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Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)

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_Source_.--Campbell, _Pop. Tales_, No. 4. I have omitted
the births of the animal comrades and transposed the carlin to the
middle of the tale. Mr. Batten has considerately idealised the Sea-
Maiden in his frontispiece. When she restores the husband to the
wife in one of the variants, she brings him out of her mouth! "So
the sea-maiden put up his head (_Who do you mean? Out of her mouth
to be sure. She had swallowed him_)."

_Parallels_.--The early part of the story occurs in No. xv.,
"Shee an Gannon," and the last part in No. xix., "Fair, Brown, and
Trembling" (both from Curtin), Campbell's No. 1. "The Young King" is
much like it; also MacInnes' No. iv., "Herding of Cruachan" and No.
viii., "Lod the Farmer's Son." The third of Mr. Britten's Irish
folk-tales in the _Folk-Lore Journal_ is a Sea-Maiden story.
The story is obviously a favourite one among the Celts. Yet its main
incidents occur with frequency in Continental folk-tales. Prof.
Kohler has collected a number in his notes on Campbell's Tales in
_Orient und Occident_, Bnd. ii. 115-8. The trial of the sword
occurs in the saga of Sigurd, yet it is also frequent in Celtic saga
and folk-tales (see Mr. Nutt's note, MacInnes' _Tales_, 473,
and add. Curtin, 320). The hideous carlin and her three giant sons
is also a common form in Celtic. The external soul of the Sea-Maiden
carried about in an egg, in a trout, in a hoodie, in a hind, is a
remarkable instance of a peculiarly savage conception which has been
studied by Major Temple, _Wide-awake Stories_, 404-5; by Mr. E.
Clodd, in the "Philosophy of Punchkin," in _Folk-Lore Journal_,
vol. ii., and by Mr. Frazer in his _Golden Bough_, vol. ii.

_Remarks_.--As both Prof. Rhys (_Hibbert Lect._, 464) and
Mr. Nutt (MacInnes' _Tales_, 477) have pointed out, practically
the same story (that of Perseus and Andromeda) is told of the
Ultonian hero, Cuchulain, in the _Wooing of Emer_, a tale which
occurs in the Book of Leinster, a MS. of the twelfth century, and
was probably copied from one of the eighth. Unfortunately it is not
complete, and the Sea-Maiden incident is only to be found in a
British Museum MS. of about 1300. In this Cuchulain finds that the
daughter of Ruad is to be given as a tribute to the Fomori, who,
according to Prof. Rhys, _Folk-Lore_, ii. 293, have something
of the night_mare_ about their etymology. Cuchulain fights
_three_ of them successively, has his wounds bound up by a
strip of the maiden's garment, and then departs. Thereafter many
boasted of having slain the Fomori, but the maiden believed them not
till at last by a stratagem she recognises Cuchulain. I may add to
this that in Mr. Curtin's _Myths_, 330, the threefold trial of
the sword is told of Cuchulain. This would seem to trace our story
back to the seventh or eighth century and certainly to the
thirteenth. If so, it is likely enough that it spread from Ireland
through Europe with the Irish missions (for the wide extent of which
see map in Mrs. Bryant's _Celtic Ireland_). The very letters
that have spread through all Europe except Russia, are to be traced
to the script of these Irish monks: why not certain folk-tales?
There is a further question whether the story was originally told of
Cuchulain as a hero-tale and then became departicularised as a folk-
tale, or was the process _vice versa_. Certainly in the form in
which it appears in the _Tochmarc Emer_ it is not complete, so
that here, as elsewhere, we seem to have an instance of a folk-tale
applied to a well-known heroic name, and becoming a hero-tale or


_Source_.--W. Carleton, _Traits and Stories of the Irish

_Parallels_.--Kennedy's "Fion MacCuil and the Scotch Giant,"
_Legend. Fict._, 203-5.

