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age. He remembers all the circumstances of the death and resurrection of Christ, the saints that arose with him, the composing of the Apostle's creed, their preaching and dispersion; and is himself a very grave and holy person. This is the substance of Matthew Paris's account, who was himself a monk of St. Albans, and was living at the time when this Armenian archbishop made the above relation. Since his time several impostors have appeared at intervals under the name and character of the Wandering Jew. See Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible; and the Turkish Spy, vol. ii. b. iii. lett. 1.
I remember to have seen one of these impostors some years ago in the north of England who made a very hermit-like appearance, and went up and down the streets of Newcastle with a long train of boys at his heels, muttering, "Poor John alone, alone! poor John alone!" I thought he pronounced his name in a manner singularly plaintive.
It seems hardly credible in this enlightened age that so gross an error in natural history could so long have prevailed, as that the barnacle, a well-known kind of shell-fish, which is found sticking on the bottoms of ships, should, when broken off, become a species of goose. Old writers, of the first credit in other respects, have fallen into this mistaken and ridiculous notion; and we find no less an authority than Holinshed gravely declaring that with his own eyes he saw the feathers of these barnacles "hang out of the shell at least two inches." It were unnecessary to add that so palpable an error merits no serious confutation. Steevens has favoured us with some curious extracts on this head. The first is from Hall's Virgidemiarum, lib. iv. Sat. 2:
"The Scottish barnacle, if I might choose,
Otherwise "Poor Jew alone." But Sir William Musgrave, Bart., had a portrait of him inscribed "Poor Joe alone!" This corresponds with his name in the above account.
So likewise Marston, in his Malecontent, 1604:
"Like your Scotch barnacle, now a block, Instantly a worm, and presently a great goose."
"There are," says Gerard, in his Herbal, edit. 1597, p. 1391, "in the north parts of Scotland certaine trees, whereon do grow shellfishes, &c. &c., which falling into the water, do become fowls, whom we call barnacles; in the north of England, brant geese; and in Lancashire, tree geese, &c."
PENNANT tells us in his Zoology, iii. 182, edit. 1776, that on each side beyond the gills of a hadock is a large black spot. Superstition assigns this mark to the impression St. Peter left with his finger and thumb when he took the tribute out of the mouth of a fish of this species, which has been continued to the whole race of hadocks ever since that miracle.
'But superstitious haddock, which appear
"Haddock has spots on either side, which are said to be marks of St. Peter's fingers, when he catched that fish for the tribute." Metellus his Dialogues, &c., 8vo. Lond. 1693,
"O superstitious dainty, Peter's fish,
How com'st thou here to make so godly dish?"
THE same author, ibid. p. 221, informs us, that " superstition hath made the doree rival to the hadock for the honour of having been the fish out of whose mouth St. Peter took the tribute-money, leaving on its sides those incontestible proofs of the identity of the fish, the marks of his finger and thumb."
Is is rather difficult at this time to determine on which part
to decide the dispute; for the doree likewise asserts an origin of its spots of a similar nature, but of a much earlier date than the former. St. Christopher, in wading through an arm of the sea, having caught a fish of this kind en passant, as an eternal memorial of the fact left the impression on its sides to be transmitted to all posterity.
THERE is a superstition remaining among the vulgar concerning the ass, that the marks on the shoulders of that useful and much-injured animal were given to it as memorials that our Saviour rode upon an ass. "The asse," says Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, p. 282, "having a peculiar mark of a crosse made by a black list down his back, and another athwart or at right angles down his shoulders, common opinion ascribes this figure unto a peculiar signation; since that beast had the honour to bear our Saviour on his back."
A friend of the editor, writing to him in 1819, says: "There is a superstition in the North Riding of Yorkshire, that the streak across the shoulders of the ass was in consequence of Balaam's striking it, and as a reproof to him and memento of his conduct."
