the Idyllium on Bion, by Moschus—though the fine Spirit in it will perhaps evaporate, when we apply it to the Christian Doctrine of the Resurrec­tion: The Antithesis will be destroyed.

CHAP. IV. Of Garlands in Country Churches: Of strawing Flowers on the Grave; the Antiquity of these Customs, the Innocency of them.

IN some Country Churches 'tis customary, to hang a Garland of Flowers over the Seats of deceased Virgins, as a Token of Esteem and Love, and an Emblem of their Reward in the heavenly Church.

This Custom perhaps may be look'd upon, as sprung from that ancient Custom of the Heathens, of crowning their Corps, with Gar­lands in Token of Victory. But Mr. Bingham tells us, That we find not this Custom used by the Ancients in their Funeral Rites. For as he observes, the Heathen in Minutius makes it one Topick of Accusation against them,* That they did not crown their Sepulchres.

But if they did not crown them after the Manner of the Heathens, they had a Custom of using Crowns of Flowers, if we may believe Cassalion, who tells us, It was a Custom of the ancient Christians to place Crowns of [Page 40] Flowers, at the Heads of deceased Virgins; for which he quotes Damascen, Gregory Nyssen, St. Jerom and St. Austin. And this hath pro­bably been the Original of this Custom among the Vulgar.

That other Custom of strawing Flowers up­on the Graves of their departed Friends, is also derived from a Custom of the ancient Church. For it was usual in those Times for the common Sort of People, to straw the Graves of their Friends with various Flowers. Of this there are two notable Instances taken No­tice of by Cassalion, and several other Ritualists. The one is that of St. Ambrose, in his Funeral Oration on the Death of Valentinian, * I will not sprinkle his Grave with Flowers, but pour on his Spirit the Odour of CHRIST. Let others scatter Baskets of Flowers: CHRIST is our Lilly, and with this will I consecrate his Relicks.

The other is that of St. Jerom, in his E­pistle to Pammachius upon the Death of his Wife. Whilst other Husbands strawed Vio­lets, [Page 41] and Roses, and Lillies, and purple Flow­ers, upon the Graves of their Wives, and com­forted themselves with such like Offices, Pam­machius bedew'd her Ashes and venerable Bones with the Balsam of Alms.

Now these Instances, tho' they justly com­mend these other Actions, and wisely prefer them to the Ceremonies of adorning Graves with Flowers, yet they no Way decry these ancient Customs. These lower Marks of Es­teem and Honour, which the Vulgar paid to the Remains of their Friends, were in them­selves harmless and innocent, and had no Censure; and as they were so, so should the present Customs be without any, being full as harmless and innocent as the other.


I Have seen many of the Garlands our Author here speaks of, in Village Churches in the South of England: The Custom seems to be en­tirely laid aside in the North*. It is undoubtedly [Page 42] of very high Antiquity.—In the earlier Ages of the Church, Virginity (out of Deference, it should seem, to the Virgin Mother) was honoured with almost divine Adoration. There is little Doubt but that Nunneries and this Garlana claim one common Origin.

Durant* tells us, the antient Christians, af­ter the Funeral, used to scatter Flowers on the Tomb.—There is a great Deal of Learning in Moresin above cited, on this Subject.—It appears from Pliny's Natural History, from Cicero in his Oration for Lucius Plancius, and from Virgil's sixth Aeneid, that this was a Funeral Rite among the Heathens. They used also to scatter them on the unburied Corps.—Gay describes the strew­ing on the Grave,

Upon her Grave the Rosemary they threw,
The Daisy, Butter-Flow'r, and Endive blue.

[Page 43]Thus also the Garland:

To her sweet Mem'ry flow'ry Garlands strung,
On her now empty Seat aloft were hung.

The Custom too, still used in the South of Eng­land, of fencing the Grave with Osiers, &c. is added: The Poet glances in the two last Lines at clerical Oeconomy:

With Wicker Rods we fenc'd her Tomb around,
To ward from Man and Beast the hallow'd Ground;
Lest her new Grave the Parson's Cattle raze,
For both his Horse and Cow the Church-yard graze.*
Gay's Dirge.

CHAP. V. Of Bowing towards the Altar at the first coming into the Church; a Custom generally observed by ignorant People; its Meaning and Antiquity.

WE may observe the Generality of old People among the Commonalty, as they enter into the Church, to turn their Faces to­wards the Altar, and bow or kneel that Way. This, no Doubt, is the Remains of that an­cient Custom of the Church, of worshipping toward the East: For in the ancient Church they worshipped that Way upon several Ac­counts. First, That by so worshipping, they might lift up their Minds to GOD, who is called the Light and the Creator of Light. And therefore St. Austin says,* When we pray standing, we turn our Faces to the East, from whence the Day springs, that we might be reminded of turning to a more excellent Na­ture, namely, The LORD. Secondly, That for as much as Man was driven out of Para­dise, which is towards the East, he ought to look that Way, which is an Emblem of his [Page 45] Desire to return thither. St. Damascen there­fore tells us, That because the Scripture says, That GOD planted Paradise in Eden to­wards the East, where he placed the Man which he had formed, whom he punish'd with Banish­ment upon his Transgression, and made him dwell over against Paradise, in the western Part; we therefore pray, (says he) being in Quest of our ancient Country; and as it were panting after it, do worship GOD that Way. Thirdly, It was used when any were baptized. They first turn'd their Faces to the West, and so renounc'd the Devil; and then to the East, and made their Covenant with CHRIST. Last­ly, They prayed that Way, believing that our SAVIOUR would come to Judgment from that Quarter of the Heavens. For as the Lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth unto the West, so shall the Coming of the Son of Man be; and he is to come in like Manner as he ascended. And that he ascended up Eastward from Mount Oli­vet, St. Damascen assures us. For (says he) when he ascended into Heaven, he was taken up Eastward, and his Disciples worshipped him that Way. And therefore chiefly it was, that in the ancient Church they prayed with their Faces to the East; and that many of our own Church at this Day, turn their * [Page 46] Faces to that Quarter of the World, at the Repetition of the Creed.

What may more confirm this, and speak it to have been the universal Opinion of the Church, is the ancient Custom of burying the Corps, with the Feet to the East, and the Head to the West; which Custom is continued to this Day in the whole Church of England: This was observed for the same Reason, That, at the Coming of CHRIST to Judgment from the oriental Part of Heaven, our Bodies might be found in a praying Posture, with their Faces towards the East.

Our learned Countryman Gregory tells us, ‘That the holy Men of Jerusalem hold a Tra­dition generally received from their Ancients, that our SAVIOUR himself was buried with his Face and Feet towards the East.’ It is affirmed by the Geographers of the holy Land. And Bede says,* That as the Holy Women enter'd at the Eastern Part into the Round-house, which is hewn out in the Rock, they saw the Angel sitting at the South Part of the Place, where the Body of JESUS had lain, [Page 47] that is, at his Right Hand; for undoubtedly his Body having his Face upwards and its Head to the West, must have its Right Hand to the South. Cassalion says,* The Faithful of old were so observing of this Ceremony of looking towards the East, that they not only strictly observed it in their Prayers when liv­ing; but even when they were dead, their Bodies were placed with their Faces upwards in the Sepulchre, looking towards the East.

The learned Dr. Comber, in his Discourse of the solemn Interment, hath these Words upon this subject, ‘We may note the Positure and Position of the Corps, which among the Chri­stians hath always been to turn the Feet to the East, with the Head to the West; that so they may be ready to meet the LORD, whom the Ancients did believe should ap­pear in the oriental Part of Heaven. Durand. Rat. Lib. 7. Cap. 33. Or as our ingenious Mr Gregory believes, That they might be in the Posture of Prayer, with their Faces to the East, as soon as they were raised. There are some ancient Authors tell us, That the old Inhabitants of Attica buried thus before [Page 48] the Days of Solon, who, as they report, con­vinced the Athenians, that the Island of Sa­lamis did of Right belong to them, by shew­ing them dead Bodies looking that Way, and Sepulchres turned towards the East, as they used to bury. Diog. Laert. Vit. Solon, &c. And the Scholiast upon Thucidides says, It was the Manner of all the Greeks to bury their Dead thus: Though a learned modern Writer supposes these Authors mistaken, and cites Plutarch and Elian to prove, that the Athenians turned their Dead towards the West. However it is certain, that all Na­tions had one certain Way of placing the Corps, from which they would not vary; and we Christians have so great Antiquity for our Custom, that we ought not out of Singularity to alter it.’

No Doubt but this learned Man had great Reason for this Conclusion, as well knowing that this ancient Rite was struck at by the whole Herd of Sectaries, as a filly Fancy and an idle Dream: Who never would observe it, were it not that they are sometimes obliged; but would with those who are not obliged, act the very Reverse, and bury North and South. I wish there were no powerfuller Enemies to it, than them now a Days; but, as a Man's Enemies are too often those of his own Houshold; so, 'tis to be lamented, that some who pre­tend [Page 49] to be of our own Church, are upon all Occasions secret Advocates against this Cere­mony. When therefore there is such Oppo­sition without, and such Treachery within, 'tis high Time to be on the Guard against our Enemies; least a Ceremony so venerable for its Antiquity, and so useful in its Observation, be laid aside: Was it but for this one Thing, that it speaks the Hope of the whole Christian Church, since the earliest Times of Christianity, about the Resurrection of the same Body. It is too true, that there are some at this Time of the Day, as well as were in the Days of the Apostle, who think it a Thing incredible that GOD should raise the Dead; some really dis­believing the Resurrection of any Body, and others that of the same Body. But as long as this Ceremony is in Being, it will always be a ready Proof, that the whole Christian Church did not only believe the Resurrection of the Body, but of that very Body which was laid down in the Grave. For they observed it, that they might be ready with their Faces to meet their SAVIOUR at his coming to Judgment, which certainly implies that they believed that very Body should rise again.


WE may add to Mr. Bourne's Remarks, that the Custom is still retained in many Churches, of turning to the Altar while the Congregation are re­peating the Creed.—The Forms are both derived to us from the same Origin. We need not hesi­tate to pronounce as well the Bowings * as the turnings about to the East, or Altar, to be supersti­tious.—They are alike Vestiges of the antient po­pish Ceremonial Law.

One who has left a severe Satire on the Re­tainers of those Forms and Ceremonies that lean to­wards popish Superstition, tells us, ‘If I were a Papist or Anthropo-morphite, who believes that God is enthroned in the East, like a grave old King, I profess I would bow and cringe as well as any Limber-ham of them all, and pay my Adoration to that Point of the Compass (the East): But if [Page 51] Men believe that the Holy One who inhabits Eternity, is also omnipresent, why do not they make correspondent Ceremonies of Adoration to every Point of the Compass?’

Concession must be made by every Advocate for manly and rational Worship, that there is nothing more in the East, than in the Belfry at the West End, or in the Body of the Church. We wonder therefore how ever this Custom was retained by Protestants. The Cringes and Bowings of the Roman Catholics to the Altar, is in Adoration of the corporal * Presence, their Wafer-God, who is by their Fancies, seated there and enthroned.—In the Homilies of our Church, this is frequently stiled Idolatry, and the Act of a Fool.—A Regard for Impartiality obliges me to own, that I have ob­served this Practice in College Chapels at Oxford. —I hope it is altogether worn out in every other Place in the Kingdom; and for the Credit of that truly respectable Seminary of Learning and reli­gious Truth, that it will not be retained there by the rising Generation!

[Page 52]The learned Moresin* tells us, that Altars, in papal Rome, were placed towards the East, in Imi­tation of the antient and heathen Rome.—Thus Virgil's 11th Aeneid:

Illi ad surgentem conversi lumina solem
Dant fruges manibus salsas.

As to the Position in the Grave, ‘though we decline (says Dr. Browne, in his Urne-burial) the religious Consideration, yet in coemeterial and narrower burying Places, to avoid Confusion and cross Position, a certain Posture were to be admitted.—The Persians lay North and South; —the Megarians and Phoenicians placed their Heads to the East;—the Athenians, some think, towards the West, which Christians still retain; —and Bede will have it to be the Posture of our Saviour.’—(This judicious Observer proceeds) ‘That Christians buried their Dead on their Backs, or in a supine Position, seems agreeable to pro­found Sleep, and the common Posture of dying; contrary also to the most natural Way of Birth; [Page 53] not unlike our pendulous Posture in the doubt­ful State of the Womb.—Diogenes (he adds) was singular, who preferred a prone Situation in the Grave; and some Christians like neither, (Russians, &c.) who decline the Figure of Rest, and make Choice of an erect Posture.’

There is a Passage in the Grave-diggers' Scene in Hamlet, ‘Make her Grave straight,’ which Dr. Johnson has thus explained. ‘Make her Grave from East to West, in a direct Line parallel to the Church; not from North to South, athwart the regular Line. This I think is meant.’ Johnson in loco.

Moresin* tells us, that in popish Burying Grounds, those who were reputed good Christians lay towards the South and East, others who had suf­fered capital Punishment, laid violent Hands on them­selves, or the like, were buried towards the North; a Custom that had formerly been of frequent Use in Scotland.—One of the Grave-diggers supposes Ophelia to have drowned herself. This Quotation therefore seems to confirm the learned Annotator's Explication.

CHAP. VI. Of the Time of Cock-crow: Whether evil Spirits wander about in the Time of Night; and whe­ther they fly away at the Time of Cock-crow. Reflections upon this, encouraging us to have Faith and Trust in God.

IT is a received Tradition among the Vul­gar, That at the Time of Cock-crowing, the Midnight Spirits forsake these lower Re­gions, and go to their proper Places. They wander, say they, about the World, from the dead Hour of Night, when all Things are bu­ried in Sleep and Darkness, till the Time of Cock-crowing, and then they depart. Hence it is, that in Country-Places, where the Way of Life requires more early Labour, they al­ways go chearfully to Work at that Time; whereas if they are called abroad sooner, they are apt to imagine every Thing they see or hear, to be a wandring Ghost. Shakespear hath given us an excellent Account of this vulgar Notion, in his Tragedy of Hamlet.

It was about to speak, when the Cock crew.
And then it started like a guilty Thing
Upon a dreadful Summons. I have heard,
The Cock that is the Trumpet to the Day,
Doth with his lofty and shrill sounding Throat
Awake the God of Day: And at his Warning
Whether in Sea, or Fire, in Earth or Air,
[Page 55]The extravagant and erring Spirit hyes
To its Confine, and of the Truth herein,
This present Object made Probation.
It faded at the Crowing of the Cock.
Some say that e'er against that Season comes,
Wherein our Saviour's Birth is celebrated,
The Bird of Dawning singeth all Night long.
And then, they say, No Spirit doth walk abroad,
The Nights are wholsome, then no Planet strikes,
No Fairy takes, no Witch hath Power to harm,
So gracious and so hallowed is that Time.

Now to shew what Truth there is in this vulgar Opinion, I shall consider, First, What Truth there is in the Roaming of Spirits in the Night. And, Secondly, Whether they are ob­liged to go away at Cock-crow.

I believe none who assent to the Truth of Divine Revelation, deny that there are good and evil Angels attending upon Men; the one to guard and protect them, and the other to harm and work their Ruin; that the one are those* ministring Spirits, which are sent out to minister to the Heirs of Salvation; the other the roaring Lion, and his Instruments, who wander too and fro in the Earth; these un­clean Spirits who wander through dry Places, seeking Rest and finding none.

NOR, I believe, will it be question'd, that there have been Apparitions of good and evil Spirits, and that many, with our SAVIOUR'S [Page 56] Disciples, have been affrighted and cried out, not only with supposing they had seen, but really with seeing a Spirit. Of this the Testi­mony of all Ages, and Scripture it self are a sufficient Demonstration.

What then could these have ordinarily been, but the Appearances of some of those Angels of Light, or Darkness? For I am far from thinking that either the Ghosts of the Damn'd or the Happy, either the Soul of a Dives or a Lazarus, returns here any more. For as St. Athanasius observes,* These Visions and Shades of the Saints, which appear in the Temples and at the Tombs, are not the Souls of the Saints themselves, but the good Angels appearing in their Shapes. Not that GOD could not remand the Ghost of Samuel, and order it again to visit the Earth, as he made Moses and Elias to ap­pear at our SAVIOUR'S Transfiguration; but that a Thing of this Nature was very uncom­mon, and seldom happen'd.

Taking it therefore for granted, that there have been Apparitions of Angels, I believe it will also be owned, that these Apparitions have frequently happen'd in the Night. And truly, was there no direct Proof of this, yet the No­tion of their appearing in the Night, being as it were link'd and chained to our Idea of an [Page 57] Apparition, would almost perswade us, that the Night is the most proper Time for such Appearances. Whether it is, that the Fables of Nurses,* as an ingenious Author imagines, ‘have so associated the Idea of Spirit to the Night, that the one never appears with­out the other;’ or whether there is some­thing in the Presence of Night, some Awful­ness and Horrour, which naturally dispose the Mind of Man to these Reflections. I am indeed very inclinable to believe, that these Legendary Stories of Nurses and old Women, are the Occasion of much greater Fears, than People without them, would generally have of these Things; but I cannot help thinking, that the Presence of Night, would naturally lead a Man to some Reflection of Spirits, without any such Cause as that learned Author men­tions. There are some particular Times, which will naturally raise some particular Thoughts: Thus on a bright sunny Day we are naturally disposed to Mirth and Gaiety; when the Day over-casts, or the Weather is hazy, we then turn indolent and dull, and sooth our selves in Melancholly; if it Thunder and Lighten, we think of the Day of Judgment and sudden Death: And thus also the Night, as it inclines us to grave and serious Thoughts, raises in us [Page 58] Horrour and Dismay, and makes us afraid, even when our Judgment tells us there is no Fear; so it may of it self be look'd upon as a natural Cause of such Reflections.

But however this be, we must necessarily own, that Spirits have frequently appeared in the Night, or we must give the Lye to the Traditions of all Ages, to Historians prophane and sacred, and the wisest and best in the Ge­nerations of Men.

In the Heathen World there are many In­stances, of which I shall only mention this one out of Plutarch: * One Night, before Brutus passed out of Asia, he was very late all alone in his Tent, with a dim Light burning by him, all the Rest of the Army being husht and silent; and musing with himself, and very thoughtful, as he turn'd his Eye to the Door, he saw a strange and terrible Appear­ance, of a prodigious and frightful Body coming towards him without speaking. Bru­tus boldly asked him, What art thou? Man, or God? Or upon what Business do'st thou come to us? The Spirit answer'd, I am thy Evil Genius, thou shalt see me at Philippi; to which Brutus not at all disturbed, re­ply'd, Then I will see thee there.’

[Page 59]In the sacred Writings we have Job * terri­fied with Visions of the Night, when deep Sleep falleth upon Men, Fear came upon him and Trembling, which made all his Bones to shake; then a Spirit passed by before his Face, and the Hair of his Flesh stood up. In the Night Jacob wrestled with the Angel; in the Night an Angel delivered Peter out of Prison, &c.

But though it be true from Scripture, that there have been nightly Apparitions, yet these are chiefly of good Angels; whereas this Opi­nion principally means, the Appearances of evil Spirits. It must be owned indeed, that the Appearances of evil Spirits, if litterally, are yet but very seldom mention'd in the Night in Scripture; but however, that they wander and appear at Night, is very deducible from, if not litterally mentioned in it. Their's is the Land of Darkness, and the Shadow of Death; They are reserved under Chains of Darkness to the Judgment of the great Day; and we know that every one that doth Evil naturally hateth the Light: They therefore love Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds are Evil. The Night therefore, in a more especial Manner, seems to be their Hour, and the Power of Darkness.

This was the Opinion of the Jews, as may be learned from the Fear of the Apostles, when [Page 60] they saw our Saviour about the fourth Watch of the Night, coming to them upon the Wa­ters:* they were affrighted and cryed out, sup­posing they had seen a Spirit. Doctor Whitby upon this Place, says, ‘That the Jews had then an Opinion of hurtful Spirits walking in the Night, is evident from the seventy, who render'd,’ from the Pestilence walking in Darkness; From the Fear of the Devils that walk in the Night.

And that this was also the Opinion of the ancient Christians, is evident, not only from their dividing the Night into four Watches, the Evening, Midnight, Cock-crowing, and the Morning; which were the Military Divi­sions of the Night, and which they observed to guard their Souls from the silent Incursions of evil Spirits, as the others did those of the Enemy: but also from their many Relations of such Appearances. Cassian in giving an Ac­count of the Watching of the ancient Monks, and their being assaulted with Midnight Spi­rits, tells us, That at the Beginning of the Monkish Life,§ the Rage of the Midnight [Page 61] Spirits was so great, that but few, and these too Men of Age and unshaken Resolution, were able to endure the Life in the Desart. For such was their Fierceness, that where Eight or Ten had been together in a Monastery, they would have made frequent and visible Incur­sions: Insomuch, that they never all slept at the same Time, but took it by Turns; some watching the Rest, and exercising themselves in singing Psalms, in Praying and Reading. And St. Athanasius in his Life of Anthony the Hermit, tells, Of many Conflicts that good Man had in the Night with the Powers of Darkness, whilst they endeavoured to batter him from the strong Holds of his Faith. And what can our Church chiefly mean in the Col­lect for Aid against Perils; but that GOD would send us Protection from all the Spirits of Dark­ness, these Midnight Wanderers of the World: And for this Reason, every good Man, when he lies down to sleep at Night, desires the great Keeper of Israel, who never slumbereth nor sleep­eth, to send his holy Angels to pitch their Tents round about him, and banish from him the Spi­rits of the Night.

[Page 62]So far then this Tradition is just and good, that there are at Midnight Spirits who wander about the World, going too and fro in the Earth, seeking whom they may devour. Let us now in the next Place enquire, what Truth there is in the other Part of it; namely, That they al­ways fly away at Cock-crow.

This Opinion, whatever Truth there may be in it, is certainly very ancient. We have it mentioned by the Christian Poet Prudentius, who flourished in the Beginning of the fourth Century, as a Tradition of Common Belief: His Words are these,

Ferunt Vagantes Daemones
Loetos Tenebris Noctium,
Gallo canente exterritos,
Sparsim timere & cedere.
Invisa nam Vicinitas
Lucis, salutis, numinis,
Rupto Tenebrarum situ,
Noctis Fugat satellites,
Hoc esse signum proescii
Norunt repromissoe spei,
Qua Nos soporis Liberi
Speramus adventum Dei.
They say the wandering Powers, that love
The silent Darkness of the Night,
At Cock-crowing give o'er to rove,
And all in Fear do take their Flight.
The approaching salutary Morn,
The Approach divine of hated Day,
Makes Darkness to its Place return,
And drives the Midnight Ghosts away.
They know that this an Emblem is,
Of what preceeds our lasting Bliss,
That Morn, when Graves give up their Dead,
In certain Hope to meet their GOD.

Cassian also, who lived in the same Century, giving an Account of a Multitude of Devils, who had been Abroad in the Night, says,* That as soon as the Morn approached, they all vanished and fled away. By this we see, that this was a current Opinion at this Time of Day; but what Reason they had for it, ex­cept some Relations of the disappearing of Evil Spirits at that Hour, I never yet have met with: But there have been produc'd at that Time of Night, Things of very memora­ble Worth, which might perhaps raise the pious Credulity of some Men to imagine, that there was something more in it, than in other Times. It was about the Time of Cock-crow­ing when our Saviour was born, and the An­gels sung the first Christmas-Carol to the poor Shepherds, in the Fields of Bethlehem. Now [Page 64] it may be presum'd, that as the Saviour of the World was then born, and the heavenly Host had then descended to proclaim the News, that the Angels of Darkness would be terrified and confounded, and immediately fly away: And perhaps this Consideration has partly been the Foundation of this Opinion; for as this may easily be supposed, so perhaps it has been ima­gin'd, that the Spirits of Darkness, having al­ways in Memory that fatal Hour, are startled and frighted away as the Cock proclaims it.

It was also about this Time when he rose from the Dead. And when the great Sun of Righteousness was risen upon the World, no Wonder that all the Clouds of Darkness and Wickedness were dispell'd; no Wonder that the conquer'd Powers of Hell were not able to shew their Heads: And this perhaps hath been another Reason of their imagining that Spi­rits go away at that Time.

A third Reason is, that Passage in the Book of Genesis, where Jacob wrestled with the Angel for a Blessing; where the Angel says unto him,* Let me go, for the Day breaketh.

But indeed this Tradition seems more espe­cially to have risen from some particular Cir­cumstances attending the Time of Cock-crow­ing; and which, as Prudentius seems to say [Page 65] above, are an Emblem of the Approach of the Day of the Resurrection. For when we leave the World, we lie down in our Graves, and Rest from our Labours: Sleep and Darkness lay hold upon us, and there we abide till the last Day appear, when the Voice of the Arch-Angel shall awake us, that we may meet the LORD of Light and Day. And when we leave the common Business and Care of Life, we lie down in our Beds, as in a Grave, buried as it were in Sleep and Darkness, till the Cock crow, the welcome Messenger of the News of Day.

The Circumstances therefore of the Time of Cock-crowing, being so natural a Figure and Representation of the Morning of the Resur­rection; the Night so shadowing out the Night of the Grave; the third Watch, being as some suppose, the Time our Saviour will come to Judgment at; the Noise of the Cock awaken­ing sleepy Man, and telling him as it were, the Night is far spent, the Day is at Hand; re­presenting so naturally the Voice of the Arch-Angel awakening the Dead, and calling up the Righteous to everlasting Day; so natural­ly does the Time of Cock-crowing shadow out these Things, that probably some good well-meaning Men, have been brought to believe, that the very Devils themselves, when the Cock crew, and reminded them of them, did fear and tremble, and shun the Light.

[Page 66]Now in Answer to the first of these Conjec­tures: 'Tis very likely the Evil Spirits did fly away in the Morning of the Nativity, and because of our Saviour's Birth and that Com­pany of the heavenly Host, might be afraid and retire into thick Darkness; yet it will not hence follow, that it always happens so at the Time of Cock-crowing: For if they did fly away that Morning, the Circumstances of our Saviour's Birth, the heavenly Glory of the Angelick Quire, their Musick and their Pre­sence were the Occasion of it: And why only the bare Remembrance of what happened at that Time, should always at the Time of Cock-crowing drive them away, rather than when they remember it at another, no Reason seems to be given.

As to the second Conjecture, namely, That it was the Time of our Saviour's Rising from the Dead, I answer in the same Manner, That tho' it be allowed, that the Evil Spirits might have returned to the Land of Darkness, upon our Saviour's Rising from the Dead; yet why it should occasion them always to do so at that Time, no Reason can be given.

As to the third Conjecture, it is easy to observe, That this was a good Angel, where­as they that shun the Light, are bad ones: This was the Angel of the Covenant, the Cre­ator of Light, and the Lord of the Day: We [Page 67] may therefore as well imagine, that it was not in his Power, to get out of the Arms of Jacob, without saying, Let me go; as to suppose he was obliged to go, because he said the Day breaketh. The meaning of which Words, ‘According to Willet, is not that the Angel was gone to the blessed Company of the Angels, to sing their Morning Hymn to GOD, as the Hebrews imagine: For the Angels, not only in the Morning, but at other Times, are exercised in praising GOD. But the Angel thus speaketh according to the Custom of Men, having now taken the Form and Shape of a Man, as tho' he had hast to other Business, and leaving Jacob also to his Affairs.’

The last Conjecture of the Rise of this Tra­dition, seems to carry greater Probability than the others: For as these Things are a Repre­sentation of the Circumstances of the Morning of the Resurrection, so they must sure enough bring that last Day into Remembrance; and they never can do so, but as surely they must create Terrour and Confusion in all the Devils and Ghosts of the Night: Whilst they assure them they shall never any more enjoy the Realms of Bliss, but be hurried into that* e­verlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his [Page 68] Angels. But that these Things are the Occa­sion of their flying away at the Approach of Day, is not to be supposed. On the contrary, the Devil and his Angels ramble o'er the World in Day-light, and are Mid-day Devils, as well as Mid-night ones: For the Devil is incessant in his Temptations, and therefore he is abroad in the Day as well as the Night, tho' perhaps has seldom appear'd but in Darkness. Thus St. Austin, in one of his Meditations,* We implore thee, O GOD! that thou wouldest deliver us from our daily Enemy, who by his Wiles and Cunning is always watching us, Day and Night, sleeping and waking; and both openly and in secret, shooting at us his poisoned Arrows, that he may destroy our Souls.

And now, what, though this be true, as it most certainly seems to be so, that at the chearful Hour of Cock-crowing, the wander­ing Ghosts are not driven away, but still continue going too and fro? What, tho' then their Power be still the same, and their Inten­tions as fully bent to do Evil? Consider but that GOD'S Care and Providence govern the World, and there will be found as much Safe­ty for us, in the Midst of Evil Spirits, as if [Page 69] they absented at that Time. The Almighty Power of GOD, is the same then, as at other Times; nothing but that, preserved us conti­nually, and that, will always be able to pre­serve us. However great may be the Malice of Devils; however desirous of working our Ruin; tho' they watch all Opportunities, and are unwearied in tempting us; yet the loving Kindness of the LORD endureth for Ever, and his Mercy is over all his Works: He will not suffer our Foot to be moved; he that keepeth us will not sleep: We shall not be afraid of the Sun by Day, nor the Moon by Night: For the Pesti­lence that walketh in Darkness, nor for the Sick­ness that destroyeth in the Noon-day.

Are we then afraid of Darkness and the Pre­sence of Night? Let us remember the Creator of them, and have but Faith in him, and we shall find our Night turned into Day. In his Light shall we see Light: We shall be as se­cure as if there was no Darkness about us, as well knowing that that GOD which protects us, sees through the thickest Mediums, and the darkest Night: For with him the Darkness is no Darkness, but the Night is as clear as the Day; the Darkness and Light to him are both alike. Or are we afraid of that old Serpent the Devil, that nightly Rambler of the World, who is a Lover of Night and Darkness? Let us trust in GOD, and no Harm shall happen [Page 70] to us. If we will but fear no Evil, his Rod and his Staff shall comfort us, though we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: For GOD hath reserved the Devil and his Angels in everlasting Chains, under Darkness, unto the Judgment of the great Day. Though therefore he is permitted to wander the World, yet he is so chain'd up, that without GOD'S parti­cular Order or Permission, he is not allowed to touch the Sons of Men; and he is so re­served and kept in Darkness, that it is not in his Power even barely to appear and be visible to them, without the Permission of GOD: So little Reason hath every good Man to fear the Spight and Malice of all the Devils in Hell.

When then the Night pours out her Ter­rours, covers all Things with Darkness, and strikes thee with Horrour; Lift but up thy Eyes to the Hills, from whence cometh thy Help, and thou shalt clearly see, that our Lord GOD is a Light and Defence to thee. * For to those who are the Children of the Light, the Day shineth in the Night: They are never without Light, whose Hearts are illuminated; never without Sun-shine, whose Sun is CHRIST. In short then, if thou fear Darkness, look up [Page 71] to CHRIST, and thou hast eternal Day; if the Angels of Darkness, look but up with the Eye of Faith, and thou shalt see the Moun­tains full of Chariots and Horses of Fire: Thou shalt see, as did the Servant of the Prophet Elisha, That they who be with us, are more than they who are against us. No Matter then whe­ther the Spirits of the Night go away, or only tremble at the Time of Cock-crowing: For sure we are, that the Angel of the LORD tar­rieth round about them that fear him, and deli­vereth them; nay, That GOD himself will arise and scatter his Enemies, and make them that hate him to flie before him. And if GOD be for us, who can be against us?


MR. Bourne might have stiled this Chapter, A Sermon on Spirit-walking; and yet I can­not help thinking, that the Nurse prevails over the Priest in it. The good Man, it must be al­lowed, has played the Conjurer so far as to raise us Spirits, but does not seem to have had so much of the Scholar in him as to have been able to lay them.

[Page 72]The Gay and the Witty will no doubt laugh at every Thing he has advanced: Perhaps it will be granted on all Hands, that he has not thrown any new Lights on the dark Subject. I make no Pre­tensions to any Abilities for discussing the Question; and am of Opinion, that as we know so little of the invisible World, we cannot express ourselves with too much Diffidence in speaking of it.—It must however be allowed, that Writers of the highest Character for Probity and Knowledge have transmitted to us Accounts of Spirits and Appari­tions. Fancy, Imagination, Misinterpretations of the sacred Writings on that Subject, or Credulity, must have deceived them: For it is impossible to be­lieve them guilty of the Baseness of an Intention to deceive us. The frequent Impostures (I shall only instance the Cock-Lane Ghost, in our own Times) that are to be met with of this Kind, naturally incline us to believe, that all such Relations are either the Forgeries of cunning Men, or the idle Tales of weak ones. It is impossible to follow our Author through all the ‘Howbeits, Moreovers, and Neverthelesses,’ of his tedious Discourse; but to one Thing in his Peroration we readily sub­scribe our most unfeigned Assent; it is, ‘That a good Man has not the least Reason to fear the Spite and Malice of all the Devils in Hell.’

Our Divine discovers every where an Intention of rooting out the old Man from the Hearts of his Readers: I shall be sparing of my Quotations of Chapter and Verse, as I do not think this a proper Place to imitate him in, and purpose only on the present Occasion to eraze the Vestiges of the old [Page 73] Woman, the Impressions of which are still too vi­sibly to be traced on human Nature.

It was the Fashion when Mr. Bourne wrote, that Clergymen should lard every Composition with Scripture Phrases, and nothing seems to have been thought palatable by them, in which every Period was not seasoned with a Spice of Divinity.—These great Textuaries overlooked one Passage of holy Writ, "To every Thing there is a Season."—Religion is one Thing, and the Entertainment of innocent Cu­riosity another.—If Clergymen take Care not to per­mit these Relaxations from severer Studies to engross too much of their Time, none but narrow-minded Bigots will think the Investigation of antient Man­ners an improper Amusement for them.

The Spectator*, accounting for the Rise and Progress of antient Superstition, tells us, our Fore-fathers looked upon Nature with more Reverence and Horror, before the World was enlightened by Learning and Philosophy, and loved to astonish themselves with the Apprehensions of Witchcraft, Prodigies, Charms, and Enchantments.—There was not a Village in England that had not a Ghost in it—the Church-yards were all haunted—every Common had a Circle of Fairies belonging to it— [Page 74] and there was scarce a Shepherd to be met with who had not seen a Spirit. Hence

—Those Tales of vulgar Sprites,
Which frighted Boys relate on Winter Nights,
How cleanly Milk Maids meet the Fairy Train,
How headless Horses drag the clinking chain:
Night-roaming Ghosts by Saucer Eye-Balls known,
The common Spectres* of each country Town.

Our Shakespear's Ghosts excel all others:—The Terrible indeed is his Forte:—How awful is that Description of the dead Time of Night, the Season of their Perambulation!

'Tis now the very witching Time of Night,
When Church yards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out
Contagion to the World.

The Antients, because the Cock gives Notice of the Approach and Break of Day, have, with a Propriety equal to any Thing in their Mythology, [Page 75] dedicated this Bird to Apollo.—They have also made him the Emblem of Watchfulness*, from the Circumstance of his summoning Men to their Business by his crowing, and have therefore dedi­cated him also to Mercury. With the Lark, he may be poetically stiled "the Herald of the Morn."

The Day civil or political has been divided into thirteen Parts. The After-midnight and the Dead of the Night, are the most solemn of them all, and have therefore, it should seem, been appropriated by antient Superstition to the walking of Spirits.

CHAP. VII. Of Church-yards; why the Vulgar are generally afraid of passing through them at Night: The Original of this Fear: That there is nothing in them now, more than in other Places to be afraid of.

THE most of ignorant People are afraid of going through a Church-Yard at Night-time. If they are obliged upon some hasty and urgent Affair, they fear and trem­ble, till they are beyond its Bounds, but they generally avoid it, and go further about. It would, no Question, be better if there were fewer Path-ways through Church-Yards than there are, both as it would prevent several Abuses committed in them, and also cause the Ashes of the Dead to be in greater Quiet, and more undisturbed Peace: We should not then see Church-Yards changed into common Dung-hills, nor should we tread so frequently upon the Bones of our Friends: But when for the Conveniency of Neighbourhood, or other Rea­sons, there are allowed public Ways, it is a very great Weakness to be afraid of passing through them.

The Reason of this Fear is, a Notion they have imbib'd, that in Church-Yards there is a frequent walking of Spirits at the Dead-time [Page 77] of Night. Indeed there is at that Time some­thing awful and horrible every where, and it must be confess'd something more solemn in a Church-Yard, than in the Generality of other Places; but that it is then more frequented with Apparitions and Ghosts than other Places are, is at this Time of Day intirely ground­less, and without any Reason.

The Original of this Timorousness may be deduc'd from the Heathens: For they believ­ed that the departed Ghosts came out of their Tombs and Sepulchres, and wander'd about the Place where the Body lay buried. Thus* Virgil tells us, That Maeris could call the Ghosts out of their Sepulchres: And Ovid, that Ghosts came out of the Sepulchres, and wandered about: And Clemens Alexandrinus, in his Admonitions to the Gentiles, upbraids them with the Gods they worshipped; which, says he, are wont to appear at Tombs and Sepulchres, and which are nothing but fading Spectres and airy Forms. And the learned Mr. Mede observes, from a Passage of this same ancient Father,§ ‘That the Heathens supposed the Presence and Power of Daemons (for so the Greeks called the Souls of Men [Page 78] departed) at their Coffins and Sepulchres; as tho' there always remain'd some natural Tye between the Deceased and their Relicts.’ Agreeable to this, Dr. Scot, * in his Discourse of the Christian Life, speaks of gross and sensual Souls, who appeared often, after their Separation, in Church-Yards or Char­nel-Houses, where their Bodies were laid. The Soul that is infected with a great Lust to the Body, continues so, for a great while after Death, and suffering many Reluctances, ho­vers about this visible Place, and is hardly drawn from thence by Force; by the Daemon that hath the Guard and Care of it. By the visible Place, he means their Monuments and Sepulchres, where the shadowy Fantasms, of such Souls, have sometimes appeared.

It having therefore been a current Opinion of the Heathens, that Places of Burial and Church-Yards were frequently haunted with Spectres and Apparitions, it is easy to imagine, that the Opinion has been handed from them, among the Ignorant and unlearned, through­out all the Ages of Christianity to the present Day. And indeed, tho' now there may be no such Things, yet that there have been, need not be disputed; not that they were the real Souls of Men departed: For I cannot see for [Page 79] what Reason it should be supposed, ‘(* how­ever unacquainted such Souls might be with the Pleasures of Spirits) that they are permit­ted to wander, to hover about, and linger after their Bodies.’ It seems rather to be true, what is mentioned of such Apparitions in St. Athanasius's Questions to Antiochius, that these Apparitions of the Saints which appear at Tombs and Temples, are not the Souls of the Saints themselves, but the good Angels ap­pearing in their Likeness. And I imagine it must be so too, with the Souls of bad Men, they appear not themselves, but they are re­presented by the evil Angels. For the Soul upon the Departure, returns to GOD that gave it, who allots it its Station in the World of Spirits, where it is kept till the Day of Judgment in Happiness or Misery, when it shall receive its Compleation of the one, or the other. However, whatever these Apparitions were, they are a certain Proof, that such Ap­pearances have been in such Places; and in­deed, to add no more, it is the whole Voice of Antiquity.

But now with us, GOD be thanked, the Scene is changed, we live not in the Darkness of Errour, but in the Light of Truth; we worship not Daemons, but the GOD of the whole Earth; and our Temples are not the Temples of Idols, but the Temples of the Ho­ly [Page 80] GOD. If among the Heathens such Delu­sions were permitted, it was because GOD had forsaken them: But when he vouchsafes to have his Residence in his Holy Temple, we are the further from Harm, the nearer we approach it;* There the Sparrow hath found her an House, and the Swallow a Nest, where she may lay her Young; and there shall no Harm happen to good Men, but they shall be rather protected, because they are so near their Father's House, the House of Prayer.


WE learn from Moresin*, that Church-yards were used for the Purposes of Interment, in order to remove Superstition.—Burial was in [Page 81] antient Times without the Walls of Cities and Towns. Lycurgus, he tells us, first introduced Grave-stones within the Walls, and as it were brought home the Ghosts to the very Doors.— Thus we compel Horses that are apt to startle, to make the nearest possible Approaches to the Objects at which they have taken the Alarm.

Our Author is certainly very right, when he tells us that Church-yards are as little frequented by Apparitions and Ghosts as other Places, and that therefore it is a Weakness to be afraid of passing through them. Superstition however will always attend Ignorance; and the Night, as she continues to be the Mother of Dews, will also never fail of being the fruitful Parent of chimerical Fears*.

When the Sun sets, Shadows, that shew'd at Noon
But small, appear most long and terrible.

The Inconveniences, complained of by our Au­thor in the first Part of this Chapter, we have had the Pleasure of seeing remedied. With great De­cency and Propriety the Church-yards here are now all inclosed: They are no longer the Recep­tacles of Filth, or Haunts of nightly Lewdness; and the Ashes of our Friends and Ancestors are suffered to remain (as he wished) ‘in greater Quiet, and more undisturbed Peace.’

CHAP. VIII. Of visiting Wells and Fountains: The Original of this Custom: The naming of them of great An­tiquity: The Worship paid them by the Pa­pists, was gross Idolatry.

IN the dark Ages of Popery, it was a Custom, if any Well had an awful Situation, and was seated in some lonely melancholy Vale; if its Water was clear and limpid, and beauti­fully* margin'd with the tender Grass; or if it was look'd upon, as having a Medicinal Quality; to gift it to some Saint, and honour it with his Name. Hence it is, that we have at this Day Wells and Fountains called, some St. John's, St. Mary Magdalen's, St. Mary's Well, &c.

To these kind of Wells, the common People are accustomed to go, on a Summer's Evening, to refresh themselves with a Walk after the Toil of the Day, to drink the Water of the Fountain, and enjoy the pleasing Prospect of Shade and Stream.

Now this Custom (tho' at this Time of Day, very commendable, and harmless, and inno­cent) seems to be the Remains of that super­stitious Practice of the Papists, of paying [Page 83] Adoration to Wells and Fountains: For they imagin'd there was some Holiness and Sancti­ty in them, and so worshipped them. In the Canons of St. Anselm, made in the Year 1102, we find this superstitious Practice in some Measure forbid.* ‘Let no one attribute Reverence or Sanctity to a dead Body, or a Fountain, or other Things, (as sometimes is to our Knowledge) without the Bishop's Authority.’ And in the 16th of the Canons made in the Reign of King Edgar, in the Year 963, it is order'd, ‘That every Priest in­dustriously advance Christianity, and ex­tinguish Heathenism, and forbid the Wor­shipping of Fountains, &c. Mr. Johnson says upon this Canon, that the Worshipping of Wells and Fountains, was a Superstition, which prevailed in this Nation, till the Age before the Reformation: Nay, I cannot say, it is extinguish'd yet among the Papists. In the Ages of dark Popery it was thought sufficient to forbid the honouring of Wells and Fountains, without the Bishop's Appro­bation.’

The giving of Names to Wells, is of great Antiquity: We find it a Custom in the Days of the old Patriarchs. Abraham observed this Custom; and therefore the Well, which he [Page 84] recover'd from the Servants of Abimeleck, He* called Beer-sheba, or the Well of the Oath, because there they sware both of them. Thus also Isaac, when his Herdsmen had found a Well, and the Herdsmen of Gerar had a Con­test with them about the Right of it, called the Name of the Well Eseck, that is, Strife: because they strove with him. And he digged another Well, and strove for that also, and he called the Name of it Sitnah, that is, Hatred. And he removed from thence, and digged ano­ther Well, and for that they strove not; and he called the Name of it Rehoboth, that is, Room. And he said for now the LORD hath made Room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the Land. And we read it was at Jacob's Well where JESUS talked with the Woman of Sa­maria. To give Names therefore to Wells, is of an ancient Standing; but to pay Homage and Worship to them, was never heard of a­mong the People of GOD, till they sunk in­to gross Idolatry, and became Worshippers of Stocks and Stones: When the creature became worshipped instead of the Creator, then was this Custom first introduced, in the Ages of Popish Ignorance and Idolatry.

There need be no Question, but as this Cus­tom is practically Heathenish, so it is also originally: For the Heathens were wont to [Page 85] worship Streams and Fountains, and to sup­pose that the Nymphs, whom they imagin'd the Goddesses of the Waters, presided over them. As the Papists have borrowed many of their silly and superstitious Ceremonies from the Religion of the Heathens, so this in par­ticular, a sottish, stupid, and abominable Custom, they could borrow no where else. For we had no such Custom, neither at any Time the Churches of GOD.


I Find little that may be added to our Author's Account of the superstitious Adoration of Wells and Fountains. There are Interdictions of this Super­stition in the Laws of King Canute also, preserved in Wheloc's Edition of Bede's Church History.*

I have frequently observed Shreds, or Bits of Rags, upon the Bushes that over-hang a Well, in the Road to Benton, a Village in the Neighbourhood of Newcastle. It is called the Rag Well. This Name is undoubtedly of a very long standing: The Spring has been visited for some Disorder or other, and these Rag-offerings are the Reliques of the then prevailing popular Superstition.—Thus Mr. Pennant tells us, they visit the Well of Spey, in [Page 86] Scotland, for many Distempers, and the Well of Drachaldy for as many, offering small Pieces of Money and Bits of Rags *. Pennant's Add. p. 18.

