Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling/Chapter 14

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CHAPTER XIV [edit]

A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL--HOKKANI BÂSO--LELLIN DUDIKABIN, OR THE GREAT SECRET--CHILDREN'S RHYMES AND INCANTATIONS--TEN LITTLE INDIAN BOYS AND TEN LITTLE ACORN GIRLS OF MARCELLUS BURDIGALENSIS

THERE is a meaningless rhyme very common among children. It is repeated while "counting off "--or "out"--those who are taking part in a game, and allotting to each a place. There are many versions of it, but the following is exactly word for word what I learned when a boy in Philadelphia:--

Ekkeri (or ickery), akkery, u-kéry an, Fillisi', follasy, Nicholas John, Queebee--quabee--Irishman (or, Irish Mary), Stingle 'em--stangle 'em--buck!

With a very little alteration in sounds, and not more than children make of these verses in different places, this may be read as follows:--

Ek-keri (yekori) akairi, you kair an, Fillissin, follasy, Nákelas jân Kivi, kávi--Irishman, Stini, stani--buck!

This is, of course, nonsense, but it is Romany or gypsy nonsense, and it may be thus translated very accurately

First--here--you begin! Castle, gloves. You don't play!

         Go on !

Kivi--a kettle. How are you? Stáni, buck.

The common version of the rhyme begins with:--

"One--ery--two--ery, ickery an."

But one-ery is an exact translation of ek-keri; ek, or yek, meaning one in gypsy. (Ek-orus, or yek-korus, means once). And it is remarkable that in-

"Hickory dickory dock, The rat ran up the clock, The clock struck one, And down he run, Hickory dickory dock."

We have hickory, or ek-keri, again followed by a significant one. It may be observed that while my first quotation abounds in what are unmistakably Romany words, I can find no trace of any in any other child-rhymes of the kind. I lay stress on this, for if I were a great Celtic scholar I should not have the least difficulty in proving that every word in every rhyme, down to "Tommy, make room for your uncle," was all old Irish or Gaelic. Word for word every person who understands Romany will admit the following:--

Ek, or yek, means one. Yekorus, ekorus, or yeckori, or ekkeri, once.

U-kair-an. You kair an, or begin. Kair is to make or do, ânkair to begin. "Do you begin?"

Fillissin is a castle, or gentleman's country scat (H. SMITH).

Follasi, or follasy, is a lady's glove.

Nâkelas. I learned this word from an old gypsy. It is used as equivalent to don't, but also means ná (kélas), you don't play. From kel-ava, I play,

Ján, Já-an, Go on. From jâva, I go. Hindu, jána, and jáo.

Kivi, or keevy. No meaning.

Kavi, a kettle, from kekâvi, commonly given as kâvi. Greek, κεκκάβοσ {Greek kekkábos}. Hindu, kal, a box.

Stini. No meaning that I know.

Stáni. A buck.

Of the last line it may be remarked that if we take from ingle 'em (angle 'em), which is probably added for mere jingle, there remains stán, or stáni, "a buck," followed by the very same word in English.

With the mournful examples of Mr. BELLENDEN KERR'S efforts to show that all our old proverbs, saws, sayings, and tavern signs are Dutch, and Sir WILLIAM BETHAM's Etruscan-Irish, and the works of an army of "philologists," who consider mere chance resemblance to be a proof of identical origin, I should be justly regarded as one of the seekers for mystery in moonshine if I declared that I positively believed this to be Romany. But it certainly contains words which, without any stretching or fitting, are simply gypsy, and I think it not improbable that it was some sham charm used by some Romany fortune-teller to bewilder Gorgios. Let the reader imagine the burnt-sienna, wild-cat-eyed old sorceress performing before a credulous farm-wife and her children, the great ceremony of hâkkni pánki--which Mr. BORROW calls hokkani bâro, but for which there is a far deeper name--that of the great secret"--which even my best Romany friends tried to conceal from me. This is to lel dûdikabin--to "take lightment." In the oldest English canting, lightment occurs as an equivalent for theft--whether it came from Romany, or Romany from it, I cannot tell. This feat-which is described by almost every writer on Gypsies--is performed by inducing some woman of largely magnified faith to believe that there is hidden in her house a magic treasure, which can only be made "to come to hand" by depositing in the cellar another treasure, to which it will come by natural affinity and attraction. "For gold, as you sees, draws gold, my deari, and so if you ties up all your money in a pocket-handkercher, an' leaves it, you'll find it doubled. An' wasn't there the Squire's lady--you know Mrs. Trefarlo, of course--and didn't she draw two hundred old gold guineas out of the ground where they'd laid in an old grave-and only one guinea she gave me for all my trouble; an' I hope you'll do better than that for the poor old gypsy, my deari--."

