Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/284

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

2 74 Obeah in the West Indies.

should not be applied because the palm now requires to be " crossed " with gold instead of silver.

It may have been with some feeling of this kind in my mind that I first heard of this last lapse of old Dolly as I was returning from holding a circuit court in one of the Presidencies not very long before I left the colony, when T happened to hear some of the passengers on the steamer discussing the case of an old and blind man who was on board and who had been convicted of obeah at Montserrat, and who was being sent up to the prison headquarters at Antigua to undergo his sentence of imprisonment and, once more, a flogging. Upon inquiry I learned that this was Charles Dolly.

It seemed to them, as I must say it did to me, rather an excessive punishment to inflict upon an old man (he was now said to be over seventy years of age), apart from his blindness, even though such a hardened offender as I knew him to be, whose principal, if not sole motive, was greed. I therefore, shortly after my arrival at Antigua, went to the gaol, where I saw Dolly, and after satisfying myself as to the facts I represented his case to the Governor, with the result, I am thankful to say, that the latter part of his punishment was remitted. I trust that this action on my part will not be taken as implying any approval of the practice of even the more harmless phases of obeah, how- ever much these may have proved interesting to me from a folk-lore point of view.^

The next case in point of date that I, have is that against Timothy Dasent, which took place at Charlestown in the island of Nevis on 28th September, 1904, at a special sitting of the magistrate's Court held for the trial of obeah cases, of which Dasent's was the principal one.

^ I may say that I have now in my possession the human skull which figured as an "exhibit" in this case, together with a few of the smaller objects. These, together with a few others " exhibited " in a Virgin Islands case given me by Dr. Earl, I have brought here with me in case any members of the Society should care to inspect them. /