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WELSH FOLK-LORE a collection by the Rev. Elias Owen, M.A., F.S.A.
TITLE PAGE i PREFACE iii-vi INDEX vii-xii ESSAY 1-352 LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS 353-359
WELSH FOLK-LORE A COLLECTION OF THE FOLK-TALES AND LEGENDS OF NORTH WALES BEING THE PRIZE ESSAY OF THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD 1887, BY THE REV. ELIAS OWEN, M.A, F.S.A.
To this Essay on the "Folk-lore of North Wales," was awarded the first prize at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, held in London, in 1887. The prize consisted of a silver medal, and 20 pounds. The adjudicators were Canon Silvan Evans, Professor Rhys, and Mr Egerton Phillimore, editor of the Cymmrodor.
By an arrangement with the Eisteddfod Committee, the work became the property of the publishers, Messrs. Woodall, Minshall, & Co., who, at the request of the author, entrusted it to him for revision, and the present Volume is the result of his labours.
Before undertaking the publishing of the work, it was necessary to obtain a sufficient number of subscribers to secure the publishers from loss. Upwards of two hundred ladies and gentlemen gave their names to the author, and the work of publication was commenced. The names of the subscribers appear at the end of the book, and the writer thanks them one and all for their kind support. It is more than probable that the work would never have been published had it not been for their kind assistance. Although the study of Folk-lore is of growing interest, and its importance to the historian is being acknowledged; still, the publishing of a work on the subject involved a considerable risk of loss to the printers, which, however, has been removed in this case, at least to a certain extent, by those who have subscribed for the work.
The sources of the information contained in this essay are various, but the writer is indebted, chiefly, to the aged inhabitants of Wales, for his information. In the discharge of his official duties, as Diocesan Inspector of Schools, he visited annually, for seventeen years, every parish in the Diocese of St. Asaph, and he was thus brought into contact with young and old. He spent several years in Carnarvonshire, and he had a brother, the Revd. Elijah Owen, M.A., a Vicar in Anglesey, from whom he derived much information. By his journeys he became acquainted with many people in North Wales, and he hardly ever failed in obtaining from them much singular and valuable information of bye-gone days, which there and then he dotted down on scraps of paper, and afterwards transferred to note books, which still are in his possession.
It was his custom, after the labour of school inspection was over, to ask the clergy with whom he was staying to accompany him to the most aged inhabitants of their parish. This they willingly did, and often in the dark winter evenings, lantern in hand, they sallied forth on their journey, and in this way a rich deposit of traditions and superstitions was struck and rescued from oblivion. Not a few of the clergy were themselves in full possession of all the quaint sayings and Folk-lore of their parishes, and they were not loath to transfer them to the writer's keeping. In the course of this work, the writer gives the names of the many aged friends who supplied him with information, and also the names of the clergy who so willingly helped him in his investigations. But so interesting was the matter obtained from several of his clerical friends, that he thinks he ought in justice to acknowledge their services in this preface. First and foremost comes up to his mind, the Rev. R. Jones, formerly Rector of Llanycil, Bala, but now of Llysfaen, near Abergele. This gentleman's memory is stored with reminiscences of former days, and often and again his name occurs in these pages. The Rev. Canon Owen Jones, formerly Vicar of Pentrefoelas, but now of Bodelwyddan, near Rhyl, also supplied much interesting information of the people's doings in former days, and I may state that this gentleman is also acquainted with Welsh literature to an extent seldom to be met with in the person of an isolated Welsh parson far removed from books and libraries. To him I am indebted for the perusal of many MSS. To the Rev. David James, formerly Rector of Garthbeibio, now of Pennant, and to his predecessor the Rev. W. E. Jones, Bylchau; the late Rev. Ellis Roberts (Elis Wyn o Wyrfai); the Rev. M. Hughes, Derwen; the Rev. W. J. Williams, Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, and in a great degree to his aged friend, the Rev. E. Evans, Llanfihangel, near Llanfyllin, whose conversation in and love of Welsh literature of all kinds, including old Welsh Almanacks, was almost without limit, and whose knowledge and thorough sympathy with his countrymen made his company most enjoyable. To him and to all these gentlemen above named, and to others, whose names appear in the body of this work, the writer is greatly indebted, and he tenders his best thanks to them all.
The many books from which quotations are made are all mentioned in connection with the information extracted from their pages.
Welsh Folk-lore is almost inexhaustible, and in these pages the writer treats of only one branch of popular superstitions. Ancient customs are herein only incidentally referred to, but they are very interesting, and worthy of a full description. Superstitions associated with particular days and seasons are also omitted. Weather signs are passed over, Holy wells around which cluster superstitions of bye-gone days form no part of this essay. But on all these, and other branches of Folk-lore, the author has collected much information from the aged Welsh peasant, and possibly some day in the uncertain future he may publish a continuation of the present volume.
He has already all but finished a volume on the Holy Wells of North Wales, and this he hopes to publish at no very distance period.
The author has endeavoured in all instances to give the names of his informants, but often and again, when pencil and paper were produced, he was requested not to mention in print the name of the person who was speaking to him. This request was made, not because the information was incorrect, but from false delicacy; still, in every instance, the writer respected this request. He, however, wishes to state emphatically that he has authority for every single bit of Folk-lore recorded. Very often his work was merely that of a translator, for most of his information, derived from the people, was spoken in Welsh, but he has given in every instance a literal rendering of the narrative, just as he heard it, without embellishments or additions of any kind whatsoever.
Llanyblodwel Vicarage, St. Mark's Day, 1896.
Aberhafesp, Spirit in Church of 169 Angelystor, announcing deaths 170 AEschylus' Cave-dwellers 113 Annwn, Gwragedd 3 134 Annwn, Plant 3 Antagonism between Pagan faiths 160 161 181 Animal Folk-Lore 308-352 Ass 337 Bee 337-340 Birds Singing 310 Flocking 310 Blind worm 352 Cat 321 323 340-342 Cow 129-137 342 Crow 304 314-315 Crane 321 Crickets 342-3 Cuckoo 317-321 Cock 310 321 Duck 321 Eagle 321 Flying Serpent 349 Frog 281 Fox 193 Goose 304 305 312 Goatsucker 322 Haddock 345 Hare 343-345 Heron 321 323 Hen 305 322 Hedgehog 345 Horse 346 Jackdaw 324 Ladybird 347 Magpie 324-327 Mice 348 Mole 348 Owl 304 327 Peacock 327 Pigeon 327 Pigs 348 Raven 304 328 Rook, Crow 304 314 316 316 Robin Redbreast 329 332 Seagull 329 330 Sawyer, Tit 331 Snakes 348-350 Slowworm 352 Sheep 351 Swallow 330 331 Swan 331 Swift 331 Spider 351 Squirrel 351 Tit-Major 331 Woodpigeon 333-336 Woodpecker 336 Wren 331-333 Yellowhammer 337
All Hallow Eve, Nos Glan Gaua 95 Spirits abroad 138-9 168-70 Divination on 280-1 286 288-9 Apparitions 181-209 293-297 Applepip divination 290 Arawn 128 Avanc 133
"Bardd Cwsg, Y" 144 284 285 Baring-Gould—Spirit leaving body 293 Piper of Hamelin 307 Beaumaris spirit tale 293 Bell, Hand, used at funerals 171-2 Corpse 172 Passing 171-2 Veneration for 172 Devil afraid of 171 Ringing at storms 173 Spirits flee before sound of 173 Bella Fawr, a witch 223 Betty'r Bont, a witch 236 240 Belief in witchcraft 217 Bennion, Doctor 216 Bees, Buying a hive of 337 Swarming 338 Strange swarm 339 Deserting hive 339 Hive in roof of house 339 Informing bees of a death 339 Putting bees into mourning 340 Stolen 340 Bendith y Mamau 2 Bible, a talisman 151 245 248 Bible and key divination 288 Bingley's North Wales—Knockers 121 Birds singing in the night 305 before February 310 Flocking in early Autumn 310 Feathers of 310 Blindworm 352 Boy taken to Fairyland 48 Brenhin Llwyd 142 Bryn Eglwys Man and Fairies 36 "British Goblins," Fairy dances 94 97 "Brython, Y," Fairies' revels 95 Burne's, Miss, Legend of White Cow 131-2 Burns, Old Nick in Kirk 168 Nut divination 289
