It would perplex the keenest ethnologist to disentangle the ravelled skein of an ordinary East Anglian pedigree. What Defoe says of the Englishman in general lacks no point when applied to the Suffolker: “Fate jumbled them together, Heaven knows how. Whate’er they were, they’re true-born English now”.
Something may be discoverable by craniology, trichology, odontology, or siagonology, which is the science of jawbones, not, however, by the present generation. There is a funny little black-haired, high-cheekboned type existing sporadically in different parts of the county, perhaps rather more abundantly at the north-west comer, which has a suggestion of the Celt, or even of an earlier race. Soil, no doubt, has played, and is still playing, its part in modifications of character, colour and contour. The High Suffolker, to my mind, is like his native clay, comparatively slow and unimpressionable, steadfast in likes and dislikes, loves and hates, hard to be convinced and impossible to be coerced, somewhat given to suspicion, capable of great physical endurance and of acts involving painful self-sacrifice. The men on the lighter soils are also in a way similar to their sands, more excitable, with an evanescence of feeling when the exciting cause ceases to operate, superior in alacrity of body and mind, but more apt to be fickle. The neglect of education in past times has rendered both very liable to be deluded by those who are hardly better informed than themselves, the itinerant apostles of a kind of socialism which, if followed out, would whelm teacher and disciple in a common and undistinguishable ruin. High Predestinarian doctrine, chiefly of the Particular Baptist type, seems to flourish more on the heavy soils, while the sudden conversions of various forms of Methodism have been more frequent on the sands and gravels. This, however, is but a rough estimate. There are many exceptions to the best rules, and these are but tentative.
Surnames will help us somewhat in classification, but we must be very careful as to definite conclusions. Such as we have in common with Wales may be unhesitatingly pronounced to be later importations. A recent theory about the Roman origin of some of our surnames is barely credible, and the names are capable of a much more ready and ignoble derivation than that which would trace their bearers to consuls, praetors and wearers of the imperial purple. To such an extent did one East Anglian ethnologist carry his doctrine, that he spoke of the family of Fabb as descended from the Fabii, tracing to the present day that special quality which made the great Dictator the saviour of his country:
Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem
Certain Christian names, female as well as male, are of Roman origin. When an unfortunate child had to be known by his mother’s name in consequence of illegitimate birth, this classical name would become his surname, perhaps with ‘s or son attached to it. In the former case the assumed surname bears a strong, but, as it seems to me, delusive resemblance to the nomen of a Roman gens. We do not find surnames of Roman origin when surnames first crop up in our annals.
The main branches of surnames, local, professional, qualitative, would not be in earlier times of that permanence which in these days pertains to them. At first the local surname told its own story, and the stranger from “down in the shires” appropriately bore the name of the county, town, or village from which he had wandered. But though in many cases these have remained, in many cases they have passed away under the influence of some more potent mark of distinction. Sometimes, too, they merely denote a temporary sojourn in a strange land, the phenomenon of having visited a distant town being quite enough to fix the name of the place on the visitor. Thus, in a Lancashire dale at the beginning of the century there was a man commonly called “London George”, being the only parishioner who had visited the Metropolis. So when we find Kent, Wiltshire, Darby, Boston, Lincoln, Bristow, Rye, Dover, Lancaster, etc., there may have been only a short residence in those places, whereas in the case of some less known-Spalding, Brighton, Wing (Rutland), Littlebury, Fosdike, Leverton, Kingsbury-it may be in greater likelihood a case of actual migration from the special parish. There are undoubted importations from the North – Ettridge, which has passed into Etheridge, Elliott, and others. Where a man’s occupation did not distinguish him from his fellows, these names and the like would be pretty sure to stick, but their light would pale before the brilliancy of a designation which attributed to a man some special skill or knowledge. John Barton, if there were two or three in a parish, would cease to be the name of one who was of note as a scrivener or a parmenter-that is, a preparer of parchments. Thus, local surnames afford but a feeble and uncertain flicker for our guidance. Before passing from them, we may observe that the surnames corresponding to the names of Suffolk villages are very often found about fifteen or twenty miles from those villages.
