Imatges de pÓgina

it will not, however, be amiss, to relate what is said concerning Herodotus, Cœlius, after Plato and Cicero, in the third book of his Offices. This Gyges, after a great flood, passed into a very deep cavity in the earth, where having found in the belly of a brazen horse, with a large aperture in it, a human body of enormous size, he pulled from off one of the fingers a ring of surprising virtue; for the stone on the collet rendered him who wore it invisible, when the collet was turned towards the palm of the hand, so that the party could see, without being seen, all manner of persons and things. Gyges, having made trial of its efficacy, bethought himself that it would be a means for ascending the throne of Lydia, and for gaining the Queen by it. He succeeded in his designs, having killed Candaules, her husband. The dead body this ring belonged to was that of an ancient Brahman, who, in his time, was chief of that sect.

The rings of the ancients often served for seals. Alexander the Great, after the death and defeat of Darius, used his ring for sealing the letters he sent into Asia, and his own for those he sent to Europe. It is customary in Rome for the bridegroom to send the bride, before marriage, a ring of iron, without either stone or collet, to denote how lasting their union ought to be, and the frugality they were to observe together; but luxury herein soon gained ground, and there was a necessity for moderating it. Caius Marius did not wear one of gold till his third consulship; and Tiberius, as Suetonius says, made some regulations in the authority of wearing rings; for, besides the liberty of birth, he required a considerable revenue, both on the father and grandfather's side.

In a Polyglot dictionary, published in the year 1625, by John Minshew, our attention was attracted by the following observations, under the article “RING FINGER.” -Vetus versiculus singulis digitis Annulum trebuens Miles. Mercator. Stultus. Maritus. Amator. Pollici adscribitur Militi, seu Doctor. Mercatorem á pollice secundum, stultorum, tertium. Nuptorum vel studiosorum quartum. Amatorum ultimum.”

By which it appears, that the fingers on which annuli were anciently worn were directed by the calling, or peculiarity of the party. Were it

A soldier, or doctor, to him was assigned the thumb.
A sailor, the finger next the thumb.

A fool, the middle finger.

A married or diligent person, the fourth or ring finger.
A lover, the last or little finger.

The medicinal or curative power of rings are numerous and, as a matter of course, founded on imaginary qualities. Thus the wedding ring rubbing upon that little abscess called the stye, which is frequently seen on the tarsi of the eyes, is said to remove it. Certain rings are worn as' talismans, either on the fingers or suspended from the neck; the efficacy of which may be referred to the effects usually produced by these charms.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

ASTROLOGERS, among other artifices, have used their best endeavours, and employed all the rules of their art, to render those years of our age, which they call climacterics, dangerous and formidable.

The word climacteric is derived from the Greek, which means by a scale or ladder, and implies a critical year, or a period in a man's age, wherein, accord ing to astrological juggling, there is some notable alteration to arise in the body, and a person stands in great danger of death. The first climacteric is the seventh year of a man's life; the others are multiples of the first, as 21, 49, 56, 63, and 84, which two last are called the grand climacterics and the danger more certain. The foundation of this opinion is accounted for by Mark Ficinus as follows:-There is a year, he tells us, assigned for each planet to rule over the body of a man, each of his turn; now Saturn being the most maleficient (malignant) planet of all, every seventh


year, which falls to its lot, becomes very dangerous; especially those of sixty-three and eighty-four, when the person is already advanced in years. According to this doctrine, some hold every seventh year an established climacteric; but others only allow the title to those produced by multiplication of the climacterical space by an odd number, 3, 5, 7, 9, &c. Others observe every ninth year as a climacteric.

Climacteric years are pretended, by some, to be fatal to political bodies, which, perhaps, may be granted, when they are proved to be so more than to natural ones; for it must be obvious that the reason of such danger can by no means be discovered, nor the relation it can have with any other of the numbers above mentioned.

Though this opinion has a great deal of antiquity on its side; Aulus Gellius says-it was borrowed from the Chaldeans, who possibly might receive it from Pythagoras, whose philosophy teemed much in numbera, and who imagined a very extraordinary virtue in the number 7. The principal authors on climacterics are-Plato, Cicero, Macrobius, Aulus Gellius. Among the ancients-Argal, Magirus, and Solmatheus. Among the moderns-St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, Beda and Boethius, all countenance the opinion.

There is a work extant, though rather scarce, by Hevelius, under the title of Annus Climactericus, wherein he describes the loss he sustained by his observatory, &c. being burnt; wh ch it would appear happened in his grand climacteric, of which he was extremely apprehensive.

[ocr errors]

Astrologers have also brought under their inspection and controul the days of the year, which they have presumed to divide into lucky and unlucky days; calling even the sacred scriptures, and the common belief of christians, in former ages, to their assistance for this purpose. They pretend that the fourteenth day of the first month was a blessed day among the Israelites, authorised, as they pretend, by the several passages out of Exodus, v. 18:


In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day at even," v. 40. Now, the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years,

41. "And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."

42. "It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt; that is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel, in their generations."

51. "And it came to pass, the self same day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies." Also Leviticus, chap. 23, v. 5. "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even, is the Lord's passover." Numbers, chap. 28, v. 16. "Four hundred and thirty years being expired of their dwelling in Egypt, even in the self same day they departed thence."

With regard to evil days and times, Astrologers refer to Amos. chap. 5, v. 13.

[ocr errors]

Therefore, the pru

« AnteriorContinua »