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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/67

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59
Sacred Wells in Wales.

but also the bits of clothing; but the confusion of ideas I should explain as being, at least in part, one of the natural results of substituting a portion of a garment for the entire garment; for thereby a button or a pin becomes a part of the dress, and capable of being interpreted in two senses. After all, however, the ordinary practices have not, I believe, resulted in effacing the distinction altogether: the rag is not left in the well; nor is the bead, button, or pin suspended to a branch of the tree. So, on the whole, it seems to me easier to explain the facts, taken all together, on the supposition that originally the rag was regarded as the vehicle of the disease, and the bead, button, or coin as the offering. But on this point I wish to ask whether the disease is ever regarded as attaching to a bead, button, or coin, as it is to the rag on the tree? I ask this for my own information; and I may make the same remark with regard to the whole question: I raise it chiefly with a view to promote its further discussion. Some of our journalistic friends seem to imagine, that, when once one makes a suggestion, one feels bound to fight for it tooth and nail; but this is entirely to misunderstand, I take it, the whole spirit of modern research: at any rate, I should be very sorry to have to maintain all the positions I have taken. But, on the other hand, the conjectures of some men who are seldom quite right have perhaps done more to advance science than the facts of some other men who have never grievously blundered in their lives.

The great majority of the Welsh wells of which I have heard seem simply to have pins thrown into them, mostly in order to get rid of warts from the patients' hands. So I will only mention one or two of them as being to some extent relevant to the question to which your attention has just been called. Ffynnon Gwynwy, or the Well of Gwynwy, near Llangelynin, on the river Conwy, appears to be of this sort; for it formerly used to be well stocked with crooked pins, which nobody would touch lest he might get from them the warts supposed to attach to them. There was a