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And leading us makes us to stray
We use the term Great Britain in a very limited sense, as merely inclusive of those parts of the island whose inhabitants are of Gothic origin --England and the Lowlands of Scotland.
We have already seen * that the Anglo-Saxon conquerors of Britain had in their language the terms from which are derived Elf and Dwarf, and the inference is natural that their ideas respecting these beings corresponded with those of the Scandinavians and Germans. The same may be said of the Picts, who, akin to the Scandinavians, early seized on the Scottish Lowlands.
We therefore close our survey of the Fairy Mythology of the Gothic race with Great Britain.
• Vol. I. 112 and 127.
Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The Fairy Mythology of England divides itself into two branches, that of the people and that of the poets. Under the former head will be comprised the few scattered traditions we have been able to collect respecting a system, the belief in which is usually thought to be nearly extinct; the latter will contain a selection of passages, treating of fairies and their exploits, from our principal poets.
The Fairies of England are evidently the Dwarfs of Germany and the North, though they do not appear to have been ever so denominated. Their appellation was Elves, subsequently Fairies; but there would seem to have been formerly other terms expressive of them, of which not a vestige is now remaining in the English language.
They were, like their northern kindred, divided into two classes: the rural Elves, inhabiting the woods, fields, mountains, and caverns; and the domestic or house-spirits, called Hobgoblins and Robin Goodfellows. But the Thames, the Avon, and the other English streams were never the abode of a Neck or Kelpie.
For the earliest account we have of the English Fairies we are indebted to the Imperial Chancellor Gervase of Tilbury, who gives the following particulars respecting the Fairy Mythology of England in the thirteenth century.
“ There is,” says he, “ in the county of Gloucester, a forest abounding in boars, stags, and every species of game that England produces. In a grovy
lawn of this forest there is a little mount, rising in a point to the height of a man, on which knights and other hunters are used to ascend when fatigued with heat and thirst, to seek some relief for their wants. The nature of the place, and of the business, is, however, such, that whoever ascends the mount must leave his companions, and go quite alone.
“ When alone he was to say, as if speaking to some other person, I thirst, and immediately there would appear a cupbearer in an elegant dress, with a cheerful countenance, bearing in his stretched out hand a large born, adorned with gold and gems, as was the custom among the most ancient English. In the cup * nectar of an unknown but most delicious flavour was presented,
* Vice calicis.