Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/344

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THE ELIZABETHAN PEOPLE

numerable miscellany of omens, good, bad, and indifferent.

Raven's eggs were good for the ague. A large house spider swallowed alive in treacle was a sure cure. The salamander's skin would keep one from sun burning. Tumours could be removed by stroking with a dead man's hand. Carduus Benedictus was called the Holy or Blessed thistle from its supposed virtue as an antidote for poison. The Thracian stone when touched cured grief and melancholy. Feeding on snakes was supposed to recover youth. Amulets were believed in and constantly worn. There were rings to counteract enchantments, charms against the evil effects of thunder—for it was the mysterious thunder-stone precipitated by a clap that the Elizabethan feared, not the lightning. There were waistcoats rendered shot-proof by charms. The carbuncle had the power of expelling evil spirits. It was a sign of excellent good luck to have the martlet build its nest about the house. Gerard, though a scientist, does not hesitate to record the following facts in his herbal (p. 147): "The roots of the garden angelica is a singular remedy against poison, and against the plague, and all infections taken by evil and corrupt air; if you do but take a piece of the root, and hold it in your mouth, or chew the same between your teeth, it doth most