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´╗┐Title: Welsh Folk-Lore - a Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales
Author: Owen, Elias
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Welsh Folk-Lore - a Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales" ***

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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
                               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.

                                                                ELIAS OWEN

_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
   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
   _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



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.


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

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.


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

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 Brahma_n_a of the Ya_g_ur-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

'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

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.


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

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

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.

That is--

    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

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

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

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

    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

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

_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

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.


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

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

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

Two servants of John Pugh, Esq., went out one day to work in the 'Forest
of the Yew.'  Pretty early in the afternoon the whole country was so
covered with dark vapour, that the youths thought night was coming on;
but when they came to the middle of the 'Forest' it brightened up around
them and the darkness seemed all left behind; so, thinking it too early
to return home for the night, they lay down and slept.  One of them, on
waking, was much surprised to find no one there but himself; he wondered
a good deal at the behaviour of his companion, but made up his mind at
last that he had gone on some business of his own, as he had been talking
of it some time before; so the sleeper went home, and when they inquired
after his companion, he told them he was gone to the cobbler's shop.  The
next day they inquired of him again about his fellow-servant, but he
could not give them any account of him; but at last confessed how and
where they had both gone to sleep.  Alter searching and searching many
days, he went to a '_gwr cyvarwydd_' (a conjuror), which was a very
common trade in those days, according to the legend; and the conjuror
said to him, 'Go to the same place where you and the lad slept; go there
exactly a year after the boy was lost; let it be on the same day of the
year, and at the same time of the day, but take care that you do not step
inside the Fairy ring, stand on the border of the green circles you saw
there, and the boy will come out with many of the goblins to dance, and
when you see him so near to you that you may take hold of him, snatch him
out of the ring as quickly as you can.'  He did according to this advice,
and plucked the boy out, and then asked him, 'if he did not feel hungry,'
to which he answered 'No,' for he had still the remains of his dinner
that he had left in his wallet before going to sleep, and he asked 'if it
was not nearly night, and time to go home,' not knowing that a year had
passed by.  His look was like a skeleton, and as soon as he had tasted
food he was a dead man."

A story in its main features similar to that recorded in the _Cambrian
Magazine_ was related to me by my friend, the Rev. R. Jones, Rector of
Llanycil.  I do not think Mr. Jones gave me the locality where the
occurrence is said to have taken place; at least, if he did so, I took no
note of it.  The story is as follows:--

4.  _A man who spent twelve months and a day with the Fairies_.

A young man, a farm labourer, and his sweetheart were sauntering along
one evening in an unfrequented part of the mountain, when there appeared
suddenly before them two Fairies, who proceeded to make a circle.  This
being done, a large company of Fairies accompanied by musicians appeared,
and commenced dancing over the ring; their motions and music were
entrancing, and the man, an expert dancer, by some irresistible power was
obliged to throw himself into the midst of the dancers and join them in
their gambols.  The woman looked on enjoying the sight for several hours,
expecting every minute that her lover would give up the dance and join
her, but no, on and on went the dance, round and round went her lover,
until at last daylight appeared, and then suddenly the music ceased and
the Fairy band vanished; and with them her lover.  In great dismay, the
young woman shouted the name of her sweetheart, but all in vain, he came
not to her.  The sun had now risen, and, almost broken-hearted, she
returned home and related the events of the previous night.  She was
advised to consult a man who was an adept in the black art.  She did so,
and the conjuror told her to go to the same place at the same time of the
night one year and one day from the time that her lover had disappeared
and that she should then and there see him.  She was farther instructed
how to act.  The conjuror warned her from going into the ring, but told
her to seize her lover by the arm as he danced round, and to jerk him out
of the enchanted circle.  Twelve months and a day passed away, and the
faithful girl was on the spot where she lost her lover.  At the very
moment that they had in the first instance appeared the Fairies again
came to view, and everything that she had witnessed previously was
repeated.  With the Fairy band was her lover dancing merrily in their
midst.  The young woman ran round and round the circle close to the young
man, carefully avoiding the circle, and at last she succeeded in taking
hold of him and desired him to come away with her.  "Oh," said he, "do
let me alone a little longer, and then I will come with you."  "You have
already been long enough," said she.  His answer was, "It is so
delightful, let me dance on only a few minutes longer."  She saw that he
was under a spell, and grasping the young man's arm with all her might
she followed him round and round the circle, and an opportunity offering
she jerked him out of the circle.  He was greatly annoyed at her conduct,
and when told that he had been with the Fairies a year and a day he would
not believe her, and affirmed that he had been dancing only a few
minutes; however, he went away with the faithful girl, and when he had
reached the farm, his friends had the greatest difficulty in persuading
him that he had been so long from home.

The next Fairy tale that I shall give akin to the preceding stories is to
be found in _Y Brython_, vol. iii., pp. 459-60.  The writer of the tale
was the Rev. Benjamin Williams, whose bardic name was Gwynionydd.  I do
not know the source whence Mr. Williams derived the story, but most
likely he obtained it from some aged person who firmly believed that the
tale was a true record of what actually occurred.  In the _Brython_ the
tale is called: "Y Tylwyth Teg a Mab Llech y Derwydd," and this title I
will retain, merely translating it.  The introduction, however, I will
not give, as it does not directly bear on the subject now under

5.  _The Son of Llech y Derwydd and the Fairies_.

The son of Llech y Derwydd was the only son of his parents and heir to
the farm.  He was very dear to his father and mother, yea, he was as the
very light of their eyes.  The son and the head servant man were bosom
friends, they were like two brothers, or rather twins.  As they were such
close friends the farmer's wife was in the habit of clothing them exactly
alike.  The two friends fell in love with two young handsome women who
were highly respected in the neighbourhood.  This event gave the old
people great satisfaction, and ere long the two couples were joined in
holy wedlock, and great was the merry-making on the occasion.  The
servant man obtained a convenient place to live in on the grounds of
Llech y Derwydd.  About six months after the marriage of the son, he and
the servant man went out to hunt.  The servant penetrated to a ravine
filled with brushwood to look for game, and presently returned to his
friend, but by the time he came back the son was nowhere to be seen.  He
continued awhile looking about for his absent friend, shouting and
whistling to attract his attention, but there was no answer to his calls.
By and by he went home to Llech y Derwydd, expecting to find him there,
but no one knew anything about him.  Great was the grief of the family
throughout the night, but it was even greater the next day.  They went to
inspect the place where the son had last been seen.  His mother and his
wife wept bitterly, but the father had greater control over himself,
still he appeared as half mad.  They inspected the place where the
servant man had last seen his friend, and, to their great surprise and
sorrow, observed a Fairy ring close by the spot, and the servant
recollected that he had heard seductive music somewhere about the time
that he parted with his friend.  They came to the conclusion at once that
the man had been so unfortunate as to enter the Fairy ring, and they
conjectured that he had been transported no one knew where.  Weary weeks
and months passed away, and a son was born to the absent man.  The little
one grew up the very image of his father, and very precious was he to his
grandfather and grandmother.  In fact, he was everything to them.  He
grew up to man's estate and married a pretty girl in the neighbourhood,
but her people had not the reputation of being kind-hearted.  The old
folks died, and also their daughter-in-law.

One windy afternoon in the month of October, the family of Llech y
Derwydd saw a tall thin old man with beard and hair as white as snow, who
they thought was a Jew, approaching slowly, very slowly, towards the
house.  The servant girls stared mockingly through the window at him, and
their mistress laughed unfeelingly at the "old Jew," and lifted the
children up, one after the other, to get a sight of him as he neared the
house.  He came to the door, and entered the house boldly enough, and
inquired after his parents.  The mistress answered him in a surly and
unusually contemptuous manner, and wished to know "What the drunken old
Jew wanted there," for they thought he must have been drinking or he
would never have spoken in the way he did.  The old man looked at
everything in the house with surprise and bewilderment, but the little
children about the floor took his attention more than anything else.  His
looks betrayed sorrow and deep disappointment.  He related his whole
history, that, yesterday he had gone out to hunt, and that he had now
returned.  The mistress told him that she had heard a story about her
husband's father, which occurred before she was born, that he had been
lost whilst hunting, but that her father had told her that the story was
not true, but that he had been killed.  The woman became uneasy and angry
that the old "Jew" did not depart.  The old man was roused and said that
the house was his, and that he would have his rights.  He went to inspect
his possessions, and shortly afterwards directed his steps to the
servant's house.  To his surprise he saw that things there were greatly
changed.  After conversing awhile with an aged man who sat by the fire,
they carefully looked each other in the face, and the old man by the fire
related the sad history of his lost friend, the son of Llech y Derwydd.
They conversed together deliberately on the events of their youth, but
all seemed like a dream.  However, the old man in the corner came to the
conclusion that his visitor was his dear friend, the son of Llech y
Derwydd, returned from the land of the Fairies after having spent there
half a hundred years.  The old man with the white beard believed the
story related by his friend, and long was the talk and many were the
questions which the one gave to the other.  The visitor was informed that
the master of Llech y Derwydd was from home that day, and he was
persuaded to eat some food; but, to the horror of all, when he had done
so, he instantly fell down dead.

Such is the story.  The writer adds that the tale relates that the cause
of this man's sudden death was that he ate food after having been so long
in the land of the Fairies, and he further states that the faithful old
servant insisted on his dead friend's being buried with his ancestors,
and the rudeness of the mistress of Llech y Derwydd to her father-in-law
brought a curse upon the place and family, and her offence was not
expiated until the farm had been sold nine times.

The next tale that I shall relate is recorded by _Glasynys_ in _Cymru
Fu_, pp. 177-179.  Professor Rhys in his _Welsh Fairy Tales_, _Y
Cymmrodor_, vol. v., pp. 81-84, gives a translation of this story.  The
Professor prefaces the tale with a caution that _Glasynys_ had elaborated
the story, and that the proper names were undoubtedly his own.  The
reverend author informs his readers that he heard his mother relate the
tale many times, but it certainly appears that he has ornamented the
simple narrative after his own fashion, for he was professedly a believer
in words; however, in its general outline, it bears the impress of
antiquity, and strongly resembles other Welsh Fairy tales.  It belongs to
that species of Fairy stories which compose this chapter, and therefore
it is here given as translated by Professor Rhys.  I will for the sake of
reference give the tale a name, and describe it under the following

6.  _A young man marries a Fairy Lady in Fairy Land, and brings her to
live with him among his own people_.

"Once on a time a shepherd boy had gone up the mountain.  That day, like
many a day before and after, was exceedingly misty.  Now, though he was
well acquainted with the place, he lost his way, and walked backwards and
forwards for many a long hour.  At last he got into a low rushy spot,
where he saw before him many circular rings.  He at once recalled the
place, and began to fear the worst.  He had heard, many hundreds of
times, of the bitter experiences in those rings of many a shepherd who
had happened to chance on the dancing-place or the circles of the Fair
Family.  He hastened away as fast as ever he could, lest he should be
ruined like the rest; but though he exerted himself to the point of
perspiring, and losing his breath, there he was, and there he continued
to be, a long time.  At last he was met by a little fat old man with
merry blue eyes, who asked him what he was doing.  He answered that he
was trying to find his way homeward.  'Oh,' said he, 'come after me, and
do not utter a word until I bid thee.'  This he did, following him on and
on until they came to an oval stone, and the little old fat man lifted
it, after tapping the middle of it three times with his walking stick.
There was there a narrow path with stairs to be seen here and there, and
a sort of whitish light, inclining to grey and blue, was to be seen
radiating from the stones.  'Follow me fearlessly,' said the fat man, 'no
harm will be done thee.'  So on the poor youth went, as reluctantly as a
dog to be hanged; but presently a fine-wooded, fertile country spread
itself out before them, with well arranged mansions dotting it over,
while every kind of apparent magnificence met the eye, and seemed to
smile in its landscape; the bright waters of its rivers meandered in
twisted streams, and its hills were covered with the luxuriant verdure of
their grassy growth, and the mountains with a glossy fleece of smooth
pasture.  By the time they had reached the stout gentleman's mansion, the
young man's senses had been bewildered by the sweet cadence of the music
which the birds poured forth from the groves, then there was gold there
to dazzle his eyes and silver flashing on his sight.  He saw there all
kinds of musical instruments and all sorts of things for playing, but he
could discern no inhabitant in the whole place; and when he sat down to
eat, the dishes on the table came to their places of themselves and
disappeared when one had done with them.  This puzzled him beyond
measure; moreover, he heard people talking together around him, but for
the life of him he could see no one but his old friend.  At length the
fat man said to him, 'Thou canst now talk as much as it may please thee;'
but when he attempted to move his tongue it would no more stir than if it
had been a lump of ice, which greatly frightened him.  At this point, a
fine old lady, with health and benevolence beaming in her face, came to
them and slightly smiled at the shepherd.  The mother was followed by her
three daughters, who were remarkably beautiful.  They gazed with somewhat
playful looks at him, and at length began to talk to him, but his tongue
would not wag.  Then one of the girls came to him, and, playing with his
yellow and curly locks, gave him a smart kiss on his ruddy lips.  This
loosened the string that bound his tongue, and he began to talk freely
and eloquently.  There he was, under the charm of that kiss, in the bliss
of happiness, and there he remained a year and a day without knowing that
he had passed more than a day among them, for he had got into a country
where there was no reckoning of time.  But by and by he began to feel
somewhat of a longing to visit his old home, and asked the stout man if
he might go.  'Stay a little yet,' said he, 'and thou shalt go for a
while.'  That passed, he stayed on; but Olwen, for that was the name of
the damsel that had kissed him, was very unwilling that he should depart.
She looked sad every time he talked of going away, nor was he himself
without feeling a sort of a cold thrill passing through him at the
thought of leaving her.  On condition, however, of returning, he obtained
leave to go, provided with plenty of gold and silver, of trinkets and
gems.  When he reached home, nobody knew who he was; it had been the
belief that he had been killed by another shepherd, who found it
necessary to betake himself hastily far away to America, lest he should
be hanged without delay.  But here is Einion Las at home, and everybody
wonders especially to see that the shepherd had got to look like a
wealthy man; his manners, his dress, his language, and the treasure he
had with him, all conspired to give him the air of a gentleman.  He went
back one Thursday night, the first of the moon that month, as suddenly as
he had left the first time, and nobody knew whither.  There was great joy
in the country below when Einion returned thither, and nobody was more
rejoiced at it than Olwen, his beloved.  The two were right impatient to
get married, but it was necessary to do that quietly, for the family
below hated nothing more than fuss and noise; so, in a sort of a
half-secret fashion, they were wedded.  Einion was very desirous to go
once more among his own people, accompanied, to be sure, by his wife.
After he had been long entreating the old man for leave, they set out on
two white ponies, that were, in fact, more like snow than anything else
in point of colour; so he arrived with his consort in his old home, and
it was the opinion of all that Einion's wife was the handsomest person
they had anywhere seen.  Whilst at home, a son was born to them, to whom
they gave the name of Taliesin.  Einion was now in the enjoyment of high
repute, and his wife received proper respect.  Their wealth was immense,
and soon they acquired a large estate; but it was not long till people
began to inquire after the pedigree of Einion's wife--the country was of
opinion that it was not the right thing to be without a pedigree.  Einion
was questioned about it, without his giving any satisfactory answer, and
one came to the conclusion that she was one of the Fair Family (_Tylwyth
Teg_).  'Certainly,' replied Einion, 'there can be no doubt that she
comes from a very fair family, for she has two sisters who are as fair as
she, and if you saw them together, you would admit that name to be a
capital one.'  This, then, is the reason why the remarkable family in the
land of charm and phantasy (_Hud a Lledrith_) are called the Fair

7.  _A Boy taken to Fairy Land_.

Mrs. Morris, of Cwm Vicarage, near Rhyl, told the writer the following
story.  She stated that she had heard it related in her family that one
of their people had in childhood been induced by the Fairies to follow
them to their country.  This boy had been sent to discharge some domestic
errand, but he did not return.  He was sought for in all directions but
could not be found.  His parents came to the conclusion that he had
either been murdered or kidnapped, and in time he was forgotten by most
people, but one day he returned with what he had been sent for in his
hand.  But so many years had elapsed since he first left home, that he
was now an old grey-headed man, though he knew it not; he had, he said,
followed, for a short time, delightful music and people; but when
convinced, by the changes around, that years had slipped by since he
first left his home, he was so distressed at the changes he saw that he
said he would return to the Fairies.  But alas! he sought in vain for the
place where he had met them, and therefore he was obliged to remain with
his blood relations.

The next tale differs from the preceding, insomuch that the seductive
advances of the Fairies failed in their object.  I am not quite positive
whence I obtained the story, but this much I know, that it belongs to
Pentrevoelas, and that a respectable old man was in the habit of
repeating it, as an event in his own life.

_A Man Refusing the Solicitations of the Fairies_.

A Pentrevoelas man was coming home one lovely summer's night, and when
within a stone's throw of his house, he heard in the far distance singing
of the most enchanting kind.  He stopped to listen to the sweet sounds
which filled him with a sensation of deep pleasure.  He had not listened
long ere he perceived that the singers were approaching.  By and by they
came to the spot where he was, and he saw that they were marching in
single file and consisted of a number of small people, robed in
close-fitting grey clothes, and they were accompanied by speckled dogs
that marched along two deep like soldiers.  When the procession came
quite opposite the enraptured listener, it stopped, and the small people
spoke to him and earnestly begged him to accompany them, but he would
not.  They tried many ways, and for a long time, to persuade him to join
them, but when they saw they could not induce him to do so they departed,
dividing themselves into two companies and marching away, the dogs
marching two abreast in front of each company.  They sang as they went
away the most entrancing music that was ever heard.  The man,
spell-bound, stood where he was, listening to the ravishing music of the
Fairies, and he did not enter his house until the last sound had died
away in the far-off distance.

Professor Rhys records a tale much like the preceding.  (See his _Welsh
Fairy Tales_, pp. 34, 35.)  It is as follows:--"One bright moonlight
night, as one of the sons of the farmer who lived at Llwyn On in Nant y
Bettws was going to pay his addresses to a girl at Clogwyn y Gwin, he
beheld the Tylwyth enjoying themselves in full swing on a meadow close to
Cwellyn Lake.  He approached them and little by little he was led on by
the enchanting sweetness of their music and the liveliness of their
playing until he got within their circle.  Soon some kind of spell passed
over him, so that he lost his knowledge of every place, and found himself
in a country the most beautiful he had ever seen, where everybody spent
his time in mirth and rejoicing.  He had been there seven years, and yet
it seemed to him but a night's dream; but a faint recollection came to
his mind of the business on which he had left home, and he felt a longing
to see his beloved one: so he went and asked permission to return home,
which was granted him, together with a host of attendants to lead him to
his country; and, suddenly, he found himself, as waking from a dream, on
the bank where he had seen the Fairy Family amusing themselves.  He
turned towards home, but there he found everything changed: his parents
were dead, his brothers could not recognize him, and his sweetheart was
married to another man.  In consequence of such changes, he broke his
heart, and died in less than a week after coming back."

Many variants of the legends already related are still extant in Wales.
This much can be said of these tales, that it was formerly believed that
marriages took place between men and Fairies, and from the tales
themselves we can infer that the men fared better in Fairy land than the
Fairy ladies did in the country of their earthly husbands.  This,
perhaps, is what might be expected, if, as we may suppose, the Fair Tribe
were supplanted, and overcome, by a stronger, and bolder people, with
whom, to a certain extent, the weaker and conquered or subdued race
commingled by marriage.  Certain striking characteristics of both races
are strongly marked in these legends.  The one is a smaller and more
timid people than the other, and far more beautiful in mind and person
than their conquerors.  The ravishing beauty of the Fairy lady forms a
prominent feature in all these legends.  The Fairies, too, are spoken of
as being without religion.  This, perhaps, means nothing more than that
they differed from their conquerors in forms, or objects of worship.
However this might be, it would appear that their conquerors knew but
little of that perfect moral teaching which made the Fairies, according
to the testimony of Giraldus, truthful, void of ambition, and honest.

It must, however, be confessed, that there is much that is mythical in
these legends, and every part cannot well be made to correspond with
ordinary human transactions.

It is somewhat amusing to note how modern ideas, and customs, are mixed
up with these ancient stories.  They undoubtedly received a gloss from
the ages which transmitted the tales.

In the next chapter I shall treat of another phase of Fairy Folk-lore,
which will still further connect the Fair Race with their conquerors.


It was firmly believed, at one time, in Wales, that the Fairies exchanged
their own weakly or deformed offspring for the strong children of
mortals.  The child supposed to have been left by the Fairies in the
cradle, or elsewhere, was commonly called a changeling.  This faith was
not confined to Wales; it was as common in Ireland, Scotland, and
England, as it was in Wales.  Thus, in Spenser's _Faery Queen_, reference
is made in the following words to this popular error:--

    And her base Elfin brood there for thee left;
    Such, men do chaungelings call, so chaung'd by Faeries theft.

    _Faery Queen_, Bk. I, c. 10.

The same superstition is thus alluded to by Shakespeare:--

    A lovely boy, stol'n from an Indian king,
    She never had so sweet a changeling.

    _A Midsummer Night's Dream_, Act II., Sc. 1.

And again, in another of his plays, the Fairy practice of exchanging
children is mentioned:--

       O, that it could be prov'd,
    That some night-tripping Fairy had exchanged
    In cradle-clothes our children, where they lay,
    And call'd mine, Percy, his Plantagenet:
    Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.

    _Henry IV_., Pt. 1., Act I, Sc. 1.

In Scotland and other countries the Fairies were credited with stealing
unbaptized infants, and leaving in their stead poor, sickly, noisy, thin,
babies.  But to return to Wales, a poet in _Y Brython_, vol. iii, p. 103,
thus sings:--

    Llawer plentyn teg aeth ganddynt,
       Pan y cym'rynt helynt hir;
    Oddi ar anwyl dda rieni,
       I drigfanau difri dir.

    Many a lovely child they've taken,
       When long and bitter was the pain;
    From their parents, loving, dear,
       To the Fairies' dread domain.

John Williams, an old man, who lived in the Penrhyn quarry district,
informed the writer that he could reveal strange doings of the Fairies in
his neighbourhood, for often had they changed children with even
well-to-do families, he said, but more he would not say, lest he should
injure those prosperous families.

It was believed that the Fairies were particularly busy in exchanging
children on _Nos Wyl Ifan_, or St. John's Eve.

There were, however, effectual means for protecting children from their
machinations.  The mother's presence, the tongs placed cross-ways on the
cradle, the early baptism of the child, were all preventives.  In the
Western Isles of Scotland fire carried round a woman before she was
churched, and round the child until he was christened, daily, night and
morning, preserved both from the evil designs of the Fairies.  (Brand,
vol. ii, p. 486.)  And it will be shortly shewn that even after an
exchange had been accomplished there were means of forcing the Fairies to
restore the stolen child.

It can well be believed that mothers who had sickly or idiotic babies
would, in uncivilized places, gladly embrace the idea that the child she
nursed was a changeling, and then, naturally enough, she would endeavour
to recover her own again.  The plan adopted for this purpose was
extremely dangerous.  I will in the following tales show what steps were
taken to reclaim the lost child.

Pennant records how a woman who had a peevish child acted to regain from
the Fairies her own offspring.  His words are:--"Above this is a
spreading oak of great antiquity, size, and extent of branches; it has
got the name of _Fairy Oak_.  In this very century (the eighteenth) a
poor cottager, who lived near the spot, had a child who grew uncommonly
peevish; the parents attributed this to the _Fairies_, and imagined that
it was a changeling.  They took the child, put it into a cradle, and left
it all night beneath the tree, in hopes that the _Tylwyth Teg_, or _Fairy
Family_, or the Fairy folk, would restore their own before the morning.
When morning came, they found the child perfectly quiet, so went away
with it, quite confirmed in their belief."--_History of Whiteford_, pp.
5, 6.

These people by exposing their infant for a night to the elements ran a
risk of losing it altogether; but they acted in agreement with the
popular opinion, which was that the Fairies had such affection for their
own children that they would not allow them to be in any danger of losing
their life, and that if the elfin child were thus exposed the Fairies
would rescue it, and restore the exchanged child to its parents.  The
following tale exhibits another phase of this belief.

The story is to be found in the _Cambrian Magazine_, vol. ii., pp. 86,

1.  "_The Egg Shell Pottage_."

"In the parish of Treveglwys, near Llanidloes, in the county of
Montgomery, there is a little shepherd's cot, that is commonly called Twt
y Cwmrws (the place of strife) on account of the extraordinary strife
that has been there.  The inhabitants of the cottage were a man and his
wife, and they had born to them twins, whom the woman nursed with great
care and tenderness.  Some months afterwards indispensable business
called the wife to the house of one of her nearest neighbours; yet,
notwithstanding she had not far to go, she did not like to leave her
children by themselves in their cradle, even for a minute, as her house
was solitary, and there were many tales of goblins or the '_Tylwyth Teg_'
(the Fair Family or the Fairies) haunting the neighbourhood.  However,
she went, and returned as soon as she could; but on coming back she felt
herself not a little terrified on seeing, though it was mid-day, some of
'the old elves of the blue petticoat,' as they are usually called;
however, when she got back to her house she was rejoiced to find
everything in the state she had left it.

But after some time had passed by, the good people began to wonder that
the twins did not grow at all, but still continued little dwarfs.  The
man would have it that they were not his children; the woman said that
they must be their children, and about this arose the great strife
between them that gave name to the place.  One evening when the woman was
very heavy of heart she determined to go and consult a _Gwr Cyfarwydd_
(i.e., a wise man, or a conjuror), feeling assured that everything was
known to him, and he gave her his counsel.  Now there was to be a harvest
soon of the rye and oats; so the wise man said to her:--'When you are
preparing dinner for the reapers empty the shell of a hen's egg, and boil
the shell full of pottage and take it out through the door as if you
meant it for a dinner to the reapers, and then listen what the twins will
say; if you hear the children speaking things above the understanding of
children, return into the house, take them, and throw them into the waves
of Llyn Ebyr, which is very near to you; but if you don't hear anything
remarkable, do them no injury.'  And when the day of the reaping came,
the woman did as her adviser had recommended to her; and as she went
outside the door to listen, she heard one of the children say to the

    Gwelais vesen cyn gweled derwen,
       Gwelais wy cyn gweled iar,
    Erioed ni welais verwi bwyd i vedel
       Mewn plisgyn wy iar!

    Acorns before oak I knew,
       An egg before a hen,
    Never one hen's egg-shell stew
       Enough for harvest men!

On this the mother returned to her house and took the two children, and
threw them into the Llyn, and suddenly the goblins in their trousers came
to save their dwarfs, and the woman had her own children back again, and
thus the strife between her and her husband ended."

The writer of the preceding story says that it was translated almost
literally from Welsh, as told by the peasantry, and he remarks that the
legend bears a striking resemblance to one of the Irish tales published
by Mr. Croker.

Many variants of the legend are still extant in many parts of Wales.
There is one of these recorded in Professor Rhys's _Welsh Fairy Tales_,
_Y Cymmrodor_, vol. iv., pp. 208-209.  It is much like that given in the
_Cambrian Magazine_.

2.  _Corwrion Changeling Legend_.

Once on a time, in the fourteenth century, the wife of a man at Corwrion
had twins, and she complained one day to the witch who lived close by, at
Tyddyn y Barcut, that the children were not getting on, but that they
were always crying, day and night.  'Are you sure that they are your
children?' asked the witch, adding that it did not seem to her that they
were like hers.  'I have my doubts also,' said the mother.  'I wonder if
somebody has changed children with you,' said the witch.  'I do not
know,' said the mother.  'But why do you not seek to know?' asked the
other.  'But how am I to go about it?' said the mother.  The witch
replied, 'Go and do something rather strange before their eyes and watch
what they will say to one another.'  'Well I do not know what I should
do,' said the mother.  'Oh,' said the other, 'take an egg-shell, and
proceed to brew beer in it in a chamber aside, and come here to tell me
what the children will say about it.'  She went home and did as the witch
had directed her, when the two children lifted their heads out of the
cradle to see what she was doing, to watch, and to listen.  Then one
observed to the other:--'I remember seeing an oak having an acorn,' to
which the other replied, 'And I remember seeing a hen having an egg,' and
one of the two added, 'But I do not remember before seeing anybody brew
beer in the shell of a hen's egg.'

The mother then went to the witch and told her what the twins had said
one to the other, and she directed her to go to a small wooden bridge not
far off, with one of the strange children under each arm, and there to
drop them from the bridge into the river beneath.  The mother went back
home again and did as she had been directed.  When she reached home this
time, to her astonishment, she found that her own children had been
brought back."

There is one important difference between these two tales.  In the
latter, the mother drops the children over the bridge into the waters
beneath, and then goes home, without noticing whether the poor children
had been rescued by the goblins or not, but on reaching her home she
found in the cradle her own two children, presumably conveyed there by
the Fairies.  In the first tale, we are informed that she saw the goblins
save their offspring from a watery grave.  Subjecting peevish children to
such a terrible ordeal as this must have ended often with a tragedy, but
even in such cases superstitious mothers could easily persuade themselves
that the destroyed infants were undoubtedly the offspring of elfins, and
therefore unworthy of their fostering care.  The only safeguard to
wholesale infanticide was the test applied as to the super-human
precociousness, or ordinary intelligence, of the children.

Another version of this tale was related to me by my young friend, the
Rev. D. H. Griffiths, of Clocaenog Rectory, near Ruthin.  The tale was
told him by Evan Roberts, Ffriddagored, Llanfwrog.  Mr. Roberts is an
aged farmer.

3.  _Llanfwrog Changeling Legend_.

A mother took her child to the gleaning field, and left it sleeping under
the sheaves of wheat whilst she was busily engaged gleaning.  The Fairies
came to the field and carried off her pretty baby, leaving in its place
one of their own infants.  At the time, the mother did not notice any
difference between her own child and the one that took its place, but
after awhile she observed with grief that the baby she was nursing did
not thrive, nor did it grow, nor would it try to walk.  She mentioned
these facts to her neighbours, and she was told to do something strange
and then listen to its conversation.  She took an egg-shell and pretended
to brew beer in it, and she was then surprised to hear the child, who had
observed her actions intently, say:--

    Mi welais fesen gan dderwen,
       Mi welais wy gan iar,
    Ond ni welais i erioed ddarllaw
       Mewn cibyn wy iar.

    I have seen an oak having an acorn,
       I have seen a hen having an egg,
    But I never saw before brewing
       In the shell of a hen's egg.

This conversation proved the origin of the precocious child who lay in
the cradle.  The stanza was taken down from Roberts's lips.  But he could
not say what was done to the fairy changeling.

In Ireland a plan for reclaiming the child carried away by the Fairies
was to take the Fairy's changeling and place it on the top of a dunghill,
and then to chant certain invocatory lines beseeching the Fairies to
restore the stolen child.

There was, it would seem, in Wales, a certain form of incantation
resorted to to reclaim children from the Fairies, which was as
follows:--The mother who had lost her child was to carry the changeling
to a river, but she was to be accompanied by a conjuror, who was to take
a prominent part in the ceremony.  When at the river's brink the conjuror
was to cry out:--

    Crap ar y wrach--

    A grip on the hag;

and the mother was to respond--

    Rhy hwyr gyfraglach--

    Too late decrepit one;

and having uttered these words, she was to throw the child into the
stream, and to depart, and it was believed that on reaching her home she
would there find her own child safe and sound.

I have already alluded to the horrible nature of such a proceeding.  I
will now relate a tale somewhat resembling those already given, but in
this latter case, the supposed changeling became the mainstay of his
family.  I am indebted for the _Gors Goch_ legend to an essay, written by
Mr. D. Williams, Llanfachreth, Merionethshire, which took the prize at
the Liverpool Eisteddfod, 1870, and which appears in a publication called
_Y Gordofigion_, pp. 96, 97, published by Mr. I. Foulkes, Liverpool.

4.  _The Gore Goch Changeling Legend_.

The tale rendered into English is as follows:--"There was once a happy
family living in a place called Gors Goch.  One night, as usual, they
went to bed, but they could not sleep a single wink, because of the noise
outside the house.  At last the master of the house got up, and
trembling, enquired 'What was there, and what was wanted.'  A clear sweet
voice answered him thus, 'We want a warm place where we can tidy the
children.'  The door was opened when there entered half full the house of
the _Tylwyth Teg_, and they began forthwith washing their children.  And
when they had finished, they commenced singing, and the singing was
entrancing.  The dancing and the singing were both excellent.  On going
away they left behind them money not a little for the use of the house.
And afterwards they came pretty often to the house, and received a hearty
welcome in consequence of the large presents which they left behind them
on the hob.  But at last a sad affair took place which was no less than
an exchange of children.  The Gors Goch baby was a dumpy child, a sweet,
pretty, affectionate little dear, but the child which was left in its
stead was a sickly, thin, shapeless, ugly being, which did nothing but
cry and eat, and although it ate ravenously like a mastiff, it did not
grow.  At last the wife of Gors Goch died of a broken heart, and so also
did all her children, but the father lived a long life and became a rich
man, because his new heir's family brought him abundance of gold and

As I have already given more than one variant of the same legend, I will
supply another version of the Gors Goch legend which appears in _Cymru
Fu_, pp. 177-8, from the pen of the Revd. Owen Wyn Jones, _Glasynys_, and
which in consequence of the additional facts contained in it may be of
some value.  I will make use of Professor Rhys's translation.  (See _Y
Cymmrodor_, vol. v., pp. 79-80.)

5.  _Another Version of the Gors Goch Legend_.

"When the people of the Gors Goch one evening had gone to bed, lo! they
heard a great row and disturbance around the house.  One could not at all
comprehend what it might be that made a noise that time of night.  Both
the husband and the wife had waked up, quite unable to make out what
there might be there.  The children also woke but no one could utter a
word; their tongues had all stuck to the roofs of their mouths.  The
husband, however, at last managed to move, and to ask, 'Who is there?
What do you want?'  Then he was answered from without by a small silvery
voice, 'It is room we want to dress our children.'  The door was opened,
and a dozen small beings came in, and began to search for an earthen
pitcher with water; there they remained for some hours, washing and
titivating themselves.  As the day was breaking they went away, leaving
behind them a fine present for the kindness they had received.  Often
afterwards did the Gors Goch folks have the company of this family.  But
once there happened to be a fine roll of a pretty baby in his cradle.
The Fair Family came, and, as the baby had not been baptized, they took
the liberty of changing him for one of their own.  They left behind in
his stead an abominable creature that would do nothing but cry and scream
every day of the week.  The mother was nearly breaking her heart, on
account of the misfortune, and greatly afraid of telling anybody about
it.  But everybody got to see that there was something wrong at Gors
Goch, which was proved before long by the mother dying of longing for her
child.  The other children died broken-hearted after their mother, and
the husband was left alone with the little elf without anyone to comfort
them.  But shortly after, the Fairies began to resort again to the hearth
of the Gors Goch to dress children, and the gift which had formerly been
silver money became henceforth pure gold.  In the course of a few years
the elf became the heir of a large farm in North Wales, and that is why
the old people used to say, 'Shoe the elf with gold and he will grow.'"
(_Fe ddaw gwiddon yn fawr ond ei bedoli ag aur_.)

It will be observed that this latter version differs in one remarkable
incident from the preceding tale.  In the former there is no allusion to
the fact that the changed child had not been baptized; in the latter,
this omission is specially mentioned as giving power to the Fairies to
exchange their own child for the human baby.  This preventive carries
these tales into Christian days.  Another tale, which I will now relate,
also proves that faith in the Fairies and in the efficacy of the Cross
existed at one and the same time.  The tale is taken from _Y
Gordofigion_, p. 96.  I will first give it as it originally appeared, and
then I will translate the story.

6.  _Garth Uchaf, Llanuwchllyn_, _Changeling Legend_.

"Yr oedd gwraig Garth Uchaf, yn Llanuwchllyn, un tro wedi myned allan i
gweirio gwair, a gadael ei baban yn y cryd; ond fel bu'r anffawd, ni
roddodd yr efail yn groes ar wyneb y cryd, ac o ganlyniad, ffeiriwyd ei
baban gan y Tylwyth Teg, ac erbyn iddi ddyfod i'r ty, nid oedd yn y cryd
ond rhyw hen gyfraglach o blentyn fel pe buasai wedi ei haner lewygu o
eisiau ymborth, ond magwyd ef er hyny."

The wife of Garth Uchaf, Llanuwchllyn, went out one day to make hay, and
left her baby in the cradle.  _Unfortunately_, _she did not place the
tongs crossways on the cradle_, and consequently the Fairies changed her
baby, and by the time she came home there was nothing in the cradle but
some old decrepit changeling, which looked is if it were half famished,
but nevertheless, it was nursed.

The reason why the Fairies exchanged babies with human beings, judging
from the stories already given, was their desire to obtain healthy
well-formed children in the place of their own puny ill-shaped offspring,
but this is hardly a satisfactory explanation of such conduct.  A
mother's love is ever depicted as being so intense that deformity on the
part of her child rather increases than diminishes her affection for her
unfortunate babe.  In Scotland the difficulty is solved in a different
way.  There it was once thought that the Fairies were obliged every
seventh year to pay to the great enemy of mankind an offering of one of
their own children, or a human child instead, and as a mother is ever a
mother, be she elves flesh or Eve's flesh, she always endeavoured to
substitute some one else's child for her own, and hence the reason for
exchanging children.

In Allan Cunningham's _Traditional Tales_, Morley's edition, p. 188,
mention is made of this belief.  He writes:--

"'I have heard it said by douce Folk,' 'and sponsible,' interrupted
another, 'that every seven years the elves and Fairies pay kane, or make
an offering of one of their children, to the grand enemy of salvation,
and that they are permitted to purloin one of the children of men to
present to the fiend,' 'a more acceptable offering, I'll warrant, than
one of their own infernal blood that are Satan's sib allies, and drink a
drop of the deil's blood every May morning.'"

The Rev. Peter Roberts's theory was that the smaller race kidnapped the
children of the stronger race, who occupied the country concurrently with
themselves, for the purpose of adding to their own strength as a people.

Gay, in lines quoted in Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, vol. ii., p. 485,
laughs at the idea of changelings.  A Fairy's tongue ridicules the

    Whence sprung the vain conceited lye,
    That we the world with fools supply?
    What!  Give our sprightly race away
    For the dull helpless sons of clay!
    Besides, by partial fondness shown,
    Like you, we dote upon our own.
    Where ever yet was found a mother
    Who'd give her booby for another?
    And should we change with human breed,
    Well might we pass for fools, indeed.

With the above fine satire I bring my remarks on Fairy Changelings to a


Fairies are represented in Wales as possessing all the passions,
appetites, and wants of human beings.  There are many tales current of
their soliciting help and favours in their need from men and women.  Just
as uncivilized nations acknowledge the superiority of Europeans in
medicine, so did the Fairies resort in perplexing cases to man for aid.
There is a class of tales which has reached our days in which the Fairy
lady, who is about to become a mother, obtains from amongst men a
midwife, whom she rewards with rich presents for her services.  Variants
of this story are found in many parts of Wales, and in many continental
countries.  I will relate a few of these legends.

1.  _Denbighshire Version of a Fairy Mother and Human Midwife_.

The following story I received from the lips of David Roberts, whom I
have previously mentioned, a native of Denbighshire, and he related the
tale as one commonly known.  As might be expected, he locates the event
in Denbighshire, but I have no recollection that he gave names.  His
narrative was as follows:--

A well-known midwife, whose services were much sought after in
consequence of her great skill, had one night retired to rest, when she
was disturbed by a loud knocking at her door.  She immediately got up and
went to the door, and there saw a beautiful carriage, which she was
urgently requested to enter at once to be conveyed to a house where her
help was required.  She did so, and after a long drive the carriage drew
up before the entrance to a large mansion, which she had never seen
before.  She successfully performed her work, and stayed on in the place
until her services were no longer required.  Then she was conveyed home
in the same manner as she had come, but with her went many valuable
presents in grateful recognition of the services she had rendered.

The midwife somehow or other found out that she had been attending a
Fairy mother.  Some time after her return from Fairy land she went to a
fair, and there she saw the lady whom she had put to bed nimbly going
from stall to stall, and making many purchases.  For awhile she watched
the movements of the lady, and then presuming on her limited
acquaintance, addressed her, and asked how she was.  The lady seemed
surprised and annoyed at the woman's speech, and instead of answering
her, said, "And do you see me?"  "Yes, I do," said the midwife.  "With
which eye?" enquired the Fairy.  "With this," said the woman, placing her
hand on the eye.  No sooner had she spoken than the Fairy lady touched
that eye, and the midwife could no longer see the Fairy.

Mrs. Lowri Wynn, Clocaenog, near Ruthin, who has reached her eightieth
year, and is herself a midwife, gave me a version of the preceding which
differed therefrom in one or two particulars.  The Fairy gentleman who
had driven the woman to and from the Hall was the one that was seen in
the fair, said Mrs. Wynn, and he it was that put out the eye or blinded
it, she was not sure which, of the inquisitive midwife, and Lowri thought
it was the left eye.

2.  _Merionethshire Version of the Fairy Mother and Human Midwife_.

A more complete version of this legend is given in the _Gordofigion_, pp.
97, 98.  The writer says:--

"Yr oedd bydwraig yn Llanuwchllyn wedi cael ei galw i Goed y Garth, sef
Siambra Duon--cartref y Tylwyth Teg--at un o honynt ar enedigaeth baban.
Dywedasant wrthi am gymeryd gofal rhag, cyffwrdd y dwfr oedd ganddi yn
trin y babi yn agos i'w llygaid; ond cyffyrddodd y wraig a'r llygad aswy
yn ddigon difeddwl.  Yn y Bala, ymhen ychydig, gwelai y fydwraig y gwr,
sef tad y baban, a dechreuodd ei holi pa sut yr oeddynt yn Siambra Duon?
pa fodd yr oedd y wraig? a sut 'roedd y teulu bach i gyd?  Edrychai yntau
arni yn graff, a gofynodd, 'A pha lygad yr ydych yn fy ngweled i?'  'A
hwn,' ebe hithau, gan gyfeirio at ei llygad aswy.  Tynodd yntau y llygad
hwnw o'i phen, ac yna nis gallai'r wraig ei ganfod."

This in English is:--

There was a midwife who lived at Llanuwchllyn, who was called to Coed y
Garth, that is, to Siambra Duon, the home of the Tylwyth Teg, to attend
to one of them in child birth.  They told her to be careful not to touch
her eyes with the water used in washing the baby, but quite
unintentionally the woman touched her left eye.  Shortly afterwards the
midwife saw the Fairy's husband at Bala, and she began enquiring how they
all were at Siambra Duon, how the wife was, and how the little family
was?  He looked at her intently, and then asked, "With which eye do you
see me?"  "With this," she said, pointing to her left eye.  He plucked
that eye out of her head, and so the woman could not see him.

With regard to this tale, the woman's eye is said to have been plucked
out; in the first tale she was only deprived of her supernatural power of
sight; in other versions the woman becomes blind with one eye.

Professor Rhys in _Y Cymmrodor_, vol. iv., pp. 209, 210, gives a variant
of the midwife story which differs in some particulars from that already
related.  I will call this the Corwrion version.

3.  _The Corwrion Version_.

One of the Fairies came to a midwife who lived at Corwrion and asked her
to come with him and attend on his wife.  Off she went with him, and she
was astonished to be taken into a splendid palace.  There she continued
to go night and morning to dress the baby for some time, until one day
the husband asked her to rub her eyes with a certain ointment he offered
her.  She did so and found herself sitting on a tuft of rushes, and not
in a palace.  There was no baby, and all had disappeared.  Some time
afterwards she happened to go to the town, and whom should she see busily
buying various wares but the Fairy on whose wife she had been attending.
She addressed him with the question, "How are you, to-day?"  Instead of
answering her he asked, "How do you see me?"  "With my eyes," was the
prompt reply.  "Which eye?" he asked.  "This one," said she, pointing to
it; and instantly he disappeared, never more to be seen by her.

There is yet one other variant of this story which I will give, and for
the sake of reference I will call it the Nanhwynan version.  It appears
in the _Brython_, vol. ix., p. 251, and Professor Rhys has rendered it
into English in _Y Cymmrodor_, vol. ix., p. 70.  I will give the tale as
related by the Professor.

4.  _The Nanhwynan Version_.

"Once on a time, when a midwife from Nanhwynan had newly got to the
Hafodydd Brithion to pursue her calling, a gentleman came to the door on
a fine grey steed and bade her come with him at once.  Such was the
authority with which he spoke, that the poor midwife durst not refuse to
go, however much it was her duty to stay where she was.  So she mounted
behind him, and off they went like the flight of a swallow, through
Cwmllan, over the Bwlch, down Nant yr Aran, and over the Gadair to Cwm
Hafod Ruffydd, before the poor woman had time to say 'Oh.'  When they had
got there she saw before her a magnificent mansion, splendidly lit up
with such lamps as she had never before seen.  They entered the court,
and a crowd of servants in expensive liveries came to meet them, and she
was at once led through the great hall into a bed-chamber, the like of
which she had never seen.  There the mistress of the house, to whom she
had been fetched, was awaiting her.  She got through her duties
successfully, and stayed there until the lady had completely recovered;
nor had she spent any part of her life so merrily.  There was there
nought but festivity day and night: dancing, singing, and endless
rejoicing reigned there.  But merry as it was, she found she must go, and
the nobleman gave her a large purse, with the order not to open it until
she had got into her own house; then he bade one of his servants escort
her the same way she had come.  When she reached home she opened the
purse, and, to her great joy, it was full of money, and she lived happily
on those earnings to the end of her life."

Such are these tales.  Perhaps they are one and all fragments of the same
story.  Each contains a few shreds that are wanting in the others.  All,
however, agree in one leading idea, that Fairy mothers have, ere now,
obtained the aid of human midwives, and this one fact is a connecting
link between the people called Fairies and our own remote forefathers.


Old people often told their children and servant girls, that one
condition of the Fairy visits to their houses was cleanliness.  They were
always instructed to keep the fire place tidy and the floor well swept,
the pails filled with water, and to make everything bright and nice
before going to bed, and that then, perhaps, the Fairies would come into
the house to dance and sing until the morning, and leave on the hearth
stone a piece of money as a reward behind them.  But should the house be
dirty, never would the Fairies enter it to hold their nightly revels,
unless, forsooth, they came to punish the slatternly servant.  Such was
the popular opinion, and it must have acted as an incentive to order and
cleanliness.  These ideas have found expression in song.

A writer in _Yr Hynafion Cymreig_, p. 153, sings thus of the place loved
by the Fairies:--

    Ysgafn ddrws pren, llawr glan dan nen,
       A'r aelwyd wen yn wir,
    Tan golau draw, y dwr gerllaw,
       Yn siriaw'r cylchgrwn clir.

    A light door, and clean white floor,
       And hearth-stone bright indeed,
    A burning fire, and water near,
       Supplies our every need.

In a ballad, entitled "The Fairy Queen," in Percy's _Reliques of Ancient
English Poetry_, Nichols's edition, vol. iii., p. 172, are stanzas
similar to the Welsh verse given above, which also partially embody the
Welsh opinions of Fairy visits to their houses.  Thus chants the "Fairy

       When mortals are at rest,
       And snoring in their nest,
       Unheard, and un-espy'd,
       Through key-holes we do glide;
    Over tables, stools, and shelves,
    We trip it with our Fairy elves.
       And, if the house be foul
       With platter, dish, or bowl,
       Upstairs we nimbly creep,
       And find the sluts asleep:
    There we pinch their arms and thighs;
    None escapes, nor none espies.
       But if the house be swept
       And from uncleanness kept,
       We praise the household maid,
       And duely she is paid:
    For we use before we goe
    To drop a tester in her shoe.

It was not for the sake of mirth only that the Fairies entered human
abodes, but for the performance of more mundane duties, such as making
oatmeal cakes.  The Rev. R. Jones, Rector of Llanycil, told me a story,
current in his native parish, Llanfrothen, Merionethshire, to the effect
that a Fairy woman who had spent the night in baking cakes in a farm
house forgot on leaving to take with her the wooden utensil used in
turning the cakes on the bake stone; so she returned, and failing to
discover the lost article bewailed her loss in these words, "Mi gollais
fy mhig," "I have lost my shovel."  The people got up and searched for
the lost implement, and found it, and gave it to the Fairy, who departed
with it in her possession.

Another reason why the Fairies frequented human abodes was to wash and
tidy their children.  In the Gors Goch legend, already given, is recorded
this cause of their visits.  Many like stories are extant.  It is said
that the nightly visitors expected water to be provided for them, and if
this were not the case they resented the slight thus shown them and
punished those who neglected paying attention to their wants.  But
tradition says the house-wives were ever careful of the Fairy wants; and,
as it was believed that Fairy mothers preferred using the same water in
which human children had been washed, the human mother left this water in
the bowl for their special use.

In Scotland, also, Fairies were propitiated by attention being paid to
their wants.  Thus in Allan Cunningham's _Traditional Tales_, p. 11, it
is said of Ezra Peden:--"He rebuked a venerable dame, during three
successive Sundays for placing a cream bowl and new-baked cake in the
paths of the nocturnal elves, who, she imagined, had plotted to steal her
grandson from the mother's bosom."

But in the traditions of the Isle of Man we obtain the exact counterpart
of Welsh legends respecting the Fairies visiting houses to wash
themselves.  I will give the following quotation from _Brand_, vol. ii.,
p. 494, on this point:--

"The Manks confidently assert that the first inhabitants of their island
were Fairies, and that these little people have still their residence
among them.  They call them _the good people_, and say they live in wilds
and forests, and on mountains, and shun great cities because of the
wickedness acted therein.  All the houses are blessed where they visit
for they fly vice.  A person would be thought impudently profane who
should suffer his family to go to bed without having first set a tub, or
pail full of clean water for the guests to bathe themselves in, which the
natives aver they constantly do, as soon as the eyes of the family are
closed, wherever they vouchsafe to come."

Several instances have already been given of the intercourse of Fairies
with mortals.  In some parts of Wales it is or was thought that they were
even so familiar as to borrow from men.  I will give one such tale, taken
from the _North Wales Chronicle_ of March 19th, 1887.

_A Fairy Borrowing a Gridiron_.

"The following Fairy legend was told to Mr. W. W. Cobb, of Hilton House,
Atherstone, by Mrs. Williams, wife of Thomas Williams, pilot, in whose
house he lodged when staying in Anglesey:--Mary Roberts, of Newborough,
used to receive visits once a week from a little woman who used to bring
her a loaf of bread in return for the loan of her gridiron (gradell) for
baking bread.  The Fairy always told her not to look after her when she
left the house, but one day she transgressed, and took a peep as the
Fairy went away.  The latter went straight to the lake--Lake
Rhosddu--near the house at Newborough, and plunged into its waters, and
disappeared.  This took place about a century ago.  The house where Mary
Roberts lived is still standing about 100 yards north of the lake."

Compare the preceding with the following lines:--

    If ye will with Mab finde grace,
    Set each platter in its place;
    Rake the fire up and set
    Water in ere sun be set,
    Wash your pales and cleanse your dairies,
    Sluts are loathsome to the Fairies;
    Sweep your house; who doth not so,
    Mab will pinch her by the toe.

    _Herrick's Hesperides_, 1648. (See _Brand_, vol. ii., p. 484.)

_Fairy Riches and Gifts_.

The riches of the Fairies are often mentioned by the old people, and the
source of their wealth is variously given.  An old man, who has already
been mentioned, John Williams, born about 1770, was of opinion that the
Fairies stole the money from bad rich people to give it to good poor
folk.  This they were enabled to do, he stated, as they could make
themselves invisible.  In a conversation which we once had on this
subject, my old friend posed me with this question, "Who do you think
robbed . . . of his money without his knowledge?"  "Who do you think took
. . . money only twenty years ago?"  "Why, the Fairies," added he, "for
no one ever found out the thief."

Shakespeare, in _Midsummer Night's Dream_, A. iii., S. 1, gives a very
different source to the Fairy riches:--

    I will give thee Fairies to attend on thee,
    And they _shall fetch thee jewels from the deep_.

Without inquiring too curiously into the source of these riches, it shall
now be shown how, and for what services, they were bestowed on mortals.
Gratitude is a noble trait in the Fairy character, and favours received
they ever repaid.  But the following stories illustrate alike their
commiseration, their caprice, and their grateful bounty.

_The Fairies Placing Money on the Ground for a Poor Man_.

The following tale was told me by Thomas Jones, a small mountain farmer,
who occupies land near Pont Petrual, a place between Ruthin and
Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr.  Jones informed me that he was acquainted with
all the parties mentioned in the tale.  His story was as follows:--

A shoemaker, whose health would not permit him to pursue his own trade,
obtained work in a tanyard at Penybont, near Corwen.  The shoemaker lived
in a house called Ty'n-y-graig, belonging to Clegir isa farm.  He walked
daily to his employment, a distance of several miles, because he could
not afford to pay for lodgings.  One day, he noticed a round bit of green
ground, close to one of the gates on Tan-y-Coed farm, and going up to it
discovered a piece of silver lying on the sward.  Day after day, from the
same spot, he picked up a silver coin.  By this means, as well as by the
wage he received, he became a well-to-do man.  His wife noticed the many
new coins he brought home, and questioned him about them, but he kept the
secret of their origin to himself.  At last, however, in consequence of
repeated inquiries, he told her all about the silver pieces, which daily
he had picked up from the green plot.  The next day he passed the place,
but there was no silver, as in days gone by, and he never discovered
another shilling, although he looked for it every day.  The poor man did
not live long after he had informed his wife whence he had obtained the
bright silver coins.

_The Fairies and their Chest of Gold_.

The following tale I obtained from the Rev. Owen Jones, Vicar of
Pentrevoelas.  The scene lies amongst the wildest mountains of

David, the weaver, lived in a house called Llurig, near Cerniogau Mawr,
between Pentrevoelas and Cerrig-y-Drudion.  One day David was going over
the hill to Bala.  On the top of the Garn two Fairies met him, and
desired him to follow them, promising, if he would do so, that they would
show him a chest filled with gold, and furthermore, they told him that
the gold should be his.  David was in want of money, and he was therefore
quite willing to follow these good natured Fairies.  He walked many miles
with them across the bleak, bare mountain, and at last, descending from
the summit, they reached a deep secluded glen, lying at the foot of the
mountain, and there the Fairies exposed to his view a chest, which had
never before been seen by mortal eye, and they informed him that it was
his.  David was delighted when he heard the good news, and mentally bade
farewell to weaving.  He knew, though, from tradition, that he must in
some way or other, there and then, take possession of his treasure, or it
would disappear.  He could not carry the chest away, as it was too heavy,
but to show his ownership thereto he thrust his walking stick into the
middle of the gold, and there it stood erect.  Then he started homewards,
and often and again, as he left the glen, he turned round to see whether
the Fairies had taken his stick away, and with it the chest; but no,
there it remained.  At last the ridge hid all from view, and, instead of
going on to Bala, he hastened home to tell his good wife of his riches.
Quickly did he travel to his cottage, and when there it was not long
before his wife knew all about the chest of gold, and where it was, and
how that David had taken possession of his riches by thrusting his
walking stick into the middle of the gold.  It was too late for them to
set out to carry the chest home, but they arranged to start before the
sun was up the next day.  David, well acquainted with Fairy doings,
cautioned his wife not to tell anyone of their good fortune, "For, if you
do," said he, "we shall vex the Fairies, and the chest, after all, will
not be ours."  She promised to obey, but alas, what woman possesses a
silent tongue!  No sooner had the husband revealed the secret to his wife
than she was impatient to step to her next door neighbour's house, just
to let them know what a great woman she had all at once become.  Now,
this neighbour was a shrewd miller, called Samuel.  David went out, to
attend to some little business, leaving his wife alone, and she, spying
her opportunity, rushed to the miller's house, and told him and his wife
every whit, and how that she and David had arranged to go for the chest
next morning before the sun was up.  Then she hurried home, but never
told David where she had been, nor what she had done.  The good couple
sat up late that night, talking over their good fortune and planning
their future.  It was consequently far after sunrise when they got up
next day, and when they reached the secluded valley, where the chest had
been, it had disappeared, and with it David's stick.  They returned home
sad and weary, but this time there was no visit made to the miller's
house.  Ere long it was quite clearly seen that Samuel the miller had
come into a fortune, and David's wife knew that she had done all the
mischief by foolishly boasting of the Fairy gift, designed for her
husband, to her early rising and crafty neighbour, who had forestalled
David and his wife, and had himself taken possession of the precious

_The Fairy Shilling_.

The Rev. Owen Jones, Pentrevoelas, whom I have already mentioned as
having supplied me with the Folk-lore of his parish, kindly gave me the
following tale:--

There was a clean, tidy, hardworking woman, who was most particular about
keeping her house in order.  She had a place for everything, and kept
everything in its place.

Every night, before retiring to rest, she was in the habit of brushing up
the ashes around the fire place, and putting a few fresh peat on the fire
to keep it in all night, and she was careful to sweep the floor before
going to bed.  It was a sight worth seeing to see her clean cottage.  One
night the Fairies, in their rambles, came that way and entered her house.
It was just such a place as they liked.  They were delighted with the
warm fire, the clean floor and hearth, and they stayed there all night
and enjoyed themselves greatly.  In the morning, on leaving, they left a
bright new shilling on the hearthstone for the woman.  Night after night,
they spent in this woman's cottage, and every morning she picked up a new
shilling.  This went on for so long a time that the woman's worldly
condition was much improved.  This her neighbours with envy and surprise
perceived, and great was their talk about her.  At last it was noticed
that she always paid for the things she bought with new shilling pieces,
and the neighbours could not make out where she got all these bright
shillings from.  They were determined, if possible, to ascertain, and one
of their number was deputed to take upon her the work of obtaining from
the woman the history of these new shillings.  She found no difficulty
whatever in doing so, for the woman, in her simplicity, informed her
gossip that every morning the coin was found on the hearthstone.  Next
morning the woman, as usual, expected to find a shilling, but never
afterwards did she discover one, and the Fairies came no more to her
house, for they were offended with her for divulging the secret.

This tale is exactly like many others that may be heard related by old
people, in many a secluded abode, to their grandchildren.

A lesson constantly inculcated by Fairy tales is this--Embrace
opportunities as they occur, or they will be lost for ever.  The
following stories have reference to this belief.

_The Hidden Golden Chair_.

It is a good many years since Mrs. Mary Jones, Corlanau, Llandinorwig,
Carnarvonshire, told me the following tale.  The scene of the story is
the unenclosed mountain between Corlanau, a small farm, and the hamlet,
Rhiwlas.  There is still current in those parts a tale of a hidden golden
chair, and Mrs. Jones said that it had once been seen by a young girl,
who might have taken possession of it, but unfortunately she did not do
so, and from that day to this it has not been discovered.  The tale is

There was once a beautiful girl, the daughter of poor hardworking
parents, who held a farm on the side of the hill, and their handsome
industrious daughter took care of the sheep.  At certain times of the
year she visited the sheep-walk daily, but she never went to the mountain
without her knitting needles, and when looking after the sheep she was
always knitting stockings, and she was so clever with her needles that
she could knit as she walked along.  The Fairies who lived in those
mountains noticed this young woman's good qualities.  One day, when she
was far from home, watching her father's sheep, she saw before her a most
beautiful golden chair.  She went up to it and found that it was so
massive that she could not move it.  She knew the Fairy-lore of her
neighbourhood, and she understood that the Fairies had, by revealing the
chair, intended it for her, but there she was on the wild mountain, far
away from home, without anyone near to assist her in carrying it away.
And often had she heard that such treasures were to be taken possession
of at once, or they would disappear for ever.  She did not know what to
do, but all at once she thought, if she could by attaching the yarn in
her hand to the chair connect it thus with her home, the chair would be
hers for ever.  Acting upon this suggestion she forthwith tied the yarn
to the foot of the chair, and commenced unrolling the ball, walking the
while homewards.  But long before she could reach her home the yarn in
the ball was exhausted; she, however, tied it to the yarn in the stocking
which she had been knitting, and again started towards her home, hoping
to reach it before the yarn in the stocking would be finished, but she
was doomed to disappointment, for that gave out before she could arrive
at her father's house.  She had nothing else with her to attach to the
yarn.  She, however, could now see her home, and she began to shout,
hoping to gain the ear of her parents, but no one appeared.  In her
distress she fastened the end of the yarn to a large stone, and ran home
as fast as she could.  She told her parents what she had done, and all
three proceeded immediately towards the stone to which the yarn had been
tied, but they failed to discover it.  The yarn, too, had disappeared.
They continued a futile search for the golden chair until driven away by
the approaching night.  The next day they renewed their search, but all
in vain, for the girl was unable to find the spot where she had first
seen the golden chair.  It was believed by everybody that the Fairies had
not only removed the golden chair, but also the yarn and stone to which
the yarn had been attached, but people thought that if the yarn had been
long enough to reach from the chair to the girl's home then the golden
chair would have been hers for ever.

