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from printing or exposing for sale any almanacs
or prognostications without previous
examination by the archbishop, bishop, or
persons by them appointed; those who made
or offered for sale the said almanacs were
liable to trial by the ordinary judges and to
corporal punishment. The result of this
power conferred on the bishops was to
deprive laymen of the sale of almanacs, to the
benefit of the monasteries. The corporation
of booksellers complained of the injustice.
On the other hand, the ecclesiastical
almanac-makers continued to publish dangerous
predictions, and covered their turpitudes
beneath the authorisation of the bishops,
who drew a profit from their monopoly of
the name of Nostradamus, although Nostradamus
had died years before. The government
became uneasy, and an ordonnance of
Henri the Third modified that of Charles
the Ninth, by requiring for the sale of almanacs
the express authorisation of the king
or of the ordinary judges, under pain of
arbitrary fine, confiscation, and imprisonment.
In spite of this explicit rule, the most ridiculous
and immoral prophecies took their full
swing, until Louis the Thirteenth put an end
to the licence.

Till sixteen hundred and thirty, almanacs
were printed in folio. At that epoch the
famous Liège almanac first appeared, which
still has its continuators in France, Holland,
Germany, and Belgium. Mathieu Laensberg,
canon of Saint Barthélemy at Liège, passes
for the first author of this popular work.
In this almanac we find the twelve celestial
signs governing the human body, and the
indication of favourable times for cutting the
hair, for being bled, and for taking medicine.
This encroachment by the astrologer on the
doctor's territory was the ground of complaint
on the part of the latter, who succeeded in
suppressing from the following editions a
great portion of the matter relating to medicine.
But in the end, these medico-astrological
prescriptions were re-established in the
Shepherd's Almanac, which was united to
Laensberg's, and which was consequently
entitled the Double-Liègeois.

All Mathieu Laensberg's almanacs were
followed by prognostications and general
predictions of coming events. This little
book, although printed in Belgium, was
profusely circulated in France, and eclipsed every
other production of the kind published by
the booksellers of different provinces. Laensberg
excelled in the art of framing predictions:
he drew them up with such tact and
elasticity that, happen what might, they
almost always came true. Add to this, several
lucky hits which Laensberg made with some
of his earliest prophecies, and the astrologer's
repute will be easily accounted for. We had
an instance of the kind not many years since,
when Murphy, in his Weather Almanack,
fortunately pitched upon a certain eleventh
of January to be the coldest day in the
winter, as it proved. The almanac throve
for a year or two, in spite of repeated failures,
on the faith of that one happy coincidence.
Laensberg won the popular confidence by
means of like chance accidents. Thus, in
sixteen hundred and thirty-nine, he predicted
"In the year which is to follow, people of all
conditions and a great state will be sorely
vexed, and in the same year doctors will
have great work and business." Now, it so
happened that in sixteen hundred and forty,
these prophesies were believed to be fulfilled
by a sort of grippe, or influenza, which for
two months raged with intensity in England
and France.

The continuers of Mathieu Laensberg (who
left, according to the general opinion, predictions
for a thousand years to come) were also
now and then marvellously helped by
circumstances. We find in the Anecdotes of
Madame Dubarry, that that lady having
been obliged to quit the court when Louis
the Fifteenth was seized with his last illness,
called to mind the Liège Almanac for seventeen
hundred and seventy-five, which had so
greatly excited her apprehensions, and which
she had endeavoured to suppress as far as
she could, because it contained amongst the
predictions for the month of April the
following phrase: "A lady in the highest favour
will perform her last part." She often
exclaimed, "I wish that horrid month of April
were over!" The prophecy, which the
Dubarry personally applied to herself, came to
pass. The king died in the month following.


Will take place at ST. MARTIN'S HALL, LONG ACRE.
On CHRISTMAS EVE, Friday, December 24th; on the
evening of BOXING-DAY, Monday, December 27th; and
on the vening of TWELFTH NIGHT, Thursday, January
6th. Each evening, THE CHRISTMAS CAROL, and THE

Bound in cloth, price Five Shillings and Sixpence, is now

Number 458 of HOUSEHOLD WORDS will be A

Now Ready, price 3d., stamped 4d., THE CHRISTMAS
NUMBER of Household Words, entitled,
Contents:—1. Over the Way.   2. The Manchester
Marriage.   3. Going into Society.   4. Three Evenings in
the House.   5. Trottle's Report   6. Let at Last.