Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/37

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23
Presidential Address.

that he stayed at Woodseaves all night rather than cross the Big Bridge to reach his home.

Well, the ghost-seer got home safely at last with his horse and cart, perfectly sober, as I was assured a few days later by his master, who was watching for his return; and the whip was picked up next day just where he reported having dropped it. A couple of days or so afterwards, the village policeman called on Mr. Bailey, the man's master, and desired him to give information of his having been stopped and robbed on the Big Bridge a few nights before, (for such was the form in which the story had reached the ears of the representative of the Law). Mr. Bailey, amused, gave him the correct version. The policeman was much disappointed. He was a local man, (which Mr. Bailey was not), and well up in the local traditions. "Oh, was that all, sir?" he said. "Oh, I know what that was. That was the Man-Monkey, sir, as always does come again at the Big Bridge, ever since the man was drowned in the Cut."

Now this cannot be called a case of mere "survival" in the ordinary technical sense. It is no mere dead relic of the past; it is a living and influential belief of the present, just as much as the Burmese belief (Folk-Lore, vol. xxi., p. 371), that "a man may turn into a tiger in the evening without any fuss," is living and influential.

So, too, with other beliefs about the lower animals. "They're coorus craiturs, bees," said an old Shropshire woman to me, years ago. "There's a luck about 'em, for sartain." Every beekeeper can give you instances of the death of bees caused by omitting to inform them of human deaths. A farmer's wife whom I knew in Staffordshire forgot this precaution at the time of her husband's death in the summer of 1892, and found in the course of the next winter that only one hive was living. This she managed to save, not by feeding it, as might be supposed, but by changing the ownership. She formally gave it to her little