Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fairy Annals of Ulster -- No 2 (pt 2)

THE following Annals were compiled in the summer of 1857, during a brief residence in the vicinity of Glenariff, the most beautiful of the glens of Antrim.

Thackeray, in his Irish tour, says of this glen -- "Every such scene of beauty and magnificence seems to warn us that it is not made to talk about, but to think of, and love, and be thankful for."

In "The Lady's Dream," in Household Words for July, 1858, some such scene must have been pictured on the mind of the writer, who thus describes it --
Ah me! I said, how beautiful and glad,
This sylvan scene might be,
Peopled with shapes too holy to be sad.
Shapes lovely as the fabled fore world had.
When Fancy yet was free. 
Some pastoral quaint of ancient Greece were fit
To be enacted here;
Or haply here the Fairy Court may sit,
Or Fairy children flowery garlands knit.
To lead the silk-neck'd steer.
On making the usual inquiries about the "Gentle People" from a poor but respectable-looking old woman, who resides in the vicinity of Cushendall, she first gave a sketch of her own history, to the effect "that she had attended one of the best schools in the country for long enough, and when she grew up a little, she went to service in Shane's Castle, just at the time Lord O'Neill was killed in the Rebellion. Lord O'Neill was warned not to go out the day he met his death; some of the family believed in these warnings, but some disbelieved, and that lord was one. Nothing ever happened in the way of death or misfortune in the O'Neill family that the Banshee was not heard bewailing before it took place." "What is the Banshee?" I asked, "and what is it like?" "It's a warnin' spirit that follows the O'Neills and other ancient Irish families; it is like an aged woman, short in stature, with a mournful cry always when it is heard; the one at Shane's Castle is called Nein Roe, her hair is red -- the hair of all the Banshees is of that colour. One of the old lords of Shane's Castle went to Bath at one time on account of his health, and took no servant but his own gentleman with him; he took a fine house for the season in Bath, and a garden belonging to it, with a draw-well of the purest water in the middle of it, walled in. The gentleman went one day, shortly after they arrived, to draw some water for his lordship, but he couldn't get near the well for an old woman sittin' beside it crying bitterly, and tearing her hair like as if in despair. The gentleman asked what ailed her, but got no answer: he offered her any help she stood in need of, if she would leave that; but she kept on lamentin' and never spoke. The gentleman got frightened, and went away without the water, and told Lord O'Neill what he had seen. 'We must leave Bath at once,' said his lordship, 'and get home to Shane's Castle without delay; it's the warning.' And so it was: he died on the journey home, and was greatly lamented, for he was one of the best of the O'Neills."d

"There was one of the lords in the old times that married a beautiful lady abroad, when he was on his travels, and brought her to Shane's Castle. Every one that saw her knew she wasn't of this world; she never smiled, but pined from ever she came, though she had no cause for that, for Lord O'Neill loved the ground she walked on: she was more like a spirit than a mortal, and wasn't made for this world at any rate, for she died, it was said -- but if she did, no human eyes ever saw the corp'; there was a grand funeral -- the O'Neill's always had that -- but the lady wasn't in it: her own Gentle people took her to themselves, and had her in their own dominions before that, as every one in the castle knew well enough at the time.

"The late Lord O'Neill had the castle burnt to the ground through his own fault. He had bought a state-bed of the grandest sort, and nothing would do him but to put it in Nein Roe's room, the room in the castle that she always fancied. The state-bed was put up, and everything left in order for any company to use it; but that wasn't allowed: the flames broke out in that same room the very night it was fixed, and Lord O'Neill had his castle in ashes before mornin'. The housemaid, when I lived there, was more careful about Nein Roe's room than any she had charge of; it would have been well for Lord O'Neill if he hadn't disregarded the Banshee, and meddled with her room the way he did.

