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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Legends of the North; The Guidman O'
Inglismill and The Fairy Bride, by Patrick Buchan

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Title: Legends of the North; The Guidman O' Inglismill and The Fairy Bride

Author: Patrick Buchan

Release Date: September 10, 2011 [EBook #37375]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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The Guidman o' Inglismill was written, not to fill up "hours of idleness," but as a relaxation from the cares of a more important and arduous occupation.

Its object is the encouragement of temperate habits, and the enjoyment of "ane's ain fireside."

It is hoped it will be no less acceptable to the reader as another attempt to assist in preserving the pure Doric of "auld langsyne," which is fast being superseded by a language less pithy, less expressive, though more fashionable.

Every "toon's laddie"—or he is no true son of the "bruch"—however old, however placed as regards wealth or poverty, or wherever he may be on this habitable globe, can sympathise with the lines to the spot "where we were born." There is a charm in the true Buchan dialect to a child of the district, which neither time, age, nor distance can destroy. When "far awa," it falls on the ear like the breathings of some holy melody, and calls up in the imagination a fleeting panoramic picture of early days, and homes, and play-mates,—swelling the heart and dimming the eyes as they try to gaze down the vista of the past,—dotted, it may be, with the resting-places of those who have gone "to the land o' the leal."


The superstition with which the tale is interwoven—

"Of fairy elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The silver token, and the circled green"—

has, for unknown ages, and in all countries, been an article of the popular creed. It is impossible to trace the origin of the belief. Some imagine it has been conveyed to us by the tradition of the Lamiæ, who took away young children to slay them, and that this, mixed up with the tales of Fauns and Gods of the woods, originated the notion of Fairies. Others, that the belief was imported into Europe by the Crusaders from the East, as Fairies somewhat resemble the Oriental Genii. It is certainly true that the Arabs and Persians, whose religion and history abound with similar tales, have assigned the Genii a peculiar country. Again, Homer is supposed to have been among authors the originator of the idea, as, in his third Iliad, he compares the Trojans to cranes when they descend to fight against pigmies or fairies. Pliny, Aristotle, and others give countenance to the belief in a race of fairies; Herodotus described a nation of dwarfs living on the head waters of the Nile; Strabo thought that certain men of Ethiopia were the original dwarfs; while Pomponius Mela placed them far south. But nobody believed these stories, which were taken to be either poetical licences or chapters in romance. It is, however, strange that a race called Obongos, about thirty-six inches high, are mentioned as existing near the Ashango country by Paul de Chaillu (the discoverer of the gorilla), in his late work "From the Country of the Dwarfs."

Whatever conjecture may be adopted, it is certain our Saxon ancestors, long ere they left their German forests, believed in the existence of a kind of diminutive demons, or middle species between men and spirits, to whom they attributed performances far exceeding human art. Although we are now a great literary people, yet, in this description of legendary lore, we are far behind the Germans; for this is a peculiar style of writing not exactly fitted for English cultivation, but in which the Germans seem to possess the faculty of invention and contrivance, together with originality of conception and power of execution, in such an eminent degree as to leave the legendary writers of our own and other countries at an immeasurable distance. In fact, we may search the whole range of English, French, Spanish, and Italian literature, and there will not be found one author "who dips so deep into the dark profound," or one who is possessed of that magic wand that can give the same vitality to the beings of a shadowy world as the Germans, or one who, can conjure up before the mind's eye, in such enchanting colours, the magical representations of beings and forms of no mark or likelihood, and with whose names even we were previously totally unacquainted.

The Fairies of our own land were, on the whole, a genial, frolicsome, happy race—occasionally given to mischievous tricks—benefiting those who were kindly disposed to them and paid them due honour, but revengeful and doing harm to those who were differently inclined. They were a kind of intermediate beings, partaking of the nature of both men and spirits: they had material bodies and the power of making them invisible, and of passing through any opening. They were generally, in their natural state, small in stature, of fair complexion—hence their name in England; while, for their kind dispositions, in Scotland they were called "the good people." Says Dr Rogers, in his work "Scotland Social and Domestic," in which will be found much of interest regarding "Folk Lore":—"The forms of the Scottish fairies were beautiful. The female was a being of seraphic loveliness: ringlets of yellow hair descended upon her shoulders, and were bound upon her brow with gems of gold. She wore a mantle of green silk, inlaid with eider-down, and zoned round her waist with garlands of wild flowers. The male fairy was clad in green trows and a flowing tunic. His feet were protected with sandals of silver, from his left arm hung a golden bow, and a quiver of adder-skin was suspended on his left side. His arrows were tipped in flame. The fairies feasted luxuriously. The richest viands adorned their boards. They frequented human banquets, and conveyed a portion of the richest dishes into their palaces. They were present at funerals, and extracted the liquor and meats which were presented to the company. Some Highlanders refused to eat or drink at funeral assemblages in apprehension of elfin interference. Their habits were joyous. They constructed harps and pipes which emitted delicious sounds. They held musical processions and conducted concerts in remote glens and on unfrequented heaths. In their processions, they rode on horses fleeter than the wind. Their coursers were decked with gorgeous trappings: from their manes were suspended silver bells which rang with the zephyr, and produced music of enchanting harmony. The feet of their steeds fell so gently that they dashed not the dew from the ring-cup, nor bent the stalk of the wild rose." Their haunts on the surface of the earth were groves, mountains, wooded dells, by springs, the southern sides of hills, and verdant meadows, where their diversions were dancing in circles, hand in hand. The traces left by their tiny feet were supposed to remain visible on the grass, and were called fairy rings, but are now discovered to be the production of an agaric or mushroom.

Science, alas! sadly interferes with these fanciful old legends, but not always without leaving some doubtful explanation of her own.

The unfortunate wight who turned up a fairy ring with the ploughshare became the victim of a wasting sickness—

"He wha tills the fairy green
Nae luck again sall hae,
And he wha spoils the fairy ring
Betide him want and wae,
For weirdless days and weary nichts
Are his till his deeing day."

The protector of the fairy ring was proportionally recompensed—

"He wha gaes by the fairy ring
Nae dule or pains sall dree,
And he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death sall dee."

The kingdom of Fairyland was supposed to be peculiarly beautiful, somewhere in the interior of the earth. The Ettrick Shepherd's description of this fair land is, perhaps, unequalled in Scottish poetry. It occurs in his ballad of "Bonny Kilmeny," embodying the tradition of the removal, to Fairyland, of the daughter of a labourer at Traquair, and her restoration to earth a few weeks after:—

"Kilmeny had been where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew;
But it seemed as the harp of the sky had rung,
And the airs of heaven played round her tongue,
When she spake of the lovely forms she had seen,
And a land where sin had never been;
A land of love, and a land of light,
Withouten sun, or moon, or night;
Where the river swa'd a living stream,
And the light a pure celestial beam:
The land of vision it would seem,
A still, an everlasting dream.
     *    *    *    *    *    *    *
They lifted Kilmeny, they led her away,
And she walked in the light of a sunless day:
The sky was a dome of crystal bright,
The fountain of vision, and fountain of light:
The emerald fields were of dazzling glow,
And the flowers of everlasting blow.
Then deep in the stream her body they laid,
That her youth and beauty never might fade;
And they smiled on heaven, when they saw her lie
In the stream of life that wandered bye.
     *    *    *    *    *    *    *
She saw a sun on a summer sky,
And clouds of amber sailing bye;
A lovely land beneath her lay,
And that land had glens and mountains gray;
And that land had valleys and hoary piles,
And marled seas and a thousand isles;
Its fields were speckled, its forests green,
And its lakes were all of the dazzling sheen,
Like magic mirrors, where slumbering lay
The sun and the sky and the cloudlet gray;
Which heaved and trembled, and gently swung,
On every shore they seemed to be hung."

