Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/418

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


the Veneto twelve ; in Lombardy, Medina, Liguria, something over four. Very interesting and abundant details are given of the way in which this fascination works ; of the proverbs (the p/ccoZo vangelo iz. the lesser gospel, as the people call them) which regulate its influence ; of the faith attached to the polacchi, as those who sententiously profess to give out lucky numbers are called ; of the idea that lucky numbers may be learnt by praying to the souls of the executed ; of the various saints who are applied to by different classes of persons. St. Joseph on the whole is the most likely to give good help, because he was the foster-father of Providence ; of the complicated code for which every article of common use and every event of life has a number attached to it, which if only put into proper combination are sure to buy fortune. It is in this question of combination that lies the real interest and at the same time the safeguard of the game. The adept never loses faith in the predicted numbers ; if they don't come out he lays all the blame on his own want of skill in combining them. It is a contest which he always has the heart to renew with fresh zest after each failure, the more sure that the next time he will be nearer the right — he never despairs, never suicides.

The *' Smorfia," the books of omens, the cabalists, the songwriters and poets devoted to the game all find mention. Chap. vii. contains the superstitious fancies concerning travelling, chap. viii. house- removes, ix. beds, x. the hair and its care, xi. brooms and sweeping, xii. washing, xiii. bread, xiv. cooking and feeding. Treasure-stories occupy the next sections, consisting of sixty pages, and the remaining sixty-five are filled with nursery beliefs and prayers, and miscellaneous superstitions.

Not the least valuable feature of the work is the polyglot bibli- ography of each subject treated, which appears at the end of the respecti\^e sections.

The contents of these volumes would almost seem to exhaust the researches of the Folklorist, but Dr. Pitre is indefatigable, and among the volumes of the future one of special interest is promised, viz. that on Folk-medicine, which, as Dr. Pitre is in practice as a physician, he is specially fitted to undertake.