« ÎnapoiContinuați »
particular persons have an evil eye, which affects children and cattle. This, they say, occasions frequent mischances and sometimes death." In the same work, p. 38, speaking of the Isle of Harries, he says: "There is variety of nuts, called Molluka Beans, some of which are used as amulets against witchcraft or an evil eye, particularly the white one: and, upon this account, they are wore about children's necks, and if any evil is intended to them, they say the nut changes into a black colour. That they did change colour I found true by my own observation, but cannot be positive as to the cause of it. Malcom Campbell, Steward of Harries, told me, that some weeks before my arrival there all his cows gave blood instead of milk for several days together: one of the neighbours told his wife that this must be witchcraft, and it would be easy to remove it, if she would but take the white nut, called the Virgin Mary's Nut, and lay it in the pail into which she was to milk the cows. This advice she presently followed, and, having milked one cow into the pail with the nut in it, the milk was all blood, and the nut changed its colour into dark brown. She used the nut again, and all the cows gave pure good milk, which they ascribe to the virtue of the nut. This very nut Mr. Campbell presented me with, and I keep it still by me."
In Heron's Journey through Part of Scotland, ii. 228, we read: "Cattle are subject to be injured by what is called an evil eye, for some persons are supposed to have naturally a blasting power in their eyes, with which they injure whatever offends or is hopelessly desired by them. Witches and warlocks are also much disposed to wreak their malignity on cattle." 66 Charms," the writer adds, "are the chief remedies applied for their diseases. I have been, myself, acquainted with an anti-burgher clergyman in these parts, who actually procured from a person, who pretended skill in these charms, two small pieces of wood, curiously wrought, to be kept in his father's cow-house, as a security for the health of his cows. It is common to bind into a cow's tail a small piece of mountain-ash wood, as a charm against witchcraft. Few old women are now suspected of witchcraft; but many tales are told of the conventions of witches in the kirks in former times."
["Your interesting papers," says a correspondent of the
Athenæum, "upon Folk Lore,' have brought to my recollection a number of practices common in the west of Scotland. The first is a test for, as a charm to prevent, an 'ill e'e.' Any individual ailing not sufficiently for the case to be considered serious, but lingering, is deemed to be the object of an ill e'e,' of some one that's no canny.' The following operation is then performed:-An old sixpence is borrowed from some neighbour, without telling the object to which it is to be applied; as much salt as can be lifted upon the sixpence is put into a table-spoonful of water, and melted; the sixpence is then put into the solution, and the soles of the feet and palms of the hands of the patient are moistened three times with the salt water; it is then tasted three times, and the patient afterwards scored aboon the breath,' that is, by the operator dipping the forefinger into the salt water, and drawing it along the brow. When this is done, the contents of the spoon are thrown behind, and right over the fire, the thrower saying at the same time, Lord preserve us frae a' scathe!' If recovery follow this, there is no doubt of the individual having been under the influence of an evil eye."]
In Braithwaite's Two Lancashire Lovers, 1640, p. 19, in Camillus's speech to Doriclea, in the Lancashire dialect, he tells her, in order to gain her affections, "We han store of goodly cattell; my mother, though shee bee a vixon, shee will blenke blithly on you for my cause; and we will ga to the Dawnes and slubber up a sillibub; and I will looke babies in your eyes, and picke sillycornes out of your toes and wee will han a whiskin at every Rush-bearing, a wassel-cup at Yule, a seed-cake at Fastens, and a lusty cheese-cake at our Sheepe-wash; and will not aw this done bravely, jantlewoman?"-In her answer to this clown's addresses, she observes, among other "What know you but I may passages, prove untoward? and that will bring your mother to her grave; make you [pretty babe] put finger ith' eye, and turne the doore quite off the hinges." The above romance is said to have been founded on a true history: the costume appears to be very accurate and appropriate.
Volney, in his Travels in Egypt and Syria, i. 246, says: "The ignorant mothers of many of the modern Egyptians, whose hollow eyes, pale faces, swoln bellies, and meagre extremities make them seem as if they had not long to live, be
lieve this to be the effect of the evil eye of some envious person, who has bewitched them; and this ancient prejudice is still general in Turkey."
"Nothing," says Mr. Dallaway, in his Account of Constantinople, 1797, p. 391, "can exceed the superstition of the Turks respecting the evil eye of an enemy or infidel. Passages from the Koran are painted on the outside of the houses, globes of glass are suspended from the ceilings, and a part of the superfluous caparison of their horses is designed to attract attention and divert a sinister influence." That this superstition was known to the Romans we have the authority of Virgil:"Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos." Ecl. iii.
The following passage from one of Lord Bacon's works is cited in Minor Morals, i. 24: "It seems some have been so curious as to note that the times when the stroke or percussion of an envious eye does most hurt are particularly when the party envied is beheld in glory and triumph."
