Part 4 out of 5
Good heavens! who was calling him, and not a soul in sight? Look
around as he might, indoors and out, he could find no creature with
two legs or four, for his horse was gone.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY! tell me a story."
It was louder this time, and it was nearer. And then what a thing to
ask for! It was bad enough not to be let sit by the fire and dry
oneself, without being bothered for a story.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY!! Tell me a story, or it'll be the
worse for you."
My poor grandfather was so dumbfounded that he could only stand and
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY! I told you it'd be the worse for
And with that, out there bounced, from a cupboard that Andrew
Coffey had never noticed before, _a man_. And the man was in a
towering rage. But it wasn't that. And he carried as fine a
blackthorn as you'd wish to crack a man's head with. But it wasn't
that either. But when my grandfather clapped eyes on him, he knew
him for Patrick Rooney, and all the world knew _he'd_ gone
overboard, fishing one night long years before.
Andrew Coffey would neither stop nor stay, but he took to his heels
and was out of the house as hard as he could. He ran and he ran
taking little thought of what was before till at last he ran up
against a big tree. And then he sat down to rest.
He hadn't sat for a moment when he heard voices.
"It's heavy he is, the vagabond." "Steady now, we'll rest when we
get under the big tree yonder." Now that happened to be the tree
under which Andrew Coffey was sitting. At least he thought so, for
seeing a branch handy he swung himself up by it and was soon snugly
hidden away. Better see than be seen, thought he.
The rain had stopped and the wind fallen. The night was blacker than
ever, but Andrew Coffey could see four men, and they were carrying
between them a long box. Under the tree they came, set the box down,
opened it, and who should they bring out but--Patrick Rooney. Never
a word did he say, and he looked as pale as old snow.
Well, one gathered brushwood, and another took out tinder and flint,
and soon they had a big fire roaring, and my grandfather could see
Patrick plainly enough. If he had kept still before, he kept stiller
now. Soon they had four poles up and a pole across, right over the
fire, for all the world like a spit, and on to the pole they slung
"He'll do well enough," said one; "but who's to mind him whilst
we're away, who'll turn the fire, who'll see that he doesn't burn?"
With that Patrick opened his lips: "Andrew Coffey," said he.
"Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey! Andrew Coffey!"
"I'm much obliged to you, gentlemen," said Andrew Coffey, "but
indeed I know nothing about the business."
"You'd better come down, Andrew Coffey," said Patrick.
It was the second time he spoke, and Andrew Coffey decided he would
come down. The four men went off and he was left all alone with
Then he sat and he kept the fire even, and he kept the spit turning,
and all the while Patrick looked at him.
Poor Andrew Coffey couldn't make it all out at all, at all, and he
stared at Patrick and at the fire, and he thought of the little
house in the wood, till he felt quite dazed.
"Ah, but it's burning me ye are!" says Patrick, very short and
"I'm sure I beg your pardon," said my grandfather "but might I ask
you a question?"
"If you want a crooked answer," said Patrick; "turn away or it'll be
the worse for you."
But my grandfather couldn't get it out of his head; hadn't
everybody, far and near, said Patrick had fallen overboard. There
was enough to think about, and my grandfather did think.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY! IT'S BURNING ME YE ARE."
Sorry enough my grandfather was, and he vowed he wouldn't do so
"You'd better not," said Patrick, and he gave him a cock of his eye,
and a grin of his teeth, that just sent a shiver down Andrew
Coffey's back. Well it was odd, that here he should be in a thick
wood he had never set eyes upon, turning Patrick Rooney upon a spit.
You can't wonder at my grandfather thinking and thinking and not
minding the fire.
"ANDREW COFFEY, ANDREW COFFEY, IT'S THE DEATH OF YOU I'LL BE."
And with that what did my grandfather see, but Patrick unslinging
himself from the spit and his eyes glared and his teeth glistened.
It was neither stop nor stay my grandfather made, but out he ran
into the night of the wood. It seemed to him there wasn't a stone
but was for his stumbling, not a branch but beat his face, not a
bramble but tore his skin. And wherever it was clear the rain pelted
down and the cold March wind howled along.
Glad he was to see a light, and a minute after he was kneeling,
dazed, drenched, and bedraggled by the hearth side. The brushwood
flamed, and the brushwood crackled, and soon my grandfather began to
feel a little warm and dry and easy in his mind.
"ANDREW COFFEY! ANDREW COFFEY!"
It's hard for a man to jump when he has been through all my
grandfather had, but jump he did. And when he looked around, where
should he find himself but in the very cabin he had first met
"Andrew Coffey, Andrew Coffey, tell me a story."
"Is it a story you want?" said my grandfather as bold as may be, for
he was just tired of being frightened. "Well if you can tell me the
rights of this one, I'll be thankful."
And he told the tale of what had befallen him from first to last
that night. The tale was long, and may be Andrew Coffey was weary.
It's asleep he must have fallen, for when he awoke he lay on the
hill-side under the open heavens, and his horse grazed at his side.
THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS
I will tell you a story about the wren. There was once a farmer who
was seeking a servant, and the wren met him and said: "What are you
"I am seeking a servant," said the farmer to the wren.
"Will you take me?" said the wren.
"You, you poor creature, what good would you do?"
"Try me," said the wren.
So he engaged him, and the first work he set him to do was threshing
in the barn. The wren threshed (what did he thresh with? Why a flail
to be sure), and he knocked off one grain. A mouse came out and she
"I'll trouble you not to do that again," said the wren.
He struck again, and he struck off two grains. Out came the mouse
and she eats them. So they arranged a contest to see who was
strongest, and the wren brings his twelve birds, and the mouse her
"You have your tribe with you," said the wren.
"As well as yourself," said the mouse, and she struck out her leg
proudly. But the wren broke it with his flail, and there was a
pitched battle on a set day.
When every creature and bird was gathering to battle, the son of the
king of Tethertown said that he would go to see the battle, and that
he would bring sure word home to his father the king, who would be
king of the creatures this year. The battle was over before he
arrived all but one fight, between a great black raven and a snake.
The snake was twined about the raven's neck, and the raven held the
snake's throat in his beak, and it seemed as if the snake would get
the victory over the raven. When the king's son saw this he helped
the raven, and with one blow takes the head off the snake. When the
raven had taken breath, and saw that the snake was dead, he said,
"For thy kindness to me this day, I will give thee a sight. Come up
now on the root of my two wings." The king's son put his hands about
the raven before his wings, and, before he stopped, he took him over
nine Bens, and nine Glens, and nine Mountain Moors.
"Now," said the raven, "see you that house yonder? Go now to it. It
is a sister of mine that makes her dwelling in it; and I will go
bail that you are welcome. And if she asks you, Were you at the
battle of the birds? say you were. And if she asks, 'Did you see any
one like me,' say you did, but be sure that you meet me to-morrow
morning here, in this place." The king's son got good and right good
treatment that night. Meat of each meat, drink of each drink, warm
water to his feet, and a soft bed for his limbs.
On the next day the raven gave him the same sight over six Bens, and
six Glens, and six Mountain Moors. They saw a bothy far off, but,
though far off, they were soon there. He got good treatment this
night, as before--plenty of meat and drink, and warm water to his
feet, and a soft bed to his limbs--and on the next day it was the
same thing, over three Bens and three Glens, and three Mountain
On the third morning, instead of seeing the raven as at the other
times, who should meet him but the handsomest lad he ever saw, with
gold rings in his hair, with a bundle in his hand. The king's son
asked this lad if he had seen a big black raven.
Said the lad to him, "You will never see the raven again, for I am
that raven. I was put under spells by a bad druid; it was meeting
you that loosed me, and for that you shall get this bundle. Now,"
said the lad, "you must turn back on the self-same steps, and lie a
night in each house as before; but you must not loose the bundle
which I gave ye, till in the place where you would most wish to
The king's son turned his back to the lad, and his face to his
father's house; and he got lodging from the raven's sisters, just as
he got it when going forward. When he was nearing his father's house
he was going through a close wood. It seemed to him that the bundle
was growing heavy, and he thought he would look what was in it.
When he loosed the bundle he was astonished. In a twinkling he sees
the very grandest place he ever saw. A great castle, and an orchard
about the castle, in which was every kind of fruit and herb. He
stood full of wonder and regret for having loosed the bundle--for it
was not in his power to put it back again--and he would have wished
this pretty place to be in the pretty little green hollow that was
opposite his father's house; but he looked up and saw a great giant
coming towards him.
"Bad's the place where you have built the house, king's son," says
"Yes, but it is not here I would wish it to be, though it happens to
be here by mishap," says the king's son.
"What's the reward for putting it back in the bundle as it was
"What's the reward you would ask?" says the king's son.
"That you will give me the first son you have when he is seven years
of age," says the giant.
"If I have a son you shall have him," said the king's son.
In a twinkling the giant put each garden, and orchard, and castle in
the bundle as they were before.
"Now," says the giant, "take your own road, and I will take mine;
but mind your promise, and if you forget I will remember."
The king's son took to the road, and at the end of a few days he
reached the place he was fondest of. He loosed the bundle, and the
castle was just as it was before. And when he opened the castle door
he sees the handsomest maiden he ever cast eye upon.
"Advance, king's son," said the pretty maid; "everything is in order
for you, if you will marry me this very day."
"It's I that am willing," said the king's son. And on the same day
But at the end of a day and seven years, who should be seen coming
to the castle but the giant. The king's son was reminded of his
promise to the giant, and till now he had not told his promise to
"Leave the matter between me and the giant," says the queen.
"Turn out your son," says the giant; "mind your promise."
"You shall have him," says the king, "when his mother puts him in
order for his journey."
The queen dressed up the cook's son, and she gave him to the giant
by the hand. The giant went away with him; but he had not gone far
when he put a rod in the hand of the little laddie. The giant asked
"If thy father had that rod what would he do with it?"
"If my father had that rod he would beat the dogs and the cats, so
that they shouldn't be going near the king's meat," said the little
"Thou'rt the cook's son," said the giant. He catches him by the two
small ankles and knocks him against the stone that was beside him.
The giant turned back to the castle in rage and madness, and he said
that if they did not send out the king's son to him, the highest
stone of the castle would be the lowest.
Said the queen to the king, "We'll try it yet; the butler's son is
of the same age as our son."
She dressed up the butler's son, and she gives him to the giant by
the hand. The giant had not gone far when he put the rod in his
"If thy father had that rod," says the giant, "what would he do with
"He would beat the dogs and the cats when they would be coming near
the king's bottles and glasses."
"Thou art the son of the butler," says the giant and dashed his
brains out too. The giant returned in a very great rage and anger.
The earth shook under the sole of his feet, and the castle shook and
all that was in it.
