Sacred Texts  Sagas & Legends  England  Index  Previous  Next 


In Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, Beatrice says:--"What fire is in mine ears!" which Warburton explains as alluding to a proverbial saying of the common people, that their ears burn when others are talking of them. On which Reed observes that the opinion from whence this proverbial saying is derived is of great antiquity, being thus mentioned by Pliny:--"Moreover is not this an opinion generally received, that when our ears do glow and tingle some there be that in our absence doe talk of us?" Sir Thomas Browne says:--"When our cheek burns, or ear tingles, we usually say somebody is talking of us, a conceit of great antiquity, and ranked among superstitious opinions by Pliny. He supposes it to have proceeded from the notion of a signifying genius, or universal mercury that conducted sounds to their distant subjects and taught to hear by touch." "My ears tingle; somebody is talking against me," is a remark one can hear even to-day--and although, as in many other cases, it is made to be laughed at, there is a kind of private fancy that the superstition "may have something in it." That something is an illusion of analogy; for if you give a man a sharp rebuke for carelessness, you make his ears tingle, as a rule; and when his ears tingle and you are not present in the body, he presumes you are present in mind. Thus Herrick in his Hesperides

"One Eare tingles, some there be
That are snarling now at me;
Be they those that Homer bit,
I will give them thanks for it."


Next: (19) Sneezing