Such is the tale.  People believe the golden chair is still hidden away
in the mountain, and that some day or other it will be given to those for
whom it is intended.  But it is, they say, no use anyone looking for it,
as it is not to be got by searching, but it will be revealed, as if by
accident, to those fated to possess it.

_Fairy treasures seen by a Man near Ogwen Lake_.

Another tale, similar to the preceding one, is told by my friend, Mr.
Hugh Derfel Hughes, in his Hynafiaethau Llandegai a Llanllechid, pp. 35,
36.  The following is a translation of Mr. Hughes's story:--

It is said that a servant man penetrated into the recesses of the
mountains in the neighbourhood of Ogwen Lake, and that he there
discovered a cave within which there was a large quantity of brazen
vessels of every shape and description.  In the joy of his heart at his
good fortune, he seized one of the vessels, with the intention of
carrying it away with him, as an earnest that the rest likewise were his.
But, alas, it was too heavy for any man to move.  Therefore, with the
intention of returning the following morning to the cave with a friend to
assist him in carrying the vessels away, he closed its month with stones,
and thus he securely hid from view the entrance to the cave.  When he had
done this it flashed upon his mind that he had heard of people who had
accidentally come across caves, just as he had, but that they, poor
things, had afterwards lost all traces of them.  And lest a similar
misfortune should befall him, he determined to place a mark on the mouth
of the cave, which would enable him to come upon it again, and also he
bethought himself that it would be necessary, for further security, to
indicate by some marks the way from his house to the cave.  He had
however nothing at hand to enable him to carry out this latter design,
but his walking stick.  This he began to chip with his knife, and he
placed the chips at certain distances all along the way homewards.  In
this way he cut up his staff, and he was satisfied with what he had done,
for he hoped to find the cave by means of the chips.  Early the next
morning he and a friend started for the mountain in the fond hope of
securing the treasures, but when they arrived at the spot where the
chip-marked pathway ought to begin, they failed to discover a single
chip, because, as it was reported--"They had been gathered up by the
Fairies."  And thus this vision was in vain.

The author adds to the tale these words:--"But, reader, things are not
always to be so.  There is a tradition in the Nant, that a Gwyddel is to
have these treasures and this is how it will come to pass.  A Gwyddel
Shepherd will come to live in the neighbourhood, and on one of his
journeys to the mountain to shepherd his sheep, when fate shall see fit
to bring it about, there will run before him into the cave a black sheep
with a speckled head, and the Gwyddel shepherd will follow it into the
cave to catch it, and on entering, to his great astonishment, he will
discover the treasures and take possession of them.  And in this way it
will come to pass, in some future age, that the property of the Gwyddelod
will return to them."

_The Fairies giving Money to a Man for joining them in their Dance_.

The following story came to me through the Rev. Owen Jones, Vicar of
Pentrevoelas.  The occurrence is said to have taken place near
Pentrevoelas.  The following are the particulars:--

Tomas Moris, Ty'n-y-Pant, returning home one delightful summer night from
Llanrwst fair, came suddenly upon a company of Fairies dancing in a ring.
In the centre of the circle were a number of speckled dogs, small in
size, and they too were dancing with all their might.  After the dance
came to an end, the Fairies persuaded Tomas to accompany them to Hafod
Bryn Mullt, and there the dance was resumed, and did not terminate until
the break of day.  Ere the Fairies departed they requested their visitor
to join them the following night at the same place, and they promised, if
he would do so, to enrich him with gifts of money, but they made him
promise that he would not reveal to any one the place where they held
their revels.  This Tomas did, and night after night was spent pleasantly
by him in the company of his merry newly-made friends.  True to their
word, he nightly parted company with them, laden with money, and thus he
had no need to spend his days as heretofore, in manual labour.  This went
on as long as Tomas Moris kept his word, but alas, one day, he divulged
to a neighbour the secret of his riches.  That night, as usual, he went
to Hafod Bryn Mullt, but his generous friends were not there, and he
noticed that in the place where they were wont to dance there was nothing
but cockle shells.

In certain parts of Wales it was believed that Fairy money, on close
inspection, would be found to be cockle shells.  Mrs. Hugh Jones,
Corlanau, who has already been mentioned, told the writer that a man
found a crock filled, as he thought when he first saw it, with gold, but
on taking it home he discovered that he had carried home from the
mountain nothing but cockle shells.  This Mrs. Jones told me was Fairy

_The Fairies rewarding a Woman for taking care of their Dog_.

Mention has already been made of Fairy Dogs.  It would appear that now
and again these dogs, just like any other dogs, strayed from home; but
the Fairies were fond of their pets, and when lost, sought for them, and
rewarded those mortals who had shown kindness to the animals.  For the
following tale I am indebted to the Rev. Owen Jones.

One day when going home from Pentrevoelas Church, the wife of Hafod y
Gareg found on the ground in an exhausted state a Fairy dog.  She took it
up tenderly, and carried it home in her apron.  She showed this kindness
to the poor little thing from fear, for she remembered what had happened
to the wife of Bryn Heilyn, who had found one of the Fairy dogs, but had
behaved cruelly towards it, and consequently had fallen down dead.  The
wife of Hafod y Gareg therefore made a nice soft bed for the Fairy dog in
the pantry, and placed over it a brass pot.  In the night succeeding the
day that she had found the dog, a company of Fairies came to Hafod y
Gareg to make inquiries after it.  The woman told them that it was safe
and sound, and that they were welcome to take it away with them.  She
willingly gave it up to its masters.  Her conduct pleased the Fairies
greatly, and so, before departing with the dog, they asked her which she
would prefer, a clean or a dirty cow?  Her answer was, "A dirty one."
And so it came to pass that from that time forward to the end of her
life, her cows gave more milk than the very best cows in the very best
farms in her neighbourhood.  In this way was she rewarded for her
kindness to the dog, by the Fairies.


Fairies' treasure was of uncertain value, and depended for its very
existence on Fairy intentions.  Often and again, when they had lavishly
bestowed money on this or that person, it was discovered to be only
leaves or some equally worthless substance; but people said that the
recipients of the money richly deserved the deception that had been
played upon them by the Fairies.

In this chapter a few tales shall be given of this trait of Fairy

1.  _A Cruel Man and a Fairy Dog_.

The person from whom the following tale was derived was David Roberts,
Tycerrig, Clocaenog, near Ruthin.

A Fairy dog lost its master and wandered about here and there seeking
him.  A farmer saw the dog, and took it home with him, but he behaved
very unkindly towards the wee thing, and gave it little to eat, and
shouted at it, and altogether he showed a hard heart.  One evening a
little old man called at this farmer's house, and inquired if any stray
dog was there.  He gave a few particulars respecting the dog, and
mentioned the day that it had been lost.  The farmer answered in the
affirmative, and the stranger said that the dog was his, and asked the
farmer to give it up to him.  This the farmer willingly did, for he
placed no value on the dog.  The little man was very glad to get
possession of his lost dog, and on departing he placed a well filled
purse in the farmer's hand.  Some time afterwards the farmer looked into
the purse, intending to take a coin out of it, when to his surprise and
annoyance he found therein nothing but leaves.

Roberts told the writer that the farmer got what he deserved, for he had
been very cruel to the wee dog.

Another tale much like the preceding one, I have heard, but I have
forgotten the source of the information.  A person discovered a lost
Fairy dog wandering about, and took it home, but he did not nurse the
half-starved animal, nor did he nourish it.  After a while some of the
Fairy folk called on this person to inquire after their lost dog, and he
gave it to them.  They rewarded this man for his kindness with a pot
filled with money and then departed.  On further inspection, the money
was found to be cockle shells.

Such lessons as these taught by the Fairies were not without their effect
on people who lived in days gone by.

2.  _Dick the Fiddler and the Fairy Crown-Piece_.

For the following story I am indebted to my friend, Mr Hamer, who records
it in his "Parochial account of Llanidloes," published in the
_Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. x., pp. 252-3-4.  Mr Hamer states
that the tale was related to him by Mr. Nicholas Bennett, Glanrafon,

"Dick the Fiddler was in the habit of going about the country to play at
merry-makings, fairs, etc.  This worthy, after a week's _fuddle_ at
Darowen, wending his way homeward, had to walk down 'Fairy Green Lane,'
just above the farmstead of Cefn Cloddiau, and to banish fear, which he
felt was gradually obtaining the mastery over him, instead of whistling,
drew out from the skirt pocket of his long-tailed great coat his
favourite instrument.  After tuning it, be commenced elbowing his way
through his favourite air, _Aden Ddu'r Fran_ (the Crow's Black Wing).
When he passed over the green sward where the _Tylwyth Teg_, or Fairies,
held their merry meetings, he heard something rattle in his fiddle, and
this something continued rattling and tinkling until he reached Llwybr
Scriw Riw, his home, almost out of his senses at the fright caused by
that everlasting 'tink, rink, jink,' which was ever sounding in his ears.
Having entered the cottage he soon heard music of a different kind, in
the harsh angry voice of his better half, who justly incensed at his
absence, began lecturing him in a style, which, unfortunately, Dick, from
habit, could not wholly appreciate.  He was called a worthless fool, a
regular drunkard and idler.  'How is it possible for me to beg enough for
myself and half a house-full of children nearly naked, while you go about
the country and bring me nothing home.'  'Hush, hush, my good woman,'
said Dick, 'see what's in the blessed old fiddle.'  She obeyed, shook it,
and out tumbled, to their great surprise, a five-shilling piece.  The
wife looked up into the husband's face, saw that it was 'as pale as a
sheet' with fright: and also noting that he had such an unusually large
sum in his possession, she came to the conclusion that he could not live
long, and accordingly changed her style saying, 'Good man go to
Llanidloes to-morrow, it is market-day and buy some shirting for
yourself, for it may never be your good fortune to have such a sum of
money again.'  The following day, according to his wife's wishes, Dick
wended his way to Llanidloes, musing, as he went along, upon his
extraordinary luck, and unable to account for it.  Arrived in the town,
he entered Richard Evans's shop, and called for shirting linen to the
value of five shillings, for which he gave the shopkeeper the crown piece
taken out of the fiddle.  Mr. Evans placed it in the till, and our worthy
Dick betook himself to Betty Brunt's public-house (now known as the
Unicorn) in high glee with the capital piece of linen in the skirt pocket
of his long-tailed top coat.  He had not, however, been long seated
before Mr. Evans came in, and made sharp enquiries as to how and where he
obtained possession of the crown piece with which he had paid for the
linen.  Dick assumed a solemn look, and then briefly related where and
how he had received the coin.  'Say you so,' said Evans, 'I thought as
much, for when I looked into the till, shortly after you left the shop,
to my great surprise it was changed into a heap of musty horse dung.'"


It was once thought that kind Fairies took compassion on good folk, who
were unable to accomplish in due time their undertakings, and finished in
the night these works for them; and it was always observed that the Fairy
workman excelled as a tradesman the mortal whom he assisted.  Many an
industrious shoemaker, it is said, has ere this found in the morning that
the Fairies had finished in the night the pair of shoes which he had only
commenced the evening before.  Farmers too, who had in part ploughed a
field, have in the morning been surprised to find it finished.  These
kind offices, it was firmly believed, were accomplished by Fairy friends.

Milton in _L'Allegro_ alludes to this belief in the following lines:--

    Tells how the drudging Goblin swet,
    To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
    When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the corn,
    That ten day-labourers could not end.

    MILTON, _L'Allegro_, lines 105-9.

In Scotland the sprite, or Fairy, called Browny, haunted family abodes,
and did all manner of work in the night for those who treated him kindly.
In England, Robin Goodfellow was supposed to perform like functions.
Thus sings Robin:--

    Yet now and then, the maids to please,
       At midnight I card up their wooll;
    And while they sleepe, and take their ease,
       With wheel to threads their flax I pull.
          I grind at mill
          Their malt up still;
       I dress their hemp, I spin their tow.
          If any 'wake.
          And would me take,
       I wend me, laughing, ho, ho, ho!

    _Percy's Reliques_, vol. iii., p. 169.

Welsh Fairies are not described as ordinarily inclined to lessen men's
labours by themselves undertaking them; but there are a few tales current
of their having assisted worthy persons in their manual works.  Professor
Rhys records one of these stories in _Y Cymmrodor_, vol. iv. 210.  He
writes thus:--

"One day Guto, the Farmer of Corwrion, complained to his wife that he was
in need of men to mow his hay, and she answered, 'Why fret about it? look
yonder! there you have a field full of them at it, and stripped to their
shirt sleeves.'  When he went to the spot the sham workmen of the Fairy
family had disappeared.  This same Guto, or somebody else, happened
another time to be ploughing, when he heard some person he could not see
calling out to him, 'I have got the _bins_ (that is the _vice_) of my
plough broken.'  'Bring it to me,' said the driver of Guto's team, 'that
I may mend it.'  When they brought the furrow to an end, there they found
the broken vice, and a barrel of beer placed near it.  One of the men sat
down and mended it.  Then they made another furrow, and when they
returned to the spot they found there a two-eared dish, filled to the
brim with _bara a chwrw_, or bread and beer."


The one occupation of the Fairy folk celebrated in song and prose was
dancing.  Their green rings, circular or ovoidal in form, abounded in all
parts of the country, and it was in these circles they were said to dance
through the livelong night.  In "_Can y Tylwyth Teg_," or the Fairies'
Song, thus they chant:--

    O'r glaswellt glen a'r rhedyn man,
       Gyfeillion dyddan, dewch,
    E ddarfu'r nawn--mae'r lloer yu llawn,
       Y nos yn gyflawn gewch;
    O'r chwarau sydd ar dwyn y dydd,
       I'r Dolydd awn ar daith.
    Nyni sydd lon, ni chaiff gerbron,
       Farwolion ran o'n gwaith.

    _Yr Hynafion Cymraeg_, p. 153.

    From grasses bright, and bracken light,
       Come, sweet companions, come,
    The full moon shines, the sun declines,
       We'll spend the night in fun;
    With playful mirth, we'll trip the earth,
       To meadows green let's go,
    We're full of joy, without alloy,
       Which mortals may not know.

The spots where the Fairies held their nightly revels were preserved from
intrusion by traditional superstitions.  The farmer dared not plough the
land where Fairy circles were, lest misfortune should overtake him.  Thus
were these mythical beings left in undisturbed possession of many fertile
plots of ground, and here they were believed to dance merrily through
many a summer night.

    Canu, canu, drwy y nos,
    Dawnsio, dawnsio, ar waen y rhos,
    Yn ngoleuni'r lleuad dlos;
       Hapus ydym ni!

    Pawb o honom sydd yn llon,
    Heb un gofid dan ei fron:
    Canu, dawnsio, ar y ton--
       Dedwydd ydym ni!

    Singing, singing, through the night,
    Dancing, dancing, with our might,
    Where the moon the moor doth light:
       Happy ever we!

    One and all of merry mien,
    Without sorrow are we seen,
    Singing, dancing on the green:
       Gladsome ever we!

    _Professor Rhys's Fairy Tales_.

These words correctly describe the popular opinion of Fairy dance and
song, an opinion which reached the early part of the present century.

Since so much has reached our days of Fairy song and dance, it is not
surprising that we are told that the beautiful Welsh melody, _Toriad y
Dydd_, or the Dawn of Day, is the work of a Fairy minstrel, and that this
song was chanted by the Fairy company just as the pale light in the east
announced the approach of returning day.

Chaucer (1340 c. to 1400 c.), alluding to the Fairies and their dances,
in his 'Wife of Bath's Tale,' writes:--

    In olde dayes of King Artour,
    Of which the Bretons speken gret honour,
    All was this lond ful-filled of Faerie;
    The elf-quene with hire joly compagnie
    Danced ful oft in many a grene mede.
    This was the old opinion as I rede;
    I speke of many hundred yeres ago;
    But now can no man see non elves mo.

    Tyrwhitt's Chaucer i., p. 256.

In the days of the Father of English poets, the elves had disappeared,
and he speaks of "many hundred yeres ago," when he says that the Fairy
Queen and her jolly company danced full often in many a green meadow.

Number 419 of the Spectator, published July 1st, 1712, states that
formerly "every large common had a circle of Fairies belonging to it."
Here again the past is spoken of, but in Wales it would seem that up to
quite modern days some one, or other, was said to have seen the Fairies
at their dance, or had heard of some one who had witnessed their gambols.
Robert Roberts, Tycerrig, Clocaenog, enumerated several places, such as
Nantddu, Clocaenog, Craig-fron-Bannog, on Mynydd Hiraethog, and
Fron-y-Go, Llanfwrog, where the Fairies used to hold their revels, and
other places, such as Moel Fammau, have been mentioned as being Fairy
dancing ground.  Many an aged person in Wales will give the name of spots
dedicated to Fairy sports.  Information of this kind is interesting, for
it shows how long lived traditions are, and in a manner, places
associated with the Fair Tribe bring these mysterious beings right to our

I will now relate a few tales of mortals witnessing or joining in Fairy

The first was related to me by David Roberts.  The scene of the dance was
the hill side by Pont Petrual between Ruthin and Cerrig-y-Drudion.

1.  _A Man who found himself on a Heap of Ferns after joining in a Fairy

A man who went to witness a Fairy dance was invited to join them.  He did
so, and all night long he greatly enjoyed himself.  At the break of day
the company broke up, and the Fairies took their companion with them.
The man found himself in a beautiful hall with everything he could desire
at his command, and here he pleasantly passed the time ere he retired to
rest.  In the morning when he awoke, instead of finding himself on a
couch in Fairy Hall, be found himself lying on a heap of fern on the wild
mountain side.

Although somewhat unfortunate, this man fared better than most men who
joined the Fairy dances.

2.  _The Fairies threw dust into a Man's Eyes who Saw them Dance_.

This tale is taken from _Cymru Fu_, p. 176, and is from the pen of
_Glasynys_.  I give it in English.

William Ellis, of Cilwern, was once fishing in Llyn Cwm Silin on a dark
cloudy day, when he observed close by, in the rushes, a great number of
men, or beings in the form of men, about a foot high, jumping and

He watched them for hours, and he never heard in all his life such
singing.  But William went too near them, and they threw some kind of
dust into his eyes, and whilst he was rubbing his eyes, the little family
disappeared and fled somewhere out of sight and never afterwards was
Ellis able to get a sight of them.

The next tale _Glasynys_ shall relate in his own words.  It appears in
_Cymru Fu_ immediately after the one just related.

3.  _A Man Dancing with the Fairies for Three Days_.

"Y mae chwedl go debyg am le o'r enw Llyn-y-Ffynonau.  Yr oedd yno rasio
a dawnsio, a thelynio a ffidlo enbydus, a gwas o Gelli Ffrydau a'i ddau
gi yn eu canol yn neidio ac yn prancio mor sionc a neb.  Buont wrthi hi
felly am dridiau a theirnos, yn ddi-dor-derfyn; ac oni bai bod ryw wr
cyfarwydd yn byw heb fod yn neppell, ac i hwnw gael gwybod pa sut yr oedd
pethau yn myned yn mlaen, y mae'n ddiddadl y buasai i'r creadur gwirion
ddawnsio 'i hun i farwolaeth.  Ond gwaredwyd of y tro hwn."  This in
English is as follows:--

"There is a tale somewhat like the preceding one told in connection with
a place called Llyn-y-Ffynonau.  There was there racing and dancing, and
harping and furious fiddling, and the servant man of Gelli Ffrydau with
his two dogs in their midst jumping and dancing like mad.  There they
were for three days and three nights without a break dancing as if for
very life, and were it not that there lived near by a conjuror, who knew
how things were going on, without a doubt the poor creature would have
danced himself to death.  But he was spared this time."

The next tale I received from Mr. David Lloyd, schoolmaster,
Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, and he heard it in that parish.

4.  _A Harper and the Fairies_.

There once lived in a remote part of Denbighshire, called Hafod Elwy, an
old harper, named Shon Robert, who used to be invited to parties to play
for the dancers, or to accompany the singers.  One evening he went to
Llechwedd Llyfn, in the neighbourhood of Cefn Brith, to hold a merry
meeting, and it was late before the lads and lasses separated.  At last
the harper wended his way homeward.  His path was over the bare mountain.
As he came near a lake called Llyndau-ychain, he saw on its verge a grand
palace, vividly illuminated.  He was greatly surprised at the sight, for
he had never seen such a building there before.  He, however, proceeded
on his way, and when he came in front of this beautiful palace he was
hailed by a footman, and invited to enter.  He accepted the invitation,
and was ushered into a magnificent room, where a grand ball was being
held.  The guests surrounded the harper and became very friendly, and, to
his wonder, addressed him by name.  This hall was magnificently
furnished.  The furniture was of the most costly materials, many things
were made of solid gold.  A waiter handed him a golden cup filled with
sparkling wine, which the harper gladly quaffed.  He was then asked to
play for the company, and this he did to the manifest satisfaction of the
guests.  By and by one of the company took Shon Robert's hat round and
collected money for the harper's benefit, and brought it back to him
filled with silver and gold.  The feast was carried on with great pomp
and merriment until near the dawn of day, when, one by one, the guests
disappeared, and at last Shon was left alone.  Perceiving a magnificent
couch near, he laid himself thereon, and was soon fast asleep.  He did
not awake until mid-day, and then, to his surprise, he found himself
lying on a heap of heather, the grand palace had vanished away, and the
gold and silver, which he had transferred from his hat the night before
into his bag, was changed to withered leaves.

The following tale told me by the Rev. R. Jones shows that those who
witness a Fairy dance know not how time passes.

5.  _A Three Hours Fairy Dance seeming as a Few Minutes_.

The Rev. R. Jones's mother, when a young unmarried woman, started one
evening from a house called Tyddyn Heilyn, Penrhyndeudraeth, to her home,
Penrhyn isaf, accompanied by their servant man, David Williams, called on
account of his great strength and stature, Dafydd Fawr, Big David.  David
was carrying home on his back a flitch of bacon.  The night was dark, but
calm.  Williams walked somewhat in the rear of his young mistress, and
she, thinking he was following, went straight home.  But three hours
passed before David appeared with the pork on his back.

He was interrogated as to the cause of his delay, and in answer said he
had only been about three minutes after his young mistress.  He was told
that she had arrived three hours before him, but this David would not
believe.  At length, however, he was convinced that he was wrong in his
time, and then he proceeded to account for his lagging behind as

He observed, he said, a brilliant meteor passing through the air, which
was followed by a ring or hoop of fire, and within this hoop stood a man
and woman of small size, handsomely dressed.  With one arm they embraced
each other, and with the other they took hold of the hoop, and their feet
rested on the concave surface of the ring.  When the hoop reached the
earth these two beings jumped out of it, and immediately proceeded to
make a circle on the ground.  As soon as this was done, a large number of
men and women instantly appeared, and to the sweetest music that ear ever
heard commenced dancing round and round the circle.  The sight was so
entrancing that the man stayed, as he thought, a few minutes to witness
the scene.  The ground all around was lit up by a kind of subdued light,
and he observed every movement of these beings.  By and by the meteor
which had at first attracted his attention appeared again, and then the
fiery hoop came to view, and when it reached the spot where the dancing
was, the lady and gentleman who had arrived in it jumped into the hoop,
and disappeared in the same manner in which they had reached the place.
Immediately after their departure the Fairies vanished from sight, and
the man found himself alone and in darkness, and then he proceeded
homewards.  In this way he accounted for his delay on the way.

In Mr. Sikes's _British Goblins_, pp. 79-81, is a graphic account of a
mad dance which Tudur ap Einion Gloff had with the Fairies, or Goblins,
at a place called Nant-yr-Ellyllon, a hollow half way up the hill to
Castell Dinas Bran, in the neighbourhood of Llangollen.  All night, and
into the next day, Tudur danced frantically in the Nant, but he was
rescued by his master, who understood how to break the spell, and release
his servant from the hold the Goblins had over him!  This he did by
pronouncing certain pious words, and Tudur returned home with his master.

Mr. Evan Davies, carpenter, Brynllan, Efenechtyd, who is between seventy
and eighty years old, informed the writer that his friend John Morris
told him that he had seen a company of Fairies dancing, and that they
were the handsomest men and women that he had ever seen.  It was night
and dark, but the place on which the dance took place was strangely
illuminated, so that every movement of the singular beings could be
observed, but when the Fairies disappeared it became suddenly quite dark.

Although from the tales already given it would appear that the Fairies
held revelry irrespective of set times of meeting, still it was thought
that they had special days for their great banquets, and the eve of the
first of May, old style, was one of these days, and another was _Nos Wyl
Ifan_, St. John's Eve, or the evening of June 23rd.

Thus sings _Glasynys_, in _Y Brython_, vol. iii. p. 270:--

    _Nos Wyl Ifan_.

    _Tylwyth Teg_ yn lluoedd llawen,
    O dan nodded tawel Dwynwen,
    Welir yn y cel encilion,
    Yn perori mwyn alawon,
    Ac yn taenu hyd y twyni,
    Ac ar leiniau'r deiliog lwyni,
    _Hud a Lledrith_ ar y glesni,
    Ac yn sibrwd dwyfol desni!

I am indebted to my friend Mr Richard Williams, F.R.H.S., Newtown,
Montgomeryshire, for the following translation of the preceding Welsh

    The Fairy Tribe in merry crowds,
    Under Dwynwen's calm protection,
    Are seen in shady retreats
    Chanting sweet melodies,
    And spreading over the bushes
    And the leafy groves
    Illusion and phantasy on all that is green,
    And whispering their mystic lore.

May-day dances and revelling have reached our days, and probably they
have, like the Midsummer Eve's festivities, their origin in the far off
times when the Fairy Tribe inhabited Britain and other countries, and to
us have they bequeathed these Festivals, as well as that which ushers in
winter, and is called in Wales, _Nos glan gaua_, or All Hallow Eve.  If
so, they have left us a legacy for which we thank them, and they have
also given us a proof of their intelligence and love of nature.

But I will now briefly refer to Fairy doings on _Nos Wyl Ifan_ as
recorded by England's greatest poet, and, further on, I shall have more
to say of this night.

Shakespeare introduces into his _Midsummer Night's Dream_ the prevailing
opinions respecting Fairies in England, but they are almost identical
with those entertained by the people of Wales; so much so are they
British in character, that it is no great stretch of the imagination to
suppose that he must have derived much of his information from an
inhabitant of Wales.  However, in one particular, the poet's description
of the Fairies differs from the more early opinion of them in Wales.
Shakespeare's Fairies are, to a degree, diminutive; they are not so small
in Wales.  But as to their habits in both countries they had much in
common.  I will briefly allude to similarities between English and Welsh
Fairies, confining my remarks to Fairy music and dancing.

To begin, both danced in rings.  A Fairy says to Puck:--

    And I serve the Fairy Queen
    To dew her orbs upon the green.

    _Midsummer Night's Dream_, Act II., S I.

And allusion is made in the same play to these circles in these words:--

    If you will patiently dance in our round
    And see our moonlight revels, go with us.

    Act II., S. I.

Then again Welsh and English Fairies frequented like spots to hold their
revels on.  I quote from the same play:--

    And now they never meet in grove or green,
    By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen.

    Act II., S. I.

And again:--

    And never since the middle summer's spring
    Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead
    By paved fountain or by rushy brook
    Or by the beached margent of the sea,
    To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind.

    Act II., S. I

And further the Fairies in both countries meet at night, and hold their
Balls throughout the hours of darkness, and separate in early morn.  Thus
Puck addressing Oberon:--

    Fairy King, attend and hark;
    I do hear the morning lark.

    Act IV., S. I.

    Now until the break of day
    Through this house each Fairy stray
    .  .  .   .  .  .
    .  .  .   .  .  .
    Trip away, make no stay,
    Meet we all at break of day.

    Act V., S. I.

In the Welsh tales given of Fairy dances the music is always spoken of as
most entrancing, and Shakespeare in felicitous terms gives utterance to
the same thought--

    Music, lo! music, such as charmeth sleep.

I am indebted to the courtesy of the Rev. R. O. Williams, M.A., Vicar of
Holywell, for the following singular testimony to Fairy dancing.  The
writer was the Rev. Dr. Edward Williams, at one time of Oswestry, and
afterwards Principal of the Independent Academy at Rotherham in
Yorkshire, who was born at Glan Clwyd, Bodfari, Nov. 14th, 1750, and died
March 9, 1813.  The extract is to be seen in the autobiography of Dr.
Williams, which has been published, but the quotation now given is copied
from the doctor's own handwriting, which now lies before me.

It may be stated that Mr. Wirt Sikes, in his _British Goblins_, refers to
the Dwarfs of Cae Caled, Bodfari, as Knockers, but he was not justified,
as will be seen from the extract, in thus describing them.  For the sake
of reference the incident shall be called--The Elf Dancers of Cae Caled.

_The Elf Dancers of Cae Caled_.

Dr. Edward Williams, under the year 1757, writes as follows:--

"I am now going to relate a circumstance in this young period of my life
which probably will excite an alternate smile and thoughtful reflection,
as it has often done in myself, however singular the fact and strong the
evidence of its authenticity, and, though I have often in mature age
called to my mind the principles of religion and philosophy to account
for it, I am forced to class it among my _unknowables_.  And yet I may
say that not only the fact itself, but also the consideration of its
being to my own mind inexplicable, has afforded some useful reflections,
with which this relation need not be accompanied.

"On a fine summer day (about midsummer) between the hours of 12 at noon
and one, my eldest sister and myself, our next neighbour's children
Barbara and Ann Evans, both older than myself, were in a field called Cae
Caled near their house, all innocently engaged at play by a hedge under a
tree, and not far from the stile next to that house, when one of us
observed on the middle of the field a company of--what shall I call
them?--_Beings_, neither men, women, nor children, dancing with great
briskness.  They were full in view less than a hundred yards from us,
consisting of about seven or eight couples: we could not well reckon
them, owing to the briskness of their motions and the consternation with
which we were struck at a sight so unusual.  They were all clothed in
red, a dress not unlike a military uniform, without hats, but their heads
tied with handkerchiefs of a reddish colour, sprigged or spotted with
yellow, all uniform in this as in habit, all tied behind with the corners
hanging down their backs, and white handkerchiefs in their hands held
loose by the corners.  They appeared of a size somewhat less than our
own, but more like dwarfs than children.  On the first discovery we
began, with no small dread, to question one another as to what they could
be, as there were no soldiers in the country, nor was it the time for May
dancers, and as they differed much from all the human beings we had ever
seen.  Thus alarmed we dropped our play, left our station, and made for
the stile.  Still keeping our eyes upon them we observed one of their
company starting from the rest and making towards us with a running pace.
I being the youngest was the last at the stile, and, though struck with
an inexpressible panic, saw the _grim elf_ just at my heels, having a
full and clear, though terrific view of him, with his ancient, swarthy,
and grim complexion.  I screamed out exceedingly; my sister also and our
companions set up a roar, and the former dragged me with violence over
the stile on which, at the instant I was disengaged from it, this warlike
Lilliputian leaned and stretched himself after me, but came not over.
With palpitating hearts and loud cries we ran towards the house, alarmed
the family, and told them our trouble.  The men instantly left their
dinner, with whom still trembling we went to the place, and made the most
solicitous and diligent enquiry in all the neighbourhood, both at that
time and after, but never found the least vestige of any circumstance
that could contribute to a solution of this remarkable phenomenon.  Were
any disposed to question the sufficiency of this quadruple evidence, the
fact having been uniformly and often attested by each of the parties and
various and separate examinations, and call it a childish deception, it
would do them no harm to admit that, comparing themselves with the scale
of universal existence, beings with which they certainly and others with
whom it is possible they may be surrounded every moment, they are but
children of a larger size.  I know but few less credulous than the
relator, but he is no Sadducee.  'He who hath delivered will yet

My friend, Mr. R. Prys Jones, B.A., kindly informs me that he has several
intelligent boys in his school, the Boys' Board School, Denbigh, from
Bodfari, and to them he read the preceding story, but not one of them had
ever heard of it.  It is singular that the story should have died so soon
in the neighbourhood that gave it birth.


It was formerly believed in Wales that the Fairies, for a little fun,
sportively carried men in mid air from place to place, and, having
conveyed them to a strange neighbourhood, left them to return to their
homes as best they could.  Benighted travellers were ever fearful of
encountering a throng of Fairies lest they should by them be seized, and
carried to a strange part of the country.

Allusion is made to this freak of the Fairies in the _Cambro-Briton_,
vol. i., p. 348:--

"And it seems that there was some reason to be apprehensive of
encountering these 'Fair people' in a mist; for, although allowed not to
be maliciously disposed, they had a very inconvenient practice of seizing
an unwary pilgrim, and hurrying him through the air, first giving him the
choice, however, of travelling above wind, mid-wind, or below wind.  If
he chose the former, he was borne to an altitude somewhat equal to that
of a balloon; if the latter, he had the full benefit of all the brakes
and briars in his way, his contact with which seldom failed to terminate
in his discomfiture.  Experienced travellers, therefore, always kept in
mind the advice of Apollo to Phaeton (In medio tutissimus ibis) and
selected the middle course, which ensured them a pleasant voyage at a
moderate elevation, equally removed from the branches and the clouds."

This description of an aerial voyage of a hapless traveller through Fairy
agency corresponds with the popular faith in every particular, and it
would not have been difficult some sixty, or so, years back, to have
collected many tales in various parts of Wales of persons who had been
subjected to this kind of conveyance.

The first mention that I have been able to find of this Fairy prank is in
a small book of prose poetry called _Gweledigaeth Cwrs y Byd_, or _Y
Bardd Cwsg_, which was written by the Revd. Ellis Wynne (born 1670-1,
died 1734), rector of Llanfair, near Harlech.  The "Visions of the
Sleeping Bard" were published in 1703, and in the work appear many
superstitions of the people, some of which shall by and by be mentioned.

In the very commencement of this work, the poet gives a description of a
journey which he had made through the air with the Fairies.  Addressing
these beings, he says:--"Atolwg, lan gynnulleidfa, yr wyf yn deall mai
rhai o bell ydych, a gymmerwch chwi Fardd i'ch plith sy'n chwennych
trafaelio?" which in English is--"May it please you, comely assembly, as
I understand that you come from afar, to take into your company a Bard
who wishes to travel?"

The poet's request is granted, and then he describes his aerial passage
in these words:--

"Codasant fi ar eu hysgwyddau, fel codi Marchog Sir; ac yna ymaith a ni
fel y gwynt, tros dai a thiroedd, dinasoedd a theyrnasoedd, a moroedd a
mynyddoedd, heb allu dal sylw ar ddim, gan gyflymed yr oeddynt yn hedeg."
This translated is:--

"They raised me on their shoulders, as they do a Knight of the Shire, and
away we went like the wind, over houses and fields, over cities and
kingdoms, over seas and mountains, but I was unable to notice
particularly anything, because of the rapidity with which they flew."

What the poet writes of his own flight with the Fairies depicts the then
prevailing notions respecting aerial journeys by Fairy agencies, and they
bear a striking resemblance to like stories in oriental fiction.  That
the belief in this form of transit survived the days of _Bardd Cwsg_ will
be seen from the following tale related by my friend Mr. E. Hamer in his
Parochial Account of Llanidloes:--

_A Man Carried Through the Air by the Fairies_.

"One Edward Jones, or 'Ned the Jockey,' as he was familiarly called,
resided, within the memory of the writer, in one of the roadside cottages
a short distance from Llanidloes, on the Newtown road.  While returning
home late one evening, it was his fate to fall in with a troop of
Fairies, who were not pleased to have their gambols disturbed by a
mortal.  Requesting him to depart, they politely offered him the choice
of three means of locomotion, viz., being carried off by a 'high wind,
middle wind, or low wind.'  The jockey soon made up his mind, and elected
to make his trip through the air by the assistance of a high wind.  No
sooner had he given his decision, than he found himself whisked high up
into the air and his senses completely bewildered by the rapidity of his
flight; he did not recover himself till he came in contact with the
earth, being suddenly dropped in the middle of a garden near Ty Gough, on
the Bryndu road, many miles distant from the spot whence he started on
his aerial journey.  Ned, when relating this story, would vouch for its
genuineness in the most solemn manner, and the person who narrated it to
the writer brought forward as a proof of its truth, 'that there was not
the slightest trace of any person going into the garden while Ned was
found in the middle of it.'"

                             Montgomeryshire Collections, vol. x., p. 247.

Mr. Hamer records another tale much like the foregoing, but the one I
have given is a type of all such stories.

Fairy illusion and phantasy were formerly firmly believed in by the
inhabitants of Wales.  Fairies were credited with being able to deceive
the eyesight, if not also the other senses of man.  One illustrative tale
of this kind I will now record.  Like stories are heard in many parts.
The following story is taken from _Y Gordofigion_, p. 99, a book which
has more than once been laid under contribution.


"Ryw dro yr oedd brodor o Nefyn yn dyfod adref o ffair Pwllheli, ac wrth
yr Efail Newydd gwelai _Inn_ fawreddog, a chan ei fod yn gwybod nad oedd
yr un gwesty i fod yno, gofynodd i un o'r gweision os oedd ganddynt
ystabl iddo roddi ei farch.  Atebwyd yn gadarnhaol.  Rhoddwyd y march yn
yr ystabl, ac aeth yntau i mewn i'r ty, gofynodd am _beint_ o gwrw, ac ni
chafodd erioed well cwrw na'r cwrw hwnw.  Yn mhen ychydig, gofynodd am
fyned i orphwys, a chafodd hyny hefyd.  Aeth i'w orweddle, yr hwn ydoedd
o ran gwychder yn deilwng i'r brenhin; ond wchw fawr! erbyn iddo ddeffro,
cafodd ei hun yn gorwedd ar ei hyd mewn tomen ludw, a'r ceffyl wedi ei
rwymo wrth bolyn clawdd gwrysg."

This in English is as follows:--"Once upon a time a native of Nefyn was
returning from Pwllheli fair, and when near Efail Newydd he saw a
magnificent Inn, and, as he knew that no such public-house was really
there, he went up to it and asked one of the servants whether they had a
stable where he could put up his horse.  He was answered in the
affirmative.  The horse was placed in the stable, and the man entered the
house and asked for a pint of beer, which he thought was the best he had
ever drunk.  After awhile he inquired whether he could go to rest.  This
also was granted him, and he retired to his room, which in splendour was
worthy of the king.  But alas! when he awoke he found himself sleeping on
his back on a heap of ashes, and the horse tied to a pole in the hedge."


There are many tales current of wee Fairy men having been captured.
These tales are, however, evidently variants of the same story.  The
dwarfs are generally spoken of as having been caught by a trapper in his
net, or bag, and the hunter, quite unconscious of the fact that a Fairy
is in his bag, proceeds homewards, supposing that he has captured a
badger, or some other kind of vermin, but, all at once, he hears the
being in the bag speak, and throwing the bag down he runs away in a
terrible fright.  Such in short is the tale.  I will proceed to give
several versions of this story.

1.  _Gwyddelwern Version_.

The following tale was told by Mr. Evan Roberts, Ffridd Agored, a farmer
in the parish of Llanfwrog.  Roberts heard the story when he was a youth
in the parish of Gwyddelwern.  It is as follows:--

A man went from his house for peat to the stack on the hill.  As he
intended to carry away only a small quantity for immediate use, he took
with him a bag to carry it home.  When he got to the hill he saw
something running before him, and he gave chase and caught it and bundled
it into the bag.  He had not proceeded far on his way before he heard a
small voice shout somewhere near him, "Neddy, Neddy."  And then he heard
another small voice in the bag saying, "There is daddy calling me."  No
sooner did the man hear these words than in a terrible fright he threw
the bag down, and ran home as fast as he could.

2.  _The Llandrillo Version_.

I am indebted for the following tale to Mr. E. S. Roberts, schoolmaster,
Llantysilio, near Llangollen:--

Two men whilst otter-hunting in Gwyn Pennant, Llandrillo, saw something
reddish scampering away across the ground just before them.  They thought
it was an otter, and watching it saw that it entered a hole by the side
of the river.  When they reached the place they found, underneath the
roots of a tree, two burrows.  They immediately set to work to catch
their prey.  Whilst one of the men pushed a long pole into one of the
burrows, the other held the mouth of a sack to the other, and very
shortly into the sack rushed their prey and it was secured.  The men now
went homewards, but they had not gone far, ere they heard a voice in the
bag say, "My mother is calling me."  The frightened men instantly threw
the sack to the ground, and they saw a small man, clothed in red, emerge
therefrom, and the wee creature ran away with all his might to the
brushwood that grew along the banks of the river.

3.  _The Snowdon Version_.

The following tale is taken from _Y Gordofigion_, p. 98:--

"Aeth trigolion ardaloedd cylchynol y Wyddfa un tro i hela pryf llwyd.
Methasant a chael golwg ar yr un y diwrnod cyntaf; ond cynllwynasant am
un erbyn trannoeth, trwy osod sach a'i cheg yn agored ar dwll yr arferai
y pryf fyned iddo, ond ni byddai byth yn dyfod allan drwyddo am ei fod yn
rhy serth a llithrig.  A'r modd a gosodasant y sach oedd rhoddi cortyn
trwy dyllau yn ei cheg, yn y fath fodd ag y crychai, ac y ceuai ei cheg
pan elai rhywbeth iddi.  Felly fu; aeth pawb i'w fan, ac i'w wely y noson
hono.  Gyda'r wawr bore dranoeth, awd i edrych y sach, ac erbyn dyfod ati
yr oedd ei cheg wedi crychu, yn arwydd fod rhywbeth oddifewn.  Codwyd hi,
a thaflodd un hi ar ei ysgwydd i'w dwyn adref.  Ond pan yn agos i Bryn y
Fedw wele dorpyn o ddynan bychan yn sefyll ar delpyn o graig gerllaw ac
yn gwaeddi, 'Meirig, wyt ti yna, dwad?'  'Ydwyf,' attebai llais dieithr
(ond dychrynedig) o'r sach.  Ar hyn, wele'r helwyr yn dechreu rhedeg
ymaith, a da oedd ganddynt wneyd hyny, er gadael y sach i'r pryf, gan
dybied eu bod wedi dal yn y sach un o ysbrydion y pwll diwaelod, ond
deallasant ar ol hyny mai un o'r Tylwyth Teg oedd yn y sach."

The tale in English reads thus:--"Once the people who lived in the
neighbourhood of Snowdon went badger-hunting.  They failed the first day
to get sight of one.  But they laid a trap for one by the next day.  This
they did by placing a sack's open mouth with a noose through it at the
entrance to the badger's den.  The vermin was in the habit of entering
his abode by one passage and leaving it by another.  The one by which he
entered was too precipitous and slippery to be used as an exit, and the
trappers placed the sack in this hole, well knowing that the running
noose in the mouth of the sack would close if anything entered.  The next
morning the hunters returned to the snare, and at once observed that the
mouth of the sack was tightly drawn up, a sign that there was something
in it.  The bag was taken up and thrown on the shoulders of one of the
men to be carried home.  But when they were near Bryn y Fedw they saw a
lump of a little fellow, standing on the top of a rock close by and
shouting, 'Meirig, are you there, say?'  'I am,' was the answer in a
strange but nervous voice.  Upon this, the hunters, throwing down the
bag, began to run away, and they were glad to do so, although they had to
leave their sack behind them, believing, as they did, that they had
captured one of the spirits of the bottomless pit.  But afterwards they
understood that it was one of the Fairy Tribe that was in the sack."

There was at one time a tale much like this current in the parish of
Gyffylliog, near Ruthin, but in this latter case the voice in the bag
said, "My father is calling me," though no one was heard to do so.  The
bag, however, was cast away, and the trapper reported that he had
captured a Fairy!

4.  _The Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd Version_.

Mr. Evan Davies, carpenter, Bryn Llan, Efenechtyd, told the writer that
Robert Jones, innkeeper, in the same parish, told him the following tale,
mentioning at the same time the man who figures in the narrative, whose
name, however, I have forgotten.  The story runs thus:--

A man, wishing to catch a fox, laid a bag with its mouth open, but well
secured, at the entrance to a fox's den in Coed Cochion, Llanfair Dyffryn
Clwyd parish, and hid himself to await the result.  He had seen the fox
enter its lair, and he calculated that it would ere long emerge
therefrom.  By and by, he observed that something had entered the bag,
and going up to it, he immediately secured its mouth, and, throwing the
bag over his shoulder, proceeded homewards, but he had not gone far on
his way before he heard someone say, "Where is my son John?"  The man,
however, though it was dark, was not frightened, for he thought that
possibly some one was in search of a lad who had wandered from home.  He
was rather troubled to find that the question was repeated time after
time by some one who apparently was following him.  But what was his
terror when, ere long, he heard a small voice issue from the bag he was
carrying, saying "There is dear father calling me."  The man in a
terrible fright threw the bag down, and ran away as fast as his feet
could carry him, and never stopped until he reached his home, and when he
came to himself he related the story of his adventure in the wood to his


It was once firmly believed by the Welsh that the Fairy Tribe visited
markets and fairs, and that their presence made business brisk.  If there
was a buzz in the market place, it was thought that the sound was made by
the Fairies, and on such occasions the farmers' wives disposed quickly of
their commodities; if, however, on the other hand, there was no buzz, the
Fairies were absent, and there was then no business transacted.

Mr. Richard Jones, Ty'n-y-Wern, Bryneglwys, who, when a youth, lived in
Llanbedr parish, near Ruthin, informed the writer that his mother, after
attending a market at Ruthin, would return home occasionally with the sad
news that "They were not there," meaning that the Fairies were not
present in the market, and this implied a bad market and no sweets for
Richard.  On the other hand, should the market have been a good one, she
would tell them that "They filled the whole place," and the children
always had the benefit of their presence.

This belief that the Fairies sharpened the market was, I think, general.
I find in _Y Gordofigion_, p. 97, the following words:--

"Byddai y Tylwyth Teg yn arfer myned i farchnadoedd y Bala, ac yn gwneud
twrw mawr heb i neb eu gweled, ac yr oedd hyny yn arwydd fod y farchnad
ar godi," which is:--

The Fairies were in the habit of frequenting Bala markets, and they made
a great noise, without any one seeing them, and this was a sign that the
market was sharpening.


Many small stone utensils found in the ground, the use, or the origin, of
which was unknown to the finders, were formerly attributed to the
Fairies.  Thus, flint arrow-heads were called elf shots, from the belief
that they once belonged to Elves or Fairies.  And celts, and other stone
implements, were, by the peasants of Wales and other places, ascribed to
the same small folk.  Very small clay pipes were also attributed to the
same people.  All this is curious evidence of a pre-existing race, which
the Celts supplanted, and from whom, in many respects, they differed.
Although we cannot derive much positive knowledge from an enumeration of
the articles popularly associated with the Fairies, still, such a list,
though an imperfect one, will not be void of interest.  I will,
therefore, describe certain pre-historic remains, which have been
attributed to the aboriginal people of Britain.

_Fairy Pipes_.

_Cetyn y Tylwyth Teg_, or Fairy Pipes, are small clay pipes, with bowls
that will barely admit the tip of the little finger.  They are found in
many places, generally with the stem broken off, though usually the bowl
is perfect.

A short time ago I stayed awhile to talk with some workmen who were
engaged in carting away the remains of a small farm house, once called _Y
Bwlch_, in the parish of Efenechtyd, Denbighshire, and they told me that
they had just found a Fairy Pipe, or, as they called it, _Cetyn y Tylwyth
Teg_, which they gave me.  A similar pipe was also picked up by Lewis
Jones, Brynffynon, on Coed Marchan, in the same parish, when he was
enclosing a part of the mountain allotted to his farm.  In March, 1887,
the workmen employed in taking down what were at one time buildings
belonging to a bettermost kind of residence, opposite Llanfwrog Church,
near Ruthin, also discovered one of these wee pipes.  Pipes, identical in
shape and size, have been found in all parts of Wales, and they are
always known by the name of _Cetyn y Tylwyth Teg_, or Fairy Pipes.

In Shropshire they have also been discovered in the Fens, and the late
Rev. Canon Lee, Hanmer, had one in his possession, which had been found
in those parts, and, it was called a Fairy Pipe.

_Fairy Whetstone_.

The small spindle whorls which belong to the stone age, and which have
been discovered in the circular huts, called _Cyttiau'r Gwyddelod_, which
are the earliest remains of human abodes in Wales, are by the people
called Fairy Whetstones, but, undoubtedly, this name was given them from
their resemblance to the large circular whetstone at present in common
use, the finders being ignorant of the original use of these whorls.

_Fairy Hammer and Fairy or Elf Stones_.

Stone hammers of small size have been ascribed to the Fairies, and an
intelligent Welsh miner once told the writer that he had himself seen, in
a very ancient diminutive mine level, stone hammers which, he said, had
once belonged to the Fairies.

Other pre-historic implements, as celts, have been denominated Fairy
remains.  Under this head will come flint, or stone arrow-heads.  These
in Scotland are known by the name Elf Shots or Fairy Stones.

Pennant's _Tour in Scotland_, 1769, p. 115, has the following reference
to these arrow-heads:--

"_Elf Shots_, i.e., the stone arrow-heads of the old inhabitants of this
island, are supposed to be weapons shot by Fairies at cattle, to which
are attributed any disorders they have."

Jamieson states in his Dictionary, under the heading Elf Shot:--"The _Elf
Shot_ or _Elfin Arrow_ is still used in the Highlands as an amulet."

Tradition, in thus connecting stone implements with the Fairies, throws a
dim light on the elfin community.  But evidence is not wanting that the
Celts themselves used stone utensils.

The things which shall now be mentioned, as being connected with the
Fairies, owe their names to no foundation in fact, but are the offspring
of a fanciful imagination, and are attributed to the Fairies in agreement
with the more modern and grotesque notions concerning those beings and
their doings.  This will be seen when it is stated that the Fox Glove
becomes a Fairy Glove, and the Mushroom, Fairy Food.

_Ymenyn y Tylwyth Teg, or Fairy Butter_.

I cannot do better than quote Pennant on this matter.  His words are:--

    "Petroleum, rock oil, or what the Welsh call it, _Ymenin tylwyth
    teg_, or Fairies' butter, has been found in the lime stone strata in
    our mineral country.  It is a greasy substance, of an agreeable
    smell, and, I suppose, ascribed to the benign part of those imaginary
    beings.  It is esteemed serviceable in rheumatic cases, rubbed on the
    parts affected.  It retains a place in our dispensary."

    Pennant's _Whiteford_, p. 131.

_Bwyd Ellyllon_, _or Goblins' Food_.

This was a kind of fungus or mushroom.  The word is given in Dr. Owen
Pughe's dictionary under the head _Ellyll_.

_Menyg y Tylwyth Teg_, _Or Fairy Gloves_.

The Fox Glove is so called, but in Dr. Owen Pughe's dictionary, under the
head _Ellyll_, the Fox Glove is called _Menyg Ellyllon_.

_Yr Ellyll Dan_, _or Goblin Fire_.

The Rev. T. H. Evans, in his _History of the Parish of Llanwddyn_, states
that in that parish "Will of the Wisp" is called "_Yr Ellyll Dan_."  This
is indeed the common name for the _Ignis fatuus_ in most, if not in all
parts of Wales, but in some places where English is spoken it is better
known by the English term, "Jack o' Lantern," or "Jack y Lantern."

_Rhaffau'r Tylwyth Teg_, _or the Ropes of the Fairies_.

Professor Rhys, in his Welsh Fairy Tales--_Y Cymmrodor_ vol. v., p.
75--says, that gossamer, which is generally called in North Wales
_edafedd gwawn_, or _gwawn_ yarn, used to be called, according to an
informant, _Rhaffau'r Tylwyth Teg_, that is to say, the Ropes of the Fair
Family, thus associating the Fairies with marshy, or rushy, places, or
with ferns and heather as their dwelling places.  It was supposed that if
a man lay down to sleep in such places the Fairies would come and bind
him with their ropes, and cover him with a gossamer sheet, which would
make him invisible, and incapable of moving.


The _Coblynau_ or _Knockers_ were supposed to be a species of Fairies who
had their abode in the rocks, and whose province it was to indicate by
knocks, and other sounds, the presence of ore in mines.

It would seem that many people had dim traditions of a small race who had
their dwellings in the rocks.  This wide-spread belief in the existence
of cave men has, in our days, been shown to have had a foundation in
fact, and many vestiges of this people have been revealed by intelligent
cave hunters.  But the age in which the cave men lived cannot even
approximately be ascertained.  In various parts of Wales, in the lime
rock, their abodes have been brought to light.  It is not improbable that
the people who occupied the caves of ancient days were, in reality, the
original Fairy Knockers.  These people were invested, in after ages, by
the wonder-loving mind of man, with supernatural powers.

AEschylus, the Greek tragic poet, who died in the 69th year of his age,
B.C. 456, in _Prometheus Vinctus_, refers to cave dwellers in a way that
indicates that even then they belonged to a dateless antiquity.

In Prometheus's speech to the chorus--[Greek]--lines 458-461, is a
reference to this ancient tradition.  His words, put into English, are
these:--"And neither knew the warm brick-built houses exposed to the sun,
nor working in wood, _but they dwelt underground_, like as little ants,
_in the sunless recesses of caves_."

The above quotation proves that the Greeks had a tradition that men in a
low, or the lowest state of civilization, had their abodes in caves, and
possibly the reference to ants would convey the idea that the cave
dwellers were small people.  Be this as it may, it is very remarkable
that the word applied to a _dwarf_ in the dialects of the northern
countries of Europe signifies also a _Fairy_, and the dwarfs, or Fairies,
are there said to inhabit the rocks.  The following quotation from
Jamieson's _Scottish Dictionary_ under the word _Droich_, a dwarf, a
pigmy, shows this to have been the case:--

"In the northern dialects, _dwerg_ does not merely signify a dwarf, but
also a _Fairy_!  The ancient Northern nations, it is said, prostrated
themselves before rocks, believing that they were inhabited by these
pigmies, and that they thence gave forth oracles.  Hence they called the
echo _dwergamal_, as believing it to be their voice or speech. . .  They
were accounted excellent artificers, especially as smiths, from which
circumstance some suppose that they have received their name . . .  Other
Isl. writers assert that their ancestors did not worship the pigmies as
they did the _genii_ or spirits, also supposed to reside in the rocks."

Bishop Percy, in a letter to the Rev. Evan Evans (_Ieuan Prydydd Hir_),

    "Nay, I make no doubt but Fairies are derived from the _Duergar_, or
    Dwarfs, whose existence was so generally believed among all the
    northern nations."

        _The Cambro-Briton_, vol. i., p. 331.

And again in Percy's _Reliques of Ancient Poetry_, vol. iii., p. 171, are
these remarks:--

"It is well known that our Saxon ancestors, long before they left their
German forests, believed in the existence of a kind of diminutive demons,
or middle species between men and spirits, whom they called _Duergar_, or
Dwarfs, and to whom they attributed wonderful performances, far exceeding
human art."

Pennant, in his _Tour in Scotland_, 1772, pp. 55-56, when describing the
collieries of Newcastle, describes the Knockers thus:--

"The immense caverns that lay between the pillars exhibited a most gloomy
appearance.  I could not help enquiring here after the imaginary
inhabitant, the creation of the labourer's fancy,

    The swart Fairy of the mine;

and was seriously answered by a black fellow at my elbow that he really
had never met with any, but that his grandfather had found the little
implements and tools belonging to this diminutive race of subterraneous
spirits.  The Germans believed in two species; one fierce and malevolent,
the other a gentle race, appearing like little old men, dressed like the
miners, and not much above two feet high; these wander about the drifts
and chambers of the works, seem perpetually employed, yet do nothing.
Some seem to cut the ore, or fling what is cut into vessels, or turn the
windlass, but never do any harm to the miners, except provoked; as the
sensible Agricola, in this point credulous, relates in his book, _de
Animantibus Subterraneis_."

Jamieson, under the word _Farefolkis_, writes:--"Besides the Fairies,
which are more commonly the subject of popular tradition, it appears that
our forefathers believed in the existence of a class of spirits under
this name that wrought in the mines;" and again, quoting from a work
dated 1658, the author of which says:--

"In northerne kingdomes there are great armies of devils that have their
services which they perform with the inhabitants of these countries, but
they are most frequent in rocks and _mines_, where they break, cleave,
and make them hollow; which also thrust in pitchers and buckets, and
carefully fit wheels and screws, whereby they are drawn upwards; and they
show themselves to the labourers, when they list, like phantoms and

The preceding quotations from Pennant and Jamieson correspond with the
Welsh miners' ideas of the _Coblynau_, or Knockers.  There is a
difficulty in tracing to their origin these opinions, but, on the whole,
I am strongly inclined to say that they have come down to modern times
from that remote period when cave-men existed as a distinct people.

But now let us hear what our Welsh miners have to say about the
_Coblynau_.  I have spoken to several miners on this subject, and,
although they confessed that they had not themselves heard these good
little people at work, still they believed in their existence, and could
name mines in which they had been heard.  I was told that they are
generally heard at work in new mines, and that they lead the men to the
ore by knocking in its direction, and when the lode is reached the
knocking ceases.

But the following extracts from two letters written by Lewis Morris, a
well-known and learned Welshman, fully express the current opinion of
miners in Wales respecting Knockers.  The first letter was written Oct.
14, 1754, and the latter is dated Dec. 4, 1754.  They appear in Bingley's
_North Wales_, vol. ii., pp. 269-272.  Lewis Morris writes:--

"People who know very little of arts or sciences, or the powers of nature
(which, in other words, are the powers of the author of nature), will
laugh at us Cardiganshire miners, who maintain the existence of
_Knockers_ in mines, a kind of good natured impalpable people not to be
seen, but heard, and who seem to us to work in the mines; that is to say,
they are the types or forerunners of working in mines, as dreams are of
some accidents, which happen to us.  The barometer falls before rain, or
storms.  If we do not know the construction of it, we should call it a
kind of dream that foretells rain; but we know it is natural, and
produced by natural means, comprehended by us.  Now, how are we sure, or
anybody sure, but that our dreams are produced by the same natural means?
There is some faint resemblance of this in the sense of hearing; the bird
is killed before we hear the report of the gun.  However this is, I must
speak well of the _Knockers_, for they have actually stood my good
friends, whether they are aerial beings called spirits, or whether they
are a people made of matter, not to be felt by our gross bodies, as air
and fire and the like.

"Before the discovery of the _Esgair y Mwyn_ mine, these little people,
as we call them here, worked hard there day and night; and there are
abundance of honest, sober people, who have heard them, and some persons
who have no notion of them or of mines either; but after the discovery of
the great ore they were heard no more.

"When I began to work at Llwyn Llwyd, they worked so fresh there for a
considerable time that they frightened some young workmen out of the
work.  This was when we were driving levels, and before we had got any
ore; but when we came to the ore, they then gave over, and I heard no
more talk of them.

"Our old miners are no more concerned at hearing them _blasting_, boring
holes, landing _deads_, etc., than if they were some of their own people;
and a single miner will stay in the work, in the dead of the night,
without any man near him, and never think of any fear or of any harm they
will do him.  The miners have a notion that the _Knockers_ are of their
own tribe and profession, and are a harmless people who mean well.  Three
or four miners together shall hear them sometimes, but if the miners stop
to take notice of them, the _Knockers_ will also stop; but, let the
miners go on at their work, suppose it is _boring_, the _Knockers_ will
at the same time go on as brisk as can be in landing, _blasting_, or
beating down the _loose_, and they are always heard a little distance
from them before they come to the ore.

