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certain as to the good or evil that would happen to
Another superstition of the day may be deduced from the following tale told by Bovet, with all the simple earnestness of Defoe in his narrative of Mrs. Veal's ghost. “At South Petherton, in the county of Somerset, lives a gentlewoman (very well known to all the neighbouring gentry) whom I can not mention without an honourable respect, having often had the happiness to have been entertained with most obliging respect both by the virtuous mother and her congenerous issue. It was on Midsummer day, in the year 1680, I happened to pay a visit to that worthy family, and finding the lady and her daughters at home, after passing common civilities, the eldest of the daughters (who is a very ingenious and accomplisht lady,) informed me that there had been the strangest thing done in their family the preceding night that ever was heard on, for their servant maids had raised the devil, &c. and so went on to give a thorow relation of what you will hear by and by; only I think it best to let the maids
* Τ8 Ιουνίου μηνός ήθροιζοντο εν ταις ρυμίσι και έν τισιν οίκοις άνδρες και γυναίκες, και πρωτότοκον κοράσιον νυμφικως εστολιζον. Μετα γάντο συμποσιασαι και βακχικώτερον όρχήσασθαι, και χορευσαι και αλαλάξαι, έβαλον εν αγγείω συσόμη χαλχη θαλαττιον ύδωρ, και zion rivà exáotW TOUTWV, &c. SYNODICON, SIVE PANDECTÆ S. S. A POSTOLORUM, &c.—Canones Concilii Sexti in Trullo. Can. 65, p. 235, tom. i. fol. Oxon. 1672.
The Trullum, or Trullan, Council, from whose canons the above extract has been made, was a council assembled in 692 against the Monothelites, (uovos, single, and 0ɛlɛua, will,) a sect that had its rise about sixty years before, and which, according to Mosheim, maintained that Christ had two natures, but so united as to form one. The council received its name from the trullum, i.e. dome (trulla, a cap or dome,) of the palace of Constantinople, though the term was more properly applied to the hall in which the emperors consulted on state affaiis. This Council in Trullo was the sixth ecumenical or general council.
themselves tell the story, which after the old lady had called them into the room, they did after this manner :
“ We had been told divers times, that if we fasted on Midsummer Eve, and then at 12 o'clock at night laid a cloth on the table, with bread and cheese, and a cup the best beer, setting ourselves down as if we were going to eat, and leaving the door of the room open, we should see the persons, whom we should afterwards marry, come into the room and drink to us. Accordingly we kept a true fast all the day yesterday, unknown to any of the family; and at night, having disposed of my mistresses to bed, we fastened the stair-door of their roons, which came down into the hall, and locked all the doors of the yard, and whatever way besides led into the house, except the door of the kitchen, which was left open to the yard for the sweethearts to enter. It being then near twelve o'clock, we laid a clean cloath on the kitchen table, setting thereon a loaf and cheese, and a stone jug of beer, with a drinking glass, seating ourselves together in the inside of the table with our faces towards the door. We had been in this posture but a little while before we heard a mighty rattling at the great gate of the yard as if it would have shook the house down; there was a jingling of chains, and something seemed to prance about the yard like a horse, which put us into great terror and affrightment, so that we wisht we had never gone so far in it; but now we knew not how to go back, and therefore kept the place where we were. My master's spaniel (for the young captain was then alive) got against the door of the stair-foot, and there made so great a noise with howling and rattling the door, that we feared they might have taken notice of the disturbance; but presently came a young man into the kitchen (here one of the young ladies interrupted her, saying, ' housewife it was the devil, to which the maid replied, 'Madam, I do not believe that, but perhaps it might be the spirit of a man) and making a bow to me he took up the glass, which was full of beer, on the table, and drunk to me, filling the glass again and setting it on the table as before; then making another bow went out of the room. Immediately after which, another came in the same manner, and did the same to the other maid (whom she named, but I have forgot) and then all was quiet, and after we had eaten some bread and cheese we went to bed.”*
From the same authority we learn that those who fasted on St. John's Eve, and then sate in the church-porch at midnight, would “see who should die in that parish the subsequent year, and that the spirits of such would (in the same order they were to die in) come one after another and knock at the church-door.”+ Upon one occasion it appears a watcher fell asleep so soundly that nobody could wake him, and during this unnatural torpor his spirit appeared and gave the usual warning, though, he himself was totally unconscious of any thing of the kind.
Of the divination by ORPINE, the Stone-crop, Lib-long, or Livelong, I I have already spoken in another place. $
* PANDÆMONIUM, or the Devil's CLOYSTER. By Richard Bovet, p. 211. Tenth Relat. 12mo. London. 1684.
