16 (7) GOOD FRIDAY LOAVES. In some parts

16 (7) GOOD FRIDAY LOAVES. In some parts of the country it used to be thought, probably is still thought, wise to retain a loaf baked on Good Friday, under the impression that it acts as a charm and a medicinal cure. A writer in The Gentleman s Magazine (1867) says on the subject of Suffolk superstitions: Calling at a cottage one day I saw a small loaf hanging up oddly in a corner of the house. I asked why it was placed there, and was told it was a Good Friday loaf a loaf baked on Good Friday; that it would never grow mouldy (and on inspecting it I certainly found it very dry) and that it was very serviceable against some diseases, the bloody flux being mentioned as an example. Some weeks afterwards I called again, with a friend, at the same house, and drew his attention to the loaf which was hanging in its accustomed corner. The owner of the house endeavoured to take the loaf down gently, but failing in the attempt, he gave a violent pull, and the precious loaf to his dismay was shivered to atoms; but in the catastrophe gave us further proofs of its extraordinary dryness. The old man collected the fragments and hung them up in a paper bag with all the more reverence on account of the good which the loaf, as he alleged, had done his son. The young man, having been seized with a slight attack of English cholera in the summer, secretly abscinded and ate a piece of the loaf, and when his family expressed astonishment at his rapid recovery, he explained the mystery by declaring that he had eaten of the Good Friday loaf, and had been cured by it. This is a curious instance of a religious festival day being regarded as able to impart a peculiar consecration to material substances. That the bread should not become mouldy is easily explained by its position; that it should cure cholera is just as easily understood, for the cure was faith-healing nothing more, nothing less. (8) PICKING UP SIXPENCES AT SMITHFIELD. On Good Fridays at St. Bartholomew s Church, Smithfield, there is a quaint ceremony conducted on a flat tombstone in the churchyard. A churchwarden places twenty-one new sixpences on the tombstone, and twenty-one widows come forward one by one, kneel, and pick up the coins. Afterwards each widow is presented with 2/6. The origin of this ceremony is said to be unknown, although it seems hardly likely that money should be paid out year by year without even a tradition as to its commencement. The surmise that the person who lies buried beneath the tombstone left money to be spent in this way see Sir Benjamin Stone s remarks in his Pictures of National Life and History only makes the absence of details all the more strange. (9) EASTER HOLIDAYS. By the law concerning holidays made in the time of King Alfred the Great, it was appointed that the week after Easter should be kept holy. From this we might safely presume on the true intention of the Church, namely a time of rejoicing in the spiritual sense. But in the long run rejoicing tends to assume one form, i.e. social festivity. Belithus tells us it was customary in some churches for the Bishops and Archbishops themselves to play with the inferior clergy at hand ball, and this, as Durand asserts, even on Easter Day itself. The Roman Church certainly erected a standard on Easter Day in token of Christ s victory, but it would perhaps be indulging fancy too far to suppose that Bishops and governors of churches who used to play at hand ball at this season, did it in a mystical way and with reference to the triumphal joy of this season. With nations in the state of civilisation in which Europe was found in the early

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15 ceremonie, but a very apostolick tradition. Pennant,

15 ceremonie, but a very apostolick tradition. Pennant, in his Welsh MS., says: At the delivery of the bread and wine at the Sacrament, several, before they receive the bread or cup, though held out to them, will flourish a little with their thumb, something like making the figure of the Cross. They do it (the women mostly) when they say their prayers on their first coming to church. Dalrymple, in his Travels in Spain, says that there not a woman gets into a coach to go a hundred yards, nor a postilion on his horse, without crossing themselves. Even the tops of tavern bills and the directions of letters are marked with Crosses. Among the Irish, when a woman milks her cow, she dips her fingers into the milk, with which she crosses the beast, and piously ejaculates a prayer, saying, Mary and our Lord preserve thee, until I come to thee again. But the origin of buns presents a little more difficulty. Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, following Mr Bryant s Antient Mythology, derives the Good Friday Bun from the sacred Cakes which were offered at the Arkite Temples, styled Boun, and presented every seventh day. Mr Bryant has also the following passage on this subject: The offerings which people in ancient times used to present to the Gods were generally purchased at the entrance of the Temple; especially every species of consecrated bread, which was denominated accordingly. One species of sacred bread which used to be offered to the Gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun. The Greeks, who changed the Nu final into a Sigma, expressed it in the nominative Bous, but in the accusative more truly Boun. Hesychius speaks of the Boun, and describes it a kind of cake with a representation of two horns. Julius Pollux mentions it after the same manner, a sort of cake with horns. Diogenes Laertius, speaking of the same offering being made by Empedocles, describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed. He offered one of the sacred Liba, called a Bouse, which was made of fine flour and honey. It is said of Cecrops that he first offered up this sort of sweet bread. Hence we may judge of the antiquity of the custom from the times to which Cecrops is referred. The prophet Jeremiah takes notice of this kind of offering when he is spealing of the Jewish women at Pathros, in Egypt, and of their base idolatry; in all which their husbands had encouraged them. The women, in their expostulation upon his rebuke, tell him: Did we make her cakes to worship her? Jerem. xliv. 18, 19; vii. 18. Small loaves of bread, Mr Hutchinson observes, peculiar in their form, being long and sharp at both ends, are called Buns. These he derives as above, and concludes: We only retain the name and form of the Boun, the sacred uses are no more. It would appear, therefore, as if we have to thank some Pagan custom for this Good Friday habit of eating hot cross buns, a custom which, like many others, was taken over by the Church and Christianised. In these days the religious significance has been completely lost, and the cross bun is no longer emblematical of a crucified God. It is an ecclesiastical remainder which has become a social habit.

