Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/271

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Obeah in the W^est Indies. 261

of the cannibals ; bodies were dug from their graves to serve as food, and the Vaudoux reigned triumphant.

In Chapter VI. of his book — on Cannibalism^Sir Spenser speaks of the great knowledge shown by Vaudoux priests of herbs as poisons and antidotes, which, though possibly exaggerated by some inquirers, is no doubt very great. He gives instances ; some showing that certain of the interior organs of a supposed corpse, buried under the influence of a narcotic, resuscitated by night in the cemetery and then murdered, — were destined for the celebration of some Vaudoux rite of the African fetishism still practised by the great majority of the Haytians. This he confirmed by the testimony of a botanical friend, who informed him that the number of medicinal plants — deleterious or not accord- ing to the use made of them — to be found throughout the Republic was very great, and that it was certain that the Papalois made use of them in their practice. Sir Spenser St. John concludes his most interesting chapter on Vaudoux worship by a reference to Froude's TJie English in the West Indies (1888), and he calls the historian's testimony in aid where, in alluding to this same subject, he states : " Behind the immorality, behind the religiosity, there lies active and alive the horrible revival of the West African superstitions, the serpent worship, the child sacrifice, and the cannibalism. There is no room to doubt itT

The next authority in point of date that I would invoke as to the very prevalent practice of obeah in the West Indies is that of my old friend Sir Hasketh Bell, K.C.M.G., who has recently been appointed to the important position of Governor in my old colony of the Leeward Islands, and who was formerly in the Government service in the island of Grenada, one of the Windward Islands group.

Of this place and its many points of interest and charm he published in 1893 a very attractive account in the shape of a little book called Obeah, with its sub-title of Witch- craft in the West Indies. In its opening chapters he gives