+ Idem. p. 216.
# It is not very easy to decide whether by ORPINE here is intended the Lesser Houseleek or the Stone-crop; and what renders the matter yet more confused and doubtful is that neither of these plants flowers till late in July, whereas to really meet the terms of the superstitious custom the Orpine, whatever it is, should flower in June. Gerard, however, in his Herbal (p. 519,) gives us several sorts—the Spanish O. ; the Common O., and three smaller kinds; the Purple 0.; the NeverDying 0.; the Creeping 0.
§ In the article in question (vol i. p. 210), I gave a quotation from some old writer, I could not recollect whom, respecting the popular superstition of Midsummer Men. Oddly enough, I have since found a The ARTEMISIA, Mugwort, or Motherwort, was also a ceremonial plant of the season. Aubrey in his usual gossiping vein tells us, “the last summer on St. John's Day (1694) I accidentally was walking in the pasture behind Montague House, it was twelve o'clock. I saw there about two or three and twenty young women, most of them well habited, on their knees very busie, as if they had been weeding. I could not presently learn what the matter was ; at last a young man told me that they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain to put under their heads that night, and they should dream who would be their husbands. It was to be found that day and hour."'*
In Hill's NaturALL AND ARTIFICIAL CONCLUSIONS, we have a tale of the same kind in a chapter (c. 146) headed — “ The Vertue of a rare Cole, that is to be found but one hour in the day, and one day in the yeer. Divers authors affirm concerning the verity and vertue of this Cole, viz., that it is only to be found upon Midsummer Eve (being the Eve of St. John the Baptist) just at noon, under every root of plantine and of mugwort: the effects whereof are wonderful; for whosoever weareth or beareth the same about with them, shall be freed from the plague, fever, ague, and sundry other diseases. And one author especially writeth, and constantly averreth, that he
portion of it, word for word, in Tawny Rachel (p. 208, vol. ii.) a tale by that stupid fanatic, Hannah More, who however has not given any acknowledgment of the source from which she borrowed it. It is quoted by Ellis in his edition of Brand, of course without the slightest suspicion of an earlier original.
* AUBREY'S MISCELLANIES, chap. xiii. p. 103. London. 1696. The reader, 'however, who wishes to refer to the original, should be made aware that two works under this same title, but with very different matter, were published by Aubrey, the latter one bearing date
never knew any who used to carry off this marvellous Cole about them, who ever were (to his knowledge) sick of the plague, or indeed complained of any other maladie."
The writer here alluded to is, I suppose, Mizaldus,* an especial trafficker in ware of this kind, and he is farther corroborated by Lupton, who affirms with as much solemnity as if he had been upon his oath, “I know it to be of truth, for I have found them the same day under the root of plantane.”+ But in spite of these authorities, Dr. Decker in his notes upon Barbette does not scruple to assert that the Cole is no coal, but simply the rotten roots of old mugwort, which are generally found under the fresh plant; this he pronounces to be an antepileptic in doses of a dram given in water, the real sanative virtues of the plant having no doubt been, as in so many other instances, the origin of the superstition.
In addition to these antepileptic virtues, mugwort was also potent against storms and the devil himself, if branches of it were hung up against the house-doors on St John's Eve. This however was far from being a
*“Quidam multa perhibent de carbonibus pridie D. Joannis Baptistæ sub radicibus artemisiæ evulsis; sed hallucinantur autores; non enim sunt carbones, sed radices artemisiæ antiquæ annosæ emortuæ, multo sale volatili constantes; et semper ferè sub artemisiâ reperiuntur, adeo ut tantum superstitio quædam sit quòd radices illæ annosæ emortuæ pridie D. Joannis Baptistæ circa duodecimam noctur. nam evelli debeant. Dosis illarum est ad drachm I cum aquâ appro. priatâ exhibita.” Praxis Barbettisna, p. 7. cap. 1. De Epilepsiâ. 12mo. Lug. Bat. 1669.
+ Lupton's THOUSAND NOTABLE THINGS, sect. 59. book 1. 4to. London, 1675.
I“ Inolevit longa annorum serie persuasio, artemisiam in festis Divo Joanni Baptistæ sacris, ante domus suspēsam, item alios frutices et plantas, atque etiam candelas facesque designatis quibusdam diebus celebrioribus aqua lustrali rigatas, vel nescio quoinodo expiatas, et quando usus postulat incensas, contra tempestates, fulmina, tonitrua,