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writings to prove the debt, the creditor came to the of the deceased and laid himself all along with his back upon the grave, with his face towards Heaven, and a bible on his breast; and there he protested before God that is above him, and by the contents of the bible on his breast, that the decease there buried under him did owe him so much money, and then the executors were bound to pay him. But in the year 1609 this custom was abolished."*
Leap-Candle-Dancing the Candle Rush.-" The young girls in and about Oxford have a sport called LeapCandle, for which they set a candle in the middle of the room in a candlestick, and then draw up their coats into the form of breeches, and dance over the candle back and forth with these words,
The tailor of Bicitert he has but one eye
He can not cut a pair of green galagaskins if he were to die. This sport is called in other parts, dancing the candlerush."‡
Invisibility.—“ Take on Midsummer night at twelve, when all the planets are above the earth, a serpent, and kill him, and skinne him; and dry it in the shade, and bring it to a powder. Hold it in your hand, and it will be invisible. This receipt is in (a Rosycrucian) a booke in 8vo. in Ridgeley, the physitian hath it, who told me of this."§
Joannes de Florentia
A Magicall Receipt to know whom we shall marry roasted hard, and the yolke taken out, and salt putt in its Additions to the Isle of Man; p. 1066, Gibson's Edition of
i.e. Bicester, Bisseter, or Burcester, situated on a stream that runs into the Charwell at Islip.
AUBREY'S REMAINS OF GENTILISME, fol. 123. MS. Bibl: Lansdown; 231. This notice however has the initials M. K. to it.
§ Idem, folio 131.
sted, filled up, to be eaten fasting to your supper when you go to bed. Mrs. Fines of Albery* in Oxfordshire did thus; she dreamt of an ancient grey, or white-haired man, and such a shape, which was her husband. This I had from her owne mouth.†"
A marginal note however says, "I think only one egge." Dumb-Cakes.—“The maids of Oxfordshire have a way of foreseeing their sweethearts by making a dumb-cake. That is, on some Friday night several maids and batchelors bring every one a little flower, and every one a little salt, and every one blows an egge, and every one helps to make it into past; then every one makes the cake, and lays it on the gridiron, and every one turns it, and when bakt enough every one breaks a piece, and eats one part and laies the other just under their pillow to dream of the person they shall marry. to be done in serious silence without one word or one smile, or else the cake looses the name and the value. W. K.‡"
But all this
New-Moon." In Yorkshire, &c., northwards, some country-women doe worship the new moon on their bare knees, kneeling on an earth-fast steane§"—i.e. upon a stone that is firm in the earth.
Misselto (Mistletoe)." As for the magical qualities of this plant, and conceived efficacy unto veneficial intentions, it seemeth a pagan relique, borrowed from the ancient Druiden, the great admirers of oak, especially the misselto that grows thereon; which according to the particular [statement] of Pliny they gathered with great
* I know of no such place as Albury, or Albery, in Oxfordshire. Bayne's INDEX VILLARUM gives two places of that name in Surrey, and one in Gloucestershire.
IDEM, folio 137.
IDEM, folio 139. I have also given another account of the Dumb-Cake at p. 31 of this volume.
SIDEM, folio 151.
solemnity. For after sacrifice the priest in a white. garment ascended the tree, cut down the misselto with a golden hook, and received it in a white coate ;* the virtue whereof was to resist all poisons, and make fruitful any that used it-vertues not expected from classical practice; and did they fully answer their promise, which are so commended in epileptical intentions,† we would abate‡ these qualities. Country practices hath added another, to provoke after-birth—and in that case its decoction is given unto cows. That the berries are poison as some conceive, we are so far from averring, that we have safely given them inwardly; and can confirm the experiment of Brassavolus, that they have some purgative quality."||
Oak-leaves and Acorns.-"The Druides performed no sacred services without the leaves of oak, and not only the Germans, but the Greeks, adorned their altars with green leaves of oak. In the rites performed to Ceres they were crowned with oak; in those of Apollo, with bays; in those to Hercules with Bacchus with myrtle (qy. vine?)
