St Cecilius, confessor, 211. St Clotildis or Clotilda, Queen of France, 545. St Lifard, abbot, near Orleans, 6th century. St Coemgen or Keivin, bishop and confessor in Ireland, 618. St Genesius, bishop and confessor, about 662.
Born. – Dr John Gregory, miscellaneous writer, 1724, Aberdeen; Dr James Hutton, one of the founders of geology, 1726, Edinburgh; Robert Tannahill, Scottish poet, 1774, Paisley.
Died. – Admiral Opdam, blown up at sea, 1665.
SUPERSTITIONS ABOUT DISEASES.
Perhaps under this head may be classes the notion that a Galvanic ring, as it is called, worn on the finger, will cure rheumatism. One sometimes sees people with a clumsy-looking silver ring which has a piece of copper let into the inside, and this, though in constant contact throughout, is supposed (aided by the moisture of the hand) to keep up a gentle, but continual galvanic current, and so to alleviate or remove rheumatism.
This notion has an air of science about it which may perhaps redeem it from the character of mere superstition; but the following case can put in no such claim. I recollect that when I was a boy a person came to my father (a clergyman), and asked for a ‘sacramental shilling,’ i.e. one out of the alms collected at the Holy Communion, to be made into a ring, and worn as a cure for epilepsy. He naturally declined to give one for ‘superstitious uses,’ and no doubt was thought very cruel by the unfortunate applicant.*
Ague [fever with shivering] is a disease about which various strange notions are prevalent. One is that it cannot be cured by a regular doctor – it is out of their reach altogether, and can only be touched by some old woman’s nostrum. It is frequently treated with spiders and cobwebs.1 These, indeed, are said to contain arsenic; and, if so, there may be a touch of truth in the treatment. Fright is also looked upon as a cure for ague. I suppose that, on the principle that similia similibus curantur, it is imagined that the shaking induced by the fright will counteract and destroy the shaking of the ague fit. An old woman has told me that she was actually cured in this manner when she was young. She had had ague for a long time, and nothing would cure it. Now it happened that she had a fat pig in the sty, and a fat pig is an important personage in a poor man’s establishment. Well aware of the importance of piggy in her eyes, and determined to give her as great a shock as possible, her husband came to her with a very long face as she was tottering down stairs one day, and told her that the pig was dead. Horror at this fearful news overcame all other feelings; she forgot all about her ague, and hurried to the scene of the catastrophe, where she found to her great relief that the pig was alive and well; but the fright had done its work, and from that day to this (she must be about eighty years old) she has never had a touch of the ague, though she has resided on the same spot.
Equally strange are some of the notions about smallpox. Fried mice are relied on as a specific for it, and I am afraid that it is considered necessary that they should be fried alive.
With respect to whooping-cough, again, it is believed that if you ask a person riding on a piebald horse what to do for it, his recommendation will be successful if attended to. My grandfather at one time used always to ride a piebald horse, and he had frequently been stopped by people asking for a cure for whooping-cough. His invariable answer was, ‘Patience and water-gruel;’ perhaps, upon the whole, the best advice that could be given.
Earrings are considered to be a cure for sore eyes, and perhaps they may be useful so long as the ear is sore, the ring acting as a mild seton; but their efficacy is believed in even after the ear has healed.
Warts are another thing expected to be cured by charms. A gentleman well known to me, states that, when he was a boy, the landlady of an inn where he happened to be took compassion on his warty hands, and undertook to cure them by rubbing them with bacon. It was necessary, however, that the bacon should be stolen; so the good lady took it secretly from her own larder, which was supposed to answer the condition sufficiently. If I recollect rightly, the warts remained as bad as ever, which was perhaps due to the bacon not having been bonâ fide stolen.
I do not know whether landladies in general are supposed to have a special faculty against warts; but one, a near neighbour of mine, has the credit of being able to charm them away by counting them. I have been told by boys that she has actually done so for them, and that the warts have disappeared. I have no reason to think that they were telling me a downright lie, but suppose that their imagination must have been strong to overcome even such horny things as warts. A mere coincidence would have been almost more remarkable.
An old cottager in Morayshire, who had long been bed-rid, was charitably visited by a neighbouring lady, much given to the administration of favourite medicines. One day she left a bolus [large pill-like item] for him, from which she expected strengthening effects, and she called next day to inquire for her patient, as usual.
‘Well, John, you would take the medicine I left with you?’
‘Oh, no, ma’am,’ replied John; ‘it wadna gang east.’
The Scotch, it must be understood, are accustomed to be precise about the ‘airts’ or cardinal points, and generally direct you to places in that way. This poor old fellow, constantly lying on one side, had come to have a geographical idea of the direction which anything took in passing into his gullet.
1 Mrs Delany, in a letter dated March 1, 1744, gives these two infallable recipes for ague:–
1st. Pounded ginger, made into a paste with brandy, spread on sheep’s leather, and a plaister of it laid over the navel.
2nd. A spider put into a goose-quill, well sealed and secured, and hung about the child’s neck as low as the pit of his stomach. Either of these I am assured will give ease. – Probatum est.
