Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/112

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96 Reviews.

faintest grounds, without a particle of real evidence. If a stranger happens to be near when a horse or cow is suddenly taken ill, he is certain to be charged with having caused the injury by " over- looking " the animal. In fact, the Western Islanders act as if they believed that a creature would never die or fall sick unless the untoward event were caused by witchcraft or the Evil Eye.

Not unnaturally it is the prettiest child and the best animal that is most likely to suffer from the envious glance of the Evil Eye. To avert this from a child, some article of dress must be at fault, such as a stocking or a coat turned inside out ; or some bright article of clothing must be worn to divert the first glance of the Evil Eye. Although stones with natural holes in them are sometimes strung up over the door of a house to avert evil influ- ences, it does not seem that the habit of wearing amulets to counteract the Evil Eye has penetrated into the Western Isles. The nearest approach to it is to wear round the neck a thread of variously coloured yarn over which an incantation has been said.

In Dr. Maclagan's opinion, belief in the power of the Evil Eye is an original tendency of the human mind and not a special development of any division of the human race. No doubt there is truth in this. But I think there is reason to believe that much of what is now attributed in Argyleshire to the effects of the Evil Eye was formerly attributed to magic operations and to witchcraft. In the south of Europe, where the belief is so prevalent, everyone that entertains it protects himself by wearing an amulet, and his horses by something gaudy on the harness. In the Western Highlands amulets seem to be unknown, and grown-up persons do not appear to protect themselves against the evil influence. Cows are sometimes protected by tying a sprig of rowan to the tail, by smearing the ears or horns with tar, by hanging a bit of rag above their heads, or by sprinkling them with urine. But none of these precautions seem specially adapted or invented to counteract the Evil Eye. They would be equally valid against any injurious influence. As Dr. Maclagan himself observes, all the remedies to remove the bad effects of the Evil Eye belong to witchcraft. For example, if a red woollen thread is tied round the tail of an " overlooked " cow it will recover. This operation is generally performed by or under the direction of a person with a knowledge of spells {eolas), and we may believe that formerly some spell or magic song was always repeated during the opera-