Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/362

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treatment of insane people in the time of Shakespeare: "To induce the fairies to restore the stolen child," he says, "it was customary in Ireland to put the one supposed of being a changeling on a hot shovel, or to torment it in some other way. It seems that in Denmark the mother heats the oven, and places the changeling on the peel, pretending to put it in, or whips it severely with a rod, or throws it into the water. In the western isles of Scotland idiots are supposed to be the fairies' changelings, and in order to regain the lost child, parents have recourse to the following device. They place the changeling on the beach, below high-water mark, when the tide is out, and pay no heed to its screams, believing that the fairies, rather than suffer their offspring to be drowned by the rising water, will convey it away, and restore the child they had stolen. The sign that this has been done is the cessation of the child's screaming."

The surest protection against such dangers was baptism; hence the haste on the part of superstitious people to have the ceremony performed as soon as possible. The christening was the occasion of much rejoicing and public festivity. The child was often borne upon a costly and beautifully embroidered cushion, the child itself being covered during the ceremony with the bearing