The gold and the spoons are all tied up-for, as the enchantress sagely observes, "there may be silver too"--and she solemnly repeats over it magical rhymes, while the children, standing around in awe, listen to every word. It is a good subject for a picture. Sometimes the windows are closed, and candles lighted--to add to the effect. The bundle is left or buried in a certain place. The next day the gypsy comes and sees how the charm is working. Could any one look under her cloak, he might find another bundle precisely resembling the one containing the treasure. She looks at the precious deposit, repeats her rhyme again solemnly and departs, after carefully charging the house-wife that the bundle must not be touched, looked at, or spoken of for three weeks. "Every word you tell about it, my deari, will be a guinea gone away." Sometimes she exacts an oath on the Bible, when she chivs o manzin apré lâtti--that nothing shall be said.

Back to the farmer's house never again. After three weeks another Extraordinary Instance of Gross Credulity appears in the country paper, and is perhaps repeated in a colossal London daily, with a reference to the absence of the schoolmaster. There is wailing and shame in the house--perhaps great suffering--for it may be that the savings of years, and bequeathed tankards, and marriage rings, and inherited jewellery, and mother's souvenirs have been swept away. The charm has worked. "How can people be such fools!" Yea--how can they? How can fully ninety-nine out of one hundred, and I fear me nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand, be capable of what amounts to precisely the same thing--paying out their cash in the hopes that the Invisible Influences in the Inscrutable Cellar or Celestial Garret will pay it back to them, cent. per cent.? Oh, reader, if you be of middle age (for there are perhaps some young agnostics beginning to appear to whom the cap does not fit), and can swear on your hat that you never in your life have been taken in by a dûdikabin in any form--send me your name and I will award you for an epitaph that glorious one given in the Nugæ Venales:

"Hic jacet ille qui unus fuit inter mille!"

The charm has worked. But the little sharp-eared children remember it, and sing it over, and the more meaningless it sounds in their ears, the more mysterious does it become. And they never talk about the bundle--which when opened was found to contain only stones, sticks, and rags--without repeating it. So it goes from mouth to mouth, until, all mutilated, it passes current for even worse nonsense than it was at first. It may be observed, however--and the remark will be fully substantiated by any one who knows the gypsy language--that there is a Romany turn to even the roughest corners of these rhymes. Kivi, stingli, stangli, are all gypsyish. But, as I have already intimated, this does not appear in any other nonsense verses of the kind. There is nothing of it in--

"Intery, mintery, cutery corn,"

or in anything else in "Mother Goose." It is alone in its sounds and sense--or nonsense. But there is not a wanderer on the roads in England who on hearing it would not exclaim, "There's a great deal of Romanes in that ere!" And if any one doubts it let him try it on any gypsy who has an average knowledge of Romany.

I should say that the word Na-Kelas, which means literally "Do not play," or, "You do not play," was explained to me by a gypsy as signifying not speaking, or keeping quiet. Nicholas John has really no meaning, but "You don't play--go on," fits exactly into a counting-out game.

The mystery of mysteries in the Romany tongue--of which I have spoken--is this: The hokkani bâro, or huckeny boro, or great trick, consists of three parts. Firstly, the getting into a house or into the confidence of its owner, which is effected in England by offering small wares for sale, or by begging for food, but chiefly by fortune-telling, the latter being the usual pretence in America. If the gypsy woman be at all prepared, she will have learned enough to amaze "the lady of the house," who is thereby made ready to believe anything. The second part of the trick is the conveying away the property, which is, as I have said, to lel dûdikabin, or "take lightning," possibly connected with the old canting term for conveyance of bien lightment. There is evidently a confusion of words here. And third is to "chiv o manzin apré lâti" to put the oath upon her--the victim--by which she binds herself not to speak of the affair for some weeks. When the deceived are all under oath not to utter a word about the trick, the gypsy mother has a safe thing of it.

