Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 6/Introduction

Part VI: Miscellaneous Superstitions & Observances.; Introduction.





There are many superstitions and observances still current in Lancashire which do not readily admit of classification. Some of these are, no doubt, due to the earliest settlers in the county; others have been introduced by those who have successively conquered and colonised the district; and the rest have probably had their origin in the local circumstances by which the peasantry have been surrounded. Natural phenomena never fail to arrest the attention of an ignorant population; and their effects are always attributed to causes, which, so far as they can judge, appear sufficient for their production. Unaccustomed to reason, it is enough for them, when one circumstance frequently follows another, to suggest that some occult relation exists between them; and hence the omens and auguries, the spells and incantations, the weather-wisdom and the medical lore, which prevail in the undisturbed nooks and corners of our county.

It would not be difficult to assign many of the following items to their respective sources; and to explain their probable import in accordance with commonly received theories; but we have contented ourselves with merely noting their existence, leaving for others the task of forming a comparative folk-lore from the abundant materials which are in course of being collected. Every one of the following instances is current in some portion of the county; not a few have been familiar to the writer from childhood; and the rest have been written down as they occurred, almost from the mouths of the narrators. So far as is known, the majority of these examples have never before found their way into any printed collection of the folk-wisdom of this or any other county. Under this limitation, the folk-lore of