Canwyll Corph, see Corpse Candle, Canoe in Llyn Llydaw 28 Card-playing 147-151 Cat, Fable of 323 Black, unlucky, &c 321 341 indicates weather 340 Black, drives fevers away 341 May, brings snakes to house 341 Witches taking form of 224 Caesar's reference to Celtic Superstitions 277 310 343 Careg-yr-Yspryd 212 Careg Gwr Drwg 190 Caellwyngrydd Spirit 214 Cave-dwellers 112-13 Ceffyl y Dwfr, the Water Horse 138-141 Cetyn y Tylwyth Teg 109 Ceridwen 234 Cerrig-y-drudion Spirit Tale 294 Cerrig-y-drudion, Legend of Church 132 Ceubren yr Ellyll, Legend of 191 Changelings, Fairy 51-63 Churches built on Pagan sites 160 Mysterious removal of 174-181 Chaucer on Fairies 89 Charms 238-9 258 262 276 Charm for Shingles 262-3 Toothache 264-266 Whooping Cough 266 Fits 266 Fighting Cocks 267 312 Asthma 267 Warts 267-8 Stye 268 Quinsy 268 Wild wart 268 Rheumatism 269 Ringworm 269 Cattle 269-272 Stopping bleeding 272 Charm with Snake's skin 273 Rosemary 273-4 Charm for making Servants reliable 272 Sweethearts 281 Charm of Conjurors 239-254 Charm for Clefyd y Galon, or Heart Disease 274 Clefyd yr Ede Wlan, or Yarn Sickness 275 Christmas Eve, free from Spirits 192 Churns witched 238 Clefyd y Galon 274 Clefyd yr Ede Wlan 275 Crickets in House lucky 342 Deserting house unlucky 343 Crane, see Heron Coblynau, Knockers 112-121 Coel Ede Wlan, or Yarn Test 283 Corpse Candle 298-300 Cock, unlawful to eat 343 Devil in form of 310 Offering of 311 Crowing of, at doors 311 Crowing at night 298 Crowing drives Spirits away 311 Charm for Fighting 312 White, unlucky 321 341 Crow 304 314 315 Conjurors 251-262 Charms of 239 254 258-260 Tricks of 255 257 260-1 Cow, Dun 129 131 137 Legend of White 131 Freckled 130-1 Fairy Stray 134-137 Witched 243 Cyhyraeth, Death Sound 302 Cynon's Ghost 212 Cuckoo Superstitions 317-321 Cwn Annwn 125-129
Dancing with Fairies 36-39 Davydd ab Gwilym and the Fairies 3 24 Death Portents 297-307 Deryn Corph, Corpse Bird 297 Devil 143-192 Devil's Tree 185 Bridge 190 Kitchen 190 Cave 191 Door 170 Destruction of Foxes 193 Dick Spot 212 255 256 Dick the Fiddler 84 Divination 279-290 Candle and Pin 287 Coel Ede Wlan, or Yarn Test 283 Frog stuck with Pins 281 Grass 288 Hemp Seed 286 Holly Tree 288 Key and Bible 288 Lovers' 289-90 Nut 289 Pullet's Egg 286 Snail 280 St. John's Wort 280 Troi Crysau, Clothes Drying 285 Twca, or Knife 284 Washing at Brook 285 Water in Basin 287 Dogs, Hell 125 127 Sky 125 127 Fairy 49 81 83 125 Dwarfs of Cae Caled 97 Droich 113-121 Dyn Hysbys 209 259 Drychiolaeth, Spectre 301 302
Eagle, Superstitions about 263-4 321 Erdion Banawg 131 Ellyll 3 4 111 191 Dan 112 Ellyllon, Menyg 111 Bwyd 111 Elf Dancers of Cae Caled 98-100 Stones 110 Shots 110-11 Elidorus, the Fairies and 32-35 Epiphany 285-6 Evil Eye 219
Fable of Heron, Cat, and Bramble 323 Magpie and Woodpigeon 335 Robin Redbreast 329 Sea Gull 329 Famous Witches— Betty'r Bont 236 240 Bella Fawr 223 Moll White 229 232 Pedws Ffoulk 242 Fabulous Animals, see Mythic Beings Fairies, Origin of 1 2 35 36 Chaucer's reference to 89 Shakespeare's reference to 72 96 97 Milton's reference to 86 Fairies inveigling Men 36-44 Working for Men 85-87 Carrying Men in the air 100-102 in Markets and Fairs 108 Binding Men 112 Children offered to Satan by 63 Love of Truth 35 Grateful 72 Fairy Animals 81-3 124-5 129-132 Dances 87-97 Tricks 100-103 Knockers 112-124 Ladies marrying Men 5-24 Changelings 51-63 Implements 109-112 Men captured 104-107 Mothers and Human Midwives 63-67 Money 82-84 Riches and Gifts 72-81 Visits to human abodes 68-71 Families descended from 6 28 Fetch 294 Fire God 152 Fish, Satan in 153 Flying Serpent 349 Foxglove 111 Frog Divination 281 Fuwch Frech 129-132 Gyfeiliorn 129 134-137 Ffynnon y Fuwch Frech 130 Elian 216 Oer 223
Gay, Nut divination 289 Giraldus Cambrensis 27 32 182 reference to Witches 233-236 Ghost, see Spirit Ghost in Cerrigydrudion Church 132 Aberhafesp Church 169 Powis Castle 204 revealing Treasures 202 at Gloddaeth 193-4 Nannau Park 191 Tymawr 195 Frith Farm 196 Pontyglyn 197 Ystrad Fawr 197-8 Ty Felin 198 Llandegla 199 Llanidloes 199-200 Llawryglyn 348 Clwchdyrnog 202 Llanwddyn 212 David Salisbury's 201 Cynon's 212 Squire Griffiths' 200 Sir John Wynne's 211 Raising 215 Visiting the Earth 192 Glain Nadroedd 350 Goat-sucker 322 Goblins, different kinds of 5 97 Golden Chair 77 Goose flying over House 304 laying small egg 305 egg laying 312 Gossamer 112 Gwiber, Flying Serpent 349 Gwion Bach 234 Gwragedd Annwn 3 Gwrach y Rhibyn 142 Gwr Cyfarwydd 38 55 257 259 Gwyddelod 80 Gwyll 4 Gwylliaid Cochion 4 5 6 25 26
Haddock, why so marked 345 Hag, Mist 142 Hare 227-230 236 343-345 crossing the road 230 Caesar's reference to 343 Giraldus Cambrensis on hags changing themselves to 233 hares Man changed to a 236 Witch hunted in form of 230-233 Witch shot in the form of 228 S. Monacella, the patroness of hares 345 Harper and Fairies 91 Hedgehog sucking Cows 345 fee for destroying the 346 Hen Chrwchwd, a humpbacked fiend 142 Hen laying two eggs 305 March Chickens 322 Sitting 322 Hindu Fairy Tale 6-8 Heron, sign of weather changing 321 323 Fable of 323-4 Horse, Water, a mythic animal 138 White, lucky 346 Headless 155 Shoe Charm 246 Huw Llwyd, Cynfael, and Witches 224-227 Huw Llwyd and Magical Books 252 Hu Gadarn and the Avanc 133
Ignis Fatuus 112
Jackdaw considered sacred 324 Jack Ffynnon Elian 216
Knockers, or Coblynau 4 97 in Mines 112-121
Ladybird, Weather Sign 347 Lady Jeffrey's Spirit 199 Lake Dwellers 27 28 Llanbrynmair Conjuror 258-9 Llangerniew Spirit 170 Llandegla Spirit 199 Llanddona Witches 222-3 Laying Spirits 209-215 Laws against Witches 218 Llyn y Ddau Ychain Banawg 132 Legends— Careg Gwr Drwg 190 Ceubren yr Ellyll 191 Fairy Changelings 51-63 Dafydd Hiraddug 158-160 Devil's Bridge 190 Freckled Cow, or Y Fuwch Frech 130 Fairy Marriages 5-24 Fairies inveigling Mortals 32-50 Fairies and Midwives 63-67 Flying Snake 349 Removal of Churches 174-181 Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr 10 Ghosts, see Ghost Spirits, see Spirit Satan or Devil, see Satan Lledrith, or Spectre 303 Llysiau Ifan, St. John's Wort 280 Llyn y Geulan Goch Spirit 162-166 Llyn Llion 133
Magpie teaching Wood Pigeon to make Nest 335 Superstitions 324-327 Magician's Glass 255 Marriages, Fairy 44-48 Man dancing with Fairies 90 91 witnessing a Fairy dance 90 93 taken away by Fairies 32 36 37 101-102 turned into a Hare 236 turned into a Horse 236 May-day Revels 95 Evil Spirits abroad 168 Mermaids 142 Monacella, S. 345 Moles, Weather Sign 318 Moll White, a Witch 229 232 Meddygon Myddvai, Physicians 6 23 24 Mythic Beings— Avanc 133 Ceffyl y Dwfr, Water Horse 138 Cwn Annwn, Dogs of the Abyss 125 Cwn Bendith y Mamau, Fairy Dogs 125 Cwn Wybir, Sky Dogs 125 127 Dragon, or Flying Serpent 349-50 Fairies, see Fairy Fuwch Frech, Fairy Cow 129-134 Fuwch Gyfeiliorn 134-137 Gwrach y Rhibyn, Mist Hag 142 Knockers, see above Mermaids and Mermen 142 Torrent Spectre 141 Ychain Banawg 130-133 Y Brenhin Llwyd, the Grey King 142 Mysterious removal of Churches— Llanllechid 174 Corwen 174 Capel Garmon 175 Llanfair D. C. 175 Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn 176 Wrexham 177 Llangar 179 Denbigh 180
Names given to the Devil 191-2 Nightmare 237 North door of Churches opened at Baptisms 171 North door of Churches opened for Satan to go out 170 North side of Churchyard unoccupied 171 Nos Glan Gaua 95 138-9 168-170 280 281 286 288-89
Ogof Cythreuliaid Devils' Cave 191 Ogwen Lake, Tale of Wraith 292 Old Humpbacked, Mythic Being 142 Omen, see Divination 279-290 Owl 304 327
Pan, prototype of Celtic Satan 146 Passing Bell 171-2 Peacock, Weather Sign 327 Pedwe Ffoulk, a Witch 242 Pellings, Fairy Origin 6 13 Pentrevoelas Legend 8 Physicians of Myddfai 6 23 24 Pig Superstitions 154 348 Pigeon Superstitions 327 Pins stuck in "Witch's Butter" 249 Places associated with Satan 190-1 Plant Annwn 3 4 Poocah, Pwka, Pwca 121-124 138-40
Raven 304 328 Rhamanta, see Divination, 279-290 on Hallow Eve 281 Rhaffau'r Tylwyth Teg, Gossamer 112 Rhys Gryg 24 Robin Redbreast 329 332-3 Rook, see Crow Rooks deserting Rookery 316 building new Rookery 316
Sabbath-breaking punished 152-157 Satan, see Apparitions and Devil afraid of Bell-sounds 171 appearing to Man carrying Bibles 183 appearing to a Minister 184 appearing to a Man 185 appearing to a Sunday-breaker 152-3 appearing to a Sunday traveller 153 appearing as a lovely Maid 186 appearing to a young Man 188 appearing to a Collier 189 appearing to a Tippler 156-7 carrying a Man away 187 in form of a Pig 166 in form of a Fish 153 disappearing as a ball or wheel of fire 148 150 and Churches 160-170 outwitted 157-160 playing Cards 147 148 149 snatching a Man up into the air 150 Sawyer Bird, Tit-Major 331 Seagull, a Weather Sign 329-30 Seventh Daughter 250 Son 266 Shakespeare's Witches 219 220 221 Sheep, Black 351 Satan cannot enter 351 Sir John Wynne 211 Slowworm 352 Snakes 348 Flying 349 Snake Rings 350 Spells, how to break 244-251 Spectral Funeral 301-2 Spirit, see Ghost Spirit laying 209-211 Spirits laid for a time 164 199 200 210 212 allowed to visit the earth 168 sent to the Red Sea 193 209 210 214 sent to Egypt 211 riding Horses 202 Spirit ejected from Cerrig-y-drudion Church 132 Llanfor Church 152-166 Llandysilio Church 166-7 Spirit in Llangerniew Church 170 Aberhafesp Church 169 Llandegla 199 Lady Jeffrey's 199-200 calling Doctor 294 St. John's Eve 52 95 168 280 St. David 299 307 Spiritualism 290-297 Spirit leaving body 291-293 Spider 351 Squirrel hunting 351-2 Swallow forsaking its nest 330 Breaking nest of 331 Swan, hatching eggs of 381 Swift, flying, Weather Sign 331 Swyno'r 'Ryri 254 262 263-4
