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Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. II (of 3) by Walter Scott

Part 2 out of 6

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been accepted, much bloodshed saved, and, perhaps, some permanent
advantage derived to their party; or, had they been all Cameronians,
their defence would have been fierce and desperate. But, while their
motley and misassorted officers were debating upon the duke's proposal,
his field-pieces were already planted on the eastern side of the
river, to cover the attack of the foot guards, who were led on by Lord
Livingstone to force the bridge. Here Hackston maintained his post with
zeal and courage; nor was it until all his ammunition was expended, and
every support denied him by the general, that he reluctantly abandoned
the important pass.[A] When his party were drawn back, the duke's army,
slowly, and with their cannon in front, defiled along the bridge,
and formed in line of battle, as they came over the river; the duke
commanded the foot, and Claverhouse the cavalry. It would seem, that
these movements could not have been performed without at least some
loss, had the enemy been serious in opposing them. But the insurgents
were otherwise employed. With the strangest delusion, that ever fell
upon devoted beings, they chose these precious moments to cashier their
officers, and elect others in their room. In this important operation,
they were at length disturbed by the duke's cannon, at the very first
discharge of which, the horse of the Covenanters wheeled, and rode off,
breaking and trampling down the ranks of their infantry in their flight.
The Cameronian account blames Weir of Greenridge, a commander of the
horse, who is termed a sad Achan in the camp. The more moderate party
lay the whole blame on Hamilton, whose conduct, they say, left the world
to debate, whether he was most traitor, coward, or fool. The generous
Monmouth was anxious to spare the blood of his infatuated countrymen, by
which he incurred much blame among the high-flying royalists. Lucky it
was for the insurgents that the battle did not happen a day later, when
old General Dalziel, who divided with Claverhouse the terror and hatred
of the whigs, arrived in the camp, with a commission to supersede
Monmouth, as commander in chief. He is said to have upbraided the
duke, publicly, with his lenity, and heartily to have wished his own
commission had come a day sooner, when, as he expresses himself, "These
rogues should never more have troubled the king or country."[B] But,
notwithstanding the merciful orders of the duke of Monmouth, the cavalry
made great slaughter among the fugitives, of whom four hundred were
slain. Guild thus expresses himself:

Ei ni Dux validus tenuisset forte catervas,
Vix quisquam profugus vitam servasset inertem:
Non audita Ducis verum mandata supremi
Omnibus, insequitur fugientes plurima turba,
Perque agros, passim, trepida formidine captos
Obtruncat, saevumque adigit per viscera ferrum.
_MS. Bellum Bothuellianum._

[Footnote A: There is an accurate representation of this part of the
engagement in an old painting, of which there are two copies extant;
one in the collection of his grace the duke of Hamilton, the other at
Dalkeith house. The whole appearance of the ground, even including a few
old houses, is the same which the scene now presents: The removal of the
porch, or gateway, upon the bridge, is the only perceptible difference.
The duke of Monmouth, on a white charger, directs the march of the party
engaged in storming the bridge, while his artillery gall the motley
ranks of the Covenanters. An engraving of this painting would be
acceptable to the curious; and I am satisfied an opportunity of copying
it, for that purpose, would be readily granted by either of the noble

[Footnote B: Dalziel was a man of savage manners. A prisoner having
railed at him, while under examination before the privy council, calling
him "a Muscovia beast, who used to roast men, the general, in a passion,
struck him, with the pomel of his shabble, on the face, till the blood
sprung."--FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 159. He had sworn never to shave his
beard after the death of Charles the First. This venerable appendage
reached his girdle, and, as he wore always an old-fashioned buff coat,
his appearance in London never failed to attract the notice of the
children and of the mob. King Charles II. used to swear at him, for
bringing such a rabble of boys together, to be squeezed to death, while
they gaped at his long beard and antique habit, and exhorted him to
shave and dress like a Christian, to keep the poor _bairns_, as Dalziel
expressed it, out of danger. In compliance with this request, he once
appeared at court fashionably dressed, excepting the beard; but, when
the king had laughed sufficiently at the metamorphosis, he
resumed his old dress, to the great joy of the boys, his usual
attendants.--CREICHTON'S _Memoirs_, p. 102.]

The same deplorable circumstances are more elegantly bewailed in
_Clyde_, a poem, reprinted in _Scotish Descriptive Poems_, edited by Dr
John Leyden, Edinburgh, 1803:

"Where Bothwell's bridge connects the margins steep,
And Clyde, below, runs silent, strong, and deep,
The hardy peasant, by oppression driven
To battle, deemed his cause the cause of heaven:
Unskilled in arms, with useless courage stood,
While gentle Monmouth grieved to shed his blood:
But fierce Dundee, inflamed with deadly hate,
In vengeance for the great Montrose's fate,
Let loose the sword, and to the hero's shade
A barbarous hecatomb of victims paid."

The object of Claverhouse's revenge, assigned by Wilson, is grander,
though more remote and less natural, than that in the ballad, which
imputes the severity of the pursuit to his thirst to revenge the death
of his cornet and kinsman, at Drumclog;[A] and to the quarrel betwixt
Claverhouse and Monmouth, it ascribes, with great _naivete_ the bloody
fate of the latter. Local tradition is always apt to trace foreign
events to the domestic causes, which are more immediately in the
narrator's view. There is said to be another song upon this battle, once
very popular, but I have not been able to recover it. This copy is given
from recitation.

[Footnote A: There is some reason to conjecture, that the revenge of the
Cameronians, if successful, would have been little less sanguinary than
that of the royalists. Creichton mentions, that they had erected, in
their camp, a high pair of gallows, and prepared a quantity of halters,
to hang such prisoners as might fall into their hands, and he admires
the forbearance of the king's soldiers, who, when they returned with
their prisoners, brought them to the very spot where the gallows stood,
and guarded them there, without offering to hang a single individual.
Guild, in the _Bellum Bothuellianum_, alludes to the same story, which
is rendered probable by the character of Hamilton, the insurgent
general. GUILD'S _MSS._--CREICHTON'S _Memoirs_, p. 61.]

There were two Gordons of Earlstoun, father and son. They were descended
of an ancient family in the west of Scotland, and their progenitors were
believed to have been favourers of the reformed doctrine, and possessed
of a translation of the Bible, as early as the days of Wickliffe.
William Gordon, the father, was, in 1663, summoned before the privy
council, for keeping conventicles in his house and woods. By another act
of council, he was banished out of Scotland; but the sentence was never
put into execution. In 1667, Earlstoun was turned out of his house,
which was converted into a garrison for the king's soldiers. He was not
in the battle of Bothwell Bridge, but was met, hastening towards it, by
some English dragoons, engaged in the pursuit, already commenced. As
he refused to surrender, he was instantly slain. WILSON'S _History
of Bothwell Rising--Life of Gordon of Earlston, in Scottish
Worthies_--WODROW'S _History,_ Vol. II. The son, Alexander Gordon
of Earlstoun, I suppose to be the hero of the ballad. He was not a
Cameronian, but of the more moderate class of presbyterians, whose sole
object was freedom of conscience, and relief from the oppressive laws
against non-conformists. He joined the insurgents, shortly after the
skirmish at Loudoun-hill. He appears to have been active in forwarding
the supplication sent to the duke of Monmouth. After the battle, he
escaped discovery, by flying into a house at Hamilton, belonging to one
of his tenants, and disguising himself in female attire. His person
was proscribed, and his estate of Earlstoun was bestowed upon Colonel
Theophilus Ogilthorpe, by the crown, first in security for L.5000,
and afterwards in perpetuity.--FOUNTAINHALL, p. 390. The same author
mentions a person tried at the circuit court, July 10, 1683, solely for
holding intercourse with Earlstoun, an intercommuned (proscribed) rebel.
As he had been in Holland after the battle of Bothwell, he was probably
accessory to the scheme of invasion, which the unfortunate earl of
Argyle was then meditating. He was apprehended upon his return to
Scotland, tried, convicted of treason, and condemned to die; but his
fate was postponed by a letter from the king, appointing him to be
reprieved for a month, that he might, in the interim, be tortured for
the discovery of his accomplices. The council had the unusual spirit
to remonstrate against this illegal course of severity. On November
3, 1653, he received a farther respite, in hopes he would make some
discovery. When brought to the bar, to be tortured (for the king had
reiterated his commands), he, through fear or distraction, roared like a
bull, and laid so stoutly about him, that the hangman and his assistant
could hardly master him. At last he fell into a swoon, and, on his
recovery, charged General Dalziel and Drummond (violent tories),
together with the duke of Hamilton, with being the leaders of the
fanatics. It was generally thought, that he affected this extravagant
behaviour, to invalidate all that agony might extort from him concerning
his real accomplices. He was sent, first, to Edinburgh castle, and,
afterwards, to a prison upon the Bass island; although the privy council
more than once deliberated upon appointing his immediate death. On 22d
August, 1684, Earlstoun was sent for from the Bass, and ordered for
execution, 4th November, 1684. He endeavoured to prevent his doom by
escape; but was discovered and taken, after he had gained the roof of
the prison. The council deliberated, whether, in consideration of this
attempt, he was not liable to instant execution. Finally, however, they
were satisfied to imprison him in Blackness castle, where he remained
till after the Revolution, when he was set at liberty, and his doom of
forfeiture reversed by act of parliament.--See FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. pp.
238, 240, 245, 250, 301, 302.


"O Billie, billie, bonny billie,
"Will ye go to the wood wi' me?
"We'll ca' our horse hame masterless,
"An' gar them trow slain men are we."

"O no, O no!" says Earlstoun,
"For that's the thing that mauna be;
"For I am sworn to Bothwell Hill,
"Where I maun either gae or die."

So Earlstoun rose in the morning,
An' mounted by the break o' day;
An' he has joined our Scottish lads,
As they were marching out the way.

"Now, farewell father, and farewell mother,
"An' fare ye weel my sisters three;
"An' fare ye weel my Earlstoun,
"For thee again I'll never see!"

So they're awa' to Bothwell Hill,
An waly[A] they rode bonnily!
When the duke o' Monmouth saw them comin',
He went to view their company.

"Ye're welcome, lads," then Monmouth said,
"Ye're welcome, brave Scots lads, to me;
"And sae are ye, brave Earlstoun,
"The foremost o' your company!

"But yield your weapons ane an' a';
"O yield your weapons, lads, to me;
"For, gin ye'll yield your weapons up,
"Ye'se a' gae hame to your country."

Out up then spak a Lennox lad,
And waly but he spak bonnily!
"I winna yield my weapons up,
"To you nor nae man that I see."

Then he set up the flag o' red,
A' set about wi' bonny blue;
"Since ye'll no cease, and be at peace,
"See that ye stand by ither true."

They stell'd[B] their cannons on the height,
And showr'd their shot down in the how;[C]
An' beat our Scots lads even down,
Thick they lay slain on every know.[D]

As e'er you saw the rain down fa',
Or yet the arrow frae the bow,--
Sae our Scottish lads fell even down,
An' they lay slain on every know.

"O, hold your hand," then Monmouth cry'd,
"Gie quarters to yon men for me!"
But wicked Claver'se swore an oath,
His cornet's death reveng'd sud be.

"O hold your hand," then Monmouth cry'd,
"If ony thing you'll do for me;
"Hold up your hand, you cursed Graeme,
"Else a rebel to our king ye'll be."

Then wicked Claver'se turn'd about,
I wot an angry man was he;
And he has lifted up his hat,
And cry'd, "God bless his majesty!"

Then he's awa to London town,
Ay e'en as fast as he can dree;
Fause witnesses he has wi' him ta'en.
An' ta'en Monmouth's head f'rae his body.

Alang the brae, beyond the brig,
Mony brave man lies cauld and still;
But lang we'll mind, and sair we'll rue,
The bloody battle of Bothwell Hill.

[Footnote A: _Waly!_ an interjection.]