_Remarks_.--Though the venerable names of Finn and Cucullin
(Cuchulain) are attached to the heroes of this story, this is
probably only to give an extrinsic interest to it. The two heroes
could not have come together in any early form of their sagas, since
Cuchulain's reputed date is of the first, Finn's of the third
century A.D. (_cf._ however, MacDougall's _Tales_, notes, 272).
Besides, the grotesque form of the legend is enough to remove
it from the region of the hero-tale. On the other hand, there is a
distinct reference to Finn's wisdom-tooth, which presaged the future
to him (on this see _Revue Celtique_, v. 201, Joyce, _Old Celt.
Rom._, 434-5, and MacDougall, _l.c._ 274). Cucullin's power-finger
is another instance of the life-index or external soul, on which see
remarks on Sea-Maiden. Mr. Nutt informs me that parodies of the
Irish sagas occur as early as the sixteenth century, and the present
tale may be regarded as a specimen.


_Source_.--Curtin, _Myths, &c., of Ireland, 78 seq._

_Parallels_.--The latter half resembles the second part of the
Sea-Maiden (No. xvii.), which see. The earlier portion is a
Cinderella tale (on which see the late Mr. Ralston's article in
_Nineteenth Century_, Nov. 1879, and Mr. Lang's treatment in
his Perrault). Miss Roalfe Cox is about to publish for the Folk-Lore
Society a whole volume of variants of the Cinderella group of
stories, which are remarkably well represented in these isles,
nearly a dozen different versions being known in England, Ireland,
and Scotland.


_Source_.--Kennedy, _Fireside Stories of Ireland_, 74-80,
"Shan an Omadhan and his Master."

_Parallels_.--It occurs also in Campbell, No. xlv., "Mac a
Rusgaich." It is a European droll, the wide occurrence of which--
"the loss of temper bet" I should call it--is bibliographised by M.
Cosquin, _l.c._ ii. 50 (_cf._ notes on No. vi.).


_Source_.--I have paraphrased the well-known poem of Hon. W. R.
Spencer, "Beth Gelert, or the Grave of the Greyhound," first printed
privately as a broadsheet in 1800 when it was composed ("August 11,
1800, Dolymalynllyn" is the colophon). It was published in Spencer's
_Poems_, 1811, pp. 78-86. These dates, it will be seen, are of
importance. Spencer states in a note: "The story of this ballad is
traditionary in a village at the foot of Snowdon where Llewellyn the
Great had a house. The Greyhound named Gelert was given him by his
father-in-law, King John, in the year 1205, and the place to this
day is called Beth-Gelert, or the grave of Gelert." As a matter of
fact, no trace of the tradition in connection with Bedd Gellert can
be found before Spencer's time. It is not mentioned in Leland's
_Itinerary_, ed. Hearne, v. p. 37 ("Beth Kellarth"), in Pennant's
_Tour_ (1770), ii. 176, or in Bingley's _Tour in Wales_ (1800).
Borrow in his _Wild Wales_, p. 146, gives the legend, but does
not profess to derive it from local tradition.

