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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/223

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199
from County Leitrim.

name, which probably still goes on. A feeling very like this is described in an interesting article in a recent number of Folk-Lore[1] on "Executed Criminals and Folk-Medicine," by Mabel Peacock, in which it is related that in Sicily there is a kind of criminal worship of the most notorious felons and cut-throats, the belief being that men who had slain many victims carried into the other world an evil power which they had won by blood, and that murderers are even regarded as sainted, and miracles wrought by them! In the case of the Indian brigand, hanged long years before, I was told that in Bhûta-form he was believed still to haunt the villages in which his worst crimes had been committed, and on certain nights, particularly the anniversary of his execution, he might be seen striding about in dark giant-shape and trampling over the tops of houses, making the tiles clatter, and crashing-in the thatched roofs of cocoa-tree leaves. This was recalled to memory when lately reading the Icelandic legend of "Grettir the Outlaw," in which the huge grim thrall Glam, killed in an unearthly struggle with a demon, is described as coming by night from his burial-mound, bestriding the house and making it shake, tearing open doors and windows, and breaking the backs of some of the inmates; in short, a frightful Bhûta. This shows the same idea prevailing in frozen Iceland as in torrid India. Indeed, a variant of it appears in the old barbarous custom of burying suicides at cross-roads, with a stake driven through their breasts and a heavy stone on their faces to prevent them "walking." Nearly allied too is the superstition about Vampires still prevalent in Greece and the Levant; they seem a species of Bhûta, and stories about them are, as Lord Byron remarked, sometimes "most incredibly attested."

A popular belief has long and widely prevailed in European folklore that under certain lakes and rivers there exist '

  1. Folk-Lore, vol. vii. p. 268.