[Footnote B: _Stell'd_--Planted.]

[Footnote C: _How_--Hollow.]

[Footnote D: _Know_--Knoll.]


_Then he set up the flag of red,
A' set about wi' bonnie blue._--P. 91. v. 1.

Blue was the favourite colour of the Covenanters; hence the vulgar
phrase of a true blue whig. Spalding informs us, that when the first
army of Covenanters entered Aberdeen, few or none "wanted a blue
ribband; the lord Gordon, and some others of the marquis (of Huntley's)
family had a ribband, when they were dwelling in the town, of a red
fresh colour, which they wore in their hats, and called it the _royal
ribband_, as a sign of their love and loyalty to the king. In despite
and derision thereof, this blue ribband was worn, and called the
_Covenanter's ribband_, by the hail soldiers of the army, who would not
hear of the royal ribband, such was their pride and malice."--Vol. I. p.
123. After the departure of this first army, the town was occupied by
the barons of the royal party, till they were once more expelled by the
Covenanters, who plundered the burgh and country adjacent; "no fowl,
cock, or hen, left unkilled, the hail house-dogs, messens (i.e.
lap-dogs), and whelps, within Aberdeen, killed upon the streets; so that
neither hound, messen, nor other dog, was left alive that they could
see: the reason was this,--when the first army came here, ilk captain
and soldier had a blue ribband about his craig (i.e. neck); in despite
and derision whereof, when they removed from Aberdeen, some women of
Aberdeen, as was alleged, knit blue ribbands about their messens'
craigs, whereat their soldiers took offence, and killed all their dogs
for this very cause."--P. 160.

I have seen one of the ancient banners of the Covenanters: it
was divided into four copartments, inscribed with the words,
_Christ--Covenant--King--Kingdom_. Similar standards are mentioned in
Spalding's curious and minute narrative, Vol. II. pp. 182, 245.

_Hold up your hand, ye cursed Graeme,
Else a rebel to our king ye'll be._--P, 91. v. 5.

It is very extraordinary, that, in April, 1685, Claverhouse was left out
of the new commission of privy council, as being too favourable to the
fanatics. The pretence was his having married into the presbyterian
family of lord Dundonald. An act of council was also past, regulating
the payment of quarters, which is stated by Fountainhall to have been
done in _odium_ of Claverhouse, and in order to excite complaints
against him. This charge, so inconsistent with the nature and conduct of
Claverhouse, seems to have been the fruit of a quarrel betwixt him and
the lord high treasurer. FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 360.

That Claverhouse was most unworthily accused of mitigating the
persecution of the Covenanters, will appear from the following simple,
but very affecting narrative, extracted from one of the little
publications which appeared soon after the Revolution, while the
facts were fresh in the memory of the sufferers. The imitation of the
scriptural stile produces, in some passages of these works, an effect
not unlike what we feel in reading the beautiful book of Ruth. It is
taken from the life of Mr Alexander Peden,[A] printed about 1720.

"In the beginning of May, 1685, he came to the house of John Brown and
Marion Weir, whom he married before he went to Ireland, where he stayed
all night; and, in the morning when he took farewell, he came out of the
door, saying to himself, "Poor woman, a fearful morning," twice over. "A
dark misty morning!" The next morning, between five and six hours, the
said John Brown having performed the worship of God in his family, was
going, with a spade in his hand, to make ready some peat ground: the
mist being very dark, he knew not until cruel and bloody Claverhouse
compassed him with three troops of horse, brought him to his house, and
there examined him; who, though he was a man of a stammering speech, yet
answered him distinctly and solidly; which made Claverhouse to examine
those whom he had taken to be his guides through the muirs, if ever they
heard him preach? They answered, "No, no, he was never a preacher." He
said, "If he has never preached, meikle he has prayed in his time;" he
said to John, "Go to your prayers, for you shall immediately die!" When
he was praying, Claverhouse interrupted him three times; one time, that
he stopt him, he was pleading that the Lord would spare a remnant, and
not make a full end in the day of his anger. Claverhouse said, "I gave
you time to pray, and ye are begun to preach;" he turned about upon
his knees, and said, "Sir, you know neither the nature of preaching or
praying, that calls this preaching." Then continued without confusion.
When ended, Claverhouse said, "Take goodnight of your wife and
children." His wife, standing by with her child in her arms that she had
brought forth to him, and another child of his first wife's, he came
to her, and said, "Now, Marion, the day is come, that I told you would
come, when I spake first to you of marrying me." She said, "Indeed,
John, I can willingly part with you."--"Then," he said, "this is all I
desire, I have no more to do but die." He kissed his wife and bairns,
and wished purchased and promised blessings to be multiplied upon them,
and his blessing. Clavers ordered six soldiers to shoot him; the most
part of the bullets came upon his head, which scattered his brains upon
the ground. Claverhouse said to his wife, "What thinkest thou of thy
husband now, woman?" She said, "I thought ever much of him, and now as
much as ever." He said, "It were justice to lay thee beside him." She
said, "If ye were permitted, I doubt not but your cruelty would go that
length; but how will ye make answer for this morning's work?" He said,
"To man I can be answerable; and for God, I will take him in my own
hand." Claverhouse mounted his horse, and marched, and left her with the
corpse of her dead husband lying there; she set the bairn on the ground,
and gathered his brains, and tied up his head, and straighted his body,
and covered him in her plaid, and sat down, and wept over him. It being
a very desart place, where never victual grew, and far from neighbours,
it was some time before any friends came to her; the first that came was
a very fit hand, that old singular Christian woman, in the Cummerhead,
named Elizabeth Menzies, three miles distant, who had been tried with
the violent death of her husband at Pentland, afterwards of two worthy
sons, Thomas Weir, who was killed at Drumclog, and David Steel, who was
suddenly shot afterwards when taken. The said Marion Weir, sitting upon
her husband's grave, told me, that before that, she could see no blood
but she was in danger to faint; and yet she was helped to be a witness
to all this, without either fainting or confusion, except when the shots
were let off her eyes dazzled. His corpse were buried at the end of his
house, where he was slain, with this inscription on his grave-stone:--

In earth's cold bed, the dusty part here lies,
Of one who did the earth as dust despise!
Here, in this place, from earth he took departure;
Now, he has got the garland of the martyrs.

[Footnote A: The enthusiasm of this personage, and of his followers,
invested him, as has been already noticed, with prophetic powers; but
hardly any of the stories told of him exceeds that sort of gloomy
conjecture of misfortune, which the precarious situation of his sect
so greatly fostered. The following passage relates to the battle
of Bothwell-bridge:--"That dismal day, 22d of June, 1679, at
Bothwell-bridge, when the Lord's people fell and fled before the enemy,
he was forty miles distant, near the border, and kept himself retired
until the middle of the day, when some friends said to him, 'Sir, the
people are waiting for sermon,' He answered, 'Let them go to their
prayers; for me, I neither can nor will preach any this day, for our
friends are fallen and fled before the enemy, at Hamilton, and they are
hacking and hewing them down, and their blood is running like water."
The feats of Peden are thus commemorated by Fountainhall, 27th of March,
1650: "News came to the privy council, that about one hundred men, well
armed and appointed, had left Ireland, because of a search there for
such malcontents, and landed in the west of Scotland, and joined with
the wild fanatics. The council, finding that they disappointed the
forces, by skulking from hole to hole, were of opinion, it were better
to let them gather into a body, and draw to a head, and so they would
get them altogether in a snare. They had one Mr Peden, a minister, with
them, and one Isaac, who commanded them. They had frighted most part
of all the country ministers, so that they durst not stay at their
churches, but retired to Edinburgh, or to garrison towns; and it was sad
to see whole shires destitute of preaching, except in burghs. Wherever
they came they plundered arms, and particularly at my Lord Dumfries's
house."--FOUNTAINHALL, Vol. I. p. 359.]

"This murder was committed betwixt six and seven in the morning: Mr
Peden was about ten or eleven miles distant, having been in the fields
all night: he came to the house betwixt seven and eight, and desired to
call in the family, that he might pray amongst them; when praying, he
said, "Lord, when wilt thou avenge Brown's blood? Oh, let Brown's blood
be precious in thy sight! and hasten the day when thou wilt avenge it,
with Cameron's, Cargil's, and many others of our martyrs' names; and oh!
for that day, when the Lord would avenge all their bloods!" When ended,
John Muirhead enquired what he meant by Brown's blood? He said twice
over, "What do I mean? Claverhouse has been at the Preshil this morning,
and has cruelly murdered John Brown; his corpse are lying at the end of
his house, and his poor wife sitting weeping by his corpse, and not a
soul to speak a word comfortably to her."

While we read this dismal story, we must remember Brown's situation
was that of an avowed and determined rebel, liable as such to military
execution; so that the atrocity was more that of the times than of
Claverhouse. That general's gallant adherence to his master, the
misguided James VII., and his glorious death on the field of victory, at
Killicrankie, have tended to preserve and gild his memory. He is still
remembered in the Highlands as the most successful leader of their
clans. An ancient gentleman, who had borne arms for the cause of Stuart,
in 1715, told the editor, that, when the armies met on the field of
battle, at Sheriff-muir, a veteran chief (I think he named Gordon
of Glenbucket), covered with scars, came up to the earl of Mar, and
earnestly pressed him to order the Highlanders to charge, before the
regular army of Argyle had completely formed their line, and at a moment
when the rapid and furious onset of the clans might have thrown them
into total disorder. Mar repeatedly answered, it was not yet time; till
the chieftain turned from him in disdain and despair, and, stamping with
rage, exclaimed aloud, "O for one hour of Dundee!"

Claverhouse's sword (a strait cut-and-thrust blade) is in the possession
of Lord Woodhouselee. In Pennycuik-house is preserved the buff-coat,
which he wore at the battle of Killicrankie. The fatal shot-hole is
under the arm-pit, so that the ball must have been received while his
arm was raised to direct the pursuit However he came by his charm of
_proof_, he certainly had not worn the garment usually supposed to
confer that privelage, and which is called _the waistcoat of proof, or
of necessity_. It was thus made: "On Christmas daie, at night, a thread
must be sponne of flax, by a little virgine girle, in the name of the
divell: and it must be by her woven, and also wrought with the needle.
In the breast, or forepart thereof, must be made with needle work, two
heads; on the head, at the right side, must be a hat and a long beard;
the left head must have on a crown, and it must be so horrible that it
maie resemble Belzebub; and on each side of the wastcote must be made a
crosse."--SCOTT'S _Discoverie of Witchcraft,_ p. 231.

It would be now no difficult matter to bring down our popular poetry,
connected with history, to the year 1745. But almost all the party
ballads of that period have been already printed, and ably illustrated
by Mr Ritson.








Again, sweet syren, breathe again
That deep, pathetic, powerful strain;
Whose melting tones, of tender woe,
Fall soft as evening's summer dew,
That bathes the pinks and harebells blue,
Which in the vales of Tiviot blow.

Such was the song that soothed to rest.
Far in the green isle of the west,
The Celtic warrior's parted shade;
Such are the lonely sounds that sweep
O'er the blue bosom of the deep,
Where ship-wrecked mariners are laid.

Ah! sure, as Hindu legends tell,
When music's tones the bosom swell,
The scenes of former life return;
Ere, sunk beneath the morning star,
We left our parent climes afar,
Immured in mortal forms to mourn.

Or if, as ancient sages ween,
Departed spirits, half-unseen,
Can mingle with the mortal throng;
'Tis when from heart to heart we roll
The deep-toned music of the soul,
That warbles in our Scottish song.

I hear, I hear, with awful dread,
The plaintive music of the dead;
They leave the amber fields of day:
Soft as the cadence of the wave,
That murmurs round the mermaid's grave,
They mingle in the magic lay.