Taboo Stories 6 8-24 Tegid 306 Tit-Major, Weather Sign 331 Tolaeth 303 Tobit, Spirit tale 182 210 Torrent Spectre 141 Transformation 227 234-237 Transmigration 276-279 Tylwyth Teg, see Fairies
Van Lake Fairy tale 16-24 Voice calling a Doctor 294
Water Horse 138-141 Water Worship 161 Welsh Airs 84 88 Aden Ddu'r Fran 84 Toriad y Dydd 88 Williams, Dr. Edward, and Fairies 97 Witches 216-251 Llanddona 222-3 transforming themselves into cats 224-226 transforming themselves into hares 227-235 hunted in form of hare 230-233 killed in form of hare 228 in churn in form of hare 229 cursing Horse 242 cursing Milk 238-9 cursing Pig 238 how tested 250-1 Spells, how broken 244-250 Punishment of 243 Laws against 218 Wife snatching 29 Woodpecker, Weather Sign 336 Woodpigeon 333-336 Wraith 292 294 308 Wren, unlucky to harm 331-2 Hunting the 332 Curse on breaker of nest 333 Wyn Melangell 345
Ystrad Legend 12 Yarn Sickness 275-6 Test 283-4 Yspryd Cynon 212 Ystrad Fawr 197-8
ORIGIN OF THE FAIRIES. (Y TYLWYTH TEG.)
The Fairy tales that abound in the Principality have much in common with like legends in other countries. This points to a common origin of all such tales. There is a real and unreal, a mythical and a material aspect to Fairy Folk-Lore. The prevalence, the obscurity, and the different versions of the same Fairy tale show that their origin dates from remote antiquity. The supernatural and the natural are strangely blended together in these legends, and this also points to their great age, and intimates that these wild and imaginative Fairy narratives had some historical foundation. If carefully sifted, these legends will yield a fruitful harvest of ancient thoughts and facts connected with the history of a people, which, as a race, is, perhaps, now extinct, but which has, to a certain extent, been merged into a stronger and more robust race, by whom they were conquered, and dispossessed of much of their land. The conquerors of the Fair Tribe have transmitted to us tales of their timid, unwarlike, but truthful predecessors of the soil, and these tales shew that for a time both races were co-inhabitants of the land, and to a certain extent, by stealth, intermarried.
Fairy tales, much alike in character, are to be heard in many countries, peopled by branches of the Aryan race, and consequently these stories in outline, were most probably in existence before the separation of the families belonging to that race. It is not improbable that the emigrants would carry with them, into all countries whithersoever they went, their ancestral legends, and they would find no difficulty in supplying these interesting stories with a home in their new country. If this supposition be correct, we must look for the origin of Fairy Mythology in the cradle of the Aryan people, and not in any part of the world inhabited by descendants of that great race.
But it is not improbable that incidents in the process of colonization would repeat themselves, or under special circumstances vary, and thus we should have similar and different versions of the same historical event in all countries once inhabited by a diminutive race, which was overcome by a more powerful people.
In Wales Fairy legends have such peculiarities that they seem to be historical fragments of by-gone days. And apparently they refer to a race which immediately preceded the Celt in the occupation of the country, and with which the Celt to a limited degree amalgamated.
NAMES GIVEN TO THE FAIRIES.
The Fairies have, in Wales, at least three common and distinctive names, as well as others that are not nowadays used.
The first and most general name given to the Fairies is "Y Tylwyth Teg," or, the Fair Tribe, an expressive and descriptive term. They are spoken of as a people, and not as myths or goblins, and they are said to be a fair or handsome race.
Another common name for the Fairies, is, "Bendith y Mamau," or, "The Mothers' Blessing." In Doctor Owen Pughe's Dictionary they are called "Bendith eu Mamau," or, "Their Mothers' Blessing." The first is the most common expression, at least in North Wales. It is a singularly strange expression, and difficult to explain. Perhaps it hints at a Fairy origin on the mother's side of certain fortunate people.
The third name given to Fairies is "Ellyll," an elf, a demon, a goblin. This name conveys these beings to the land of spirits, and makes them resemble the oriental Genii, and Shakespeare's sportive elves. It agrees, likewise, with the modern popular creed respecting goblins and their doings.
Davydd ab Gwilym, in a description of a mountain mist in which he was once enveloped, says:—
Yr ydoedd ym mhob gobant Ellyllon mingeimion gant.
There were in every hollow A hundred wrymouthed elves.
The Cambro-Briton, v. I., p. 348.
In Pembrokeshire the Fairies are called Dynon Buch Teg, or the Fair Small People.
Another name applied to the Fairies is Plant Annwfn, or Plant Annwn. This, however, is not an appellation in common use. The term is applied to the Fairies in the third paragraph of a Welsh prose poem called Bardd Cwsg, thus:—
Y bwriodd y Tylwyth Teg fi . . . oni bai fy nyfod i mewn pryd i'th achub o gigweiniau Plant Annwfn.
Where the Tylwyth Teg threw me . . . if I had not come in time to rescue thee from the clutches of Plant Annwfn.
Annwn, or Annwfn is defined in Canon Silvan Evans's Dictionary as an abyss, Hades, etc. Plant Annwn, therefore, means children of the lower regions. It is a name derived from the supposed place of abode—the bowels of the earth—of the Fairies. Gwragedd Annwn, dames of Elfin land, is a term applied to Fairy ladies.
Ellis Wynne, the author of Bardd Cwsg, was born in 1671, and the probability is that the words Plant Annwfn formed in his days part of the vocabulary of the people. He was born in Merionethshire.
Gwyll, according to Richards, and Dr. Owen Pughe, is a Fairy, a goblin, etc. The plural of Gwyll would be Gwylliaid, or Gwyllion, but this latter word Dr. Pughe defines as ghosts, hobgoblins, etc. Formerly, there was in Merionethshire a red haired family of robbers called Y Gwylliaid Cochion, or Red Fairies, of whom I shall speak hereafter.
Coblynau, or Knockers, have been described as a species of Fairies, whose abode was within the rocks, and whose province it was to indicate to the miners by the process of knocking, etc., the presence of rich lodes of lead or other metals in this or that direction of the mine.
That the words Tylwyth Teg and Ellyll are convertible terms appears from the following stanza, which is taken from the Cambrian Magazine, vol. ii, p. 58.
Pan dramwych ffridd yr Ywen, Lle mae Tylwyth Teg yn rhodien, Dos ymlaen, a phaid a sefyll, Gwilia'th droed—rhag dawnsva'r Ellyll.
When the forest of the Yew, Where Fairies haunt, thou passest through, Tarry not, thy footsteps guard From the Goblins' dancing sward.
Although the poet mentions the Tylwyth Teg and Ellyll as identical, he might have done so for rhythmical reasons. Undoubtedly, in the first instance a distinction would be drawn between these two words, which originally were intended perhaps to describe two different kinds of beings, but in the course of time the words became interchangeable, and thus their distinctive character was lost. In English the words Fairies and elves are used without any distinction. It would appear from Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. II., p. 478., that, according to Gervase of Tilbury, there were two kinds of Goblins in England, called Portuni and Grant. This division suggests a difference between the Tylwyth Teg and the Ellyll. The Portuni, we are told, were very small of stature and old in appearance, "statura pusilli, dimidium pollicis non habentes," but then they were "senili vultu, facie corrugata." The wrinkled face and aged countenance of the Portuni remind us of nursery Fairy tales in which the wee ancient female Fairy figures. The pranks of the Portuni were similar to those of Shakespeare's Puck. The species Grant is not described, and consequently it cannot be ascertained how far they resembled any of the many kinds of Welsh Fairies. Gervase, speaking of one of these species, says:—"If anything should be to be carried on in the house, or any kind of laborious work to be done, they join themselves to the work, and expedite it with more than human facility."
