Mirror of Literature,  11 (1828), 54–56.

Popular Superstitions. No. II. The Sea



Regular Feature, Essay


Superstition, Wonder, Fear, Feeling, Education, Class, Magic, Religion, Animal Behaviour, Prognostication, Meteorology

People mentioned:

William Scoresby

Publications cited:

Stavorinus 1798

    Observes that the 'manner of life' of sailors, 'the frequent opportunities they have for reflection amidst the most elevating and sublime scenes in nature (for what can exceed the waste of waters), the constant and ceaseless dangers and perils to which they are exposed, combined with the deficiency of education (which is perhaps the most material point), all seem calculated to [...] render the mariner more superstitiously inclined than most men'. Considers that, on land, the general decline in superstition 'before the light of knowledge, affords a striking illustration of the "invaluable blessings which descend even to the lowest of the people, from the diffusion of the sound principles of philosophy"'. Reviews some past and present superstitions of sailors, and observes that 'If the sailor would accustom himself to reason on any matters out of the ordinary course of things [...] he would find that most of those apparently mysterious occurrences on the deep, could be explained, on the simplest principles, both natural and philosophical'. (55)

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