_Parallels_.--The only parallel in Celtdom is that noticed by
Croker in his third volume, the legend of Partholan who killed his
wife's greyhound from jealousy: this is found sculptured in stone at
Ap Brune, co. Limerick. As is well known, and has been elaborately
discussed by Mr. Baring-Gould (_Curious Myths of the Middle
Ages_, p. 134 _seq._), and Mr. W. A. Clouston (_Popular Tales
and Fictions_, ii. 166, _seq._), the story of the man who
rashly slew the dog (ichneumon, weasel, &c.) that had saved his
babe from death, is one of those which have spread from East to
West. It is indeed, as Mr. Clouston points out, still current in
India, the land of its birth. There is little doubt that it is
originally Buddhistic: the late Prof. S. Beal gave the earliest
known version from the Chinese translation of the _Vinaya
Pitaka_ in the _Academy_ of Nov. 4, 1882. The conception of
an animal sacrificing itself for the sake of others is peculiarly
Buddhistic; the "hare in the moon" is an apotheosis of such a piece
of self-sacrifice on the part of Buddha (_Sasa Jataka_). There
are two forms that have reached the West, the first being that of an
animal saving men at the cost of its own life. I pointed out an
early instance of this, quoted by a Rabbi of the second century, in
my _Fables of Aesop_, i. 105. This concludes with a strangely
close parallel to Gellert; "They raised a cairn over his grave,
and the place is still called The Dog's Grave." The _Culex_
attributed to Virgil seems to be another variant of this. The second
form of the legend is always told as a moral apologue against
precipitate action, and originally occurred in _The Fables of
Bidpai_ in its hundred and one forms, all founded on Buddhistic
originals (_cf._ Benfey, _Pantschatantra_, Einleitung, S201).
[Footnote: It occurs in the same chapter as the story of La
Perrette, which has been traced, after Benfey, by Prof. M. Muller in
his "Migration of Fables" (_Sel. Essays_, i. 500-74): exactly
the same history applies to Gellert.] Thence, according to Benfey,
it was inserted in the _Book of Sindibad_, another collection
of Oriental Apologues framed on what may be called the Mrs. Potiphar
formula. This came to Europe with the Crusades, and is known in its
Western versions as the _Seven Sages of Rome_. The Gellert
story occurs in all the Oriental and Occidental versions;
_e.g._, it is the First Master's story in Wynkyn de Worde's
(ed. G. L. Gomme, for the Villon Society.) From the _Seven
Sages_ it was taken into the particular branch of the _Gesta
Romanorum_ current in England and known as the English _Gesta_,
where it occurs as c. xxxii., "Story of Folliculus." We have thus traced
it to England whence it passed to Wales, where I have discovered it as
the second apologue of "The Fables of Cattwg the Wise," in the Iolo
MS. published by the Welsh MS. Society, p.561, "The man who
killed his Greyhound." (These Fables, Mr. Nutt informs me, are a
pseudonymous production probably of the sixteenth century.) This
concludes the literary route of the Legend of Gellert from India to
Wales: Buddhistic _Vinaya Pitaka--Fables of Bidpai_;--Oriental
_Sindibad_;--Occidental _Seven Sages of Rome_;--"English" (Latin),
_Gesta Romanorum_;--Welsh, _Fables of Cattwg_.

_Remarks_.--We have still to connect the legend with Llewelyn
and with Bedd Gelert. But first it may be desirable to point out why
it is necessary to assume that the legend is a legend and not a
fact. The saving of an infant's life by a dog, and the mistaken
slaughter of the dog, are not such an improbable combination as to
make it impossible that the same event occurred in many places. But
what is impossible, in my opinion, is that such an event should have
independently been used in different places as the typical instance
of, and warning against, rash action. That the Gellert legend,
before it was localised, was used as a moral apologue in Wales is
shown by the fact that it occurs among the Fables of Cattwg, which
are all of that character. It was also utilised as a proverb: "_Yr
wy'n edivaru cymmaint a'r Gwr a laddodd ei Vilgi_" ("I repent as
much as the man who slew his greyhound"). The fable indeed, from
this point of view, seems greatly to have attracted the Welsh mind,
perhaps as of especial value to a proverbially impetuous
temperament. Croker (_Fairy Legends of Ireland_, vol. iii. p.
165) points out several places where the legend seems to have been
localised in place-names--two places, called "Gwal y Vilast"
("Greyhound's Couch"), in Carmarthen and Glamorganshire; "Llech y
Asp" ("Dog's Stone"), in Cardigan, and another place named in Welsh
"Spring of the Greyhound's Stone." Mr. Baring-Gould mentions that
the legend is told of an ordinary tombstone, with a knight and a
greyhound, in Abergavenny Church; while the Fable of Cattwg is told
of a man in Abergarwan. So widespread and well known was the legend
that it was in Richard III's time adopted as the national crest. In
the Warwick Roll, at the Herald's Office, after giving separate
crests for England, Scotland, and Ireland, that for Wales is given
as figured in the margin, and blazoned "on a coronet in a cradle or,
a greyhound argent for Walys" (see J. R. Planche, _Twelve Designs
for the Costume of Shakespeare's Richard III._, 1830, frontispiece).
If this Roll is authentic, the popularity of the legend is thrown back
into the fifteenth century. It still remains to explain how and when this
general legend of rash action was localised and specialised at Bedd
Gelert: I believe I have discovered this. There certainly was a local
legend about a dog named Gelert at that place; E. Jones, in the first
edition of his _Musical Relicks of the Welsh Bards_, 1784, p. 40, gives
the following _englyn_ or epigram:

Claddwyd Cylart celfydd (ymlyniad)
Ymlaneau Efionydd
Parod giuio i'w gynydd
Parai'r dydd yr heliai Hydd;

which he Englishes thus:

The remains of famed Cylart, so faithful and good,
The bounds of the cantred conceal;
Whenever the doe or the stag he pursued
His master was sure of a meal.