In Scotland there were at least two species of elves, the Brownies and the Fairies. The Brownies were so called from their tawny colour, and the Fairies from their fairness. The Portuni of Gervase appear to have corresponded in character to the Brownies, who were said to have employed themselves in the night in the discharge of laborious undertakings acceptable to the family to whose service they had devoted themselves. The Fairies proper of Scotland strongly resembled the Fairies of Wales.
The term Brownie, or swarthy elve, suggests a connection between them and the Gwylliaid Cochion, or Red Fairies of Wales.
FAIRY LADIES MARRYING MORTALS.
In the mythology of the Greeks, and other nations, gods and goddesses are spoken of as falling in love with human beings, and many an ancient genealogy began with a celestial ancestor. Much the same thing is said of the Fairies. Tradition speaks of them as being enamoured of the inhabitants of this earth, and content, for awhile, to be wedded to mortals. And there are families in Wales who are said to have Fairy blood coursing through their veins, but they are, or were, not so highly esteemed as were the offspring of the gods among the Greeks. The famous physicians of Myddfai, who owed their talent and supposed supernatural knowledge to their Fairy origin, are, however, an exception; for their renown, notwithstanding their parentage, was always great, and increased in greatness, as the rolling years removed them from their traditionary parent, the Fairy lady of the Van Pool.
The Pellings are said to have sprung from a Fairy Mother, and the author of Observations on the Snowdon Mountains states that the best blood in his veins is fairy blood. There are in some parts of Wales reputed descendants on the female side of the Gwylliaid Cochion race; and there are other families among us whom the aged of fifty years ago, with an ominous shake of the head, would say were of Fairy extraction. We are not, therefore, in Wales void of families of doubtful parentage or origin.
All the current tales of men marrying Fairy ladies belong to a class of stories called, technically, Taboo stories. In these tales the lady marries her lover conditionally, and when this condition is broken she deserts husband and children, and hies back to Fairy land.
This kind of tale is current among many people. Max Muller in Chips from a German Workshop, vol. ii, pp. 104-6, records one of these ancient stories, which is found in the Brahmana of the Yagur-veda. Omitting a few particulars, the story is as follows:—
"Urvasi, a kind of Fairy, fell in love with Pururavas, the son of Ida, and when she met him she said, 'Embrace me three times a day, but never against my will, and let me never see you without your royal garments, for this is the manner of women.' In this manner she lived with him a long time, and she was with child. Then her former friends, the Gandharvas, said: 'This Urvasi has now dwelt a long time among mortals; let us see that she come back.' Now, there was a ewe, with two lambs, tied to the couch of Urvasi and Pururavas, and the Gandharvas stole one of them. Urvasi said: 'They take away my darling, as if I had lived in a land where there is no hero and no man.' They stole the second, and she upbraided her husband again. Then Pururavas looked and said: 'How can that be a land without heroes and men where I am?' And naked, he sprang up; he thought it too long to put on his dress. Then the Gandharvas sent a flash of lightning, and Urvasi saw her husband naked as by daylight. Then she vanished; 'I come back,' she said, and went.
Pururavas bewailed his love in bitter grief. But whilst walking along the border of a lake full of lotus flowers the Fairies were playing there in the water, in the shape of birds, and Urvasi discovered him and said:—
'That is the man with whom I dwelt so long.' Then her friends said: 'Let us appear to him.' She agreed, and they appeared before him. Then the king recognised her, and said:—
'Lo! my wife, stay, thou cruel in mind! Let us now exchange some words! Our secrets, if they are not told now, will not bring us back on any later day.'
She replied: 'What shall I do with thy speech? I am gone like the first of the dawns. Pururavas, go home again, I am hard to be caught, like the wind.'"
The Fairy wife by and by relents, and her mortal lover became, by a certain sacrifice, one of the Gandharvas.
This ancient Hindu Fairy tale resembles in many particulars similar tales found in Celtic Folk-Lore, and possibly, the original story, in its main features, existed before the Aryan family had separated. The very words, "I am hard to be caught," appear in one of the Welsh legends, which shall be hereafter given:—
Nid hawdd fy nala, I am hard to be caught.
And the scene is similar; in both cases the Fairy ladies are discovered in a lake. The immortal weds the mortal, conditionally, and for awhile the union seems to be a happy one. But, unwittingly, when engaged in an undertaking suggested by, or in agreement with the wife's wishes, the prohibited thing is done, and the lady vanishes away.
Such are the chief features of these mythical marriages. I will now record like tales that have found a home in several parts of Wales.
WELSH LEGENDS OF FAIRY LADIES MARRYING MEN.
1. The Pentrevoelas Legend.
I am indebted to the Rev. Owen Jones, Vicar of Pentrevoelas, a mountain parish in West Denbighshire, for the following tale, which was written in Welsh by a native of those parts, and appeared in competition for a prize on the Folk-Lore of that parish.
The son of Hafodgarreg was shepherding his father's flock on the hills, and whilst thus engaged, he, one misty morning, came suddenly upon a lovely girl, seated on the sheltered side of a peat-stack. The maiden appeared to be in great distress, and she was crying bitterly. The young man went up to her, and spoke kindly to her, and his attention and sympathy were not without effect on the comely stranger. So beautiful was the young woman, that from expressions of sympathy the smitten youth proceeded to words of love, and his advances were not repelled. But whilst the lovers were holding sweet conversation, there appeared on the scene a venerable and aged man, who, addressing the female as her father, bade her follow him. She immediately obeyed, and both departed leaving the young man alone. He lingered about the place until the evening, wishing and hoping that she might return, but she came not. Early the next day, he was at the spot where he first felt what love was. All day long he loitered about the place, vainly hoping that the beautiful girl would pay another visit to the mountain, but he was doomed to disappointment, and night again drove him homewards. Thus daily went he to the place where he had met his beloved, but she was not there, and, love-sick and lonely, he returned to Hafodgarreg. Such devotion deserved its reward. It would seem that the young lady loved the young man quite as much as he loved her. And in the land of allurement and illusion (yn nhir hud a lledrith) she planned a visit to the earth, and met her lover, but she was soon missed by her father, and he, suspecting her love for this young man, again came upon them, and found them conversing lovingly together. Much talk took place between the sire and his daughter, and the shepherd, waxing bold, begged and begged her father to give him his daughter in marriage. The sire, perceiving that the man was in earnest, turned to his daughter, and asked her whether it were her wish to marry a man of the earth? She said it was. Then the father told the shepherd he should have his daughter to wife, and that she should stay with him, until he should strike her with iron, and that, as a marriage portion, he would give her a bag filled with bright money. The young couple were duly married, and the promised dowry was received. For many years they lived lovingly and happily together, and children were born to them. One day this man and his wife went together to the hill to catch a couple of ponies, to carry them to the Festival of the Saint of Capel Garmon. The ponies were very wild, and could not be caught. The man, irritated, pursued the nimble creatures. His wife was by his side, and now he thought he had them in his power, but just at the moment he was about to grasp their manes, off they wildly galloped, and the man, in anger, finding that they had again eluded him, threw the bridle after them, and, sad to say, the bit struck the wife, and as this was of iron they both knew that their marriage contract was broken. Hardly had they had time to realise the dire accident, ere the aged father of the bride appeared, accompanied by a host of Fairies, and there and then departed with his daughter to the land whence she came, and that, too, without even allowing her to bid farewell to her children. The money, though, and the children were left behind, and these were the only memorials of the lovely wife and the kindest of mothers, that remained to remind the shepherd of the treasure he had lost in the person of his Fairy spouse.
Such is the Pentrevoelas Legend. The writer had evidently not seen the version of this story in the Cambro-Briton, nor had he read Williams's tale of a like occurrence, recorded in Observations on the Snowdon Mountains. The account, therefore, is all the more valuable, as being an independent production.
A fragmentary variant of the preceding legend was given me by Mr. Lloyd, late schoolmaster of Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, a native of South Wales, who heard the tale in the parish of Llanfihangel. Although but a fragment, it may not be altogether useless, and I will give it as I received it:—
Shon Rolant, Hafod y Dre, Pentrevoelas, when going home from Llanrwst market, fortunately caught a Fairy-maid, whom he took home with him. She was a most handsome woman, but rather short and slight in person. She was admired by everybody on account of her great beauty. Shon Rolant fell desperately in love with her, and would have married her, but this she would not allow. He, however, continued pressing her to become his wife, and, by and by, she consented to do so, provided he could find out her name. As Shon was again going home from the market about a month later, he heard some one saying, near the place where he had seized the Fairy-maid, "Where is little Penloi gone? Where is little Penloi gone?" Shon at once thought that some one was searching for the Fairy he had captured, and when he reached home, he addressed the Fairy by the name he had heard, and Penloi consented to become his wife. She, however, expressed displeasure at marrying a dead man, as the Fairies call us. She informed her lover that she was not to be touched with iron, or she would disappear at once. Shon took great care not to touch her with iron. However, one day, when he was on horseback talking to his beloved Penloi, who stood at the horse's head, the horse suddenly threw up its head, and the curb, which was of iron, came in contact with Penloi, who immediately vanished out of sight.
