The Evil Eye, by Frederick Thomas Elworthy, , at sacred-texts.com
THERE be none of the affections which have been noted to fascinate or to bewitch, but love and envy; they both have vehement wishes, they frame themselves readily into imaginations and suggestions, and they come easily into the eye, especially upon the presence of the objects which are the points that conduce to fascination, if any such there be. We see likewise the Scripture calleth envy an evil eye." 1
So wrote one of our greatest philosophers, and on the same subject he says: "Of all other affections, it is the most importunate and continual; . . . therefore it is well said: 'Invidia festos dies non agit,' for it is ever working upon some or other. It is also the vilest affection and the most depraved; for which cause it is the proper attribute of the Devil, who is called 'The envious man that soweth tares amongst the wheat by night.'"
As to the word fascination, even in Bacon's time it had acquired its modern sense, implying the influence or effect we now associate with
animal magnetism. Notwithstanding this, the word was used by various writers down to the end of the seventeenth century in its original, technical meaning, as an alternative for "evil eye." Nowadays it has practically lost its older sinister sense, and except among scholars has retained only the pleasant one in which Bacon used it.
A fascinating person now, is one who charms delightfully, who excites feelings of pleasure, who is in every way attractive. Similarly in our everyday talk the alternate word bewitch has retained only in polite society its pleasant side. A bewitching woman is one who excites the passion of love alone, and the simple use of either synonym conveys now no implication of malevolence to the conventionally educated.
The quotation from Bacon with which we started well marks the progress always going on in the development of word-meanings. In the Elizabethan age, to fascinate or bewitch had in literature even then arrived at a double position, applicable to either love or hate; whereas in earlier days these words were wholly confined to maleficence in signification. This of course only applies to literary language and polite society; among the peasantry the Latin form, fascination, is unknown, while everything relating to witch or witching still bears an evil sense only.
In proof of all this we have only to compare the modern colloquial significance of the terms fascinating or bewitching, as used in speaking of a person by the educated, with witch, witching, or the west country dialectal "wisht," as used by the peasantry.
The belief that there is a power of evil working, which is ejaculated (as Bacon says) upon any object it beholds, has existed in all times and in all countries. It was adopted and sanctioned alike by the Fathers of the Church, by mediæval physicians, and all writers on occult science; while in our own day it still exists among all savage nations, and even here in England in our very midst. Heliodorus 2 makes Charicles say of his host: "I fancy an envious eye has looked upon this man also; he seems to be affected much in the same manner as Chariclea. Indeed I think so too, I replied; and it is probable enough, for he went directly after her in the procession." 3
The origin of the belief is lost in the obscurity of prehistoric ages. The enlightened call it superstition; but it holds its sway over the people of many countries, savage as well as civilised, and must be set down as one of the hereditary and instinctive convictions of mankind.
The stories that might be adduced of the constancy of the belief in a blighting power of influencing other persons, and of controlling events injuriously to others, even. in these days of board-school enlightenment are almost infinite. Here, in Somerset, the pig is taken ill and dies--"he was overlooked." A murrain afflicts a farmer's cattle; he goes off secretly to the "white witch," that is the old witch-finder, to ascertain who has "overlooked his things" and to learn the best
antidote, "cause they there farriers can't do no good."
A child is ill and pining away; the mother loses all heart; she is sure the child is overlooked and "is safe to die." Often she gives up not only hope but all effort to save the child; the consequent neglect of course hastens the expected result, and then it is: "Oh! I know'd very well he would'n never get no better. "Tidn no good vor to strive vor to go agin it." This is no fancy, or isolated case, but here in the last decade of the nineteenth century one of the commonest of everyday facts.
The author of the pious graffito (still in situ):--
Things seen is Intempural,
Things not seen is Inturnel,
[paragraph continues] referred to in the West Somerset Word-Book, p. ix, is a man far above the average in intelligence. He lodged where the daughter of the family had some obscure malady. She became a patient at the County Hospital, but only grew worse. In this case the mother does not at first seem to have believed in occult influence, but went about and spread a report that "they'd a-starved her maid, into thick there hospital"! At the same time the writer ascertained that the girl had been all the while receiving extra nourishment. She was removed, and of course grew worse. On speaking to the lodger about the starvation theory, he said: "Oh! I knows 'twaddn that." "What do you think it was?" "Oh! I knows." After many times declaring "I knows," he at last said: "Her was overlooked--her was; and I knows very well who don'd it." After much persuasion he mentioned the name of a poor ignorant old woman, who certainly did not bear the
best of characters. The whole family devoutly believed that the girl's death, which happened very soon, was brought about by this old woman. No doubt a century or two ago she would have been burnt as a witch. 4
Several cases of precisely the same kind are well known to the writer and his family--especially relating to children. Visits have been often paid to the sick children of persons whose names might be given, where "tis very wisht vor to zee the poor chiel a-pinin away like that there." Not much is said to strangers, but those who know are perfectly aware of what the mother means.
Beshrew your eyes,
They have o'erlook'd me and divided me;
One half of me is yours, the other half yours.
Merchant of Venice, Act iii. Sc. 2.
The imputation by St. Paul, that the foolish Galatians 5 had been spellbound, meant that some evil eye had "overlooked" them and worked in them a blighting influence. It was an apt allusion to the then, and still, universally prevalent belief in that power of "dread fascination" which the writer of the Epistle 6 so well knew they would comprehend, and he therefore used it as a striking metaphor.
Abundant testimony exists in the oldest monuments in the world that among the ancient Egyptians belief in and dread of the evil eye were ever present; their efforts to avert or to baffle it, both as regarded the living and the dead, who they knew would live again, were perhaps the most constant and elaborate of any, of which we can now decipher the traces.
We see evidence of this in the very beginning of Egyptian mythology. Ptah, the Opener, 7 is said to be the father of the gods and of men. He brought forth all the other gods from his eye, and men from his mouth--a piece of implied evidence of the ancient belief that of all emanations those from the eye were the most potent.
How strong the feeling was among contemporary Orientals, the many passages in Scripture 7a referring to it distinctly prove. Indeed it is found in the literature of every people, in every land since history began to be written. No science, no religion, no laws have been able to root out this fixed belief; and no power has ever been able to eradicate it from the human mind; so that even amongst the cultivated and the enlightened it still exists as an unacknowledged, mysterious half-belief, half-superstition, which nevertheless exercises, though secretly, a powerful influence on the actions of mankind.
We in these latter days of Science, when scoffing at superstition is both a fashion and a passion, nevertheless show by actions and words that in our innermost
soul there lurks a something, a feeling, a superstition if you will, which all our culture, all our boasted superiority to vulgar beliefs, cannot stifle, and which may well be held to be a kind of hereditary instinct. 8
Not only do the pages of Brand's Popular Antiquities, Brewster's Magic, and Hone's Everyday Book, as well as the local press, provide endless stories and examples, which we need not here repeat, but the more modern publications of the Psychical Research Society also record plenty of them; at the same time the latter throw over them a glamour of quasi-scientific investigation.
Among the Greeks, who got their art and many of their customs from Egypt, the belief was so universal that they had a special word to express this mysterious power, βασκανία, 9 whence, all authorities say, 10 comes the Latin word fascinatio.
This latter word Cicero himself discusses, and explains as invidere, to look too closely at: hence invidia, envy, or evil eye, the instigator of most deadly sins--the vice which is even now most frequently named in connection with its sequences, "hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness."
Delrio 11 and Frommannd trace the Greek word to Chaldean, and discourse upon the etymology as
well as the meanings of fascinatio at great length, in language and allusions unfit for reproduction, which are, moreover, beside our present purpose. It may, however, be remarked that Frommannd throws much light upon the ancient ideas connected with the evil eye, and with the means taken to baffle it, backed up by an array of authorities such as no other writer on the subject has brought together, but of such a nature that we can only here direct the student to the book itself. 12 Many objects to be seen in Egypt, Greece, and Italy, especially at Pompeii, are by this extraordinary treatise made to assume an entirely different shape and signification from those given them by the guidebooks or the ciceroni.
It was firmly believed by all ancients, that some malignant influence darted from the eyes of envious or angry persons, and so infected the air as to penetrate and corrupt the bodies of both living creatures and inanimate objects. "When any one looks at what is excellent with an envious eye he fills the surrounding atmosphere with a pernicious quality, and transmits his own envenomed exhalations into whatever is nearest to him." 13
It has also been fully believed, both in ancient and modern times, that many persons by the glance of their eye have caused injurious effects, without their consent and even against their will, so that
in some cases mothers 14 would not venture to expose their infants to the look of their own fathers.