poplar; in those to Was not the oak
* i.e., a white cloth, or tunic. In Holland's translation of Pliny, from whom it is plain that Aubrey has borrowed this account, we find, "the priest araied in a surplesse or white vesture climeth up into the tree, and with a golden hooke or bill cutteth it off, and they beneath receive it in a white soldier's cassock or coat of arms. (Holland's Pliny, Book xvi, chap. 44, p. 497, vol. 1.) Now the original word in Pliny is indeed sagum, which in its most common acceptation meant a military robe; but as soldiers' equipments seem quite out of place in a religious ceremony, and as sagum was also used for the cloth, of which the cassock was made, I have no doubt that Pliny meant us merely to understand a white cloth, or woollen robe.
Disregard, dispense with.
By country-practice, Aubrey means the practice of the rustics.
abused by the Druides to superstition? And yet our late reformers gave order, which was universally observed accordingly, for the acorn, the fruit of the oak, to be set upon the top of their maces, or crowns, instead of the cross."*
Herefordshire Charm-" Mrs. Clarke, a Herefordshire Woman.-Bury the head of a black catt with a Jacobus, or a piece of gold in it, and putt into the eies too black beanes. (What was to be donne with the beanes she had forgot). But it must be donne on a Tuesday at twelve o'clock at night; and that time nine nights the piece of gold must be taken out; and whatever you buy with it, (always reserving some part of the money) you will have money brought into your pocket; perhaps the same piece of gold again."t
Funeral Garlands.—“ It is a custome still at the funerall of young virgins to have a garland of flowers carried on the corpse, which is hung up in the church over her grave."+
Salt-"The falling of Salt is an authentic presager of ill-luck, nor can every temper contemn it; nor was the same a general prognostic among the ancients of future evil, but a particular omination concerning the breach of friendship; for salt, as incorruptible, was the symbole of friendship, and, before the other service, was offered unto their guests. But whether salt were not only a symbol of friendship with man but also a figure of amity, and reconciliation with God, and was therefore offered in sacrifices, is a higher speculation."§
Fairies." When I was a boy,|| our country-people would
IDEM, folio 162.
IDEM, folio 171.
IDEM, folio 166.
§ IDEM, folio 172.
|| i.e. when Aubrey was a boy; for he is the narrator of this fable, and writes in 1625-6, November 3rd, at Esaton-Piers, in the north division of Wiltshire.
talke much of them. They sweapt up the hearth cleane at night, and did sett their shoes by the fire, and many times they should find a threepence in one of them. Mrs. Markey, a daughter of serjeant Hoskyns the poet, told me that her mother did use that custom; and had as much money as made her, or bought her, a little silver cup, thirtie shillings value.'
Pewits-Staffordshire-"But the strangest web-footed water-fowle that frequents this county is the Larus cinereus Ornotholgi, the Larus Cinereus tertius Aldrovandi, and the Cepphus of Gesner and Turner-in some counties called the Black Cap; in others the Sea, or Mire-Crow; here the Pewit-which, being of the migratory kind, came annually to certain pooles in the estate of the right worshipful Sir Charles Skrymsher, knight, to build and breed, and to no other estate in, or neer, the county, but of this family to which they have belonged ultra hominum memoriam, and never mooved from it, though they have changed their station often. They anciently came to the old Pewit poole above mentioned, about half a mile S. W. of Norbury church, but it being their strange quality (as the whole family will tell you, to whom I refer the reader for the following relation) to be disturbed and remove upon the death of the head of it as they did within memory, upon the death of James Skrymsher Esq., to Offley Moss near Wood's Eves, which Moss, though containing two gentlemen's lands, yet (which is very remarkable), the pewits did discern betwixt the one and the other, and build only on the land of the next heir, John Skrymsher, Esq., so wholly were they addicted to this family. At which Moss they continued about three years, and then removed to the old pewit-poole again, where they continued to the death of the said John Skrymsher Esq. which happening on the eve to our Lady-day the very * IDEM, folio 180.