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p. 25



"A Monanday's child
Hiz a bonnie face,
A Tyesday's child
Is fou o’ grace,
A Wednesday's child
Is the child of woe,
A Feersday's child
Hiz far to go,
A Friday's child
Is lovin an givin,
A Saitirday's child
Works hard for his livin,
Bit them it's born on Sunday
Is happy, blithe, and gay."

HE child that was born with a caul was said to be successful in life. 2 The caul, or "silly hoo," was much prized. It brought success to the possessor, and the smallest part of it was a sure guard against drowning. Many in emigrant has gone to the possessor of such a powerful charm, got a nail's breadth of it, sewed it with all care into what was looked upon as a safe part of the clothes, and worn it during the voyage, in the full belief that the ship was safe from wreck, and would have a prosperous voyage.

It was believed that the possessor of the caul could divine from it the state of health of the one who was born with it. If it was hard and crisp, the one who was born with it was in health; but, if it was soft and flabby, the health was weak.

It was a belief in some districts that the doom of the child that came into the world feet first was to be hanged. A good many years ago a boy was born in this way in Banff. He grew up a fine lad, but the terrible idea always haunted the mother, and she was miserable. He fell ill and died. The mother told

p. 26

my informant how great a relief the death was to her. A load was taken off her, she said.

The hair on one side of the forehead in some children stands nearly erect, somewhat in the shape of the marks cattle make on their skins by licking them. It goes by the name of "the broon coo's lick."

A strong growth of hair on the chest, arms, legs, and hands of a man, was accounted a sign of strength as well as of a contented mind. Hence the saw:--

"A hairy man's a happy man,
A hairy wife's a witch."

To find out if a person is proud. Take a hair of the head and pull it tightly between the nails of the first finger and thumb. If it curls, its owner is proud; and the amount of curl it takes is the measure of pride.

When one's hair was cut, it must be all carefully collected and burned to prevent it from being used by birds to build their nests. If used for that purpose headache was the result. 1

The child who had long slender fingers was believed not to have to make a living by any handicraft or manual toil, but by merchandise, or at the desk, or by one of the learned professions.

Large hands and feet were looked upon as indications of bodily strength.

"Lucken toes," that is, toes joined by a web, indicated luck.

The man, who has the second and third toes of nearly equal length, proves unkind to his wife.

White spots on the nails are called "presents." The nearer the spots are to the points of the nails, the nearer are the gifts. 2

It was the notion that the marriage ring was put on the ring-finger because there goes a vein directly from that finger to the heart.

A black speck, sticking to a tooth indicated that the one, on whose tooth it was, had been telling lies. Such black specks were called "lies."

p. 27

Almost every sensation of the human body was endowed with a meaning. Ringing in the ears was called the "dead bell." A glow in the ears indicated that the tongue of calumny was busy. Bite the corner of the neck-tie, and the calumniator bit the evilspeaking member.

An itching in the eyes indicated tears and sorrow; in the nose, that a letter was lying in the post-office for you; in the palm of the right hand, that the hand of a friend was soon to be shaken; in that of the left, that money was to be received in a short time; in the soles of the feet, that a journey would shortly be undertaken. 1

Sneezing held an important place in the fancy of the folk. Here is the rhyme about it:--

"Sneeze on Monday; sneeze for a letter.
Sneeze on Tyesday; something better.
Sneeze on Wednesday; kiss a stranger.
Sneeze on Feersday; sneeze for danger.
Sneeze on Friday; sneeze for sorrow.
Sneeze on Saiturday; kiss your sweetheart to-morrow." 2


The deaf and dumb were looked upon with particular awe. It was believed that they had the faculty of looking into futurity, and of discovering what was hidden from their more fortunate fellow-men. This faculty was given them to make up for the loss they suffered. All, however, had not the faculty alike. Such as had the repute of seeing into the future and of penetrating into secret things were consulted by those who wished for light on any matter that was beyond their ken. If anything was lost and could not be found, if anything was stolen and the thief could not be traced out, if any matter was in dependence and the issue anxiously looked for, the dummy's skill was called into requisition. If friends were absent and had not been heard of for a time, a consultation was held with the dummy whether they were well or ill, whether they were dead or alive, or

p. 28

whether they would return. Mothers through them read their children's lot, in life, young women took them into their confidence in their love affairs, and young men tried to find out what was before them in their course through life. Wonderful were the stories current, how this young man was predicted to go abroad, and how he did go; how this young woman was to be married, and how she did marry accordingly; how this friend never returned, for the dummy always blew him away, and shook the head with a look of sorrow when his return was spoken of; how this one died, for when consulted by anxious friends about recovery the dummy showed signs of sorrow, scraped a little hole in the earth or in the ashes on the hearth, put a straw or a chip of wood, or some such thing into it, and covered it up.

Those of weak intellect were generally treated with tenderness. The common belief was that the father and mother of such a child would always have a sufficiency of the good things of time--that it was rather lucky than unfortunate to have such a child.


25:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 9.

25:2 Ibid. p. 22.

26:1 Cf. Henderson, p. 112.

26:2 Ibid. p. 113.

27:1 Cf. Henderson, pp. 112, 113.

27:2 Ibid, p. 137.

Next: Chapter VII. Dreams, Divination, &c.