The hâkkani boro, or great trick, or dûdikabin, was brought by the gypsies from the East. It has been practised by them all over the world, and is still played every day somewhere. And I have read in the Press of Philadelphia that a Mrs. BROWN--whom I sadly and reluctantly believe is the wife of an acquaintance of mine who walks before the world in other names--was arrested for the same old game of fortune-telling, and persuading a simple dame that there was treasure in the house, and all the rest of the "grand deception." And Mrs. BROWN--"good old Mrs. Brown"--went to prison, where she doubtless lingered until a bribed alderman, or a purchased pardon, or some one of the numerous devices by which justice is easily evaded in Pennsylvania, delivered her.

Yet it is not a good country on the whole for hâkkani boro, since the people, especially in the rural districts, have a rough and ready way of inflicting justice, which sadly interferes with the profits of aldermen and other politicians. Some years ago, in Tennessee, a gypsy woman robbed a farmer of all he was worth. Now it is no slander to say that the rural folk of Tennessee resemble Indians in several respects, and when 1 saw thousands of them during the Civil War, mustered out in Nashville, I often thought, as I studied these dark brown faces, high cheek-bones, and long, straight, wiry hair, that the American is indeed reverting to the aboriginal type. The Tennessee farmer and his friends reverted to it at any rate with a vengeance, for they turned out altogether, hunted the gypsies down, and having secured the sorceress, burned her alive at the stake. Which has been, as I believe, "an almighty warning" to the Romany in that sad section of the world. And thus in a single crime, and its consequence, we have curiously combined a world-old Oriental offence, an European Middle Age penalty for witchcraft, and the fierce torture of the Red Indian.

In the United States there is often to be found in a gypsy camp a negro or two ... a few years ago a coloured sorcerer appeared in Philadelphia, who, as I was assured, "persuaded half the negroes in Lombard Street to dig up their cellars to find treasure--and carried off all the treasures they had." He had been, like MATTHEW ARNOLD'S scholar, among the tents of the Romany, and had learned their peculiar wisdom, and turned it to profit.

In Germany the Great Sorcery is practised with variations, and indeed in England or America or anywhere it is modified in many ways to suit the victims. The following methods are described by Dr. RICHARD LIEBICH, in "Die Zigeuner in ihrem Wesen und in ihrer Sprache" (Leipzig, 1863):--

"When a gypsy has found some old peasant who has the reputation of being rich or very well-to-do he sets himself to work with utmost care to learn the disposition of the man with every possible detail as to his house and habits." (It is easy and congenial work to people who pass their lives in learning all they can of other folks' affairs to aid in fortune-telling, to find out the soft spots, as Sam Slick calls the peculiarities by which a man may be influenced.) "And so some day, when all the rest of the family are in the fields, the gypsy--man or woman--comes, and entering into a conversation, leads it to the subject of the house, remarking that it is a belief among his people that in it a treasure lies buried. He offers, if he may have permission to take it away, to give one-fourth, a third, or a half its value. This all seems fair enough, but the peasant is greedy and wants more. The gypsy, on his side, also assumes suspicion and distrust. He proves that he is a conjuror by performing some strange tricks--thus he takes an egg from under a hen, breaks it, and apparently brings out a small human skull or some strange object, and finally persuades the peasant to collect all his coin and other valuables in notes, gold, or silver, into a bundle, cautioning him to hold them fast. He must go to bed and put the packet under his pillow, while he, the conjuror, finds the treasure. This done--probably in a darkened room--he takes a bundle of similar appearance which he has quickly prepared, and under pretence of facilitating the operation and putting the man into a proper position, takes the original package and substitutes another. Then the victim is cautioned that it is of the utmost importance for him to lie perfectly still;"

Nor move his hand nor blink his 'ee If ever he hoped the goud to see For aye aboot on ilka limb, The fairies had their 'een on him."

The gypsy is over the hills and far far away ere the shades of evening fall, and the family returning from their fields find the father in bed refusing to speak a word; for he has been urgently impressed with the assertion that the longer he holds his tongue and keeps the affair a secret the more money he will make. And the extreme superstition of the German peasant is such that when obliged to tell the truth he often believes that all his loss is due to a premature forced revelation of what he has done--for the gypsy in many cases has the cheek to caution the victim that if he speaks too soon the contents of the package will be turned to sand or rags--accordingly as he has prepared it.