"OUT HERE WITH THY SON," says the giant, "or in a twinkling the
stone that is highest in the dwelling will be the lowest." So they
had to give the king's son to the giant.
When they were gone a little bit from the earth, the giant showed
him the rod that was in his hand and said: "What would thy father do
with this rod if he had it?"
The king's son said: "My father has a braver rod than that."
And the giant asked him, "Where is thy father when he has that brave
And the king's son said: "He will be sitting in his kingly chair."
Then the giant understood that he had the right one.
The giant took him to his own house, and he reared him as his own
son. On a day of days when the giant was from home, the lad heard
the sweetest music he ever heard in a room at the top of the giant's
house. At a glance he saw the finest face he had ever seen. She
beckoned to him to come a bit nearer to her, and she said her name
was Auburn Mary but she told him to go this time, but to be sure to
be at the same place about that dead midnight.
And as he promised he did. The giant's daughter was at his side in a
twinkling, and she said, "To-morrow you will get the choice of my
two sisters to marry; but say that you will not take either, but me.
My father wants me to marry the son of the king of the Green City,
but I don't like him." On the morrow the giant took out his three
daughters, and he said:
"Now, son of the king of Tethertown, thou hast not lost by living
with me so long. Thou wilt get to wife one of the two eldest of my
daughters, and with her leave to go home with her the day after the
"If you will give me this pretty little one," says the king's son,
"I will take you at your word."
The giant's wrath kindled, and he said: "Before thou gett'st her
thou must do the three things that I ask thee to do."
"Say on," says the king's son.
The giant took him to the byre.
"Now," says the giant, "a hundred cattle are stabled here, and it has
not been cleansed for seven years. I am going from home to-day, and
if this byre is not cleaned before night comes, so clean that a
golden apple will run from end to end of it, not only thou shalt not
get my daughter, but 'tis only a drink of thy fresh, goodly,
beautiful blood that will quench my thirst this night."
He begins cleaning the byre, but he might just as well to keep
baling the great ocean. After midday when sweat was blinding him,
the giant's youngest daughter came where he was, and she said to
"You are being punished, king's son."
"I am that," says the king's son.
"Come over," says Auburn Mary, "and lay down your weariness."
"I will do that," says he, "there is but death awaiting me, at any
rate." He sat down near her. He was so tired that he fell asleep
beside her. When he awoke, the giant's daughter was not to be seen,
but the byre was so well cleaned that a golden apple would run from
end to end of it and raise no stain. In comes the giant, and he
"Hast thou cleaned the byre, king's son?"
"I have cleaned it," says he.
"Somebody cleaned it," says the giant.
"You did not clean it, at all events," said the king's son.
"Well, well!" says the giant, "since thou wert so active to-day,
thou wilt get to this time to-morrow to thatch this byre with birds'
down, from birds with no two feathers of one colour."
The king's son was on foot before the sun; he caught up his bow and
his quiver of arrows to kill the birds. He took to the moors, but if
he did, the birds were not so easy to take. He was running after
them till the sweat was blinding him. About mid-day who should come
but Auburn Mary.
"You are exhausting yourself, king's son," says she.
"I am," said he.
"There fell but these two blackbirds, and both of one colour."
"Come over and lay down your weariness on this pretty hillock," says
the giant's daughter.
"It's I am willing," said he.
He thought she would aid him this time, too, and he sat down near
her, and he was not long there till he fell asleep.
When he awoke, Auburn Mary was gone. He thought he would go back to
the house, and he sees the byre thatched with feathers. When the
giant came home, he said:
"Hast thou thatched the byre, king's son?"
"I thatched it," says he.
"Somebody thatched it," says the giant.
"You did not thatch it," says the king's son.
"Yes, yes!" says the giant. "Now," says the giant, "there is a fir
tree beside that loch down there, and there is a magpie's nest in
its top. The eggs thou wilt find in the nest. I must have them for
my first meal. Not one must be burst or broken, and there are five
in the nest."
Early in the morning the king's son went where the tree was, and
that tree was not hard to hit upon. Its match was not in the whole
wood. From the foot to the first branch was five hundred feet. The
king's son was going all round the tree. She came who was always
bringing help to him.
"You are losing the skin of your hands and feet."
"Ach! I am," says he. "I am no sooner up than down."
"This is no time for stopping," says the giant's daughter. "Now you
must kill me, strip the flesh from my bones, take all those bones
apart, and use them as steps for climbing the tree. When you are
climbing the tree, they will stick to the glass as if they had grown
out of it; but when you are coming down, and have put your foot on
each one, they will drop into your hand when you touch them. Be sure
and stand on each bone, leave none untouched; if you do, it will
stay behind. Put all my flesh into this clean cloth by the side of
the spring at the roots of the tree. When you come to the earth,
arrange my bones together, put the flesh over them, sprinkle it with
water from the spring, and I shall be alive before you. But don't
forget a bone of me on the tree."
"How could I kill you," asked the king's son, "after what you have
done for me?"
"If you won't obey, you and I are done for," said Auburn Mary. "You
must climb the tree, or we are lost; and to climb the tree you must
do as I say." The king's son obeyed. He killed Auburn Mary, cut the
flesh from her body, and unjointed the bones, as she had told him.
As he went up, the king's son put the bones of Auburn Mary's body
against the side of the tree, using them as steps, till he came
under the nest and stood on the last bone.
Then he took the eggs, and coming down, put his foot on every bone,
then took it with him, till he came to the last bone, which was so
near the ground that he failed to touch it with his foot.
He now placed all the bones of Auburn Mary in order again at the
side of the spring, put the flesh on them, sprinkled it with water
from the spring. She rose up before him, and said: "Didn't I tell
you not to leave a bone of my body without stepping on it? Now I am
lame for life! You left my little finger on the tree without
touching it, and I have but nine fingers."
"Now," says she, "go home with the eggs quickly, and you will get
me to marry to-night if you can know me. I and my two sisters will
be arrayed in the same garments, and made like each other, but look
at me when my father says, 'Go to thy wife, king's son;' and you
will see a hand without a little finger."
He gave the eggs to the giant.
"Yes, yes!" says the giant, "be making ready for your marriage."
Then, indeed, there was a wedding, and it _was_ a wedding!
Giants and gentlemen, and the son of the king of the Green City was
in the midst of them. They were married, and the dancing began, that
was a dance! The giant's house was shaking from top to bottom.
But bed time came, and the giant said, "It is time for thee to go to
rest, son of the king of Tethertown; choose thy bride to take with
thee from amidst those."
She put out the hand off which the little finger was, and he caught
her by the hand.
"Thou hast aimed well this time too; but there is no knowing but we
may meet thee another way," said the giant.
But to rest they went. "Now," says she, "sleep not, or else you are
a dead man. We must fly quick, quick, or for certain my father will
Out they went, and on the blue grey filly in the stable they
mounted. "Stop a while," says she, "and I will play a trick to the
old hero." She jumped in, and cut an apple into nine shares, and she
put two shares at the head of the bed, and two shares at the foot of
the bed, and two shares at the door of the kitchen, and two shares
at the big door, and one outside the house.
The giant awoke and called, "Are you asleep?"
"Not yet," said the apple that was at the head of the bed.
At the end of a while he called again.
"Not yet," said the apple that was at the foot of the bed.
A while after this he called again: "Are your asleep?"
"Not yet," said the apple at the kitchen door.
The giant called again.
The apple that was at the big door answered.
"You are now going far from me," says the giant.
"Not yet," says the apple that was outside the house.
"You are flying," says the giant. The giant jumped on his feet, and
to the bed he went, but it was cold--empty.
"My own daughter's tricks are trying me," said the giant. "Here's
after them," says he.
At the mouth of day, the giant's daughter said that her father's
breath was burning her back.
"Put your hand, quick," said she, "in the ear of the grey filly, and
whatever you find in it, throw it behind us."
"There is a twig of sloe tree," said he.
"Throw it behind us," said she.
No sooner did he that, than there were twenty miles of blackthorn
wood, so thick that scarce a weasel could go through it.
The giant came headlong, and there he is fleecing his head and neck
in the thorns.
"My own daughter's tricks are here as before," said the giant; "but
if I had my own big axe and wood knife here, I would not be long
making a way through this."
He went home for the big axe and the wood knife, and sure he was not
long on his journey, and he was the boy behind the big axe. He was
not long making a way through the blackthorn.
"I will leave the axe and the wood knife here till I return," says
"If you leave 'em, leave 'em," said a hoodie that was in a tree,
"we'll steal 'em, steal 'em."
"If you will do that," says the giant, "I must take them home." He
returned home and left them at the house.
At the heat of day the giant's daughter felt her father's breath
burning her back.
"Put your finger in the filly's ear, and throw behind whatever you
find in it."
He got a splinter of grey stone, and in a twinkling there were
twenty miles, by breadth and height, of great grey rock behind them.
The giant came full pelt, but past the rock he could not go.
"The tricks of my own daughter are the hardest things that ever met
me," says the giant; "but if I had my lever and my mighty mattock, I
would not be long in making my way through this rock also."
There was no help for it, but to turn the chase for them; and he was
the boy to split the stones. He was not long in making a road
through the rock.
"I will leave the tools here, and I will return no more."
"If you leave 'em, leave 'em," says the hoodie, "we will steal 'em,
"Do that if you will; there is no time to go back."
At the time of breaking the watch, the giant's daughter said that
she felt her father's breath burning her back.
"Look in the filly's ear, king's son, or else we are lost."
He did so, and it was a bladder of water that was in her ear this
time. He threw it behind him and there was a fresh-water loch,
twenty miles in length and breadth, behind them.
The giant came on, but with the speed he had on him, he was in the
middle of the loch, and he went under, and he rose no more.
On the next day the young companions were come in sight of his
father's house. "Now," says she, "my father is drowned, and he won't
trouble us any more; but before we go further," says she, "go you to
your father's house, and tell that you have the likes of me; but let
neither man nor creature kiss you, for if you do, you will not
remember that you have ever seen me."
Every one he met gave him welcome and luck, and he charged his
father and mother not to kiss him; but as mishap was to be, an old
greyhound was indoors, and she knew him, and jumped up to his mouth,
and after that he did not remember the giant's daughter.
She was sitting at the well's side as he left her, but the king's
son was not coming. In the mouth of night she climbed up into a tree
of oak that was beside the well, and she lay in the fork of that
tree all night. A shoemaker had a house near the well, and about
mid-day on the morrow, the shoemaker asked his wife to go for a
drink for him out of the well. When the shoemaker's wife reached the
well, and when she saw the shadow of her that was in the tree,
thinking it was her own shadow--and she never thought till now that
she was so handsome--she gave a cast to the dish that was in her
hand, and it was broken on the ground, and she took herself to the
house without vessel or water.
"Where is the water, wife?" said the shoemaker.