No reference was made in the first edition to the Gellert legend,
but in the second edition of 1794, p. 75, a note was added telling
the legend, "There is a general tradition in North Wales that a wolf
had entered the house of Prince Llewellyn. Soon after the Prince
returned home, and, going into the nursery, he met his dog _Kill-
hart_, all bloody and wagging his tail at him; Prince Llewellyn,
on entering the room found the cradle where his child lay
overturned, and the floor flowing with blood; imagining that the
greyhound had killed the child, he immediately drew his sword and
stabbed it; then, turning up the cradle, found under it the child
alive, and the wolf dead. This so grieved the Prince, that he
erected a tomb over his faithful dog's grave; where afterwards the
parish church was built and goes by that name--_Bedd Cilhart_,
or the grave of Kill-hart, in _Carnarvonshire_. From this
incident is elicited a very common Welsh proverb [that given above
which occurs also in 'The Fables of Cattwg;' it will be observed
that it is quite indefinite.]" "Prince Llewellyn ab Jorwerth married
Joan, [natural] daughter of King John, by _Agatha_, daughter
of Robert Ferrers, Earl of Derby; and the dog was a present to
the prince from his father-in-law about the year 1205." It was
clearly from this note that the Hon. Mr. Spencer got his account;
oral tradition does not indulge in dates _Anno Domini_. The
application of the general legend of "the man who slew his
greyhound" to the dog Cylart, was due to the learning of E. Jones,
author of the _Musical Relicks_. I am convinced of this, for by
a lucky chance I am enabled to give the real legend about Cylart,
which is thus given in Carlisle's _Topographical Dictionary of
Wales_, s.v., "Bedd Celert," published in 1811, the date of
publication of Mr. Spencer's _Poems_. "Its name, according to
tradition, implies _The Grave of Celert_, a Greyhound which
belonged to Llywelyn, the last Prince of Wales: and a large Rock is
still pointed out as the monument of this celebrated Dog, being on
the spot where it was found dead, together with the stag which it
had pursued from Carnarvon," which is thirteen miles distant. The
cairn was thus a monument of a "record" run of a greyhound: the
_englyn_ quoted by Jones is suitable enough for this, while
quite inadequate to record the later legendary exploits of Gelert.
Jones found an _englyn_ devoted to _an_ exploit of a dog named
Cylart, and chose to interpret it in his second edition, 1794, as _the_
exploit of a greyhound with which all the world (in Wales) were
acquainted. Mr. Spencer took the legend from Jones (the reference
to the date 1205 proves that), enshrined it in his somewhat _banal_
verses, which were lucky enough to be copied into several reading-books,
and thus became known to all English-speaking folk.

It remains only to explain why Jones connected the legend with
Llewelyn. Llewelyn had local connection with Bedd Gellert, which was
the seat of an Augustinian abbey, one of the oldest in Wales. An
inspeximus of Edward I. given in Dugdale, _Monast. Angl._, ed.
pr. ii. 100a, quotes as the earliest charter of the abbey "Cartam
Lewelin, magni." The name of the abbey was "Beth Kellarth"; the
name is thus given by Leland, _l.c._, and as late as 1794 an
engraving at the British Museum is entitled "Beth Kelert," while
Carlisle gives it as "Beth Celert." The place was thus named after
the abbey, not after the cairn or rock. This is confirmed by the
fact of which Prof. Rhys had informed me, that the collocation of
letters _rt_ is un-Welsh. Under these circumstances it is not
impossible, I think, that the earlier legend of the marvellous run
of "Cylart" from Carnarvon was due to the etymologising fancy of
some English-speaking Welshman who interpreted the name as Killhart,
so that the simpler legend would be only a folk-etymology.