The next legend is taken from Williams's Observations on the Snowdon Mountains. His work was published in 1802. He, himself, was born in Anglesey, in 1738, and migrated to Carnarvonshire about the year 1760. It was in this latter county that he became a learned antiquary, and a careful recorder of events that came under his notice. His "Observations" throw considerable light upon the life, the customs, and the traditions of the inhabitants of the hill parts and secluded glens of Carnarvonshire. I have thought fit to make these few remarks about the author I quote from, so as to enable the reader to give to him that credence which he is entitled to. Williams entitles the following story, "A Fairy Tale," but I will for the sake of reference call it "The Ystrad Legend."
2. The Ystrad Legend.
"In a meadow belonging to Ystrad, bounded by the river which falls from Cwellyn Lake, they say the Fairies used to assemble, and dance on fair moon-light-nights. One evening a young man, who was the heir and occupier of this farm, hid himself in a thicket close to the spot where they used to gambol; presently they appeared, and when in their merry mood, out he bounced from his covert and seized one of their females; the rest of the company dispersed themselves, and disappeared in an instant. Disregarding her struggles and screams, he hauled her to his home, where he treated her so very kindly that she became content to live with him as his maid servant; but he could not prevail upon her to tell him her name. Some time after, happening again to see the Fairies upon the same spot, he heard one of them saying, 'The last time we met here, our sister Penelope was snatched away from us by one of the mortals!' Rejoiced at knowing the name of his Incognita, he returned home; and as she was very beautiful, and extremely active, he proposed to marry her, which she would not for a long time consent to; at last, however, she complied, but on this condition, 'That if ever he should strike her with iron, she would leave him, and never return to him again.' They lived happily for many years together, and he had by her a son, and a daughter; and by her industry and prudent management as a house-wife he became one of the richest men in the country. He farmed, besides his own freehold, all the lands on the north side of Nant-y-Bettws to the top of Snowdon, and all Cwmbrwynog in Llanberis; an extent of about five thousand acres or upwards.
Unfortunately, one day Penelope followed her husband into the field to catch a horse; and he, being in a rage at the animal as he ran away from him, threw at him the bridle that was in his hand, which unluckily fell on poor Penelope. She disappeared in an instant, and he never saw her afterwards, but heard her voice in the window of his room one night after, requesting him to take care of the children, in these words:—
Rhag bod anwyd ar fy mab, Yn rhodd rhowch arno gob ei dad, Rhag bod anwyd ar liw'r cann, Rhoddwch arni bais ei mam.
Oh! lest my son should suffer cold, Him in his father's coat infold, Lest cold should seize my darling fair, For her, her mother's robe prepare.
These children and their descendants, they say, were called Pellings; a word corrupted from their mother's name, Penelope."
Williams proceeds thus with reference to the descendants of this union:—
"The late Thomas Rowlands, Esq., of Caerau, in Anglesey, the father of the late Lady Bulkeley, was a descendant of this lady, if it be true that the name Pellings came from her; and there are still living several opulent and respectable people who are known to have sprung from the Pellings. The best blood in my own veins is this Fairy's."
This tale was chronicled in the last century, but it is not known whether every particular incident connected therewith was recorded by Williams. Glasynys, the Rev. Owen Wynne Jones, a clergyman, relates a tale in the Brython, which he regards as the same tale as that given by Williams, and he says that he heard it scores of times when he was a lad. Glasynys was born in the parish of Rhostryfan, Carnarvonshire, in 1827, and as his birth place is not far distant from the scene of this legend, he might have heard a different version of Williams's tale, and that too of equal value with Williams's. Possibly, there were not more than from forty to fifty years between the time when the older writer heard the tale and the time when it was heard by the younger man. An octogenarian, or even a younger person, could have conversed with both Williams and Glasynys. Glasynys's tale appears in Professor Rhys's Welsh Fairy Tales, Cymmrodor, vol. iv., p. 188. It originally appeared in the Brython for 1863, p. 193. It is as follows:—
"One fine sunny morning, as the young heir of Ystrad was busied with his sheep on the side of Moel Eilio, he met a very pretty girl, and when he got home he told the folks there of it. A few days afterwards he met her again, and this happened several times, when he mentioned it to his father, who advised him to seize her when he next met her. The next time he met her he proceeded to do so, but before he could take her away, a little fat old man came to them and begged him to give her back to him, to which the youth would not listen. The little man uttered terrible threats, but he would not yield, so an agreement was made between them that he was to have her to wife until he touched her skin with iron, and great was the joy both of the son and his parents in consequence. They lived together for many years, but once on a time, on the evening of Bettws Fair, the wife's horse got restive, and somehow, as the husband was attending to the horse, the stirrups touched the skin of her bare leg, and that very night she was taken away from him. She had three or four children, and more than one of their descendants, as Glasynys maintains, were known to him at the time he wrote in 1863."
3. The Llanfrothen Legend.
I am indebted to the Rev. R. Jones, Rector of Llanycil, Bala, for the following legend. I may state that Mr. Jones is a native of Llanfrothen, Merionethshire, a parish in close proximity to the scene of the story. Mr. Jones's informant was his mother, a lady whose mind was well stored with tales of by-gone times, and my friend and informant inherits his mother's retentive memory, as well as her love of ancient lore.
A certain man fell in love with a beautiful Fairy lady, and he wished to marry her. She consented to do so, but warned him that if he ever touched her with iron she would leave him immediately. This stipulation weighed but lightly on the lover. They were married, and for many years they lived most happily together, and several children were born to them. A sad mishap, however, one day overtook them. They were together, crossing Traethmawr, Penrhyndeudraeth, on horseback, when the man's horse became restive, and jerked his head towards the woman, and the bit of the bridle touched the left arm of the Fairy wife. She at once told her husband that they must part for ever. He was greatly distressed, and implored her not to leave him. She said she could not stay. Then the man, appealing to a mother's love for her children, begged that she would for the sake of their offspring continue to dwell with him and them, and, said he, what will become of our children without their mother? Her answer was:—
Gadewch iddynt fod yn bennau cochion a thrwynau hirion.
Let them be redheaded and longnosed.
Having uttered these words, she disappeared and was never seen afterwards.
No Welsh Taboo story can be complete without the pretty tale of the Van Lake Legend, or, as it is called, "The Myddfai Legend." Because of its intrinsic beauty and worth, and for the sake of comparison with the preceding stories, I will relate this legend. There are several versions extant. Mr. Wirt Sikes, in his British Goblins, has one, the Cambro-Briton has one, but the best is that recorded by Professor Rhys, in the Cymmrodor, vol. iv., p. 163, in his Welsh Fairy Tales. There are other readings of the legend to be met with. I will first of all give an epitome of the Professor's version.
4. The Myddvai Legend.
A widow, who had an only son, was obliged, in consequence of the large flocks she possessed, to send, under the care of her son, a portion of her cattle to graze on the Black Mountain near a small lake called Llyn-y-Van-Bach.
One day the son perceived, to his great astonishment, a most beautiful creature with flowing hair sitting on the unruffled surface of the lake combing her tresses, the water serving as a mirror. Suddenly she beheld the young man standing on the brink of the lake with his eyes rivetted on her, and unconsciously offering to herself the provision of barley bread and cheese with which he had been provided when he left his home.
Bewildered by a feeling of love and admiration for the object before him, he continued to hold out his hand towards the lady, who imperceptibly glided near to him, but gently refused the offer of his provisions. He attempted to touch her, but she eluded his grasp, saying
Cras dy fara; Nid hawdd fy nala.
Hard baked is thy bread; It is not easy to catch me.
She immediately dived under the water and disappeared, leaving the love-stricken youth to return home a prey to disappointment and regret that he had been unable to make further acquaintance with the lovely maiden with whom he had desperately fallen in love.
On his return home he communicated to his mother the extraordinary vision. She advised him to take some unbaked dough the next time in his pocket, as there must have been some spell connected with the hard baked bread, or "Bara Cras," which prevented his catching the lady.
Next morning, before the sun was up, the young man was at the lake, not for the purpose of looking after the cattle, but that he might again witness the enchanting vision of the previous day. In vain did he glance over the surface of the lake; nothing met his view, save the ripples occasioned by a stiff breeze, and a dark cloud hung heavily on the summit of the Van.
Hours passed on, the wind was hushed, the overhanging clouds had vanished, when the youth was startled by seeing some of his mother's cattle on the precipitous side of the acclivity, nearly on the opposite side of the lake. As he was hastening away to rescue them from their perilous position, the object of his search again appeared to him, and seemed much more beautiful than when he first beheld her. His hand was again held out to her, full of unbaked bread, which he offered to her with an urgent proffer of his heart also, and vows of eternal attachment, all of which were refused by her, saying
Llaith dy fara! Ti ni fynna.
Unbaked is thy bread! I will not have thee.
But the smiles that played upon her features as the lady vanished beneath the waters forbade him to despair, and cheered him on his way home. His aged parent was acquainted with his ill success, and she suggested that his bread should the next time be but slightly baked, as most likely to please the mysterious being.