"Before I went to service in Shane's Castle, we lived in Kilmore, where we had some land, and a garden at the end of the house. I had a sister Mary, the best-lookin' of any of us, she was about thirteen years old at the time I speak of, and one very warm day in summer she crept under some bucky briars ia a corner of the garden, to be out of the heat, and fell asleep. That was the beginning of our troubles. When she wakened, the whole town couldn't command her -- she was past the management of any of us: her senses had left her entirely; we sent for the priest, and he gev a Gospel to put round her neck, but it wouldn't do; we fetched the doctor, and he ordered bottle after bottle -- no use, for she got the longer the worse; the priest renewed the Gospel, but that brought no sense to Mary. She wrought on for two years the same way, and then got a stroke -- she lost the use of her limbs, but then her head got settled, and she lingered on for five years more and died. She had intruded that day on "the Quality's" ground to sleep; the bushes was gentle bushes that she got under to be out of the sun; and may the holy saints keep us from harm, that's what cum of doing what she did." --

"What do you think the Fairies are," I asked. "They are the fallen angels that was transported out of Heaven for disobeyin' the Most High. They have habitations under the earth, and above ground, and can take to the air or the water as they please. They had power in Heaven before they were banished, and they have it yet for good or evil, as it falls out; there's enough of them to overrun the country and overcome us, but they hope for salvation when the great judgment comes, and the fear of lossin' that keeps them down. The blessed Saviour preached to them in their prisons, and ever since that, the Gospel is too strong for them; " but it will save them yet, all in God's good time. --

"There was a blacksmith lived in the Glens, a covenanter, and that's the sort of people that keeps the Sabbath rightly. He was sittin' readin' one Sunday evening at his door, when a gentleman dressed in green, and ridin' on a beautiful grey baste,f rode up and asked for his horse to be shod. The blacksmith said he would break the Sabbath for no man livin'. 'You must shoe my horse,' says the gentleman, 'at any cost.' 'I can't work on the Sabbath, cost or no cost,' says the blacksmith. 'I must be in Scotland this night before twelve o'clock,' says the gentleman, 'on business that consarns you more than myself; so, if you plase, shoe my horse at once't.' The smith considered there was something on hand past common, and at long and last, he shod the horse. The gentleman mounted, and, as he was riding off, says he to the smith, 'I won't pay you till I come back.' 'All the better,' says the smith, 'for I could take no money, at any rate, for Sunday work;' so the green gentleman went out of sight.

"That day seven weeks he rode up to the blacksmith's door again, and says he, 'I have done the job I had in han', and now, for seven years to come, there will be no scarcity in this country, and here's payment for your trouble. The smith scrupled at takin' so much money, but the gentleman insisted, and at last he did; 'besides that,' says the gentleman, 'I wish you to buy all the bastes of the same colour as the one I'm ridin', that you can happen on, and I'll pay you your price.' 'Very good,' says the smith, 'I can do that, if I knew where to take them.' 'Fetch them to the Mouth of Kilrea,' says the gentleman, 'and I'll be sure to be there.' So accordingly, the smith bought all the grey horses that came his road, and took them to the open of Kilrea, as he was directed, and was paid his price, fair and honest, by the gentleman. At last, one time, the gentleman says to him, 'Come in' says he, 'and I'll show you the use I have for the horses you're bringin' me.' The smith followed the gentleman into an open in the side of the hills of Kilrea, and he saw rigiment on the top of rigiment of the warriors of the Gentry lying sound asleep with all their accoutrements beside them, and their grey horses lying fornenst them, saddled and bridled, ready for action, but all sleeping, the same as the Gentry. 'Don't lay a finger on one of these rigiments,' says the gentleman, 'nor touch a horse for your life, for it wouldn't be aisy to put them in the same way again.' As soon as the gentleman turned his back, the smith catched one of the little warriors by the arm, and wakened him, when up they all started till their feet, thousands upon thousands of them, all shoutin' 'where's the battle -- where are we to fight,' all makin' for their horses. 'What's this you have done, after me forbiddin' you,' says the gentleman to the smith. 'I touched only the one nixt me,' says the smith, 'without thinking, and they all riz, horse and foot.' 'You can be of no sarvice to me in settlin' this commotion, so be aff, while the life's left in you,' says the gentleman, 'and niver do the like again.' 'No more I will,' says the smith; and while the gentleman was goin' up and down the ranks, pacifying his men, the smith made aff full speed, niver lookin' behind him till he got to his own forge, and then layin' a bar of iron across the door, red-hot, as soon as he got in. Iron's lucky at all times, and when it's red, nothing can cross it to harm you.