There is also a large class of minor local names; that is to say, names from special parts of a village. The names Curzon and Cruso, de Crucione, from a cross-way, are rare in Suffolk, if they exist, the common name Cross being the form almost invariably assumed. Church, Churchyard, Chapel (not Nonconformist, of course), Styles, Stokes, Pitt, Deeks, Pinfold, Hills (which in genuine Suffolk of later days for some occult reason assumes a plural form), Briggs, Halls (probably a false plural of Holl, a ditch)-in none of these and the like does there show a gleam of illumination as to origin. The only word for a path in which I can detect anything of an ante-Saxon savour has, singularly enough, no corresponding surname. It is, I regret to say, best known in its present exceedingly debased form, “causeway”, but the vernacular “carnsey” for a raised footway of stones certainly suggests the Celtic cairn.
There are a few local names in the county which are French, pure and simple-De Caux, Duvall, Dupont, etc. So far as one can judge from their absence from lists of fifteenth-century wills, they are importations from France still partly in the sixteenth century, but more in the seventeenth, when for many years before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes there had been a constant stream of Huguenot refugees into England. Especially the colonies at Norwich and at Thorney in Cambridgeshire may be mentioned as constantly sending forth offshoots into the adjoining counties. To these names Durrant is an exception, existing before the Huguenot troubles. Such a name as De Bosco would turn into Boys, and so into Boyce, dropping the preposition with the Latin form.
The trade names are even less trustworthy. Of course, a lad very often followed his father’s calling, which he would be taught for nothing. Otherwise the name of his new calling would get hold of him, and thus sometimes we find a man with two surnames, as Foxe’s “John Cook, als Belringer”. I suppose that by the fifteenth century there began to be a greater fixity about trade surnames, and the incongruity of calling a man who was a butcher Richard Barber, because his father was a barber, was less severely felt. There are a few double forms for the same occupation, as Feavier (in multitudinous varieties of spelling) and Smith, Chenery and Ashman. Strowlger (astrologer), which sometimes crosses to the north of the Stour, but is mainly an Essex name, and Wiseman, tell of the mighty powers supposed to be conserved in some village seer. Seaman, Seago, Ship, Botwright, Owner, and Skipper, all belong to the coast, and speak for themselves. The last hails from Holland direct. Entirely overshadowing all these in ethnological importance are Thurkettle in all its varieties, down to “Threadgold”, etc., and Raven, which has remained untouched. The fortunate bearers of these names may claim by constant male descent their antiquity as Danes, though an intimate acquaintance with their invading ancestors would hardly conduce to their gratification. Algar and Godbold have. a good old Saxon ring about them. The earliest form of Aldous which I have found is Eldhous, the contrary of the North-Country Newbiggin. The name has been provokingly allowed to degenerate into Aldis, just as a qualitative name, Laughter118, possibly given to a man who was much on the grin, has turned into Larter, and the trade name Taverner into Tabner.
Such names as Pope and Abbot are common in Suffolk. Cardinall belongs more to Essex. Duke, Earl and Lord, Knight and Squire, Steward, Setchell (a corruption of Seneschall), Bailey, tell in different ways of positions of trust under men of high degree. Arcedeckne was lately a well-known name amongst us, and many Bishops exercise oversight of a more or less ecclesiastical character.
The qualitative names, as I venture to call those which spring from personal peculiarity, must have been very troublesome-before surnames became fixed. A short man might have a tall son, and the father’s name become an annoyance to his descendant, who might be called High, Tall not existing as a surname. Blunt (blond) hardly remains, but the everyday Brown is everywhere, and very often unchanged in colour. Jolly and Sadd may be found, like Joy and Sorrow, separated by a small interval. The names from animals and birds are much the same in Suffolk as elsewhere, and do not present themselves in abundance in the earlier wills. They may have arisen from nicknames which had adhesive power in proportion to their appropriateness.