"You shambling, contemptible old carle, without grace, I have stayed
too long your water and wood thrall."
"I think, wife, that you have turned crazy. Go you, daughter,
quickly, and fetch a drink for your father."
His daughter went, and in the same way so it happened to her. She
never thought till now that she was so lovable, and she took herself
"Up with the drink," said her father.
"You home-spun shoe carle, do you think I am fit to be your thrall?"
The poor shoemaker thought that they had taken a turn in their
understandings, and he went himself to the well. He saw the shadow
of the maiden in the well, and he looked up to the tree, and he sees
the finest woman he ever saw.
"Your seat is wavering, but your face is fair," said the shoemaker.
"Come down, for there is need of you for a short while at my house."
The shoemaker understood that this was the shadow that had driven
his people mad. The shoemaker took her to his house, and he said
that he had but a poor bothy, but that she should get a share of all
that was in it.
One day, the shoemaker had shoes ready, for on that very day the
king's son was to be married. The shoemaker was going to the castle
with the shoes of the young people, and the girl said to the
shoemaker, "I would like to get a sight of the king's son before he
"Come with me," says the shoemaker, "I am well acquainted with the
servants at the castle, and you shall get a sight of the king's son
and all the company."
And when the gentles saw the pretty woman that was here they took
her to the wedding-room, and they filled for her a glass of wine.
When she was going to drink what is in it, a flame went up out of
the glass, and a golden pigeon and a silver pigeon sprang out of it.
They were flying about when three grains of barley fell on the
floor. The silver pigeon sprung, and ate that up.
Said the golden pigeon to him, "If you remembered when I cleared the
byre, you would not eat that without giving me a share."
Again there fell three other grains of barley, and the silver pigeon
sprung, and ate that up as before.
"If you remembered when I thatched the byre, you would not eat that
without giving me my share," says the golden pigeon.
Three other grains fall, and the silver pigeon sprung, and ate that
"If you remembered when I harried the magpie's nest, you would not
eat that without giving me my share," says the golden pigeon; "I
lost my little finger bringing it down, and I want it still."
The king's son minded, and he knew who it was that was before him.
"Well," said the king's son to the guests at the feast, "when I was
a little younger than I am now, I lost the key of a casket that I
had. I had a new key made, but after it was brought to me I found
the old one. Now, I'll leave it to any one here to tell me what I am
to do. Which of the keys should I keep?"
"My advice to you," said one of the guests, "is to keep the old key,
for it fits the lock better and you're more used to it."
Then the king's son stood up and said: "I thank you for a wise
advice and an honest word. This is my bride the daughter of the
giant who saved my life at the risk of her own. I'll have her and no
So the king's son married Auburn Mary and the wedding lasted long
and all were happy. But all I got was butter on a live coal,
porridge in a basket, and they sent me for water to the stream, and
the paper shoes came to an end.
BREWERY OF EGGSHELLS
In Treneglwys there is a certain shepherd's cot known by the name of
Twt y Cymrws because of the strange strife that occurred there.
There once lived there a man and his wife, and they had twins whom
the woman nursed tenderly. One day she was called away to the house
of a neighbour at some distance. She did not much like going and
leaving her little ones all alone in a solitary house, especially as
she had heard tell of the good folk haunting the neighbourhood.
Well, she went and came back as soon as she could, but on her way
back she was frightened to see some old elves of the blue petticoat
crossing her path though it was midday. She rushed home, but found
her two little ones in the cradle and everything seemed as it was
But after a time the good people began to suspect that something was
wrong, for the twins didn't grow at all.
The man said: "They're not ours."
The woman said: "Whose else should they be?"
And so arose the great strife so that the neighbours named the
cottage after it. It made the woman very sad, so one evening she
made up her mind to go and see the Wise Man of Llanidloes, for he
knew everything and would advise her what to do.
So she went to Llanidloes and told the case to the Wise Man. Now
there was soon to be a harvest of rye and oats, so the Wise Man said
to her, "When you are getting dinner for the reapers, clear out the
shell of a hen's egg and boil some potage in it, and then take it to
the door as if you meant it as a dinner for the reapers. Then listen
if the twins say anything. If you hear them speaking of things
beyond the understanding of children, go back and take them up and
throw them into the waters of Lake Elvyn. But if you don't hear
anything remarkable, do them no injury."
So when the day of the reap came the woman did all that the Wise Man
ordered, and put the eggshell on the fire and took it off and
carried it to the door, and there she stood and listened. Then she
heard one of the children say to the other:
Acorn before oak I knew,
An egg before a hen,
But I never heard of an eggshell brew
A dinner for harvest men.
So she went back into the house, seized the children and threw them
into the Llyn, and the goblins in their blue trousers came and saved
their dwarfs and the mother had her own children back and so the
great strife ended.
THE LAD WITH THE GOAT-SKIN
Long ago, a poor widow woman lived down near the iron forge, by
Enniscorth, and she was so poor she had no clothes to put on her
son; so she used to fix him in the ash-hole, near the fire, and pile
the warm ashes about him; and according as he grew up, she sunk the
pit deeper. At last, by hook or by crook, she got a goat-skin, and
fastened it round his waist, and he felt quite grand, and took a
walk down the street. So says she to him next morning, "Tom, you
thief, you never done any good yet, and you six foot high, and past
nineteen;--take that rope and bring me a faggot from the wood."
"Never say't twice, mother," says Tom--"here goes."
When he had it gathered and tied, what should come up but a big
giant, nine foot high, and made a lick of a club at him. Well become
Tom, he jumped a-one side, and picked up a ram-pike; and the first
crack he gave the big fellow, he made him kiss the clod.
"If you have e'er a prayer," says Tom, "now's the time to say it,
before I make fragments of you."
"I have no prayers," says the giant; "but if you spare my life I'll
give you that club; and as long as you keep from sin, you'll win
every battle you ever fight with it."
Tom made no bones about letting him off; and as soon as he got the
club in his hands, he sat down on the bresna, and gave it a tap with
the kippeen, and says, "Faggot, I had great trouble gathering you,
and run the risk of my life for you, the least you can do is to
carry me home." And sure enough, the wind o' the word was all it
wanted. It went off through the wood, groaning and crackling, till
it came to the widow's door.
Well, when the sticks were all burned, Tom was sent off again to
pick more; and this time he had to fight with a giant that had two
heads on him. Tom had a little more trouble with him--that's all;
and the prayers he said, was to give Tom a fife; that nobody could
help dancing when he was playing it. Begonies, he made the big
faggot dance home, with himself sitting on it. The next giant was a
beautiful boy with three heads on him. He had neither prayers nor
catechism no more nor the others; and so he gave Tom a bottle of
green ointment, that wouldn't let you be burned, nor scalded, nor
wounded. "And now," says he, "there's no more of us. You may come
and gather sticks here till little Lunacy Day in Harvest, without
giant or fairy-man to disturb you."
Well, now, Tom was prouder nor ten paycocks, and used to take a walk
down street in the heel of the evening; but some o' the little boys
had no more manners than if they were Dublin jackeens, and put out
their tongues at Tom's club and Tom's goat-skin. He didn't like that
at all, and it would be mean to give one of them a clout. At last,
what should come through the town but a kind of a bellman, only it's
a big bugle he had, and a huntsman's cap on his head, and a kind of
a painted shirt. So this--he wasn't a bellman, and I don't know what
to call him--bugleman, maybe, proclaimed that the King of Dublin's
daughter was so melancholy that she didn't give a laugh for seven
years, and that her father would grant her in marriage to whoever
could make her laugh three times.
"That's the very thing for me to try," says Tom; and so, without
burning any more daylight, he kissed his mother, curled his club at
the little boys, and off he set along the yalla highroad to the town
At last Tom came to one of the city gates, and the guards laughed
and cursed at him instead of letting him in. Tom stood it all for a
little time, but at last one of them--out of fun, as he said--drove
his bayonet half an inch or so into his side. Tom done nothing but
take the fellow by the scruff o' the neck and the waistband of his
corduroys, and fling him into the canal. Some run to pull the fellow
out, and others to let manners into the vulgarian with their swords
and daggers; but a tap from his club sent them headlong into the
moat or down on the stones, and they were soon begging him to stay
So at last one of them was glad enough to show Tom the way to the
palace-yard; and there was the king, and the queen, and the
princess, in a gallery, looking at all sorts of wrestling, and
sword-playing, and long-dances, and mumming, all to please the
princess; but not a smile came over her handsome face.
Well, they all stopped when they seen the young giant, with his
boy's face, and long black hair, and his short curly beard--for his
poor mother couldn't afford to buy razors--and his great strong
arms, and bare legs, and no covering but the goat-skin that reached
from his waist to his knees. But an envious wizened bit of a fellow,
with a red head, that wished to be married to the princess, and
didn't like how she opened her eyes at Tom, came forward, and asked
his business very snappishly.
"My business," says Tom, says he, "is to make the beautiful
princess, God bless her, laugh three times."
"Do you see all them merry fellows and skilful swordsmen," says the
other, "that could eat you up with a grain of salt, and not a
mother's soul of 'em ever got a laugh from her these seven years?"
So the fellows gathered round Tom, and the bad man aggravated him
till he told them he didn't care a pinch o' snuff for the whole
bilin' of 'em; let 'em come on, six at a time, and try what they
The king, who was too far off to hear what they were saying, asked
what did the stranger want.
"He wants," says the red-headed fellow, "to make hares of your best
"Oh!" says the king, "if that's the way, let one of 'em turn out and
try his mettle."
So one stood forward, with sword and pot-lid, and made a cut at Tom.
He struck the fellow's elbow with the club, and up over their heads
flew the sword, and down went the owner of it on the gravel from a
thump he got on the helmet. Another took his place, and another, and
another, and then half a dozen at once, and Tom sent swords,
helmets, shields, and bodies, rolling over and over, and themselves
bawling out that they were kilt, and disabled, and damaged, and
rubbing their poor elbows and hips, and limping away. Tom contrived
not to kill any one; and the princess was so amused, that she let a
great sweet laugh out of her that was heard over all the yard.
"King of Dublin," says Tom, "I've quarter your daughter."
And the king didn't know whether he was glad or sorry, and all the
blood in the princess's heart run into her cheeks.
So there was no more fighting that day, and Tom was invited to dine
with the royal family. Next day, Redhead told Tom of a wolf, the
size of a yearling heifer, that used to be serenading about the
walls, and eating people and cattle; and said what a pleasure it
would give the king to have it killed.
"With all my heart," says Tom; "send a jackeen to show me where he
lives, and we'll see how he behaves to a stranger."
The princess was not well pleased, for Tom looked a different person
with fine clothes and a nice green birredh over his long curly hair;
and besides, he'd got one laugh out of her. However, the king gave
his consent; and in an hour and a half the horrible wolf was walking
into the palace-yard, and Tom a step or two behind, with his club on
his shoulder, just as a shepherd would be walking after a pet lamb.