Another and more impudent manner of playing this pretended sorcery, is to persuade the peasant that he must have a thick cloth tied around his head, and if any one addresses him to reply only by what in German is called brummen--uttering a kind of growl. This he does, when the. entire party proceed to carry off everything portable--

"Chairs and tables knives and forks, Tankards and bottles and cups and corks, Beds and dishes and boots and kegs, Bacon and puddings and milk and eggs, The carpet lying on the floor, And the hams hung up for the winter store, Every pillow and sheet and bed, The dough in the trough and the baken bread, Every bit of provant or pelf; All that they left was the house itself."

One may imagine what the scene is like when the rest return and find the house plundered, the paterfamilias sitting in the ruins with his head tied up, answering all frantic queries with brum--brum--brum! It may recall the well-known poem--I think it is by PETER PINDAR WOLCOTT--Of the man who was persuaded by a bet to make the motion of a pendulum, saying, "Here she goes--there she goes!" while the instigator "cleared out the house and then cleared out himself." I have little doubt that this poem was drawn from a Romany original.

Or yet, again, the gypsy having obtained the plunder and substituted the dummy packet, persuades the true believer to bury it in the barn, garden, field, or a forest, performs magic ceremonies and repeats incantations over it, and cautions him to dig it up again, perhaps six months later on a certain day, it may be his saint's or birth day, and to keep silence till then. The gypsy makes it an absolute condition--nay, he insists very earnestly on it--that the treasure shall not be dug up unless he himself is on the spot to share the spoil. But as he may possibly be prevented from coming, he tells the peasant how to proceed: he leaves with him several pieces of paper inscribed with cabalistic characters which are to be burnt when the money is removed, and teaches him what he is to repeat while doing it. With sequence as before. It might be urged by the gypsy that the taking a man's money from him under the conditions that he shall get it all back with immense interest six months after, does not differ materially from persuading him to give his property to Brahmins, or even priests, with the understanding that he is to be amply rewarded for it in a future state. I n both cases the temptation to take the money down is indeed great--as befel a certain very excellently honest but extremely cautious Scotch clergyman, to whom there once came a very wicked and wealthy old reprobate who asked him "If I gie a thousand puns till the kirk d'ye think it wad save my soul?" "I'm na preparit to preceesely answer that question," said the shrewd dominie, "but I would vara urgently advise ye to try it."

Oh thou who persuadest man that for money down great good shall result to him from any kind of spiritual incantation--twist and turn it as ye will--mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur:

"With but a single change of name, The story fits thee quite the same."

And few and far between are the Romanys--or even the Romans--who would not "vara earnestly advise ye to try it."

Since I wrote that last line I have met, in the Journal of American Folk-Lore, with a very interesting article on the Counting-out Rhymes of Children, in which the writer, H. CARRINGTON BOLTON, avows his belief that these doggerel verses or rhymes are the survivals of sortileges or divination by lot, and that it was practised among the ancient heathen nations as well as the Israelites:--

"The use of the lot at first received divine sanction, as in the story of Achan related by Joshua, but after this was withheld the practice fell into the hands of sorcerers--which very name signifies lot-taker. The doggerels themselves I regard as a survival of the spoken charms used by sorcerers in ancient times in conjunction with their mystic incantations. There are numerous examples of these charms, such as-

"'Huat Hanat Huat ista pista sista domiabo damnaustra.'

                (CATO, 235 B.C.)

"And--

"'Irriori, ririori essere rhuder fere.'

"And--

"'Meu, treu, mor, phor Teux, za, zor Phe, lou, chri, Ge, ze, on.' (ALEXANDER OF TRALLES.)


"TYLOR in his 'Primitive Culture' holds that things which occupy an important place in the life-history of grown men in a savage state become the playthings of children in a period of civilization; thus the sling and the bow and arrow, which formed the weapons of mankind in an early stage of its existence, and ate still the reliance of savage tribes, have become toys in the hands of all civilized children at the present day. Many games current in Europe and America are known to be sportive imitations of customs which formerly had a significant and serious aspect.

"Adopting this theory, I hold that counting-out is a survival of the practice of the sorcerer, using this word in its restricted and etymological meaning, and that the spoken and written charms originally used to enforce priestly power have become adjuncts to these puerile games, and the basis of the counting-out doggrels under consideration.