Dialect is no doubt auxiliary to ethnology, but, like all things human, it is subject to change, and a Suffolk peasant of to-day, an old man, uncontaminated by the grammar of the Elementary School, would be hard set to understand the talk which went on at Bury about Agincourt, or the oral instruction given by a John Saxmundham, for instance, in the destroyed church of St. Peter in Dunwich to his catechumens in the middle of the fifteenth century. The older unsophisticated peasantry are quickly passing away. We who live among them know how they talk, and can fairly reproduce their peculiarities of vowel-sounds, accentuation and inflections; but their talk is one thing and medieval talk is another. In vowel-sounds there is in some respects a remarkable purity and conformity to what is considered standard English, as:
- ă in man, but thrash is trosh.
- ĕ in met, save that men is generally min, and better is butter, connected with bot, boot, etc. This, I fear, is fast dying out.
- ĭ in kill. Mill is in some parts even now an exception. My father used to say that his man Brown, who came out of Risbridge Hundred, would call a mill a mill, a mell and a mull in the course of a few minutes. The last pronunciation is important, as showing the survival of mulne from molina. Shilling is often shullun.
- ŭ in fun. Some few might make ŭ into oo. The negative ŭn is ŏn, and so generally when the syllable begins a word.
There is more trouble with ō, generally written oa, as.it is frequently confounded with oo.- A boat is often a boot; and etymologically no harm is done, as the radical idea is the same, and the Semitico-Aryan root one of constant occurrence. In this pronunciation East Anglia and Holland are at one.
- ā runs to the diphthong ai. Place is plaice. This develops in Essex and Middlesex into
ī, as all writers of the Cockney dialect know. In very bad cases it becomes oi.
- ē is pronounced ā. Meat is mate.
- ī runs towards oi. Fine is foine, or nearly so.
- ū gets very sharp, just avoiding a fracture-blew, hew, etc.
In the diphthongs –
- oi becomes ī. Oil is ile.
- au is often a dull u, like u in full. Cause is often pronounced in this way cuz.
Ou constitutes the greatest difficulty. Perhaps the spelling adopted in American humorous literature, aou, represents the sound best. In 1879 I had a long sitting over it and other sounds with the late Mr. Alexander J. Ellis, F.R.S., and we agreed that there is no perceptible fracture in the sound in the Suffolk dialect. In Essex the twang is stronger, and in London strongest. A Londoner’s raound abaout, if not fractured, is certainly affected by a perilous crack.
In Suffolk the h is never dropped or wrongly inserted, except when the evil communications of other parts have corrupted our good manners. Contact with the North, famous for its power of “exasperating” the h, or with metropolitan trippers at the watering-places, has sometimes, but happily rarely, affected us.
The simple consonants are normal, as they sound to my ear. The combination thr becomes tr, as in troshinmachine. Through is trou, not troo. The final g in participles is always omitted, and occasionally I have with very old people caught a trace of the departed d.
The plural en remains in housen and naxen (nests). I have never heard the Wessex mousen in East Anglia, the plural being invariably mece. I know not how to account for this use of the Continental i.
In the ordinary verb the tenses are never inflected for persons:
Thou and ye have disappeared from common talk.
