Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/341

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Hampshire Folklore. 305

The deal was carried through, but she never dared to spend the money, and she left over 600 gold pieces in two leather bags when she died !

Some fifty years ago a local leech enjoyed a great repu- tation among the Downland villages by Kingsclere, where Daphne Mezereuni and Solomon's Seal were treasured for their medicinal qualities. A decoction of the latter made into soap was sold by the herbalist to rural maidens, who credited it with wonderful powers for the removal of sun- burn and freckles, and their faith in the healing properties of the plant was as great as even "laborious Gerarde" could desire. The Daphne Mezereiini still lingers in odd corners of Harewood, though nowadays better known in cottage garden-plots or in shrubberies than as a wild growth of the woods. This plant was used for the reverse of healing, the professional beggar effecting an evil-looking sore by rubbing a cut with it, and so poisoning the wound.

Snakes kindly provide the antidote for their own venom : " Now I'll tell you what to do, Miss, when you gets bitten by an adder," said one old countryman near Pilley, on the southern edge of the Forest, to a friend of mine. "You just takes him up by the head and slits him down, and take out the fat and rub it on the wound, and that is a certain cure." For your sake it is to be hoped that, if bitten at all, it may be in the spring, for " Adders is fattest in March month," — and if you suffer from ultra- sensitiveness you might bear in mind that snakes, — in Hampshire, — always live till sundown, and time your biting accordingly !

Toads are still, to say the least, regarded with suspicion. Gilbert White relates {Letter xvii) how " a quack " at Selborne " ate a toad, to make the country-people stare ; afterwards he drank oil." White also mentions, when on a visit near Hungerford, — probably to his brother at Fyfield, — making " inquiries concerning the wonderful method of curing cancers by means of toads," then locally much talked