Sweet syren, breathe the powerful strain!
_Lochroyan's Damsel_[A] sails the main;
The chrystal tower enchanted see!
"Now break," she cries, "ye fairy charms!"
As round she sails with fond alarms,
"Now break, and set my true love free!"

Lord Barnard is to greenwood gone,
Where fair _Gil Morrice_ sits alone,
And careless combs his yellow hair;
Ah! mourn the youth, untimely slain!
The meanest of Lord Barnard's train
The hunter's mangled head must bear.

Or, change these notes of deep despair,
For love's more soothing tender air:
Sing, how, beneath the greenwood tree,
_Brown Adam's_[B] love maintained her truth,
Nor would resign the exiled youth
For any knight the fair could see.

And sing _the Hawk of pinion gray_,[C]
To southern climes who winged his way,
For he could speak as well as fly;
Her brethren how the fair beguiled,
And on her Scottish lover smiled,
As slow she raised her languid eye.

Fair was her cheek's carnation glow,
Like red blood on a wreath of snow;
Like evening's dewy star her eye:
White as the sea-mew's downy breast,
Borne on the surge's foamy crest,
Her graceful bosom heaved the sigh.

In youth's first morn, alert and gay,
Ere rolling years had passed away,
Remembered like a morning dream,
I heard these dulcet measures float,
In many a liquid winding note,
Along the banks of Teviot's stream.

Sweet sounds! that oft have soothed to rest
The sorrows of my guileless breast,
And charmed away mine infant tears:
Fond memory shall your strains repeat,
Like distant echoes, doubly sweet,
That in the wild the traveller hears.

And thus, the exiled Scotian maid,
By fond alluring love betrayed
To visit Syria's date-crowned shore;
In plaintive strains, that soothed despair,
Did "Bothwell's banks that bloom so fair,"
And scenes of early youth, deplore.

Soft syren! whose enchanting strain
Floats wildly round my raptured brain,
I bid your pleasing haunts adieu!
Yet, fabling fancy oft shall lead
My footsteps to the silver Tweed,
Through scenes that I no more must view.

[Footnote A: _The Lass of Lochroyan_--In this volume.]

[Footnote B: See the ballad, entitled, _Brown Adam._]

[Footnote C: See the _Gay Goss Hawk._]


_Far in the green isle of the west._--P. 103. v. 2.
The _Flathinnis_, or Celtic paradise.

_Ah! sure, as Hindu legends tell._--P. 104. v. 1.

The effect of music is explained by the Hindus, as recalling to our
memory the airs of paradise, heard in a state of pre-existence--_Vide_

_Did "Bathwell's banks that bloom so fair."_--P. 106. v. 3.

"So fell it out of late years, that an English gentleman, travelling in
Palestine, not far from Jerusalem, as he passed through a country town,
he heard, by chance, a woman sitting at her door, dandling her child, to
sing, _Bothwel bank thou blumest fair_. The gentleman hereat wondered,
and forthwith, in English, saluted the woman, who joyfully answered him;
and said, she was right glad there to see a gentleman of our isle: and
told him, that she was a Scottish woman, and came first from Scotland to
Venice, and from Venice thither, where her fortune was to be the wife of
an officer under the Turk; who being at that instant absent, and very
soon to return, she entreated the gentleman to stay there until his
return. The which he did; and she, for country sake, to shew herself the
more kind and bountiful unto him, told her husband, at his home-coming,
that the gentleman was her kinsman; whereupon her husband entertained
him very kindly; and, at his departure gave him divers things of good
value."--_Verstigan's Restitution of Decayed Intelligence._ Chap. _Of
the Sirnames of our Antient Families._ Antwerp, 1605.



_"Of airy elves, by moon-light shadows seen,
The silver token, and the circled green._--POPE.

In a work, avowedly dedicated to the preservation of the poetry and
tradition of the "olden time," it would be unpardonable to omit this
opportunity of making some observations upon so interesting an article
of the popular creed, as that concerning the Elves, or Fairies. The
general idea of spirits, of a limited power, and subordinate nature,
dwelling among the woods and mountains, is, perhaps common to all
nations. But the intermixture of tribes, of languages, and religion,
which has occurred in Europe, renders it difficult to trace the origin
of the names which have been bestowed upon such spirits, and the primary
ideas which were entertained concerning their manners and habits.

The word _elf_, which seems to have been the original name of the
beings, afterwards denominated fairies, is of Gothic origin, and
probably signified, simply, a spirit of a lower order. Thus, the Saxons
had not only _dun-elfen_, _berg-elfen_, and _munt-elfen_, spirits of
the downs, hills, and mountains; but also _feld-elfen_, _wudu-elfen_,
_sae-elfen_, and _water-elfen_; spirits of the fields, of the woods,
of the sea, and of the waters. In low German, the same latitude of
expression occurs; for night hags are termed _aluinnen_, and _aluen_,
which is sometimes Latinized _eluoe_. But the prototype of the English
elf, is to be sought chiefly in the _berg-elfen_, or _duergar_, of the
Scandinavians. From the most early of the Icelandic Sagas, as well as
from the Edda itself, we learn the belief of the northern nations in
a race of dwarfish spirits, inhabiting the rocky mountains, and
approaching, in some respects, to the human nature. Their attributes,
amongst which we recognize the features of the modern Fairy, were,
supernatural wisdom and prescience, and skill in the mechanical arts,
especially in the fabrication of arms. They are farther described, as
capricious, vindictive, and easily irritated. The story of the elfin
sword, _Tyrfing_, may be the most pleasing illustration of this
position. Suafurlami, a Scandinavian monarch, returning from hunting,
bewildered himself among the mountains. About sun-set, he beheld a large
rock, and two dwarfs, sitting before the mouth of a cavern. The king
drew his sword, and intercepted their retreat, by springing betwixt
them and their recess, and imposed upon them the following condition of
safety:--that they should make for him a faulchion, with a baldric and
scabbard of pure gold, and a blade, which should divide stones and iron
as a garment, and which should render the wielder ever victorious in
battle. The elves complied with the requisition, and Suafurlami pursued
his way home. Returning at the time appointed, the dwarfs delivered to
him the famous sword _Tyrfing_; then, standing in the entrance of their
cavern, spoke thus: "This sword, O king, shall "destroy a man every time
it is brandished; but it shall "perform three atrocious deeds, and it
shall be thy bane." The king rushed forward with the charmed sword, and
buried both its edges in the rock; but the dwarfs escaped into their
recesses.[A] This enchanted sword emitted rays like the sun, dazzling
all against whom it was brandished; it divided steel like water, and was
never unsheathed without slaying a man--_Hervarar Saga,_ p. 9. Similar
to this was the enchanted sword, _Skoffhung_, which was taken by a
pirate out of the tomb of a Norwegian monarch. Many such tales are
narrated in the Sagas; but the most distinct account of the _-duergar_,
or elves, and their attributes, is to be found in a preface of Torfaeus
to the history of Hrolf Kraka, who cites a dissertation by Einar
Gudmund, a learned native of Iceland. "I am firmly of opinion," says the
Icelander, "that these beings are creatures of God, consisting, like
human beings, of a body and rational soul; that they are of different
sexes, and capable of producing children, and subject to all human
affections, as sleeping and waking, laughing and crying, poverty and
wealth; and that they possess cattle, and other effects, and are
obnoxious to death, like other mortals." He proceeds to state, that the
females of this race are capable of procreating with mankind; and gives
an account of one who bore a child to an inhabitant of Iceland, for whom
she claimed the privilege of baptism; depositing the infant, for that
purpose, at the gate of the church-yard, together with a goblet of gold,
as an offering.--_Historia Hrolfi Krakae, a_ TORFAEO.

[Footnote A: Perhaps in this, and similar tales, we may recognize
something of real history. That the Fins, or ancient natives of
Scandinavia, were driven into the mountains, by the invasion of Odin and
his Asiatics, is sufficiently probable; and there is reason to believe,
that the aboriginal inhabitants understood, better than the intruders,
how to manufacture the produce of their own mines. It is therefore
possible, that, in process of time, the oppressed Fins may have been
transformed into the supernatural _duergar_. A similar transformation
has taken place among the vulgar in Scotland, regarding the Picts, or
Pechs, to whom they ascribe various supernatural attributes.]

Similar to the traditions of the Icelanders, are those current among the
Laplanders of Finland, concerning a subterranean people, gifted with'
supernatural qualities, and inhabiting the recesses of the earth.
Resembling men in their general appearance, the manner of their
existence, and their habits of life, they far excel the miserable
Laplanders in perfection of nature, felicity of situation, and skill in
mechanical arts. From all these advantages, however, after the partial
conversion of the Laplanders, the subterranean people have derived no
farther credit, than to be confounded with the devils and magicians of
the dark ages of Christianity; a degradation which, as will shortly be
demonstrated, has been also suffered by the harmless Fairies of Albion,
and indeed by the whole host of deities of learned Greece and mighty
Rome. The ancient opinions are yet so firmly rooted, that the Laps of
Finland, at this day, boast of an intercourse with these beings, in
banquets, dances, and magical ceremonies, and even in the more intimate
commerce of gallantry. They talk, with triumph, of the feasts which
they have shared in the elfin caverns, where wine and tobacco, the
productions of the Fairy region, went round in abundance, and whence
the mortal guest, after receiving the kindest treatment and the most
salutary counsel, has been conducted to his tent by an escort of his
supernatural entertainers.--_Jessens, de Lapponibus._

The superstitions of the islands of Feroe, concerning their
_Froddenskemen_, or under-ground people, are derived from the _duergar_
of Scandinavia. These beings are supposed to inhabit the interior
recesses of mountains, which they enter by invisible passages. Like the
Fairies, they are supposed to steal human beings. "It happened," says
Debes, p. 354, "a good while since, when the burghers of Bergen had
the commerce of Feroe, that there was a man in Servaade, called Jonas
Soideman, who was kept by spirits in a mountain, during the space of
seven years, and at length came out; but lived afterwards in great
distress and fear, lest they should again take him away; wherefore
people were obliged to watch him in the night." The same author mentions
another young man, who had been carried away, and, after his return, was
removed a second time upon the eve of his marriage. He returned in a
short time, and narrated, that the spirit that had carried him away, was
in the shape of a most beautiful woman, who pressed him to forsake his
bride, and remain with her; urging her own superior beauty, and splendid
appearance. He added, that he saw the men who were employed to search
for him, and heard them call; but that they could not see him, nor could
he answer them, till, upon his determined refusal to listen to the
spirit's persuasions, the spell ceased to operate. The kidney-shaped
West Indian bean, which is sometimes driven upon the shore of the
Feroes, is termed, by the natives "the _Fairie's kidney_."

In these traditions of the Gothic and Finnish tribes, we may recognize,
with certainty, the rudiments of elfin superstition; but we must look to
various other causes for the modifications which it has undergone. These
are to be sought, 1st, in the traditions of the east; 2d, in the wreck
and confusion of the Gothic mythology; 3d, in the tales of chivalry;
4th, in the fables of classical antiquity; 5th, in the influence of the
Christian religion; 6th, and finally, in the creative imagination of
the sixteenth century. It may be proper to notice the effect of these
various causes, before stating the popular belief of our own time,
regarding the Fairies.

I. To the traditions of the east, the Fairies of Britain owe, I think,
little more than the appellation, by which they have been distinguished
since the days of the crusade. The term "Fairy," occurs not only
in Chaucer, and in yet older English authors, but also, and more
frequently, in the romance language; from which they seem to have
adopted it. Ducange cites the following passage from Gul. Guiart, in
_Historia Francica_, MS.

Plusiers parlent de Guenart,
Du Lou, de L'Asne, de Renart,
De _Faeries_ et de Songes,
De phantosmes et de mensonges.

The _Lay le Frain_, enumerating the subjects of the Breton Lays, informs
us expressly,

Many ther beth _faery_.