The king and queen and princess were safe up in their gallery, but
the officers and people of the court that wor padrowling about the
great bawn, when they saw the big baste coming in, gave themselves
up, and began to make for doors and gates; and the wolf licked his
chops, as if he was saying, "Wouldn't I enjoy a breakfast off a
couple of yez!"
The king shouted out, "O Tom with the Goat-skin, take away that
terrible wolf, and you must have all my daughter."
But Tom didn't mind him a bit. He pulled out his flute and began to
play like vengeance; and dickens a man or boy in the yard but began
shovelling away heel and toe, and the wolf himself was obliged to
get on his hind legs and dance "Tatther Jack Walsh," along with the
rest. A good deal of the people got inside, and shut the doors, the
way the hairy fellow wouldn't pin them; but Tom kept playing, and
the outsiders kept dancing and shouting, and the wolf kept dancing
and roaring with the pain his legs were giving him; and all the time
he had his eyes on Redhead, who was shut out along with the rest.
Wherever Redhead went, the wolf followed, and kept one eye on him
and the other on Tom, to see if he would give him leave to eat him.
But Tom shook his head, and never stopped the tune, and Redhead
never stopped dancing and bawling, and the wolf dancing and roaring,
one leg up and the other down, and he ready to drop out of his
standing from fair tiresomeness.
When the princess seen that there was no fear of any one being kilt,
she was so divarted by the stew that Redhead was in, that she gave
another great laugh; and well become Tom, out he cried, "King of
Dublin, I have two halves of your daughter."
"Oh, halves or alls," says the king, "put away that divel of a wolf,
and we'll see about it."
So Tom put his flute in his pocket, and says he to the baste that
was sittin' on his currabingo ready to faint, "Walk off to your
mountain, my fine fellow, and live like a respectable baste; and if
ever I find you come within seven miles of any town, I'll--"
He said no more, but spit in his fist, and gave a flourish of his
club. It was all the poor divel of a wolf wanted: he put his tail
between his legs, and took to his pumps without looking at man or
mortal, and neither sun, moon, or stars ever saw him in sight of
At dinner every one laughed but the foxy fellow; and sure enough he
was laying out how he'd settle poor Tom next day.
"Well, to be sure!" says he, "King of Dublin, you are in luck.
There's the Danes moidhering us to no end. Deuce run to Lusk wid
'em! and if any one can save us from 'em, it is this gentleman with
the goat-skin. There is a flail hangin' on the collar-beam, in hell,
and neither Dane nor devil can stand before it."
"So," says Tom to the king, "will you let me have the other half of
the princess if I bring you the flail?"
"No, no," says the princess; "I'd rather never be your wife than see
you in that danger."
But Redhead whispered and nudged Tom about how shabby it would look
to reneague the adventure. So he asked which way he was to go, and
Redhead directed him.
Well, he travelled and travelled, till he came in sight of the walls
of hell; and, bedad, before he knocked at the gates, he rubbed
himself over with the greenish ointment. When he knocked, a hundred
little imps popped their heads out through the bars, and axed him
what he wanted.
"I want to speak to the big divel of all," says Tom: "open the
It wasn't long till the gate was thrune open, and the Ould Boy
received Tom with bows and scrapes, and axed his business.
"My business isn't much," says Tom. "I only came for the loan of
that flail that I see hanging on the collar-beam, for the king of
Dublin to give a thrashing to the Danes."
"Well," says the other, "the Danes is much better customers to me;
but since you walked so far I won't refuse. Hand that flail," says
he to a young imp; and he winked the far-off eye at the same time.
So, while some were barring the gates, the young devil climbed up,
and took down the flail that had the handstaff and booltheen both
made out of red-hot iron. The little vagabond was grinning to think
how it would burn the hands o' Tom, but the dickens a burn it made
on him, no more nor if it was a good oak sapling.
"Thankee," says Tom. "Now would you open the gate for a body, and
I'll give you no more trouble."
"Oh, tramp!" says Ould Nick; "is that the way? It is easier getting
inside them gates than getting out again. Take that tool from him,
and give him a dose of the oil of stirrup."
So one fellow put out his claws to seize on the flail, but Tom gave
him such a welt of it on the side of the head that he broke off one
of his horns, and made him roar like a devil as he was. Well, they
rushed at Tom, but he gave them, little and big, such a thrashing as
they didn't forget for a while. At last says the ould thief of all,
rubbing his elbow, "Let the fool out; and woe to whoever lets him in
again, great or small."
So out marched Tom, and away with him, without minding the shouting
and cursing they kept up at him from the tops of the walls; and when
he got home to the big bawn of the palace, there never was such
running and racing as to see himself and the flail. When he had his
story told, he laid down the flail on the stone steps, and bid no
one for their lives to touch it. If the king, and queen, and
princess, made much of him before, they made ten times more of him
now; but Redhead, the mean scruff-hound, stole over, and thought to
catch hold of the flail to make an end of him. His fingers hardly
touched it, when he let a roar out of him as if heaven and earth
were coming together, and kept flinging his arms about and dancing,
that it was pitiful to look at him. Tom run at him as soon as he
could rise, caught his hands in his own two, and rubbed them this
way and that, and the burning pain left them before you could reckon
one. Well the poor fellow, between the pain that was only just gone,
and the comfort he was in, had the comicalest face that you ever
see, it was such a mixtherum-gatherum of laughing and crying.
Everybody burst out a laughing--the princess could not stop no more
than the rest; and then says Tom, "Now, ma'am, if there were fifty
halves of you, I hope you'll give me them all."
Well, the princess looked at her father, and by my word, she came
over to Tom, and put her two delicate hands into his two rough ones,
and I wish it was myself was in his shoes that day!
Tom would not bring the flail into the palace. You may be sure no
other body went near it; and when the early risers were passing next
morning, they found two long clefts in the stone, where it was after
burning itself an opening downwards, nobody could tell how far. But
a messenger came in at noon, and said that the Danes were so
frightened when they heard of the flail coming into Dublin, that
they got into their ships, and sailed away.
Well, I suppose, before they were married, Tom got some man, like
Pat Mara of Tomenine, to learn him the "principles of politeness,"
fluxions, gunnery, and fortification, decimal fractions, practice,
and the rule of three direct, the way he'd be able to keep up a
conversation with the royal family. Whether he ever lost his time
learning them sciences, I'm not sure, but it's as sure as fate that
his mother never more saw any want till the end of her days.
MAN OR WOMAN BOY OR GIRL THAT READS WHAT FOLLOWS 3 TIMES SHALL FALL
ASLEEP AN HUNDRED YEARS
JOHN D. BATTEN DREW THIS AUG. 20TH, 1801 GOOD-NIGHT
NOTES AND REFERENCES
It may be as well to give the reader some account of the enormous
extent of the Celtic folk-tales in existence. I reckon these to
extend to 2000, though only about 250 are in print. The former
number exceeds that known in France, Italy, Germany, and Russia,
where collection has been most active, and is only exceeded by the
MS. collection of Finnish folk-tales at Helsingfors, said to exceed
12,000. As will be seen, this superiority of the Celts is due to the
phenomenal and patriotic activity of one man, the late J. F.
Campbell, of Islay, whose _Popular Tales_ and MS. collections
(partly described by Mr. Alfred Nutt in _Folk-Lore_, i. 369-83)
contain references to no less than 1281 tales (many of them, of
course, variants and scraps). Celtic folk-tales, while more
numerous, are also the oldest of the tales of modern European races;
some of them--_e.g._, "Connla," in the present selection,
occurring in the oldest Irish vellums. They include (1) fairy tales
properly so-called--_i.e._, tales or anecdotes _about_ fairies,
hobgoblins, &c., told as natural occurrences; (2) hero-tales, stories
of adventure told of national or mythical heroes; (3) folk-tales proper,
describing marvellous adventures of otherwise unknown heroes,
in which there is a defined plot and supernatural characters
(speaking animals, giants, dwarfs, &c.); and finally (4) drolls, comic
anecdotes of feats of stupidity or cunning.
The collection of Celtic folk-tales began in IRELAND as early as
1825, with T. Crofton Croker's _Fairy Legends and Traditions of
the South of Ireland_. This contained some 38 anecdotes of the
first class mentioned above, anecdotes showing the belief of the
Irish peasantry in the existence of fairies, gnomes, goblins, and
the like. The Grimms did Croker the honour of translating part of
his book, under the title of _Irische Elfenmarchen_. Among the
novelists and tale-writers of the schools of Miss Edgeworth and
Lever folk-tales were occasionally utilised, as by Carleton in his
_Traits and Stories_, by S. Lover in his _Legends and Stories_,
and by G. Griffin in his _Tales of a Jury-Room_. These all tell their tales
in the manner of the stage Irishman. Chapbooks, _Royal Fairy Tales_
and _Hibernian Tales_, also contained genuine folk-tales, and attracted
Thackeray's attention in his _Irish Sketch-Book_. The Irish Grimm,
however, was Patrick Kennedy, a Dublin bookseller, who believed in
fairies, and in five years (1866- 71) printed about 100 folk- and hero-
tales and drolls (classes 2, 3, and 4 above) in his _Legendary Fictions
of the Irish Celts_, 1866, _Fireside Stories of Ireland_, 1870, and _Bardic
Stories of Ireland_, 1871; all three are now unfortunately out of print. He
tells his stories neatly and with spirit, and retains much that is
_volkstumlich_ in his diction. He derived his materials from the
English-speaking peasantry of county Wexford, who changed from
Gaelic to English while story-telling was in full vigour, and therefore
carried over the stories with the change of language. Lady Wylde
has told many folk-tales very effectively in her _Ancient Legends of
Ireland_, 1887. More recently two collectors have published stories
gathered from peasants of the West and North who can only speak
Gaelic. These are by an American gentleman named Curtin, _Myths
and Folk-Tales of Ireland_, 1890; while Dr. Douglas Hyde has
published in _Beside the Fireside_, 1891, spirited English versions of
some of the stories he had published in the original Irish in his _Leabhar
Sgeulaighteachta_, Dublin, 1889. Miss Maclintoch has a large MS.
collection, part of which has appeared in various periodicals; and
Messrs. Larminie and D. Fitzgerald are known to have much story
material in their possession.