The imperfect of the substantive verb as often as not has was for the second person singular, but never in my experience, in a direct clause, were for the third person singular. We find they was in the “Paston Letters”. Have is always pronounced hev. I append the present tense of the verb now and four hundred years ago, as shown in the “Paston Letters”. 119Many of the verbs now termed by grammarians weak belonged to the strong class, and their preterites still exist in the vernacular. “I thought they ew [owed] us five pounds, but it turned out that we ew them ten”. Ought is another preterite for owe, which is used for own –e.g., “Mr. Smith owe that there little farm now, what belonged to Mr. Taylor”. Saved is pronounced seft: “She seft a matter of thirty shulluns time she was in sarvice at Mr. Jackson’s”. Snow, mow, sow, are known to have past forms in ew. The past of sit is very often sot, which has a strange effect in the ears of the uninitiated: “I sot under a sort [number] o’ prachers”. “I sot under the woman what used to prache at – – , but I never,” etc. Can is often pronounced kin, and heard, as in Scotland, turns into hard. Frore and frorn, from freeze, are lingering about in out-of-the-way places. The to in to-day is used also in to-year. Nawn for nothing is dying out. An old woman, whose baptism took place at Rumburgh eight days before the attempted escape of Louis XVI. from France, said to me: “The gentlefolk and the parsons think a dale o’ me; the pore people think nawn o’ me”.The peculiar intonation of the peasantry has often been the subject of remark, “Norfolk and Suffolk sing-song”, as it is sometimes called. The late Archdeacon Ormerod told me that when, as a West-Countryman, he came into these parts to be examining chaplain to Bishop Stanley, he had just returned from a tour in Sweden, and “was at once struck by the great similarity between Scandinavian and East Anglian intonation, especially in- the elevation of the voice at the end of a sentence. A fourth is quite a common interval. In cases of unusual excitement, or when unusual distance demands unusual effort, it may be even a fifth.The vocabulary of East Anglia is replete with words at once expressive and important philologically. “Forby’s Vocabulary” was published in 1830, five years after his decease. He was a Norfolk man in all respects, but unquestionably received much assistance from a brother clergyman who knew Suffolk well, the Rev. W. T. Spurdens, a native of the latter county, who lived the first thirty years of his life amongst its peasantry, having been at one time curate of Wingfield and Laxfield, and afterwards of Beccles and Great Redisham. Indeed, Spurdens claims for Mr. John Deere of Brundall and himself the principal share in the compilation, the fact being that the Rev. George Turner, Rector of Grundisburgh, who edited what Forby had prepared for the press, was not aware of the amount of labour borne by Spurdens. Professor Skeat has edited Spurdens’ “East Anglian Words” for the English Dialect Society120. There had been previous workers in the field – the Rev. Sir John Cullum, Bart., F.R.S. and F.S.A., in his “History and Antiquities of Hawsted and Hardwick”, second edition, 1813, and Major Edward Moor, in his “Suffolk Words and Phrases”, 1823; but Forby’s “Vocabulary of East Anglia” was a larger venture, and gave a considerable impetus to word-collecting. From these sources and converse with villagers, much curious matter finds its way to the minds of those who hear no English but “as she is spoke” in the drawing-room.Bogey, in the “Paston Letters”, gives rise to a conjecture. It is used, like budge or badge, to denote lambskin with the wool dressed outwards, as in the case of the ordinance about the hoods of Bachelors of Art in the Universities. Thus, as it seems to me, it may have come to mean something in a white dress, a ghost. It is a stock Suffolk word.Donge, a mattress, passing through the phase of litter for cattle, has come to mean manure.The form heyne, to raise, is in these Letters. It survives quite uninjured.Lambs were hoggys then, as they are hoggets in Suffolk now, and lamb-hogs in Lincolnshire.Joperte, for jeopardy, is remarkable for retaining the t in jeu parti.Kelerys, for keelers, or as the word is now pronounced killers, carries us to Shakespeare’s
Tu-whit, tu-whoo, a merry note
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