["The popular belief as to the origin of the mark across the back of the ass is mentioned by Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, and, from whatever cause it may have arisen, it is certain that the hairs taken from the part of the animal so marked, are held in high estimation as a cure for the hooping-cough. In this metropolis, at least so lately as 1842, an elderly lady advised a friend who had a child dangerously ill with that complaint, to procure three such hairs, and hang them round the neck of the sufferer in a muslin bag. It was added, that the animal from whom the hairs are taken for this purpose is never worth anything afterwards, and, consequently, great difficulty would be experienced in procuring
His history is in his name, Xporopopos, being said to have carried our Saviour, when a child, over an arm of the sea.
them; and, further, that it was essential to the success of the charm, that the sex of the animal, from whom the hairs were to be procured, should be the contrary to that of the party to be cured by them."-Athenæum.]
BARRINGTON, in his Observations on the Ancient Statutes, p. 154, note, speaking of the curfew, observes that there is a general vulgar error, that it is not lawful to go about with a dark lantern. All popular errors, he adds, have some foundation; and the regulation of the curfew may possibly have been the occasion of this. But ibid. p. 474, Barrington derives this notion from Guy Fawkes's dark lantern in the Gunpowder Plot.
THAT BEARS FORM THEIR CUBS INTO SHAPE BY LICKING THEM.
"IN natural history, I shall here gainsay that gross opinion, that the whelps of bears are, at first littering, without all form or fashion, and nothing but a little congealed blood, or lump of flesh, which afterwards the dam shapeth by licking, yet is the truth most evidently otherwise, as by the eye-witness of Joachimus Rheticus, Gesner, and others, it hath been proved. And herein, as in many other fabulous narrations of this nature (in which experience checks report) may be justly put that of Lucretius,—
'Quid nobis certius ipsis
Sensibus esse potest? quî vera ac falsa notemus ?'
Sir Thomas Browne places this among his Vulgar Errors; but Alexander Ross, in his Refutation of Dr. Browne's Vulgar
A Brief Natural History, &c., with Refutations of Vulgar Errours, by Eugenius Philalethes, 8vo. Lond. 1669, p. 87.
Errors, at the end of his Arcana Microcosmi, 1652, p. 115, affirms that "the bears send forth their young ones deformed and unshaped to the sight, by reason of the thick membran in which they are wrapt, which also is covered over with so mucous and flegmatick matter, which the dam contracts in the winter time, lying in hollow caves, without motion, that to the eye it looks like an unformed lump. This mucosity is licked away by the dam, and the membran broken; and so that which before seemed to be informed, appears now in its right shape. This is all that the ancients meant, as appears by Aristotle (Animal. lib. vi. c. 31), who says that, in some manner, the young bear is for a while rude and without shape."
OSTRICHES EATING AND DIGESTING IRON.
ALEXANDER Ross, in the work just quoted, p. 141, says: "But Dr. Browne denies this for these reasons (book iii. c. 22): because Aristotle and Oppian are silent in this singularity. 2. Pliny speaketh of its wonderful digestion. 3. Ælian mentions not iron. 4. Leo Africanus speaks diminutively. 5. Fernelius extenuates it, and Riolanus denies it. 6. Albertus Magnus refutes it. 7. Aldrovandus saw an ostrich swallow iron, which excluded it again undigested. Ans. Aristotle's, Oppian's, and Ælian's silence are of no force; for arguments taken from a negative authority were never held of any validity. Many things are omitted by them which yet are true. It is sufficient that we have eye-witnesses to confirm this truth. As for Pliny, he saith plainly that it concocteth whatsoever it eateth. Now the doctor acknowledgeth it eats iron; ergo, according to Pliny, it concocts iron. Africanus tells us that it devours iron. And Fernelius is so far from extenuating the matter, that he plainly affirms it, and shows that this concoction is performed by the nature of its whole essence. As for Riolanus, his denial without ground we regard not. Albertus Magnus speaks not of iron, but of stones which it swallows, and excludes again without nutriment. As for Aldrovandus, I deny not but he might see one ostrich which excluded his iron undigested; but one swallow makes no summer."