"The idea that European and American children engaged in 'counting-out' for games, are repeating in innocent ignorance the practices and language of a sorcerer of a dark age, is perhaps startling, but can be shown to have a high degree of probability. The leader in 'counting out' performs an incantation, but the children grouped round him are free from that awe and superstitious reverence which characterized the procedure in its earlier state. Many circumstances make this view plausible, and clothe the doggrels with a new and fascinating interest."

Mr. BOLTON remarks, however, that "in only one instance have I been able to directly connect a child's counting-out rhyme with a magic spell. According to LELAND the rhyme beginning with

'One-cry, two-ery, ickery, Ann,'

is a gypsy magic spell in the Romany language."

It occurred to me long, long ago, or before ever the name "Folk-lore" existed, that children's rhymes were a survival of incantations, and that those which are the same backward and forward were specially adapted to produce marvellous effects in lots. But there was one form of counting-out which was common as it was terrible. This was used when after a victory it was usual to put every tenth captive to death--whence the greatly abused word to "decimate"--or any other number selected. When there was a firm belief in the virtues of numbers as set forth by PYTHAGORAS, and PLATO in the Timæus, and of cabalistic names inspired by the "Intelligences," it is not remarkable that the diviners or priests or sorcerers or distributors of sortes and sortileges should endeavour to prove that life and death lay bound up in mystic syllables. That there were curious and occult arithmetical means of counting-out and saving elected persons is shown in certain mystic problems still existent in Boys Own Books, and other handbooks of juvenile sports. It was the one on whom the fatal word of life or death fell who was saved or condemned, so that it was no wonder that the word was believed to be a subtle, mysterious existence: an essence or principle, yea, a spirit or all in one--diversi aspetti in un, confuse e misti. He who knew the name of Names which, as the Chaldæan oracles of old declared, "rushes into the infinite worlds," knew all things and had all power; even in lesser words there lingered the fragrance of God and some re-echo of the Bath Kol--the Daughter of the Voice who was herself the last echo of the divine utterance. So it went down through the ages-coming, like Caesar's clay, to base uses--till we now find the sacred divination by words a child's play: only that and nothing more.

Truly Mr. BOLTON spoke well when he said that such reflection clothes these doggerels with a new and fascinating interest. Now and then some little thing awakens us to the days of old, the rosy, early morning of mankind, when the stars of magic were still twinkling in the sky, and the dreamer, hardly awake, still thought himself communing with God. So I was struck the other day when a gypsy, a deep and firm believer in the power of the amulet, and who had long sought, yet never found, his ideal, was deeply moved when I showed him the shell on which NAV, or the Name, was mystically inscribed by Nature. Through the occult and broken traditions of his tribe there had come to him also, perhaps from Indian or Chaldæan sources, some knowledge of the ancient faith in its power.

I think that I can add to the instance of a child's counting-out game based on a magic spell, yet another. Everybody knows the song of John Brown who had

Ten little, nine little, eight little, seven little, Six little Indian boys; Five little, four little, three little, two little, One little Indian boy, 1

And of the fate which overtook them all, one by one, inevitable as the decrees of Nemesis. This song is in action a game. I have heard it in Romany from a gypsy, and have received from a gypsy scholar another version of it, though I am sure that both were versions from the English. But in Romany, as in all languages, there have existed what may be called additional and subtractive magic songs, based on some primæval Pythagorean principle of the virtues of numbers, and, as regards form, quite like that of the ten little Indians. In the charms of MARCELLUS BURDIGALENSIS (third century), it appears as a cure for pains or disorders in the jaws (remedium valde certum et utile faucium doloribus), in the Song of the Seven Acorn Sisters, which the Latin-Gaul doctor describes as carmen mirum, in which opinion the lover of Folk-lore will heartily concur.

"CARMEN MIRUM AD GLANDULAS.

Glandulas mane carminabis, si dies minuetur, si nox ad vesperam, et digito medicinali ac pollice continens eas dices--

Novem glandulæ sorores, Octo glandulæ sorores, Septem glandulæ sorores, Sex glandulæ sorores, Quinque glandulæ sorores, Quatuor glandulæ sorores, Tres glandulæ sorores, Duæ glandulæ sorores, Una glandula soror! Novem fiunt glandulæ, Octo fiunt glandulæ, Septem fiunt glandulæ, Sex fiunt glandulæ, Quinque fiunt glandulæ, Quattuor fiunt glandulæ, Tres fiunt glandulæ, Duæ fiunt glandulæ, Una fit glandula, Nulla fit glandula!"