By some etymologists of that learned class, who not only know whence
words come, but also whither they are going, the term _Fairy_, or
_Faerie_, is derived from _Fae_, which is again derived from _Nympha_.
It is more probable the term is of oriental origin, and is derived from
the Persic, through the medium of the Arabic. In Persic, the term _Peri_
expresses a species of imaginary being, which resembles the Fairy in
some of its qualities, and is one of the fairest creatures of romantic
fancy. This superstition must have been known to the Arabs, among whom
the Persian tales, or romances, even as early as the time of Mahomet,
were so popular, that it required the most terrible denunciations of
that legislator to proscribe them. Now, in the enunciation of the Arabs,
the term _Peri_ would sound _Fairy_, the letter _p_ not occurring in
the alphabet of that nation; and, as the chief intercourse of the early
crusaders was with the Arabs, or Saracens, it is probable they would
adopt the term according to their pronounciation. Neither will it be
considered as an objection to this opinion, that in Hesychius, the
Ionian term _Phereas_, or _Pheres_, denotes the satyrs of classical
antiquity, if the number of words of oriental origin in that
lexicographer be recollected. Of the Persian Peris, Ouseley, in his
_Persian Miscellanies_, has described some characteristic traits, with
all the luxuriance of a fancy, impregnated with the oriental association
of ideas. However vaguely their nature and appearance is described, they
are uniformly represented as gentle, amiable females, to whose character
beneficence and beauty are essential. None of them are mischievous or
malignant; none of them are deformed or diminutive, like the Gothic
fairy. Though they correspond in beauty with our ideas of angels, their
employments are dissimilar; and, as they have no place in heaven, their
abode is different. Neither do they resemble those intelligences, whom,
on account of their wisdom, the Platonists denominated Daemons; nor
do they correspond either to the guardian Genii of the Romans, or the
celestial virgins of paradise, whom the Arabs denominate Houri. But the
Peris hover in the balmy clouds, live in the colours of the rainbow,
and, as the exquisite purity of their nature rejects all nourishment
grosser than the odours of flowers, they subsist by inhaling the
fragrance of the jessamine and rose. Though their existence is not
commensurate with the bounds of human life, they are not exempted from
the common fate of mortals.--With the Peris, in Persian mythology, are
contrasted the Dives, a race of beings, who differ from them in sex,
appearance, and disposition. These are represented as of the male sex,
cruel, wicked, and of the most hideous aspect; or, as they are described
by Mr Finch, "with ugly shapes, long horns, staring eyes, shaggy hair,
great fangs, ugly paws, long tails, with such horrible difformity and
deformity, that I wonder the poor women are not frightened therewith."
Though they live very long, their lives are limited, and they are
obnoxious to the blows of a human foe. From the malignancy of their
nature, they not only wage war with mankind, but persecute the Peris
with unremitting ferocity. Such are the brilliant and fanciful colours
in which the imaginations of the Persian poets have depicted the
charming race of the Peris; and, if we consider the romantic gallantry
of the knights of chivalry, and of the crusaders, it will not appear
improbable, that their charms might occasionally fascinate the fervid
imagination of an amorous troubadour. But, further; the intercourse of
France and Italy with the Moors of Spain, and the prevalence of the
Arabic, as the language of science in the dark ages, facilitated the
introduction of their mythology amongst the nations of the west. Hence,
the romances of France, of Spain, and of Italy, unite in describing the
Fairy as an inferior spirit, in a beautiful female form, possessing many
of the amiable qualities of the eastern Peri. Nay, it seems sufficiently
clear, that the romancers borrowed from the Arabs, not merely the
general idea concerning those spirits, but even the names of individuals
amongst them. The Peri, _Mergian Banou_ (see _Herbelot, ap. Peri_),
celebrated in the ancient Persian poetry, figures in the European
romances, under the various names of _Mourgue La Faye_, sister to _King
Arthur; Urgande La Deconnue_, protectress of _Amadis de Gaul_; and the
_Fata Morgana_ of Boiardo and Ariosto. The description of these nymphs,
by the troubadours and minstrels, is in no respect inferior to those of
the Peris. In the tale of _Sir Launfal_, in Way's _Fabliaux_, as well as
in that of _Sir Gruelan_, in the same interesting collection, the reader
will find the fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne, adorned with all the
splendour of eastern description. The fairy _Melusina_, also, who
married Guy de Lusignan, count of Poictou, under condition that he
should never attempt to intrude upon her privacy, was of this latter
class. She bore the count many children, and erected for him a
magnificent castle by her magical art. Their harmony was uninterrupted,
until the prying husband broke the conditions of their union, by
concealing himself, to behold his wife make use of her enchanted
bath. Hardly had _Melusina_ discovered the indiscreet intruder, than,
transforming herself into a dragon, she departed with a loud yell of
lamentation, and was never again visible to mortal eyes; although, even
in the days of Brantome, she was supposed to be the protectress of her
descendants, and was heard wailing, as she sailed upon the blast
round the turrets of the castle of Lusiguan, the night before it was
demolished. For the full story, the reader may consult the _Bibliotheque
des Romans_.[A]--Gervase of Tilbury (pp. 895, and 989), assures us,
that, in his days, the lovers of the Fadae, or Fairies, were numerous;
and describes the rules of their intercourse with as much accuracy, as
if he had himself been engaged in such an affair. Sir David Lindsay also
informs us, that a leopard is the proper armorial bearing of those
who spring from such intercourse, because that beast is generated by
adultery of the pard and lioness. He adds, that Merlin, the prophet, was
the first who adopted this cognizance, because he was "borne of faarie
in adultre, and right sua the first duk of Guyenne, was borne of a
_fee_; and, therefoir, the armes of Guyenne are a leopard."--_MS. on
Heraldry, Advocates' Library,_ w. 4. 13. While, however, the Fairy of
warmer climes was thus held up as an object of desire and of affection,
those of Britain, and more especially those of Scotland, were far
from being so fortunate; but, retaining the unamiable qualities, and
diminutive size of the Gothic elves, they only exchanged that term for
the more popular appellation of Fairies.

[Footnote A: Upon this, or some similar tradition, was founded the
notion, which the inveteracy of national prejudice, so easily diffused
in Scotland, that the ancestor of the English monarchs, Geoffrey
Plantagenet, had actually married a daemon. Bowmaker, in order to
explain the cruelty and ambition of Edward I., dedicates a chapter to
shew "how the kings of England are descended from the devil, by the
mother's side."--_Fordun, Chron._ lib. 9, cap. 6. The lord of a certain
castle, called Espervel, was unfortunate enough to have a wife of the
same class. Having observed, for several years, that she always left the
chapel before the mass was concluded, the baron, in a fit of obstinacy
or curiosity, ordered his guard to detain her by force; of which the
consequence was, that, unable to support the elevation of the host, she
retreated through the air, carrying with her one side of the chapel, and
several of the congregation.]

II. Indeed, so singularly unlucky were the British Fairies that, as has
already been hinted, amid the wreck of the Gothic mythology, consequent
upon the introduction of Christianity, they seem to have preserved, with
difficulty, their own distinct characteristics, while, at the same time,
they engrossed the mischievous attributes of several other classes of
subordinate spirits, acknowledged by the nations of the north. The
abstraction of children, for example, the well known practice of the
modern Fairy, seems, by the ancient Gothic nations, to have rather been
ascribed to a species of night-mare, or hag, than to the _berg-elfen_,
or _duergar_. In the ancient legend of _St Margaret_, of which there is
a Saxo-Norman copy, in _Hickes' Thesaurus Linguar. Septen._ and one,
more modern, in the Auchinleck MSS., that lady encounters a fiend, whose
profession it was, among other malicious tricks, to injure new-born
children and their mothers; a practice afterwards imputed to the
Fairies. Gervase of Tilbury, in the _Otia Imperialia_, mentions certain
hags, or _Lamiae_, who entered into houses in the night-time, to oppress
the inhabitants, while asleep, injure their persons and property, and
carry off their children. He likewise mentions the _Dracae_, a sort of
water spirits, who inveigle women and children into the recesses which
they inhabit, beneath lakes and rivers, by floating past them, on the
surface of the water, in the shape of gold rings, or cups. The women,
thus seized, are employed as nurses, and, after seven years, are
permitted to revisit earth. Gervase mentions one woman, in particular,
who had been allured by observing a wooden dish, or cup, float by her,
while washing clothes in a river. Being seized as soon as she reached
the depths, she was conducted into one of these subterranean recesses,
which she described as very magnificent, and employed as nurse to one of
the brood of the hag who had allured her. During her residence in this
capacity, having accidentally touched one of her eyes with an ointment
of serpent's grease, she perceived, at her return to the world, that she
had acquired the faculty of seeing the _dracae_, when they intermingle
themselves with men. Of this power she was, however, deprived by the
touch of her ghostly mistress, whom she had one day incautiously
addressed. It is a curious fact, that this story, in almost all its
parts, is current in both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, with
no other variation than the substitution of Fairies for _dracae_, and
the cavern of a hill for that of a river.[A] These water fiends are thus
characterized by Heywood, in the _Hierarchie_--

"Spirits, that have o'er water gouvernement,
Are to mankind alike malevolent;
They trouble seas, flouds, rivers, brookes, and wels,
Meres, lakes, and love to enhabit watry cells;
Hence noisome and pestiferous vapours raise;
Besides, they men encounter divers ways.
At wreckes some present are; another sort,
Ready to cramp their joints that swim for sport:
One kind of these, the Italians _fatae_ name,
_Fee_ the French, we _sybils_, and the same;
Others _white nymphs_, and those that have them seen,
_Night ladies_ some, of which Habundia queen.
_Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels,_ p. 507.

[Footnote A: Indeed, many of the vulgar account it extremely dangerous
to touch any thing, which they may happen to find, without _saining_
(blessing) it, the snares of the enemy being notorious and well
attested. A poor woman of Tiviotdale, having been fortunate enough, as
she thought herself, to find a wooden beetle, at the very time when
she needed such an implement, seized it without pronouncing the proper
blessing, and, carrying it home, laid it above her bed, to be ready
for employment in the morning. At midnight, the window of her cottage
opened, and a loud voice was heard, calling upon some one within, by a
strange and uncouth name, which I have forgotten. The terrified cottager
ejaculated a prayer, which, we may suppose, insured her personal
safety; while the enchanted implement of housewifery, tumbling from the
bed-stead, departed by the window with no small noise and precipitation.
In a humorous fugitive tract, the late Dr Johnson is introduced as
disputing the authenticity of an apparition, merely because the spirit
assumed the shape of a tea-pot, and of a shoulder of mutton. No doubt,
a case so much in point, as that we have now quoted, would have removed
his incredulity.]

The following Frisian superstition, related by Schott, in his _Physica
Curiosa_, p. 362, on the authority of Cornelius a Kempen, coincides more
accurately with the popular opinions concerning the Fairies, than even
the _dracae_ of Gervase, or the water-spirits of Thomas Heywood.--"In
the time of the emperor Lotharius, in 830," says he, "many spectres
infested Frieseland, particularly the white nymphs of the ancients,
which the moderns denominate _witte wiven_, who inhabited a
subterraneous cavern, formed in a wonderful manner, without human art,
on the top of a lofty mountain. These were accustomed to surprise
benighted travellers, shepherds watching their herds and flocks, and
women newly delivered, with their children; and convey them into their
caverns, from which subterranean murmurs, the cries of children, the
groans and lamentations of men, and sometimes imperfect words, and all
kinds of musical sounds, were heard to proceed." The same superstition
is detailed by Bekker, in his _World Bewitch'd_, p. 196, of the English
translation. As the different classes of spirits were gradually
confounded, the abstraction of children seems to have been chiefly
ascribed to the elves, or Fairies; yet not so entirely, as to exclude
hags and witches from the occasional exertion of their ancient
privilege.--In Germany, the same confusion of classes has not taken
place. In the beautiful ballads of the _Erl King_, the _Water King_, and
the _Mer-Maid_, we still recognize the ancient traditions of the Goths,
concerning the _wald-elven_, and the _dracae_.