Lupton, in his fourth Book of Notable Things, No. 81 (edit. 1660, p. 103), says: "The eyes be not only instruments of enchantment, but also the voyce and evil tongues of certain persons; for there are found in Africk, as Gellius saith, families of men, that, if they chance exceedingly to praise fair trees, pure seeds, goodly children, excellent horses, fair and well-liking cattle, soon after they will wither and pine away, and so dye; no cause or hurt known of their withering or death. Thereupon the custome came, that when any do praise anything, that we should say, God blesse it or keepe it. Arist. in Prob. by the report of Mizaldus."
In Boswell's Life of Johnson, iii. 200, it is observed: "In days of superstition they thought that holding the poker before the fire would drive away the witch who hindered the fire from burning, as it made the sign of the cross." In Scotland they say, "if ye can draw blud aboon the braith," the fascinating power of a witch's eyes will cease.
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xv. 258, parish of Monzie, shire of Perth, we are told: "The power of an evil eye is still believed, although the faith of the people in witchcraft is much enfeebled."
In the same work, xviii. 123, parish of Gargunnock, county of Stirling, we read: "The dregs of superstition are still to
be found. The less informed suspect something like witchcraft about poor old women, and are afraid of their evil eye among the cattle. If a cow is suddenly taken ill, it is ascribed to some extraordinary cause. If a person when called to see one does not say, 'I wish her luck,' there would be a suspicion he had some bad design." Ibid. xiv. 526, parish of Auchterhouse, county of Forfar; extracts from the parish register: A fast to be kept July 9, 1646, for various reasons: among them, "4thly, Because of the pregnant scandal of witches and charmers within this part of the land, we are to supplicate the Lord therefore." The third is singularly curious: "Because of the desolate state and cure of several congregations, which have been starved by dry-beasted ministers this long time bygone, and now are wandering like sheep but (i. e. without) shepherds, and witnesseth no sense of scant.'
-“6 Janaure, 1650: On that day the minister desired the session to make search every ane in their own quarter gave they knew of any witches or charmers in the paroch, and delate them to the next session." July 18, 1652: Janet Fife made her public repentance before the pulpit, for learning M. Robertson to charm her child; and whereas M. Robertson should have done the like, it pleased the Lord before that time to call upon her by death." Ibid. xix. 354, parish of Bendothy, county of Perth: "I have known an instance in churning butter, in which the cream, after more than ordinary labour, cast up only one pound of butter, instead of four, which it ought. By standing a while to cool, and having the labour repeated over again, it cast up the other three pounds of butter."
"When Kitty kirned, and there nae butter came,
Allan Ramsay. In going once to visit the remains of Brinkburne Abbey, in Northumberland, I found a reputed witch in a lonely cottage by the side of a wood, where the parish had placed her, to save expenses and keep her out of the way. On inquiry at a neighbouring farmhouse, I was told, though I was a long while before I could elicit anything from the inhabitants in it concerning her, that everybody was afraid of her cat, and that she herself was thought to have an evil eye, and that it was accounted dangerous to meet her in a morning "black-fasting."
The Morning Herald of Friday, Aug. 16, 1839, affords an evidence of the belief in the fascination of witches still occasionally existing in London, in the instance of two lodgers, one of whom squinted, and the other, to avert the supposed consequences from the defect of the first, considered she could only protect herself by spitting in her face three times a day.
PENNANT, in his Zoology, 1776, iii. 15, speaking of the toad, with the Roman fables concerning it, adds: "In aftertimes superstition gave it preternatural powers, and made it a principal ingredient in the incantations of nocturnal hags:
Toad, that under the cold stone
"We know by the poet that this was intended for a design of the first consideration, that of raising and bringing before the eyes of Macbeth a hateful second sight of the prosperity of Banquo's line. This shows the mighty powers attributed to this animal by the dealers in the magic art. But the powers our poet endues it with are far superior to those that Gesner ascribes to it. Shakspeare's witches used it to disturb the dead; Gesner's only to still the living."
Pennant, in the volume already quoted, p. 154, speaking of the wolf-fish teeth, observes: "These and the other grinding teeth are often found fossil, and in that state called Bufonites, or Toad-stones: they were formerly much esteemed for their imaginary virtues, and were set in gold, and worn as rings."
Connected with this is a similar ancient superstition with regard to the æetites or eagle-stone, concerning which, the same author (Zoology, i. 167) tells us: "The ancients believed that the pebble commonly called the ætites or eaglestone, was found in the eagle's nest, and that the eggs could not be hatched without its assistance. Many absurd stories have been raised about this fossil."
The same writer, in his Journey from Chester to London,