A story is related of an unhappy Slav, 15 who with the most loving heart was afflicted with the evil eye, and at last blinded himself in order that he might not be the means of injury to his children.
Frommannd (p. 10) draws attention to the very remarkable passage in Deut. xxviii. 54, in confirmation of the possession of this terrible power acting against the will of the possessor.
Jahn 16 remarks upon this, that as smell, speech, bodily presence and breath work their influence upon those with whom they come in contact, so in a yet higher degree does the glance from the eye, which, as all know, affects so much in love. 17
Domestic animals, such as horses, camels, cows, have always been thought in special danger. In the Scotch Highlands if a stranger looks admiringly on a cow the people still believe she will waste away from the evil eye, and they offer him some of her milk to drink, in the belief that by so doing the spell will be broken and the consequences averted. 18 The Turk and the Arab think the same of their horses and camels. Above all the Neapolitan cabman of to-day believes in the great danger to his horse from the eye of the jettatore.
Camden says the Irish believe some men's eyes have the power of bewitching horses. 19
Young animals of all kinds were, and are, thought to be peculiarly susceptible. Virgil (Ec. iii. 103) puts into the mouth of a shepherd, what everybody quotes: "Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos." Plutarch 20 also says that certain men's eyes are destructive to infants and young animals because of the weak and tender constitution of their bodies, but have not so much power over men of strong frames. . . . He says, however, the Thebans had this inimical faculty, so that they could destroy not infants only but strong men.
The Cretans and the people of Cyprus had in ancient times the reputation of being specially endowed with the faculty, and the same belief continues down to this day as recounted by General de Cesnola.
The special dread of fascination for domestic animals is implied by the author of the Book of Judges (viii. 21), for the word translated ornaments in the A.V. is given in the margin as "ornaments like the moon" that were on their camels' necks. 20a
Who can doubt that those ornaments were the exact prototypes of the identical half-moons we now put upon our harness? We shall see later that these have ever been among the most potent amulets against the evil eye. The belief still prevails everywhere, that horses are specially subject to its influence: it is found in India, China, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, England, Scotland, Ireland, and in all countries where horses abound, but above all in Italy.
In Scotland 21 and in England all kinds of cattle are thought liable to its malignity. To this day any ailment or misfortune to a domestic animal is at once set down to its being "overlooked." 22 In Ireland in Elizabeth's time they used to execute eye-biting witches for causing diseases among cattle. Cows are particularly subject to fascination in Scotland, and the various preventive remedies are enumerated by Pennant in his Voyage to the Hebrides. 23 In England, of all animals the pig is oftenest "overlooked." This may be because he has more owners of the peasantry class, or perhaps because of the difficulty of administering physic; and hence his frequent maladies have become mysterious. It is the common saying that "there idn no drenchin' a pig when he's a-tookt bad; there idn no cure vor'n but cold steel." 24
Pliny also says that the Thibii in Pontus, and many other persons as well, have a double pupil in one eye, and in the other the figure of a horse, and
that these people will not sink in water even if weighed down with clothes. 25
It is thus easy to see from Pliny, whence the idea came which led people in the Middle Ages, and even later, to put reputed witches to the water ordeal. If they sank they were innocent, but of course then they were drowned, and spite was appeased; while if they floated they were, as in Pliny's time, accounted guilty and then burnt. 26
Those who were under the influence of anger or of envy were most dangerous in this terrible faculty, while those who were in the enjoyment of special happiness or good fortune were the most liable to injury, because exciting the greater invidia of the fascinator.
Those who had been highly praised, by others or even by themselves, were liable to be blasted.
Narcissus was thought to have fascinated himself, and hence his untimely fate, for it has always been held that too much praise or admiration of any person or object by whomsoever given, even by himself, would bring upon him the curse of fascination.
How surely this belief still exists even here in England is proved by the following:--A few weeks ago a respectable farmer had a very nice-looking
horse in his cart, which the writer, his landlord, admired, and said would bring him a long price for a certain purpose. The owner began to expatiate on the good qualities of the animal, but suddenly stopped and said: "But there, I don't want to zell'n, and mustn' zay too much for fear o' bad luck" (Nov. 15, 1893).
Even the most enlightened of us has constantly heard and perhaps said: "I never like to boast of my things; if I do I am sure to lose them." "Only yesterday, I was saying I had not broken anything for years, and now I have let fall this old glass that belonged to my grandmother!"
A story upon this question is told by Plutarch 28 which he puts into the mouth of his friend Soclarus at a supper in the house of a certain Metrius Florus. There had been a discussion on the evil eye, and some one having asserted that fascination was all nonsense, the host insisted that the power was undoubted, and called on his friends to testify that "we ourselves have known men who could inflict potent injury upon our children by merely looking at them." Plutarch then explains that the voice, the odour, the breath, are emanations which may easily injure those susceptible of them, and particularly is this true of the eyes, which dart out fiery rays, producing a wonderful effect, especially as may be seen in the influence of love through the eyes. Another of the friends agrees: he says that envy exerts an evil influence through the eye; and Plutarch affirms these to produce most direful results, from the envious looks which pierce like poisoned arrows. He goes on to say it is wise to employ charms and antidotes to turn aside these
evil glances. Soclarus then mentions the fact that fathers and relatives sometimes bewitch their own children unintentionally, and that some even fascinate themselves by their own gaze.
He reminds them of the story of Eutelidas, who like Narcissus fell a victim to the admiration he felt for his own likeness.
Fair was Eutelidas once, with his beautiful hair,
But admiring his face in the stream, on himself he inflicted
A dread fascination, and wasted away with disease.
Theocritus also tells a story of a certain Damætas who had been boasting of the impression his own beauty had made upon him when he had seen his image reflected in the water. He, however, seemed well aware of what might be the consequence, for he adopted a well-known remedy against fascination, by spitting three times on his breast. This will be referred to later on. 29
Further, among the Greeks and Romans, statues of Nemesis were erected, which were adored and invoked to save their worshippers from fascination.
Few of the old classic writers 30 fail to give an account of the dread power which some individuals exercised over others. Women and children seem to have been accounted by all as the most liable to injury, while also some women were held to be the most powerful fascinators. Not only was the effect supposed to be produced by the eye--ὀφθαλμὸς βάσκανος, the fascinating eye of the Greeks--but it was asserted that some could blast trees, kill children, and destroy animals merely by their voice. In Gozola, a town in Africa, a fascinator called Elzarian
killed by his evil art no less than eighty persons in two years. 31
In Rome the faculty of fascination was so well recognised that, according to Pliny, special laws were enacted against injury to crops by incantation, excantation, or fascination. The belief in those days was so universal that when a person was ill without apparent cause the people cried: "Mantis te vidit"--"some fascinator (lit. grillo, grasshopper) has looked on thee"; just as would now be said, "Thou art overlooked." 32
It was believed anciently that even the gods also looked enviously upon man's good fortune, and often with malicious joy destroyed it for him. The injurious effect of this envy which seemed to men of old so mysterious (because beyond their comprehension), with the gods was thought to be but the natural outcome of their superhuman power. The belief was also held that the gods were envious of each other, and cast evil glances upon the less powerful of their own fraternity--hence the caduceus always carried by Mercury as a protector.
Although we no longer believe in divine enmity, any close observer can yet discover for himself, that a belief in the same malignant power of envy, though less outspoken, is still prevalent as ever. Here in the west we have a common expression of the peasantry, which keeps alive and tersely expresses this firm belief. Any untoward event which has brought misfortune, is described as "a very wisht thing." The death of a parent
leaving young children, a child sick without any apparent disease, a fatal accident, or any unexpected calamity is thus spoken of. A person forlorn, sickly, or otherwise pitiable, is always "a wisht poor blid." The phrase extended would be "illwished," i.e. blasted or injured by the envious malignity of some person by whom the sufferer has been "overlooked," by whom the maleficent glance has been cast. The word is so common, and of such regular use, that it would be uttered by many, who would repudiate any such superstitious belief as that of the evil eye. 34
In connection with envy, it was customary amongst the Romans when praising any person or thing to add, præfiscini dixerim, 35 which may be freely
translated: "Fain evil! I should say." The same custom still holds in certain parts of Italy, where in like circumstances it is said: "Si mal occhio non ci fosse." The object of these conventional sayings was, and still is, to prove that the speaker was sincere and had no evil designs in his praise. We in the West have similar little speeches, though perhaps no set formula. "Mus'n zay too much." "That ever I should zay zo." "I don't wish 'ee no harm, so I on't zay no more," etc. etc., are very common sayings after praise.