"These are odd assertions, but they are certainly facts, though we
cannot, and do not pretend to account for them.  We have now very good
ore at _Llwyn Llwyd_, where the _Knockers_ were heard to work, but have
now yielded up the place, and are no more heard.  Let who will laugh, we
have the greatest reason to rejoice, and thank the _Knockers_, or rather
God, who sends us these notices."

The second letter is as follows:--

"I have no time to answer your objection against _Knockers_; I have a
large treatise collected on that head, and what Mr. Derham says is
nothing to the purpose.  If sounds of voices, whispers, blasts, working,
or pumping, can be carried on a mile underground, they should always be
heard in the same place, and under the same advantages, and not once in a
month, a year, or two years.  Just before the discovery of ore last week,
three men together in our work at _Llwyn Llwyd_ were ear-witnesses of
_Knockers_ pumping, driving a wheelbarrow, etc.; but there is no pump in
the work, nor any mine within less than a mile of it, in which there are
pumps constantly going.  If they were these pumps that they had heard,
why were they never heard but that once in the space of a year?  And why
are they not now heard?  But the pumps make so little noise that they
cannot be heard in the other end of _Esgair y Mwyn_ mine when they are at

"We have a dumb and deaf tailor in this neighbourhood who has a
particular language of his own by signs, and by practice I can understand
him, and make him understand me pretty well, and I am sure I could make
him learn to write, and be understood by letters very soon, for he can
distinguish men already by the letters of their names.  Now letters are
marks to convey ideas, just after the same manner as the motion of
fingers, hands, eyes, etc.  If this man had really seen ore in the bottom
of a sink of water in a mine, and wanted to tell me how to come at it, he
would take two sticks like a pump, and would make the motions of a pumper
at the very sink where he knew the ore was, and would make the motions of
driving a wheelbarrow.  And what I should infer from thence would be that
I ought to take out the water and sink or drive in the place, and wheel
the stuff out.  By parity of reasoning, the language of _Knockers_, by
imitating the sound of pumping, wheeling, etc., signifies that we should
take out the water and drive there.  This is the opinion of all old
miners, who pretend to understand the language of the _Knockers_.  Our
agent and manager, upon the strength of this notice, goes on and expects
great things.  You, and everybody that is not convinced of the being of
_Knockers_, will laugh at these things, for they sound like dreams; so
does every dark science.  Can you make any illiterate man believe that it
is possible to know the distance of two places by looking at them?  Human
knowledge is but of small extent, its bounds are within our view, we see
nothing beyond these; the great universal creation contains powers, etc.,
that we cannot so much as guess at.  May there not exist beings, and vast
powers infinitely smaller than the particles of air, to whom air is as
hard a body as the diamond is to us?  Why not?  There is neither great
nor small, but by comparison.  Our _Knockers_ are some of these powers,
the guardians of mines.

"You remember the story in Selden's Table-Talk of Sir Robert Cotton and
others disputing about Moses's shoe.  Lady Cotton came in and asked,
'Gentlemen, are you sure it _is_ a shoe?'  So the first thing is to
convince mankind that there is a set of creatures, a degree or so finer
than we are, to whom we have given the name of _Knockers_ from the sounds
we hear in our mines.  This is to be done by a collection of their
actions well attested, and that is what I have begun to do, and then let
everyone judge for himself."

The preceding remarks, made by an intelligent and reliable person,
conversant with mines, and apparently uninfluenced by superstition, are
at least worthy of consideration.  The writer of these interesting
letters states positively that sounds were heard; whether his attempt to
solve the cause of these noises is satisfactory, and conclusive, is open
to doubt.  We must believe the facts asserted, although disagreeing with
the solution of the difficulty connected with the sounds.  Miners in all
parts of England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, and other parts, believe in
the existence of _Knockers_, whatever these may be, and here, as far as I
am concerned, I leave the subject, with one remark only, which is, that I
have never heard it said that anyone in Wales ever _saw_ one of these
_Knockers_.  In this they differ from Fairies, who, according to popular
notions, have, time and again, been seen by mortal eyes; but this must
have been when time was young.

The writer is aware that Mr. Sikes, in his _British Goblins_, p. 28,
gives an account of _Coblynau_ or _Knockers_ which he affirms had been
seen by some children who were playing in a field in the parish of
Bodfari, near Denbigh, and that they were dancing like mad, and terribly
frightened the children.  But in the autobiography of Dr. Edward
Williams, already referred to, p. 98, whence Mr. Sikes derived his
information of the Dwarfs of Cae Caled, they are called "_Beings_," and
not _Coblynau_.

Before concluding my remarks on Fairy Knockers I will give one more
quotation from Bingley, who sums up the matter in the following words:--

    "I am acquainted with the subject only from report, but I can assure
    my readers that I found few people in Wales that did not give full
    credence to it.  The elucidation of these extraordinary facts must be
    left to those persons who have better opportunities of inquiring into
    them than I have.  I may be permitted to express a hope that the
    subject will not be neglected, and that those who reside in any
    neighbourhood where the noises are heard will carefully investigate
    their cause, and, if possible, give to the world a more accurate
    account of them than the present.  In the year 1799 they were heard
    in some mines in the parish of Llanvihangel Ysgeiviog, in Anglesea,
    where they continued, at intervals, for some weeks."

    Bingley's _North Wales_, vol. ii., p. 275.

In conclusion, I may remark that in living miners' days, as already
stated, Knockers have not been heard.  Possibly Davy's Safety Lamp and
good ventilation have been their destruction.  Their existence was
believed in when mining operations, such as now prevail, were unknown,
and their origin is to be sought for among the dim traditions that many
countries have of the existence of small cave men.

_The Pwka_, _or Pwca_.

Another imaginary being, closely allied to the Fairy family, was the
_Pwka_.  He seems to have possessed many of the mischievous qualities of
Shakespeare's Puck, whom, also, he resembled in name, and it is said that
the _Pwka_, in common with the _Brownie_, was a willing worker.

The Rev. Edmund Jones in his _Book of Apparitions_ gives an account of
one of these goblins, which visited the house of Job John Harry, who
lived at a place called the Trwyn, and hence the visitor is called Pwka'r
Trwyn, and many strange tales are related of this spirit.  The writer of
the _Apparitions_ states that the spirit stayed in Job's house from some
time before Christmas until Easter Wednesday.  He writes:--"At first it
came knocking at the door, chiefly by night, which it continued to do for
a length of time, by which they were often deceived, by opening it.  At
last it spoke to one who opened the door, upon which they were much
terrified, which being known, brought many of the neighbours to watch
with the family.  T. E. foolishly brought a gun with him to shoot the
spirit, as he said, and sat in the corner.  As Job was coming home that
night the spirit met him, and told him that there was a man come to the
house to shoot him, 'but,' said he, 'thou shalt see how I will beat him.'
As soon as Job was come to the house stones were thrown at the man that
brought the gun, from which he received severe blows.  The company tried
to defend him from the blows of the stones, which did strike him and no
other person; but it was in vain, so that he was obliged to go home that
night, though it was very late; he had a great way to go.  When the
spirit spoke, which was not very often, it was mostly out of the oven by
the hearth's side.  He would sometimes in the night make music with Harry
Job's fiddle.  One time he struck the cupboard with stones, the marks of
which were to be seen, if they are not there still.  Another time he gave
Job a gentle stroke upon his toe, when he was going to bed, upon which
Job said, 'Thou art curious in smiting,' to which the spirit answered, 'I
can smite thee where I please.'  They were at length grown fearless and
bold to speak to it, and its speeches and actions were a recreation to
them, seeing it was a familiar kind of spirit which did not hurt them,
and informed them of some things which they did not know.  One old man,
more bold than wise, on hearing the spirit just by him, threatened to
stick him with his knife, to which he answered, 'Thou fool, how can thou
stick what thou cannot see with thine eyes.'  The spirit told them that
he came from Pwll-y-Gaseg, _i.e_., Mare's Pit, a place so called in the
adjacent mountain, and that he knew them all before he came there. . . .
On Easter Wednesday he left the house and took his farewell in these
words:--'Dos yn iack, Job,' _i.e_., 'Farewell, Job,' to which Job said,
'Where goest thou?'  He was answered, 'Where God pleases.'"

The Pwka was credited with maliciously leading benighted men astray.  He
would appear with a lantern or candle in hand, some little distance in
front of the traveller, and without any exertion keep ahead of him, and
leading him through rocky and dangerous places, would suddenly, with an
ironical laugh blow out the candle, and disappear, and leave the man to
his fate.

The following tale, taken from Croker's _Fairy Legends of Ireland_, vol.
ii., pp. 231-3, well illustrates this mischievous trait in the character
of the Pwka.  The writer has seen the tale elsewhere, but as it differs
only slightly from that recorded by Croker, he gives it in the words of
this author.  His words are as follows:--

"Cwm Pwcca, or the Pwcca's Valley, forms part of the deep and romantic
glen of the Clydach, which, before the establishment of the iron works of
Messrs. Frere and Powell, was one of the most secluded spots in Wales,
and therefore well calculated for the haunt of goblins and fairies; but
the bustle of a manufactory has now in a great measure scared these
beings away, and of late it is very rarely that any of its former
inhabitants, the Pwccas, are seen.  Such, however, is their attachment to
their ancient haunt, that they have not entirely deserted it, as there
was lately living near this valley a man who used to assert that he had
seen one, and had a narrow escape of losing his life, through the
maliciousness of the goblin.  As he was one night returning home over the
mountain from his work, he perceived at some distance before him a light,
which seemed to proceed from a candle in a lantern, and upon looking more
attentively, he saw what he took to be a human figure carrying it, which
he concluded to be one of his neighbours likewise returning from his
work.  As he perceived that the figure was going the same way with
himself, he quickened his pace in order that he might overtake him, and
have the benefit of his light to descend the steep and rocky path which
led into the valley; but he rather wondered that such a short person as
appeared to carry the lantern should be able to walk so fast.  However,
he re-doubled his exertions, determined to come up with him, and although
he had some misgivings that he was not going along the usual track, yet
he thought that the man with the lantern must know better than himself,
and he followed the direction taken by him without further hesitation.
Having, by dint of hard walking, overtaken him, he suddenly found himself
on the brink of one of the tremendous precipices of Cwm Pwcca, down which
another step would have carried him headlong into the roaring torrent
beneath.  And, to complete his consternation, at the very instant he
stopped, the little fellow with the lantern made a spring right across
the glen to the opposite side, and there, holding up the light above his
head, turned round and uttered with all his might a loud and most
malicious laugh, upon which he blew out his candle, and disappeared up
the opposite hill."

This spirit is also said to have assisted men in their labours, and
servant girls and servant men often had their arduous burdens lightened
by his willing hands.  But he punished those who offended him in a
vindictive manner.  The Pwka could hide himself in a jug of barm or in a
ball of yarn, and when he left a place, it was for ever.

In the next chapter I will treat of another phase of legendary lore,
which, although highly imaginative, seems to intimate that the people who
transmitted these tales had some knowledge, though an exaggerated one, of
a people and system which they supplanted.


From the Myddvai Legend it would appear that the Fairies possessed sheep,
cattle, goats, and horses, and from other tales we see that they had
dogs, etc.  Their stock, therefore, was much like that of ordinary
farmers in our days.  But Fairy animals, like their owners, have, in the
course of ages, been endowed with supernatural powers.  In this chapter
shall be given a short history of these mythical animals.

_Cwn Annwn_, _or Dogs of the Abyss_.

The words _Cwn Annwn_ are variously translated as Dogs of Hell, Dogs of
Elfinland.  In some parts of Wales they are called _Cwn Wybir_, Dogs of
the Sky, and in other places _Cwn Bendith Y Mamau_.  We have seen that
"_Bendith y Mamau_" is a name given to the Fairies, and in this way these
dogs become Fairy Dogs.

A description of these Fairy dogs is given in _Y Brython_, vol. iii p.
22.  Briefly stated it is as follows:--_Cwn Bendith y Mamau_ were a pack
of small hounds, headed by a large dog.  Their howl was something
terrible to listen to, and it foretold death.  At their approach all
other dogs ceased barking, and fled before them in terror, taking refuge
in their kennels.  The birds of the air stopped singing in the groves
when they heard their cry, and even the owl was silent when they were
near.  The laugh of the young, and the talk at the fireside were hushed
when the dreadful howl of these Hell hounds was heard, and pale and
trembling with fear the inmates crowded together for mutual protection.
And what was worse than all, these dogs often foretold a death in some
particular family in the neighbourhood where they appeared, and should a
member of this family be in a public-house, or other place of amusement,
his fright would be so great that he could not move, believing that
already had death seized upon some one in his house.

The Fairy dogs howled more at Cross-roads, and such like public places,
than elsewhere.  And woe betide any one who stood in their way, for they
bit them, and were likely even to drag a man away with them, and their
bite was often fatal.  They collected together in huge numbers in the
churchyard where the person whose death they announced was to be buried,
and, howling around the place that was to be his grave, disappeared on
that very spot, sinking there into the earth, and afterwards they were
not to be seen.

A somewhat different description of _Cwn Annwn_ is given in the
_Cambro-Briton_, vol. i., p. 350.  Here we are told that "these terrific
animals are supposed to be devils under the semblance of hunting dogs . .
. and they are usually accompanied by fire in some form or other.  Their
appearance is supposed to indicate the death of some friend or relative
of the person to whom they shew themselves.  They have never been known
to commit any mischief on the persons of either man or woman, goat,
sheep, or cow, etc."

In Motley's _Tales of the Cymry_, p. 58, that author says:--"I have met
with but a few old people who still cherished a belief in these infernal
hounds which were supposed after death to hunt the souls of the wretched
to their allotted place of torment."

It was, however, once firmly and generally believed, that these awful
creatures could be heard of a wild stormy night in full cry pursuing the
souls of the unbaptized and unshriven.  Mr. Chapman, Dolfor, near
Newtown, Montgomeryshire, writes to me thus:--"These mysterious animals
are never seen, only heard.  A whole pack were recently heard on the
borders of Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire.  They went from the Kerry
hills towards the Llanbadarn road, and a funeral quickly followed the
same route.  The sound was similar to that made by a pack of hounds in
full cry, but softer in tone."

The Rev. Edmund Jones, in his work entitled "An Account of Apparitions of
Spirits in the county of Monmouth," says that, "The nearer these dogs are
to a man, the less their voice is, and the farther the louder, and
sometimes, like the voice of a great hound, or like that of a blood
hound, a deep hollow voice."  It is needless to say that this gentleman
believed implicitly in the existence of _Cwn Annwn_, and adduces
instances of their appearance.

The following is one of his tales:--

    "As Thomas Andrews was coming towards home one night with some
    persons with him, he heard, as he thought, the sound of hunting.  He
    was afraid it was some person hunting the sheep, so he hastened on to
    meet, and hinder them; he heard them coming towards him, though he
    saw them not.  When they came near him, their voices were but small,
    but increasing as they went from him; they went down the steep
    towards the river _Ebwy_, dividing between this parish and
    _Mynyddislwyn_, whereby he knew they were what are called _Cwn wybir_
    (Sky dogs), but in the inward part of Wales _Cwn Annwn_ (Dogs of
    Hell).  I have heard say that these spiritual hunting-dogs have been
    heard to pass by the eaves of several houses before the death of
    someone in the family.  Thomas Andrews was an honest, religious man,
    and would not have told an untruth either for fear or for favour."

The colour of these dogs is variously given, as white, with red ears, and
an old man informed Mr. Motley that their colour was blood-red, and that
they always were dripping with gore, and that their eyes and teeth were
of fire.  This person confessed that he had never seen these dogs, but
that he described them from what he had heard.--_Tales of the Cymry_, p.
60.  There is in _The Cambro-Briton_, vol. ii., p. 271, another and more
natural description of _Cwn Annwn_.  It is there stated that Pwyll,
prince of Dyved, went out to hunt, and:--

    "He sounded his horn and began to enter upon the chase, following his
    dogs and separating from his companions.  And, as he was listening to
    the cry of his pack, he could distinctly hear the cry of another
    pack, different from that of his own, and which was coming in an
    opposite direction.  He could also discern an opening in the wood
    towards a level plain; and as his pack was entering the skirt of the
    opening, he perceived a stag before the other pack, and about the
    middle of the glade the pack in the rear coming up and throwing the
    stag on the ground; upon this be fixed his attention on the colour of
    the pack without recollecting to look at the stag; and, of all the
    hounds in the world he had ever seen, he never saw any like them in
    colour.  Their colour was a shining clear white, with red ears; and
    the whiteness of the dogs, and the redness of their ears, were
    equally conspicuous."

We are informed that these dogs belonged to Arawn, or the silver-tongued
King of Annwn, of the lower or southern regions.  In this way these dogs
are identified with the creatures treated of in this chapter.  But their
work was less weird than soul-hunting.

A superstition akin to that attached to _Cwn Annwn_ prevails in many
countries, as in Normandy and Bretagne.  In Devonshire, the Wish, or
Wisked Hounds, were once believed in, and certain places on Dartmoor were
thought to be their peculiar resort, and it was supposed that they hunted
on certain nights, one of which was always St. John's Eve.  These
terrible creations of a cruel mind indicate a phase of faith antagonistic
to, and therefore more ancient than, Christianity.

With another quotation from _Tales of the Cymry_ (p. 61-62), I will
conclude my remarks:--

    "In the north of Devon the spectral pack are called Yesh hounds and
    Yell hounds.  There is another legend, evidently of Christian origin,
    which represents them in incessant pursuit of a lost spirit.  In the
    northern quarter of the moor the Wish hounds, in pursuit of the
    spirit of a man who had been well known in the country, entered a
    cottage, the door of which had been incautiously left open, and ran
    round the kitchen, but quietly, without their usual cry.  The Sunday
    after the same man appeared in church, and the person whose house the
    dogs had entered, made bold by the consecrated place in which they
    were, ventured to ask why he had been with the Wish hounds.  'Why
    should not my spirit wander,' he replied, 'as well as another man's?'
    Another version represents the hounds as following the spirit of a
    beautiful woman, changed into the form of a hare; and the reader will
    find a similar legend, with some remarkable additions, in the
    Disquisitiones Magicae of the Jesuit Delrio, lib. vi., c.2."

The preceding paragraph is from the pen of "R.J.K.," and appears in the
_Athenaeum_, March 27, 1847, Art. Folk-lore.

_The Fairy Cow_.

There are many traditions afloat about a wonderful cow, that supplied
whole neighbourhoods with milk, which ceased when wantonly wasted.  In
some parts of England this is called the Dun Cow; in Shropshire she
becomes also the _White Cow_; in Wales she is, _Y Fuwch Frech_, or _Y
Fuwch Gyfeiliorn_.  This mystic cow has found a home in many places.  One
of these is the wild mountain land between Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr and a
hamlet called Clawdd Newydd about four miles from Ruthin.  About midway
between these two places is a bridge called Pontpetrual, and about half a
mile from the bridge to the north is a small mountain farm called _Cefn
Bannog_, and near this farm, but on the unenclosed mountain, are traces
of primitive abodes, and it was here that, tradition says, the _Fuwch
Frech_ had her home.  But I will now give the history of this strange cow
as I heard it from the mouth of Thomas Jones, Cefn Bannog.

_Y Fuwch Frech_.  _The Freckled Cow_.

In ages long gone by, my informant knew not how long ago, a wonderful cow
had her pasture land on the hill close to the farm, called Cefn Bannog,
after the mountain ridge so named.  It would seem that the cow was
carefully looked after, as indicated by the names of places bearing her
name.  The site of the cow house is still pointed out, and retains its
name, _Preseb y Fuwch Frech_--the Crib of the Freckled Cow.  Close to
this place are traces of a small enclosure called _Gwal Erw y Fuwch
Frech_, or the Freckled Cow's Meadow.  There is what was once a track way
leading from the ruins of the cow house to a spring called _Ffynon y
Fuwch Frech_, or the Freckled Cow's Well, and it was, tradition says, at
this well that the cow quenched her thirst.  The well is about 150 yards
from the cow house.  Then there is the feeding ground of the cow called,
_Waen Banawg_, which is about half a mile from the cow house.  There are
traces of walls several feet thick in these places.  The spot is a lonely
one, but ferns and heather flourish luxuriantly all about this ancient
homestead.  It is also said that this cow was the mother of the _Ychain
Banawg_, or large-horned oxen.  But now to proceed to the tradition that
makes the memory of this cow dear to the inhabitants of the Denbighshire

Old people have transmitted from generation to generation the following
strange tale of the Freckled Cow.  Whenever any one was in want of milk
they went to this cow, taking with them a vessel into which they milked
the cow, and, however big this vessel was, they always departed with the
pail filled with rich milk, and it made no difference, however often she
was milked, she could never be milked dry.  This continued for a long
time, and glad indeed the people were to avail themselves of the
inexhaustible supply of new milk, freely given to them all.  At last a
wicked hag, filled with envy at the people's prosperity, determined to
milk the cow dry, and for this purpose she took a riddle with her, and
milked and milked the cow, until at last she could get no more milk from
her.  But, sad to say, the cow immediately, upon this treatment, left the
country, and was never more seen.  Such is the local history of the
Freckled Cow.

Tradition further states that she went straight to a lake four miles off,
bellowing as she went, and that she was followed by her two children the
_Dau Eidion Banawg_, the two long-horned oxen, to _Llyn dau ychain_, the
Lake of the Two Oxen, in the parish of Cerrig-y-drudion, and that she
entered the lake and the two long-horned oxen, bellowing horribly, went,
one on either side the lake, and with their mother disappeared within its
waters, and none were ever afterwards seen.

Notwithstanding that tradition buries these celebrated cattle in this
lake, I find in a book published by Dr. John Williams, the father of the
Rev. John Williams, M.A., Vicar of Llanwddyn, in the year 1830, on the
"Natural History of Llanrwst," the following statement.  The author in
page 17, when speaking of _Gwydir_, says:--

"In the middle court (which was once surrounded by the house), there is a
large bone, which appears to be the rib of some species of whale, but
according to the vulgar opinion, it is the rib of the Dun Cow (_y Fuwch
Frech_), killed by the Earl of Warwick."

It may be stated that Llanrwst is not many miles distant from
Cerrig-y-drudion and yet we have in these places conflicting traditions,
which I will not endeavour to reconcile.

The Shropshire tale of the Fairy Cow is much the same as the preceding.
There she is known as _The White Cow of __Mitchell's Fold_.  This place
is situated on the Corndon Hill, a bare moorland in the extreme west of
Shropshire.  To this day there is to be seen there a stone circle known
as Mitchell's Fold.

The story of the Shropshire Cow is this.  There was a dire famine in
those parts, and the people depended for support on a beautiful white
cow, a Fairy cow, that gave milk to everybody, and it mattered not how
many came, there was always enough for all, and it was to be so, so long
as every one who came only took one pailful.  The cow came night and
morning to be milked, and it made no difference what size the vessel was
that was brought by each person, for she always gave enough milk to fill
it, and all the other pails.  At last, there came an old witch to
Mitchell's Fold, and in spite and malice she brought a riddle and milked
the cow into it; she milked and milked, and at last she milked her dry,
and after that the cow was never seen.  Folk say she was turned into a

I am indebted to Miss Burne's _Shropshire Folk-Lore_ for the particulars
above given.

A like tale is to be heard in Warwickshire, and also in Lancashire, near
Preston, where the Dun cow gave freely her milk to all in time of
drought, and disappeared on being subjected to the treatment of the Welsh
and Shropshire cow.

Mr. Lloyd, Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, gave me a different tale of the _Dau
ychain Banawg_ to that already related.  His story is as follows:--

_The Legend of Llyn y ddau ychain_.

The speckled cow had two calves, which, when they grew up, became strong
oxen.  In those days there was a wicked spirit that troubled
Cerrig-y-drudion Church, and the people greatly feared this spirit, and
everybody was afraid, even in the day-time, to pass the church, for
there, day after day, they saw the evil one looking out of the church
windows and grinning at them.  They did not know what to do to get rid of
this spirit, but at last they consulted a famous conjuror, who told them
that no one could dislodge their enemy but the _Dau ychain Banawg_.  They
knew of the two long-horned cattle which fed on Waen Banawg.  There,
therefore, they went, and brought the powerful yoke to the church.  After
considerable difficulty they succeeded in dislodging the spirit, and in
securing it to a sledge to which these oxen were yoked, and now
struggling to get free, he was dragged along by the powerful oxen towards
a lake on Hiraethog Mountain, but so ponderous was their load and so
fearful was the spirit's contentions that the sledge ploughed the land
between the church and the lake as they went along, leaving in the course
that they took deep furrows, and when they came to the hill so terrible
were the struggles of the oxen to get along that the marks of their hoofs
were left in the rocks where they may still be seen.  When at last they
reached the lake the spirit would not yield, and therefore oxen, sledge,
and spirit were driven into the lake, and thus was the country rid of the
evil one, and hence the name of the lake--the Lake of the Two Oxen--for
the oxen likewise perished in the lake.

The foregoing legend is evidently founded on the older and more obscure
story of Hu Gardarn, or Hu the Mighty, who with his _Dau ychain Banawg_
drew to land the _avanc_ out of _Llyn Llion_, so that the lake burst out
no more to deluge the earth.  For, be it known, it was this _avanc_ that
had occasioned the flood.  However, there is a rival claimant for the
honour of having destroyed the _avanc_, whatever that might have been,
for, in Hindu Mythology, Vishnu is credited with having slain the monster
that had occasioned the Deluge.

This last bit of Folk-lore about Hu Gadarn, which is found in the
_Triads_, shows how widespread, and how very ancient, Welsh tales are.
Hu Gadarn is by some writers identified with Noah.  He was endowed, it
would seem, with all the qualities of the gods of the Greeks, Egyptians,
and Orientals, and his name is applied by the Welsh poets of the middle
ages to the Supreme Being.

_Y Fuwch Gyfeiliorn_.  _The Stray Cow_.

The history of the Fairy Stray Cow appears in _Y Brython_, vol. iii., pp.
183-4.  The writer of the story states that he obtained his materials
from a Paper by the late Dr. Pugh, Penhelyg, Aberdovey.  The article
alluded to by Gwilym Droed-ddu, the writer of the account in the
_Brython_, appeared in the _Archaeologia Cambrensis_ for 1853, pp. 201-5.
The tale, as given by Dr. Pugh, is reproduced by Professor Rhys in his
Welsh Fairy Tales, and it is much less embellished in English than in
Welsh.  I will quote as much of the Doctor's account as refers to the
Stray Cow.

"A shrewd old hill farmer (Thomas Abergroes by name), well skilled in the
folk-lore of the district, informed me that, in years gone by, though
when, exactly, he was too young to remember, those dames (_Gwragedd
Annwn_) were wont to make their appearance, arrayed in green, in the
neighbourhood of Llyn Barfog, chiefly at eventide, accompanied by their
kine and hounds, and that, on quiet summer nights in particular, these
ban-hounds were often to be heard in full cry, pursuing their prey--the
souls of doomed men dying without baptism and penance--along the upland
township of Cefnrhosucha.  Many a farmer had a sight of their comely,
milk-white kine; many a swain had his soul turned to romance and poesy by
a sudden vision of themselves in the guise of damsels arrayed in green,
and radiant in beauty and grace; and many a sportsman had his path
crossed by their white hounds of supernatural fleetness and comeliness,
the _Cwn Annwn_; but never had any one been favoured with more than a
passing view of either, till an old farmer residing at Dyssyrnant, in the
adjoining valley of Dyffryn Gwyn, became at last the lucky captor of one
of their milk-white kine.  The acquaintance which the _Gwartheg y Llyn_,
the kine of the lake, had formed with the farmer's cattle, like the loves
of the angels for the daughters of men, became the means of capture; and
the farmer was thereby enabled to add the mystic cow to his own herd, an
event in all cases believed to be most conducive to the worldly
prosperity of him who should make so fortunate an acquisition.  Never was
there such a cow, never were there such calves, never such milk and
butter, or cheese; and the fame of the _Fuwch Gyfeiliorn_, the stray cow,
was soon spread abroad through that central part of Wales known as the
district of Rhwng y ddwy Afon, from the banks of the Mawddach to those of
the Dofwy (Dovey)--from Aberdiswnwy to Abercorris.  The farmer, from a
small beginning, rapidly became, like Job, a man of substance, possessed
of thriving herds of cattle--a very patriarch among the mountains.  But,
alas! wanting Job's restraining grace, his wealth made him proud, his
pride made him forget his obligation to the elfin cow, and fearing she
might soon become too old to be profitable, he fattened her for the
butcher, and then even she did not fail to distinguish herself, for a
more monstrously fat beast was never seen.  At last the day of slaughter
came--an eventful day in the annals of a mountain farm--the killing of a
fat cow, and such a monster of obesity.  No wonder all the neighbours
were gathered together to see the sight.  The old farmer looked upon the
preparations in self-pleased importance; the butcher felt he was about no
common feat of his craft, and, baring his arm, he struck the blow--not
now fatal, for before even a hair had been injured, his arm was
paralysed, the knife dropped from his hand, and the whole company was
electrified by a piercing cry that awakened an echo in a dozen hills, and
made the welkin ring again; and lo and behold! the whole assemblage saw a
female figure, clad in green, with uplifted arms, standing on one of the
rocks overhanging Llyn Barfog, and heard her calling with a voice loud as

    'Dere di velen Einion,
    Cyrn cyveiliorn--braith y Llyn,
    A'r voel Dodin,
    Codwch, dewch adre.'

    'Come thou Einion's yellow one,
    Stray horns--speckled one of the Lake,
    And the hornless Dodin,
    Arise, come home.'

And no sooner were these words of power uttered, than the original lake
cow, and all her progeny to the third and fourth generations, were in
full flight towards the heights of Llyn Barfog, as if pursued by the evil
one.  Self-interest quickly roused the farmer, who followed in pursuit,
till, breathless and panting, he gained an eminence overlooking the lake,
but with no better success than to behold the green-attired dame
leisurely descending mid-lake, accompanied by the fugitive cows, and her
calves formed in a circle around her; they tossed their tails, she waved
her hands in scorn, as much as to say, 'You may catch us, my friend, if
you can,' as they disappeared beneath the dark waters of the lake,
leaving only the yellow water-lily to mark the spot where they vanished,
and to perpetuate the memory of this strange event.  Meanwhile, the
farmer looked with rueful countenance upon the spot where the elfin herd
disappeared, and had ample leisure to deplore the effects of his
greediness, as with them also departed the prosperity which had hitherto
attended him, and he became impoverished to a degree below his original
circumstances, and in his altered circumstances few felt pity for one
who, in the noontide flow of prosperity, had shown himself so far
forgetful of favours received, as to purpose slaying his benefactor."
Thus ends Dr. Pugh's account of the Stray Cow.

A tale very much like the preceding is recorded of a Scotch farmer.  It
is to be found in vol. ii., pp. 45-6, of Croker's _Fairy Legends of
Ireland_, and is as follows:--

"A farmer who lived near a river had a cow which regularly every year, on
a certain day in May, left the meadow and went slowly along the banks of
the river till she came opposite to a small island overgrown with bushes;
she went into the water and waded or swam towards the island, where she
passed some time, and then returned to her pasture.  This continued for
several years; and every year, at the usual season, she produced a calf
which perfectly resembled the elf bull.  One afternoon, about Martinmas,
the farmer, when all the corn was got in and measured, was sitting at his
fireside, and the subject of the conversation was, which of the cattle
should be killed for Christmas.  He said: 'We'll have the cow; she is
well fed, and has rendered good services in ploughing, and filled the
stalls with fine oxen, now we will pick her old bones.'  Scarcely had he
uttered these words when the cow with her young ones rushed through the
walls as if they had been made of paper, went round the dunghill,
bellowed at each of her calves, and then drove them all before her,
according to their age, towards the river, where they got into the water,
reached the island, and vanished among the bushes.  They were never more
heard of."

_Ceffyl y Dwfr_.  _The Water Horse_.

The superstition respecting the water-horse, in one form or other, is
common to the Celtic race.  He was supposed to intimate by preternatural
lights and noises the death of those about to perish by water, and it was
vulgarly believed that he even assisted in drowning his victims.  The
water-horse was thought to be an evil spirit, who, assuming the shape of
a horse, tried to allure the unwary to mount him, and then soaring into
the clouds, or rushing over mountain, and water, would suddenly vanish
into air or mist, and precipitate his rider to destruction.

The Welsh water-horse resembles the Kelpie of the Scotch.  Jamieson,
under the word _Kelpie_, in his _Scottish Dictionary_, quoting from
various authors, as is his custom, says:--

"This is described as an aquatic demon, who drowns not only men but
ships.  The ancient Northern nations believed that he had the form of a
horse; and the same opinion is still held by the vulgar in Iceland.

"Loccenius informs us that in Sweden the vulgar are still afraid of his
power, and that swimmers are on their guard against his attacks; being
persuaded that he suffocates and carries off those whom he catches under
water."  "Therefore," adds this writer, "it would seem that ferry-men
warn those who are crossing dangerous places in some rivers not so much
as to mention his name; lest, as they say, they should meet with a storm
and be in danger of losing their lives.  Hence, doubtless, has this
superstition originated; that, in these places formerly, during the time
of paganism, those who worshipped their sea-deity _Nekr_, did so, as it
were with a sacred silence, for the reason already given."

The Scotch Kelpie closely resembled the Irish Phoocah, or Poocah, a
mischievous being, who was particularly dreaded on the night of All
Hallow E'en, when it was thought he had especial power; he delighted to
assume the form of a black horse, and should any luckless wight bestride
the fiendish steed, he was carried through brake and mire, over water and
land at a bewildering pace.  Woe-betide the timid rider, for the Poocah
made short work of such an one, and soon made him kiss the ground.  But
to the bold fearless rider the Poocah submitted willingly, and became his
obedient beast of burden.

The following quotation from the _Tales of the Cymry_, p. 151, which is
itself an extract from Mrs. S. C. Hall's _Ireland_, graphically describes
the Irish water fiend:--

    "The great object of the Poocah seems to be to obtain a rider, and
    then he is in all his most malignant glory.  Headlong he dashes
    through briar and brake, through flood and fall, over mountain,
    valley, moor, and river indiscriminately; up and down precipice is
    alike to him, provided he gratifies the malevolence that seems to
    inspire him.  He bounds and flies over and beyond them, gratified by
    the distress, and utterly reckless and ruthless of the cries, and
    danger, and suffering of the luckless wight who bestrides him."

Sometimes the Poocah assumed the form of a goat, an eagle, or of some
other animal, and leaped upon the shoulders of the unwary traveller, and
clung to him, however frantic were the exertions to get rid of the

Allied to the water-horse were the horses upon which magicians in various
lands were supposed to perform their aerial journeys.

It was believed in Wales that the clergy could, without danger, ride the
water-horse, and the writer has heard a tale of a clergyman, who, when
bestride one of these horses, had compassion on his parish clerk, who was
trudging by his side, and permitted him to mount behind him, on condition
that he should keep silence when upon the horse's back.  For awhile the
loquacious parish clerk said no word, but ere long the wondrous pace of
the horse caused him to utter a pious ejaculation, and no sooner were the
words uttered than he was thrown to the ground; his master kept his seat,
and, on parting with the fallen parish official, shouted out, "Serve you
right, why did you not keep your noisy tongue quiet?"

The weird legends and gloomy creations of the Celt assume a mild and
frolicsome feature when interpreted by the Saxon mind.  The malevolent
Poocah becomes in England the fun-loving Puck, who delights in playing
his pranks on village maidens, and who says:--

    I am that merry wanderer of the night;
    Jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
    When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
    Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;
    And sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
    In very likeness of a roasted crab;
    And when she drinks against her lips I bob,
    And on her withered dew-lap pour the ale.

    _Midsummer Night's Dream_, Act I, Sc. I.

The _Ceffyl-y-Dwfr_ was very different to Chaucer's wonderful brass
horse, which could be ridden, without harm, by a sleeping rider:--

    This steed of brasse, and easilie and well
    Can in the space of a day naturel,
    This is to say, in foure and twenty houres,
    Where so ye lists, in drought or elles showers,
    Baren yours bodie into everie place,
    In which your hearte willeth for to pace,
    Withouten wemme of you through foul or fair,
    Or if you liste to flee as high in th' aire
    As doth an eagle when him liste to soare,
    This same steed shall bear you evermore,
    Withouten harm, till ye be there you leste,
    Though that ye sleepen on his back or reste;
    And turn againe with writhing of a pinne,
    He that it wroughte he coulde many a gin,
    He waited many a constellation,
    Ere he had done this operation.

    _Chaucer's Squire's Tale_, 137-152.

The rider of the magic horse was made acquainted with the charm that
secured its obedience, for otherwise he took an aerial ride at his peril.
This kind of invention is oriental, but it is sufficiently like the
Celtic in outline to indicate that all figments of the kind had
undoubtedly a common origin.

I have seen it somewhere stated, but where I cannot recall to mind, that,
the Water Horses did, in olden times, sport, on the Welsh mountains, with
the puny native ponies, before they became a mixed breed.

It was believed that the initiated could conjure up the River Horse by
shaking a magic bridle over the pool wherein it dwelt.

There is much curious information respecting this mythic animal in the
_Tales of the Cymry_ and from this work I have culled many thoughts.

_The Torrent Spectre_.

This spectre was supposed to be an old man, or malignant spirit, who
directed, and ruled over, the mountain torrents.  He delighted in
devastating the lands.  His appearance was horrible to behold, and it was
believed that in the midst of the rushing stream his terrible form could
be discerned apparently moving with the torrent, but in reality remaining
stationary.  Now he would raise himself half out of the water, and ascend
like a mist half as high as the near mountain, and then he would dwindle
down to the size of a man.  His laugh accorded with his savage visage,
and his long hair stood on end, and a mist always surrounded him.

Davies, in his _Mythology of the Druids_, says that believers in this
strange superstition are yet to be met with in Glamorganshire.  Davies
was born in the parish of Llanvareth, Radnorshire, in 1756, and died
January 1st, 1831.

_Gwrach y Rhibyn_, _or Hag of the Mist_.

Another supernatural being associated with water was the _Gwrach y
Rhibyn_.  She was supposed to reside in the dripping fog, but was seldom,
if ever seen.  It was believed that her shriek foretold misfortune, if
not death, to the hearer, and some even thought that, in a shrill tenor,
and lengthened voice, she called the person shortly to die by name.

_Yr Hen Chrwchwd_, or The Old Humpbacked, a fiend in the shape of an old
woman, is thought to be identical with this _Gwrach y Rhibyn_.

In Carmarthenshire the spirit of the mist is represented, not as a
shrivelled up old woman, but as a hoary headed old man, who seats himself
on the hill sides, just where the clouds appear to touch them, and he is
called _Y Brenhin Llwyd_, or The Grey King.  I know not what functions
this venerable personage, or king of the mist, performed, unless it were,
that he directed the mist's journey through the air.

_Mermaids and Mermen_.

It is said that these fabulous beings frequented the sea-coasts of Wales
to the great danger of the inhabitants.  The description of the Welsh
mermaid was just as it is all over the world; she is depicted as being
above the waist a most lovely young woman, whilst below she is like a
fish with fins and spreading tail.  Both mermen and mermaids were fond,
it is said, of combing their long hair, and the siren-like song of the
latter was thought to be so seductive as to entice men to destruction.
It was believed that beautiful mermaids fell in love with comely young
men and even induced them to enter their abodes in the depth of the sea.

I heard the following tale, I believe in Carnarvonshire, but I have no
notes of it, and write from memory.

A man captured a mermaid, and took her home to his house, but she did
nothing but beg and beg to be allowed to return to the sea, but
notwithstanding her entreaties her captor kept her safe enough in a room,
and fastened the door so that she could not escape.  She lingered several
days, pitifully beseeching the man to release her, and then she died.
But ever after that event a curse seemed to rest upon the man, for he
went from bad to worse, and died miserably poor.

It was always considered most unlucky to do anything unkind to these
beings.  Fear acted as a powerful incentive, in days of old, to generous
conduct.  For it was formerly believed that vengeance ever overtook the

An Isle of Man legend, related by Waldron, in his account of the Isle of
Man, and reproduced by Croker, vol. i., p. 56, states, that some persons
captured a mermaid, and carried her to a house and treated her tenderly,
but she refused meat and drink, neither would she speak, when addressed,
though they knew these creatures could speak.  Seeing that she began to
look ill, and fearing some great calamity would befall the island if she
died, they opened the door, after three days, and she glided swiftly to
the sea side.  Her keeper followed at a distance and saw her plunge into
the sea, where she was met by a great number of her own species, one of
whom asked her what she had seen among those on land, to which she
answered, "Nothing, but that they are so ignorant as to throw away the
very water they boil their eggs in."


Although Max Muller, in _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. ii., p. 238,
states that "The Aryan nations had no Devil," this certainly cannot at
present be affirmed of that branch of the Celtic race which inhabits
Wales.  In the Principality the Devil occupies a prominent position in
the foreground of Welsh Folk-Lore.  He is, however, generally depicted as
inferior in cunning and intellect to a bright-witted Welshman, and when
worsted in a contest he acknowledges his inferiority by disappearing in a
ball or wheel of fire.  Men, it was supposed, could sell themselves to
the Evil One for a term of years, but they easily managed to elude the
fulfilment of the contract, for there was usually a loop-hole by which
they escaped from the clutches of the stupid Devil.  For instance, a man
disposes of his soul for riches, pleasures, and supernatural knowledge
and power, which he is to enjoy for a long number of years, and in the
contract it is stipulated that the agreement holds good if the man is
buried either _in_ or _outside_ the church.  To all appearance the victim
is irretrievably lost, but no, after enjoying all the fruits of his
contract, he cheats the Devil of his due, by being buried _in_ or _under_
the church walls.

In many tales Satan is made to act a part detrimental to his own
interests; thus Sabbath breakers, card players, and those who practised
divination, have been frightened almost to death by the appearance of the
Devil, and there and then, being terrified by the horrible aspect of the
enemy, they commenced a new life.  This thought comes out strongly in _Y
Bardd Cwsg_.  The poet introduces one of the fallen angels as appearing
to act the part given to the Devil, in the play of Faust, when it was
being performed at Shrewsbury, and this appearance drove the frequenters
of the theatre from their pleasures to their prayers.  His words are:--

"Dyma walch, ail i hwnw yn y Mwythig, y dydd arall, ar ganol interlud
Doctor Ffaustus; a rhai . . . pan oeddynt brysuraf, ymddangosodd y diawl
ei hun i chwareu ei bart ac wrth hynny gyrodd bawb o'i bleser i'w

In English this is:--"Here's a fine fellow, second to that at Shrewsbury,
who the other day, when the interlude of Doctor Faustus was being acted,
in the middle of the play, all being busily engaged, the devil himself
appeared to take his own part, and by so doing, drove everyone from
pleasure to prayer."

The absurd conduct of the Evil Spirit on this occasion is held up to
ridicule by the poet, but the idea, which is an old one, that demons
were, by a superior power, obliged to frustrate their own designs, does
not seem to have been taken into consideration by him.  He depicts the
Devil as a strange mixture of stupidity and remorseless animosity.  But
this, undoubtedly, was the then general opinion.  The bard revels in
harrowing descriptions of the tortures of the damned in Gehenna--the
abode of the Arch-fiend and his angels.  This portion of his work was in
part the offspring of his own fervid imagination; but in part it might
have been suggested to him by what had been written already on the
subject; and from the people amongst whom he lived he could have, and did
derive, materials for these descriptions.  In any case he did not
outrage, by any of his horrible depictions of Pandemonium, the sentiments
of his fellow countrymen, and his delineation of Satan was in full accord
with the popular opinion of his days.  The bard did not create but gave
utterance to the fleeting thoughts which then prevailed respecting the
Devil.  Indeed there does not seem to be in Wales any distinct attributes
ascribed to Satan, which are not also believed to be his specialities in
other countries.  His personal appearance is the same in most places.  He
is described as being black, with horns, and hoofs and tail, he breathes
fire and brimstone, and he is accompanied with the clank of chains.  Such
was the uncouth form which Satan was supposed to assume, and such was the
picture drawn of him formerly in Wales.

There is a strong family likeness in this description between Satan and
_Pan_, who belongs to Greek and Egyptian mythology.  Pan had two small
horns on his head, his nose was flat, and his legs, thighs, tail, and
feet were those of a goat.  His face is described as ruddy, and he is
said to have possessed many qualities which are also ascribed to Satan.
His votaries were not encumbered with an exalted code of morality.

The _Fauni_, certain deities of Italy, are also represented as having the
legs, feet, and ears of goats, and the rest of the body human, and the
_Satyri_ of the Greeks are also described as having the feet and legs of
goats, with short horns on the head, and the whole body covered with
thick hair.  These demigods revelled in riot and lasciviousness.  The
satyrs attended upon Bacchus, and made themselves conspicuous in his
orgies.  The Romans called their satyrs Fauni, Panes, and Sylvani.

It is difficult to ascertain whether the Celt of Britain obtained through
the Romans their gross notions of the material body of Satan, or whether
it was in later times that they became possessed of this idea.  It may
well have been that the Fauni, and other disreputable deities of the
conquerors of the world, on the introduction of Christianity were looked
upon as demons, and their forms consequently became fit representations
of the Spirit of Evil, from whom they differed little, if any, in general
attributes.  In this way god after god would be removed from their
pedestals in the world's pantheon, and would be relegated to the regions
occupied by the great enemy of all that is pure, noble, and good in
mankind.  Thus the god of one age would become the devil of the
succeeding age, retaining, nevertheless, by a cruel irony, the same form
and qualities in his changed position that he had in his exalted state.

It is by some such reasoning as the preceding that we can account for the
striking personal resemblance between the Satan of mediaeval and later
times and the mythical deities already mentioned.

Reference has been made to the rustic belief that from his mouth Satan
emits fire and brimstone, and here again we observe traces of classic
lore.  The fabulous monsters, Typhaeus, or Typhon, and Chimaera, are
probably in this matter his prototypes.  It is said that real flames of
devouring fire darted from the mouth and eyes of Typhon, and that he
uttered horrible yells, like the shrieks of different animals, and
Chimaera is described as continually vomiting flames.

Just as the gods of old could assume different shapes, so could Satan.
The tales which follow show that he could change himself at will into the
form of a lovely woman, a mouse, a pig, a black dog, a cock, a fish, a
headless horse, and into other animals or monstrous beings.  But the form
which, it is said, he usually assumed to enable him to escape when
discovered in his intrigues was a ball or hoop of fire.

The first series of tales which I shall relate depict Satan as taking a
part in the pastimes of the people.

_Satan Playing Cards_.

A good many years ago I travelled from Pentrevoelas to Yspytty in company
with Mr. Lloyd, the then vicar of the latter parish, who, when crossing
over a bridge that spanned a foaming mountain torrent, called my
attention to the spot, and related to me the following tale connected
with the place:--

A man was returning home late one night from a friend's house, where he
had spent the evening in card playing, and as he was walking along he was
joined by a gentleman, whose conversation was very interesting.  At last
they commenced talking about card playing, and the stranger invited the
countryman to try his skill with him, but as it was late, and the man
wanted to go home, he declined, but when they were on the bridge his
companion again pressed him to have a game on the parapet, and proceeded
to take out of his pocket a pack of cards, and at once commenced dealing
them out; consequently, the man could not now refuse to comply with the
request.  With varying success game after game was played, but ultimately
the stranger proved himself the more skilful player.  Just at this
juncture a card fell into the water; and in their excitement both players
looked over the bridge after it, and the countryman saw to his horror
that his opponent's head, reflected in the water, had on it _two horns_.
He immediately turned round to have a careful look at his companion; he,
however, did not see him, but in his place was a _ball of fire_, which
flashed away from his sight.

I must say that when I looked over the bridge I came to the conclusion
that nothing could have been reflected in the water, for it was a rushing
foaming torrent, with no single placid spot upon its surface.

Another version of the preceding tale I obtained from the Rev. Owen
Jones.  In this instance the _cloven foot_ and not the _horned head_ was
detected.  The scene of this tale is laid in the parish of Rhuddlan near

_Satan Playing Cards at a Merry Meeting_.

It was formerly a general custom in Wales for young lads and lasses to
meet and spend a pleasant evening together in various farmhouses.  Many
kinds of amusements, such as dancing, singing, and card playing, were
resorted to, to while away the time.  The Rev. Owen Jones informed me
that once upon a time a merry party met at Henafon near Rhuddlan, and
when the fun was at its height a gentleman came to the farm, and joined
heartily in all the merriment.  By and by, card playing was introduced,
and the stranger played better than any present.  At last a card fell to
the ground, and the party who picked it up discovered that the clever
player had a cloven foot.  In his fright the man screamed out, and
immediately the Evil One--for he it was that had joined the
party--transformed himself into a wheel of fire, and disappeared up the

For the next tale I am also indebted to my friend the Rev. Owen Jones.
The story appears in a Welsh MS. in his possession, which he kindly lent
me.  I will, first of all, give the tale in the vernacular, and then I
will, for the benefit of my English readers, supply an English

_Satan Playing Cards on Rhyd-y-Cae Bridge_, _Pentrevoelas_.

"Gwas yn y Gilar a phen campwr ei oes am chwareu cardiau oedd Robert
Llwyd Hari.  Ond wrth fyn'd adre' o Rhydlydan, wedi bod yn chwareu yn nhy
Modryb Ann y Green, ar ben y lou groes, daeth boneddwr i'w gyfarfod, ag
aeth yn ymgom rhyngddynt.  Gofynodd y boneddwr iddo chware' _match_ o
gardiau gydag e.  'Nid oes genyf gardian,' meddai Bob.  'Oes, y mae genyt
ddau ddec yn dy bocet,' meddai'r boneddwr.  Ag fe gytunwyd i chware'
_match_ ar Bont Rhyd-y-Cae, gan ei bod yn oleu lleuad braf.  Bu y
boneddwr yn daer iawn arno dd'od i Blas Iolyn, y caent ddigon o oleu yno,
er nad oedd neb yn byw yno ar y pryd.  Ond nacaodd yn lan.  Aed ati o
ddifrif ar y bont, R. Ll. yn curo bob tro.  Ond syrthiodd cardyn dros y
bont, ac fe edrychodd yntau i lawr.  Beth welai and carnau ceffyl gan y
boneddwr.  Tyngodd ar y Mawredd na chwareuai ddim chwaneg; ar hyn fe aeth
ei bartner yn olwyn o dan rhyngddo a Phlas Iolyn, ac aeth yntau adre' i'r
Gilar."  The English of the tale is as follows:--

Robert Llwyd Hari was a servant in Gilar farm, and the champion card
player of his day.  When going home from Rhydlydan, after a game of cards
in Aunty Ann's house, called the Green, he was met at the end of the
cross-lane by a gentleman, who entered into conversation with him.  The
gentleman asked him to have a game of cards.  "I have no cards," answered
Bob.  "Yes you have, you have two packs in your pocket," answered the
gentleman.  They settled to play a game on the bridge of Rhyd-y-Cae, as
it was a beautiful moonlight night.  The gentleman was very pressing that
they should go to Plas Iolyn, because they would find there, he said,
plenty of light, although no one was then living at the place.  But Bob
positively refused to go there.  They commenced the game in downright
good earnest on the bridge, R. Ll. winning every game.  But a card fell
over the bridge into the water, and Bob looked over, and saw that the
gentleman had hoofs like a horse.  He swore by the Great Being that he
would not play any longer, and on this his partner turned himself into a
_wheel of fire_, and departed bowling towards Plas Iolyn, and Bob went
home to Gilar.

_Satan Snatching a Man up into the Air_.

It would appear that poor Bob was doomed to a sad end.  His last exploit
is thus given:--

"Wrth fyned adre o chware cardia, ar Bont Maesgwyn gwelai Robert Llwyd
Hari gylch crwn o dan; bu agos iddo droi yn ol, cymerodd galon eilwaith
gan gofio fod ganddo Feibl yn ei boced, ac i ffordd ag e rhyngddo a'r
tan, a phan oedd yn passio fe'i cipiwyd i fyny i'r awyr gan y Gwr Drwg,
ond gallodd ddyweyd rhiw air wrth y D---, gollyngodd ef i lawr nes ydoedd
yn disgyn yn farw mewn llyn a elwir Llyn Hari."

Which in English is as follows:--

When going home from playing cards, on Maesgwyn Bridge Robert Llwyd Hari
saw a hoop of fire; he was half inclined to turn back, but took heart,
remembering that he had a Bible in his pocket.  So on he went, and when
passing the fire he was snatched up into the air by the Bad Man, but he
was able to utter a certain word to the D---, he was dropped down, and
fell dead into a lake called Harry's Lake.

Many tales, varying slightly from the preceding three stories, are still
extant in Wales, but these given are so typical of all the rest that it
is unnecessary to record more.

It may be remarked that card playing was looked upon in the last
century--and the feeling has not by any means disappeared in our days--as
a deadly sin, and consequently a work pleasing to the Evil One, but it
appears singular that the aid of Satan himself should have been invoked
to put down a practice calculated to further his own interests.  The
incongruity of such a proceeding did not apparently enter into the minds
of those who gave currency to these unequal contests.  But in the tales
we detect the existence of a tradition that Satan formerly joined in the
pastimes of the people, and, if for card playing some other game were
substituted, such as dancing, we should have a reproduction of those
fabulous times, when satyrs and demigods and other prototypes of Satan
are said to have been upon familiar terms with mortals, and joined in
their sports.

The reader will have noticed that the poor man who lost his life in the
Lake thought himself safe because he had a Bible in his pocket.  This
shows that the Bible was looked upon as a talisman.  But in this instance
its efficacy was only partial.  I shall have more to say on this subject
in another part of this work.

Satan in the preceding tales, and others, which shall by and by be
related, is represented as transforming himself into a ball, or wheel of
fire--into fire, the emblem of an old religion, a religion which has its
votaries in certain parts of the world even in this century, and which,
at one period in the history of the human race, was widespread.  It is
very suggestive that Satan should be spoken of as assuming the form of
the Fire God, when his personality is detected, and the hint, conveyed by
this transformation, would imply that he was himself the Fire God.

Having made these few comments on the preceding tales, I will now record
a few stories in which Satan is made to take a role similar to that
ascribed to him in the card-playing stories.

In the following tales Satan's aid is invoked to bring about a
reformation in the observance of the Sabbath day.

_Satan frightening a Man for gathering Nuts on Sunday_.

The following tale was related to me by the Rev. W. E. Jones, rector of
Bylchau, near Denbigh:--

Richard Roberts, Coederaill, Bylchau, when a young man, worked in
Flintshire, and instead of going to a place of worship on Sunday he got
into the habit of wandering about the fields on that day.  One fine
autumn Sunday he determined to go a-nutting.  He came to a wood where
nuts were plentiful, and in a short time he filled his pockets with nuts,
but perceiving a bush loaded with nuts, he put out his hand to draw the
branch to him, when he observed a hairy hand stretching towards the same
branch.  As soon as he saw this hand he was terribly frightened, and
without turning round to see anything further of it, he took to his
heels, and never afterwards did he venture to go a-nutting on Sunday.

Richard Roberts told the tale to Mr. Jones, his Rector, who tried to
convince Roberts that a monkey was in the bush, but he affirmed that
Satan had come to him.

_Satan taking possession of a man who fished on Sunday_.

The following tale is in its main features still current in Cynwyd, a
village about two miles from Corwen.  The first reference to the story
that I am acquainted with appeared in an essay sent in to a local
Eisteddfod in 1863.  The story is thus related in this essay:--

"About half a mile from Cynwyd is the 'Mill Waterfall,' beneath which
there is a deep linn or whirlpool, where a man, who was fishing there on
Sunday, once found an enormous fish.  'I will catch him, though the D---l
take me,' said the presumptuous man.  The fish went under the fall, the
man followed him, and was never afterwards seen."  Such is the tale, but
it is, or was believed, that Satan had changed himself into a fish, and
by allurement got the man into his power and carried him bodily to the
nethermost regions.

_Satan appearing in many forms to a Man who Travelled on Sunday_.

I received the following tale from my deceased friend, the Rev. J. L.
Davies, late Rector of Llangynog, near Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire, and
he obtained it from William Davies, the man who figures in the story.

As a preface to the tale, it should be stated that it was usual, some
years ago, for Welsh labourers to proceed to the harvest in England,
which was earlier there than in Wales, and after that was finished, they
hastened homewards to be in time for their own harvest.  These migratory
Welsh harvestmen are not altogether extinct in our days, but about forty
years ago they were much more common than they are at present.  Then
respectable farmers' sons with sickles on their backs, and well filled
wallets over their shoulders, went in companies to the early English
Lowlands to hire themselves as harvest labourers.  My tale now

William Davies, Penrhiw, near Aberystwyth, went to England for the
harvest, and after having worked there about three weeks, he returned
home alone, with all possible haste, as he knew that his father-in-law's
fields were by this time ripe for the sickle.  He, however, failed to
accomplish the journey before Sunday; but he determined to travel on
Sunday, and thus reach home on Sunday night to be ready to commence
reaping on Monday morning.  His conscience, though, would not allow him
to be at rest, but he endeavoured to silence its twittings by saying to
himself that he had with him no clothes to go to a place of worship.  He
stealthily, therefore, walked on, feeling very guilty every step he took,
and dreading to meet anyone going to chapel or church.  By Sunday evening
he had reached the hill overlooking Llanfihangel Creuddyn, where he was
known, so he determined not to enter the village until after the people
had gone to their respective places of worship; he therefore sat down on
the hill side and contemplated the scene below.  He saw the people leave
their houses for the house of God, he heard their songs of praise, and
now he thinks he could venture to descend and pass through the village
unobserved.  Luckily no one saw him going through the village, and now he
has entered a barley field, and although still uneasy in mind, he feels
somewhat reassured, and steps on quickly.  He had not proceeded far in
the barley field before he found himself surrounded by a large number of
small pigs.  He was not much struck by this, though he thought it strange
that so many pigs should be allowed to wander about on the Sabbath day.
The pigs, however, came up to him, stared at him, grunted, and scampered
away.  Before he had traversed the barley field he saw approaching him an
innumerable number of mice, and these, too, surrounded him, only,
however, to stare at him, and then to disappear.  By this Davies began to
be frightened, and he was almost sorry that he had broken the Sabbath day
by travelling with his pack on his back instead of keeping the day holy.
He was not now very far from home, and this thought gave him courage and
on he went.  He had not proceeded any great distance from the spot where
the mice had appeared when he saw a large greyhound walking before him on
the pathway.  He anxiously watched the dog, but suddenly it vanished out
of his sight.  By this the poor man was thoroughly frightened, and many
and truly sincere were his regrets that he had broken the Sabbath; but on
he went.  He passed through the village of Llanilar without any further
fright.  He had now gone about three miles from Llanfihangel along the
road that goes to Aberystwyth, and he had begun to dispel the fear that
had seized him, but to his horror he saw something approach him that made
his hair stand on end.  He could not at first make it out, but he soon
clearly saw that it was a horse that was madly dashing towards him.  He
had only just time to step on to the ditch, when, horrible to relate, a
headless white horse rushed past him.  His limbs shook and the
perspiration stood out like beads on his forehead.  This terrible spectre
he saw when close to Tan'rallt, but he dared not turn into the house, as
he was travelling on Sunday, so on he went again, and heartily did he
wish himself at home.  In fear and dread he proceeded on his journey
towards Penrhiw.  The most direct way from Tan'rallt to Penrhiw was a
pathway through the fields, and Davies took this pathway, and now he was
in sight of his home, and he hastened towards the boundary fence between
Tan'rallt and Penrhiw.  He knew that there was a gap in the hedge that he
could get through, and for this gap he aimed; he reached it, but further
progress was impossible, for in the gap was a lady lying at full length,
and immovable, and stopping up the gap entirely.  Poor Davies was now
more thoroughly terrified than ever.  He sprang aside, he screamed, and
then he fainted right away.  As soon as he recovered consciousness, he,
on his knees, and in a loud supplicating voice, prayed for pardon.  His
mother and father-in-law heard him, and the mother knew the voice and
said, "It is my Will; some mishap has overtaken him."  They went to him
and found he was so weak that he could not move, and they were obliged to
carry him home, where he recounted to them his marvellous experience.