(I.e., "Nine little acorn sisters (or girls), Eight little acorn sisters," &c.)

This is simply the same count, forwards and backwards.

It rises before us as we read--a chorus of rosy little Auluses and Marcellas, Clodias, and Manliuses, screaming in chorus--

"Ten little, nine little, eight little, seven little, Six little acorn girls!"

Until it was reduced to una glandula et nulla fit--then there was none., They too had heard their elders repeat it as a c arm against the Jaw-ache--and can any man in his senses doubt that they applied it in turn to the divine witchcraft of fun and the sublime sorcery of sport, which are just as magical and wonderful in their way as anything in all theurgia or occultism, especially when the latter is used only to excite marvels and the amazement which is only a synonym for amusement. But it is not credible that such a palpable "leaving out" song as that of the Ten Little Acorn Girls should not having been utilized by such intelligent children as grew up into being the conquerors of the world--"knowing Latin at that."

There is yet another old Roman "wonderful song to the Acorns," apparently for the same disorder, given by the same author. "Albula glandula, Nec doleas nec noceas, Nec paniculas facias, Sed liquescas tanquam salis (mica) in aqua!

"Hoc ter novies dicens spues ad terram et glandulas ipsas pollice et digito medicinali perduces, dum carmen dices, sedante solis ortum et post occasum facies id, prout dies aut nox minuetur."

There appears in these formulas to be either a confusion or affinity as regards glandulas, the tonsils, and the same word signifying small acorns. As is very often the case, the similarity of name caused an opinion that there must be sympathetic curative qualities. Perhaps acorns were also used in this ceremony. In a comment on this GRIMM remarks: "Die Glandula wird angeredet, die Glandulæ gelten für Schwestern, wie wenn das alt hoch-deutsch druos glandula (GRAFF 5, 263) personification aukündigte? Alt Nordisch ist drôs, femina."

There is another child's rhyme which is self-evidently drawn from an exorcism, that is to say an incantation. All my readers know the nursery song:--

"Snail, snail, come out of your hole, Or else I'll beat you as black as a coal Snail, snail, put out your head, Or else I'll beat you till you are dead!"

It is very remarkable that in Folk-lore the mole and the snail are identified, and, as DE GUBERNATIS states, both are the same with the grey mouse, or, as he might more accurately have declared with the mouse in general. A critic objects to this simply because it occurs in the work of DIE GUBERNATIS, among his "fanciful theories," but it need not follow that every citation or opinion in his book is false. FRIEDRICH, who certainly is not a fanciful theorist, asserted nearly thirty years ago that the mouse, owing to its living underground and in dark places as well as to its gnawing and destroying everything, is a chthonisches Thier, one of the animals of darkness and evil. Also "the mole, because it is of subterranean life, has received a chthonic, demoniac, misanthropic reputation." support of these statements he cites a great array of authorities. The connection between the mole and mouse is evident enough, that between both and the snail is also clear: firstly, from the fact that "the snail of popular superstition is demoniacal," or evil; and secondly, from the rhyme which I now quote, which is applied to both moles and snails. According to DU CANGE it was usual in the Middle Ages for children to go about carrying poles, on the ends of which was straw, which they lighted, and going round the gardens and under the trees shouted:--

"Taupes et mulots, Sortez de vas clos, Sinon je vous brulerai la bathe et les os!"

But in Germany there are two and in Italy five versions of the same song addressed to snails. It is evidently a Roman Catholic formula, based on some early heathen incantation. Thus in Tuscany they sing

"Chiocciola marinella Tira fuori le tue cornelle, E se tu non le tirerai Calcie pugni tu buscherai."

Both the snail and mole and mouse were, as I have said, chthonic, that is diabolical or of darkness. The horns of the former were supposed to connect it with the devil. "In Tuscany it is believed that in the month of April the snail makes love with serpents."

There is another nursery counting-out rhyme whose antiquity and connection with sorcery is very evident. It is as follows:--

"One, two, three, four, five, I caught a hare all alive. Six, seven, eight, nine ten, I let her go again."

