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How far imagination will operate in such cases, as the old women, even of this age, contend it does in Agues, is a question not for me to discuss; but it tempts me to transcribe the following story, as given by Mr. Granger, vol. IV. p. 32.
"1 was myself a witness of the powerful Workings of imagination in the populace, when the waters of Glastonbury were at the height of their reputation. The virtues of the spring there were supposed to be supernatural, and to have been discovered by a revelation made in a dream to one Matthew Chancellor. The people did not only expect to be Cured of such distempers as were in their nature incurable, but even to recover their lost eyes, and their mutilated limbs. The following story, which scarce exceeds what I observed upon the spot, was told me by a gentleman of character. 'An old. woman in the workhouse at Yeovil, who had long been a cripple, and made use of crutches, was strongly inclined to drink of the Glastonbury waters,, which she was assured would cure her of her lameness. The master of the workhouse procured her several bottles of water, which had such an effect, that she soon laid aside one crutch, and not long after, the other. This was extolled, as a miraculous cure. But the man protested to his friends, that he had imposed upon her, and fetched the water from an ordinary spring/ I need not inform the Reader, that when the force of imagination had spent itself, she relapsed into her former infirmity."
Whether the French Kings possessed this Gift in a greater or less degree than our own, I cannot decide; but in point of antiquity, by the accounts of their Historians, they exceed us by many centuries.
The advocates for the priority of the Kings of England in this wonderful Gift, tell you, that the French, seeing it with a jealous eye, invented a tale, and carried their claim up to Clovis, the first of that name in France, and their first Christian King, who acceded to the Throne A. D. 481; whereas we do not pretend to go higher than Edward the Confessor, who died in 1066.
In reward for Cloyis's faith and conversion, this Gift was bestowed upon him at his baptism, A. D. 496; and which he accordingly exercised immediately on one of his favourites *.
How it was first discovered to be inherent in the French King we are not told; though we are assured as to our own, that the knowledge of such power in King Edward was discovered, like many other similar wonders, from a dream.
The usual date of the introduction of this miraculous Gift into France is fixed in the Reign of St. Louis [i. e. IX], a contemporary with our Henry III. about 160 years after the death of the Confessor f.
Unfortunately for the French Kings, there is a story extant, which overthrows their healing power, in a palpable instance which
* See Mezeray. The name of this person was Lancinet.
t Browne's "Adenochoiradelogia," 1684. See, hereafter, under Charles II.
happened to Louis XL who having had an apoplexy, sent for a famous man to cure him, hy name Francis of Poul. Francis, unhappily, had the Evil; but, alas! the Saint could not cure the King; and, what was worse, the King could not cure the Saint*.
On the other hand, as the French Kings possessed the faculty sooner than our Kings, so did it last longer; for King George I. had the good sense not to pretend to it; whereas the French Kings kept up the farce at least till 177^, though with some address in the words spoken by the King; viz. "The King touches you, and may God heal you!" [" Le Roy te touche, I)ieu te guerisse."] So that, in case the Touch fails, it is known where the blame is to lie; which is to be attributed to the anger of God, or the want of faith in the party f. The French Kings gave alms on the occasion; but I find no mention of particular pieces, as was the custom with us. I do not find that the French Kings ever touched, except upon Coronations; though it was a repeated, if not an annual ceremony with us, performed daily for a certain season *, attended with a Form of Prayer,compiled for the purpose, which 1 shall hereafter preserve at length in the Appendix, together with the Ceremonial, after having given such accounts of the Practice itself, under the respective Kings, as are recorded by Writers on the subject.
* Davies, ii. 181,.
+ Louis XVI. of France went through this ceremony, as appears from the Formule of his Coronation, published at the time, A.D. 1775. Louis XV". touched no less than 2000 persons, and Louis XIV. upwards of 2500.
Gemelli (the famous Traveller) gives an account of J 600 persons being presented for this purpose to Louis XIV. on Easter Sunday 1686. Every Frenchman received 15 sous, and every Foreigner 30.
In "De mirabili Strumas Sanandi vi solis Galliae Regibus Christianissimis Divinitus concessa. Authore Andrei. Laurentio, Regis Consiliario et Medico Primario, 1609,'' is a yery curious Print, representing King Henry IV. touching for the Evil; in which ares introduced many Patients and Officers of the Court.
The French confined their expression to the word Touchy though we use the term Heal.
* See Browne.