A similar superstition, concerning abstraction by daemons, seems, in
the time of Gervase of Tilbury, to have pervaded the greatest part of
Europe. "In Catalonia," says that author, "there is a lofty mountain,
named Cavagum, at the foot of which runs a river with golden sands, in
the vicinity of which there are likewise mines of silver. This mountain
is steep, and almost inaccessible. On its top, which is always covered
with ice and snow, is a black and bottomless lake, into which if a
stone be thrown, a tempest suddenly rises; and near this lake, though
invisible to men, is the porch of the palace of daemons. In a town
adjacent to this mountain, named Junchera, lived one Peter de Cabinam.
Being one day teazed with the fretfulness of his young daughter, he, in
his impatience, suddenly wished that the devil might take her; when she
was immediately borne away by the spirits. About seven years afterwards,
an inhabitant of the same city, passing by the mountain, met a man, who
complained bitterly of the burthen he was constantly forced to bear.
Upon enquiring the cause of his complaining, as he did not seem to carry
any load, the man related, that he had been unwarily devoted to the
spirits by an execration, and that they now employed him constantly as
a vehicle of burthen. As a proof of his assertion, he added, that the
daughter of his fellow-citizen was detained by the spirits, but that
they were willing to restore her, if her father would come and demand
her on the mountain. Peter de Cabinam, on being informed of this,
ascended the mountain to the lake, and, in the name of God, demanded his
daughter; when, a tall, thin, withered figure, with wandering eyes, and
almost bereft of understanding, was wafted to him in a blast of wind.
After some time, the person, who had been employed as the vehicle of the
spirits, also returned, when he related where the palace of the spirits
was situated; but added, that none were permitted to enter but those who
devoted themselves entirely to the spirits; those, who had been rashly
committed to the devil by others, being only permitted, during their
probation, to enter the porch." It may be proper to observe, that the
superstitious idea, concerning the lake on the top of the mountain, is
common to almost every high hill in Scotland. Wells, or pits, on the
top of high hills, were likewise supposed to lead to the subterranean
habitations of the Fairies. Thus, Gervase relates, (p. 975), "that he
was informed the swine-herd of William Peverell, an English baron,
having lost a brood-sow, descended through a deep abyss, in the middle
of an ancient ruinous castle, situated on the top of a hill, called
Bech, in search of it. Though a violent wind commonly issued from
this pit, he found it calm; and pursued his way, till he arrived at a
subterraneous region, pleasant and cultivated, with reapers cutting down
corn, though the snow remained on the surface of the ground above. Among
the ears of corn he discovered his sow, and was permitted to ascend with
her, and the pigs which she had farrowed." Though the author seems to
think that the inhabitants of this cave might be Antipodes, yet, as
many such stories are related of the Fairies, it is probable that this
narration is of the same kind. Of a similar nature seems to be another
superstition, mentioned by the same author, concerning the ringing of
invisible bells, at the hour of one, in a field in the vicinity of
Carleol, which, as he relates, was denominated _Laikibraine_, or _Lai ki
brait_. From all these tales, we may perhaps be justified in supposing,
that the faculties and habits ascribed to the Fairies, by the
superstition of latter days, comprehended several, originally attributed
to other classes of inferior spirits.

III. The notions, arising from the spirit of chivalry, combined to add
to the Fairies certain qualities, less atrocious, indeed, but equally
formidable, with those which they derived from the last mentioned
source, and alike inconsistent with the powers of the _duergar_, whom
we may term their primitive prototype. From an early period, the daring
temper of the northern tribes urged them to defy even the supernatural
powers. In the days of Caesar, the Suevi were described, by their
countrymen, as a people, with whom the immortal gods dared not venture
to contend. At a later period, the historians of Scandinavia paint their
heroes and champions, not as bending at the altar of their deities, but
wandering into remote forests and caverns, descending into the recesses
of the tomb, and extorting boons, alike from gods and daemons, by dint
of the sword, and battle-axe. I will not detain the reader by quoting
instances, in which heaven is thus described as having been literally
attempted by storm. He may consult Saxo, Olaus Wormius, Olaus Magnus,
Torfaeus, Bartholin, and other northern antiquaries. With such ideas of
superior beings, the Normans, Saxons, and other Gothic tribes, brought
their ardent courage to ferment yet more highly in the genial climes of
the south, and under the blaze of romantic chivalry. Hence, during the
dark ages, the invisible world was modelled after the material; and the
saints, to the protection of whom the knights-errant were accustomed to
recommend themselves, were accoutered like _preux chevaliers_, by the
ardent imaginations of their votaries. With such ideas concerning the
inhabitants of the celestial regions, we ought not to be surprised to
find the inferior spirits, of a more dubious nature and origin, equipped
in the same disguise. Gervase of Tilbury (_Otia Imperial, ap. Script,
rer. Brunsvic,_ Vol. I. p. 797.) relates the following popular story
concerning a Fairy Knight. "Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited
a noble family in the vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishopric of Ely.
Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who,
according to custom, amused each other by repeating ancient tales and
traditions, he was informed, that if any knight, unattended, entered an
adjacent plain by moon-light, and challenged an adversary to appear, he
would be immediately encountered by a spirit in the form of a knight.
Osbert resolved to make the experiment, and set out, attended by a
single squire, whom he ordered to remain without the limits of the
plain, which was surrounded by an ancient entrenchment. On repeating the
challenge, he was instantly assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly
unhorsed, and seized the reins of his steed. During this operation, his
ghostly opponent sprung up, and, darting his spear, like a javelin, at
Osbert, wounded him in the thigh. Osbert returned in triumph with the
horse, which he committed to the care of his servants. The horse was of
a sable colour, as well as his whole accoutrements, and apparently of
great beauty and vigour. He remained with his keeper till cock-crowing,
when, with eyes flashing fire, he reared, spurned the ground, and
vanished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded,
and that one of his steel boots was full of blood. Gervase adds,
that, as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the
anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit."[A] Less
fortunate was the gallant Bohemian knight, who, travelling by night,
with a single companion, came in sight of a fairy host, arrayed under
displayed banners. Despising the remonstrances of his friend, the knight
pricked forward to break a lance with a champion who advanced from
the ranks, apparently in defiance. His companion beheld the Bohemian
over-thrown horse and man, by his aerial adversary; and, returning to
the spot next morning, he found the mangled, corpse of the knight and
steed.--_Hierarchie of Blessed Angels,_ p. 554.

[Footnote A: The unfortunate Chatterton was not, probably, acquainted
with Gervase of Tilbury; yet he seems to allude, in the _Battle of
Hastings_, to some modification of Sir Osbert's adventure:

So who they be that ouphant fairies strike,
Their souls shall wander to King Offa's dike.

The entrenchment, which served as lists for the combatants, is said by
Gervase to have been the work of the pagan invaders of Britain. In the
metrical romance of _Arthour and Merlin_, we have also an account of
Wandlesbury being occupied by the Sarasins, i.e. the Saxons; for all
pagans were Saracens with the romancers. I presume the place to have
been Wodnesbury, in Wiltshire, situated on the remarkable mound,
called Wansdike, which is obviously a Saxon work.--GOUGH'S _Cambden's
Britannia,_ pp. 87--95.]

To the same current of warlike ideas, we may safely attribute the
long train of military processions which the Fairies are supposed
occasionally to exhibit. The elves, indeed, seem in this point to be
identified with the aerial host, termed, during the middle ages, the
_Milites Herlikini_, or _Herleurini_, celebrated by Pet. Blesensis,
and termed, in the life of St Thomas of Canterbury, the _Familia
Helliquinii_. The chief of this band was originally a gallant knight and
warrior; but, having spent his whole possessions in the service of the
emperor, and being rewarded with scorn, and abandoned to subordinate
oppression, he became desperate, and, with his sons and followers,
formed a band of robbers. After committing many ravages, and defeating
all the forces sent against him, Hellequin, with his whole troop, fell
in a bloody engagement with the Imperial host. His former good life was
supposed to save him from utter reprobation; but he and his followers
were condemned, after death, to a state of wandering, which should
endure till the last day. Retaining their military habits, they were
usually seen in the act of justing together, or in similar warlike
employments. See the ancient French romance of _Richard sans Peur_.
Similar to this was the _Nacht Lager_, or midnight camp, which seemed
nightly to beleaguer the walls of Prague,

"With ghastly faces thronged, and fiery arms,"

but which disappeared upon recitation of the magical words, _Vezele,
Vezele, ho! ho! ho!_--For similar delusions, see DELRIUS, pp. 294, 295.

The martial spirit of our ancestors led them to defy these aerial
warriors; and it is still currently believed, that he, who has courage
to rush upon a fairy festival, and snatch from them their drinking cup,
or horn, shall find it prove to him a cornucopia of good fortune, if he
can bear it in safety across a running stream. Such a horn is said to
have been presented to Henry I. by a lord of Colchester.--GERVAS TILB.
p. 980. A goblet is still carefully preserved in Edenhall, Cumberland,
which is supposed to have been seized at a banquet of the elves, by one
of the ancient family of Musgrave; or, as others say, by one of their
domestics, in the manner above described. The Fairy train vanished,
crying aloud,

If this glass do break or fall,
Farewell the luck of Edenhall!

The goblet took a name from the prophecy, under which it is mentioned,
in the burlesque ballad, commonly attributed to the duke of Wharton, but
in reality composed by Lloyd, one of his jovial companions. The duke,
after taking a draught, had nearly terminated the "luck of Edenhall,"
had not the butler caught the cup in a napkin, as it dropped from his
grace's hands. I understand it is not now subjected to such risques, but
the lees of wine are still apparent at the bottom.

God prosper long, from being broke,
The luck of Edenhall.--_Parody on Chevy Chace._

Some faint traces yet remain, on the borders, of a conflict of a
mysterious and terrible nature, between mortals and the spirits of the
wilds. This superstition is incidentally alluded to by Jackson, at the
beginning of the 17th century. The fern seed, which is supposed to
become visible only on St John's Eve,[A] and at the very moment when
the Baptist was born, is held by the vulgar to be under the special
protection of the queen of Faery. But, as the seed was supposed to have
the quality of rendering the possessor invisible at pleasure,[B] and to
be also of sovereign use in charms and incantations, persons of courage,
addicted to these mysterious arts, were wont to watch in solitude, to
gather it at the moment when it should become visible. The particular
charms, by which they fenced themselves during this vigil, are now
unknown; but it was reckoned a feat of no small danger, as the person
undertaking it was exposed to the most dreadful assaults from spirits,
who dreaded the effect of this powerful herb in the hands of a cabalist.
Such were the shades, which the original superstition, concerning the.
Fairies, received from the chivalrous sentiments of the middle ages.

[Footnote A:

Ne'er be I found by thee unawed,
On that thrice hallowed eve abroad,
When goblins haunt, from fire and fen.
And wood and lake, the steps of men.
COLLINS'S _Ode to Fear._

The whole history of St John the Baptist was, by our ancestors,
accounted mysterious, and connected with their own superstitions.
The fairy queen was sometimes identified with Herodias.--DELRII
_Disquisitiones Magicae,_ pp. 168. 807. It is amusing to observe with
what gravity the learned Jesuit contends, that it is heresy to believe
that this celebrated figurante (_saltatricula_) still leads choral
dances upon earth!]

[Footnote B: This is alluded to by Shakespeare, and other authors of his

"We have the receipt of _fern-seed_; we walk invisible."
_Henry IV. Part 1st, Act 2d, Sc. 3_.]