My clerical friend, who was intimately acquainted with William Davies,
had many conversations with him about his Sunday journey, and he argued
the matter with him, and tried to persuade him that he had seen nothing,
but that it was his imagination working on a nervous temperament that had
created all his fantasies.  He however failed to convince him, for Davies
affirmed that it was no hallucination, but that what he had seen that
Sunday was a punishment for his having broken the Fourth Commandment.  It
need hardly be added that Davies ever afterwards was a strict observer of
the Day of Rest.

The following tale, taken from _A Relation of Apparitions_, etc., by the
Rev. Edmund Jones, inculcates the same lesson as that taught by the
previous tales.  I will give the tale a title.

_The Evil Spirit appearing to a Man who frequented Alehouses on Sunday_.

Jones writes as follows:--"W. J. was once a Sabbath-breaker at _Risca_
village, where he frequently used to play and visit the alehouses on the
Sabbath day, and there stay till late at night.  On returning homeward he
heard something walking behind him, and turning to see what it was he
could see the likeness of a man walking by his side; he could not see his
face, and was afraid to look much at it, fearing it was an evil spirit,
as it really was, therefore he did not wish it good night.  This dreadful
dangerous apparition generally walked by the left side of him.  It
afterwards appeared like a great mastiff dog, which terrified him so much
that he knew not where he was.  After it had gone about half a mile, it
transformed itself into a great fire, as large as a small field, and
resembled the noise which a fire makes in burning gorse."

This vision seems to have had the desired effect on W. J. for we are told
that he _was once_ a Sabbath breaker, the inference being, that he was
not one when the Rev. Edmund Jones wrote the above narrative.

Tales of this kind could be multiplied to almost any extent, but more
need not be given.  The one idea that runs through them all is that Satan
has appeared, and may appear again, to Sabbath breakers, and therefore
those who wish to avoid coming in contact with him should keep the
Sabbath day holy.

_Satan Outwitted_.

In the preceding tales the Evil One is depicted as an agent in the
destruction of his own kingdom.  He thus shows his obtuseness, or his
subordination to a higher power.  In the story that follows, he is
outwitted by a Welshman.  Many variants of this tale are found in many
countries.  It is evident from this and like stories, that it was
believed the Spirit of Evil could easily be circumvented by an
intelligent human being.

The tale is taken from _Y Brython_, vol. v., p. 192.  I when a lad often
heard the story related, and the scene is laid in Trefeglwys,
Montgomeryshire, a parish only a few miles distant from the place where I
spent my childhood.  The writer in _Y Brython_, speaking of _Ffinant_,
says that this farm is about a mile from Trefeglwys, on the north side of
the road leading to Newtown.  He then proceeds as follows:--

"Mae hen draddodiad tra anhygoel yn perthyn i'r lie hwn.  Dywedir fod hen
ysgubor yn sefyll yn yr ochr ddeheuol i'r brif-ffordd.  Un boreu Sul, pan
ydoedd y meistr yn cychwyn i'r Eglwys, dywedodd wrth un o'i weision am
gadw y brain oddi ar y maes lle yr oedd gwenith wedi ei hau, yn yr hwn y
safai yr hen ysgubor.  Y gwas, trwy ryw foddion, a gasglodd y brain oll
iddi, a chauodd arnynt; yna dilynodd ei feistr i'r Eglwys; yntau, wrth ei
weled yno, a ddechreuodd ei geryddu yn llym.  Y meistr, wedi clywed y
fath newydd, a hwyliodd ei gamrau tua'i gartref; ac efe a'u cafodd, er ei
syndod, fel y crybwyllwyd; ac fe ddywedir fod yr ysgubor yn orlawn o
honynt.  Gelwir y maes hwn yn _Crow-barn_, neu Ysgubor y brain, hyd
heddyw.  Dywedir mai enw y gwas oedd Dafydd Hiraddug, ac iddo werthu ei
hun i'r diafol, ac oherwydd hyny, ei fod yn alluog i gyflawni
gweithredoedd anhygoel yn yr oes hon.  Pa fodd bynag, dywedir i Dafydd
fod yn gyfrwysach na'r hen sarff y tro hwn, yn ol y cytundeb fu
rhyngddynt.  Yr ammod oedd, fod i'r diafol gael meddiant hollol o
Ddafydd, os dygid ei gorff dros erchwyn gwely, neu trwy ddrws, neu os
cleddid ef mewn mynwent, neu mewn Eglwys.  Yr oedd Dafydd wedi gorchymyn,
pan y byddai farw, am gymmeryd yr afu a'r ysgyfaint o'i gorff, a'i taflu
i ben tomen, a dal sylw pa un ai cigfran ai colomen fyddai yn ennill
buddugoliaeth am danynt; os cigfran, am gymmeryd ei gorff allan trwy
waelod ac nid dros erchwyn y gwely; a thrwy bared ac nid trwy ddrws, a'i
gladdu, nid mewn mynwent na llan, ond o dan fur yr Eglwys; ac i'r diafol
pan ddeallodd hyn lefaru, gan ddywedyd:--

    Dafydd Hiraddug ei ryw,
    _Ffals_ yn farw, _ffals_ yn fyw."

The tale in English is as follows:--

There is an incredible tradition connected with this place Ffinant,
Trefeglwys.  It is said that an old barn stands on the right hand side of
the highway.  One Sunday morning, as the master was starting to church,
he told one of the servants to keep the crows from a field that had been
sown with wheat, in which field the old barn stood.  The servant, through
some means, collected all the crows into the barn, and shut the door on
them.  He then followed his master to the Church, who, when he saw the
servant there, began to reprove him sharply.  But the master, when he
heard the strange news, turned his steps homewards, and found to his
amazement that the tale was true, and it is said that the barn was filled
with crows.  This barn, ever afterwards was called _Crow-barn_, a name it
still retains.

It is said that the servant's name was Dafydd Hiraddug, and that he had
sold himself to the devil, and that consequently, he was able to perform
feats, which in this age are considered incredible.  However, it is said
that Dafydd was on this occasion more subtle than the old serpent, even
according to the agreement which was between them.  The contract was,
that the devil was to have complete possession of Dafydd if his corpse
were taken over the side of the bed, or through a door, or if buried in a
churchyard, or inside a church.  Dafydd had commanded, that on his death,
the liver and lights were to be taken out of his body and thrown on the
dunghill, and notice was to be taken whether a raven or a dove got
possession of them; if a raven, then his body was to be taken away by the
foot, and not by the side of the bed, and through the wall, and not
through the door, and he was to be buried, not in the churchyard nor in
the Church, but under the Church walls.  And the devil, when he saw that
by these arrangements he had been duped cried, saying:--

    Dafydd Hiraddug, badly bred,

    False when living, and false when dead.

Such is the tale.  I now come to another series of Folk-Lore stories,
which seem to imply that in ancient days rival religions savagely
contended for the supremacy, and in these tales also Satan occupies a
prominent position.

_Satan and Churches_.

The traditional stories that are still extant respecting the determined
opposition to the erection of certain churches in particular spots, and
the removal of the materials during the night to some other site, where
ultimately the new edifice was obliged to be erected, and the many
stories of haunted churches, where evil spirits had made a lodgment, and
could not for ages be ousted, are evidences of the antagonism of rival
forms of paganism, or of the opposition of an ancient religion to the new
and intruding Christian Faith.

Brash in his _Ogam Inscribed Stones_, p. 109, speaking of Irish Churches,

"It is well known that many of our early churches were erected on sites
professedly pagan."

The most ancient churches in Wales have circular or ovoidal
churchyards--a form essentially Celtic--and it may well be that these
sacred spots were dedicated to religious purposes in pagan times, and
were appropriated by the early Christians,--not, perhaps, without
opposition on the part of the adherents of the old faith--and consecrated
to the use of the Christian religion.  In these churchyards were often to
be found holy, or sacred wells, and many of them still exist, and modes
of divination were practised at these wells, which have come down to our
days, and which must have originated in pre-Christian or pagan times.

It is highly probable that the older faith would for a while exist
concurrently with the new, and mutual contempt and annoyance on the part
of the supporters of the respective beliefs would as naturally follow in
those times as in any succeeding age, but this fact should be
emphasised--that the modes of warfare would correspond with the civilized
or uncivilized state of the opponents.  This remark is general in its
application, and applies to races conquered by the Celts in Britain,
quite as much as to races who conquered the Celt, and there are not
wanting certain indications that the tales associated with Satan belong
to a period long anterior to the introduction of Christianity.  Certain
classes of these tales undoubtedly refer to the antagonism of beliefs
more ancient than the Christian faith, and they indicate the measures
taken by one party to suppress the other.  Thus we see it related that
the Evil Spirit is forcibly ejected from churches, and dragged to the
river, and there a tragedy occurs.  In other words a horrible murder is
committed on the representative of the defeated religion.  The very fact
that he loses his life in a river--in water--in an object of wide spread
worship--is not without its significance.

We have seen in the legend of the Evil Spirit in Cerrig-y-drudion Church,
p. 133,--that it was ejected, after a severe struggle, from the sacred
building--that it was dragged to the lake, where it lost its life, by two
_Ychain Banawg_--that they, and it, perished together in the lake:--Now
these _Ychain Banawg_ or long-horned oxen, huge in size and strong of
limb, are traditional, if not fabulous animals, and this one incident in
the legend is enough to prove its great antiquity.  Undoubtedly it dates
from remote pre-Christian times, and yet the tale is associated with
modern ideas, and modes of expression.  It has come down to us along the
tide of time, and has received its colouring from the ages it has passed
through.  Yet on the very surface of this ancient legend we perceive it
written that in days of old there was severe antagonism between rival
forms of pagan faith, and the manner in which the weaker--and perhaps the
more ancient--is overcome, is made clear.  The instrument used is brute
force, and the vanquished party is _drowned_ or, in the euphonious
language of the tales, _is laid_.

There are many stories of spirits that have been cast out of churches,
still extant in Wales, and one of the most famous of these is that of
Llanfor Church, near Bala.  It resembles that of Cerrig-y-drudion.  I
have succeeded in obtaining several versions of this legend.  I am
indebted for the first to Mr. R. Roberts, Clocaenog, a native of Bala.

_The Ejectment of the Evil Spirit from Llanfor Church_.

Mr. Roberts states that his grandmother, born in 1744, had only
traditions of this spirit.  He was said to have worn a three-cocked hat,
and appeared as a gentleman, and whilst divine service was performed he
stood up in the church.  But at night the church was lit up by his
presence, and the staves between the railings of the gallery were set in
motion, by him, like so many spindles, although they were fast in their
sockets.  He is not reported to have harmed any one, neither did he
commit any damage in the church.  It is said, he had been seen taking a
walk to the top of _Moel-y-llan_, and although harmless he was a great
terror to the neighbourhood, and but few would venture to enter the
church alone.  Mr. Roberts was told that on a certain occasion a vestry
was held in a public house, that stood on the north side of the church,
not a vestige of which now remains, but no one would go to the church for
the parish books.  The landlady had the courage to go but no sooner had
she crossed the threshold than the Evil Spirit blew the light out; she
got a light again, but this also was blown out.  Instead of returning for
another light, she went straight to the coffer in the dark, and brought
the books to the house, and that without any molestation.

Mr. Roberts states that as the Spirit of darkness became more and more
troublesome, it was determined to have him removed, and two gentlemen
skilled in divination were called _to offer him to Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_.
These men were procured and they entered the church in the afternoon and
held a conversation with the Spirit, and in the end told him that they
would call at such an hour of the night to remove him to his rest.  But
they were not punctual and when they entered they found him intractable,
however, he was compelled to submit, and was driven out of the church in
the form of a cock, and carried behind his vanquisher on horseback, and
thrown into _Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_.

According to tradition the horse made the journey from the church to the
pool by two leaps.  The distance was two fields' breadth.

On their arrival at the river side, a terrible struggle ensued, the Fiend
would not submit to be imprisoned, and he made a most determined attempt
to drag his captors into the water.  He, however, by and by, agreed to
enter his prison on the condition that they would lie on their faces
towards the ground when he entered the river, this they did, and the
Spirit with a splash jumped into the water.

Mr. Roberts further states, that there was a tradition in those parts,
that the horse which carried the Devil to the river left the impression
of his hoof in a stone by the river side, but Mr. Roberts assures me that
he could never discover this stone, nor did he know of any one who had
seen it.

The case of the imprisoned Spirit was not hopeless--tradition says he was
to remain in the pool only until he counted all the sand in it.  It would
almost appear that he had accomplished his task, for Mr. Roberts says
that he had heard that his father's eldest brother whilst driving his
team in the dead of night through Llanfor village saw two pigs walking
behind the waggon.  He thought nothing of this, and began to apply his
whip to them, but to no purpose, for they followed him to
_Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_, and then disappeared.

There was in these latter times some dispute as to the Spirit being still
in the pool.  This, however, has been settled in the affirmative.  A wise
man, in company with others, proceeded to the river, and threw a stone
with writing on it into the pool, but nothing came of it, and he then
affirmed there was no spirit there.  This the people would not believe,
so he threw another stone into the water, and now the river boiled up and
foamed.  "Yes," said the sceptic, "he is there, and there he will remain
for a long time."

Such is Mr. Roberts's account.

_Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_ is a pool in the river Dee, about a quarter of a
mile from Llanfor village.

For the purpose of shewing how variously tales are narrated, I will give
another version of this haunted church, which was taken down by me from
the mouth of an aged woman, a native of the village, whose life had been
spent among her own people, and who at present lives in a little cottage
on the road side between Llanfor Rectory and Bala.  Her name is Ann
Hughes, she firmly believes the story, but she could not tell how long
ago the spirit was driven out of the church, though she thought it was in
her grandfather's days.  Her tale was as follows:--

The Evil Spirit was heard but not seen by the people, and he was in the
habit of coming down the pathway leading from Rhiwlas to the church,
making a great noise, as if dragging after him chains, or wheeling a
wheelbarrow, and he went straight into the church, and there he stayed
all night lighting up the church and making a great noise, as though
engaged in manual labour.  There was then a pathway leading to a row of
houses situated in the church yard on the north side, and the people who
occupied those cottages dared not leave them the live-long night, in fact
the whole village avoided that, and every other path in the neighbourhood
of the church, whilst the Spirit was in the church, and every one could
see when he was there.  At last the disturbance was so great that the
parson and another man determined to lay the Spirit, and therefore one
night they walked three times round the church, and then went into it,
and by and by three men were seen emerging from the church and they
walked into the public house through the door that opened into the church
yard and they went together into the little parlour.  The parson had
already given instructions that no one was to come to them on any
account, nor even to try to get a glimpse of them; but there was a man in
the house who went to the keyhole of the parlour and, looking into the
room, saw distinctly three men sitting round the table.  No sooner,
however, had he done so than the parson came out and said if anyone
looked through the keyhole again their plans would be frustrated.  This
put a stop to all further inquisitiveness, and their deliberations were
not again interrupted.

Ann Hughes could not tell me what plan was adopted to get rid of the Evil
Spirit, but she knew this much, that he was laid in _Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_,
and that he was to remain there until a lighted candle, which was hidden
somewhere in the church, when the Spirit was overcome, should go out.
Often and again had she searched for this taper, but failed to discover
it, but she supposes it is still burning somewhere, for the Evil One has
not yet escaped from the pool.

There is a version of the ejectment of Llanfor Spirit given in _Y
Gordofigion_, p. 106, which is somewhat as follows:--

Llanfor Spirit troubled the neighbourhood of Bala, but he was
particularly objectionable and annoying to the inhabitants of Llanfor,
for he had taken possession of their Church.  At last, the people were
determined to get rid of him altogether, but they must procure a mare for
this purpose, which they did.  A man riding on the mare entered the
Church with a friend, to exorcise the Spirit.  Ere long this man emerged
from the Church with the Devil seated behind him on the pillion.  An old
woman who saw them cried out, "Duw anwyl!  Mochyn yn yr Eglwys"--"Good
God!  A pig in the Church."  On hearing these words the pig became
exceedingly fierce, because the silence had been broken, and because
God's name had been used, and in his anger he snatched up both the man
and the mare, and threw them right over the Church to the other side, and
there is a mark to this day on a grave stone of the horse's hoof on the
spot where she lit.  But the Spirit's anger was all in vain, for he was
carried by the mare to the river, and laid in _Llyn-y-Geulan-Goch_, but
so much did the poor animal perspire whilst carrying him, that, although
the distance was only a quarter of a mile, she lost all her hair.

Tales very much like the preceding are related of many churches in Wales.
The details differ, but in general outlines they are alike.  I will give
one other story of this kind.

_An Evil Spirit in Llandysilio Church, Montgomeryshire_.

The history of this Spirit's proceedings is given in _Bye-Gones_, Vol.
ii, p. 179, and the writer's fictitious name is _Gypt_.

"This church," says _Gypt_, "was terribly troubled by a Spirit in times
gone by, so I was informed by a person who took me over the church, and,
being curious to hear the story, my guide related the following:--

"To such extremes had things come that it was resolved to send for a well
known and expert person to lay the Spirit.  But the Spirit nearly
overcame the expert, and the fight continued hard and fast for a long
time.  The ghost layer came out often for fresh air and beer, and then
was plainly seen, from his bared arms and the perspiration running down
his face, that there was a terrible conflict going on within the church.
At last success crowned the effort, and the Spirit, not unlike a large
fly, was put into a bottle and thrown into a deep pool in the River
Verniew, where it remains to this day, and the church was troubled no

_Gypt_ adds:--"As a proof of the truth of the story, my informant showed
me the beams which were cracked at the time the Spirit troubled the

In these tales we have a few facts common to them all.  An Evil Spirit
troubles the people, and makes his home nightly in the church, which he
illuminates.  His presence there becomes obnoxious, and ultimately,
either by force or trickery, he is ejected, and loses his life, or at
least he is deposited by his captors in a lake, or pool of water, and
then peace and quietness ensue.

There is a good deal that is human about these stories when stripped of
the marvellous, which surrounds them, and it is not unreasonable to ask
whether they had, or had not, a foundation in fact, or whether they were
solely the creations of an imaginative people.  It is not, at least,
improbable that these ghostly stories had, in long distant pre-historic
times, their origin in fact, and that they have reached our days with
glosses received from the intervening ages.

They seem to imply that, in ancient times, there was deadly antagonism
between one form of Pagan worship and another, and, although it is but
dimly hinted, it would appear that fire was the emblem or the god of one
party, and water the god of the other; and that the water worshippers
prevailed and destroyed the image, or _laid_ the priest, of the
vanquished deity in a pool, and took possession of his sacred enclosures.

It was commonly believed, within the last hundred years or so, that Evil
Spirits at certain times of the year, such as St. John's Eve, and May Day
Eve, and All Hallows' Eve, were let loose, and that on these nights they
held high revelry in churches.  This is but another and more modern phase
of the preceding stories.  This superstitious belief was common to
Scotland, and everyone who has read Burns has heard of Alloway Kirk, and
of the "unco sight" which met _Tam o' Shanter's_ eye there, who, looking
into the haunted kirk, saw witches, Evil Spirits, and Old Nick himself.
Thus sings the poet:--

    There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
    A towzie tyke, black, grim, and large,
    To gi'e them music was his charge.

But in Wales it was believed that a Spirit--an evil one--certainly not an
Angel of Light, revealed, to the inquisitive, coming events, provided
they went to the church porch on _Nos G'lan Geua_', or All-Hallows' Eve,
and waited there until midnight, when they would hear the Spirit announce
the death roll for the coming year.  Should, however, no voice be heard,
it was a sign that no death would occur within the twelve succeeding
months.  A couple of tales shall suffice as illustrative of this

_A Spirit in Aberhafesp Church announcing the death of a person on Nos
G'lan Geua'_.

Mr. Breeze, late governor of the Union House at Caersws, told me that he
had heard of a person going to Aberhafesp Church porch, on All-Hallows'
Eve, to ascertain whether there would be a death in that parish in the
coming year.

A couple of men, one of whom, I believe, Mr. Breeze said was his
relative, went to the church porch before twelve o'clock at night, and
sat there a length of time without hearing any sound in the church; but
about the midnight hour, one of the men distinctly heard the name of his
companion uttered by a voice within the church.  He was greatly
terrified, and, addressing his friend, he found that he had fallen
asleep, and that, therefore, fortunately he had not heard the ominous
voice.  Awaking his companion, he said--"Let's go away, it's no use
waiting here any longer."

In the course of a few weeks, there was a funeral from the opposite
parish of Penstrowed, and the departed was to be buried in Aberhafesp
Church yard.  The River Severn runs between these two parishes, and there
is no bridge nearer than that which spans the river at Caersws, and to
take the funeral that way would mean a journey of more than five miles.
It was determined, therefore, to ford the river opposite Aberhafesp
Church.  The person who had fallen asleep in the porch volunteered to
carry the coffin over the river, and it was placed on the saddle in front
of this person, who, to save it from falling, was obliged to grasp it
with both arms; and, as the deceased had died of an infectious fever, the
coffin bearer was stricken, and within a week he too was a dead man, and
he was the first parishioner, as foretold by the Spirit, who died in the
parish of Aberhafesp that year.

According to Croker, in _Fairy Legends of Ireland_, vol. II., p. 288, the
Irish at Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas, after decorating the graves
of their ancestors:--"Also listen at the church door in the dark, when
they sometimes fancy they hear the names called over in church of those
who are destined shortly to join their lost relatives in the tomb."

It is not difficult to multiply instances of Spirits speaking in
churches, for legendary stories of this kind were attached to, or were
related of, many churches in Wales.  One further tale therefore, shall

_A Spirit in Llangerniew Church_, _Denbighshire_.

There was a tradition in this parish that on All-Hallows' Eve a Spirit
announced from the altar the names of those who were doomed to die in the
coming year.  The Spirit was locally called _Angelystor_.  Those who were
anxious to know whether they or their neighbours had a longer time to
live stood underneath the east window on that eve, and anxiously listened
for the dreaded revelation.  It is related of a tailor, who was reckoned
a wit, and affected disbelief in the Spirit story, that he announced his
intention to prove the thing a myth, and so, one _Nos G'lan Geua'_, Shon
Robert, as he was called, proceeded to the church just before midnight,
and, to his horror, he heard his own name--"Shon ap Robert," uttered by
the Spirit.  "Hold, hold!" said the tailor, "I am not quite ready!"  But,
ready or not ready, it made no difference to the messenger of death, for
that year the tailor died.

According to rustic opinion, demons were, from sinister motives, much
given to frequenting churches; still it was thought that as the Priest
entered the sacred building by the south door these Spirits were obliged
to make their exit through the north door, which was called in
consequence the Devil's Door; and this door was opened, and left open
awhile, to enable these Evil Spirits to escape from the church, before
divine service commenced.  In agreement with this notion, the north side
of church yards was designated the Domain of Demons, and, by association
of ideas, no one formerly was buried in this side, but in our days the
north part of the church yard--where the space in the other parts has
already been occupied--is used for interments, and the north doors in
most old churches have been built up.

Formerly, at baptisms, the north church door was, in Wales, left open,
and that too for the same reason that it was opened before the hours of
prayer.  But these superstitions have departed, as intimated by the
blocking up of north church doors.

_Satan and Bell Ringing_.

Durand, according to Bourne, in his _Antiquities of the Common People_,
ed. 1725, p. 17, was of opinion that Devils were much afraid of bells,
and fled away at the sound of them.  Formerly, in all parts of Wales, the
passing bell was tolled for the dying.  This is a very ancient custom
being alluded to by the Venerable Bede--

    When the bell begins to toll,
    Lord, have mercy on the soul.

A small hand bell was also rung by the parish clerk as he preceded the
funeral procession, and the church bell was tolled before, at, and after
the burial.  I do not know whether this was done because the people,
entertaining Durand's opinion, wished to save the souls and bodies of
their departed friends from Satan.  Reference is often made to small
handbells in parish terriers, and they are enumerated in those documents
with other church property.  Thus, in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd terrier,
1729, among the articles mentioned as belonging to the church is a small

    "A little bell to be rung before the corps."

In Rhuddlan terrier, 1791, we find:--

    "One small bell, and another small corps bell."

I may say that there is hardly a terrier belonging to a Church in North
Wales which does not mention this portable handbell.  Although the modern
reason given for their use at funerals was, that all impediments might be
removed from the roads before the funeral procession arrived, still it is
probable that the custom at one time meant something more than this.  The
custom does not at present exist.

_Giraldus Cambrensis_ thus alludes to these handbells:--

    "I must not omit that the portable bells . . . were held in great
    reverence by the people and clergy both in Ireland, Scotland, and
    Wales; insomuch that they had greater regard for oaths sworn on these
    than on the gospels."--Bohn's Edition, p. 146.

As it was thought that the Passing Bell was originally intended to drive
away the Evil Spirit hovering about in readiness to seize the soul of the
deceased, so it might have been thought that the tolling of these
handbells at funerals kept the Great Enemy away from the body about to be
consigned to consecrated ground.  But from a couple of lines quoted by
Bourne, p. 14, from Spelman, in which all the ancient offices of bells
seem to be included, it does not appear that this opinion was then
current.  The lines are:--

    Laudo Deum verum, Plebem voco, congrego Clerum,
    Defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, Festa decoro.

    I praise the true God, call the people, convene the Clergy,
    Lament the dead, dispel pestilence, grace Festivals.

There is nothing in these lines corroborative of Durand's opinion, but as
I do not know the age of the lines I cannot controvert his opinion, but
if it was believed that the tolling of a bell could drive away
pestilence, well can it be understood that its sound could be credited
with being inimical to Evil Spirits, and that it sent them away to other
places to seek for rest.

It certainly was an opinion, according to Croker, entertained in Ireland
and elsewhere, that the dwarfs or fairies, were driven away from places
by the ringing of the bells of churches, and Croker in his _Fairy Legends
of Ireland_, vol. ii., p. 106, states that Thiele collected traditions
according to which the Troldes leave the country on the ringing of bells,
and remain away.  Thus these mythic beings are confounded with Satan;
indeed Croker remarks (vol. i., p. 46) "The notion of fairies, dwarfs,
brownies, etc., being excluded from salvation, and of their having formed
part of the crew that fell with Satan, seems to be pretty general all
over Europe."  He instances Ireland, Denmark, and Spain.

Bells certainly were objects of great superstition.  In Dyer's _English
Folk-Lore_, p. 264, it is stated that--Wynkin de Worde tells us that
bells are rung during thunder storms, to the end that fiends and wicked
Spirits should be abashed and flee and cease the moving of the tempest.

Croker also remarks in vol. ii., p. 140, of the above-named work:--"The
belief in fairies and Spirits prevailed over all Europe long before the
introduction of Christianity.  The teachers of the new faith endeavoured
to abolish the deeply-rooted heathenish ideas and customs of the people,
by representing them as sinful and connected with the Devil."  In this
way the Devil inherited many attributes that once belonged to the
Fairies, and these beings were spoken of as Evil Spirits, Fiends, or

I now come to another kind of Welsh Folk-Lore associated with fairies,
Evil Spirits, or some mysterious power, that is the removal of churches
from one site to another.  The agency employed varies, but the work of
the day disappeared in the night, and the materials were found, it is
said, the next morning, on the spot where the church was to be erected.

_Mysterious Removal of Churches_.


There was a tradition extant in the parish of Llanllechid, near Bangor,
Carnarvonshire, that it was intended to build a church in a field called
Cae'r Capel, not far from Plasuchaf Farm, but it was found the next
morning that the labours of the previous day had been destroyed, and that
the materials had been transported in the night to the site of the
present church.  The workmen, however, carried them all back again, and
resumed their labours at Cae'r Capel, but in vain, for the next day they
found their work undone, and the wood, stones, etc., in the place where
they had found them when their work was first tampered with.  Seeing that
it was useless fighting against a superior power, they desisted, and
erected the building on the spot indicated by the destroyers of their

I asked the aged, what or who it was that had carried away the materials:
some said it was done by Spirits, others by Fairies, but I could obtain
no definite information on the point.  However, they all agreed that the
present site was more convenient for the parishioners than the old one.

Many legends of this kind are current in Wales.  They are all much alike
in general outline.  A few only therefore shall be mentioned.


In Thomas's _History of the Diocese of St. Asaph_, p. 687, the legend
connected with the erection of the present church is given as
follows:--"The legend of its (Corwen Church) original foundation states
that all attempts to build the church in any other spot than where stood
the 'Carreg y Big yn y fach rewlyd,' i.e., 'The pointed stone in the icy
nook,' were frustrated by the influence of certain adverse powers."

No agency is mentioned in this narrative.  When questioned on such a
matter, the aged, of forty years ago, would shake their heads in an
ominous kind of manner, and remain silent, as if it were wrong on their
part to allude to the affair.  Others, more bold, would surmise that it
was the work of a Spirit, or of the Fairies.  By and by I shall give Mr.
A. N. Palmer's solution of the mystery.


A legend much like the preceding is current respecting Capel Garmon
Church.  I will give the story in the words of my friend, the Rev. Owen
Jones, Pentrevoelas, who writes to me thus:--

"The tradition is that Capel Garmon Church was to have been built on the
side of the mountain just above the present village, near the Well now
called Ffynnon Armon, but the materials carried there in the daytime were
in a mysterious manner conveyed by night to the present site of the


For the following legend, I am indebted to Mr. R. Prys Jones, who resided
for several years in the parish of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd.  In answer to
a letter from me respecting mysterious removal of churches, Mr. Jones
writes as follows:--

"We have the same tradition in connection with a place not very far from
Llanfair village.  It was first intended to erect Llanfair Church on the
spot where Jesus Chapel now stands, or very near to it.  Tradition
ascribes the failure of erecting the structure to a phantom in the shape
of _a sow's head_, destroying in the night what had been built during the
day.  The farm house erected on the land is still called
_Llanbenwch_"--Llan-pen-hwch, i.e., the _Llan_, _or church_, _of the
Sow's Head_.

In this tale the agent is a sow, and Mr. Gomme in the _Antiquary_, vol.
iii. p. 9, records a like story of Winwick Parish Church, Lancashire.  He
states that the founder had destined a different site for this church,
"but after progress had been made at the original foundation, at night
time, 'a pig' was seen running hastily to the site of the new church,
crying or screaming aloud We-ee-wick, we-ee-wick, we-ee-wick.'  Then
taking up a stone in his mouth he carried it to the spot sanctified by
the death of St. Oswald, and thus succeeded in removing all the stones
which had been laid by the builders."


The traveller who has gone to Aberystwyth by the Cambrian Line has, most
probably, noticed on the left hand side, shortly after he has left Borth,
a small church, with a churchyard that enters a wood to the west of the
church, the grave stones being seen among the trees.  There is in
connection with this church a legend much like those already given.  I am
indebted to the Rev. J. Felix, vicar of Cilcen, near Mold, for the
following account of the transaction.

"It was intended to build Llanfihangel Church at a place called
Glanfread, or Glanfread-fawr, which at present is a respectable farm
house, and the work was actually commenced on that spot, but the portion
built during the day was pulled down each night, till at last a Spirit
spoke in these words:--

    Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn,
    Glanfread-fawr gaiff fod fan hyn.
    Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn,
    Glanfread-fawr shall stand herein,"

intimating that the church was to be built at Geneu'r Glyn, and that
Glanfreadfawr farm house was to occupy the place where they were then
endeavouring to build the church.  The prophecy, or warning, was attended
to, and the church erection abandoned, but the work was carried out at
Geneu'r Glyn, in accordance with the Spirit's direction, and the church
was built in its present position.


The following extract is from Mr. A. Neobard Palmer's excellent _History
of the Parish Church of Wrexham_, p. 6:--"There is a curious local
tradition, which, _as I understand it_, points distinctly to a
re-erection of one of the earlier churches on a site different from that
on which the church preceding it had stood."

"According to the tradition just mentioned, which was collected and first
published by the late Mr. Hugh Davies, the attempt to build the church on
another spot (at Bryn-y-ffynnon as 't is said), was constantly
frustrated, that which was set up during the day being plucked down in
the night.  At last, one night when the work wrought on the day before
was being watched, the wardens saw it thrown suddenly down, and heard a
voice proceeding from a Spirit hovering above them which cried ever
'Bryn-y-grog!' 'Bryn-y-grog!'  Now the site of the present church was at
that time called 'Bryn-y-grog' (Hill of the Cross), and it was at once
concluded that this was the spot on which the church should be built.
The occupier of this spot, however, was exceedingly unwilling to part
with the inheritance of his forefathers, and could only be induced to do
so when the story which has just been related was told to him, and other
land given him instead.  The church was then founded at 'Bryn-y-grog,'
where the progress of the work suffered no interruption, and where the
Church of Wrexham still stands."

Mr. Palmer, having remarked that there is a striking resemblance between
all the traditions of churches removed mysteriously, proceeds to solve
the difficulty, in these words:--

"The conclusions which occurred to me were, that these stories contain a
record, imaginative and exaggerated, of real incidents connected with the
history of the churches to which each of them belongs, and that they are
_in most cases_ reminiscences _of an older church which once actually
stood on another site_.  The destroying powers of which they all speak
were probably human agents, working in the interest of those who were
concerned in the transference of the site of the church about to be
re-built; while the stories, as a whole, were apparently concocted and
circulated with the intention of overbearing the opposition which the
proposed transference raised--an opposition due to the inconvenience of
the site proposed, to sacred associations connected with the older site,
or to the unwillingness of the occupier to surrender the spot selected."

This is, as everything Mr. Palmer writes, pertinent, and it is a
reasonable solution, but whether it can be made to apply to all cases is
somewhat doubtful.  Perhaps we have not sufficient data to arrive at a
correct explanation of this kind of myth.  The objection was to the
_place_ selected and not to the _building_ about to be erected on that
spot; and the _agents_ engaged in the destruction of the proposed edifice
differ in different places; and in many instances, where these traditions
exist, the land around, as regards agricultural uses, was equally useful,
or equally useless, and often the distance between the two sites is not
great, and the land in our days, at least, and presumably in former,
belonged to the same proprietor--if indeed it had a proprietor at all.
We must, therefore, I think, look outside the occupier of the land for
objections to the surrender of the spot first selected as the site of the
new church.

Mr. Gomme, in an able article in the _Antiquary_, vol. iii., p. 8-13, on
"Some traditions and superstitions connected with buildings," gives many
typical examples of buildings removed by unseen agencies, and, from the
fact that these stories are found in England, Scotland, and other parts,
he rightly infers that they had a common origin, and that they take us
back to primitive times of British history.  The cause of the removal of
the stones in those early times, or first stage of their history, is
simply described as _invisible agency_, _witches_, _fairies_; in the
second stage of these myths, the supernatural agency becomes more clearly
defined, thus:--_doves_, _a pig_, _a cat_, _a fish_, _a bull_, do the
work of demolishing the buildings, and Mr. Gomme remarks with reference
to these animals:--"Now here we have some glimmer of light thrown upon
the subject--the introduction of animal life leads to the subject of
animal sacrifice."  I will not follow Mr. Gomme in this part of his
dissertation, but I will remark that the agencies he mentions as
belonging to the first stage are identical in Wales, England, and
Scotland, and we have an example of the second stage in Wales, in the
traditions of Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, and of Llangar Church, near Corwen.


"The tradition is that Llangar Church was to have been built near the
spot where the Cynwyd Bridge crosses the Dee.  Indeed, we are told that
the masons set to work, but all the stones they laid in the day were gone
during the night none knew whither.  The builders were warned,
supernaturally, that they must seek a spot where on hunting a 'Carw Gwyn'
(white stag) would be started.  They did so, and Llangar Church is the
result.  From this circumstance the church was called Llan-garw-gwyn, and
from this name the transition to Llangar is easy."--_Gossiping Guide to
Wales_, p. 128.

I find in a document written by the Rural Dean for the guidance of the
Bishop of St. Asaph, in 1729, that the stag was started in a thicket
where the Church of Llangar now stands.  "And (as the tradition is) the
boundaries of the parish on all sides were settled for 'em by this poor
deer, where he was forc'd to run for his life, there lye their bounds.
He at last fell, and the place where he was killed is to this day called
_Moel y Lladdfa_, or the _Hill of Slaughter_."


There is a tradition connected with Old St. David's Church, Denbigh,
recorded in Gee's _Guide to Denbigh_, that the building could not be
completed, because whatever portion was finished in the day time was
pulled down and carried to another place at night by some invisible hand,
or supernatural power.

The party who malignantly frustrates the builders' designs is in several
instances said to have been the Devil.  "We find," says Mr. William
Crossing, in the _Antiquary_, vol. iv., p. 34, "that the Church of
Plymton St. Mary, has connected with it the legend so frequently attached
to ecclesiastical buildings, of the removal by the _Enemy of Mankind_ of
the building materials by night, from the spot chosen for its erection to
another at some distance."

And again, Mr A. N. Palmer, quoting in the _Antiquary_, vol. iv., p. 34,
what was said at the meeting of the British Association, in 1878, by Mr.
Peckover, respecting the detached Tower of the Church of West Walton,
near Wisbech, Norfolk, writes:--"During the early days of that Church the
Fenmen were very wicked, and the _Evil Spirit_ hired a number of people
to carry the tower away."

Mr. W. S. Lach-Szyrma, in the _Antiquary_, vol. iii., p. 188,
writes:--"Legends of _the Enemy of Mankind_ and some old buildings are
numerous enough--e.g., it is said that as the masons built up the towers
of Towednack Church, near St. Ives, the _Devil_ knocked the stones down;
hence its dwarfed dimensions."

The preceding stories justify me in relegating this kind of myth to the
same class as those in which spirits are driven from churches and _laid_
in a neighbouring pool; and perhaps in these latter, as in the former, is
dimly seen traces of the antagonism, in remote times, between peoples
holding different religious beliefs, and the steps taken by one party to
seize and appropriate the sacred spots of the other.

_Apparitions of the Devil_.

To accomplish his nefarious designs the Evil Spirit assumed forms
calculated to attain his object.  The following lines from Allan
Cunningham's _Traditional Tales_, p. 9, aptly describe his

       Soon he shed
    His hellish slough, and many a subtle wile
    Was his to seem a heavenly spirit to man,
    First, he a hermit, sore subdued in flesh,
    O'er a cold cruse of water and a crust,
    Poured out meet prayers abundant.  Then he changed
    Into a maid when she first dreams of man,
    And from beneath two silken eyelids sent,
    The sidelong light of two such wondrous eyes,
    That all the saints grew sinners . . .
    Then a professor of God's word he seemed,
    And o'er a multitude of upturned eyes
    Showered blessed dews, and made the pitchy path,
    Down which howl damned Spirits, seem the bright
    Thrice hallowed way to Heaven; yet grimly through
    The glorious veil of those seducing shapes,
    Frowned out the fearful Spirit.

S. Anthony, in the wilderness, as related in his life by S. Athanasius,
had many conflicts in the night with the powers of darkness, Satan
appearing personally to him, to batter him from the strongholds of his
faith.  S. Dunstan, in his cell, was tempted by the Devil in the form of
a lovely woman, but a grip of his nose with a heated tongs made him
bellow out, and cease his nightly visits to that holy man.  Ezra Peden,
as related by Allan Cunningham, was also tempted by one who "was indeed
passing fair," and the longer he looked on her she became the
lovelier--"_owre lovely for mere flesh and blood_," and poor Peden
succumbed to her wiles.

From the book of Tobit it would appear that an Evil Spirit slew the first
seven husbands of Sara from jealousy and lust, in the vain hope of
securing her for himself.  In Giraldus Cambrensis's _Itinerary through
Wales_, Bohn's ed., p. 411 demons are shown to possess those qualities
which are ascribed to them in the Apocryphal book of Tobit.

There is nothing new, as far as I am aware, respecting the doings of the
Great Enemy of mankind in Welsh Folk-Lore.  His tactics in the
Principality evince no originality.  They are the usual weapons used by
him everywhere, and these he found to be sufficient for his purposes even
in Wales.

Gladly would I here put down my pen and leave the uncongenial task of
treating further about the spirits of darkness to others, but were I to
do so, I should be guilty of a grave omission, for, as I have already
said, ghosts, goblins, spirits, and other beings allied to Satan, occupy
a prominent place in Welsh Folk-Lore.

Of a winter's evening, by the faint light of a peat fire and rush
candles, our forefathers recounted the weird stories of olden times, of
devils, fairies, ghosts, witches, apparitions, giants, hidden treasures,
and other cognate subjects, and they delighted in implanting terrors in
the minds of the listeners that no philosophy, nor religion of after
years, could entirely eradicate.  These tales made a strong impression
upon the imagination, and possibly upon the conduct of the people, and
hence the necessity laid upon me to make a further selection of the many
tales that I have collected on this subject.

I will begin with a couple of stories extracted from the work of the Rev.
Edmund Jones, by a writer in the _Cambro-Briton_, vol. ii., p. 276.

_Satan appearing to a Man who was fetching a Load of Bibles_, _etc._

"A Mr. Henry Llewelyn, having been sent to Samuel Davies, of Ystrad
Defodoc Parish, in Glamorganshire, to fetch a load of books, viz.,
Bibles, Testaments, Watts's Psalms, Hymns, and Songs for Children,
said--Coming home by night towards Mynyddustwyn, having just passed by
Clwyd yr Helygen ale-house, and being in a dry part of the lane--the
mare, which he rode, stood still, and, like the ass of the ungodly
Balaam, would go no farther, but kept drawing back.  Presently he could
see a living thing, round like a bowl, rolling from the right hand to the
left, and crossing the lane, moving sometimes slow and sometimes very
swift--yea, swifter than a bird could fly, though it had neither wings
nor feet,--altering also its size.  It appeared three times, less one
time than another, seemed least when near him, and appeared to roll
towards the mare's belly.  The mare would then want to go forward, but he
stopped her, to see more carefully what manner of thing it was.  He
staid, as he thought, about three minutes, to look at it; but, fearing to
see a worse sight, he thought it high time to speak to it, and
said--'What seekest thou, thou foul thing?  In the name of the Lord
Jesus, go away!'  And by speaking this it vanished, and sank into the
ground near the mare's feet.  It appeared to be of a _reddish oak

In a footnote to this tale we are told that formerly near Clwyd yr
Helygen, the Lord's Day was greatly profaned, and "it may be that the
Adversary was wroth at the good books and the bringer of them; for he
well knew what burden the mare carried."

The editor of the _Cambro-Briton_ remarks that the superstitions
recorded, if authentic, "are not very creditable to the intelligence of
our lower classes in Wales; but it is some satisfaction to think that
none of them are of recent date."  The latter remark was, I am sorry to
say, rather premature.

One other quotation from the same book I will here make.

_The Devil appearing to a Dissenting Minister at Denbigh_.

"The Rev. Mr. Thomas Baddy, who lived in Denbigh Town, and was a
Dissenting Minister in that place, went into his study one night, and
while he was reading or writing, he heard some one behind him laughing
and grinning at him, which made him stop a little--as well indeed it
might.  It came again, and then he wrote on a piece of paper, that
devil-wounding scripture, 1st John, 3rd,--'For this was the Son of God
manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil,'--and held it
backwards from him, when the laughing ceased for ever; for it was a
melancholy word to a scoffing Devil, and enough to damp him.  It would
have damped him yet more, if he had shewn him James, ii. 19--'The devils
believe and tremble.'  But he had enough for one time."

The following objectless tale, still extant, I believe, in the
mountainous parts of Denbighshire, is another instance of the credulity
in former days of the people.

_Satan seen Lying right across a Road_.

The story related to me was as follows:--Near Pentrevoelas lived a man
called John Ty'nllidiart, who was in the habit of taking, yearly, cattle
from the uplands in his neighbourhood, to be wintered in the Vale of
Clwyd.  Once, whilst thus engaged, he saw lying across the road right in
front of him and the cattle, and completely blocking up the way, Satan
with his head on one wall and his tail on the other, moaning horribly.
John, as might be expected, hurried homewards, leaving his charge to take
their chance with the Evil One, but long before he came to his house, the
odour of brimstone had preceded him, and his wife was only too glad to
find that it was her husband that came through the door, for she thought
that it was someone else that was approaching.

_The Devil's Tree by Eglwys Rhos_, _near Llandudno_.

At the corner of the first turning after passing the village of Llanrhos,
on the left hand side, is a withered oak tree, called by the natives of
those parts the Devil's Tree, and it was thought to be haunted, and
therefore the young and timid were afraid to pass it of a dark night.

The Rev. W. Arthur Jones, late Curate of the parish, told me that his
horse was in the habit of shying whenever it came opposite this blighted
tree, and his servant accounted for this by saying that the horse saw
something there which was invisible to the sight of man.  Be this as it
may, the tree has an uncanny appearance and a bad reputation, which some
years ago was greatly increased by an occurrence that happened there to
Cadwaladr Williams, a shoemaker, who lived at Llansantffraid Glan Conway.

Cadwaladr was in the habit of carrying his work home to Llandudno to his
customers every Saturday night in a wallet, and with the money which they
paid him he bought eatables for the coming week, and carried shoes to be
patched in one end of the wallet, and groceries, etc., in the other end,
and, by adjusting the wallet he balanced it, and carried it, over his
shoulders, home again.

This shoemaker sometimes refreshed himself too freely before starting
homewards from Llandudno, and he was in the habit of turning into the
public house at Llanrhos to gain courage to pass the Devil's Tree.

One Saturday night, instead of quietly passing this tree on the other
side, he walked fearlessly up to it, and defied the Evil One to appear if
he were there.  No sooner had he uttered the defiant words than something
fell from the tree, and lit upon his shoulders, and grasped poor
Cadwaladr's neck with a grip of iron.  He fought with the incubus
savagely to get rid of it, but all his exertions were in vain, and so he
was obliged to proceed on his journey with this fearful thing clinging to
him, which became heavier and heavier every step he took.  At last,
thoroughly exhausted, he came to Towyn, and, more dead than alive, he
reached a friend's door and knocked, and oh, what pleasure, before the
door was opened the weight on his back had gone, but his friend knew who
it was that Cadwaladr had carried from the Devil's Tree.

_Satan appearing as a Lovely Maiden_.

The following story I received from the Rev. Owen Jones, Pentrevoelas.
As regards details it is a fragment.

A young man who was walking from Dyserth to Rhyl was overtaken by a
lovely young lady dressed in white.  She invited conversation, and they
walked together awhile talking kindly, but, when they came opposite a
pool on the road side she disappeared, in the form of a ball of fire,
into the water.

All that has reached our days, in corroboration of this tale, is the
small pool.

The next tale was told me by the Rev. R. Jones, Rector of Llanycil.  Mr.
Jones gave names and localities, which I have indicated by initials.

_A Man carried away by the Evil One_.

W. E., of Ll--- M---, was a very bad man; he was a brawler, a fighter, a
drunkard.  He is said to have spat in the parson's face, and to have
struck him, and beaten the parish clerk who interfered.  It was believed
that he had sold himself to work evil, and many foul deeds he committed,
and, what was worse, he gloried in them.

People thought that his end would be a shocking one, and they were not
disappointed.  One night this reprobate and stubborn character did not
return home.  The next day search was made for him, and his dead body was
found on the brink of the river.  Upon inspecting the ground, it became
evident that the deceased had had a desperate struggle with an unknown
antagonist, and the battle commenced some distance above the _ceunant_,
or _dingle_, where the body was discovered.  It was there seen that the
man had planted his heels deep into the ground, as if to resist a
superior force, intent upon dragging him down to the river.  There were
indications that he had lost his footing; but a few yards lower down it
was observed that his feet had ploughed the ground, and every step taken
from this spot was traceable all down the declivity to the bottom of the
ravine, and every yard gave proof that a desperate and prolonged struggle
had taken place along the whole course.  In one place an oak tree
intercepted the way, and it was seen that a bough had its bark peeled
off, and evidently the wretched man had taken hold of this bough and did
not let go until the bark came off in his hands, for in death he still
clutched the bark.  The last and most severe struggle took place close to
the river, and here the body was dragged underneath the roots of a tree,
through a hole not big enough for a child to creep through, and this
ended the fight.

Mr. Jones stated that what was most remarkable and ominous in connection
with this foul work was the fact that, although footprints were seen in
the ground, they were all those of the miserable man, for there were no
other marks visible.  From this fact and the previous evil life of this
wretched creature, the people in those parts believed that the fearful
struggle had taken place between W. E. and the Evil One, and that he had
not been murdered by any man, but that he was taken away by Satan.

The next tale is a type of many once common in Wales, and as in one
respect it connects these tales, or at least this particular one, with
Fairy stories, I will relate it.

_Satan appearing to a Young Man_.

A young man, who had left Pentrevoelas to live in a farm house called
Hafod Elwy, had to go over the hills to Denbigh on business.  He started
very early, before the cock crew, and as it was winter, his journey over
the bleak moorlands was dismal and dreary.  When he had proceeded several
miles on his journey an unaccountable dread crept over him.  He tried to
dispel his fear by whistling and by knocking the ground with his walking
stick, but all in vain.  He stopped, and thought of returning home, but
this he could not do, for he was more afraid of the ridicule of his
friends than of his own fear, and therefore he proceeded on his journey
and reached Pont Brenig, where he stopped awhile, and listened, thinking
he might see or hear someone approaching.  To his horror, he observed,
through the glimmering light of the coming day, a tall gentleman
approaching, and by a great exertion he mastered his feelings so far as
to enable him to walk towards the stranger, but when within a few yards
of him he stood still, for from fright he could not move.  He noticed
that the gentleman wore grey clothes, and breeches fastened with yellow
buckles, on his coat were two rows of buttons like gold, his shoes were
low, with bright clasps to them.  Strange to say, this gentleman did not
pass the terrified man, but stepped into the bog and disappeared from

Ever afterwards, when this man passed the spot where he had met the Evil
One, he found there money or other valuables.  This latter incident
connects this tale with Fairy Folk-Lore, as the Fair People were credited
with bestowing gifts on mortals.

_Satan appearing to a Collier_.

John Roberts of Colliers' Row, Cyfartha, Merthyr, was once going to
Aberdare over the mountain.  On the top of the hill he was met by a
handsome gentleman, who wore a three-cocked hat, a red waistcoat, and a
blue coat.  The appearance of this well dressed man took John Roberts's
fancy; but he could not understand why he should be alone on Aberdare
mountain, and, furthermore, why he did not know the way to Aberdare, for
he had asked Roberts to direct him to the town.  John stared at the
gentleman, and saw clearly a cloven foot and a long tail protruding
underneath the blue coat, and there and then the gentleman changed
himself into a _pig_, which stood before John, gave a big grunt, and then
ran away.

I received the story from a lady to whom Roberts related it.

All these tales belong to modern times, and some of them appear to be
objectless as well as ridiculous.

There are a few places in Wales which take their names from Satan.  The
_Devil's Bridge_ is so called from the tradition that it was erected by
him upon the condition that the first thing that passed over it should be
his.  In his design he was balked, for his intended victim, who was
accompanied by his faithful dog, threw a piece of bread across the bridge
after which the dog ran, and thus became the Devil's property, but this
victim Satan would not take.

_The Devil's Kitchen_ is a chasm in the rock on the west side of Llyn
Idwal, Carnarvonshire.  The view through this opening, looking downwards
towards Ogwen Lake, is sublime, and, notwithstanding its uncanny name,
the Kitchen is well worthy of a visit from lovers of nature.

From the following quotation, taken from _Y Gordofigion_, p. 110, it
would appear that there is a rock on the side of Cader Idris called after
the Evil One.  The words are:--

"Mae ar dir Rhiwogo, ar ochr Cader Idris, graig a elwir.
'_Careg-gwr-drwg_,' byth ar ol y Sabboth hwnw pan ddaeth yno at drigolion
plwyfydd Llanfihangel Pennant ac Ystradgwyn, pan oeddynt wedi ymgasglu i
chwareu cardiau, a dawnsio; ac y rhoddodd dro o amgylch y graig gan
ddawnsio, ac y mae ol ei draed ar y graig eto."

This in English is as follows:--There is on the land belonging to
Rhiwogo, on the side of Cader Idris, a rock called _The Rock of the Evil
One_, so named ever after that Sabbath, when he came there to join the
parishioners of Llanfihangel Pennant and Ystradgwyn, who had gathered
together to play cards and dance, and there he danced around the rock,
and to this day the marks of his feet are to be seen in the rock.

There were, perhaps are, in Pembrokeshire, two stones, called the Devil's
Nags, which were haunted by Evil Spirits, who troubled the people that
passed that way.

_Ceubren yr Ellyll_, the Hobgoblin's Hollow Tree, a noble oak, once
ornamented Nannau Park, Merionethshire.  Tradition says that it was
within the trunk of this tree that Glyndwr buried his cousin, Howel Sele,
who fell a victim to the superior strength and skill of his relative.
Ever after that sad occurrence the place was troubled, sounds proceeded
out of the tree, and fire hovered over it, and, according to a writer in
_The Cambro-Briton_, vol. i., p. 226:--

    E'en to this day, the peasant still
       With cautious fear treads o'er the ground;
    In each wild bush a spectre sees,
       And trembles at each rising sound.

One of the caves in Little Orme's Head, Llandudno, is known as _Ogof
Cythreuliaid_, the Cave of Devils.

From the preceding names of places, which do not by any means exhaust the
list, it will be seen that many romantic spots in Wales are associated
with Demons.

There are also sayings in Welsh connected with the Evil One.  Thus, in
our days may be heard, when it rains and the sun shines at the same time,
the expression, "_Mae'r Gwr Drwg yn waldio'i wraig_"--the Devil is
beating his wife.

Besides the Biblical names, by which Satan is known, in Wales, there are
several others in use, not to be found in the Bible, but it would seem
that these names are borrowed being either importations or translations;
in fact, it is doubtful, whether we possess any exclusively Welsh terms
applied solely to the Devil.  _Andras_ or _Andros_ is common in North
Wales for the Evil One.  Canon Silvan Evans in his Welsh Dictionary
derives this word from _an_, without, and _gras_, grace; thus, the word
becomes synonymous with gracelessness, and he remarks that, although the
term is generally rendered devil, it is much softer than that term, or
its Welsh equivalent _diawl_.

_Y Fall_ is another term applied to Satan in Wales.  Dr. Owen Pugh
defines the word as what is squabby, bulky.  The most common expressions
for the devil, however, are _Cythraul_, and _diawl_, or _diafol_, but
these two last named words are merely forms of Diabolos.  Other
expressions, such as Old Nick, Old Harry, have found a home in Wales.  _Y
gwr drwg_, the bad man, _Gwas drwg_, the wicked servant, _Yr yspryd
drwg_, the wicked spirit, _Yr hen fachgen_, the old boy, and such like
expressions, are also common.  Silly women frighten small children by
telling them that the _Bo_, the _bogey_, the _bogey bo_, or _bolol_,
etc., will take them away if they are not quiet.

_Ghosts_, _or Spirits_.

Ghosts, or Spirits, were supposed to be the shades of departed human
beings who, for certain reasons, were permitted to visit either nightly,
or periodically, this upper world.

The hour that Spirits came to the earth was mid-night, and they remained
until cock-crowing, when they were obliged to depart.  So strongly did
the people believe in the hours of these visits, that formerly no one
would stay from home later than twelve o'clock at night, nor would any
one proceed on a journey, until chanticleer had announced that the way
was clear.  Christmas Eve, however, was an exception, for during that
night, no evil Spirit could appear.

It was thought that if two persons were together, one only could see the
Spirit, to the other he was invisible, and to one person only would the
Spirit speak, and this he would do when addressed; otherwise, he remained

Ghosts re-visited the world to reveal hidden treasures, and the murdered
haunted the place where their unburied bodies lay, or until vengeance
overtook the murderer, and the wicked were doomed to walk the earth until
they were laid in lake, or river, or in the Red Sea.

The presence of Spirits was announced by a clanking of chains, by
shrieks, or other horrible noises, and dogs, and horses, were credited
with the power of seeing Spirits.  Horses trembled and perspired at their
presence, and dogs whined and crouched at their approach.

The tales which I shall now relate throw a glimmering light on the
subject now under consideration.

_The Gloddaeth Ghost_.

The following tale was told the Rev. Owen Jones, Pentrevoelas, by Thomas
Davies, Tycoch, Rhyl, the hero in the story.

I may say that Gloddaeth Wood is a remnant of the primaeval forest that
is mentioned by Sir John Wynn, in his _History of the Gwydir Family_, as
extending over a large tract of the country.  This wood, being
undisturbed and in its original wild condition, was the home of foxes and
other vermin, for whose destruction the surrounding parishes willingly
paid half-a-crown per head.  This reward was an inducement to men who had
leisure, to trap and hunt these obnoxious animals.  Thomas Davies was
engaged in this work, and, taking a walk through the wood one day for the
purpose of discovering traces of foxes, he came upon a fox's den, and
from the marks about the burrow he ascertained that there were young
foxes in the hole.  This was to him a grand discovery, for, in
anticipation, cubs and vixen were already his.  Looking about him, he
noticed that there was opposite the fox's den a large oak tree with
forked branches, and this sight settled his plan of operation.  He saw
that he could place himself in this tree in such a position that he could
see the vixen leave, and return to her den, and, from his knowledge of
the habits of the animal, he knew she would commence foraging when
darkness and stillness prevailed.  He therefore determined to commence
the campaign forthwith, and so he went home to make his preparations.

I should say that the sea was close to the wood, and that small craft
often came to grief on the coast.  I will now proceed with the story.

Davies had taken his seat on a bough opposite the fox's den, when he
heard a horrible scream in the direction of the sea, which apparently was
that of a man in distress, and the sound uttered was "Oh, Oh."  Thus
Davies's attention was divided between the dismal, "Oh," and his fox.
But, as the sound was a far way off, he felt disinclined to heed it, for
he did not think it incumbent on him to ascertain the cause of that
distressing utterance, nor did he think it his duty to go to the relief
of a suffering fellow creature.  He therefore did not leave his seat on
the tree.  But the cry of anguish, every now and again, reached his ears,
and evidently, it was approaching the tree on which Davies sat.  He now
listened the more to the awful sounds, which at intervals reverberated
through the wood, and he could no longer be mistaken--they were coming in
his direction.  Nearer and nearer came the dismal "Oh!  Oh!" and with its
approach, the night became pitch dark, and now the "Oh!  Oh!  Oh!" was
only a few yards off, but nothing could be seen in consequence of the
deep darkness.  The sounds however ceased, but a horrible sight was
presented to the frightened man's view.  There, he saw before him, a nude
being with eyes burning like fire, and these glittering balls were
directed towards him.  The awful being was only a dozen yards or so off.
And now it crouched, and now it stood erect, but it never for a single
instant withdrew its terrible eyes from the miserable man in the tree,
who would have fallen to the ground were it not for the protecting
boughs.  Many times Davies thought that his last moment had come, for it
seemed that the owner of those fiery eyes was about to spring upon him.
As he did not do so, Davies somewhat regained his self possession, and
thought of firing at the horrible being; but his courage failed, and
there he sat motionless, not knowing what the end might be.  He closed
his eyes to avoid that gaze, which seemed to burn into him, but this was
a short relief, for he felt constrained to look into those burning orbs,
still it was a relief even to close his eyes: and so again and again he
closed them, only, however, to open them on those balls of fire.  About 4
o'clock in the morning, he heard a cock crow at Penbryn farm, and at the
moment his eyes were closed, but at the welcome sound he opened them, and
looked for those balls of fire, but, oh! what pleasure, they were no
longer before him, for, at the crowing of the cock, they, and the being
to whom they belonged, had disappeared.

_Tymawr Ghost_, _Bryneglwys_.