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14 Battering with massive weapons a cock tied

14 Battering with massive weapons a cock tied to a stake, is an annual diversion, says an essayist in The Gentleman s Magazine (1737), that for time immemorial has prevailed in this island. A cock has the misfortune to be called in Latin by the same word which signifies a Frenchman. In our wars with France, in former ages, our ingenious forefathers, says he, invented this emblematical way of expressing their derision of, and resentment towards that nation; and poor Monsieur at the stake was pelted by men and boys in a very rough and hostile manner. He instances the same thought at Blenheim House, where, over the portals, is finely carved in stone the figure of a monstrous lion tearing to pieces a harmless cock, which may be justly called a pun in architecture. Considering the many ill consequences, the essayist goes on to observe, that attend this sport, I wonder it has so long subsisted among us. How many warm disputes and bloody quarrels has it occasioned among the surrounding mob! Numbers of arms, legs, and skulls have been broken by the missive weapons designed as destruction to the sufferer in the string. It is dangerous in some places to pass the streets on Shrove Tuesday; tis risking life and limbs to appear abroad that day. It was first introduced by way of contempt to the French, and to exasperate the minds of the people against that nation. Tis a low, mean expression of our rage, even in time of war. One part of this extract is singularly corroborated by a passage in the Newcastle Courant for March 15th, 1783. Leeds, March 11th, 1783: Tuesday se nnight, being Shrove-tide, as a person was amusing himself, along with several others, with the barbarous custom of throwing a cock, at Howdon Clough, near Birstall, the stick pitched upon the head of Jonathan Speight, a youth about thirteen years of age, and killed him on the spot. The man was committed to York Castle on Friday. The following from an old London newspaper shews that the sport of cock-throwing was then declining. The London Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, March 7th, 1759, says: Yesterday being Shrove Tuesday, the orders of the justices in the City and Liberty of Westminster were so well observed that few cocks were seen to be thrown at, so that it is hoped this barbarous custom will be left off. Now throwing was thus the spirit of the day in the old period; if they had not had enough fun from throwing at cocks, they pelted prostitutes and hounded them round the town. We can only conclude that throwing the pancake was a sort of kitchen expression of the sport of the season. (6) GOOD FRIDAY: Hot Cross Buns. Every Good Friday morning the baker does a brisk business in hot cross buns, probably with little interest in the origin of the custom, his eye being rather upon the number sold and the accruing profits. There are three points to be considered: they are the three words themselves buns, cross, and hot. The last mentioned seems to be a mark of modern taste and haste, for in past centuries they were cross buns pure and simple. To eat them piping hot out of the oven is an innovation of comparatively recent date. The sign of the Cross is easily accounted for, seeing it was part and parcel of the ritual of Roman Catholic worship. In a curious and rare book, entitled The Canterburian s Self-Conviction (1640), in the Scottish dialect, no place or printer s name to assist identification, is this passage: They avow that signing with the signe of the Cross at rysing or lying downe, at going out or coming in, at lighting of candles, closing of windowes, or any such action, is not only a pious and profitable

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13 humour of the day, although possibly in