Scottish fairies had a king and queen and royal court, which, in pomp and pageantry, far exceeded that of any earthly monarch. In Poole's "Parnassus," the principal persons are named Oberon, the emperor; Mab, the empress; Perriwiggin, Periwincle, Puck, Hobgoblin, Tomalin, Tom Thumb, courtiers; Hop, Mop, Drop, Pip, Drip, Skip, Tub, Tib, Tick, Pink, Pin, Quick, Gill, Jim, Tit, Wap, Win, Nit, the maids of honour; Nymphidia, the mother of the maids.

At one time, the Queen seems to have chosen Thomas of Ercildoune—better known as The Rhymer—with whom to share her royalty. Whether from infidelity to her royal spouse, or from his having fallen into temporary disgrace, tradition sayeth not, but her offer is celebrated in ballad lore—

"An' I will gie to thee, luve Thomas,
My han', but an' my crown;
An' thou shalt reign o'er Fairylan'
In joy, an' gret renown.
"An' I will gie to thee, luve Thomas,
To live for evermair;
Thine arm sall never feckless grow,
Nor hoary wax thy hair.
"Nae clamorous grief we ever thole,
Nae wastin' pine we dree;
An endless life's afore thee placed
O' constant luve an' lee."

But, after seven years' residence, he was suddenly dismissed by her majesty, his mistress, and for a very sufficient reason, as told also in ballad lore—

"'Busk thee, Thomas, for thou must be gane,
For here no longer may'st thou be;
Hie thee fast, with might and main;
I shall thee bring to the Eildon tree.'
"Thomas answered with heavy cheer,
'Lovely ladye, thou lat me be;
For certainly I have been here
Nought but the space of dayes three!'
"'For sooth, Thomas, as I thee tell,
Thou hast been here seven year and more;
But longer here thou may not dwell,
The skyl I will thee tell wherefore.
"'To-morrow, of hell the foul fiend
Among these folks shall choose his fee;
Thou art a fair man and a hend,
I trow full well he wil choose thee!
"'For all the gold that ever might be,
Frae heaven unto the worldes end,
Thou be'st never betray'd by me;
Therefore with me I rede thee wend.'
"She brought him again to the Eildon tree,
Underneath the greenwood spray;
In Huntly banks was fayr to be,
Where birds do sing both night and day."

Having thus restored The Rhymer to earth, he was permitted to remain for a time, to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by deeds resulting from the knowledge, and by his marvellous prophetic powers, acquired during his seven years' residence in the Fairyland; still, however, bound to return to his royal mistress when she should intimate her pleasure. Accordingly, while Thomas was making merry with his friends in the Tower of Ercildoune, a person came running in, and told, with marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart and hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were, composedly and slowly, parading the street of the village. This being the signal agreed upon for his recall to Elfinland, the prophet instantly arose, left his habitation, and followed the wonderful animals to the forest, whence he was never seen to return. According to the popular belief, he still "drees his weird" in Fairyland, and is one day expected to revisit the earth. The village of Ercildoune is situated on the Leader, two miles above its junction with the Tweed, and the ruins of an ancient tower are still pointed out as The Rhymer's castle. The Eildon tree, from under which he delivered his prophecies, no longer exists; but the spot is marked by a large stone, called Eildon Tree Stone; and a neighbouring rivulet takes the name of the Bogle Burn, from being the spot where The Rhymer's visitants met him.

Hunting was a favourite sport at the Fairy court. They rode to the hunt in three bands. The first was mounted on brown horses; the second rode on grey; while the third, consisting of the king, queen, and chief nobles, sat on white steeds. One member of the court rode on a black charger: this was Kilmaulie, prime councillor of Fairyland. Altogether, they seem to have led a jolly life there, the principal drawback being the liability to pay, every seventh year, one of their number as a tribute or Kain to hell. This is described in the ballad of "Tamlane," who, while he relates the delights of his home in Fairyland, and even, somewhat selfishly, values them higher than the affection of his true love, fair Janet, does not relish the possible finale in his being made the Kain to hell:—

"But we, that live in Fairyland,
No sickness know, nor pain;
I quit my body when I will,
And take to it again.
"I quit my body when I please,
Or unto it repair;
We can inhabit, at our ease,
In either earth or air.
"Our shapes and size we can convert
To either large or small;
An old nut-shell's the same to us
As is the lofty hall.
"We sleep in rose-buds soft and sweet,
We revel in the stream,
We wanton lightly on the wind,
Or glide on a sunbeam.
"And all our wants are well supplied
From every rich man's store,
Who thankless sins the gifts he gets,
And vainly grasps for more.
"And it is sic a bonnie place,
And I like it sae well,
That I wou'd never tire, Janet,
In Elfish land to dwell.
"But aye, at ilka seven years,
They pay the teind to hell;
And I'm sae fat and fair of flesh,
I fear 'twill be mysel'!"

And so the brave Janet, actuated by that greatest of all feelings—a true woman's love—took her lover from the procession on Hallow-e'en, by "pulling him down" from the "milk-white steed" on which he rode, and holding him fast in spite of all the "horrible and awfu'" changes he underwent in her hands, discovering, when he returns to his true likeness, that he is her old boyish love, son of Randolph, Earl of Murray, whom the fairies had, years before, stolen away.

There were, as in all communities, a good and a bad section, known as the "seelie" and the "unseelie court." The seelie court were kind, courteous, and charitable to the aged, the poor, and the afflicted, to whom they gave gifts suited to their necessities, as in the rhyme—

"Meddle and mell
Wi' the fiends o' hell,
And a weirdless wicht ye'll be;
But tak' and len'
Wi' the fairy men,
Ye'll thrive until ye dee."