A large tub, which would be best emptied by turning it upside down, or keeling it, would be a “grut owd killer”. In such a vessel was a Suffolk farmer placed to cure him of the “lump ager” (lumbago), when, the water being “hot enough to scald a hog”, the sufferer “up and shuck his fist” at his man, asking if he wished to “bile his owd master”.Loveday is a day fixed for settling a dispute.Nonpier is an umpire, the first letter having become attached to the article, as in nadder and napron.Parclose is a pew in church.Somerlay is to keep ground fallow. Summertilth is still a common agricultural word. The verb slump, from the Danish slumpe, to stumble, was applied in many a metaphorical way. Unsuccessful litigants were slumped. ‘” Slumped agin!”‘ says Palmer121, “was shouted derisively to one who had been a second time unsuccessful”. Forby explains it “to sink suddenly and deep into mud or rotten ground”, and Moor cites, “I come in sich a slump”.One of the best instances I know is that of a boy who was describing in his own language the beautiful Gospel scene on the Sea of Galilee: “Peter was a-goin’ to walk on the water, but he slumped in”.Though gain, as an adjective meaning near or handy, is not now so frequently found, its contrary, ungain, is in constant use, especially of persons of awkward and “contrairy” dispositions. Some poor unsteady boy or girl who is found too troublesome to be employed is described as “a rale ongain one”.Two words connected with hygrometry are in full force, dag for dew, a sweet Danish word, well known in the Christian name Dagmar (Ros marinus, rosemary) of the sister of our Princess of Wales; and raughty, pronounced with the sound of f for the gh, descriptive of thick, misty weather. The common prohibition against smoking, “Nicht geraucht”, brings it home to all travellers. Shakespeare’s “nipping and eager air” is called stingy, with a soft g and obvious origin. Black jaundice is the black sap, terribly expressive, and nettle springe, for nettle-rash, very likely originates in the use of spring for undergrowth or underwood, in this case a nettle-growth under the skin. Among remaining expletives are Dessay! used in surprise, and Sars o’ mine! (if that be the correct spelling), always in grief. I have never heard any explanation of this latter expression. Hibbedy-hobbedy is used for things all in a muddle; sloshins is more correctly soshings or on the sosh, for across, from corner to comer; a bob jolly is the result of leaving things to take care of themselves, and a see-saw is a tittimatorter. By’r lady (billady) has entirely disappeared. Many words which seem of uncouth form are merely peculiar shortened pronunciations of those which are well known; thus a peas-cod is run into a convenient abbreviation, pusket.”That” is much more frequently used than “it”, and the tendency in many languages to designate infants by the neuter gender is observable in East Anglia in the constant application of that “to young children.”That don’t fare no butter to-daa” is the stock description of the condition of a baby sufferer. In this way the troublesome “Jack That” of Addison’s essay becomes painfully iterated in a sentence. On one occasion a lady of sensitive feelings shrank back when she saw a tame bird in a cottage hopping about in dangerous contiguity to a cat, but was reassured by the half-contemptuous laugh of the mistress of the house, followed by, “Lor, miss! that on’t hurt that, that that on’t!”An instance of fare has just occurred. All vocabulary makers have got it, and every East Anglian would stare if it were omitted from a list of provincialisms. It is often used with adverbs, though sometimes with adjectives. Two of the former are purely and good-tidily, the first denoting a thorough condition of health; the latter, though less emphatic, is in many cases nearly equivalent to it.Hould is heard as often as fare with regard to condition of health, but denotes, as might be expected, an unchanged state. “Thank ye, sir, I hould right purely”, or, “She hould very mahderate”. By a kind of meiosis, “moderate” is thus the exponent of an immoderate state of weakness, as in other parts of England a man who is extraordinarily ill is spoken of as wery ornery. This latter term has been adopted largely across the Atlantic.Spurdens quotes boggy for self-important, churlish, and Forby notices a cognate substantive, bogg. The word, as I have heard it both in East and West Suffolk, is botty. It was once used very appropriately of the grandiose manner adopted by sheep if a dog appears not sufficiently aggressive in his conduct to alarm them. “How botty them sheep are!” Mildenhall was once described to me as “a botty little town”, though not marked by phenomenal self-assertion, to the best of my belief.Crickle (Forby) and cruckle (Spurdens) are explained as to sink down, as through faintness or great exhaustion. Quackle is a Suffolk form, but more frequently signifies choking. A person might be “quackled to dead” by bleeding from the throat after an operation. The broader pronunciation of the Suffolk word is followed in dudder, to shake with cold, which Forby gives as didder. His boyhood at Stoke Ferry and Lynn, and his residence at Fincham, stamp his collection with a special West Norfolk brand. Duller (dolour) is a word used of loud monotonous oratory, almost like drant. “Wery good sarmon, shockin’ drant”, was an East Anglian comment on a discourse of no small theological value, delivered by one who was apt to pitch his voice high and neglect the graces of inflection.Dumpling, which occurs in the vocabularies, has a material difference as you