Fitzstephen, Monk of Canterbury, in his Descrip­tion of the antient City of London, has these Words, ‘There are on the North Part of London, principal Fountains of Water, sweet, wholsome, and clear, streaming from among the glistering Pebble Stones.—In this Number, Holy Well, Clerken Well, and St. Clement's Well, are of most Note, and frequented above the Rest, when Scholars and the Youth of the City take the Air abroad in the Summer Evenings .’ Stow. p. 710.

A Well was a most valuable Treasure in those hot and dry Countries which composed the Scene of the Patriarchal History, and therefore we find in Genesis that it was a frequent Subject of Contention.

CHAP. IX. Of Omens: Their Original: The Observation of them sinfull.

OMENS and Prognostications of Things are still in the Mouths of all, though only observed by the Vulgar. In Country Places especially, they are in great Repute, and are the Directors of several Actions of Life; being looked on by them as Presages of Things future, or the Determiners of present Good or Evil: If* a Hare cross their Way it is an Omen of ill Luck: If a Crow cry, it por­tends something Evil: If an Owl, which they reckon a most abominable and unlucky Bird, sends forth its hoarse and dismal Voice, it is an Omen of the Approach of some terri­ble Thing; that some dire Calamity, and some great Misfortune is near at Hand. If Salt fall towards them, to be sure something has hap­pened to one in the Family, or is shortly to happen to themselves: Such also is the Chat­tering [Page 88] of a Mag-pye, the Cry of Ravens, the Dead-watch, Crickets, &c.

This is a Copy of the Omens of the Hea­thens,* who never went upon any Enter­prize, nor undertook any Business of Moment, without consulting the Augurs and Wise-Men, and being guided by Omens and Presages of Things. Hence it was that they consulted the Intrails of Beasts, the Flights of Birds, and several other Things: And that the very Things above-mentioned, as the Authorities there declare, have been observed by them; yea, they have observ'd them, even in the re­motest Ages, beyond the Days of the oldest Records. The Heathen World therefore was full of them, and without all doubt they have been handed down to us from these Times.

And as it is not to be question'd, but we had them from the Heathens, so in all Proba­bility the Heathens have taken them from the People of GOD, and built many of their Folies and ominous Superstitions on a Custom which they alone were indulged in. For in the ear­liest Age of the World, when a Matter of any great Consequence was depending, and the Servants of GOD would know what the Event would be, they asked a Sign of GOD, by de­siring [Page 89] that such a Thing might happen, if they were to succeed, and God was sometimes so condescending as to grant them their De­sire. Thus we read, That* Jonathan accom­pany'd only by his Armour Bearer, not fear­ing the Steepness of the Rocks, nor Multitudes of Enemies, attempted the Garrison of the Philistines and conquered, through a Token of this Nature. If they say, says he to his Armour-Bearer, Tarry untill we come up, then we will stand still in our Place, and will not go up unto them; but if they say come up unto us, then we will go up; for the LORD hath deli­vered them into our Hands, and this shall be a Sign unto us. And so indeed it came to pass, GOD who had inspired Jonathan with this Thought, directing the Tongues of the others according to his Wishes. In like Manner, when the good old Servant of Abraham had arrived at the City of Nahor, to find a Wife for his Master's Son; we have him desiring of GOD, that the Sign of the Woman he should pitch upon, might be her saying, Drink, and I will give thy Camels Drink also. Ana he said, O Lord GOD of my Master Abraham, I pray thee send me good Speed this Day, and shew Kindness unto my Master Abraham: Behold, I stand here by the Well of Water, and the Daughters of the [Page 90] Men of the City came out to draw Water. And let it come to pass, that the Damsel to whom I shall say, let down thy Pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy Camels Drink also: Let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy Servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed Kindness unto my Master. This happened ac­cording to his Prayer, by which he knew that the LORD had prospered his Journey. Now this Custom we know the Philistines imitated, when they would know whether they had been afflicted by the GOD of Israel for keep­ing the Ark.* They took the Ark of the LORD, and laid it on a Cart, and sent it away. And they said, If it goeth by the Way of his own Coast to Beth-shemoth, then he hath done us this great Evil.

In these early Ages of the World, GOD per­mitted such Things upon extraordinary Occa­sions, to be asked by his own People. But they were only peculiar to those Times. We have no Warrant for doing the like: It be­comes not us to prescribe Means to GOD, by which we may judge of our future Success, but to depend on his Power and Wisdom, his Care and Providence. The Observation of Omens, such as the falling of Salt, a Hare [Page 91] crossing the Way, of the Dead-Watch, of Cric­kets, &c. are sinful and diabolical: They are the Inventions of the Devil, to draw Men from a due Trust in GOD, and make them his own Vassals. For by such Observations as these, they are the Slaves of Superstition and Sin, and have all the While no true Dependance upon GOD, no Trust in his Providence.


VArious are the popular Superstitions with re­gard to Omens—To these our Author has hinted at, many more may be added.

The breaking a Looking Glass is accounted a very unlucky Accident.—Mirrors were formerly used by Magicians in their superstitious and diabolical Ope­rations; and there was an antient Kind of Divina­tion by the Looking Glass: * Hence it should seem the present popular Notion.

When our Cheek burns, or Ear tingles, we usually say somebody is talking of us—a Conceit of great Antiquity, and ranked among superstitious Opini­ons by Pliny.—Dr. Browne supposes this to have proceeded from the Notion of a signifying Genius, [Page 92] or universal Mercury, that conducted Sounds to their distant Subjects and taught to hear by Touch.

It is accounted unlucky to destroy Swallows;— This is probably a Pagan Relique. We read in Aelian, that these Birds were sacred to the Penates, or household Gods of the Antients, and therefore were preserved. They were honoured antiently as the Nuncios of the Spring.—The Rhodians are said to have had a solemn anniversary Song, to welcome in the Swallow. See Anacreon's Ode to that Bird.

I think it is Mr Addison that supposes the popu­lar Ballad of the Babes in the Wood to have pre­served the Lives of many Robin Redbreasts. The subsequent Stanza places them in a very favourable Point of View:

No Burial this pretty Pair
Of any Man receives,
Till Robin-red-breast painfully
Did cover them with Leaves.
Vide Dr. Percy's Collect. Ballads.

The antient Augurs foretold Things to come by the chirping or singing of certain Birds *—the Crow, [Page 93] the Pye, the Chough, &c. hence perhaps the old womanish Observation, that when the Pye chatters, we shall have Strangers *.

It is vulgarly thought unlucky to kill Spiders. —Can this be in Support of the Scotch Proverb, "Dirt bodes luck?" However this be, it serves in many Places for an Apology for the Laziness of Housewives, in not destroying the Cobwebs.

There was an antient Custom of opening some celebrated Poem, as Homer's or Virgil's, and what­ever Passage presented itself first to the Eye con­stituted a Kind of Answer by Oracle: It was called the Sortes Homericae and Sortes Virgilianae. —The Superstitious among the antient Christians practised a similar Kind of Divination, by opening the Old or New Testament. Mr Pennant gives us an Ac­count of another Sort of Divination, used in Scot­land, called ‘reading the Speal Bone, or the Blade­bone of a Shoulder of Mutton well scraped . When Lord Lo [...]don, he says, was obliged to retreat before the Rebels to the Isle of Sky, a common Soldier, on the very Moment the Battle of Culloden was decided, proclaimed the Victory at that Distance, pretending to have discovered the Event by looking through the Bone.’ p. 155.

[Page 94]One may add to Mr. Pennant's Account, the strange Qualification many of the Inhabitants of the western Islands of Scotland are said to have, called Second Sight. It is a Faculty of seeing Things to come, or at a great Distance, represented to the Imagination as if actually visible and present. This strange Thing has been well attested, and that by Authors of Credit. Credat Judaeus apella!—See the Appendix, Article Second Sight.

The fungous Parcells (so Browne calls them) about the Wicks of Candles, are commonly thought to foretell Strangers: With us they are called Let­ters at the Candle. He tells us, (in his usual Pe­dantry of Stile, which is well atoned for by his good Sense and Learning,) ‘they only indicate a moist and pluvious Air, which hinders the Avo­lation of the light and favillous Particles, where­upon they settle upon the Snast.’ Of this Kind is the present northern Notion of foretelling Strangers from the black filmy Appendages (so per­haps the Author of the Vulgar Errors would have called them) on the Bars of our Fire Grates.

It is accounted lucky to throw an old * Shoe af­ter a Person, when we wish him to succeed in what he is going about.

Putting on one Stocking, with the wrong Side outward, without Design;—getting out of Bed [Page 95] backwards, without Premeditation, are reckoned good Omens. Stumbling in going down Stairs, and meeting a Weasel, are held to be bad ones *. Va­rious and ridiculous are the Superstitions concern­ing Moles on different Parts of the Body.

Dr. Browne tells us, that to sit cross-legg'd, or with our Fingers pectinated or shut together, is accounted bad, and Friends will persuade us from it.—The same Conceit religiously possessed the An­tients, as is observable from Pliny, ‘Poplites al­ternis genibus imponere nefas olim, and also from Athenaeus, that it was an old veneficious Practice; and Juno is made in this Posture, to hinder the Delivery of Alcmaena. Vide Vulg. Errors.

The Observation on the falling of Salt, proceeds from the antient Opinion that Salt was incorrupti­ble; it had therefore been made the Symbol of Friendship; and if it fell casually, they thought their Friendship would not be of long Duration. Bailey's Dictionary, &c.

The witty Dean of St. Patrick's, in his Invective against Wood, gives a fine philosophical Account of the Death-Watch .

—A Wood Worm
That lies in old wood, like a Hare in her form:
[Page 96]With Teeth or with Claws it will bite or will scratch,
And Chambermaids christen this Worm a Death-Watch:
Because, like a Watch, it always cries click;
Then Woe be to those in the House who are sick;
For, as sure as a Gun, they will give up the Ghost,
If the Maggot cries click, when it scratches the Post.
But a Kettle of scalding hot Water injected,
Infallibly cures the Timber affected:
The Omen is broken, the Danger is over,
The Maggot will die and the Sick will recover*.

Various were the Species of Divination prac­tised by antient Superstition.—The Druids inter­preted Omens, and doubtless both invented and handed down many of them.

No Bondage seems so dreadful as that of Super­stition: It hath ever imposed the most abject Kind of Slavery. I have known (says the Spectator) the shooting of a Star spoil a Night's Rest, and have [Page 97] seen a Man in Love grow pale and lose his Ap­petite upon the plucking of a Merrythought.—A screech Owl at Midnight has alarmed a Family more than a Band of Robbers, and the Voice of a Cricket has struck more Terror than the Roaring of a Lion. Nothing, he observes, is so inconsiderable, which may not appear dreadful to an Imagination that is filled with Omens and Prognostics:—A rusty Nail, or a crooked Pin shoots up into Prodigies.

For when we think Fate hovers o'er our Heads,
Our Apprehensions shoot beyond all Bounds:
Owls, Ravens, Crickets seem the Watch of Death;
Nature's worst Vermin scare her godlike Sons;
Echoes, the very Leavings of a Voice,
Grow babbling Ghosts, and call us to our Graves.
Each Mole-hill Thought swells to a huge Olympus,
While we, fantastic Dreamers, heave and puff,
And sweat with an Imagination's Weight.
Dryden's and Lee's Oedipus.

The Author of the Vulgar Errors tells us, that hollow Stones are hung up in Stables to prevent the Night Mare, or Ephialtes. They are usually called in the North, Holy Stones.—The Chips of Gallows and Places of Execution are used for Amulets against Agues. I saw lately some Saw-Dust, in which Blood was absorbed, taken for some such Purpose from off the Scaffold on the beheading of one of the rebel Lords, 1746. — For Warts, we rub our Hands be­fore the Moon, and commit any maculated Part to the Touch of the Dead.—Various are the su­perstitious Charms for driving away Rats, &c.

Dr. Browne has left several curious Observations on these popular Notions. That Candles and Lights (says he) burn blue and dim at the Apparition of Spirits, may be true, if the ambient Air be full of [Page 98] sulphureous Spirits, as it happens oftentimes in Mines.—He admits that Conjectures of prevalent Humours may be collected from the Spots in our Nails, but rejects the sundry Divinations vulgarly raised upon them; such as, that Spots in the Top of the Nails signify Things past; in the Middle, Things present; and at the Bottom, Events to come; —that white Specks presage our Felicity; blue ones our Misfortunes; those in the Nail of the Thumb have Significations of Honour; of the Forefinger, Riches. Palmistry, or Divination by the Lines of the Hand, has been deservedly exploded, though the Gipsies still make Pretensions to the Knowledge of it.

Sailors, usually the boldest Men alive, are yet frequently the very abject Slaves of superstitious Fear. They have various puerile Apprehensions concerning whistling on Shipboard, carrying a Corpse, &c. all which are Vestiges of the old Woman in human Nature, and can only be erazed by the united Efforts of Philosophy and Religion.

Nourishing Hair upon the Moles in the Face (the Doctor tells us) is the Perpetuation of a very antient Custom.— Thus Pliny: Naevos in facie tondere religiosum habent nunc multi.’—From the like might proceed the Fears of poling Elf-locks, or complicated Hairs of the Head, and also of Locks longer than the other Hair, they being vo­tary at first, and dedicated upon Occasion, pre­served with great Care, and accordingly esteemed by others.—Thus Apuleius: ‘Adjuro per dulcem Capilli tui Nodulum! The set and statary Times (he farther observes) of paring of Nails and cutting of Hair, is thought by many a Point of Conside­ration, [Page 99] which is perhaps but the Continuation of an antient Superstition.—To the Romans, it was piaculous to pare their Nails upon the Nundinoe, observed every ninth Day, and was also feared by others in certain Days of the Week, according to that of Ausonius: Ungues Mercurio, Barbam Jove, Cypride crines.

Mr. Pennant, in describing the Customs of Highlanders, tells us, that in certain Places the Death of People is supposed to be foretold by the Cries and Shrieks of Benshi, or the Fairy's Wife, uttered along the very Path where the Funeral is to pass, and what in Wales are called Corps' Can­dles, are often imagined to appear and foretell Mor­tality. In the County of Carmarthen, there is hardly any one that dies, but some one or other sees his Light or Candle.—There is a similar Super­stition among the Vulgar in Northumberland: They call it seeing the Waff * of the Person whose Death it foretells.—For an Account of the Fetch-lights, or Dead Men's Candles, vide Athenian Oracle, Vol. I. p. 76.

The Rev. Mr. Shaw, in his History of the Pro­vince of Moray, in Scotland, gives the following Account of some Omens and Superstitions still preserved there: When a Corpse is lifted, the Bed Straw on which the Deceased lay, is carried out, [Page 100] and burnt in a Place where no Beast can come near it; and they pretend to find next Morning it the Ashes, the Print of the Foot of that Person it the Family who shall first die*.

In hectic and consumptive Diseases, they pare the Nails of the Fingers and Toes of the Patient, put these Parings into a Rag cut from his Clothes, then wave their Hand with the Rag thrice round his Head, crying, Deas Soil; after which they bury the Rag in some unknown Place. He tells us he has seen this done; and Pliny, in his Natural History, mentions it as practised by the Magicians or Druids of his Time.

When a contagious Disease enters among Cattle, the Fire is extinguished in some Villages round; then they force Fire with a Wheel, or by rubbing a Piece of dry Wood upon another, and therewith burn Juniper in the Stalls of the Cattle, that the Smoke may purify the Air about them: They like­wise boil Juniper in Water, which they sprinkle upon the Cattle; this done, the Fires in the Houses are rekindled from the forced Fire. All this too (he tells us) he has seen done, and has no Doubt of its being a Druid Custom.

[Page 101]Mr. Shaw further tells us, that the antient Scots much regarded Omens upon an Expedition An armed Man meeting them was a good Omen:—If a Woman barefoot crossed the Road before them, they seized her, and fetched Blood from her Fore­head:—If a Deer, Fox, Hare, or any Beast of Game appeared, and they did not kill it, it was an unlucky Omen*.

A superstitious Opinion vulgarly prevails here, that the howling of a Dog by Night in a Neigh­bourhood, is the Presage of Death to any that are sick in it. I know not what has given Rise to this: Dogs have been known to stand and howl over the Bodies of their Masters, when they have been murdered, or died an accidental or sudden Death. — An Instance of great Sensibility in this faithful Animal!

Shakespear ranks this among Omens:
"The Owl shriek'd at thy Birth; an evil Sight!
"The Night Crow cry'd forboding luckless Time;
"Dogs howl'd, and hideous Tempests shook down Trees," &c.
Henry VI.

CHAP. X. Of the Country Conversation in a Winter's Even­ing: Their Opinions of Spirits and Apparitions; of the Devil's appearing with a cloven Foot; of Fairies and Hobgoblins; of the walking Places of Spirits; and of haunted Houses.

NOthing is commoner in Country Places, than for a whole Family in a Winter's Evening, to sit round the Fire, and tell Stories of Apparitions and Ghosts. And no Question of it, but this adds to the natural Fearfulness of Men, and makes them many Times ima­gine they see Things, which really are no­thing but their own Fancy. From this, and seldom any other Cause, it is, that Herds and Shepherds have all of them seen frequent Ap­paritions, and are generally so well stock'd with Stories of their own Knowledge. Some of them have seen Fairies, some Spirits in the Shapes of Cows and Dogs and Horses; and some have seen even the Devil himself, with a cloven Foot. All which, is either Hearsay or a strong Imagination. Not that there have not been, or may not be Apparitions; we know that there have undoubtedly been such Things, and that there still are, upon parti­lar Occasions; but that almost all the Stories of Ghosts and Spirits, are grounded on no [Page 103] other Bottom, than the Fears and Fancies, and weak Brains of Men.

In their Account of the Apparition of the Devil, they always describe him with a cloven Foot: That is always his distinguishing Badge, whatever Shape he appears in; whe­ther it be in Beauty or Deformity, he never appears without it. Such is the old Tradi­tion they have received of his appearing, and such is their Belief of it.

Indeed it must be confess'd, that this is not so improbable and ridiculous as many Things they hold. For tho' perhaps few of them have ought else for this Opinion, but old Wives Fables, or the Picture of the Devil, which they have always observed drawn with a cloven Foot, yet there seems to be some Truth in it. For in the Times of frequent Apparitions, the Devil was wont to appear so, if we may believe Antiquity; and there is also some Reason for it, considering the Cir­cumstances of the fallen Angels.

The* Author of the Vulgar Errors upon this same Subject, hath these Words. ‘The Ground of this Opinion at first, might be his frequent appearing in the Shape of a Goat, which answers this Description. This was the Opinion of the ancient Chri­stians, [Page 104] concerning the Apparitions of Pa­nites, Fauns and Satyrs; and of this Form we read of one, that appeared to Anthony in the Wilderness. The same is also confirmed from Expositions of Holy Scripture. For whereas it is said, Thou shalt not offer unto Devils: The original Word is Seghnirim; that is, rough and hairy Goats, because in that Shape the Devil most often appeared, as is expounded by the Rabbins, as Tremellius hath also explain'd, and as the Word Asci­mah, the God of Emath is by some conceived. He observes also, That the Goat was the Emblem of the Sin Offering, and is the Em­blem of Sinful Men at the Day of Judg­ment.’

And of this Opinion was also the learned Mr.* Mede. He says, ‘That when Spirits converse with Men, it is under some visible Shape, and that there is a Law given them that that Shape they assum'd, should be of something which more or less resembled their Condition. For as in Nature we see every Thing hath a several and suitable Physiog­nomy or Figure, as a Badge of their inward Nature, whereby it is known, as by a Habit of Distinction, so it seems to be in the Shapes and Apparitions of Spirits. And as in a well governed Common Wealth, [Page 105] every Sort and Condition is known by a dif­fering Habit, agreeable to his Quality; so it seems it should be in GOD'S great Common Wealth, concerning the Shapes which Spi­rits take upon them. And he that gave the Law, that a Man should not wear the Habit of a Woman, nor a Woman the Ha­bit of a Man, because that as he had made them diverse, so would he have them so known by their Habits; so it seems he will not suffer a good and a bad Spirit, a noble and ignoble one, to appear unto Man after the same Fashion.’

‘Now from this it will follow, that good Angels can take upon them no other Shape, but the Shape of Man, because their glori­ous Excellency is resembled only in the most excellent of all visible Creatures. The Shape of an inferior Creature would be un­suitable, no other Shape becoming those who are called the Sons of GOD, but his only, who was created after GOD's own Image. And yet, not his neither as he now is, but according as he was before his Fall in his glorious Beauty of his Integrity. Age and Deformity are the Fruits of Sin; and the Angel in the Gospel appears like a young Man, His * Countenance like Light­ning, and his Raiment white as Snow, as it [Page 106] were resembling the Beauty of glorified Bodies, in Immutability, Sublimity and Purity.’

‘Hence also it follows on the contrary, that the Devil could not appear in humane Shape whilst Man was in his Integrity; be­cause he was a Spirit fallen from his first glorious Perfection, and therefore must ap­pear in such Shape, which might argue his Imperfection and Abasement, which was the Shape of a Beast: Otherwise no Reason can be given, why he should not rather have appeared to Eve in the Shape of a Woman, than of a Serpent; for so he might have gain'd an Opinion with her, both of more Excellency and Knowledge. But since the Fall of Man, the Case is al­ter'd; now we know he can take upon him the Shape of Man; and no Wonder, since one falling Star may resemble another. And therefore he appears it seems in the Shape of Man's Imperfection, either for Age or Deformity, as like an old Man (for so the Witches say:) And perhaps it is not altogether false, which is vulgarly affirmed, that the Devil appearing in humane Shape, hath always a Deformity of some uncouth Member or other; as tho' he could not yet take upon him humane Shape intirely, for that Man himself, is not intirely and ut­terly fallen as he is.’

[Page 107]Thus far hath this great and learned Man given his Opinion of this Matter, and that with such Strength of Reason and Argument, as leaves at least a Probability behind it, of the Truth of this Opinion.

Another Part of this Conversation generally turns upon Fairies. These, they tell you, have frequently been heard and seen, nay that there are some still living who were stolen away by them, and confined seven Years. According to the Description they give of them, who pretend to have seen them, they are in the Shape of Men, exceeding little: They are always clad in Green, and frequent the Woods and Fields; when they make Cakes (which is a Work they have been often heard at) they are very noisy; and when they have done, they are full of Mirth and Pastime. But generally they dance in Moon-Light when Mor­tals are asleep, and not capable of seeing them, as may be observed on the following Morn; their dancing Places being very distinguish­able. For as they dance Hand in Hand, and so make a Circle in their Dance, so next Day there will be seen Rings and Circles on the Grass.

Now in all this there is really nothing, but an old fabulous Story, which has been handed down even to our Days from the Times of Heathenism, of a certain Sort of Beings called [Page 108] Lamiae, which were esteemed so mischievous and cruel, as to take away young Children and slay them. These, together with the the Fauns, the Gods of the Woods, seem to have formed the Notion of Fairies.

This Opinion, in the benighted Ages of Popery, when Hobgoblins and Sprights were in every City and Town and Village, by every Water and in every Wood, was very common. But when that Cloud was dispell'd, and the Day sprung up, those Spirits which wander'd in the Night of Ignorance and Error, did real­ly vanish at the Dawn of Truth and the Light of Knowledge.

Another Tradition they hold, and which is often talk'd of, is, that there are particular Places alotted to Spirits to walk in. Thence it was that formerly, such frequent Reports were abroad of this and that particular Place being haunted by a Spirit, and that the com­mon People say now and then, such a Place is dangerous to be pass'd through at Night, be­cause a Spirit walks there. Nay, they'll fur­ther tell you, that some Spirits have lamented the Hardness of their Condition, in being ob­liged to walk in cold and uncomfortable Pla­ces, and have therefore desired the Person who was so hardy as to speak to them, to gift them with a warmer Walk, by some well grown [Page 109] Hedge, or in some shady Vale, where they might be shelter'd from the Rain and Wind.

The Stories, that Apparitions have been seen oftner than once in the same Place, have no Doubt been the Rise and Spring of the walking Places of Spirits; but why they are said sometimes to cry out for Places that are more comfortable, is not so certainly known. It is however highly probable, that when the Ignorance and Superstition of the Romish Church, had filled the World with Apparitions and Ghosts, that this also was invented among them. For they seem to have the most Right to an Invention of this Nature, whose Brains were so fruitful of Folly, as to invent that* Dunstan took the Devil by the Nose, with a Pair of hot Tongs till he roar'd again. For if the Devil may be burnt, he may also be starv'd; if he took such Pains to get his Nose out of the Pincers, without Doubt in a frosty Night, he would wish to be as warm as possi­ble. He that believes the one, must necessarily believe the other. And therefore it very near amounts to a Demonstration, who were the Authors of this Opinion, viz. The Monks. We are sure they invented the one, and need little question but they invented the other.

There is a Story in the Book of Tobit, (which they may believe that will) of the evil Spirits [Page 110] flying into the utmost Parts of Egypt. * For as Tobias went in unto his Wife, he remembred the Words of Raphael, and took the Ashes of the Perfumes, and put the Heart and Liver of the Fish thereupon, and made a Smoke therewith. The which Smell, when the evil Spirit had smelled, he fled unto the utmost Parts of Egypt, and the Angel bound him. Now from this it is evident, that the Spirit was obliged to forsake his good old Quarters and warm Lodgings, for inhospitable Desarts and open Air: And from this, perhaps, some of those doting Monks have persuaded themselves into a Belief of these Things.

When it is proved to us, that this Book of Tobit is the Word of GOD, we may entertain more Veneration for this vulgar Opinion; but till then, we must be indulg'd in wondering, how a Spirit, that is an immaterial Substance, can be affected with our Heat or Cold, or any Power or Quality of material Beings.

The last Topick of this Conversation I shall take Notice of, shall be the Tales of haunted Houses. And indeed it is not to be wonder'd at, that this is never omitted. For formerly almost every Place had a House of this Kind. If a House was seated on some melancholly Place, or built in some old romantic Manner; or if any particular Accident had happen'd in [Page 111] it, such as Murder, sudden Death, or the like, to be sure that House had a Mark set on it, and was afterwards esteemed the Habitation of a Ghost. In talking upon this Point, they generally show the Occasion of the House's be­ing haunted, the merry Pranks of the Spirit, and how it was laid. Stories of this Kind are infinite, and there are few Villages which have not either had such an House in it, or near it.

And indeed there are Men of good Learn­ing and Knowledge, who are as far as others from Superstition, who are inclinable to be­lieve, that such Things have been upon parti­cular Emergencies; tho', among the Stories that are told, they believe not one in a thou­sand. They know that Spirits have frequent­ly appeared to Men out of Houses, and they can see no Reason why they may not have ap­peared in them: They know nothing in an House more than in another Place, to prevent an Apparition, but an equal Help to its Visi­bility. The Air, which a Ghost is supposed to be wrapped in, when it becomes visible to Men, is there to be found, and they know of nothing else that may be an Argument against it. An Author of good Credit tells us,* That [Page 112] when he was at Rome, he was taken with Ill­ness, and obliged to keep his Bed: As he lay in this Condition, he observed, as he was once awake, a Woman of a very beautiful Person coming towards him. Upon this he was silent for some Time, and very thoughtful, weigh­ing all the while with himself, whether it was not rather a deceptio visus than a real Being. But when he perceived his Senses sound and intire, and that the Object still continued; he asked, What she was? In Answer to which, she repeated the very Words he had spoken to her, in a sneering and disdainful Manner. After she had taken a good View of him, she departed.

The Commentator upon this Place, says,* He looks upon this Story, and the rest which are mentioned along with it, to be nothing but Dreams and Fancies. And for ought that I know to the contrary, they may be so; but however it must be confess'd, this Story in particular is well attested, being told by the Man himself, who was a great and a learned Man, and who, if we may believe himself, seems to be as sure that he had his Eyes open, as the Commentator can be of the contrary.

But whatever Truth there may be in it, it is certain that in the Church of Rome they are persuaded of the Truth of it, to a Fault. [Page 113] For they are so sure of it, that they have par­ticular Forms of exorcising such Houses; which because they have often been heard of, but seldom seen; and are those very Things which raised, in the Vulgar formerly, such an Opinion of their ignorant Priests, as to make them be esteemed Men of the greatest Faith and Learning; and because also the Opinion has reached even our Days, and 'tis common for the present Vulgar to say, none can lay a Spirit but a Popish Priest; it shall be the Business of the next Chapter, to give one of those Forms of exorcising an House; not that they are envied for their Art of conjuring, but that it may be seen, how well they deserve the Character they go under.


OF such a Winter-Evening's Confabulation as our Author speaks of, Dr. Akenside (the Boast of our Newcastle *) has left us a fine poetical [Page 114] Description in his Pleasures of Imagination, a Per­formance, the greatest Part of which is said to have been written on the Banks of the Tyne, where per­haps [Page 115] nothing was ever produced before of true classical Inspiration.

He is speaking of the restless Curiosity of the human Mind —the Desire of Objects new and strange:

—Hence (he proceeds) by Night
The Village Matron, round the blazing Hearth,
Suspends the Infant Audience with her Tales,
Breathing Astonishment! Of witching Rhymes,
And evil Spirits: Of the Death-Bed Call
To him who robb'd the Widow, and devour'd
The Orphan's Portion: Of unquiet Souls
Ris'n from the Grave to ease the heavy Guilt
Of Deeds in Life conceal'd: Of Shapes that walk
At Dead of Night, and clank their Chains and wave
The Torch of Hell around the Murd'rer's Bed.
At ev'ry solemn Pause the Crowd recoil,
Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd
With shiv'ring Sighs; till eager for th' Event,
Around the Beldame all erect they hang,
Each trembling Heart with grateful Terrors quell'd!
Book I.

Little can be added to what our Author has advanced concerning the popular Notions of the Devil.—Old Nick is the vulgar Name of this evil Being in the North, and is of great Antiquity. There is a great deal of Learning concerning it in Olaus Wormius' Danish Monuments. We bor­rowed it from the Title of an evil Genius among the antient Danes. They say he has often ap­peared on the Sea and on deep Rivers in the Shape of a Sea Monster, presaging immediate Shipwreck and Drowning to Seamen. See Lye's Junii Etymolog. in verbo, Nick.—I have heard also the Name of Old Harry on the same Occasion; perhaps from the verb To harrie to lay waste, destroy, &c.

[Page 116]To the Account of Fairies may be added that of the Brownies, a Kind of Ghosts, of whom, says the Author of the Glossary to Douglas' Virgil, the ignorant common People and old Wives in Scot­land tell many ridiculous Stories, and represent to have been not only harmless, but useful — Spirits possest of a Servility of Temper that made them, provided they were civilly used, submit to do the meanest Offices of Drudgery. They are now ex­tinct as well as the Fairies.—It was supposed that from their hard Labour and mean Employment they became of a swarthy or tawny Colour; whence their Name of Brownies *, as the other, who moved in a higher Sphere, are called Fairies, from their Fairness .

[Page 117]Perhaps Mr. Bourne's Account of the Origin of Fairies may be controverted: They are rather of Eastern than of Roman Extraction, and are said to have been invented by the Persians and Arabs, whose Religion and History abound with Relations concerning them. They have assigned them a pe­culiar Country to inhabit, and call it Fairy Land.

A respectable old Woman of our Nation, Mr. Lilly, in his Life and Times, tells us Fairies love the southern Side of Hills, Mountains, Groves— Neatness and Cleanness of Apparel, a strict Diet, an upright Life, fervent Prayers unto God, conduce much to the Assistance of those who are curious these Ways’ (!!) He means, it should seem, those who wish to cultivate an Acquaintance with them.

Chaucer, who was born in a much darker Age, saw clearer into this Matter: He is very fa­cetious concerning them in his Canterbury Tales: He puts his Creed of Fairy Mythology into the Mouth of his Wife of Bath, thus:

In the old Dayes of the King Artour,
All was this Lond fulfilled of Fayry,

The* Elf-Quene with her jolie Company,

[Page 118]
Daunsed full oft in many a grene Mede *,
This was the old Opinion, as I rede.
I speke of many hundred Yere agoe,
But now can no Man se no Elfes mo.
For now the grete Charite and Prayers
Of Limitours and other holy Freres,
That serchen every Lond and every Streme,
As thik as Motes in the Sunne Beme,
This maketh, that there ben now no Faires,
For there as wont to walken was an Elfe,
There walketh now the Limitour himself,
And as he goeth in his Limitacioune,
Wymen may now go safely up and downe,
There nis none other Incubus but he: &c.

[Page 119]From the subsequent Passage in Shakespear, the walking of Spirits seems to have been enjoined by Way of Penance. The Ghost speaks thus in Hamlet:

I am thy Father's Spirit,
Doom'd for a certain Time to walk the Night,
And for the Day confin'd to fast in Fires,
Till the soul Crimes done in my Days of Nature
Are burnt and purg'd away.

Mr. Gay, in Imitation of the Stile of our old Ennius, gives us a fine Description of one of these haunted Houses.

Now there spreaden a Rumour that everich Night
The Rooms ihaunted been by many a Sprite,
The Miller avoucheth, and all thereabout,
That they full oft hearen the hellish Rout;
Some saine they hear the gingling of Chains,
And some hath hearde the Psautrie's Straines,
At Midnight some the heedless Horse imeet,
And some espien a Corse in a white Sheet *,
[Page 120]And oother Things, Faye, Elfin and Elfe,
And Shapes that Fear createn to itself.

I subjoin here some Parts of a finely-written Con­versation between the Servants in Mr. Addison's Comedy of the Drummer, or the Haunted House. It will be thought much to our Purpose.


I marvel, John, how he (the Spirit) gets into the House when all the Gates are shut.


Why look ye, Peter, your Spirit will creep you into an Augre hole; — he'll whisk ye through a Key-hole, without so much as justling against one of the Wards.


I believe I saw him last Night in the Town Close.


Ay! how did he appear?


Like a white Horse.


Pho, Robin, I tell ye he has never appeared yet but in the Shape of the Sound of a Drum.


This makes one almost afraid of one's own [Page 121] Shadow. As I was walking from the Stable t'other Night, without my Lanthorn, I fell across a Beam, —and thought I had stumbled over a Spirit.


Thou might'st as well have stumbled over a Straw. Why a Spirit is such a little, little Thing, that I have heard a Man, who was a great Scholar, say, that he'll dance ye a Lancashire Hornpipe upon the Point of a Needle.—As I sat in the Pantry last Night, the Candle methought burnt blue, and the spay'd Bitch look'd as if she saw something.


Ay, I warrant ye, she hears him many a Time, and often when we don't.

Thus also in another Scene:


Pr'ythee, John, what Sort of a Crea­ture is a Conjurer?


Why he's made much as other Men are, if it was not for his long grey Beard.— His Beard is at least Half a Yard long, he's dressed in a strange dark Cloke, as black as a Coal: —He has a long white Wand in his Hand.


I fancy 'tis made out of Witch Elm.


I warrant you if the Ghost appears, he'll whisk ye that Wand before his Eyes, and strike you the Drumstick out of his Hand.


No; the Wand, look ye, is to make a Circle, and if he once gets the Ghost in a Circle, then he has him.—A Circle, you must know, is a Conjurer's Trap.


But what will he do with him, when he has him there?


Why then he'll overpower him with his Learning.

[Page 122]

If he can once compass him and get him in Lobs-pound, he'll make nothing of him, but speak a few hard Words to him, and perhaps bind him over to his good Behaviour for a thousand Years.


Ay, ay, he'll send him packing to his Grave again with a Flea in his Ear, I warrant him.


If the Conjurer be but well paid, he'll take Pains upon the Ghost, and lay him, look ye, in the Red Sea—and then he's laid for ever.


Why, John, there must be a Power of Spirits in that same Red Sea.—I warrant ye they are as plenty as Fish.—I wish the Spirit may not carry a Corner of the House off with him.


As for that, Peter, you may be sure that the Steward has made his Bargain with the Cunning Man beforehand, that he shall stand to all Costs and Damages.

The above is a pleasant Comment on the popular Creed concerning Spirits and haunted Houses.

I am pleased with Mr. Bourne's Zeal for the Honour of his Protestant Brethren, at the Conclusion of this Chapter.—The Vulgar (he says) think them no Conjurers, and say none can lay a Spirit but Po­pish Priests—he wishes to undeceive them however, and to prove at least negatively that our own Clergy know full as much of the black Art as the others do.

Here follows the tedious Process for the Expul­sion of 'Doemons, who, it should seem, have not been easily ferretted out of their Quarters, if one may judge of their Unwillingness to depart, by the Pro­lixity of the subsequent Removal Warrant, which I suppose the Romish Clerical Bailiffs were not at the Trouble of serving for nothing!

CHAP. XI. POSTEXERCITATIO SEPTIMA, F. VALERII POLIDORI PATAVINI. Quae ordo dicitur Domum a Daemone perturbatam liberandi.
The FORM of exorcising an haunted HOUSE.

THE* House which is reported to be vexed with Spirits, shall be visited by the Priest once every Day, for a whole Week together: And Day after Day he shall proceed as follows:

The Office for Munday.

ON Munday, when the Priest comes to the Gate of the House, let him stand near it, whilst it continues shut, and say,

V. O GOD make speed to save me.

R. O LORD make haste to help me.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

R. As it was in the Beginning is now, and ever shall be, World without End. Amen.

Psalm xxiv.

THE* Earth is the LORD'S and all that therein is, the Compass of the World and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the Seas. Who shall ascend into the Hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand up in his holy Place? Even he that hath clean Hands and a pure Heart, who hath not lift up his Mind to Vanity, nor sworn to deceive his Neighbour. He shall receive the Blessing from the LORD, and Righteousness from the GOD of his Salvation. This is the Generation of them that seek him, even of them that seek thy Face, O Jacob. Lift up your Heads O ye Gates, and be lift up ye everlasting Doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is the King of Glory? It is the LORD strong and mighty, even the LORD mighty in Battle. Lift up your Heads O ye Gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting Doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is the King of Glory? Even the LORD of Hosts he is the King of Glory.

Glory be to the Father, &c.

V. I will enter into thy House.

R. And in thy Fear will I worship toward thy holy Temple.


* O Almighty and Everlasting GOD, who hast given unto us thy Servants Grace, by the Confession of a true Faith, to acknow­ledge the Glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the Power of the Divine Majesty to wor­ship the Unity; we beseech thee, that thou wouldst keep us steadfast in this Faith, and evermore defend us from all Adversities through CHRIST our LORD. And humbly we beseech thee, that as thou wast willing thy Gates should be opened, and thy House cleansed, by the Labours of thy holy Priests and Levites, following the Advice of King Hezekiah; so we humbly beseech thee, that by our Ministry, thou wouldst be pleased to deliver this House from the Perturbations of Devils. By the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, GOD for ever and ever. Amen.

The Office on Tuesday.

ON Tuesday, the same Things are observed, and in the same Way and Manner as on Munday; the Versicle of the Prayer, and the [Page 126] Prayer it self excepted. When the Priest comes to the End of the last Versicle, viz. As it was in the Beginning, &c. Of the Psalm, The Earth is the LORD'S, &c. Then the Gate shall be open'd, and he shall stand on the Threshold, and say,

The LESSON. 1. Sam. Chap. v.

AND the Philistines took the Ark of GOD, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ash­dod. When the Philistines took the Ark of GOD, they brought it into the House of Da­gon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the Morrow; behold, Dagon was fallen upon his Face to the Earth, before the Ark of the LORD; and they took Dagon, and set him in his Place again. And when they arose early on the Morrow Morn­ing, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his Face to the Ground, before the Ark of the LORD: And the Head of Dagon, and both the Palms of his Hands were cut off upon the Threshold, only the Stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the Priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's House, tread on the Threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this Day.

V. Let GOD be my Helper, and the House of my Refuge.

R. That I may be in Safety.


* O GOD, who hast ordained and constitu­ted the Services of Angels and Men in a wonderful Order; mercifully grant, that as thy Angels always do thee Service in Hea­ven, so they may succour and defend us on Earth, through CHRIST our LORD. And be thou also mercifully present, that as Solo­mon began to build a House, for the Use of thy Majesty, on Mount Moria, the Place which was shewn to his Father David, so by the Operation of thy holy Angels, this House may be freed from the evil Spirit, and be a quiet Habitation for Men. By the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST, &c.

The Office on Wednesday.

ON Wednesday, all Things which are order­ed for Munday and Tuesday being observed in the same Manner, except the Versicles of the Prayer and the Prayer for Tuesday: He shall stand in the Entry of the House, and say,

The LESSON. From the History of Bel and the Dragon, Verse 10.

AND the King went with Daniel into the Temple of Bel, so Bel's Priests, said, [Page 128] Lo, we go out. But thou, O King, set on the Meat, and make ready the Wine, and shut the Door fast, and seal it with thine own Sig­net. And to Morrow when thou comest in, if thou findest not that Bel hath eaten up all, we will suffer Death, or else Daniel that speak­eth against us. And they little regarded it: For under the Table they had made a privy Entrance, whereby they entred in continual­ly, and consumed those Things. So when they were gone forth, the King set Meats be­fore Bel. Now Daniel had commanded his Servants to bring Ashes, and those they strew­ed throughout all the Temple, in the Pre­sence of the King alone: Then went they out and shut the Door, and sealed it with the King's Signet, and so departed. Now in the Night came the Priests, with their Wives and Children, as they were wont to do, and did eat and drink up all. In the Morning betime the King arose, and Daniel with him. And the King said, Daniel, are the Seals whole? And Daniel said, Yea, O King, they be whole. And assoon as he had open'd the Door, the King looked upon the Table, and cried with a loud Voice, Great art thou, O Bel, and with thee there is no Deceit at all. Then Daniel laughed, and told the King that he should not go in, and said, Behold now the Pavement, and mark well whose Footsteps [Page 129] are these. And the King said, I see the Foot­steps of Men, Women and Children. And then the King was angry, and took the Priests with their Wives and Children, who shewed him the privy Doors where they came in and consumed such Things as were upon the Table. Therefore the King slew them, and delivered Bel into Daniel's Power, who de­stroyed him and his Temple.

V. Blessed are they that dwell in thy House.

R. They will be always praising thee.


O GOD, by whose right Hand the holy Peter was lifted up that he perished not in the Waters, and his Fellow Apostle Paul was thrice delivered from Shipwrack and the Depth of the Sea, mercifully hear us, and grant that by both their Merits, we may ob­tain thy eternal Glory; who livest and reign­est with GOD the Father, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, GOD for ever and ever. And we beseech thee mercifully to look upon this House, which we know to be infested with the Devil, that as in Jerusalem, when the Temple was finished, and Solomon had ended his Pray­er, thy Glory filled thy House before the Children of Israel, so grant that this House may be cleansed before us, by our Ministry, [Page 130] and that thou wouldest appear in it and in us, in Glory. By thee the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST, who with the same Father and Holy Spirit, livest and reignest for ever. Amen.

The Office on Thursday.

ON Thursday, when those Things are re­tain'd which are to be retain'd, as may be seen on Munday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and also the Versicles and the Prayer of Wednesday omitted, he shall visit the middle Part of the House, and say,

The LESSON. Job Chap. xl.

THE LORD said unto Job; Behold, how Behemoth which I made with thee, he eateth Grass as an Ox. Lo, now his Strength is in his Loyns, and his Force is in the Navel of his Belly. He moveth his Tail like a Cedar; the Sinews of his Stones are wrapt together. His Bones are as strong as Pieces of Brass, his Bones are like Bars of Iron. He is the Chief of the Ways of GOD. He that made him can make his Sword to ap­proach with him. Surely the Mountains bring him forth Food, where all the Beasts of the Field play. He lieth under the shady Trees, [Page 131] in the Covert of the Reed, and Fens. The shady Trees cover him with their Shadow; the Willows of the Brook compass him about. Behold he drinketh up a River, and hasteth not; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his Mouth. He taketh it with his Eyes: His Nose pierceth through Snares.* Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a Hook? Or his Tongue with a Cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put a Hook in his Nose? Or bore his Jaw through with a Thorn? Will he make any Supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft Words unto thee? Will he make a Covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a Servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a Bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy Maidens? Shall the Companion make a Banquet for him? Or shall they part among the Merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed Irons? Or his Head with Fish Spears? Lay thine Hand upon him, remember the Battle no more. Behold, the Hope of him is in vain; shall not one be cast down even at the Sight of him?

V. LORD I have loved the Glory of thy House.

R. And the Place where thine Honour dwel­leth.


* O GOD, who didst teach the Hearts of thy faithful People, by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right Judg­ment in all Things, and evermore to rejoyce in his holy Comfort, through CHRIST our LORD. And grant unto us thy Servants, that as thy House whilst thou sittest in thy Lofty Throne, is replenished with the Odour of thy Glory, so by thy Assistance, this House may be filled with thy Grace, to repel all the Works of the Devil: By the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the Unity of the same Holy Spirit: GOD throughout all Ages. Amen.

The Office on Friday.

ON Friday, having observ'd all those Things which are used on Munday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and omitted others as is there shewn; together with the Versicles of the Prayer, and the Prayer as on other Days; let him go up and down the whole House, and say,

The LESSON. S. Luke iv. 38.