Impelled by love, the youth left his mother's home early next morning. He was soon near the margin of the lake impatiently awaiting the reappearance of the lady. The sheep and goats browsed on the precipitous sides of the Van, the cattle strayed amongst the rocks, rain and sunshine came and passed away, unheeded by the youth who was wrapped up in looking for the appearance of her who had stolen his heart. The sun was verging towards the west, and the young man casting a sad look over the waters ere departing homewards was astonished to see several cows walking along its surface, and, what was more pleasing to his sight, the maiden reappeared, even lovelier than ever. She approached the land and he rushed to meet her in the water. A smile encouraged him to seize her hand, and she accepted the moderately baked bread he offered her, and after some persuasion she consented to become his wife, on condition that they should live together until she received from him three blows without a cause,
Tri ergyd diachos,
Three causeless blows,
when, should he ever happen to strike her three such blows, she would leave him for ever. These conditions were readily and joyfully accepted.
Thus the Lady of the Lake became engaged to the young man, and having loosed her hand for a moment she darted away and dived into the lake. The grief of the lover at this disappearance of his affianced was such that he determined to cast himself headlong into its unfathomed depths, and thus end his life. As he was on the point of committing this rash act, there emerged out of the lake two most beautiful ladies, accompanied by a hoary-headed man of noble mien and extraordinary stature, but having otherwise all the force and strength of youth. This man addressed the youth, saying that, as he proposed to marry one of his daughters, he consented to the union, provided the young man could distinguish which of the two ladies before him was the object of his affections. This was no easy task, as the maidens were perfect counterparts of each other.
Whilst the young man narrowly scanned the two ladies and failed to perceive the least difference betwixt the two, one of them thrust her foot a slight degree forward. The motion, simple as it was, did not escape the observation of the youth, and he discovered a trifling variation in the mode in which their sandals were tied. This at once put an end to the dilemma, for he had on previous occasions noticed the peculiarity of her shoe-tie, and he boldly took hold of her hand.
"Thou hast chosen rightly," said the Father, "be to her a kind and faithful husband, and I will give her, as a dowry, as many sheep, cattle, goats, and horses, as she can count of each without heaving or drawing in her breath. But remember, that if you prove unkind to her at any time and strike her three times without a cause, she shall return to me, and shall bring all her stock with her."
Such was the marriage settlement, to which the young man gladly assented, and the bride was desired to count the number of sheep she was to have. She immediately adopted the mode of counting by fives, thus:—One, two, three, four, five,—one, two, three, four, five; as many times as possible in rapid succession, till her breath was exhausted. The same process of reckoning had to determine the number of goats, cattle, and horses, respectively; and in an instant the full number of each came out of the lake, when called upon by the Father.
The young couple were then married, and went to reside at a farm called Esgair Llaethdy, near Myddvai, where they lived in prosperity and happiness for several years, and became the parents of three beautiful sons.
Once upon a time there was a christening in the neighbourhood to which the parents were invited. When the day arrived the wife appeared reluctant to attend the christening, alleging that the distance was too great for her to walk. Her husband told her to fetch one of the horses from the field. "I will," said she, "if you will bring me my gloves which I left in our house." He went for the gloves, and finding she had not gone for the horse, he playfully slapped her shoulder with one of them, saying "dos, dos, go, go," when she reminded him of the terms on which she consented to marry him, and warned him to be more cautious in the future, as he had now given her one causeless blow.
On another occasion when they were together at a wedding and the assembled guests were greatly enjoying themselves the wife burst into tears and sobbed most piteously. Her husband touched her on the shoulder and inquired the cause of her weeping; she said, "Now people are entering into trouble, and your troubles are likely to commence, as you have the second time stricken me without a cause."
Years passed on, and their children had grown up, and were particularly clever young men. Amidst so many worldly blessings the husband almost forgot that only one causeless blow would destroy his prosperity. Still he was watchful lest any trivial occurrence should take place which his wife must regard as a breach of their marriage contract. She told him that her affection for him was unabated, and warned him to be careful lest through inadvertence he might give the last and only blow which, by an unalterable destiny, over which she had no control, would separate them for ever.
One day it happened that they went to a funeral together, where, in the midst of mourning and grief at the house of the deceased, she appeared in the gayest of spirits, and indulged in inconsiderate fits of laughter, which so shocked her husband that he touched her, saying—"Hush! hush! don't laugh." She said that she laughed because people when they die go out of trouble, and rising up, she went out of the house, saying, "The last blow has been struck, our marriage contract is broken, and at an end. Farewell!" Then she started off towards Esgair Llaethdy, where she called her cattle and other stock together, each by name, not forgetting, the "little black calf" which had been slaughtered and was suspended on the hook, and away went the calf and all the stock, with the Lady across Myddvai Mountain, and disappeared beneath the waters of the lake whence the Lady had come. The four oxen that were ploughing departed, drawing after them the plough, which made a furrow in the ground, and which remains as a testimony of the truth of this story.
She is said to have appeared to her sons, and accosting Rhiwallon, her firstborn, to have informed him that he was to be a benefactor to mankind, through healing all manner of their diseases, and she furnished him with prescriptions and instructions for the preservation of health. Then, promising to meet him when her counsel was most needed, she vanished. On several other occasions she met her sons, and pointed out to them plants and herbs, and revealed to them their medicinal qualities or virtues.
So ends the Myddvai Legend.
A variant of this tale appears in the form of a letter in the Cambro-Briton, vol. ii, pp. 313-315. The editor prefaces the legend with the remark that the tale "acquires an additional interest from its resemblance in one particular to a similar tradition current in Scotland, wherein certain beasts, brought from a lake, as in this tale, play much the same part as is here described." The volume of the Cambro-Briton now referred to was published in 1821 and apparently the writer, who calls himself Siencyn ab Tydvil, communicates an unwritten tradition afloat in Carmarthenshire, for he does not tell us whence he obtained the story. As the tale differs in some particulars from that already given, I will transcribe it.
5. The Cambro-Briton version of the Myddvai Legend.
"A man, who lived in the farm-house called Esgair-llaethdy, in the parish of Myddvai, in Carmarthenshire, having bought some lambs in a neighbouring fair, led them to graze near Llyn y Van Vach, on the Black Mountains. Whenever he visited the lambs, three most beautiful female figures presented themselves to him from the lake, and often made excursions on the boundaries of it. For some time he pursued and endeavoured to catch them, but always failed; for the enchanting nymphs ran before him, and, when they had reached the lake, they tauntingly exclaimed,
Cras dy fara, Anhawdd ein dala,
which, with a little circumlocution, means, 'For thee, who eatest baked bread, it is difficult to catch us.'
One day some moist bread from the lake came to shore. The farmer devoured it with great avidity, and on the following day he was successful in his pursuit and caught the fair damsels. After a little conversation with them, he commanded courage sufficient to make proposals of marriage to one of them. She consented to accept them on the condition that he would distinguish her from her two sisters on the following day. This was a new, and a very great difficulty to the young farmer, for the fair nymphs were so similar in form and features, that he could scarcely perceive any difference between them. He observed, however, a trifling singularity in the strapping of her sandal, by which he recognized her the following day. Some, indeed, who relate this legend, say that this Lady of the Lake hinted in a private conversation with her swain that upon the day of trial she would place herself between her two sisters, and that she would turn her right foot a little to the right, and that by this means he distinguished her from her sisters. Whatever were the means, the end was secured; he selected her, and she immediately left the lake and accompanied him to his farm. Before she quitted, she summoned to attend her from the lake seven cows, two oxen, and one bull.
This lady engaged to live with him until such time as he would strike her three times without cause. For some years they lived together in comfort, and she bore him three sons, who were the celebrated Meddygon Myddvai.
One day, when preparing for a fair in the neighbourhood, he desired her to go to the field for his horse. She said she would; but being rather dilatory, he said to her humorously, 'dos, dos, dos,' i.e., 'go, go, go,' and he slightly touched her arm three times with his glove.
As she now deemed the terms of her marriage broken, she immediately departed, and summoned with her her seven cows, her two oxen, and the bull. The oxen were at that very time ploughing in the field, but they immediately obeyed her call, and took the plough with them. The furrow from the field in which they were ploughing, to the margin of the lake, is to be seen in several parts of that country to the present day.
After her departure, she once met her two sons in a Cwm, now called Cwm Meddygon (Physicians' Combe), and delivered to each of them a bag containing some articles which are unknown, but which are supposed to have been some discoveries in medicine.
The Meddygon Myddvai were Rhiwallon and his sons, Cadwgan, Gruffydd, and Einion. They were the chief physicians of their age, and they wrote about A.D. 1230. A copy of their works is in the Welsh School Library, in Gray's Inn Lane."
Such are the Welsh Taboo tales. I will now make a few remarks upon them.
The age of these legends is worthy of consideration. The legend of Meddygon Myddvai dates from about the thirteenth century. Rhiwallon and his sons, we are told by the writer in the Cambro-Briton, wrote about 1230 A.D., but the editor of that publication speaks of a manuscript written by these physicians about the year 1300. Modern experts think that their treatise on medicine in the Red Book of Hergest belongs to the end of the fourteenth century, about 1380 to 1400.
Dafydd ab Gwilym, who is said to have flourished in the fourteenth century, says, in one of his poems, as given in the Cambro-Briton, vol. ii., p. 313, alluding to these physicians:—
"Meddyg, nis gwnai modd y gwnaeth Myddfai, o chai ddyn meddfaeth."
"A Physician he would not make As Myddvai made, if he had a mead fostered man."
It would appear, therefore, that these celebrated physicians lived somewhere about the thirteenth century. They are described as Physicians of Rhys Gryg, a prince of South Wales, who lived in the early part of the thirteenth century. Their supposed supernatural origin dates therefore from the thirteenth, or at the latest, the fourteenth century.
