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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/413

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Correspondence. 377


What is the connection between spiders and hell? A gipsy residing in this neighbourhood had recently a quarrel with a friend of mine. Wishing to give utterance to the cruellest desire he could think of he said: " I wish your head was as full of bees as hell is full of spiders." When I heard of this it brought to my mind that Sir Edward Coke called Sir Walter Raleigh a " Spider of Hell." (Amos, Great Oyer of Foisotwig, p. 405-)

I am pretty well acquainted with the various legends of visits paid to the under-world, but do not remember that anyone has encountered spiders there ; yet the above seem to point to some notion of the kind.

Edward Peacock, F.S.A.

Omens of Death.

My father heard the following from Mr. Sharpley, the doctor here, yesterday.

A little girl is dying of meningitis at a village a few miles from Kirton. When her condition became hopeless the doctor told the father that she was in the greatest danger. The father replied : " Yes, I knew we should lose her, before she was taken badly. Me and my wife was at a funeral, and as we was standing together looking into the grave a black cat run between us. My wife did not see it, only me ; but, you know, I knew it was not a real cat, but only a shadow of a cat." The use of "shadow" here is curious. We usually call the ghosts of the dead either ghosts or boggards — boggards especially, if they appear in animal form — while the manifestations of the living at a distance from their bodies are their spirits. Spirit, however, cannot be the true old English w^ord — did shadow once fill its place, as it naturally might do ? A second question is, what was the shadow of the cat ? Was it a mere death-warning, or was it the spirit of the child prefiguring its passage to an early grave ? Witches and wizards still assume animal form, and one hears in rare instances of people being enchanted into animal shape (though in doubtfully native stories). Many boggards, presumably human in origin, also appear as dogs,