It would be easy to multiply ancient quotations all bearing reference to the evil eye, not only from the Scriptures, but from hosts of early writers, which prove not only the prevalence, but the universality, of the belief.
All those who were supposed to possess the evil eye were specially avoided by the ancients. "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye" (Prov. xxiii. 6) is just as much a maxim to-day as it was in the time of Solomon. At the appearance of a person having the reputation, a cry, jettatore! is passed, and even in a crowded street of Naples it causes an instantaneous vanishing of everybody, a rush up entries, into shops, or elsewhere; the charms and antidotes, of which we have to speak later on, notwithstanding.
An amusing incident occurred to the writer. I had been searching the book-shops of Italy from
one end to the other for Cicalata, by Nicolo Valletta. At Venice I entered a large second-hand establishment, and was met by the padrone all smiles and obsequiousness, until he heard the last words of the title of the book wanted, sul Fascino. Instantly there was a regular stampede; the man actually turned and bolted into his inner room, leaving his customer in full possession of his entire stock. Nor did he even venture to look out from his den, so long as I waited to see what would happen. He evidently thought even the dread word a fatal omen, or at least that a foreigner using it must be a jettatore. Generally there is no hesitation among the people, at least the tradespeople, to talk about the jettatura as an abstract fact, but to get at their own personal feelings about it, or to get instances of its effects related, is much more difficult.
The fascinator of infants, jettatore di bambini, as he is called in Italy, is everywhere the most dreaded. A gentleman on three occasions acted as sponsor at Naples, and singularly all three of the children died; upon which he ever after got the reputation of having the malocchio, so that mothers who knew him took all sorts of precautions to keep their children out of his sight; and no one would, for the world, venture to ask him again to be godfather to a child.
The writer's friend, Mr. Neville-Rolfe, tells many similar stories (Naples in 1888. Trübner), and they might be multiplied to any extent. One such ought to be reported respecting a kind of fascination he terms "suspensive," the peculiarity of which is to disarrange whatever is being done. "If you meet him (the fascinator) when going to the train you will
assuredly miss it. If you are going to see a friend by appointment you will find him out; if a friend is coming to see you he will be disappointed."
"How is your case getting on?" we once said to a Neapolitan friend, who was engaged in a troublesome litigation; "it was heard yesterday, was it not?" "No," replied he, very crestfallen; "on my way to the Court I met Mr. C------, and he has a jettatura sospensiva, so I knew what would happen; my case was adjourned sine die."
It may be mentioned en passant, that in Tuscany the influence is called affascinamento, or mal d'occhio; while in Southern Italy jettatura is the common term. In Corsica, 36 however, where the belief is universal, it is called Innocchiatura. In other parts of Northern Italy it is known by several names, which seem to include all the varied influences of fascination, as well as those of the evil eye especially. 37
Valletta records 38 that a servant of the Duke of Briganzio caused a falcon to drop down dead, con occhi jettatori. Also that it is registered in the Acts of the Academy of Paris that a dirty old hag (vecchiaccia) in 1739 went near and paused before a highly polished mirror, which, from her glance, absorbed so much greasy matter (grassume), that collected together it was proved to be a very powerful poison. Finally, he says, there was one who by
looking on a block of marble dashed it in pieces (lo spezzo). Also there was in Rome, Titinnia, who by her evil eye caused the orator Curio to remain speechless when making a peroration against the Senate.
He relates moreover many other misfortunes which befell sundry people known to him, especially how he had himself prepared a memorial to the king, setting forth his labours and claims, and making requests which had always been granted to his predecessors. But, alas! as he was getting into the carriage which was to convey him to Caserta, a friend whom he had long known as a terrible jettatore presented himself, and said: "It is difficult"; consequently there was as much misfortune as could possibly happen on the journey: pouring rain, a drunken coachman, horse taken ill or lame, and at last when approaching the royal presence to present his memorial, he could not find it in his pocket, where he had carefully placed it! The worst of all was that quel maledetto jettatore laughingly reminded him every day of the occurrence and of his blighted hopes.
The professor concludes: 39 "Every people, every race, believes, and hopes to avoid sinister events and la jettatura, by benedictions, by happy auguries, by those precautions and remedies which experience shows to be most valuable and opportune." He afterwards goes on to philosophise on the invido sguardo, and speaks of the antipathy between the Lion and the Cock. He says (p. 105) the eyes of cocks cause melancholy (mestizia) and fear to the poor lion; that there are seeds in the body of the
cock inimical to the lion. Curiously too he quotes Bacon's ninth essay, on Envy. Speaking of the various antidotes, he says (p. 144): "For preservation against incantations and evil enchantments (malefici) I have found the following to be recommended: invocation of the Goddess Nemesis; the good prayers of those who do not gaze with admiration on or bepraise others; the blessings of those who wish to inspire courage are valuable to keep off the evil eye (togliere il fascino); the carrying on the person (adosso) certain natural articles, such as rue, certain roots, a wolf's tail, the skin of a hyena's forehead (fronte della iene), the onion, which they say the devil respects because the ancients adored it equally with himself; and that herb with strong-smelling root called Baccharis, Baccari, 40 vulgarly called Guanto di nostra signora (Our Lady's glove), because it constipates the passages, and restrains the overflow of the spirits which excessive praise produces; whence it closes the door to fascination."
Valletta was evidently himself a profound believer
in fascination of every kind, whether of eye, bodily presence, or actual touch, and finishes up his essay by offering a reward of from ten to twenty scudi for answers to thirteen questions, according as the notizia may excite in him more or less interest. They are as follows, translated literally:--
1. If a man or woman is the more powerful (jetta più)? 2. If more, he who has a wig? 3. If more, he who has eye-glasses? 4. If more, the woman enceinte? 5. If monks more (than others), and of what order? 6. If he is able jettare (to fascinate) more, who approaches us after the evil which we have suffered? i.e. Is the second time worse than the first, or do we become increasingly subject to the influence? 7. At what distance does the jettatura extend? 8. If it is able to come from things inanimate? 9. If it operates more on side, front or back (di lato, di prospetto, o di dietro)? 10. What gait (gesto), what voice, what eye, and what character of will have jettatori, and (how) do they make them selves known? 11. What devotions (orazioncine) one ought to recite to preserve oneself from the jettatura of monks (Frati)? 12. What words in general ought one to repeat to escape the evil eye (si debban dire per evitare la jettatura)? 13. What power therefore have the horn, or other things? 41
It was anciently believed that women have more power of fascination than men. Varro accounts for their increased evil influence as the result of their unbridled passions, 42 and he fully describes how to discern between those who have greater or less dangerous
power. In modern times, however, it has generally come to be believed that the evil eye is possessed more by men than women. 43
Ever since the establishment of the religious orders, monks have had the special reputation of possessing the fatal influence.
In 842, Erchempert, a monk of Monte Cassino, the most famous convent in Italy, wrote that Landulf, Bishop of Capua, used to say that whenever he met a monk, something unlucky always happened to him during the day. 44 To this day there are many persons who, if they meet a monk or priest, on first going out in the morning, will not proceed upon their errand or business until they have returned to their houses and waited a while, so as to be able to make a fresh start.
In Rome are many noted jettatori: 45 one of them is a most pleasant and handsome man, attached to the Church, and yet, by odd coincidence, wherever he goes he carries ill-luck. If he goes to a party, the ices do not arrive, the music is late, the lamps go out, a storm comes on, the waiter smashes his tray of refreshments, something or other is sure to happen. Some one said the other day: "Yesterday I was looking out of my window, when I saw ------ (a well-known jettatore) coming along. 'Phew!' said I, making the sign of the cross and pointing both fingers, 'what ill-luck will happen now to some poor devil that does not see him?' I watched him all down the street however, and nothing occurred; but this morning I hear that after turning the corner
he spoke to a poor little boy, who was up in a tree gathering some fruit, and no sooner was he out of sight than, smash! down fell the boy and broke his arm."
A story was told the writer in Naples of an event which had just happened: a certain Marchese, having this evil repute, was invited to a ball, and people who knew he was coming were sure something would happen. He did not arrive till late, but he had no sooner set his foot in the ball-room than down fell the great glass chandelier in the centre of the room. Fortunately no one was immediately beneath it at the moment, but the chandelier was smashed to atoms, and of course he was the cause. Endless stories of this kind are to be heard in Naples, the home par excellence of the jettatura.
