Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/337

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The European Sky -God. 323

of London, leaving a branch of it to sprout out. But they proved unfortunate after it, for one of them fell lame and others lost an eye. At length, in the year 1678, a certain man, notwithstanding he was warned against it, upon the account of what the other had suffered, adventured to cut the tree down, and he soon after brake his leg.' ^ But further the oak, if not the mistletoe,- stood in a relation of mysterious sympathy to royal or noble personages. In Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, it is said that the old oaks lost their tops when Lady Jane Grey, who resided at Bradgate Hall in that neigh- bourhood, was beheaded.^ Eastwell in Kent is the seat of the Finches, Earls of Winchelsea ; and Aubrey tells how grave misfortunes overtook the family, when Lord Winchelsea felled a curious grove of oaks near his house and gave the first blow with his own hand.*

But it is in Cornwall, if anywhere in England, that we should look to find clear traces of Celtic superstition. Painter's Oak in the hundred of East, Cornwall, and an oak in the parish of Probus, near Truro, are both said to have had leaves speckled with white ; and in the case of the Probus oak it was added that, if the leaves appeared all of one colour, it betokened the death of the owner.^ Since oak-mistletoe is not found in the

1 Lean Collectanea ii. i. 207, quoting Cox Magna Britannia v. 374. Cp. Aubrey, cited by Folkard Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics p. 442 and by King Sketches and Studies p. 53.

^A tomb in Bristol Cathedral belonging to the great family of Berkeleys has its spandrils filled with sprays of mistletoe — apparently the sole example of mistletoe in British ecclesiastical sculpture (King Sketches and Studies p. 49). Is there a family tradition to explain it?

^ County Folk-lore, i. 3 Leicestershire and Rutland, p. 28.

  • Aubrey, cited by Mackinlay Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs

p. 237 f.

^Carew History of Cornwall, cited by Mr. Gomme in The Archaeological Review 1889 iii. 231. See also Heath Description of Cornwall 1750, cited by Miss M. A. Courtney Cornish Feasts and Folk-lore Penzance 1890 p. 104 f. :

  • In Lanhadron Park there grows an oak that bears leaves speckled with