The unseelie court, on the other hand, from those who offended them, stole their goods and killed their cattle by elf-shot, occasionally found on the moors or turned up in the fields now-a-days, but which science ruthlessly asserts to be the arrow-heads of our prehistoric ancestors. They entertained a particular dislike against those who wore clothing of a green colour. To this cause the Highlanders ascribed the death of Viscount Dundee at Killiecrankie. But their most wicked prank of all was the carrying away of handsome unbaptized children from the side of the lying-in mother, substituting their own loathsome and sickly progeny in their stead. To prevent this misfortune, it was customary in the Highlands to perform the Dessil—that is, carrying fire in the right hand, and in the direction from right to left, morning and evening, round the house in which lay the mother and child, until the baptism and churching had taken place. "This was," says Martin, in his "History of the West Highlands," "considered an effectual means to preserve both the mother and infant from the power of evil spirits, who are ready at such times to do mischief, and sometimes carry away the infants and return poor, meagre skeletons; and these infants have voracious appetites. In this case, it was usual for those who believed that their children were thus taken away to dig a grave in the fields on quarter-day, and there to lay the fairy skeleton till next morning, at which time the parents went to the place, where they doubted not to find their own child instead of the skeleton." They had also, in other localities, recourse to the barbarous charm of burning, with a live coal, the toes of the suffering infant, the supposed changeling. They were not content with abstracting handsome children—beautiful maidens and wives sometimes disappeared, and, of course, the fairies were the abductors. The Miller of Menstrie,[A] in Fife, who possessed a charming spouse, had given offence to the "unseelie" court, and was, in consequence, deprived of his fair helpmate. His distress was aggravated by hearing his wife singing in the air—

"Oh! Alva woods are bonnie,
Tillicoultry hills are fair;
But, when I think o' the bonnie braes o' Menstrie,
It mak's my heart aye sair."

After many attempts to procure her restoration, the Miller chanced one day, in riddling some stuff at the mill door, to use a posture of enchantment, when the spell was dissolved and the matron fell into his arms. The wife of the Blacksmith of Tullibody was carried up the chimney, the fairies, as they bore her off, singing—

"Deidle linkum doddie;
We've gotten drucken Davie's wife,
The Smith o' Tullibody."

Those snatched to Fairyland might be recovered within a year and a day, but the spell for the recovery was only potent when the fairies made, on Hallow-eve, their annual procession. Sir Walter Scott relates the following:—"The wife of a Lothian farmer had been snatched by the fairies. During the year of probation, she had repeatedly appeared on Sundays in the midst of her children, combing their hair. On one of these occasions she was accosted by her husband, when she instructed him how to rescue her at the next Hallow-eve procession. The farmer conned his lesson carefully, and, on the appointed day, proceeded to a plot of furze to await the arrival of the procession. It came, but the ringing of the fairy bridles so confused him that the train passed ere he could sufficiently recover himself to use the intended spell. The unearthly laughter of the abductors, and the passionate lamentations of his wife, informed him she was lost to him for ever." A woman who had been conveyed to Fairyland was warned, by one she had formerly known as a mortal, to avoid eating or drinking with her new friends for a certain period. She obeyed; and, when the time expired, she found herself on earth, restored to the society of mankind. A matron was carried to Fairyland to nurse her new-born child, which had previously been abducted. She had not been long in her enchanted dwelling when she furtively anointed an eye with the contents of a boiling cauldron. She now discovered that what had previously seemed a gorgeous palace was, in reality, a gloomy cavern. She was dismissed; but one of the wicked wights, when she demanded her child, spat in her eye and extinguished its light for ever. About the middle of last century, a clergyman at Kirkmichael, Perthshire, whose faith was more regulated by the scepticism of philosophy than the credulity of superstition, would not be prevailed upon to yield his assent to the opinion of the times. At length, however, he felt, from experience, that he doubted what he ought to have believed. One night, as he was returning home, at a late hour, from a meeting of presbytery, and the customary dinner which followed, he was seized by the fairies and carried aloft into the air. Through fields of ether and fleecy clouds he journeyed many a mile, descrying, like Sancho Panza on his clavileno, the earth far distant below him, and no bigger than a nut-shell. Being thus sufficiently convinced of the reality of their existence, they let him down at the door of his own house, where he afterwards often recited, to the wondering circle, the marvellous tale of his adventure. Some people will believe that spirits of a different sort had a little to do with the worthy minister's conviction, and that his "ain gude grey mare" had more to do with bringing him to his own door than the fairies. Toshack, the last chief of clan Mackintosh, occupied a castle or keep on the margin of the river Turret, in Perthshire. He held nocturnal interviews with a fairy whom he had brought with him from abroad. The mode of his reaching the place of meeting, and the nature of his companion, were long a mystery. His wife, at length, became jealous of the frequent departures of her lord; and, being unable to discover whither he proceeded, resorted to the scheme of attaching a piece of worsted to his button. Thus guided, she followed him down a subterraneous passage under the bed of the river, where, after various windings, she discovered him in conversation with a beautiful lady. The discovery so enraged the matron that she insisted on the immediate destruction of the stranger, who fled, and the sun of Toshack set to rise no more.

With all the passions and wants of human beings, fairies are represented as great lovers of cleanliness and propriety, for the observance of which they were said frequently to reward good servants by dropping money into their shoes; and, on the other hand, punishing the sluts and slovenly by pinching them black and blue—

"There is Mab, the mistress fairy,
That doth nightly rob the dairy,
And can help or hurt the churning
As she please, without discerning;
She that pinches country wenches
If they rub not clean their benches,
And with sharper nails remembers
When they rake not up their embers;
But if so they chance to feast her,
In their shoe she drops a tester;
This is she that empties cradles,
Takes out children, puts in ladles,
Trains forth midwives in their slumber,
With a sieve the holes to number,
And then leads them from their boroughs
Thorough ponds and water furrows."

They took particular fancies to certain people and families. Sometimes their favour was obtained by compulsion, as in the case of Musgrave of Edenhall, near Penrith, in Cumberland. The legend is, that the butler of the family, having gone one night to draw water at the well of St Cuthbert, a copious spring in the garden of the mansion of Edenhall, surprised a group of fairies disporting themselves beside the well, at the margin of which stood a drinking glass. He seized hold of it, when the elves took to flight, kindly informing him, however, as they went, that

"If this glass do break or fall,
Farewell the luck of Edenhall."

It is still in existence, but had at one time nearly been destroyed by the wild and hair-brained Duke of Wharton, who let it drop from his hands. The luck of Edenhall was, however, preserved by the presence of mind of the butler, who, standing by, caught it in a napkin. Lloyd, a boon companion of the Duke, wrote a burlesque poem on it, as a parody of "Chevy Chase," beginning

"God prosper long from being broke
The luck of Edenhall;"

and Uhland, the German poet, has a ballad, "Das Glück von Edenhall," on the same legend. The glass is of a peculiar shape, very thin, and painted outside with various devices, including the letters "I.H.S." (Iesus Hominum Salvator). Most probably, it had originally been a chalice used in the chapel dedicated to St Cuthbert, which stood in the neighbourhood of Edenhall.

Another description of fairy was the brownie—so called from their complexion—a sort of domestic elf, who was extremely useful and performed all sorts of domestic drudgery, and was repaid by meat, a bowl of milk, or wort, but who, if offered clothes, departed in sorrow and great distress, returning no more. At one time, every family of substance had their brownie. Milton, in his "L'Allegro," describes the brownie, and

"Tells how the drudging goblin swet
To earn his cream-bowl duly set;
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flale hath threshed the corn
That ten day-lab'rers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubbar fiend,
And stretched out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings."