Truth (Nov. 4, 1893), of a party to a cause célèbre, says: "In Italy, however, it would be believed that he is a jettatore--that is to say, a person who, from no fault of his own, has the singular attribute of bringing some misfortune on others wherever he goes. The only way for any one brought in contact with such a person to avoid ill consequence is to point two fingers at him. Pope Pio Nono was supposed to be a jettatore, and the most devout Catholics, whilst asking his blessing, used to point two fingers at him. I remember once in Nice there was a gentleman who had this reputation. The Préfet, being a Frenchman, invited him to a ball. He soon, however, discovered that if the jettatore came many others would not, and he had to convey to him delicately the request not to accept the invitation."
Ask a Roman about the late Pope's evil eye
reputation, and he will answer: "They said so, and it seems really to be true. If he had not the jettatura, it is very odd that everything he blessed made fiasco. We all did very well in the campaign against the Austrians in '48. We were winning battle after battle, and all was gaiety and hope, when suddenly he blessed the cause, and everything went to the bad at once. Nothing succeeds with anybody or anything when he wishes well to them. When he went to S. Agnese to hold a great festival, down went the floor, and the people were all smashed together. Then he visited the column to the Madonna in the Piazza di Spagna, and blessed it and the workmen; of course one fell from the scaffold the same day and killed himself. He arranged to meet the King of Naples at Porto d'Anzio, when up came a violent gale, and a storm that lasted a week; another arrangement was made, and then came the fracas about the ex-queen of Spain.
"Again, Lord C------ came in from Albano, being rather unwell; the Pope sent him his blessing, when, pop! he died right off in a twinkling. There was nothing so fatal as his blessing. I do not wonder the workmen at the column in the Piazza di Spagna refused to work in raising it unless the Pope stayed away!"
Mr. Story tells another tale--of Rachel and a rosary blessed by the Pope, which she wore on her arm as a bracelet. She had been visiting a sister who was ill in the Pyrenees, but one day she was so much better, that Rachel left her to visit another sister. While laughing and chatting merrily, a message arrived that she must return instantly as a fit had
come on. Rising like a wounded tigress, she seemed to seek some cause for this sudden blow. Her eye fell on the rosary, and in rage and disappointment she tore it from her wrist, and dashed it to the ground, exclaiming: "O fatal gift! 'tis thou hast entailed this curse upon me!" and immediately sprang out of the room. Her sister died the day after.
Another acquaintance of Mr. Story, the Marchese B-----, had the reputation of being a jettatore, and he called on a company of friends who were paying a visit at a villa in the country. All were gay and in good spirits, just on the point of setting off in carriages, on donkeys and mules, for a picnic. At once there was confusion and dismay. Some wished to put off altogether, others thought it would have a very ugly look in his eyes, and that they had better go, after taking all possible precautions to avert the jettatura; and so it was decided. The gaiety, however, was at an end; every one expected ill-luck, and so it happened! They had hardly gone a mile when the horses in one of the carriages bolted, upset the carriage, and so frightened and hurt those who were in it, that they refused to go farther, and the picnic was given up. "Ah, you laugh!" said my friend; "you laugh; but it is no less a fact that wherever the Marchese goes he carries ill-luck. Dio mio! what a jettatore he is! The other day we were going into the country to spend the day when we had the ill-luck to meet him. 'Buon viaggio!' he cried as we passed. 'Si divertino.' We knew at once it was all up with us, and debated whether we should postpone our journey till another day. But that was a disappointment, and then we had made all our preparations, so on we went; but within half
a mile, off came the front wheel; and, bon gré mal gré, we were obliged to go back."
At a concert at the Sala Dante, in Rome, on December 20, 1876, one of the main gas-pipes burst, but fortunately, though the room was crowded, no one was injured. La Libertà next day concluded an account of the occurrence thus: "A friend coming out of the Sala Dante explained the unfortunate scene which had just taken place, attributing it to the presence in the hall of certain individuals well known as jettatori. Who knows that our friend is not right?"
Dumas in Le Corricolo, which is mostly about Naples, has a short chapter on La Jettatura. He says that it is an incurable malady, 46 one is born a jettatore and so dies; one is compelled to become such, and when once begun there is no power to throw it off. Generally they are unaware of their fatal influence; hence it is the worst possible compliment to tell a man that he has it. Constantly you see in Naples two men chatting in the street, one of them keeps his hand clasped (pliée) behind his back. Mark carefully the one with whom he is talking; he is a jettatore, or at least one who has the misfortune to pass for one. A stranger arriving in Naples begins by laughing at the evil eye; but little by little he thinks over it, and at the end of three months you will see him covered with horns from head to foot, and his right hand eternally crispée. Nothing guards against it except the means indicated. No rank, no fortune, no social position, can place one above its reach. All men are equal devant elle.
Dumas finishes his chapter with a citation of
the same questions put by Valletta (see p. 22), but they are taken from a different edition of the Cicalata from either that used by Mr. Story, or that in possession of the writer.
In a previous chapter (vol. i. p. 177) Dumas speaks of King Ferdinand, that though he had lived seventy-six years and had reigned sixty-five, yet the Neapolitans sought to discover something supernatural in his death at last.
This is what they discovered. The king, who was a firm believer in the power of the evil eye, especially in priests, had been tormented for fifteen years by a certain Canon Ojori, who sought an audience to present some book of which he was the author. Ferdinand had all along persistently refused, but at length, on January 2, 1825, overcome by the persuasions of those about him, he fixed the morrow for this long-sought interview. In the morning the king wanted to set out for Caserta for a day's shooting, an excuse he always deemed sufficient; but he was dissuaded. He remained in Naples, received Dom Ojori, who passed two hours with him, and departed leaving his book behind. The day after, King Ferdinand was dead! The doctors unanimously declared that it was an attack of acute apoplexy, but the people would not believe a word of it. The true cause was that this audience had given an evil chance to Canon Ojori, who was known as one of the most terrible jettatori in Naples.
In Abyssinia potters and ironworkers called Budas 46a were believed to have been specially endowed with the maleficent faculty, hence, in that so-
called Christian land, these people were excluded from the more sacred rites, notwithstanding that as a class they professed to be most religious, and were surpassed by none in strictness of observance. Certain ailments are still set down to their influence, and they are believed to have had the old-world power of the loup garou, or were-wolf--that of changing themselves into hyenas or other ravenous beasts, the counterparts of the wolves of the north.
Nathaniel Pearce, an old African traveller, declares that a friend of his had seen one of these transformations with his own eyes, and that the peculiar earrings worn by the descendants of the Budas had frequently been seen by him (Pearce) in the ears of hyenas that have been trapped. This story is as old as Herodotus, who recounts that the Budas were reputed then to be evil-minded enchanters who for one day in every year changed themselves into wolves; but he himself did not believe it.
The belief in the power of transformation 47 seems in all countries to have been closely allied with witches and with those possessed of the evil eye. The idea is very common in the stories of ancient mythology, and from the Middle Ages down to the present time it has possessed the popular mind. The hare, the wolf, the cat, and the sow seem nowadays to be the favourite animals whose shape is assumed, though many others are believed in. 48
Giraldus, so often quoted by Higden, says that Ossory men were periodically turned into wolves in his day; and Spenser says "some of the Irish doe use to make the wolf their gossip." These traditions naturally lead to such stories as that of Little Red Riding Hood of our nursery days. In India it is very firmly believed that certain people can change themselves into tigers, and again resume their natural shape at pleasure.
The ancient name versipelles sufficiently expresses the idea of those who could assume strange forms, or turn their skins. We ourselves bear witness to the old belief in the common saying: "Ready to jump out of their skins for joy."
It is easy to see how the belief in their power of transformation by witches has begotten that ever-present dread of ill omens, when one of the animals, supposed to be one of those whose form is usually
assumed, crosses the path. The writer knows people who would scorn the notion of being uneducated or superstitious, but who are terrified if a hare or a sow cross their path, and fully expect some misfortune presently to happen.
Nor did we meet, with nimble feet,
One little fearful lepus,
That certain sign, as some divine,
Of fortune bad to keep us.
