Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/296

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286 Obeah in the West Indies.

him, and consume both him and his children and his cattle ; and whosoever shall have a copy of this my letter written with my own hand, and keep it in their house, nothing shall hurt them ; neither pestilence, lightning, nor thunder shall do them any hurt, and if a woman be with child and in labour, and a copy of this my letter be about her, and she firmly puts her trust in me, she shall safely be delivered of her child.

You shall have no news of me but the Holy Scriptures, until the day of Judgment. * * * AH goodness and prosperity shall be in the house where a copy of this my letter shall be found.

I now come to the last and the most serious of the cases of obeah in the British West Indies which have come under my notice. This is what is known as "The Monchy Murder " — the strangling and mutilation of a boy for pur- poses of obeah, of which three men were convicted at St. Lucia, one of the Windward Islands, in 1904. This was indeed a serious relapse from the comparatively innocuous practices of the obeah man in this part of the world, and may probably be accounted for by the comparative!}' short time that this French island has been brought under British domination ; by the fact that the crime was committed in a remote rural district ; and that the natives of the island still speak a French patois, — a circumstance already noted by Dr. Earl in its application to the more serious cases of obeah. Furthermore, the ringleader in the crime was shown to have been a resident in Hayti for some years, where, in all probability, he had been brought under the influence of voodoo worship ; and whence he had brought back with him to St. Lucia the full equipment of an obeah man.

The particulars of the case I have obtained from a reprint of the evidence at the trial, published at the office of a local newspaper, TJie Voice of St. Lucia, and though somewhat lengthy are of considerable interest, and afford, perhaps, the first instance of a crime of this nature being tried in an English Court of Justice, and under a form of procedure