Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/304

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294 Obeah in the West Indies.

the taper will paralyse completely the faculties, both mental and physical, of anybody who comes within its influence.'

"This formula," the author, who evidently speaks from first- hand knowledge, goes on to say, "as well as numerous others in the book, in which the grotesque and obscene jests jostle the horrible, is copied from a work entitled Petit Albert, the pretended author of which is claimed to be a monkish occultist of the middle ages. The formulae are followed by prayers in barbarous Latin, which, it is claimed, have the virtue of neutralizing the baneful effects of the sorcery. This Petit Albert is a fairly rare and rather expensive book, published at Nantes, in France, and is well known in the French West Indian colonies and in Hayti. In it are contained the child-murder formulae and the horrible receipts for hidden treasure, which has such an attraction for that very large class in these countries who wish to get money without working for it. The similarity of the procedure in all the cases which have come to light indicate a common origin in this pernicious volume."

The author then goes on to mention the case of one Adolphe Lacroix, who was executed in St. Lucia in 1876 for the murder of a dumb cripple, a boy of fifteen, whose body he had cruelly mutilated to obtain portions of it for purposes of obeah. There was also found in the house of Lacroix a note-book belonging to him in which were found receipts for working spells which were known to be used in the practice of obeah.

He then proceeded to give several extracts from news- papers of neighbouring British West India colonies, e.g. Grenada, Trinidad, and Dominica, which had taken a great interest in the trial in St. Lucia, and which serves to show the extent to which the practice of obeah had prevailed in these localities. The one from the Dominica G^iardian I append :

" Murders such as that of little Mapp are happily very infrequent in the West Indies. But this case forcibly brings to our mind the several cases of 'mysterious disappearance' in Dominica which are still shrouded in mystery. Happily for the wheels of justice