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The extracts are endorsed, "A Popish Charm or Spel; An Antem or Hymn." Each is interesting, though the Catalogue of the Lansdowne MSS. describes the paper as containing "some ridiculous Popish charms or spells, in miserable rhyme, the recital of which is to procure pardon for sins, protection from spirits, etc.'


The first is, obviously, an ejaculation to be made when one first sees the new moon. In Suffolk I used to be told, when I was a child, that it was unlucky to see it for the first time through glass, and also that one ought to turn the money in one's pocket. The second is a hymn of no little beauty; the third, a well-known prayer at bed-time; and the fourth (for there are really four articles), the "Fridaye spell", is a short poem on the Passion.


"Newe moone, newe moone, welcome be the | and all the three vertues that thowe broughteste w'th the | One for the | Another for me And one to helpe the man or beaste for St. Charytye.

"God that made boythe daye & neight

the mone shyne and the starres soe lyght
The holye sonne that shines soe bryght.
kepe youe and save youe from all ill sprytes
God hym send bothe farre and neare
that bought w'th his blode soe deare."

"In nomine patris at my Crowne
filius speritus vpp & downe
Corpus Christi att my Breste
Jesus Take my soule into reste
In the name of the father & of the sone
And of the holye goste Amen."

"Not': this she callethe the Frydaye spell:

"This daye is Fridaye faste while we maye
While wee heare knyll' of Lords owne bell

or Lorde in his Chappell stoode, wth his xij appostells soe


There Came a Saynte throughe ryghte robe

what is yt that shynes soe bryght, or Lorde God almyghte He was naled sore, farre and in goore

Throughe lyver, throughe longe, throughe harte, throughe


Throughe the holye brayne panne, well is that man tha
Frydaye spell can

He for to saye and his fellowes for to learne

So manye tymes as youe saye this on Frydaye before noone
So manye tymes shall your synnes be forgeven youe att
Domesdaye. Amen."

It may seem scarcely worth while to rescue from utter oblivion these curious relics of the superstition of our forefathers. These days in which we live are, we are told, days of progress, of light, of advanced education, of Board schools, of numberless means of enlightenment. No doubt we have made some progress since the days of Queen Elizabeth, of Lord Burleigh, and of Shakespeare. But even the electric telegraph has not dispelled the dark clouds of folly and of blind superstition.

The Times of July 2, 1891, tells us, in its Russian intelligence, of six peasants who were tried before the Criminal Sessions Court of Samara, and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment "for deliberately disinterring the body of a woman, who had died of intoxication, and floating it down the Volga as a means of causing rain. It seems to be quite a fixed belief among the Russian peasantry that throwing the dead body of a drunkard into the river is a sure cure for want of rain."

Here is a remarkable scene from Sicily. I am quoting from the Times of February 21, 1891, which devotes a paragraph to "The Religion and Superstition of the Sicilian Peasant."


SICILIAN PEASANTS.-Mr. Stigand, the British Consul at Palermo, in his last report, describes the Sicilian peasant as assiduous and devout in his religious practices, and although there is much superstition, there is no doubt the people are sincere in their simple-hearted and ignorant way. They attend the functions of the Mass regularly, and on Sundays and Feast-days the churches are thronged by both men, women, and children—the dogs of the family frequent the churches as regularly as their masters-and though the service is, with some exceptions, performed in Latin, they seem intuitively to understand its tenour, performing all the genuflexions at the proper time, and crossing and beating of the breast at the "Credo" and Elevations", with the uniformity of soldiers on parade. Simple votive offerings to Saint and Shrine, for real or supposed mercies, are most common, and if they make a vow when in trouble, they are sure to keep it in the most rigorous fashion, even when it entails great suffering. Every man and woman have their favourite saints, after whom they are named, and the labourer, when working in the field with his fellows, will often call upon his guardian saint in a loud voice, and, after he has called his comrades, shout, "Viva San Giuseppe!" or "Viva San Francesco!" as the case may be. And in some parts, also, pedestrians are greeted by the peasants with the salutation of "Viva Gesú", to

which the pedestrians reply, "Viva Gesú e Maria", or vice versa. The Vice-Consul at Messina mentions a characteristic example of a Sicilian pilgrimage. At a mountain town about fifty miles from Messina there is a festa in September called the Madonna of the Chain (Madonna della Catena). If a man is dangerously ill, or in trouble, or in love, or for whatever reason it may be, he vows to go for one, two, three, or four years on the pilgrimage of the "Madonna della Catena". The devotees strip themselves of all but a cloth about their loins. They have in their hands soft pieces of pithy wood called sferza, about the diameter of a penny piece, through which are stuck from forty to fifty pins, their points projecting one-eighth of an inch. The procession starts from the town to the chapel of the Madonna della Catena, about four miles distant; the men stab themselves with these pins on the shoulders, breast, thighs, and legs, shouting all the time, the women encouraging them with wine and bread, and a priest leads the way with a banner. When the Vice-Consul saw this there were over one hundred men in the procession, and the stabs given over and over again on the same spots caused horrible bleeding tumours, and two deaths occurred. The women who have made vows pass their tongues upon the ground through every impurity from the church door to the high altar. The men, it is said, never break a vow when made under the sense of religion.

But, indeed, we need not travel so far as to Russia, nor even to Sicily, to find illustrations of human credulity: London will supply us with a fund of examples. Let one suffice.

