Strathmore" (1875, page 100), tells us how "many a poor benighted wight hath this uncannie warlock driven to his wits'-end by his uncouth gambols and deceptive light, and many a bold and valiant knight hath he laid hors de combat on the marshy plain." Milton in his "Paradise Lost" (book ix, page 634), while explaining the philosophy of this superstitious appearance, alludes to the notion which associates it with an evil spirit in the well-known lines:
Compact of unctuous vapor, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads th' amazed night-wand'rer from his way
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
In Normandy, the peasant believes that the Will-o'-the-Wisp is a cruel and malicious spirit whom it is highly dangerous to encounter. Mademoiselle Bosquet, in her "Normandie Romanesque et Merveilleuse," says that it follows and persecutes any unfortunate person who runs away from it; his only chance of escape, when sore-pressed, being to throw himself on his face and to invoke the Divine assistance. Hence the Feux Follet, as it is called, is a source of terror, and its weird appearance is much dreaded by old and young; many stories being told of the injury done to unwary travelers by its wicked knavery.
Again, a Danish tradition affirms that Jack-o'-lanterns are the spirits of unrighteous men, who by a false glimmer seek to mislead the wayfarer and to decoy him into bogs and moors. The best safeguard against them, when they appear, is to turn one's cap inside out. One should never point at them, as they will come if pointed at. It is also said that, if any one calls them, they will come and light the person who called. A popular belief in Sweden says that "Jack-with-the-Lantern" was formerly a mover of landmarks, and for his unjust acts is doomed to wander backward and forward with a light in his hand, as if he were in search of something. Thus he who in his lifetime has been guilty of such a crime is believed to have no peace or rest in his grave after death, but to rise every midnight, and, with a lantern in his hand, to proceed to the spot where in days gone by the landmark had stood which he had fraudulently removed. On reaching the place, however, he is seized, says Mr. Thorpe, with the same desire which instigated him in his lifetime when he went forth to remove his neighbor's landmark, and he says as he goes, in a harsh, hoarse voice: "It is right! it is right! it is right!" But, on his returning, qualms of conscience and anguish seize him, and he then exclaims:
- Thorpe's "North-German Mythology," 1851, ii, 211.