Notwithstanding the progressive increase of knowledge, and proportional decay of superstition in the Highlands, these genii are still supposed by many of the people to exist in the woods and sequestered valleys of the mountains, where they frequently appear to the lonely traveller, clothed in green, with dishevelled hair floating over their shoulders, and with faces more blooming than the vermeil blush of a summer evening. At night, in particular, when fancy assimilates to its own preconceived ideas every appearance and every sound, the wandering enthusiast is frequently entertained by their music, more melodious than he ever heard. It is curious to observe how much this agreeable delusion corresponds with the superstitious opinion of the Romans concerning the same class of genii represented under different names. Lucretius, an acute philosopher, brilliant poet, and most accomplished disciple of Zeno, after describing the predisposing causes of echoes, sums up their effects on uncultivated minds in the following beautiful lines:—

"Sex etiam, aut septem loca vidi reddere voces.
Unam cùm jaceres: ita colles collibus ipsis
Verba repulsantes iterabant dicta referre.
Hæc loca capripedes Satyros, Nymphasque tenere
Finitimi fingunt, et Faunos esse loquuntur:
Quorum noctivago strepitu, ludoque jocanti
Adfirmant volgo taciturna silentia rumpi,
Chordarumque sonos fieri, dulceisque querelas,
Tibia quas fundit, digitis pulsata canentum:
Et genus agricolûm latè sentiscere, cùm Pan
Pinea semiferi capitis velamina quassans,
Unco sæpè labro calamos percurrit hianteis,
Fistula sylvestrem ne cesset fundere Musam.
Cætera de genere hoc monstra, ac portenta loquuntur,
Ne loca deserta ab Divis quoque fortè putentur
Sola tenere: idèo jactant miracula dictis:
Aut aliquâ ratione aliâ dicuntur, ut omne
Humanum genus est avidum nimis auricularum."[B]

For the sake of those readers to whom Latin is an unknown tongue, we add the following translation by Thomas Creech:—

"I myself have known
Some Rocks and Hills return six words for one:
The dancing words from Hill to Hill rebound,
They all receive and all restore the sound.
The Vulgar and the Neighbours think, and tell,
That there the Nymphs and Fauns and Satyrs dwell;
And that their wanton sport, their loud delight
Breaks thro' the quiet silence of the Night;
There Music's softest Ayrs fill all the Plains,
And mighty Pan delights the list'ning Swains.
The Goat-faced Pan, whilst Flocks securely feed,
With long-hung lip he blows his Oaten Reed;
The horn'd, the half-beast God, when brisk and gay,
With Pine-leaves crown'd, provokes the Swains to play.
Ten thousand such Romants the Vulgar tell,
Perhaps lest men should think the Gods will dwell
In Towns alone, and scorn their Plains, and Cell:
Or somewhat; for Man, credulous and vain,
Delights to hear strange things—delights to feign."

Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account of Scotland, 1792," says:—"About eight miles to the eastward of Cailleachbear, a conical hill rises considerably above the neighbouring hills. It is called Siensluai, the fairy habitation of a multitude." He adds, in a note:—"A belief in fairies prevailed very much in the Highlands of old, nor at this day is it quite obliterated. The small, conical hill Siensluai was assigned them for a dwelling, from which melodious music was frequently heard, and gleams of light seen on dark nights." In the account of the parish of Kirkmichael, we read: "Not more firmly established in this country is the belief in ghosts than that in fairies. The legendary records of fancy, transmitted from age to age, have assigned their mansions to that class of genii in detached hillocks, covered with verdure, situated on the banks of purling brooks, or surrounded by thickets of wood. They derive this name from the practice of the Druids, who were wont occasionally to retire to green eminences to administer justice, establish peace, and compose differences between contending parties. As that venerable order taught a saogh hal, or world beyond the present, their followers, when they were no more, fondly imagined that seats, where they exercised a virtue so beneficial to mankind, were still inhabited by them in their disembodied state. In the autumnal season, when the moon shines from a serene sky, often is the wayfaring traveller arrested by the music of the hills, more melodious than the strains of Orpheus. Often struck with a more solemn scene, he beholds the visionary hunters engaged in the chase and pursuing the din of the clouds, while the hollow rocks, in long-sounding echoes, reverberate their cries. There are several now living who assert that they have been suddenly surrounded by visionary forms, have seen and heard their aerial hunting, and been assailed by a multitude of voices."

But it would be impossible, without very largely extending our limits, to give other than a meagre sketch of this interesting portion of folk lore. All our ancient poets and writers of fancy, Scotish and English, dealt largely with the subject, and quarried from this exhaustless mine. "Spenser was contented with the fairies of romance, but Shakespeare founded his elfin world on the frothiest of the people's traditions, and has clothed it in the ever-living flowers of his own exuberant fancy. How much is the invention of the great poet we shall probably never be informed, and his successors have not rendered the subject more clear by adopting the graceful world he has created, as though it had been interwoven with the popular mythology and formed a part of it."[C]

With the spread of education and increase of knowledge, the superstitious belief in fairies has almost died out, except in some very few localities and among very uneducated people. When the writer was a very young boy, he was acquainted with an old couple who related to him their having jointly and severally seen the "good people" in troops enter, in procession, the Castlehill of Inverugie; and the husband, a worthy, honest man, with the strongest declarations of verity, described his having spent part of a summer eve lying, with his ear on the turf, listening to the delighful music which was executed by the fairy minstrels within the mount.

That such things have been is still believed by many, and there are still those who assert that their appearance and mischievous exploits have ceased, or, at least, become less frequent, since the light of the Gospel was diffused in its purity, or that they have fled before the minister and the schoolmaster.