AND he arose out of the Synagogue, and entred into Simon's House, and Simon's Wife's Mother was taken with a great Fever: And they besought him for her: And he stood over her, and rebuked the Fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and mini­stred unto them. Now when the Sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers Diseases, brought them unto him. And he laid his Hands on every one of them, and healed them. And Devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art CHRIST the Son of GOD. And he rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: For they knew that he was CHRIST.

V. I would rather be a Door Keeper in the House of my GOD.

R. Then to dwell in the Tents of Ungod­liness.


O GOD, who by the precious Blood of thy dear Son, hast been pleased to sanctifie the Ensign of the enlivening Cross, grant we beseech thee, that thou wouldst be pleased to protect him, who is pleased with honouring thy Holy Cross: By the same CHRIST our [Page 134] LORD. And we beseech thee to grant, that thou wouldst be present in this House in the same merciful Manner, to overturn the Frauds of the Devil, as thou wast mercifully present with King Solomon in the House which he built thee: By the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in Unity of the Holy Ghost, GOD for ever and ever. Amen.

The Office on Saturday.

ON the Sabbath, all Things being done which are order'd on Munday, Tuesday, Wed­nesday, Thursday and Friday, and other Things omitted, as is shewn by Notes in those Places, together with the Versicles of the Prayer and the Prayer itself, let him search through the whole House, and say,

The LESSON. S. Mark iii. 11.

AND unclean Spirits when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of GOD. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known. And he goeth up into a Mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: And they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he [Page 135] might send them forth to preach; and to have Power to heal Sicknesses, and to cast out De­vils.

V. The Sparrow hath found her an House.

R. And the Turtle a Nest where she may lay her Young.


GRANT, O LORD GOD, unto us thy Ser­vants, that we may enjoy perpetual Peace of Mind and Soundness of Body, and by the Intercession of the glorious and blessed Mary, always a Virgin, be delivered from our present Sorrow, and obtain thy everlasting Joy, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD. And be thou so present with us thy humble Ser­vants, that as when the Priests came out of the Tabernacle, the Cloud of thy Glory filled thy whole House; so let thy Grace illuminate this House to us that go into it, that it may be delivered from the Workings of the Devil, and be a Dwelling for Men, replenish'd with all Benediction, through the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, God, World without End. Amen.

The Office on Sunday.

ON Sunday, after the Priest has placed him­self in one of the largest and most sumptuous Parts of the House, he shall direct this Exorcism to the Demons that haunt it, saying,

I Exorcise you, O ye Demons, who have thus boldly presum'd to invade this Ha­bitation of Men, and give such Disquietude to its Inhabitants, by the Tri-une GOD, whose is the Earth, and the fulness thereof, the round World, and they that dwell therein; by our LORD JESUS CHRIST, who continuing what he was, made himself Man, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of a Virgin, and who for our Sakes, when he had undergone many Sufferings, underwent also the Torment of the cruel Cross, upon which he bowed his Head, and gave up the Ghost, that he might obtain for us, abundant Grace in the present Life, and in the World to come Life everlasting. By all the Grace acquir'd for us; by the Grace of Faith conferr'd in Baptism, of Fortitude in Con­firmation, of Charity in the Eucharist, of Ju­stice in Pennance, of Hope in extream Unction, of Temperance in Matrimony, and of Prudence in holy Orders, and by all holy Men and Wo­men, the Saints of GOD, who now inherit eternal Glory, and by all their Merits; that [Page 137] you remove this your presumptuous Power from this House, and continue here no longer, nor any more vex its Inhabitants.

Then let him exorcise the whole House by saying,

I Exorcise this House, which was built for the Use of humane Kind, by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the omnipotent GOD, who built the House of the whole World for Man, and put all Things in it in Subjection under his Feet; and by CHRIST our LORD, who is the Fountain of all Grace, and the Origin of all Virtue; by his unparallel'd Poverty, of which he truely said, The Foxes have Holes, and the Birds of the Air have Nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his Head. By his Meek­ness, he himself saying of it, Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in Heart: By his Weeping. when he beheld the City Jerusalem and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known: By the Hunger and Thirst of his Righteousness, say­ing, My Meat is to do the Will of my Father which is in Heaven: By his Mercy which excited him to say, I will have Mercy and not Sacrifice: By his Purity of Heart, of which he could say, Be ye holy, for I am holy: By the Peace which he always loved, as at the last he shewed, when he said, Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you: And by that Persecution which he suffer'd for Righteousness Sake, [Page 138] which he himself attests, saying, If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: And by the Holy Apostles, and by the Effusion of their Blood, and by all holy Men and holy Women; that thou mayest be blessed, and obtain from GOD above, such Virtue by our Ministry, that thou mayst become to the evil Spirits a new Hell, and a burning Fur­nace of eternal Horror, so that they may flee from every Corner, and leave thee intirely free, that thou mayst become a comfortable Habitation for Men, and that GOD may ever be glorified.

After that, let him bless the House in the follow­ing Manner.

V. O LORD hear my Prayer.

R. And let my Cry come unto thee.

V. He hath bless'd the House of Israel.

R. He hath bless'd the House of Aaron.

* THOU, O LORD of all Things, who hast Need of nothing, wast pleased that the Temple of thine Habitation should be among us; and therefore now, O Holy LORD of all Holiness, keep this House ever undefi­led, which lately was cleansed. And grant unto us the Abundance of thy Goodness, that this House may be blessed † and sanctified of [Page 139] thee † by our Ministry, that the evil Angels may abdicate it, and it may be a Protection for the Faithful, a pure Habitation for the Holy Angels, and a Possession always worthy of thy Care, through our LORD JESUS CHRIST thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, GOD, who shall come to judge the Quick and Dead, and the World by Fire. Amen.

Then let the Image of our SAVIOUR upon the Cross, he erected in an open Part of the prin­cipal Room in the House; and let the Priest sprinkle the whole House with holy Water, from Top even to the Bottom, saying,

The LESSON. St. Luke, Chap. xix.

AND JESUS entred and passed through Je­richo. And behold there was a Man na­med Zaccheus, which was the Chief among the Publicanes, and he was rich, and he sought to see JESUS who he was, and he could not for the Press, because he was little of Stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a Sy­comore Tree to see him, for he was to pass that Way. And when JESUS came to the Place, he looked up and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus make haste and come down, for to Day I must abide at thy House. And he made haste and came down, and received [Page 140] him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be a Guest with a Man that is a Sinner. And Zac­cheus stood and said unto the LORD, Behold, LORD, the Half of my Goods I give to the Poor: And if I have taken any Thing of any Man, by false Accusation, I restore him four­fold. And JESUS said unto him, This Day is Salvation come to this House, forasmuch as he also is the Son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

When all these Things are done, let Abyssum, which is a Kind of an Herb, be procur'd, and after it is sign'd with the Sign of the Cross, let it be hung up at the four Corners of the House.

I suppose the Reason of proceeding after this Manner Day by Day, is that the Devil may be gradually banished: And to be sure, what is observed on the last of the Days, viz. The or­dering of the Crucifix, the holy Water, the Abys­sum tyed to the four Corners of the House, is to keep the Devil out when he is out.

St. Austin tells us a Story of one* Hesperi­tius, whose House was troubled with evil Spi­rits, [Page 141] who came once, in his Absence, to his Presbyters, and begg'd their Assistance. Upon which one of them went along with him; and when he had offer'd the Sacrifice of the Body of CHRIST, and prayed in a most fervent Manner, the House, by the Mercy of GOD, was no longer troubled.

Here is indeed an Account of a House be­ing haunted, but not a Word of any such Or­der in the dispossessing it. The Priest goes im­mediately over the Threshold into the troubled Apartment, and expells the Spirits by his Pray­ers. Had such Forms been customary in the Days of St. Austin, had the Crucifix, holy Wa­ter and Abyssum, been used, no Question but here, or somewhere else, we should have had some Account of it: But these Ages were unac­quainted with such whimsical Forms of exorci­sing; and if the Story be true, it was nothing but Prayer that quieted the House. 'Tis ridi­culous to suppose that the Prince of Darkness will yield to such feeble Instruments as Water and Herbs and Crucifixes. These Weapons are not spiritual but carnal: Whereas, in resisting this potent Enemy, we must put on the whole Armour of GOD, that we may be able to resist [Page 142] him: Which is such a Composition, as is in­tirely free from the least Allay or Mixture of any such Superstitions.


I Find little that may be added concerning the exorcising haunted Houses, a Species of the Black Art which is now almost forgotten in this King­dom. Perhaps the Form is worth preserving as a Curiosity, as we hang up rusty Pieces of old Armour: A Proof how much ado there may have been about nothing! (and yet it may be supposed not altogether for nothing either!)

St. Chrysostom is said to have insulted some African Conjurers of old with this humiliating and singular Observation: ‘Miserable and woeful Crea­tures that we are, we cannot so much as expel Fleas, much less Devils *.’

[Page 143]The learned Selden observes on this Occasion, that there was never a merry World since the Fai­ries left dancing, and the Parson left conjuring *.— The Opinion of the latter kept Thieves in Awe, and did as much Good in a Country as a Justice of Peace.

This facetious and pointedly sensible Writer en­quires farther, ‘Why have we now none possest with Devils in England? The old Answer is, The Devil hath the Protestants already, and the Papists are so holy he dares not meddle with them.’

[Page 144] Casting out Devils (he adds) is mere juggling; they never cast out any but what they first cast in. They do it where for Reverence no Man shall dare to examine it; they do it in a Corner, in a Mor­tice-hole, not in the Market-place. They do no­thing but what may be done by Art; they make the Devil fly out of the Window in the Likeness of a Bat or a Rat. Why do they not hold him? Why in the Likeness of a Bat, or a Rat, or some Creature? that is, Why not in some Shape we paint him in, with Claws and Horns? Answer may be made to his pertinent Question, that real Bats and Rats may be procured—but every Carver is not to be trusted with the making of a horned or cloven-footed Image of the Devil.

Impious and antichristian Rome*! it is impossible to say how much thou hast prejudiced the Cause of manly and rational Religion by these, and the like thy childish (to give no harsher Name to thy) Fooleries and Superstitions!

CHAP. XII. Of Saturday Afternoon; how observed of old, by the ancient Christians, the Church of Scotland, and the old Church of England: What End we should observe it for: An Exhortation to the Observation of it.

IT is usual, in Country Places and Villages, where the Politeness of the Age hath made no great Conquest, to observe some particular Times with some Ceremonies, which were customary in the Days of our Fore-fathers: Such are the great Festivals of Christmas, Easter, and several others, which they observe with Rites and Customs appropriated to them.

Among these we find a great Deference paid to Saturday Afternoon, above the other worky Days of the Week: Then the Labours of the Plough ceast, and Refreshment and Ease are over all the Village.

This seems to be the Remains of a laudable Custom once in this Land (but now almost buried in that general Contempt of Religion and Love of the World, which prevail so much every where) of attending the Evening Prayers on Saturday, and laying aside the Concerns of this Life, to be fitter for the Duties of the [Page 146] Day following. For* ‘it was an holy Cus­tom among our Fore-fathers, when at the Ringing to Prayer the Eve before the Sab­bath, the Husbandman would give over his Labour in the Field, and the Tradesman his Work in the Shop, and go to Evening Prayer in the Church, to prepare their Souls, that their Minds might more chearfully attend GOD's Worship on the Sabbath-Day.

And indeed it was the Custom both of the Jewish and the Christian Church. They nei­ther of them entred upon the Sabbath, without some Preparation for it. Moses taught the Jews to remember the Sabbath over Night; from whence in all Probability it comes to pass, that the Eve of the Jewish Sabbath is called the Preparation. The Preparation mentioned by the Evangelists, begun at Three a Clock on Friday Afternoon; it was proclaimed with the Noise of Trumpets and Horns, that they might be better put in Mind of the Sabbath's draw­ing on, and of that Preparation which was requisite for it.

Among the primitive Christians the LORD'S Day was always usher'd in with a Pernoctation or Vigil. They assembled in the House of GOD, and sung Psalms and Praises to him a great Part [Page 147] of the Night, that they might be better pre­pared to serve him on his own Day following.

In the Year of our LORD 1203, William King of Scotland * called a Council of the chief Men of his Kingdom, at which also was pre­sent the Pope's Legate; and it was then deter­min'd, that Saturday after the twelfth Hour should be kept holy; that no one should fol­low their Business nor Callings, but desist as on other Holy Days: That they should be put in Mind of it by the Tolling of the Bell, and then mind the Business of Religion as on Holy Days, be present at the Sermon, and hear Vespers; that this should be the Practice till Munday Morning, and whoever acted other­wise should be severely punished.

And this, as is said before, was also the Custom of our own Country, long before this order'd in Scotland. For in the Year 958, when King Edgar made his Ecclesiastical Laws, we find one made to this very Purpose: In which [Page 148] it is order'd, That* the Sabbath or Sunday shall be observed from Saturday at Noon, till the Light appear on Munday Morning.

Now hence hath come the present Custom, of spending a Part of Saturday Afternoon with­out servile Labour. And that our Fore-fathers, when the Bell was heard, attended the Evening Prayer, not fearing the Loss of Time, nor the Necessities of Poverty. Happy would it be for us, would we so banish the Care of the Body for the Care of the Soul! Would we leave to converse about secular Business, and mind then [Page 149] the Business of Religion; would we remember that it is* the Preparation, and that the Sab­bath draws on.

When Jacob was going to worship GOD at Bethel, he order'd his Family to put away the strange Gods that were among them, and be clean, and change their Garments, and arise and go to Bethel. He knew that the GOD of Pu­rity and Holiness was to be approached with the utmost Purity they could possibly cloth themselves with. And would we, before we enter into the Presence of GOD on his own Day, endeavour to purifie our selves from the Filth of the World we have contracted in the Days before; would we disperse these busy Swarms of Things, which so attract our Minds, and prepare our selves for the follow­ing Day; we should appear before GOD, less earthly and more heavenly, less sinful and more holy; Our Prayers would be set forth in his Sight as the Incense, and the lifting up of our Hands be an Evening Sacrifice: And like the Smell of Jacob's Garment in the Nostrils of his Father, the Smell of our Prayers would § be like the Smell of a Field which the LORD hath blessed.

And now what is this Preparation, but the Trimming of our Lamps against we meet [Page 150] the LORD on the next Day? Our Bodies should be refreshed by ceasing early from their Labour, that they may be active and vigorous; and our Souls washed with Sobri­ety and Temperance, and the private or public Prayer of the Evening. Thus should we meet the LORD at Bethel, and obtain those Mercies we sought of him there.

Art thou then blessed with an affluence of Things, and hath Providence placed Thee above the careful Sations of Life? What Rea­son then can be sufficient for thy Neglect of this Custom? For neither canst thou plead the want of Time, neither dost thou dread the straits of Poverty.

Or art thou involv'd in the Cares of Busi­ness? Dost thou earn thy Bread by the Sweat of thy Face, and the Labours of thy Hands? O well is Thee! And happy mayst thou be. Wouldst thou dedicate this small Time to the Service of GOD, it would be like the Wi­dow's Mite, which was more than all that was thrown into the Treasury: But perhaps, thou wilt say thou art under the Yoke, sub­ject to Servitude, and obliged to work even to the latter End of the Day. It may be so, but yet, as GOD is every where present, so wouldst thou Remember that it is the Prepa­ration, and put up an Ejaculation at thy Work, GOD would accept it, and it would prove to [Page 151] thee, an equal Good with the other Prepara­tion. Cassian * tells us, That the antient Monk, whilst they were working in the pri­vate Cells, repeated their Religious Offices: And St. Jerom, when he is commending the pleasing Retirement of the Village of Bethle­hem, says, That in the Village of CHRIST, there is a secure Rusticity: No Noise is heard there, but the Singing of Psalms. Where­soever you go, you have either the Plough-Man singing Hallelujahs as he's holding the Plough, or the sweating Mower pleasing him­self with Hymns; or the Vine-dresser singing David's Psalms. These without doubt were acceptable to GOD, and thine undoubtedly will be acceptable also.

But if thou art not ty'd down by Necessity, do not say that the common Necessaries of Life require then thy Labour: For this is not losing, but Redeeming the Time; what thou spendest in the Care of thy Soul, is not lost in the Care of thy Body. Never was Man poorer, for observing the Duties of Re­ligion. If thou lose any Thing of the Wages [Page 152] of the Day, to do the Service of GOD, he will take care to supply it, thou shalt be no loser.

Why then art thou fearful, O! Thou of little Faith! Why dost thou take so much Thought for thy Life? Behold the Fowls of the Air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into Barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them: Art thou not much better than they? And why takest thou thought for Rayment? Con­sider the Lilies of the Field, they toil not, nei­ther do they Spin; and yet I say unto thee, that Solomon, in all his Glory, was not arrayed like one of these. And shall he not much more Cloath thee, O Thou of little Faith! Therefore take no Thought for what thou shalt Eat, or what thou shalt Drink, or where withal thou shall be Cloathed; but seek thou first the Kingdom of GOD and his Righteousness; prefer the Care of these, to the Care of all other Things, and all these Things shall be added unto Thee.

Let not then the busy Cares of this Life, be any hinderance to thy Care of the other; set apart this small Time, for the Time of Preparation, and look on it, as an Emblem of the whole Time of Life: Which is our Day of Preparation, for the eternal Sabbath, the everlasting Rest, the undisturbed Quiet of the other Life.


THE religious Observation of the Saturday Afternoon is now entirely at an End I should be happy, were I able to say with Truth that the Conclusion of that of the Sunday too did not seem to be approaching.

Mr. Bourne uses great Affectation in translating the Quotation from Selden. He has printed the Latin erroneously too: It ought to be ‘in lunaris diei diliculum, &c.’ — The Sabbath was not to be observed from Saturday at Noon, but from three o'Clock on that Day in the Afternoon, and whatever Part of the Day might have been called Noon at the Time he alludes to, he might have hinted to us in a Note, without confounding it in his Text with the Mid-day of this Age.

To our Author's Account of the Custom of the old Churches of England and Scotland, an Alte­ration may be added, of which he seems never to have heard. It is, that in the Year 1332, at a Provincial Council, held by Archbishop Mepham, at Magfield, after Complaint made, that instead of fasting upon the Vigils, they ran out to all the Excesses of Riot, &c. it was appointed, among many other Things relative to Holy Days, ‘that the Solemnity for Sunday should begin upon Saturday in the Evening, and not before, to prevent the Misconstruction of keeping a Judai­cal [Page 154] Sabbath*.’ See Collier's Ecclesiastic Hist. Vol. I. p. 531.

Our Author's Exhortation towards the Conclusion of this Chapter is, I think, liable to Misconstruction: An Inference might easily be deduced from it in favour of Idleness.—Perhaps Men, who live by manual Labour, or have Families to support by it, cannot better spend their Saturday Afternoon, than in following the several Callings, in which they have employed themselves on the preceding Days of the Week.—Industry will be no bad Preparation to the Sabbath!

Considered in a Political View, much Harm hath been done by that prodigal Waste of Days, very falsely called Holy Days, in the Church of Rome. They have greatly favoured the Cause of Vice and Dissipation without doing any essential Service to that of rational Religion.—Complaints seem to have been made in almost every Synod and Council, of the Licentiousness introduced by the keeping of Vigils.—Nor will the Philosopher wonder at this, for it has its Foundation in the Nature of Things.

CHAP. XIII. Of the Yule-Clog and Christmas-Candle; what they may signifie; their Antiquity; the like Customs in other Places.

IN the Primitive Church, Christmas-Day was always observ'd as the Lord's-Day was, and was in like Manner preceded by an Eve or Vigil. Hence it is that our Church hath ordered an Eve before it, which is observed by the Religious, as a Day of Preparation for that great Festival.

Our Fore-Fathers, when the common De­votions of the Eve were over, and Night was come on, were wont to light up Candles of an uncommon Size, which were called Christmas-Candles, and to lay a Log of Wood upon the Fire, which they termed a Yule-Clog, or Christmas-Block. These were to Illuminate the House, and turn the Night into Day; which Custom, in some Measure, is still kept up in the Northern Parts.

It hath, in all probability, been derived from the Saxons. For Bede tells us, That this very Night was observed in this Land before, by the Heathen Saxons. They* began, says [Page 156] he, their Year on the Eight of the Calends of January, which is now our Christmas-Day: And the very Night before, which is now Holy to us, was by them called Maedrenack, or the Night of Mothers; because, as we ima­gine, of those Ceremonies which were per­form'd that Night. The Yule-Clog therefore hath probably been a Part of that Night's Ceremonies. The very Name seems to speak it, and tells its Original to every Age.

It seems to have been used, as an Emblem of the return of the Sun, and the lengthening of the Days. For as* both December and Ja­nuary were called Guili or Yule, upon Ac­count [Page 157] of the Sun's Returning, and the In­crease of the Days; so, I am apt to believe, the Log has had the Name of the Yule-Log, from its being burnt as an Emblem of the returning Sun, and the Increase of its Light and Heat.

This was probably the Reason of the Cu­stom among the Heathen Saxons; but I can­not think the Observation of it was continued for the same Reason, after Christianity was embraced. For Bishop Stillingfleet observes in his Origines Britanicae, ‘That though the ancient Saxons observed Twelve Days at that Time, and sacrificed to the Sun, in [Page 158] hopes of his Returning; yet when Chris­tianity prevailed, all these Idolatrous Sa­crifices were laid aside, and that Time of Feasting was joined with the religious So­lemnity of that Season, which in other Parts of the World were observed by Christians.’ And in like Manner as these Days of Feasting were joined with the reli­gious Solemnities of that Season, so the keep­ing up of this Custom, seems to have been done with another View, than it was ori­ginally. If a Conjecture may be allowed, it might have been done on Account of our Saviour's Birth, which happened that Night. For as the Burning of it before Christianity, was an Emblem of the Coming of the Sun, which they worshipped as their God; so the continuing it after, might have been for a Symbol of that Light, which was that Night born into the World: The Light that shineth in Darkness; the Light that lightned the Gen­tiles, that turn'd them from Darkness to Light, and from the Power of Satan unto GOD.

And indeed it will be some strengthening of the Conjecture, that Light has been the Emblem of several Things, both in Scripture, and in the ancient Church: For the Scripture makes use of it, and the Church in Imitation of the Scripture, as a lively Reresentation of several Things. Thus Light is the Emblem of [Page 159] GOD: For GOD is Light, says the Apostle St. John. John the Baptist was a Burning and a Shining Light. And therefore in some Places it* is customary to carry Torches on St. John the Baptist's Eve, to represent St. John Baptist himself, who was a Burning and a Shining Light, and a Preparer of the Way for the True Light, that lighteneth every Man that cometh into the World. The Apostles were the Light of the World; and as our Saviour was frequently called Light, so was his Coming into the World signified, and pointed out by the Emblems of Light: ‘It was then (says our Country-man Gregory) the longest Night in all the Year; and it was the midst of that, and yet there was Day where he was: For a glorious and betokening Light shined round about this Holy Child. So says Tra­dition, and so the Masters describe the Night Piece of the Nativity.’ If this be called in Question, as being only Tradition, it is out of Dispute, that the Light which illuminated the Fields of Bethlehem, and shone round about the Shepherds as they were watching their Flocks, was an Em­blem of that Light, which was then come [Page 160] into the World. What* can be the meaning, says venerable Bede, that this Apparition of Angels was surrounded with that heavenly Light, which is a Thing we never meet with in all the Old Testament? For tho' Angels have appeared to Prophets and holy Men, yet we never read of their Appearing in such Glory and Splendor before. It must surely be, because this Privilege was reserved for the Dignity of this Time. For when the true Light of the World, was born in the World, it was very proper that the Proclaimer of his Nativity, should appear in the Eyes of Men, in such an heavenly Light, as was before un­seen in the World. And that supernatural Star, which was the Guide of the Eastern Magi, was a Figure of that Star, which was risen out of Jacob; of that Light which should lighten the Gentiles. ‘GOD, says Bishop Taylor, sent a miraculous Star, to invite and lead them to a new and more glorious Light, the Light of Grace and Glory,’

In Imitation of this, as Gregory tells us, the Church went on with the Ceremony: And [Page 161] hence it was, that for the three or four First Centuries, the whole Eastern Church, called the Day, which they observed for our Savi­our's Nativity, the Epiphany or Manifestation of the Light. And Cassian tells ut,* That it was a Custom in Egypt, handed down by Tradition, as soon as the Epiphany, or Day of Light was over, &c. Hence also came that ancient Custom of the same Church, taken Notice of by St. Jerome, of lighting up Candles at the Reading of the Gospel, even at Noon-Day; and that, not to drive away the Darkness, but to speak their Joy for the good Tidings of the Gospel, and be an Emblem of that Light, which the Psalmist says, was a Lamp unto his Feet, and a Light unto his Paths.

Light therefore having been an Emblem of so many Things, and particularly of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, both in the sacred History, and in the Practice of the Church; it is no way improbable, that after their Con­version, the Saxons used it as an Emblem of him, who that Night came into the World, [Page 162] and was the Light thereof. In the City of Constantinople, on the Eve of Easter, there was a Custom practised, much like this of ours on Christmas-Eve. For then the whole City was illuminated with Tapers and Torches, which continued all the Night, turning the Night into Day, till almost the Day appeared. The Reason of this Custom, was to represent that Light which the next Day arose upon the World. The Difference between these two Customs, is that of the Time, the Reason of their Observation is much the same. The one illuminated the Eve of Easter, that there might be an Emblem of the Sun of Righte­ousness, who the next Day arose upon the World; the other, the Eve of Yule, to give an Emblem of that Light which was the Day spring from on High. Nay, this Eve of Yule, as Gregory tells us, ‘was illuminated with so many Tapors among the Ancients, as to give to the Vigil the Name of Vigilia Lumi­num; and the Ancients, says he, did well to send Lights one to another, whatever some think of the Christmas-Candle.


MR. Bourne omits the Yule-Dough, (or Dow) a Kind of Baby or little Image of Paste, which our Bakers used formerly to bake at this Season, and present to their Customers, in the same Manner as the Chandlers gave Christmas Candles. They are called Yule-Cakes in the county of Durham. I find in the antient Calendar of the Romish Church*, that at Rome, on the Vigil of the Nativity, Sweet-meats were presented to the Fathers in the Vatican, and that all Kinds of little Images (no doubt of Paste) were to be found at the Confectioners' Shops.

There is the greatest Probability that we have had from hence both our Yule-Doughs and Mince Pies, the latter of which are still in common Use at this Season. The Yule-Dough has perhaps been intended for an Image of the Child Jesus. It is now, if I mistake not, pretty generally laid aside, or at most retained only by Children.

[Page 164]J. Boëmus* Aubanus tells us, that in Franconia, on the three Thursday Nights preceding the Nativity of our Lord, it is customary for the Youth of both Sexes to go from House to House, knocking at the Doors, singing their Christmass Carrols, and wishing a happy new Year.—They get in Return from the Houses they stop at, Pears, Apples, Nuts, and even Money.

Little Troops of Boys and Girls still go about in this very Manner at Newcastle, some few Nights before, on the Night of the Eve of this Day, and on that of the Day itself.—The Hagmena is still preserved among them. They still conclude too with wishing " a merry Christmass and a happy new Year."

We are told in the Athenian Oracle, that the Christmass Box Money is derived from hence.—The [Page 165] Romish Priests had Masses said for almost every Thing: If a Ship went out to the Indies, the Priests had a Box in her, under the Protection of some Saint: And for Masses, as their Cant was, to be said for them to that Saint, &c. the poor People must put in something into the Priests' Box, which is not to be opened till the Ship return.

The Mass at that Time was called Christmass *; the Box, Christmass Box, or Money gathered against that Time, that Masses might he made by the Priests to the Saints to forgive the People the Debaucheries of that Time; and from this Servants had the Li­berty to get Box Money, that they too might be enabled [Page 166] to pay the Priest for his Masses, knowing well the Truth of the Proverb, ‘No Penny, No Pater-noster’

Christmass, says Blount, was called the Feast of Lights, in the Western or Latin Church, because they used many Lights or Candles at the Feast; or rather, because Christ, the Light of all Lights, that true Light then came into the World.

Hence it should seem the Christmass Candle, and what was perhaps only a Succedaneum, the Yule Clog * or Block, before Candies were in ge­neral Use —Thus a very large Coal is often set a­part at present in the North for the same Purpose, i. e. to make a great Light on Yule or Christmass [Page 167] Eve. Lights indeed seem to have been used upon all festive Occasions:—Thus our Illuminations, Fire­works, &c. on the News of Victories.

In the antient Times to which we would trace back the Origin of these almost obsolete Customs, Blocks, Logs, or Clogs of dried Wood might be easily procured, and provided against this festive Season: At that Time of Day it must have been in the Power but of a few to command Candles or Torches for making their annual Illumination.

Besides the Definitions of the Word Yule, which Bourne gives us from Elstob, Stillingfleet, &c. I shall lay yet others before my Readers, but perhaps ought not to presume to determine which is abso­lutely the truest Etymon. There have been great Controversies about this Word; and many perhaps will think it still left in a State of Uncertainty, like the Subject of the

—"Certant, et adhuc sub judice lis est," of Horace.

Dr. Moresin* supposes it a Corruption of Io! Io! well known as an antient Acclamation on joyful Occasions.

Ule, Yeule, Yool, or Yule Games, says Blount, in our northern Parts, are taken for Christmass Games or Sports: From the French Nouël, Christ­mass, which the Normans corrupt to Nuel, and from Nuel we had Nule, or Ule.

[Page 168]Dr. Hammond thinks Yule should be taken im­mediately from the Latin Jubilum *, as that signi­fies a Time of Rejoicing or Festivity.

M. Court de Gebelin, in his Allegories Orientales, printed at Paris, 1773, is profuse of his Learning on the Etymon of this Word.

Iol , says he, pronounced Hiol, Iul, Jul, Giul, Hweol, Wheel, Wiel, Vol, &c. is a primitive Word, carrying with it a general Idea of Revolution, and of Wheel.

Iul-Iom signifies in Arabic the first Day of the Year: Literally, the Day of Revolution or of Return.

Giul-ous in the Persian Tongue is Anniversary. It is appropriated to that of a King's Coronation.

Hiul in Danish and Swedish implies Wheel.

It is Wiel in Flemish.
In English, Wheel.

[Page 169] The Verb Well-en in German signifies to turn.

Wel implies Waves, which are incessantly coming and going.

'Tis our Word Houle (i. e. French).

The Vol-vo of the Latin too is from hence.

The Solstices being the Times when the Sun re­turns back again, have their Name from that Cir­cumstance. Hence the Greek Name Tropics, which signifies Return.

'Twas the same amongst the Celts:—They gave the Name of Iul to the Solstices and to the Months which commence at the Solstices, which in like Manner signified Return.

Stiernhielm, skilled in the Languages and Anti­quities of the North, informs us, that the antient Inhabitants of Sweden celebrated a Feast which they called Iul, in the Winter Solstice, or Christmass; that this Word means Revolution, Wheel; that the Month of December is called Iul-Month, the Month of Return, and that the Word is written both Hiule and Giule.

[Page 170]The People in the County of Lincoln, in Eng­land, still call a Log or Stump which they put into the Fire on Christmass Day, (which was to last for the whole Octave) a Gule-Bl [...]ck, i. e. Block or Log of Iul.

We must not be surprized then if our Month of July, which follows the Summer Solstice, has had its Name from hence. 'Tis true the Romans tell us this Month took its Name from Julius Caesar; an Etymon that suited well with the Flatteries they heaped on their Emperors, though they had done nothing but altered the Pronunciation of the Word Iul, to make it agree with the Name of Julius, which they pronounced Iulus, a Name which Ascanius, the Son of Aeneas, had also, and which ascended from thence even to the primitive Languages of the East.

The Case had been the same with the Month following.

If these two Months were fixed on to bear the Names of their first and second Emperors, it was [Page 171] principally because their Names already resembled those of Julius and Augustus.

They did it also in Imitation of the Egyptians, who had given to these two Months the Names of their two first Kings, Mesor and Thot.

As the Month of August was the first in the Egyptian Year, the first Day of it was called Gule, which being latinized makes Gula. Our Legenda­ries, surprized at seeing this Word at the Head of the Month of August, did not overlook but con­verted it to their own Purpose▪ They made out of it the Feast of the Daughter of the Tribune Quirinus, cured of some Disorder in her Throat (Gula is Latin for Throat) by kissing the Chains of St. Peter, whose Feast is solemnized on this Day.

Thus far our learned Foreigner, and with such a convincing Parade of Proof, that we must be Sceptics indeed if we doubt any longer of the true Origin of this very remarkable Word.

CHAP. XIV. Of adorning the Windows at Christmas with Laurel: What the Laurel is an Emblem of: An Objection against this Custom taken off.

ANother Custom observed at this Season, is the adorning of Windows with Bay and Laurel. It is but seldom observed in North, but in the Southern-Parts, it is very Common, particularly at our Universities; where it is Customary to adorn, not only the Common Windows of the Town, and of the Colleges, but also to bedeck the Chapels of the Colleges, with Branches of Laurel.

The Laurel was used among the ancient Romans, as an Emblem of several Things, and in particular, of* Peace, and Joy, and Victory. And I imagine, it has been used at this Season by Christians, as an Emblem of the same Things; as an Emblem of Joy for the Victory gain'd over the Powers of Darkness, and of that Peace on Earth, that Good-will towards Men, which the Angels sung over the Fields of Bethlehem.

[Page 173]It* has been made use of by the Non Con­formists, as an Argument against Ceremonies, that the second Council of Bracara, Can. 73. forbad Christians ‘to deck their Houses, with Bay Leaves and Green Boughes.’ But the Council does not mean, that it was wrong in Christians, to make use of these Things, but only at the same Time with the Pagans, when they observed and solemnized their Paganish Pastime and Worship. And of this Prohibi­tion, they give this Reason in the same Canon; Omnis haec observatio paganismi est. All this kind of Custom doth hold of Paganism: Be­cause the outward Practice of Heathenish Rites, perform'd jointly with the Pagans themselves, could not but imply a Consent in Paganism.’

But at present, there is no hazard of any such Thing. It may be an Emblem of Joy to us, without confirming any, in the Practice of Heathenism. The Time, the Place, and the Reasons of the Ceremony, are so widely diffe­rent; that, tho' formerly, to have observed it, would unquestionably have been a Sin, it is now become harmless, comely, and decent.


STOW*, in his Survey of London, tells us, ‘Against the Feast of Christmass, every Man's House, as also their Parish Churches, were decked with Holme, Ivy, Bayes, and whatsoever the Season of the Year afforded to be Green: The Conduits and Standards in the Streets, were like­wise garnished. Among the which, I read, that [Page 175] in the Year 1444, by Tempest of Thunder and Lightning; toward the Morning of Candlemas Day, at the Leaden Hall, in Corn-hilll, a Stan­dard of Tree, being set up in the Midst of the Pavement, fast in the Ground, nailed full of Holme and Ivie, for disport of Christmass to the People; was torne up and cast downe by the malignant * Spirit, (as was thought) and the Stones of the Pavement all about, were cast in the Streets, and into divers Houses, so that the People were sore aghast at the great Tempests.’

In the North there is another Custom used at or about this Time, which if I mistake not, was antiently observed in the Beginning of Lent: The Fool Plough goes about, a Pageant that con­sists of a Number of Sword Dancers , dragging a [Page 176] Plough, with Music, and one, sometimes two, in a very antic Dress; the Bessy, in the grotesque Habit of an old Woman, and the Fool, almost cover­ed with Skins, a hairy Cap on, and the Tail of some Animal hanging from his Back: The Office of one of these Characters is, to go about rattling a Box amongst the Spectators of the Dance, in which he collects their little Donations.

This Pageant or Dance as used at present, seems a Composition made up of the Gleanings of several obsolete Customs followed antiently, here and elsewhere, on this and the like festive Occasions.

I find a very curious and minute Description of the Sword Dance in Olaus Magnus'* History [Page 177] of the northern Nations.—He tells us, that the northern Goths and Swedes, have a Sport wherein they exercise their Youth, consisting of a Dance with Swords in the following Manner: First with their Swords sheathed and erect in their Hands, they dance in a triple Round. Then with their drawn Swords held erect as before: Afterwards extending them from Hand to Hand, they lay hold of each other's Hilt and Point, while they are wheeling more moderately round, and changing their Order, throw themselves into the Figure of a Hexagon, which they call a Rose.—But presently raising and drawing back their Swords, they undo that Figure, to form (with them) a four-square Rose, that may rebound over the Head of each. At last they dance rapidly backwards, and vehemently rattling the Sides of their Swords together, con­clude the Sport. Pipes, or Songs (sometimes both) direct the Measure, which at first is slow, but increasing afterwards, becomes a very quick one, towards the Conclusion.

He calls this a Kind of Gymnastic Rite *, in which the Ignorant were successively instructed by those who were skilled in it: And thus it must have been preserved and handed down to us.—I have been a frequent Spectator of this Dance, which is now [Page 178] performed with few or no Alterations; only they lay their Swords, when formed into a Figure, upon the Ground and dance round them.

With regard to the Plough drawn about on this Occasion; I find the Monday after Twelfth Day, called antiently (as Coles tells us) Plough Monday, ‘when our northern Plough Men, beg Plough Money to drink’ (it is very probable they would draw about a Plough on the Occasion; so in hard Frosts our Watermen drag a Boat about the Streets, begging Money): And he adds, ‘In some Places if the Ploughman (after that Day's Work) come with his Whip to the Kitchen Hatch and cry, Cock in Pot," before the Maid says, "Cock on the Dunghill," he gains a Cock for Shrove Tues­day*.’ Vide Cock-fighting in the Appendix.

Joannes Boëmus Aubanus, in his Description of some remarkable Customs used in his Time in Franconia, a Part of Germany, tells us of the following on Ash Wednesday. Such young Women as have frequented the Dances throughout the Year, are gathered together by young Men, and instead of Horses, are yoked to a Plough, upon which a Piper sits and plays: In this Manner they are dragged into a Water.—He suspects this to have been a Kind of self-enjoined or voluntary Penance, [Page 179] for not having abstained from their favourite Sport on Holidays, contrary to the Injunctions of the Church.

I can find nothing more relative to the Plough, though in Du Cange's Glossary, there is a Re­ference to some old Laws *, which mention the "drawing a Plough about," which I guess would have afforded something to our Purpose, could I have found them.

As to the Fool and Bessy, they are plainly Frag­ments of the antient Festival of Fools, held on New Year's Day. See Trusler's Chronology.

There was antiently a profane Sport, among the Heathens on the Kalends of January, when they used to roam about in Disguises, resembling the Figures of wild Beasts, of Cattle and of old Women. The Christians adopted this: Faustinus, the Bishop, inveighs against it with great warmth.—They were wont to be covered with Skins of Cattle, and to put on the Heads of Beasts, &c.

Doctor Johnson tells us in his Journey to the Western Islands, that a Gentleman informed him of an odd Game: At New Year's Eve, in the [Page 180] Hall or Castle of the Laird, where at festal Seasons, there may be supposed a very numerous Company, one Man dresses himself in a Cow's Hide, upon which other Men beat with Sticks. He runs with all this Noise round the House, which all the Company quits in a counterfeited Fright; the Door is then shut. At New Year's Eve, there is no great pleasure to be had out of Doors in the He­brides. They are sure soon to recover from their Terror enough to solicit for Re-admission; which for the Honour of Poetry, is not to be obtained but by repeating a Verse, with which those that are know­ing and provident, take care to be furnished.

This is no doubt a Vestige of the Festival * of Fools above described.—See Du Cange's Glossary in Verbo. Kalendae. &c. &c. The ‘vestiuntur pellibus pecudum’ and ‘a Man's dressing him­self in a Cow's Hide,’ both too on the first of January, are such Circumstances as leave no Room for Doubt, but that, allowing for the Mutilations of Time, they are one and the same Custom .

CHAP. XV. Of the Christmas Carol, an ancient Custom: The common Observation of it very unbecoming.

AS soon as the Morning of the Nativity appears, it is customary among the common People to sing a Christmas-Carol, which is a Song upon the Birth of our Savi­our, and generally sung with some* others, from the Nativity to the Twelveth-Day, the Continuance of Christmas. It comes, they say, from Cantare, to sing, and Rola, which is an Interjection of Joy: For in ancient Times, the Burden of the Song, when Men were Merry, was Rola, Rola.

This kind of Songs is of an ancient stand­ing: They were sung early in the Church it self, in memory of the Nativity, as the many HYMNS for that Season manifestly declare: Tertullian says, it was customary among the Christians, at their Feasts, to bring those, who were able to sing, into the Midst, and [Page 182] make them sing a Song unto GOD; either out of the Holy Scripture, or of their own Com­posing and Invention. And as this was done at their Feasts, so no doubt it was observed at the great Feast of the Nativity; which Song, no Question of it, was to them, what the Christmas-Carol should be to us. In after Ages we have it also taken Notice of: For Durand tells us,* That on the Day of the Nativity, it was usual for the Bishops of some Churches to sing among their Clergy, in the Episcopal House, which Song was undoubt­ed a Christmas-Carol.

The Reason of this Custom seems to be an Imitation of the Gloria in Excelsis, or Glory be to GOD on High, &c. which was sung by the Angels, as they hovered o'er the Fields of Bethlehem, in the Morning of the Nativity. For even that Song, as the learned Bishop Taylor observes, was a Christmas-Carol. As soon, says he, as these blessed Choristers had sung their Christmas Carol, and taught the Church a Hymn, to put into her Offices for Ever, in the Anniversary of this Festivity; the Angels, &c.

Was this performed with that Reverence and Decency, which are due to a Song of this Nature, in Honour of the Nativity, and Glory [Page 183] to our LORD, it would be very commend­able; but to sing it, as is generally done, in the midst of Rioting and Chambering, and Wan­toness, is no Honour, but Disgrace; no Glory, but an Affront to that Holy Season, a Scan­dal to Religion, and a Sin against CHRIST.


THE subsequent Specimen of a very curious Carrol in the Scotch Language, preserved in ‘Ane compendious Booke of godly and spirituall Sangs, Edinburgh, 1621, printed from an old Copy,’ will, I flatter myself, be thought a pre­cious Relique by those who have a Taste for the lite­rary Antiquities of this Island.

Ane Sang of the Birth of Christ:
With the Tune of Baw lula law.
(Angelus, ut opinor, loquitur.)
I come from Hevin to tell,
The best Nowellis that ever befell:
To yow thir Tythinges trew I bring,
And I will of them say * and sing.
This Day to yow is borne ane Childe,
Of Marie meike and Virgine mylde,
That blissit Barne bining and kynde
Sall yow rejoyce baith Heart and Mynd.
My Saull and Lyfe stand up and see
Quha lyes in ane Cribe of Tree,
Quhat Babe is that so gude and faire?
It is Christ, God's Sonne and Aire.
O God that made all Creature,
How art thow becum so pure,
That on the Hay and Stray will lye,
Amang the Asses, Oxin, and Kye?
O my deir Hert, zoung Jesus sweit,
Prepare thy Creddil in my Spreit,
And I fall rocke thee in my Hert,
And never mair from thee depart.
But I fall praise thee ever moir
With Sangs sweit unto thy Gloir,
The Knees of my Hert fall I bow,
And sing that richt Balulalow *.

[Page 185]It is hardly credible that such a Composition as this should ever have been thought serious. The Author has left a fine Example in the Art of Sink­ing. Had he designed to have rendered his Sub­ject ridiculous, he could not more effectually have made it so; and yet we will absolve him from hav­ing had the smallest Degree of any such Intention!

In the Office where this Work is printed, there is preserved an hereditary Collection of Ballads, nu­merous almost as the celebrated one of Pepys.— Among these (the greatest Part of which is worse than Trash) I find several Carrols for this Season; for the Nativity, St. Stephen's Day, Childermass Day, &c. with Alexander and the King of Egypt, a mock Play, usually acted about this Time by Mum­mers. The Stile of them all is so puerile and simple, that I cannot think it would be worth the Pains to invade the Hawkers' Province, by exhibiting any Specimens of them.—The Conclusion of this bom­bastic Play I find in Ray's Collection of Proverbs:

Bounce* Buckram, Velvet's dear,
Christmass comes but once a Year;
[Page 186]And when it comes, it brings good Cheer *:
But when it's gone, it's never the near.

Dr. Johnson tells us, that the Pious Chansons, a Kind of Christmass Carrol, containing some Scripture History, thrown into loose Rhythms, were sung about the Streets by the common People, when they went at that Season to beg Alms.

Hamlet. Appendix, Vol. VIII.

CHAP. XVI. Of New-Year's-Day's Ceremonies. The New-Year's-Gift an harmless Custom: wishing a good New-Year, no Way sinful. Mumming, a Custom which ought to be laid aside.

AS the Vulgar are always very careful to End the old Year well, so they are also careful of Beginning well the new one: As they End the Former with a hearty Compota­tion, so they begin the Latter with the Sending of Presents, which are termed New-Year's. Gifts, to their Friends and Acquaintances: The Original of both which Customs, is* supersti­tious and sinful; and was observed that the succeeding Year, might be prosperous and successful.

‘Bishop Stillingfleet tells us, That a­mong the Saxons of the Northren Nations, the Feast of the New-Year was observed with more than ordinary Jollity: Thence as Olaus Wormius and Scheffer observe, they reckoned their Age by so many Jola's; and Snorro Sturleson describeth this New-Year's [Page 188] Feast, just as Buchannan sets out the British Saturnalia, by Feasting and sending Presents, or New-Year's Gifts, one to another.’