But beside these more modern collections there exist in old and
middle Irish a large number of hero-tales (class 2) which formed
the staple of the old _ollahms_ or bards. Of these tales of
"cattle-liftings, elopements, battles, voyages, courtships, caves,
lakes, feasts, sieges, and eruptions," a bard of even the fourth
class had to know seven fifties, presumably one for each day of the
year. Sir William Temple knew of a north-country gentleman of
Ireland who was sent to sleep every evening with a fresh tale
from his bard. The _Book of Leinster_, an Irish vellum of the
twelfth century, contains a list of 189 of these hero-tales, many of
which are extant to this day; E. O'Curry gives the list in the
Appendix to his MS. _Materials of Irish History_. Another list
of about 70 is given in the preface to the third volume of the
Ossianic Society's publications. Dr. Joyce published a few of the
more celebrated of these in _Old Celtic Romances_; others
appeared in _Atlantis_ (see notes on "Deirdre"), others in
Kennedy's _Bardic Stories_, mentioned above.
Turning to SCOTLAND, we must put aside Chambers' _Popular Rhymes
of Scotland_, 1842, which contains for the most part folk-tales
common with those of England rather than those peculiar to the
Gaelic-speaking Scots. The first name here in time as in importance
is that of J. F. Campbell, of Islay. His four volumes, _Popular
Tales of the West Highlands_ (Edinburgh, 1860-2, recently
republished by the Islay Association), contain some 120 folk- and
hero-tales, told with strict adherence to the language of the
narrators, which is given with a literal, a rather too literal,
English version. This careful accuracy has given an un-English air
to his versions, and has prevented them attaining their due
popularity. What Campbell has published represents only a tithe of
what he collected. At the end of the fourth volume he gives a list
of 791 tales, &c., collected by him or his assistants in the two
years 1859-61; and in his MS. collections at Edinburgh are two other
lists containing 400 more tales. Only a portion of these are in the
Advocates' Library; the rest, if extant, must be in private hands,
though they are distinctly of national importance and interest.
Campbell's influence has been effective of recent years in Scotland.
The _Celtic Magazine_ (vols. xii. and xiii.), while under the
editorship of Mr. MacBain, contained several folk- and hero-tales in
Gaelic, and so did the _Scotch Celtic Review_. These were from
the collections of Messrs. Campbell of Tiree, Carmichael, and K.
Mackenzie. Recently Lord Archibald Campbell has shown laudable
interest in the preservation of Gaelic folk- and hero-tales. Under
his auspices a whole series of handsome volumes, under the general
title of _Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition_, has been
recently published, four volumes having already appeared, each
accompanied by notes by Mr. Alfred Nutt, which form the most
important aid to the study of Celtic Folk-Tales since Campbell
himself. Those to the second volume in particular (Tales collected
by Rev. D. MacInnes) fill 100 pages, with condensed information on
all aspects of the subject dealt with in the light of the most
recent research in the European folk-tales as well as on Celtic
literature. Thanks to Mr. Nutt, Scotland is just now to the fore in
the collection and study of the British Folk-Tale.
WALES makes a poor show beside Ireland and Scotland. Sikes'
_British Goblins_, and the tales collected by Prof. Rhys in
_Y Cymrodor_, vols. ii.-vi., are mainly of our first-class
fairy anecdotes. Borrow, in his _Wild Wales_, refers to a
collection of fables in a journal called _The Greal_, while the
_Cambrian Quarterly Magazine_ for 1830 and 1831 contained a few
fairy anecdotes, including a curious version of the "Brewery of
Eggshells" from the Welsh. In the older literature, the _Iolo
MS._, published by the Welsh MS. Society, has a few fables and
apologues, and the charming _Mabinogion_, translated by Lady
Guest, has tales that can trace back to the twelfth century and are
on the border-line between folk-tales and hero-tales.
CORNWALL and MAN are even worse than Wales. Hunt's _Drolls from
the West of England_ has nothing distinctively Celtic, and it is
only by a chance Lhuyd chose a folk-tale as his specimen of Cornish
in his _Archaeologia Britannica_, 1709 (see _Tale of Ivan_).
The Manx folk-tales published, including the most recent by Mr. Moore,
in his _Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man_, 1891, are mainly fairy
anecdotes and legends.
From this survey of the field of Celtic folk-tales it is clear that
Ireland and Scotland provide the lion's share. The interesting thing
to notice is the remarkable similarity of Scotch and Irish folk-
tales. The continuity of language and culture between these two
divisions of Gaeldom has clearly brought about this identity of
their folk-tales. As will be seen from the following notes, the
tales found in Scotland can almost invariably be paralleled by those
found in Ireland, and _vice versa_. This result is a striking
confirmation of the general truth that folk-lores of different
countries resemble one another in proportion to their contiguity and
to the continuity of language and culture between them.
Another point of interest in these Celtic folk-tales is the light
they throw upon the relation of hero-tales and folk-tales (classes 2
and 3 above). Tales told of Finn of Cuchulain, and therefore coming
under the definition of hero-tales, are found elsewhere told of
anonymous or unknown heroes. The question is, were the folk-tales
the earliest, and were they localised and applied to the heroes, or
were the heroic sagas generalised and applied to an unknown [Greek:
tis]? All the evidence, in my opinion, inclines to the former view,
which, as applied to Celtic folk-tales, is of very great literary
importance; for it is becoming more and more recognised, thanks
chiefly to the admirable work of Mr. Alfred Nutt, in his _Studies
on the Holy Grail_, that the outburst of European Romance in the
twelfth century was due, in large measure, to an infusion of Celtic
hero-tales into the literature of the Romance-speaking nations. Now
the remarkable thing is, how these hero tales have lingered on in
oral tradition even to the present day. (See a marked case in
"Deirdre.") We may, therefore, hope to see considerable light thrown
on the most characteristic spiritual product of the Middle Ages, the
literature of Romance and the spirit of chivalry, from the Celtic
folk-tales of the present day. Mr. Alfred Nutt has already shown
this to be true of a special section of Romance literature, that
connected with the Holy Grail, and it seems probable that further
study will extend the field of application of this new method of
The Celtic folk-tale again has interest in retaining many traits of
primitive conditions among the early inhabitants of these isles
which are preserved by no other record. Take, for instance, the calm
assumption of polygamy in "Gold Tree and Silver Tree." That
represents a state of feeling that is decidedly pre-Christian. The
belief in an external soul "Life Index," recently monographed by Mr.
Frazer in his "Golden Bough," also finds expression in a couple of
the Tales (see notes on "Sea-Maiden" and "Fair, Brown, and
Trembling"), and so with many other primitive ideas.
Care, however, has to be taken in using folk-tales as evidence for
primitive practice among the nations where they are found. For the
tales may have come from another race--that is, for example,
probably the case with "Gold Tree and Silver Tree" (see Notes).
Celtic tales are of peculiar interest in this connection, as they
afford one of the best fields for studying the problem of diffusion,
the most pressing of the problems of the folk-tales just at present,
at least in my opinion. The Celts are at the furthermost end of
Europe. Tales that travelled to them could go no further and must
therefore be the last links in the chain.
For all these reasons, then, Celtic folk-tales are of high
scientific interest to the folk-lorist, while they yield to none in
imaginative and literary qualities. In any other country of Europe
some national means of recording them would have long ago been
adopted. M. Luzel, _e.g._, was commissioned by the French
Minister of Public Instruction to collect and report on the Breton
folk-tales. England, here as elsewhere without any organised means
of scientific research in the historical and philological sciences,
has to depend on the enthusiasm of a few private individuals for
work of national importance. Every Celt of these islands or in the
Gaeldom beyond the sea, and every Celt-lover among the English-
speaking nations, should regard it as one of the duties of the race
to put its traditions on record in the few years that now remain
before they will cease for ever to be living in the hearts and
memories of the humbler members of the race.
In the following Notes I have done as in my _English Fairy
Tales_, and given first, the _sources_ whence I drew the tales,
then _parallels_ at length for the British Isles, with bibliographical
references for parallels abroad, and finally, _remarks_ where the
tales seemed to need them. In these I have not wearied or worried
the reader with conventional tall talk about the Celtic genius and its
manifestations in the folk-tale; on that topic one can only repeat
Matthew Arnold when at his best, in his _Celtic Literature_. Nor have
I attempted to deal with the more general aspects of the study of
the Celtic folk-tale. For these I must refer to Mr. Nutt's series of
papers in _The Celtic Magazine_, vol. xii., or, still better, to the
masterly introductions he is contributing to the series of _Waifs and
Strays of Celtic Tradition_, and to Dr. Hyde's _Beside the
Fireside_. In my remarks I have mainly confined myself to
discussing the origin and diffusion of the various tales, so far as
anything definite could be learnt or conjectured on that subject.
Before proceeding to the Notes, I may "put in," as the lawyers say,
a few summaries of the results reached in them. Of the twenty-six
tales, twelve (i., ii., v., viii., ix., x., xi., xv., xvi., xvii.,
xix., xxiv.) have Gaelic originals; three (vii., xiii., xxv.) are
from the Welsh; one (xxii.) from the now extinct Cornish; one an
adaptation of an English poem founded on a Welsh tradition (xxi.,
"Gellert"); and the remaining nine are what may be termed Anglo-
Irish. Regarding their diffusion among the Celts, twelve are both
Irish and Scotch (iv., v., vi., ix., x., xiv.-xvii., xix., xx.,
xxiv); one (xxv.) is common to Irish and Welsh; and one (xxii.) to
Irish and Cornish; seven are found only among the Celts in Ireland
(i.-iii., xii., xviii., xxii., xxvi); two (viii., xi.) among the
Scotch; and three (vii., xiii., xxi.) among the Welsh. Finally, so
far as we can ascertain their origin, four (v., xvi., xxi., xxii.)
are from the East; five (vi., x., xiv., xx., xxv.) are European
drolls; three of the romantic tales seem to have been imported
(vii., ix., xix.); while three others are possibly Celtic
exportations to the Continent (xv., xvii., xxiv.) though the, last
may have previously come thence; the remaining eleven are, as far as
known, original to Celtic lands. Somewhat the same result would come
out, I believe, as the analysis of any representative collection of
folk-tales of any European district.
I. CONNLA AND THE FAIRY MAIDEN.
_Source_.--From the old Irish "Echtra Condla chaim maic Cuind
Chetchathaig" of the _Leabhar na h-Uidhre_ ("Book of the Dun
Cow"), which must have been written before 1106, when its scribe
Maelmori ("Servant of Mary") was murdered. The original is given by
Windisch in his _Irish Grammar_, p. 120, also in the _Trans.
Kilkenny Archaeol. Soc._ for 1874. A fragment occurs in a
Rawlinson MS., described by Dr. W. Stokes, _Tripartite Life_,
p. xxxvi. I have used the translation of Prof. Zimmer in his
_Keltische Beitrage_, ii. (_Zeits. f. deutsches Altertum_, Bd.
xxxiii. 262-4). Dr. Joyce has a somewhat florid version in, his
_Old Celtic Romances_, from which I have borrowed a touch or
two. I have neither extenuated nor added aught but the last sentence
of the Fairy Maiden's last speech. Part of the original is in
metrical form, so that the whole is of the _cante-fable_ species
which I believe to be the original form of the folk-tale (Cf. _Eng. Fairy
Tales_, notes, p. 240, and _infra_, p. 257).