At Martinmas, whan win's blew snell an' cauld,
An' beasts war' housed within their winter hauld,
An' stacks wi' thack an' rape war' happit ticht,
The taties up, an' a'thing snod an' richt,—
Then, by the wan licht o' the hint hairst moon,
The auld Guidman gaed roun' aboot the toun;
An' as he steppit o'er the stibble lan',—
"The wark," quo he, "is feckly a' byehan'.
Fair fa' oor folk! they've deen their very best;
We've a'thing safe an' soun'—sae Praise be blest!
This hairst, my certy! 's been a kittle lang ane,
Ae day nocht dein', an' the neist a thrang ane.
I sud be thankfu'; Gudeness kens I've rizzon!
A' thro', I haenae min' o' sic a sizzon;
Sic spates o' rain, syne mochy, dreepie weather,
I thocht wud surely waur us a'thegither;
Noo beast an' bodie will be brawly sair'd
An' something o'er, forbye what pays the laird.
It sets folk ill to be o'er crouse an' vaunty;
But, 'deed, I'm thankfu' an' sae unco canty
That, like the bairns, I'd like to get the play,
An' ware upo' mysel' ae idle day.
The morrow's morn' I'll early mak' me boun',
To see what's deein' i' the borrow's toun.
O'er muckle wark, withoot some little ploy,
Mak's auld or young a thowless donnart boy."
Whan Fortune, wi' her eident wheel aye rowin',
Gars a'thing canny tae oor han' come jowin',
Sma' thocht hae we what luck may be afore us,
Still less that ony trouble may come o'er us;
Oor joys, like flow'rs, may bloom at mornin'-tide,
At nicht, ae skinklin frost may lay their pride.
The sun had scarcely sent his first-born ray
herald to the warld the comin' day,
An' scare the starns, afar in heavens blue,
Prinkin' themsel's in ilka drap o' dew,
Ere Inglis, raxin', rakit up his een,—
Quo he, "Guidwife! I had a thocht thestreen:
As at the wark I hae sae steady yarkit,
I'd step into the toun an' see the market;
Nae ech nor och ken I what nowt are feshin',
aits are at, or gin they're worth the threshin'."
"Aweel, Guidman! I'm seer I sanna hinner;
But, losh, ye mith hae tauld a bodie seener.
There's mony things we're needin' unco sair—
What need I speak! the fient ae singit hair
ye for what the hoose, or bairns, or me
Are needin'. We maun just oor wants lat be',
clout the auld the best way that we can.
Wow, sirs! gin ever I saw sic a man!
Had ye but mintit what ye had in view,
I mith hae moyens laid to win wi' you;
But there's the kirn to ca', chessels to fill,
An' steep a maskin' for the New Year's yill—
I canna gang! Wha ever saw the like!
Man, ye're a byous han' for breedin' fyke!—
But see that ye come hame in timeous hours
On your twa feet, an' nae upo' a' fours,
Like ony haulket hummledoddy stirk,
Tynin' yersel' an' wan'rin' i' the mirk.
Lundie an' you—I maist cu'd lay my lugs—
Hae set a tryst to meet at Luckie Mugs'.
Deil tak' her blinkin' een an' soople snout,
For wilin' men to drink waur than a brute.—
Yea, na!—ye're seer o' that? Weel noo, Guidman,
I wadna grudge a drappy noo an' than;
But ilka market thro' the year's the same,
Nae ance dae ye come freely sober hame.
Saul! gin ye dinna o'er a new leaf turn,
The deil may grip ye at the Collieburn;
Or, gin ye win as far's In'rugie Brig,
The kelpie there may beff ye ticht an' trig;
Or oor guid neebours o' the Castlehill
Rin aff wi' you hale buik, some post to fill
In Fairyland; or, aiblins, wi' you pay
That Kain to hell they awe ilk seven years' day.
there, min, to the nowt doun by the foord,
They drink nae till their rizzon's fairly smoored—
roth, they micht a serious lesson gie ye."
"A-h! but there's nane ayont to say, 'Here's tee you.'"
"Aweel, I'm seer I needna waste my breath;
But, tak' ye tent, or else, as seer as death,
Gin you an' Lundie gie nae o'er that drink,
Some nicht ye'll meet a sad an' sair begink.
Sae gang yer wa's; but, oh, my dear Guidman!
Come hame just ae nicht sober—gin ye can."
His breakfast o'er, auld Inglis tak's the road,
Frae tap to tae weel buskit an' fell snod;
His hardin sark as white's the driven snaw—
The lint was fernyear grown beside the shaw;
His coat an' breeks war' o' a lichtly blue,
Weel waukit, an' the pick o' hame-grown woo;
His hose war' rig an' fur, a guid grow grey;
His bonnet blue, an's shoon as black's a slae.
Oot ower the Cruives an' up the Ba'muir park
He linkit at it, like some blythesome spark
Stendin' alang to woo his winsome Jean,
An' beik his love in her bricht glancin' een.
The girss was saft an' springy, ilka blade
Glancin' wi' dew, wi' emerald-green inlaid;
The air was sharp, the lift was blue an' clear,
An' Inglis fussled as he cross'd the muir;
But noo an' than he mantit in his sang
An' thocht: "Saul! the Guidwife was nae far wrang.
Sin' we war' wed I've had nae cause o' grief;
Troth—it's o'er true—I maun turn o'er a leaf.
A couthie wife an' cantie she has been;
I maun gie o'er sic rants, an' that's be seen.
never heckles me but for my guid;
I sall gang sober hame—I will indeed.
Whan we war' wed, withoot ae word o' pride,
She was the bonniest lass on Ugie's side;
In a' the warld—she's bonniest aye to me,
In a' the warld—a better canna be."
Ah, stern resolve! thou art a glorious thing
For Earl or Beggar, Ploughman, Laird, or King;
But, ah! how oft our best resolves are vain;
We fall, resolve, fall and resolve again.
No hearts are adamant, no minds are steel;
Let none condemn poor Inglis who can feel
A woman's love, or tries to drown desires,—
"All tempers yield or soften in those fires."
The safest plan and best—as wise folks think—
Is ne'er to mell with rogues, or love, or drink.
By many a winding road, from far and nigh,
Came sheep and owsen, shelts, and stirks, and kye;
Goodwives and men, and lads and lasses fair,
Cracking their jokes, or courting pair and pair.
Below the Windmill Brae, the gazer's eye
Roams o'er a glorious sight of sea and sky;
The land throws forth its arms as if to press
The smiling ocean in a fond embrace;
Or when the wintry waves, with angry roar,
Dash in wild fury on the rock-bound shore,
That bars all entrance, save to driving foam,—
Guarding from harm or hurt the dear old home.
Thou dear old home! no mountains capped with snow,
No glorious oaks, no forest glades ye show;
No minster hoar, no pile of classic fame,
To lure the pilgrim by a world-wide name.
One boast is thine—that boast beyond compare—
"Men that are true, and maidens fairly fair."
Far have I roamed since first in early life
I left that home to face the world's sore strife,—
From Arctic shores to India's golden strand,
O'er many a country, many a classic land!
How dear the Geddle and the Pinkie Braes,
Where bloomed the buttercup! I knew the ways
Where meadow-queens, perfuming all the air,
Held gentle converse with sea-daisies fair;
Where first the laverock and the blackbird sang;
Where first the earliest, bonniest bluebells sprang;—
And, till the fight of life's last battle's fought,
Of thee I'll dream as I have dreamt and thought.
But to our tale—Whan Inglis reached the fair:
"Ay! Lundie, man, hoo's a'? Na! Mains; you there?
Hoo's a' your folk?" "Oh! fine, man; hoo's your ain?"
"Brawly—meat-hale and hearty; whaur' ye gain?"
"Man, things are deein' gran'—horn, corn, an' woo—
Come roun' to Luckie's, an' we'll weet oor mou'."
"Na, Lundie, man! I think I'll need to try
An' haud by't some the day." Quo Lundie, "Fye!
re grown John Tamson's man—a' in a fizz,
lse your mither's milk is i' your nizz."
el! we's hae ae stoup—nae mair the nicht;
omised to gang hame for once a' richt—
ye your wa's, an' shortly I'll be roun';
I'm gain for tea an' troke doun thro' the toun,
To speak for beef, a Sunday's frock to Mari'n,
An' syne to Jamie Rhind's to buy some fairin'."
His erran's deen, as fast as he cu'd spang,
hastes to Luckie's howf to join the thrang,
An' Luckie smirks her kin'liest welcome ben,
Prinkin' her feathers like a tappit hen.
"Hooray! there's Inglis, sirs; ye see he's true;"
An' doun sits Inglis 'mang the jovial crew.
An' syne the crack gaed on—wha bocht o'er dear;
What "Aikie Brae" gat for his muckle steer;
Hoo auld Tam Gray has buiket young May Mason;
An' "Bogie," wi' his quean maun stan' the Session;
Hoo "Brosie Tam" is heckled by his wife;
An' sic-like news aboot the country rife.
Ilk gies his tale while at the drinkin' thrang,
Till Lundie cries, "Come, Inglis, gie's a sang!
We'll drink your health till ye get into tune,—
Nae moulie draps, noo,—clean-cap-oot a' roun'."
"Hoot, Lundie, man! ye ken I hae the cauld,—
Nae han' at best, an' a' my sangs are auld;
But, gin I maun—an' ye're sae singin'-fain—
I'll try ane on a forbear o' mine ain:—