Even so serious a writer as Burton 49 mentions the fear of accident or of prodigies which trouble us "as if a hare cross the way at our going forth." 50
In Scotland it is most unlucky to see a hare or a pig cross the path, and the fisher folk turn their backs if they see either. In Somerset, a hare crossing the path in front of the spectator is a sign of death; but since the Ground Game Act this belief is likely to be soon forgotten.
Fishermen everywhere avoid mentioning at sea the name of a hare, pig, salmon, trout, or dog, but go out of their way to find some other word when it is needful to indicate either of these.
The fear of mentioning the name of any sacred or dreaded animal is common in India.
The weasel, or as Trevisa called it, and we still call it, the "veyre," crossing the path, is also a bad omen, doubtless from the same notion, though there does not seem to be any record of witches assuming its shape. "I have known people who have been put into such terrible apprehensions of death by the squeaking of a weasel, as have been very near bringing on them the fate they dreaded." 51
On the other hand a frog was considered a good omen. Many other objects are still considered, when met, to be the forerunners of misfortune, such as a deformed person, 52 a black cat, a shaggy dog, a barefooted woman; but above all to meet a person who squints, is here in England thought to be as unlucky as in Italy it is to meet a jettatore sospensivo. In fact there are still living people by no means unintelligent to whom omens of bad or good fortune are matters of very considerable importance, and who, without perhaps confessing it, are yet guided in their actions to an unsuspected degree by feelings engendered by such notions as are here hinted at.
The same custom of deprecating over-praise, before referred to, is common among the Turks, among modern Italians, and among ourselves, who each and all have a similar formula. A well-mannered Turk will not pay a compliment without "Mashallah!" an Italian will not receive one without "Grazia a Dio"; an Irishman without "Glory be to God"; or an English peasant without Lord be wi' us." The idea is the same with all peoples: by acknowledging a higher power as the protector, the danger of fascination is averted; this, and not gratitude, must be confessed to be the motive in all cases, and that there is little of what is called Christianity in any.
There were two kinds of fascination among the ancients, the moral and the natural, and this belief is still held. The moral power was that exercised
by the will. It was against the users of this, that the special laws of the Romans were directed. These included all those who practised incantation and malignant arts. More terrible were, and still are, those in whom the faculty of the evil eye was natural, whose baneful look was unconscious, whose eye threw out radios perniciosos, which by a sort of mesmeric power acted upon the nervous system of the victim. It has always been recognised as a rule of good manners never to praise immoderately lest the speaker should fascinate against his will. Hence the conventional exclamation before referred to, præfiscini dixerim, which put the hearer on his guard to use some antidotal formula for himself.
Heliodorus narrates 53 that a Greek girl, daughter of Calasaris, fell ill, and that in reply to the question what was the matter, it was said that it was no wonder, seeing that she had been seen by so great a crowd of people--and of course among so many, she had drawn upon her the evil eye of some one; and the speaker goes on to explain that the air, infected by the malign influence, penetrates the eyes, nose, and breath of the victim, and carries with it the bitterness of the envy with which it is surcharged. He argues forcibly that love is of the same origin as disease, which through the sight strikes passion into the soul.
Consider besides, O Charicles, how many have been infected with inflammations of the eyes, and with other contagious distempers, without ever touching, either at bed or board, those who laboured under them, but solely by breathing the same air with
them. The birth of love affords another proof of what I am explaining, which, by the eyes alone, finds a passage to the soul; and it is not difficult to assign the reason; for as, of all inlets to our senses, the sight is the most lively, and most various in its motions, this animated quality most easily receives the influences which surround it, and attracts to itself the emanations of love.
He ends with saying, if some give the stroke of the evil eye unconsciously to those they love, how much more must the effect be when malignant will is added to the force of nature.
It was currently believed in England at the time of the Black Death, that even a glance from the sick man's distorted eyes was sufficient to give the infection to those on whom it fell. 54 No doubt it was to this belief that Shakespeare refers in
Write "Lord have mercy on us" on those three;
They are infected; in their hearts it lies;
They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes. 55
[paragraph continues] The same speaker, Biron, had just before in the same scene called attention very significantly to
Their eyes, villain, their eyes!
The eye was, and is, certainly considered the chief medium of communicating evil, but there were also those of touch, of bodily presence, and of the voice; further again there was the whole class of actions spoken of as enchantments or incantations, practised quite as much with the object of working evil, as of frustrating or counteracting it.
Those students who are curious upon the strange and manifold ramifications of the belief in fascination are once more referred to the exhaustive treatise of Christian Frommannd.
Another remarkable book is 56 that of Martin Delrio, a Jesuit of Louvain, who published in 1603 six books folio, in which he also quotes a great number of authorities both ancient and modern. He says he will not argue whether maleficium exists, he takes it for granted, and that the calamities of mortals are the work of evil spirits. He declares that "Fascination is a power derived from a pact with the devil, who, when the so-called fascinator looks
at another with an evil intent, or praises, by means known to himself, infects with evil the person at whom he looks." He distinctly says that fascination may be received by touch, or by inhalation, but of these, the latter is not only most fatal but most contagious.
As we go on we cannot but see that fascination, in many of its aspects, is nothing more nor less than what we now call Mesmerism or Hypnotism, by which, as we all know, certain people have an extraordinary influence over others. In a recent magazine article was a very remarkable story from a Physician's Note-Book which precisely shows what we mean. A girl, well educated, gentle, refined and perfectly sane, was found to be detained in a lunatic asylum, during the Queen's pleasure, for murder. She had shot a man whom she did not know, and against whom personally she could have had no enmity. The
story is told with much circumstantial detail, and, extraordinary as it is, seems probable enough. The upshot is that she had become subject to the influence of a physician, who had taken to practise hypnotism, and whose power over her had become unbounded. The man's own confession unfolds the tale: he had some reason of his own to hate the murdered man, and in his heart wished him dead. He himself does not appear to have been specially bad, but he certainly harboured and encouraged in his own mind the evil feeling. One day the girl met the man whom her doctor secretly hated, and at once felt a violent antipathy; this grew and grew, until at last the girl felt herself absolutely impelled, constrained, to murder him. She, a delicate girl who otherwise would have feared even to touch such a weapon, took a pistol of her father's, called upon the victim, and as soon as she got into his presence, shot him dead.
We have heard many instances of a similar kind, where certain people have had mysterious and very extraordinary influence over others. Some years ago a lady hypnotist acquired a marvellous power over some of the undergraduates at Oxford--a power real and overmastering, which science can in no way explain; and however much chicanery there may be mixed with its practice, it is certainly a fact, that the effect produced first by the eye of the mesmerist is greatly strengthened by the actual touch.
In all ages and in all countries the power of touch has been fully recognised.
Many of our Lord's miracles were performed by the aid of touch, usually as an actual means, but on one notable occasion the healing was effected by the
woman's touching Him. When Naaman went to be cured of his leprosy, he expected that the prophet would touch him "as well as call upon his God." Here in our west country "the doctor" is the well-understood name for a seventh son, though really according to popular faith he should be also the son of a seventh son. The familiar name comes from the firm belief that his touch alone has healing power. The touch of the king for the cure of scrofula, even within the last two centuries, has given to that particular kind the name of the King's Evil. 57
Our dialectal word to bless signifies to touch by making the sign of the cross on the part affected. Here in the west, goitre is a rather common ailment, for which the best cure is believed to be the touching of the swelling by the hand of a corpse--the sex being different from that of the person afflicted. I have known many cases of its application, but cannot testify to the effect.
Whatever opinion we ourselves may hold as to the existence of a power or influence such as we are discussing, however much we may be inclined to ridicule the belief so far as concerns human beings, no one can deny that a very powerful influence does exist among animals both as regards the effect of certain species upon others, and as to the power of man upon the eye of savage beasts. Without admitting
the truth of what Virgil and Pliny refer to as to the fact that he whom the wolf sees before he is himself seen loses his voice, 58 yet we believe, and it is generally maintained, that no animal can retain his fierceness under, nor endure, the steady gaze of man. Moreover the experience recorded by Dr. Livingstone when being actually torn by a lion, goes to prove that the senses become deadened, that the terror of his position had disappeared, and that the previous nervous dread was the only suffering he experienced: that in fact he felt no pain, nor any acute desire to escape from his terrible assailant.
It is but reasonable, at least, to hope that some such feeling is mercifully provided for animals in general, and that the daily slaughter which is going on everlastingly in nature, may not be attended with all the nervous and physical pain with which, judging by our human feelings, we usually associate it. 59
It is certain that some animals can and do exercise a great and mysterious influence over others, fables notwithstanding. 60 Snakes especially seem to have
the power of exciting fear and aversion in nearly all other creatures, while with some, especially birds, they have at the same time a power of attraction, which can only be described as fascination.
