To chew or nibble into small pieces. Books and papers are often chalmed by mice, if they can get at them. The letter l is dropped in pronounciation.--Rev. Robert Forby's Vocabulary of East Anglia, 1830
Outbreak of Hysteria
John Ashton's Men, Maidens, and Manners a Hundred Years Ago (1888) reported on a bizarre health hazard of 1787: "This month there occurred a very singular case of contageous hysteria which is well worth noting. On February 15, at a cotton manufactory in Lancashire, a girl put a mouse into the breast of another girl who had a great dread of mice. The girl was immediately seized with violent convulsions which lasted 24 hours. On the following day three more girls were similarly seized; on the 17th, six more. This created great alarm, and the mill was stopped. ... The symptoms [in all 24 cases] were anxiety, a feeling of strangulation, and very strong convulsions which were so violent as to ... require the assistance of four or five persons to prevent the patients from tearing their hair and dashing their heads against the floor. A doctor from Preson cured them by means of electric shocks."