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SUPERSTITION IN PROVERBS

See Fortune and Luck in Proverbs.

After a dream of a wedding comes a corpse. (English).

It was a common superstition of olden times that

when anyone, particularly lovers, dreamed about

marriage, death and disaster were sure to follow. To dream about a wedding always “denotes the death of some near friend or relation, with loss of property and severe disappointment.”

Old English Chapbook. “To dream you are married is ominous of death and

very unfavourable to the dreamer; it denotes poverty, a prison, and misfortune."

Old English Chapbook.

A gift on the thumb is sure to come; a gift on the finger is

sure to linger. (English).
This proverb does not refer, as is often supposed, to

presents that may be received or withheld, but to
some impending good or evil. “Gift" was a
colloquial word that was applied in mediæval
times to the white spots that sometimes appear

on the finger nails.
"Specks on the fingers, fortune lingers;

Specks on the thumbs, fortune surely comes."
It was the custom of people in olden times to count

the white spots that they saw on their nails and
touch them one after another, beginning with
those on the thumb and proceeding to those on
each of the fingers. As this was done the counter
would say, “Gift-Friend-Foe-Sweetheart to
come-Journey to go.” Sometimes “Letter" was
substituted for “Sweetheart to come."

A hair of the dog that bit you. (English).

“To take a hair of the same dog." (English).

To take more of the liquor that intoxicated you."
“Early we rose, in haste to get away;
And to the hostler this morning, by day,
This fellow called: “What ho! fellow, thou knave!
I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night-
And bitten were we both to the brain aright.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass,
And so did each one each other, that there was.

John Heywood.
Another and older meaning was that when a person

had been bitten by a dog it was desirable to secure one of the animal's hairs and place it on the wound for a cure.

A king reigns on land, in half-filled-up tanks reigns the

water sprite. (Assamese).
The water sprite is an evil spirit that is supposed to

haunt the swamps and marshes and lead people
astray.

A man had better ne'er be born as have his nails on a

Sunday shorn. (English).
“Cut them on Monday, cut them for health;
Cut them on Tuesday, cut them for wealth;
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for news;
Cut them on Thursday, a new pair of shoes;
Cut them on Friday, cut them for sorrow;
Cut them on Saturday, see your sweetheart to-

morrow.”Old English Rhyme. A serpent unless it devours a serpent grows not to a

dragon. (Latin and Greek). A Sunday child never dies of plague. (French).

"A child of Sunday and Christmas Day

Is good and fair, and wise and gay.” Bush natural; more hair than wit. (English).

Meaning that when a person has a large quantity

of hair on his head he is deficient in intellect. Shakespeare refers to this superstition in Two

Gentlemen of Verona (Act III, Scene 1) when

he makes Launce say: "More hair than wit? It may be; I'll prove it. The cover of the salt, and therefore it is more than the salt; the hair that covers the wit is more than the wit, for the greater hides the less, what next ? "

Cross a stile and a gate hard by, you'll be a widow before

you die. (English).

luck away.

Don't wash the inside of a baby's hand; you will wash his

(American Negro). The above saying is one of many current in Tide

water Virginia, given by a writer in the Southern Workman (Hampton Institute) for November, 1899. Others are as follows: “Don't leave the griddle on the fire after the bread is done; it will make bread scarce." Don't

sweep dirt out of the door after night; you will sweep yourself out of a home. Don't step over anybody's leg; it will turn to a stick of wood."

“Don't comb your hair at night, it will make you forgetful.”. "Don't be the first to drive a hearse, or you will be the next to die." Don't shake the tablecloth out of doors after sunset; you will never marry." “Don't sweep a person's feet, it will make him lazy; so will hitting them with a straw.“Don't whip the child who burns another; if you do, the burnt child will die." “Don't measure yourself; it will make you die." “Don't lend or borrow salt or pepper; it will break friendship. If you must borrow it, don't pay it back. “Don't kill a wren; it will cause your limbs to get broken." “Don't pass anything over a person's back; it will give him pains.” “Don't pour out tea before putting sugar in the cup, or some one will be drowned. Some say it will drown the miller." “Don't kill cats, dogs, or frogs; you will die in rags." “Don't move cats; if you do, you will die a beggar." “Don't meet a corpse, or you will get very sick before the year, is out." Don't point at or speak of a shooting star.' Don't count the teeth of a comb; they will all break out.' “Don't lock your hands over your head."

Dry bargains bode ill. (Scotch).

An allusion to an old Scotch custom of ratifying a

bargain with drink.

Eat cress to learn more wit. (Greek).

Friday is a cross day for marriage. (English).

See Fortune and Luck in Proverbs: He that

laughs on Friday will weep on Sunday.” Prob-
ably taken from the old English rhyme:

“Monday for wealth,
Tuesday for health,
Wednesday the best day of all;
Thursday for losses,
Friday for crosses,
And Saturday, no luck at all."

Happy is the bride the sun shines on, and the corpse the rain rains on. (English).

“While others repeat: Your praise and bless you, sprinkling you with

wheat; While that others so divine, Bless'd is the bride on which the sun doth shine."

Robert Herrick.

He was wrapp'd in his mither's sark tail. (Scotch).

“He was lapped in his mother's smock.” (English). There is an old Scotch superstitious custom of

receiving every male child at birth in its mother's shift, believing that by so doing it will be made acceptable to women in after life, so that when a man is unpopular among women people say, “He was kept in a broad claith; he was some hap to his meat, but none to his wives."

If in handling a loaf you break it in two parts, it will rain

all the week. (English).
It is an old superstition that if an unmarried woman

is placed between a man and his wife at a social
gathering, or permits a loaf to be broken by
accident while it is in her hands, she will not be
married for one year.

If skin-spots come, our wants will be supplied. (Marathi).

If the skin becomes discoloured or if moles or other

blemishes appear on the cheeks it is a good sign.

If the cow snore, the cow-house will fill; if the bullock

snore, the master will die. (Marathi).
Mr. A. Manwaring suggests that the last part of

this proverb may imply that the bullock is weak
and therefore not able to work and support its
master.

If thou seest a one-eyed person pass by, turn up a stone.

(Arabian).
“The people of Cairo turn up a stone or break a

water-jar behind the back of any person whom
they dislike, just on his leaving them, hoping
thereby to prevent his return; this is a kind of
incantation. The term one-eyed here expresses
a person disagreeable on any account. The
Arabs regard a one-eyed man as a bad omen,
and nobody wishes to meet him.'

J. L. Burckhardt.

In the home the wife is supreme, in the ditch reigns the

water sprite. (Assamese).
The water sprite is supposed to preside over tanks,

drains, ditches, etc., and sometimes draws down

helpless victims and destroys them. “By digging a drain you have brought the evil

sprite closer. By digging a drain near your house you enable the evil sprite to come closer

to you. (Assamese). “The king reigns on land, in half filled up tanks

reigns the water sprite." (Assamese). Keep a wall-eyed horse and be ruined. (Urdu). Kiss the black cat, an' 'twill make ye fat; kiss the white

one, 'twill make ye lean. (English). Malisons, Malisons, mair than ten, wha harries the queen

of heaven's wren. (Scotch).

Malisons—i.e., curses or maledictions.
“The wren, being able to fly higher than any other

bird, secured the coveted fire from heaven and

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