I have mentioned Y Gwylliaid Cochion, or, as they are generally styled, Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy, the Red Fairies of Mawddwy, as being of Fairy origin. The Llanfrothen Legend seems to account for a race of men in Wales differing from their neighbours in certain features. The offspring of the Fairy union were, according to the Fairy mother's prediction in that legend, to have red hair and prominent noses. That a race of men having these characteristics did exist in Wales is undoubted. They were a strong tribe, the men were tall and athletic, and lived by plunder. They had their head quarters at Dinas Mawddwy, Merionethshire, and taxed their neighbours in open day, driving away sheep and cattle to their dens. So unbearable did their depredations become that John Wynn ap Meredydd of Gwydir and Lewis Owen, or as he is called Baron Owen, raised a body of stout men to overcome them, and on Christmas Eve, 1554, succeeded in capturing a large number of the offenders, and, there and then, some hundred or so of the robbers were hung. Tradition says that a mother begged hard for the life of a young son, who was to be destroyed, but Baron Owen would not relent. On perceiving that her request was unheeded, baring her breast she said:—
Y bronau melynion hyn a fagasant y rhai a ddialant waed fy mab, ac a olchant eu dwylaw yn ngwaed calon llofrudd eu brawd.
These yellow breasts have nursed those who will revenge my son's blood, and will wash their hands in the heart's blood of the murderer of their brother.
According to Pennant this threat was carried out by the murder of Baron Owen in 1555, when he was passing through the thick woods of Mawddwy on his way to Montgomeryshire Assizes, at a place called to this day Llidiart y Barwn, the Baron's Gate, from the deed. Tradition further tells us that the murderers had gone a distance off before they remembered their mother's threat, and returning thrust their swords into the Baron's breast, and washed their hands in his heart's blood. This act was followed by vigorous action, and the banditti were extirpated, the females only remaining, and the descendants of these women are occasionally still to be met with in Montgomeryshire and Merionethshire.
For the preceding information the writer is indebted to Yr Hynafion Cymreig, pp. 91-94, Archaeologia Cambrensis, for 1854, pp. 119-20, Pennant, vol. ii, pp. 225-27, ed. Carnarvon, and the tradition was told him by the Revd. D. James, Vicar of Garthbeibio, who likewise pointed out to him the very spot where the Baron was murdered.
But now, who were these Gwylliaid? According to the hint conveyed by their name they were of Fairy parentage, an idea which a writer in the Archaeologia Cambrensis, vol. v., 1854, p. 119, intended, perhaps, to throw out. But according to Brut y Tywysogion, Myf. Arch., p. 706, A.D. 1114, Denbigh edition, the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy began in the time of Cadwgan ab Bleddyn ab Cynvyn.
From Williams's Eminent Welshmen, we gather that Prince Cadwgan died in 1110, A.D., and, according to the above-mentioned Brut, it was in his days that the Gwylliaid commenced their career, if not their existence.
Unfortunately for this beginning of the red-headed banditti of Mawddwy, Tacitus states in his Life of Agricola, ch. xi., that there were in Britain men with red hair who he surmises were of German extraction. We must, therefore, look for the commencement of a people of this description long before the twelfth century, and the Llanfrothen legend either dates from remote antiquity, or it was a tale that found in its wanderings a resting place in that locality in ages long past.
From a legend recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis, which shall by and by be given, it would seem that a priest named Elidorus lived among the Fairies in their home in the bowels of the earth, and this would be in the early part of the twelfth century. The question arises, is the priest's tale credible, or did he merely relate a story of himself which had been ascribed to some one else in the traditions of the people? If his tale is true, then, there lived even in that late period a remnant of the aborigines of the country, who had their homes in caves. The Myddvai Legend in part corroborates this supposition, for that story apparently belongs to the thirteenth century.
It is difficult to fix the date of the other legends here given, for they are dressed in modern garbs, with, however, trappings of remote times. Probably all these tales have reached, through oral tradition, historic times, but in reality they belong to that far-off distant period, when the prehistoric inhabitants of this island dwelt in Lake-habitations, or in caves. And the marriage of Fairy ladies, with men of a different race, intimates that the more ancient people were not extirpated, but were amalgamated with their conquerors.
Many Fairy tales in Wales are associated with lakes. Fairy ladies emerge from lakes and disappear into lakes. In the oriental legend Pururavas came upon his absconding wife in a lake. In many Fairy stories lakes seem to be the entrance to the abodes of the Fairies. Evidently, therefore, those people were lake-dwellers. In the lakes of Switzerland and other countries have been discovered vestiges of Lake-villages belonging to the Stone Age, and even to the Bronze Age. Perhaps those that belong to the Stone Age are the most ancient kind of human abodes still traceable in the world. In Ireland and Scotland these kinds of dwellings have been found. I am not in a position to say that they have been discovered in Wales; but some thirty years ago Mr. Colliver, a Cornish gentleman, told the writer that whilst engaged in mining operations near Llyn Llydaw he had occasion to lower the water level of that lake, when he discovered embedded in the mud a canoe formed out of the trunk of a single tree. He saw another in the lake, but this he did not disturb, and there it is at the present day. The late Professor Peter of Bala believed that he found traces of Lake-dwellings in Bala Lake, and the people in those parts have a tradition that a town lies buried beneath its waters—a tradition, indeed, common to many lakes. It is not therefore unlikely that if the lakes of Wales are explored they will yield evidences of lake-dwellers, and, however unromantic it may appear, the Lady of the Van Lake was only possibly a maiden snatched from her watery home by a member of a stronger race.
In these legends the lady does not seem to evince much love for her husband after she has left him. Possibly he did not deserve much, but towards her children she shows deep affection. After the husband is deserted, the children are objects of her solicitation, and they are visited. The Lady of the Van Lake promised to meet her son whenever her counsel or aid was required. A like trait belongs to the Homeric goddesses. Thetis heard from her father's court far away beneath the ocean the terrible sounds of grief that burst from her son Achilles on hearing of the death of his dear friend Patroclus, and quickly ascended to earth all weeping to learn what ailed her son. These Fairy ladies also show a mother's love, immortal though they be.
The children of these marriages depart not with their mother, they remain with the father, but she takes with her her dowry. Thus there are many descendants of the Lady of the Van Lake still living in South Wales, and as Professor Rhys remarks—"This brings the legend of the Lady of the Van Lake into connection with a widely spread family;" and, it may be added, shows that the Celts on their advent to Wales found it inhabited by a race with whom they contracted marriages.
The manner in which the lady is seized when dancing in the Ystrad Legend calls to mind the strategy of the tribe of Benjamin to secure wives for themselves of the daughters of Shiloh according to the advice of the elders who commanded them,—"Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you everyone his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin," Judges, ch. xxi. The rape of the Sabine women, who were seized by the followers of Romulus on a day appointed for sacrifice and public games, also serves as a precedent for the action of those young Welshmen who captured Fairy wives whilst enjoying themselves in the dance.
It is a curious fact, that a singular testimony to wife snatching in ancient times is indicated by a custom once general, and still not obsolete in South Wales, of a feigned attempt on the part of the friends of the young woman about to get married to hinder her from carrying out her object. The Rev. Griffith Jones, Vicar of Mostyn, informed the writer that he had witnessed such a struggle. The wedding, he stated, took place at Tregaron, Cardiganshire. The friends of both the young people were on horseback, and according to custom they presented themselves at the house of the young woman, the one to escort her to the church, and the other to hinder her from going there. The friends of the young man were called "Gwyr shegouts." When the young lady was mounted, she was surrounded by the gwyr shegouts, and the cavalcade started. All went on peaceably until a lane was reached, down which the lady bolted, and here the struggle commenced, for her friends dashed between her and her husband's friends and endeavoured to force them back, and thus assist her to escape. The parties, Mr. Jones said, rode furiously and madly, and the struggle presented a cavalry charge, and it was not without much apparent danger that the opposition was overcome, and the lady ultimately forced to proceed to the church, where her future husband was anxiously awaiting her arrival. This strange custom of ancient times and obscure origin is suggestive of the way in which the stronger party procured wives in days of old.
Before the marriage of the Fairy lady to the mortal takes place, the father of the lady appears on the scene, sometimes as a supplicant, and at others as a consenting party to the inevitable marriage, but never is he depicted as resorting to force to rescue his daughter. This pusillanimity can only be reasonably accounted for by supposing that the "little man" was physically incapable of encountering and overcoming by brute force the aspirant to the hand of his daughter. From this conduct we must, I think, infer that the Fairy race were a weak people bodily, unaccustomed and disinclined to war. Their safety and existence consisted in living in the inaccessible parts of the mountains, or in lake dwellings far removed from the habitations of the stronger and better equipped race that had invaded their country. In this way they could, and very likely did, occupy parts of Wales contemporaneously with their conquerors, who, through marriage, became connected with the mild race, whom they found in possession of the land.