Air—"Muirland Willie."
"Watt o' the Hill cam' doun the brae,
Trigly buskit frae tap to tae,
Ridin' fu' crouse on his dappled grey—
Wattie wis fidgin' fain;
'An', aye,' quo' he, 'whate'er betide,
Some canty bit lass I'll mak' my bride,
For winter is comin'—my bed's o'er wide—
I'll lie nae mair my lane.'
"Wattie gaed hoddlin' to the mill.
'Here's routh,' quo' he, 'to woo at will,
Jenny an' Meg an' Bess an' Lill,
Tibbie an' Kate an' Jane.
Lasses,—I'm here a wooer to woo,
Will ane o' ye come an' be my doo?
I've siller, an' lan', an' mony a coo—
I'm tired o' lyin' my lane.'
"The lasses skirled a loud 'tee hee!'
But ilka ane cried, 'wull ye tak me?'
Better an' auld man's dawtie be,
Wi' walth o' gear, than nane.
'Wattie,' quo' they, 'just steek yer een,
Grip wha ye like, she'll ne'er compleen;
Better a cuttie than wantin' a speen
Ye'se lie nae mair yer lane.'"
"Noo, my sang's deen," quo Inglis; "I've the ca'
To keep the pottie boilin'. Come awa,
Lundie, my man, an' gie's your winsome Jean;
Begin at ance—the seener ye'll be deen."
"Inglis, wha yokes wi' you's a gowk, atweel!
'He needs a lang speen that sups wi' the deil!'
But, troth, 'twere wrang to gar ye sup yer kail
A wee thocht hetter than I wud mysel':—