The Poet Naogeorgus says,* That it was usual at that Time, for Friends to present each other with a New-Year's Gift; for the Husband, the Wife; the Parents, their Chil­dren; and Master's, their Servants; which, as Hospinian tells us, was an ancient Custom of the Heathens, and afterwards practis'd by the Christians.

And no doubt, those Christians were high­ly worthy of Censure, who imagined, as the Heathens did, that the sending of a Present then, was any way Lucky, and an Omen of the Success of the following Year. For this was the very Thing that made both several Holy Men, and some general Councils, take notice of, and forbid any such Custom; be­cause the Observance of it, out of any such Design and View, was Superstitious and Sin­ful. We are told, in a Place of St. Austin, [Page 189] * the Observation of the Calends of January is forbid, the Songs which were wont to be sung on that Day, the Feastings, and the Presents which were then sent as a Token and Omen of a good Year. But to send a Present at that Time, out of Esteem, or Gratitude, or Charity, is no where forbid: On the Con­trary, it is Praise worthy. For tho' the ancient Fathers did vehemently invey a­gainst the Observation of the Calends of Ja­nuary; yet it was not because of those Presents, and Tokens of mutual Affection and Love that passed; but because the Day it self was dedicated to Idols, and because of some pro­phane Rites and Ceremonies they observed in solemnizing it. If then I send a New-Year's Gift to my Friend, it shall be a Token of my Friendship; if to my Benefactor, a Token of my Gratitude; if to the Poor, (which at this Time must never be forgot) it shall be to make their Hearts sing for Joy, and give [Page 190] Praise and Adoration to the Giver of all good Gifts.

Another old Custom at this Time, is the wishing of a good New-Year, either when a New-Year's Gift is presented, or when Friends meet, or when a New-Year's Song is sung at the Door; the Burden of which is, we wish you a happy New-Year.

This is also a Custom among the Modern Jews, who on the first Day of the Month* Tisri, have a splended Entertainment, and wish each other a happy New-Year.

Now the Original of this Custom is Hea­thenish, as appears by the Feasting and Pre­sents before mentioned, which were a wish for a good Year. And it was customary a­mong the Heathens on the Calends of Janu­ary, to go about and sing a New-Year's Song. Hospinian therefore tells us, That when [Page 191] Night comes on, not only the Young, but also the Old of both Sexes, run about here and there, and sing a Song at the Doors of the wealthier People, in which they wish them a happy New-Year. This he speaks in­deed of the Christians, but he calls it an exact Copy of the Heathens Custom.

But however I cannot see the Harm of re­taining this ancient Ceremony, so it be not used superstitiously, nor attended with Obsce­nity and Lewdness. For then there will be no more in it, than an hearty Wish for each others Welfare and Prosperity; no more Harm, than wishing a good Day, or good Night; than in bidding one GOD speed; or than in wishing to our Friend, what Abraham's Servant did to himself, O * LORD GOD of my Master Abraham, I pray thee send me good speed this Day.

There is another Custom observed at this Time, which is called among us Mumming; which is a changing of Clothes between Men and Women; who when dress'd in each others Habits, go from one Neighbour's House to another, and partake of their Christ­mas-Cheer, and make merry with them in Disguise, by dancing and singing, and such like Merriments.

[Page 192]This* is an Imitation of the Customs of the Sigillaria, or Festival Days which were added to the ancient Saturnalia, and obser­ved by the Heathens in January; which was a going in Disguise, not publickly, or to any indifferent Place; but privately, and to some well known Families.

This Kind of Custom received a deserved Blow from the Church, and was taken Notice of in the Synod of Trullus; where it was de­creed, that the Days called the Calends, should be intirely strip'd of their Ceremonies, and [Page 193] the Faithful should no longer observe them: That the public Dancings of Women should cease, as being the Occasion of much Harm and Ruin, and as being invented and observed in honour of their Gods, and therefore quite averse to the Christian Life. They therefore decreed, that no Man should be cloathed with a Woman's Garment, no Woman with a Man's.

It were to be wish'd, this Custom, which is still so common among us at this Season of the Year, was laid aside; as it is the Occasion of much* Uncleanness and Debauchery, and directly opposite to the Word of GOD. The Woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a Man, neither shall a Man put on a Woman's Garment; for all that do so, are Abomination unto the LORD thy GOD.


Turba frequens Jani fundit pia vota Kalendis
Ut novus exacto faustior Annus eat.

IN the antient Saturnalia *, there were frequent and luxurious Feastings amongst Friends; pre­sents were sent mutually, and Changes of Dress made. Christians have adopted the same Customs, which continue to be used from the Nativity to the Epiphany.—Feastings are frequent during the whole Time, and we send what are called New Year's Gifts: Exchanges of Dress too, as of old among the Romans, are common, and Neighbours by mutual Invitations, visit each other in the Man­ner which we Germans call Mummery: So writes the Author of the Convivial Antiquities, and adds, as the Heathens had their Saturnalia in December, [Page 195] their Sigillaria in January, and the Lupercalia and Bacchanalia in February; so amongst Christians these three Months are devoted to Feastings and Re­vellings of every Kind*.

There was an antient Custom, (I know not whether it be not yet retained in many Places): Young Women went about with a Wassail-bowl, that is, a Bowl of spiced Ale on New Year's Eve, with some Sort of Verses that were sung by them in [Page 196] going about from Door to Door. Wassail is derived from the Anglo. Sax. Waes Hael, that is, ‘be in Health.’ They accepted little Presents from the Houses they stopped at.—Mr. Selden thus alludes to it in his Table Talk, Art. Pope. ‘The Pope in sending Relicks to Princes, does as Wenches do by their Wassels at New Year's Tide.—They present you with a Cup, and you must drink of a slabby Stuff; but the Meaning is, you must give them Money, ten Times more than it is worth.’

Stow has preserved an Account of a remarkable Mummery, 1377, "made by the Citizens for disport of the young Prince Richard, Sonne to the Black Prince.

On the Sunday before Candlemass in the Night, 130 Citizens disguised and well horsed, in a Mum­mery, with Sound of Trumpets, Sackbuts, Cornets, Shalmes and other Minstrels, and innumerable Torch Lights of Wax, rode to Kennington, besides Lambeth, where the young Prince was.

In the 1st Rank, 48 in Likeness and Habit of Esquires, two and two together, clothed in red Coats and Gowns of Say or Sendall, with comely Vizors on their Faces.

After them came 48 Knights, in the same Livery: Then followed one richly arrayed, like an Emperor; and after him some Distance, one stately tyred like a Pope, who was followed by 24 Cardinals: And after them eight or ten with black Vizors, not amiable, as if they had been Legates from some forraigne Princes.

These Maskers, after they had entred the Man­nor of Kennington, alighted from their Horses, [Page 197] and entred the Hall on foot; which done, the Prince, his Mother and the Lords came out of the Chambers into the Hall, whom the Mummers did salute; shewing by a Paire of Dice on the Table, their desire to play with the young Prince; which they so handled, that the Prince did alwaies winne, when he cast at them.

Then the Mummers set to the Prince three Jewels, one after another; which were, a Boule of Gold, a Cup of Gold, and a Ring of Gold, which the Prince wanne at three Casts. Then they set to the Princes Mother, the Duke, the Earles and other Lords, to every one a Ring of Gold, which they did also win. After which they were feasted, and the Musick sounded, the Prince and Lords daunced on the one Part with the Mum­mers, who did also dance; which Jollity being ended, they were again made to drink, and then departed in Order as they came.

The like he says was to Henry the 4th—in the 2d Year of his Reign, he then keeping his Christ­mass at Eltham, twelve Aldermen of London, and their Sonnes, rode in a Mumming, and had great Thanks.

We reade in Fabian's Chronicle, Temp. Henry 4th: —‘In whiche passe Tyme the Dukys of Amnarle, of Surrey, and of Exetyr, with the Earlys of Sa­lesbury, and of Gloucetyr, with other of their Affynyte made Provysyon for a Dysguysynge, or a Mummynge, to be shewyd to the Kynge upon twelfethe Nyght, and the Tyme was nere at Hande, and all Thynge redy for the same. Upon the sayd twelfethe Day, came secretlye [Page 198] unto the Kynge, the Duke of Amnarle, and shewyd to hym, that he wyth the other Lordys aforenamed, were appointyd to sle hym in the Time of the fore sayd Dysguysynge, &c.’ Fol. 169.

This Mumming * had like to have proved a very serious Jest!

Mr. Bourne seems to "carry Coals to Newcastle," when he attempts to prove that it is no Way sin­ful to wish each other a good New Year. That Per­son carried his Scruples methinks very far, who first doubted concerning the Lawfulness of this Ce­remony.—If the Benevolent can thus hardly be saved, how shall the Malicious and the Envious appear?

CHAP. XVII. Of the Twelfth Day; how observed: The Wick­edness of observing the Twelve Days after the common Way.

ON the Epiphany, or Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, commonly called the Twelfth-Day, the Eastern Magi were guided by the Star, to pay their Homage to their Sa­viour; and because they came that Day, which is the Twelfth after the Day of the Nativity, it is therefore called the Twelfth-Day.

The Twelfth-Day it self is one of the great­est of the Twelve, and of more jovial Obser­vation than the others, for the visiting of Friends and Christmas-Gambols. The Rites of this Day are different in divers Places, tho' the End of them is much the same in all; namely, to do Honour to the Memory of the Eastern Magi, whom they suppose to have been Kings. In* France, one of the Courtiers is chosen King, whom the King himself, and the other Nobles, attend at an Entertainment. In Germany, they observe the same Thing on this Day in Academies and Cities, where the Students and Citizens create one of themselves King, and provide a Magni­ficent [Page 200] Banquet for him, and give him the At­tendance of a King, or a stranger Guest. Now this is answerable to that Custom of the Sa­turnalia, of Masters making Banquets for their Servants, and waiting on them; and no doubt this Custom has in Part sprung from that.

Not many Years ago, this was a common Christmas Gambol in both our Universities; and it is still usual in other Places of our Land, to give the Name of King or Queen to that Person, whose extraordinary Luck hits upon that Part of the divided Cake, which is honour'd above the others, with a Bean in it.

But tho' this be generally the greatest of the Twelve, yet the others preceding are observed with Mirth and Jollity, generally to Excess. Was this Feasting confined within the Bounds of Decency and Moderation, and gave more Way than it does to the Exercises and the Re­ligious Duties of the Season, it would have nothing in it immoral or sinful. The keeping up of Friendship, and Love, and old Acquain­tance, has nothing in it harmful; but the Misfortune is, Men upon that Bottom, act ra­ther like Brutes than Men, and like Heathens than Christians; and the Preservation of Friendship and Love, is nothing else but a Pretence for Drunkenness, and Rioting, and Wantonness. And such I am afraid hath been the Observation of the Christmas Holy-days, [Page 201] since the holiest Times of the Christian Church; and the Generality of Men have rather look'd upon them, as a* Time of Eating and Drink­ing, and Playing, than of returning Praises and Thanksgivings to GOD, for the greatest Benefit he ever bestow'd upon the Sons of Men.

Gregory Nazianzen, in that excellent Oration of his upon Christmas-Day, says, Let us not celebrate the Feast after an Earthly, but an Heavenly Manner; let not our Doors be crown'd; let not Dancing be encourag'd; let not the Cross-paths be adorned, the Eyes fed, nor the Ears delighted, &c. Let us not Feast to excess, nor be Drunk with Wine, &c. From this we may clearly see, what has been the Custom in these Days. And in all Probability it has been much the same among us, from the Beginning of Christianity: However fabulous that Story may be, taken Notice of by Bishop Stillingfleet, from Hector Boethius, ‘That King Arthur kept with his Nobles at York, a very prophane Christmas for thirteen Days toge­ther, [Page 202] and that such Jollity and Feasting then, had its Original from him.’ But however these Words, if true, may be a Testimony of the too great Antiquity of the Abuse of this Festival; yet they will by no Means justifie Buchannan's Comment upon them. For as the learned Bishop goes on, Buchannan is so well pleased with this notable Observation, that He sets it down for good History, saying upon it, that the old Saturnalia were re­new'd, only the Days increased, and Sa­turn's Name chang'd to Caesar's: For says he, we call the Feast Julia. But why should the Name of Saturn be changed into Caesar's? Was he worshipped for a GOD among the British Christians, as Saturn was among the old Pagans? But the Name Julia imports it; by no Means. For Buchannan does not prove, that this Name was ever used for that Festival among the Britains; and the Saxons, who brought in both the Name and the Feast, give another* Reason for it.’

[Page 203] Buchannan seems therefore to have a great deal more Malice than Truth on his Side. But however such Revellings, and Frolicks, and Extravagances, whether or not derived from the old Saturnalia, as are customary at this Season, do come very near to, if not ex­ceed its Liberties. In particular, what com­moner at this Season, than for Men to rise early in the Morning, that they may follow strong Drink, and continue untill Night, till Wine inflame them? As if CHRIST who came into the World to save us, and was manifested to destroy the Works of the Devil; was to be honour'd with the very Works he came to destroy.

With some, Christmas ends with the Twelve Days, but with the Generality of the Vulgar, not till Candlemas. Till then they continue Feasting, and are ambitious of keeping some of their Christmas-Chear, and then are fond of getting quit of it. Durand tells us,* They celebrated this Time with Joy, because the Incarnation of CHRIST was the Occasion of Joy to Angels and Men. But the lengthening of the Time from twelve to forty Days, seems to have been done out of Honour to the Virgin Mary's Lying-in: Under the old Law, the Time of Purification was forty Days, which [Page 204] was to Women then, what the Month is to Women now. And as during that Time, the Friends and Relations of the Women, pay them Visits, and do them Abundance of Honour; so this Time seems to have been calculated, to do Honour to the Virgin's Lying-in.

There is a Canon in the Council of Trul­lus, * against those who bak'd a Cake in Ho­nour of the Virgin's Lying-in, in which it is decreed, that no such Ceremony should be observed; because it was otherwise with her, at the Birth of our Saviour, than with all other Women. She suffer'd no Pollution, and therefore needed no Purification, but only in Obedience to the Law: If then the Baking of a single Cake was faulty, how much more so many Feasts in her Honour?


THE subsequent Extract from Collier's Ecclesi­astical History, Vol. I. p. 163. seems to ac­count in a satisfactory Manner for the Name of Twelfth Day. ‘In the Days of King Alfred, a Law was made with Relation to Holidays, by [Page 205] Virtue of which the twelve Days after the Nati­vity of our Saviour were made Festivals.’

In the ancient Calendar of the Romish Church above cited, I find in an* Observation on the fifth of January, the Vigil of the Epiphany, ‘Kings created or elected by Beans.’ The sixth is called there "The Festival of Kings;" and there is added, ‘That this Ceremony of electing Kings was continued with Feasting for many Days.’

There was a Custom similar to this on the festive Days of Saturn among the Romans, Grecians, &c. Persons of the same Rank drew Lots for Kingdoms, and like Kings exercised their temporary Authority. Alex. ab Alex. B. 2. ch. 22. The learned More­sin observes, that our Ceremony of chusing a King on the Epiphany or Feast of the three Kings, is practised about the same Time of the Year.—He is called the Bean King from the Lot.

This Custom is practised no where that I know of in the Northern Parts of the Kingdom, but is still retained in the South.

[Page 206]I gather the present Manner of drawing King and Queen on this Day, from an ingenious Letter preserved in the Universal Magazine, 1774, whence I shall take the Liberty to extract a few select Passages. ‘I went to a Friend's House in the Country to partake of some of those innocent Pleasures that constitute a merry Christmass; I did not return till I had been present at drawing King and Queen, and eaten a Slice of the twelfth Cake, made by the fair Hands of my good Friend's Consort. After Tea Yesterday, a noble Cake was produced, and two Bowls, containing the fortunate Chances for the different Sexes. Our Host filled up the Tickets; the whole Com­pany, except the King and Queen, were to be Ministers of State, Maids of Honour, or Ladies of the Bedchamber.

[Page 207] ‘Our kind Host and Hostess, whether by Design or Accident became King and Queen. According to twelfth 'Day Law, each Party is to support their Character till Midnight. After Supper one called for a King's Speech, &c.’ The rest is political Satire, and is foreign to our Purpose.

I have inserted this with a View of gratifying the Curiosity of my northern Readers on this Head.

N. B. The Reader is desired to add the following Remarks to the Observations on YULE: ‘All the Celtic Nations have been accustomed to the Worship of the Sun; either as distinguished from Thor, or considered as his Symbol:—It was a Cus­tom that every where prevailed in antient Times, to celebrate a Feast at the Winter Solstice; by which Men testified their Joy at seeing this great Luminary return again to this Part of the Hea­vens.—This was the greatest Solemnity in the Year. They call it in many Places, Yole, or Yuul, from the Word Hiaul and Houl, which even at this Day signifies the Sun, in the Lan­guages of Bass Britagne, and Cornwal*.’ Vide Mallet's Northern Antiquities, Vol. II. p. 68.

CHAP. XVIII. Of St. Paul's Day; The Observation of the Weather, a Custom of the Heathens, and hand­ed down by the Monks: The Apostle St. Paul himself is against such Observations; The Opinion of St. Austin upon them.

THE Observation of the Weather which is made on this Day is altogether ridi­culous and superstitious. If it happen to be unclouded and without Rain, it is look'd upon as an Omen of the following Year's Success, if otherwise, that the Year will be unfortunate. Thus the old Verse.

Clara dies Pauli, bona tempora denotat anni,
Si fuerint venti, denarrant praelia genti,
Si nix aut pluviae, pereunt animalia quaeque.

The Interprepation of which is very well known to be this,

If St. Paul's Day be fair and clear,
It doth betide a happy Year;
If blustering Winds do blow aloft
Then Wars will trouble our Realm full oft.
And if it chance to Snow or Rain,
Then will be dear all Sorts of Grain.

Such also is the Observation of St. Swithin's Day, which if rainy is a Token that it will rain for forty Days successively; such is the [Page 209] Observation of* Candlemas-Day, such is Childermas-Day, such Valentine's-Day, and some others.

How St. Paul's Day came to have this particular Knack of foretelling the good or evil Fortune of the following Year, is no easy Matter to find out. The Monks who were undoubtedly the first who made this wonderful Observation, have taken Care it should be handed down to Posterity, but why and for what Reason this Observation was to stand good, they have taken Care to conceal. In Church Affairs indeed they make free with handing down Traditions from Generation to Generation, which being approved by an in­fallible Judgment, are to be taken for grant­ed; but as far as I hear, they never pretended to an infallible Spirit, in the Study of the Planets. One may therefore, without the Suspicion of Heresy, or fear of the Inquisition, make a little Inquiry into this Affair, and see whether it be true or false, whether it is built upon any Reason or no Reason, whether still to be observed, or only laugh'd at as a Monkish Dream.

Now as it is the Day of that Saint, the great Apostle St. Paul, I cannot see there is any Thing to be built upon. He did indeed labour [Page 210] more abundantly than all the Apostles; but never, that I heard, in the Science of Astro­logy. And why his Day should therefore be a standing Almanack to the World, rather than the Day of any other Saint, will be pretty hard to find out. I am sure there is a good Number of them, have as much Right to Rain or fair Weather as St. Paul, and if St. Andrew, St. Thomas, &c. have not as much Right to Wind or Snow, let the Reader judge.

As it is the Twenty fifth Day of January, one would think that could be no Reason. For what is that Day more than another? In­deed they do give some Shew of Reason, why Rain should happen about the Time of St. Swithin, which is this. About the Time of his Feast, which is on the Fourteenth of July, there are two rainy Constellations, which are called Praecepe and Asellus, which arise cosmically, and generally produce Rain. And to be sure in the Course of the Sign Aquarius, there may be both Rain and Wind and fair Weather, but how these can foretell the Des­tiny of the Year, is the Question.

As then there is nothing in the Saint, or his Day to prognosticate any such Thing, I mean, as it is the Day of St. Paul, or the Twenty fifth of January, so I must confess I cannot find out what may be the Ground of [Page 211] this particular Observation. But however thus much is very obvious, that this Obser­vation is an exact Copy of that superstitious Custom among the Heathens, of observing one Day as good, and another as bad. For among them were lucky and unlucky Days; some were dies atri, and some dies albi; the atri were pointed out in their Calendar, with a black Character, the albi with a white; the former to denote it a Day of bad Success, the latter a Day of good. Thus have the Monks in the dark and unlearned Ages of Popery copy'd after the Heathens, and dream'd them­selves into the like Superstitions, esteeming one Day more successful than another; and so according to them, it is very unlucky to begin any Work upon Childermass-Day; and what Day soever that falls on, whether on a Munday, Tuesday, or any other, nothing must be begun on that Day through the Year; St. Paul's Day is the Year's Fortune-Teller, St. Mark's Day is the Prognosticator of your Life and Death, &c. and so instead of persuading the People to lay aside the Whims and Fan­cies of the Heathen World, they brought them so effectually in, that they are still reigning in many Places to this Day.

But of all the Days of the Year, they could not have chosen one so little to the Purpose. For the very Saint, whose Day is so observed, [Page 212] has himself cautioned them against any such Observation: For in the Fourth Chapter of his Epistle to the Galations, he tells them, how dangerous it was to observe Days, and Months, and Times, and Years; which is not, as some would persuade us, to Caution us against the Observation of any Day but the Lord's-Day; but only that we should not ob­serve the abolished Feasts of the Jews, nor the abominable Feasts of the Gentiles, nor their superstitious Observation of fortunate and unfortunate Days. St. Austin, upon this Place, hath these Words,* Let us not observe Years, and Months, and Times, least we hear the Apostle telling us, I am afraid of you, least I have shewn on you labour in Vain. For the Persons he blames, are those who say, I will not set forward on my Journey, because it is the next Day after such a Time, or because the Moon is so; or I'll set forward that I may have Luck, because such is just now the Position of the Stars. I will not Traffick this Month, because such a Star presides, or I will, because it does. I shall plant no Vines this Year, because it is Leap-Year, &c.

The learned Mr. Bingham, has among se­veral [Page 213] others, a Quotation* from the same St. Austin on these superstitious Observations, with which I shall conclude this Chapter. ‘To this kind, says he, belong all Ligatures and Remedies, which the Schools of Physi­cians reject and condemn; whether in In­chantments, or in certain Marks, which they call Characters, or in some other Things which are to be hanged and bound about the Body, and kept in a dancing Posture; not for any Temperament of the Body, but for certain Significations, either Ocult, or Manifest: Which by a gentler Name, they call Physical, that they may not seem to affright Men with the Appearance of Super­stition, but do good in a natural Way: Such are Ear-rings hanged upon the Tip of each Ear, and Rings made of an Ostriches Bones for the Finger; or when you are told in a Fit of Convulsions, or Shortness of Breath, to hold your left Thumb with your right Hand. To which may be added a thousand vain Observations, as, if any of our Members beat; if when two Friends are talking together, a Stone, or a Dog, or a Child, happens to come between them, they tread the Stone to Pieces, as the Divi­der of their Friendship, and this is toller­able [Page 214] in Comparison of beating an innocent Child that comes between them. But it is more pleasant, that sometimes the Childrens Quarrel is revenged by the Dogs; for ma­ny Times they are so superstitious, as to dare to beat the Dog that comes between them, who turning again upon him that smites him, sends him from seeking a vain Remedy, to seek a real Physician indeed. Hence proceed likewise these other Super­stitions: For a Man to tread upon his Thre­shold when he passes by his own House, to return back to Bed again, if he chance to sneeze as he is putting on his Shoes; to return into his House, if he stumble at his Going out; if the Rats knaw his Cloths, to be more terrified with the Suspicion of some future Evil, then concerned for the present Loss. He says, Cato gave a wise and smart Answer to such an one, who came in some Consternation to consult him, about the Rats having knawed his Stock­ings; that, said he, is no great Wonder, but it would have been a Wonder indeed, if the Stockings had knawed the Rats. St. Austin mentions this witty Answer of a wise Heathen, to convince Christians the better of the Unreasonableness and Vanity of all such superstitious Observations. And he concludes, that all such Arts, whether [Page 215] of triffling or more noxious Superstition, are to be rejected and avoided by Christians, as proceeding originally from some pernicious Society between Men and Devils, and being the Compacts and Agreements of such treach­erous and deceitful Friendship. The Apostle forbids us to have Fellowship with Devils; and that, he says, respects not only Idols, and Things offered to Idols, but all imagi­nary Signs pertaining to the Worship of Idols, and also all Remedies, and other Ob­servations, which are not appointed publick­ly by GOD to promote the Love of GOD and our Neighbour, but proceed from the private Fancies of Men, and tend to delude the Hearts of Poor deluded Mortals. For these Things have no natural Virtue in them, but owe all their Efficacy to a presumptuous Confederacy with Devils: And they are full of pestiferous Curiosity, tormenting Anxi­ety, and deadly Slavery. They were first taken up, not for any real Power to be dis­cerned in them, but gained their Power by Mens observing them. And therefore by the Devil's Art they happen differently to different Men, according to their own Ap­prehensions and Presumptions. For the great Deceiver knows, how to procure Things agreeable to every Man's Temper, and en­snare him by his own Suspicions and Consent.’


A Great deal upon this Subject may be found in Pliny's Natural History, tending to confirm what Mr. Bourne has told us, that it was a Custom of Gentilism, adopted under the Papal Supersti­tion, and so transmitted to our Times. The sub­sequent poetical Description of the Months by Churchil, contains in it many Allusions to the popular Notions of Days, &c.

Frose January, Leader of the Year,
Minc'd Pies in Van, and Calves Heads in the Rear;*
Dull February in whose leaden Reign,
My Mother bore a Bard without a Brain;
March, various, fierce and wild, with wind-crack'd cheeks,
By wilder Welshmen led and crown'd with Leeks.
April with Fools, and May with Bastards blest,
June with white Roses in her rebel Breast;
[Page 217] July, to whom, the Dog-star in her Train,
St. James gives Oisters, and St. Swithin Rain;*
August who banished from her Smithfield Stand,
To Chelsea flies, with Dogget in her Hand;
September, when by Custom (right divine)
Geese are ordain'd to bleed at Michael's Shrine:
October, who the Cause of Freedom join'd,
And gave a second George to bless Mankind;
November, who at once to grace our Earth,
St. Andrew boasts, and our Augusta's Birth;
December, last of Months, but best, who gave,
A Christ to Man, a Saviour to the Slave.
Whilst, falsely grateful, Man, at the full Feast,
To do God Honour, makes himself a Beast.

There is nothing Superstitious in the Prognosti­cations of Weather from Achs and Corns: Achs and Corns, says the great Philosopher Bacon, do en­grieve (i. e. afflict) either towards Rain or Frost: The one makes the Humours to abound more, and the other makes them Sharper.

Loyd in his Diall of Daies, observes on St. Paul's, that ‘of this Day, the Husbandmen [Page 218] prognosticate the whole Year: If it be a fair Day, it will be a pleasant Year;* if it be Windy, it will be Wars; if it be Cloudy, it doth foreshew the Plague that Year.’

Mr. Gay notices it thus in his Trivia:

All Superstition from thy Breast repel,
Let cred'lous Boys, and prattling Nurses tell
How if the Festival of Paul be clear,
Plenty from lib'ral Horn shall strow the Year;
When the dark Skies dissolve in Snow or Rain,
The lab'ring Hind shall yoke the Steer in vain;
But if the threatning Winds in Tempest roar,
Then War shall bathe her wasteful Sword in Gore.
How if, on Swithin's Feast the Welkin lours,
And ev'ry Penthouse streams with hasty Show'rs,
Twice twenty Days shall Clouds their Fleeces drain,
And wash the Pavements with incessant Rain:
Let no such vulgar Tales debase thy Mind,
Nor Paul, nor Swithin, rule the Clouds and Wind.

Thus also some rural Prognostications of the Weather are alluded to in his first Pastoral:

—We learn'd to read the Skies,
To know when Hail will fall, or Winds arise;
He taught us erst the Heifer's Tail to view,
When stuck aloft that Show'rs would straight ensue;
[Page 219]He first that useful Secret did explain,
That pricking Corns foretold the gath'ring Rain:
When Swallows fleet soar high and sport in Air,
He told us that the Welkin would be clear. *

I find an Observation on the 13th of December, in the antient Calendar of the Church of Rome, ‘That on this Day Prognostications of the Months were drawn for the whole Year.’

On the Day of St. Barnabas, and on that of St. Simon, and St. Jude, "that a Tempest often rises." The Vigil of St. Paul's is called there ‘Dies Egyp­tiacus.’

Many superstitious Observations on Days may be found in a curious old Book called Practica Rusticorum.

A Highlander, says Mr. Pennant, never begins any Thing of Consequence on the Day of the Week, on which the Third of May falls, which he calls the dismal Day.

CHAP. XIX. Of Candlemass-Day; why so called; the Blas­phemy of the Church of Rome in consecrating Wax Candles.

THIS Day goes under several Denomina­tions: It is called the Day of CHRIST's Presentation; because on it CHRIST was pre­sented in the Temple; it is called the Holy-Day of St. Simeon; because it was on it, that he took our SAVIOUR up in his Arms: And it is called the Purification, because then the Holy Virgin was purified. It is generally a Day of Festivity, and more than ordinary Observation among Women, and is therefore called the Wives Feast-Day. The Feasting seems to be observed in Honour of the Virgin Mary; for as on the Day of a Woman's being church'd, there is no common Entertainment, so it seems, that this Feasting was begun in the Times of Popery, by Way of Compliment to the Churching-Day of the Virgin Mary.

It has the Name of* Candlemass-Day, be­cause [Page 221] Lights were distributed and carried about in Procession, or because also the Use of light­ed Tapers, which was observed all Winter at Vespers and Litanies, were then wont to cease, till the next All-Hallowmass.

These Lights so carried about, were blessed of the Priests, as Hospinian tells us, who made Use of the following Prayers at their Conse­cration.* We implore thee by the Invocation of thy Holy Name, and by the Intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of thy Son, whose Feast we this Day celebrate with the highest Devotion; and by the Inter­cession of all thy Saints, that thou wouldst sanctifie these Candles to the Good and Profit of Men, and the Health of his Soul and Body, whether in Earth or Sea. And again. O LORD JESU, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst bless this thy Creature of Wax, and grant it thy Heavenly Benediction, by the Power of thy Holy Cross; that as it was a Gift to Man, by which the Darkness might be driven away, so now it may be endow'd with such Virtue by the Sign of the Holy [Page 222] Cross, that wheresoever it is lighted and pla­ced, the evil Spirit may tremble, and, with his Servants, be in such Terror and Confusion as to fly away from that Habitation, and no more vex and disturb thy Servants.

After this, he adjures the Wax Candles, in Words like these.* I adjure thee, O thou waxen Creature, in the Name of our LORD and the Holy Trinity, that thou repel and ex­tirpate the Devil and his Sprights, &c And therefore all Christians (says Eccius. Tom. 3. Hom. de Purificat.) ought to use these Lights, with an holy Love, having a sincere Depen­dance, that thus they shall be freed by the Power of the Word and this Prayer, from all the Snares and Frauds of the Devil.

Our Author upon this, says, That this is manifest Blasphemy and Idolatry. For as on the one Hand, they take the Name of GOD and the Holy Trinity in vain, so on the other they attribute to a Wax Candle, what should be ascribed to CHRIST alone, and the quick­ning Power of the Holy Ghost.


IN the forenamed antient Calendar of the Romish Church, I find the subsequent Observations on the 2d of February, usually called Candlemas Day.

"Torches are consecrated"

"Torches are given away for many Days*."

Pope Sergius, says Becon in his Reliques of Rome, Fol. 164, commaunded, that all the People shuld go on Procession upon Candlemasse Day, and carry Candels about with them, brenning in their Hands, in the Year of our Lord 684. Durand, &c.

How this Candle-bearing on Candlemass Day came first up, the Author of our English Festival decla­reth on this Manner. "Somtyme sayeth he, when the Romaines by great Myght and royal Power, conquered all the World, they were so proude, that they forgat God, and made them divers Gods after their own Lust. And so among all they had a God that they called Mars, that had been tofore a notable Knight in Battayle. And so they prayed [Page 224] to hym for Help, and for that they would speed the better of this Knyght, the People prayed, and did great Worship to his Mother, that was called Februa, after which Woman, much People have Opinion, that the Moneth February is called. Wherefore the 2d Day of thys Moneth is Candlemass Day.

The Romaines this Night, went about the City of Rome, with Torches and Candles brenning in Worship of this Woman Februa, for hope to have the more Helpe and Succoure of her Sonne Mars.

Then was there a Pope, that was called Sergius, and when he saw Christian People draw to this false Maumetry and untrue Belief; he thought to undo this foule Use and Custom, and turn it into God's Worship, and our Lady's, and gave Com­mandment that all Christian People should come to Church, and offer up a Candle brennyng, in the Worship that they did to this Woman Februa, and do Worship to our Lady, and to her Sonne our Lord Jesus Christ. So that now this Feast is solemn­ly hallowed thorowe all Christendome. And every Christan Man and Woman of covenable Age, is bound to come to Church, and offer up their Can­dles, as though they were bodily with our Lady, hopyng for this Reverence and Worship that they do to our Ladye to have a great Reward in Heaven, &c."

Ray, in his Collection of Proverbs, preserves one that relates to this Day: ‘On Candlemas-day throw Candle and Candlestick away.’ Somerset.

CHAP. XX. Of Valentine-Day; its Ceremonies; what the Council of Trullus thought of such Customs; that they had better be omitted.

IT is a Ceremony, never omitted among the Vulgar, to draw Lots, which they Term Valentines, on the Eve before* Valentine-day. The Names of a select Number of one Sex, are by an equal Number of the other put into some Vessel; and after that, every one draws a Name, which for the present is called their Valentine, and is also look'd upon as a good Omen of their being Man and Wife afterwards.

There is a rural Tradition, that on this Day every Bird chuses its Mate. From this [Page 226] perhaps the youthful Part of the World hath first practised this Custom, so common at this Season.

In the Trullan Council we have Lots and Divinations forbid, as being some of those Things which provoked the LORD to anger against King* Manasses, who used Lots and Divinations, &c. upon which the Scholiast hath these Words. The Custom of drawing Lots was after this Manner; on the 23d Day of June, which is the Eve of St. John Baptist, Men and Women were accustomed to gather together in the Evening by the Sea-side, or in some certain Houses, and there adorn a Girl, who was her Parents first-begotten Child, af­ter the Manner of a Bride. Then they feast­ed and leaped after the Manner of Bacchanals, and danced and shouted as they were wont to do on their Holy-days: After this they poured into a narrow neck'd Vessel some of the Sea-Water, and put also into it certain Things be­longing to each of them. Then as if the Devil gifted the Girl, with the Faculty of telling future Things; they would enquire with a loud Voice, about the good or evil Fortune that should attend them: Upon this the Girl would take out of the Vessel, the first Thing that came to Hand, and shew it, [Page 227] and give it to the Owner; who upon receiv­ing it, was so foolish as to imagine himself wiser, as to the good or evil Fortune that should attend him.

This Custom, as he tells us a little after, is altogether diabolical: And surely it was so, being used as a presage of what was future. Was the Custom of the Lots now mention'd, used as among the Heathens, they would no Doubt be as worthy of Condemnation; but as far as I know, there is but little Credit given to them; tho' that little is too much, and ought to be laid aside. But if the Cu­stom was used without any Mixture or Allay of Superstition, as I believe it is in some Pla­ces, yet it is often attended with great Incon­veniences and Misfortunes, with Uneasinesses to Families, with Scandal, and sometimes with Ruin.


Festa Valentino rediit lux—
Quisque sibi sociam jam legit ales avem.
Inde sibi dominam per sortes quoerere in annum
Mansit ab antiquis mos repetitus avis
Quisque legit Dominam, quam casto observet amore
Quam nitidis sertis obsequioque colat:
Mittere cui possit blandi munuscula Veris.

BIRDS are said to choose their Mates about this Time of the Year, and probably from thence came the Custom of young Persons chusing Valen­tines or special loving Friends on that Day: This is the commonly received Opinion.—I rather in­cline to controvert this, supposing it to be the Remains of an antient Superstition in the Church of Rome on this Day, of choosing Patrons for the Year ensuing; and that, because Ghosts were thought to walk on the Night of this Day*, or about this Time.

Gallantry seems to have borrowed this, or ra­ther to have taken it up, when Superstition (at the Reformation) had been compelled to let it fall.

I have searched the Legend of St. Valentine, but [Page 229] think there is no Occurrence in his Life, that could have given Rise to this Ceremony*.

The learned Moresin tells us, that at this Festival, the Men used to make the Women presents, as upon another Occasion the Women used to do to the Men, but that in Scotland on this Day pre­sents were made reciprocally.

Mr. Gay has left us a poetical Description of some rural Ceremonies used on the Morning of this Day.

Last Valentine, the Day when Birds of Kind
Their Paramours with mutual Chirpings find;
I rearly rose, just at the break of Day,
Before the Sun had chas'd the Stars away;
Afield I went, amid the Morning Dew,
To milk my Kine (for so should Housewives do)
Thee first I spied, and the first Swain we see
In spite of Fortune shall our true Love be .

CHAP. XXI. Of Shrove-tide; what it signifies; the Custom of the Papists at this Season; that our present Customs are very unbecoming.

SHROVE-TIDE signifieth the Time of con­fessing Sins, as the Word Tide, which signifies Time; and the Saxon Word Shrive or Shrift, which signifies Confession, plainly shew. The Reason why this Time is so denominated is, because it was set apart by the Church of Rome for a Time of Shriving or confessing Sins. For then People were wont to confess their Sins, and receive the Sacrament, that they might be better prepar'd for the Religious Observation of the following Season of Lent. Thus in the Constitutions of* Simon Sudbury, it is ordered, ‘That Lay-Men should be ad­monished to confess in the very Beginning of Lent. And in Theodolphus's Capitula, it [Page 231] is ordered, ‘That on the Week next before Lent, every Man should go to his Shrift, and his Shrift should shrive him in such a Manner, as his Deeds which he had done requir'd: And that he should charge all that belong to his District, that if any of them have Discord with any, he make Peace with him; if any one will not be brought to this, then he shall not shrive him; but then he shall inform the Bishop, that he may convert him to what is right, if he be willing to belong to GOD: Then all Contentions and Disputes shall cease; and if there be any one of them, that hath taken Offence at another, then shall they be reconcil'd, that they may more freely say in the LORD'S Prayer, LORD forgive us our Trespasses, &c. And having thus puri­fied their Minds, let them enter upon the Holy Fast Tide, and cleanse themselves by Satisfaction against Holy Easter, &c. John­son 994. 36. Constitut.

This Custom of confessing to the Priest at this Time, was laid aside by our Church at the Reformation: For Sins are to be confess'd to GOD alone, and not to the Priest, except when the Conscience cannot otherwise be quieted: Then indeed the Grief is to be open­ed to the Spiritual Guide in private,* That [Page 232] by the Ministry of GOD's Word, he may give the Benefit of Absolution, together with ghostly Council and Advice, to the quieting of the Con­science, and the avoiding of all Scruple and Doubtfulness. But how this other worse Cu­stom came to be retain'd, of indulging all Manner of Luxury and Intemperance, I know nothing but that the Flesh was too powerful for the Spirit: The Duties of Religion, how justly soever enjoyn'd us, are tamely dispensed with, but what won't we rather do, than give up the Pleasures of Life? Surely the Church never design'd, when she so justly took away the publick Confessions of this Sea­son, that Rioting and Gaming, and Drunken­ness, should continue amongst us. Are these a fit Preparation for so solemn a Season? Will they qualifie us for the Hearing of the History of our LORD'S Passion? Will they prepare us for the Reception of his Body and Blood? And fit us to meet him in the Mor­ning of the Resurrection? Will they not ra­ther speak us Heathens than Christians? And lead us to Hell, than on the Way to Hea­ven? Such Customs as these may, in some Measure, be excusable among them whose* Church has too much led them into those Things; but it is scandalous and sinful and [Page 233] abominable in those, who pretend to be the Enemies of Error and Superstition, to con­tinue the Observation of such sinful Customs.


MR. Bourne seems to wonder at the Luxury and Intemperance that usually prevailed at this Season: Was he ignorant that this was no more than a Vestige of the Romish Carnival. See Pancake-Tuesday in the Appendix.

The learned Moresin* derives the Carnival from the Times of Gentilism; he introduces Johannes Boëmus Aubanus describing it thus: ‘Men eat and drink, and abandon themselves to every Kind of sportive Foolery, as if resolved to have their Fill of Pleasure before they were to die, and as it were forego every Sort of Delight.’ Thus also Selden: ‘What the Church debars us one Day, she gives us Leave to take out in another: First we fast, and then we feast: First there is a Carnival, and then a Lent.

Fitzstephen informs us, that antiently on Shrove-Tuesday the School-Boys used to bring Cocks of the [Page 234] Game * to their Master, and to delight themselves in Cock-fighting all the Forenoon. Vide Stow. Hence so many Welch Mains, &c. about this Season.

Since that Time a barbarous Custom hath been instituted on this Day of throwing at Cocks , which we hope will be soon forgotten amongst us. It is an Amusement fit only for the bloodiest Savages, and not for humanized Men, much less for Christians! This was formerly in Use on this Day at New-castle, but is now laid aside. We wish it consigned to eternal Oblivion!

[Page 235]Mr. Bourne takes no Notice of Ash-Wednesday, so called from a Custom observed in the antient Christian Church, of Penitents expressing their Humiliation at this Time by appearing in Sack­cloth and Ashes *. The Want of this Discipline is at present supplied by reading publicly on this Day the Curses denounced against impenitent Sin­ners, when the People repeat an Amen after each Curse.

Enlightened as we think ourselves at this Day, there are many who consider this general Avowal of the Justice of God's Wrath against impenitent Sin­ners, as cursing their Neighbours; consequently like good Christians they keep away from Church on the Occasion.—A Folly and Superstition worthy of the After-midnight, the Spirit-walking Time of Popery!

In a Convocation held in the Time of Henry the Eighth, mentioned in Fuller's Church History, p. 222, giving of Ashes on Ash-Wednesday, to put in Remembrance every Christian Man in the Beginning of Lent and Penance, that he is but Ashes and Earth, and thereto shall return, &c. is reserved with some other Rites and Ceremonies, that survived the Shock, that almost overthrew, at that remarkable Aera, the whole Pile of Catholic Superstitions.

CHAP. XXII. Of Palm-Sunday: Why so called; how observed in the Popish Times: What it is truely to carry Palms in our Hands on this Day.

THE Sunday before Easter, which is deno­minated Palm-Sunday, is so called,* be­cause, as the Ritualists say, on that Day, the Boughs of Palm-Trees were wont to be carried in Procession, in Imitation of those which the Children of Israel strawed in the Way of CHRIST. For they cut down Branches from the Trees, and strawed them in the Way; which according to the Consent of Antiquity, were the Branches of the Palm-Tree; it being very Common in that Country, and used as an Emblem of Victory. And a Doctor of our own Church, in his Discourse upon this Fe­stival, says, From the Story, as described by St. Luke and St. Matthew, some of the an­cient Church took Occasion, as on this Day, to go in Procession with Palms in their Hands, and to denominate it Palm-Sunday.

[Page 237]But however harmless this Custom might have been, in the Times of its first institution, it is certain, that in after Ages it sunk into Superstition and gross Idolatry. Thus the Rhemists, in their Translation of the New Te­stament, describe the Ceremony themselves: ‘These Offices of Honour, done to our Savi­our extraordinarily, were very acceptable. And for a Memory hereof, the Holy Church maketh a solemn Procession every Year upon this Day; specially in our Country, when it was Catholick, with the Blessed Sacrament reverently carryed, as it were CHRIST upon the Ass, and strawing of Bushes and Flowers, bearing of Palms, setting up Boughs, spread­ing and hanging up the richest Clothes, the Quire and Quiresters singing, as here the Children and the People; all done in a very godly Ceremony, to the Honour of CHRIST, and the Memory of his Triumph upon this Day. The like Service, and the like Duties done to him in all other solemn Processions of the Blessed Sacrament, and otherwise, be undoubtedly no less grateful.’ Dr.* Fulke upon this, gives this Answer: ‘Your Palm-Sunday Procession was horrible Idolatry, and abusing of the LORD'S Insti­tution, who ordained his Supper to be eaten [Page 238] and drunken, not to be carryed about in Procession like a Heathenish Idol: But it is pretty Sport, that you make the Priests that carryeth this Idol, to supply the Room of the Ass, on which CHRIST did ride: Thus you turn the Holy Mistery of CHRIST'S riding to Jerusalem, to a May-game and pa­gent Play. And yet you say, such Service done to CHRIST is undoubtedly exceeding grateful; yea, no less grateful, than that was done by his Disciples, at the Time mentioned in the Text: Your Argument and Proof is none, but your bare Assevera­tions. That which the Disciples did, had the Warrant of the Holy Scripture; but who hath regarded these Theatrical Pomps at their Hands? Or what Word of GOD have you to assure you that he accepteth such Will-worship? Who detesteth all Wor­ship, which is according to the Doctrines and Traditions of Men, and not after his own Commandment.’