_Parallels_.--Prof. Zimmer's paper contains three other
accounts of the _terra repromissionis_ in the Irish sagas, one
of them being the similar adventure of Cormac the nephew of Connla,
or Condla Ruad as he should be called. The fairy apple of gold
occurs in Cormac Mac Art's visit to the Brug of Manannan (Nutt's
_Holy Grail_, 193).
_Remarks_.--Conn the hundred-fighter had the head-kingship of
Ireland 123-157 A.D., according to the _Annals of the Four
Masters_, i. 105. On the day of his birth the five great roads
from Tara to all parts of Ireland were completed: one of them from
Dublin is still used. Connaught is said to have been named after
him, but this is scarcely consonant with Joyce's identification with
Ptolemy's _Nagnatai_ (_Irish Local Names_, i. 75). But there
can be little doubt of Conn's existence as a powerful ruler in
Ireland in the second century. The historic existence of Connla
seems also to be authenticated by the reference to him as Conly, the
eldest son of Conn, in the Annals of Clonmacnoise. As Conn was
succeeded by his third son, Art Enear, Connla was either slain or
disappeared during his father's lifetime. Under these circumstances
it is not unlikely that our legend grew up within the century after
Conn--_i.e._, during the latter half of the second century.
As regards the present form of it, Prof. Zimmer (_l.c._ 261-2)
places it in the seventh century. It has clearly been touched up by
a Christian hand who introduced the reference to the day of judgment
and to the waning power of the Druids. But nothing turns upon this
interpolation, so that it is likely that even the present form of
the legend is pre-Christian-_i.e._ for Ireland, pre-Patrician,
before the fifth century.
The tale of Connla is thus the earliest fairy tale of modern Europe.
Besides this interest it contains an early account of one of the
most characteristic Celtic conceptions, that of the earthly
Paradise, the Isle of Youth, _Tir-nan-Og_. This has impressed
itself on the European imagination; in the Arthuriad it is
represented by the Vale of Avalon, and as represented in the various
Celtic visions of the future life, it forms one of the main sources
of Dante's _Divina Commedia_. It is possible too, I think, that
the Homeric Hesperides and the Fortunate Isles of the ancients had a
Celtic origin (as is well known, the early place-names of Europe are
predominantly Celtic). I have found, I believe, a reference to the
conception in one of the earliest passages in the classics dealing
with the Druids. Lucan, in his _Pharsalia_ (i. 450-8), addresses
them in these high terms of reverence:
Et vos barbaricos ritus, moremque sinistrum,
Sacrorum, Druidae, positis repetistis ab armis,
Solis nosse Deos et coeli numera vobis
Aut solis nescire datum; nemora alta remotis
Incolitis lucis. Vobis auctoribus umbrae,
Non tacitas Erebi sedes, Ditisque profundi,
Pallida regna petunt: _regit idem spiritus artus
Orbe alio_: longae, canitis si cognita, vitae
Mors media est.
The passage certainly seems to me to imply a different conception
from the ordinary classical views of the life after death, the dark
and dismal plains of Erebus peopled with ghosts; and the passage I
have italicised would chime in well with the conception of a
continuance of youth (_idem spiritus_) in Tir-nan-Og (_orbe
One of the most pathetic, beautiful, and typical scenes in Irish
legend is the return of Ossian from Tir-nan-Og, and his interview
with St. Patrick. The old faith and the new, the old order of things
and that which replaced it, meet in two of the most characteristic
products of the Irish imagination (for the Patrick of legend is as
much a legendary figure as Oisin himself). Ossian had gone away to
Tir-nan-Og with the fairy Niamh under very much the same
circumstances as Condla Ruad; time flies in the land of eternal
youth, and when Ossian returns, after a year as he thinks, more than
three centuries had passed, and St. Patrick had just succeeded in
introducing the new faith. The contrast of Past and Present has
never been more vividly or beautifully represented.
_Source_.--From Dr. Douglas Hyde's _Beside the Fire_, 104-
28, where it is a translation from the same author's _Leabhar
Sgeulaighteachta_. Dr Hyde got it from one Shamus O'Hart, a
gamekeeper of Frenchpark. One is curious to know how far the very
beautiful landscapes in the story are due to Dr. Hyde, who confesses
to have only taken notes. I have omitted a journey to Rome,
paralleled, as Mr. Nutt has pointed out, by the similar one of
Michael Scott (_Waifs and Strays_, i. 46), and not bearing on
the main lines of the story. I have also dropped a part of Guleesh's
name: in the original he is "Guleesh na guss dhu," Guleesh of the
black feet, because he never washed them; nothing turns on this in
the present form of the story, but one cannot but suspect it was of
importance in the original form.
_Parallels_.--Dr. Hyde refers to two short stories, "Midnight
Ride" (to Rome) and "Stolen Bride," in Lady Wilde's _Ancient
Legends_. But the closest parallel is given by Miss Maclintock's
Donegal tale of "Jamie Freel and the Young Lady," reprinted in Mr.
Yeats' _Irish Folk and Fairy Tales_, 52-9. In the _Hibernian
Tales_, "Mann o' Malaghan and the Fairies," as reported by
Thackeray in the _Irish Sketch-Book_, c. xvi., begins like
III. FIELD OF BOLIAUNS.
_Source_.--T. Crofton Croker's _Fairy Legends of the South of
Ireland_, ed. Wright, pp. 135-9. In the original the gnome is a
Cluricaune, but as a friend of Mr. Batten's has recently heard the
tale told of a Lepracaun, I have adopted the better known title.
_Remarks_.--_Lepracaun_ is from the Irish _leith
bhrogan_, the one-shoemaker (_cf_. brogue), according to Dr.
Hyde. He is generally seen (and to this day, too) working at a
single shoe, _cf._ Croker's story "Little Shoe," _l.c._ pp. 142-4.
According to a writer in the _Revue Celtique_, i. 256, the true
etymology is _luchor pan_, "little man." Dr. Joyce also gives the same
etymology in _Irish Names and Places_, i. 183, where he mentions
several places named after them.
IV. HORNED WOMEN.
_Source_.--Lady Wilde's _Ancient Legends_, the first
_Parallels_.--A similar version was given by Mr. D. Fitzgerald
in the _Revue Celtique_, iv. 181, but without the significant
and impressive horns. He refers to _Cornhill_ for February
1877, and to Campbell's "Sauntraigh" No. xxii. _Pop. Tales_,
ii. 52 4, in which a "woman of peace" (a fairy) borrows a woman's
kettle and returns it with flesh in it, but at last the woman
refuses, and is persecuted by the fairy. I fail to see much analogy.
A much closer one is in Campbell, ii. p. 63, where fairies are got
rid of by shouting "Dunveilg is on fire." The familiar "lady-bird,
lady-bird, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children at
home," will occur to English minds. Another version in Kennedy's
_Legendary Fictions_, p. 164, "Black Stairs on Fire."
_Remarks_.--Slievenamon is a famous fairy palace in Tipperary
according to Dr. Joyce, _l.c._ i. 178. It was the hill on which
Finn stood when he gave himself as the prize to the Irish maiden who
should run up it quickest. Grainne won him with dire consequences,
as all the world knows or ought to know (Kennedy, _Legend
Fict._, 222, "How Fion selected a Wife").
V. CONAL YELLOWCLAW.
_Source_.--Campbell, _Pop. Tales of West Highlands_, No.
v. pp. 105-8, "Conall Cra Bhuidhe." I have softened the third
episode, which is somewhat too ghastly in the original. I have
translated "Cra Bhuide" Yellowclaw on the strength of Campbell's
etymology, _l.c._ p. 158.
_Parallels_.--Campbell's vi. and vii. are two variants showing
how widespread the story is in Gaelic Scotland. It occurs in Ireland
where it has been printed in the chapbook, _Hibernian Tales_,
as the "Black Thief and the Knight of the Glen," the Black Thief
being Conall, and the knight corresponding to the King of Lochlan
(it is given in Mr. Lang's _Red Fairy Book_). Here it attracted
the notice of Thackeray, who gives a good abstract of it in his
_Irish Sketch-Book_, ch. xvi. He thinks it "worthy of the
Arabian Nights, as wild and odd as an Eastern tale." "That
fantastical way of bearing testimony to the previous tale by
producing an old woman who says the tale is not only true, but who
was the very old woman who lived in the giant's castle is almost"
(why "almost," Mr. Thackeray?) "a stroke of genius." The incident of
the giant's breath occurs in the story of Koisha Kayn, MacInnes'
_Tales_, i. 241, as well as the Polyphemus one, _ibid._ 265.
One-eyed giants are frequent in Celtic folk-tales (_e.g._ in _The
Pursuit of Diarmaid_ and in the _Mabinogi_ of Owen).
_Remarks._--Thackeray's reference to the "Arabian Nights" is
especially apt, as the tale of Conall is a framework story like
_The 1001 Nights_, the three stories told by Conall being
framed, as it were, in a fourth which is nominally the real story.
This method employed by the Indian story-tellers and from them
adopted by Boccaccio and thence into all European literatures
(Chaucer, Queen Margaret, &c.), is generally thought to be peculiar
to the East, and to be ultimately derived from the Jatakas or Birth
Stories of the Buddha who tells his adventures in former
incarnations. Here we find it in Celtdom, and it occurs also in
"The Story-teller at Fault" in this collection, and the story
of _Koisha Kayn_ in MacInnes' _Argyllshire Tales_, a variant
of which, collected but not published by Campbell, has no less than
nineteen tales enclosed in a framework. The question is whether the
method was adopted independently in Ireland, or was due to foreign
influences. Confining ourselves to "Conal Yellowclaw," it seems not
unlikely that the whole story is an importation. For the second
episode is clearly the story of Polyphemus from the Odyssey which
was known in Ireland perhaps as early as the tenth century (see
Prof. K. Meyer's edition of _Merugud Uilix maic Leirtis_, Pref.
p. xii). It also crept into the voyages of Sindbad in the _Arabian
Nights_. And as told in the Highlands it bears comparison even
with the Homeric version. As Mr. Nutt remarks (_Celt. Mag._
xii.) the address of the giant to the buck is as effective as that
of Polyphemus to his ram. The narrator, James Wilson, was a blind
man who would naturally feel the pathos of the address; "it comes
from the heart of the narrator;" says Campbell (_l.c._, 148),
"it is the ornament which his mind hangs on the frame of the story."
VI. HUDDEN AND DUDDEN.
_Source._--From oral tradition, by the late D. W. Logie, taken
down by Mr. Alfred Nutt.
