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There is a man yet alive, who knew old men who had been baptized by these Book-a-bosomes, and who says one of them, called Hair, used this parish for a very long time.”—Account of Parish of Ewes, apud Macfarlane's MSS.
It had much of glamour might.—St. IX. p. 71. Glamour, in the legends of Scottish superstition, means the magic power of imposing on the eye-sight of spectators, so that the appearance of an object shall be totally different from the reality. To such a charm the ballad of Johnie Fa'imputes the fascination of the lovely Countess, who eloped with that gypsey leader.
Sae soon as they saw her weel fa’rd face,
It was formerly used even in war. In 1381, when the Duke of Anjou lay before a strong castle, upon the coast of Naples, a necromancer offered to “make the ayre so thycke, that they within shal thynke that there is a great bridge on the see (by which the castle was surrounded), for ten men to go a front; and whan they within the castell se this bridge, they will be so afrayde, that they shall yelde them to your mercy. The Duke demanded—Fayre Mayster, on this bridge that ye speke of, may our people assuredly go thereon to the castell to assayle it 2 Syr, quod the enchantour, I dare not assure you that; for if any that passeth on the bridge make the signe of the crosse on hym, all shall go to noughte, and they that be on the bridge shall fall into the see. Then the Duke began to laugh; and a certayn of yong knightes, that were there present, said, Syr, for godsake, let the mayster assay his cunning; we shal leve making of any signe of the crosse on us for that tyme.” The Earl of Savoy, shortly after, entered the tent, and recognized, in the enchanter, the same person who had put the castle into the power of Syr Charles de la Payk, who then held it, by persuading the garrison of the Queen of Naples, through magical deception, that the sea was coming over the walls. The sage avowed himself to be the same person, and added, that he was the man in the world most dreaded by Sir Charles de la Payx. “By my fayth, quod the Erl of Savoy, ye say well; and I will that Sir Charles de la Payx shall know that he hath gret wronge to fear you. But I shall assure hym of you; for ye shall never do enchauntment to disceyve hym, nor yet none other. I wolde nat that in tyme to come we shulde be reproached that in so hygh an enterprise as we be in, wherein there be so many noble knyghtes and squyers assembled, that we shulde do any thyng be enchauntement, nor that we shulde wyn our enemyes by suche crafte. Than he called to hym a servaunt, and sayd, go and get a hangman, and let hym stryke of this mayster's heed without delay; and as sone as the Erle had commaunded it, incontynent it was done, for his heed was stryken of before the Erle's tent.”—FRoiss ART, vol. i. ch. 391, 392. The art of glamour, or ocular fascination, was anciently a principal part of the skill of the jongleur, or juggler, whose tricks formed much of the amusement of a Gothic castle. Some instances of this art may be found in the Minstrelsy of the
Scottish Border, vol. iii. p. 119. In a strange allegorical poem, called the Houlat, written by a dependant of the house of Douglas about 1452-3, the jay, in an assembly of birds, plays the part of the juggler. His feats of glamour are thus described.
He gart theme see, as it semyt, in samin houre,
He gart the Emproure trow, and trewlye behald,
Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,
I cannot tell, so mot I thrive ;
It was not given by man alive.—St. X. p. 72.
Some writer, upon Daemonology, tells us of a person, who
was very desirous to establish a connection with the invisible world ; and failing in all his conjurations, began to entertain doubts of the existence of spirits. While this thought was passing through his mind, he received, from an unseen hand, a very violent blow. He had immediately recourse to his magical arts; but was unsuccessful in evoking the spirit, who had made his existence so sensibly felt. A learned priest told him, long after, that the being who had so chastised his incredulity, would be the first whom he should see after his death.
The running stream dissolved the spell.—St. XIII. p. 74.
It is a firm article of popular faith, that no enchantment can subsist in a living stream. Nay, if you can interpose a brook betwixt you, and witches, spectres, or even fiends, you are in perfect safety. Burns's inimitable Tam o' Shanter turns entirely upon such a circumstance. The belief seems to be of antiquity. Brompton informs us, that certain Irish wizards could, by spells, convert earthen clods, or stones, into fat pigs, which they sold in the market; but which always reassumed their proper form, when driven by the deceived purchaser across a running stream. But Brompton is severe on the Irish, for a very good reason: “Gens ista spurcissima non solvunt decimas.” Chronicon Johannis Brompton apud decem Scripfores, p. 1076.
His buckler scarce in breadth a span,
He never counted him a man,
Imitated from Drayton's account of Robin Hood and his followers.
A hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood,
Poly-Olbion, Song 26.
To wound an antagonist in the thigh, or leg, was reckoned contrary to the law of arms. In a tilt betwixt Gawain Michael, an English squire, and Joachim Cathore, a Frenchman, “they met at the speare poyntes rudely: the French squyer justed right plesantly; the Englyshman ran too lowe, for he strake the Frenchman depe into the thygh. Wherwith the Erle of Buckingham was ryght sore displeased, and so were all the other lordes, and sayde how it was shamefully rone.”