From this superstitious and idolatrous Cus­tom, without all doubt it comes to pass, that we now and then, on a Palm-Sunday, see the young People carrying Branches of Palms in their Hands; which they seem fond of having that Day, and which they as little regard at other Times. It is true indeed, it is a Relick of the ancient Superstition of the Papists, but [Page 239] as it is now intirely stript of any Superstition, and is an Emblem of the Season, and the Transactions of that Day; so I see no harm in so innocent an Observation.

But how much better would it be to car­ry in our Hands this Day,* the Palm of good Works, the Graces of Humility, and Kindness, and Charity, to feed the Hungry, to give drink to the Thirsty, to clothe the Naked, to entertain the Strangers, to visit the Sick and in Prison, &c. By such Actions as these, should we truly carry Palms in our Hands; by these we should truly straw the Way for our LORD, and so follow his Steps to the Heavenly Jerusalem.


THERE can be no Doubt but that Palm-Sunday, the Dominica in Ramis Palmarum, was so called from the Palm Branches and green Boughs for­merly distributed on that Day, in Commemoration of our Lord's riding to Jerusalem*. Sprigs of Box Wood are still used as a Substitute for Palms in Ro­man Catholic Countries.—Stow, in his Survey of London, tells us, ‘that in the Week before Easter, had ye great Shewes made, for the fetching in of a twisted Tree, or With, as they termed it, out of the Woods into the King's House, and the like in­to every Man's House of Honour or Worship.’ This must also have been a Substitute for the Palm: Thus it is still customary with our Boys to go out and gather the Willow Flowers or Buds at this Time.—These seem to have been selected, because in the North they are generally the only Things at this Season, in which the Power of Vegetation can be discovered.

The Russians (of the Greek Church) have a very solemn Procession on Palm Sunday.

CHAP. XXIII. Of rising early on Easter Day: What is meant by the Sun dancing that Morn: The Antiquity of rising early on this Day; the End and De­sign of it: The great Advantage of it.

IT is a common Custom among the Vulgar and uneducated Part of the World, to rise before the Sun on Easter-day, and walk into the Fields: The Reason of which is to see the Sun Dance; which they have been told, from an old Tradition, always dances as upon that Day. We read indeed that the Sun once* stood still, but whether the Sun danced upon the very Day our Saviour rose on, we cannot tell: It's very probable it did not, because the Scriptures are silent; and that it never did so since, I think we may be well assur'd; foras­much as never any, that we have heard of, have seen any such Thing since that Time. If therefore this Tradition hath any Meaning, it must be a metaphorical one; that when the Morning proves clear, there is a seeming Smile over the Face of Nature, and Earth and Hea­ven shew Tokens of Joy. For as the Earth and her Valleys, by standing thick with Corn, [Page 242] are said to laugh and sing; so, on Account of the Resurrection, the Heavens and the Sun may be said to dance for Joy; or as the Psal­mist words it,* The Heavens may rejoyce, and the Earth may be glad.

There is then, really speaking, nothing in the Dancing of the Sun upon Easter-day; but yet it is a very ancient and commendable Custom to be up early at this Holy Time: And therefore Damascen, in his Paschal Hymn, sings, Let us watch very early in the Morn­ing; and instead of Ointment, let us bring an Hymn to our Lord; and let us see our CHRIST, the Sun of Righteousness, who is the Life that riseth to all Men. And indeed it is the most seasonable Time for meditating on our LORD'S Resurrection, and it's pleasing Cir­cumstances. For as the Place where any nota­ble Thing has been transacted, seldom or never fails to raise the Idea of the Transaction; so the particular Time, when it was done, does generally produce the same Effect. And as the Truth of the Former, was the Occasion of many holy and religious Men going to visit [Page 243] the Place of the Sepulchre, and hear it, as it were, say, what the Angel did to the Women, Come, see the Place where the Lord lay; so the Truth of the Latter was the Reason, why de­vout and holy Men, did in the best Ages of the Church, rise early in the Morning of the Resurrection. The Primitive Christians spent the Night preceeding it, in Prayers and Praises, till the Time of Cock-crow, the supposed Hour of our Saviour's rising. For as* Durant tells us, it is universally assented to by the Latin Church, that after our Saviour had conquer'd Death, and broken the Gates of Hell, he arose from the Dead, not at Mid-night, but in the Morning, at the Time of Cock-crow; which not the Cocks, but the Angels themselves pro­claimed. And when these Pernoctations were laid aside, it was the Custom to rise early, and spend the Morning in such a Manner as was suitable to the Nature of the Time. The Salutation of the Eastern Church Anestese; or, The LORD is risen, and the usual Answer, The LORD is risen indeed; were no doubt the com­mon Salutation of that Morning: And if this present Custom of the Vulgar has had at any Time any laudable Custom for its Original, it [Page 244] was, no doubt, this of rising early to contem­plate the more seasonably on the Resurrection of CHRIST.

And now, was this the End of rising early at that Holy Time, it would be very advan­tageous; but to rise with the View of the Vul­gar, is foolish and ridiculous. Would we rise before the Sun, and prevent the Dawn of Day, our Meditations would be strong and vigorous, and almost persuade us that the real Actions of that Morn were presented to our View. For when at that Time all Things are husht in Silence, and wrap'd in Darkness, or but illu­minated with the friendly Moon, the* Guide of Mary Magdalene, and the other Women to the Sepulchre; 'tis easy and natural to medi­tate on these Things; to see our Saviour's Tomb; to see the Angels sit as Guardians on it; and the trembling Watch fled into the City. And now the LORD is risen indeed, and they that seek him early shall find him. Be­hold then Mary Magdalene, on the first Day of the Week, coming from her own House at [Page 245] Bethany, before the other Women, very early in the Morning, when it was as yet Dark, * to find Ease and Consolation at the Sepulchre: Behold she and the other Women bringing the prepared Spices to embalm their LORD: Behold Peter and John running to the Sepul­chre and returning, whilst Mary continues in Sorrow and Tears: And as she weeps, ye may see her look into the Sepulchre; but he is not there, he is risen. Behold then the Guardians of the Tomb, saying, Woman, why weepest thou? Nay behold the Lamb of GOD himself, with the very same Words, wiping away the Tears from her Eyes. And JESUS said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She supposing him to be the Gardiner, saith unto him, Sir, If thou have born him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. JESUS said unto her, Mary. With what Joy now doth she run to his Feet, willing and desirous, and eager to embrace them. But he bids her not to touch him, but go to his Brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my GOD and your GOD. Behold a little after this, his Apparition to her and the other Women, and how he suffers them to kiss his Feet. [Page 246] * He appeared also about the same Time to Peter.

These and the other Accidents at our LORD'S Resurrection, would afford us a satisfactory and comfortable Meditation; would inflame our Hearts with a burning Love, and melt us into Tears of Joy. In our eager Wishes and warm Desires, we should, with the Holy Wo­men, kiss the Feet of our Saviour, and be al­most Partakers of equal Happiness with them; or, sure we are, that we should have our Sa­viour in our Hearts, and not fail of seeing him in his Kingdom. He whom we have so carefully sought for, will vouchsafe to be found of us; in his Grace, at the Sepulchre, and in his Glory, in Heaven. Happy they, who so early seek their Saviour; who long after him, as the Hart doth after the Water-Brooks; who seek him among the Lilies, un­til the Day break, and the Shadows flee away. Happy they, their Conversation is now in Heaven, and their Happiness hereafter, will be the Joys of Eternity: Where they shall no more be absent, but ever present with the LORD.


MR. Bourne has exhausted the Subject of this Chapter. The learned Author of the Vul­gar Errors has left us his Thoughts concerning it in the subsequent Quotation; in which if the Matter be not found curious, the Manner perhaps will be considered as highly so: ‘We shall not, I hope, says he, disparage the Resurrection of our Redeemer, if we say the Sun doth not dance on Easter Day. *—And though we would willing­ly assent unto any sympathetical Exultation, yet [Page 248] cannot conceive therein any more than a tro­pical Expression. Whether any such Motion there were in that Day wherein Christ arised; Scripture hath not revealed, which hath been punctual in other Records, concerning Solary Miracles; and the Areopagite, that was amazed at the Eclipse, took no Notice of this: And if metaphorical Expressions go so far, we may be bold to affirm, not only that one Sun danced, but two arose that Day. That Light appeared at his Nativity, and Darkness at his Death, and yet a Light at both; for even that Darkness was a Light unto the Gentiles, illuminated by that Obscurity. That 'twas the first Time the Sun set above the Horizon. That although there were Darkness above the Earth, there was Light beneath it, nor dare we say, that Hell was dark if he were in it.’

This is a fine aenigmatical Way of Reasoning, and from the Turn of his Discourse, one might have asked, (with the Butler's Compliment to Vellum in the Haunted House) if it were not to be too lu­dicrous upon a solemn Subject; ‘I fancy, Master Doctor, you could make a Riddle.’

For the Pasche, vulgò Paste, or Easter Eggs, with which Children entertain themselves here in the North at this Season, and of which Mr. Bourne has taken no Notice, see the Appendix, in Verbo Pasche or Paste Eggs.

CHAP. XXIV. Of Easter Holy-Days: A Time of Relaxation from Labour: How observed in the dark Ages of Popery: That our Customs at this Time, are sprung from theirs.

ON the Holy-Days of Easter, it is customary for Work to cease, and Servants to be at Liberty: Which is a Resemblance of the Prac­tice of the primitive Church, which set apart the whole Week after Easter, for to praise and glorifie GOD, for our SAVIOUR'S Resurrection: In which* Time all servile Labour ceas'd, that Servants as well as others might be present at the Devotions of the Season. But other Customs so frequently observed at this Time, such as publick Showes, Gamings, Horse-Races, &c. were forbidden, as being foreign to the Holiness of this Season.

In after Ages, when the Church fell into Corruption, and the Substance of Religion de­cay'd into the Shadow of Ceremonies, the usual Prayers and Praises of the Season, were either much neglected, or but superficially observed. [Page 250] For Belithus, a Ritualist of those Times tells us,* That it was customary in some Churches, for the Bishops and Arch-Bishops themselves to play with the inferior Clergy, even at Hand-Ball; and this also, as Durandus witnesseth, even on Easter-Day it self. This was called the Liberty of December, because that for­merly, it was customary among the Heathens in that Month to indulge their Servants with a certain Time of Liberty; when they were on the Level with their Masters, and feasted and banqueted with them.

Why they should play at Hand-Ball at this Time rather than any other Game, I have not been able to find out; but I suppose it will be readily granted, that this Custom of so playing, was the Original of our present Recreations and Diversions on Easter Holy Days, and in particular of playing at Hand-Ball for a § Tanzy-Cake, which at this Season, is gene­rally practised; and I would hope practised with Harmlessness and Innocence. For when [Page 251] the common Devotions of the Day are over, there is is nothing sinful in lawful Recreation. But for the Governors of Churches to descend to such Childish Exercises, and that even on the Great Sunday of the Year, was not only unbecoming their Gravity and Reservedness, but was also a down-right breach of the fourth Commandment. But these were Ages of Ig­norance and Darkness, when the World was taught for the Doctrines of GOD, the Command­ments of Men.


Festa dies quoties rediit, concessaque ritè
Otia, purpureoque rubentes lumine soles,
Mons Catherinae, p. 1.

BY the Law concerning Holidays, mentioned before in the Observations on Chapter 17th, and made in the Time of King Alfred the Great, it was appointed that the Week after Easter should be kept holy. Collier's Ecclesiastical Hist. Vol. I. p. 163.

Fitzstephen tells us of an Easter Holiday Amuse­ment used in his Time at London, ‘they fight Battels, says he, on the Water, a Shield is hang­ed [Page 252] upon a Pole, fixed in the Midst of the Stream; a Boat is prepared without Oars, to be carried by violence of the Water, and in the Forepart there­of standeth a young Man, ready to give Charge upon the Shield with his Lance.—If so be he break his Lance against the Shield, and do not fall, he is thought to have performed a worthy Deed,—if so be without breaking his Launce, he runneth strongly again the Shield, down he falleth into the Water, for the Boat is violently forced with the Tide; but on each Side of the Shield ride two Boats, furnished with young Men, which recover him that falleth as soon as they may.—Upon the Bridge, Wharfs and Houses by the River's Side, stand great numbers to see and laugh thereat. Stow, p. 76.

Mr. Bourne confesses himself to be entirely igno­rant of the Reasons why they play at Hand Ball * at this Time, rather than any other Game.—I find [Page 253] in J. Boëmus Aubanus'* Description of antient Rites in his Country, that there were at this Season Foot Courses in the Meadows, in which the Victors carried off a Cake given to be run for, as we say, by some better Sort of Person in the Neighbour­hood.— Sometimes two Cakes were proposed, one for the young Men, another for the Girls, and there was a great Concourse of People on the Oc­casion.— This is a Custom by no means unlike our Forth Meetings on these Holidays.—The winning a Tanzy Cake at the Game of Hand-Ball , depends chiefly upon Swiftness of Foot: It too is a Trial of Fleetness and Speed, as well as the Foot Race.

Tansy, says Selden, in the subsequent curious Passage in his Table Talk, was taken from the [Page 254] bitter Herbs in use among the Jews at this Season. ‘Our Meats and our Sports, have much of them Relation to Church-Works.—The Coffin of our Christmas Pies, in Shape long, is in Imitation of the Cratch *: Our chusing Kings and Queens on Twelfth Night, hath Reference to the three Kings.—So likewise our eating of Fritters, whip­ping of Tops, roasting of Herrings, Jack of Lents, &c. they are all in Imitation of Church-Works, Emblems of Martyrdom. Our Tansies at Easter have Reference to the bitter Herbs; though at the same Time 'twas always the Fashion for a Man to have a Gammon of Bacon, to shew himself to be no Jew. V. Christmass.

Durand tells us, that on Easter Tuesday, Wives used to beat their Husbands, on the Day following the Husbands their Wives. There is a Custom still retained at the City of Durham on these Holidays: On one Day the Men take off the Women's Shoes, which are only to be redeemed by a Present; on another Day the Women take of the Men's in like Manner.

CHAP. XXV. Of May-Day; the Custom of going to the Woods the Night before; this the Practice of other Nations: The Original of it; the Unlawful­ness.

ON the Calends, or the first Day of May, commonly called May-Day, the juvenile Part of both Sexes, were wont to rise a little after Mid-night, and walk to some neigh­bouring Wood, accompany'd with Musick and the blowing of Horns; where they break down Branches from the Trees, and adorn them with Nose-gays and Crowns of Flowers. When this is done, they return with their Booty home-wards, about the ri­sing of the Sun, and make their Doors and Windows to Triumph in the Flowery Spoil. The after-part of the Day, is chiefly spent in dancing round a Tall-Poll, which is called a May-Poll; which being placed in a convenient Part of the Village, stands there, as it were consecrated to the Goddess of Flowers, without the least Violation offer'd it, in the whole Circle of the Year. And this is not the Custom of the British Common People only, but it is the Custom of the Generality of other Nations; particularly of the Italians, [Page 256] where Polydore Virgil tells us, The* Youth of both Sexes were accustomed to go into the Fields, on the Calends of May, and bring thence the Branches of Trees, singing all the Way as they came, and so place them on the Doors of their Houses.

This is the Relick of an ancient Custom among the Heathen, who observed the four last Days of April, and the first of May, in Honour of the Goddess Flora, who was ima­gin'd the Deity presiding over the Fruit and Flowers. It was observed with all Manner of Obscenity and Lewdness, and the undecent Sports and Postures of naked Women, who were called together with the Noise of Trum­pets, and danced before the Spectators.

From this Custom of the Heathens hath ours undoubtedly come; and tho' for that Reason barely, it need not be laid aside; yet forasmuch as many Country People are of [Page 257] Opinion,* That the Observation of this Ceremony is a good Omen, and a Procurer of the Success of the Fruits of the Earth, which is entirely a Piece of Superstition; and because also much Wickedness and Debauch­ery are committed that Night, to the Scandle of whole Families, and the Dishonour of Religion, there is all the Reason in the World, for laying it aside.


IN the old Calendar of the Romish Church above cited, there is the following Observa­tion on the 30th of April: ‘The Boys go out and seek May-Trees *.’

Stow tells us, in his Survey of London, that in the Month of May, namely, on May-day in the [Page 258] Morning, every Man, except impediment, would walk into the sweet Meddowes and green Woods, there to rejoice their Spirits with the Beauty and Savour of sweet Flowers, and with the Harmony of Birds praising God in their Kinde.

He quotes from Hall an Account of Henry the Eighth's riding a Maying from Greenwich to the high Ground of Shooter's Hill, with Queen Kathe­rine his wife, accompanied with many Lords and Ladies.

He further tells us, ‘I find also that in the Month of May, the Citizens of London (of all Estates) lightly in every Parish, or sometimes two or three Parishes joining together, had their several Mayings *, and did fetch in May-Poles [Page 259] with divers warlike Shews, with good Archers, Morrice Dancers, and other Devices for Pastime all the Day long; and towards the Evening they had Stage-Plaies and Bone-Fires in the Streets.’ And again he says, ‘in the Reign of Henry the Sixth, the Aldermen and Sheriffs of London, be­ing on May-day at the Bishop of London's Wood, and having there a worshipful Dinner for them­selves and other Commers, Lydgate the Monk of Bury sent them, by a Pursivant, a joyful Commendation of that Season, beginning thus:’

Mighty Flora, Goddess of fresh Flow'rs,
Which clothed hath the Soil in lusty Green,
Made Buds to spring with her sweet Show'rs,
By Influence of the Sun sheene,
To do Pleasance of Intent full cleane,
Unto the States which now sit here
Hath Ver sent down her own Daughter dear*.
p. 80.

[Page 260]Mr. Borlase, in his curious Account of the Man­ners of Cornwal, tells us, ‘An antient Custom, still retained by the Cornish, is that of decking their Doors and Porches on the first of May with green Sycamore and Hawthorn Boughs, and of planting Trees, or rather Stumps of Trees, be­fore their Houses: And on May Eve, they from Towns make Excursions into the Country, and having cut down a tall Elm, brought it into Town, fitted a straight and taper Pole to the End of it, and painted the same, erect it in the most public Places, and on Holidays and Festi­vals adorn it with Flower Garlands, or Insigns and Streamers.’ He adds, ‘This Usage is no­thing more than a Gratulation of the Spring Season; and every House exhibited a proper Sig­nal of its Approach, to testify their universal Joy at the Revival of Vegetation.’

The Author of the Pamphlet, entitled, ‘The Way to Things by Words, and to Words by Things,’ in his Specimen of an Etimological Vocabulary, considers the May-Pole * in a new and curious Light: We gather from him that our An­cestors held an anniversary Assembly on May-day; the Column of the May (whence our May-Pole) was the great Standard of Justice in the Ey-Commons, or Fields of May. Here it was that the People, if they saw Cause, deposed or punished their Gover­nors, their Barons, their Kings.— The Judge's [Page 261] Bough or Wand (at this Time discontinued, and only faintly represented by a trifling Nosegay), and the Staff or Rod of Authority in the Civil and in the Military (for it was the Mace of Civil Power, and the Truncheon of the Field Officers) are both derived from hence.—A Mayor, he says, received his Name from this May, in the Sense of lawful Power.—The Crown, a Mark of Dignity and Sym­bol of Power, like the Mace and Sceptre, was also taken from the May, being Representative of the Garland or Crown, which when hung on the Top of the May or Pole, was the great Signal for con­vening the People.—The Arches of it, which spring from the Circlet and meet together at the Mound or round Ball, being necessarily so formed to sus­pend it on the Top of the Pole.

The Word May-Pole, he observes is a Pleonasm; in French it is called singly the Mai.

This is, he farther tells us, one of the antientest Customs, which from the remotest Ages, has been by Repetition from Year to Year, perpetuated down to our Days, not being at this Instant to­tally exploded, especially in the lower Class of Life. —It was considered as the Boundary Day, that di­vided the Confines of Winter and Summer, allusively to which, there was instituted a sportful War be­tween two Parties; the one in Defence of the Continuance of Winter, the other for bringing in the Summer.—The Youth were divided into Troops, the one in Winter Livery, the other in the gay Ha­bit of the Spring.—The mock Battle was always fought Booty, the Spring was sure to obtain the [Page 262] Victory, which they celebrated by carrying * tri­umphally green Branches with May Flowers, pro­claiming and singing the Song of Joy, of which the Burthen was, in these, or equivalent Terms: ‘"We have brought the Summer home ."’

CHAP. XXVI. Of Parochial Perambulations: Their Antiquity, the Benefit and Advantage of them.

IT was a general Custom formerly, and is still observed in some Country Parishes, to go round the Bounds and Limits of the Parish, on one of the three Days before Holy Thursday, or the Feast of our LORD's Ascension; when the Minister, accompany'd with his Church-Wardens and Parishioners, were wont to de­precate the Vengeance of GOD, beg a Bles­sing on the Fruits of the Earth, and preserve the Rights and Properties of their Parish.

The Original of this Custom is dated from the Times of the Heathens. For* from the Days of Numa Popilius, they worshipped the God Terminus, whom they looked upon to be the Guardian of Fields and Landmarks, and the Keeper up of Friendship and Peace among Men: Upon this Account the Feast called Terminalia, was dedicated to him; instead of which it is a very ancient Custom to surround [Page 264] the Bounds of Parishes every Year: And in­stead of Heathenish Rites and Sacrifices to an imaginary God, to offer Praises and Prayers to the true GOD, the GOD of the whole Earth. The Custom was, the People accom­pany'd the Bishop, or some of the Clergy into the Fields, where Litanies were made, and the Mercy of GOD implor'd, that he would avert the Evils of Plague and Pestilence, that he would send them good and seasonable Weather, and give them the Fruits of the Earth in due Season.

The Litanies or Rogations, which were* then made Use of, and gave Name to the Time of Rogation-Week, were first observed by Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna, in the Year 550, on Account of the frequent Earthquakes that happened, and the Incursions of wild Beasts, which laid in Ruins, and depopulated the City. Not that Litanies and Rogations were not used before, but that before this [Page 265] Time they were not affixed to these Days. And since that, they have been observed of the whole Church at this Season, except the Church of* Spain, who chus'd rather to have them after Pentecost than before it; because from Easter-day to the Feast of Pentecost, it was the Custom of the Church not to Fast: For as they themselves reason'd, the Children of the Bride-Chamber cannot Fast so long as the Bridegroom is with them; and therefore they held their Rogations after Pentecost.

What now remains among us, is the Re­lick of this antient and laudable Custom, which was always observed in the old Church of England, and has been also in some Mea­sure since the Reformation too.

In the Canons of Cuthbert, Arch-bishop of Canterbury, which were made at Cloves-hoo, in the Year 747, it was order'd that Litanies, that is, Rogations, should be observed of the [Page 266] Clergy, and all the People with great Reve­rence on these Days, viz. the seventh of the Kalends of May, according to the Rites of the Church of Rome, who termeth this the greater Litany; and also according to the Cu­stom of our Fore-fathers, on the three Days before the Ascention of our LORD into the Heavens, with Fasting, &c. And in the In­junctions made in the Reign of Queen Eliza­beth, it is ordered, * That the Curate, at certain and convenient Places, shall admo­nish the People to give Thanks to GOD, in the beholding of GOD'S Benefits; for the Increase and Abundance of his Fruits upon the Face of the Earth, with the Saying of the 103 Psalm, &c. at which Time the Minister shall inculcate these or such Sen­tences. Cursed be he which translateth the Bounds and Doles of his Neighbours: Or such Orders of Prayers as shall be hereafter.’

Agreeable to this we read, in the Life of the pious Hooker, That he would by no Means omit the Customary Time of Proces­sion, persuading all, both Rich and Poor, if they desired the Preservation of Love, and their Parish Rites and Liberties, to ac­company him in his Perambulation, and most did so; in which Perambulation, he [Page 267] would usually Express more pleasant Dis­course, than at other Times, and would then always Drop some loving and facetious Observations, to be remembred against the next Year, especially by the Boys and young People: Still inclining them; and all his present Parishioners, to meekness and mutu­al Kindnesses and Love; because Love thinks not Evil, but covers a Multitude of Infirmi­ties.

We may also observe, That the particular Office order'd by our Church for Rogation-Sunday, is exactly suited to the Nature of the Season; that the three Days following are ap­pointed Fasts by our Church, and that one of our Church Homilies is composed particularly, for the Parochial Perambulation. All which shews the Custom and Intention of the Church, and that the practising of it would be service­able to the Sons of Men: Would save their Lives from Destruction, and crown them with Mercy and loving Kindness; would send them Springs into their Rivers, and make them run among the Hills: Would bring forth Grass for the Cattle, and green Herb for the Service of Men.


THE Word Parochia or Parish antiently signi­fied what we now call the Diocese of a Bi­shop.— In the early Ages of the Christian Church, as Kings founded Cathedrals, so great Men found­ed parochial Churches, for the Conversion of themselves and their Dependents; the Bounds of the parochial Division, being commonly the same with those of the Founder's Jurisdiction. Some Foundations of this Kind were as early as Justinian the Emperor. Bede mentions them about 700.

Before the Reign of Edward the Confessor, the parochial Divisions in this Kingdom were so far advanced, that every Person might be traced to the Parish to which he belonged.—This appears by the Canons published in the Time of Edgar and Canute. The Distinction of Parishes as they now stand, appears to have been settled before the Nor­man Conquest: In Doomsday Book, the Parishes agree very near to the modern Division. See Collier's Eccl. Hist. Vol. I. p. 231.—Camden tells us, that this Kingdom was first divided into Pa­rishes by Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, A. D. 636, and counts 2984 Parishes.—The Late­ran Council made some such Division as this: It compelled every Man to pay Tythes to his Parish Priest; Men before that Time payed them to whom they pleased; since then, it has happend [Page 269] that few, if they could be excused from doing it, would care to pay them at all.

Blount tells us, that Rogation Week, (Saxon Gangdagas, i. e. Days of Perambulation*) is al­ways the next but one before Whitsunday: And so called, because on Monday, Tuesday, and Wed­nesday of that Week, Rogations and Litanies were used: And Fasting, or at least Abstinence then enjoined by the Church to all Persons, not only for a devout Preparative to the Feasts of Christ's glorious Ascension, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost shortly after, but also to request and suppli­cate the Blessing of God upon the Fruits of the Earth.—And in this Respect, the Solemnization of Matrimony is forbidden, from the first Day of the said Week, till Trinity Sunday.

The Dutch call it Cruys Week, i. e. Cross Week, and so it is called in some Parts of England, be­cause of old (as still among Roman Catholics) when the Priests went on Procession this Week, the Cross was carried before them.

[Page 270]In the Inns of Court, he adds, it is called Grass Week, because the Commons of that Week consist much of Salads, hard Eggs, and green Sauce upon some of the Days.—The Feast of the old Romans called Rabigalia and Ambarvalia, (quod Victima arva ambiret) did in their heathenish Way somewhat resemble these Institutions, and were kept in May, in Honour of Robigus.

CHAP. XXVII. Of Midsummer-Eve: Of kindling Fires, their Original: That this Custom formerly was su­perstitious, but now may be used with Inno­cence.

ON the Eve of St. John Baptist, commonly called Midsummer Eve, it is usual in the most of Country Places, and also here and there in Towns and Cities, for both Old and Young to meet together, and be Merry over a large Fire, which is made in the open Street. Over this they frequently leap and play at va­rious Games, such as Running, Wrestling, Dancing, &c. But this is generally the Exer­cise of the younger Sort; for the old Ones, for the most Part, sit by as Spectators, and enjoy themselves and their Bottle. And thus they spend the Time till Mid-night, and some­times till Cock-Crow.

Belithus tells us,* That it was a Custom to carry lighted Torches on Midsummer-Eve, as an Emblem of St. John Baptist, who was a burning and a shining Light, and the Preparer [Page 272] of the Way of CHRIST. But if this was the Reason of this Custom formerly, as it's proba­ble it was, (it having been a common Thing, to shadow out Times and Seasons by Em­blems;) yet the Custom still continued among us, was originally instituted upon another Bottom.

And indeed the* Original of this Custom is Heathenish. For in ancient Times the Dra­gons, being incited to Lust through the Heat of the Season, did frequently, as they flew through the Air, Spermatize in the Wells and Fountains. By this Means the Water became infected, and the Air polluted; so that who­ever drank the Waters, was either tormented with a grievous Distemper, or lost his Life. As soon as the Phycians perceived this, th [...] ordered Fires to be made every where about the Wells and Fountains, and those Things which occasioned the noisomest Smell to be burnt, knowing that thereby the Dragons would be driven away. And forasmuch as this Custom was observed about the Time we [Page 273] now celebrate St. John Baptist's Feast, it is therefore still observed among some People. And agreeable to this it is, that Mr. Cambden tells us, that Barnwell, a Village near Cam­bridge, got its Name from the Children play­ing about a Well on St. John Baptist's Eve.

The Custom of kindling such Fires, was severely censur'd by the Church: And there­fore in the Council of Trullus, this Canon was made against it,* That if any Clergy-man or Lay-man observed the Rite of making on Fires on the New-Moon, (which some were wont to observe, and according to an old Custom, to leap over them in a mad and foolish Manner,) he should be deposed, if the Former, if the Latter, he should be ex­communicated.

The Scholiast upon this Canon hath these Words: The New-Moon was always the first Day of the Month, and it was Customary among the Jews and Greeks, to hold then a Feast, and pray that they might be lucky du­ring the Continuance of the Month. Of these it was, that GOD spake by the Prophet: My Soul hateth your New-Moons and your Sab­baths. And not only this, but they also kindled Fires before their Shops and Houses, and leaped over them; imagining that all the [Page 274] Evils which had befallen them formerly, would be burnt away, and that they should be more successful and lucky afterwards. Now about the Sitting of this Synod, there were some of the Christians, who observed this Custom upon the same Accounts that the Heathens did, which occasioned it's being forbid by the Council; and that if a Clergy­man was Guilty of it, he should be deposed; if a Lay-man, excommunicated. He also tells us, that on St. John Baptist's Eve, the Vul­gar were wont to make on Fires for the whole Night, and leap over them, and draw Lots, and Divine about their good or evil Fortune.

But whatever Reason the Heathens had for kindling these Fires; whether as Duran­dus thinks, that the lustful Dragons might be driven away, or as the Canon, that their evil Fortune might be burnt, it is certain that the Custom was invented and practised by them; and because of the Superstition attending the Observation of it, was very justly forbidden by the Council. And undoubtedly was the Making of such Fires now, attended with any such Superstition, it would be equally crimi­nal to observe them. But* when they are only kindled as Tokens of Joy, to excite in­nocent [Page 275] Mirth and Diversion, and promote Peace and good Neighbourhood, they are law­ful and innocent, and deserve no Censure. And therefore when on Midsummer-Eve, St. Peter's-Eve, and at some other Times, we make* Bonefires before Shops and Houses, there would be no Harm in doing so; was it not, that some continue their Diversion to too late Hours, and others are guilty of excessive Drinking.


STOW tells us in his Survey of London, ‘That on the Vigil of St. John Baptist, every Man's Door * being shadowed with green Birch, long Fen­nel, St. John's Wort, Orpin, white Lillies, and [Page 276] such like, garnished upon with Garlands of beautiful Flowers, * had also Lamps of Glass, with Oil burning in them all the Night: Some hung out Branches of Iron, curiously wrought, con­taining Hundreds of Lamps lighted at once. He [Page 277] mentions also the Bone-fires * in the Streets, every Man bestowing Wood or Labour towards them.— He seems to hint that these were kindled to purify the Air.

Dr. Moresin seems to be of Opinion, that the Custom of leaping over these Fires is a Vestige of the Ordeal, where passing through Fires with Safety, was accounted an Indication of Innocence. There really seems to be Probability in this Con­jecture, [Page 278] for not only the Young and Vigorous used to leap over them, but even those of grave Cha­racters: There was an Interdiction of ecclesiastical Authority to deter Clergy-men (as Mr. Bourne has told us) from this superstitious Instance of Agility.

This Author tells us of a remarkable Custom, which he himself was an Eye-witness of in Scotland: "* They take, says he, the new-baptized Infant, and vibrate it three or four Times gently over a Flame, saying and repeating thrice, ‘Let the Flame con­sume thee now or never.

This too seems to favour his Supposition that passing over Fires was accounted expiatory.

There was a Feast at Athens kept by private Families, called Amphidromia, on the 5th Day after the Birth of the Child, when it was the Custom for the Gossips to run round the Fire with the Infant in their Arms, and then having deliver­ed it to the Nurse, they were entertained with Feasting and Dancing.

Mr. Borlase in his Account of Cornwall tells us, ‘The Cornish make Bonefires in every Village on the Eve of St. John Baptist's and St. Peter's Days, which I take to be the Remains of Part of the Druid Superstition.’

[Page 279]Gebelin, before cited, in his Allegories Orientales, accounts in the following Manner for the Custom of making on Fires on Midsummer Eve, * "can one, says he, overlook here the St. John Fires, those sacred Fires kindled about Midnight, on the very Moment of the Solstice by the greatest Part both of antient and modern Nations? A religious Cere­mony, which goes backwards thus to the most remote Antiquity, and which was observed for the Prosperity of States and People, and to dispel every Kind of Evil.

The Origin of this Fire, still retained by so many Nations, and which loses itself in Antiquity, is very simple. It was a Feu de joie, (Fire of Joy) [Page 280] kindled the very Moment the Year began; for the first of all Years, and the most antient that we know of, began at the Month of June. Thence the very Name of this Month, Junior, the youngest, which is renewed; while that of the preceding one is May, Major, the antient: Thus the one was the Month of young People, the other that of old Men.

These Feux de joie were accompanied at the same Time with Vows and Sacrifices for the Prosperity of the People and the Fruits of the Earth; they danced also round this Fire, for what Feast is there without a Dance? And the most active leap­ed over it. * Each at their Departure took away a greater or less Firebrand, and the Remains were scattered to the Wind, which was to drive away every Evil as it dispersed the Ashes.

When after a long Train of Years, the Solstice ceased to be the Beginning of them, the Custom of making these Fires was still continued at the same Time, through a Train of Use and of supersti­tious Ideas, which were annexed to it. Besides it would have been a sad Thing to annihilate a Day of Joy in Times when there were but few of them: Thus has the Custom been continued and handed down to us."

So far our learned and ingenious Foreigner.— But I by no Means acquiesce with him in thinking that the leaping over these Fires, was only a Trial of Agility. A great deal of Learning might be produced here, further to shew that this was as much a religious Act as the making them on.

[Page 281]I have nothing to observe here concerning Mr. Bourne's lustful Dragons, their spermatizing in the Wells or Fountains, as they flew through the Air, &c! I find in J. Boëmus Aubanus' Description of the Ceremonies of this Eve in Germany, that a Species of Fireworks was played off, which they, who had never seen it before, he says, "would take to be a Dragon of Fire flying."* This must have had some Meaning. The Dragon is one of those Shapes, which ‘Fear has created to itself:’ They who gave it Life, have, it seems, furnished it also with the Feelings of animated Nature; but our modern Philosophers are wiser than to attribute any noxious Qualities in Water to Dragon's Sperm.

N. B. Stow tells us, that the Rites above described were used also on the Eve of St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostles (the 29th of June). Dr. Moresin informs us, that in Scotland they used on this Night to run about on the Mountains and higher Grounds with lighted Torches, like the Sicilian Women of old in Search of Proserpine.

I have been informed that something similar to this was practised about half a Century ago in Northumberland on this Night; they carried some Kind of Firebrands about the Fields of their respective Villages: They made Encroachments on these Occasions upon the Bonefires of the neighbouring Towns, of which they took forcibly some of the Ashes; this they called ‘carrying off the Flower (probably the Flour) of the Wake.’

Moresin thinks this a Vestige of the antient Cerealia.

P. 56. 72.

CHAP. XXVIII. Of the Feast of Sheep-shearing, an ancient Custom.

THE Feast of Sheep-sheering, is generally a Time of Mirth and Joy, and more than ordinary Hospitality; indeed it is but little observed in these Northern Parts, but in the Southern it is pretty common. For on the Day they begin to sheer their Sheep, they provide a plentiful Dinner for the Sheerers, and for their Friends who come to visit them on that Occasion; a Table also, if the Wea­ther permit, is spread in the open Village, for the young People and Children.

After what Manner soever this Custom reach'd us, it is certain it may boast of great Antiquity. It is mention'd in the Second Book of Samuel, as a Feast of great Magnifi­cence, both for Grandeur of Entertainment and Greatness of Company. No less a Person than Absalom the King's Son was the Master of this Feast, and no less Persons were the Guests than the King's Sons, the Brethren of Absalom; nay it was a Feast that might enter­tain the King himself, or surely the King would never have been so importun'd, never would have receiv'd the Compliment so kindly. For 'tis said, It came to pass after two full [Page 283] Years, that Absalom had Sheep-sheerers in Baal­hazor, which is beside Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the King's Sons. And Absalom came to the King, and said, Behold, now thy Servant hath Sheep-sheerers, let the King, I beseech thee, and his Servants, go with thy Servant. And the King said, Nay, my Son, let us not all go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. Of this kind also was the Feast which Nabal made for his Sheerers, when David was driven to straits in the Wilderness, and sent his Servants to ask a Present of him. He calls the Day it was held on, a good Day; that is, a Day of plenti­ful Eating and Drinking. And therefore Na­bal answer'd the Servants of David, shall I then take my Bread and my Water, and my flesh that I have killed for my Sheerers, and give it unto Men, whom I know not whence they be? And further, it is said in the same Chapter, that so grand and magnificent was this Feast, that he had a Feast in his House, like the Feast of a King. We find also in the Book of Genesis, that Laban went to sheer his Sheep, in which Time Jacob made his Escape, which Laban heard not of till the third Day. Of such great Antiquity then is this Custom, and tho' its Antiquity is not of such force as to palliate Luxury and Profuseness in these Entertain­ments; yet no doubt it will vindicate the Harmlesness of a moderate Feast upon this Oc­casion.


THE Author of the Convivial Antiquities tells us, that the Pastoral Life was antiently ac­counted an honourable one, particularly amongst the Jews and the Romans*. Mr. Bourne has given us Instances from the old Testament of the festive Entertainments of the former on this Occasion; Pliny and Varro may be consulted for the Manner of ce­lebrating this Feast among the latter.—The wash­ing and shearing of Sheep was attended among them with great Mirth and Festivity: Indeed the Value of the Covering of this very useful Animal must have always made the shearing Time, in all pastoral Nations, a Kind of Harvest Home.

[Page 285]There is a beautiful Description of this Festivity in Dyer's Fleece, at the End of the first Book:

At shearing Time, along the lively Vales,
Rural Festivities are often heard:
Beneath each blooming Arbor all is Joy
And lusty Merriment: While on the Grass
The mingled Youth in gaudy Circles sport,
We think the golden Age again return'd,
And all the fabled Dryades in Dance.
Leering they bound along, with laughing Air,
To the shrill Pipe, and deep remurm'ring Cords
Of th' antient Harp, or Tabor's hollow Sound:
While th' Old apart, upon a Bank reclin'd,
Attend the tuneful Carol, softly mixt
With ev'ry Murmur of the sliding Wave,
And ev'ry Warble of the feather'd Choir;
Music of Paradise! which still is heard,
When the Heart listens; still the Views appear
Of the first happy Garden, when Content
To Nature's flow'ry Scenes directs the Sight.
—With light fantastic Toe, the Nymphs
Thither assembled, thither ev'ry Swain;
And o'er the dimpled Stream a-thousand Flow'rs,
Pale Lilies, Roses, Violets and Pinks,
Mixt with the Greens of Burnet, Mint and Thyme,
And Trefoil, sprinkled with their sportive Arms.
Such Custom holds along th' irriguous Vales,
From Wreakin's Brow to rocky Dolvoryn,
Sabrina's early Haunt.
—The jolly Chear
Spread on a mossy Bank, untouch'd abides
Till cease the Rites: And now the mossy Bank
Is gaily circled, and the jolly Chear
Dispers'd in copious Measure: Early Fruits,
And those of frugal Store, in Husk or Rind;
Steep'd Grain, and curdled Milk with dulcet Cream
Soft temper'd, in full Merriment they quaff,
And cast about their Gibes; and some apace
Whistle to Roundelays: Their little ones
[Page 286]Look on delighted; while the Mountain Woods
And winding Vallies, with the various Notes
Of Pipe, Sheep, Kine, and Birds and liquid Brooks
Unite their Echoes: Near at Hand
The wide majestic Wave of Severn slowly rolls
Along the deep divided Glebe: The Flood
And trading Bark with low contracted Sail,
Linger among the Reeds and copsy Banks
To listen and to view the joyous Scene.

Thus also of the washing and shearing Sheep in Thompson's Summer:

—In one diffusive Band
They drive the troubled Flocks, by many a Dog
Compell'd, to where the mazy-running Brook
Forms a deep Pool; this Bank abrupt and high,
And that fair spreading in a pebbled Shore.
Urg'd to the Giddy Brink, much is the Toil,
The Clamour much of Men, and Boys and Dogs,
Ere the soft fearful People to the Flood
Commit their woolly Sides; and oft the Swain
On some impatient seizing, hurls them in:
Embolden'd then, nor hesitating more,
Fast, fast, they plunge amid the flashing Wave,
And panting, labour to the farther Shore.
Repeated this, till deep the well-wash'd Fleece
Has drunk the Flood, and from his lively Haunt
The Trout is banish'd by the sordid Stream;
Heavy and dripping, to the breezy Brow
Slow move the harmless Race; where as they spread
Their swelling Treasures to the sunny Ray,
Inly disturb'd, and wond'ring what this wild
Outrageous Tumult means, their loud Complaints
The Country tell; and toss'd from Rock to Rock,
Incessant Bleatings run around the Hills,
At last, of snowy white, the gather'd Flocks
Are in the wattled Pen innumerous press'd
Head above Head; and rang'd in lusty Rows
The Shepherds sit and whet the sounding Shears.
The Housewife waits to roll her fleecy Stores,
With all her gay drest Maids attending round.
[Page 287]One, Chief, in gracious Dignity inthron'd,
Shines o'er the rest, the Past'ral Queen, and rays
Her Smiles, sweet-beaming on her Shepherd King;
While the glad Circle round them yield their Souls
To festive Mirth, and Wit that knows no Gall.
Meantime, their joyous Task goes on apace:
Some mingling stir the melted Tar, and some
Deep on the new-shorn Vagrant's heaving Side
To stamp his Master's Cypher ready stand;
Others th' unwilling Wether drag along:
And glorying in his Might, the sturdy Boy
Holds by the twisted Horns th' indignant Ram.
Behold where bound, and of its Robe bereft,
By needy Man, that all-depending Lord,
How meek, how patient, the mild Creature lies!
What Softness in its melancholy Face,
What dumb complaining Innocence appears!
Fear not, ye gentle Tribes! 'tis not the Knife
Of horrid Slaughter that is o'er you wav'd;
No, 'tis the tender Swain's well-guided Shears,
Who having now, to pay his annual Care,
Borrow'd your Fleece, to you a cumbrous Load,
Will send you bounding to your Hills again. Line 368.

Mr. Bourne's Definition of a "Good Day" in this Chapter is a pleasant one: ‘He calls, says he, the Day it was held on, a good Day; that is, a Day of plentiful Eating and Drinking.

By Parity of Reasoning, the vulgar Ceremony of wishing a good Day to you, is synonimous with wishing you a good Dinner *!

CHAP. XXIX. Of Michaelmass: Guardian Angels the Discourse of Country People at this Time: That it seems rather true, that we are protected by a Num­ber of Angels, than by one particular Genius.

THE Feast of this Season is celebrated in Commemoration of St. Michael, and all the Orders of Angels. It is called, The Dedi­cation of St. Michael, because of a Church be­ing dedicated to him on this Day in Mount Garganus.

At this Season of the Year, it is a general Custom to elect the Governors of Towns and Cities, to promote Peace among Men, and guard them against Harm from their malici­ous Fellow Creatures. Whether this particu­lar Time of the Year has been chosen for e­lecting them, because then is the Feast of An­gels, the Guardians and Protectors of Men, and of their Communities and* Provinces, is not so certain. It is certainer, that when ever it comes, it brings into the Minds of the Peo­ple, that old Opinion of Tutelar Angels, that every Man has his Guardian Angel; that is, one particular Angel who attends him from his Coming in, till his Going out of Life, [Page 289] who guides him through the Troubles of the World, and strives as much as he can, to bring him to Heaven.

Now that good Angels attend good Men is without Dispute. They guide them in the Mazes of the Wilderness of Life, and bring them to their desir'd Homes; they surround them in the Seas of Afflictions, and lead them to the Shores of Peace; and as when the Is­raelites passed through the Red-Sea, the Cloud became Light to them, but Darkness to their Ene­mies, so in the troublesome Seas of this Life, the Angels are both the Guides of good Men, and their Protectors from Evil, from the De­vil and his Angels. And therefore the Psal­mist says, The Angel of the LORD tarrieth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them; and that he will give his Angels Charge over good Men. They are also supposed to be that Hedge, which GOD placed about Job, which the Devil so much complains of; and sure we are, that when the Eyes of Elisha's Servant were open'd, he saw the Mountain full of Chariots and Horses of Fire round about Eli­sha. That therefore good Men are guarded and protected by Angels the Scripture shews very clearly. But that every Man has his particular Genius, seems to be founded more upon Tradition, than any Certainty from Scripture. Thus the Egyptians believed that [Page 290] every Man had three Angels attending him; the Pythagoreans, that every Man had two; the Romans, that there was a good and an evil Genius. And hence it is that the Roman Poet says, Quisque suos patitur manes, every Man hath his evil Genius. And if we may believe the Authority of Plutarch, the evil Genius of Brutus appeared to him the Night before the Battle of Philippi, and told him he was his evil Genius, and that he would meet him there.

