FASCINATION OF WITCHES. There is a vulgar saying in the north, and probably in many other parts, of England, “No one can say black is your eye;" meaning that nobody can justly speak ill of you. It occurs also in a curious quarto tract entitled the Mastive, or Young Whelpe of the Old Dog; Epigrams and Satyrs, Lond., no date. One of these is as follows:

“ Doll, in disdaine, doth from her heeles defie

The best that breathes shall tell her black's her eye ;
And that it's true she speaks, who can say nay,

When rone that lookes on't but will sweare 'tis gray?” I have no doubt but that this expression originated in the popular superstition concerning an evil, that is an enchanting or bewitching, EYE. In confirmation of this I must cite the following passage from Scot's Discovery, p. 291: “Many writers agree with Virgil and Theocritus in the effect of bewitching eyes, affirming that in Scythia there are women called Bithiæ, having two balls, or rather blacks, in the apples of their eyes. These (forsooth) with their angry looks do bewitch and hurt, not only young lambs, but young children.” He says, p. 35: “The Irishmen affirm that not only their children, but their cattle, are (as they call it) eye-bitten, when they fall suddenly sick."

In Vox Dei, or the great Duty of Self-Reflection upon a Man's own Wayes, by N. Wanley, M.A. and minister of the Gospel at Beeby, in Leicestershire, 1658, p. 85, the author, speaking of St. Paul's having said that he was, touching the righteousnesse which is in the law, blamelesse, observes upon it, “No man could say (as the proverb hath it) black was his eye.In Browne’s Map of the Microcosme, 1642, we read : “ As those eyes are accounted bewitching, qui geminam habent pupillam, sicut Illyrici, which have doublesighted eyes ; so,” &c.

[The following very curious particulars are taken from a recent number of the Athenæum :-Turning the Coal ; a Countercharm to the Evil Eye. It is necessary that persons

1 [Brand has here inserted several quotations respecting the baby in the eye, which have nothing to do with the subject. See an explanation of this phrase in Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 129.]

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with the power of an evil eye go through certain forms before they can effect their object; and it is supposed that during these forms the evil they wish is seen by them, by some means, before it takes effect upon their victim. One of the simplest of these forms is looking steadfastly in the fire, so that a person seen sitting musing with his eyes fixed upon the fire is looked upon with great suspicion. But if he smokes, and in lighting the pipe puts the head into the fire, and takes a draw while it is there, it is an undeniable sign that there is evil brewing. Now, if any person observe this, and it being a common custom in the country to have a large piece of coal on the fire, the tongs be taken privately, and this coal be turned right over, with the exorcism uttered either privately or aloud, “ Lord be wi' us,” it throws the imagination of the evil-disposed person into confusion, dispels the vision, and thwarts for the time all evil intentions. Or an individual who is suspected of having wished evil, or cast an ill e'e," upon anything, enter the house upon which the evil is, and the coal be turned upon him, as it is termed, that person feels as if the coal was placed upon his heart, and has often been seen to put his hand to his breast, exclaiming, “Oh!” Nay, more ; he is unable to move so long as the coal is held down with the tongs,-and has no more power over that house.

Many a tale I have heard of such evil persons being thus caught, and held until they made offers for their release ; or more generally, until that never-failing cure, “scoreing aboon the breath,” was performed upon them. And this was somewhat serious, as it was performed with some charmed thing, such as a nail from a horseshoe.]

In Adey's Candle in the Dark, p. 104, we read: “Master Scot, in his · Discovery,' telleth us that our English people in Ireland, whose posterity were lately barbarously cut off, were much given to this idolatry in the queen's time, insomuch that, there being a disease amongst their cattle that grew blinde, being a common disease in that country, they did commonly execute people for it, calling them eye-biting witches."

Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, p. 123, says: “All these islanders, and several thousands of the neighbouring continent, are of opinion that some 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.” 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

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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 wiŬ 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


“ What know you but I may 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

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lieve this to be the effect of the evil eye of some envious person, who has bewitched them; and this ancient prejudice is still

l 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. ii.

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, ïïi. 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

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