Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Item of the Day: A Provincial Glossary (1790)

Full Title: A Provincial Glossary; with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitutions. By Francis Grose, Esq. F.A.S. The Second Edition, Corrected, and Greatly Enlarged. London: Printed for S. Hooper, 1790.

POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS

CHARMS and CEREMONIES for Knowing Future Events.

Any person fasting on Midsummer eve, and sitting in the church porch, will at midnight see the spirits of the persons of that parish, who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order and succession in which they will die. One of the watchers, there being several in company, fell into a sound sleep so that he could not be waked: whilst in this state, his ghost or spirit was seen by the rest of his companions, knocking at the church door.

Any unmarried woman fasting on Midsummer eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down, as if going to eat, the street door being left open -- the person whom she is afterwards to marry will come into the room, and drink to her by bowing; and afterwards filling the glass, will leave it on the table, and, making another bow, retire.

On St. Agnes' night, 21st of January, take a row of pins, and pull out every one, one after another, saying a Pater-noster on sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall marry.

Another method to see a future spouse in a dream: -- The party enquiring must lie in a different county from that in which he commonly resides; and, on going to bed, must knit the left garter about the right-legged stocking, letting the other garter and stocking alone; and, as you rehearse the following verses, at every common knit a knot:

This knot I knit,
To know the thing I know not yet;
That I may see
The man (woman) that shall my husband (wife) be;
How he goes, and what he wears,
And what he does all days and years.

Accordingly in a dream, he will appear, with the insignia of his trade or profession.

Another, performed by charming the Moon, thus: -- At the first appearance of the New Moon, immediately after the new year's day (though some say any other New Moon is as good), go out in the evening, and stand over the spars of a gate or a stile, and, looking on the Moon, repeat the following lines:

All hail to the Moon! all hail to thee!
I prithee, good Moon, reveal to me,
This night, who my husband (wife) must be.

The person must presently after go to bed, when they will dream of the person destined for their future husband or wife.

A slice of the bride-cake, thrice drawn through the wedding ring, and laid under the head of an unmarried man or woman, will make them dream of their future wife or husband. The same is practiced in the North with a piece of the groaning cheese.

To discover a thief by the sieve and sheers: -- Stick the points of the sheers in the wood of the sieve, and let two persons support it, balanced upright, with their two fingers: then read a certain chapter in the Bible, and afterwards ask St. Peter and St. Paul, if A. or B. is the thief, naming all the persons you suspect. On naming the real thief, the sieve will turn suddenly round about.

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