This Ghost plagued the servants, pinched and tormented them, and they
could not get rest day nor night; such was the character of this Ghost as
told me by Mr. Richard Jones, Ty'n-y-wern.  But, said I, what was the
cause of his acts, was it the Ghost of anyone who had been murdered?  To
this question, Jones gave the following account of the Ghost's arrival at
Tymawr.  A man called at this farm, and begged for something to eat, and
as he was shabbily dressed, the girls laughed at him, and would not give
him anything, and when going away, he said, speaking over his shoulder,
"You will repent your conduct to me."  In a few nights afterwards the
house was plagued, and the servants were pinched all night.  This went on
days and days, until the people were tired of their lives.  They,
however, went to Griffiths, Llanarmon, a minister, who was celebrated as
a Layer of Ghosts, and he came, and succeeded in capturing the Ghost in
the form of a spider, and shut him up in his tobacco box and carried him
away, and the servants were never afterwards plagued.

_Ffrith Farm Ghost_.

I am indebted to Mr. Williams, schoolmaster, Bryneglwys, for the history
of this Ghost.

It was not known why Ffrith farm was troubled by a Ghost; but when the
servants were busily engaged in cheese making the Spirit would suddenly
throw mortar, or filthy matter, into the milk, and thus spoil the curds.
The dairy was visited by the Ghost, and there he played havoc with the
milk and dishes.  He sent the pans, one after the other, around the room,
and dashed them to pieces.  The terrible doings of the Ghost was a topic
of general conversation in those parts.  The farmer offered a reward of
five pounds to anyone who would lay the Spirit.  One Sunday afternoon,
about 2 o'clock, an aged priest visited the farm yard, and in the
presence of a crowd of spectators exorcised the Ghost, but without
effect.  In fact, the Ghost waved a woman's bonnet right in the face of
the priest.  The farmer then sent for Griffiths, an Independent minister
at Llanarmon, who enticed the Ghost to the barn.  Here the Ghost appeared
in the form of a lion, but he could not touch Griffiths, because he stood
in the centre of a circle, which the lion could not pass over.  Griffiths
persuaded the Ghost to appear in a less formidable shape, or otherwise he
would have nothing to do with him.  The Ghost next came in the form of a
mastiff, but Griffiths objected even to this appearance; at last, the
Ghost appeared as a fly, which was captured by Griffiths and secured in
his tobacco box, and carried away.  Griffiths acknowledged that this
Ghost was the most formidable one that he had ever conquered.

From this tale it would appear that some ghosts were more easily overcome
than others.

_Pont-y-Glyn Ghost_.

There is a picturesque glen between Corwen and Cerrig-y-Drudion, down
which rushes a mountain stream, and over this stream is a bridge, called
Pont-y-Glyn.  On the left hand side, a few yards from the bridge, on the
Corwen side, is a yawning chasm, through which the river bounds.  Here
people who have travelled by night affirm that they have seen ghosts--the
ghosts of those who have been murdered in this secluded glen.

A man who is now a bailiff near Ruthin, but at the time of the appearance
of the Ghost to him at Pont-y-Glyn was a servant at Garth Meilio--states
that one night, when he was returning home late from Corwen, he saw
before him, seated on a heap of stones, a female dressed in Welsh
costume.  He wished her good night, but she returned him no answer.  She,
however, got up and proceeded down the road, which she filled, so great
were her increased dimensions.

Other Spirits are said to have made their homes in the hills not far from
Pont-y-Glyn.  There was the Spirit of Ystrad Fawr, a strange Ghost that
transformed himself into many things.  I will give the description of
this Ghost in the words of the author of _Y Gordofigion_.

_Ysbryd Ystrad Fawr_.

"Yr oedd Ysbryd yn Ystrad Fawr, ger Llangwm, yn arfer ymddangos ar
brydiau ar lun twrci, a'i gynffon o'i amgylch fel olwyn troell.  Bryd
arall, byddai yn y coed, nes y byddai y rhai hyny yn ymddangos fel pe
buasent oll ar dan; bryd arall, byddai fel ci du mawr yn cnoi
asgwrn."--_Y Gordofigion_, p. 106.

_Ystrad Fawr Ghost_ in English is as follows:--

There was a Ghost at Ystrad Fawr, near Llangwm, that was in the habit of
appearing like a turkey with his tail spread out like a spinning wheel.
At other times he appeared in the wood, when the trees would seem as if
they were on fire, again he would assume the shape of a large black dog
gnawing a bone.

_Ty Felin Ghost_, _Llanynys_.

An exciseman, overtaken by night, went to a house called Ty Felin, in the
parish of Llanynys, and asked for lodgings.  Unfortunately the house was
a very small one, containing only two bedrooms, and one of these was
haunted, consequently no one dared sleep in it.  After awhile, however,
the stranger induced the master to allow him to sleep in this haunted
room; he had not been there long before a Ghost entered the room in the
shape of a travelling Jew, and the Spirit walked around the room.  The
exciseman tried to catch him, and gave chase, but he lost sight of the
Jew in the yard.  He had scarcely entered the room, a second time, when
he again saw the Ghost.  He again chased him, and lost sight of him in
the same place.  The third time he followed the Ghost, he made a mark on
the yard, where the Ghost vanished and went to rest, and was not again
troubled.  He got up early and went his way, but, before long, he
returned to Ty Felin accompanied by a policeman, whom he requested to dig
in the place where his mark was.  This was done, and, underneath a
superficial covering, a deep well was discovered, and in it a corpse.  On
examining the tenant of the house, he confessed that a travelling Jew,
selling jewelry, etc., once lodged with him, and that he had murdered
him, and cast his body in the well.

_Llandegla Spirit_.

The tale of this Spirit was given me by Mr. Roberts, late Schoolmaster of
Llandegla.  A small river runs close to the secluded village of
Llandegla, and in this mountain stream under a huge stone lies a wicked
Ghost.  The tale is as follows:--

The old Rectory at Llandegla was haunted; the Spirit was very
troublesome; no peace was to be got because of it; every night it was at
its work.  A person of the name of Griffiths, who lived at Graianrhyd,
was sent for to lay the Ghost.  He came to the Rectory, but the Spirit
could not be overcome.  It is true Griffiths saw it, but in such a form
that he could not approach it; night after night, the Spirit appeared in
various forms, but still the conjurer was unable to master it.  At last
it came to the wise man in the form of a fly, which Griffiths immediately
captured, and placed in a small box.  This box he buried under a large
stone in the river, just below the bridge, near the Llandegla Mills, and
there the Spirit is to remain until a certain tree, which grows by the
bridge, reaches the height of the parapet, and then, when this takes
place, the Spirit shall have power to regain his liberty.  To prevent
this tree from growing, the school children, even to this day, nip the
upper branches, and thus retard its upward growth.  Mr. Roberts received
the story I have given, from the old Parish Clerk, John Jones the weaver,
who died a few years ago.

_Lady Jeffrey's Spirit_.

This lady could not rest in her grave because of her misdeeds, and she
troubled people dreadfully; at last she was persuaded or enticed to
contract her dimensions, and enter into a bottle.  She did so, after
appearing in a good many hideous forms; but when she got into the bottle,
it was corked down securely, and the bottle was cast into the pool
underneath the Short bridge, Llanidloes, and there the lady was to remain
until the ivy that grew up the buttresses should overgrow the sides of
the bridge, and reach the parapet.  The ivy was dangerously near the top
of the bridge when the writer was a schoolboy, and often did he and his
companions crop off its tendrils as they neared the prescribed limits for
we were all terribly afraid to release the dreaded lady out of the
bottle.  In the year 1848, the old bridge was blown up, and a new one
built instead of it.  A schoolfellow, whom we called Ben, was playing by
the aforesaid pool when the bridge was undergoing reconstruction, and he
found by the river's side a small bottle, and in the bottle was a little
black thing, that was never quiet, but it kept bobbing up and down
continually, just as if it wanted to get out.  Ben kept the bottle safely
for a while, but ere long he was obliged to throw it into the river, for
his relations and neighbours came to the conclusion that that was the
very bottle that contained Lady Jeffrey's Spirit, and they also surmised
that the little black restless thing was nothing less than the lady
herself.  Ben consequently resigned the bottle and its contents to the
pool again, there to undergo a prolonged, but unjust, term of

_Pentrevoelas_.--_Squire Griffith's Ghost_.

A couple of workmen engaged at Foelas, the seat of the late Squire
Griffiths, thought they would steal a few apples from the orchard for
their children, and for this purpose one evening, just before leaving off
work, they climbed up a tree, but happening to look down, whom should
they see but the Squire, wearing his three-cornered hat, and dressed in
the clothes he used to wear when alive, and he was leaning against the
trunk of the tree on which they were perched.  In great fright they
dropped to the ground and took to their heels.  They ran without stopping
to Bryn Coch, but there, to their horror, stood the Squire in the middle
of the road quietly leaning on his staff.  They again avoided him and ran
home every step, without looking behind them.  The orchard robbers never
again saw their late master, nor did they ever again attempt to rob the

_David Salisbury's Ghost_.

I will quote from _Bye-Gones_, vol. iii., p. 211, an account of this

    "There was an old Welsh tradition in vogue some fifty years ago, that
    one David Salisbury, son of _Harri Goch_ of Llanrhaiadr, near
    Denbigh, and grandson to Thomas Salisbury hen of Lleweni, had given
    considerable trouble to the living, long after his remains had been
    laid in the grave.  A good old soul, Mr. Griffiths of Llandegla,
    averred that he had seen his ghost, mounted upon a white horse,
    galloping over hedges and ditches in the dead of night, and had heard
    his 'terrible groans,' which, he concluded, proceeded from the weight
    of sin troubling the unhappy soul, which had to undergo these
    untimely and unpleasant antics.  An old Welsh ballad entitled 'Ysbryd
    Dafydd Salbri,' professed to give the true account of the individual
    in question, but the careful search of many years has failed me in
    securing a copy of that horrible song.


This Spirit fared better than most of his compeers, for they, poor
things, were, according to the popular voice, often doomed to ride
headless horses, which madly galloped, the livelong night, hither and
thither, where they would, to the great terror of the midnight traveller
who might meet this mad unmanageable creature, and also, as it would
seem, to the additional discomfort of the unfortunate rider.

It is, or was believed in Gyffylliog parish, which is in the recesses of
the Denbighshire mountains, four or five miles to the west of Ruthin,
that the horses ridden by Spirits and goblins were real horses, and it
was there said when horses were found in their stables at dawn in a state
of perspiration that they had been taken out in the night and ridden by
Spirits about the country, and hence their jaded condition in the

It was also thought that the horses found in the morning in their pasture
ground with tangled manes and tails, and bodies covered with mud, had
been during the night used by Spirits, who rushed them through mire and
brier, and that consequently they presented the appearance of animals who
had followed the hounds in a long chase through a stiff country.

There is a strong family likeness between all Ghost stories, and a lack
of originality in their construction, but this suggests a common source
from which the majority of these fictions are derived.

I now come to another phase of Spirit Folk-Lore, which has already been
alluded to, viz., the visits of Ghosts for the purpose of revealing
hidden treasures.  The following tale, which I took down from the mouth
of John Rowland, at one time the tenant of Plas-yn-llan, Efenechtyd, is
an instance of this kind of story.

_A Ghost Appearing to point out Hidden Treasures_.

There is a farm house called Clwchdyrnog in the parish of Llanddeusant,
Anglesey, which was said to have been haunted by a Spirit.  It seems that
no one would summon courage to speak to the Ghost, though it was seen by
several parties; but one night, John Hughes, Bodedern, a widower, who
visited the house for the purpose of obtaining a second Mrs. Hughes from
among the servant girls there, spoke to the Ghost.  The presence of the
Spirit was indicated by a great noise in the room where Hughes and the
girl were.  In great fright Hughes invoked the Spirit, and asked why he
troubled the house.  "Have I done any wrong to you," said he, addressing
the Spirit.  "No," was the answer.  Then he asked if the girl to whom he
was paying his attentions was the cause of the Spirit's visit, and again
he received the answer, "No."  Then Hughes named individually all the
inmates of the house in succession, and inquired if they were the cause
of the Spirit's visits, and again he was answered in the negative.  Then
he asked why, since no one in the house had disturbed the Spirit, he came
there to disturb the inmates.  To this pertinent question the Spirit
answered as follows:--"There are treasures hidden on the south side of
Ffynnon Wen, which belong to, and are to be given to, the nine months old
child in this house: when this is done, I will never disturb this house
any more."

The spot occupied by the treasure was minutely described by the Spirit,
and Hughes promised to go to the place indicated.  The next day, he went
to the spot, and digging into the ground, he came upon an iron chest
filled with gold, silver, and other valuables, and all these things he
faithfully delivered up to the parents of the child to be kept by them
for him until he should come of age to take possession of them himself.
This they faithfully did, and the Spirit never again came to the house.

John Rowland, my informant, was a native of Anglesey, and he stated that
all the people of Llanddeusant knew of the story which he related to me.
He was eighty-three years old at the time he told me the tale, and that
was in October, 1882.

But one of the most singular tales of the appearance of a Ghost is
recorded in the autobiography of the grandfather of the late Mr. Thomas
Wright, the well-known Shropshire antiquary.  Mr. Wright's grandfather
was a Methodist, and in the early days of that body the belief in
apparitions was not uncommon amongst them.  The story was told Mr.
Wright, sen., in 1780, at the house, in Yorkshire, of Miss Bosanquet
(afterwards the wife of Fletcher of Madeley), by Mr. John Hampson, sen.,
a well-known preacher among the Methodists, who had just arrived from

As the scene of the tale is laid in Powis Castle, I will call this

_The Powis Castle Ghost revealing a Hidden Box to a Woman_.

The following is the narrative:--It had been for some time reported in
the neighbourhood that a poor unmarried woman, who was a member of the
Methodist Society, and had become serious under their ministry, had seen
and conversed with the apparition of a gentleman, who had made a strange
discovery to her.  Mr. Hampson, being desirous to ascertain if there was
any truth in the story, sent for the woman, and desired her to give him
an exact relation of the whole affair from her own mouth, and as near the
truth as she possibly could.  She said she was a poor woman, who got her
living by spinning hemp and line; that it was customary for the farmers
and gentlemen of that neighbourhood to grow a little hemp or line in a
corner of their fields for their own home consumption, and as she was a
good hand at spinning the materials, she used to go from house to house
to inquire for work; that her method was, where they employed her, during
her stay to have meat, and drink, and lodging (if she had occasion to
sleep with them), for her work, and what they pleased to give her
besides.  That, among other places, she happened to call one day at the
Welsh Earl of Powis's country seat, called Redcastle, to inquire for
work, as she usually had done before.  The quality were at this time in
London, and had left the steward and his wife, with other servants, as
usual, to take care of their country residence in their absence.  The
steward's wife set her to work, and in the evening told her that she must
stay all night with them, as they had more work for her to do next day.
When bedtime arrived, two or three of the servants in company, with each
a lighted candle in her hand, conducted her to her lodging.  They led her
to a ground room, with a boarded floor, and two sash windows.  The room
was grandly furnished, and had a genteel bed in one corner of it.  They
had made her a good fire, and had placed her a chair and a table before
it, and a large lighted candle upon the table.  They told her that was
her bedroom, and she might go to sleep when she pleased.  They then
wished her a good night and withdrew altogether, pulling the door quickly
after them, so as to hasp the spring-sneck in the brass lock that was
upon it.  When they were gone, she gazed awhile at the fine furniture,
under no small astonishment that they should put such a poor person as
her in so grand a room and bed, with all the apparatus of fire, chair,
table, and candle.  She was also surprised at the circumstance of the
servants coming so many together, with each of them a candle.  However,
after gazing about her some little time, she sat down and took a small
Welsh Bible out of her pocket, which she always carried about with her,
and in which she usually read a chapter--chiefly in the New
Testament--before she said her prayers and went to bed.  While she was
reading she heard the room door open, and turning her head, saw a
gentleman enter in a gold-laced hat and waistcoat, and the rest of his
dress corresponding therewith.  (I think she was very particular in
describing the rest of his dress to Mr. Hampson, and he to me at the
time, but I have now forgot the other particulars).

He walked down by the sash-window to the corner of the room and then
returned.  When he came to the first window in his return (the bottom of
which was nearly breast-high), he rested his elbow on the bottom of the
window, and the side of his face upon the palm of his hand, and stood in
that leaning posture for some time, with his side partly towards her.
She looked at him earnestly to see if she knew him, but, though from her
frequent intercourse with them, she had a personal knowledge of all the
present family, he appeared a stranger to her.  She supposed afterwards
that he stood in this manner to encourage her to speak; but as she did
not, after some little time he walked off, pulling the door after him as
the servants had done before.

She began now to be much alarmed, concluding it to be an apparition, and
that they had put her there on purpose.  This was really the case.  The
room, it seems, had been disturbed for a long time, so that nobody could
sleep peaceably in it, and as she passed for a very serious woman, the
servants took it into their heads to put the Methodist and Spirit
together, to see what they would make of it.

Startled at this thought, she rose from her chair, and kneeled down by
the bedside to say her prayers.  While she was praying he came in again,
walked round the room, and came close behind her.  She had it on her mind
to speak, but when she attempted it she was so very much agitated that
she could not utter a word.  He walked out of the room again, pulling the
door after him as before.

She begged that God would strengthen her and not suffer her to be tried
beyond what she was able to bear.  She recovered her spirits, and thought
she felt more confidence and resolution, and determined if he came in
again she would speak to him, if possible.

He presently came in again, walked round, and came behind her as before;
she turned her head and said, "Pray, sir, who are you, and what do you
want?"  He put up his finger, and said, "Take up the candle and follow
me, and I will tell you."  She got up, took up the candle, and followed
him out of the room.  He led her through a long boarded passage till they
came to the door of another room, which he opened and went in.  It was a
small room, or what might be called a large closet.  "As the room was
small, and I believed him to be a Spirit," she said, "I stopped at the
door; he turned and said, 'Walk in, I will not hurt you.'  So I walked
in.  He said, 'Observe what I do.'  I said, 'I will.'  He stooped, and
tore up one of the boards of the floor, and there appeared under it a box
with an iron handle in the lid.  He said, 'Do you see that box?'  I said,
'Yes, I do.'  He then stepped to one side of the room, and showed me a
crevice in the wall, where, he said, a key was hid that would open it.
He said, 'This box and key must be taken out, and sent to the Earl in
London' (naming the Earl, and his place of residence in the city).  He
said, 'Will you see it done?'  I said, 'I will do my best to get it
done.'  He said, 'Do, and I will trouble the house no more.'  He then
walked out of the room and left me."  (He seems to have been a very civil
Spirit, and to have been very careful to affright her as little as
possible).  "I stepped to the room door and set up a shout.  The steward
and his wife, and the other servants came to me immediately, all clung
together, with a number of lights in their hands.  It seems they had all
been waiting to see the issue of the interview betwixt me and the
apparition.  They asked me what was the matter?  I told them the
foregoing circumstances, and showed them the box.  The steward durst not
meddle with it, but his wife had more courage, and, with the help of the
other servants, lugged it out, and found the key."  She said by their
lifting it appeared to be pretty heavy, but that she did not see it
opened, and therefore did not know what it contained; perhaps money, or
writings of consequence to the family, or both.

They took it away with them, and she then went to bed and slept peaceably
till the morning.

It appeared afterwards that they sent the box to the Earl in London, with
an account of the manner of its discovery and by whom; and the Earl sent
down orders immediately to his steward to inform the poor woman who had
been the occasion of this discovery, that if she would come and reside in
his family, she should be comfortably provided for for the remainder of
her days; or, if she did not choose to reside constantly with them, if
she would let them know when she wanted assistance, she should be
liberally supplied at his Lordship's expense as long as she lived.  And
Mr. Hampson said it was a known fact in the neighbourhood that she had
been so supplied from his Lordship's family from the time the affair was
said to have happened, and continued to be so at the time she gave Mr.
Hampson this account.

Such is the tale.  I will make no comments on it.  Many similar stories
are extant.  After one more tale, I will leave these Spirit stories, and
I will then relate how troublesome Ghosts were laid.

The Spirits of the preceding tales were sent from the unseen world to do
good, but the Spirit of the maiden who gives a name to a Welsh lake,
cried out for vengeance; but history does not inform us that she obtained
satisfaction.  There is a lake in Carnarvonshire called
_Llyn-Nad-y-Forwyn_, or the Lake of the Maiden's Cry, to which is
attached the following tale.  I will call the tale

_The Spirit of Llyn-Nad-y-Forwyn_.

It is said that a young man was about to marry a young girl, and on the
evening before the wedding they were rambling along the water's side
together, but the man was false, and loved another better than the woman
whom he was about to wed.  They were alone in an unfrequented country,
and the deceiver pushed the girl into the lake to get rid of her to marry
his sweetheart.  She lost her life.  But ever afterwards her Spirit
troubled the neighbourhood, but chiefly the scene of her murder.
Sometimes she appeared as a ball of fire, rolling along the river Colwyn,
at other times she appeared as a lady dressed in silk, taking a solitary
walk along the banks of the river.  At other times, groans and shrieks
were heard coming out of the river--just such screams as would be uttered
by a person who was being murdered.  Sometimes a young maiden was seen
emerging out of the waters, half naked, with dishevelled hair, that
covered her shoulders, and the country resounded with her heart-rending
crying as she appeared in the lake.  The frequent crying of the Spirit
gave to the lake its name, Llyn-Nad-y-Forwyn.

_Spirit Laying_.

It must have been a consolation to those who believed in the power of
wicked Spirits to trouble people, that it was possible to lay these evil
visitors in a pool of water, or to drive them away to the Red Sea, or to
some other distant part of the world.  It was generally thought that
Spirits could be laid by a priest; and there were particular forms of
exorcising these troublesome beings.  A conjuror, or _Dyn Hysbys_, was
also credited with this power, and it was thought that the prayer of a
righteous man could overcome these emissaries of evil.

But there was a place for hope in the case of these transported or laid
Spirits.  It was granted to some to return from the Red Sea to the place
whence they departed by the length of a grain of wheat or barley corn
yearly.  The untold ages that it would take to accomplish a journey of
four thousand miles thus slowly was but a very secondary consideration to
the annihilation of hope.  Many were the conditions imposed upon the
vanquished Spirits by their conquerors before they could be permitted to
return to their old haunts, and well might it be said that the conditions
could not possibly be carried out; but still there was a place for hope
in the breast of the doomed by the imposition of any terminable

The most ancient instance of driving out a Spirit that I am acquainted
with is to be found in the Book of Tobit.  It seems to be the prototype
of many like tales.  The angel Raphael and Tobias were by the river
Tigris, when a fish jumped out of the river, which by the direction of
the angel was seized by the young man, and its heart, and liver, and gall
extracted, and, at the angel's command carefully preserved by Tobias.
When asked what their use might be, the angel informed him that the smoke
of the heart and liver would drive away a devil or Evil Spirit that
troubled anyone.  In the 14th verse of the sixth chapter of Tobit we are
told that a devil loved Sara, but that he did no harm to anyone,
excepting to those who came near her.  Knowing this, the young man was
afraid to marry the woman; but remembering the words of Raphael, he went
in unto his wife, and took the ashes of the perfumes as ordered, and put
the heart and liver of the fish thereupon, and made a smoke therewith,
the which smell, when the Evil Spirit had smelled, he fled into the
utmost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him.  Such is the story, many
variants of which are found in many countries.

I am grieved to find that Sir John Wynne, who wrote the interesting and
valuable _History of the Gwydir Family_, which ought to have secured for
him kindly recognition from his countrymen, was by them deposited after
death, for troubling good people, in Rhaiadr y Wenol.  The superstition
has found a place in Yorke's _Royal Tribes of Wales_.

The following quotation is from the _History of the Gwydir Family_,
Oswestry Edition, p. 7:--

"Being shrewd and successful in his dealings, people were led to believe
he oppressed them," and says Yorke in his _Royal Tribes of Wales_, "It is
the superstition of Llanrwst to this day that the Spirit of the old
gentleman lies under the great waterfall, Rhaiadr y Wennol, there to be
punished, purged, spouted upon and purified from the foul deeds done in
his days of nature."

This gentleman, though, is not alone in occupying, until his misdeeds are
expiated, a watery grave.  There is hardly a pool in a river, or lake in
which Spirits have not, according to popular opinion, been laid.  In our
days though, it is only the aged that speak of such matters.

A Spirit could in part be laid.  It is said that Abel Owen's Spirit, of
Henblas, was laid by Gruffydd Jones, Cilhaul, in a bottle, and buried in
a _gors_ near Llanrwst.

This Gruffydd Jones had great trouble at Hafod Ucha between Llanrwst and
Conway, to lay a Spirit.  He began in the afternoon, and worked hard the
whole night and the next day to lay the Spirit, but he succeeded in
overcoming a part only of the Spirit.  He was nearly dead from exhaustion
and want of food before he could even master a portion of the Spirit.

The preceding is a singular tale, for it teaches that Spirits are
divisible.  A portion of this Spirit, repute says, is still at large,
whilst a part is undergoing purification.

The following tale was told me by my friend, the Rev. T. H. Evans, Vicar
of Llanwddyn.

_Cynon's Ghost_.

One of the wicked Spirits which plagued the secluded Valley of Llanwddyn
long before it was converted into a vast reservoir to supply Liverpool
with water was that of _Cynon_.  Of this Spirit Mr. Evans writes
thus:--"_Yspryd Cynon_ was a mischievous goblin, which was put down by
_Dic Spot_ and put in a quill, and placed under a large stone in the
river below Cynon Isaf.  The stone is called '_Careg yr Yspryd_,' the
Ghost Stone.  This one received the following instructions, that he was
to remain under the stone until the water should work its way between the
stone and the dry land."

The poor Spirit, to all appearance, was doomed to a very long
imprisonment, but _Dic Spot_ did not foresee the wants and enterprise of
the people of Liverpool, who would one day convert the Llanwddyn Valley
into a lake fifteen miles in circumference, and release the Spirit from
prison by the process of making their Waterworks.

I might here say that there is another version current in the parish
besides that given me by Mr. Evans, which is that the Spirit was to
remain under the stone until the river was dried up.  Perhaps both
conditions were, to make things safe, imposed upon the Spirit.

_Careg yr Yspryd_ and Cynon Isaf were at the entrance to the Valley of
Llanwddyn, and down this opening, or mouth of the valley, rushed the
river--the river that was to be dammed up for the use of Liverpool.  The
inhabitants of the valley knew the tradition respecting the Spirit, and
they much feared its being disturbed.  The stone was a large boulder,
from fifteen to twenty tons in weight, and it was evident that it was
doomed to destruction, for it stood in the river Vyrnwy just where
operations were to commence.  There was no small stir among the Welsh
inhabitants when preparations were made to blast the huge Spirit-stone.
English and Irish workmen could not enter into the feeling of the Welsh
towards this stone, but they had heard what was said about it.  They,
however, had no dread of the imprisoned Spirit.  In course of time the
stone was bored and a load of dynamite inserted, but it was not shattered
at the first blast.  About four feet square remained intact, and
underneath this the Spirit was, if it was anywhere.  The men were soon
set to work to demolish the stone.  The Welshmen expected some
catastrophe to follow its destruction, and they were even prepared to see
the Spirit bodily emerge from its prison, for, said they, the conditions
of its release have been fulfilled--the river had been diverted from its
old bed into an artificial channel, to facilitate the removal of this and
other stones--and there was no doubt that both conditions had been
literally carried out, and consequently the Spirit, if justice ruled,
could claim its release.  The stone was blasted, and strange to relate,
when the smoke had cleared away, the water in a cavity where the stone
had been was seen to move; there was no apparent reason why the water
should thus be disturbed, unless, indeed, the Spirit was about to appear.
The Welsh workmen became alarmed, and moved away from the place, keeping,
however, their eyes fixed on the pool.  The mystery was soon solved, for
a large frog made its appearance, and, sedately sitting on a fragment of
the shattered stone, rubbed its eyes with its feet, as if awaking from a
long sleep.  The question was discussed, "Is it a frog, or the Spirit in
the form of a frog; if it is a frog, why was it not killed when the stone
was blasted?"  And again, "Who ever saw a frog sit up in that fashion and
rub the dust out of its eyes?  It must be the Spirit."  There the workmen
stood, at a respectful distance from the frog, who, heedless of the
marked attention paid to it, continued sitting up and rubbing its eyes.
They would not approach it, for it must be the Spirit, and no one knew
what its next movement or form might be.  At last, however, the frog was
driven away, and the men re-commenced their labours.  But for nights
afterwards people passing the spot heard a noise as of heavy chains being
dragged along the ground where the stone once stood.

_Caellwyngrydd Spirit_.

This was a dangerous Spirit.  People passing along the road were stoned
by it; its work was always mischievous and hurtful.  At last it was
exorcised and sent far away to the Red Sea, but it was permitted to
return the length of a barley corn every year towards its lost home.

From the tales already given, it is seen that the people believed in the
possibility of getting rid of troublesome Spirits, and the person whose
aid was sought on these occasions was often a minister of religion.  We
have seen how Griffiths of Llanarmon had reached notoriety in this
direction, and he lived in quite modern times.  The clergy were often
consulted in matters of this kind, and they were commonly believed to
have power over Spirits.  The Rev. Walter Davies had great credit as a
Spirit layer, and he lived far into the present century.  Going further
back, I find that Archdeacon Edmund Prys, and his contemporary and
friend, Huw Llwyd, were famous opponents of Evil Spirits, and their
services are said to have been highly appreciated, because always
successful.  The manner of laying Spirits differed.  In this century,
prayer and Bible reading were usually resorted to, but in other days,
incantation was employed.  We have seen how Griffiths surrounded himself
with an enchanted circle, which the Spirit could not break through.  This
ring was thought to be impervious to the Ghost tribe, and therefore it
was the protection of the person whom it surrounded.  The Spirit was
invoked and commanded to depart by the person within the magic ring and
it obeyed the mandate.  Sometimes it was found necessary to conduct a
service in Church, in Latin by night, the Church being lit up with
consecrated candles, ere the Ghost could be overcome.

When Spirits were being laid, we are told that they presented themselves
in various forms to the person engaged in laying them, and that
ultimately they foolishly came transformed into some innocuous insect or
animal, which he was able to overcome.  The simplicity of the Ghosts is
ridiculous, and can only be understood by supposing that the various
steps in the contest for the mastery are not forthcoming, that they have
been lost.

These various metamorphoses would imply that transmigration was believed
in by our forefathers.

_Ghost Raising_.

If the possibility of Ghost Laying was believed in, so also was the
possibility of raising Evil Spirits.  This faith dates from olden times.
Shakespeare, to this, as to most other popular notions, has given a place
in his immortal plays.  Speaking rightly in the name of "Glendower," a
Welshman, conversant with Ghosts and Goblins, the poet makes him say:--

    "I can call Spirits from the vasty deep."

    _Henry the Fourth_, Act III., S. 1.

And again in the same person's mouth are placed these words:--

    "Why, I can teach you, cousin, _to command the devil_."

The witches in Macbeth have this power ascribed to them:

    I'll catch it ere it come to ground:
    And that, distilled by magic sleights,
    _Shall raise such artificial Sprites_,
    _As by the strength of their illusion_
    Shall draw him on to his confusion.

    _Macbeth_, Act III., S. 5.

This idea has continued right to our own days, and adepts in the black
art have affirmed that they possess this power.

Doctor Bennion, a gentleman well known in his lifetime in and about
Oswestry, was thought to be able to raise Devils.  I find in the history
of _Ffynnon Elian_, p. 12, that the doctor visited John Evans, the last
custodian of the well, and taught him how to accomplish this feat.  For
the benefit of those anxious to obtain this power, I will give the
doctor's recipe:--"Publish it abroad that you can raise the Devil, and
the country will believe you, and will credit you with many miracles.
All that you have to do afterwards is to be silent, and you will then be
as good a raiser of Devils as I am, and I as good as you."

Evans confesses that he acted according to the astute doctor's advice,
and he adds--"The people in a very short time spoke much about me, and
they soon came to intrust everything to me, their conduct frightened me,
for they looked upon me as if I were a god."  This man died August 14th,

_Witches and Conjurors_.

From and before the days of King Saul, to the present moment, witches
have held dreaded sway over the affairs of man.  Cruel laws have been
promulgated against them, they have been murdered by credulous and
infuriated mobs, they have lost their lives after legal trial, but still,
witches have lived on through the dark days of ignorance, and even in
these days of light and learning they have their votaries.  There must be
something in the human constitution peculiarly adapted to the exercise of
witchcraft, or it could not have lived so long, nor could it have been so
universal, as it undoubtedly is, unless men lent themselves willingly to
its impositions.

It is curious to notice how good and enlightened men have clung to a
belief in witchcraft.  It is, consequently, not to be wondered at that
the common people placed faith in witches and conjurors when their
superiors in learning professed a like faith.

I have often spoken to intelligent men, who did not scruple to confess
that they believed in witches and conjurors, and they adduced instances
to prove that their faith had a foundation in fact.

Almost up to our days, the farmer who lost anything valuable consulted a
conjuror, and vowed vengeance on the culprit if it were not restored by
such and such a time, and invariably the stolen property was returned to
its owner before the specified period had expired.  As detectives, the
conjurors, therefore, occupied a well-defined and useful place in rural
morality, and witches, too, were indirectly teachers of charity, for no
farm wife would refuse refreshments to the destitute lest vengeance
should overtake her.  In this way the deserving beggar obtained needed
assistance from motives of self-preservation from benefactors whose fears
made them charitable.

But, if these benefits were derived from a false faith, the evils
attending that faith were nevertheless most disastrous to the community
at large, and many inhuman Acts were passed in various reigns to
eradicate witchcraft.  From the wording of these Acts it will be seen
what witches were credited with doing.

An Act passed 33 Henry VIII. adjudged all witchcraft and sorcery to be
felony.  A like Act was passed 1 James, c.12, and also in the reign of
Philip and Mary.  The following is an extract:--

"All persons who shall practise invocation, or conjuration, of wicked
spirits, any witchcraft, enchantment, charm, or sorcery, whereby any
person shall happen to be killed, or destroyed, shall, with their aiders,
and abettors, be accounted felons, without benefit of clergy; and all
persons practising any witchcraft, etc., whereby any person shall happen
to be wasted, consumed, or lamed in his or her body, or members, or
whereby any goods, or chattels, shall be destroyed, wasted, or impaired,
shall, with their counsellors, and aiders, suffer for the first offence
one year's imprisonment and the pillory, and for the second the
punishment of felony without the clergy."  . . .  "If any person shall
consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any evil or
wicked spirit, or _take up any dead man_, _woman_, _or child out of his_,
_her_, _or their grave_; or, the skin, bone, or any other part of any
dead person to be employed in any manner of witchcraft, sorcery, charm,
or enchantment, etc., _he shall suffer death as a felon_, without benefit
of clergy."

The law of James I. was repealed in George II.'s. reign, but even then
persons pretending to use witchcraft, tell fortunes, or discover stolen
goods, by skill in the occult sciences, were to be punished by a year's
imprisonment; and by an Act, 5 George IV., c.83, any person or persons
using any subtle art, means, or device, by palmistry, or otherwise, to
deceive his Majesty's subjects, were to be deemed rogues and vagabonds,
and to be punished with imprisonment and hard labour.

Acts of Parliament did not succeed in eradicating witchcraft.  Its power
has waned, but it still exercises an influence, shadowy though it be, on
certain minds, though in its grosser forms it has disappeared.

Formerly, ailments of all kinds, and misfortunes of every description,
were ascribed to the malignant influence of some old decrepit female, and
it was believed that nature's laws could be changed by these witches,
that they could at will produce tempests to destroy the produce of the
earth, and strike with sickness those who had incurred their displeasure.
Thus Lady Macbeth, speaking of these hags, says:--

    "I have learned by the perfectest report, they have more in them than
    mortal knowledge.  When I burned in desire to question them further
    they made themselves air, into which they vanished."

    _Macbeth_, Act. i, S. 5.

The uncanny knowledge possessed by witches was used, it was thought, to
injure people, and their malice towards good, hard-working, honest folk
was unmistakable.  They afflicted children from sheer love of cruelty,
and bewitched animals gratuitously, or for slights which they supposed
their owners had shown towards them; consequently their knowledge was
considered to be greatly inimical to others, and particularly baneful to
the industrious, whom witches hated.

There was hardly a district that had not its witches.  Children ran away
when they saw approaching them an aged woman, with a red shawl on, for
they believed she was a witch, who could, with her evil eye, injure them.
It was, however, believed that the machinations of witches could be
counteracted in various ways, and by and by some of these charms shall be
given.  Life would have been intolerable but for these antidotes to

Shakespeare's knowledge of Welsh Folk-lore was extensive and peculiarly
faithful, and what he says of witches in general agrees with the popular
opinion respecting them in Wales.  I cannot do better than quote from
this great Folk-lorist a few things that he tells us about witches.

Mention has been made of witches taking dead bodies out of their graves
to make use of them in their enchantments, and Shakespeare, in his
description of the witches' cauldron, shows that they threw into the
seething pot many portions of human beings.  The first witch in _Macbeth_

    Round about the cauldron go,
    In the poisoned _entrails_ throw.

The third witch mentions other things that are thrown into the pot, as:--

    Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
    Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
    Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
    Root of hemlock digged i' the dark,
    _Liver of blaspheming Jew_,
    Gall of goat, and slips of yew
    Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
    _Nose of Turk_, _and Tartar's lips_,
    Finger of birth-strangled babe
    Ditch-delivered by a drab.

    _Macbeth_, A. IV., S. 1.

It was thought that witches could change themselves, and other people,
into the form of animals.  In Wales, the cat and the hare were the
favourite animals into which witches transformed themselves, but they did
not necessarily confine themselves to these animals.  They were able to
travel in the air on a broom-stick; make children ill; give maids the
nightmare; curse with madness, animals; bring misfortune on families;
hinder the dairy maid from making butter; and many more imaginary things
were placed to their credit.

The personal appearance of witches, as given by Shakespeare, corresponds
exactly with the Welsh idea of these hags.  On this subject the poet

       What are these
    _So wither'd and so wild in their attire_
    That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on't?--Live you?  Or are you aught
    That man may question?  You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her chappy fingers laying
    Upon her skinny lips:--you should be women,
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.

    _Macbeth_, Act I., S. 3.

A striking and pathetic portrait of a witch, taken from _Otway's Orphan_,
Act. II., is given in No. 117 of the _Spectator_.  It is so true to life
and apposite to our subject that I will quote it:--

    In a close lane, as I pursu'd my journey,
    I spy'd a wrinkled hag, with age grown double,
    Picking dry sticks, and mumbling to herself.
    Her eyes with scalding-rheum were gall'd, and red,
    Cold palsy shook her head, her hands seemed wither'd,
    And on her crooked shoulders had she wrapt
    The tatter'd remnant of an old striped hanging,
    Which served to keep her carcass from the cold;
    So there was nothing of a piece about her.
    Her lower weeds were all o'er coarsely patched,
    With different colour'd rags, black, red, white, yellow.
    And seem'd to speak variety of wretchedness.

A picture such as this is enough to create sympathy and charity in a
selfish heart, but in those dark days, when faith in witchcraft
prevailed, such a poor old decrepit woman inspired awe, and was shunned
as a malicious evil-doer by all her neighbours.

_Llanddona Witches_.

There is a tradition in the parish of Llanddona, Anglesey, that these
witches, with their husbands, had been expelled from their native
country, wherever that was, for practising witchcraft.  They were sent
adrift, it is said, in a boat, without rudder or oars, and left in this
state to the mercy of the wind and the wave.  When they were first
discovered approaching the Anglesey shore, the Welsh tried to drive them
back into the sea, and even after they had landed they were confined to
the beach.  The strangers, dead almost from thirst and hunger, commanded
a spring of pure water to burst forth on the sands.  This well remains to
our days.  This miracle decided their fate.  The strangers were allowed,
consequently, to land, but as they still practised their evil arts the
parish became associated with their name, and hence the _Witches of
Llanddona_ was a term generally applied to the female portion of that
parish, though in reality it belonged to one family only within its

The men lived by smuggling and the women by begging and cursing.  It was
impossible to overcome these daring smugglers, for in their neckerchief
was a fly, which, the moment the knot of their cravats was undone, flew
right at the eye of their opponents and blinded them, but before this
last remedy was resorted to the men fought like lions, and only when
their strength failed them did they release their familiar spirit, the
fly, to strike with blindness the defenders of the law.

The above-mentioned tradition of the coming of these witches to Anglesey
is still current in the parish of Llanddona, which is situated on the
north coast of Anglesey.

It was thought that the witching power belonged to families, and
descended from mothers to daughters.  This was supposed to be the case
with the witches of Llanddona.  This family obtained a bad report
throughout the island.  The women, with dishevelled hair and bared
breasts, visited farm houses and requested charity, more as a right than
a favour, and no one dared refuse them.  _Llanddona Witches_ is a name
that is not likely soon to die.  Taking advantage of the credulity of the
people, they cursed those whom they disliked, and many were the
endeavours to counteract their maledictions.  The following is one of
their curses, uttered at _Y Ffynon Ocr_, a well in the parish of
Llanddona, upon a man who had offended one of these witches:--

    Crwydro y byddo am oesoedd lawer;
    Ac yn mhob cam, camfa;
    Yn mhob camfa, codwm;
    Yn mhob codwm, tori asgwrn;
    Nid yr asgwrn mwyaf na'r lleiaf,
    Ond asgwrn chwil corn ei wddw bob tro.

The English is as follows, but the alliteration and rhythm of the Welsh
do not appear in the translation:--

    May he wander for ages many;
    And at every step, a stile;
    At every stile, a fall;
    At every fall, a broken bone;
    Not the largest, nor the least bone,
    But the chief neck bone, every time.

This curse seemed to be a common imprecation, possibly belonging to that
family.  Such was the terror of the _Llanddona Witches_ that if any of
them made a bid for a pig or anything else, in fair or market, no one
else dared bid against them, for it was believed they would witch the
animal thus bought.  There were also celebrated witches at Denbigh.
_Bella Fawr_ (Big Bella) was one of the last and most famous of her tribe
in that town, and many other places were credited with possessing persons
endowed with witching powers, as well as those who could break spells.

The following tales of the doings of witches will throw light upon the
matter under consideration.

_Witches transforming themselves into Cats_.

One of the forms that witches were supposed to change themselves into was
that of a cat.  In this metamorphosed state they were the more able to
accomplish their designs.  The following tale, illustrative of this
belief, was told me by the Rev. R. Jones, Rector of Llanycil, Bala.

On the side of the old road, between Cerrig-y-drudion and
Bettws-y-Coed--long before this latter place had become the resort of
artists--stood an inn, which was much resorted to, as it was a convenient
lodging house for travellers on their way to Ireland.  This inn stood
near the present village of Bettws-y-Coed.  Many robberies occurred here.
Travellers who put up there for the night were continually deprived of
their money, and no one could tell how this occurred, for the lodgers
were certain that no one had entered their rooms, as they were found
locked in the morning just as they were the night before.  The mystery
was, therefore, great.  By and by, one of those who had lost his money
consulted _Huw Llwyd_, who lived at Cynvael, in the parish of Festiniog,
and he promised to unravel the mystery.  Now, Huw Llwyd had been an
officer in the army, and, equipped in his regimentals, with sword
dangling by his side, he presented himself one evening at the suspected
inn, and asked whether he could obtain a room and bed for the night; he
represented himself as on his way to Ireland, and he found no difficulty
in obtaining a night's lodging.  The inn was kept by two sisters of
prepossessing appearance, and the traveller made himself most agreeable
to these ladies, and entertained them with tales of his travels in
foreign parts.  On retiring for the night he stated that it was a habit
with him to burn lights in his room all night, and he was supplied with a
sufficient quantity of candles to last through the night.  The request,
as Hugh Llwyd was a military man, did not arouse suspicion.  Huw retired,
and made his arrangements for a night of watching.  He placed his clothes
on the floor within easy reach of his bed, and his sword unsheathed lay
on the bed close to his right hand.  He had secured the door, and now as
the night drew on he was all attention; ere long two cats stealthily came
down the partition between his room and the next to it.  Huw feigned
sleep, the cats frisked here and there in the room, but the sleeper awoke
not; they chased each other about the room, and played and romped, and at
last they approached Huw's clothes and played with them, and here they
seemed to get the greatest amusement; they turned the clothes about and
over, placing their paws now on that string, and now on that button, and
ere long their paws were inserted into the pockets of his clothes, and,
just as one of the cats had her paw in the pocket that contained Huw
Llwyd's purse, he like lightning struck the cat's paw with his sword.
With terrible screams they both disappeared, and nothing further was seen
of them during the night.

Next morning, only one of the sisters appeared at the breakfast table.
To the traveller's enquiry after the absent lady of the house, her sister
said that she was slightly indisposed, and could not appear.

Huw Llwyd expressed regret at this, but, said he--"I must say good-bye to
her, for I greatly enjoyed her company last night."  He would not be
refused, so ultimately he was admitted to her presence.  After expressing
his sympathy and regret at her illness, the soldier held out his hand to
bid good-bye to the lady.  She put out her left hand; this Huw refused to
take, averring that he had never taken a left hand in his life, and that
he would not do so now.  Very reluctantly, and with evident pain, she put
out her right hand, which was bandaged, and this fact cleared up the
mystery connected with the robberies.  These two ladies were two witches,
who in the form of cats had robbed travellers who lodged under their
roof.  Huw, when he made this discovery said--"I am Huw Llwyd of Cynvael,
and I warn you of the risk you have incurred by your thefts, and I
promise you I will not let you off so easily the next time I have need to
visit you."

The preceding tale is circumstantial, but unfortunately similar tales are
current in other places, as shown by the following quotation:--

    "The last instance of national credulity on this head was the story
    of the witches of Thurso, who, tormenting for a long time an honest
    fellow under the usual form of a cat, at last provoked him so that
    one night he put them to flight with his broad sword and _cut off the
    leg_ of one less nimble than the rest.  On his taking it up, to his
    amazement _he found it belonged to a female of his own species_, and
    next morning discovered the owner, an old hag, with only the
    companion leg to this."

    _Brand's Popular Antiquities_, pp. 318-319.

_The Witches' Revenge on Huw Llwyd_.

Several months after the occurrence recorded above of Huw Llwyd, when he
had just started from his home one Sunday morning to go to his Church to
officiate there, for he was the parson of Llan Festiniog, he observed
that the Bettws-y-Coed ladies were approaching his house, and he
perceived that their object was to witch him.  He knew full well that as
long as his back was turned towards them he was in their power, but that
when he faced them they could do him no harm; so; to avoid their evil
influence, and to frustrate their designs, he faced them, and walked
backwards every step from Cynvael to the Llan, and in this way he escaped
being injured by his female enemies.  But this was not all.  Huw Llwyd
knew that when he reached the Church porch he was beyond witchcraft's
reach.  Having arrived there he shouted out--"I defy you now, and before
I leave the Church I will make you that you can never again witch
anyone."  He was as good as his word, for by his skill in the black art,
he deprived those two ladies, ere he left the Church, of their power to
witch people, and during the rest of their lives they were like other

Huw Llwyd, who was born 1533, and died 1620, was a clergyman, and it was
generally believed that priests could counteract the evils of the enemy
of mankind.

The wide-spread belief of witches being able to transform themselves into
animals is shown in the legends of many countries, and, as in the case of
fairy stories, the same tale, slightly changed, may be heard in various
places.  The possibility of injuring or _marking_ the witch in her
assumed form so deeply that the bruise remained a mark on her in her
natural form was a common belief.  A tale in certain points like the one
recorded of Huw Llwyd and the witches who turned themselves into cats is
to be heard in many parts of Wales.  It is as follows.  I quote the main
facts from my friend Mr. Hamer's account of Llanidloes, published in the
_Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. x., p. 243:--

_A Witch transformed into a Hare injured by one whom she tormented_.

"An old woman, thought to be a witch, was said by a neighbour to be in
the habit of visiting her nightly in the shape of a hare, and that in
consequence she was deprived of her rest.  The witch came to her bed, as
a hare, and crossed it, and the tormented one was determined to put an
end to this persecution.  For this purpose she procured a hammer, which
she placed under her pillow when she retired to rest.  That night the old
witch, unaware of the reception awaiting her, paid her usual visit to her
victim.  But the instant she jumped on the bed she received a stunning
blow on the head, and, it need not be added, disappeared.  Next morning,
a friend of the persecuted woman, who was in the secret of the whole
case, on some pretext paid the old woman, the supposed witch, a visit,
and she was greatly astonished to find her laid up, suffering from a
frightful black eye, which her visitor believed to be the result of the
blow dealt her with the hammer on the previous night."

_A Witch shot when in the form of a Hare_.

The following tale was told me by the Rev. R. Jones, Rector of

An old woman was evicted from a small farm, which she and her family had
held for many years.  She was naturally greatly annoyed at such conduct
on the part of the landlord, and of the person who supplanted her.
However, she procured a small cottage close by her late home, and there
she lived.  But the interloper did not get on, for she was troubled by a
hare that came nightly to her house.  A labouring man, when going to his
work early in the morning, time after time saw a hare going from the farm
towards the cottage occupied by this old woman, and he determined to
shoot this hare.  He procured an old gun, and loaded it with pebbles
instead of shot, and awaited the approach of the hare.  It came as usual,
the man fired, and the hare rolled over and over, screaming and making a
terrible noise.  He, however, did not heed this much, for hares, when
shot, do scream, and so he went to secure the hare, but when he attempted
to seize it, it changed into all shapes, and made horrible sounds, and
the man was so terrified that he ran away, and he was very glad to get
away from the scene of this shocking occurrence.  In a few days
afterwards the old woman who occupied the cottage was found dead, and it
was noticed by the woman who laid her out that her arm and shoulder were
riddled with pebbles.  It was thought that she was a witch, and that she
had troubled the people who had deprived her of her farm, and that she
did so in the shape of a hare, and no one doubted that the injury
inflicted on the old woman was anything more than the shot of the man,
who supposed that he had killed a hare, when in reality he shot and
killed the old woman.  The farmer was never troubled after the death of
the woman whom he had supplanted.

Many variants of this tale are still extant.  The parish clerk of
Llangadfan, a mountainous parish in Montgomeryshire, gave me one, which
he located in Nant-yr-eira, but as it is in its main points much like the
preceding, I will not relate it.

_A Witch in the form of a Hare in a Churn_.

In the _Spectator_, No. 117, are these words:--

    "If the dairy-maid does not make her butter come so soon as she would
    have it, _Moll White_ (a supposed witch) is at the bottom of the

Until very lately I had thought that the milk only was considered
bewitched if it could not be churned, and not that the witch herself was
at the bottom of the churn.  But I have been disabused of this false
notion, for the Rector of Llanycil told me the following story, which was
told him by his servant girl, who figures in the tale.  When this girl
was servant at Drws-y-nant, near Dolgelley, one day, the milk would not
churn.  They worked a long time at it to no purpose.  The girl thought
that she heard something knocking up and down in the churn, and splashing
about.  She told her master there was something in the churn, but he
would not believe her; however, they removed the lid, and out jumped a
large hare, and ran away through the open door, and this explained all
difficulties, and proved that the milk was bewitched, and that the witch
herself was in the churn in the shape of a hare.

This girl affirmed that she had seen the hare with her own eyes.

As the hare was thought to be a form assumed by witches it was impossible
for ordinary beings to know whether they saw a hare, or a witch in the
form of a hare, when the latter animal appeared and ran before them along
the road, consequently the hare, as well as the witch, augured evil.  An
instance of this confusion of ideas was related to the writer lately by
Mr. Richard Jones, Tyn-y-wern, Bryneglwys.

_A Hare crossing the Road_.

Mr. Jones said that when he was a lad, he and his mother went to Caerwys
fair from the Vale of Clwyd, intending to sell a cow at the fair.  They
had not gone far on their way before a large hare crossed the road,
hopping and halting and looking around.  His mother was vexed at the
sight, and she said--"We may as well go home, Dick, for no good will come
of our journey since that old witch crosses our path."  They went on,
though, and reached Caerwys in safety, but they got no bid for the cow,
although they stayed there all day long.

_A Witch in the form of a Hare hunted by a Black Greyhound_.

The writer has heard variants of the following tale in several parts of

An old woman, credited to be a witch, lived on the confines of the hills
in a small hut in south Carnarvonshire.  Her grandson, a sharp
intelligent lad, lived with her.  Many gentlemen came to that part with
greyhounds for the purpose of coursing, and the lad's services were
always in requisition, for he never failed in starting a hare, and
whenever he did so he was rewarded with a shilling.  But it was noticed
that the greyhounds never caught the hare which the lad started.  The
sport was always good, the race long and exciting, but the hare never
failed to elude her pursuers.  Scores of times this occurred, until at
last the sportsmen consulted a wise man, who gave it as his opinion that
this was no ordinary hare, but a witch, and, said he--"She can never be
caught but by a black greyhound."  A dog of this colour was sought for
far and near, and at last found and bought.  Away to the hills the
coursers went, believing that now the hare was theirs.  They called at
the cottage for the lad to accompany them and start the prey.  He was as
ready as ever to lead them to their sport.  The hare was soon started,
and off the dog was slipped and started after it, and the hare bounded
away as usual, but it is now seen that her pursuer is a match for her in
swiftness, and, notwithstanding the twistings and windings, the dog was
soon close behind the distressed hare.

The race became more and more exciting, for hound and hare exerted
themselves to their very utmost, and the chase became hot, and still
hotter.  The spectators shout in their excitement--"_Hei! ci du_," ("_Hi!
black dog_,") for it was seen that he was gaining on his victim.  "_Hei!
Mam_, _gu_," ("_Hei! grandmother_, _dear_,") shouted the lad, forgetting
in his trouble that his grandmother was in the form of a hare.  His was
the only encouraging voice uttered on behalf of the poor hunted hare.
His single voice was hardly heard amidst the shouts of the many.  The
pursuit was long and hard, dog and hare gave signs of distress, but
shouts of encouragement buoyed up the strength of the dog.  The chase was
evidently coming to a close, and the hare was approaching the spot whence
it started.  One single heart was filled with dread and dismay at the
failing strength of the hare, and from that heart came the words--"_Hei!
Mam gu_" ("_Hi! grandmother_, _dear_.")  All followed the chase, which
was now nearing the old woman's cottage, the window of which was open.
With a bound the hare jumped through the small casement into the cottage,
but the black dog was close behind her, and just as she was disappearing
through the window, he bit the hare and retained a piece of her skin in
his mouth, but he could not follow the hare into the cottage, as the
aperture was too small.  The sportsmen lost no time in getting into the
cottage, but, after much searching, they failed to discover puss.  They,
however, saw the old woman seated by the fire spinning.  They also
noticed that there was blood trickling from underneath her seat, and this
they considered sufficient proof that it was the witch in the form of a
hare that had been coursed and had been bitten by the dog just as she
bounded into the cottage.

It was believed in England, as well as in Wales, that witches were often
hunted in the shape of hares.  Thus in the _Spectator_, No. 117, these
words occur:--

"If a hare makes an unexpected escape from the hounds the huntsman curses
_Moll White_ (the witch)!"  "Nay," (says Sir Roger,) "I have known the
master of the pack, upon such an occasion, send one of his servants to
see if _Moll White_ had been out that morning."

In _Yorkshire Legends and Traditions_, p. 160, is a tale very much like
the one which is given above.  It is as follows:--

"There was a hare which baffled all the greyhounds that were slipped at
her.  They seemed to have no more chance with her than if they coursed
the wind.  There was, at the time, a noted witch residing near, and her
advice was asked about this wonderful hare.  She seemed to have little to
say about it, however, only she thought they had better let it be, but,
above all, they must take care how they slipped a _black_ dog at it.
Nevertheless, either from recklessness or from defiance, the party did go
out coursing, soon after, with a black dog.  The dog was slipped, and
they perceived at once that puss was at a disadvantage.  She made as soon
as possible for a stone wall, and endeavoured to escape through a
sheep-hole at the bottom.  Just as she reached this hole the dog threw
himself upon her and caught her in the haunch, but was unable to hold
her.  She got through and was seen no more.  The sportsmen, either in
bravado or from terror of the consequences, went straight to the house of
the witch to inform her of what had happened.  They found her in bed,
hurt, she said, by a fall; but the wound looked very much as if it had
been produced by the teeth of a dog, and it was on a part of the woman
corresponding to that by which the hare had been seized by the black
hound before their eyes."

_Early reference to Witches turning themselves into Hares_.

The prevalence of the belief that witches could transform themselves into
hares is seen from a remark made by _Giraldus Cambrensis_ in his
topography of Ireland.  He writes:--

    "It has also been a frequent complaint, from old times, as well as in
    the present, _that certain hags in Wales_, as well as in Ireland and
    Scotland, _changed themselves into the shape of hares_, that, sucking
    teats under this counterfeit, they might stealthily rob other
    people's milk."

    _Giraldus Cambrensis_, Bohn's Edition, p. 83.

This remark of the Archdeacon's gives a respectable antiquity to the
metamorphosis of witches, for it was in 1185 that he visited Ireland, and
he tells us that what he records had descended from "old times."

The transformation fables that have descended to us would seem to be
fossils of a pagan faith once common to the Celtic and other cognate
races.  It was not thought that certain harmless animals only could
become the temporary abode of human beings.  Even a wolf could be human
under an animal form.  Thus _Giraldus Cambrensis_ records that a priest
was addressed in Ireland by a wolf, and induced to administer the
consolations of his priestly office to his wife, who, also, under the
shape of a she-wolf was apparently at the point of death, and to convince
the priest that she was really a human being the he-wolf, her husband,
tore off the skin of the she-wolf from the head down to the navel,
folding it back, and she immediately presented the form of an old woman
to the astonished priest.  These people were changed into wolves through
the curse of one Natalis, Saint and Abbot, who compelled them every seven
years to put off the human form and depart from the dwellings of men as a
punishment for their sins.  (See _Giraldus Cambrensis_, Bohn's Edition,
pp. 79-81.)

_Ceridwen and Gwion_ (_Gwiawn_) _Bach's Transformation_.

But a striking instance of rapid transition from one form to another is
given in the _Mabinogion_.  The fable of Ceridwen's cauldron is as

    "Ceridwen was the wife of Tegid Voel.  They had a son named Morvran,
    and a daughter named Creirwy, and she was the most beautiful girl in
    the world, and they had another son named Avagddu, the ugliest man in
    the world.  Ceridwen, seeing that he should not be received amongst
    gentlemen because of his ugliness, unless he should be possessed of
    some excellent knowledge or strength . .   . . ordered a cauldron to
    be boiled of knowledge and inspiration for her son.  The cauldron was
    to be boiled unceasingly for one year and a day until there should be
    in it three blessed drops of the spirit's grace.

    "These three drops fell on the finger of Gwion Bach of Llanfair
    Caereinion in Powis, whom she ordered to attend to the cauldron.  The
    drops were so hot that Gwion Bach put his finger to his mouth; no
    sooner done, than he came to know all things.  Now he _transformed
    himself into a hare_, and ran away from the wrath of Ceridwen.  She
    also _transformed herself into a greyhound_, and went after him to
    the side of a river.  Gwion on this jumped into the river and
    transformed himself into a fish.  She also transformed herself into
    an otter-bitch, and chased him under the water until he was fain to
    turn himself into a bird of the air; she, as a hawk, followed him,
    and gave him no rest in the sky.  And just as she was about to swoop
    upon him, and he was in fear of death, he espied a heap of winnowed
    wheat on the floor of a barn, and he dropped among the wheat and
    buried himself into one of the grains.  Then she transformed herself
    into a high-crested black hen, and went to the wheat and scratched it
    with her feet, and found him and swallowed him."

The tale of Ceridwen, whose fame was such that she can without
exaggeration be styled the goddess of witches, resembles in part the
chase of the witch-hare by the black dog, and probably her story gave
rise to many tales of transformations.

I now come to another kind of transformation.  It was believed by the
aged in Wales that witches could not only turn themselves into hares, but
that by incantation they could change other people into animals.  My
friend, the Rev. T. Lloyd Williams, Wrexham, lodged whilst he was at
Ystrad Meurig School with a Mrs. Jones, Dolfawr, who was a firm believer
in "Rhibo" or Rheibo, or witching, and this lady told my friend the
following tales of _Betty'r Bont_, a celebrated witch in those parts.

_A Man turned into a Hare_.