_Parallels._--Lover has a tale, "Little Fairly," obviously
derived from this folk-tale; and there is another very similar,
"Darby Darly." Another version of our tale is given under the title
"Donald and his Neighbours," in the chapbook _Hibernian Tales_m
whence it was reprinted by Thackeray in his _Irish Sketch-
Book_, c. xvi. This has the incident of the "accidental matricide,"
on which see Prof. R. Kohler on Gonzenbach _Sicil. Mahrchen_,
ii. 224. No less than four tales of Campbell are of this type
(_Pop. Tales_, ii. 218-31). M. Cosquin, in his "Contes populaires
de Lorraine," the storehouse of "storiology," has elaborate
excursuses in this class of tales attached to his Nos. x. and xx.
Mr. Clouston discusses it also in his _Pop. Tales_, ii. 229-88.
Both these writers are inclined to trace the chief incidents
to India. It is to be observed that one of the earliest popular
drolls in Europe, _Unibos_, a Latin poem of the eleventh, and
perhaps the tenth, century, has the main outlines of the story, the
fraudulent sale of worthless objects and the escape from the sack
trick. The same story occurs in Straparola, the European earliest
collection of folk-tales in the sixteenth century. On the other
hand, the gold sticking to the scales is familiar to us in _Ali
Baba_. (_Cf._ Cosquin, _l.c._, i. 225-6, 229).
_Remarks_.--It is indeed curious to find, as M. Cosquin points
out, a cunning fellow tied in a sack getting out by crying, "I won't
marry the princess," in countries so far apart as Ireland, Sicily
(Gonzenbach, No. 71), Afghanistan (Thorburn, _Bannu_, p. 184),
and Jamaica (_Folk-Lore Record_, iii. 53). It is indeed impossible
to think these are disconnected, and for drolls of this kind a good
case has been made out for the borrowing hypotheses by M. Cosquin
and Mr. Clouston. Who borrowed from whom is another and more
difficult question which has to be judged on its merits in each
This is a type of Celtic folk-tales which are European in spread,
have analogies with the East, and can only be said to be Celtic by
adoption and by colouring. They form a distinct section of the tales
told by the Celts, and must be represented in any characteristic
selection. Other examples are xi., xv., xx., and perhaps xxii.
VII. SHEPHERD OF MYDDVAI.
_Source_.--Preface to the edition of "The Physicians of
Myddvai"; their prescription-book, from the Red Book of Hergest,
published by the Welsh MS. Society in 1861. The legend is not
given in the Red Book, but from oral tradition by Mr. W. Rees, p. xxi.
As this is the first of the Welsh tales in this book it may be as well
to give the reader such guidance as I can afford him on the
intricacies of Welsh pronunciation, especially with regard to the
mysterious _w_'s and _y_'s of Welsh orthography. For _w_ substitute
double _o_, as in "_fool_," and for _y_, the short _u_ in b_u_t,
and as near approach to Cymric speech will be reached as is possible
for the outlander. It maybe added that double _d_ equals _th_, and
double _l_ is something like _Fl_, as Shakespeare knew in calling
his Welsh soldier Fluellen (Llewelyn). Thus "Meddygon Myddvai"
would be _Anglice_ "Methugon Muthvai."
_Parallels._--Other versions of the legend of the Van Pool are
given in _Cambro-Briton_, ii. 315; W. Sikes, _British Goblins_,
p. 40. Mr. E. Sidney Hartland has discussed these and others
in a set of papers contributed to the first volume of _The
Archaeological Review_ (now incorporated into _Folk-Lore_),
the substance of which is now given in his _Science of Fairy
Tales_, 274-332. (See also the references given in _Revue
Celtique_, iv., 187 and 268). Mr. Hartland gives there an
ecumenical collection of parallels to the several incidents that go
to make up our story--(1) The bride-capture of the Swan-Maiden, (2)
the recognition of the bride, (3) the taboo against causeless blows,
(4) doomed to be broken, and (5) disappearance of the Swan-Maiden,
with (6) her return as Guardian Spirit to her descendants. In each
case Mr. Hartland gives what he considers to be the most primitive
form of the incident. With reference to our present tale, he comes
to the conclusion, if I understand him aright, that the lake-maiden
was once regarded as a local divinity. The physicians of Myddvai
were historic personages, renowned for their medical skill for some
six centuries, till the race died out with John Jones, _fl._
1743. To explain their skill and uncanny knowledge of herbs, the
folk traced them to a supernatural ancestress, who taught them their
craft in a place still called Pant-y-Meddygon ("Doctors' Dingle").
Their medical knowledge did not require any such remarkable origin,
as Mr. Hartland has shown in a paper "On Welsh Folk-Medicine,"
contributed to _Y Cymmrodor_, vol. xii. On the other hand, the
Swan-Maiden type of story is widespread through the Old World. Mr.
Morris' "Land East of the Moon and West of the Sun," in _The
Earthly Paradise_, is taken from the Norse version. Parallels are
accumulated by the Grimms, ii. 432; Kohler on Gonzenbach, ii. 20;
or Blade, 149; Stokes' _Indian Fairy Tales_, 243, 276; and
Messrs. Jones and Koopf, _Magyar Folk-Tales_, 362-5. It remains
to be proved that one of these versions did not travel to Wales, and
become there localised. We shall see other instances of such
localisation or specialisation of general legends.
VIII. THE SPRIGHTLY TAILOR.
_Source._--_Notes and Queries_ for December 21, 1861; to
which it was communicated by "Cuthbert Bede," the author of
_Verdant Green_, who collected it in Cantyre.
_Parallels_.--Miss Dempster gives the same story in her
Sutherland Collection, No. vii. (referred to by Campbell in his
Gaelic list, at end of vol. iv.); Mrs. John Faed, I am informed by a
friend, knows the Gaelic version, as told by her nurse in her youth.
Chambers' "Strange Visitor," _Pop. Rhymes of Scotland_, 64, of
which I gave an Anglicised version in my _English Fairy Tales_,
No. xxxii., is clearly a variant.
_Remarks_.--The Macdonald of Saddell Castle was a very great
man indeed. Once, when dining with the Lord-Lieutenant, an apology
was made to him for placing him so far away from the head of the
table. "Where the Macdonald sits," was the proud response, "there is
the head of the table."
_Source_.--_Celtic Magazine_, xiii. pp. 69, _seq_. I
have abridged somewhat, made the sons of Fergus all faithful instead
of two traitors, and omitted an incident in the house of the wild
men called here "strangers." The original Gaelic was given in the
_Transactions of the Inverness Gaelic Society_ for 1887, p.
241, _seq._, by Mr. Carmichael. I have inserted Deirdre's
"Lament" from the _Book of Leinster_.
_Parallels_.--This is one of the three most sorrowful Tales
of Erin, (the other two, _Children of Lir_ and _Children of
Tureen_, are given in Dr. Joyce's _Old Celtic Romances_), and
is a specimen of the old heroic sagas of elopement, a list of
which is given in the _Book of Leinster_. The "outcast child"
is a frequent episode in folk and hero-tales: an instance occurs in
my _English Fairy Tales_, No. xxxv., and Prof. Kohler gives
many others in _Archiv. f. Slav. Philologie_, i. 288. Mr. Nutt
adds tenth century Celtic parallels in _Folk-Lore_, vol. ii.
The wooing of hero by heroine is a characteristic Celtic touch. See
"Connla" here, and other examples given by Mr. Nutt in his notes to
MacInnes' _Tales_. The trees growing from the lovers' graves
occurs in the English ballad of _Lord Lovel_ and has been
studied in _Melusine_.
_Remarks_.--The "Story of Deirdre" is a remarkable instance of
the tenacity of oral tradition among the Celts. It has been
preserved in no less than five versions (or six, including
Macpherson's "Darthula") ranging from the twelfth to the nineteenth
century. The earliest is in the twelfth century, _Book of
Leinster_, to be dated about 1140 (edited in facsimile under the
auspices of the Royal Irish Academy, i. 147, _seq._). Then
comes a fifteenth century version, edited and translated by
Dr. Stokes in Windisch's _Irische Texte_ II., ii. 109, _seq._,
"Death of the Sons of Uisnech." Keating in his _History of
Ireland_ gave another version in the seventeenth century. The
Dublin Gaelic Society published an eighteenth century version in
their _Transactions_ for 1808. And lastly we have the version
before us, collected only a few years ago, yet agreeing in all
essential details with the version of the _Book of Leinster_.
Such a record is unique in the history of oral tradition, outside
Ireland, where, however, it is quite a customary experience in the
study of the Finn-saga. It is now recognised that Macpherson had, or
could have had, ample material for his _rechauffe_ of the Finn
or "Fingal" saga. His "Darthula" is a similar cobbling of our
present story. I leave to Celtic specialists the task of settling
the exact relations of these various texts. I content myself with
pointing out the fact that in these latter days of a seemingly
prosaic century in these British Isles there has been collected from
the lips of the folk a heroic story like this of "Deirdre," full of
romantic incidents, told with tender feeling and considerable
literary skill. No other country in Europe, except perhaps Russia,
could provide a parallel to this living on of Romance among the
common folk. Surely it is a bounden duty of those who are in the
position to put on record any such utterances of the folk-
imagination of the Celts before it is too late.
X. MUNACHAR AND MANACHAR.
_Source_.--I have combined the Irish version given by Dr. Hyde
in his _Leabhar Sgeul._, and translated by him for Mr. Yeats'
_Irish Folk and Fairy Tales_, and the Scotch version given in
Gaelic and English by Campbell, No. viii.
_Parallels_.--Two English versions are given in my _Eng.
Fairy Tales_, No. iv., "The Old Woman and her Pig," and xxxiv.,
"The Cat and the Mouse," where see notes for other variants in these
isles. M. Cosquin, in his notes to No. xxxiv., of his _Contes
de Lorraine_, t. ii. pp. 35-41, has drawn attention to an
astonishing number of parallels scattered through all Europe and
the East (_cf._, too, Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_, notes, 372-5).
One of the earliest allusions to the jingle is in _Don Quixote_,
pt. 1, c. xvi.: "Y asi como suele decirse _el gato al rato, et rato a
la cuerda, la cuerda al palo_, daba el arriero a Sancho, Sancho
a la moza, la moza a el, el ventero a la moza." As I have pointed
out, it is used to this day by Bengali women at the end of each
folk-tale they recite (L. B. Day, _Folk-Tales of Bengal_, Pref.).