In the Welsh legends the maid consents to wed her capturer, and remain with him until he strikes her with iron. In every instance where this stipulation is made, it is ultimately broken, and the wife departs never to return. It has been thought that this implies that the people who immediately succeeded the Fair race belonged to the Iron Age, whilst the fair aborigines belonged to the Stone or Bronze age, and that they were overcome by the superior arms of their opponents, quite as much as by their greater bodily strength. Had the tabooed article been in every instance iron, the preceding supposition would have carried with it considerable weight, but as this is not the case, all that can be said positively is, that the conquerors of the Fair race were certainly acquainted with iron, and the blow with iron that brought about the catastrophe was undoubtedly inflicted by the mortal who had married the Fairy lady. Why iron should have been tabooed by the Fairy and her father, must remain an open question. But if we could, with reason, suppose, that that metal had brought about their subjugation, then in an age of primitive and imperfect knowledge, and consequent deep superstition, we might not be wrong in supposing that the subjugated race would look upon iron with superstitious dread, and ascribe to it supernatural power inimical to them as a race. They would under such feelings have nothing whatever to do with iron, just as the benighted African, witnessing for the first time the effects of a gun shot, would, with dread, avoid a gun. By this process of reasoning we arrive at the conclusion that the Fairy race belonged to a period anterior to the Iron Age.
With one remark, I will bring my reflections on the preceding legends to an end. Polygamy apparently was unknown in the distant times we are considering. But the marriage bond was not indissoluble, and the initiative in the separation was taken by the woman.
MEN CAPTURED BY FAIRIES.
In the preceding legends, we have accounts of men capturing female Fairies, and marrying them. It would be strange if the kidnapping were confined to one of the two races, but Folk-Lore tells us that the Fair Family were not innocent of actions similar to those of mortals, for many a man was snatched away by them, and carried off to their subterranean abodes, who, in course of time, married the fair daughters of the Tylwyth Teg. Men captured Fairy ladies, but the Fairies captured handsome men.
The oldest written legend of this class is to be found in the pages of Giraldus Cambrensis, pp. 390-92, Bohn's edition. The Archdeacon made the tour of Wales in 1188; the legend therefore which he records can boast of a good old age, but the tale itself is older than The Itinerary through Wales, for the writer informs us that the priest Elidorus, who affirmed that he had been in the country of the Fairies, talked in his old age to David II., bishop of St. David, of the event. Now David II. was promoted to the see of St. David in 1147, or, according to others, in 1149, and died A.D. 1176; therefore the legend had its origin before the last-mentioned date, and, if the priest were a very old man when he died, his tale would belong to the eleventh century.
With these prefatory remarks, I will give the legend as recorded by Giraldus.
1. Elidorus and the Fairies.
"A short time before our days, a circumstance worthy of note occurred in these parts, which Elidorus, a priest, most strenuously affirmed had befallen to himself.
When a youth of twelve years, and learning his letters, since, as Solomon says, 'The root of learning is bitter, although the fruit is sweet,' in order to avoid the discipline and frequent stripes inflicted on him by his preceptor, he ran away and concealed himself under the hollow bank of the river. After fasting in that situation for two days, two little men of pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, 'If you will come with us, we will lead you into a country full of delights and sports.' Assenting and rising up, he followed his guides through a path, at first subterraneous and dark, into a most beautiful country, adorned with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, but obscure, and not illuminated with the full light of the sun. All the days were cloudy, and the nights extremely dark, on account of the absence of the moon and stars. The boy was brought before the King, and introduced to him in the presence of the court; who, having examined him for a long time, delivered him to his son, who was then a boy. These men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned in their make; they were all of a fair complexion, with luxuriant hair falling over their shoulders like that of women. They had horses and greyhounds adapted to their size. They neither ate flesh nor fish, but lived on milk diet, made up into messes with saffron. They never took an oath, for they detested nothing so much as lies. As often as they returned from our upper hemisphere, they reprobated our ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies; they had no form of public worship, being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth.
The boy frequently returned to our hemisphere, sometimes by the way he had first gone, sometimes by another; at first in company with other persons, and afterwards alone, and made himself known only to his mother, declaring to her the manners, nature, and state of that people. Being desired by her to bring a present of gold, with which that region abounded, he stole, while at play with the king's son, the golden ball with which he used to divert himself, and brought it to his mother in great haste; and when he reached the door of his father's house, but not unpursued, and was entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the threshold, and falling down into the room where his mother was sitting, the two pigmies seized the ball which had dropped from his hand and departed, showing the boy every mark of contempt and derision. On recovering from his fall, confounded with shame, and execrating the evil counsel of his mother, he returned by the usual track to the subterraneous road, but found no appearance of any passage, though he searched for it on the banks of the river for nearly the space of a year. But since those calamities are often alleviated by time, which reason cannot mitigate, and length of time alone blunts the edge of our afflictions and puts an end to many evils, the youth, having been brought back by his friends and mother, and restored to his right way of thinking, and to his learning, in process of time attained the rank of priesthood.
Whenever David II., Bishop of St. David's, talked to him in his advanced state of life concerning this event, he could never relate the particulars without shedding tears. He had made himself acquainted with the language of that nation, the words of which, in his younger days, he used to recite, which, as the bishop often had informed me, were very conformable to the Greek idiom. When they asked for water, they said 'Ydor ydorum,' which meant 'Bring water,' for Ydor in their language, as well as in the Greek, signifies water, whence vessels for water are called Adriai; and Dwr, also in the British language signifies water. When they wanted salt they said 'Halgein ydorum,' 'Bring salt.' Salt is called al in Greek, and Halen in British, for that language, from the length of time which the Britons (then called Trojans and afterwards Britons, from Brito, their leader) remained in Greece after the destruction of Troy, became, in many instances, similar to the Greek."
This legend agrees in a remarkable degree with the popular opinion respecting Fairies. It would almost appear to be the foundation of many subsequent tales that are current in Wales.
The priest's testimony to Fairy temperance and love of truth, and their reprobation of ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies, notwithstanding that they had no form of public worship, and their abhorrence of theft intimate that they possessed virtues worthy of all praise.
Their abode is altogether mysterious, but this ancient description of Fairyland bears out the remarks—perhaps suggested the remarks, of the Rev. Peter Roberts in his book called The Cambrian Popular Antiquities. In this work, the author promulgates the theory that the Fairies were a people existing distinct from the known inhabitants of the country and confederated together, and met mysteriously to avoid coming in contact with the stronger race that had taken possession of their land, and he supposes that in these traditionary tales of the Fairies we recognize something of the real history of an ancient people whose customs were those of a regular and consistent policy. Roberts supposes that the smaller race for the purpose of replenishing their ranks stole the children of their conquerors, or slyly exchanged their weak children for their enemies' strong children.
It will be observed that the people among whom Elidorus sojourned had a language cognate with the Irish, Welsh, Greek, and other tongues; in fact, it was similar to that language which at one time extended, with dialectical differences, from Ireland to India; and the Tylwyth Teg, in our legends, are described as speaking a language understood by those with whom they conversed. This language they either acquired from their conquerors, or both races must have had a common origin; the latter, probably, being the more reasonable supposition, and by inference, therefore, the Fairies and other nations by whom they were subdued were descended from a common stock, and ages afterwards, by marriage, the Fairies again commingled with other branches of the family from which they had originally sprung.
Omitting many embellishments which the imagination has no difficulty in bestowing, tradition has transmitted one fact, that the Tylwyth Teg succeeded in inducing men through the allurements of music and the attractions of their fair daughters to join their ranks. I will now give instances of this belief.
The following tale I received from the mouth of Mr. Richard Jones, Ty'n-y-wern, Bryneglwys, near Corwen. Mr. Jones has stored up in his memory many tales of olden times, and he even thinks that he has himself seen a Fairy. Standing by his farm, he pointed out to me on the opposite side of the valley a Fairy ring still green, where once, he said, the Fairies held their nightly revels. The scene of the tale which Mr. Jones related is wild, and a few years ago it was much more so than at present. At the time that the event is said to have taken place the mountain was unenclosed, and there was not much travelling in those days, and consequently the Fairies could, undisturbed, enjoy their dances. But to proceed with the tale.
2. A Bryneglwys Man inveigled by the Fairies.
Two waggoners were sent from Bryneglwys for coals to the works over the hill beyond Minera. On their way they came upon a company of Fairies dancing with all their might. The men stopped to witness their movements, and the Fairies invited them to join in the dance. One of the men stoutly refused to do so, but the other was induced to dance awhile with them. His companion looked on for a short time at the antics of his friend, and then shouted out that he would wait no longer, and desired the man to give up and come away. He, however, turned a deaf ear to the request, and no words could induce him to forego his dance. At last his companion said that he was going, and requested his friend to follow him. Taking the two waggons under his care he proceeded towards the coal pits, expecting every moment to be overtaken by his friend; but he was disappointed, for he never appeared. The waggons and their loads were taken to Bryneglwys, and the man thought that perhaps his companion, having stopped too long in the dance, had turned homewards instead of following him to the coal pit. But on enquiry no one had heard or seen the missing waggoner. One day his companion met a Fairy on the mountain and inquired after his missing friend. The Fairy told him to go to a certain place, which he named, at a certain time, and that he should there see his friend. The man went, and there saw his companion just as he had left him, and the first words that he uttered were "Have the waggons gone far." The poor man never dreamt that months and months had passed away since they had started together for coal.
A variant of the preceding story appears in the Cambrian Magazine, vol. ii., pp. 58-59, where it is styled the Year's Sleep, or "The Forest of the Yewtree," but for the sake of association with like tales I will call it by the following title:—
3. Story of a man who spent twelve months in Fairyland.
"In Mathavarn, in the parish of Llanwrin, and the Cantrev of Cyveilioc, there is a wood which is called Ffridd yr Ywen (the Forest of the Yew); it is supposed to be so called because there is a yew tree growing in the very middle of it. In many parts of the wood are to be seen green circles, which are called 'the dancing places of the goblins,' about which, a considerable time ago, the following tale was very common in the neighbourhood:—