But whether Kellarth, Kelert, Cylart, Gelert or Gellert ever existed
and ran a hart from Carnarvon to Bedd Gellert or no, there can be
little doubt after the preceding that he was not the original hero
of the fable of "the man that slew his greyhound," which came to
Wales from Buddhistic India through channels which are perfectly
traceable. It was Edward Jones who first raised him to that proud
position, and William Spencer who securely installed him there,
probably for all time. The legend is now firmly established at Bedd
Gellert. There is said to be an ancient air, "Bedd Gelert," "as sung
by the Ancient Britons"; it is given in a pamphlet published at
Carnarvon in the "fifties," entitled _Gellert's Grave; or,
Llewellyn's Rashness: a Ballad, by the Hon. W. R. Spencer, to which
is added that ancient Welsh air, "Bedd Gelert," as sung by the
Ancient Britons_. The air is from R. Roberts' "Collection of
Welsh Airs," but what connection it has with the legend I have been
unable to ascertain. This is probably another case of adapting one
tradition to another. It is almost impossible to distinguish
palaeozoic and cainozoic strata in oral tradition. According to
Murray's _Guide to N. Wales_, p. 125, the only authority for
the cairn now shown is that of the landlord of the Goat Inn, "who
felt compelled by the cravings of tourists to invent a grave." Some
old men at Bedd Gellert, Prof. Rhys informs me, are ready to testify
that they saw the cairn laid. They might almost have been present at
the birth of the legend, which, if my affiliation of it is correct,
is not yet quite 100 years old.


_Source_.--Lluyd, _Archaeologia Britannia_, 1707, the
first comparative Celtic grammar and the finest piece of work in
comparative philology hitherto done in England, contains this tale
as a specimen of Cornish then still spoken in Cornwall. I have used
the English version contained in _Blackwood's Magazine_ as long
ago as May 1818. I have taken the third counsel from the Irish
version, as the original is not suited _virginibus puerisque_,
though harmless enough in itself.

_Parallels_.--Lover has a tale, _The Three Advices_. It
occurs also in modern Cornwall _ap._ Hunt, _Drolls of West of
England_, 344, "The Tinner of Chyamor." Borrow, _Wild Wales_, 41,
has a reference which seems to imply that the story had crystallised
into a Welsh proverb. Curiously enough, it forms the chief episode
of the so-called "Irish Odyssey" ("_Merugud Uilix maiec Leirtis_"
--"Wandering of Ulysses M'Laertes"). It was derived, in all probability,
from the _Gesta Romanorum_, c. 103, where two of the three pieces
of advice are "Avoid a byeway," "Beware of a house where the
housewife is younger than her husband." It is likely enough that this
chapter, like others of the _Gesta_, came from the East, for it is
found in some versions of "The Forty Viziers," and in the _Turkish
Tales_ (see Oesterley's parallels and _Gesta_, ed. Swan and
Hooper, note 9).


_Source_.--From the late D. W. Logie, written down by Mr.
Alfred Nutt.

_Parallels_.--Dr. Hyde's "Teig O'Kane and the Corpse," and
Kennedy's "Cauth Morrisy," _Legend. Fict._, 158, are practically
the same.

_Remarks_.--No collection of Celtic Folk-Tales would be
representative that did not contain some specimen of the gruesome.
The most effective ghoul story in existence is Lover's "Brown Man."


