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The Evil Eye; Or, The Black Spector The Works of William Carleton, Volume One   By: (1794-1869)

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THE EVIL EYE;

OR, THE BLACK SPECTOR

By William Carleton

PREFACE.

There is very little to be said about this book in the shape of a preface. The superstition of the Evil Eye is, and has been, one of the most general that ever existed among men. It may puzzle philosophers to ask why it prevails wherever mankind exists. There is not a country on the face of the earth where a belief in the influence of the Evil Eye does not prevail. In my own young days it was a settled dogma of belief. I have reason to know, however, that, like other superstitions, it is fast fading out of the public mind. Education and knowledge will soon banish those idle and senseless superstitions: indeed, it is a very difficult thing to account for their existence at all. I think some of them have come down to us from the times of the Druids, a class of men whom, excepting what is called their human sacrifices, I respect. My own opinion is, that what we term human sacrifices was nothing but their habitual mode of executing criminals. Toland has written on the subject and left us very little the wiser. Who could, after all, give us information upon a subject which to us is only like a dream?

What first suggested the story of the Evil Eye to me was this: A man named Case, who lives within a distance of about three or four hundred yards of my residence, keeps a large dairy; he is the possessor of five or six and twenty of the finest cows I ever saw, and he told me that a man who was an enemy of his killed three of them by his overlooking them, that is to say, by the influence of the Evil Eye.

The opinion in Ireland of the Evil Eye is this: that a man or woman possessing it may hold it harmless, unless there is some selfish design or some spirit of vengeance to call it into operation. I was aware of this, and I accordingly constructed my story upon that principle. I have nothing further to add: the story itself will detail the rest.

CHAPTER I. Short and Preliminary.

In a certain part of Ireland, inside the borders of the county of Waterford, lived two respectable families, named Lindsay and Goodwin, the former being of Scotch descent. Their respective residences were not more than three miles distant; and the intimacy that subsisted between them was founded, for many years, upon mutual good will and esteem, with two exceptions only in one of the families, which the reader will understand in the course of our narrative. Each ranked in the class known as that of the middle gentry. These two neighbors one of whom, Mr. Lindsay, was a magistrate were contented with their lot in life, which was sufficiently respectable and independent to secure to them that true happiness which is most frequently annexed to the middle station. Lindsay was a man of a kind and liberal heart, easy and passive in his nature, but with a good deal of sarcastic humor, yet neither severe nor prejudiced, and, consequently, a popular magistrate as well as a popular man. Goodwin might be said to possess a similar disposition; but he was of a more quiet and unobtrusive character than his cheerful neighbor. His mood of mind was placid and serene, and his heart as tender and affectionate as ever beat in a human bosom. His principal enjoyment lay in domestic life in the society, in fact, of his wife and one beautiful daughter, his only child, a girl of nineteen when our tale opens. Lindsay's family consisted of one son and two daughters; but his wife, who was a widow when he married her, had another son by her first husband, who had been abroad almost since his childhood, with a grand uncle, whose intention was to provide for him, being a man of great wealth and a bachelor.

We have already said that the two families were upon the most intimate and friendly terms; but to this there was one exception in the person of Mrs. Lindsay, whose natural disposition was impetuous, implacable, and overbearing; equally destitute of domestic tenderness and good temper. She was, in fact, a woman whom not even her own children, gifted as they were with the best and most affectionate dispositions, could love as children ought to love a parent... Continue reading book >>


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