"The gentleman in green had took all his forces to Scotland on that occasion, to war with the Gentry of that country: they want to get the upper han' in Ireland, if they can, and still did, and to rule the markets before all; but -- glory be to God -- we bate them in general, and they find us too many for them every seven years, when the battle takes place. Sometimes they come over to fight our Quality on their own ground. Not long ago, my brother saw their ships one day as he was sittin' on the ould castle hill at Red Bay, sailin' in the air, and some on the sea with sails set, and thousands of the Gentry, visible at times and then disappearing, on the decks and about the masts and rigging'.g He watched them comin' nearder and nearder, till they sailed in at the far side of Red Bay, past Galbally Point, and then the mist came on, and they wint up Glenariff in it; so, whiles he saw them and whiles he didn't, till he lost sight of them entirely. May the saints be good to us if there wasn't fightin' in Glenariff and through Glen Dun that night -- the scrog in places was all levelled, trees broke and left without a branch on them, the ground in some places ploughed up like with artillery, and the sward tramped till there wasn't a green blade to be seen. For all that, they had the worst of it; they are mostly bate in any great engagement, both in this country and their own. --

"When I was a lump of a girl, I was sent to school for longer than any of the neighbours' childer. My father was set on giving us all the teachin' he could, and we had a right master at the time in Kilmore, far before any of the 'nationals' that's goin' at present; troth he had wit enough for a college, and nothing cum wrong to him. I was playin', away a good piece from the school one Saturday, whin we got lave early, among the ould walls of an ancient building in the grave-yard, that was there before the ouldest in the town was born, and I spies a book lyin' on the sill of the place where there had been a window at one time. I lifted the book, proud enough at findin' it, and consaited at the notion of shewin' it to the scholars, but I darn't take it home for fear of gettin' a cuttin' from my mother for liftin' what didn't belong to me, I took it to Glenariff the next day, and show'd it to two or three knowledgeable men comin' home from chapel, but they could make nothing of it. The letters was red, and a different shape from ours, and there was like bits of gold on the outside. I kep' it hid for a time, and then gev it to the master, tellin' him all about it. It bate him, as well as the rest; he studied to make it out, but he could make neither top nor tail of it. 'It's in a forrin tongue, Peggy,' says he, 'and you'd best lave it where you got it.' I had no courage to go back by myself, and a boy in the school went with me to the walls, and I put it down in its own place, trimlin' with fear. The boy and me went a piece off to watch if any body would lift it: we watched on till it was near dark, and when we looked if it was there, it was away.h

It was Nein Roe's book; she had been seen frequentin' the walls in my day, and before I was born, and she's there yet. She haunts all the ould castles and ruins in Antrim, and is heard about many a house lamentin' and moanin' before a death takes place. She's the Warnin' Spirit, and different from the Gentle People -- they play tricks and mischief for sport, but the Banshee is ever mournin' and cryin'. --

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                    "The night it is gude Hallowe'en,
                      When Fairy-folk will ride." -- Scott.

"There was no sport in what happened to a brother I had, that's dead and in Heaven I trust. He was comin' home from Cushendall one Holly-eve night, and he hears a sound behind him of people travellin' with great speed, and sure enough he sees troops upon troops of the Quality ricin'i on all sorts, some double, some single, bound for Tieveboulia and Tiverah, to keep the night: that and midsummer night is the times they enjoy the greatest liberty. The hindmost rider says to him, 'Go home and fetch the dress I was to be married in, and come after us to Tieveboulia, and you'll see me.' He thought he knew the voice, but he couldn't see the face, it was so dark. My eldest sister was engaged to be married about two years before that time to a boy from Glenarm, but he deceived her, and went off to Scotland with another girl. She disappeared, and we searched and inquired after her far and near, but all in vain, we never saw her more; the neighbour's thought she had followed the boy to Scotland, but nobody knew for certain. She took nothing with her but the clothes she had on; and a grieved heart we all had about her for many a day. She was a good quiet girl, everybody liked her. My brother scrupled in his mind when he cum home about what he heard on the road, but he made no mention of it to any of us, and at long and last took the gown from the chist and wint aff with it to Tieveboulia. When he got there, he saw a light on the slope of the hill next Glen Dun, and made for it at once: he was at no short for courage, he was fit to face anything, and was a brave, bould boy, any way, at all times.