IV. An absurd belief in the fables of classical antiquity lent an
additional feature to the character of the woodland spirits of whom we
treat. Greece and Rome had not only assigned tutelary deities to each
province and city, but had peopled, with peculiar spirits, the Seas, the
Rivers, the Woods, and the Mountains. The memory of the pagan creed was
not speedily eradicated, in the extensive provinces through which it was
once universally received; and, in many particulars, it continued long
to mingle with, and influence, the original superstitions of the Gothic
nations. Hence, we find the elves occasionally arrayed in the costume of
Greece and Rome, and the Fairy Queen and her attendants transformed into
Diana and her nymphs, and invested with their attributes and appropriate
insignia.--DELRIUS, pp. 168, 807. According to the same author, the
Fairy Queen was also called _Habundia_. Like Diana, who, in one
capacity, was denominated _Hecate_, the goddess of enchantment, the
Fairy Queen is identified in popular tradition, with the _Gyre-Carline,
Gay Carline_, or mother witch, of the Scottish peasantry. Of this
personage, as an individual, we have but few notices. She is sometimes
termed _Nicneven_, and is mentioned in the _Complaynt of Scotland_, by
Lindsay in his _Dreme_, p. 225, edit. 1590, and in his _Interludes_,
apud PINKERTON'S _Scottish Poems_, Vol. II. p. 18. But the traditionary
accounts regarding her are too obscure to admit of explanation. In the
burlesque fragment subjoined, which is copied from the Bannatyne MS. the
Gyre Carline is termed the _Queen of Jowis_ (Jovis, or perhaps Jews),
and is, with great consistency, married to Mohammed.[A]

[Footnote A:

In Tyberius tyme, the trew imperatour,
Quhen Tynto hills fra skraipiug of toun-henis was keipit,
Thair dwelt are grit Gyre Carling in awld Betokis bour,
That levit upoun Christiane menis flesche, and rewheids unleipit;
Thair wynit ane hir by, on the west syde, callit Blasour,
For luve of hir lanchane lippis, he walit and he weipit;
He gadderit are menzie of modwartis to warp doun the tour:
The Carling with are yren club, quhen yat Blasour sleipit,
Behind the heil scho hat him sic ane blaw,
Quhil Blasour bled ane quart
Off milk pottage inwart,
The Carling luche, and lut fart
North Berwik Law.

The king of fary than come, with elfis many ane,
And sett are sege, and are salt, with grit pensallis of pryd;
And all the doggis fra Dunbar wes thair to Dumblane,
With all the tykis of Tervey, come to thame that tyd;
Thay quelle doune with thair gonnes mony grit stane,
The Carling schup hir on ane sow, and is her gaitis gane,
Grunting our the Greik sie, and durst na langer byd,
For bruklyng of bargane, and breikhig of browis:
The Carling now for dispyte
Is maieit with Mahomyte,
And will the doggis interdyte,
For scho is queue of Jowis.

Sensyne the cockis of Crawmound crew nevir at day,
For dule of that devillisch deme wes with Mahoun mareit,
And the henis of Hadingtoun sensyne wald not lay,
For this wild wibroun wich thame widlit sa and wareit;
And the same North Berwik Law, as I heir wyvis say,
This Carling, with a fals east, wald away careit;
For to luck on quha sa lykis, na langer scho tareit:
All this languor for love before tymes fell,
Lang or Betok was born,
Scho bred of ane accorne;
The laif of the story to morne,
To you I sall telle.]

But chiefly in Italy were traced many dim characters of ancient
mythology, in the creed of tradition. Thus, so lately as 1536, Vulcan,
with twenty of his Cyclops, is stated to have presented himself suddenly
to a Spanish merchant, travelling in the night, through the forests of
Sicily; an apparition, which was followed by a dreadful eruption of
Mount Aetna.--_Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels,_ p. 504 Of this
singular mixture, the reader will find a curious specimen in the
following tale, wherein the Venus of antiquity assumes the manners of
one of the Fays, or Fatae, of romance. "In the year 1058, a young man
of noble birth had been married at Rome, and, during the period of his
nuptial feast, having gone with his companions to play at ball, he put
his marriage ring on the finger of a broken statue of Venus in the area,
to remain, while he was engaged in the recreation. Desisting from the
exercise, he found the finger, on which he had put his ring, contracted
firmly against the palm, and attempted in vain either to break it, or to
disengage his ring. He concealed the circumstance from his companions,
and returned at night with a servant, when he found the finger extended,
and his ring gone. He dissembled the loss, and returned to his wife;
but, whenever he attempted to embrace her, he found himself prevented
by something dark and dense, which was tangible, though not visible,
interposing between them; and he heard a voice saying, 'Embrace me! for
I am Venus, whom this day you wedded, and I will not restore your ring.'
As this was constantly repeated, he consulted his relations, who had
recourse to Palumbus, a priest, skilled in necromancy. He directed the
young man to go, at a certain hour of night, to a spot among the ruins
of ancient Rome, where four roads met, and wait silently till he saw a
company pass by, and then, without uttering a word, to deliver a letter,
which he gave him, to a majestic being, who rode in a chariot, after the
rest of the company. The young man did as he was directed; and saw a
company of all ages, sexes, and ranks, on horse and on foot, some joyful
and others sad, pass along; among whom he distinguished a woman in a
meretricious dress, who, from the tenuity of her garments, seemed
almost naked. She rode on a mule; her long hair, which flowed over her
shoulders, was bound with a golden fillet; and in her hand was a golden
rod, with which she directed her mule. In the close of the procession,
a tall majestic figure appeared in a chariot, adorned with emeralds
and pearls, who fiercely asked the young man, 'What he did there?' He
presented the letter in silence, which the daemon dared not refuse.
As soon as he had read, lifting up his hands to heaven, he exclaimed,
'Almighty God! how long wilt thou endure the iniquities of the sorcerer
Palumbus!' and immediately dispatched some of his attendants, who, with
much difficulty, extorted the ring from Venus, and restored it to
its owner, whose infernal banns were thus dissolved."--FORDUNI
_Scotichronicon,_ Vol. I. p. 407, _cura_ GOODALL.

But it is rather in the classical character of an infernal deity, that
the elfin queen may be considered, than as _Hecate_, the patroness of
magic; for not only in the romance writers, but even in Chaucer, are the
Fairies identified with the ancient inhabitants of the classical hell.
Thus Chaucer, in his _Marchand's Tale_, mentions

Pluto that is king of fayrie--and
Proserpine and all her fayrie.

In the _Golden Terge_ of Dunbar, the same phraseology is adopted: Thus,

Thair was Pluto that elricke incubus
In cloke of grene, his court usit in sable.

Even so late as 1602, in Harsenet's _Declaration of Popish Imposture,_
p. 57, Mercury is called _Prince of the Fairies._

But Chaucer, and those poets who have adopted his phraseology, have only
followed the romance writers; for the same substitution occurs in the
romance of _Orfeo and Heurodis_, in which the story of Orpheus and
Eurydice is transformed into a beautiful romantic tale of faery, and
the Gothic mythology engrafted on the fables of Greece. _Heurodis_ is
represented as wife of _Orfeo_, and queen of Winchester, the ancient
name of which city the romancer, with unparalleled ingenuity, discovers
to have been Traciens, or Thrace. The monarch, her husband, had a
singular genealogy:

His fader was comen of King Pluto,
And his moder of King Juno;
That sum time were as godes y-holde,
For aventours that thai dede and tolde.

Reposing, unwarily, at noon, under the shade of an ymp tree,[A]
_Heurodis_ dreams that she is accosted by the King of Fairies,

With an hundred knights and mo,
And damisels an hundred also,
Al on snowe white stedes;
As white as milke were her wedes;
Y no seigh never yete bifore,
So fair creatours y-core:
The kinge hadde a croun on hed,
It nas of silver, no of golde red,
Ac it was of a precious ston:
As bright as the sonne it schon.

[Footnote A: _Ymp tree_--According to the general acceptation, this only
signifies a grafted tree; whether it should he here understood to mean a
tree consecrated to the imps, or fairies, is left with the reader.]

The King of Fairies, who had obtained power over the queen, perhaps from
her sleeping at noon in his domain, orders her, under the penalty of
being torn to pieces, to await him to-morrow under the ymp tree, and
accompany him to Fairy-Land. She relates her dream to her husband, who
resolves to accompany her, and attempt her rescue:

A morwe the under tide is come,
And Orfeo hath his armes y-nome,
And wele ten hundred knights with him,
Ich y-armed stout and grim;
And with the quen wenten he,
Right upon that ympe tre.
Thai made scheltrom in iche aside,
And sayd thai wold there abide,
And dye ther everichon,
Er the qeun schuld fram hem gon:
Ac yete amiddes hem ful right,
The quen was oway y-twight,
With Fairi forth y-nome,
Men wizt never wher sche was become.

After this fatal catastrophe, _Orfeo_, distracted for the loss of
his queen, abandons his throne, and, with his harp, retires into a
wilderness, where he subjects himself to every kind of austerity, and
attracts the wild beasts by the pathetic melody of his harp. His state
of desolation is poetically described:

He that werd the fowe and griis,
And on bed the purpur biis,
Now on bard hethe he lith.
With leves and gresse he him writh:
He that had castells and tours,
Rivers, forests, frith with flowrs.
Now thei it commence to snewe and freze,
This king mot make his bed in mese:
He that had y-had knightes of priis,
Bifore him kneland and leuedis,
Now seth he no thing that him liketh,
Bot wild wormes bi him striketh:
He that had y-had plente
Of mete and drinke, of ich deynte,
Now may he al daye digge and wrote,
Er he find his fille of rote.
In sorner he liveth bi wild fruit,
And verien hot gode lite.
In winter may he no thing find,
Bot rotes, grases, and the rinde.

* * * * *

His here of his herd blac and rowe,
To his girdel stede was growe;
His harp, whereon was al his gle,
He hidde in are holwe tre:
And, when the weder was clere and bright,
He toke his harpe to him wel right,
And harped at his owen will,
Into al the wode the soun gan shill,
That al the wild bestes that ther beth
For joie abouten him thai teth;
And al the foules that ther wer,
Come and sete on ich a brere,
To here his harping a fine,
So miche melody was therein.

At last he discovers, that he is not the sole inhabitant of this desart;

He might se him besides
Oft in hot undertides,
The king of Fairi, with his route,
Come to hunt him al about,
With dim cri and bloweing,
And houndes also with him berking;
Ac no best thai no nome,
No never he nist whider thai bi come.
And other while he might hem se
As a gret ost bi him te,
Well atourued ten hundred knightes,
Ich y-armed to his rightes,
Of cuntenance stout and fers,
With mani desplaid baners;
And ich his sword y-drawe hold,
Ac never he nist whider thai wold.
And otherwhile he seighe other thing;
Knightis and lenedis com daunceing,
In queynt atire gisely,
Queyete pas and softlie:
Tabours and trumpes gede hem bi,
And al mauer menstraci.--
And on a day he seighe him biside,
Sexti leuedis on hors ride,
Gentil and jolif as brid on ris;
Nought o man amonges hem ther nis;
And ich a faucoun on bond bere,
And riden on hauken bi o river.
Of game thai found wel gode haunt,
Maulardes, hayroun, and cormoraunt;
The foules of the water ariseth,
Ich faucoun hem wele deviseth,
Ich fancoun his pray slough,
That seize Orfeo and lough.
"Par fay," quoth he, "there is fair game,
"Hider Ichil bi Godes name,
"Ich was y won swich work to se:"
He aros, and thider gan te;
To a leuedie hi was y-come,
Bihelde, and hath wel under nome,
And seth, bi al thing, that is
His owen quen, dam Heurodis;
Gern hi biheld her, and sche him eke,
Ac nouther to other a word no speke:
For messais that sche on him seighe,
That had ben so riche and so heighe,
The teres fel out of her eighe;
The other leuedis this y seighe,
And maked hir oway to ride,
Sche most with him no longer obide.
"Allas!" quoth he, "nowe is mi woe,
"Whi nil deth now me slo;
"Allas! to long last mi liif,
"When y no dare nought with mi wif,
"Nor hye to me o word speke;
"Allas whi nil miin hert breke!
"Par fay," quoth he, "tide what betide,
"Whider so this leuedis ride,
"The selve way Ichil streche;
"Of liif, no dethe, me no reche.