One of the servant men at Dolfawr, some years before Mr. Williams lodged
there, laughed at Betty'r Bont's supposed power.  However, he lived to
repent his folly.  One night after he had gone to bed he found that he
had been changed into a hare, and to his dismay and horror he saw a
couple of greyhounds slipped upon him.  He ran for bare life, and managed
to elude his pursuers, and in a terrible plight and fright he ran to
Dolfawr, and to his bed.  This kind of transformation he ever afterwards
was subjected to, until by spells he was released from the witch's power
over him.

_A Man changed into a Horse_.

Mr. Williams writes of the same servant man who figures in the preceding
tale:--"However, after that, she (Betty'r Bont) turned him into a grey
mare, saddled him, and actually rode him herself; and when he woke in the
morning, he was in a bath of perspiration, and positively declared that
he had been galloping all night."

Singularly enough _Giraldus Cambrensis_ mentions the same kind of
transformation.  His words are:--

    "I myself, at the time I was in Italy, heard it said of some
    districts in those parts, that there the stable-women, who had learnt
    magical arts, were wont to give something to travellers in their
    cheese, which transformed them into beasts of burden, so that they
    carried all sorts of burdens, and after they had performed their
    tasks, resumed their own forms."--Bohn's Edition, p. 83.

From Brand's _Popular Antiquities_, p. 225, I find that a common name for
_nightmare_ was _witch-riding_, and the night-mare, he tells us, was "a
spectre of the night, which seized men in their sleep and suddenly
deprived them of speech and motion," and he quotes from Ray's Collection
of Proverbs:--

    "Go in God's name, so _ride_ no witches."

I will now leave this subject with the remark that people separated by
distance are often brought together by their superstitions, and probably,
these beliefs imply a common origin of the people amongst whom these
myths prevail.

The following tales show how baneful the belief in witchcraft was; but,
nevertheless, there was some good even in such superstitions, for people
were induced, through fear of being witched, to be charitable.

_A Witch who turned a Blue Dye into a Red Dye_.

An old hag went to a small farmhouse in Clocaenog parish, and found the
farmer's wife occupied in dyeing wool blue.  She begged for a little wool
and blue dye.  She was informed by Mrs. --- that she was really very
sorry that she could not part with either, as she had only just barely
enough for her own use.  The hag departed, and the woman went on with her
dyeing, but to her surprise, the wool came out of the pot dyed red
instead of blue.  She thought that possibly it was the dye that was to
blame, and so she gave up for the night her employment, and the next day
she went to Ruthin for a fresh supply of blue to finish her work, but
again she failed to dye the wool blue, for red, and not blue, was the
result of her dyeing.  She, in surprise, told a neighbour of her
unaccountable failure to dye her wool blue.  This neighbour asked her if
she had been visited by anyone, and she in answer told her that old so
and so had been at her house begging.  "Ah," was the response, "I see how
it is you can never dye that wool blue, you have been witched, send the
red wool and the part that you have not touched here to me, and I will
finish the work for you."  This was done, and the same colour was used by
both women, but now it became blue, whilst with the other, it was red.

This tale was told me by a gentleman who does not wish his name to appear
in print, as it would lead to the identification of the parties
mentioned, and the descendants of the supposed witch, being respectable
farmers, would rather that the tale of their canny grandmother were
forgotten, but my informant vouches for the truth of the tale.

_A Pig Witched_.

A woman sold a pig at Beaumaris to a man called Dick y Green; she could
not that day sell any more, but the following market day she went again
to Beaumaris.  Dick was there waiting her appearance, and he told her
that the pig he bought was bewitched and she must come with him to undo
the curse.  Away the woman went with Dick, and when they came to the pig
she said, "What am I to do now, Dick?"  "Draw thy hand seven times down
his back," said Dick, "and say every time, '_Rhad Duw arnat ti_,'" i.e.,
"The blessing of God be on thee."  The woman did so, and then Dick went
for physic for the pig, which recovered.

_Milk that would not churn_, _and the steps taken to counteract the
malice of the Witch that had cursed the churn and its contents_.

Before beginning this tale, it should be said that some witches were able
to make void the curses of other witches.  Bella of Denbigh, who lived in
the early part of the present century, was one of these, and her renown
extended over many counties.

I may further add that my informant is the Rev. R. Jones, whom I have
often mentioned, who is a native of Llanfrothen, the scene of the
occurrences I am about to relate, and that he was at one time curate of
Denbigh, so that he would be conversant with the story by hearsay, both
as to its evil effects and its remedy.

About the year 1815 an old woman, supposed to be a witch, lived at Ffridd
Ucha, Llanfrothen, and she got her living by begging.  One day she called
at Ty mawr, in the same parish, requesting a charity of milk; but she was
refused.  The next time they churned, the milk would not turn to butter,
they continued their labours for many hours, but at last they were
compelled to desist in consequence of the unpleasant odour which
proceeded from the churn.  The milk was thrown away, and the farmer, John
Griffiths, divining that the milk had been witched by the woman who had
been begging at their house, went to consult a conjuror, who lived near
Pwllheli.  This man told him that he was to put a red hot crowbar into
the milk the next time they churned.  This was done, and the milk was
successfully churned.  For several weeks the crowbar served as an
antidote, but at last it failed, and again the milk could not be churned,
and the unpleasant smell made it again impossible for anyone to stand
near the churn.  Griffiths, as before, consulted the Pwllheli conjuror,
who gave him a charm to place underneath the churn, stating, when he did
so, that if it failed, he could render no further assistance.  The charm
did not act, and a gentleman whom he next consulted advised him to go to
Bell, or Bella, the Denbigh witch.  Griffiths did so, and to his great
surprise he found that Bell could describe the position of his house, and
she knew the names of his fields.  Her instructions were--Gather all the
cattle to Gors Goch field, a meadow in front of the house, and then she
said that the farmer and a friend were to go to a certain holly tree, and
stand out of sight underneath this tree, which to this day stands in the
hedge that surrounds the meadow mentioned by Bell.  This was to be done
by night, and the farmer was told that he should then see the person who
had injured him.  The instructions were literally carried out.  When the
cows came to the field they herded together in a frightened manner, and
commenced bellowing fearfully.  In a very short time, who should enter
the field but the suspected woman in evident bodily pain, and Griffiths
and his friend heard her uttering some words unintelligible to them, and
having done so, she disappeared, and the cattle became quiet, and ever
after they had no difficulty in churning the milk of those cows.

The two following tales were told the writer by the Rev. T. Lloyd
Williams, Wrexham.  The scene of the stories was Cardiganshire, and
Betty'r Bont was the witch.

_A Witch who was refused a Goose_, _and her revenge_.

A witch called at a farm when they were feathering geese for sale, and
she begged much for one.  She was refused, but it would have been better,
according to the tale, had her request been granted, for they could not
afterwards rear geese on that farm.

Another version of the preceding tale is, that the same witch called at a
farm when the family was seated at dinner partaking of a goose; she
requested a taste, but was refused, when leaving the house door she was
heard to mutter, "Let there be no more geese at . . ." and her curse
became a fact.

_A Witch refused Butter_, _and the consequence_.

An old hag called at a farm and begged the wife to sell her a pound of
butter.  This was refused, as they wanted to pot the butter.  The witch
went away, therefore, empty handed.  The next day when the maid went to
the fields for the cows she found them sitting like cats before a fire,
with their hind legs beneath them.  I am indebted to my friend Mr. Lloyd
Williams for this tale.  A friend told me the following tale.

_A Witch's Revenge_, _and her Discomfiture_.

An old beggar woman was refused her requests by a farmer's wife, and it
was noticed that she uttered words that might have been a threat, when
going away from the door, and it was also observed that she picked up a
few straws from the yard and carried them away with her.  In the course
of a few days, a healthy calf died, and the death of several calves
followed in rapid succession.  These misfortunes caused the wife to
remember the old woman whom she had sent away from her door, and the
farmer came to the conclusion that his cattle had been witched by this
old woman, so he went to a conjuror, who told him to cut out the heart of
the next calf that should die, and roast it before the fire, and then,
after it had been properly roasted, he was to prick it all over with a
fork, and if anyone should appear as a beggar, they were to give her what
she asked.  The instructions were carried out literally, and just as the
heart was being pricked, the old woman whom the wife had driven away came
up to the house in a dreadful state, and rushing into the house,
said--"In the name of God, what are you doing here?"  She was told that
they were doing nothing particular, and while the conversation was being
carried on, the pricking operation was discontinued and the old hag
became less excited, and then she asked the farmer kindly to give her a
few potatoes, which he gladly did, and the old woman departed; and no
more calves died after that.

Tales of the kind related above are extremely common, and might be
multiplied to almost any extent.  It would seem that the evil influence
of witches was exerted not only at times when they were refused favours,
but that, at will, they could accomplish mischief.  Thus I have heard it
said of an old woman, locally supposed to be a witch, that her very
presence was ominous of evil, and disaster followed wherever she went; if
she were inclined to work evil she was supposed to be able to do so, and
that without any provocation.

I will give one tale which I heard in Garthbeibio of this old hag's

_A Horse Witched_.

Pedws Ffoulk, a supposed witch, was going through a field where people
were employed at work, and just as she came opposite the horse it fell
down, as if it were dead.  The workmen ran to the horse to ascertain what
was the matter with it, but Pedws went along, not heeding what had
occurred.  This unfeeling conduct on her part roused the suspicion of the
men, and they came to the conclusion that the old woman had witched the
horse, and that she was the cause of its illness.  They, therefore,
determined to run after the woman and bring her back to undo her own evil
work.  Off they rushed after her, and forced her back to the field, where
the horse was still lying on the ground.  They there compelled the old
creature to say, standing over the horse, these words--"_Duw arno fo_"
(God be with him).  This she did, and then she was allowed to go on her
way.  By and by the horse revived, and got upon his feet, and looked as
well as ever, but this, it was thought, would not have been the case had
not the witch undone her own curse.

In Anglesey, as I was informed by my brother, the late Rev. Elijah Owen,
Vicar of Llangoed, it was believed that witches made void their own
curses of animals by saying over them "_Rhad Duw ar y da_" (The Blessing
of God be on the cattle).

_Cows and Horses Witched_.

The writer was told the name of the farm where the following events were
said to have taken place, but he is not quite sure that his memory has
not deceived him, so he will only relate the facts without giving them a

A farmer had a good mare that went mad, she foamed at the mouth, rushed
about the stall, and died in great agony.  But this was not all, his cows
kept back their milk, and what they could extract from them stank, nor
could they churn the milk, for it turned into froth.

A conjuror was consulted, and the farmer was told that all this evil had
been brought about by a witch who had been refused milk at his door, and
her mischief was counteracted by the conjuror thus consulted.

Occasionally we hear of injured persons retaliating upon the witches who
had brought about their losses.  This, however, was not often attempted,
for people feared the consequences of a failure, but it was,
nevertheless, supposed to be attainable.

I will relate a few instances of this punishment of witches for their
evil doings.

_Witches Punished_.

A neighbour, who does not wish to have his name recorded, states that he
can vouch for the incidents in the following tale.  A farmer who lost
much stock by death, and suspected it was the work of an old hag who
lived in his neighbourhood, consulted a conjuror about the matter, and he
was told that his suspicions were correct, that his losses were brought
about by this old woman, and, added the conjuror, if you wish it, I can
wreak vengeance on the wretch for what she has done to your cattle.  The
injured farmer was not averse to punishing the woman, but he did not wish
her punishment to be over severe, and this he told the conjuror, but said
he, "I should like her to be deprived of the power to injure anyone in
future."  This was accomplished, my informant told me, for the
witch-woman took to her bed, and became unable to move about from that
very day to the end of her life.  My informant stated that he had himself
visited this old woman on her sick bed, and that she did not look ill,
but was disinclined to get up, and the cause of it all was a matter of
general gossip in the neighbourhood, that she had been cursed for her
evil doings.

Another tale I have heard is that a conjuror obliged a witch to jump from
a certain rock into the river that ran at its foot, and thus put an end
to her life.

Rough punishment was often inflicted upon these simple old women by silly

The tales already given are sufficiently typical of the faith of the
credulous regarding witches, and their ability to work out their evil
desires on their victims.  I will now proceed briefly to relate other
matters connected with witchcraft as believed in, in all parts of Wales.

_How to break_, _or protect people from_, _a Witch's Spell_.

There were various ways of counteracting the evils brought upon people by

1.  The intervention of a priest or minister of religion made curses of
none effect.

The following tale was told me by my friend the Rector of Rhydycroesau.
When Mr. Jones was curate of Llanyblodwel a parishioner sent to ask the
"parson" to come to see her.  He went, but he could not make out what he
had been sent for, as the woman was, to all appearance, in her usual
health.  Perceiving a strong-looking woman before him he said, "I presume
I have missed the house, a sick person wished to see me."  The answer
was, "You are quite right, Sir, I sent for you, I am not well; I am
troubled."  In the course of conversation Mr. Jones ascertained that the
woman had sent for him to counteract the evil machinations of her enemy.
"I am witched," she said, "and a parson can break the spell."  The
clergyman argued with her, but all to no purpose.  She affirmed that she
was witched, and that a clergyman could withdraw the curse.  Finding that
the woman was obdurate he read a chapter and offered up a prayer, and
wishing the woman good day with a hearty "God bless you," he departed.
Upon a subsequent visit he found the woman quite well, and he was
informed by her, to his astonishment, that he had broken the spell.

2.  Forcing the supposed witch to say over the cursed animals, "_Rhad Duw
ar y da_" ("God's blessing be on the cattle"), or some such expressions,
freed them from spells.

An instance of this kind is related on page 242, under the heading, "A
Horse Witched."

3.  Reading the Bible over, or to, the bewitched freed them from evil.

This was an antidote that could be exercised by anyone who could procure
a Bible.  In an essay written in Welsh, relating to the parishes of
Garthbeibio, Llangadfan, and Llanerfyl, in 1863, I find the following:--

"Gwr arall, ffarmwr mawr, a chanddo fuwch yn sal ar y Sabbath, ar ol
rhoddi _physic_ iddi, tybiwyd ei bod yn marw, rhedodd yntau i'r ty i nol
y Bibl, _a darllenodd bennod iddi_;" which rendered into English, is:--

Another man, a large farmer, having a cow sick on the Sabbath day, after
giving her physic, supposing she was dying, ran into the house to fetch
the Bible, and _read a chapter to her_.

4.  A Bible kept in a house was a protection from all evil.

This was a talisman, formerly only within the reach of the opulent.
Quoting again from the essay above referred to, I find these words:--

"Byddai ambell Bibl mewn _ty mawr_ yn cael ei gadw mewn cist neu goffr a
chlo arno, tuag at gadw y ty rhag niwaid."  That is:--

A Bible was occasionally kept in the bettermost farms in a chest which
was locked, to protect the house from harm.

5.  A ring made of the mountain ash acted as a talisman.

Rings made of this wood were generally placed under the doorposts to
frustrate the evil designs of witches, and the inmates dwelt securely
when thus protected.  This tree was supposed to be a famous charm against

Mrs. Susan Williams, Garth, a farm on the confines of Efenechtyd parish,
Denbighshire, told the writer that E. Edwards, Llwynybrain, Gwyddelwern,
was famous for breaking spells, and consequently his aid was often
required.  Susan stated that they could not churn at Foel Fawn, Derwen.
They sent for Edwards, who came, and offered up a kind of prayer, and
then placed a ring made of the bark or of the wood of the mountain ash
(she could not recollect which) underneath the churn, or the lid of the
churn, and thus the spell was broken.

6.  A horse-shoe found on a road or field, and nailed either on or above
the door of a house or stable, was considered a protection from spells.

I have seen horse-shoes hanging by a string above a door, and likewise
nailed with the open part upwards, on the door lintel, but quite as often
I have observed that the open part is downwards; but however hung, on
enquiry, the object is the same, viz., to secure luck and prevent evil.

7.  Drawing blood from a witch or conjuror by anyone incapacitated these
evil doers from working out their designs upon the person who spilt their

I was told of a tailor's apprentice, who on the termination of his time,
having heard, and believing, that his master was a conjuror, when saying
good-bye doubled up his fingers and struck the old man on the nose,
making his blood spurt in all directions.  "There, master," said he,
"there is no ill will between us, but you can now do me no harm, for I
have drawn your blood, and you cannot witch me."

8.  Drawing blood from a bewitched animal breaks the spell.

In the days of my youth, at Llanidloes, a couple of valuable horses were
said to be bewitched, and they were bled to break the spell.  If blood
could not be got from horses and cattle, it was considered to be a
positive proof that they were bewitched, and unless the spell could be
broken, nothing, it was said, could save them from death.

9.  It was generally thought that if a witch said the word "God" to a
child or person, whom she had bewitched, it would "undo her work."

My friend Mr. Edward Hamer, in his "Parochial Account of Llanidloes,"
published in _The Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. x., p. 242, records
an instance of this belief.  His words are:--

    "About fifty years ago the narrator was walking up Long Bridge
    Street, when he saw a large crowd in one of the yards leading from
    the street to a factory.  Upon making his way to the centre of this
    crowd, he saw an old woman in a 'fit,' real or feigned, he could not
    say, but he believed the latter, and over her stood an angry,
    middle-aged man, gesticulating violently, and threatening the old
    dame, that he would hang her from an adjacent beam if she would not
    pronounce the word 'God' to a child which was held in its mother's
    arms before her.  It was in vain that the old woman protested her
    innocence; in vain that she said that by complying with his request
    she would stand before them a confessed witch; in vain that she fell
    into one fit after another, and prayed to be allowed to depart; not a
    sympathising face could she for some time see in the crowd, until the
    wife of a manufacturer, who lived close by, appeared on the scene,
    who also pleaded in vain on her behalf.  Terrified beyond all
    measure, and scarcely knowing what she did, the old woman mumbled
    something to the child.  It smiled.  The angry parents were satisfied
    the spell was broken, the crowd dispersed, and the old woman was
    allowed to depart quietly."

10.  The earth from a churchyard sprinkled over any place preserved it
from spells.

Mr. Roberts, Plas Einion, Llanfair D. Clwyd, a very aged farmer, told me
that when a certain main or cock fighting had been arranged, his father's
servant man, suspecting unfair play, and believing that his master's
birds had been bewitched, went to the churchyard and carried therefrom a
quantity of consecrated earth, with which he slyly sprinkled the cock
pit, and thus he averted the evil, and broke the spell, and all the birds
fought, and won, according to their deserts.

11.  Anything taken into a church belonging to a farm supposed to be
cursed broke the spell or curse laid upon the place from which that thing
was taken.

About twenty years ago, when the writer was curate of Llanwnog,
Montgomeryshire, a Mrs. Hughes, a farmer's wife, who was a firm believer
in omens, charms, and spells, told me that she knew nothing would come of
the spell against so and so, and when asked to explain the matter, she
said that she had seen straw taken from that farm to kindle the fire in
the church, and thus, she said, the spell was broken.

12.  A pin thrust into "Witch's Butter" would cause the witch to undo her

"Witch's Butter" is the name given to a kind of fungus that grows on
decayed wood.  The fungus resembles little lumps of butter, and hence its
name.  Should anyone think himself witched, all that he has got to do is
to procure "witch's butter," and then thrust a pin into it.  It was
thought that this pin penetrated the wicked witch, and every pin thrust
into the fungus went into her body, and thus she was forced to appear,
and undo her mischief, and be herself relieved from bodily pain by
relieving others.

13.  A conjuror's charm could master a witch's spell.

It was thought that when a person was under a witch's spell he could get
relief and punish the witch by procuring a charm from a conjuror.  This
charm was a bit of paper, often covered with illegible writing, but
whatever was on it made no great difference, for the persons who procured
the charms were usually illiterate.  The process was as follows:--The
party cursed took the charm, and thrust a pin through it, and having
waited awhile to see whether the witch would appear or not, proceeded to
thrust another pin through the paper, and if the witch were tardy in
appearing, pin after pin was thrust into the paper, and every pin, it was
thought, went into the body of the spiteful hag, and brought her
ultimately to the house where her curse was being broken, in shocking
pain, and when there it was believed she would say--

    "Duw gatto bobpeth ag a feddwch chwi."

    God preserve everything which you possess.

14.  Certain plants were supposed to possess the power of destroying

The Rev. D. James, Rector of Garthbeibio, was asked by Evan Williams, the
Voel, a parishioner, whether he feared witches, and when answered in the
negative, his interrogator appeared surprised; however, awhile
afterwards, Williams went to the Rectory, and told the rector that he
knew why he did not fear witches, and proceeded to tell him that he had
seen a plant in the front of the rectory that protected the house from
charms.  This was what he called, _Meipen Fair_.  In some parts of
England the snapdragon is supposed to possess a like virtue, and also the
elder tree.

Mr. Davies, schoolmaster, Llangedwyn, informed the writer that at one
time hyssop was hung on the inside of the house door to protect the
inmates from charms.

15.  The seventh daughter could destroy charms.  The seventh son was
thought to possess supernatural power, and so also was the seventh
daughter, but her influence seems to have been exerted against

16.  The sign of the cross on the door made the inmates invulnerable, and
when made with the finger on the breast it was a protection from evil.

The sign of the cross made on the person was once common in Wales, and
the advice given by the aged when a person was in any difficulty was
"_ymgroesa_," cross yourself.  The custom of crossing the door on leaving
the house lingered long in many places, and, I think, it is not
altogether given up in our days.

17.  Invoking the aid of the Holy Trinity.  This was resorted to, as seen
in the charm given on page 270, when animals were witched.

_The way to find out whether a Hag is a Witch or not_.

It was generally supposed that a witch could not pray, and one way of
testing her guilty connection with the evil one was to ascertain whether
she could repeat the Lord's Prayer correctly.  If she failed to do so,
she was pronounced to be a witch.  This test, as everyone knows, must
have been a fallacious one, for there are good living illiterate people
who are incapable of saying their _Pader_; but such was the test, and
failure meant death.

Some fifty years ago, when the writer was a lad in school, he noticed a
crowd in Short Bridge Street, Llanidloes, around an aged decrepit woman,
apparently a stranger from the hill country, and on inquiring what was
going on, he was told that the woman was a suspected witch, and that they
were putting her to the test.  I believe she was forced to go on her
knees, and use the name of God, and say the Lord's Prayer.  However, the
poor frightened thing got successfully through the ordeal, and I saw her
walk away from her judges.

Another manner for discovering a witch was to weigh her against the
Church Bible; if the Bible went up, she was set at liberty, if, on the
other hand, she were lighter than the Bible, she was a witch, and
forfeited her life.

Swimming a witch was another method, and this was the one generally
resorted to.  The suspected person was taken to a river or pool of water,
her feet and hands were tied, and she was thrown in; if she sank she was
innocent, if she floated she was a witch, and never reached the bank

Such as the preceding were some of the ridiculous trials to which poor,
badly clad, aged, toothless, and wrinkled women were put by their
superstitious neighbours to ascertain whether these miserable women were
in league with the devil.


1.  It was formerly believed that men could sell themselves to the devil,
and thus become the possessors of supernatural power.  These men were
looked upon as malicious conjurors.

2.  Another species of conjurors practised magical arts, having obtained
their knowledge from the study of books.  These were accounted able to
thwart the designs of evil workers of every description.

3.  There was another class of men supposed to have obtained strange
power from their ancestors.  They were looked upon as charmers and
conjurors by descent.

1.  Those who belonged to the first-mentioned class were not in communion
with the Church, and the first step taken by them to obtain their object
was to unbaptize themselves.  The process was as follows:--The person who
wished to sell himself to the devil went to a Holy Well, took water
therefrom three times into his mouth, and spurted it out in a derisive
manner, and thus having relieved himself, as it was thought, of his
baptismal vow, he was ready and fit to make a contract with the evil one.

2.  The second kind of conjurors obtained their knowledge of the occult
science from the study of books.  Generally learned men were by the
ignorant supposed to possess uncanny power.  When the writer lived in
Carnarvonshire he was informed that Owen Williams, Waenfawr, had magical
books kept in a box under lock and key, and that he never permitted
anyone to see them.  Poor Owen Williams, I wonder whether he knew of the
popular rumour!

The following tale of Huw Llwyd's books I obtained from the Rev. R.
Jones, rector of Llanycil.

_Huw Llwyd and his Magical Books_.

The story, as it has reached our days, is as follows:--It is said that
Huw Llwyd had two daughters; one of an inquisitive turn of mind, like
himself, while the other resembled her mother, and cared not for books.
On his death bed he called his learned daughter to his side, and directed
her to take his books on the dark science, and throw them into a pool,
which he named, from the bridge that spanned the river.  The girl went to
Llyn Pont Rhyd-ddu with the books, and stood on the bridge, watching the
whirlpool beneath, but she could not persuade herself to throw them over,
and thus destroy her father's precious treasures.  So she determined to
tell him a falsehood, and say that she had cast them into the river.  On
her return home her father asked her whether she had thrown the books
into the pool, and on receiving an answer in the affirmative, he,
inquiring whether she had seen anything strange when the books reached
the river, was informed that she had seen nothing.  "Then," said he, "you
have not complied with my request.  I cannot die until the books are
thrown into the pool."  She took the books a second time to the river,
and now, very reluctantly, she hurled them into the pool, and watched
their descent.  They had not reached the water before two hands appeared,
stretched upward, out of the pool, and these hands caught the books
before they touched the water and, clutching them carefully, both the
books and the hands disappeared beneath the waters.  She went home
immediately, and again appeared before her father, and in answer to his
question, she related what had occurred.  "Now," said he, "I know you
have thrown them in, and I can now die in peace," which he forthwith did.

3.  Hereditary conjurors, or charmers, were thought to be beneficial to
society.  They were charmers rather than conjurors.  In this category is
to be reckoned:--

(a) The seventh son of a family of sons, born the one after the other.

(b) The seventh daughter in a family of daughters, born in succession,
without a brother between.  This person could undo spells and curses, but
she could not herself curse others.

(c) The descendants of a person, who had eaten eagles' flesh could, for
nine generations, charm for the shingles, or, as it is called in Welsh,
_Swyno'r 'Ryri_.

Conjurors were formerly quite common in Wales; when I say common, I mean
that there was no difficulty in obtaining their aid when required, and
they were within easy reach of those who wished to consult them.  Some
became more celebrated than others, and consequently their services were
in greater requisition; but it may be said, that each district had its
wise man.

The office of the conjuror was to counteract the machinations of witches,
and to deliver people from their spells.  They were looked upon as the
natural enemies of witches.  Instances have already been given of this

But conjurors could act on their own account, and if they did not show
the same spiteful nature as witches, they, nevertheless, were credited
with possessing great and dangerous power.  They dealt freely in charms
and spells, and obtained large sums of money for their talismanic papers.
They could, it was believed, by their incantations reveal the future, and
oblige light-fingered people to restore the things they had stolen.

Even a fishing rod made by a conjuror was sure to bring luck to the
fisherman.  Lovers and haters alike resorted to the wise man to attain
through his aid their object.

There were but few, if any, matters beyond their comprehension, and hence
the almost unbounded confidence placed in these impostors by the
superstitious and credulous.

Strange as it may seem, even in this century there are many who still
consult these deceivers, but more of this by and by.

I will now relate a few tales of the doings of these conjurors, and from
them the reader can infer how baneful their influence was upon the rustic
population of Wales.

_The Magician's Glass_.

This glass, into which a person looked when he wished to solve the
future, or to ascertain whom he or she was to marry, was used by Welsh,
as well as other magicians.  The glass gave back the features of the
person sought after, and reflected the future career of the seeker after
the hidden future.  It was required that the spectator should concentrate
all his attention on the glass, and, on the principle that they who gazed
long should not gaze in vain, he obtained the desired glimpse.  _Cwrt
Cadno_, already referred to, professed to have such a glass.

But, the magician's glass is an instrument so often mentioned in
connection with necromancy in all parts of the world, that more need not
be said of it.

I will now give a few stories illustrative of the conjuror's power.

_A Conjuror's Punishment of an Innkeeper for his exorbitant charges_.

A famous conjuror, Dick Spot, was on his way to Llanrwst, and he turned
into a public house at Henllan for refreshments.  He called for a glass
of beer and bread and cheese, and was charged tenpence for the same,
fourpence for the beer, and sixpence for the bread and cheese.  This
charge he considered outrageous, but he paid the demand, and before
departing he took a scrap of paper and wrote on it a spell, and hid it
under the table, and then went on his way.  That evening, soon after the
landlord and landlady had retired for the night, leaving the servant girl
to clear up, they were surprised to hear in the kitchen an unaccountable
noise; shouting and jumping was the order of the day, or rather night, in
that room.  The good people heard the girl shout at the top of her

    "Six and four are ten,
    Count it o'er again,"

and then she danced like mad round and round the kitchen.  They sternly
requested the girl to cease yelling, and to come to bed, but the only
answer they received was--

    "Six and four are ten,
    Count it o'er again,"

and with accelerated speed she danced round and round the kitchen.

The thought now struck the landlord that the girl had gone out of her
mind, and so he got up, and went to see what was the matter with her,
with the intention of trying to get her away from the kitchen.  But the
moment he placed his foot in the kitchen, he gave a jump, and joined the
girl in her mad dance, and with her he shrieked out--

    "Six and four are ten,
    Count it o'er again."

So now the noise was doubled, and the good wife, finding that her husband
did not return to her, became very angry, if not jealous.  She shouted to
them to cease their row, but all to no purpose, for the dancing and the
shouting continued.  Then she left her bed and went to the kitchen door,
and greatly disgusted she was to see her husband and maid dancing
together in that shameless manner.  She stood at the door a moment or two
observing their frantic behaviour, and then she determined forcibly to
put a stop to the proceedings, so into the room she bounded, but with a
hop and a jump she joined in the dance, and sang out in chorus with the
other two--

    "Six and four are ten,
    Count it o'er again."

The uproar now was great indeed, and roused the neighbours from their
sleep.  They from outside heard the mad dance and the words, and guessed
that Dick Spot had been the cause of all this.  One of those present
hurried after the conjuror, who, fortunately, was close at hand, and
desired him to return to the inn to release the people from his spell.
"Oh," said Dick, "take the piece of paper that is under the table and
burn it, and they will then stop their row."  The man returned to the
inn, pushed open the door, rushed to the table, and cast the paper into
the fire, and then the trio became quiet.  But they had nearly exhausted
themselves by their severe exertions ere they were released from the
power of the spell.

_A Conjuror and Robbers_.

A conjuror, or _Gwr Cyfarwydd_, was travelling over the Denbighshire
hills to Carnarvonshire; being weary, he entered a house that he saw on
his way, and he requested refreshments, which were given him by a young
woman.  "But," said she, "you must make haste and depart, for my brothers
will soon be here, and they are desperate men, and they will kill you."
But no, the stranger was in no hurry to move on, and though repeatedly
besought to depart, he would not do so.  To the great dread and fear of
the young woman, her brothers came in, and, in anger at finding a
stranger there, bade him prepare for death.  He requested a few minutes'
respite, and took out a book and commenced reading it.  When he was thus
engaged a horn began growing in the centre of the table, and on this the
robbers were obliged to gaze, and they were unable even to move.  The
stranger went to bed, and found the robbers in the morning still gazing
at the horn, as he knew they would be, and he departed leaving them thus
engaged, and the tale goes, that they were arrested in that position,
being unable to offer any resistance to their captors.

There are several versions of the Horn Tale afloat; instead of being made
to grow out of a table, it was made to grow out of a person's head or
forehead.  There is a tradition that Huw Llwyd was able to do this
wonderful thing, and that he actually did it.

_The Conjuror and the Cattle_.

R. H., a farmer in Llansilin parish, who lost several head of cattle,
sent or went to Shon Gyfarwydd, who lived in Llanbrynmair, a well-known
conjuror, for information concerning their death, and for a charm against
further loss.  Both were obtained, and the charm worked so well that the
grateful farmer sent a letter to Shon acknowledging the benefit he had
derived from him.

This Shon was a great terror to thieves, for he was able to spot them and
mark them in such a way that they were known to be culprits.  I am
indebted to Mr. Jones, Rector of Bylchau, near Denbigh, for the three
following stories, in which the very dread of being marked by Shon was
sufficient to make the thieves restore the stolen property.

_Stolen property discovered through fear of applying to the Llanbrynmair

Richard Thomas, Post Office, Llangadfan, lost a coat and waistcoat, and
he suspected a certain man of having stolen them.  One day this man came
to the shop, and Thomas saw him there, and, speaking to his wife from the
kitchen in a loud voice, so as to be heard by his customer in the shop,
he said that he wanted the loan of a horse to go to Llanbrynmair.
Llanbrynmair was, as we know, the conjuror's place of abode.  Thomas,
however, did not leave his house, nor did he intend doing so, but that
very night the stolen property was returned, and it was found the next
morning on the door sill.

_Reclaiming stolen property through fear of the Conjuror_.

A mason engaged in the restoration of Garthbeibio Church placed a trowel
for safety underneath a stone, but by morning it was gone.  Casually in
the evening he informed his fellow workmen that he had lost his trowel,
and that someone must have stolen it, but that he was determined to find
out the thief by taking a journey to Llanbrynmair.  He never went, but
the ruse was successful, for the next morning he found, as he suspected
would be the case, the trowel underneath the very stone where he had
himself placed it.

_Another similar Tale_.

Thirty pounds were stolen from Glan-yr-afon, Garthbeibio.  The owner made
known to his household that he intended going to Shon the conjuror, to
ascertain who had taken his money, but the next day the money was
discovered, being restored, as was believed, by the thief the night

These stories show that the ignorant and superstitious were influenced
through fear, to restore what they had wrongfully appropriated, and their
faith in the conjuror's power thus resulted, in some degree, in good to
the community.  The _Dyn Hyspys_ was feared where no one else was feared,
and in this way the supposed conjuror was not altogether an unimportant
nor unnecessary member of society.  At a time, particularly when people
are in a low state of civilization, or when they still cling to the pagan
faith of their forefathers, transmitted to them from remote ages, then
something can be procured for the good of a benighted people even through
the medium of the _Gwr Cyfarwydd_.

Events occurred occasionally by a strange coincidence through which the
fame of the _Dyn Hyspys_ became greatly increased.  An event of this kind
is related by Mr. Edward Hamer.  He states that:--

    "Two respectable farmers, living in the upper Vale of the Severn (Cwm
    Glyn Hafren), and standing in relationship to each other of uncle and
    nephew, a few years ago purchased each a pig of the same litter, from
    another farmer.  When bought, both animals were, to all appearance,
    in excellent health and condition, and for a short time after their
    removal to their new homes both continued to improve daily.  It was
    not long, however, before both were taken ill very suddenly.  As
    there appeared something very strange in the behaviour of his animal,
    the nephew firmly believed that he was 'witched,' and acting upon
    this belief, set out for the neighbouring conjuror.  Having received
    certain injunctions from the 'wise man,' he returned home, carried
    them out, and had the satisfaction of witnessing the gradual recovery
    of his pig.  The uncle paid no attention to the persuasions and even
    entreaties of his nephew; he would not believe that his pig was
    'witched,' and refused to consult the conjuror.  The pig died after
    an illness of three weeks; _and many thought the owner deserved
    little sympathy for manifesting so much obstinacy and scepticism_.
    These events occurred in the spring of the year 1870, and were much
    talked of at the time."--_Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. x., p.

Conjurors retained their repute by much knavery and collusion with

Tales are not wanted that expose their impostures.  The Rev. Meredith
Hamer, late of Berse, told me of the following exposure of a conjuror.  I
know not where the event occurred, but it is a typical case.

_A Conjuror's Collusion exposed_.

This man's house consisted of but few rooms.  Between the kitchen and his
study, or consulting room, was a slight partition.  He had a servant
girl, whom he admitted as a partner in his trade.  This girl, when she
saw a patient approach the house, which she was able to do, because there
was only one approach to it, and only one entrance, informed her master
of the fact that someone was coming, and he immediately disappeared, and
he placed himself in a position to hear the conversation of the girl with
the person who had come to consult him.  The servant by questioning the
party adroitly obtained that information respecting the case which her
master required, and when she had obtained the necessary information, he
would appear, and forthwith tell the stranger that he knew hours before,
or days ago, that he was to have the visit now paid him, and then he
would relate all the particulars which he had himself heard through the
partition, to the amazement of the stranger, who was ignorant of this
means of communication.

At other times, if a person who wished to consult him came to the house
when the conjuror was in the kitchen, he would disappear as before,
stating that he was going to consult his books, and then his faithful
helper would proceed to extort the necessary information from the
visitor.  On this, he would re-appear and exhibit his wonderful knowledge
to the amazed dupe.

On one occasion, though, a knowing one came to the conjuror with his arm
in a sling, and forthwith the wise man disappeared, leaving the maid to
conduct the necessary preliminary examination, and her visitor minutely
described how the accident had occurred, and how he had broken his arm in
two places, etc.

All this the conjuror heard, and he came into the room and rehearsed all
that he had heard; but the biter was bitten, for the stranger, taking his
broken arm out of the sling, in no very polite language accused the
conjuror of being an impostor, and pointed out the way in which the
collusion had been carried out between him and his maid.

This was an exposure the conjuror had not foreseen!

_The Conjuror's Dress_.

Conjurors, when engaged in their uncanny work, usually wore a grotesque
dress and stood within a circle of protection.  I find so graphic a
description of a doctor who dealt in divination in Mr. Hancock's "History
of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant" that I will transcribe it:--"He" (the raiser
of the devils) "was much resorted to by the friends of parties mentally
deranged, many of whom he cured.  Whenever he assumed to practise the
'black art,' he put on a most grotesque dress, a cap of sheepskin with a
high crown, bearing a plume of pigeons' feathers, and a coat of unusual
pattern, with broad hems, and covered with talismanic characters.  In his
hand he had a whip, the thong of which was made of the skin of an eel,
and the handle of bone.  With this he drew a circle around him, outside
of which, at a proper distance, he kept those persons who came to him,
whilst he went through his mystic sentences and
performances."--_Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. vi, pp. 329-30.


The cure of diseases by charms is generally supposed to be a kind of
superstition antagonistic to common sense, and yet there are undoubted
cases of complete cures through the instrumentality of charms.  Warts
are, undoubtedly, removed by the faith of those persons who suffer from
them in the power of the charmer and his charms.  The writer has had
innumerable instances of the efficacy of wart charms, but it is not his
intention to endeavour to trace the effect of charms on highly sensitive
people, but only to record those charms that he has seen or heard of as
having been used.

_Swyno'r 'Ryri_ (_Charming the Shingles_).

The shingles is a skin disease, which encircles the body like a girdle,
and the belief was that if it did so the patient died.  However, there
was a charm for procuring its removal, which was generally resorted to
with success; but the last person who could charm this disease in
Montgomeryshire lies buried on the west side of the church at
Penybontfawr, and consequently there is no one now in those parts able to
charm the shingles.  The inscription on his tombstone informs us that
Robert Davies, Glanhafon Fawr, died March 13th, 1864, aged 29, so that
faith in this charm has reached our days.

It was believed that the descendants of a person who had eaten eagle's
flesh _to the ninth generation_ could charm for shingles.

The manner of proceeding can be seen from the following quotation taken
from "The History of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant," by Mr. T. W. Hancock,
which appears in vol. vi., pp. 327-8 of the _Montgomeryshire

_A Charm for the Shingles_.

"This custom (charming for the shingles) was more prevalent in this
parish than in any other in Montgomeryshire.  A certain amount of penance
was to be done by the sufferer, who was to go to the charmer in the
morning fasting, and he was also to be fasting.  The mode of cure was
simple--the charmer breathed gently on the inflamed part, and then
followed a series of little spittings upon and around it.  A few visits
to the charmer, or sometimes a single one, was sufficient to effect a

"The power of charming for the ''Ryri' is now lost, or in any event has
not been practised in this parish, for several years past.  The
possession of this remarkable healing power by the charmer was said to
have been derived from the circumstance _of either the charmer himself_,
_or one of his ancestors within the ninth degree_, _having eaten of the
flesh of the eagle_, the virtue being, it was alleged, transmitted from
the person who had so partaken to his descendants for nine generations.
The tradition is that the disorder was introduced into the country by a
malevolent eagle.

"Some charmers before the operation of spitting, muttered to themselves
the following incantation:--

    Yr Eryr Eryres
    Mi a'th ddanfonais
    Dros naw mor a thros naw mynydd,
    A thros naw erw o dir anghelfydd;
    Lle na chyfartho ci, ac na frefo fuwch,
    Ac na ddelo yr eryr byth yn uwch."

    Male eagle, female eagle,
    I send you (by the operation of blowing, we presume)
    Over nine seas, and over nine mountains,
    And over nine acres of unprofitable land,
    Where no dog shall bark, and no cow shall low,
    And where no eagle shall higher rise."

The charmer spat first on the rash and rubbed it with his finger over the
affected parts, and then breathed nine times on it.

Jane Davies, an aged woman, a native of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant, with
whom I had many long conversations on several occasions, told the
narrator that she had cut a cat's ear to get blood, wherewith to rub the
patient's breast who was suffering from the shingles, to stop its
progress, until the sufferer could be visited by the charmer, and she
said that the cat's blood always stopped it spreading.

There were several charms for many of the ailments to which man is
subject, which were thought to possess equal curative virtues.

_Toothache charms_.

By repeating the following doggerel lines the worst case of toothache
could be cured--

    Peter sat on a marble stone,
    Jesus came to him all alone.
    What's up, Peter?  The toothache, my lord;
    Rise up Peter, and be cured of this pain,
    And all those _who carry these few lines_ for my sake.

This charm appeared in the _Wrexham Advertiser_ as one that was used in
_Coedpoeth_ and _Bwlch Gwyn_.  But the words appear in "_Y Gwyliedydd_"
for May, 1826, page 151.  The Welsh heading to the charm informs us that
it was obtained from an Irish priest in County Cork, Ireland.  The words

    Fel yr oedd Pedr yn eistedd ar faen Mynor,
    Crist a ddaeth atto, ac efe yn unig.
    Pedr, beth a ddarfu i ti?  Y Ddanodd, fy Arglwydd Dduw.
    Cyfod, Pedr, a rhydd fyddi;
    A bydd pob dyn a dynes iach oddiwrth y ddanodd
    Y rhai a gredant i'r geiriau hyn,
    Yr wyf fi yn gwneuthur yn enw Duw.

The first two lines of the English and Welsh are the same but the third
and succeeding lines in Welsh are as follows:--

    Peter, what is the matter?
    The toothache, my Lord God.
    Rise Peter, and thou shalt be cured;
    And every man and woman who believes these words
    Shall be cured of the toothache,
    Which I perform in the name of God.

Another version of this charm was given me by Mrs. Reynolds, Pembroke
House, Oswestry--

    As Jesus walked through the gates of Jerusalem,
    He saw Peter weeping.  Jesus said unto him, why weepest thou?
    I have got the toothache.  Jesus touched his tooth,
    And Jesus said, have faith and believe,
    Thy tooth shall ache no more.
    I return you humble and hearty thanks
    For the blessing which you have bestowed on me.

A young man told me that his brother once suffered greatly from
toothache, and a woman gave him a charm like the above, written on paper.
He rubbed the charm along the tooth, and he kept it in his pocket until
it crumbled away, and as long as he preserved it he never was troubled
with the toothache.

_Rosemary Charm for Toothache_.

"Llosg ei bren (Rhosmari) hyd oni bo yn lo du, ac yna dyro ef mewn cadach
lliain cry, ac ira dy ddanedd ag ef; ac fo ladd y pryfed, ac a'u ceidw
rhag pob clefyd."--_Y Brython_, p. 339.

"Burn a Rosemary bough until it becomes black, and then place it in a
strong linen cloth, and anoint thy teeth with it, and it will kill the
worm, and preserve thee from every kind of fever."

It was thought at one time that toothache was caused by a worm in the
tooth, as intimated above.

_Whooping Cough Charm_.

Children suffering from whooping cough were taken to a seventh son, or
lacking a seventh son of sons only, to a fifth son of sons only, who made
a cake, and gave it to the sufferers to be eaten by them, and they would
recover.  The visit was to be thrice repeated.  Bread and butter were
sometimes substituted for the cake.

The writer has been told of instances of the success of this charm.

Another charm was--buy a penny roll, wrap it in calico, bury it in the
garden, take it up next day.  The sufferer from whooping-cough is then to
eat the roll until it is consumed.

_Charm for Fits_.

A ring made out of the offertory money was a cure for fits.  About the
year 1882 the wife of a respectable farmer in the parish of Efenechtyd
called at the rectory and asked the rector's wife if she would procure a
shilling for her from the offering made at Holy Communion, out of which
she was going to have a ring made to cure her fits.  This coin was to be
given unsolicited and received without thanks.

The Rev. J. D. Edwards, late vicar of Rhosymedre, informed the writer
that his parishioners often obtained silver coins from the offertory for
the purpose now named.  So as to comply with the conditions, the
sufferers went to Mrs. Edwards some time during the week before
"Sacrament Sunday," and asked her to request Mr. Edwards to give him or
her a shilling out of the offertory, and on the following Monday the
afflicted person would be at the Vicarage, and the Vicar, having already
been instructed by Mrs. Edwards, gave the shilling without uttering a
word, and it was received in the same manner.

Another charm for fits was to procure a human being's skull, grind it
into powder, and take it as medicine.

_Charm for Cocks about to fight_.

The charm consisted of a verse taken from the Bible, written on a slip of
paper, wrapped round the bird's leg, as the steel spurs were being placed
on him.  The verse so employed was, Eph. vi., 16:--"Taking the shield of
faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the

William Jones, Pentre Llyffrith, Llanfyllin, was a celebrated cock
charmer.  There was also a well-known charmer who lived at Llandegla,
Denbighshire, who refused a charm to a certain man.  When asked why he
had not complied with his request, he said--"He will not need charms for
his birds, for he will be a dead man before the main comes off."  This
became true, for the man died, as foretold.

_Charm for Asthma_.

Place the Bible for three successive nights under the bolster of the
sufferer, and it will cure him.

_Charms for Warts_.

1.  Drop a pin into a holy well and your warts will disappear, but should
anyone take the pin out of the well, the warts you have lost will grow on
his fingers.

2.  Rub the warts with the inside of a bean pod, and then throw the pod

3.  Take wheat on the stalk, rub the warts with the wheat's beard or
bristles at the end of the ear, take these to four crosses or roads that
cross each other, bury the straw, and the warts will decay with the decay
of the straw.

4.  Rub the warts with elderberry leaves plucked by night, and then burn
them, and the warts will disappear.

5.  Rub the warts with a bit of flesh meat, wrap the flesh up in paper,
throw it behind your back, and do not look behind you to see what becomes
of it, and whoever picks it up gets your warts.

6.  Take a snail and pierce it through with a thorn, and leave it to die
on the bush; as it disappears so will your warts.

_Charm for removing a Stye from the eye_.

Take an ordinary knitting needle, and pass it back and fore over the
stye, but without touching it, and at the same time counting its age,
thus--One stye, two styes, three styes, up to nine, and then reversing
the order, as nine styes, eight styes, down to one stye, and _no_ stye.
This counting was to be done in one breath.  If the charmer drew his
breath the charm was broken, but three attempts were allowed.  The stye,
it was alleged, would die from that hour, and disappear in twenty-four

_Charms for Quinsy_.

Apply to the throat hair cut at midnight from the black shoulder stripe
of the colt of an ass.

_Charming the Wild Wart_.

Take a branch of elder tree, strip off the bark, split off a piece, hold
this skewer near the wart, and rub the wart three or nine times with the
skewer, muttering the while an incantation of your own composing, then
pierce the wart with a thorn.  Bury the skewer transfixed with the thorn
in a dunghill.  The wart will rot away just as the buried things decay.

_Charm for Rheumatism_.

Carry a potato in your pocket, and when one is finished, supply its place
with another.

_Charm for removing the Ringworm_.

1.  Spit on the ground the first thing in the morning, mix the spittle
with the mould, and then anoint the ringworm with this mixture.

2.  Hold an axe over the fire until it perspires, and then anoint the
ringworm with the sweat.

_Cattle Charms_.

Mr. Hamer in his "Parochial Account of Llanidloes" published in _The
Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol x., p. 249, states that he has in his
possession two charms that were actually used for the protection of live
stock of two small farms.  One of them opens thus:--

    "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
    Amen . . . and in the name of Lord Jesus Christ my redeemer, that I
    will give relief to --- creatures his cows, and his calves, and his
    horses, and his sheep, and his pigs, and all creatures that alive be
    in his possession, from all witchcraft and from all other assaults of
    Satan.  Amen."

Mr. Hamer further states that:--

    "At the bottom of the sheet, on the left, is the magical word,
    _Abracadabra_, written in the usual triangular form; in the centre, a
    number of planetary symbols, and on the right, a circular figure
    filled in with lines and symbols, and beneath them the words, 'By
    Jah, Joh, Jab.'  It was the custom to rub these charms over the
    cattle, etc. a number of times, while some incantation was being
    mumbled.  The paper was then carefully folded up, and put in some
    safe place where the animals were housed, as a guard against future

In other cases the charm was worn by the cattle, as is shown by the
following tale:--

_Charm against Foot and Mouth Disease_.

The cattle on a certain farm in Llansilin parish suffered from the above
complaint, and old Mr. H--- consulted a conjuror, who gave him a written
charm which he was directed to place on the horns of the cattle, and he
was told this would act both as a preventive and a cure.  This farmer's
cattle might be seen with the bit of paper, thus procured, tied to their
horns.  My informant does not wish to be named, nor does she desire the
farmer's name to be given, but she vouches for the accuracy of her
information, and for my own use, she gave me all particulars respecting
the above.  This took place only a few years ago, when the Foot and Mouth
Disease first visited Wales.

I obtained, through the kindness of the Rev. John Davies, vicar of
Bryneglwys, the following charm procured from Mr. R. Jones, Tynywern,
Bryneglwys, Denbighshire, who had it from his uncle, by whom it was used
at one time.

    _Yn enw y Tad_, _a'r Mab_, _a'r Ysbryd_.

    Bod I grist Iesu y gysegredig a oddefe ar y groes,
    Pan godaist Sant Lasarys o'i fedd wedi farw,
    Pan faddeuaist Bechodau I fair fagdalen, a thrygra
    wrthyf fel bo gadwedig bob peth a henwyf fi ag a
    croeswyf fi ++++ trwy nerth a rhinwedd dy eiriau
    Bendigedig di fy Arglwydd Iesu Crist.  Amen.
    Iesu Crist ain harglwydd ni gwared ni rhag pop
    rhiwogaeth o Brofedigaeth ar yabrydol o uwch deiar
    nag o Is deiar, rhag y gythraelig o ddun nei ddynes
    a chalon ddrwg a reibia dda ei berchenog ei
    ddrwg rhinwedd ei ddrwg galon ysgymynedig
    a wahanwyd or ffydd gatholig ++++ trwy nerth a
    rhinwedd dy eiriau Bendigedig di fy Arglwydd Iesu Crist.  Amen.
    Iesu Crist ain harglwydd ni Gwared ni rhag y glwy
    ar bar, ar Llid, ar genfigain ar adwyth . . .
    ar Pleined Wibrenon ar gwenwyn
    deiarol, trwy nerth a rhinwedd dy eiriau
    Bedigedig di Fy Arglwydd Iesu Crist.  Amen.

It was somewhat difficult to decipher the charms and four words towards
the end are quite illegible, and consequently they are omitted.  The
following translation will show the nature of the charm:--

    _In the Name of the Father_, _the Son_, _and the Spirit_.

    May Christ Jesus the sanctified one, who suffered death on the cross,
    When thou didst raise Lazarus from his tomb after his death,
    When Thou forgavest sins to Mary Magdalen, have
    mercy on me, so that everything named by me and
    crossed by me ++++ may be saved by the power and
    virtue of thy blessed words my Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
    Jesus Christ our Lord save us from every kind of
    temptation whether spiritual above the earth or
    under the earth, from the devilish man or woman
    with evil heart who bewitcheth the goods of their
    owner; his evil virtue, his evil excommunicated heart
    cut off from the Catholic Faith ++++ by the power
    and virtue of thy blessed words my Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
    Jesus Christ our Lord save us from the disease and the
    affliction, and the wrath, and the envy, and the
    mischief, and the . . . and the planet of the sky
    and the earthly poison, by the power and virtue
    of Thy blessed words, my Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The mark ++++ indicates that crosses were here made by the person who
used the charm, and probably the words of the charm were audibly uttered.

_Another Cattle Charm Spell_.

Mr. Hughes, Plasnewydd, Llansilin, lost several head of cattle.  He was
told to bleed one of the herd, boil the blood, and take it to the
cowhouse at midnight.  He did so, and lost no more after applying this

_A Charm for Calves_.

If calves were scoured over much, and in danger of dying, a hazel twig
the length of the calf was twisted round the neck like a collar, and it
was supposed to cure them.

_A Charm for Stopping Bleeding_.

Mrs. Reynolds, whom I have already mentioned in connection with a charm
for toothache, gave me the following charm.  It bears date April 5,

    Our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem,
    By the Virgin Mary,
    Baptized in the River Jordan,
    By St. John the Baptist.
    He commanded the water to stop, and it obeyed Him.
    And I desire in the name of Jesus Christ,
    That the blood of this vein (or veins) might stop,
    As the water did when Jesus Christ was baptized.


_Charm to make a Servant reliable_.

"Y neb a fyno gael ei weinidog yn gywir, doded beth o'r lludw hwn yn
nillad ei weinidog ac efe a fydd cywir tra parhao'r lludw."--_Y Brython_,
vol. iii., p. 137.

Which is:--Whosoever wishes to make his servant faithful let him place
the ashes (of a snake) in the clothes of his servant, and as long as they
remain there he will be faithful.

There are many other wonderful things to be accomplished with the skin of
an adder, or snake, besides the preceding.  The following are recorded in
_Y Brython_, vol. iii., p. 137.

_Charms performed with Snake's Skin_.

1.  Burn the skin and preserve the ashes.  A little salve made out of the
ashes will heal a wound.

2.  A little of the ashes placed between the shoulders will make a man

3.  Whoso places a little of the ashes in the water with which he washes
himself, should his enemies meet him, they will flee because of the
beauty of his face.

4.  Cast a little of the ashes into thy neighbour's house, and he will
leave it.

5.  Place the ashes under the sole of thy foot, and everybody will agree
with thee.

6.  Should a man wrestle, let him place some of the ashes under his
tongue, and no one can conquer him.

7.  Should a man wish to know what is about to occur to him, let him
place a pinch of the ashes on his head, and then go to sleep, and his
dreams will reveal the future.

8.  Should a person wish to ascertain the mind of another, let him throw
a little of the ashes on that person's clothes, and then let him ask what
he likes, the answer will be true.

9.  Has already been given above.  (See page 272).

10.  If a person is afraid of being poisoned in his food, let him place
the ashes on the table with his food, and poison cannot stay there with
the ashes.

11.  If a person wishes to succeed in love, let him wash his hands and
keep some of the ashes in them, and then everybody will love him.

12.  The skin of the adder is a remedy against fevers.

_The Charms performed with Rosemary_.

Rosemary dried in the sun and made into powder, tied in a cloth around
the right arm, will make the sick well.

The smoke of rosemary bark, sniffed, will, even if you are in gaol,
release you.

The leaves made into salve, placed on a wound, where the flesh is dead,
will cure the wound.

A spoon made out of its wood will make whatever you eat therewith

Place it under the door post, and no snake nor adder can ever enter thy

The leaves placed in beer or wine will keep these liquids from becoming
sour, and give them such a flavour that you will dispose of them quickly.

Place a branch of rosemary on the barrel, and it will keep thee from
fever, even though thou drink of it for a whole day.

Such were some of the wonderful virtues of this plant, as given in the
_Brython_, vol. iii., p. 339.

_Charm for Clefyd y Galon_, _or Heart Disease_.

The Rev. J. Felix, vicar of Cilcen, near Mold, when a young man lodged in
Eglwysfach, near Glandovey.  His landlady, noticing that he looked pale
and thin, suggested that he was suffering from Clefyd y galon, which may
be translated as above, or love sickness, a complaint common enough among
young people, and she suggested that he should call in David Jenkins, a
respectable farmer and a local preacher with the Wesleyans, to cure him.
Jenkins came, and asked the supposed sufferer whether he believed in
charms, and was answered in the negative.  However, he proceeded with his
patient as if he had answered in the affirmative.  Mr Felix was told to
take his coat off, he did so, and then he was bidden to tuck up his shirt
above his elbow.  Mr.  Jenkins then took a yarn thread and placing one
end on the elbow measured to the tip of Felix's middle finger, then he
told his patient to take hold of the yarn at one end, the other end
resting the while on the elbow, and he was to take fast hold of it, and
stretch it.  This he did, and the yarn lengthened, and this was a sign
that he was actually sick of heart disease.  Then the charmer tied this
yarn around the patient's left arm above the elbow, and there it was
left, and on the next visit measured again, and he was pronounced cured.

The above information I received from Mr. Felix, who is still alive and

There were various ways of proceeding in this charm.  Yarn was always
used and the measurement as above made, and sometimes the person was
named and his age, and the Trinity was invoked, then the thread was put
around the neck of the sick person, and left there for three nights, and
afterwards buried in the name of the Trinity under ashes.  If the thread
shortened above the second joint of the middle finger there was little
hope of recovery; should it lengthen that was a sign of recovery.

_Clefyd yr Ede Wlan or Yarn Sickness_.

About twenty years ago, when the writer was curate of Llanwnog,
Montgomeryshire, a young Welsh married woman came to reside in the parish
suffering from what appeared to be that fell disease, consumption.  He
visited her in her illness, and one day she appeared much elated as she
had been told that she was improving in health.  She told the narrator
that she was suffering from _Clwyf yr ede wlan_ or the woollen thread
sickness, and she said that the yarn had _lengthened_, which was a sign
that she was recovering.  The charm was the same as that mentioned above,
supplemented with a drink made of a quart of old beer, into which a piece
of heated steel had been dipped, with an ounce of meadow saffron tied up
in muslin soaked in it, taken in doses daily of a certain prescribed
quantity, and the thread was measured daily, thrice I believe, to see if
she was being cured or the reverse.  Should the yarn shorten it was a
sign of death, if it lengthened it indicated a recovery.  However,
although the yarn in this case lengthened, the young woman died.  The
charm failed.

Sufficient has been said about charms to show how prevalent faith in
their efficiency was.  Ailments of all descriptions had their
accompanying antidotes; but it is singularly strange that people
professing the Christian religion should cling so tenaciously to paganism
and its forms, so that even in our own days, such absurdities as charms
find a resting-place in the minds of our rustic population, and often,
even the better-educated classes resort to charms for obtaining cures for
themselves and their animals.

But from ancient times, omens, charms, and auguries have held
considerable sway over the destinies of men.  That charming book,
_Plutarch's Lives_, abounds with instances of this kind.  Indeed, an
excellent collection of ancient Folk-lore could easily be compiled from
extant classical authors.  Most things die hard, and ideas that have once
made a lodgment in the mind of man, particularly when they are connected
in any way with his faith, die the very hardest of all.  Thus it is that
such beliefs as are treated of in this chapter still exist, and they have
reached our days from distant periods, filtered somewhat in their
transit, but still retaining their primitive qualities.

We have not as yet gathered together the fragments of the ancient
religion of the Celts, and formed of them a consistent whole, but
evidently we are to look for them in the sayings and doings of the people
quite as much as in the writings of the ancients.  If we could only
ascertain what views were held respecting any particular matter in
ancient times, we might undoubtedly find traces of them even in modern
days.  Let us take for instance only one subject, and see whether traces
of it still exist.  Caesar in his _Commentaries_ states of the Druids
that, "One of their principal maxims is that the soul never dies, but
that after death it passes into the body of another being.  This maxim
they consider to be of the greatest utility to encourage virtue and to
make them regardless of life."

Now, is there anything that can be associated with such teaching still to
be found?  The various tales previously given of hags turning themselves
and others into various kinds of animals prove that people believed that
such transitions were in life possible, and they had only to go a step
further and apply the same faith to the soul, and we arrive at the
transmigration of souls.

