transparent, will serve for a bait to catch the unwary and over-eager fish. Nothing is so purblind as undue acquisitiveness. The ancient Highlander with his keen eye to the main chance and happy facility for "attaching" whatever came in his way, found a beautiful horse in rich trappings, browsing ownerless in his path, and, following the instinct of his desire rather than the prudence which tradition should have taught him, rashly mounted. In an instant he was borne aloft, then plunged forever beneath the dark waters of a tarn on the back of the wily and terrible water-kelpie. We, too, have our illusory steeds in this so vaunted age, and neither the teachings of history nor the bitterest experience seems able to prevent the speculator from vaulting into the saddle, and forthwith launching into perdition.
Charms are things of the past, or believed in merely by the vulgar; that is to say, those pretty and fanciful conceits which led our ancestors to attach a healing or sanitary virtue to certain objects and ceremonies are now almost extinct. A spray from the rowan-tree is no longer a safeguard against an epidemic, nor the hand of majesty a cure for scrofula. Ladies do not now believe that the presence of a piece of cold iron on their couch, "while uneasy in their circumstances" will secure a happy consummation; nor is a child's caul in much request in these days as a protection against fire and drowning. True, we have got over these beliefs pretty thoroughly. But is the desire for infallible remedies and potent protectives done away with also? Not in the least; and though science is doing its best to provide honest substitutes in a natural measure, the public is not satisfied with its efforts. Quacks are the modern magicians, and quack medicines the charms of latter days. Those who are bald, for instance, will not accept their fate while a single well-puffed elixir with a Greek name remains untried. There is something saddening, if not sickening, in the evident success which attends the pretenses to cure chronic and irremediable diseases, to effect miracles in short with the most trumpery of means and execrably silly devices. Our forefathers were imposed upon, no doubt, but there was method in their madness. The "simples" with which spae-wives and charlatans professed to cure ailments were in many cases effective and now recognized drugs, and were at the worst perfectly harmless; while the rites with which they were administered, if quite apart from the purpose, yet appealed gracefully to the imagination. Nowadays, however, the "simples" are the patients and not the medicines! The old story. Childlike, the age cries for something that it cannot get, rejecting the good that is within reach.
In a recent number of this Journal, we had occasion to refer to the amazing credulity of Americans on the subject of professional "mediums." The worst of it is, that the extent to which this has been laid bare is insignificant compared with that which really remains unexposed. The desire to work with supernatural tools in effecting the