_Remarks_.--Two ingenious suggestions have been made as to the
origin of this curious jingle, both connecting it with religious
ceremonies: (1) Something very similar occurs in Chaldaic at the end
of the Jewish _Hagada_, or domestic ritual for the Passover
night. It has, however, been shown that this does not occur in early
MSS. or editions, and was only added at the end to amuse the
children after the service, and was therefore only a translation or
adaptation of a current German form of the jingle; (2) M. Basset, in
the _Revue des Traditions populaires_, 1890, t. v. p. 549, has
suggested that it is a survival of the old Greek custom at the
sacrifice of the Bouphonia for the priest to contend that _he_
had not slain the sacred beast, the axe declares that the handle did
it, the handle transfers the guilt further, and so on. This is
ingenious, but fails to give any reasonable account of the diffusion
of the jingle in countries which have had no historic connection
with classical Greece.
XI. GOLD TREE AND SILVER TREE.
_Source_.--_Celtic Magazine_, xiii. 213-8, Gaelic and
English from Mr. Kenneth Macleod.
_Parallels_.--Mr. Macleod heard another version in which "Gold
Tree" (anonymous in this variant) is bewitched to kill her father's
horse, dog, and cock. Abroad it is the Grimm's _Schneewittchen_
(No. 53), for the Continental variants of which see Kohler on
Gonzenbach, _Sicil. Mahrchen_, Nos. 2-4, Grimm's notes on 53,
and Crane, _Ital. Pop. Tales_, 331. No other version is known
in the British Isles.
_Remarks_.--It is unlikely, I should say impossible, that this
tale, with the incident of the dormant heroine, should have arisen
independently in the Highlands; it is most likely an importation
from abroad. Yet in it occurs a most "primitive" incident, the
bigamous household of the hero; this is glossed over in Mr.
Macleod's other variant. On the "survival" method of investigation
this would possibly be used as evidence for polygamy in the
Highlands. Yet if, as is probable, the story came from abroad, this
trait may have come with it, and only implies polygamy in the
original home of the tale.
XII. KING O'TOOLE AND HIS GOOSE.
_Source_.--S. Lover's _Stories and Legends of the Irish
_Remarks_.--This is really a moral apologue on the benefits of
keeping your word. Yet it is told with such humour and vigour, that
the moral glides insensibly into the heart.
XIII. THE WOOING OF OLWEN.
_Source_.--The _Mabinogi_ of Kulhwych and Olwen from the
translation of Lady Guest, abridged.
_Parallels_.--Prof. Rhys, _Hibbert Lectures_, p. 486,
considers that our tale is paralleled by Cuchulain's "Wooing of
Emer," a translation of which by Prof. K. Meyer appeared in the
_Archaeological Review_, vol. i. I fail to see much analogy. On
the other hand in his _Arthurian Legend_, p. 41, he rightly
compares the tasks set by Yspythadon to those set to Jason. They are
indeed of the familiar type of the Bride Wager (on which see Grimm-
Hunt, i. 399). The incident of the three animals, old, older, and
oldest, has a remarkable resemblance to the _Tettira Jataka_
(ed. Fausboll, No. 37, transl. Rhys Davids, i. p. 310 _seq._)
in which the partridge, monkey, and elephant dispute as to their
relative age, and the partridge turns out to have voided the seed of
the Banyan-tree under which they were sheltered, whereas the
elephant only knew it when a mere bush, and the monkey had nibbled
the topmost shoots. This apologue got to England at the end of the
twelfth century as the sixty-ninth fable, "Wolf, Fox, and Dove," of
a rhymed prose collection of "Fox Fables" (_Mishle Shu'alim_),
of an Oxford Jew, Berachyah Nakdan, known in the Records as
"Benedict le Puncteur" (see my _Fables Of Aesop_, i. p. 170).
Similar incidents occur in "Jack and his Snuff-box" in my _English
Fairy Tales_, and in Dr. Hyde's "Well of D'Yerree-in-Dowan." The
skilled companions of Kulhwych are common in European folk-tales
(_Cf._ Cosquin, i. 123-5), and especially among the Celts (see
Mr. Nutt's note in MacInnes' _Tales_, 445-8), among whom they
occur very early, but not so early as Lynceus and the other skilled
comrades of the Argonauts.
_Remarks_.--The hunting of the boar Trwyth can be traced back
in Welsh tradition at least as early as the ninth century. For it is
referred to in the following passage of Nennius' _Historia
Britonum_ ed. Stevenson, p: 60, "Est aliud miraculum in regione
quae dicitur Buelt [Builth, co. Brecon] Est ibi cumulus lapidum et
unus lapis super-positus super congestum cum vestigia canis in eo.
Quando venatus est porcum Troynt [_var. lec._ Troit] impressit
Cabal, qui erat canis Arthuri militis, vestigium in lapide et Arthur
postea congregavit congestum lapidum sub lapide in quo erat
vestigium canis sui et vocatur Carn Cabal." Curiously enough there
is still a mountain called Carn Cabal in the district of Builth,
south of Rhayader Gwy in Breconshire. Still more curiously a friend
of Lady Guest's found on this a cairn with a stone two feet long by
one foot wide in which there was an indentation 4 in. x 3 in. x 2
in. which could easily have been mistaken for a paw-print of a dog,
as maybe seen from the engraving given of it (Mabinogion, ed. 1874,
The stone and the legend are thus at least one thousand years old.
"There stands the stone to tell if I lie." According to Prof. Rhys
(_Hibbert Lect._ 486-97) the whole story is a mythological one,
Kulhwych's mother being the dawn, the clover blossoms that grow
under Olwen's feet being comparable to the roses that sprung up
where Aphrodite had trod, and Yspyddadon being the incarnation of
the sacred hawthorn. Mabon, again (_i.e._ pp. 21, 28-9), is the
Apollo Maponus discovered in Latin inscriptions at Ainstable in
Cumberland and elsewhere (Hubner, _Corp. Insc. Lat. Brit._ Nos.
218, 332, 1345). Granting all this, there is nothing to show any
mythological significance in the tale, though there may have been
in the names of the _dramatis personae_. I observe from the
proceedings of the recent Eisteddfod that the bardic name of Mr. W.
Abraham, M.P., is 'Mabon.' It scarcely follows that Mr. Abraham is
in receipt of divine honours nowadays.
XIV. JACK AND HIS COMRADES.
_Source_.--Kennedy's _Legendary Fictions of the Irish
_Parallels_.--This is the fullest and most dramatic version I
know of the Grimm's "Town Musicians of Bremen" (No. 27). I have
given an English (American) version in my _English Fairy
Tales_, No. 5, in the notes to which would be found references to
other versions known in the British Isles (_e.g._, Campbell,
No. 11) and abroad. _Cf._ remarks on No. vi.
XV. SHEE AN GANNON AND GRUAGACH GAIRE.
_Source._--Curtin, _Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland_, p.
114 _seq._ I have shortened the earlier part of the tale, and
introduced into the latter a few touches from Campbell's story of
"Fionn's Enchantment," in _Revue Celtique_, t. i., 193 _seq._
_Parallels_.--The early part is similar to the beginning of
"The Sea-Maiden" (No. xvii., which see). The latter part is
practically the same as the story of "Fionn's Enchantment," just
referred to. It also occurs in MacInnes' _Tales_, No. iii.,
"The King of Albainn" (see Mr. Nutt's notes, 454). The head-crowned
spikes are Celtic, _cf._ Mr. Nutt's notes (MacInnes' _Tales_,
_Remarks_.--Here again we meet the question whether the folk-
tale precedes the hero-tale about Finn or was derived from it, and
again the probability seems that our story has the priority as a
folk-tale, and was afterwards applied to the national hero, Finn.
This is confirmed by the fact that a thirteenth century French
romance, _Conte du Graal_, has much the same incidents, and was
probably derived from a similar folk-tale of the Celts. Indeed, Mr.
Nutt is inclined to think that the original form of our story (which
contains a mysterious healing vessel) is the germ out of which the
legend of the Holy Grail was evolved (see his _Studies in the Holy
Grail_, p. 202 _seq._).
XVI. THE STORY-TELLER AT FAULT.
_Source_.--Griffin's _Tales from a Jury-Room_, combined
with Campbell, No. xvii. _c_, "The Slim Swarthy Champion."
_Parallels_.--Campbell gives another variant, _l.c._ i.
318. Dr. Hyde has an Irish version of Campbell's tale written down
in 1762, from which he gives the incident of the air-ladder (which
I have had to euphemise in my version) in his _Beside the
Fireside_, p. 191, and other passages in his Preface. The most
remarkable parallel to this incident, however, is afforded by the
feats of Indian jugglers reported briefly by Marco Polo, and
illustrated with his usual wealth of learning by the late Sir Henry
Yule, in his edition, vol. i. p. 308 _seq._ The accompanying
illustration (reduced from Yule) will tell its own tale: it is taken
from the Dutch account of the travels of an English sailor, E.
Melton, _Zeldzaame Reizen_, 1702, p. 468. It tells the tale in
five acts, all included in one sketch. Another instance quoted by
Yule is still more parallel, so to speak. The twenty-third trick
performed by some conjurors before the Emperor Jahangueir
(_Memoirs_, p. 102) is thus described: "They produced a chain
of 50 cubits in length, and in my presence threw one end of it
towards the sky, where it remained as if fastened to something in
the air. A dog was then brought forward, and being placed at the
lower end of the chain, immediately ran up, and, reaching the other
end, immediately disappeared in the air. In the same manner a hog, a
panther, a lion, and a tiger were successively sent up the chain."
It has been suggested that the conjurors hypnotise the spectators,
and make them believe they see these things. This is practically the
suggestion of a wise Mohammedan, who is quoted by Yule as saying,
"_Wallah!_ 'tis my opinion there has been neither going up nor
coming down; 'tis all hocus-pocus," hocus-pocus being presumably the
Mohammedan term for hypnotism.
_Remarks_.--Dr. Hyde (_l.c._ Pref. xxix.) thinks our tale
cannot be older than 1362, because of a reference to one O'Connor
Sligo which occurs in all its variants; it is, however, omitted in
our somewhat abridged version. Mr Nutt (_ap._ Campbell, _The
Fians_, Introd. xix.) thinks that this does not prevent a still
earlier version having existed. I should have thought that the
existence of so distinctly Eastern a trick in the tale, and the fact
that it is a framework story (another Eastern characteristic), would
imply that it is a rather late importation, with local allusions
superadded (_cf._ notes on "Conal Yellowclaw," No v.)
The passages in verse from pp 137, 139, and the description of the
Beggarman, pp. 136, 140, are instances of a curious characteristic
of Gaelic folk-tales called "runs." Collections of conventional
epithets are used over and over again to describe the same incident,
the beaching of a boat, sea-faring, travelling and the like, and are
inserted in different tales. These "runs" are often similar in both
the Irish and the Scotch form of the same tale or of the same
incident. The volumes of _Waifs and Strays_ contain numerous
examples of these "runs," which have been indexed in each volume.
These "runs" are another confirmation of my view that the original
form of the folk-tale was that of the _Cante-fable_ (see note
on "Connla" and on "Childe Rowland" in _English Fairy Tales_).