Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/355

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POPULAR SUPERSTITION

such a gift from God. The Kings of England first ventured to exercise this power when they upwards of two centuries and a half ago had possession of nearly the whole of France, and when Henry VI. had himself crowned at Paris as King of France." (Quoted by Rye, p. 151.)

This miscellaneous list of omens could be continued indefinitely. It is the purpose, however, of the present chapter to illustrate the generality of superstition rather than to record a complete list of beliefs. The people believed in angels who guarded or pursued the individual to destruction. The time was especially well provided with devil lore. Numerous contemporary devils of more than local fame are referred to in the old plays. Scot is detailed in his attack upon devil worship. Magic of all sorts was practised upon every hand. Palmistry, sooth-saying, various kinds of fortune-telling and divining all had their staunch adherents. The publication of almanacs containing forecasts of the weather, medical advice, and prognostications of various other kinds constituted a lucrative business.

Though Nash in The Terrors of Night violently attacks the theory of interpretation of dreams then in vogue, he was somewhat in advance of his time. It was well enough for him to say that "Anie meate that in the day time we eat against