"When he cum up to the light, he sees a great party of the Gentry playin' at all sorts of games: there was great dancin', and elegant music; but before all there was cookin' goin' on, at the lower end of the slope, and who did he see but his sister, helpin' to make ready the mate. He took the gown from under his coat, and slopin' aff from where the dancin' was goin' on, he got round to his sister, and says he, 'Mary, was it you bid me bring you the gown.' 'It was, Jemmy dear,' says she, 'and if you had'nt fetched it, you couldn't have seen me;' so she was lookin' sorrowfully at the gown, when she says, 'Jemmy, for your life, take nothin' that's offered to you in regard of mate or drink, or you're sould to them that gives it, and don't let on that you know I'm here." So Jemmy watched the divarsion that was goin' on, and listened to the music, that was far before any ever he heard, but between all he lost sight of Mary, and niver saw her again. So up comes a party of the Gentry, and insisted on his atin' with them, and takin' share of what was goin'. Jemmy thanked the Quality for their kindness, and said he had got his supper before he cum, and had no occasion; they insisted, but Jemmy refused on and on, and said he must be goin', as it was gettin' late. 'Well,' says the Gentry, 'we'll not part good company that way, and we'll convoy you home.' So a party, with the music headin' it, and lights shinin' as bright as day, set aff with Jemmy to see him home. A forby journey he had that blissed Holly-eve night: he was over every ditch and hedge, and in every bog and shugh and mire between Kilmore and Tieveboulia, and kilt out when he cum home; but nothin' mislists the gentle people: they were playin' their music and goin' on with their antics, niver mindin' Jemmy, till they disappeared all at once in the loanin' leadin' up to the house, puttin' out the light, but playin' the music till he cum in. Jemmy minded that night the longest day he lived."j

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                    ----------- "A fairy thee unwecting reft,
                    There as thou slept in tender swadling band,
                    And her base elfin brood there for thee left:
                    Such men do changelings call, so changed by Fairies' theft."
Spenser's Faery Queene, Book i., canto 10.

"The Fairies doesn't attend now in these parts as they used to do," said an old woman, whom we asked if she knew anything about the Gentle people; "they wint aff from the Glens in great numbers to Scotland, on account of their bushes being cut down one year, when the people couldn't help it, for there was no firin' to be had for love or money; and the meal and potatoes both malted on account of the constant wet: but before they wint, I'll tell you what happened to a tailor, in my mother's time. He was makin' a suit of clothes for a neighbour man, and the woman of the house told the tailor she had no life with the child, for the cry of it never ceased, and it wint on whingin' night and day, till her heart was broke with it; a better nor a quieter child the sun niver shined on than it was at first, but all of a suddent it grew fractious, and she didn't know what to do with it.

"She wint out, lavin' the tailor workin' sittin' on his boord, and the child in the cradle, whin the thing spoke out and axed the tailor 'if the ould hag was from about the place,' and the tailor spoke it fair, and said 'she was.' The thing began to fistle among the straw in the cradle, and pulled out a set of little pipes, and commenced playin' music. The mother came back before it had done, and wint up to it and says: 'Now, I know what you are, and I'll have my revenge.' 'Very well,' says the thing, 'take your remedy.' With that she lifted it out of the cradle, and carried it to the river, intinding to try if she could drown it; but in place of that, in she wint herself, and was drownded dead, and the thing made aff, laughin'. --

Though the Gentle people's seldom seen here at present, there's plinty of people knows how they work. They seldom harm any one that doesn't harm them. One night, many a long year ago, two of my brothers wint to a house at the foot of Lurig [Lurgeadon], where there was some divarsion goin' on, and as they cum home late they saw a great blaze beside the pad they had to travel; sometimes they saw the blaze risin' up high, then it would get low, and they saw a space, black like, in the middle, and a party of Gintry sportin' on it, and dancin' all sorts.k They watched thim till they got feared, and wint aff without spakin.' The next mornin' one of the boys went in that direction to see about a young mare we had grazin', with the fetters on, and when he cum to the field, he saw her on the top of the big rock you may see as you come across from Lurig, standin' by itself in the middle of the field. How she got up no mortial could tell; all the men in Cushendall could'nt have put her there nor brought her down and the fetters still on: so my brother says to himself, 'them that put her there can bring her aff,' and cum home, niver lettin' on. The nixt day the mare was grazin' as usual in the field, and nothin' wrong with her: so he knew by that, his brother and him had done right not to spake when they saw the Gintry in the fire; if they had, the mare wouldn't have been long to the fore: but they had owed them a grudge for standin' lookin' at them as they did." --

To be continued...



