Графични страници
PDF файл

and when it was drunk, all heat and weariness fled from the glowing body, so that one would be thought ready to undertake toil instead of having toiled. Moreover, when the nectar was taken, the servant presented a towel to the drinker to wipe his mouth with, and then having performed his office, he waited neither for a recompense for his services, nor for questions and inquiry.

“ This frequent and daily action had for a very long period of old times taken place among the ancient people, till one day a knight of that city, when out hunting, went thither, and having called for a drink and gotten the horn, did not, as was the custom, and as in good manners he should have done, return it to the cup-bearer, but kept it for his own use. But the illustrious Earl of Gloucester, when he learned the truth of the matter, condemned the robber to death, and presented the horn to the most excellent King Henry the Elder, lest he should be thought to have approved of such wickedness, if he had added the rapine of another to the store of his private

[blocks in formation]

* They have in England certain demons, though I know not whether I should call them demons

• Otia Imperialia apud Leibnitz Scriptores rerum Bruns. vicarum, vol. i. p. 981.

or figures of a secret and unknown generation, which the French call Neptunes, the English Portunes. It is their nature to embrace the simple life of comfortable farmers, and when, on account of their domestic work, they are sitting up at night, when the doors are shut, they warm themselves at the fire, and take little frogs out of their bosom, roast them on the coals, and eat them. They have the countenance of old men, with wrinkled cheeks, and they are of a very small stature, not being quite half an inch high *. They wear little patched coats, and if any thing is to be carried in the house, or any laborious work to be done, they lend a hand, and finish it sooner than

any man could. It is their nature to have the power to serve, but not to injure. They have, however, one little mode of annoying. When in the uncertain shades of night the English are riding any where alone, the Portune sometimes invisibly joins the horseman; and when he has accompanied him a good while, he at last takes the reins, and leads the horse into a neighbouring slough; and when he is fixed and foundering in it, the Portune goes off with a loud laugh, and by sport of this sort he mocks the simplicity of mankind †.

* Dimidium pollicis. Should we not read pedis ?
+ P. 980.

“ There is,” says he again,“ in England a cer. tain kind of demon whom in their language they call Grant, like a yearling foal, erect on its hind legs, with sparkling eyes. This kind of demon often appears in the streets in the heat of the day, or about sunset. If there is any danger impending on the following day or night, it runs about the streets provoking the dogs to bark, and, by feign, ing flight, draws the dogs after it, in the vain hope of catching it. This illusion warns the inhabitants to beware of fire, and thus the friendly demon, while he terrifies those who see him, puts by his coming the ignorant on their guard *."

Thus far the Chancellor of the holy Roman empire, and, except in the poets, we have met no account of, or allusion to, fairies, until the reign of Elizabeth, when the learned and strong-minded Reginald Scot thus notices the superstitions of his own and the preceding age:

“ Indeed your grandams' maids were wont to set a bowl of milk before him (Incubus) and his cousin Robin Goodfellow, for grinding of malt or mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight; and

you have also heard that he would chafe exceedingly if the maid or good-wife of the house, having compassion of his nakedness, laid any clothes

• P. 980.

for him besides his mess of white bread and milk, which was his standing fee; for in that case he saith, What have we here? Hemten, hamten, here will I never more tread nor stampen *.?”

Again :

« The Faeries do principally inhabit the mountains and caverns of the earth, whose nature is to make strange apparitions on the earth, in meadows ór on mountains, being like men and women, soldiers, kings, and ladies, 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 to

« Such jocund and facetious spirits,” he continues, are said to sport themselves in the night by tumbling and fooling with servants and shepherds in country houses, pinching them black and blue, and leaving bread, butter, and cheese sometimes with them, which, if they refuse to eat, some mischief shall undoubtedly befall them by the means of these Faeries; and many such have been taken away by the said spirits for a fortnight or a month together, being carried with them in chariots through the air, over hills and dales, rocks and precipices, till at last they have been found lying in some meadow or mountain bereaved of their senses, and commonly one of their members to boot."

* R. Scot, D. of W., book iv. c. 10. + B. i. c. 4.

Burton, after noticing from Paracelsus those which in Germany “do usually walk in little coats, some two foot long,” says, “ A bigger kind there is of them called with us Hobgoblins and Robin Goodfellows, that would, in those superstitious times, grind corn for a mess of milk, cut wood, or do any manner of drudgery work.” And again : “ Some put our Fairies into this rank (that of terrestrial devils), which have been in former times adored with much superstition, with sweeping their houses, and setting of a pail of clean water, good victuals, and the like, and then they should not be pinched, but find money in their shoes, and be fortunate in their enterprises

Harsenet thus speaks of them in his Declaration t:

« And if that the bowl of curds and cream were not duly set out for Robin Goodfellow, the friar, and Sisse the dairy-maid, why then, either the pottage was burned the next day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or the ale in the fat never would have good head.”

• Anat. of Mel. p. 47. + C. xx. p. 134.

« ПредишнаНапред »