13 humour of the day, although possibly in the earlier days of the Church such festivities were not so pronounced. Still, they could never have been entirely absent, for Brand informs us that the luxury and intemperance which prevailed were vestiges of the Roman Carnival. The modern pancake, translated from the history of the past, seems to suggest the old saying, Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. TOSSING THE PANCAKE. The custom of tossing the pancake on Shrove Tuesday is still kept up at Westminster School. It is interesting to compare the difference in details between the celebration in 1790 and 1910. Thus a writer in The Gentleman s Magazine 1790 says: The under clerk in the College enters the school, and, preceded by the beadle and other officers, throws a large pancake over the bar which divides the upper from the under school. A gentleman, who was formerly one of the masters of that school, confirmed the ancedote to me, with this alteration, that the cook of the seminary brought it into the school, and threw it over the curtain which separated the forms of the upper from those of the under scholars. I have heard of a similar custom at Eton school. In Sir Benjamin Stone s Pictures of National Life and History we read: The ceremony on Shrove Tuesday, though it has been modified slightly from time to time, has remained substantially unaltered for centuries. In the morning one of the vergers from the Abbey, bearing a silver mace, conducts the cook, who carries the pancake in a frying pan, into the great hall where all the boys are assembled. When the room was divided by a curtain, this was then drawn aside, and the cook threw the pancake over the bar towards the door, whereupon all the boys scrambled for it. Of late years only a few one representing each form chosen by the scholars themselves have taken part in the scramble. Going forward, the cook hurls the pancake aloft in the direction of the bar. If it goes clean over, the selected boys make a wild rush for it in an endeavour to catch it whole, and usually failing, then struggle for it on the floor. The one who secures it, or the biggest portion, is entitled to a guinea. The scrimmage is known as the greeze. To all appearance there is no great difference in the ceremony as contrasted with that of 1790, but the advent of an Abbey functionary is somewhat peculiar. The Eton custom is thus referred to by Sir Henry Ellis: The manuscript in the British Museum, Status Scholae Etonensis, A.D. 1560, mentions a custom of that school on Shrove Tuesday, of the boys being allowed to play from eight o clock for the whole day; and of the cook s coming in and fastening a pancake to a crow, which the young crows are calling upon, near it, at the school door. Die Martis Carnis-privii luditur ad horam octavam in totum diem: venit Coquus, affigit laganum Cornici, juxta illud pullis Corvorum invocantibus eum, ad ostium scholae. The crows generally have hatched their young at this season. A modern writer claims that pancakes as a food were first made in Catholic days to use up the eggs and lard that were interdicted during Lent; and because pancakes were an excellent stay to the appetite while the faithful had to wait long hours in church to be shrived by the priest in the confessional. Food made from stale eggs and interdicted lard was no doubt of a quality more useful for sport than digestion, but we shall have to look elsewhere for the origin of the throwing. Is it not to be found in the other sports which marked the old-time Pancake Tuesday? the cock-throwing, the chasing, the general horse play? Here is a picture of the festivities over 170 years ago:

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12 observe too, that on that day they

12 observe too, that on that day they also washed the Altars: so that the term in question may allude to that business. Here again one feels there is no other course open than to accept the word of the earlier authority. As to the events of the day, I cannot do better than transcribe a section from The Gentleman s Magazine for 1731: Thursday, April 15, beind Maunday Thursday, there was distributed at the Banquetting House, Whitehall, to forty-eight poor men, and forty-eight poorwomen (the king s age forty- eight) boiled beef and shoulders of mutton, and small bowls of ale, which is called dinner; after that, large wooden platters of fish and loaves, viz. undressed, one large old ling, and one large dried cod; twelve red herrings, and twelve white herrings, and four half quarter loaves. Each person had one platter of this provision after which was distributed to them shoes, stockings, linen and woollen cloth, and leathern bags, with one penny, two penny, three penny, and four penny pieces of silver, and shillings; to each about four pounds in value. His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York, Lord High Almoner, performed the annual ceremony of washing the feet of a certain number of poor in the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, which was formerly done by the kings themselves, in imitation of our Saviour s pattern of humility, etc. James the Second was the last king who performed this in person. But some Catholic monarchs still persevere in this pious act, even to the washing of beggars feet. In England, the king s Maundy is given at Westminster Abbey at a specially convened service, and those who receive it are carefully chosen from London parishes. (5) SHROVE TUESDAY. Shrove Tuesday, or as we know it to-day, Pancake Tuesday seems in the olden times to have been a season of merriment, horseplay, and cruelty, as if the participants were determined to have their fling ere Lent set in with its sombre feelings and proscription of joy. Prostitutes were hounded out of their dwellings with a view to segregation during the Lenten term; cock-throwing was indulged in, a cock being tied to a stake and pelted by the onlookers; and all kinds of rough games were played, the women and the men joining in the fun. The frying and eating of pancakes is apparently the only item left to us of this rather choice list of festivities. Taylor in his Jack-a-Lent (1630) gives the following curious account of the custom: Shrove-Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning all the whole kingdom is inquiet, but by that time the clocke strikes eleven, which (by the help of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, then there is a bell rung, cal d the Pancake-bell, the sound whereof makes thousands of people distracted, and forgetful either of manners or humanitie; then there is a thing called wheaten floure, which the cookes do mingle with water, eggs, spice, and other tragical, magical inchantments, and then they put it by little and little into a frying pan of boiling suet, where it makes a confused dismal hissing, (like the Lernean Snakes in the reeds of Acheron, Stix, or Phlegeton) until at last, by the skill of the Cooke, it is transformed into the forme of a Flip-Jack, cal d a Pancake, which ominous incantation the ignorant people doe devoure very greedily. The piety of such people would seem to have gone sadly astray, for Shrove is a word derived from shrive which means, to confess; and there was apparently little of that element in the