Air—"Laird o' Cockpen."
"In a wee thieket hoosie, far doon i' the glen,
There lived a young lassie, the plague o' the men.
Sae dainty, sae genty, sae canty an' keen,
The wale o' the parish was Tipperty's Jean.
The minister smiled till her braid i' the kirk,
The dominie winkit wi' mony a smirk,
An' douce-lookin' elders, on Saturday's e'en,
Could crack aboot naething but Tipperty's Jean.
"Auld Lowrie the laird, wi' his hat in his han',
Says, 'Will ye tak' me, wi' my siller an' lan';'
y thanks to ye, laird, but it's sinfu' gin ane
Sud marry their grandad,' quo Tipperty's Jean.
The doctor grew dowie, and maist like to dee,
Sae wowf gat the lawyer he bade folks agree,
An' Rob o' the Milltown an' Tam o' the Green
Maist tint their scant wits aboot Tipperty's Jean.
"The lasses gaed wand'ring their lanes i' the loan,
The auld folks were girnin' wi' mony a groan;
'The warld's seerly gyte, sirs, there's never been seen
Sic wark as they haud aboot Tipperty's Jean.'
Nae dellin' was deen, nae thrashin', nae ploughin',
The wark a' gaed wrang, sae thrang war they wooin';
Sic ridin', sic racin' there never was seen,
The chiels were sae daft aboot Tipperty's Jean.
"They happit aboot her like craws on a rig,
A' fechtin', or fleechin', or crackin' fell big;
'Gae 'wa', sirs, to Freuchie, for brawly it's seen
It's siller yer wooin',' quo Tipperty's Jean.
'Sin' auld uncle Davie cam' back owre the sea,
An' left sic a hantle o' siller to me,
I'm deaved wi' yer wooin' frae mornin' till e'en.
The deil tak sic wooers,' quo Tipperty's Jean.
"'Oh, wae on the siller! it's twined me an' Johnnie.
Though scanty o' wealth, yet he's kindly an' bonnie
Gin he wud but seek me this very gude e'en,
He'd no tine his errand,' quo Tipperty's Jean.
Peer Johnnie o'erheard her, his heart like to brak,
He cuist his arms roon' her an' gied her a smack.
'Wull ye be my dawtie?' she blinkit fu' keen;
'Yer welcome to tak' me,' quo Tipperty's Jean.
"An' there was a waddin'! sic vivers an' drinks,
Sic fiddlin' an' pipin', sic dancin' an' jinks;
The haggis e'en hotched to the piper it's lane;
'It's a' weel that ends weel,' quo Tipperty's Jean.
The minister danced i' the barn wi' the bride;
The elders cried 'Fiddlers, play up Delvin Side;'
dominie sang like a mavis at e'en;
'Here's a health to quid lasses,' like Tipperty's Jean."
Thus ance begun, sang followed sang a' roun'—
The Cunnin' Clerk o' Colliston, The Tailor Loon,
Auld Scour Abeen, an' mony mair as fell—
Luckie brings the drucken bite hersel'—
Saut beef an' breid (she was a sleekit bodie)
To moyen ben anither bowl o' toddy;
Anither, an' anither yet, 'til a' war' glorious,
Some greetin'-fow, an' ithers clean uproarious.
To tak' the gate at lang an' last they're fain,
"Sorry to pairt, happy to meet again."
Though Inglis kent a bull's fit frae a B,
He had mair than a wee drap in his ee;
For length o' road he caredna half a bodle,
The breadth o't sairly fash'd his drummel'd nodle.
"It's dreich wark this," quo he; "I kenna, haith,
Gin I'd best gang or rin—I'se try them baith.
I wish I war' weel hame! na, what excuse
Can I mak' oot for haudin' sic a boose?
Weel was I warnised ere I cam' frae hame;
I canna say ae word—it was a shame—
by my troth I sweer, if I get o'er
This dirdum richt, I'll ne'er haud sic a splore."
Alas! alas! what witchery constrains
Man's pleasures thus, to breed such racking pains?
'Tis retribution just: vice is the source
Of dread despair and harrowing remorse;
But, like the star that gems the darkest night,
Returning virtue brings back glorious light.
While Inglis, thus opprest wi' drink an' care,
Pyowtered alang, an' browdenin' unco sair
On's Tibbie dear,—whiles thinkin' upo' witches
That haunt the Collieburn—unholy wretches!—
His puir Guidwife set doun the evenin' meal,
An', by the fire, sat birrin' at her wheel.
The chaumer had a cozy look, an' clean;[D]
For weel she likit it sud aye be seen.
While weary time beat on wi' measured speed,
Fu' mony a glance toward the knock she gied:
"I wunner oor Guidman's nae frae the fair;
He's past his ord'nar time four hoors an' mair.
See, Betty, lass! the nicht is growin' cauld,
Fesh twa-r-three peats to mak' the fire mair bauld;
An' bring me tidin's o' the kin' o' nicht—
Whether it's wet or dry, or mirk or licht."
"A bonnie nicht it is on hill an' howe,
The moon's just glintin' o'er the Castle knowe."
"Weel, lass, I'm glad o' that," her mistress cried;
An' to her task her eident hand applied.
"An' now gae to your bed, there's nocht to hinner—
Ye're sleepy like—aweel, I dinna wunner;
But see ye're up wi' morn's first glint o' grey,
For weel ye ken it is oor kirnin' day."
Inglis, wi' put an' row, still hauds the gait,
Fairies an' witches jumblin' in his pate,
Gain heels o'er head, like bumbees in a byke,
Sae doun he leans, sair dung, upon a dyke;
Wearied wi' travel, sair he tries to think,—
But that's clean o'er him, he's sae dazed wi' drink.
"I wish I war' but at oor plantin' beltie,
Or had atween my legs oor wee bit sheltie!"
Scarce had the words wun o'er his grievin' lips,
Whan, raxin' oot his han's, a shelt he grips.
"Na! sic a chance!" he cries; syne, in a crack,
He warstles up, an' on the creatur's back,
Grips fast the mane, whan, wi' an eldritch squeel,
Forrit it flees as fast as'ts legs could speel.
But nae alane; for, like birds i' the flichtir,
Rade roun' an' roun', wi' muckle mirth an' lauchter,
A fairy band; an', as they rade, they sang,
While siller bells upo' their bridles rang.
On ilka side o' Inglis rade a knicht
In Lincoln-green, wi' armour burnished bricht;
Like stars intil a frosty nicht, the sheen
Blinkit like siller in his dazzlet een.
Onward they rade—the knichts cried, "Forward!" still—
Till bye Ha'moss, syne up the Castlehill
At fire-flaucht speed, till on the very tap
They drew their reins an' aff their horses lap.
But sic a sicht as met puir Inglis een
Was ne'er by mortal in this wide warld seen;
The hillside, openin' oot, exposed to view
Yetts made o' silver, hung on sapphires blue.
Harpers stood roun'; an', as they harped, they sung
Lieds sweetly wild, but in some unco tongue;
An' wee, wee ladies fair beyond compare,
An' wee, wee lords in gorgeous garbs war' there.
One courteous knight, advancing from them all,
Said, "Welcome, Inglis, to our Fairy Hall!
Come let us join the rest and see the sport,
And pay our duty to the Queen at court
Keep close by me until we pass yon den,—
There monsters entrance bar to mortal men,—
And take this ring, 'twill keep thee safe from all
Can hurt or harm within our Fairy Hall.
I but repay a debt I owe to thee
For leaving still unploughed upon the lea
That elfin ring, where oft, in days of yore,
My forebears danced, before they left this shore;
And other kindly things that I and mine
Have got from you and yours in 'auld langsyne.'
While here, ne'er eat nor drink; not for your life!
For, if ye do, ye'll ne'er see your Goodwife."
Forward they passed, and through the entrance hall,
Its roof upborne by pillars magical;
A line of silver columns flashing bright,
And flinging back the toying gleams of light;
No sun, no moon shone in the azure sky,
Yet there was light o'er all, afar and nigh,
Flowing from sources hid far, far beyond,
Like springs outgushing streams of diamond.
And there were gentle hills; and there above,
Crowning their tops, was many a lovely grove
Waving its leaves and branches to and fro,
O'er emerald moss that clustering lay below.
And there were valleys carpeted with flowers;
There sweet retreats and honeysuckled bowers;
And lakes with wavelets playing too and fro,
Waking soft music in their rippling flow.
And on their surface many a tiny sail—
Gently impelled by Zephyr's mildest gale—
Parting the elfin billows with a sheen
Like opals set upon an emerald-green.
And crimson corals lined the peaceful shore,
Disturbed by no wild surge's angry roar;
Close to the brink was many an elfin home—
Bow'rs built of amber—bathed in silver foam.
And there a cataract, in elfin glee,
Danced music, splashing to the elfin sea;
Now gently stealing, now in bursts, along
The tones came warbling low or loud in song.
'Twas sweet to see the waters leaping so,
Like bairns at play, that ne'er knew sin or woe.
Upon a gentle sward that lay beyond,
High on a solid rock of diamond,
Was placed a throne of yellow burnished gold
Of rarest work the elfin art could mould;
Its steps were gemmed with chrysolite and pearl,
Its canopy with topazes and beryl;
And on it sat the Queen, as spotless fair
As new fallen snow, pure as a child of air.
Upon her brow the richly jewelled wreath
Could add no beauty to the hair beneath;
Those queenly tresses were of raven hue,
And sparkled bright with crystal-dropping dew;
While music, like a flood, broke round the throne
Whereon she sat like morning star alone,
Welcoming right royally each coming guest
From far or near, from south, north, east, or west.
To cheer the guests with music and with song,
With harp and pipe, the elfin minstrels throng.
The harpers sat—waiting the royal glance.
That, smiling given, the bardic chiefs advance
ping the chords—the wires responsive rung—
And in harmonious concert thus they sung:—
"Come where the bright star of even is beaming;
Come where the moonlight o'er valley and hill,
O'er castle and cot in golden flakes streaming,
Shimmers on lake and leaf—glints on the rill.
Ever light, ever free,
Gay let our spirits be,
Roaming by burn and lea—roaming at will.
"Come where the mavis sings sweetest at gloamin';
Come where the woods wi' the wee birdies ring;
Come to the hill where the wild bee is roamin';
Come where the bonnie flow'rs bonniest spring;
Come to the trystin' tree,
Ever gay, ever free,
Sing our old songs with glee—cheerily sing.
"Come where the burn splashes down frae the mountain;
Come where the hazel nuts hang on the tree;
Come to the dell wi' its clear shining fountain,
Where lilies are listenin' the pipe o' the bee
There, by the whisp'ring stream,
Where the trouts golden gleam,
Tell that old tale—that brings joy to the ee.
"Come where Spring's bridal chimes blue bells are ringing;
Come where the yellow broom blooms on the brae;
Come where the lintie his love-sang is singing,
And wee birdies courtin' on ilka green spray.
Joyously let us sing,
Love awakes wi' the Spring,
Merrily let us roam—come, come away."
The trumpets sound; an' at the Queen's comman'
Rade forth o' knights an' lords a gallant ban';
Squadron on squadron pressed in close review,
Their presence markin' their allegiance true;
Ilk gallant tried, as gently ridin' bye,
To catch one meltin' glance frae one loved eye.
An' then cam' racin', playin' at the ba',
An' arrow-shootin' at the waponschaw;
Some danced in glee—but nae quadrilles frae France,
But just the guid auld reel an' country dance—
An' mony anither pastime, whilk to tell
Wad weary even Davie Lindsay's sell'.
An' noo the Queen an' ilk attendin' lord
Tak' up their places at the festive board.
Amang the crowd, oor Inglis an' the knicht
Set themsel's doun, yet geylies oot o' sicht;
But a' the marvels that afore he'd seen
War' nocht to what noo met his dazzled een:
Dishes of gold, the drinking cups of gems,
And flowers of brilliant hues on slender stems,
Shedding delicious fragrance over all,
Blending their odours through the banquet hall;
While softest music, as if borne on wings,
Stole round and round in low, sweet whisperings.
Again the trumpets sound; the heralds call,
"The Queen a kindly welcome drinks to all!"
In meet response, the wine-cups soon are seen
Raised to the toast, "Her Majesty the Queen."
Cheer follows cheer through all the elfin ranks;
Right graciously she bows and smiles her thanks.
'Mid sic excitin' scenes, Inglis amaist
Forgat the frien'ly warnin' nae to taste;
An' raxin' oot his han', the wine-cup took,
But just in time was warnised by a look—
An' sic a look! it gealed his very heart,
An' pierced him thro' an' thro' as wi' a dart—
Upon a pedestal was placed upright
A weird-like form,—as if to hide from sight,
O'erstrewn with leaves,—and, draped in gory red,
It seemed the statue of some monster dread;
Around its head were tendrils of the vine;
To bind this chaplet two pale snakes entwine.
Silent and stern, in death-like rest it sate,
Waiting its certain prey from time or fate;
Nor life, nor motion did it show,—until
The call went forth the goblets all to fill,
Then, lifting up its head, it glared around,
As if rejoicing in the welcome sound.
All suddenly it seemed to spring to life,
As if to handle drink betokened strife;
Its eyes flashed vividly, it grimly smiled
To see poor Inglis thus almost beguiled.—
As thus its figure burst upon his view,
Inglis knew well who waited for his due—
saftly settin' doun the cup in fear
He stole a cautious glance to those war' near.
"Why don't you drink the toast?" his neebours cry.
Quo Inglis, "Sirs, I'm nae just byous dry."
"Treason! vile treason!" roars an elfin carl;
"Here's a base mortal from the outer warl'!"
Syne sic a rippet raise! sic yells an' cries!
While rage flashed furious in the elfin eyes,
Some rinnin' here, some there, whiles some pell-mell,
Roared oot wi' glee, "He'll pay our Kain to hell."
"Wae's me!" thocht Inglis, "I'll be en'it noo;
This comes o' gain frae hame an' getting fou."
Wi' that his frien', the knicht, spak' up an cried,
"Silence! the Queen shall this affair decide."
Strauchtway they harle him 'fore the royal chair
An' place him, like a culprit, tremblin' there.
Her Majesty exclaims, "How came you here?"
Inglis, "Gracious Queen, I'm vera seer
It wasna wi' my wull; an', gin ye'll tak'
My honest word for't, I sall ne'er come back;"
An' syne he tauld her a', baith crap an' root,
That drink was just the cause o't, oot an' oot.
"Well! all that may be true," the Queen replies;
"I fear you hear your doom in these wild cries."
"Nae doubt," quo Inglis, "sair eneuch's my case,
Unless I pity get at your sweet face.
It's nae just for mysel' I beg my life,
But for her sake at hame—my dear Guidwife."
syne the knicht spak' oot, "My Gracious Queen,
This culprit and his forebears all have been
Neighbours to us and ours for many a day,
And aye were kindly, and ne'er wrought us wae;
His pardon thus I crave upon my knee."
"Rise, sir; 'tis granted; but thus shall it be:
If e'er again he cheat his leal Goodwife,
And with such cantrips plague her very life;
Or with such spates of drink he daze himsel',
Some day he's sure to pay our Kain to hell."
All instant changed; but how, he never kenn'd.
Whaur was he? Paumerin' at his ain hoose-end.—
Frae that day forth a wiser man, atweel!
An' did his very best to cheat the Deil.