pass from the light variety of the North-folk to the more adhesive article of the South.Dutfin, for a bridle, Spurdens regards as exclusively Suffolk.Heap is used for any manner of aggregation -a “hape” of muck, of nonsense, of windmills, of “defference”, of water. Head is pronounced hid, and feet fit, as when the unfortunate victim of “lump ager”,alluded to just now, was put into the “killer’: “Missus took hold of him by the hid and man by the fit”. Thus we get “hidlings” for the Latin, praeceps, which Spurdens cites from the Injunctions of Edward VI. in 1548 to licensed preachers “not to run blindly and hidlings”.Hulver (holie verd), for holly, actually survives in the name of a Suffolk village.A green lane, from which I think that the surname Grimwade comes, is called a loke when it only leads to fields. The boy and girl names, bor and mor, shortened intensely, I feel very uncertain about. I have known a lady called by the former designation, though this may have been the result of accident. When turnips are hard and brittle, as opposed to the “clung” condition, they are said to be spoalty, which William Ellis (1750) spells spalt and Professor Skeat notes as a Cambridgeshire word. The word pulk, for the usual High Suffolk pit for a house supply of water, is quoted by Spurdens as applied to the De la Poles in a contemporary MS.: “Will. at ye Pulke”. Sele, for season, has bestowed on the county its special epithet, “Sely Suffolk”, observant of the seasons, as may she ever be! Thus we have hay-sele, the sele of the day, a friendly salutation, etc.Forby gives thisn’s for “thus”. Thusn’s is a Suffolk form. Spurdens adds thatna, sona, thisneys, soneys. We must pass from dialect to folk-lore. The East Anglian peasant is not an imaginative person, not a “lively Grecian”, to people localities with nymphs, or the analogous fays and fairies of the North and West. The scenery is not provocative of phantasy, but there are more superstitions in existence than one would think.In the East Anglian122 is a highly valuable contribution on this subject from Mr. George Rayson, of Pulham, just over the Norfolk border, which may be taken as referable certainly to North Suffolk:
Charms for the prevention and cure of various kinds of diseases”, says he,”are still practised to a far greater extent than many persons would readily believe, not only by ignorant and illiterate people, but also by those who, from their position and general intelligence, might be supposed to be beyond the influence of such old-world superstitions. A century and a half ago the upper classes of society believed that the touch of a monarch could heal the King’s Evil, and the Office of Healing once formed a part of the Book of Common Prayer; and but a little more than fifty years ago, in my own parish, the owner of the Hall estate was the possessor of some very potent charms for the cure of agues and other diseases, and often practised his art for the benefit of his neighbours. A few weeks ago I was told by an intelligent man that the formula to be used, or the means employed in curing by charms, was of little consequence, as the cure was really effected by a miracle-working faith; but most pretenders to the art lay great stress upon the accuracy with which the formula is observed, and it is generally believed that the power of the operator ceases as soon as he has divulged his secret to another. The secrecy which is maintained by those who practise charms, and the air of mystery which is consequently thrown over their proceedings, have probably contributed in no slight degree to perpetuate the popular belief in them, and particularly amongst those whose early training and habits have rendered them susceptible to the influences of superstition. As specimens of the kind of charms which have been used in this neighbourhood, I send you the following examples, most of which have come under my own observation. I have had some doubts respecting the propriety of making them public, lest they should add to the number of amateur necromancers; but perhaps, when it is seen that these wonderful remedies generally consist of some senseless and unmeaning form, or of some doggrel invocation of the Saviour or of the Trinity, the knowledge of their real character will have a tendency to lessen rather than confirm the faith which they have too often inspired.
To cure Hernia in Young Children. – Split a young ash tree, and pass the child (naked) through it at sunrise three times, each time with the head towards the rising sun; then tie up the tree tightly, so that it may grow together.-Two children of respectable farmers in the parish from which I write were some years since passed through a tree in this manner, and their parents have assured me with complete success.
To bless out Fire from a Burn or Scald. – Wet your middle finger with your spittle, rubbing it over the place burned or scalded, repeating these words three times:
There came two angels from the west;
The one brought fire, the other brought frost.