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11 The dying of St. Valentine s Day is

11 The dying of St. Valentine s Day is a testimony to the growth of a sense of restraint and fine feeling. But even this year (1910) in London one can see the old vulgar Valentine shown in shop windows. (3) SIMNEL SUNDAY. The fourth Sunday in Lent is in most Lancashire towns called Simnel Sunday, and Simnel cakes ornamental and rich cakes like those made at Xmas time are eaten. A writer in The Gentleman s Magazine (1867) informs us that from time beyond memory thousands of persons come from all parts to that town (Bury) to eat Simnels. Formerly, nearly every shop was open, with all the public-houses, quite in defiance of the law respecting the closing during service ; but of late years, through the improved state of public opinion, the disorderly scenes to which the custom gave rise have been partially amended. Efforts have been made to put a stop to the practice altogether, but in vain. This was forty years ago, and the trade in Bury Simnels, owing to quick and cheap transit, has practically put an end to the local celebrations. The origin of the word Simnel is in doubt. In Wright s Vocabularies it appears thus: Hic arlaecopus=symnelle. This form was in use during the fifteenth century. In the Dictionarius of John de Garlande, completed in Paris in the thirteenth century, it appears thus: Simeneus=placentae=simnels. Such cakes were stamped with the figure of Christ or of the Virgin. We can only conclude that as cakes witness the shewbread of the Hebrews have always occupied an important place in early forms of worship, there was a successful effort in the north to localise a Christianised form of celebration; for the mixture of joviality and religious austerity which characterised Simnel Sunday in past centuries is in keeping with the same display on other occasions in countries further south. (4) MAUNDAY THURSDAY (OR SHERE THURSDAY). There seems to be much dispute between antiquarians as to the origin of both Maunday and Shere, and of course the spelling has the usual vagaries. For instance The British Apollo (1709) says: Maunday is a corruption of the Latin word Mandatum, a command. The day is therefore so called, because as on that day our Saviour washed his disciples feet, to teach them the great duty of being humble. And therefore he gives them in command to do as he had done, to imitate their Master in all proper instances of condescension and humility. On the other hand Maunday Thursday, says a writer in The Gentleman s Magazine (1779), is the poor people s Thursday, from the Fr. maundier, to beg. The King s liberality to the poor on that Thursday in Lent [is at] a season when they are supposed to have lived very low. Maundiant is at this day in French a beggar. Which are we to believe? The preponderating weight of evidence seems to be in favour of the former. In reference to Shere, one authority says it is so called for that in old Fathers days the people would that day shere theyr hedes and clippe theyr berdes and pool theyr heedes, and so make them honest agenst Easter Day. But another writer in The Gentleman s Magazine (1779) finds a different origin for the word. Maundy Thursday, called by Collier, Shier Thursday, Cotgrave calls by a word of the same sound and import, Sheere Thursday. Perhaps, for I can only go upon conjecture, as sheer means purus mundus, it may allude to the washing of the disciples feet (John xiii. 5, et seq.), and be tantamount to clean. Please to

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10 When the doors were opened, the reeve