[d] Connected with the Irish "Banshee," is the belief of the people that spirits, in their middle state, preparatory to their entrance into Heaven, are still visitants of this earth.
One of the most beautiful of Moore's Melodies* celebrates this remnant of the elder creed of all lands; and the poet adds in a note -- "Paul Zealand mentions that there is a mountain in some part of Iceland where the ghosts of persons who have died in foreign lands walk about and converse with those they meet, like living people. If asked why they do not return to their houses, they say they are obliged to go to Mount Hecla, and disappear immediately." -- [Occult Sciences, article "Banshees."]

* The following are the lines of Moore referred to:--

Oh ye dead! oh ye dead! whom we know by the light you give
From your cold gleaming eyes, though you move like men who live,
Why leave you thus your graves
In far off fields and waves, o'er,
Where the worm and the sea-bird only know your bed,
To haunt the spot where all
Whose eyes that wept your fall,
And the hearts that wailed you, like your own, lie dead?

It is true, it is true, we are shadows cold and wan,
And the fair and the brave whom we loved on earth are gone;
But still thus ev'n in death,
So sweet the living breath
Of the fields and the flowers in our youth we wandered
That ere condemned we go
To freeze 'mid Hecla's snow,
We would taste it a while, and think we live once more."

[e] "The Church of Rome once deserved the homage of humanity as the conservator of the little knowledge that burnt feebly as an expiring torch, around whose dim and flickering light the darkness seemed to press; for she tempered by superior wisdom the brutality of barbarian conquerors, and at last reduced them to spiritual vassalage, by boldly preaching a religion which proved too strong alike for the wild mythology of the northern Valhalla and for the Greek divinities which had been worshipped at nobler shrines than have yet been consecrated to a holier faith." -- Westminster Review: article on "the Catholic Church," July, 1858.

[f] Like the " field-elfen" of the Saxons, the usual dress of the Fairies is green. They often ride in invisible procession, when their presence is discovered by the shrill ringing of their bridles. Sometimes they borrow mortal steeds; and when such are found panting and fatigued in their stalls, the grooms find this a convenient excuse for their situation. According to Waldron, the Fairies sometimes take more legitimate modes of procuring horses. A person of the utmost integrity informed him that, having occasion to sell a horse, he was accosted among the mountains by a little gentleman, plainly dressed, who priced his horse, cheapened him, and after some chaffering, finally purchased him. No sooner had the buyer mounted and paid the price, than he sank through the earth, horse and man, to the astonishment and terror of the seller, who, however, experienced no inconvenience from dealing with so extraordinary a purchaser. -- Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii.

[g] In the Autumn of 1857, the writer was so fortunate to see the mirage, or "Fata Morgana," off Galbally Point, in the vicinity of Red Bay (Co. Antrim), similar in some respects to that described in the story. There had been a thunderstorm during the day, which ceased about four o'clock in the afternoon, at which time seven yachts, masts, and white sails, with what appeared to be a confused mass of other vessels behind them, became suddenly and distinctly visible off the point above mentioned. So perfect was the appearance, that the writer asked a person who happened to be near, if as there was a regatta at Larne or Glenarm: he went into his house for a telescope, but before he returned, yachts and all had disappeared; a heavy mass of black clouds on the verge of the horizon had in the meantime assumed the appearance of stupendous ruins, irregular in outline, but the angles of the walls sharp and clearly defined: this also melted away, leaving a blue and cloudless sky, and not a vessel in sight on the calm sea beneath, The aerial warlike "gentry" seen by the "brother," on the decks and about the masts and riggin' of the vessels he saw, might not have been accompaniments created solely by the "faith that was in him," as a sceptic might affirm. It is recorded that "a gentleman of undoubted veracity, the commander of a corps of yeomanry, being at some distance from the shore with a party in his pleasure boat, distinctly saw a body of armed men going through their exercises on the beach on the Antrim coast; and so complete was the deception that he supposed it had been a field day which he had forgotten." [Notes to Drummond's Giants' Causeway].