But there are greater Authorities than these in Vindication of this Opinion: Casalion ob­serves, it may be proved from Scripture, and not only from the Tradition of the* Hea­thens. And of this Opinion was Justin Mar­tyr, Theodoret, St. Basil, St. Jerome, and St. Austin.

There are indeed two Places in the New Testament, which have a View to this Opini­on. The first is in the 18th of St. Matthew, the 10th Verse, Take heed that ye despise not one of these little Ones: For I say unto you, that their Angels do always behold the Face of my Father which is in Heaven. Now because this Place takes Notice of the Angels of these little Ones, some have therefore concluded that [Page 291] every Man has his good Angel; at least that good Men have. But now this Conclusion does not certainly follow from these Words: For when it is said their Angels, it does indeed certainly infer, that the Angels do protect good Men, but not that every Man has his particular Angel. And hence therefore, as one observes, St. Chrisostom makes use of these Words, Enteuthen, delon, &c. it is manifest that the Saints at least, if not all Men, have their Angels: But he does not hence conclude, that every Man has one. The other Place is in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is said, that when Peter was delivered out of Prison, they would not believe the Maid it was he, but said, It was his Angel. It must be own'd in­deed from this, that it seems the Opinion of those in the House, that every Man had his Guardian Angel; but this is no Proof of the Thing's being so: It only proves, that it was their Opinion, but not that this Opinion is true. The Jews had such a Tradition among them, and what was here spoken, was perhaps only according to that Tradition. Besides we read on the contrary, that sometimes one and the same Angel has been sent to different Per­sons; thus Gabriel was sent to Daniel, Zacha­rias, and the blessed Virgin: Sometimes the Scripture tells us of many Angels protecting one Man; for so was Elisha protected; and as [Page 292] we wrestle not only against Flesh and Blood, but against all the Powers of Darkness, so we have many Angels to assist and defend us. I shall not dare to determine positively against this Opinion, which has travelled down through so many Ages, which has been held by so many wise and learned Men, and which has such Scriptures brought to its Defence; this I shall only say, that of the two Opinions, the Latter seems to be the more probable; that it seems more consonant to Scripture, that we are attended by a Number of Angels, than by a particular Tutelar Angel. But this I men­tion, not as necessary to be believed. For I am perswaded there is no Fault in believing either the one or the other, as it appears more probable: For whether soever we believe, we believe in the Protection of Angels, and that seems to be all which the Scripture requires.


SYmmachus, against the Christians, says, "The divine Being has distributed various Guardians to Cities.—As Souls are communicated to Infants [Page 293] at their Birth, so particular Genii are assigned to particular Societies of Men.

Moresin tells us, that papal Rome, in Imitation of this Tenet of Gentilism, has fabricated such Kinds of Genii for Guardians and Defenders of Cities and People.—Thus she has assigned St. Andrew to Scotland, St. George to England, St. Dennis to France, &c.—Egidius to Edinburgh, Nicholas to Aberdeen, &c. &c*.

It were superfluous to enumerate the Tutelar Gods of Heathenism. — Few are ignorant that Apollo and Minerva presided over Athens, Bac­chus and Hercules over Boeotian Thebes, Juno over Carthage, Venus over Cyprus and Paphos, Apollo over Rhodes, Mars was the Tutelar God of Rome, as Neptune of Taenarus: Diana presided over Crete, &c. &c.

St. Peter succeeded to Mars at the Revolution of the religious Creed of Rome: He now presides over the Castle of St. Angelo, as Mars did over the antient Capitol.

It is observable in this Place, how closely Popery has in this Respect copied the Heathen Mythology. —She has the Supreme Being for Jupiter, and [Page 294] has substituted Angels for Genii.—The Souls of Saints for Heroes, retaining all kinds of Daemons. Against these Pests, she has carefully provided her Antidotes.—She exorcises them out of Waters, she rids the Air of them by ringing her hallowed Bells, &c.

Thus the Pope, like Pluto of old, may be said to preside over the Infernal Regions.

The Romanists in Imitation of the Heathens, have assigned Tutelar Gods to each Member of the Body, to Professions*, Trades, &c.

It is perhaps owing to this antient Notion of good and evil Genii attending each Person, that many of the Vulgar pay so great an Attention to [Page 295] particular Dreams, thinking them, it should seem the Means these invisible Attendants use to inform their Wards * of any imminent Danger.

Michaelmas, says Bailey, is a Festival appointed by the Church, to be observed in Honour of St. Michael the Arch-Angel, who is supposed to be the Chief of the Host of Heaven, as Lucifer is of the Infernal, and as he was supposed to be the Protector of the Jewish Church, so he is now esteemed the Guardian and Defender of the Chri­stian Church.

A red Velvet Buckler is said to be still reserved in a Castle of Normandy, which the Archangel Michael made use of when he combated the Dragon! See Bishop Hall's Triumphs of Rome, p. 62.

This Writer ridicules also the Superstition of Sai­lors among the Romanists, who in passing by St Michael's Grecian Promontory Malea, used to ply him with their best Devotions, that he would hold still his Wings, from resting too hard upon their Sails. Triumph of Piety, p. 50.

CHAP. XXX. Of the Country Wake: How observed formerly: A Custom of the Heathens, and regulated by Gregory the Great.

IN the Southern Parts of this Nation, the most of Country Villages are wont to ob­serve some Sunday in a more particular Man­ner, than the other common Sundays of the Year, viz. the Sunday after the Day of Dedi­cation, i. e. the Sunday after the Day of the Saint, to whom their Church was dedicated. Then the Inhabitants deck themselves in their gaudiest Clothes, and have open Doors and splendid Entertainments, for the Reception and Treating of their Relations and Friends, who visit them on that Occasion, from each neighbouring Town. The Morning is spent for the most Part at Church, tho' not as that Morning was wont to be spent, not with the Commemoration of the Saint or Martyr, nor the grateful Remembrance of the Builder and Endower. The remaining Part of the Day, is spent in Eating and Drinking; and so is also a Day or two afterwards, together with all Sorts of Rural Pastimes and Exercises, such as Dancing on the Green, Wrestling, Cudgelling, &c.

[Page 297]Agreeable to this we are told, that former­ly* on the Sunday after the Encaenia, or Feast of the Dedication of the Church, it was usual for a great Number of the Inhabitants of the Village, both Grown and Young, to meet together about break of Day, and cry, Holy-wakes, Holy-wakes, and after Mattens to go to Feasting and Sporting, which they continu'd for two or three Days.

In the Northren Parts, the Sunday's Feast­ing is almost lost, and they observe only one other Day for the whole, which among them is called the Hopping; I suppose from the dancing and other Exercises then used. The ancient Name, and which is still common in the Southern Parts, is the Wake; which ac­cording to Sir H. Spelman, are Bacchanal Feasts, observed about Fruit Time, and which were in Villages by Turns, among the Northern and Western English. He calls them Bacchanals, because, as he observes, the Saxon Word Wak, signifies Drunkenness. [Page 298] This Custom our Fore-fathers did in all Pro­bability borrow from their Fellow Heathens,* whose Paganalia or Country Feasts, were of the same Stamp, with this of the Wake.

At the Conversion of the Saxons by Austin the Monk, it was continu'd among the Con­verts, with some Regulations, by an Order of Pope Gregory the Great, to Mellitus the Abbot, who accompany'd Austin in his Voyage. His Words are these, On the Day of Dedication, or the Birth-Day of the Holy Martyrs, whose Relicks are there placed, let the People make to themselves Booths of the Boughs of Trees, round about those very Churches, which had been the Temples of Idols, and in a Religious way to observe a Feast; that Beasts may no longer be slaughtered by way of Sacrifice to the Devil, but for their own Eating, and the Glory of GOD; and that when they are full and satisfied, they may return him Thanks, who is the Giver of all good Things.

This then is the Beginning of our Country Wakes, but they continu'd not in their original Purity: For the Feasting and Sporting got the ascendant of Religion, and so this Feast of De­dication, [Page 299] degenerated into Drunkenness and Luxury. At present there is nothing left but the very Refuse and Dregs of it; Religion having not the least Share in it, which till these latter Ages always had some. Rioting and Feasting are now all that remain, a Scan­dal to the Feast in particular, and to Christia­nity in general.


IN the Council held at Magfield in the Time of Edward the Third, in the List of the principal Holydays to be observed in England, are the An­niversaries of the Consecration of Churches and of the Saints to whose Memory they are dedicated*.

The learned Mr. Borlase, in his Account of Cornwall, speaking on this Subject, tells us, The Parish Feasts instituted in Commemoration of the Dedication of the parochial Churches were highly esteemed among the primitive Christians, and ori­ginally kept on the Saint's Day to whose Memory the Church was dedicated: The Generosity of the Founder and Endower thereof was at the same Time celebrated, and a Service composed suitable to the Occasion. (This is still done in the Col­leges at Oxford to the Memory of the respective Founders.) On the Eve of this Day Prayers were [Page 300] said, and Hymns were sung all Night in the Church; and from these Watchings the Festivals were stiled Wakes *; which Name still continues in many Parts of England, though the Vigils have been long abolished.—It being found very incon­venient, especially in Harvest Time, to observe the Parish Feast on the Saint's Day, they were by the Bishop's special Authority transferred to the follow­ing Sunday, and at length, in the 28th Year of Henry VIII. it was injoined, that they should be always every where celebrated on the first Sunday in October, and no other Day: Which Injunction was never universally complied with, Custom in this Case prevailing against the Law of the Land. —These Feasts (he continues) have been much ex­claimed against by those who do not duly distin­guish between the Institution itself and the dege­nerate Abuse of it.

[Page 301]When the Order was made in 1627 and 1631, at Exeter and in Somersetshire, for their Suppres­sion, both the Ministers and the People desired their Continuance, not only for preserving the Me­morial of the Dedication of their several Churches, but for civilizing their Parishioners, composing Dif­ferences by the Mediation and Meeting of Friends, increasing of Love and Unity by these Feasts of Charity, and for the Relief and Comfort of the Poor.

Mr. Strutt gives us a pertinent Quotation on this Subject from Dugdale's Warwickshire, from an old MS Legend of St. John the Baptist: "And ye shall understond and know how the Evyns were furst found in old Time. In the Beginning of holi Churche, it was so that the Pepul cam to the Chirche with Candellys brennyng, and wold wake and coome with Light toward to the Chirche in their Devocions; and after they fell to Lecherie and Songs,* Daunces, Harping, Piping, and also to Glotony and Sinne, and so turned the Holinesse to Cursydness: Wherefore holy Faders ordeined the Pepul to leve that Waking, and to fast the Evyn. But hit is callyd Vigilia, that is Waking in Englishe, and it is called Evyn, for at Evyn they were wont to come to Chirche."

This Quotation also seems to overthrow the Ety­mology of Wake, given from Spelman by our Author.

[Page 302]This ingenious Antiquary deduces the Origin of our Fairs from these antient Wakes, where great Numbers attending, by Degrees less Devotion and Reverence were observed; till at length from Haw­kers and Pedlars coming thither to sell their petty Wares, the Merchants came and set up Stalls and Booths in the Church-yards: And not only those, says Spelman, who lived in the Parish to which the Church belonged, resorted thither, but others from all the neighbouring Towns and Villages; and the greater the Reputation of the Saint, the greater were the Numbers that flocked together on this Occasion.—Keeping these Fairs on Sundays was justly found Fault with by the Clergy: The Abbot of Ely, in John's Reign, preached much against such Prophanation of the Sabbath, but this irreli­gious Custom was not entirely abolished till the Reign of King Henry the Sixth. See Strutt's Eng­lish Aera, Vol. II. p. 98. See Article Fairs in the Appendix.

These Meetings are still kept up, under the Name of Hoppings *, in many of our northern Vil­lages.—We shall hope the Rejoicings on them are still in general restrained within the Bounds of in­nocent Festivity, though it is to be feared they some­times prove fatal to the Morals of our Swains, and to the Innocence of our rustic Maids.

CHAP. XXXI. Of the Harvest Supper: A Custom of the Hea­thens, taken from the Jewish Feast of Taber­nacles.

WHEN the Fruits of the Earth are ga­thered in, and laid in their proper Receptacles, it is common, in the most of Country Places to provide a plentiful Supper for the Harvest-Men, and the Servants of the Family; which is called a Harvest-Supper, and in some Places a Mell-Supper, a Churn-Supper, &c. At this the Servant and his Master are alike, and every Thing is done with an equal Freedom. They sit at the same Table, converse freely together, and spend the remaining Part of the Night in dancing, singing, &c. without any Difference or Dis­tinction.

There* was a Custom among the Hea­thens, much like this, at the gathering in of their Harvest, when Servants were indulg'd with Liberty and being on the Equality with their Masters for a certain Time.

[Page 304]Now the Original of both these Custom, is Jewish: And therefore Hospinian tells us,* That the Heathens copy'd after this Custom of the Jews, and at the End of their Harvest, offer'd up their first Fruits to the Gods. For the Jews rejoyced and feasted at the getting in of the Harvest.

THEOPHYLACT in talking of this Feast, is undoubtedly mistaken, when he says, That the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated, that Thanks might be returned for the get­ting in of the Fruits of the Earth. For GOD himself tells his own People, it was institu­ted, that their Generations might know, that he had made the Children of Israel to dwell in Booths. But however, it is certainly true, that it was a Time of returning Thanks to GOD, for the Success of the Harvest, a Time of Festivity, and Joy, and Gladness. Thus the Scripture,§ Thou shalt observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven Days, after thou hast gather'd in thy Corn and thy Wine. And thou shalt rejoyce in thy Feast, thou and thy Son and thy Daughter, [Page 305] and thy Man-Servant, and thy Maid-Servant; and the Levite, the Stranger, and the Father­less and the Widow, that are within thy Gates.

Now as the Heathens have imitated the Jews in this Custom, so it is not improbable that we have had it from the Heathens; there being a very great Likeness between the Cu­stom now, and that of the Heathens formerly, For Macrobius tells us, That* the Masters of Families, when they had got in their Har­vest, were wont to Feast with their Servants, who had labour'd with them in Tilling the Ground: Which is exactly answerable to the Custom now amongst us. But whatever Truth there is in this, it is certain this Custom was practised by the Saxons, and is at least as ancient among us, as their Days. For among their Holy-days, we find a Week set a part at Harvest; of which our Harvest-Home, and Mell-Supper, in the North, are the only Re­mains.

Here end the Antiquitates Vulgares.


VACINA, (aliter Vacuna, a vacando, the tu­telar Deity, as it were, of Rest and Ease) among the Antients, was the Name of the God­dess to whom the Rustics sacrificed at the Conclu­sion of Harvest.

Moresin* tells us, that Popery, in Imitation of this, brings home her Chaplets of Corn, which she suspends on Poles; that Offerings are made on the Altars of her tutelar Gods, while Thanks are returned for the collected Stores, and Prayers are put up for future Rest and Ease. Images too of Straw, or Stubble, he tells us, are wont to be carried about on this Occasion; and in England he himself saw the Country People bringing home in a Cart (I suppose from the Field) a Figure made of Corn, round which Men and Women promiscuously singing, followed a Piper or a Drum.—A Vestage of this Custom is still preserved in some Places in the North: Not Half a Century ago they used every where to [Page 307] dress up something, similar to the Figure above described, at the End of Harvest, which was called a Kern Baby. I had this Information from an old Woman at a Village in Northum­berland.—The Reader may perhaps smile, but I am not ashamed of my Evidence. In a Case of this Nature old Women are respectable Au­thorities.—This northern Word is plainly a Cor­ruption of Corn Baby or Image, as is the Kern or Churn Supper, of Corn Supper*.

This Feast is undoubtedly of the most remote Antiquity. That Men in all Nations, where Agriculture flourished, should have expressed their Joy on this Occasion by some outward Ceremony, has its Foundation in the Nature of Things: Sowing is Hope; Reaping, Fruition of the expected Good. To the Husbandman, whom the Fear of Wet, Blights, &c. had harassed with great Anxiety, the Completion of his Wishes could not fail of imparting an enviable gust of Delight.— Festivity is but the reflex of inward Joy, and [Page 308] it could hardly fail of being produced on this Occa­sion, which is a temporary suspension of every Care.

The Respect, shewn to Servants* at this Season, seems to have sprung from a grateful Sense of their good Services —Every thing depends at this Junc­ture upon their Labour and Dispatch.

Different Places adopt different Ceremonies:

There is a Sport on this Occasion in Hertford­shire, called, "crying the Mare," when the Reap­ers tie together the Tops of the last Blades of Corn, which is Mare; and standing at some Distance, [Page 309] throw their Sickles at it, and he who cuts the Knot, has the Prize, with Acclamations and good Cheer.* Vide Bailey.

Mr Thompson has left us a beautiful Descrip­tion of this annual Festivity of Harvest-home.—His Words are these:

— The Harvest-Treasures all
Now gather'd in, beyond the Rage of Storms,
Sure to the Swain; the circling Fence shut up;
And instant Winter's utmost Rage defy'd:
While, loose to festive Joy, the Country round
Laughs with the loud sincerity of Mirth,
Shook to the Wind their Cares. The toil-strung Youth,
By the quick Sense of Music taught alone,
Leaps wildly graceful in the lively Dance.
Her ev'ry Charm abroad, the Village toast,
Young, buxom, warm, in native Beauty rich,
Darts not unmeaning Looks; and where her Eye
Points an approving Smile, with double Force
The Cudgel rattles, and the Wrestler twines.
Age too shines out; and, garrulous, recounts
The Feats of Youth. Thus they rejoice; nor think
That with to-morrow's Sun, their annual Toil
Begins again the never ceasing Round.
Autumn. Line 1134.


Of Pasche, or as they are commonly called, Paste Eggs.


EGGS, stained with various Colours in boiling, and sometimes covered with Leaf-gold, are at Easter presented to Children at Newcastle, and other Places in the North —They ask for their Paste Eggs, as for a Fairing, at this Season.

This Custom which had its beginning in childish Superstition, seems to be ending in a Way not unsuitable to its Origin.

Paste is plainly a Corruption of Pasche, * Easter.

This also is a Relique of Popish Superstition, which, for whatever Cause, had made Eggs em­blematic of the Resurrection, as may be gathered from the subsequent Prayer, which the Reader [Page 311] will find in an "Extract from the Ritual of Pope Paul the Vth, made for the Use of England, Ireland, and Scotland."—It contains various other Forms of Benediction:—

‘Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy Creature of Eggs, that it may become a whole­some Sustenance to thy faithful Servants, eating it in Thankfulness to thee, on Account of the Re­surrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with thee and the holy Spirit, &c.’

The antient Egyptians, if the Resurrection of the Body had been a Tenet of their Faith, would perhaps have thought an Egg no improper hierogly­phical Representation of it.—The Exclusion of a living Creature by Incubation, after the vital Prin­ciple has lain a long while dormant or extinct, is a Process so truly marvellous, that if it could be disbelieved, would be thought by some a Thing as incredible, as that the Author of Life should be able to re-animate the Dead.

I conjecture that the Romanists borrowed this Custom from the Jews, who in celebrating their Passover, set on the Table two unleavened Cakes, and two Pieces of the Lamb; to this they added some small Fishes, because of the Leviathan; a [Page 312] hard Egg, because of the Bird Ziz; some Meal, because of the Behemoth: These three Animals being, according to their Rabbinical Doctors, ap­pointed for the Feast of the Elect in the other Life.

This Custom still prevails in the Greek Church: Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, gives us the following Account of the Manner of cele­brating Easter among the modern Greeks: ‘The Greeks now celebrated Easter: A small Bier, prettily decked with Orange and Citron-buds, Jasmine, Flowers, and Boughs, was placed in the Church, with a Christ crucified rudely painted on Board, for the Body: we saw it in the Evening, and before Day Break were suddenly awakened by the blaze and crackling of a large Bonefire, with singing and shouting in Honour of the Resurrection.—They made us Presents of coloured Eggs, and Cakes of Easter Bread.’ *

Easter Day. says the Abbé d' Auteroche in his Journey to Siberia, is set apart for visiting in Russia.—A Russian came into my Room, offered me his Hand, and gave me at the same Time an Egg;—Another succeeded, he embraced me, and also gave me an Egg. I gave him in Return the Egg I had just received. The Men go to each others Houses in the Morning, and introduce them­selves into the Houses, by saying, "Jesus Christ is risen." The Answer is, "Yes, he is risen." [Page 313] The People then embrace, give each other Eggs, and drink a great deal of Brandy.’

This corresponds pretty much with the subse­quent Account of far older Date, which I tran­scribe from Hakluyt's Voyages. 1589. Black Letter. Page 342.

‘They (the Russians) have an Order at Easter, which they always observe, and that is this;— Every Year against Easter to die, or colour red with Brazzel (Brazil Wood), a great Number of Eggs, of which every Man and Woman giveth one unto the Priest of their Parish upon Easter Day in the Morning. And moreover the Com­mon People use to carry in their Hands one of these red Eggs, not only upon Easter Day, but also three or four Days after, and Gentlemen and Gentlewomen have Eggs gilaed, * which they carry in like Manner.—They use it, as they say, for a great Love, and in Token of the Resurrection, whereof they rejoice. For when two Friends meet during the Easter Holy-days, they come and take one another by the Hand; the one of them saith, "The Lord or Christ is risen." The other answereth, "It is so of a Truth." And then they kiss and exchange their Eggs both Men and Women, continuing in Kissing four Days together.’

[Page 314]Our antient Voyage Writer means no more, it should seem, than that the Ceremony was kept up for four Days.

Ray has preserved an old English Proverb on this Subject: ‘"I'll warrant you for an Egg at Easter."’


‘Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem Cogitat. HORAT.

A Foreign Weed, which has made so many Eng­lishmen, especially of the common Sort, be­come its Slaves, must not be omitted in our Catalogue of popular Antiquities.

Captain R. Greenfield and Sir Francis Drake are said to have been the first who brought Tobacco into this Kingdom, about the Year 1586, during the Reign of Elizabeth.—A pleasant Kind of Tale is given us in the Athenian Oracle by Way of ac­counting for the frequent Use and Continuance of taking it;

‘When the Christians first discovered America, the Devil was afraid of losing his hold of the People there by the Appearance of Christianity. He is reported to have told some Indians of his Acquaintance, that he had found a Way to be revenged upon the Christians for beating up his Quarters, for he would teach them to take [Page 315] Tobacco, to which, when they had once tasted it, they should be perpetual Slaves.’

Our British Solomon, James the Ist, 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 ‘Counter-blaste to Tobacco*.’ It is printed in the Edi­tion of his Work by Barker & Bill. London, 1616.

He concludes this bitter Blast of his, his sul­phureous Invective against this transmarine Weed, [Page 316] 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 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, neerest resembling the horrible Stygian Smoke of the Pit that is bottomless!

[Page 317]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 his Arguments but the Fumes of an idle Brain, and it may be added too, of an empty Head!


Devovet absentes, simulachraque cerea fingit,
Et miserum tenues in jecur urget acus.

WITCH is derived from the Dutch Witchelen, which signifies whinnying and neighing like a Horse: In a secondary Sense, also to foretell and prophecy; because the Germans, as Tacitus informs us, used to divine and foretell Things to come by the whinnying and neighing of their Horses *. His very Words are hinnitu & fremitu.


[Page 318]Perkins defines Witchcraft to be an Art serving for the working of Wonders by the Assistance of the Devil, so far as God will permit.—Delrio defines it to be an Art in which, by the Power of a Con­tract entered into with the Devil, some Wonders are wrought, which pass the common Understanding of Men. Lib. 1. cap. 2. de Mag. disq. Vide Blount.

Witchcraft, in modern Estimation, is a Kind of Sorcery, (especially in Women) in which it is ridi­culously supposed that an old Woman, by entering into a Contract with the Devil, is enabled in many Instances to change the Course of Nature, to raise Winds, perform Actions that require more than human Strength; and to afflict those that offend her with the sharpest Pains, &c.

In those Times of more than Egyptian Dark­ness*, when Ignorance and Superstition overspread [Page 319] the World, many severe Laws were made against Witches, by which, to the Disgrace of Humanity, great Numbers of innocent Persons, distressed with Poverty and Age, were brought to violent and untimely Ends.

The Witch-Act, a Disgrace to the Code of Eng­lish Laws, was not repealed till the Year 1736!!!

Lord Verulam, that Sun of Science that rose upon our Island, and dispelled an hereditary Night of Ignorance and Superstition, gives us the fol­lowing Reflections on Witches in the 10th Century of his Natural History: They form a fine Contrast to the narrow and bigotted Ideas of the royal Author of the Demonology.

"Men may not too rashly believe the Confession of Witches, nor yet the Evidence against them: For the Witches themselves are imaginative, and believe oftentimes they do that which they do not: [Page 320] And People are credulous in that Point, and ready to impute Accidents and natural Operations to Witchcraft—It is worthy the observing, that both in antient and late Times (as in the Thessalian Witches and the Meetings of Witches that have been recorded by so many late Confessions) the great Wonders which they tell, of carrying in the Aire, transforming themselves into other Bodies, &c. are still reported to be wrought, not by Incantation or Ceremonies, but by Ointments and anointing themselves all over —This may justly move a Man to think that these Fables are the Effects of Ima­gination; for it is certain that Ointments do all (if they be laid on any Thing thick) by stopping of the Pores, shut in the Vapours, and send them to the Head extremely; and for the particular Ingre­dients of those magical Ointments, it is like they are opiate and soporiferous: For anointing of the Forehead, Neck, Feet, Back-bone, we know is used for procuring dead Sleeps. And if any Man say, that this Effect would be better done by inward Potions; Answer may be made, that the Medi­cines which go to the Ointments are so strong, that if they were used inwards, they would kill those that use them; and therefore they work potently though outwards." He tells us elsewhere;

"The Ointment, that Witches use, is reported to be made of the Fat of Children, digged out of their Graves; of the Juices of Smallage *, Wolfe-bane, [Page 321] and Cinque Foil, mingled with the Meal of fine Wheat: But I suppose that the soporiferous Medicines are likest to do it, which are Hen-bane, Hemlock, Mandrake, Moon-shade, Tobacco, Opium, Saffron, Poplar Leaves, &c."—Thus far that great Philosopher*.

The Sabbath of Witches is a nocturnal Assembly supposed to be held on Saturday, in which the Devil is said to appear in the Shape of a Goat, about which they make several Dances and magic Ceremonies. In order to prepare themselves for this meeting, they take several soporific Drugs, after which they are fancied to fly up the Chim­ney, and to be spirited or carried through the Air, riding on a Switch to their Sabbath Assembly. Hence the Idea of Witches on Broomsticks, &c.

[Page 322]A Cat too is the "sine qua non" of a Witch:— These Animals were antiently revered as Emblem of the Moon, and among the Egyptians we [...] on that Account so highly honoured as to r [...] ceive Sacrifices and Devotions, and had state [...] Temples erected to their Honour. It is said tha [...] [Page 323] in whatever House a Cat died, all the Family shaved their Eye-brows. Herodotus and Dio­dorus Siculus relate, that a Roman happening accidentally to kill a Cat, the Mob immediately gathered about the House where he was, and neither the Entreaties of some principal Men sent by the King, nor the Fear of the Romans, with whom they were then negotiating a Peace, could save the Man's Life. Vide Bailey.

Hence no doubt they have been taken and adopted into the Species of Superstition under Consideration.

Mr Strutt, in his Description of the Ordeals under the Saxons, tells us, ‘That the second Kind of Ordeal by Water, was to thrust the ac­cused into a deep Water, where, if he struggled in the least to keep himself on the Surface, he was accounted Guilty; but if he remained on the Top of the Water without Motion, he was acquit­ted with Honour. Hence (he observes) without doubt came the long continued Custom of swim­ming People, suspected of Witchcraft.—There are [Page 324] also, he observes farther, the faint traces of these antient Customs in another superstitious Method of proving a Witch; it was done by weighing the suspected Party against the Church Bible, which if they outweighed, they were innocent; but on the contrary, if the Bible proved the heaviest, they were instantly con­demned.—However absurd and foolish these superstitious Customs may seem to the present Age, little more, he observes, than a Century ago, there were several unhappy Wretches, not only apprehended, but also cruelly burnt alive for Witchcraft, on very little better Evidence than the above ridiculous Trials. Several great and learned Men have also taken vast Pains to convince the doubting Age of the real Existence of Witches, and the Justness of their Execu­tions: But so very unbelieving we are grown at present in these and such like Stories, as to con­sider them only as the idle Phantoms of a fertile Imagination.’

The Ephialtes, or Night Mare, is called by the Common People Witch-riding. This is in Fact an old Gothic or Scandinavian Superstition: Mara *[Page 325] from whence our Night-Mare is derived, was in the Runic Theology, a Spectre of the Night, which seized Men in their Sleep, and suddenly deprived them of Speech and Motion. See Warton's first Dissertat. Hist. Poet.

In Ray's Collection of Proverbs, I find the fol­lowing relative to this Superstition:

Go in God's Name, so ride no Witches.

There is also a Scotch one:

Ye breed of the Witches, ye can do nae Good to your sel.


AT Newcastle upon Tyne, and other Places in the North of England, grey Peas, * after having been steeped a Night in Water, are fryed with Butter, given away, and eaten at a Kind of Entertainment on the Sunday preceding Palm-Sunday, which was formerly called Care-sunday, as may be yet seen in some of our old Almanacks. —They are called Carlings, probably a Corruption of Carings, as we call the Presents at our Fairs, Fairings. Marshal in his Observations on the [Page 326] Saxon Gospels, Vol. I. p. 536, elucidates the old Name (Care) of this Sunday in Lent: He tells us, ‘The Friday, on which Christ was crucified, is called in German, both Gute Freytag and Karr Freytag;’—that the Word Karr signifies ‘a Satisfaction for a Fine or Penalty; and that Care or Carr Sunday was not unknown to the English in his Time, at least to such as lived among old People in the Country*.’—Rites, peculiar it should seem to Good Friday, were used on this Day, which was called Passion Sunday in the Church of Rome. Durand assigns many supersti­tious Reasons for this, which confirm the Fact, but are too ridiculous for transcribing.

Lloyd tells us, in his Dial of Days, that on the 12th of March, they celebrated at Rome the Mysteries of Christ and his Passion, with much Devotion and great Ceremony.—In the old Ro­mish Calendar so often cited, I find it observ­ed [Page 327] on this Day, that ‘a Dole is made of soft Beans *.’

I have satisfied myself that our Custom is derived from hence, and hope to evince it clearly to my Readers. It was usual amongst the Romanists to give away Beans in the Doles at Funerals: It was also a Rite in the Funeral Ceremonies of Heathen Rome. Why we have substituted Peas I know not, unless it was because they are a Pulse somewhat fitter to be eaten. They are given away in a Kind of a Dole at this Day: In the Country, Men assemble at the Village Alehouse, Carlings are set before them, and each spends his Carling Groat. Our popish Ancestors celebrated the Funeral of our Lord on this Care Sunday, with many other Superstitions; this only has travelled down to us. Durand tells us, that on Passion Sunday the Church began her public Grief, re­membering the Mystery of the Cross, the Vinegar, the Gall, the Reed, the Spear, &c.

[Page 328]There is a great deal of Learning in Erasmus'* Adages concerning the religious Use of Beans: they were thought to belong to the Dead:—An Observation he gives us of Pliny concerning Py­thagoras' Interdiction of this Pulse is highly re­markable;—it is, ‘That Beans contain the Souls of the Dead: For which Cause also they are used in the Parentalia. Plutarch too, he tells us, held that Pulse was of the highest Efficacy for invoking the Manes.—Ridiculous and absurd as these Superstitions are, yet it is certain that our Carlings deduce their Origin from hence. Every antient Superstition seems to have been adopted into papal Christianity.

The Vulgar here in the North give the follow­ing Names to Sundays in Lent, the first of which is anonymous:

Tid, Mid, Misera,
Carling, Palm, Paste Egg Day.

I suspect that the three first are Corruptions of some Part of the antient Latin Service on these [Page 329] Days, perhaps the beginnings of Psalms, &c. Te Deum, Mi Deus, Miserere mei.—See the Goose intentos, in the Notes on Chapter XVIII. the Carling we have been describing; Palm Sunday is ob­vious; and for the last or Easter Sunday, see Paste Eggs.

The Word Care * is preserved in the subsequent Account of an obsolete Custom at Marriages in [Page 330] this Kingdom; ‘According to the Use of the Church of Sarum, when there was a Marriage before Mass, the Parties kneeled together, and had a fine Linen Cloth (called the Care-Cloth) laid over their Heads during the Time of Mass, till they received the Benediction, and then were dismissed.’ Vide Blount in Verbo.

Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Greece, tells us, that he was at a Funeral Entertainment amongst the modern Greeks, where, with other singular Rites, ‘Two followed, carrying on their Heads each a great Dish of parboiled Wheat: These were de­posited over the Body.

I know not whether the following Passage be not to our Purpose: Skelton, Poet Laureat to Henry VIIIth, in his Colin Clout, inveighing a­gainst the Clergy, has these Words, in his usual strange and rambling Stile:

Men call you therefore Prophanes,
Ye picke no Shrympes, nor Pranes,
Salt-fish, Stock-fish, nor Herring,
It is not for your Wearing.
Nor in Holy Lenton Season,
Ye will neither Beanes ne Peason;
But ye look to be let loose,
To a Pygge or to a Goose. &c.


THIS is also called in the North Fastens, or Fastern's E'en, or Even, or Shrove Tuesday; the succeeding Day being Ash Wednesday, the first of the Lenten Fast. *

At Newcastle upon Tyne, the great Bell of St. Nicholas' Church is tolled at Twelve o'Clock at Noon on this Day; Shops are immediately shut up, Offices closed, and all Kind of Business ceases; a Sort of little Carnival ensuing for the remaining Part of the Day.

The preceding Monday is vulgarly called here Collop Monday;—Eggs and Collops compose a usual Dish at Dinner on it, as Pancakes do on this Day, from which Customs they both derive their Names.

On Collop Monday in papal Times they must have taken their Leave of Flesh, which was an­tiently preserved through the Winter, by salting, drying, and hanging up: Slices of this Kind of [Page 332] Meat are at this Day called Collops* in the North, whereas they are named Steaks when cut from fresh Meat, as unsalted Flesh is usually stiled here; a Kind of Food which our Ancestors seem to have seldom tasted in the Depth of Winter.

A Kind of Pancake Feast, preceding Lent, was used in the Greek Church, from whence we have probably borrowed it, with Pasche Eggs, and other such-like Ceremonies: ‘The Russes, as Hakluyt tells us, begin their Lent always eight Weeks before [Page 333] Easter; the first Week they eat Eggs, Milk, Cheese, and Butter, and make great Cheer with Pancakes, and such other Things.’

The Custom of frying Pancakes, (in turning of which in the Pan, there is usually a good deal of Pleasantry in the Kitchen) is still retained in many Families in the North, but seems, if the present fashionable Contempt of old Customs continues, not likely to last another Century.

The Apprentices, whose particular Holiday this Day is now called, and who are on several Accounts so much interested in the Observation of it, ought, with that watchful Jealousy of their antient Rights and Liberties, (typified here by Pudding and Play,) which becomes young Englishmen, to guard against every Infringement of its Ceremonies, and trans­mit them entire and unadulterated to Posterity!

In the Oxford Almanacks, the Saturday preced­ing this Day is called Fest. Ovorum, the Egg Feast.

Their Egg Saturday corresponds with our Collop Monday.


THE particular Regard to this Finger is of high Antiquity. It hath been honoured with the Golden* Token and Pledge of Matrimony [Page 334] preferably to any other Finger, not, as Levinus Lemnius in his Occult Miracles of Nature tells us, because there is a Nerve, * as some have thought, but because a small Artery runs from the Heart to this Finger, the Motion of which in parturient Women, &c. may be perceived by the Touch of the Finger Index.

This Opinion has been exploded by later Physi­cians, but it was from hence that Antiquity judg­ed it worthy, and selected it to be adorned with the Circlet of Gold. They called it also the Medical Finger, and were so superstitious as to mix up their Medicines and Potions with it.

Some of the common Ceremonies at Marriages seem naturally to fall under this Class of popular Antiquities.

I have received, from those who have been present at them, the following Account of the Customs used at vulgar Northern Weddings about Half a Century ago.

[Page 335]The young Women in the Neighbourhood, with Bride Favours (Knots* of Ribbands) at their Breasts, and Nosegays in their Hands, attended the Bride on her Wedding Day in the Morning.—Fore-Riders announced with shouts the Arrival of the Bride-groom: After a Kind of Breakfast, at which the Bride-Cakes were set on and the Barrels broached, they walked out towards the Church.—The Bride was led by two young Men; the Bride-groom by two young Women: Pipers preceded them, while the Crowd tossed up their Hats, shouted and clapped their Hands. An indecent Custom prevailed after the Ceremony, and that too before the Altar:— [Page 336] Young Men strove who could first unloose *, or rather pluck off the Bride's Garters: Ribbands supplied their Place on this Occasion; whosoever was so fortunate as to tear them thus off from her Legs, bore them about the Church in Triumph.

It is still usual for the young Men present to salute the Bride immediately after the performing of the Marriage Service.

Four, with their Horses, were waiting without; they saluted the Bride at the Church Gate, and immediately mounting, contended who should first carry home the good News, ‘and win what they called the Kail, i. e. a smoking Prize of Spice-Broth, which stood ready prepared to reward the Victor in this singular Kind of Race.

Dinner succeeded; to that Dancing and Supper; after which a Posset was made, of which the Bride and Bride-groom were always to taste first.—The Men departed the Room till the Bride was un­dressed by her Maids, and put to Bed; the Bride-groom in his Turn was undressed by his Men, and the Ceremony concluded with the well-known Rite of throwing the Stocking .

[Page 337]At present a Party always attend here at the Church Gates, after a Wedding, to demand of the Bridegroom Money for a Foot-Ball: This claim admits of no Refusal—Coles, in his Dictionary, mentions the Ball Money, which he says was given by a new Bride to her old Playfellows.

Our Rustics retain to this Day many supersti­tious Notions concerning the Times of the Year, when it is accounted lucky or otherwise to per­form this Ceremony. None are ever married on Childermass-Day; * for whatever Cause, this is a black Day in the Calendar of impatient Lovers.

[Page 338]The subsequent Proverb from Ray marks ano­ther antient Conceit on this Head:

Who marries between the Sickle and the Scythe will never thrive.

The following must not be omitted, though I have given it before in the Chapter that relates to Burial Rites:

Happy is the Bride the Sun shines on, and the Corpse the Rain rains on.

I shall add a Third, which no doubt has been often quoted for the purpose of encouraging a dissident or timorous Mistress:

As your Wedding Ring wears, your Cares will wear away.

There was a Custom in the Highlands and North of Scotland, where new-married Persons, who had no great Stock, or others low in their Fortune, brought Carts and Horses with them to the Houses of their Relations and Friends, and received from them Corn, Meal, Wool, or what else they could get. See Glossary to Douglas' Vir­gil. verb. Thig.

Of the Saying, "I'll pledge you."

Quo tibi potarum plus est in ventre Salutum,
Hoc minus epotis, hisce Salutis habes.
Una Salus sanis, nullam potare Salutem.
Non est in potà vera Salute Salus.
Owen. Epigram. P. 1. lib. 2. Ep. 42.

MR. Blount derives this Word from the French Pleige, a Surety, or Gage.—To pledge one drinking is generally thought to have had its Origin thus: When the Danes bore sway in this Land, if a Native drank, they would sometimes stab him with a Dagger or Knife; hereupon Peo­ple would not drink in Company,* unless some one present would be their Pledge or Surety, that they should receive no Hurt, whilst they were in their Draught.

Others affirm the true sense of the Word to be this: That if the Person drank unto, was not disposed to drink himself, he would put another for a Pledge to do it for him, otherwise the Party who began, would take it ill.

[Page 340]Mr. Strutt confirms the former Opinion in the following Words: The old Manner of Pledging each other when they drank* was thus: The Person who was going to drink, asked any one of the Company that sat next him, whether he [Page 341] would pledge him, on which he answering that he would, held up his Knife or Sword, to guard him whilst he drank (for while a Man is drinking he necessarily is in an unguarded Posture, exposed to the treacherous Stroke of some hidden or secret Enemy).

This Custom, as it is said, first took rise from the Death of young King Edward, (called the Martyr) Son to Edgar, who was by the Contri­vance of Elfrida, his Step-Mother, traiterously stabbed in the Back as he was drinking.

Mr. Strutt's Authority here is William of Malms­bury, and he observes from the Delineation he gives, (and it must be observed that his Plates, being Copies from antient illuminated Manuscripts, are of unquestionable Authority) that it seems perfectly well to agree with the reported Custom; the middle Figure is addressing himself to his Companion, who (seems to) tell him that he pledges him, holding up his Knife in Token of his readiness to assist and protect him. Vol 1st. p. 49. of Manners and Customs. Anglo. Saxon Aera.

The antient Greeks and Romans used at their Meals to make Libations, pour out and even drink Wine in Honour of the Gods.—The classical Writings abound with Proofs of this.

The Grecian Poets and Historians, as well as the Roman Writers, have transmitted to us Ac­counts also of the grateful Custom of drinking to the Health of our Benefactors and of our Acquaintance.

Pro te, fortissime, vota
Publica suscipimus: Bacchi tibi sumimus haustus.

[Page 342]The Men of Gallantry among the Romans used to take off as many Glasses to their Mistresses, as there were Letters in the Name of each, according to Martial:*

Six Cups to Noevia's Health go quickly round,

And be with seven the fair Tustina's crown'd.

Hence no doubt our Custom of toasting or drinking Healths, a Ceremony which Prynne in his "Healthes; Sicknesse" inveighs against with all the Madness of enthusiastic Fury.

This extraordinary Man, who though he drank no Healths, yet appears to have been intoxicated with the Fumes of a most fanatical Spirit, and whom all Anticyra could not, it should seem, have reduced to a State of mental Sobriety, concludes his Address to the Christian Reader thus: ‘The [Page 343] unfained Well-wisher of thy Spiritual and Corpo­ral, though the oppugner of thy pocular and Pot-emptying Health. William Prynne.

Of ALLHALLOW EVEN: Vulgò Halle E'en, as also Nut-crack Night.

Da nuces pueris, —

IN the antient Calendar of the Church of Rome so often cited, I find the following Observation on the 1st of November:*

"The Feast of old Fools is removed to this Day."

Hallow Even is the Vigil of All Saints' Day.

It is customary on this Night with young People in the North to dive for Apples, catch at them when stuck on at one End of a Kind of hanging Beam, at the other Extremity of which is fixed a lighted Candle, and that with their Mouths only, having their Hands tied behind their Backs; with many other Fooleries.

Nuts and Apples chiefly compose the Enter­tainment, and from the Custom of flinging the for­mer [Page 344] into the Fire, it has doubtless had its vulgar Name of Nutcrack-Night. The catching at the Apple and Candle at least puts one in mind of the antient English Game of the Quintain, which is now almost forgotten, and of which a Description may be found in Stow's Survey of London.

Mr. Pennant tells us in his Tour in Scotland, that the young Women there determine the Figure and Size of their Husbands by drawing Cabbages blindfold on Allhallow Even, and like the English fling Nuts into the Fire.

This last Custom is beautifully described by Gay in his Spell:

Two hazel Nuts I threw into the Flame,
And to each Nut I gave a Sweetheart's Name:
This with the loudest Bounce me sore amaz'd,
That in a Flame of brightest Colour blaz'd *;
As blaz'd the Nut so may thy Passion grow, &c.

[Page 345]The Rev. Mr. Shaw in his History of the Pro­vince of Moray, seems to consider the Festivity of this Night as a Kind of Harvest Home Rejoicing: ‘A Solemnity was kept, says he, on the Eve of the first of November as a Thanksgiving for the safe Ingathering of the Produce of the Fields. This I am told, but have not seen it, is observed in Buchan, and other Countries, by having Hal­low-Eve-Fires kindled on some rising Ground.’

He tells us also in that little Fore-taste of his Work, with which he favoured the Public in an Appendix to Mr. Pennant's Tour, that ‘on Hal­low-Even, they have several superstitious Cus­toms.’ I wish he had given us particular Descriptions of them, for general Accounts are exceedingly unsatisfactory. — Curiosity is indeed tantalized, not relieved or gratified by them.

[Page 346]
Of the Meaning of the OLD SAW;
"Five Score of Men, Money and Pins,
"Six Score of all other Things."

IN this great Northern Emporium of Commerce, where the Names of Merchant and Gentleman are synonymous Terms, and which owes its pre­sent Grandeur and Opulence to the Industry of Men of that very respectable Profession in antient Times; some of whom, from the smallest Begin­nings *, advanced themselves, as well as the Place of their Residence, to an high Degree of Honour and Wealth, the subsequent Observa­tions [Page 347] on what I shall call a Mercantile Antiquity, will not, I slatter myself, be altogether uninterest­ing.