Out fire, in frost,
In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
In an old manuscript from which the above is taken it is added: “All this is by faith in God.”
To cure Wens or Fleshy Excrescences. – Pass the hand of a dead body over the part affected on three successive days.
To cure Hysteria or Epilepsy in a Young Girl. – Beg a sixpence each from nine unmarried men (but without telling them the purpose for which they are wanted), and make them into a ring, to be worn on the fourth finger of the patient’s left hand.
To Prevent Cramp. – Wear a ring made out of an old coffin-handle on one of the fingers. In my boyhood, the old parish clerk of the village used to preserve the old coffin-handles, which he found in the churchyard, for the purpose of making cramp-rings.
To prevent Cramp in Bed. – Place your stocking by the bedside in the form of a cross. This has probably descended to us from medieval times.
To prevent Swelling from a Thorn. –
Christ was of a virgin born,
And crowned was with a crown of thorns;
He did neither swell nor rebel,
And I hope this never will.
At the same time let the middle finger of the right hand keep in motion round the thorn, and at the end of the words, three times repeated, touch it every time with the tip of your finger, and with God’s blessing you will find no further trouble.
To extract a Thorn from the Flesh. –
Jesus of a maid was born;
He was pricked with nails and thorn;
Neither blains nor boils did fetch at the bone.
No more shall this, by Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord, bless what I have said. Amen.
So be it unto thee as I have said.
To cure Bleeding at the Nose. – Wear a skein of scarlet silk round the neck; tie with nine knots down the front. If the patient is a male, the silk should be put on and the knots tied by a female, and vice versa.To prevent Toothache. – Always dress and undress the left leg and foot before the right one. I have known this habit adopted and continued through life. Another preventive of toothache is said to be the constant wearing of a cord tied round the loins. Strange as it may seem, I have known a person continue this practice for many years.To cure Rheumatism. – Wear in the pocket the right fore-foot of a female hare. Will it be believed that a tradesman in a neighbouring village was superstitious enough to do this within the last two years ?To stop Bleeding from Arteries cut or bruised. – Repeat these words three times, desiring the blessing of God:
Stand fast; lie as Christ did
When He was crucified upon the cross;
Blood, remain up in the veins
As Christ’s did in all His pains.
To stop Blood miraculously. – Take blue vitriol, bleach it in an earthen pan in the sun all the month of May; let neither rain nor dew come upon it; take (from far or near) a piece of white linen cloth, whereon the patient has bled, have it fresh, rub into the blood some of the vitriol well, wring it up close, and bum it in the fire.To cure Warts upon the Hands. – From the numerous charms for curing warts, which are commonly practiced in almost every town or village, I have selected the following, premising that in all cases the strictest secrecy should be observed :Steal a small piece of beef, and rub all the warts with it; then take a piece of hazel-stick, and cut as many notches upon it as there are warts on the hands; put the stolen meat on the end of the stick, and bury it under the eaves of a house.Or, steal a piece of beef, rub all the warts with it, and bury it.Or, make the sign of the cross with a pin or pebble-stone, and then throw the pin or pebble away.Or, count the number of warts, and take the same number of pieces of straw and bury them. The warts will soon waste away with soreness.Or, take the same number of buds from an alder bush, and bury them.Or, ask the number of warts upon the patient’s hands, and, suppose it to be seven, tell him to look at them again in seven weeks. When alone, cut seven notches in a stick and bury it.Many more charms of a similar kind might easily be added, but the foregoing are quite sufficient to indicate the general character of those which are usually practised, and which have been transmitted to us by oral tradition from our forefathers.Thus far Mr. Rayson.The blood-bead, price ten shillings, was lately mentioned to me as purchased for nasal haemorrhage, but efficacious only when worn with a scarlet thread. The formation of a Blood-bead Company, Limited, should recommend itself to any “promoter” who is seeking work, as the percentage of profit must be by no means despicable. Glimpses have been afforded us from time to time in the foregoing chapter of the social condition of the people of East Anglia. It has not all been a record of “sweetness and light” -; nor will it be found so in the latter part of the last and the earlier part of the present century, when the houses of the peasantry frequently contained but one bedroom, and that on the ground-floor. Like severe