In consequence, therefore, of this discovery _Orfeo_ pursues the hawking
damsels, among whom he has descried his lost queen. They enter a rock,
the king continues the pursuit, and arrives at Fairy-Land, of which the
following very poetical description is given:

In at roche the leuedis rideth,
And he after and nought abideth;
When he was in the roche y-go,
Wele thre mile other mo,
He com into a fair cuntray,
As bright soonne somers day,
Smothe and plain and al grene,
Hill no dale nas none ysene,
Amiddle the loud a castel he seighe,
Rich and reale and wonder heighe;
Al the utmast wal
Was cler and schine of cristal;
An hundred tours ther were about,
Degiselich and bataild stout;
The butrass come out of the diche,
Of rede gold y-arched riche;
The bousour was anowed al,
Of ich maner deuers animal;
Within ther wer wide wones
Al of precious stones,
The werss piler onto biholde,
Was al of burnist gold:
Al that loud was ever light,
For when it schuld be therk and night,
The riche stonnes light gonne,
Bright as doth at nonne the sonne
No man may tel, no thenke in thought.
The riche werk that ther was rought.

* * * * *

Than he gan biholde about al,
And seighe ful liggeand with in the wal,
Of folk that wer thidder y-brought,
And thought dede and nere nought;
Sum stode with outen hadde;
And some none armes nade;
And sum thurch the bodi hadde wounde;
And sum lay wode y-bounde;
And sum armed on hors sete;
And sum astrangled as thai ete;
And sum war in water adreynt;
And sum with fire al for schreynt;
Wives ther lay on childe bedde;
Sum dede, and sum awedde;
And wonder fere ther lay besides,
Right as thai slepe her undertides;
Eche was thus in this warld y-nome,
With fairi thider y-come.[A]
There he seize his owhen wiif,
Dame Heurodis, his liif liif,
Slepe under an ympe tree:
Bi her clothes he knewe that it was he,
And when he had bihold this mervalis alle,
He went into the kinges halle;
Then seigh he there a semly sight,
A tabernacle blisseful and bright;
Ther in her maister king sete,
And her quen fair and swete;
Her crounes, her clothes schine so bright,
That unnethe bihold he hem might.
_Orfeo and Heurodis, MS._

[Footnote A: It was perhaps from such a description that Ariosto adopted
his idea of the Lunar Paradise, containing every thing that on earth was
stolen or lost.]

_Orfeo_, as a minstrel, so charms the Fairy King with the music of
his harp, that he promises to grant him whatever he should ask. He
immediately demands his lost _Heurodis_; and, returning safely with
her to Winchester, resumes his authority; a catastrophe, less pathetic
indeed, but more pleasing, than that of the classical story. The
circumstances, mentioned in this romantic legend, correspond very
exactly with popular tradition. Almost all the writers on daemonology
mention, as a received opinion that the power of the daemons is most
predominant at noon and midnight. The entrance to the Land of Faery is
placed in the wilderness; a circumstance, which coincides with a passage
in Lindsay's _Complaint of the Papingo:_

Bot sen my spreit mon from my bodye go,
I recommend it to the queue of Fary,
Eternally into her court to tarry
In _wilderness_ amang the holtis hair.
LINDSAY'S _Works_, 1592, p. 222.

Chaucer also agrees, in this particular, with our romancer:

In his sadel he clombe anon,
And priked over stile and ston,
An elf quene for to espie;
Til he so long had riden and gone
That he fond in a privie wone
The countree of Faerie.

Wherein he soughte north and south,
And often spired with his mouth,
In many a foreste wilde;
For in that countree nas ther non,
That to him dorst ride or gon,
Neither wif ne childe.
_Rime of Sir Thopas._

V. Other two causes, deeply affecting the superstition of which we
treat, remain yet to be noticed. The first is derived from the Christian
religion, which admits only of two classes of spirits, exclusive of the
souls of men--Angels, namely, and Devils. This doctrine had a necessary
tendency to abolish the distinction among subordinate spirits, which had
been introduced by the superstitions of the Scandinavians. The existence
of the Fairies was readily admitted; but, as they had no pretensions to
the angelic character, they were deemed to be of infernal origin. The
union, also, which had been formed betwixt the elves and the Pagan
deities, was probably of disservice to the former; since every one
knows, that the whole synod of Olympus were accounted daemons.

The fulminations of the church were, therefore, early directed against
those, who consulted or consorted with the Fairies; and, according to
the inquisitorial logic, the innocuous choristers of Oberon and Titania
were, without remorse, confounded with the sable inhabitants of the
orthodox Gehennim; while the rings, which marked their revels, were
assimilated to the blasted sward on which the witches held their
infernal sabbath.--_Delrii Disq. Mag._ p. 179. This transformation early
took place; for, among the many crimes for which the famous Joan of Arc
was called upon to answer, it was not the least heinous, that she
had frequented the Tree and Fountain, near Dompre, which formed the
rendezvous of the Fairies, and bore their name; that she had joined in
the festive dance with the elves, who haunted this charmed spot; had
accepted of their magical bouquets, and availed herself of their
talismans, for the delivery of her country.--_Vide Acta Judiciaria
contra Johannam D'Arceam, vulgo vocutam Johanne la Pucelle._

The Reformation swept away many of the corruptions of the church of
Rome; but the purifying torrent remained itself somewhat tinctured by
the superstitious impurities of the soil over which it had passed. The
trials of sorcerers and witches, which disgrace our criminal records,
become even more frequent after the Reformation of the church; as if
human credulity, no longer amused by the miracles of Rome, had sought
for food in the traditionary records of popular superstition. A Judaical
observation of the precepts of the Old Testament also characterized the
Presbyterian reformers. _"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,"_ was
a text, which at once (as they conceived) authorized their belief in
sorcery, and sanctioned the penalty which they denounced against it. The
Fairies were, therefore, in no better credit after the Reformation than
before, being still regarded as actual daemons, or something very little
better. A famous divine, Doctor Jasper Brokeman, teaches us, in his
system of divinity, "that they inhabit in those places that are polluted
with any crying sin, as effusion of blood, or where unbelief or
superstitione have gotten the upper hand."--_Description of Feroe._ The
Fairies being on such bad terms with the divines, those, who pretended
to intercourse with them, were, without scruple, punished as sorcerers;
and such absurd charges are frequently stated as exaggerations of
crimes, in themselves sufficiently heinous.

Such is the case in the trial of the noted Major Weir, and his sister;
where the following mummery interlards a criminal indictment, too
infamously flagitious to be farther detailed: "9th April, 1670. Jean
Weir, indicted of sorceries, committed by her when she lived and kept a
school at Dalkeith: that she took employment from a woman, to speak in
her behalf to the _Queen of Fairii, meaning the Devil_; and that another
woman gave her a piece of a tree, or root, the next day, and did tell
her, that as long as she kept the same, she should be able to do what
she pleased; and that same woman, from whom she got the tree, caused her
spread a cloth before her door, and set her foot upon it, and to repeat
thrice, in the posture foresaid, these words, _'All her losses and
crosses go alongst to the doors,'_ which was truly a consulting with the
devil, and an act of sorcery, &c. That after the spirit, in the shape of
a woman, who gave her the piece of tree, had removed, she, addressing
herself to spinning, and having spun but a short time, found more
yarn upon the pirn than could possibly have come there by good
means."[A]--_Books of Adjournal._

[Footnote A: It is observed in the record, that Major Weir, a man of
the most vicious character, was at the same time ambitious of appearing
eminently godly; and used to frequent the beds of sick persons, to
assist them with his prayers. On such occasions, he put to his mouth
a long staff, which he usually carried, and expressed himself with
uncommon energy and fluency, of which he was utterly incapable when the
inspiring rod was withdrawn. This circumstance, the result, probably, of
a trick or habit, appearing suspicious to the judges, the staff of the
sorcerer was burned along with his person. One hundred and thirty years
have elapsed since his execution, yet no one has, during that space,
ventured to inhabit the house of this celebrated criminal.]

Neither was the judgment of the criminal court of Scotland less severe
against another familiar of the Fairies, whose supposed correspondence
with the court of Elfland seems to have constituted the sole crime, for
which she was burned alive. Her name was Alison Pearson, and she seems
to have been a very noted person. In a bitter satire against Adamson,
Bishop of St Andrews, he is accused of consulting with sorcerers,
particularly with this very woman; and an account is given of her
travelling through Breadalbane, in the company of the Queen of Faery,
and of her descrying, in the court of Elfland, many persons, who had
been supposed at rest in the peaceful grave.[A] Among these we find two
remarkable personages; the secretary, young Maitland of Lethington, and
one of the old lairds of Buccleuch. The cause of their being stationed
in Elfland probably arose from the manner of their decease; which, being
uncommon and violent, caused the vulgar to suppose that they had been
abstracted by the Fairies. Lethington, as is generally supposed, died a
Roman death during his imprisonment in Leith; and the Buccleuch, whom I
believe to be here meant, was slain in a nocturnal scuffle by the Kerrs,
his hereditary enemies. Besides, they were both attached to the cause
of Queen Mary, and to the ancient religion; and were thence, probably,
considered as more immediately obnoxious to the assaults of the powers
of darkness.[B] The indictment of Alison Pearson notices her intercourse
with the Archbishop of St Andrews, and contains some particulars, worthy
of notice, regarding the court of Elfland. It runs thus: "28th May,
1586. Alison Pearson, in Byrehill, convicted of witchcraft, and of
consulting with evil spirits, in the form of one Mr William Simpsone,
her cosin, who she affirmed was a gritt schollar, and doctor of
medicine, that healed her of her diseases when she was twelve years of
age; having lost the power of her syde, and having a familiaritie with
him for divers years, dealing with charms, and abuseing the common
people by her arts of witchcraft, thir divers years by-past.

[Footnote A:

For oght the kirk culd him forbid,
He sped him sone, and gat the thrid;
Ane carling of the quene of Phareis,
That ewill win geir to elpliyne careis;
Through all Brade Abane scho has bene,
On horsbak on Hallow ewin;
And ay in seiking certayne nightis,
As scho sayis with sur silly wychirs:
And names out nybours sex or sewin,
That we belevit had bene in heawin;
Scho said scho saw theme weill aneugh,
And speciallie gude auld Balcleuch,
The secretar, and sundrie uther:
Ane William Symsone, her mother brother,
Whom fra scho has resavit a buike
For ony herb scho likes to luke;
It will instruct her how to tak it,
In saws and sillubs how to mak it;
With stones that meikle mair can doe,
In leich craft, where scho lays them toe:
A thousand maladeis scho hes mendit;
Now being tane, and apprehendit,
Scho being in the bischopis cure,
And keipit in his castle sure,
Without respect of worldlie glamer,
He past into the witches chalmer.
_Scottish Poems of XVI. Century,_ Edin. 1801,
Vol. II, p. 320.]

[Footnote B: Buccleuch was a violent enemy to the English, by whom his
lands had been repeatedly plundered (See _Introduction,_ p. xxvi), and
a great advocate for the marriage betwixt Mary and the dauphin, 1549.
According to John Knox, he had recourse even to threats, in urging the
parliament to agree to the French match. "The laird of Buccleuch," says
the Reformer, "a bloody man, with many Gods wounds, swore, they that
would not consent should do worse."]