It is not my intention to make too much of the following tale, for it may
be only a shred, but still as such it is worthy of record.  A few years
ago I was staying at the Rectory, Erbistock, near Ruabon, and the rector,
the Rev. P. W. Sparling, in course of conversation, said that a
parishioner, one Betsy Roberts, told him that she knew before anyone told
her, that a certain person died at such and such a time.  The rector
asked her how she came to know of the death if no one had informed her,
and if she had not been to the house to ascertain the fact.  Her answer
was, "I knew because I saw a hare come from towards his house and cross
over the road before me."  This was about all that the rector could
elicit, but evidently the woman connected the appearance of the hare with
the death of the man.  The association of the live hare with the dead man
was here a fact, and possibly in the birthplace of that woman such a
connection of ideas was common.  Furthermore, it has often been told me
by people who have professed to have heard what they related, that being
present in the death chamber of a friend they have heard a bird singing
beautifully outside in the darkness, and that it stopped immediately on
the death of their friend.  Here again we have a strange connection
between two forms of life, and can this be a lingering Druidic or other
ancient faith?

In the _Dictionary of the Welsh Language_ by the Rev. Canon Silvan Evans,
part i., p. 8, under the word _Abred_, we have an exhaustive statement on
the subject of transmigration, which I will take the liberty to
transcribe, for it certainly throws light on the matter now treated of.

"_Abred_ . . .  1.  The state or condition through which, by a regular
upward gradation, all animated beings pass from the lowest point of
existence in which they originate, towards humanity and the highest state
of happiness and perfection.  All the states of animation below that of
humanity are necessarily evil; in the state of humanity, good and evil
are equally balanced; and in all the states above humanity, good
preponderates and evil becomes impossible.  If man, as a free agent,
attaches himself to evil, he falls in death into such an animal state of
existence as corresponds with the turpitude of his soul, which may be so
great as to cast him down into the lowest point of existence, from which
he shall again return through such a succession of animal existences as
is most proper to divest him of his evil propensities.  After traversing
such a course, he will again rise to the probationary state of humanity,
where according to contingencies he may rise or fall; yet, should he
fall, he shall rise again, and should this happen for millions of ages,
the path of happiness is still open to him, and will so remain to all
eternity, for sooner or later he will infallibly arrive at his destined
station or happiness, from which he can never fall.  This doctrine of
metamorphosis or evolution, attributed to the Druids and the Welsh bards,
is succinctly but fully stated by its hierophant, Iolo Morganwg, in his
'Poems' (1794), ii., 195-256, and elucidated by documents which had not
previously been made public, but of which none are of an early date."

Thus writes the Welsh lexicographer on this matter.  The word _abred_ is
archaic, as is the idea for which it stands; but as already said, very
little has been lost of ideas which were once the property of kindred
races; so here we have no exception to the general rule, though the word
_abred_ and the theory it represented come down to modern times
strengthless, resembling the lifeless mummy of an Egyptian king that once
represented a living people and principle.  Still, the word and the idea
it stands for have descended, in form, to our days, and tell us something
about the faith of our forefathers regarding the immortality of the soul.


_Rhamanta_ was a kind of divination that could be resorted to without the
intervention of any outside party, by anyone wishful to ascertain the
future with reference to herself or himself.  It differed, therefore,
from the preceding tales of conjurors or witches, insomuch that the
services of neither of these parties were required by the anxious seekers
of coming events.  They could themselves uplift the veil, using, however,
for this purpose certain means, which were credited with possessing the
power of opening to their view events which were about to happen.

As there was something uncanny in this seeking for hidden information,
young women generally in companies of three sought for the information
their inquisitiveness required.  This was usually done in the dead of
night, and twelve o'clock was the hour when they resorted to their
incantations.  Some of the expedients adopted were harmless, though
silly; others were cruel.  To the effective carrying out of the matter it
was generally necessary that at least one of the party should have slept
within the year on an oat-straw bed, or a bed made of the leaves of
mountain ash, mixed with the seeds of a spring fern, and a pillow of
Maiden Hair.

The nights generally resorted to for the purpose mentioned above were All
Hallow Eve, S. John's Eve, and Mayday Eve, but there were other times
also when the lovesick could get a glimpse of their life partners.

I have said that some of the means employed were innocent and others
cruel.  Before proceeding I will record instances of both kinds.  It was
thought that if a young woman placed a snail under a basin on _Nos Wyl
Ifan_, S. John's Eve, it would by its movements trace the name of her
coming husband underneath, or at least his initials.  One can very well
imagine a young woman not over particular as to form, being able to
decipher the snail's wanderings, and making them represent her lover's
name.  Should the snail have remained immovable during the night, this
indicated her own or her lover's death; or at the least, no offer of
marriage in the coming year.

It was usual for young women to hunt for _Llysiau Ifan_ (S. John's Wort)
on _Nos Wyl Ifan_, at midnight, and it was thought that the silvery light
of a glow-worm would assist them in discovering the plant.  The first
thing, therefore, was to search for their living lanthorn.  This found,
they carried the glow-worm in the palm of the hand, and proceeding in
their search they sought underneath or among the fern for St. John's
Wort.  When found, a bunch was carried away, and hung in the young
woman's bedroom.  If in the morning the leaves appeared fresh, it was a
sign that she should be married within the year; if, however, the leaves
were found hanging down or dead, this indicated her death, or that she
was not to get a husband within that year.  We can well understand that a
sharp young person would resort to means to keep the plant alive, and
thus avert what she most feared.

The following instance of _Rhamanta_ I received from a young woman who
witnessed the work done.  She gave me the name of the party, but for
special reasons I do not supply names.

A young woman was madly in love with a young man, and she gave the
servant man a jug of beer for procuring a frog for her.  This he did; and
she took the poor creature to the garden, and thrust several pins into
its back.  The tortured creature writhed under the pain, but the cruel
girl did not cease until the required number had been inserted.  Then she
placed the frog under a vessel to prevent its escape, and turning to my
informant, she said, "There, he will now come to our house this evening."
The man certainly came, and when he entered she smiled at my informant,
and then both went together to the lacerated frog, and the pins were
extracted one by one from its back, and the wounded animal was set at
liberty.  My informant said that the hard-hearted girl mumbled something
both when inserting and extracting the pins.

It was believed that the spirit of a person could be invoked and that it
would appear, after the performance of certain ceremonies, to the person
who was engaged in the weird undertaking.  Thus a young woman who had
gone round the church seven times on All Hallow Eve came home to her
mistress, who was in the secret that she was going to _rhamanta_, and
said, "Why did you send master to frighten me?"  But the master had not
left the house.  His wife perceived that it was the spirit of her husband
that had appeared to the girl, and she requested the girl to be kind to
her children, "for," said she, "you will soon be mistress here."  In a
short time afterwards the wife died, and the girl became her successor.

I obtained the preceding tale from the Rev. P. Edwards, son of the Rector
of Llanwyddelan, Montgomeryshire, and the lady who related the tale of
herself to Mr. Edwards said the occurrence took place when she was
servant girl.

There are several versions of the above tale to be met with in many
places in Wales.

I will give one, omitting names, from my work on "_Old Stone Crosses_,"
p. 203:--"An aged woman in Gyffylliog parish, who is still alive (1886),
saw her husband by _rhamanta_; and so did her fellow-servant.  I am
indebted to Mr. Jones, Woodland Farm, to whom the woman related it, for
the story I am about to give.  When young women, she and her
fellow-servant, in accordance with the practice of the country,
determined to obtain a sight of the men whom they were to marry.  The
mistress was let into the secret that that night one of the two was going
to raise the veil of the future, and the other the following night.  As
the clock began striking twelve the fellow-servant began striking the
floor with a strap, repeating the doggerel lines

    "Am gyd-fydio i gyd-ffatio,"

and almost immediately she saw her master come down stairs.  The girl
innocently the next day asked her mistress why she had sent her master
down stairs to frighten her.  The answer of her mistress was, 'Take care
of my children.'  This girl ultimately married her master.  The next
night it was the other girl's turn, and she saw a dark man, whom she had
never seen before; but in the course of a week or so, a stranger came
into the farmyard, and she at once perceived that it was the person whom
she had seen when divining.  Upon inquiry, she ascertained that he was a
married man, but in time his wife died, and the girl became his wife."

There were several ways of proceeding by young girls who were anxious to
ascertain whom they were to marry.  One of these was by means of yarn.
This divination was usually performed by two young girls after the family
had retired for the night.  It has been called _Coel ede wlan_, or the
yarn test, and under this name I will describe the process.

_Coel Ede Wlan_, _or the Yarn Test_.

Two young women took a ball of yarn and doubled the threads, and then
tied tiny pieces of wood along these threads so as to form a miniature
ladder.  Then they went upstairs together, and opening the window threw
this artificial ladder to the ground, and then the one who was performing
the incantation commenced winding the yarn back, saying the while:--

    "Y fi sy'n dirwyn
    Pwy sy'n dal?"

    I am winding,
    Who is holding?

This was done three times, and if no lover made his appearance, then for
that year her chances of marriage were gone.  The next evening the other
girl in the same manner tried her fortune, and possibly better luck would
attend her trial.  It was believed that the spirit of the coming husband
would mount this ladder and present himself to his future wife.

The Rev. R. Jones, rector of Llanycil, told me the following tale.  Two
young men from Festiniog went to court two young girls in the parish of
Maentwrog, servants at a farm called Gellidywyll.  As they were going
towards the farm one of them said, "Let me rest awhile."  He at once
seated himself on the ground, and apparently he fell asleep immediately.
This surprised his friend, but he was thoroughly frightened when he saw
_a blue light emanate_ from his mouth, and he attempted to awaken the
man, but he failed to arouse him, he seemed as if dead.  However, after
awhile, the blue light was seen returning, and it entered the mouth of
the sleeper, and he instantly awoke, and they proceeded together towards
Gellidywyll.  At the very time that the man felt an irresistible
inclination to sleep, his love had used the yarn incantation, and the
unconscious man during his short sleep dreamt that he had seen his
sweetheart in the window, and the girl said that he had appeared to her
at the window.  In a few months after this proof of true love they were

Another form of incantation was to walk around the church seven or nine
times on certain nights.  This I will call the _Twca Test_ or _Knife
Test_.  This was a very common form of incantation.

_Divination with the Twca or Knife_.

The proceeding was as follows:--The party who wished to know whom he, or
she, was to marry, went to the church secretly and walked around it seven
times, repeating the while these words:--

    "Dyma'r Twca,
    Lle mae'r wain?"

    Here's the knife,
    Where's the sheath?

And it was thought that the spirit of his or her life partner would
appear to the person who held the knife, with the sheath in his or her
hand, and that it would be found that the one fitted the other exactly.
I have been told by a person who resorted to this test that if the person
was to become a wife, her lover would certainly appear to her; if she was
to die an old maid then a coffin would meet her.  The superstition is
mentioned in _Bardd Cwsg_--

"Fe glywai rai yn son am fyned i droi o gwmpas yr Eglwys i weled eu
cariadau, a pheth a wnaeth y catffwl ond ymddangos i'r ynfydion yn ei lun
ei hun."  That is in English:--

"He heard some persons talking of going round the church to see their
sweethearts, but what did the stupid one (the devil) do, but appear to
the foolish things in his own person."

_The Washing Test_.

Another well-known and often practised form of divination was for a young
woman to take an article to wash, such as a stocking, to the water-spout
or _pistyll_, and with her she carried two pieces of wood wherewith to
strike the article which was being washed.  She went on her knees and
commenced striking the stocking, saying the while:--

    "Am gyd-fydio i gyd-ffatio."

    We'll live together to strike together.

It was thought that her future husband would then appear, take hold of
the other piece of wood, and join her in her work; should the wraith
appear, a marriage within six months followed.

_Troi Crysau or Clothes Drying Test_.

Young maidens washed linen after the household had retired, and placed
the articles by the fire to dry, and then watched to see who should come
at midnight to turn the clothes.  In this case, again, the evil one is
said to have entered the kitchen to perform this work for the young
woman, and also it is affirmed that a coffin has, ere this, moved along
through the room, a sure prognostication that she was doomed to die
single.  _Bardd Cwsg_ mentions this practice.

He writes in the third part of his book, where a devil is accused in the
Parliament of Hell, thus:--"Aeth nos _Ystwyll_ ddiweddaf i ymweled a dwy
ferch ieuanc yng Nghymru _oedd yn troi crysau_, ac yn lle denu'r genethod
i faswedd, yn rhith llanc glandeg, myned ag elor i sobreiddio un; a myned
a thrwst rhyfel at y llall mewn corwynt uffernol."

"He went on the night of _Epiphany_ to visit two young girls in Wales,
who were turning shirts, and, instead of enticing them to folly, in the
form of a handsome young man, he took to the one a coffin to sober her,
and to the other he appeared in a hellish whirlwind, with a horrible

Happy, however, is the young woman should the man she loves appear, for
he is to be her husband.

_Hemp Seed Sowing_.

A young married woman, a native of Denbighshire, told me that if a young
woman sowed hemp seed, the figure of her lover would appear and follow
her.  This was to be done by night on Hallow Eve.  I find from _English
Folk-Lore_, p. 15, that this divination is practised in Devonshire on St.
Valentine's Eve, and that the young woman runs round the church
repeating, without stopping, the following lines:--

    "I sow hempseed, hempseed I sow,
       He that loves me best
    Come, and after me now."

    _Sage Gathering_.

A young person who went of a night to the garden, and stripped the leaves
of the sage tree, would, as the clock struck twelve, be joined by her
lover.  This was to be done on All Hallow Eve.

_Pullet's Egg Divination_.

Mr. J. Roberts, Plas Einion, Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, told me the
following:--When he was a young man, he, his sister, and the servant man,
formed a company to find out by divination their future life partners.
They procured a pullet's egg, it was emptied into a cup, to this was
added flour and salt, in equal proportions, these ingredients were mixed
together, made into three small cakes, and baked.  They all ate one half
of their cake, and the other half was placed in their respective
stockings, to be placed under their bolsters.  They went upstairs
backward, and thus to bed, preserving the while, absolute silence.  It
was believed, he said, that they should that night, in their dreams, if
everything were carried out properly, see their partners, who would come
to their bedsides to offer them a drink of water.

_The Candle and Pin Divination_.

The process is as follows:--A couple of young women meet, and stick pins
in a candle, and if the divination acts properly the last pin drops out
of the candle at 12 o'clock at night, and then the future husband of the
girl to whom that pin belongs appears.

I must not name the lady whom I am indebted to for the following
information, but she told me that when she was a young woman, she, and
her friend, took part in this prying into the future, and exactly at 12
o'clock her companion's pin fell out of the candle, and at that very
instant there was a knocking at the door, and in great fright both ran
upstairs, but the knocking continued, and her friend put her head out of
the window to enquire who was there, and my informant told me that the
man at the door became her friend's husband, though at the time they were
consulting the future she was desperately in love with another man.

There were other ways in which people could _Rhamant_.  Enough has been
said on this subject, but there are other practices resorted to, having
much the same object in view, which I will now relate.

_To ascertain the condition of the Person whom you are to Marry_.

_Water in Basin Divination_.

Should young persons wish to know whether their husbands were to be
bachelors, or their wives spinsters, the following test was to be
resorted to:--

Three persons were necessary to carry out the test.  These three young
ladies were to join in the undertaking and they were to proceed as
follows:--On _Nos Calan Gauaf_, All Hallow Eve, at night, three basins
were to be placed on a table, _one filled with clear spring water_, _one
with muddy water_, _and the other empty_.  The young ladies in turn were
led blindfolded into the room, and to the table, and they were told to
place their hands on the basins.  She who placed her hand on the clear
spring water was to marry a bachelor, whilst the one who touched the
basin with muddy water was to wed a widower, and should the empty basin
be touched it foretold that for that person a life of single blessedness
was in store.

_Hairs of a Lover found under a Holly Tree_.

This test is to be carried out on All Hallow Eve.  The young person walks
backwards to a holly tree, takes a handful of grass from underneath it,
and then carries the leaves to the light, and she then sees among the
grass several hairs of her true lover.

_The Bible and Key Divination_.

A key is taken, and placed on the 16th verse of the 1st chapter of
Ruth:--"And Ruth said, intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from
following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou
lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

The Bible is then closed with that part of the key that enters the lock
on this verse.  The person who wishes to look into the future takes the
garter off his left leg, and then ties the Bible round with his garter,
which also passes through the loop of the key.  He has with him a friend
who joins in carrying out the test.  Both men place one of their big or
central fingers on the key underneath the loop, and press the key, so as
to keep the Bible steady and the key from falling.  Then the man, who
does not consult the future, reads the verse above written, and should
the Bible turn towards the other man, it is an affirmative answer that
the young lady he loves will accept him.

The writer received this account from a man who had himself consulted the
future by the Bible and Key.

_Testing a Lover's Love by Cracking of Nuts_.

This divination is common to many countries, but the writer knows that it
is resorted to on _All Hallows Eve_ in Denbighshire by young ladies,
partly, it may be in fun, and partly in earnest.  The plan of proceeding
is as follows:--Nuts are placed on the bars of the fire grate, equal in
number to the young lady's lovers, and the nut that cracks first, and
jumps off the bar, represents her true love.  She has, of course fixed in
her mind the lover each nut stands for.  So common is this test that in
the North of England _All Hallows Eve_ is called "_Nutcrack night_."

_Gay_ describes the ceremony:--

    Two hazel nuts I throw into the flame
    And to each nut I give a sweetheart's name;
    This with the loudest bounce me sore amazed,
    That in a flame of brightest-colour blazed;
    As blazed the nut, so may thy passions grow,
    For 'twas thy nut that did so brightly glow.

_Burns_, in his poem of _Hallowe'en_ also mentions the nut divination.

    The auld guidwife's weel-hoordet nits
       Are round an' round divided,
    An' monie lads' and lasses' fates
       Are there that night decided;
    Some kindle, couthie, side by side,
       An' burn thegither trimly;
    Some start awa' wi' saucy pride,
       And jump out-owre the chimlie
             Fu' high that night.
    Jean slips in twa' wi' tentie e'e;
       Wha 'twas, she wadna tell;
    But this is Jock, an' this is me,
       She says in to hersel':
    He bleez'd owre her, and she owre him,
       As they wad never mair part;
    'Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
       An' Jean had e'en a sair heart
             To see't that night.

_The Apple Pip Trial of Lovers_.

The fair lady takes as many pips as she has lovers, and these she places
on the point of a knife, which she inserts between the bars of the fire
grate.  Each pip represents a lover, and the pip that swells out and
jumps into the fire indicates that he is the best lover for whom the pip


The next subject I shall treat of is curious, and partakes of the nature
of spiritualism.  I hardly know by what other word to describe it,
therefore I will give particulars, so as to make the matter intelligible
to the reader, and call it "Spiritualism."

It was believed that it was possible for the spirit to leave the body,
and then, after an absence of some time, to return again and re-enter it.
The form the spirit assumed when it quitted the body was a bluish light
like that of a candle, but somewhat longer.  This light left the body
through the mouth, and re-entered the same way.

The writer was informed by a certain female friend at Llandegla that she
had seen a bluish light leave the mouth of a person who was sick, light
which she thought was the life, or spirit of that person, but the person
did not immediately die.

For another tale of this kind I am indebted to Mr. R.  Roberts, who lives
in the village of Clocaenog, near Ruthin.  He was not himself a witness
of the occurrence, but vouches for the accuracy of the report.  It is as

_A Spirit leaving and re-entering the body_.

A man was in love with two young girls, and they were both in love with
him, and they knew that he flirted with them both.  It is but natural to
suppose that these young ladies did not, being rivals, love each other.
It can well be believed that they heartily disliked each other.  One
evening, according to custom, this young man spent the night with one of
his sweethearts, and to all appearance she fell asleep, or was in a
trance, for she looked very pale.  He noticed her face, and was
frightened by its death-like pallor, but he was greatly surprised to see
_a bluish flame proceed out of her mouth_, and go towards the door.  He
followed this light, and saw it take the direction of the house in which
his other love lived, and he observed that from that house, too, a like
light was travelling, as if to meet the light that he was following.  Ere
long these lights met each other, and they apparently fought, for they
dashed into each other, and flitted up and down, as if engaged in mortal
combat.  The strife continued for some time, and then the lights
separated and departed in the direction of the respective houses where
the two young women lived.  The man returned to the house of the young
woman with whom he was spending the night, following close on the light,
which he saw going before him, and which re-entered her body through her
mouth; and then she immediately awoke.

Here, presumedly, these two troubled young ladies met in a disembodied
form to contend for the possession of this young man.

A tale much like the preceding occurs on page 283.

There is something akin to this spectral appearance believed in in
Scotland, where the apparition is called _Wraith_, which word is defined
in _Jameson's Etymological Dictionary_, published by Gardner, 1882,

"_Wraith_, _etc_.: Properly an apparition in the exact likeness of a
person, supposed by the vulgar to be seen before, or soon after, death."

This definition does not correspond exactly to what has been said of the
Welsh spirit appearance, but it teaches the possibility, or shows the
people's faith in the possibility, of the soul's existence apart from the
body.  It would seem that in Scotland this spectre is seen before, or
after, death; but the writer has read of a case in which the _wraith_ of
a person appeared to himself and was the means of saving his life, and
that he long survived after his other self had rescued him from extreme

Lately a legend of Lake Ogwen went the round of the papers, but the
writer, who lived many years in the neighbourhood of that lake, never
heard of it until he saw it in the papers in 1887.  As it bears on the
subject under consideration, I will in part transcribe the story:--

"On one of these occasions a friend who had known something of the Welsh
gipsies repeated to Rossetti an anecdote which had been told him as a
'quite true fack' by a Romani girl--an anecdote touching another Romani
girl _whose wraith had been spirited away in the night from the_
'_camping place_' by the incantations of a wicked lover, had been seen
rushing towards Ogwen Lake in the moonlight, 'While all the while that
'ere same chavi wur asleep an' a-sobbin' in her daddy's livin'
waggin.'"--_Bye-Gones_, Ap. 13, 1887.

This tale resembles in many respects the one given on page 291, for there
is in both a lover and a sleeping girl, and the girl does not die, but
there are minor differences in the tales, as might be expected.

In Germany like tales are current.  Baring-Gould, in his _Myths of the
Middle Ages_, pp. 423-4, says:--

    "The soul in German mythology is supposed to bear some analogy to a
    mouse.  In Thuringia, at Saalfeld, a servant girl fell asleep whilst
    her companions were shelling nuts.  They observed _a little red mouse
    creep out of her mouth_ and run out of the window.  One of the
    fellows present shook the sleeper but could not wake her, so he moved
    her to another place.  Presently the mouse ran back to the former
    place and dashed about seeking the girl; not finding her, it
    vanished; at the same moment the girl died."

One other tale on this subject I will give, which appeared in the _North
Wales Chronicle_ for April 22, 1883, where it is headed--

_A Spiritualistic Story from Wales_.

"In an article relating to spiritualism in the February number of the
_Fortnightly Review_, a story was told which is here shortened.  The
anecdote is given on the authority of a Welsh gentleman named Roberts,
who resided at Cheetham, near Manchester, and the scene of the adventure
is Beaumaris, the date 184--.  The narrator was then an apprentice in a
draper's shop.  His master was strict, and allowed his apprentice but
half an hour for dinner, which he had to take at his lodgings, some
distance away from the shop.  At whatever time he left the shop he had to
be back there punctually at half past twelve.  One day he was late, and
while hastily swallowing his meat, his aunt being at the table, he looked
up and saw that the clock pointed to _half past_ twelve!  He was
thunderstruck, and, with the fear of his master before him, all but lost
consciousness, and was indeed in a dazed state for a few minutes, as was
noticed by those at the table.  Shaking this off by an effort, he again
looked at the clock, and, to his relief and astonishment, saw that the
hands only pointed to a _quarter past_ twelve.  Then he quickly finished
his dinner and returned to the shop at the appointed time.  There he was
told that at a _quarter past_ twelve he had returned to the shop, put up
his hat, moved about in an absent manner, had been scolded, and had
thereupon put on his hat again and walked out.  Several persons on the
one hand corroborated this story, whilst on the other his aunt was
positive that, although at that moment he had fallen into a strange fit
of abstraction, he had never left the table.  This is the narrative,
attested by a gentleman now living.  The year 184-- is not so far back;
perhaps there are still those residing on the upper side of the turf at
Beaumaris who remember the circumstance."

This tale in its nature is not unlike the others herein given.  It
belongs to the supernatural side of life.

However improbable these stories may appear, they point to the notion
that spirits can exist independently of the body.  The Irish _fetch_, the
Scotch _wraith_, and the Welsh _Canwyll Corph_, are alike in their
teaching, but of this latter I shall speak more particularly when
treating of death portents.

_A Doctor called from his bed by a Voice_.

Mr. Hugh Lloyd, Llanfihangel-Glyn-Myfyr, who received the story from Dr.
Davies, the gentleman who figures in the tale, informed me of the
following curious incidents:--

Doctor Davies, of Cerrig-y-drudion, had gone to bed and slept, but in the
night he heard someone under his bedroom window shout that he was wanted
in a farmhouse called Craigeirchan, which was three miles from the
doctor's abode, and the way thereto was at all times beset with
difficulties, such as opening and shutting the many gates; but of a night
the journey to this mountain farm was one that few would think of taking,
unless called to do so by urgent business.  The doctor did not pay much
attention to the first request, but he lay quietly on the bed listening,
and almost immediately he heard the same voice requesting him to go at
once to Craigeirchan, as he was wanted there.  He now got up to the
window, but could not see anyone; he therefore re-entered his bed, but
for the third time he heard the voice telling him to go to the farm
named, and now he opened the window and said that he would follow the
messenger forthwith.  The doctor got up, went to the stable, saddled the
horse, and off he started for a long dismal ride over a wild tract of
mountain country; such a journey he had often taken.  He was not
surprised that he could not see, nor hear, anyone in advance, for he knew
that Welsh lads are nimble of foot, and could, by cutting across fields,
etc., outstrip a rider.  At last he neared the house where he was wanted,
and in the distance he saw a light, and by this sign he was convinced
that there was sickness in the house.  He drove up to the door and
entered the abode, to the surprise but great joy of the inmates.  To his
inquiry after the person who had been sent for him, he was told that no
one had left the house, nor had anyone been requested by the family to go
to the doctor.  But he was told his services were greatly wanted, for the
wife was about to become a mother, and the doctor was instrumental in
saving both the life of the child and mother.

What makes this tale all the more curious is the fact, that the doctor
was an unbeliever in such things as ghosts, etc., and he had often
enjoyed a quiet laugh over the tales he heard of a supernatural kind.
Mr. Lloyd asked the doctor whether he had heard of the woman's condition,
but he affirmed he was ignorant of everything connected with the place
and family.

_Another Tale of a Doctor_.

I received the following tale from the Rev. Philip Edwards, formerly
curate at Selattyn, near Oswestry:--

There was, or perhaps is--for my informant says he believes the lady is
still alive--in a place called Swyddffynnon, Cardiganshire, a Mrs. Evans,
who had a strange vision.  Mr. Edwards's father called one evening upon
Mrs. Evans, and found her sitting by the fire in company with a few
female friends, greatly depressed.  On enquiring as to the cause of her
distress, she stated that she had had a strange sight that very evening.
She saw, she said, in the unoccupied chamber at the further end of the
house, a light, and, whilst she was wondering what light it was, she
observed a tall, dark, stranger gentleman, who had a long, full beard,
enter the house and go straight to the room where the light was, but
before going in he took off his hat and placed it on the table; then he
took off his gloves and threw them into the hat, and then he placed his
riding whip across the hat, and without uttering a single word he entered
the lit-up room.  Shortly afterwards she saw the stranger emerge from the
room and leave the house, and on looking again towards the room she saw
that the light had disappeared.  It was, she said, this apparition that
had disconcerted her.  Some time after this vision Mrs. Evans was in a
critical state, and as she lived far away from a doctor my informant's
father was requested to ride to Aberystwyth for one.  He found, however,
that the two doctors who then resided in that town were from home.  But
he was informed at the inn that there was a London doctor staying at
Hafod.  He determined, whether he could or could not, induce this
gentleman to accompany him to Swyddffynnon, to go there.  The gentleman,
on hearing the urgency of the case, consented to visit the sick woman.
Mr. Edwards and the doctor rode rapidly to their destination, and Mr.
Edwards was surprised to find that the doctor did everything exactly as
had been stated by Mrs. Evans.  There was also a light in the chamber,
for there the neighbours had placed the still-born child, and it was the
providential help of the London doctor that saved Mrs. Evans's life.  I
may add that the personal appearance of this gentleman corresponded with
the description given of him by Mrs. Evans.


These are common, in one form or other, to all nations.  I will give a
list of those which were formerly in high repute in Wales.

_The Corpse Bird_, _or Deryn Corph_.

This was a bird that came flapping its wings against the window of the
room in which lay a sick person, and this visit was considered a certain
omen of that person's death.  The bird not only fluttered about the
lighted window, but also made a screeching noise whilst there, and also
as it flew away.  The bird, singled out for the dismal honour of being a
death prognosticator, was the tawny, or screech owl.  Many are the
instances, which have been told me by persons who heard the bird's noise,
of its having been the precursor of death.  This superstition is common
to all parts of Wales.

_A Crowing Hen_.

This bird, too, is supposed to indicate the death of an inmate of the
house which is its home; or, if not the death, some sore disaster to one
or other of the members of that family.  The poor hen, though, as soon as
it is heard crowing, certainly foretells its own death, for no one will
keep such an uncanny bird on the premises, and consequently the crowing
hen loses its life.

It is a common saying that--

    A whistling woman, and a _crowing hen_,
    Are neither good for God nor men.

Should a hen lay a small egg it was to be thrown over the head, and over
the roof of the house, or a death would follow.

_A Cock Crowing in the Night_.

This, too, was thought to foretell a death, but whose death, depended on
the direction of the bird's head whilst crowing.  As soon as the crowing
was heard someone went to ascertain the position of the cock's head, and
when it was seen that his head was turned from their own house towards
someone else's abode, the dwellers in that house slept in peace,
believing that a neighbour, and not one of themselves, was about to die.
It was supposed, that to make the prognostication sure, the cock would
have to crow three times in succession before or about midnight, and in
the same direction.

_The Corpse Candle--Canwyll Corph_.

The corpse candle, or _canwyll corph_, was a light like that of a candle,
which was said to issue from the house where a death was about to occur,
and take the course of the funeral procession to the burial place.  This
was the usual way of proceeding, but this mysterious light was also
thought to wend its way to the abode of a person about to die.  Instances
could be given of both kinds of appearances.

I have met with persons in various parts of Wales who told me that they
had seen a corpse candle.  They described it as a pale bluish light
moving slowly along a short distance above the ground.  Strange tales are
told of the course the light has taken.  Once it was seen to go over
hedges and to make straight for the churchyard wall.  This was not then
understood, but when the funeral actually took place the ground was
covered with snow, and the drift caused the procession to proceed along
the fields and over the hedges and churchyard wall, as indicated by the
corpse candle.

It was ill jesting with the corpse candle.  The Rev. J. Jenkins, Vicar of
Hirnant, told me that a drunken sailor at Borth said he went up to a
corpse candle and attempted to light his pipe at it, but he was whisked
away, and when he came to himself he discovered that he was far off the
road in the bog.

The Rev. Edmund Jones, in his book entitled _A Relation of Ghosts and
Apparitions_, _etc_., states:--

    "Some have seen the resemblance of a skull carrying the candle;
    others the shape of the person that is to die carrying the candle
    between his fore-fingers, holding the light before his face.  Some
    have said that they saw the shape of those who were to be at the

Those who have followed the light state that it proceeded to the church,
lit up the building, emerged therefrom, and then hovered awhile over a
certain spot in the churchyard, and then sank into the earth at the place
where the deceased was to be buried.

There is a tradition that St. David, by prayer, obtained the corpse
candle as a sign to the living of the reality of another world, and that
originally it was confined to his diocese.  This tradition finds no place
in the Life of the Saint, as given in the _Cambro-British Saints_, and
there are there many wonderful things recorded of that saint.

It was thought possible for a man to meet his own Candle.  There is a
tale of a person who met a Candle and struck it with his walking-stick,
when it became sparks, which, however, re-united.  The man was greatly
frightened, became sick, and died.  At the spot where he had struck the
candle the bier broke and the coffin fell to the ground, thus
corroborating the man's tale.

I will now record one tale not of the usual kind, which was told me by a
person who is alive.

_Tale of a Corpse Candle_.

My informant told me that one John Roberts, Felin-y-Wig, was in the habit
of sitting up a short time after his family had retired to rest to smoke
a quiet pipe, and the last thing he usually did before retiring for the
night was to take a peep into the night.  One evening, whilst peering
around, he saw in the distance a light, where he knew there was no house,
and on further notice he observed that it was slowly going along the road
from Bettws-Gwerfil-Goch towards Felin-y-Wig.  Where the road dipped the
light disappeared, only, however, to appear again in such parts of the
road as were visible from John Roberts's house.  At first Roberts thought
that the light proceeded from a lantern, but this was so unusual an
occurrence in those parts that he gave up this idea, and intently
followed the motions of the light.  It approached Roberts's house, and
evidently this was its destination.  He endeavoured to ascertain whether
the light was carried by a man or woman, but he could see nothing save
the light.  When, therefore, it turned into the lane approaching
Roberts's house, in considerable fear he entered the house and closed the
door, awaiting, with fear, the approach of the light.  To his horror, he
perceived the light passing through the shut door, and it played in a
quivering way underneath the roof, and then vanished.  That very night
the servant man died, and his bed was right above the spot where the
light had disappeared.

_Spectral Funerals_, _or Drychiolaeth_.

This was a kind of shadowy funeral which foretold the real one.  In South
Wales it goes by the name _toilu_, _toili_, or _y teulu_ (the family)
_anghladd_, unburied; in Montgomeryshire it is called _Drychiolaeth_,

I cannot do better than quote from Mr. Hamer's _Parochial Account of
Llanidloes (Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. x., p. 256), a description
of one of these phantom funerals.  All were much alike.  He writes:--

    "It is only a few years ago that some excitement was caused amongst
    the superstitious portion of the inhabitants by the statement of a
    certain miner, who at the time was working at the Brynpostig mine.
    On his way to the mine one dark night, he said that he was thoroughly
    frightened in China Street on seeing a spectral funeral leaving the
    house of one Hoskiss, who was then very ill in bed.  In his fright
    the miner turned his back on the house, with the intention of going
    home, but almost fainting he could scarcely move out of the way of
    the advancing procession, which gradually approached, at last
    surrounded him, and then passed on down Longbridge Street, in the
    direction of the church.  The frightened man managed with difficulty
    to drag himself home, but he was so ill that he was unable to go to
    work for several days."

The following weird tale I received from the Rev. Philip Edwards, whom I
have already mentioned (p. 282).  I may state that I have heard variants
of the story from other sources.

While the Manchester and Milford Railway was in course of construction
there was a large influx of navvies into Wales, and many a frugal farmer
added to his incomings by lodging and boarding workmen engaged on the
line.  Several of these men were lodged at a farm called Penderlwyngoch,
occupied by a man named Hughes.

One evening when the men were seated round the fire, which burned
brightly, they heard the farm dogs bark, as they always did at the
approach of strangers.  This aroused the attention of the men, and they
perceived from the furious barking of the dogs that someone was coming
towards the house.  By-and-by they heard the tramp of feet, mingled with
the howling of the frightened dogs, and then the dogs ceased barking,
just as if they had slunk away in terror.  Before many minutes had
elapsed the inmates heard the back door opened, and a number of people
entered the house, carrying a heavy load resembling a dead man, which
they deposited in the parlour, and all at once the noise ceased.  The men
in great dread struck a light, and proceeded to the parlour to ascertain
what had taken place.  But they could discover nothing there, neither
were there any marks of feet in the room, nor could they find any
footprints outside the house, but they saw the cowering dogs in the yard
looking the picture of fright.  After this fruitless investigation of the
cause of this dread sound, the Welsh people present only too well knew
the cause of this visit.  On the very next day one of the men who sat by
the fire was killed, and his body was carried by his fellow-workmen to
the farm house, in fact everything occurred as rehearsed the previous
night.  Most of the people who witnessed the vision are, my informant
says, still alive.

_Cyhyraeth--Death Sound_.

This was thought to be a sound made by a crying spirit.  It was
plaintive, yet loud and terrible.  It made the hair stand on end and the
blood become cold; and a whole neighbourhood became depressed whenever
the awful sound was heard.  It was unlike all other voices, and it could
not be mistaken.  It took in its course the way the funeral procession
was to go, starting from the house of the dead, and ending in the
churchyard where the deceased was to be buried.  It was supposed to
announce a death the morning before it occurred, or, at most, a few days
before.  It was at one time thought to belong to persons born in the
Diocese of Llandaff, but it must have travelled further north, for it is
said to have been heard on the Kerry Hills in Montgomeryshire.  The
function of the _Cyhyraeth_ was much the same as that of the Corpse
Candle, but it appealed to the sense of sound instead of to the sense of
sight.  Dogs, when they heard the distressing sound of the _Cyhyraeth_,
showed signs of fear and ran away to hide.

_Lledrith--Spectre of a Person_.

This apparition of a friend has in the Scotch wraith, or Irish fetch its
counterpart.  It has been said that people have seen friends walking to
meet them, and that, when about to shake hands with the approaching
person, it has vanished into air.  This optical illusion was considered
to be a sign of the death of the person thus seen.

_Tolaeth--Death Rapping or Knocking_.

The death rappings are said to be heard in carpenters' workshops, and
that they resembled the noise made by a carpenter when engaged in
coffin-making.  A respectable miner's wife told me that a female friend
told her, she had often heard this noise in a carpenter's shop close by
her abode, and that one Sunday evening this friend came and told her that
the _Tolaeth_ was at work then, and if she would come with her she should
hear it.  She complied, and there she heard this peculiar sound, and was
thoroughly frightened.  There was no one in the shop at the time, the
carpenter and his wife being in chapel.  Sometimes this noise was heard
by the person who was to die, but generally by his neighbours.  The
sounds were heard in houses even, and when this was the case the noise
resembled the noise made as the shroud is being nailed to the coffin.

_A Raven's Croaking_.

A raven croaking hoarsely as it flew through the air became the angel of
death to some person over whose house it flew.  It was a bird of ill

_The Owl_.

This bird's dismal and persistent screeching near an abode also foretold
the death of an inmate of that house.

_A Solitary Crow_.

The cawing of a solitary crow on a tree near a house indicates a death in
that house.

_The Dog's Howl_.

A dog howling on the doorsteps or at the entrance of a house also
foretold death.  The noise was that peculiar howling noise which dogs
sometimes make.  It was in Welsh called _yn udo_, or crying.

_Missing a Butt_.

Should a farmer in sowing wheat, or other kind of corn, or potatoes, or
turnips, miss a row or butt, it was a token of death.

_Stopping of a Clock_.

The unaccountable stopping of the kitchen clock generally created a
consternation in a family, for it was supposed to foretell the death of
one of the family.

_A Goose Flying over a House_.

This unusual occurrence prognosticated a death in that house.

_Goose or Hen Laying a Small Egg_.

This event also was thought to be a very bad omen, if not a sign of

_Hen laying Two Eggs in the same day_.

Should a hen lay two eggs in the same day, it was considered a sign of
death.  I have been told that a hen belonging to a person who lived in
Henllan, near Denbigh, laid an egg early in the morning, and another
about seven o'clock p.m. in the same day, and the master died.

_Thirteen at a Table_.

Should thirteen sit at a table it was believed that the first to leave
would be buried within the year.


Should any person bring heather into a house, he brought death to one or
other of the family by so doing.

_Death Watch_.

This is a sound, like the ticking of a watch, made by a small insect.  It
is considered a sign of death, and hence its name, _Death Watch_.

A working man's wife, whose uncle was ill in bed, told the writer, that
she had no hopes of his recovery, because death ticks were heard night
and day in his room.  The man, who was upwards of eighty years old, died.

_Music and Bird Singing heard before Death_.

The writer, both in Denbighshire and Carnarvonshire, was told that the
dying have stated that they heard sweet voices singing in the air, and
they called the attention of the watchers to the angelic sounds, and
requested perfect stillness, so as not to lose a single note of the
heavenly music.

A young lad, whom the writer knew--an intelligent and promising
boy--whilst lying on his death-bed, told his mother that he heard a bird
warbling beautifully outside the house, and in rapture he listened to the
bird's notes.

His mother told me of this, and she stated further, that she had herself
on three different occasions previously to her eldest daughter's death,
in the middle of the night, distinctly heard singing of the most lovely
kind, coming, as she thought, from the other side of the river.  She went
to the window and opened it, but the singing immediately ceased, and she
failed to see anyone on the spot where she had imagined the singing came
from.  My informant also told me that she was not the only person who
heard lovely singing before the death of a friend.  She gave me the name
of a nurse, who before the death of a person, whose name was also given
me, heard three times the most beautiful singing just outside the sick
house.  She looked out into the night, but failed to see anyone.  Singing
of this kind is expected before the death of every good person, and it is
a happy omen that the dying is going to heaven.

In the _Life of Tegid_, which is given in his _Gwaith Barddonawl_, p. 20,
it is stated:--

"Yn ei absenoldeb o'r Eglwys, pan ar wely angeu, ar fore dydd yr
Arglwydd, tra yr oedd offeiriad cymmydogaethol yn darllen yn ei le yn
Llan Nanhyfer, boddwyd llais y darllenydd gan fwyalchen a darawai drwy yr
Eglwys accen uchel a pherseiniol yn ddisymwth iawn. . . .  Ar ol dyfod
o'r Eglwys cafwyd allan mai ar yr amser hwnw yn gywir yr ehedodd enaid
mawr Tegid o'i gorph i fyd yr ysprydoedd."

Which translated is as follows:--

In his absence from Church, when lying on his deathbed, in the morning of
the Lord's Day, whilst a neighbouring clergyman was taking the service
for him in Nanhyfer Church, the voice of the reader was suddenly drowned
by the beautiful song of a thrush, that filled the whole Church. . . .
It was ascertained on leaving the church that at that very moment the
soul of Tegid left his body for the world of spirits.

In the _Myths of the Middle Ages_, p. 426, an account is given of "The
Piper of Hamelin," and there we have a description of this spirit song:--

    Sweet angels are calling to me from yon shore,
    Come over, come over, and wander no more.

Miners believe that some of their friends have the gift of seeing fatal
accidents before they occur.  A miner in the East of Denbighshire told me
of instances of this belief and he gave circumstantial proof of the truth
of his assertion.  Akin to this faith is the belief that people have seen
coffins or spectral beings enter houses, both of which augur a coming

In _The Lives of the Cambro-British Saints_, p. 444, it is stated that
previously to the death of St. David "the whole city was filled with the
music of angels."

The preceding death omens do not, perhaps, exhaust the number, but they
are quite enough to show how prevalent they were, and how prone the
people were to believe in such portents.  Some of them can be accounted
for on natural grounds, but the majority are the creation of the
imagination, strengthened possibly in certain instances by remarkable
coincidences which were remembered, whilst if no death occurred after any
of the omens, the failure was forgotten.


Folk-lore respecting animals is common in Wales.  It has been supposed
that mountainous countries are the cradles of superstitions.  But this
is, at least, open to a doubt; for most places perpetuate these strange
fancies, and many of them have reached our days from times of old, and
the exact country whence they came is uncertain.  Still, it cannot be
denied that rugged, rocky, sparsely inhabited uplands, moorlands, and
fens, are congenial abodes for wild fancies, that have their foundation
in ignorance, and are perpetuated by the credulity of an imaginative
people that lead isolated and solitary lives.

The bleating of the sheep, as they wander over a large expanse of barren
mountain land, is dismal indeed, and well might become ominous of storms
and disasters.  The big fat sheep, which are penned in the lowlands of
England, with a tinkling bell strapped to the neck of the king of the
flock, convey a notion of peace and plenty to the mind of the spectator,
that the shy active mountain sheep, with their angry grunt and stamping
of their feet never convey.  Still, these latter are endowed with an
instinct which the English mutton-producer does not exercise.  Welsh
sheep become infallible prognosticators of a change of weather; for, by a
never failing instinct, they leave the high and bare mountain ridges for
sheltered nooks, and crowd together when they detect the approach of a
storm.  Man does not observe atmospheric changes as quickly as sheep do,
and as sheep evidently possess one instinct which is strongly developed
and exercised, it is not unreasonable to suppose that man in a low state
of civilisation might credit animals with possessing powers which, if
observed, indicate or foretell other events beside storms.

Thus the lowly piping of the solitary curlew, the saucy burr of the
grouse, the screech of the owl, the croaking of the raven, the flight of
the magpie, the slowly flying heron, the noisy cock, the hungry seagull,
the shrill note of the woodpecker, the sportive duck, all become omens.

Bird omens have descended to us from remote antiquity.  Rome is credited
with having received its pseudo-science of omens from Etruria, but whence
came it there?  This semi-religious faith, like a river that has its
source in a far distant, unexplored mountain region, and meanders through
many countries, and does not exclusively belong to any one of the lands
through which it wanders; so neither does it seem that these credulities
belong to any one people or age; and it is difficult, if not impossible,
to trace to their origin, omens, divination, magic, witchcraft, and other
such cognate matters, which seem to belong to man's nature.

Readers of Livy remember how Romulus and Remus had recourse to bird omens
to determine which of the brothers should build Rome.  Remus saw six
vultures, and Romulus twelve; therefore, as his number was the greater,
to him fell the honour of building the famous city.

But this was not the only bird test known to the Romans.  Before a battle
those people consulted their game fowl to ascertain whether or not
victory was about to attend their arms.  If the birds picked up briskly
the food thrown to them victory was theirs, if they did so sluggishly the
omen was unpropitious, and consequently the battle was delayed.

Plutarch, in his "Life of Alexander," gives us many proofs of that great
general's credulity.  The historian says:--"Upon his (Alexander's)
approach to the walls (of Babylon) he saw a great number of crows
fighting, some of which fell down dead at his feet."  This was a bad
sign.  But I will not pursue the subject.  Enough has been said to prove
how common omens were.  I will now confine my remarks to Wales.

_Birds singing before February_.

Should the feathered songsters sing before February it is a sign of hard,
ungenial weather.  This applies particularly to the blackbird and
throstle.  The following lines embody this faith:--

    Os can yr adar cyn Chwefror, hwy griant cyn Mai.

    If birds sing before February, they will cry before May.

Thus their early singing prognosticates a prolonged winter.--_Bye-Gones_,
vol. i., p. 88.

_Birds flocking in early Autumn_.

When birds gather themselves together and form flocks in the early days
of autumn, it is thought to foretell an early and severe winter.

On the other hand, should they separate in early spring, and again
congregate in flocks, this shews that hard weather is to be expected, and
that winter will rest on the lap of May.

_Birds' Feathers_.

Feather beds should be made of domestic birds' feathers, such as geese,
ducks, and fowls.  Wild fowl feathers should not be mixed with these
feathers; for, otherwise, the sick will die hard, and thus the agony of
their last moments will be prolonged.

_The Cock_.

Caesar, Bk. v., c.12, tells us that the Celtic nation did not regard it
lawful to eat the cock.

It was thought that the devil assumed occasionally the form of a cock.
It is said that at Llanfor, near Bala, the evil spirit was driven out of
the church in the form of a cock, and laid in the river Dee.

Formerly the cock was offered to the water god.  And at certain Holy
Wells in Wales, such as that in the parish of Llandegla, it was customary
to offer to St. Tecla a cock for a male patient, and a hen for a female.
A like custom prevailed at St. Deifer's Well, Bodfari.  Classical readers
may remember that Socrates, before his death, desired his friend Crito to
offer a cock to AEsculapius.  "Crito," said he, and these were his last
words, "we owe a cock to AEsculapius, discharge that debt for me, and
pray do not forget it;" soon after which he breathed his last.

In our days, the above-mentioned superstitions do not prevail, but the
cock has not been resigned entirely to the cook.  By some means or other,
it still retains the power of announcing the visit of a friend; at least,
so says the mountain farmer's wife.

The good-wife in North Wales, when the cock comes to the door-sill and
there crows many times in succession, tells her children that "Some one
is coming to visit us, I wonder who it is."  Before nightfall a friend
drops in, and he is informed that he was expected, that the cock had
crowed time after time by the door, and that it was no good sending him
away, for he would come back and crow and crow, "and now," adds she, "you
have come."  "Is it not strange," says the good woman, "that he never
makes a mistake," and then follows a word of praise for chanticleer,
which the stranger endorses.

However much the hospitable liked to hear their cock crow in the day
time, he was not to crow at night.  But it was formerly believed that at
the crowing of the cock, fairies, spirits, ghosts, and goblins rushed to
their dread abodes.  Puck was to meet the Fairy King, "ere the first cock


Cock-fighting was once common in Wales, and it was said that the most
successful cock-fighters fought the bird that resembled the colour of the
day when the conflict took place; thus, the blue game-cock was brought
out on cloudy days, black when the atmosphere was inky in colour,
black-red on sunny days, and so on.

Charms for cocks have already been mentioned (p. 267).  These differed in
different places.  In Llansantffraid, Montgomeryshire, a crumb from the
communion table, taken therefrom at midnight following the administration
of the Holy Communion, was an infallible charm.  This was placed in the
socket of the steel spur, which was then adjusted to the natural
spur.--_Bye-Gones_, vol. i., p. 88.

_The Goose_.

Should a goose lay a soft egg, a small egg, or two eggs in a day, it is a
sign of misfortune to the owner of that goose.

An old woman in Llandrinio parish, Montgomeryshire, who lived in a
cottage by the side of the Severn, and who possessed a breed of geese
that laid eggs and hatched twice a year, when I asked her the time that
geese should begin to lay, said:--

    Before St. Valentine's Day
    Every good goose will lay.

and she added:--

    By St. Chad,
    Every good goose, and bad.

St. Chad's Day is March the 2nd.

Mr. Samuel Williams, Fron, Selattyn, gave me the following version of the
above ditty:--

    On Candlemas Day,
    Every good goose begins to lay.

Another rendering is:--

    Every good goose ought to lay
    On Candlemas Day.

Candlemas Day is February 2nd.

Geese should sit so as to hatch their young when the moon waxes and not
when it wanes, for, otherwise, the goslings would not thrive.  The lucky
one in the family should place the eggs for hatching under the goose or

For the following paragraph I am indebted to "Ffraid," a writer in
_Bye-Gones_, vol. i., p. 88:--

"The goose is thought to be a silly bird, and hence the expression, 'You
silly goose,' or 'You stupid goose,' as applied to a person.  The falling
snow is believed to be the effect of celestial goose-feathering, and the
patron of geese--St. Michael--is supposed to be then feathering his
proteges.  The first goose brought to table is called a Michaelmas goose;
a large annual fair at Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant is called 'Ffair y cwarter
Gwydd,' the quarter goose fair.  Seven geese on grass land are supposed
to eat as much grass as will keep a cow.  Permanent grass land is called
'Tir Gwydd,' goose land.  A bed of goose feathers is required to complete
a well-furnished house.  The fat of geese, called 'goose-oil,' is a
recipe for many ailments.  A small bone in the head of a goose, called
the 'goose's tooth,' is carried in the pocket for luck, and is a sure
preventative against toothache."

Much of the above paragraph is common to most parts of Wales, but the
writer used to be told, when he was a lad, that the snow was caused by
"the old woman feathering her geese," and a Michaelmas goose was called a
green goose, as well as a "Michaelmas goose."

_The Crow_.

The crow figures much in Welsh folk-lore.  In many ways he is made to
resemble the magpie; thus, when one crow or one magpie was seen, it was
thought to foretell misfortune, as implied by the saying:--

    Un fran ddu,
    Lwc ddrwg i mi.

But should the spectator shout out in a defiant way:--

    Hen fran ddu,
    Gras Duw i mi,

no harm would follow.  The former lines in English would be:--

    One crow I see,
    Bad luck to me.

But this foretold evil, brought about by the old black crow, could be
counteracted by repeating the following words, (a translation of the
second couplet), with a pause between each line, and thus the last line
would assume the form of a prayer:--

    Old Black Crow!
    God, grace bestow;

or the evil could be hurled back upon the Old Black Crow by the
repetition of these words:--

    Hen fran ddu,
    Gras Duw i mi,
    Lwc ddrwg i ti.

Freely translated, these lines would be:--

    Old Black Crow!
    God's grace to me,
    Bad luck to thee.

In the English-speaking parts of Wales, such as along the borders of
Montgomeryshire, adjoining Shropshire, I have heard the following
doggerel lines substituted for the Welsh:--

    Crow, crow, get out of my sight,
    Before I kill thee to-morrow night.

The bad luck implied by the appearance of one crow could also be
overcome, as in the case of the magpie, by making a cross on the ground,
with finger or stick.

Although one crow implied bad luck, two crows meant good luck; thus we
have these lines:--

    Dwy fran ddu,
    Lwc dda i mi.

    Two black crows,
    Good luck to me.

Many prognostications were drawn from the appearance of crows.  A crow
seen on the highest branch of a tree implied that the person seeing it
should shortly see his or her sweetheart.  The manner in which they flew
foretold a wedding or a burying.  When they fly in a long line there is
to be a wedding, if crowded together a funeral.

There is a common expression in Montgomeryshire--"Dwy fran dyddyn"--"The
two crows of the farm"--just as if each farm had its two crows, either as
guardians of the farm--for two crows implied good luck--or as if they
were located by couples in various places, which places became their
feeding ground and homes.  This, however, is not true of rooks, which
feed in flocks and roost in flocks.

_Crows' Feathers_.

In Montgomeryshire it was, at one time, supposed that if a person picked
up a crow's feather he was sure to meet a mad dog before the day was

But in other parts it was considered lucky to find a crow's feather, if,
when found, it were stuck on end into the ground.  This superstition
lingered long in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, a remote, hilly parish in

Some years ago, crows' wing or tail feathers could be seen stuck upright
in the ground in many parts of Wales, but at present such a thing cannot
be seen.  The practice and the superstition have come to an end.

_A Rookery deserted was a sign of bad luck_, _but when they nested near a
house it was a sign of good luck_.

The writer visited, in the year 1887, a gentleman's park, where for
generations the rooks had made a lodgment, and by several persons his
attention was called to the ominous fact that the rooks had left the
ancestral trees which ornamented the spacious and well-wooded park, and
had even carried their nests away with them.  He was informed that the
desertion boded no good to the highly respected family that occupied that
ancient seat.

The writer also visited a friend, who lives in an ancient abode, a mile
or two from the rook-rejected park, and, with a smile, he was informed by
the lady of the house that a colony of rooks had taken possession of the
trees that surrounded her house.  He gladly wished her luck, to which she
responded--"It has been a long time coming."

Both these places are in East Denbighshire.

The writer remembers a case in which a rookery was deserted just before
misfortune fell upon the gentleman who occupied the house around which
grew the trees occupied by the rooks.  This gentleman one morning noticed
the rooks carrying away their nests to a new home.  Se called his servant
man to him, and desired him to go after the rooks and destroy their nests
in their new abode, in the fond hope that they would thus be induced to
return to their old home.  This was done more than once, but the rooks
would not take the hint; they persisted in gathering up the scattered
sticks that strewed the ground, but these they replaced in the trees
above, which now had become their new home.  When it was found that they
would not return, the man desisted, and his master, as he had feared, met
with dire misfortune shortly afterwards (see p. 304).

_The Cuckoo_.  _Y Gog_.

The cuckoo is a sacred bird.  It is safe from the gamekeeper's gun.  Its
advent is welcomed with pleasure.  "Have you heard the cuckoo?" is a
question put by the fortunate person who first hears its notes to every
person he meets.  When it is ascertained that the cuckoo has arrived,
parents give their children pence for luck, and they themselves take care
not to leave their houses with empty pockets, for should they do so,
those pockets, if the cuckoo is heard, will be empty all the year.  Those
who hear the cuckoo for the first time thrust immediately their hand in
their pockets, and turn their money, or toss a piece into the air, and
all this is for luck for the coming year ushered in by the cheering sound
of the cuckoo's notes.

It is believed that the cuckoo is in our country for several days before
its welcome two notes are heard, and that the cause of its huskiness is,
that it is tired, and has not cleared its voice by sucking birds' eggs.

Generally the cuckoo is heard for the first time yearly about the same
place, and the hill tops not far from the abodes of man are its favourite
resort.  Thus we have the ditty:--

    Cynta' lle y can y cogydd,
    Yw y fawnog ar y mynydd.

    The place where first the cuckoo sings,
    Is by the peat pits on the hills.

The cuckoo is supposed to be accompanied by the wry-neck, hence its name,
"Gwas-y-gog," the cuckoo's servant.  The wryneck was thought to build the
nest, and hatch and feed the young of the cuckoo.

Many superstitions cluster round the cuckoo; thus, should a person be in
doubt as to the way to take, when going from home, to secure success in
life, he, or she, waits for the cuckoo's return, and then should the bird
be heard for the first time, singing towards the east, as it flies, that
is the direction to take, or any other direction as the case may be; and
it is, or was, even thought that the flight of the cuckoo, singing as it
flies before a person, for the first time in the year, indicated a change
of abode for that person, and the new home lay in the direction in which
the cuckoo flew.

Should the cuckoo make its appearance before the leaves appear on the
hawthorn bush, it is a sign of a dry, barren year.

    Os can y gog ar ddrain-llwyn llwm,
    Gwerth dy geffyl a phryn dy bwn.

    If the cuckoo sings on a hawthorn bare,
    Sell thy horse, and thy pack prepare.

The Welsh words I heard at Llanuwchllyn, a good many years ago, just as
the cuckoo's voice was heard for the first time in those parts, and there
were then no leaves out on the hedgerows.  I do not recollect whether the
prophecy became true, but it was an aged Welshman that made use of the
words.  Another version of the same is heard in Llanwddyn parish:--

    Os can y gog ar bincyn llwm,
    Gwerth dy geffyl a phryn dy bwn.

    If the cuckoo sings on a sprig that's bare,
    Sell thy horse, and thy pack prepare.

The latter ditty suits a hilly country, and the former applies to the low
lands where there are hedgerows.

The early singing of the cuckoo implies a plentiful crop of hay, and this
belief is embodied in the following ditty:--

    Mis cyn Clamme can y coge,
    Mis cyn Awst y cana' inne.

That is:--

    If the cuckoo sings a month before May-day,
    I will sing a month before August.

_Calan Mai_, May-day, abbreviated to _Clamme_, according to the Old
Style, corresponds with our 12th of May, and the above saying means, that
there would be such an abundant hay harvest if the cuckoo sang a month
before May-day, that the farmer would himself sing for joy on the 12th of
July.  It was the custom in the uplands of Wales to begin the hay harvest
on the 1st of July.

The above I heard in Montgomeryshire, and also the following:--

    Mis cyn Clamme can y coge,
    Mis cyn hynny tyf mriallu.

That is:--

    If the cuckoo sings a month before May-day,

Primroses will grow a month before that time.

I do not know what this means, unless it implies that early primroses
foretell an early summer.

But, speaking of the song of the cuckoo, we have the following lines:--

    Amser i ganu ydi Ebrill a Mai,
    A hanner Mehefin, chwi wyddoch bob rhai.

This corresponds somewhat with the English:--

    The cuckoo sings in April,
    The cuckoo sings in May,
    The cuckoo sings to the middle of June,
    And then she flies away.

In Mochdre parish, Montgomeryshire, I was told the following:--

    In May she sings all day,
    In June she's out of tune.

The following Welsh lines show that the cuckoo will not sing when the hay
harvest begins:--

    Pan welith hi gocyn,
    Ni chanith hi gwcw.

    When she sees a heap,
    Silence she will keep.

In certain parts of Wales, such as Montgomeryshire, bordering on
Shropshire, it is thought that the cuckoo never sings after
Midsummer-day.  This faith finds corroborative support in the following

    The cuckoo sings in April,
    The cuckoo sings in May,
    The cuckoo sings in Midsummer,
    But never on that day.

