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Nor wonder, since within her stomach lay
A. Wolf, that gap'd for victuals night and day:
But when he smelt the Pill, he strait for shelter
Run slap into her belly helter skelter.

There is no necessity to take trouble for the purpose of discovering the origin of quacks. It is evident that they “came natural” as soon as ever there was a chance for them, and it is but right to suppose that before quackery became a question of money-making, it had an existence, the outcome of a love people have innately for prescribing and administering to each other, relics of which may still be seen in out-of-the-way parts of the country. Some people imagine that quackery and the belief, still current in various parts of Great Britain, that a seventh son, particularly if the son of a seventh son, possesses medical powers, had originally something to do with each other. That quackery in general was caused by this quaint conceit is not to be supposed, yet the belief in the seventh-son doctrine is well worthy of note. The vulgar mind seems from the earliest ages to have been impressed by the number seven, and there are various ways of accounting for this. Chambers, in his “Book of Days,” says that it is easy to see in what way the Mosaic narrative gave sanctity to this number in connection with the days of the week, and led to usages which influence the social life of all the countries of Europe. “But a sort of mystical goodness or power has attached itself to the number in many other ways. Seven wise men, seven champions of Christendom, seven sleepers, seven-league boots, seven ages of man, seven hills, seven senses, seven planets, seven metals, seven sisters, seven stars, seven wonders of the world—all have had their day of favour; albeit that the number has been awkwardly interfered with by modern discoveries concerning metals, planets, stars, and wonders of the world. Added to the above list is the group of seven sons, especially in relation to the youngest or seventh of the seven; and more especially still if this person happen to be the seventh son of a seventh son. It is now perhaps impossible to discover in what country, or at what time, the notion originated, but a notion there certainly is, chiefly in provincial districts, that a seventh son has something peculiar about him. For the most part, the imputed peculiarity is a healing power, a faculty of curing diseases by the touch, or by some other means. The instances of this belief are numerous enough. There is a rare pamphlet called ‘The Quack Doctor's Speech,’ published in the time of Charles II. The reckless Earl of Rochester delivered this speech on one occasion, when dressed in character, and mounted on a stage as a charlatan. The speech, amid much that suited that licentious age, but would be frowned down by modern society, contained an enumeration of the doctor's wonderful qualities, among which was that of being a ‘seventh son of a seventh son,’ and therefore clever as a curer of bodily ills. The matter is only mentioned as affording a sort of proof of the existence of a sort of popular belief. In Cornwall, the peasants and the miners entertain this notion; they believe that a seventh son can cure the king's evil by the touch. The mode of proceeding usually is to stroke the part affected thrice gently, to blow upon it thrice, to repeat a form of words, and to give a perforated coin, or some other object, to be worn as an amulet. At Bristol, about forty years ago, there was a man who was always called ‘doctor’ simply because he was the seventh son of a seventh son. The family of the Joneses of Muddfi, in Wales, is said to have presented seven sons to each of many successive generations, of whom the seventh son always became a doctor —apparently from a conviction that he had an inherited qualification to start with. . In Ireland, the seventh son of a seventh son is believed to possess prophetical as well as healing power. A few years ago a Dublin shopkeeper finding his errand-boy to be generally very dilatory in his duties, inquired into the cause, and found that the boy,