"_Item,_ For banting and repairing with the gude neighbours, and queene
of Elfland, thir divers years by-past, as she had confest; and that she
had friends in that court, which were of her own blude, who had gude
acquaintance of the queene of Elfland, which might have helped her; but
she was whiles well, and whiles ill, sometimes with them, a'nd other
times away frae them; and that she would be in her bed haille and feire,
and would not wytt where she would be the morn; and that she saw not the
queene this seven years, and that she was seven years ill handled in the
court of Elfland; that, however, she kad gude friends there, and that
it was the gude neighbours that healed her, under God; and that she was
comeing and going to St Andrews to haile folkes thir many years past.

"_Item,_ Convict of the said act of witchcraft, in as far as she confest
that the said Mr William Sympsoune, who was her guidsir sone, born in
Stirleing, who was the king's smith, who, when about eight years of age,
was taken away by ane Egyptian to Egypt; which Egyptian was a gyant,
where he remained twelve years, "and then came home.

"_Item,_ That she being in Grange Muir, with some other folke, she,
being sick, lay downe; and, when alone, there came a man to her, clad in
green, who said to her, if she would be faithful, he would do her good;
but she, being feared, cried out, but naebodye came to her; so she said,
if he came in God's name, and for the gude of her saule, it was well;
but he gaid away: that he appeared to her another tyme like a lustie
man, and many men and women with him; that, at seeing him, she signed
herself and prayed, and past with them, and saw them making merrie with
pypes, and gude cheir and wine, and that she was carried with them; and
that when she telled any of these things, she was sairlie tormentit by
them; and that the first time she gaed with them, she gat a sair straike
frae one of them, which took all the _poustie_[A] of her syde frae her,
and left ane ill-far'd mark on her syde.

"_Item,_ That she saw the gude neighbours make their sawes[B] with panns
and fyres, and that they gathered the herbs before the sun was up, and
they came verie fearful sometimes to her, and flaide[C] her very sair,
which made her cry, and threatened they would use her worse than before;
and, at last, they took away the power of her haile syde frae her, which
made her lye many weeks. Sometimes they would come and sitt by her, and
promise all that she should never want if she would be faithful, but if
she would speak and telle of them, they should murther her; and that Mr
William Sympsoune is with them, who healed her, and telt her all things;
that he is a young man not six years older than herself, and that he
will appear to her before the court comes; that he told her he was taken
away by them, and he bidd her sign herself that she be not taken away,
for the teind of them are tane to hell everie year.

[Footnote A: _Poustie_--Power.]

[Footnote B: _Sawes_--Salves.]

[Footnote C: _Flaide_--Scared.]

"_Item,_ That the said Mr William told her what herbs were fit to cure
every disease, and how to use them; and particularlie tauld, that the
Bishop of St Andrews laboured under sindrie diseases, sic as the riples,
trembling, feaver, flux, &c. and bade her make a sawe, and anoint
several parts of his body therewith, and gave directions for making a
posset, which she made and gave him."

For this idle story the poor woman actually suffered death. Yet,
notwithstanding the fervent arguments thus liberally used by the
orthodox, the common people, though they dreaded even to think or speak
about the Fairies, by no means unanimously acquiesced in the doctrine,
which consigned them to eternal perdition. The inhabitants of the Isle
of Man call them the "_good people_, and say they live in wilds, and
forests, and on mountains, and shun great cities, because of the
wickedness acted therein: all the houses are blessed where they visit,
for they fly vice. A person would be thought impudently prophane who
should suffer his family to go to bed, without having first set a tub,
or pail, full of clean water, for those guests to bathe themselves in,
which the natives aver they constantly do, as soon as ever the eyes of
the family are closed, wherever they vouchsafe to come."--WALDREN's
_Works_, p. 126. There are some curious, and perhaps anomalous facts,
concerning the history of Fairies, in a sort of Cock-lane narrative,
contained in a letter from Moses Pitt, to Dr Edward Fowler, Lord Bishop
of Gloucester, printed at London in 1696, and preserved in Morgan's
_Phoenix Britannicus,_ 4to, London 1732.

Anne Jefferies was born in the parish of St Teath, in the county of
Cornwall, in 1626. Being the daughter of a poor man, she resided as
servant in the house of the narrator's father, and waited upon the
narrator himself, in his childhood. As she was knitting stockings in an
arbour of the garden, "six small people, all in green clothes," came
suddenly over the garden wall; at the sight of whom, being much
frightened, she was seized with convulsions, and continued so long sick,
that she became as a changeling, and was unable to walk. During her
sickness, she frequently exclaimed, "They are just gone out of the
window! they are just gone out of the window! do you not see them?"
These expressions, as she afterwards declared, related to their
disappearing. During the harvest, when every one was employed, her
mistress walked out; and dreading that Anne, who was extremely weak
and silly, might injure herself, or the house, by the fire, with some
difficulty persuaded her to walk in the orchard till her return. She
accidentally hurt her leg, and, at her return, Anne cured it, by
stroking it with her hand. She appeared to be informed of every
particular, and asserted, that she had this information from the
Fairies, who had caused the misfortune. After this, she performed
numerous cures, but would never receive money for them. From harvest
time to Christmas, she was fed by the Fairies, and eat no other victuals
but theirs. The narrator affirms, that, looking one day through the
key-hole of the door of her chamber, he saw her eating; and that she
gave him a piece of bread, which was the most delicious he ever tasted.
The Fairies always appeared to her in even numbers; never less than two,
nor more than eight, at a time. She had always a sufficient stock of
salves and medicines, and yet neither made, nor purchased any; nor did
she ever appear to be in want of money. She, one day, gave a silver cup,
containing about a quart, to the daughter of her mistress, a girl about
four years old, to carry to her mother, who refused to receive it. The
narrator adds, that he had seen her dancing in the orchard among the
trees, and that she informed him she was then dancing with the Fairies.
The report of the strange cures which she performed, soon attracted the
attention of both ministers and magistrates. The ministers endeavoured
to persuade her, that the Fairies by which she was haunted, were evil
spirits, and that she was under the delusion of the devil. After they
had left her, she was visited by the Fairies, while in great perplexity;
who desired her to cause those, who termed them evil spirits, to
read that place of scripture, _First Epistle of John,_, chap. iv. v.
1,--_Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits,
whether they are of God,_ &c. Though Anne Jefferies could not read, she
produced a Bible folded down at this passage. By the magistrates she was
confined three months, without food, in Bodmin jail, and afterwards
for some time in the house of Justice Tregeagle. Before the constable
appeared to apprehend her, she was visited by the Fairies, who informed
her what was intended, and advised her to go with him. When this account
was given, on May 1, 1696, she was still alive; but refused to relate
any particulars of her connection with the Fairies, or the occasion on
which they deserted her, lest she should again fall under the cognizance
of the magistrates.

Anne Jefferies' Fairies were not altogether singular in maintaining
their good character, in opposition to the received opinion of the
church. Aubrey and Lily, unquestionably judges in such matters, had
a high opinion of these beings, if we may judge from the following
succinct and business-like memorandum of a ghost-seer. "Anno 1670. Not
far from Cirencester was an apparition. Being demanded whether a good
spirit or a bad, returned no answer, but disappeared with a curious
perfume, and most melodious twang. M.W. Lilly believes it was a Fairie.
So Propertius,

Omnia finierat; tenues secessit in auras,
Mansit odor possis scire fuisse Deam!"
AUBREY'S _Miscellanies,_ p. 80.

A rustic, also, whom Jackson taxed with magical practices, about 1620,
obstinately denied that the good King of the Fairies had any connection
with the devil; and some of the Highland seers, even in our day,
have boasted of their intimacy with the elves, as an innocent and
advantageous connection. One Maccoan, in Appin, the last person
eminently gifted with the second sight, professed to my learned and
excellent friend, Mr Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, that he owed his prophetic
visions to their intervention.

VI. There remains yet another cause to be noticed, which seems to have
induced a considerable alteration into the popular creed of England,
respecting Fairies. Many poets of the sixteenth century, and, above all,
our immortal Shakespeare, deserting the hackneyed fictions of Greece and
Rome, sought for machinery in the superstitions of their native country.
"The fays, which nightly dance upon the wold," were an interesting
subject; and the creative imagination of the bard, improving upon the
vulgar belief, assigned to them many of those fanciful attributes and
occupations, which posterity have since associated with the name
of Fairy. In such employments, as rearing the drooping flower, and
arranging the disordered chamber, the Fairies of South Britain gradually
lost the harsher character of the dwarfs, or elves. Their choral dances
were enlivened by the introduction of the merry goblin _Puck_,[A]
for whose freakish pranks they exchanged their original mischievous
propensities. The Fairies of Shakespeare, Drayton, and Mennis,
therefore, at first exquisite fancy portraits, may be considered as
having finally operated a change in the original which gave them

[Footnote A: Robin Goodfellow, or Hobgoblin, possesses the frolicksome
qualities of the French _Lutin_. For his full character, the reader is
referred to the _Reliques of Ancient Poetry_. The proper livery of this
sylvan Momus is to be found in an old play. "Enter Robin Goodfellow, in
a suit of leather, close to his body, his hands and face coloured russet
colour, with a flail."--_Grim, the Collier of Croydon, Act 4, Scene 1._
At other times, however, he is presented in the vernal livery of the
elves, his associates:

_Tim._ "I have made
"Some speeches, sir, ill verse, which have been spoke
"By a _green Robin Goodfellow_, from Cheapside conduit,
"To my father's company."
_The City Match, Act I, Scene 6._]

[Footnote B: The Fairy land, and Fairies of Spenser, have no connection
with popular superstition, being only words used to denote an Utopian
scene of action, and imaginary or allegorical characters; and the title
of the "Fairy Queen" being probably suggested by the elfin mistress of
Chaucer's _Sir Thopas_. The stealing of the Red Cross Knight, while a
child, is the only incident in the poem which approaches to the popular
character of the Fairy:

--A Fairy thee unweeting reft;
There as thou sleptst in tender swadling band,
And her base elfin brood there for thee left:
Such men do changelings call, so chang'd by Fairies theft.
_Book I. Canto_ 10.]

While the fays of South Britain received such attractive and poetical
embellishments, those of Scotland, who possessed no such advantage,
retained more of their ancient, and appropriate character. Perhaps,
also, the persecution which these sylvan deities underwent, at the
instance of the stricter presbyterian clergy, had its usual effect, in
hardening their dispositions, or at least in rendering them more dreaded
by those among whom they dwelt. The face of the country, too, might
have some effect; as we should naturally attribute a less malicious
disposition, and a less frightful appearance, to the fays who glide by
moon-light through the oaks of Windsor, than to those who haunt the
solitary heaths and lofty mountains of the North. The fact at least is
certain; and it has not escaped a late ingenious traveller, that the
character of the Scottish Fairy is more harsh and terrific than that
which is ascribed to the elves of our sister kingdom.--See STODDART'S
_View of Scenery and Manners in Scotland._

The Fairies of Scotland are represented as a diminutive race of beings,
of a mixed, or rather dubious nature, capricious in their dispositions,
and mischievous in their resentment. They inhabit the interior of green
hills, chiefly those of a conical form, in Gaelic termed _Sighan_, on
which they lead their dances by moon-light; impressing upon the surface
the mark of circles, which sometimes appear yellow and blasted,
sometimes of a deep green hue; and within which it is dangerous to
sleep, or to be found after sun-set. The removal of those large portions
of turf, which thunderbolts sometimes scoop out of the ground with
singular regularity, is also ascribed to their agency. Cattle, which are
suddenly seized with the cramp, or some similar disorder, are said to be
_elf-shot_; and the approved cure is, to chafe the parts affected with
a blue bonnet, which, it may be readily believed, often restores the
circulation. The triangular flints, frequently found in Scotland, with
which the ancient inhabitants probably barbed their shafts, are supposed
to be the weapons of Fairy resentment, and are termed _elf-arrow heads_.
The rude brazen battle-axes of the ancients, commonly called _celts_,
are also ascribed to their manufacture. But, like the Gothic duergar,

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