Enquiring frequently both of Books and Men, why the Hundred should in some Articles imply Five, in others Six Score, I found at last, in the learned Dr. Hicke's Thesaurus, an Answer to a Question which I had often asked before in vain.—I gather from him that the Norwegians and Islandic People used a Method of numbering peculiar to themselves*, by the Addition of the Words Tolfraedr, Tolfraed, or Tolfraet, (whence our Twelve) which made Ten signify Twelve; a Hundred, a Hundred and Twenty; a Thousand, a Thousand Two Hun­dred, &c.

[Page 348]Of which Method of Computation the following is the Cause: The Nations above-named had two Decads or Tens; a less which they used in common with other Nations, consisting of Ten Units, and a greater containing Twelve (Tolf) Units.

Hence, by the Addition of the Word Tolfraedr or Tolfroed, the Hundred contained not Ten Times Ten, but Ten Times Twelve, that is, a Hundred and Twenty.

The Doctor observes that this Tolfraedic (for I am obliged to make a new Word in translating him) Mode of Computation by the greater Decads, or Tens, which contain Twelve Units, is still retained amongst us in reckoning certain Things by the number Twelve, which the Swedes call Dusin, the French Douzain, and we Dozen.

"And I am informed, he says, by Merchants, &c. that in the Number, Weight and Measure of many Things, the Hundred among us, still consists of that greater Tolfraedic Hundred, which is com­posed of Ten Times Twelve."

Hence then without Doubt is derived to us the present Mode of reckoning many Things by Six Score to the Hundred.


A Knot, among the antient Northern Nations, seems to have been the Symbol of Love, Faith and Friendship, pointing out the indissoluble Tie of Affection and Duty. —Thus the antient [Page 349] Runic Inscriptions are in the Form of a Knot. See Hicke's Thesaurus*.

Hence among the Northern English and Scots, who still retain in a great Measure the Lan­guage and Manners of the antient Danes, that curious Kind of Knot, a mutual Present be­tween the Lover and his Mistress, which, being considered as the Emblem of plighted Fidelity, is therefore called a True-Love Knot.—The Epithet is not derived, as one would naturally suppose it to be, from the Words True and Love, but from the Danish Verb Trulofa , fidem do, I plight my Faith.

It is undoubtedly from hence, that the Bride-Favours, or the Top-Knots at Marriages, which were considered as Emblems of the Ties of Duty and Affection, between the Bride and her Spouse, have been derived.

[Page 350]Mr Gay, in his Pastoral entitled the Spell, thus beautifully describes the rustic Manner of knitting this True-Love Knot:

As Lubberkin once slept beneath a Tree,
I twitched his dangling Garter from his Knee;
He wist not when the hempen String I drew;
Now mine I quickly doff of Inkle Blue:
Together fast I tie the Garters twain,
And while I knit the Knot, repeat this Strain,
Three Times a True-Love's Knot I tye secure,
Firm be the Knot, firm may his Love endure.

Of the Custom of BLESSING PERSONS when they SNEEZE.

THE very learned Author of the Vulgar Er­rors, has left us a great Deal on this Sub­ject.—It is generally believed that the Custom of Saluting or Blessing upon that Motion, derives its Origin from a Disease, wherein such as sneezed died.—Carolus Sigonius, in his History of Italy, mentions a Pestilence in the Time of Gregory the Great, that proved mortal to such as sneezed.

The Custom has an elder Aera: Apulcius men­tions it 300 Years before.—Pliny* also in the Problem, "Cur sternutantes salutantur." Petro­nius Arbiter too describes it.—Caelius Rhodigi­nus [Page 351] has an Example of it among the Greeks, in the Time of Cyrus the Younger*. In the Greek Anthology it is alluded to in an Epigram—It is received at this Day in the remotest Parts of Africa.

The History of it will run much higher, if we take in the Rabbinical Account.

Dr. Browne himself supposes that the Ground of this antient Custom was the Opinion the An­tients held of Sternutation, which they generally conceived to be a good Sign or a bad, and so upon this Motion accordingly used a Salve or [...], as a Gratulation for the one, and a De­precation from the other.

He then gives their Physical § Notions of it.— Hippocrates says, that sneezing cures the Hiccup, is profitable to parturient Women, in Lethargies, [Page 352] Apoplexies, Catalepsies, and Coma's: It is bad and pernicious in Diseases of the Chest, in the Beginning of Catarrhs, in new and tender Con­ceptions, for then it endangers Abortion.

To these succeed their superstitious and augurial ones. St. Austin tells us, that the Ancients were wont to go to Bed again if they sneezed while they put on their Shoe. Aristotle has a Problem, "why sneezing from Noon to Midnight was good, but from Night to Noon unlucky." Eusta­thius upon Homer observes, that sneezing to the Left was unlucky, but prosperous to the Right. See Plutarch in the Life of Themistocles*.

I shall give the whole of his Conclusion: "Thus we may perceive the Custom to be more antient than is commonly thought;—and these Opinions hereof in all Ages, not any one Disease to have been the Occasion of this salute and Deprecation: arising at first from this vehement and affrighting Motion of the Brain, from whence some finding dependant Effects to ensue: Others ascribing hereto as a Cause, what perhaps but casually or inconnex­edly succeeded; they might proceed into forms of Speeches, felicitating the good and deprecating the evil to follow."


ON the 29th of May*, the Anniversary of the Restoration of Charles the Second, it is still customary in the North for the common People to wear in their hats the Leaves of the Oak, which are sometimes covered on the Occa­sion with Leaf-Gold.

This is done, as every Body knows, in Comme­moration of the marvellous Escape of that Monarch from his Pursuers, who passed under the very Oak Tree, in which he had secreted himself. This happened after the Battle of Worcester. Vide Bos­cobello.

[Page 354]The Boys here had formerly a taunting Rhime on the Occasion:

Royal Oak
The Whigs to provoke.

There is a Retort courteous by others, who con­temptuously wore Plane-Tree Leaves, of the same homely Sort of Stuff:

Plane-tree Leaves
Vhe Church Folk are Thieves.

Puerile and low as these Sarcasms may appear, yet they breathe strongly that Party-Spirit, which it is the Duty of every good Citizen and real Lover of his Country to endeavour to suppress.

Well has Party been called ‘the Madness of many for the Gain of a Few.’ It is a Kind of epidemic Fever, that in its boiling Fury stirs up from the Bottom every Thing gross, filthy, and impure in human Society: Often has it raged with prodigious virulence in this Island, and yet our strong Constitution has always hitherto had the Hap­piness of being able to throw it off.

With Tears of Philanthropy we have viewed the rapidity of its late Devastations: and lamented the Progress of a Contagion fatal it should seem almost beyond the Example of any in former Times!

May it subside at the present Crisis, which is truly alarming, and that too (if it be possible by any other Means to recover a Body Politic, in which Health, for Want of Change, seems to have produ­ced Disease) not by Loss of Blood, but by insensible Perspiration!


FORMERLY a Custom prevailed everywhere, though generally confined at present to Coun­try Villages, of killing Cows, Oxen, Swine, &c. at this Season, which were cured for the Winter, when fresh Provisions were seldom or never to be had.

Two or more of the poorer Sort of rustic Families still join in purchasing a Cow, &c. for Slaughter at this Time, (called in Northumberland a Mart ) the Entrails of which, after having been filled with a Kind of Pudding-Meat, consisting of Blood, Suet, Groats, &c. are formed into little Sausage Links, boiled, and sent about as Presents, &c. From their Appearance, they are called Black Puddings.

The Author of the Convivial Antiquities tells us, that in Germany, there was in his Time a [Page 356] Kind of Entertainment on the above Occasion, vulgarly called the ‘Feast of Sausages or Gut-puddings,’ which was wont to be celebrated with great Joy and Festivity.

J. Boëmus Aubanus* too tells us, that in Fran­conia, there was a great deal of Eating and Drink­ing at this Season; no one was so poor or niggardly that on the Feast of St. Martin had not his Dish of the Entrails either of Oxen, Swine, or Calves. They drank too, he says, very liberally of Wine on the Occasion.

The learned Moresin refers the great Doings on this Occasion, which he says were common to almost all Europe in his Time, to an antient Athenian Festival, observed in Honour of Bac­chus, upon the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth Days of the Month Anthesterion, corresponding with our November.

J. Boëmus Aubanus, above cited, seems to con­firm this Conjecture, though there is no mention of the Slaughter of any Animal in the Description of the Rites of the Grecian Festival. The eleventh Day of that Month had a Name from the Cere­mony of "tapping their Barrels on it;" it was [Page 357] called also by the Chaeroneans the Day of good Genius, because it was customary to make merry upon it. See Potter's Grecian Antiquities.


Expositas, latè Cami propè Flumina merces,
Divitiasque loci, vicosque, hominumque labores,
Sparsaque per virides passim megalia campos.—
Nundinae Sturbrigienses.

A Fair is a greater Kind of Market, granted to any Town by Privilege, for the more speedy and commodious providing of such Things as the Place stands in need of. They are generally kept once or twice in a Year. Proclamation is to be made how long they are to continue, and no Person shall sell any Goods after the Time of the Fair is ended, on Forfeiture of double the Value.— A Toll is usually paid at Fairs.

In the first Volume of the ingenious Mr. Wharton's Hist. of Poetry, p. 279, there is a Note which contains a great deal of Learning on this Subject; the subsequent Extracts will requite the Pains of Perusal, and throw no small Light upon this antient Kind of Mart.

"Before flourishing Towns, he tells us, were established and the Necessaries or Ornaments of Life, from the Convenience of Communication and the increase of Provincial Civility, could be procured in various Places, Goods and Commodities [Page 358] of every Kind were chiefly sold at Fairs*: To these, as to one universal Mart, the People re­sorted periodically and supplied most of their Wants for the ensuing Year.

The Display of Merchandize, and the Conflux of Customers, at these principal and almost only Emporia of domestic Commerce, were prodigious: and they were therefore often held on open and extensive Plains. (Thus at Newcastle on our Town Moor, the Cow-bill).

One of the chief of them was that of St. Giles's Hill or Down, near Winchester: The Conqueror instituted and gave it as a Kind of Revenue to the Bishop of Winchester. It was at first for three Days, but afterwards, by Henry III. pro­longed to sixteen Days.—Its Jurisdiction extended seven Miles round, and comprehended even South­ampton, then a Capital and trading Town. Mer­chants [Page 359] who sold Wares at that time within that Circuit, forfeited them to the Bishop. Officers were placed at a considerable Distance, at Bridges*, and other Avenues of Access to the Fair, to exact Toll of all Merchandize passing that Way: In the mean while all Shops in the City of Winchester were shut. A Court called the Pavilion composed of the Bishop's Justiciaries and other Officers had Power to try Causes of various Sorts for seven Miles round. The Bishop had a Toll of every Load or Parcel of Goods passing through the Gates of the City. On St. Giles's Eve, the Mayor, &c. delivered up the Keys of the four Gates to the Bishop's Officers. Many and extraordinary were the Privileges granted to the Bishop on this Occasion, all tending to ob­struct Trade and oppress the People.

Numerous foreign Merchants frequented this Fair; several Streets were formed in it, assigned to the Sale of different Commodities. The sur­rounding Monasteries had Shops or Houses in these Streets used only at the Fair; they held them under the Bishop, and they often were let by Lease for a Term of Years.

§ Different Counties had their different Stations.

[Page 360]It appears from a curious Record now re­maining containing the Establishment and Ex­pences of the Houshold of Henry Percy, the 5th Earl of Northumberland, A. D. 1512, and printed by Dr. Percy, that the Stores of his Lordship's House at Wresille, for the whole Year, were laid in from Fairs: ‘He that stands charged with my Lordes House for the houll Yeir, if he maye possible, shall be at all Faires, where the groice Emptions shall be boughte for the House for the houll Yeir, as Wine, Wax, Beiffes, Mul­tons, Wheite and Malt*.’ P. 407.

In the Account of the Priories of Maxtoke, in Warwickshire, and of Bicester, in Oxfordshire, in the Time of Henry VI. the Monks appear to have laid in yearly Stores, of various, yet common Ne­cessaries at the Fair of Sturbridge, Cambridgeshire, at least 100 Miles distant from either Monastry.

It may seem surprising that their own Neigh­bourhood, including the Cities of Oxford and Coventry, could not supply them with Commo­dities [Page 361] neither rare nor costly, which they thus fetch­ed at a considerable Expence of Carriage.—There is a Rubric in some of the Monastic Rules ‘de cuntibus ad Nundinas’ i. e. concerning those who go to Fairs."

Our two annual Fairs on the Town Moor, Newcastle, are called Lammass and St. Luke's Fairs, from the Days on which they begin. Mr. Bourne tells us, that the Tolls, Booths, Stallage, Pickage and Courts of Pie Powder, (dusty Foot) to each of these Fairs, were reckoned communibus Annis 12l. in Oliver's Time. The Re­cords of our Monasteries are lost, otherwise they would doubtless have furnished some Particulars relative to the Institution and antient Customs of the Fairs at Newcastle.

Mr. Bailey tells us, that in antient Times amongst Christians, upon any extraordinary Solem­nity, particularly the anniversary Dedication of a Church*, Tradesmen used to bring and sell their Wares, even in the Church-yards, especially upon the Festival of the Dedication; as at Westminster, on St. Peter's Day; at London, on St. Bartholo­mew; at Durham, on St. Cuthbert's Day, &c. But Riots and Disturbances often happening, by Reason of the Numbers assembled together, Privile­ges were by Royal Charter granted for various Cau­ses to particular Places, Towns, and Places of strength where Magistrates presided to keep the People in Order. Courts were granted to take Notice of all Manner of Causes and Disorders committed upon [Page 362] the Place, called Pie-powder*, because Justice was done to any injured Person before the Dust of the Fair was off his Feet. It is customary at all Fairs to present Fairings, which are gifts, bought at these annual Markets.

Ray has preserved two old English Proverbs that relate to Fairs: ‘Men speak of the Fair as Things went with them there.’

As also, ‘To come a Day after the Fair.

Of the Customs in SCHOOLS on St. NICHOLAS' DAY.

J. Boëmus Aubanus* in his Description of some singular Customs used in his Time in Franco­nia, to which I have so often referred, tells us, that Scholars on St. Nicholas Day used to elect three out [Page 363] of their Number, one of whom was to play the Bishop, the others to act the Parts of Deacons.— The Bishop was escorted by the Rest of the Boys in solemn Procession to Church, where, with his Mitre on, he presided during the Time of divine Worship: This being ended, he, with his Deacons, went about singing from Door to Door, and col­lected Money, which they did not beg as Alms, but demanded as the Bishop's Subsidy. The Boys were prevailed upon to fast on the Eve of this Day, in order to persuade themselves that the little Pre­sents, which on that Night were put for them into Shoes *, (placed under the Table for that Purpose,) were made them by their very bountiful Pre­late Nicholas.—On which Account many of them kept the Fast so rigourously, that their Friends were under the necessity of forcing them to take some Sustenance, in order to prevent them from injuring their Health.

The antient Calendar of the Church of Rome, has the following Observations on this Day, which is the 6th of December.

[Page 364]
6. "Nicholas, Bishop.
School Holidays.
The Kings go to Church
With Presents and great shew.
The antient Custom of Poets in School
related to the Boys.
The King's Feasts in Schools."

Vestiges of these antient Popish Superstitions are still retained in several Schools about this Time of the Year, particularly in the Grammar School at Durham*. They ask and forcibly obtain from the Master, what they call Orders.—I have heard also of a similar Custom at the School of Houghton-le-Spring, in the County of Durham.

Of the GULE of AUGUST, commonly called LAMMASS-DAY.

"LAmmas-Day, says Blount, the first of Au­gust, otherwise called the Gule or Yule of August, which may be a Corruption of the British Word Gwyl Awst, signifying the Feast of August, [Page 365] or may come from Vincula, (Chains) that Day being called in Latin, Festum Sancti Petri ad Vincula." The last Opinion seems a wild and vague Conjecture. How much more probable is the Hypothesis of the learned Gebelin, which the Reader will find, both in the original French, and translated into English, if he will be at the Trouble of turning back to Page 171.

Antiquaries are divided also in their Opinions concerning the Origin of the Word Lam, or Lamb-mass.

Some suppose it is called Lammass-Day*, quasi Lamb-Masse, because on that Day the Tenants that held Lands of the Cathedral Church in York, (which is dedicated to Saint Peter ad Vincula) were bound by their Tenure to bring a live Lamb into the Church at high Mass on that Day.

Others suppose it to be derived from the Saxon Hlaf Maesse. i. e. Loaf Masse, or Bread Masse, so named as a Feast of Thanksgiving to God for the first Fruits of the Corn, and seems to have been observed with Bread of new Wheat; and accord­ingly it is a Usage in some Places for Tenants to be bound to bring in Wheat of that Year to their Lord, on or before the first of August. Ham. Resol. to 6 Quaeres, p 465. Vide Blount.

Of the vulgar Saying, "UNDER the ROSE."

DOctor Browne leaves me little more on this Subject, than the easy and agreeable Task of making him speak concisely and in plain English.

Nazianzen, says he, seems to imply in the subse­quent translated Verses, that the Rose, from a natu­ral Property, has been made the Symbol of Silence.

Utque latet Rosa verna suo putamine clausa,
Sic os vincla ferat, validisque arctetur habenis,
Indicatque suis prolixa silentia labris.

Hence it should seem when we desire to confine our Words, we commonly say, "they are spoken under the Rose."

There is a Propriety in this Expression also, if we mean only in Society at convivial Entertain­ments, where it was an antient Custom to wear Chaplets of Roses about the Head.

The Germans have a Custom of describing a Rose in the Ceiling over the Table*.

Lemnius and others have traced it to another Origin: The Rose, say they, was the Flower of [Page 367] Venus, which Cupid consecrated to Harpocrates, the God of Silence, &c. it was therefore an Em­blem of it to conceal the Pranks of Venery; thus the Poet:

"Ut Rosa flos Veneris, cujus quo facta laterent
Harpocrati Matris, dona dicavit Amor;
Inde Rosam mensis Hospes suspendit amicis,
Conviviae ut sub eâ dicta tacenda sciant."

Of the SILLY HOW, that is, the holy, or fortunate CAP or HOOD.

VARIOUS were the Superstitions, about half a Century* ago, concerning a certain mem­branous Covering, commonly called the Silly How, [Page 368] that was sometimes found about the Heads of new-born Infants.—It was preserved with great Care, not only as medical in Diseases, but also as contributing to the good Fortune of the Infant and others.—This, says Dr Browne, is no more than the Continuation of a Superstition that is of very remote Antiquity. Thus we read in the Life of Antoninus, by Spartianus, that Children are sometimes born with this natural Cap, which Midwives were wont to sell to credulous Lawyers, who held an Opinion that it contributed to their Promotion*.

Of the Phenomenon*, vulgarly called WILL or KITTY with the WISP , or JACK with a LANTHORN.

How Will a Wisp misleads nightfaring Clowns,
O'er Hills and sinking Bogs, and pathless Downs.

THIS Appearance, called in Latin, Ignis Fatuus, has long been an article in the Catalogue of popular Superstitions. It is said to be chiefly seen in Summer Nights, frequenting Meadows, Marshes, and other moist Places.—It has been thought by some to arise from a viscous Exhalation, which being kindled in the Air, re­flects [Page 370] a Sort of thin Flame in the Dark without any sensible Heat. It is often found flying along Rivers and Hedges, because, as it is conjectured, it meets there with a Stream of Air to direct it.

Philosophers are much divided in their Solution of this Phenomenon. Sir Isaac Newton says it is a Vapour shining without Heat, and that there is the same Difference between this Vapour and Flame, as between rotten Wood shining without Heat and burning Coals of Fire.

Others suppose it to be some nocturnal flying Insect: Indeed they have gone so many different Ways in pursuit of this Wanderer, that, according to the popular Notion of its conducting into Bogs and other Precipices, some of them must have been misled and bewildered by it.—We may follow them however as far as we please in this Paper Pursuit without any Danger.

Me [...]iana has given us an Accout of the famous Indian Lanthorn Fly, published amongst her Insects at Surinam. It has a Hood▪ or Bladder on its Head, which gives a Light like a Lanthorn in the Night, but by Day-light is clear and transparent, curiously adorned with Stripes of Red or Green Colour.— One may read Writing of tolerable large Character by it at Night.—The Creature, it is said, can con­tract or dilate the Hood or Bladder over its Head at Pleasure.—They hide all their Light when taken, but when at Liberty afford it plentifully.

It inclines one to think that the Appearance un­der Consideration is no more than the shining of some Night-flying Insect, when we are informed, that they give Proof as it were of Sense, by avoid­ing Objects—that they often go in a Direction con­trary [Page 371] to the Wind—that they often seem extinct, and then shine again.—Their passing along a few Feet above the Ground or Surface of the Water, agrees with the Motion of some Insect in quest of Prey; as also their settling on a Sudden, and rising again immediately*.

Some indeed have affirmed that Ignes Fatui are never seen but in Salt Marshes, or other boggy Places. On the other Hand it is proved that they have been seen flying over Fields, Heaths, and other dry Places.

I am informed in Boreman's second Volume of his Description of a great Variety of Animals, Ve­getables, &c &c. that a respectable Person in Hert­fordshire, presuming upon his Knowledge of the [Page 372] Grounds about his House, was tempted one dark Night to follow one of these Lights, which he saw flying over a Piece of fallow Ground.—It led him over a plowed Field, flying and twisting about from Place to Place—sometimes it would sudden­ly disappear, and as suddenly appear again.—It once made directly to a Hedge, when it came near, it mounted over, and he lost Sight, after a full Hour's Chace.—In his return to his House, he saw it again, but was too fatigued to think of renewing the Pursuit. This Light is said also to have been observed to stand still as well as to move, and sometimes seemed fixed on the Surface on the Water.—We are informed that in Italy, two Kinds of these Lights have been discovered; one on the Mountains, the other on the Plains.—The com­mon People call them Cularsi, because they look upon them as Birds, the Belly and other Parts of which are resplendent like the Pyraustae, or Fire-Flies.

Mr. Bradley, F. R. S. supposes the Will with the Wisp to be no more than a Group of small enlightened Insects.

Mr. Fr. Willoughby and Mr. Ray are of Opi­nion, that the Ignis Fatuus is nothing but the shining of some Night-flying Insect.—Dr. Derham was of Opinion, they were fired Vapours*.

[Page 373]After having summoned such respectable Wit­nesses in the Cause under Consideration, and having found that their Depositions by no means agree, I shall not presume to sum up the Evidence or pronounce Sentence.

We leave therefore the Decision of the Contro­versy to future Discoveries in Natural History, and to the Determination of succeeding Times.


THere is an old Proverb preserved in Ray's Collection.

"April, borrows three Days of March and they are ill."

April, is pronounced with an Emphasis on the last Syllable, and so it is made into a Kind of Rhyme.

I have taken Notice of this, because I find in the antient Calendar of the Church of Rome, to which I have so often referred, the following Ob­servations on the 31st of March.

The rustic Fable concerning the Nature of the Month.
The rustic Names of six Days, which shall follow in
April, or may be the last of March *.

There is no Doubt but that these Observations in the antient Calendar, and our Proverb are de­rived from one common Origin.—I confess myself in the mean while unable to go any farther in tra­cing them back to their Source.


‘—Quanquam in media jam morte tenentur Non tamen disistunt, Martemve iramve remittunt Magnanimi*:—’

MEN have long availed themselves of the Antipathy one Cock shews to another, and have encouraged that natural hatred with Arts that disgrace human Reason.—The Origin of this Sport is said to be derived from the Athenians on the following Occasion: When Themistocles was marching his Army against the Persians, he by the Way espying two Cocks fighting, caused his Army to behold them, and made the following Speech to them: "Behold, these do not fight for their House­hold Gods, for the Monuments of their Ancestors, nor for Glory, nor for Liberty, nor for the Safety of their Children, but only because the one will not give Way unto the other." This so encou­raged the Grecians, that they fought strenuously, and obtained the Victory over the Persians; upon which Cock-fighting was by a particular Law or­dained to be annually practised by the Athenians; and hence was the Original of the Sport in England derived—Thus far Mr Bailey.—The best Trea­tise on this Subject, is in the third Volume of the [Page 375] Archacologia, by one*, who is an Ornament to a Society, the Institution of which does Honour to our Country.

I shall give the Reader something like a Com­pendium of this excellent Memoir.—Though the antient Greeks piqued themselves on their Polite­ness, calling all other Nations barbarous; yet Mr Pegge has proved clearly in this Treatise, that they were the Authors of this cruel and inhuman Mode of Diversion —The Inhabitants of Delos were great Lovers of this Sport, and Tanagra, a City of Boeotia; the Isle of Rhodes, Chalcis in Euboea, and the Country of Media, were famous for their generous and magnanimous Race of Chickens — It appears they had some Method of preparing the Birds for Battle. Cock-fighting was an Institu­tion partly religious, and partly political at [Page 376] Athens—(Socrates sacrificed a Cock to Aesculapius), and was continued there for the Purpose of improv­ing the Seeds of Valour in the Minds of their Youth.—But it was afterwards abused, and per­verted both there and in other Parts of Greece, to a common Pastime and Amusement, without any moral, political, or religious Intention; and as it is now followed and practised amongst us.—It appears that the Romans, who borrowed this, with many other Things from Greece, used Quails* as well as Cocks for fighting.—The first Cause of Contention between the two Brothers, Bassianus and Geta, Sons of the Emperor Septimius Severus, happened, according to Herodian, in their Youth, about fighting their Quails and Cocks.—Cocks and Quails, fitted for the Purpose of engaging one another to the last Gasp, for Diversion, are fre­quently compared in the Roman Writers, and with much Propriety, to Gladiators. The Fathers of the Church inveigh with great Warmth against the Spectacles of the Arena—the wanton shedding of human Blood in Sport—One would have thought that with this, Cock-fighting would also have been discarded, under the mild and humane genius of Christianity.—But it was reserved for this enlightened Aera to practise it with new and [Page 377] aggravating Circumstances of Cruelty.—The Shrove Tuesday Massacre * of this useful and spirited Crea­ture, is now indeed in a declining Way; but that monstrous Barbarity, the Battle-royal and Welsh-main still continue to be in full Force amongst us. —A striking Disgrace to the manly Character of Britons!

It is probable that Cock-fighting was first in­troduced into this Island by the Romans.—The Bird itself was here before Caesar's Arrival.

William Fitz-Stephen, who wrote the Life of Becket, in the Reign of Henry II. is the first of our Writers that mentions Cocking, describing it as the Sport of School-boys on Shrove Tuesday. The Theatre (the Cockpit) it seems was the School, and the Master was the Comptroller and Director of the Sport. —From this Time at least, the Diversion, however absurd, and even impious, was continued amongst us: It was followed, though disapproved and prohibited 39 Edward III.§—Also in the Reign of Henry VIII.** and A. D. 1569††.—It has been by some called a Royal Diversion, and as every one knows the Cockpit at Whitehall was erected [Page 378] by a Crowned Head*, for the more magnificent celebrating of the Sport. It was prohibited how­ever by one of Oliver's Acts, March 31, 1654.

Mr Pegge describes the Welsh-main, in order to expose the Cruelty of it, and supposes it pecu­liar to this Kingdom:—known neither in China, nor in Persia, nor in Malacca, nor among the savage Tribes of America. Suppose sixteen Pair of Cocks—of these the sixteen Conquerors are pit­ted the second Time—the eight Conquerors of these are pitted a third Time—the four of these a fourth Time—and lastly, the two Conquerors of these are pitted a fifth Time; so that, incredible Barba­rity! thirty-one of these Creatures are sure to be inhumanely destroyed for the Sport and Pleasure (amid Noise and Nonsense, blended with the horrid Blasphemy and Profaneness) of those, who will yet assume to themselves the Name of Christians. Without running into all the Extra­vagance and Superstition of Pythagoreans and Bramins, yet certainly we have no right, no Power or Authority, to abuse and torment any of God's Creatures, or needlessly to sport with their Lives; but on the contrary, ought to use them with all possible Tenderness and Moderation.

[Page 379]In a Word, Cock-fighting is an heathenish Mode of Diversion from the first, and at this Day ought certainly to be confined to barbarous Nations. Yet (it may, and must be added) to aggravate the Matter, and enhance our Shame, that our Butchers have contrived a Method unknown to the Antients, of arming the Heels of the Bird with Steel; a De­vice considered as a most noble Improvement* in the Art, and indeed an Invention highly worthy of Men that delight in Blood"

It still continues to be a favourite Sport of our Col­liers in the North; the clamorous Wants of their Families solicit them to go to Work in vain, when a Match is heard of:

Nequicquam jejuni urgent Vestigia nati,
Poscentes lacrymis tenerisque amplexibus escam
Vincit amor gallorum, et avitae gloria gentis.

Of the Vulgar Superstitions concerning the MOON.

THE Moon, the antient Object of idolatrous Worship, has in later Times composed an Article in the Creed of popular Superstition: The Moon, Dr. Johnson tells us, has great influence in vulgar Philosophy. In his Memory, he observes, it was a Precept annually given in one of the Eng­lish Almanacks, to kill Hogs when the Moon was increasing, and the Bacon would prove the better in boiling.

The common People, Bailey tells us, in some Counties in England are accustomed at the Prime of the Moon to say: "It is a fine Moon, God bless her," which some imagine to proceed from a blind Zeal, retained from the antient Irish, who worship­ped the Moon, or from a Custom in Scotland, (particularly in the Highlands) where the Women make a Curtesy to the New Moon: And some English Women still retain a Touch of this Genti­lism, who getting up upon and sitting astride on a Gate or Stile, the first Night of the New Moon say:

"All hail to the Moon, all hail to thee,
I prithee good Moon declare to me.
This Night who my Husband shall be."

The antient Druids had their superstitious Rites at the Changes of the Moon.—The hornedness of the New Moon is still faintly considered by the vulgar as an Omen with Regard to the Weather.

The Rev. Mr. Shaw in his Account of Elgin, and the Shire of Murray, See Appendix to Pen­nant's [Page 381] Tour, informs us, that at the full Moon in March, they cut Withes of the Misletoe or Ivy, make Circles of them, keep them all the Year, and pretend to cure Hectics and other troubles by them.

Dr. Johnson in his Journey to the Western Islands, tells us, they expect better Crops of Grain, by sowing their Seed in the Moon's Increase.


THE learned Author of the Rambler having favoured the Public with his Thoughts on this singular Kind of Superstition, and having so lately visited the Scene of its declining Influence, it will be unnecessary to apologize for using his own Words on the Subject: "We should have had little claim, says he, to the Praise of Curiosity, if we had not endeavoured with particular Attention to examine the Question of the Second Sight. Of an Opinion received for Centuries by a whole Nation, and supposed to be confirmed through its whole Descent, by a series of successive Facts, it is desirable that the Truth should be established, or the Fallacy detected.

The Second Sight is an Impression made either by the Mind upon the Eye, or by the Eye upon the Mind, by which Things distant or future are perceived, and seen as if they were present. A Man on a Journey far from Home falls from his Horse, another who is perhaps at work about the House, [Page 382] sees him bleeding upon the Ground, commonly with a Landscape of the Place where the Accident befalls him. Another Seer driving Home his Cat­tle, or wandering in Idleness, or musing in the Sun­shine, is suddenly surprized by the Appearance of a bridal Ceremony, or funeral Procession, and counts the Mourners or Attendants, of whom, if he knows them, he relates the Names, if he knows them not, he can describe the Dresses. Things distant are seen at the Instant when they happen. Of Things future I know not that there is any Rule for determining the Time between the Sight and the Event.

This receptive Faculty, for Power it cannot be called, is neither voluntary nor constant. The Appearances have no Dependence upon Choice: they cannot be summoned, detained, or recalled. The Impression is sudden, and the Effect often painful.

By the term Second Sight, seems to be meant a Mode of seeing, superadded to that which Nature generally bestows. In the Earse it is called Taisch; which signifies likewise a Spectre, or a Vision. I know not, nor is it likely that the Highlanders ever examined, whether by Taisch, used for the Second Sight, they mean the Power of seeing, or the Thing seen.

I do not find it to be true, as it is reported, that to the Second Sight nothing is presented but Phantoms of Evil. Good seems to have the same Proportion in those visionary Scenes, as it obtains in real Life: almost all remarkable Events have evil for their Basis; and are either Miseries incurred, [Page 383] or Miseries escaped. Our Sense is so much strong­er of what we suffer, than of what we enjoy, that the Ideas of pain predominate in almost every Mind. What is Recollection but a Revival of Vexations, or History but a Record of Wars, Treasons, and Calamities? Death, which is consi­dered as the greatest Evil, happens to all. The greatest good, be it what it will, is the Lot but of a Part.

That they should often see Death is to be ex­pected; because Death is an Event frequent and important. But they see likewise more pleasing Incidents. A Gentleman told me, that when he had once gone far from his own Island, one of his labouring Servants predicted his Return, and de­scribed the Livery of his Attendant, which he had never worn at Home; and which had been, with­out any previous Design, occasionally given him.

Our Desire of Information was keen, and our Inquiry frequent. Mr. Boswell's Frankness and Gaiety made every Body communicative; and we heard many Tales of these airy Shows, with more or less Evidence and Distinctness.

It is the common Talk of the Lowland Scots, that the Notion of the Second Sight is wearing away with other Superstitions; and that its Reality is no longer supposed, but by the grossest People. How far its Prevalence ever extended, or what Ground it has lost, I know not. The Islanders of all degrees, whether of Rank or Understanding, universally admit it, except the Ministers, who universally deny it, and are suspected to deny it, in Consequence of a System, against Conviction. [Page 384] One of them honestly told me, that he came to Sky with a Resolution not to believe it.

Strong Reasons for Incredulity will readily occur. This Faculty of seeing Things out of sight is local, and commonly useless It is a Breach of the common Order of Things, without any visible Reason or perceptible Benefit. It is ascribed only to a People very little enlightened; and among them, for the most Part, to the mean and the ignorant.

To the Confidence of these Objections it may be replied, that by presuming to determine what is fit, and what is beneficial, they presuppose more Knowledge of the universal System than Man has attained; and therefore depend upon Principles too complicated and extensive for our Comprehen­sion; and that there can be no Security in the Consequence, when the Premises are not under­stood; that the Second Sight is only wonderful because it is rare, for, considered in itself, it in­volves no more difficulty than dreams, or perhaps than the regular Exercises of the cogitative Facul­ty; that a general Opinion of communicative Im­pulses, or visionary representations, has prevailed in all Ages and all Nations; that particular Instan­ces have been given, with such Evidence, as neither Bacon nor Bayle has been able to resist; that sudden Impressions, which the Event has ve­rified, have been felt by more than own or pub­lish them; that the Second Sight of the Hebrides implies only the local Frequency of a Power, which is nowhere totally unknown; and that where we are unable to decide by antecedent Reason, we must be content to yield to the Force of Testimony.

[Page 385]By pretension to Second Sight, no profit was ever sought or gained. It is an involuntary Af­fection, in which neither Hope nor Fear are known to have any Part. Those who profess to feel it, do not boast of it as a Privilege, nor are considered by others as advantageously distinguished. They have no temptation to feign; and their hearers have no motive to encourage the Imposture.

To talk with any of these Seers is not easy. There is one in Sky, with whom we would have gladly conversed; but he was very gross and ig­norant, and knew no English. The Proportion in these Countries of the Poor to the Rich is such, that if we suppose the Quality to be accidental, it can very rarely happen to a Man of Education; and yet on such Men it has sometimes fallen. There is now a Second Sighted Gentleman in the Highlands, who complains of the Terrors to which he is exposed.

The foresight of the Seers is not always pre­science: they are impressed with Images, of which the Event only shews them the Meaning. They tell what they have seen to others, who are at that Time not more knowing than themselves, but may become at last very adequate Witnesses, by comparing the Narrative with its Verification.

To collect sufficient Testimonies for the Satis­faction of the Publick, or ourselves, would have required more Time than we could bestow. There is, against it, the seeming Analogy of Things con­fusedly seen, and little understood; and for it, the indistinct Cry of national Persuasion, which may be perhaps resolved at last into Prejudice and Tra­dition. I never could advance my Curiosity to [Page 386] conviction; but came away at last only willing to beleive."


EVERY Dream, according to Wolfius, takes its Rise from some Sensation, and is continu­ed by the Succession of Phantasms in the Mind: His Reasons are, that when we dream, we imagine something, or the Mind produces Phantasms; but no Phantasms can arise in the Mind without a previous Sensation, hence neither can a Dream arise without some previous Sensation.

Lord Bacon observes, that the Interpretation of natural Dreams has been much laboured, but mixed with numerous Extravagancies, and adds, that at present it stands not upon its best Founda­tion. It may be observed that in our Days, except amongst the most ignorant and vulgar, the whole imaginary Structure is fallen to the Ground.

Physicians seem to be the only Persons at pre­sent who interpret Dreams: frightful Dreams are perhaps always Indications of some violent Oppres­sion of Nature. Hippocrates has may curious Observations on Dreams: Ennius of old, has made that very sensible Remark, that what Men studied and pondered in the Day Time, the same they dreamed on at Night. I suppose there are few who cannot from their own Experience assent to the Truth of his Observation.

Various are the popular Superstitions, or at least the faint Traces of them, that yet are made [Page 387] use of to procure Dreams of Divination. Such as fasting St. Agnes'* Fast, laying a Piece of the first Cut of the Cheese, at a Lying-in, called here vulgarly the "Groaning Cheese," under the Pillow, to cause young Persons to dream of their Lovers, &c. Various also are the Interpretations of Dreams given by old Women, but of which the Regard is insensibly wearing away.

Of the vulgar Saying, "Deuce take you."

FEW perhaps, who use this Expression, particu­larly they of the soft Sex, who, accompany­ing it with the "gentle Pat of a Fan," cannot be supposed to mean any ill by it: are aware that it is synonymous with "sending you to the Devil." Yet is it undoubtedly of equal Import wth the Latin, "Abi in malam rem." Dusius * was the [Page 388] antient popular Name for a Kind of Daemon or Devil among the Gauls, so that this Saying, of which so few understood the Meaning, has at least its Antiquity to recommend it: It is mentioned in St. Austin's City of God as a libidinous Daemon who used to violate the Chastity of Women, and with the Incubus of old, was charged with doing a great Deal of Mischief of so subtle a Nature, that as none saw it, it did not seem possible to be prevent­ed. Later Times have done both these Devils justice, candidly supposing them to have been much traduced by a certain Set of Delinquents, who used to father upon invisible and imaginary Agents the Crimes of real Men.

Of the LONG POLES, which are used as SIGNS to BARBER'S SHOPS.

BArbers' Shops are generally marked by long Poles instead of Signs: The Athenian Oracle accounts for this Custom, which is of remote Antiquity, in the following Manner. The Barber's Art was so beneficial to the Public, that he, who first brought it up in Rome, had, as Authors relate, a Statue erected to his Memory. In England, they were in some sort the Surgeons of old Times, into [Page 389] whose Art those beautiful Leeches *, our fair Virgins then too used to be initiated. (Thus in corporate Towns, the present Companies of Barber-Chirur­geons.) They therefore used to hang their Basons out upon Poles, to make known at a Distance to the weary and wounded Traveller, where all might have recourse: They used Poles, as some Inns still gibbet their Signs across a Town.


GYPSIES, says Browne, are a Kind of counterfeit Moors, to be found in many Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are commonly supposed to have come from Egypt; (their Name is corrupt for Egyptians) they de­rive themselves from hence. — Munster disco­vered in the Letters and Pass, which they ob­tained from Sigismund the Emperour, that they first came out of Lesser Egypt; that having turned Apostates from Christianity and relapsed [Page 390] into Pagan Rites, some of every Family were en­joined this Penance to wander about the World. Aventinus tells us, that they pretend for this va­gabond Course, a Judgment of God upon their Forefathers, who refused to entertain the Virgin Mary and Jesus, when she fled into their Country (this Lye would be of Service to them in Roman Catholic Countries).

Poly. Virg. accounts them originally Syrians.
Philip Bergoinas derives them from Chaldea.
Aeneas Silvius from some Part of Tartary.
Bellonius from Walachia and Bulgaria.
Aventinus from the Confines of Hungary.

That they are no Egyptians Bellonius makes appear, who met great Droves of Gypsies in Egypt, in Villages on the Banks of the Nile; they were accounted Strangers there, and wanderers from foreign Parts, as with us.

They made their first Appearance in Germany about 1400, they were never observed before in other Parts of Europe. That they were first from [Page 391] the Neighbourhood of Germany, is also probable from their Language, which was the Sclavonian Tongue. They are called Bohemians in France.

Of what Nation soever they were at first, (he adds) they are now almost of all, associating unto them some of every Country, where they wander; when they will be lost, or whether at all again is not without some Doubt—unsettled Nations have survived others of fixed Habitations.

They have been banished by most Christian Princes.—They seem beneath the Notice of the Laws.—The Great Turk at least tolerates them near the Imperial City; he is said to employ them as Spies. They were banished as such by Charles the Vth."

One still sees great Quantities of them in the South of England. As the Egyptians of old were famous for Astronomy, Natural Magic, the Art of Divination, &c. so these their fictitious Descen­dants are Pretenders to Fortune-telling. To co­lour their Impostures, they artificially (as Mr. Ful­ler would word it) discolour their Faces, and rove up and down the Country in Rags and Tatters, deluding the ignorant Vulgar, promising the Country* Girls Lovers, and in Return borrowing [Page 392] their Fowls, Smocks, &c. They are said indeed, and it is with great Probability, to have in general very vague Notions of meum & tuum.

See more on this Subject in Dufresne's Glossary, and in an ingenious Essay in the Antiquarian Reper­tory*; with which, if I had had the Pleasure of seeing it before the Compilation of this Sketch, I should have taken the Liberty of enriching my little Collection.


DR. Percy* tells us, "the Story of the wander­ing Jew is of considerable Antiquity: It had obtained full Credit in this Part of the World before the Year 1228, as we learn from Matt. Paris. For in that Year it seems there came an [Page 393] Armenian Archbishop into England to visit the Shrines and Reliques preserved in our Churches; who being entertained at the Monastry of St. Al­ban's, was asked several Questions relating to his Country, &c. Among the rest a Monk, who sat near him, enquired ‘if he had ever seen or heard of the famous Person named Joseph, that was so much talked of, who was present at our Lord's Crucifixion and conversed with him, and who was still alive in Confirmation of the Christian Faith:’ The Archbishop answered, that the Fact was true; and afterwards one of his Train, who was well known to a Servant of the Abbot's, in­terpreting his Master's Words, told them in French, that his Lord knew the Person they spoke of very well; that he dined at his Table but a little while before he left the East; that he had been Pon­tius Pilate's Porter, by Name Cartaphilus; who, when they were dragging Jesus out of the Door of the Judgment-hall, struck him with his Fist on the Back, saying, "go faster Jesus, go faster; why dost thou linger?" Upon which Jesus looked at him with a Frown, and said, ‘I indeed am going, but thou shalt tarry till I come.’ Soon after he was converted and baptized by the Name of Jo­seph. He lives for ever, but at the End of every hundred Years, falls into an incurable Illness, and at length into a Fit of Extacy, out of which when he recovers, he returns to the same State of Youth he was in when Jesus suffered, being then about thirty Years of Age. He remembers all the Circumstances of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Saints that arose with him; the com­posing [Page 394] of the Apostles' Creed, their Preaching and Dispersion; and is himself a very grave and holy Person. This is the Substance of M. Paris' Ac­count, who was himself a Monk at St. Alban's, and was living at the Time when this Armenian Arch­bishop made the above Relation Since his Time several Impostors have appeared at Intervals under the Name and Character of the wandering Jew. See Calmet's Dict. of Bible. Turkish Spy, Vol. 2. B 3. Let. 1."

We had one of these Impostors not many Years ago here in the North, who made a very Hermit-like Appearance, and went up and down our Streets, with a long Train of Boys at his Heels, muttering "poor John* alone!" "poor John alone!" in a Manner singularly plaintive.

Of the vulgar Saying that a HUSBAND WEARS HORNS, or is a CORNUTE, when his Wife proves false to him: Also the Meaning of the Word CUCK­OLD, which has become a popular Indication of the same Kind of Infamy.

Si quando sacra jura tori violaverit U xor
Cur gerit immeritus Cornua vir? Caput est.
Owen. Epigram.

THE Word Horn *, in the sacred Writings, denotes fortitude and vigour of Mind. In [Page 395] the Classics,* personal Courage (metaphorically from the pushing of Animals) is intimated by Horns. Whence is it then that a Custom has prevailed almost universally of saying that the un­happy Husbands of false Women wear Horns, or are Cornutes? it may be said almost universally, for we are told that even among the Indians it was the highest Indignity that could be offered them even to point at a Horn.

There is a great Parade of Learning on the Sub­ject of this very serious Jest in the "Paradise of pleasant Questions," Question 77. Various are the Opinions the learned have given in that curious Collection of this strange Custom,—I shall present the Reader with the Sum of each of them: The Lawyer Parladorus supposes the Word Cornutus a com­pound of nudus & corde, as meaning a pitiful and sneaking Fellow, as that Man must needs be, who can sit down tamely under so great an Insult.