[h] On reading a work a few weeks since, entitled "Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, or the Traditional History of Cromarty, by Hugh Miller," I was surprised to find that the author had heard, from a very old woman, an account of a volume identical in some respects with that which is described in our story as belonging to the Banshee. The coincidence is strange, and difficult to be accounted for. I am inclined to place confidence in the old woman of Glenariff, much of whose personal natural history, as told by herself, was corroborated by one of the most respectable inhabitants of Cushendall, who had known her long and intimately. The story is told by Miller as follows: "The least dilapidated of the chapels was dedicated to St. Regulus, and there is a tradition that at the Reformation, a valuable historical record belonging to it, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, was carried away to France by priest. I remember a very old woman, who used to relate that when a little girl, she chanced, when playing one day among the ruins with a boy a few years older than herself, to discover a small square recess in the wall, in which there was a book; she had only time to remark that the volume was a tattered one, and apparently very old, and that there were beautiful red letters in it, when the boy, laying claim to it, forced it from her. What became of it afterwards she did not know, and, unconscious of the interest which might have attached to it, never thought of making inquiries." (K.)

[i] Reginald Scott, in his "Discovery of Witchcraft" 1665, has left us as luminous an account of the fairies as can anywhere be found:-- "They do principally inhabit the mountains and caverns of the earth; their nature is to make strange apparitions on the earth, in meadows, and in mountains, being like men and women, souldiers, kings, and ladyes, children and horsemen, clothed in green, to which purpose they do in the night steal hempen stalks from the fields where they grow, to convert them into horses, as the story goes."

[j] "The fairies of French, Spanish, and Italian romance are inferior spirits, in a beautiful female form, possessing many of the qualities of the Oriental Peri, even if not derived from them.* Among ourselves, and especially in Scotland, this spiritual race has sometimes been less fortunate. From the Gothic elves the British fairies have borrowed a diminutive size, and not unfrequently many mischievous attributes. -- "The Occult Sciences, article "Fairies," page 20.

* The Spaniards derived their fairy lore from the Moors, with whose beautiful legends were mingled the tales of the Visigoths, settled in that country. This national faith was, probably, at a later period imparted to the Irish, who had considerable intercourse with the Spaniards. As a general rule, the primitive fairy traditions were modified both by the character of the people and the romance peculiar to each district in which they were received.

[k] The Scottish fairies are represented by Sir Walter Scott as still retaining much that is harsh and terrific in their character; and, notwithstanding their Highland name, "Daoine Shie" (men of peace), they are, after all, but peevish and envious beings. As they are always invisibly present, it is not wise to speak of them otherwise than with respect. As for speaking to them, woe to the silly wight who makes such venture, especially on Fridays, on which days their influence is most powerful. Falstaff, indeed says, even of the gentler Southern fairies, that "he that speaks to them shall die."
Their form is diminutive; they inhabit the interior of green hills, called in Gaelic sighan, on the surface of which the rings which mark their moonlight dances may be traced. They dress in green, in heath brown, or grey. They are particularly fond of horse exercise, and their invisible steeds may be discovered by the ringing of their bridles. Now and then, however, especially during the night, they borrow horses of flesh and blood, whose speed they are known not to spare. Their movements are sometimes accompanied by huge eddies of sand, and a cry of "horse and hattock" may be heard at the same time. Aubrey (Miscellanies, 200) recounts, on the authority of a learned friend ia Scotland whose letter to him is dated March 25, 1695, that an ancestor of the noble house of Duffus, once walking in the fields, and hearing this shout, had the hardihood to join in it. He had the good luck to be transported by the fairies into no worse place than the royal cellar in Paris; where, having drank to his heart's content, he was found on the following morning with a silver cup in his hand, with which the King, on hearing his marvellous narrative, presented him!!
The existing Lord Duffus acknowledged the genuineness of this tradition, but thought that the circumstances to which it related were fabulous, notwithstanding that among the family plate was an ancient silver cup called the Fairy Cup.
The munificence of the Scotch fairies calls for further observation, as well as their supposed skill in the fabrication of arms, and the cheerful accounts we have of their cavalcades and hunting excursions. They were also able to surround themselves with illusory splendour, and so enchant the eyes of mortals whom they wished to deceive, that their gloomy haunts and personal deformity were concealed until their purpose was accomplished. Their object in these deceptions was to recruit their failing numbers from the ranks of mortals, for which purpose also they stole the children of earthly parents. This kind of necessity is assigned as the reason for their frequenting streams and fountains, by Fletcher, whose words are cited by Scott in his introduction to "Tamlane" --
  "A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds.
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes
Their stolen children, so to make them free
From dying flesh and dull mortality."
    This is beautifully imagined.



The above article is reproduced from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. 7, 1859.

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