Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/412

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402 Collectanea.

correct, but also that, in the seventeenth century, the " crane-fly " was intimately connected with the world of fays, sprites, witches, and the like. In Ben Jonson's Bariholo77iew Fair is the following passage : " he looks . . . like one that were made to catch flies, with his Sir Cranion legs." ^

Drayton makes the "crane-fly" Queen Mab's charioteer:

" four nimble gnats the horses were their harnesses of gossamere Fly Cranion her charioteer, upon the coach-box getting."'

The "crane-fly" might serve as the bodily manifestation of a familiar spirit. One of the " hags " in Jonson's Masque of QtieenSy

says :

" the scrich-ovvl's eggs, and the feathers black, the blood of the frog, and the bone in his back, I have been getting ; and made of his skin a purset to keep Sir Cranion in."'*

The following passage in Jonson's The Alchemist^ compared with that last quoted, shows that " Sir Cranion," the familiar spirit, was also known simply as " the fly " : " here is your fly in a purse, about your neck, cousin ; wear it, and feed it about this day sev'n-night, on your right wrist.""* A character in the same play asks the alchemist for

" a familiar to rifle ^ with at horses and win cups

a rifling fly, none of your great familiars."®

This belief that sprites in the form of insects should be fed and cossetted, explains a modern custom in the west of Scotland : "the common white butterfly was a favourite with children, and to catch one and preserve it alive was considered lucky. Care was taken to preserve them by feeding them with sugar." "

In marked contrast to the favour with which the white butterfly was regarded was the treatment awarded to coloured butterflies,

^ActI.,Sc. I. -Michael Drayton, Niniphidia.

  • Evans, I.e. ■'Act V., Sc. 2.

'/.«., raffle, or gamble. ® The Alchemist, Act I., Sc. i.

^Jas. Napier, Folk-Lore in the West of Scotland {iZ'jC)), p. 16.