The following from the medical spells and charms Of MARCELLUS BURDIGALENSIS manifestly explains it:--

"Lepori vivo alum abstrahes, pilósque ejus de subventre tolles atque ipsum vivum dimittes. De illis pilis, vel lana filum validum facies et ex eo talum leporis conligabis corpusque laborantis præcinges; miro remedio subvenies. Efficacius tamen erit remedium, ita ut incredibile sit, si casu os ipsum, id est talum leporis in stercore lupi inveneris, quod ita custodire debes, ne aut terram tangat aut a muliere contingatur, sed nec filum illud de lana leporis debet mulier ulla contigere. Hoc autem remedium cum uni profuerit ad alias translatum cum volueris, et quotiens volueris proderit. Filum quoque, quod ex lana vel pilis, quos de ventre leporis tuleris, solus purus et nitidus facies, quod si ita ventri laborantis subligaveris plurimum proderit, ut sublata lana leporem vivum dimmittas, et dicas ei dum dimittis eum:

"'Fuge, fuge, lepuscule, et tecum auter coli dolorem!'"

That is to say, you must "first catch your hare," then pluck from it the fur needed ad dolorem coli, then "let it go again," bidding it carry the disorder with it. In which the hare appears as a scapegoat. It may be observed that all this ceremony of catching the hare, letting it go and bidding it run and carry away the disorder, is still in familiar use in Tuscany.

It has been observed to me that "any nursery rhyme may be used as a charm." To this we may reply that any conceivable human utterance may be taken for the same purpose, but this is an unfair special pleading not connected with the main issue. Mr. CARRINGTON BOLTON admits that he has only found one instance of coincidence between nursery rhymes and spells, and I have compared hundreds of both with not much more result than what I have here given. But those who are practically familiar with such formulas recognize this affinity. On asking the Florentine fortune-teller if she knew any children's counting-out rhymes which deemed to her to be the same with incantations, she at once replied

"In witchcraft you sometimes call on people one by one by name to bewitch them. And the little girls have a song which seems to be like it." Then she sang to a very pretty tune

"Ecco l'imbasciatore, Col tra le vi la lera, Ecco l'imbasciatrice, Col tra la li ra la! p. 226 Cosa volete col tua la li la, Col tra le li va la, Voglio Giuseppina, Col tra le li va le va. Voglio la Cesarina, Col tra le li ra le ra. Voglio la Armida, &c, Voglio la Gesualda, Voglio la Barbera, Voglio la Bianca, Voglio la Fortunata, Voglio la Uliva, Voglio la Filomena, Voglio la Maddalena, Voglio la Pia, Voglio la Gemma, Voglio la Ida, Voglio la Lorenzina, Voglio la Carolina, Voglio la Annunciatina, Voglio la Margo," &c.

There is one thing of which those who deny the identity of any counting-out rhymes with spells are not aware. These incantations are very much in vogue with the Italian peasantry, as with the gypsies. They are repeated on all occasions for every disorder, for every trifle lost, for every want. Every child has heard them, and their jingle and even their obscurity make them attractive. They are just what children would be likely to remember and to sing over, and the applying them to games and to "counting-out" would follow as a matter of course. In a country where every peasant, servant-girl and child knows at least a few spells, the wonder would be if some of these were not thus popularized or perverted. It is one thing to sit in one's library and demonstrate that this or that ought not to be, because it is founded on a "theory" or "idea," and quite another to live among people where these ideas are in active operation. WASHINGTON IRVING has recorded that one of the Dutch governors of New York achieved a vast reputation for wisdom by shrugging his shoulders, at everything and saying, "I have my doubts as to that." And truly the race Of WOUTER VAN TWILLER is not extinct as yet by any means among modern critics.

It is worth noting in this connection that in Mrs. VALENTINE'S Nursery Rhymes (Camden edition) there are fifteen charms given which are all of a magical nature.

Since the foregoing chapter was written I have obtained in Florence several additional instances of children's rhymes which were spells. Nearly allied to this subject of sorcery in the nursery is The Game of the Child-stealing Witch, which, as W. Wells Newell has shown in a very interesting and valuable contribution to the American Folk-Lore Journal, vol. iii., April, 1890, is found in many languages and lands.