Upon this Lady Llanover notes:- ‘Although the prescription of the spider in the quill will probably only create amusement from its apparent absurdity, considered merely as an old charm, yet there is no doubt of the medicinal virtue of spiders and their webs, which have been long known to the Celtic inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland’ (see Notes and Queries, No. 242, where particulars are given of the efficacy of spiders’ webs, rolled up like a pill, and swallowed when the ague fit is coming on). Dr Graham (in his Domestic Medicine) prescribed spiders’ webs for ague and intermittent fever, and also names powder made of spiders given for the ague; and mentions his knowledge of a spider having been sewn up in a rag and worn as a periapt round the neck to charm away the ague.
* These rings are similar in nature to the Thebal Amulets described in a ‘Scots Lore’ article.
On this Day in Other Sources.
Immediately before the Reformation, and for some time after it, the habits of the lower orders in Glasgow appear to have been far from exemplary – the gentler sex being apparently worse than the men. In 1589 we find the town council specially convened “becauss of the manifauld blaspemies and evill wordis vsst be sindrie wemen;” and as a preventative measure, “they haif concludit that ane pair joges* be set upp vpon the goves, gangand up with thrie or four fut stepis.”1
– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.
1 Minute of Council, 3d June, 1589.
* The “joges” or jougs were like manacles criminals would be locked into in a public setting, see the 1645 entry in ‘Domestic Annals’ (pp.189-215), sometimes with a collar too, as per ‘Scots Lore’ (p.329).
When the brother of the Queen Consort, the Duke of Holstein, visited Edinburgh in March, 1593, and as Moyse tells us, “was received and welcomed very gladly by Her Majesty, and used every way like a prince,” after sundry entertainments at Holyrood, Ravensheugh, and elsewhere, a grand banquet was given him in the house of the late Bailie Macmorran by the city of Edinburgh. The King and Queen were present, “with great solemnity and merriness,” according to Birrel. On the 3rd of June the Duke embarked at Leith, under a salute of sixty pieces of cannon from the bulwarks, and departed with his gifts, to wit – 1,000 five-pound pieces and 1,000 crowns, a hat and string valued at 12,000 pounds (Scots?), and many rich chains and jewels.
– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.102-111.
On the 3rd of June  thereafter, [John Adolph, the Duke of Holstein,] shipped at Leith for his return home, with a volley of 100 great shot of canon from the bulwarks of Leith.
– Historical Works, pp.340-416.
June 3 . – ‘… there was a fiery dragon, both great and long, appeared to come from the south to the north, spouting fire from her, half an hour after the going to of the sun.’ – Cal.
– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.
In 1751 the Broomielaw Croft was chiefly in cornfields, and the portion of it facing the river was covered with the remains of an old wood. So late as the beginning of the present century broom bushes were growing on a rocky elevation at the foot of Robertson Street.1 What is now Jamaica Street was then an enclosed field. It is described in an advertisement in the Glasgow Courant of 3d June, 1751, as “that field belonging to the Merchants’ House beautifully situated between the Broomielaw on the south, and the West Street [Argyll Street] on the north,” and intimation is made that the field is “now planned out in a large open street of 45 feet wide, with convenient lots of ground for building upon.” This was what became Jamaica Street, but with an increased breadth. The first house built on it was the mansion erected in 1761 by Mr. George Buchanan, which afterwards became the property of Mr. Black of Clairmont. Mr. Black occupied it as his winter residence, and went out to Clairmont – now part of the city – to spend the summer in the country.
– Old Glasgow, pp.150-161.
1 Rambling Recollections of Glasgow, by “Nestor,” 1879.
Dr, MacLeod,* the best of living Gaelic scholars, printed one old tale, somewhat altered, with a moral added, in his ‘Leabhar nan Cnoc,’ in 1834, but even his efforts to persevere and use this old lore were unsuccessful.
– Popular Tales, Vol. 1, pp.viii-xxiii.
* Reverend Norman Macleod, 3 June 1812 – 16 June 1872.
Bailie David Willox.
David Willox was born on the 3rd June, 1845, in what was then the rural village of Parkhead, but now included within the boundaries of Glasgow. His father was a handloom weaver. David Willox, went to work in Miller’s print works, Springfield Road, where he received three shillings a week. He later worked as a foreman at Beardmore’s Parkhead Forge, before going on to establish his own chemical works. Mr. Willox enjoyed reading books and was known to borrow books wherever he could get them. He went on to occupy a seat at the Council Board, Mr. Willox sat for the Whitevale or 4th Ward, which included Parkhead. As an author, but still more as a poet, Mr. Willox has attained a considerable literary position. He was the author of Reminiscences Of Parkhead Its People And Pastimes, which provides a valuable insight into the history of Parkhead. David Willox was part of the British bowling team that played against the Ontario Bowling Association in 1905. And was a member of Belvidere Bowling Club. He died on the 17th December 1927 aged 82 years old.
– Glasgow’s Eastern Necropolis. (Guest Article)