d'entrer. Ils rient en disant cela, mais ils ne le disent pourtant pas tout-à-fait en riant; car ils croyent qu il y a là-dedans, ou du moins qu il peut y avoir quelque vertu secrete: et s'ils n'avoient pas cette opinion, ils ne s'amuseroient pas à clouer ce fer à leur porte.'
And Guy, in his fable of the Old Woman and her Cats, makes her complain that
'crowds of boys
Worry me with eternal noise;
Straws laid across my path retard,
The horse-shoes nail'd (each threshold guard).'
It was considered a lucky omen to find a horse-shoe on the road; for one obtained in this way was far more potent against the ill-natured old ladies than one procured otherwise. Scott alludes to the virtues of the hoofarmour in this respect, when he causes Summertrees to rail Crosbie with, 'Your wife's a witch, man; you should nail a horse-shoe on your chamber-door.'
Only a few years ago, when the wealthy banker, Coutts, went to reside at Holly Lodge, two old horse-shoes were fixed on the upper step of the marble flight of stairs.
Specimens will be shown of two horse-shoes—one of the 13th, the other of the 16th, century—which had been fastened to the church door of Saint-Saturnin, in France.
It used to be the custom in Devonshire and Cornwall, to nail to the great west doors of churches these old articles to keep off the malicious witches, one of whose special amusements it was
'To untie the winds and make them fight
Against the churches.'
- Red Gauntlet, chap. v.