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  • Teething and the Black Tramp September 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Beach stumbled on the following unlikely superstition. He has never come across anything like it before. The story apparently came out of Exeter in south-western England: 1839.

    On Monday, as a negro convicted of vagrancy was about being locked up, a servant came into the office, and stating that she came from an opulent tradesman in Back-street, asked the magistrate’s permission that the black man might be allowed to kiss his infant to assist its teething. The magistrates, not believing it possible that such superstition could be practised by persons in the walk of life of the applicant, sent an officer with the girl to say that if the child were sent to the police-office the black man might kiss it. To the surprise of the officer the tradesman thanked the magistrates for their kindness, and asked that the black man might be kept until the child could be dressed in its best. In about half an hour the child was brought in a gala dress into the office, and was about to be handed into the arms of the black man, when the magistrates interfered, and desired that the man should be locked up, telling the applicant, at the same time, that it excited deep regret that a person who should know better could be wrapped in such disgusting superstition.

    The impression is that the judge knew of the superstition. It was just that he could not believe that any middle class burgher would take it seriously. Can anyone find other sources for this: has it perhaps crossed from North America, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. It would be interesting to know what the prisoner thought about all this: or was this an occasional source of income.