This feeling is strikingly illustrated by the action of the frog when chased by a snake; for he utters a piteous cry while trying to escape from the creature of which he has an instinctive terror. "When fairly seized, however, it gives itself up to its fate, and seldom attempts to struggle." 61
One species, Bucephalus Capensis, is generally found upon trees, to which it resorts for the purpose of catching birds. The presence of one is soon discovered by the birds of the neighbourhood, which collect around it, flying to and fro, uttering the most piercing cries, until some one of them, more terror-struck than the rest, scans its lips, and almost without resistance becomes a meal for its enemy. During the proceeding the snake is generally seen with its head raised ten or twelve inches above the branch round which the body is entwined, with its mouth open and neck inflated, as if anxiously endeavouring to increase the terror it was aware would sooner or later bring within its grasp some one of the feathered group.
Notwithstanding all that may be said in ridicule of fascination, it is nevertheless true that birds, and even quadrupeds, are under certain circumstances unable to retire from the presence of certain of their enemies, and, what is even more extraordinary, unable to resist the propensity to advance from a
situation of actual safety into one of the most imminent danger. "This I have often seen exemplified in the case of birds and snakes, and I have heard of instances equally curious, in which antelopes and other quadrupeds have been so bewildered by the sudden appearance of crocodiles, and by the grimaces and contortions they practised, as to be unable to fly or even to move from the spot, towards which they were approaching to seize them." 62
A remarkable snake story is recorded in Household Words (vol. xvii. p. 139) of a cobra and an old soldier in India, who became quite good friends, and who used to remain in company together two or three hours at a time while the soldier kept singing. One day a hawk chasing its prey came near the cobra, which raised its head and hissed. "The hawk gave a shriek, fluttered, flapped his wings, and tried very hard to get away; but it would not do. Strong as the eye of the hawk was, the eye of the snake was stronger. The hawk, for a time, seemed suspended in the air; but at last he was obliged to come down and sit opposite the snake, who commenced with his forked tongue, keeping his eyes on him all the while, to slime his victim all over. This occupied him for at least forty minutes, and by the time the process was over the hawk was perfectly motionless. I don't think he was dead, but he was very soon, for the snake put him into a coil or two and crackled up every bone in the hawk's body." He then gave him another sliming, made a big mouth, and soon made a meal of him.
In our childhood we used to be told that the fox was in the habit of sitting under a tree whereon a
bird was perched, that he fastened his eyes and kept them steadily looking up at it, until at last the bird became quite overcome with the fascination and fell from its perch to become an easy victim to sly Reynard.
The ancients again, according to Ælian and Athenæus, believed that other animals besides serpents had the same power, and moreover that the animals themselves were so far conscious of it, that some birds kept certain stones and plants in their nests in order to protect themselves from it. Doves were said to spit in the mouths of their young for their safe keeping. It was from the belief of the Greeks that the cricket or grillo had this power of the eye, both protective and injurious, over all other animals, that Pisistratus set one up on the Acropolis as an amulet, to protect the citizens against the evil eye.
Again, we all know from experience the powerful attraction, the positive fascination, which a strong light has for some creatures, and the negative or deterrent effect it has upon others.
The experience of our lighthouse-keepers proves to us how migratory birds are attracted to their destruction by their powerful light; while our own senses have told us of the fatal attraction of a light for insects of most kinds, except the common house fly, whose familiarity with the domestic candle has bred a salutary contempt. The raison d'être of our common country sport, bird-batting, depends upon the fascination of birds by a strong light; on being disturbed at night they fly straight to the light and are caught in the net which is held up in front of it. Toads, too, are said to be so attracted by light that
they actually rush into the fire, and that the burning so far from checking them seems to stimulate them to crawl towards the hottest parts, even though being roasted to death; just as the poor moth or bee whose wings have been already singed, tries again and again to reach the flame, until at last overpowered and burnt to death. Fish also are lured to their destruction by a light.
On the other hand, light and fire are terrifying and abhorrent to many animals. Among insects, scorpions are driven away by light, and beetles, cockroaches, bugs, with their congeners, scuttle away into hiding as soon as a light appears. Moreover, we all know that a fire is the well-recognised protector against night-prowling wild beasts, which will not come near a strong light. The well-known difficulty of getting a horse out of a stable on fire, where he but too often defies all efforts to save him, and remains to be burnt to death, may possibly be due to either of the influences referred to--either fear to move and face the fire he dreads, or that he is fascinated by it like the moths, and will not escape his fate. Perhaps the latter is the true explanation, for it is said that a horse will press against a knife held against his chest until he is stabbed to the heart. The writer cannot vouch for this as a fact, but he has often heard it asserted.
1:1 Bacon, Essay IX. "Of Envy."
3:2 Theagenes and Chariclea (Trans. 1789), vol. i. p. 145. Heliodorus, Bishop of Tricca in Thessaly, about A.D. 380, was a very firm believer in the evil eye, and frequently refers to it in his works, no doubt faithfully reflecting the opinions of his day.
3:3 See an article on the "Evil Eye" in Chambers's Encyclopædia. For numerous quotations on the subject see New Eng. Dict. s. v. "Evil Eye."
5:4 A long account of a prosecution of a white witch, who pretended that a woman was ill of a "bad wish" in a case much like the foregoing, is given in Pulman's Weekly News, June 14, 1892. Similar reports are frequently appearing in the local press. At this moment (October 1894) two persons are dying in Wellington parish (one of phthisis!) who firmly believe, and are believed, to be suffering solely from having been "overlooked."
5:5 See Lightfoot, Epistle to the Galatians, iii. 1, p. 133.
5:6 The expression of St. Paul, though translated "bewitched" in our A. V., is in the Vulgate fascinavit, precisely the same as that used by Virgil (post, p. 10). In the Septuagint also the sense of the passage is identical, referring to the influence, so well understood, of the evil eye, On this see Frommannd, Tract. de Fasc. p. 11.
6:7 E. Wallis Budge, The Nile-Notes for Travellers in Egypt, p. 77.
6:7a e.g. Deut. xxviii. 54, 56; Job vii. 8; Psa. xxxv. 21; Prov. vi. 13; Isa. xiii. 18; Lam. ii. 4; Ezek. ix, 5. Especially also Prov. xxiii. 6, xxviii. 22; Matt. vi. 22, 23, xx. 15; Luke xi. 34; Mark vii. 22; Psa. liv. 7, lix. 10, xcii. 11, with many others.
7:8 "In spite of the schoolmaster we are still as firm believers in witchcraft and the evil eye as were the shepherd swains of Theocritus and Virgil, and many who, if directly questioned on the subject, would indignantly deny the impeachment, are none the less devout believers in such occult powers."--W. F. Rose, Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, vol. iv. June 1894, p. 76.
7:9 In Modern Greek this is κακὸ ματί.
7:10 Tractatus de Fascinatione, Christian Frommannd, Nuremberg, 1674, p. 4; Nicolo Valletta, Cicalata sul Fascino, Napoli, 1787, p. 12; Potter, Archæologia Græca, 1824, i. 414; Lightfoot, Ep. to Gal. 1890, p. 133, who all give long lists of authors and quotations in support of this etymology.
7:11 Disquisitionum Magicarum libri sex, Auctore Martino Delrio, Societatis Jesu presbytero. Moguntiæ, apud Johannem Albinum, 1603.
8:12 Potter's Archæologia Græca will be found a mine of information; indeed it would be easy to load our pages with references to authors classical and mediæval, but sufficient indication is here given for the student to find all that has been written on the subject.
8:13 Heliodorus, Thea. and Char. i. 140. There can be no doubt that Saul was believed to have the evil eye when we read: "And Saul eyed David from that day and forward" (1 Sam. xviii. 9). In the context we see all the circumstances we have been describing--envy and its consequences.
9:14 Jahn, "Ueber den Aberglauben des bösen Blicks bei den Alten": Berichte der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, 1855, p. 35.
9:15 Woyciki, Polish Folk Lore (Trs. by Lewestein), p. 25.
9:16 Ut supra, p. 33.
9:17 In Ireland the belief has always existed, and in old legends we are told of King Miada of the silver hand, who possessed a magic sword, but who nevertheless fell before "Balor of the Evil Eye" (Elton, Origins of Eng. Hist. 2nd ed. p. 279).
