Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/163

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

considered human souls. The modern Dayaks, Siamese, and Singhalese agree with the Esths as to such routing and rapping being caused by spirits.[1] Knockings may be considered mysterious but harmless, like those which in Swabia and Franconia are expected during Advent on the Anklöpferleins-Nächte, or 'Little Knockers' Nights.'[2] Or they may be useful, as when the Welsh miners think that the 'knockers' they hear underground are indicating the rich veins of lead and silver.[3] Or they may be simply annoying, as when, in the ninth century, a malignant spirit infested a parish by knocking at the walls as if with a hammer, but being overcome with litanies and holy water, confessed itself to be the familiar of a certain wicked priest, and to have been in hiding under his cloak. Thus, in the seventeenth century, the famous demon-drummer of Tedworth, commemorated by Glanvil in the 'Saducismus Triumphatus,' thumped about the doors and the outside of the house, and 'for an hour together it would beat Roundheads and Cuckolds, the Tat-too, and several other Points of War, as well as any Drummer.'[4] But popular philosophy has mostly attached to such mysterious noises a foreboding of death, the knock being held as a signal or summons among spirits as among men. The Romans considered that the genius of death thus announced his coming. Modern folk-lore holds either that a knocking or rumbling in the floor is an omen of a death about to happen, or that dying persons themselves announce their dissolution to their friends in such strange sounds. The English rule takes in both cases: 'Three loud and distinct knocks at the bed's head of a sick person, or at the bed's head or door of any of his relations, is an omen of his death.' We happen to have a good means of testing

  1. St. John, 'Far East,' vol. i. p. 82; Bastian, 'Psychologie,' p. 111; 'Oestl. Asien.' vol. iii. pp. 232, 259, 288; Boecler, 'Ehsten Aberglaube,' p. 147.
  2. Bastian, 'Mensch,' vol. ii. p. 74.
  3. Brand, vol. ii. p. 486.
  4. Glanvil, 'Saducismus Triumphatus,' part ii. The invisible drummer appears to have been one William Drury; see 'Pepys' Diary,' vol. i. p. 227.