10 When the doors were opened, the reeve and some forty guests sat down to breakfast together. (2) VALENTINE S DAY (February 14th). Although St. Valentine s Day is only observed in a very few places in the United Kingdom, and tends towards a speedy disappearance, it is a custom which, for this reason, is specially worth notice, inasmuch as some of us who are by no means old can remember the days when the sending of Valentines by a certain section of society was quite a festival in itself almost as vigorous as the fashion of Xmas cards is at the moment. St. Valentine was a Christian Bishop, who is alleged to have suffered martyrdom in 271 A.D., on February 14th. Roman youths and maidens on this day were accustomed to select partners, and the Church, fulfilling its work of replacing heathen divinities by ecclesiastical saints, allotted the day to St. Valentine. Butler in his Lives of the Saints says: To abolish the heathen, lewd, superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honour of their goddess Februata Juno, on the 15th of February, several zealous Pastors substituted the names of Saints in billets given on that day. St. Frances de Sales severely forbad the custom of Valentines, or giving boys in writing the names of girls to be admired and attended on by them; and to abolish it, he changed it into giving billets with the names of certain Saints, for them to honour and imitate in a particular manner. Apparently the effort was not altogether successful, for the specimen Valentine verses that have come down to us from old English times, as well as some of the pictures which used to be flaunted in shop-windows in the last century, testify to the intimate connection between the Pagan idea and its attempted Christian reconstruction. St. Valentine, as a good man, can have no reason to thank the Church for its attentions to his name. 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 early rose, just at the break of day, Before the sun had chas d the stars away; A-field I went, amid the morning dew, To milk my kine (for so should house-wives do). Thee first I spied, and the first swain we see, In spite of Fortune, shall our true love be. Evidently the women-folk used to take Valentine s Day somewhat seriously. Witness the fol lowing from an old book the Connoisseur: Last Friday was Valentine Day, and the night before I got five bayleaves, and pinned four-of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed ate it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water: and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine. Would you think it, Mr Blossom was my man. I lay a-bed and shut my eyes all the morning till he came to our house; for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.

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9 DAYS AND SEASONS (1) CANDLEMAS DAY. As

9 DAYS AND SEASONS (1) CANDLEMAS DAY. As the celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, this day hardly needs the tracing of an origin, but the following from Brand is decidedly interesting: How this candle-bearing on Candlemas Day came first up, the author of our English Festival declareth in this manner: Somtyme, said 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 to hym for help, and for that they would speed the better of this knight, 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 second daie 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 there was a Pope that was called Sergius, and when he saw Christian people drawn 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 Christian 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, hopying for this reverence and worship, that they do to our Lady, to have a great rewarde in heaven. In some parts of the country, Scotland particularly, Candlemas has assumed a secular garb by becoming the first of the quarterly terms; and in Cornwall old customs of a slightly different character are kept up. I select from a London morning paper (1910) a few paragraphs relating to an ancient custom. CANDLEMAS CUSTOM. COLLECTING A RENT OF BREAD, BEER, BRAWN, AND CHEESE AT GODOLPHIN. This being Candlemas Day, the old Cornish manor house of Godolphin, now a farm-house, was visited, telegraphs our Penzance correspondent, by the reeve of the manor of Lamburne, who came to collect, with time-honoured ceremony, a rent-charge upon the estate. In the presence of a crowd of curious neighbours and sight-seers, the reeve knocked thrice upon the oaken door. I come, he cried, to demand my lord s just dues eight groats and a penny, a loaf, a cheese, a collar of brawn, and a jack of the best beer in the house. God save the King and the lord of the manor.

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8 the perforation of the stone is said