9:18 Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. p. 409.
10:19 Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish, quoted by Brand, iii. 304.
10:20 Sympos. lib. v. quæs. 7.
10:20a The R. V. has "the crescents that were on their camels' necks."
11:21 See Brand, vol. iii. p. 46 (Bohn).
11:22 Spectator, "Somerset Superstitions," March 24, 1894. Last week (October 1894) a man much wanted to buy a heifer from an unwilling seller. "Nif he do want'n, I tell ee, you'd better let'n have'n," said a neighbour. There was no question of price, but the reason was obvious.
11:23 Dodwell, Classical Tour, vol. ii. p. 37. I cannot find what Pennant says, if anything; indeed Dodwell's references are very untrustworthy.
11:24 Pliny says (Nat. Hist. vii. 2; vol. ii. pp. 126, 127, Bohn) that in Africa there are families of enchanters who can cause cattle to perish, trees to wither, and infants to die. That among the Triballi and Illyrii are some who have the power of fascination with the eyes, and can even kill those on whom they fix their gaze, more especially if their look denotes anger. A still more remarkable circumstance is that these persons have two pupils in each eye. Apollonides says that there are certain females of this description in Scythia who are known as Bythiæ. Quoting Cicero he declares "feminas omnes ubique visu nocere, quæ duplices pupillas habent." Cf. also Horace, Epist. i. 14. 37:--
"Non istic obliquo oculo mea commoda quisquam
Limat, non odio obscuro morsuque venenat."
[paragraph continues] See also Bacon, Essay IX. p. 78, and Frommannd, Tractatus, p. 11.
12:25 Ovid says (Amores i. Eleg. 8. 15):--
"Oculis quoque pupula duplex
Fulminat et gerninum lumen ab orbe venit."
[paragraph continues] And again (Metamorph. vii. 364) that the people of Rhodes as well as the Telchinas injured everything by looking at it, See also Frommannd, p. 12.
12:26 On this swimming of witches, see Brand, vol. iii. p. 21 (Bohn). "Nature has thought fit to produce poisons as well in every part of his body, and in the eyes even of some persons, taking care that there should be no evil in existence, which was not to be found in the human body" (Pliny, Nat. Hist. Vii. 2; Bohn, vol. ii. p. 128). This chapter of Pliny is well worth careful reading; also Dr. Bostock's notes.
13:28 Sympos. v. prob. 7.
14:29 Theocritus, Idyll. vi. 39.
14:30 A long list of these with quotations is given in Dodwell, vol. ii. p. 35. Delrio and Frommannd also give endless references.
15:31 Story, Castle of S. Angelo, p. 149, quotes Andreas Thuetas.
15:32 Mantis, locustæ genus, quæ in stipulis enascitur, si quod inspexerit animal protinus illi quippiam producit mali. Hinc Proverbium: Mantis te vidit."--Frommannd, Tract. p. 19.
16:34 See West Somerset Word-Book, pp. 365, 548, 835. Blackmore, Perlycross, p. 191, and elsewhere, wrongly writes "weist."
16:35 The full sentence, of which the foregoing was only the colloquial form, is given by Plautus:--
"Præfiscini hoc nunc dixerim; nemo me etiam accusavit
Merito meo; neque me Athenis est alter hodie quisquam,
Cui credi recte æcque putent."--Asinaria, Act ii. Sc. 4. 84.
This subject is discussed at much length by Frommannd, Tract. de Fasc. pp. 60-63. He gives very numerous instances and quotations from classics and scholiasts; amongst others be says Vossius notes an instance of a girl named Paula being immoderately praised (immodìcé), when another person interrupting in fear of fascination says:--Paula mea, amabo, pol tu ad laudem addito præfiscini, ne puella fascinetur." (This passage is also quoted by Jahn, Aberglauben, p. 62. Frommannd also gives an account of the Fescennine songs (Fescennini versus) which were most unchaste and lascivious, and were sung at weddings in the belief that they would avert the evil eye. It was usual to interpolate the most disgraceful and obscene expressions, thinking that the more abominable these were, the more certain in effect. Nemesis, Cunina, and Priapus were all invoke(l in these licentious songs.
Besides the authors referred to by Frommannd, both Catullus and Horace speak of these nuptial songs, The latter says:--
"Fescennina per hunc inventa licentia morem
Versibus alternis opprobria rustica fudit."--Epist. i. 2. 145.
St. Augustine speaks of them as celebrated in his day, cum tanta licentia turpitudinis and exsultante nequitia, for a whole month in honour of the god Liber. He gives details unfit for repetition (De Civitate Dei, vii. 21).
Pliny, Nat. Hist. xv. 24 (Bohn, vol. iii. p. 315), says that the walnut was used along with the fescennine songs at nuptials, because it was a "symbol consecrated to marriage," and a protector of offspring in manifold ways.
Valletta, referring to these songs, says: "Anzi dal fascino molti dicono esser p. 17 appellati fescennini, quelli, che nelle nozzie alle soverchie lodi si aggiungevano per allontare la jettatura." In a note he says further: "Questi versi contenevano molta licenza nelle parole" (Nicolo Valletta, Cicalata sul Fascino volgarmente detto Jettatura, p. 22. Napoli, 1787).
Story, Castle of S. Angelo, p. 200, speaks of this rare book, and of a portrait in it, as printed in 1819; the writer possesses an earlier edition, dated 1787, but there is no portrait in this latter.
19:36 Valletta, Cicalata sul Fascino, p. 9.
19:37 In a note to the preface of an edition in the writer's possession of Capricci sulla Jettatura, de Gian Leonardo Marugi, Napoli, 1815, is the following:--"Se questa Operetta capitasse nelle mani di un Italiano più settentrionale, piacemi d'avvertirlo che Jettatura suona lo stesso, che stregoneria, sortilegio, fattucchieria," etc. "Questo vocabolo Napoletano è de buonissima lega, e l'etimologia n'è chiara. Viene dalla frase latina jacere sortes, gettar le sorti, incantare, ammaliare, e quindi i maliardi, o Jettatori."
19:38 Cicalata, c. 12, pp. 55, 59.
20:39 Cicalata, p. 61.
21:40 Valletta, Cicalata, p. 145.
"La Damaccia, ch' à la schiena
Corta corta, e piena piena,
Se a jettar staravv 'intanto,
Voi prendetevi del guanto, *
Ed in petto lo ponete,
O la fronte vi cingete."--Marugi, Capricci, p. 111.
21:* "This is a flower called Guanto di nostra signora, known to the ancients under the name of Baccar, which they bound to the foreheads of the sick" (note by Marugi, p. 111). He quotes Loyer as to its being valevolissimo against evil tongues, and Virgil as to its virtues against jettatori.
Gerard (p. 791) says: "About this plant Baccharis there hath been great contention amongst the new writers." He in the end identifies it with Plowman's Spikenard, a name which Britten says was probably invented by Gerard. Britten says the plant is Inula coniza; Dr. Prior (Popular Names of British Plants, p. 187) says it is Conyza Squarrosa.
Gerard says: "Baccharis or Plowman's Spikenard is of a temperature very astringent or binding," and generally he describes its "vertues" much the same as Professor Valletta. There does not appear to be any plant-name known in England at all like "Our Lady's glove."
22:41 A comparison of these queries with those quoted by Story, Castle of S. Angelo, p. 200, Will show that the later edition of Valletta's book used by him had been considerably altered.
22:42 "Quia irascendi et concupiscendi animi vim adeo effrenatam habent."
23:43 "The fear of the evil eye of a woman is very prevalent in Spain, but the panacea is to drink horn shavings."--Murray's Handbook to Spain, by Richard Ford, 3rd ed. 1855, p. 632.
23:44 Valletta, p. 54.
23:45 Story, p. 197
27:46 Vol. i. p. 183.
28:46a I have read somewhere, quite recently, that there are Budas still in Abyssinia.
29:47 Story, p. 153, tells a very remarkable story from India by Major General Sleeman in 1849-50, of a boy who always seemed more than half wolf, and never could be tamed.
29:48 Old Higden tells us by Trevisa, his translator, that in Ireland and in Wales "olde wyfes and wymmen were i-woned, and beeþ ȍit (as me pleyneþ) ofte forto schape hem self in likness of hares . . . and ofte grehoundes renneth after hem and purseweþ hem, and weneþ þat þey be hares. Also some by crafts of nygromancie makeþ fat swyne . . . and selleþ hem in cbepinge and in feires; but anon þese swyne passeþ ony water þey torneþ aȍen in to her owne kynde. . . .p. 30 But þese swyne mowe not be i-kept by no manere craft for to dure in liknesse of swyn over þre dayes" (Higden, Polychron. Rolls Series, i. 360).
