J--H-- , THE CONJURER OF ST COLOMB.
THIS old man was successful in persuading his dupes that he owed his powers over evil spirits to his superior learning and his unblemished life. This assumption of piety was well preserved, and to the outside world his sanctity was undoubted. The only practice which can be named as peculiar to H--was that of lighting scores of candles and placing them around the meadow near his house. Of course such a display would attract much attention; and J--succeeded in conveying an impression to the minds of the country people that this process was required to counteract the spells of the witches. When this old fellow has been summoned, as he often was, to the houses supposed to be under the influence of evil, or to be bewitched, his practice was not a little original, though wanting in all that dignifies the office of an exorcist. When he arrived at the house, before speaking to any one, he would commence operations by beating with a heavy stick on the wooden partitions, screens, or pieces of furniture, so as to make the greatest possible noise, shouting loudly all the time, "Out ! out ! out !--Away ! away ! away ! - to the Red Sea--to the Red Sea-- to the Red Sea." Frequently he would add, with violent enunciation and much action, a torrent of incoherent and often incomprehensible words (locally, "gibberish"). The proceeding being brought to a close, and the spirits of evil flown, every part of the house was ordered to be well cleansed, and the walls and ceilings to be thoroughly lime-washed,--certainly the only sensible part of the whole operation. When J--H--was applied to respecting stolen property, his usual practice was to show the face of the thief in a tub of water. J--drove a considerable trade in selling powders to throw over bewitched cattle. [a]
[a] When cattle or human beings have been bewitched, it was very commonly thought that if a bottle of urine from the diseased beast or person was obtained, then corked very tight and buried mouth downwards, that the witch would be afflicted with strangury, and in her suffering confess her crime and beg forgiveness.