8 the perforation of the stone is said to possess even more virtues than the stone itself, and when Mr Rockefeller wishes to confer a particular favour upon someone, he gives him a small piece of this ribbon. But the great reason why superstitions persist is because they are, in part, doctrines about matters concerning which we as yet know little. Mental and occult influences are the staple commodities of most of those practices which modern science condemns as meaningless. Of these influences we are in partial ignorance, and until that ignorance is dissolved we shall always have the crystal gazer and the clairvoyant in our midst, despite the activity of the police. True, some of the remarkable coincidences related in solemn tones, amid breathless silence, are receiving their quietus at the hands of the expert in hypnotism and auto-suggestion; from this standpoint we may eventually be able to justify some of the stories about charms and amulets, as well as to develop a useful moral agency. But in regard to occult powers, especially what is known as black magic, we are still in darkness, mainly because those who are competent to investigate laugh the problems out of court as not worthy of attention. This is a pity, because, if there are any superstitions at all which have an origin that can be tested here and now, it is the group belonging to the occult section, dealing with the things in heaven and earth not dreamed of in our philosophy. In view of such discoveries as have been made by Lombroso and others, not so much in magic as in mental forces,it would appear very desirable to initiate enquiries into the so-called evil side of man s powers, the persistent tradition of which has come down from remote antiquity, and surrounding which are strange superstitions and nightmare stories. It is because men of all classes have some modified belief in these vicious powers that a kind of half probability is accorded to beliefs of a more innocent hue. To read the narratives of modern travellers in the East, men with no axe to grind, and not suffering from imagination, is to have one s curiosity awakened to the highest degree; for they tell us of powers to which there is no corresponding agency in the West. If early races in the same territory possessed the same powers, it is easy to understand the tenacity with which they held on to the beliefs in the supernatural as they understood it. Reviewing the whole subject, without prejudice, it seems to the present writer that the right attitude of mind towards the superstitions that are still operative is not one of mere condemnation, or lofty indifference; it should be one of sympathetic inquiry, for the psychological and scientific data available are of the highest interest; and just as astronomy arose out of astrology and chemistry out of alchemy, so from the occult world we may some day attain developments in mental science, equally distinctive and equally useful in the service of the race.

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7 This devout attitude is by no means

7 This devout attitude is by no means absent from the Protestant mind, ancient and modern. Quite logically, too; for, if there is an active Providence, that Providence must manifest itself in some outward and visible sign. Hence we find to-day what we find throughout history, that there are superstitions fostered by the religious disposition, and others that may be called social for want of a better term. They are accepted apart from any ecclesiastical creed. The faithful will agree that relics are good to be adored; the non-religionist has no opinion about relics, but he will carefully avoid walking under a ladder. Now we come to the most difficult question of all: why is it that some of the superstitions in the past persist in the present? Why do we, in an age of increasing knowledge, still retain some of our fears the offspring of ignorance? We can understand the perpetuation of a custom, even when its inner significance has gone, but a living superstition is a different thing. One reason must be sought in the fact that superstition has always been contagious. This is amusingly set forth by Bagehot in his Physics and Politics, although probably India contains more mysteries than he allowed: In Eothen there is a capital description of how every sort of European resident in the East even the shrewd merchant and the post-captain with his bright, wakeful eye of command comes soon to believe in witchcraft, and to assure you in confidence that there is really something in it; he has never seen anything convincing himself, but he has seen those who have seen those who have seen those who have seen; in fact he has lived in an atmosphere of infectious belief, and he has inhaled it. If this is true now, it must have been more profoundly true in past centuries. The presence everywhere of the same superstition, though in different forms, is a testimony to the power of contagious fears. Children brought up in the atmosphere of credulity do not often rise above it. White in his Selborne observes: It is the hardest thing in the world to shake off superstitious prejudices; they are sucked in as it were with our mother s milk; and, growing up with us at a time when they take the fastest hold and make the most lasting impressions, become so interwoven with our very constitutions, that the strongest sense is required to disengage ourselves from them. No wonder, therefore, that the lower people retain them their whole lives through, since their minds are not invigorated by a liberal education, and therefore not enabled to make any efforts adequate to the occasion. He adds that such a preamble seems to be necessary before he enters on the superstitions of his own district, lest he should be suspected of exaggeration in a recital of practices too gross for an enlightened age. But and this is a further reason for the persistence which is the object of our enquiry there is a superstitious mind, quite independent of education and training. One has already referred to Newman, who possessed as subtle an intellect as any man in the nineteenth century; there is Dr Johnson, who believed something bad would happen if he did not touch every post as he passed along the road or street; he had for some reason built that idea into his mind, and nothing could dislodge it. Take another instance, this time from a source where one would not expect it. J. D. Rockefeller, reputed to be the world s wealthiest man, is of Puritan or Nonconformist associations, and yet, according to a London journal which specialises in personal items, he pleads guilty to a pet superstition. For years he has carried an eagle stone in his pocket. This is a kind of hollow stone, containing in its cavity some concretions which rattle on shaking the stone. It is of a brownish tint, and is often carried by the eagle to its nest. Superstition ascribes wonderful virtue to these stones when actually found in the bird s nest. They are a charm against disaster, shipwreck, and other calamities. A ribbon passed through

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