There must surely be some allusion to this ancient belief in Jed. xiii. 23, Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."
For a long disquisition on the whole subject of Lycanthropy, see Frommannd, lib. iii. p. 560, who assigns the entire power to the devil, by whose means magicians not only took the form of a wolf, but his voice or cry, his odour, touch, taste and appetite in devouring flesh (p. 564). He gives, moreover, many wonderful stories and quotations respecting transformations.
See also St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xviii. 18. Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii. 34 (Bohn, vol. ii. p. 284), gives the origin of the word versipellis, and although he says he does not believe them, records several wonderful stories.
The following shows that the belief still exists here in our very midst. In 1875 there had been some proceedings regarding the death of a "varth o' paigs," and one of the reputed authors of the mischief had fallen into the fire and been burnt to death, etc. "On the morning of this sad event, the harriers on the adjacent hill lost their hare among some stone walls, where it was next day picked up dead. The man who found it took it to his master's house, but on bringing it into the kitchen, the maids immediately rushed out in terror and 'wouldn't bide' in the house, declaring it was old Mrs. ------ (the old woman burnt to death). It is a common belief that witches have the power of transforming themselves into hares. . . . I suppose there was a vague idea that the witch and her double had passed away at the same moment" (Rev. W. F. Rose, Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, June 1894, p. 77).
31:49 Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621, 4th ed. p. 214.
31:50 Much on this subject is to be found in Brand, vol. iii. p. 201 et seq.
31:51 Secret Memoirs of Duncan Campbell, 1732, p. 60. See Brand, iii. 203.
32:52 In Italy, and generally in Southern Europe, a hunchback is a good omen. At Monte Carlo, gamesters believe that if they can but touch a gobbo when going to play, good luck is certain. We have more to say on the Gobbo later.
33:53 Theagenes and Chariclea (Trans. 1789), vol. i. p. 141. See also Jahn, Aberglauben, etc., p. 33.
34:54 W. J. Loftie, London, vol. i. p. 353.
34:55 Love's Labour's Lost, Act v. Sc. 2.
35:56 The full title of the author's copy is Disquisitionum Magicarum liberi sex in tres tomos partiti, Auctore Martino Delrio, etc. Moguntiæ, apud Johannem Albinum, 1603.
Of these, Book I. treats De Magia in genere, et de naturali et artificiali. In it he discusses at great length the questions whether the power of characters, rings, seals or images is such as the Magi contend; whether in words or incantations there is power to raise the dead or to perform miracles. He sums up one of his discussions with "Respondeo stultorum esse numerum infinitum," p. 32. He also treats at length of alchemy as a magic art. Book II. is De Magia Dæmoniaca. He asserts that such is proved to exist, and that by means of power derived from the devil. He inquires by what compact with the devil the fascinator can inflict his deadly influence; and by what other pact can the Magi perform miracles. As to incubi and succubæ, he says (p. 141): "Dicimus ergo ex concubitu incubi cum muliere aliquando prolem nasci posse," etc. Again (p. 145) that there are pygmies, and that they are the offspring of demons, etc. Whether demons can restore youth to old age? he believes they can. He declares (p. 193) that the souls of the dead are able sometimes to appear to the living; and (p. 231) discusses apparitions of demons or spectres. There were certain demon wrestlers, who forced men to wrestle with them; for this he quotes (p. 243) Pausanias and Strabo. He discourses also of fauns and satyrs, and gives a long list of Scripture emendata et explicata from both Old and New Testaments. Book III. is De Maleficio et De Vana observatione. p. 26 is a chapter De Fascinatione, in which he repeats many well-worn stories, including that of Eutelidas and self-fascination, with others of Plato, Plutarch, and Heliodorus. Speaking of depraved love, he declares that "not by form only are they who love, captivated; but to each, that which he loves appears to be beautiful; hence, 'Quisquis amat ranam, ranam putat esse Dianam.'"
P. 35 contains the old discussions on the etymology of fascination, and makes reference to the evil eye of the tender and delicate woman mentioned so plainly in Deuteronomy xxviii. 56, 57. In his final chapter (p. 94) he treats at inordinate length of the many means "malis depellendis et morbis sanandis," such as the offering of money obtained in charity, * which is thought specially efficacious; crosses made or bought by alms; wax or other matters offered to saints; mixing hair of men and sick animals plunging images in water; certain ligatures against depriving cows of milk; "qui per annulum desponsationis meiunt," and many more, all for the purpose ut liberentur maleficio. p. 36 In paragraph decimaoctava (p. 103) he directs us to join parallel rods, with the force of certain words, in the centre, and to bind them in the form of a cross; and to suspend from the neck; or to apply a piece of round wood to the throat, with a certain muttering, ut Turcæ faciunt. He shows how women were taught to use certain nails called hoefnageln, as love charms, etc.
He recounts endless particulars, and continues: "Recently I have discovered here in Brabant, in order to learn if a sick man is about to die, they commonly place salt in his hand unawares (ignaro) and watch whether or not the salt dissolves." In fact the whole book is a perfect mine of folk lore, though not entirely bearing on our special subject.
Book IV. treats De Dviniatione and discusses the Urim and Thummim. He settles the vexed question thus:----Sic ergo statue, Urim et Thummim fuisse has ipsas gemmas XII. ut volunt Josephus, Lyran., Tostat., Oleaster et Ribera."
In this book he also writes De Chiromantia both physical and astrological, and refers to a people practising it who lived between Hungary and the empire of the Turks, Zigenos appellamus. (Gypsies, German Zigeuner.)
Book V. deals at equal length and in similar detail De officio judicum contra maleficos, and Book VI. De officio confessarii.
Each book is furnished with a complete and separate index, as well as a full summary of contents. On the whole the book is curious and valuable to students of Mediæval Magic, but upon the subject of fascination it is vastly, inferior to the later work of Frommannd, 1674, which goes into the details of the evil eye as exhaustively, though not quite at such length, as Delrio does into magic.
35:* In Berkshire it is thought that a ring made from a piece of silver collected at the Communion is a cure for convulsions and fits (Brand, vol. iii. p. 300).
38:57 See W. Beckett, Impartial Enquiry into the Antiquity and Efficacy of touching for the King's Evil, 1722. T. Badger, Collection of Remarkable Cures of the King's Evil by the Royal Touch, 1748.
It is evident that this practice was common within the time named, as we find recorded by Hone (Everyday Book, 1830, p. 682) a notice respecting Charles II. in 1664 that "his sacred Majesty having declared it to be his royal will and purpose to continue the healing of his people for the evil during the month of May, and then give over till Michaelmas next, I am commanded to give notice thereof, that the people may not come up to the town in the interim and lose their labour."
"Vox quoque Mrim
Jam fugit ipsa; lupi Mrim videre priores."
VIRGIL, Eclogue ix.
Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii. 34 (Bohn, Vol. ii. p. 283), says: "It is supposed that it will instantly take away the voice of a man if it (the wolf) is the first to see him." A note says: "Hence the proverbial expression applied to a person who is suddenly silent upon the entrance of another, 'Lupus est tibi visus.'"
39:59 Pliny says that near the sources of the Nile is found a wild beast called the catoblepas; "an animal of moderate size . . . sluggish in the movement of its limbs, and its head is remarkably heavy. Were it not for this circumstance, it would prove the destruction of the human race; for all who behold its eyes, fall dead upon the spot."--Nat. Hist. viii. 32 (vol. ii. p. 281, Bohn).
39:60 "The camel has a natural antipathy to the horse" (Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii. 26; vol. ii. p. 276, Bohn: mentioned by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. vi. 17, also by Ælian). This feeling is on all hands believed to be mutual. George Eliot in one of her novels refers to the well-known fact that a horse trembles with fear when first he sees a camel. This is not fright like that caused by a railway engine, but an actual nervous dread or involuntary excitement, which shows itself by shaking and unwillingness to come near. p. 40 The elephant is commonly said to have an antipathy to the pig, and especially to its squeal. The following shows how old is this notion: "Elephantes porcina vox terret" (Seneca, De Ira, ii. 12).
40:61 Museum of Animated Nature, vol. ii. p. 107.
41:62 Smith, Reptilia, quoted by Story.