In Flintshire, in Hawarden parish, it is believed that she mates in June,
as shown by these words:--

    The cuckoo comes in April,
    The cuckoo sings in May,
    The cuckoo mates in June,
    And in July she flies away.

In Montgomeryshire I have often heard these lines:--

    The cuckoo is a fine bird,
    She sings as she flies,
    She brings us good tidings,
    And never tells us lies;
    She sucks young birds' eggs,
    To make her voice clear,
    And the more she sings "Cuckoo,"
    The summer is quite near.

The last two lines are varied thus:--

    And then she sings, "Cuckoo"
    Three months in every year.


    And when she sings "Cuckoo"
    The summer is near.

The cuckoo was credited with sucking birds' eggs, to make room for her
own, as well as to acquire a clear voice.  Perhaps the rustic belief is
at fault here.  The writer has seen a cuckoo rise from the ground with an
egg in her mouth, but he has seen it stated that the cuckoo always lays
her eggs on the ground, and carries them in her mouth until she discovers
a nest wherein to deposit them, and when she has done this her mother's
care is over.

_A White Cock_.

A white cock was looked upon as an unlucky bird, thus:--

    Na chadw byth yn nghylch dy dy,
    Na cheiliog gwyn, na chath ddu.

    Never keep about thy house,
    A white cock, nor black cat.


The crane is often mistaken for the heron.  When the crane flies against
the stream, she asks for rain, when with the stream she asks for fair

This bird is said to be thin when the moon wanes, and fat at the waxing
of the moon.


When ducks sportively chase each other through the water, and flap their
wings and dive about, in evident enjoyment of their pastime, it is a sign
that rain is not far off.


Persons who had eaten eagle's flesh had power to cure erysipelas, and
this virtue was said by some to be transmitted to their descendants for
ever, whilst others affirmed it only lasted for nine generations.  See
page 263, where this subject is fully treated.

_The Goat Sucker_.

A curious notion prevailed respecting this bird, arrived at, presumably,
in consequence of its peculiar name--the _goat sucker_--viz., that it
lives on the milk of the goat, which it obtains by sucking the teats of
that animal.

_Putting Hens to Sit_.

Placing the eggs in the nest for hens, geese, and ducks to sit on was
considered an important undertaking.  This was always done by the lucky
member of the family.  It was usual to put fowl to sit so as to get the
chick out of the egg at the waxing, and not at the waning, of the moon.
It was thought that the young birds were strong or weak according to the
age of the moon when they were hatched.

March chickens were always considered the best.  A game bird hatched in
March was thought to be stronger and more plucky than those that broke
their shells in any other month, and, further, to obtain all extraneous
advantages, that bird which was hatched at full moon began life with very
good prospects.

A singular custom prevailed at Llansantffraid, Montgomeryshire, when
putting hens, and other fowl, to sit.  I obtained the information from
the late Vicar, the Rev. R. H. M. Hughes, M.A., an observant gentleman,
who took a lively interest in all matters connected with his parish.  I
was staying with him, and he made the remark that in his parish it was
considered lucky to place the hen, when she first began to sit, with her
head towards the church.  This the cottagers in the village could easily
do, for the parish church was in their midst.  I do not know whether this
kind of proceeding prevailed in other places.

The number of eggs placed under a hen varied with her size, but one
general rule was followed, viz., an odd number of eggs was always placed
under her; eleven or thirteen was the usual number, but never ten or

_The Heron_.

The heron as it flies slowly towards the source of a river is said to be
going up the river to bring the water down, in other words, this flight
is a sign of coming rain.  The same thing is said of the crane.

_Fable of why the Heron frequents the banks of rivers and lakes_.

It is from thirty to forty years ago that I heard the fable I am about to
relate, and the circumstances under which I heard it are briefly as
follows.  I was walking towards Bangor from Llanllechid, when I saw a
farmer at work hedging.  I stopped to chat with him, and a bramble which
had fastened itself on his trousers gave him a little trouble to get it
away, and the man in a pet said, "Have I not paid thee thy tithe?"  "Why
do you say those words, Enoch?" said I, and he said, "Have you not heard
the story?"  I confessed my ignorance, and after many preliminary
remarks, the farmer related the following fable:--

The heron, the cat, and the bramble bought the tithe of a certain parish.
The heron bought the hay, mowed it, harvested it, and cocked it, and
intended carrying it the following day, but in the night a storm came on,
and carried the hay away, and ever since then the heron frequents the
banks of the rivers and lakes, looking for her hay that was carried away,
and saying "Pay me my tithe."

The cat bought the oats, cut them, and even threshed them, and left them
in the barn, intending the following day to take them to the market for
sale.  But when she went into the barn, early the next morning, she found
the floor covered with rats and mice, which had devoured the oats, and
the cat flew at them and fought with them, and drove them from the barn,
and this is why she is at enmity with rats and mice even to our day.

The bramble bought the wheat, and was more fortunate than the heron and
cat, for the wheat was bagged, and taken to the market and sold, but sold
on trust, and the bramble never got the money, and this is why it takes
hold of everyone and says "Pay me my tithe," for it forgot to whom the
wheat had been sold.

_The Jackdaw_.

This bird is considered sacred, because it frequents church steeples and
builds its nest there, and it is said to be an innocent bird, though
given to carrying off things and hiding them in out-of-the-way places.
When ignorance of a fault is pleaded, it is a common saying--"I have no
more knowledge of the fact than the Devil has of the jackdaw" (see
_Bye-Gones_, Vol. I., 86).  The Devil evidently will have nothing to do
with this bird, because it makes its home in the church steeple, and he
hates the church and everything belonging to it.

_The Magpie_.

The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen.  No one liked to see a
magpie when starting on a journey, but in certain parts of
Montgomeryshire, such as the parish of Llanwnog, _if the magpie flew from
left to right it foretold good luck_; in other parts, such as
Llansantffraid, if seen at all, it was considered a sign of bad luck.

However, fortunately, a person could make void this bad luck, for he had
only to spit on the ground, and make a cross with his finger, or stick,
through the spittle, and boldly say--

    "Satan, I defy thee,"

and the curse, or bad luck, indicated by the appearance of the magpie,
could not then come.

The number of magpies seen implied different events.  It was a common

    One's grief, two's mirth,
    Three's a marriage, four's a birth;

and another rendering of the above heard in Montgomeryshire was:--

    One for bad luck,
    Two for good luck,
    Three for a wedding,
    Four for a burying.

Another ditty is as follows:--

    One's joy, two's greet (crying),
    Three's a wedding, four's a sheet (death).

As stated above, one is grief, or bad luck, if it flies from right to
left, but if from left to right it implied success or joy.  So these
various readings can only be reconciled by a little verbal explanation,
but "four's a birth" cannot be made to be an equivalent to "four's a
sheet," a winding sheet, or a burying, by any amount of ingenuity.

Should a magpie be seen stationary on a tree, it was believed that the
direction in which it took its flight foretold either success or disaster
to the person who observed it.  If it flew to the left, bad luck was to
follow; if to the right, good luck; if straight, the journey could be
undertaken, provided the bird did not turn to the left whilst in sight,
but disappeared in that direction.

I heard the following tale in Denbighshire:--In days of old, a company of
men were stealthily making their way across the country to come upon the
enemy unawares.  All at once they espied a magpie on a tree, and by
common consent they halted to see which way it would take its flight, and
thus foretell the fortune which would attend their journey.  One of the
party, evidently an unbeliever in his comrades' superstition, noiselessly
approached the bird, and shot it dead, to the great horror of his
companions.  The leader of the party, in great anger, addressed the
luckless archer--"You have shot the bird of fate, and you shall be shot."
The dauntless man said, "I shot the magpie, it is true, but if it could
foretell our fate, why could it not foresee its own?"  The archer's
reasoning was good, but I do not know whether people were convinced by
logic in those distant times, any more than they are in ours.

I will relate one other tale of the magpie, which I heard upwards of
twenty years ago in the parish of Llanwnog, Montgomeryshire.

I was speaking to a farmer's wife--whose name it is not necessary to
give, as it has nothing to do with the tale--when a magpie flew across
our view.  "Ah!" she ejaculated, "you naughty old thing, what do you want
here?"  "I see," said I, "you think she brings bad luck with her."  "Oh,
yes," was the response, "I know she does."  "What makes you so positive,"
said I, "that she brings bad luck with her?"  My question elicited the
following story.  My friend commenced:--"You know the brook at the bottom
of the hill.  Well, my mother met with very bad luck there, a good many
years ago, and it was in this way--she was going to Newtown fair, on our
old horse, and she had a basket of eggs with her.  But, just as she was
going to leave the 'fould,' a magpie flew before her.  We begged of her
not to go that day--that bad luck would attend her.  She would not listen
to us, but started off.  However, she never got further than the brook,
at the bottom of the hill, for, when she got there, the old mare made
straight for the brook, and jerked the bridle out of mother's hand, and
down went the mare's head to drink, and off went the basket, and poor
mother too.  All the eggs were broken, but I'm glad to say mother was not
much the worse for her fall.  But ever since then I know it is unlucky to
see a magpie.  But sir," she added, "there is no bad luck for us to-day,
for _the magpie flew from left to right_."

The magpie was thought to be a great thief, and it was popularly supposed
that if its tongue were split into two with silver it could talk like a

The cry of the magpie is a sign of rain.  To man its dreaded notes
indicated disaster, thus:--

    Clyw grechwen nerth pen, iaith pi--yn addaw
    Newyddion drwg i mi.

    List! the magpie's hoarse and bitter cry
    Shows that misfortune's sigh is nigh.

If this bird builds her nest at the top of a tree the summer will be dry;
if on the lower branches, the summer will be wet.

_The Owl_.

The hooting of an owl about a house was considered a sign of ill luck, if
not of death.  This superstition has found a place in rhyme, thus:--

    Os y ddylluan ddaw i'r fro,
       Lle byddo rhywun afiach
    Dod yno i ddweyd y mae'n ddinad,
       Na chaiff adferiad mwyach.
    If an owl comes to those parts,
       Where some one sick is lying,
    She comes to say without a doubt,
       That that sick one is dying.


The peacock's shrill note is a sign of rain.  Its call is supposed to
resemble the word _gwlaw_, the Welsh for rain.


If the sick asks for a pigeon pie, or the flesh of a pigeon, it is a sign
that his death is near.

If the feathers of a pigeon be in a bed, the sick cannot die on it.

_The Raven_.

The raven has ever enjoyed a notoriously bad name as a bird of ill-omen.

He was one of those birds which the Jews were to have in abomination
(Lev., xi., 5-13).

But other nations besides the Jews dreaded the raven.

    The raven himself is hoarse
    That croaks the fatal entrance of
    Duncan under thy battlements.

    _Macbeth_, Act i., s. 5.

Thus wrote Shakespeare, giving utterance to a superstition then common.
From these words it would seem that the raven was considered a sign of
evil augury to a person whose house was about to be entered by a visitor,
for his croaking forebode treachery.  But the raven's croaking was
thought to foretell misfortune to a person about to enter another's
house.  If he heard the croaking he had better turn back, for an evil
fate awaited him.

In Denmark the appearance of a raven in a village is considered an
indication that the parish priest is to die, or that the church is to be
burnt down that year.  (_Notes and Queries_, vol. ii., second series, p.
325.)  The Danes of old prognosticated from the appearance of the raven
on their banners the result of a battle.  If the banner flapped, and
exhibited the raven as alive, it augured success; if, however, it moved
not, defeat awaited them.

In Welsh there is a pretty saying:--

    Duw a ddarpar i'r fran.

    God provides for the raven.

But this, after all, is only another rendering of the lovely words:--

    Your heavenly Father feedeth them.

Such words imply that the raven is a favoured bird.  (See p. 304).

_Robin Redbreast_.

Ill luck is thought to follow the killer of dear Robin Redbreast, the
children's winter friend.  No one ever shoots Robin, nor do children rob
its nest, nor throw stones at it.  Bad luck to anyone who does so.  The
little bird with its wee body endeavoured to staunch the blood flowing
from the Saviour's side, and it has ever since retained on its breast the
stain of His sacred blood, and it consequently enjoys a sacred life.  It
is safe from harm wherever English is spoken.

There is another legend, which is said to be extant in Carmarthenshire,
accounting for the Robin's _red breast_.  It is given in _Bye-Gones_,
vol. i., p. 173, from Mr. Hardwick's _Traditions_, _Superstitions_,
_Folk-lore_, _etc_.:--"Far, far away, is a land of woe, darkness, spirits
of evil, and fire.  Day by day does the little bird bear in its bill a
drop of water to quench the flame.  So near to the burning stream does he
fly that his dear little feathers are scorched; and hence is he named
Bronchuddyn (qu. Bronrhuddyn), i.e., breast-burned, or breast-scorched.
To serve little children, the robin dares approach the infernal pit.  No
good child will hurt the devoted benefactor of man.  The robin returns
from the land of fire, and therefore he feels the cold of winter far more
than the other birds.  He shivers in brumal blasts, and hungry he chirps
before your door.  Oh, my child, then, in pity throw a few crumbs to poor

_The Sea Gull_.

It is believed that when sea gulls leave the sea for the mountains it is
a sign of stormy weather.

A few years ago I was walking from Corwen to Gwyddelwern, and I overtook
an aged man, and we entered into conversation.  Noticing the sea gulls
hovering about, I said, there is going to be a storm.  The answer of my
old companion was, yes, for the sea gull says before starting from the
sea shore:--

    Drychin, drychin,
    Awn i'r eithin;

and then when the storm is over, they say one to the other, before they
take their flight back again to the sea:--

    Hindda, hindda,
    Awn i'r morfa.

which first couplet may be translated:--

    Foul weather, foul weather,
    Let's go to the heather;

and then the two last lines may be rendered:--

    The storm is no more,
    Let's go to the shore.

This was the only occasion when I heard the above stanza, and I have
spoken to many aged Welshmen, and they had not heard the words, but every
one to whom I spoke believed that the sea gulls seen at a distance from
the sea was a sign of foul weather.

_The Swallow_.

The joy with which the first swallow is welcomed is almost if not quite
equal to the welcome given to the cuckoo.  "One swallow does not make a
summer" is an old saw.

There is a superstition connected with the swallow that is common in
Wales, which is, that if it forsakes its old nest on a house, it is a
sign of ill luck to that house.  But swallows rarely forsake their old
nests, and shortly after their arrival they are busily engaged in
repairing the breaches, which the storms of winter or mischievous
children have made in their abodes; and their pleasant twitterings are a
pleasure to the occupants of the house along which they build their
nests, for the visit is a sign of luck.

The flight of the swallow is a good weather sign.  When the swallow flies
high in the air, it is a sign of fair weather; when, on the other hand,
it skims the earth, it is a sign of rain.

It was a great misfortune to break a swallow's nest, for--

    Y neb a doro nyth y wenol,
    Ni wel fwyniant yn dragwyddol.

    Whoever breaks a swallow's nest,
    Shall forfeit everlasting rest.

_The Swan_.

The eggs of the swan are hatched by thunder and lightning.  This bird
sings its own death song.

_The Swift_.

This bird's motions are looked upon as weather signs.  Its feeding
regions are high up in the air when the weather is settled for fair, and
low down when rain is approaching.

Its screaming is supposed to indicate a change of weather from fair to

_Tit Major_, _or Sawyer_.

The Rev. E. V. Owen, Vicar of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire, told me that
the Tit's notes are a sign of rain, at least, that it is so considered in
his parish.  The people call the bird "Sawyer," and they say its notes
resemble in sound the filing of a saw.  A man once said to my friend:--"I
dunna like to hear that old sawyer whetting his saw."  "Why not," said
Mr. Owen.  "'Cause it'll rain afore morning," was the answer.  This bird,
if heard in February, when the snow or frost is on the ground, indicates
a breaking up of the weather.  Its sharp notes rapidly repeated several
times in succession are welcome sounds in hard weather, for they show
that spring is coming.

_The Wren_.

The Wren's life is sacred, excepting at one time of the year, for should
anyone take this wee birdie's life away, upon him some mishap will fall.
The wren is classed with the Robin:--

    The robin and the wren
    Are God's cock and hen.

The cruel sport of hunting the wren on St. Stephen's Day, which the
writer has a dim recollection of having in his boyhood joined in, was the
one time in the year when the wren's life was in jeopardy.

The Rev. Silvan Evans, in a letter to the _Academy_, which has been
reproduced in _Bye-Gones_, vol. vii., p. 206, alludes to this sport in
these words:--

"Something similar to the 'hunting of the wren' was not unknown to the
Principality as late as about a century ago, or later.  In the Christmas
holidays it was the custom of a certain number of young men, not
necessarily boys, to visit the abodes of such couples as had been married
within the year.  The order of the night--for it was strictly a nightly
performance--was to this effect.  Having caught a wren, they placed it on
a miniature bier made for the occasion, and carried it in procession
towards the house which they intended to visit.  Having arrived they
serenaded the master and mistress of the house under their bedroom window
with the following doggerel:--

    Dyma'r dryw,
    Os yw e'n fyw,
    Neu dderyn to
    I gael ei rostio.

That is:--

    Here is the wren,
    If he is alive,
    Or a sparrow
    To be roasted.

If they could not catch a wren for the occasion, it was lawful to
substitute a sparrow (ad eryn to).  The husband, if agreeable, would then
open the door, admit the party, and regale them with plenty of Christmas
ale, the obtaining of which being the principal object of the whole

The second line in the verse, "_Os yw e'n fyw_," intimates that possibly
the wren is dead--"If he is alive."  This would generally be the case, as
it was next to impossible to secure the little thing until it had been
thoroughly exhausted, and then the act of pouncing upon it would itself
put an end to its existence.

Perhaps the English doggerel was intended to put an end to this cruel
sport, by intimating that the wee bird belonged to God, was one of His
creatures, and that therefore it should not be abused.

There is a Welsh couplet still in use:--

    Pwy bynnag doro nyth y dryw,
    Ni chaiff ef weled wyneb Duw.

    Whoever breaks a wren's nest,
    Shall never see God's face.

This saying protects the snug little home of the wren.  Much the same
thing is said of the Robin's nest, but I think this was put, "Whoever
robs a robin's nest shall go to hell."

Another Welsh couplet was:--

    Y neb a doro nyth y dryw,
    Ni chaiff iechyd yn ei fyw.

    Whoever breaks the wren's nest,
    Shall never enjoy good health.

Although the robin and the wren were favourites of heaven, still it was
supposed that they were under some kind of curse, for it was believed
that the robin could not fly through a hedge, it must always fly over,
whilst on the other hand, the wren could not fly over a hedge, but it was
obliged to make its way through it.  (See Robin, p. 329).

_The Wood Pigeon_.

The thrice repeated notes of five sounds, with an abrupt note at the end,
of which the cooing of the wood pigeon consists, have been construed into
words, and these words differ in different places, according to the state
of the country, and the prevailing sentiments of the people.  Of course,
the language of the wood pigeon is always the language of the people
amongst whom he lives.  He always speaks Welsh in Wales, and English in
England, but in these days this bird is so far Anglicised that it blurts
out English all along the borders of Wales.

In the cold spring days, when food is scarce and the wood pigeon cold, it
forms good resolutions, and says:--

    Yn yr haf
    Ty a wnaf;

    In the summer
    I'll make a house;
    I will.

However, when the summer has come with flower, and warmth, the wood
pigeon ridicules its former resolution and changes its song, for in June
it forgets January, and now it asks:--

    Yn yr ha'
    Ty pwy wna'?

    In the summer
    Who'll make a house?

For then a house is quite unnecessary, and the trouble to erect one
great.  The above ditty was told me by the Rev. John Williams, Rector of
Newtown, a native of Flintshire.

In the English counties bordering upon Wales, such as Herefordshire, the
wood pigeon encouraged Welshmen to drive off Englishmen's cattle to their
homes, by saying:--

    Take two cows, Taffy,
    Take two cows, Taffy,
    Take two.

and ever since those days the same song is used; but another version

    Take two cows Davy,
    Take two cows Davy,

The late Rev. R. Williams, Rector of Llanfyllin, supplied me with the
above, and he stated that he obtained it from Herefordshire.

In the uplands of Denbighshire the poor wood pigeon has a hard time of it
in the winter, and, to make provision for the cold winter days, he, when
he sees the farmer sowing spring seeds, says:--

    Dyn du, dyn da,
    Hau pys, hau ffa,
    Hau ffacbys i ni

which rendered into English is:--

    Black man, good man,
    Sow peas, sow beans,
    Sow vetches for us
    To eat.

Mr. Hugh Jones, Pentre Llyn Cymmer, a farmer in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr,
a descendant of the bard Robert Davies, Nantglyn, supplied me with the
preceding ditty.

_The Magpie teaching a Wood Pigeon how to make a nest_.

The wood pigeon makes an untidy nest, consisting of a few bits of twigs
placed one on the other without much care.  There is a fable in the Iolo
MSS., p. 159, in Welsh, and the translation appears on page 567 in
English, as follows:--

 The magpie, observing the slight knowledge of nest building possessed by
the wood pigeon, kindly undertook the work of giving his friend a lesson
in the art, and as the lesson proceeded, the wood pigeon, bowing, cooed

    _Mi wn_!  _Mi wn_!  _Mi wn_!

    I know!  I know!  I know!

The instructor was at first pleased with his apt pupil, and proceeded
with his lesson, but before another word could be uttered, the bird
swelling with pride at its own importance and knowledge, said again:--

    I know!  I know!  I know!

The magpie was annoyed at this ignorant assurance, and with bitter
sarcasm said: "Since you know, do it then," and this is why the wood
pigeon's nest is so untidy in our days.  In its own mind it knew all
about nest building, and was above receiving instruction, and hence its
present clumsy way of building its nest.  This fable gave rise to a
proverb, "As the wood pigeon said to the magpie: 'I know.'"

It is believed that when wood pigeons are seen in large flocks it is a
sign of foul weather.


The woodpecker's screech was a sign of rain.  This bird is called by two
names in Welsh which imply that it foretold storms; as, _Ysgrech y coed_,
the wood screech, and _Caseg y drycin_, the storm mare.

These names have found a place in Welsh couplets:--

    "Ysgrech y coed!
    Mae'r gwlaw yn dod."

    The Woodpecker's cry!
    The rain is nigh.

_Bardd Nantglyn_, Robert Davies, Nantglyn, has an englyn to the

    "I Gaseg y Drycin."

    "Och! rhag Caseg, greg rwygiant,--y drycin,
    Draw accw yn y ceunant,
    Ar fol pren, uwch pen pant,
    Cyn 'storm yn canu 'sturmant."

    Barddoniaeth R. Davies, p. 61.

My friend Mr. Richard Williams, Celynog, Newtown, translates this stanza
as follows:--

    Ah! 'tis the hoarse note of the Woodpecker,
    In yonder ravine,
    On the round trunk of a tree, above the hollow,
    Sounding his horn before the coming storm.

    _Yellow Hammer_.  (_Penmelyn yr Eithin_).

There is a strange belief in Wales that this bird sacrifices her young to
feed snakes.


The stripe over the shoulders of the ass is said to have been made by our
Lord when He rode into Jerusalem on an ass, and ever since the mark

It was thought that the milk of an ass could cure the "decay," or
consumption.  This faith was common fifty years ago in Llanidloes,
Montgomeryshire.  I do not know whether it is so now.  People then
believed that ass's milk was more nutritious than other kind of food for
persons whose constitutions were weak.

_The Bee_.

The little busy bee has been from times of old an object of admiration
and superstition.  It is thought that they are sufficiently sensitive to
feel a slight, and sufficiently vindictive to resent one, and as they are
too valuable to be carelessly provoked to anger, they are variously
propitiated by the cottager when their wrath is supposed to have been
roused.  It is even thought that they take an interest in human affairs;
and it is, therefore, considered expedient to give them formal notice of
certain occurrences.

_Buying a Hive of Bees_.

In the central parts of Denbighshire people suppose that a hive of bees,
if bought, will not thrive, but that a present of a hive leads to its

A cottager in Efenechtyd informed the writer that a friend gave her the
hive she had, and that consequently she had had luck with it; but, she
added, "had I bought it, I could not have expected anything from it, for
bought hives do badly."  This was in the centre of Denbighshire.

_Time of Bee Swarming_.

The month in which bees swarm is considered of the greatest importance,
and undoubtedly it is so, for the sooner they swarm, the longer their
summer, and therefore the greater the quantity of honey which they will
accumulate.  A late swarm cannot gather honey from every opening flower,
because the flower season will have partly passed away before they leave
their old home.

This faith has found expression in the following lines:--

    A swarm of bees in May
    Is worth a load of hay;
    A swarm of bees in June
    Is worth a silver spoon;
    A swarm of bees in July
    Is not worth a fly.

These words are often uttered by cottagers when a swarm takes place in
the respective months named in the lines.  It is really very seldom that
a swarm takes place in our days in May, and many a swarm takes place in
July which is of more value than a fly, But however, be this as it may,
the rhyme expresses the belief of many people.

_The Day of Swarming_.

Sunday is the favourite day for bee swarming.  Country people say, when
looking at their bees clustering outside the hive, and dangling like a
rope from it, "Oh, they won't swarm until next Sunday," and it is true
that they are often right in their calculations, for bees seem to prefer
the peaceful Day of Rest to all other days for their flight.  The kettle
and pan beating are often heard of a Sunday in those parts of the country
where bees are reared.  It is possible that the quietness of the day, and
the cessation of every-day noise, is appreciated by the little creatures,
and that this prevailing stillness entices them to take then their flight
from their old home to seek a new one.

_Luck comes with a Strange Swarm_.

It is considered very lucky indeed to find that a strange swarm of bees
has arrived in the garden, or tree, belonging to a cottager.  The advent
of the bees is joyfully welcomed, and the conversation of the neighbours
on such an occasion intimates that they think that good fortune has come
with them to the person whom they have condescended to honour with their

Occasionally, if bees settle down on property of doubtful ownership, a
good deal of wrangling and bad feeling arises between the rival claimants
for their possession.

_It is considered unlucky for Bees to fly away from their owner_.

As the coming of a strange swarm of bees is indicative of good luck to
the person to whom they come, so the decamping of a swarm shows that
misfortune is about to visit the person whom they leave.

_Bees in a Roof_.

It was thought lucky when bees made their home in the roof, or indeed in
any part of a house, and this they could easily do when houses were
thatched with straw.  Many a swarm of bees found shelter in the roofs of
ancient churches, but in our days bees are seldom found in either houses
or churches.

_Informing Bees of a Death in a Family_.

Formerly it was the custom to tell the bees of a death in the family.
The head of the house whispered the news to the bees in the hive.  If
this were neglected, it was thought that another death would soon follow
the previous one.  Instead of speaking to the bees, it was the custom, in
some parts of Wales, to turn the bee-hive round before starting the
funeral.  This was always done by the representative of the family, and
it also was thought to be a protection against death.

Mrs. Jones, Rhydycroesau Rectory, informed me that an old man, David
Roberts of Llanyblodwel, once came to her in deep grief, after the
funeral of his grandchild, because he had forgotten to turn the bee-hive
before the funeral started for the church.  He said that he was in such
distress at the loss of the child, that he had neglected to tell the bees
of the death, and, said he, some other member of the family is now sure
to go.  He informed Mrs. Jones that he had turned the hive at the death
of his old woman, and that consequently no death had followed hers in his

_Putting Bees in Mourning_.

This is done after a death in a family, and the bees are put into
mourning by tying a piece of black ribbon on a bit of wood, and inserting
it into the hole at the top of the hive.

_Stolen Bees_.

It was believed that stolen bees would not make honey, and that the hive
which had been stolen would die.

_A Swarm entering a House_.

Should a swarm enter a house, it was considered unlucky, and usually it
was a sign of death to someone living in that house.

The culture of bees was once more common than it is, and therefore they
were much observed, and consequently they figure in the folk-lore of most


The cat was thought to be a capital weather glass.  If she stood or lay
with her face towards the fire, it was a sign of frost or snow; if she
became frisky, bad weather was near.  If the cat washed her face,
strangers might be expected; and if she washed her face and ears, then
rain was sure to come.  A _black_ cat was supposed to bring luck to a
house, thus:--

    Cath ddu, mi glywais dd'wedyd,
    A fedr swyno hefyd,
    A chadw'r teulu lle mae'n hyw
    O afael pob rhyw glefyd.

    A black cat, I've heard it said,
    Can charm all ill away,
    And keep the house wherein she dwells
    From fever's deadly sway.

Cats born in May, or May cats, were no favourites.  They were supposed to
bring snakes or adders into the house.  This supposition has found

    Cathod mis Mai
    Ddaw a nadrodd i'r tai.

    Cats born in May
    Bring snakes to the house.

In some parts the black cat was otherwise thought of than is stated
above, for this injunction is heard:--

    Na chadw byth yn nghylch dy dy
    Na cheiliog gwyn na chath ddu.

    Never keep about thy house
    A white cock or _black_ puss.

Cats are so tenacious of life that they are said to have nine lives.  We
have already spoken of witches transforming themselves into cats.

A singular superstition connected with cats is the supposition that they
indicate the place to which the dead have gone by ascending or descending
trees immediately after the death of a person.

The Rev. P. W. Sparling, Rector of Erbistock, informed me that one day a
parishioner met him, and told him that his brother, who had lately died,
was in hell, and that he wished the Rector to get him out.  Mr. Sparling
asked him how he knew where his brother was, and in answer the man said
that he knew, because he had seen his brother in the form of a white cat
descend a tree immediately after his death.  On further inquiry, the man
stated that since the cat came _down the tree_, it was a sign that his
brother had gone down to hell; but had the cat _gone up the tree_, it
would have shown that he had gone up to heaven.

I have heard it stated, but by whom I have forgotten, that if a _black_
cat leaves a house where a person dies, immediately after that person's
death, it shows he has gone to the bad place; but if a white cat, that he
has gone to heaven.


_Cows Kneeling on Christmas Morn._

In the upland parishes of Wales, particularly those in Montgomeryshire,
it was said, and that not so long ago, that cows knelt at midnight on
Christmas eve, to adore the infant Saviour.  This has been affirmed by
those who have witnessed the strange occurrence.

Cows bringing forth two calves are believed to bring luck to a farmer;
but in some parts of Wales a contrary view is taken of this matter.

If the new born calf is seen by the mistress of the house with its head
towards her, as she enters the cowhouse to view her new charge and
property, it is a lucky omen, but should any other part of the calf
present itself to the mistress's view, it is a sign of bad luck.

Witches were thought to have great power over cows, and it was not
unusual for farmers to think that their cows, if they did not thrive, had
been bewitched.


It is lucky to have crickets in a house, and to kill one is sure to bring
bad luck after it.  If they are very numerous in a house, it is a sign
that peace and plenty reign there.  The bakehouse in which their merry
chirp is heard is the place to bake your bread, for it is a certain sign
that the bread baked there will turn out well.

An aged female Welsh friend in Porthywaen told me that it is a sign of
death for crickets to leave a house, and she proved her case by an apt
illustration.  She named all the parties concerned in the following
tale:--"There were hundreds of crickets in . . . house; they were
'sniving,' swarming, all about the house, and were often to be seen
outside the house, or at least heard, and some of them perched on the
wicket to the garden; but all at once they left the place, and very soon
afterwards the son died.  The crickets, she said, knew that a death was
about to take place, and they all left that house, going no one knew

It was not thought right to look at the cricket, much less to hurt it.
The warm fireplace, with its misplaced or displaced stones, was not to be
repaired, lest the crickets should be disturbed, and forsake the place,
and take with them good luck.  They had, therefore, many snug, warm holes
in and about the chimneys.  Crickets are not so plentiful in Wales as
they once were.


_Caesar_, bk. v., ch. xii., states that the Celts "do not regard it
lawful to eat the _hare_, the cock, and the goose; they, however, breed
them for amusement and pleasure."  This gives a respectable age to the
superstitions respecting these animals.

Mention has already been made of witches turning themselves into hares.
This superstition was common in all parts of North Wales.  The Rev. Lewis
Williams, rector of Prion, near Denbigh, told me the following tales of
this belief:--A witch that troubled a farmer in the shape of a hare, was
shot by him.  She then transformed herself into her natural form, but
ever afterwards retained the marks of the shot in her nose.

Another tale which the same gentleman told me was the following:--A
farmer was troubled by a hare that greatly annoyed him, and seemed to
make sport of him.  He suspected it was no hare, but a witch, so he
determined to rid himself of her repeated visits.  One day, spying his
opportunity, he fired at her.  She made a terrible noise, and jumped
about in a frightful manner, and then lay as if dead.  The man went up to
her, but instead of a dead hare, he saw something on the ground as big as
a donkey.  He dug a hole, and buried the thing, and was never afterwards
troubled by hare or witch.

In Llanerfyl parish there is a story of a cottager who had only one cow,
but she took to Llanfair market more butter than the biggest farmer in
the parish.  She was suspected of being a witch, and was watched.  At
last the watcher saw a hare with a tin-milk-can hanging from its neck,
and it was moving among the cows, milking them into her tin-can.  The man
shot it, and it made for the abode of the suspected witch.  When he
entered, he found her on the bed bleeding.

It was supposed that there was something uncanny about hares.  Rowland
Williams, Parish Clerk, Efenechtyd, an aged man, related to me the
following tale, and he gave the name of the party concerned, but I took
no note of the name, and I have forgotten it:--A man on his way one
Sunday to Efenechtyd Church saw a hare on its form.  He turned back for
his gun, and fired at the hare.  The following Sunday he saw again a hare
on the very same spot, and it lifted its head and actually stared at him.
The man was frightened and went to church; the third Sunday he again saw
a hare on the very same form, and this hare also boldly looked at him.
This third appearance thoroughly convinced the man that there was
something wrong somewhere, and he afterwards avoided that particular

The pretty legend of Melangell, called Monacella, the patroness of hares,
is well known.  One day the Prince of Powis chased a hare, which took
refuge under the robe of the virgin Melangell, who was engaged in deep
devotion.  The hare boldly faced the hounds, and the dogs retired to a
distance howling, and they could not be induced to seize their prey.  The
Prince gave to God and Melangell a piece of land to be henceforth a
sanctuary.  The legend of the hare and the saint is represented in carved
wood on the gallery in the church of Pennant.  Formerly it belonged to
the screen.  Hares were once called in the parish of Pennant Melangell
_Wyn Melangell_, or St. Monacella's lambs.  Until the last century no one
in the parish would kill a hare, and it was believed that if anyone cried
out when a hare was being pursued, "God and St. Monacella be with thee,"
it would escape.


The haddock has a dark spot on each side its gills, and superstition
ascribes these marks to the impression of S. Peter's thumb and finger,
when he took the tribute money out of the mouth of a fish of the same
species in the sea of Galilee.


It was believed that hedgehogs sucked cows, and so firmly were the people
convinced of this fact, that this useful little animal was doomed to
death, and I have seen in many Churchwardens' accounts entries to the
effect that they had paid sums of money for its destruction.  The amount
given in most parishes was two pence.  I will give a few entries, from
many that I have by me, to show that parishes paid this sum for dead

In Cilcen Churchwardens' Accounts for the year 1710 I find the following

    To Edward Lloyd for killing a hedgehog 00. 00. 02.

One hundred years afterwards I find in Llanasa Churchwardens' Accounts
for 1810-1811 this entry:--

    9 hedgogs   ...   ...   ...   1. 6.

It was thought, should the cow's teats be swollen of a morning, that she
had been sucked the previous night by a hedgehog.

Formerly dead hedgehogs could be seen in company with foxes, polecats,
and other vermin suspended from the boughs of the churchyard yew trees,
to prove that the Churchwardens paid for work actually done.


A white horse figures in the superstition of school children.  When the
writer was a lad in school at Llanidloes, it was believed that if a white
horse were met in the morning it was considered lucky, and should the boy
who first saw the horse spit on the ground, and stealthily make the sign
of a cross with his toe across the spittle, he was certain to find a coin
on the road, or have a piece of money given to him before the day was
over; but he was not to divulge to anyone what he had done, and for the
working of the charm it was required that he should make sure that the
horse was perfectly white, without any black hairs in any part of the

In Welshpool a like superstition prevails.  Mr. Copnall, the master of
the Boys' National School in that town, has kindly supplied me with the
following account of this matter:--"It is lucky to meet a white horse on
the road, if, when you meet it, you spit three times over your little
finger; if you neglect this charm you will be unlucky.  I asked the
children if it signified whether it was the little finger on the right or
left hand; some boys said the left, but the majority said it made no
difference which hand."

It was said that horses could see spirits, and that they could never be
induced to proceed as long as the spirit stood before them.  They
perspired and trembled whilst the spirit blocked the way, but when it had
disappeared, then the horses would go on.


This pretty spotted little beetle was used formerly in the neighbourhood
of Llanidloes as a prognosticator of the weather.  First of all the
lady-bird was placed in the palm of the left hand, or right; I do not
think it made any difference which hand was used, and the person who held
it addressed it as follows:--

    Iar fach goch, gwtta,
    Pa un ai gwlaw, neu hindda?

and then having said these words, the insect was thrown skywards, the
person repeating the while--

    Os mai gwlaw, cwympa lawr,
    Os mai teg, hedfana;

which in English would be--

    Lady-bird, lady-bird, tell to me
    What the weather is going to be;
    If fair, then fly in the air,
    If foul, then fall to the ground.

The first two lines were said with the beetle in the hand, and the last
two whilst it was thrown upwards; if it came to the ground without
attempting to fly, it indicated rain; if, however, when thrown into the
air it flew away, then fair weather was to be expected.  The writer has
often resorted to this test, but whether he found it true or false he
cannot now say.


A mouse nibbling clothes was a sign of disaster, if not death, to the
owner.  It was thought that the evil one occasionally took the form of a
mouse.  Years ago, when Craig Wen Farm, Llawr-y-glyn, near Llanidloes,
Montgomeryshire was haunted--the rumour of which event I well
remember--the servant girl told her mistress, the tenant of the farm,
that one day she was going through the corn field, and that a mouse ran
before her, and she ran after it to catch it, but that when she was
opposite the barn, _the mouse stopped and laughed at her_, and ran into a
hole.  The mouse, therefore, was the evil spirit, and the cause of all
the mischief that followed.


Moles are said to have no eyes.  If mole hills move there will be a thaw.
By the moving of mole hills is meant bits of earth tumbling off the
mound.  A labourer in Llanmerewig parish, Montgomeryshire, called my
attention to this fact.  It was a frosty day, and apparently no change
was near, but it will thaw, said he, and certain I am, that by the next
morning a thaw had set in.


Pigs used to be credited with the power of seeing the wind.  Devils were
fond of assuming the form of, or entering into, pigs.  Pigs littered in
February could not be reared.  This I was told by a native of
Llansantffraid, Montgomeryshire.

_The Snake_, _Serpent_.

The snake was supposed to be able to understand what men said.  A tale
was told me by an aged man at Penrhos, Montgomeryshire, of an event which
took place in the last century.  His father, he said, saw a number of
snakes, or _nethers_, as he called them, basking in the sun, and he said
when passing them, "I will make you jump to-morrow."  The next day he,
provided with a rod, passed the spot, but no adder could be seen.  The
next day he passed again the same spot without his rod, and the man was
now obliged to run for his life, so furiously did the snakes attack him.

Traditions of Flying Snakes were once common in all parts of Wales.

_Flying Serpents_.

The traditional origin of these imaginary creatures was that they were
snakes, which by having drunk the milk of a woman, and by having eaten of
bread consecrated for the Holy Communion, became transformed into winged
serpents or dragons.

These dangerous creatures had their lurking places in many districts, and
they attacked everyone that crossed their paths.  There was said to have
been one such den on Moel Bentyrch.  Old Mrs. Davies, Plas, Dolanog, who
died 1890, aged 92, told the Rev. D. R. Evans, B.A., son of the Vicar of
Dolanog, that once, when she was a young woman, she went to Llanfair
market, and on the way she sat on a stile, and she saw smoke and fire
issuing from a hole on Moel Bentyrch, where the _Gwiber_, or Flying
Serpent, had its abode.  She ran, and never stopped until she had placed
a good distance between her and the hill.  She believed that both the
smoke and fire were caused by the serpent.  There is also a tradition
still current in Dolanog that this flying serpent was destroyed by
wrapping some red material round a post into which sharp nails were
driven.  The serpent, attacking this post with furious onslaughts, was
lacerated by the sharp spikes, and died.  A like tradition is current in
Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant in connection with the _Post Coch_, or
_Post-y-Wiber_, or Maen Hir y Maes-Mochnant.

Mr. Hancock in his "History of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant," writes as

    "The legend connected with this stone pillar is, that it was raised
    in order to prevent the devastation which a winged serpent or dragon
    (a _Wiber_) was committing in the surrounding country.  The stone was
    draped with scarlet cloth, to allure and excite the creature to a
    furor, scarlet being a colour most intolerably hateful and provoking
    to it.  It was studded with iron spikes, that the reptile might wound
    or kill itself by beating itself against it.  Its destruction, it is
    alleged, was effected by this artifice.  It is said to have had two
    lurking places in the neighbourhood, which are still called
    _Nant-y-Wiber_, one at Penygarnedd, the other near Bwlch Sychtyn, in
    the parish of Llansilin, and this post was in the direct line of its
    flight.  Similar legends referring to winged serpents exist in
    various parts of Wales.  In the adjoining parish of
    Llanarmon-Dyffryn-Ceiriog there is a place called _Sarffle_ (the
    serpent's hole)."--_Montgomeryshire Collections_, vol. ix., 237.

_Snake Rings_, _or Glain Nadroedd_.

Mention is made in _Camden_ of snake rings.  Omitting certain remarks not
connected with the matter directly, he writes:--"In some parts of Wales
we find it a common opinion of the vulgar that about Midsummer Eve
(though in the time they do not all agree) 'tis usual for snakes to meet
in companies, and that by joyning heads together and hissing, a kind of
Bubble is form'd like a ring about the head of one of them, which the
rest by continual hissing, blow on till it comes off at the tail, and
then it immediately hardens, and resembles a glass ring; which whoever
finds (as some old women and children are persuaded) shall prosper in all
his undertakings."  The above quotation is in Gibson's additions to
Camden, and it correctly states the popular opinion.  Many of these rings
formerly existed, and they seemed to be simply glass rings.  They were
thought to possess many healing virtues, as, for instance, it could cure
wens and whooping cough, and I believe I have heard it said that it could
cure the bite of a mad dog.


It was thought that the devil could assume any animal's form excepting
that of the sheep.  This saying, however, is somewhat different from what
a farmer friend told me of _black sheep_.  He said his father, and other
farmers as well, were in the habit of killing all their black lambs,
because they were of the same colour as the devil, and the owners were
afraid that Satan had entered, or would enter into them, and that
therefore these sheep were destroyed.  He stated that his father went on
his knees on the ground and prayed, either before or after he had killed
the black lambs.  It is a common saying that the black sheep is the
ringleader of all mischief in a flock of sheep.  The expression, "He is a
black sheep," as applied to a person, conveys the idea that he is a
worthless being, inclined to everything that is bad.

It is even now in country places thought to be a lucky omen if anyone
sees the head of the first spring lamb towards him.  This foretells a
lucky and prosperous year to the person whose eyes are thus greeted.


The long-legged spider, or, as it is generally called in Wales, the
Tailor, is an object of cruel sport to children.  They catch it, and then
handle it roughly, saying the while:--

    Old Harry long-leg
    Cannot say his prayers,
    Catch him by the right leg,
    Catch him by the left leg.
    And throw him down stairs;

and then one leg after the other is plucked off, and the poor creature is
left to die miserably.  This was done in Llanidloes.

_The Squirrel_.

Hunting this sprightly little animal became at Christmas the sport of our
rustic population.  A number of lads gathered together, and proceeded to
the woods to hunt the squirrel.  They followed it with stones and sticks
from tree to tree, shouting and screaming, to frighten it on and on,
until it was quite unable to make further progress, and then they caught
it.  The writer, when a lad, has often joined in this cruel hunt, but
whether the squirrel was killed when caught he is unable to recall to
mind.  Generally it escaped.

_The Blind Worm_, _or Slow Worm_.

This reptile is a snake, varying from twelve to eighteen inches long.
Its head is small, and its movements very rapid.  At the slightest noise,
it darts away in a moment, and hides among rocks, stones, or rank grass.
It is said to have no eyes, but this is a popular mistake--hence,
however, its name, _Blind Worm_.  This beautiful timid creature is often
wantonly cut into pieces by its cruel and mistaken captors, for they
credit it with the possession of evil propensities.  It is said that,
could it see, it would be a formidable enemy to man and beast.  This
supposition has found strength and sanction in doggerel verse.  The Blind
Worm is said to address the adder as follows:--

    If I could see,
    As well as thee,
    Man nor beast
    Should ne'er pass me.

Another version of these lines, heard in Shropshire, on the borders of
Wales, is:--

    If I had one eye,
    As thou hast two,
    No man should live,
    Nor beast should loo (low).

These doggerel lines indicate clearly the dread in which this innocent
snake is held.



Acton, T. A., Regent Street, Wrexham

Adcane, Miss, Plas Llanfawr, Holyhead

Andrews, Mr Wm., _The Hull Press_, 1, Dock Street, Hull

Arnold, Prof. E. P., M.A., 10, Bryn Teg, Bangor


Ballinger, John, Mr., Cardiff Free Library, Cardiff

Barnes, J. R., Esq., The Quinta, Chirk

Bennett, Edgar, Esq., 2, Court Ash, Yeovil

Bennett, N., Esq., Glanyrafon, Llanidloes

Bangor, The Lord Bishop of, The Palace, Bangor, N.W.

Bowen, Alfred E., Esq., Town Hall, Pontypool

Bryan, B., Esq., Pen-lan, Ruthin

Bryan, R. F., Esq.,

Bury, Mrs., Ellesmere, Shropshire


Chapman, Henry, Mr., Dolfor School, Near Newtown

Cunliffe, R., Esq., Llanrhaiadr Hall, Denbigh


Daniels, Rev. J., Curate, Carmarthen

Davies-Cooke, Philip B., Esq., Gwysanny, Mold

Davies, Rev. L. W., Manafon Rectory, Welshpool

Davies, Rev. D. W., M.A., The Vicarage, St. Asaph

Davies, Rev. Joseph, B.A., Curate, Holywell

Davies, Rev. C. H., M.A., Tregarth, Bangor

Davies, Rev. E. T., B.A., The Vicarage, Pwllheli

Davies, Rev. J., B.A., Bryneglwys Vicarage, Corwen

Davies, Rev. J. J., Machynlleth

Davies, W. Cadwaladr, Esq., Penybryn, Bangor, N. Wales

Davies, Rev. T. R., Curate, The Hut, Farnham Royal, Windsor

Davies, Thos. Mr., Draper, 121, High Holborn, London

Davies, Rev. T. A., B.A.,

D'Erisleigh, R. S., Esq., Salisbury College, Stoneycroft, Liverpool

Drinkwater, Rev. C. H., St. George's Vicarage, Shrewsbury

Duckworth, Thos., Esq., Librarian, Worcester Public Library, Worcester


Edwards, Rev. D., M.A., Vicarage, Rhyl

Edwards, Mr. R., Litherland, Near Liverpool

Edwards, T. C., D.D., Principal, College, Bala

Edwards, Rev R, Rectory, Bettws, Gwerfil Goch, Near Corwen

Edwards, Rev. E. J., B.A., Vicar, Tremeirchion, St. Asaph

Elias, Miss Elizabeth, 2, Chapel Street, Conway

Ellis, Rev. Robert, The Rectory, Llansannan, Abergele

Evans, Mr. E., School House, Gwernaffield, Mold

Evans, Rev. E., The Vicarage, Llanarmon, Mold

Evans, Rev. J. T., Bettws Vicarage, Abergele

Evans, Rev. J., B.A., Tallarn Green, Malpas

Evans, Rev. D. W., M.A., St. George's Vicarage, Abergele

Evans, Rev. T. H., Minera Vicarage, Wrexham

Evans, Rev. W., B.A., 5, King Street, Aberystwyth

Evans, Rev. J. O., M.A., Peterston Rectory, Cardiff

Evans, Rev. J. Silas, B.A., Vicarage, St. Asaph

Evans, J. G. Esq., 7, Clarendon Villa, Oxford

Evans, J. E., Esq., 12, Albion Road, South Hampstead, London, N.W.

Evans, Mr. Arthur,


Felix, Rev. John, Cilcen Vicarage, Mold

Fisher, Rev. J., B. A., Ruthin

Fletcher, Miss Fanny Lloyd, Nerquis Hall, Mold

Fletcher, Rev. W. H., M.A., The Vicarage, Wrexham


Gardner, H., Esq., C. 18, Exchange, Liverpool

George, Rev. T., B.A., Nerquis Vicarage, Mold

Gilbert, T. H., Esq., 129, Cheapside, London, E.C.

Green, Rev. G. K. M., Exhall Rectory, Alcester, Redditch

Griffith, Rev. D., B.A., Clocaenog Rectory, Ruthin

Griffith, H. J. Lloyd, M.A, Frondeg, Holyhead


Haines, W., Esq., Y Bryn, Near Abergavenny

Harland, E. Sydney, Esq., Barnwood Court, Gloucester

Harper, W. J., Mr., Wern Shop, Rhosesmor, Holywell

Hope, John H., Mr., National School, Holywell

Hughes, Rev. H. T., M.A., Bistre Vicarage, Chester

Hughes, Rev. T., M.A., Buttington Vicarage, Near Welshpool

Hughes, H., Mr., Glyn National School, Llangollen

Hughes, T. G., Esq., 47, Everton Road, Liverpool

Hughes, Rev. Jonathan,

Hughes, Rev. Morgan, Derwen Rectory, Corwen

Humphreys, Mr. W. R, School House, Penycae, Ruabon


James, Rev. E. R, R.D., The Rectory, Marchwiel, Wrexham

James, Rev. D. Pennant, Rectory, Oswestry

Jenkins, Rev. W., Chaplain of H.M. Prison, Ruthin

Jenkins, Rev. J., B.A., Bodawen, Penmaenmawr

Jenkins, Rev. L. D., B.A., Penycae Vicarage, Ruabon

Johnson, Mr. R., National Provincial Bank, Mold

Jones, Rev. D., Llanberis Rectory, Carnarvon

Jones, Rev. D., Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant Vicarage, Oswestry

Jones, Sir Pryce Pryce, Dolerw, Newtown

Jones, Pryce Edward, Esq., M.P., Newtown Hall, Newtown

Jones, Rev. J. Thompson, B.A., Towyn Vicarage, Abergele

Jones, Rev. W., M.A., Trofarth Vicarage, Abergele

Jones, Prof. J. Morris, M.A., University College, Bangor

Jones, Rev. Rees, Carrog Rectory, Corwen

Jones, Rev. Hy., M.A., Llanychan Rectory, Ruthin

Jones, Dr. A. Emrys, 10, Saint John Street, Manchester

Jones, Miss M., Bryn Siriol, Mold

Jones, Rev. Evan

Jones, Rev. Jno., Curate, Llanbedr, Ruthin

Jones, Rev. G. J., Curate of Ysceifiog, Holywell

Jones, Mr. H. W., Tanyberllan, Penmaenmawr

Jones, Rev. Stephen, Curate, Mold

Jones, Rev. W., Curate of Northop, Flintshire

Jones, Mr. Powell, School House, Llanelidan, Ruthin

Jones, Rev. Pierce, Aber Rectory, Bangor

Jones, Rev. Griffith Arthur, M.A., St. Mary's, Cardiff

Jones, Rev. Griffith, The Vicarage, Mostyn, Holywell

Jones, Lewis, Esq., _Journal_ Office, Rhyl

Jones, J. R, Delbury School, Craven Arms, Salop

Jones, Mr. T., The Schools, Ffynnongroyw, Holywell, N.W.

Jones, Mr. J. E., National School, Llawr y Bettws, Corwen

Jones, Mr. L. P., National Schools, Rhosesmor, Holywell

Jones, Rev. Enoch, M.A.

Jones, Rev. W., Llanasa Vicarage, Holywell

Jones, F., Esq., Pyrocanth House, Ruthin

Jones, R. Prys, Esq., B.A., Board School, Denbigh

Jones, Rev. Wynne, M.A., Rhosddu, Wrexham


Kenrick, Mr. Robert, 24, Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth


Lewis, Rev. D., Rectory, Merthyr Tydfil

Lewis, Rev. H. Elvet, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire

Lewis, Dr., Llansantffraid, Oswestry

Lewis, Rev. J. P., The Vicarage, Conway

Lindsay, W. M., Esq., Librarian, Jesus College, Oxford

Lloyd, Rev. T. H., M.A., Vicarage, Llansantffraid-yn-Mechain, Oswestry

Lloyd, Rev. John, The Rectory, Dolgelley

Lloyd, E. O. V., Esq., M.A., Rhaggatt, Corwen

Lloyd, Rev. L. D., B.A., Curate, Rhosddu, Wrexham

Lloyd, Rev. T., B.A., The Rectory, Bala

Lloyd, John Edward, Professor, M.A., University College, Bangor

Luxmore, E. B., Esq., Bryn Asaph, St. Asaph


Mainwaring, Col., Galltfaenan, Trefnant, R.S.O., N. Wales

Marsh, Miss Ellen, late of Tybrith, Carno, Mont.

M'Gonigle, Rev. T. G., Weston, Shrewsbury

M'Gormick, Rev. T. H. J., Holy Trinity, Ilkestone, Derbyshire

Minshall, P. H., Esq., Solicitor, Oswestry

Morgan, Rev. John, M.A., Rectory, Llandudno

Morris, Edward, Esq., M.A., Copthorne House, Ruthin Road, Wrexham

Morris, Rev. John., M.A., The Rectory, Llanelidan, Ruthin

Muspratt, Miss, Trelawney, Flint


Nayler-Leyland, Mrs., Nantclwyd Hall, Ruthin

Nicholas, Rev. W. Ll., M.A., Flint Rectory, Flint

Nixon and Jarvis, Bank Place, Bangor

Nutt, David, 270, Strand, London, W.C.


Oldfield, J. E., Esq., B.A., Fferm, Bettws, Abergele

Owen, Rev. R. M., M.A., The Vicarage, Bagillt

Owen, Mr, School House, Burton, Gresford

Owen, E. H., Esq., F.S.A., Ty Coch, Nr. Carnarvon

Owen, Rev. E. J., Penmaen Villa, Llanfairfechan, Carnarvonshire

Owen, Rev, T., B.A., Curate, Rhosllanerchrugog, Ruabon

Owen, Hon. Mrs. Bulkeley, Tedsmore

Owen, Isambard, M.D., 5, Hertford Street, Mayfair, London, W.

Owen, Rev. W. P., B.A., Curate, Holy Trinity, Oswestry

Owen, T. Morgan, Esq., H.M.I. of Schools, Bronwylfa, Rhyl, 4 copies

Owen, Rev. T. W., M.A., Empingham Rectory, Rutlandshire

Owen, A. C. Humphreys, Esq., Glansevern, Garthmyl, Mont.

Owen, Morris, Esq., Market Street, Carnarvon

Owen, Rev. J., Dyserth Vicarage, Rhyl

Owen, Rev. W. D., B.A., Gwernaffield Vicarage, Mold.


Palmer, Alfred Neobard, 19, King Street, Wrexham

Parkins, Trevor, Esq, M.A., Gresford

Parkins, W. T., Esq., M.A., Glasfryn, Gresford, Wrexham

Parry, H., Glyn Mare, Conway

Pennant, Hon. Gertrude Douglas, Hans Place, London, S.W.

Pennant, P. P., Esq., Nantlys, St. Asaph

Phillips, Rev. John

Pierce, W., Board School, Holywell

Pierce, Mr Ellis, Bookseller, Dolyddelen

Pierce, W. M., National School, Denbigh

Price, Mr., School House, Bryneglwys, Corwen

Prichard, Thos., Esq., Llwydiarth Esgob, Llanerchymedd, R.S.O., Anglesey

Probert, Mr John, Castle Estate Office, Ruthin

Pryce, The Ven. Archdeacon, Trefdraeth Rectory, Anglesey


Rees, Miss M., Clifton House, Denbigh

Rees, Mr., School House, Nerquis, Mold

Reece, Rev. T. F., B.A., Llanfwrog Rectory, Ruthin

Reichel, H. R., Esq., Pen'rallt, Bangor

Reynolds, Llywarch, Old Church Place, Merthyr Tydfil

Richardson, The Rev. Chancellor William, M.A., The Rectory, Corwen

Roberts, Rev. J., Fron, Garthmyl, Mont.

Roberts, Mr W. S., School House, Cwmddu, Crickhowel, S. Wales

Roberts, Rev. E. S., B.A., Curate of Penarth, Cardiff

Roberts, G. W., Esq., M.D., Denbigh

Roberts, Rev. J. R., B.A., Curate of St. James's, Bangor

Roberts, Rev. R., Curate, Blaenau Festiniog

Roberts, Mr. W. Ll., Penyceunant, Penybont Fawr, Llanrhaiadr, Oswestry

Roderick, Rev. E. M., M.A., The Vicarage, Mold

Rowden, Mr B., Rose Cottage, Maesydre, Mold

Rowlands, Rev. D., M.A., Normal College, Bangor


Selby, Mr. Jas. P., School House, Trevor, Ruabon

Shelby, Mr. T. F., 11, Cross Street, Rhosddu, Wrexham

St. Davids, The Lord Bishop, Abergwili Palace, Carmarthen

St. Asaph, Right Rev. Lord Bishop of, The Palace, St. Asaph

Swansea, The Rt. Rev. the Lord Bishop, The Vicarage, Carmarthen


Taylor, Henry, Esq., F.S.A., Angar Park, Chester

Thomas, Rev. D. J., M.A., Vice Principal, The College, Winchester

Thomas, D. Lleufer, Esq., Cefn Hendre, Llandilo

Thomas, Ven. Archdeacon, Meifod Vicarage, Welshpool

Thomas, Rev. J. W., M.A., Rhosymedre Vicarage, Ruabon

Thomas, Rev. J. W., M.A., Bwlchycibau, Oswestry

Thomas, Miss, Park Mostyn, Denbigh

Thomas, Rev. H. E., Assistant Curate, Llangollen

Thomas, Rev. J. Howell, B.A., Curate of Brymbo, Wrexham

Turnour, Dr. A. E., Denbigh


Vaughan, Rev. T. H., B.A., Curate, Rhyl

Venables, R. G., Esq., Ludlow


Walmsley, James, Esq., Plas-y-nant, Ruthin

West, Neville, Esq., Glanyrafon, Llanyblodwel, Oswestry

West, W. Cornwallis, M.P., Ruthin Castle, Ruthin

Whittington, Rev. W. P., The Grammar School, Ruthin

Williams, Rev. R. A., Waenfawr Vicarage, near Carnarvon

Williams, Rev. Lewis, Vicar of Prion, Denbigh

Williams, Rev. R. O., M.A., The Vicarage, Holywell

Williams, Rev. David, Llandyrnog Rectory, Denbigh

Williams, Rev. E. O., Melidan Vicarage, Rhyl

Williams, Rev. T. T., B.A., Penloin, Llanrwst

Williams, Mr. T., Islawrdref Board School, Near Dolgelley

Williams, W. Llewellyn, Esq., Brown Hill, Llangadock, S. Wales

Williams, Rev. Lloyd, B.A., Organizing Sec., S.P.C.K., Wrexham

Williams, Rev. T. Ll., M.A., The Vicarage, St. Asaph

Williams, Rev. G., M.A., Trefonen

Williams, W. P., Esq., Caer Onen, Bangor

Williams, Mr. T. Ll., 64, Love Lane, Denbigh

Williams, Mr. R., 106, Clarence Street, Lower Broughton, Manchester

Wilson, Capt. Hy., Hope, Mold

Wilson, Alfred, Bookseller, 18, Gracechurch Street, London, E.C.

Wood, R. H., Esq. F.S.A., Pantglas, Trawsfynydd

Wykes, Mr C. H., Board School, Rhosddu, Wrexham

Wynne, Miss F. E., 62, Park Street, Grosvenor Square, London

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Welsh Folk-Lore - a Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales" ***

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