seasons, this state of things produced varied results, destroying the morally weak, and developing the strength of the morally strong. Watchfulness, activity, self-restraint, constant and ready attention to sanitary matters, a cheerful recognition of the trite saying that “what cannot be cured must be endured”, were potent factors in the formation of the character of such a noble peasant as Crabbe has sketched in his “Isaac Ashford”, and the type is happily not extinct. On the other hand, the slatternly wife and squalid children, the foul smells, the aching head after an indulgence in “sparkling ales” of multifarious ingredients, combined to engender general discontent, which soon found a special object, very often in the employer, where his character was not of the best. Hence, while the old poor law devoured owner and occupier, the workman found himself ground between two millstones, and turned in blind wrath against the changes which eventually brought him signal benefit.The incorporation of some hundreds for the more effectual and economical relief of the poor, obtained by special Acts of Parliament, received no welcome. For instance, in 1764 the Blything hundred was incorporated for this purpose, and in the course of two years a House of Industry was erected on the field of Bulcamp in the parish of Blythburgh, a historic spot, noted for the battle between Penda and Anna.It was regarded with intense suspicion and dislike by the agricultural labourers, and before its completion the smouldering embers of discontent burst into an active flame, and a furious mob succeeded in effecting its partial destruction. The soldiers had to be sent for; the mob dispersed itself; the buildings were finished, and opened in October, 1766, when fifty-six paupers were admitted.Agricultural machines were another source of disaffection. The wielder of the flail (flagellum), whom many of us can remember as deftly swinging his implement round without touching his head, saw that the demand for his peculiar skill was likely to be diminished. Soon came pot-house oratory, combination, intimidation, terrorism. Gangs of men went about to bring the farmers to submission and to break up the obnoxious engines. In some parish chests may be seen the documents by which farmers bound themselves not to make use of them.In the expiring days of the old poor law, labour had assumed a peculiar phase. A farmer would employ three or four men on his own account, and have as many more sent him by the parish authorities, who paid them on a Saturday night from the rates.The parish poor-house was managed by a governor, appointed by the parish, who in the case of Fressingfield was allowed three shillings a week for a man, half a crown for a woman, and two shillings for a child. Three times a week there was a hot dinner, and there seems to have been little restriction as to amount. The Oliver Twist of that day might have asked for more without exciting that surprise which Charles Dickens has depicted as reigning in the breast of Mr. Bumble. Though, as I am informed, the rate was nominally as high as it is now, practically it brought in much less, the assessment having risen largely in the interim.There was a gap between the end of the old law and the beginning of the new. In the hundred of Hoxne only three of the old parish houses were left: Dennington, Laxfield, and Stradbroke. These were inadequate to the strain put upon them until the new house was ready. Something had to be done, and oakum-picking was resorted to for a time, men coming in for their work from their own houses.Most of the present union workhouses were erected under the new poor law. At one time they were full to overflowing. Their inmates might have been seen about 1843, as Carlyle’s picturesque tourist saw them, “on a day last autumn, sitting on wooden benches in front of their Bastille and within their ring wall and its railings … tall, robust figures, young mostly or of middle age; of honest countenance, many of them thoughtful and even intelligent-looking men. They sat there, near by one another; but in a kind of torpor, especially in a silence, which was very striking. In silence: for, alas, what word was to be said? 123 Now things are changed. The house for Hoxne Union is closed, and its inmates are accommodated with the Hartismere people, the two sets by no means overcrowding the one establishment. In parting from the county of my adoption, in which I have spent so many happy years, I gratefully record the pleasure with which I have laboured in the conservation of some of the wreckage which is cast up from year to year on the shores of Time.Notes:
- At least, this is an older register version of the name. It may be itself a corruption.
- 3 II. 251, etc.
- I. Series B, No. 20; 2. Series B, No. 21; Trübner and Co.
- “Perlustration of Great Yarmouth”, ii. 260.
- O.S., iii. 154.
- “Past and Present” ch. i.
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