A Conjecture this, that is perhaps worthy of some of our English Etymologists, who in Matters that required the deepest Exertion of the Judgment, have left all to the Licentiousness of Fancy, and of Consequence disgraced the Study of Philology.

[Page 396]Caelius Rhodoginus wishes to derive it from an Insensibility, peculiar as he says to the He-Goat *, who will stand looking on, while others possess his Female. And Aldrovandus accounts for this by telling us, that this very salacious Animal, is debilitated by his Excesses before he is Six Years old, after which Period, as if conscious of his own Impotence, he will molest no Rival: This too has been exploded, for it has been proved that this Animal is equally jealous with, and will fight like others on such an Occasion.

Another Conjecture is, that some mean Hus­bands, availing themselves of their Wives' Beauty, have turned it to account by prostituting them, obtaining by this Means the Horn of Amalthea, the Cornu-Copia, which if I mistake not is called in the Language of modern Gallantry, tipping the Horns with Gold: There seems to be a great Deal of Probability in this Surmise. Pancirollus, on the other Hand, derives it from a Custom of the de­bauched Emperor Andronicus, who used to hang up in a Frolic, in the Porticos of the Forum, the Stags Horns he had taken in Hunting, intending, as he says, by this new Kind of Insignia, to denote at once the Manners of the City, the Lascivious­ness [Page 397] of the Wives he had debauched, and the Size of the Animals he had made his Prey, and that from hence the Sarcasm spread abroad, that the Husband of an adulterous Wife bare Horns.

I am not satisfied with this last Account; all one gathers from it seems to be, that what Andronicus did was a Continuation, not the Origin of this Cus­tom: As to the Word Cuckold *, it is plainly from the Latin Cuculus, the Cuckow, a Bird, that as Aristotle says, builds no Nest herself, but deposits her Eggs in that of some other Bird, who hatches and adopts her Offspring as the Mari Cocu does the Children who are none of his.

I must conclude this Subject with an Apology; it is not of the most delicate Kind, yet in speaking of popular Antiquities, it seemed incumbent upon me to say something about it.

To jest concerning a Crime, which is replete with every Evil to Society, is indeed to scatter Fires-brands and Arrows in our Sport. It may be added there is no philosophical Justice in such In­sults: If the Husband was not to blame, it is highly ungenerous, and an Instance of that common Meanness in Life of confounding a Person's Misfor­tunes with his Faults: The Cruelty of such wanton Reflections will appear, if we consider that a Man, plagued with a vicious Wife, needs no Aggrava­tion of his Misery.


Hunc Jocus— mensem
Vindicat: hunc Risus et sine felle Sales.

A Custom, says the Spectator, prevails every where among us on the First of April, when every Body strives to make as many Fools as he can. The Wit chiefly consists in sending Per­sons on what are called sleeveless * Errands, for the History of Eve's Mother, for Pigeon Milk, with similar ridiculous Absurdities. He takes no Notice of the Rise of this singular Kind of Anniversary. This is generally called All-Fools' Day, a Corruption it should seem of Auld i. e. Old-Fools' Day; in Confirmation of which Opi­nion, I quote an Observation on the First ofNovember in the antient Roman Calendar so often cited: ‘The Feast of Old Fools is removed to [Page 399] this Day.’ This (Old Fools) seems to denote it to be a different Day from the "Feast of Fools," which was held on the First of January, of which a particular Description may be found in Du Cange's learned Glossary in verbo Kalendae (See New Year's Day). All our Antiquaries (that I have had the Opportunity of consulting) are silent concerning the first of April. It owes its Beginning probably to a Removal, which was of frequent Use in the crowded Roman Calendar, and of which I have just now adduced a seemingly apposite Instance. There is nothing hardly (says the Author of the Essay to retrieve the antient Celtic,) that will bear a clearer Demonstration, than that the primitive Christians by Way of con­ciliating the Pagans to a better Worship, humoured their Prejudices by yielding to a Conformity of Names*, and even of Customs, where they did not essentially interfere with the Fundamentals of the Gospel Doctrine. This was done in Order to quiet their Possession and to secure their Tenure: [Page 400] An admirable Expedient and extremely fit in those barbarous Times, to prevent the People from re­turning to their old Religion. Among these in Imitation of the Roman Saturnalia, was the Festum Fatuorum, when Part of the Jollity of the Season was a burlesque Election of a Mock Pope, Mock Cardinals, Mock Bishops*, attended (says he) with a Thousand ridiculous and indecent Ceremonies, Gambols, and Antics, such as singing and dancing in the Churches, in lewd Attitudes, to ludicrous Anthems, all allusively to the exploded Pretensions of the Druids, whom these Sports were calculated to expose to Scorn and Derision. This Feast of Fools, had, continues he, its designed Effect, and contributed perhaps more to the Extermination of those Heathens, than all the collateral Aids of Fire and Sword, neither of which were spared in the Persecution of them. The Continuance of Customs (especially droll ones, which suit the gross Taste of the Multitude), after the original Cause of them has ceased, is a great but no uncommon Absur­dity.

Our Epithet of old Fools, (in the Northern and old English Auld,) does not ill accord with the [Page 401] Pictures of Druids transmitted to us. The united Appearances of Age, Sanctity and Wisdom, which these antient Priests assumed, doubtless contributed not a little to the Deception of the People.— The Christian Teachers, in their Labours to unde­ceive the fettered Multitudes, would probably spare no Pains to pull off the Mask from these venerable Hypocrites, and point out to their Converts that Age was not always synonymous with Wisdom, that Youth was not the peculiar Period of Folly; but that with young ones, there were also Old (Auld) Fools.

The Reader must content himself with this Ex­plication, which I think not an improbable one, at least till a better can be found. In joining the scattered Fragments that survive the Mutilation of antient Customs, we must be forgiven if all the Parts are not found closely to agree; little of the [Page 402] Means of Information is transmitted to us: that little can only be eked out by Conjecture.

I have sometimes thought that the obsolete Sports of the antient Hoc-tide, an old Saxon Word, importing the Time of Scorning or Triumphing *, which must have been about this Time of the Year, might have degenerated into the April Fooleries. But I find no Authority for this Sup­position, and insert it as a mere Conjecture.

Hoke Day , was an annual Festival, said to have been instituted in Memory of the almost total De­struction of the Danes in England by Ethelred, Anno. 1002. See Lambard, Blount, Heylin, Verstegan, Strutt, Watt's Glossary to Matt. Paris, &c.

Miscellaneous additional REMARKS.

TO the Observations on the Rag Well, Chapter VIIIth, add the following: Bishop Hall, in his Triumphs of Rome, ridicules a superstitious Prayer of the Popish Church, ‘for the Blessing of Clouts in the Way of cure of Diseases.’

[Page 403]Mr. Hanway; in his Travels into Persia, Vol. 1. p. 177. tells us, ‘After ten Days Journey we ar­rived at a desolate Caravanserai, where we found nothing but Water.—I observed a Tree with a number of Rags tied to the Branches, these were so many Charms which Passengers coming from Ghilan, a Province remarkable for Agues, had left there, in a fond Expectation of leaving their Disease also on the same Spot. He tells us that Sneezing is held a most happy Omen amongst the Persians, especially when repeated often.—That Cats are held in great Esteem, and that in that Country too they have a Kind of Divination by the Bone of a Sheep.

To the Observations on Chapter XXVII.—In the Appendix, No. 2. to Pennant's Tour, the Rev. Mr. Shaw, in his Account of Elgin and the Shire of Murray, tells us, that in the middle of June, Farmers go round their Corn with burning Torches in Memory of the Cerealia.

To the Notes Page 335.—It is customary at Ox­ford to cut what we in the North call the Groaning Cheese in the Middle when the Child is born, and so by degrees, form with it a large Kind of Ring, through which the Child is passed on the Christen­ing Day.

Slices of the first Cut of the Groaning Cheese are laid under Pillows in the North, for the same pur­pose with those of the Bride-Cake. The Bride-Cake is here sometimes broken over the Bride's Head, and then thrown among the Croud to be scrambled for.

It would be thought here very unlucky to send away a Child the first Time its Nurse has brought [Page 404] it on a visit, without giving it an Egg, Salt or Bread.

To the Observations on Chaper XIV.—Fool-Plough, add "Aratrum inducere moris fuit Roma­nis, cum urbem aliquam evertissent, ut eam fundi­tus delerent. Vocabular. utriusque juris. a Scot. J. C. in verb. Aratrum."

It is remarkable that in some Places where this Pageant is retained, they plough up the Soil before any House, at which they have exhibited, and re­ceived no Reward.

The Morris-Dance, in which Bells are gingled, or Staves, or Swords clashed, was learned, says Dr. Johnson, by the Moors, and was probably a Kind of Pyrrhick or Military Dance.

Morisco, says Blount, (Span.) a Moor; also a Dance so called wherein there were usually five Men, and a Boy dressed in a Girl's Habit, whom they called the Maid Marrion, or perhaps Morian, from the Italian Morione, a Head-piece, because her Head was wont to be gaily trimmed up.— Common People call it a Morris Dance.

To the Note on Toast, Page 342, add, ‘In the Tatler, Vol. 1, No. 24, it is said that the Word, in its present Sense, had its Rise from an Acci­dent at the Town of Bath, in the Reign of Charles the IId: It happened that on a public Day a celebrated Beauty of those Times was in the Cross Bath, and one of the crowd of her Ad­mirers took a Glass of the Water in which the Fair One stood, and drank her Health to the Company. There was in the Place a gay Fel­low, half fuddled, who offered to jump in, and swore, though he liked not the Liquor, he [Page 405] would have the Toast: He was opposed in his Resolution; yet this Whim gave Foundation to the present Honour which is done to the Lady we mention in our Liquor, who has ever since been called a Toast.

I am not able to controvert this Account, but am by no means satisfied with it.—The Wit here is likelier to have been a Consequence, than the Cause of this singular Use of the Word; it puts one in Mind of the well-known Reply of a Mr. Brown, in some late Jest Book, who, on having it observed to him, that he had given a certain Lady a long while for his Toast, answered, "Yes, but I have not been able to toast her Brown yet."

Archbishop Tillotson tells us, ‘That in all Pro­bability those common juggling Words of Hocus Pocus are nothing else but a Corruption of hoc est corpus, by Way of ridiculous Imitation of the Priests of the Church of Rome in their Trick of Transubstantiation, &c.’ Discourse on Transub. Ser. 26.

The subsequent Passage from Gay may be added to the Incantations of rustic Maids, relative to their Lovers. P. 344.

At Eve last Midsummer no Sleep I sought,
But to the Field a Bag of Hemp-seed brought;
I scattered round the Seed on every Side,
And three Times in a trembling Accent cry'd,
This Hemp-seed with my Virgin Hand I sow,
Who shall my True-love be, the Crop shall mow.

Our rural Virgins in the North, are said to use some singular Rites in fasting what they call St. Agnes' Fast, for the purpose of discovering their future Husbands.

[Page 406]Mr. Strutt, speaking of the Sports of Children in his English Aera, tells us, ‘Their Amusements were much the same with those at present play­ed over by the young Lads of this Age, as trundling Hoops, Blind-man's Buff, playing with Tops, shooting with Bows at Marks, and swim­ming on Bladders; nay the still younger Sort, playing with Whirligigs and Paper Wind-Mills, all which are found in an old Missal in the Pos­session of John Ives, Esq. P. 99

It is said, if I mistake not, in Hawksworth's Voy­ges, that the Top is known among the Indians, some of whom pointed to our Sailors, who seemed to wonder at seeing it amongst them; that in order to make it spin, they should lash it with a Whip. —Blindman's Buff is thus described by Gay:

As once I play'd at Blind-man's Buff, it hapt
About my Eyes the Towel thick was wrapt,
I miss'd the Swain, and seiz'd on Blouzalind,
True speaks that antient Proverb, "Love is Blind."

Thus also another puerile Sport:

As at Hot Cockles once I laid me down,
And felt the weighty Hand of many a Clown;
Buxoma gave a gentle Tap and I
Quick rose, and read soft Mischief in her Eye.

Thus also of the Meritot, vulgò apud puerulos nostrates, Shuggy-Shew; in the South, a Swing:

On two near Elms the slacken'd Cord I hung,
Now high, now low, my Blouzalinda swung, &c.

Meritot, in Chaucer, a Sport used by Children, by swinging themselves in Bell-ropes, or such-like, till they are giddy. In Latin it is called Oscillum, and is thus described by an old Writer: Oscillum est [Page 407] genus ludi, scilicet cum sunis dependitur de trabe, in quo Pueri et Puellae sedentes impelluntur huc et illuc. Speght's Gloss. to Chaucer.

I find the following elegant Description of Duck and Drake in an antient Church Writer: — The Antiquity of this puerile Sport will appear by the subsequent Extract from Minucius Felix: "Pueros videmus certatim gestientes, testarum in mare jacu­lationibus ludere. Is lusus est testam teretem, jactatione fluctuum levigatam, legere de litore: eam testam plano situ digitis comprehensam, inclinem ipsum, atque humilem, quantum potest, super undas in­rotare: ut illud jaculum vel dorsum maris raderet, vel enataret, dum leni impetu labitur; vel, summis fluctibus tonsis, emicaret, emergeret, dum assiduo sal­tu sublevatur. Is se in pueris victorem ferebat cujus testa et procurreret longius et frequentius exsiliret." P. 6.

Gay describes another well-known Kind of Sport thus:

Across the fallen Oak the Plank I laid,
And myself pois'd against the tott'ring Maid;
High leap'd the Plank; adown Buxoma fell, &c.

The following beautiful Sketches of other puerile Diversions, are taken from Mr. Grey's Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College:

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly Race,
Disporting on thy Margent green,
The Paths of Pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant Arm thy glassy Wave?
The captive Linnet which enthrall?
What idle Progeny succeed,
To chace the rolling Circle's Speed,
Or urge the flying Ball?

[Page 408]To have a Month's Mind, implying a longing Desire, is a figurative Expression, of which the Subsequent is the Origin:

Minnyng Days, says Blount, (from the Saxon Gemynde, i. e. the Mind, q. Mynding Days) Bede Hist. lib. 4. ca. 30. Commemorationis Dies; Days which our Ancestors called their Monthe's Mind, their Year's Mind, and the like, being the Days whereon their Souls (after their Deaths) were had in special Remembrance, and some Office or Obse­quies said for them; as Obits, Dirges, &c. This Word is still retained in Lancashire; but elsewhere more commonly called Anniversary Days.

Add the following to the Observations on Chap. 16th, p. 195. Wassail-bowl: In the Antiquarian Re­pertory, Vol. I. p. 218, is a Wood Cut of a large Oak Beam, the ancient Support of a Chimney-piece, on which is carved a large Bowl, with this Inscription on one Side—Wass heil.

"The Figure, says the ingenious Remarker on it, is of the old Wassell-bowl, so much the Delight of our hardy Ancestors, who on the Vigil of the New Year, never failed to assemble round the glow­ing Hearth with their chearful Neighbours, and then in the spicy Wassel-bowl (which testifies the Goodness of their Hearts) drowned every former Animosity, an Example worthy modern Imitation. Wassell was the Word, Wassell every Guest returned, as he took the circling Goblet from his Friend, whilst Song and civil Mirth brought in the infant Year."

The three blue Balls, as I find in the above­named elegant Collection, prefixed to the Doors and Windows of Pawn-brokers Shops, by the Vulgar humourously enough said to indicate that [Page 409] it is two to one, that the Things pledged, are never redeemed, was in reality the Arms of a set of Merchants from Lombardy, who were the first that publicly lent Money on Pledges—They dwelt together in a Street from them named Lombard-street, in London—The Appellation of Lombard, was formerly all over Europe considered as syno­nimous to that of "Usurer."

The purple flowered Lady's Thistle, which grows in great plenty about the Ruins of Tin­mouth Castle and Monastry, Northumberland, and of which, the Leaves are beautifully diversi­fied with numerous white Spots like Drops of Milk; is vulgarly thought to have been originally mark­ed by the falling of some Drops of the Virgin Mary's Milk on it—Whence I suppose its Name, Lady's (scil. our Lady's) Thistle: An ingenious little Invention of Popery, and which, no doubt, has been of Service to the Cause of Superstition.

To cry Coke, is in vulgar Language, synony­mous with crying PeccaviCoke, says the Au­thor of the Glossary to Douglas' Virgil, is the Sound which Cocks utter, especially when they are beaten, from which Sk. is of opinion, that they have their Name of Cock. In Verb.

Marry, a Term of Asseveration in common Use, was originally in Popish Times, a swearing by the Virgin Mary—q. d. by Mary. So also Mar­row-bones for the Knees: I'll bring him down upon his Marrow-bones, q. d. I'll make him bend his Knees, as he does to the Virgin Mary.

There is a vulgar Custom in the North, called riding the Stang, when one in Derision is made to ride on a Pole, for his Neighbour's Wife's Fault: [Page 410] —This Word Stang, says Ray, is still used in some Colleges in the University of Cambridge, to stang Scholars in Christmass Time, being to cause them to ride on a Colt-staff or Pole, for missing of Chapel. It is derived from the Islandic Staung, hasta.

Add to the Conjecture on the Etymon of Waffs, P. 99, the following:—Wrach in the Glossary to Gawen Douglas' Virgil, signifies a Spirit or Ghost. pafian too A. Saxon is rendered stupere, horrere, fluctuare.

N. B. I have carefully endeavoured to steer clear of Scripture Controversy in the preceding Observa­tions.—The sacred Writings, given for very dif­ferent Purposes, and to Nations whose Genius and Manners by no means resembled our own, cannot in my Opinion, with any Propriety, be ap­plied to this Subject. If it be objected here that Spirits and Apparitions, Dreams, &c. are mentioned in them—so, I add, are Miracles, yet we do not now make Pretensions to a Power of performing them.

The GREAT BEING, who presides over every Cause of Nature, can undoubtedly make all its Effects subservient to his Pleasure: In the silence of rational Adoration, I prostrate my Faith before the immensity of his Power, of which I believe infal­lible Wisdom to have been the inseparable Conco­mitant: I must therefore apply in this Place what Horace said upon another Occasion:

Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus Vindice nodus



  • AByssum 140
  • Absolom, his Feast 283
  • Air, the Means by which a Spirit becomes visible 111
  • Alexander ab Alexandro, his Story of an Apparition ibid.
  • All Saints Church, in Newcastle upon Tyne, an Account of the ceasing and reviving of the tolling of the Bell, from a Vestry Book belonging to it 5
  • Altar, worshipping towards it 44
  • Ambrose, St. his Corpse watched 20
  • Anestese, the Salutation of the Greek Church on Easter Day 243
  • Angels, good and evil attending upon Men 55
  • Anthony, St. buries Paul the Hermit 32
  • The Devil appears to him in the Wilderness 104
  • Anselm, a Canon of his against worshipping of Fountains 83
  • Apparitions at Tombs 77
  • Arthur, King, how he observed 13 Days at Christmas 201
  • Ash-Wednesday 235
  • Ascension-Day, Custom on at Newcastle 270
  • Akenside, Dr. his Birth, False-Shame 114
  • A you a hinny 184
  • Apparitions 72
  • Ash-Wednesday, remarkable Custom on in Germany 178
  • All-hallow Eve 343
  • Armed Man, meeting, a good Omen on an Expedition 101
  • Armilustrium—Roman Festival 175
  • Achs and Corns, Prognostication of Weather by 217
  • Artificial Sun-Dance on Easter-Day 247
  • Amphidromia, Feast of 278
  • Ale-house Signs 340
  • Apple-Parings, Divination by 345
  • Apple-Kernels,—ditto ibid.
  • All-Fools-Day 398
  • Andrew-merry 400
  • Agnes' Fast 405 and 387


  • Babylas, his Body carried out with Psalmody 32
  • Bede, his Account of the Custom of Monasteries at the Death of any of the Brethren 2
  • Bells, when first in the Church 1
  • Tolling of them for the Dead, a Custom of the old Church of England 3
  • Beersheba, the Name of Abraham's Well 84
  • Bethany, the Place where Mary Magdalene lived 245
  • Bethlehem, the Village of Christ 151
  • Blowing of Horns, when used 255
  • Bone-fires 275
  • Bones of the Dead 76
  • Brownists, their Charge against tolling the Bell 5
  • Brutus, his evil Genius appears to him 58
  • Buchanan 203
  • Burying with the Feet to the East, and the Head to the West 46
  • Our Saviour so buried ibid.
  • Bells passing, additional Remarks on 12
  • — general Observations on 14
  • Bible-Clerk, Custom of at Oxford 15
  • Board-streeking 23
  • Black, used in Mourning 35
  • Bearers-Under 35
  • Bowing and turning to the Altar, additional Remarks on 50
  • Buller of Buchan 75
  • Benton, Rag-well on the Road to 85
  • Babes in the Wood 92
  • Bars, Strangers at 94
  • Backwards, getting out of Bed 95
  • Blue, Candles burning 97
  • Blue, Specks on the Nails 98
  • Benshi, or the Fairy's Wife, Shrieks of 99
  • Barefoot, Woman, Omen 101
  • Bruisers, Custom of spitting in their Fists 101
  • Boys, Custom of spitting their Saul ib.
  • Brownies, a Kind of Ghosts 116
  • Bogle-boe, 116, and 324
  • [Page 413]Butter, Fairy 119
  • Brimstone, used in exorcising 143
  • Bessy 176
  • Balow, Nurse's Song 184
  • Byson, holy 185
  • Bowl, Wassail 195 and 408
  • Bean-King, twelfth Day 205
  • Brok, Farmer's Horses so called 218
  • Ball-Hand, Game of 252
  • Bell-Tein, a rural Sacrifice 258
  • Bone-Fires 277
  • Buckler, a red Velvet one of St. Michael 295
  • Baby, Corn or Kern 307
  • Bell-Ropes, Tobacco made of 315
  • Broom-Sticks, Witches riding on 321
  • Bewitched Persons vomiting ibid.
  • Beans, see Carlings 327
  • Bride-Favours 335
  • Bride-Cakes ibid. and 403
  • Banners hung over the Tombs of Knights 42
  • Box Sprigs of a substitute for Palms 240
  • Bay, decking the Coffin with 37
  • Borlase Mr. his Account of May-Day Rites in Cornwall 260
  • Bringing the Summer Home 262
  • Bacchanalia 195
  • Ball-Money 337
  • Bid-Ale 339
  • Bumpers 340
  • Black-Puddings 355
  • Borrowed Day 373
  • Barbers' Shops, Poles at 388
  • Blind-Man's Buff 406
  • Blue Balls—Pawn-Brokers 408


  • Cake, baked in Honour of the Virgin Mary 204
  • Cake, with a Bean in when used 200
  • Candles, when lighted up in the Eastern Church 161
  • Candlemass-Day 220
  • Cato 214
  • Cassian, his Account of Spirits vanishing at Day-break 63
  • Childermass-Day 211
  • [Page 414]Christ born about the Time of Cock Crow 64
  • Christmass Candle 155
  • Christmass Carrol, what derived from 181
  • — First sung by the Angels 63
  • Church-Yards 76
  • Cloven Foot, the Devil appearing with 102
  • Cock-Crow 62
  • Collect for Aid against Perils 61
  • Dr. Comber, his discourse of the ancient Manner of burying 47
  • Crickets, ominous 88
  • Crow, an ominous Bird 87
  • Crowning the Corps, a Custom of the Heathens 39
  • Crucifix 139
  • Cypress, what it is an Emblem of 30
  • Clock, critique on the Word 13
  • Curfew 18
  • Candle set upon the Corps, &c. 24
  • Coffin 25—100
  • Cock 74
  • Cock-Weather, or Vane 75
  • Children dying unbaptized 74
  • Church-yards, anciently without the Walls 80
  • Cheek, burning of, an Omen 91
  • Chough 93
  • Cats—Omens 92
  • Cats 322 403
  • Candles, Letters at 94
  • Cross-legged, to sit 95
  • Cricket ibid.
  • Crooked-Pin 97
  • Chips of Gallows ibid.
  • Charms for driving away Rats, &c. ibid.
  • Carrying a Corpse on Ship-Board 98
  • Candles, dead Men's 99
  • Candle, Rings in the 100
  • Cinders bounding from the Fire ibid.
  • Circle, Fairies' 117
  • Conjuring, Remarks on 143
  • Casting out Devils 144
  • Cakes, Yule 163
  • Christmas Box 164
  • Christmas Clog and Coal 166
  • Cock-fighting 374
  • [Page 415]Cow's Hide, Custom of dressing in 180
  • Christmas Carrol in old Scotch 183
  • Cake, Twelfth 206
  • Calves' Heads 216
  • Corns and Achs, Prognostics of the Weather 217
  • Church Monuments, ditto 219
  • Common Shores, ditto 219
  • Candlemass Day, bearing of Candles on 223
  • Carnival, see also Pancake Tuesday 233 331
  • Cocks, thrown at 234
  • Cats, nine Lives ibid.
  • Christmass Pies 254
  • Cratch, Rack or Manger ibid.
  • Column of the May 260
  • Cross Week 269
  • Cities, Guardians of 293
  • Corn Baby, or Image 307
  • Cross Bunns 312
  • Cross Mark ib.
  • Cat, the sine qua non of a Witch 322
  • Carlings 325
  • Collop Monday 331
  • Confarreation, a Wedding Ceremony 335
  • Crowing, unseasonable of Cocks, ominous 92
  • Cats, coming in, &c. of strange, ominous ibid.
  • Circle, a Conjurer's Trap 121
  • Conjurers, African, St. Chrysostom's saying to 142
  • Coranich, Song at Funerals 27
  • Creed, turning to the Altar at the repeating of 50
  • Canute's Law against worshipping Wells 85
  • Churn or Kern Supper 307
  • Care-Sunday 326
  • Care-Cloth 330
  • Coral, Child's Toy 366
  • Cornute Cuckold ibid. 394
  • Childrens' Sports 406
  • Cheese Groaning 403 and 387
  • Cuckow 401
  • To cry Coke 409


  • Dancing in Public forbid 193
  • Days, lucky and unlucky 211
  • [Page 416]Dead, how placed in the Grave 47
  • Dead-Watch, ominous 88
  • December, how named of the antient Saxons 156
  • Dunstan, St. took the Devil by the Nose 109
  • Devils, afraid of Bells 17
  • Debauchery at Lake-Wakes 27
  • Doles used at Funerals 36
  • Death Watch, Swift's Account of 95
  • Divination, various Modes of 96
  • Dog, howling of, by Night, Omen 101
  • Devil, Names of, Old Nick, Old Harry 115
  • Doughs, Yule 163
  • Decking Churches at Christmas 174
  • Divisions, political and civil, of the Day 75
  • Deer, Sight of, Omen on an Expedition 101
  • Drummer, or Haunted House, Extract from 120
  • Dragon or Fire-Drake 372
  • Deuce take you, vulgar Saying, what 387
  • Dreams 386
  • Duck and Drake 407


  • East, the Part of Heaven our Saviour ascended to 45
  • Easter Holidays 249
  • Easter Sunday 241
  • Eastern Magi 199
  • Edgar, a Canon made in his Time against worshipping of Fountains 83
  • And upon the Observation of Saturday Afternoon 147
  • Egyptians, their Guardian Angels 289
  • Epiphany 161
  • Eseck, the Name of a Well 84
  • Eve of St. John Baptist, how observed 159
  • Exorcising a haunted House, what 123
  • [Page 417]Earth, a small Quantity of, laid upon the Corps 23
  • Ever-Greens at Funerals 37
  • East, Altar towards 52
  • East Position in the Grave 52
  • Ear tingling, a Sign that somebody talks of us 91
  • Ephialtes, or Night-Mare to prevent 97
  • Elf-locks 98
  • Elf-shots 117
  • Epiphany, or Twefth Day Cake 205
  • Easter Holidays 251
  • Eulogium on Christian Philosophy 144
  • Easter Holiday Amusements 252
  • Egg-shell, breaking after the Meat is out 317
  • Egg Saturday 333
  • Eggs at Easter 310


  • Fairies 107
  • Faunes, how they appeared 104
  • Flora, Goddess of Flowers 256
  • Flowers, strawed on Graves 40
  • Friday, what observed on it in exorcising an haunted House 132
  • Fulk, his Answer to the Papists in Defence of their Palm-Sunday Procession 237
  • Face-Cloth 23
  • Funeral Sermons 36
  • Funeral Entertainments 24
  • Flat-Stones over Graves 37
  • Feet forward, carrying a Corps ibid.
  • Flowers scattered on the Tomb 42
  • Falling of Salt, Omen 95
  • Fetch Lights, or dead Men's Candles 99
  • Forcing Fire with a Wheel 100
  • [Page 418]Fox, Omen 101
  • Fairies stealing Children 116—117
  • Fairies Circle or Ring, Butter 117—119
  • Fool-Plough 175—404
  • Fools, Festival of 179—195
  • Flower, or Flour of the Wake 281
  • Fontinalia 86
  • Fasting Spittle, superstitious Opinion of 101
  • Fields of May 260
  • Fastens or Fasterns Even 331
  • Foot-Ball Money at Weddings 337
  • Fairs 357
  • Falling Star 371


  • Garlands of Flowers, when used 39
  • Guardian Angels 289
  • Genius Evil, appearing to Brutus 58
  • Ghosts departed, whether they appear again 56
  • Goat, what it is an Emblem of 104
  • Gloria in excelsis 182
  • Grass, why plucked up by the Jews 31
  • Grave, strewed with Flowers 40
  • Greens Ever, why used at Funerals 29
  • Gregory, a Tradition mentioned by him 159
  • Guili 156
  • Garlands 41
  • Ghosts 73
  • Guest—Newcastle walking Spirit 75
  • Goblin 116
  • Giul 168
  • Gentlemen, Selden's Definition of the Word ibid.
  • Goose intentos 217
  • Gebelin, Mr. his Etymon of Yule 168
  • Gule of August 171
  • Guardians to Cities, People, &c. 293
  • [Page 419]Guardian Angels 295
  • Groats 355
  • Gule of August 171—364
  • Gipsies 389


  • Hagmena, what it signifies 181
  • Hall, Bishop, his Opinion of the Soul Bell 6
  • Hallowed Bells ibid.
  • Hand Ball 250
  • Hare crossing the Way, an ill Omen 87
  • Harvest Supper 303
  • Haunted House 110
  • Hesperitius, his House haunted 140
  • Hilda, St. her Death 2
  • High Noon, what 148
  • Holy Water 139
  • Hooker, Mr. his Custom at parochial Perambulations 266
  • Husbandmen, Observers of Saturday Afternoon 145
  • House-Leek, why planted on House-Tops 218
  • Heck or Heit! In [...]rjection to Horses 217
  • Heifer's Tail, stuck aloft, bodes Showers 218
  • Hand-Ball—Game 252
  • Harvest-Home Ceremonies 306
  • Hamlet, Passage in Grave-Diggers' Scene 53
  • Hare, Divination by 92
  • Hens—sudden Fall of, Ominous ibid.
  • Hornedness of the Moon—Omen ibid.
  • Holy, or Hollow Stones, hung up in Stables 97
  • Hydromancy, Divination by Water 96—276
  • Howling of Dogs by Night, Ominous 101
  • Hobgoblin 116
  • Hagmena 164
  • Holme, Churches decked with at Christmas 174
  • Holly ibid.
  • Hunting Song, curious Stanza from 186
  • Hoppings, Etymon, of 302
  • [Page 420]Harvest Song 308
  • Harvest Home, Thompson's Description of 309
  • Horse-Shoe nailed on Threshold to keep out Witches 317
  • Hand-Festing 338
  • Healths, drinking of 341
  • Haggs 371

I and K

  • Jacob, how he prepared to go and worship God 149
  • Jerusalem, a Tradition held by the Holy Men of it 46
  • Job, his Visions of the Night 59
  • John Baptist's Eve, St. 271
  • Jonathan, his asking a Sign 89
  • Julius, not the Original of Yule 156
  • Ivy, why used at Funerals 29
  • Iron Ladles affixed to Wells 86
  • Jesmond Well ibid.
  • Inn Pilgrims ibid.
  • Johnson Dr. his Account of a New Year's-Day Ceremony 180
  • Juniper, burnt by Highlanders on New Year's-Day 195
  • Judges Nose-gay 261
  • John St. Fires 279
  • Jack with the Lanthorn 369
  • Ignis Fatuus ibid.
  • Knells, nine for a Man, after tolling the Bell for a Person's Death 13
  • Keeping of the Corps four Days 25
  • Kisses, strange felt on the Lips 100
  • Kepping the Ball 253
  • [Page 421]Kail, winning at Weddings 336
  • Kitty with the Wisp 369


  • Laurel, why used at Funerals 29
  • —What it is an Emblem of at Christmass 172
  • Laying of Spirits 113
  • Ligatures 213
  • Light, the Emblem of several Things 158
  • Lock his Opinion of Apparitions 57
  • Lake-Wake—watching with the Dead 21
  • Laying out, or streeking the Corps 23
  • Leaving the Coffin unscrewed till the Time of Burial 25
  • Looking-Glass, breaking one, ominous 91
  • Lambkin sudden Death of, ominous 96
  • Libanomancy ibid.
  • Lead-Ore, Hazel's Tendency to ibid.
  • Lots, Divination by ibid.
  • Lord of Misrule 165
  • Log 166
  • Lamb, Rev. Mr. his Etymon of Balow 184
  • Leaping over Bone-Fires 277
  • Leaf-Gold—Eggs covered with 310—313
  • Lemuria 327
  • Lupercalia 195
  • Lucky, or otherwise what Times to marry 337
  • Lady-Fly, Divination by 345
  • Lammass-Day 364


  • Mag-Pye, its chattering ominous 88
  • Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna 264
  • [Page 422]Mary Magdalene, guided by the Moon to the Sepulchre 244
  • May Pole 255
  • Mede, Mr. his Opinion of the Manner of good and evil Spirits appearing 104
  • Maedrenack 156
  • Mell-Supper 303
  • Mid-Winter 157
  • Miserere Animabus 7
  • Monica, her Corps watched 20
  • Monks, wrought in their Cells 151
  • Morning Hymn, whether sung by the Angels 67
  • Munday, what observed on it in exorcising a House 123
  • Mumming 191
  • Muffling of Bells 18
  • Mortuaries 25
  • Mercy-Seat, Jews used to turn towards 50
  • Mark, golden found in Bed 74
  • Moles, on different Parts, ominous 95—98
  • Merry-thought, plucking of 97
  • Mince-Pies 163—216
  • Mummers 185, 194, &c.
  • May-Day Ceremonies 257
  • Milk Maids at London ibid.
  • Highlanders, Ceremonies on 258
  • May, Lady of 259
  • Mace 261
  • Mayor ibid.
  • May-day Song at Newcastle 262
  • Midsummer Eve Rites 275
  • Michaelmas, farther Remarks on 292
  • Mell-Supper 307
  • Mare, crying the. Custom in Hertfordshire 308
  • Midlenting or Mothering 329—330
  • Mercheta Mulierum 338
  • Martinmas-Marts 355
  • Moon, Superstitions relative to 380
  • Nabal, his Feast 283
  • New Year 187
  • Night before Easter 20
  • Night, the properest Time for the appearing of evil Spirits 57
  • Nonconformists, Objections against Ceremonies 173
  • Noon Song, what 148
  • Northern Parts, the Place where Psalmody is chiefly ob­served 32
  • Nurses, their Stories of bad Consequence to Children 57
  • Nymphs, the Goddesses of Fountains 85
  • Names given to Bells 16
  • Nail, rusty, ominous 97
  • Nails, Spots on 98
  • —, set Times of paring 98—100
  • Nule, for Yule 167
  • Night-Mare, Account of 324
  • Nails in drinking Cups 340
  • Nutcrack Night 343
  • Nuts 344
  • St. Nicholas' Day, Customs on in Schools 362


  • Ol, what it means 156
  • Old Year, how ended 187
  • Olivet, Mount 45
  • Omens, the Observation of them, diabolical 90
  • Ostriches, Bones 213
  • Oswald, St. his Words when dying 7
  • Owl, an ominous Bird 87
  • [Page 424]Osiers, fencing the Grave with 43
  • Onychomancy or Onymancy, Divination by the Nails 96
  • Owls-screech, &c. 97
  • Old Nick, and Old Harry, popular Names of the Devil 115
  • Obsession of the Devil 142
  • Old Hat, used in raising the Devil 143
  • Old Woman, Figure in the Fool-Plough 176
  • Olaus Magnus' Description of Sword Dance ibid.
  • Ointment of Witches 320
  • Old Shoe-throwing after one 94—336
  • Orders, see St. Nicholas Day 364


  • Palm-Sunday 236
  • Palms of good Works, what they are 239
  • Panites, how they appeared 104
  • Paul, St. his Day 208
  • Paul, the Hermite 32
  • Paula, buried at Bethlehem ibid.
  • Peace of the Disciples 9
  • Perambulations 263
  • Plough-man 151
  • Plutarch, his Story of the evil Genius of Brutus 58
  • Popish Priests, famous among the Vulgar 113
  • Power of Prayer 4
  • Prayers for dying Persons 9
  • Preparation for the Sabbath, what it is an Emblem of 152
  • Prudentius, his Account of the vanishing of Spirits at Cock-crow 62
  • Psalm, sung at watching the Corps 20
  • Psalmody, used at Funerals 32
  • Passing Bell, why the Soul Bell is so called 12
  • Psalmody at Funerals 34
  • [Page 425]Pall to cover the Coffin 35
  • Poor, invited to Funerals 36
  • Pie, chattering of 93
  • Pin, crooked, omen. 97
  • Palmistry 98
  • Print of Foot in the Ashes, Divination by 100
  • Purses bounding from the Fire ibid.
  • Plough Monday 178
  • Pious Chansons 186
  • Paul St. Festival of, Gay's Account 218
  • Prognostications of Weather, by a Heifer's Tail stuck aloft 218
  • — by pricking Corns 219
  • — by Swallows soaring high ibid.
  • — by swinging Signs in Towns ibid.
  • — by whistling Winds ibid.
  • — by common Shores (sewers) ibid.
  • — by dropping Vaults ibid.
  • — Stockings on Hosier's Poles ibid.
  • Palm-Sunday, farther Remarks on 240
  • Parish what it antiently signified 268
  • Procession, parochial at Oxford 269
  • Pasche or Paste Eggs 310
  • Pot or Caldron of Witches 320
  • Passion Sunday, in the Church of Rome, the Sunday preceding Palm Sunday 326
  • Par-boiled Wheat 330
  • Pancake Tuesday 331
  • Plucking off the Bride's Garters 336
  • Posset at Wedding Suppers 336
  • Pledge, I'll Pledge you 339
  • Pins in Drinking Cups 340
  • Peascods, Divination by 344
  • Pie-Powder Court 362


  • Queen Elizabeth, an Injunction of hers 266


  • Raphael, the Angel 110
  • [Page 426]Ravens, their Cry, ominous 81
  • Recreation lawful, not sinful 251
  • Reformation, too great 4
  • Rehoboth, the Name of a Well 84
  • Resurrection of the same Body always the Opinion of the antient Church 48—49
  • Rising early on Easter Day 241
  • Rogation Week, why so called 264
  • Romish Church filled the World with Apparitions 108
  • Rosemary, why used at Funerals 29
  • Rejoicing with Bells 16
  • Reever Bell 17
  • Rose Trees, planted round the Graves 43
  • Rain, happy the Corps it falls on 53
  • Red Sea, laying Spirits in 74
  • Rag Well, near Newcastle 85—402
  • Robin Red-breasts, unlucky to kill 92
  • Rod, Divination by 96
  • Rings in the Candle 100
  • Rogation Week 269
  • Ring-Finger 333
  • Royal Oak Day 353
  • Rose—under the Rose, old Saying 366


  • Sabbath-day, what observed on it, in the exorcising of an House 136
  • Sacrifices to the Sun 157
  • Salamis, its Inhabitants how buried 48
  • Salt, its falling ominous 87
  • Satyrs, how they appeared 104
  • Saturday Afternoon, how observed 145
  • Saturnalia, what it was 192
  • Saxons, why they used the Yule-Clog 158
  • Scot, Doctor, his Opinion of Ghosts in Church Yards 78
  • [Page 427]Seghnirim, how interpreted 104
  • Sepulchre, how visited 243
  • Shakespear, his Accounts of Spirits vanishing at Cock-Crow 54
  • Sheep-sheering, its Feast 282
  • Shepherds, when they have had Apparitions 102
  • Shrove Tide 230
  • Shrift ibid.
  • Sitnah, the Name of a Well 84
  • St. Simeon 220
  • Simon of Sudbury 230
  • Sneezing when putting on the Shoes 214
  • Song, New Year's 190
  • Spanish Church, why it observed not the Rogation Days 265
  • Spirits, how they converse with Men 104
  • Star which appeared to the Magi, what it was an Em­blem of 160
  • Sunday, what observed on it in exorcising an House 136
  • Sun Dancing on Easter Day 241
  • Swithin, his Day 208
  • Streeking, and Streeking Board 23
  • Salt, a little upon a Plate set upon the Corps ibid.
  • Shroud ibid.
  • Spurs hung up over the Tombs of Knights 42
  • Spectator, on Ghosts 73
  • — on Omens 96
  • Swallows, unlucky to kill 92
  • Spiders, ditto 93
  • Sortes Homericae Virgilianae ibid.
  • Speal-Bone Divination ibid.
  • Second sight 94—381
  • Strangers at the Candle and Bars ibid.
  • Shoe old throwing after one ibid.
  • Scraping when we bow ibid.
  • Stumbling in going down Stairs, omen. 95
  • Sitting cross-leg'd and with our Fingers shut together ibid.
  • Shooting of a Star 92—96
  • Saw-dust 97
  • Sailors' Superstition of Whistling, &c. 98
  • Spitting, Superstitions relative to 101
  • Saturday Afternoon, farther Remarks on 153
  • Sword Dancers 175
  • [Page 428]Sharping Corn. given at Christmass 178
  • Sandgate, Billingsgate of the North 184
  • Saturnalia 194
  • Scot, Name of Farmer's Horse 218
  • Sheep Shearing. Thompson's and Dyer's Description of 285
  • Sabbath of Witches 321
  • Sigillaria 195
  • Scots Farmers, their Method of preserving their Cattle against Witchcraft 318
  • Snails, Divination by 345
  • Six Score to the Hundred, Reason of 346
  • Sneezing. Superstitions relative to 350
  • Salt, Custom of giving at Salt Hill 364
  • Silly, or Seely-How 367
  • Second Sight 381


  • Tanzy Cake 250
  • Tuesday, what was observed on it in the exorcising of an House 125
  • Theophilact, a Mistake of his 304
  • Threshold 214
  • Thumb 213
  • Thursday, what observed on it 130
  • Tizri, a Month of the Jews 190
  • Tomb of Christ 46
  • Tombs, Apparitions at them 56
  • Twelfth-Day 199
  • Twenty Days of Christmass, which 201
  • Tintinnabula, Bells 14
  • Trumpets used for Bells by the Jews 15
  • Tom of Lincoln, mighty Tom. Ch. Church 16
  • Torches at Funerals 35
  • Tears painted on Window-shutters, Scotland 43
  • Transubstantiation, curious Thoughts on 51
  • [Page 429]True Love Knots at the Bottom of Tea Cups 100
  • Thrift-Box 164
  • Truant-Clog 166
  • Twelfth Day, Custom on 204—308
  • Twelfth Cake, Mode of making 206
  • Torches consecrated on Candlemass Day 223
  • Tanzy-Cake 253—254
  • Truncheon of Field Officers 261
  • Tobacco 314
  • Tid, Mid, Misera 328
  • Throwing the Stocking 336
  • Toasting 342—404
  • True-Love Knot 348
  • Top-Knot ibid.


  • Valentine-Day 225
  • Vigilia Luminum 162
  • Vine-Dresser 151
  • Vigil 146
  • Under-Bearers at Funerals 35
  • Valentine-Day, farther Remarks on 229


  • Walking Place of Spirits 108
  • Watching with Corps 20
  • Watches, four of the Night, how employed by the pri­mitive Christians 60
  • Wax Candles 222
  • Wednesday, what observed on it in exorcising a House 127
  • Wells 82
  • [Page 430]Whitby, Doctor, an Opinion of the Jews from him about Midnight Spirits 60
  • William, King of Scots 147
  • Windows adorned with Laurel 172
  • Winter's Evening, how spent by the Country People 102
  • Wishing a good new Year 190
  • Wives Feast Day 220
  • Watching a Corps, see Lake Wake
  • Wells 86
  • Weasel meeting one Ominous 95
  • Warts 97
  • Waff, seeing a Person's 99—410
  • Witches 317
  • White Plough 175
  • Wassail Bowl 195—408
  • Willow Flowers or Buds, substitute for Palms 240
  • With 240
  • Wake Country, farther Remarks on 299
  • Witches, Witchcraft 317
  • Whistling on Shipboard 98
  • Wisp 369
  • Will with the Wisp ibid.
  • Welsh Main 378
  • Wandering Jew 392


  • Yule Clog, what is an Emblem of 155
  • Yule Eve 162
  • Yule Dough or Dow 163
  • Yule Cakes ibid.
  • Yule Coal 166
  • Yule, various Etymons of 167—207
  • Yew Trees in Church Yards 37

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