In the Morning Post of April 17, 1884, occurs the following notice of an old but still extant superstition. Certain proceedings took place at the Thames Police Court, in which

A woman named Lyons was charged with violently assaulting a woman named O'Brien, by striking her over the head with some heavy instrument, tearing out some of her hair, and knocking her down. The prisoner admitted the assault, but said the prosecutrix struck her first. The dispute, she explained, arose out of the loss of her shawl, which had disappeared in a mysterious way. She felt certain that it had been stolen, and she therefore made up her mind to find out the thief by means of the "Bible and key"-a test, she said, which never failed. She accordingly invited several friends to her room. She got a key and a Bible, and laying the Bible upon the table, she took the key, and, after tying a piece of string to it, placed it inside the Bible, with the wards flat upon the leaves. She then closed the book, and, sitting so that those in the room could see her, she took in her hand the part of the key which she had left projecting, and pronounced the names of the persons she was acquainted with, repeating after each name the words, "Turn, Bible, turn, turn round the key; turn, key, turn, and show the name to me." She repeated several names, but no sign was given. At last she mentioned the name of Mrs. O'Brien, and then the key gave such a turn that it twisted itself out of her hand and fell on

to the floor. She picked it up and replaced it, and then in the same way she got the name of the pawnbroker where her shawl was pledged. The prosecutrix, who was not the Mrs. O'Brien discovered by the key, went and told the other Mrs. O'Brien, who was meant, that she (the prisoner) had marked her down for stealing the shawl, and this caused a row, and then the prosecutrix attacked her and she only took her own part. Ultimately the magistrate bound both women over to keep the peace.

There are still happy hunting grounds for the charlatan, the fortune teller, and the impostor who is audacious enough to lay claim to the possession of magical knowledge. There are still believers in palmistry and astrology, and these are not exclusively limited to the least educated classes.

Canon Atkinson, in his very interesting Forty Years in a Moorland Parish, gives minute particulars of a charm which was actually in use in his own immediate neighbourhood, Danby in Cleveland, within living


"The largest farmer in the parish" of which he is speaking, "a right good sort, and a fair specimen of the old, untutored, unschooled, Yorkshire yeoman, with a large amount of natural shrewdness at the bottom, and with any amount of credulity in some directions, and obstinate incredulity in others, mainly on the side where reason and knowledge lay," was the possessor of the charm. "He could neither read nor write-by no means an unknown thing among the Dales farmers of fifty years ago. He had a lively sense of the actuality of the witch, of her power, of her malice." His cattle died in a mysterious manner. He did not attribute their untimely end to general bad management, or insufficient food, or poor pasturage. He was quite certain that they were bewitched. But Dr. Atkinson shall relate, in his own words, the method adopted to defeat the machinations of the malevolent witch.


Among other ways and means, Jonathan employed a standing charm, and when he died it was found in (as was to be presumed) full operation, in his standing desk, or bureau, with a white-handled penknife, half open, laid in front of it. It consisted of a half-sheet of letter-paper, folded in the fashion of those days when as yet the envelope was undiscovered, and sealed with three black seals, inserted between each two of which was a hackle from a red cock's neck. This, when opened, was found to have a pentacle, inscribed within a circle, drawn on it. It is somewhat difficult to make out which is top and which is bottom, but, from such indications as there are, I assume that the point from which the passage from the Bible, which surrounds the circle just named, begins to read is the bottom. The said extract is, IN HIM SHALL BE THE STRENGTH OF THY HAND. HE SHALL KEEP THEE IN SIX TROUBLES, YEA, EVEN IN SEVEN SHALL NO HARM COME TO THEE,' the

1 See Job, v, 19: "He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee."

"thee" being interlined over the word "come". In the central hexagonal space formed by the mutual intersection of the three triangles which form the figure, is what is meant for a short sentence of three words in the Hebrew character, but is really a mere rough imitation, such as might be made by an ignorant impostor, who knew the general characteristics of the Hebrew as printed. There are then six triangular spaces formed by the cutting off of the apices of the composing triangles by the intersecting sides of the same, and, beginning with the lowest (as we are regarding the diagram) and proceeding to the right, round the circle, in the first (or lowest) is the word AGLA; in the next, the letters or the word EL; in the third, ON; in the fourth, and upside down as we are regarding it, the word NALGAH, and a cross above it; in the fifth, ADONAI; and in the sixth, SADAI. Besides these triangular spaces there are six other spaces, formed by the segments of the containing circle cut off between the several apices of the constituent triangles, and the sides of the small vertical triangles already noted. Taking as the first of these that on the left of the triangular space numbered as the first, just above, the words inscribed are CARO VERBUM FACTUM EST; and proceeding in the same direction as before, in the second the inscription is IESU CHRISTI NAZARENUS REX IUDÆORUM ; in the third, the word PERMUMAITON; in the fourth, AMATI SCHEMA; in the fifth, SADAI; and in the sixth, ADONAI. Turning the charm the other way up, nearly underneath the cross above named, as it now stands, begins the sentence, YE ARE EVERLASTING POWER OF GOD THEOS; and then at the bottom of all, in a straight line, the words, Hoc IN VINCE, all run together, as was the case also in the sentence previously noticed. This last, doubtless, refers directly to the sign of the cross made immediately above, in the small triangle containing the word NALGAH."1

If any members of the Association should, by chance, have read my previous paper on a Seventeenth Century Magical Roll, they will have seen a series of charms some of which may have supplied the material with which this particular charm was constructed.

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(British Museum, Rot. Harl. T. 11.)

Worshipp thus crosse wyth saing off v paternoster v auez
and a


This crosse2 Imete xv


ys the' of our Lord Ih'u Crist and what day that a man or woman ther... or blesse hym ther wyth or bere hyt upon hym ther... no person to hurt the.. lyght see nor wyndys nor ... shall' not hurt the nor ... will be



1 Dr. Atkinson, Forty Years in a Moorland Parish (Danby in Cleveland), pp. 94, 96. 8vo., Loudon, 1891.

2 In the margin a cross is drawn.

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