In connection with divination, deceit, and robbery, it may be observed that gypsies in Eastern Europe, as in India, often tell fortunes or answer questions by taking a goblet or glass, tapping it, and pretending to hear a voice in the ring which speaks to them. This method of divination is one of the few which may have occurred sporadically, or independently in different places, as there is so much in a ringing, vibrating sound which resembles a voice. The custom is very ancient and almost universal; so Joseph (Genesis xliv. 5) says ("Vulgate"), "Scyphus quam furati estis, ipse est, in quo bibit Dominus meus, et in quo augurari solet." "The goblet which ye have stolen, is it not this wherein my lord drinketh and in which he is wont to divine?" Joseph says again (ver. 15), "Know ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine." A great number of very orthodox scholars have endeavoured to show that "divine" here means merely "to conjecture wisely," or "to see into," in order to clear Joseph from the accusation of fortune-telling: but the cup and his interpretation of dreams tell another story. In those days in the East, as now, clever men made their way very often by fortune-telling and theurgia in different forms in great families, just as ladies and gentlemen are "invited out" in London and Paris to please the company with palmistry. This divining by goblets is still common in the East. In NORDEN'S "Reise nach Egypten," &c., we are told that a native said to the travellers that he had interrogated his coffee-cup, and it had replied that the travellers were those of whom the Prophet had predicted they would come as spies and lead the way for a great immigration of Franks. In an Arabic commentary of the twelfth century the replies which the goblet gave to Joseph when it tapped on it are given in full. As coffee-drinking is very ancient it is probable that divination by means of the grounds grew out of foretelling with the cup.

Horst ("Dæmonomagie," vol. ii.) remarks that "prediction by means of drinking or coffee-cups," &c., is called in magic, Scyphomancy, and that the reader may judge how common it was in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century by consulting the famous humorous poem of the "Renomist," Song iii. ver. 47. Certain goblets of thin glass will give out quite a loud ring if only blown upon, and by blowing or breathing in a peculiar way the sound may be greatly increased or modified, so as to sound like the human voice. This was shown me by an old custode in the museum at the Hague. It is a curious trick worth trying--especially by those who would pass for magicians!

There is yet another kind of magic cup known only by tradition, the secret of which, I believe, I was the first to re-discover. It is said that the Chinese knew of old how to make bottles, &c., which appeared to be perfectly plain, but on which, when filled with wine, inscriptions or figures appeared, and which were used in divination as to answer questions. In the winter of 1886-87, Sir HENRY AUSTIN LAYARD went with me through his glass factory at Venice. 1 As we were standing by the furnace watching the workmen it flashed upon me quite in a second how the mysterious old goblets of the Chinese could be made. This would be by blowing a bottle, &c., of thin white glass and putting on the interior in all parts except the pattern, a coating of glass half an inch in thickness. The outside should then be lightly ground, to conceal the heavy portion. If red wine or any dark fluid should then be poured into the bottle the pattern would appear of the same colour. Sir Austin Layard at once sent for his very intelligent foreman, Signor CASTELLANI, who said that he had indeed read of such goblets, but that he regarded it as a fable. But when I explained to him what had occurred to me, he said that it was perfectly possible, but that the great expense of making such objects would probably make the manufacture practically impossible. Apropos of which I may mention that those who would investigate the curiosities of glass, especially the art of making it malleable, may find a great deal in A. Nevi, "De Arte Vitraria" (Amsterdam), and its German translation of 1678 (which contains a chapter, "Wie die Malleabilitat dem Glase beygebracht werden konne").

It is probable that the celebrated cup of Djemschid, in Persian story, which showed on its surface all that passed in the world, owed its origin to these Chinese bottles.






Footnotes 209:1 This chapter is reproduced, but with much addition, from one in my work entitled "The Gypsies," published in Boston, 1881, by HOUGHTON and MIFFLIN. London: TRÜBNER & Co. The addition will be the most interesting portion to the folk-lorist.

221:1 This song which, with its air, is very old in the United States, has been vulgarizcd by being turned into a ballad of ten little nigger boys. It is given in Mrs. VALENTINE'S Nursery Rhymes as "Indian boys."

228:1 It is not generally known that Sir H. A. Layard and Sir William Drake were the true revivers of the glass manufacture of Venice.