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being the seventh son of a seventh son, his services were often in requisition among the poorer neighbours, in a way that brought in a good many pieces of silver. Early in the present century there was a man in Hampshire, the seventh son of a seventh son, who was consulted by the villagers as a doctor, and who carried about with him a collection of crutches and sticks, purporting to have once belonged to persons whom he had cured of lameness, Cases are not wanting, also, in which the seventh daughter is placed upon a similar pinnacle of greatness. In Scotland the spaewife or fortune-teller frequently announces herself as the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, to enhance her claims to prophetic power. Even so late as 1851, an inscription was seen on a window in Plymouth, denoting that a certain doctress was the third seventh daughter —which the world was probably intended to interpret as the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. . . . . France, as well as our own country, has a belief in the seventh-son mystery. The Journal de Zoiret, a French provincial newspaper, in 1854 stated that, in Orleans, if a family has seven sons and no daughter, the seventh is called a Marcou, is branded with a fleur-de-lis, and is believed to possess the power of curing the king's evil. The Marcou breathes on the part affected, or else the patient touches the Marcou's fleur-de-lis. In the year above named there was a famous Marcou in Orleans named Foulon; he was a cooper by trade, and was known as ‘le beau Marcou.’ Simple peasants used to come to visit him from many leagues in all directions, particularly in Passion-week, when his ministrations were believed to be most efficacious. On the night of Good Friday, from midnight to sunrise, the chance of cure was supposed to be especially good, and on this account four or five hundred persons would assemble. Great disturbances hence arose ; and as there was evidence, to all except the silly dupes themselves, that Foulon made use of their superstition to enrich himself, the police succeeded, but not without much opposition, in preventing these assemblages. In some of the states of Germany there used formerly to be a custom for the reigning prince to stand sponsor to a seventh son (no daughter intervening) of any of his subjects. Whether still acted upon is doubtful; but there was an incident lately which bore on the old custom in a curious way. A West-Hartlepool newspaper stated that Mr J. V. Curths, a German, residing in that busy colliery town, became, towards the close of 1857, the father of one of those prodigies—a seventh son. Probably he himself was a Saxe-Gothan by birth; at any rate he wrote to the Prince Consort, reminding him of the old German custom, and soliciting the honour of his Royal Highness's sponsorship to the child. The Prince was doubtless a little puzzled by this appeal, as he often must have been by the strange appeals made to him. Nevertheless, a reply was sent in the Prince's name, very complimentary to his countryman, and enclosing a substantial souvenir for the little child; but the newspaper paragraph is not sufficiently clear for us to be certain whether the sponsorship really was assented to, and, if so, how it was performed.” It is not at all likely, proud as the late Prince was of his countrymen, and of Germans generally, that he took upon himself the pains and penalties of sponsorship to this miraculous infant, whose father was doubtless well satisfied with the douceur he received, and never expected even that. Saffold was an early humbug who depended mainly upon doggerel rhyme for attraction. It is to be hoped that his wares were better than his numbers, or else the deaths of many must have lain heavy on his soul. One of his bills, enumerating his address and claims upon the attention of the public, informs us that of him

The Sick may have Advice for Nothing,
And good Medicines cheap, if so they please
For to cure any curable Disease.

It's Saffold's Pills, much better than the Rest,
Deservedly have gained the Name of best
In curing by the Cause, quite purging out
Of Scurvy, Dropsie, Agues, Stone and Gout.

The Head, Stomach, Belly and the Reins, they

Will cleanse and cure, while you may work or play.
His Pills have often, to their Maker's Praise,
Cur'd in all Weathers, yea, in the Dog-Days.
In short, no purging Med'cine is made, can
Cure more Diseases in Man or Woman,
Than his cheap Pills, but three Shillings the Box.
Each Box contains Thirty-six Pills I’m sure.
As good as eler were made Scurvy to cure.
The half Box eighteen Pills, for eighteen Pence,
Tho' 't is too cheap, in any Man's own Sense.

At the foot of the bill, after a lot of puffery, he breaks out into rhyme once more :—

Some envious Men being griev'd may say,
What needs Bills thus still be given away?
Answer: New People come to London every Day.
Believing Solomon's Advice is right,
I will do what I do with all my might.
Also, unless an English Proverb lies
Practice brings Experience and makes wise.
Experimental Knowledge, I protest,
In lawful Arts and Science is the best,
Instead of Finis Saffold ends with Rest.

Another of his bills, which were various and plentiful, began thus:–

Dear Friends, let your Disease be what God will,
Pray to Him for a Cure, try Saffold's Skill ;
Who may be such a healing Instrument,
As will cure you to your own Heart's Content.
His Medicines are cheap and truly good.
Being full as safe as your daily Food—
Saffold he can do what may be done, by
Either Physick or true Astrology.
His best Pills, rare Elixir and Powder,
Do each Day praise him louder and louder.
Dear Countrymen, I pray be you so wise

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