_Source_.--Campbell (_Pop. Tales, W. Highlands_, No. ii.),
with touches from the seventh variant and others, including the
casket and key finish, from Curtin's "Son of the King of Erin"
(_Myths, &c., 32 seq._). I have also added a specimen of the
humorous end pieces added by Gaelic story-tellers; on these tags see
an interesting note in MacDougall's _Tales_, note on p. 112. I
have found some difficulty in dealing with Campbell's excessive use
of the second person singular, "If thou thouest him some two or
three times, 'tis well," but beyond that it is wearisome.
Practically, I have reserved _thou_ for the speech of giants,
who may be supposed to be somewhat old-fashioned. I fear, however, I
have not been quite consistent, though the _you's_ addressed to
the apple-pips are grammatically correct as applied to the pair of

_Parallels_.--Besides the eight versions given or abstracted by
Campbell and Mr. Curtin's, there is Carleton's "Three Tasks," Dr.
Hyde's "Son of Branduf" (MS.); there is the First Tale of MacInnes
(where see Mr. Nutt's elaborate notes, 431-43), two in the _Celtic
Magazine_, vol. xii., "Grey Norris from Warland" (_Folk-Lore
Journ._ i. 316), and Mr. Lang's Morayshire Tale, "Nicht Nought
Nothing" (see _Eng. Fairy Tales_, No. vii.), no less than
sixteen variants found among the Celts. It must have occurred early
among them. Mr. Nutt found the feather-thatch incident in the
_Agallamh na Senoraib_ ("Discourse of Elders"), which is at
least as old as the fifteenth century. Yet the story is to be found
throughout the Indo-European world, as is shown by Prof. Kohler's
elaborate list of parallels attached to Mr. Lang's variant in
_Revue Celtique_, iii. 374; and Mr. Lang, in his _Custom and
Myth_ ("A far travelled Tale"), has given a number of parallels
from savage sources. And strangest of all, the story is practically
the same as the classical myth of Jason and Medea.

_Remarks_.--Mr. Nutt, in his discussion of the tale (MacInnes,
_Tales_ 441), makes the interesting suggestion that the obstacles
to pursuit, the forest, the mountain, and the river, exactly represent
the boundary of the old Teutonic Hades, so that the story was
originally one of the Descent to Hell. Altogether it seems likely that
it is one of the oldest folk-tales in existence, and belonged to the
story-store of the original Aryans, whoever they were, was passed
by them with their language on to the Hellenes and perhaps to the
Indians, was developed in its modern form in Scandinavia (where
its best representative "The Master Maid" of Asbjornsen is still found),
was passed by them to the Celts and possibly was transmitted by
these latter to other parts of Europe, perhaps by early Irish monks
(see notes on "Sea-Maiden"). The spread in the Buddhistic world,
and thence to the South Seas and Madagascar, would be secondary
from India. I hope to have another occasion for dealing with this
most interesting of all folk-tales in the detail it deserves.


_Source_.--From the _Cambrian Quarterly Magazine_, 1830,
vol. ii. p. 86; it is stated to be literally translated from the

_Parallels_.--Another variant from Glamorganshire is given in Y
Cymmrodor, vi. 209. Croker has the story under the title I have
given the Welsh one in his _Fairy Legends_, 41. Mr. Hartland,
in his _Science of Fairy Tales_, 113-6, gives the European


_Source_.--Kennedy, _Legendary Fictions_, pp. 23-31. The
Adventures of "Gilla na Chreck an Gour'."

_Parallels_.--"The Lad with the Skin Coverings" is a popular
Celtic figure, _cf._ MacDougall's Third Tale, MacInnes' Second,
and a reference in Campbell, iii. 147. According to Mr. Nutt
(_Holy Grail_, 134), he is the original of Parzival. But the
adventures in these tales are not the "cure by laughing" incident
which forms the centre of our tale, and is Indo-European in extent
(_cf._ references in _English Fairy Tales_, notes to No. xxvii.).
"The smith who made hell too hot for him is Sisyphus," says Mr.
Lang (Introd. to Grimm, p. xiii.); in Ireland he is Billy Dawson
(Carleton, _Three Wishes_). In the Finn-Saga, Conan harries
hell, as readers of _Waverley_ may remember "'Claw for claw,
and devil take the shortest nails,' as Conan said to the Devil"
(_cf._ Campbell, _The Fians_, 73, and notes, 283). Red-haired
men in Ireland and elsewhere are always rogues (see Mr. Nutt's
references, MacInnes' _Tales_, 477; to which add the case
in "Lough Neagh," Yeats, _Irish Folk-Tales_, p. 210).

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