The Peris of Eastern romance are most likely the source from which sprang the tales of romantic fancy with which our legendary lore abounds.

In the enunciation of the Arabic language the word "Peri" would sound "Fairy," the letter P not occurring in its alphabet, and would be so pronounced by the Crusaders in their early intercourse with the Arabs.

In the wreck of Gothic mythology consequent on the introduction of Christianity, the amiable characteristics of the Peris or Fairies became degraded amid the mischievous attributes ascribed to subordinate spirits, more unamiable in their persons and practices, yet more congenial to the habits of thought of the northern peoples.

In Eastern tales, however vaguely they are described, the females are uniformly represented as beings of great beauty, amiability, and beneficence—the fairest creatures of romantic fancy.

With the early troubadours and minstrels, those nymphs formed the subject of many a lay, and the fate of their amours, of many a wild romaunt.

The fondness of female fays for human society were fertile themes of Persian poetry and early European romances, such as "Sir Launfal and Sir Gruelan," wherein the Fairies of Normandy and Bretagne are endowed with all the splendour of Eastern description.

The Fairy Malusina, who married Guy de Lusignan under condition that he should never intrude on her privacy, was of this class. She bore him many children, and erected for him a magnificent castle by her art. They lived in uninterrupted harmony until the prying husband concealed himself to behold his wife in her enchanted bath. When discovered, Malusina fled in great sorrow, and was never again seen. A humiliating tale, which, if true, would seem to show that men are quite as curious and inquisitive as women are popularly supposed to be.

So common was the idea of the union of human beings with the females of Fairyland in early times, that it was firmly believed the ancestor of the English monarchs, Geoffrey Plantagenet, had married one of these beings.

In the ballad of "Thomas of Ercildoune," the Queen of Fairyland is represented as becoming enamoured of True Thomas. Among the Icelanders the belief was common. Torfaeus, in his history, gives an account of a female who, having born a child to an Icelander, claimed the privilege of baptism, and deposited the infant at the gate of the churchyard for that purpose, with a golden goblet as an offering. The belief is still held by the Laplanders.

The origin of the noble family of Hay dates from a remote period in our national history. In Normandy there were lands and a lordship denominated Hay, and in the roll of the adventurers who accompanied William the Conqueror into England in 1066, Le Sieur de la Haya is expressly mentioned; but the origin of the Erroll family is thus told by tradition:—The Danes, having landed in Aberdeenshire, ravaged the country as far as the town of Perth. King Kenneth hastened to give them battle, and the hostile armies met on the Leys of Luncarty, in Perthshire. The Scots at first gave way, and fled through a narrow pass, where they were stopped by a countryman of great strength and courage, and his two sons, who had no other weapons than the yokes of their ploughs, they having been at work in a field not far from the scene of action. Upbraiding the fugitives for their conduct in flying from the field, these peasants succeeded in rallying them. The Scots turned upon their conquerors, and, after a second encounter, still more furious than the first, they gained a complete victory. It is said that, after the Danes were defeated, the old man, lying on the ground, wounded and fatigued, cried "Hay, Hay," which word became the surname of his posterity. The King rewarded him with as much land in the Carse of Gowrie as a falcon should fly over before she settled; and a falcon, being accordingly let off, flew over an extent of ground six miles in length, afterwards called Erroll, and lighted on a stone still styled the Falcon Stone. The King also raised him to the dignity of nobility, and assigned to him and his family armorial bearings in accordance with the signal service which he and his two sons had rendered to their country.

"Till lately, indeed," says Lord Lindsay, in his Lives of the Lindsays, "more especially in Great Britain and north of the Tweed, Genealogy merited the ridicule which was so freely lavished on her. It is but a few years ago since the most unfounded fictions were currently believed as to the origin of the Scottish families. The Stuarts were universally held to be the descendants of Banquo—the Douglases of 'the dark grey man,' who fought under King Salvathius against the Danes. It would be endless to enumerate all the fictions with which vanity and flattery peopled the blank of time; they are now forgotten—all save the beautiful legend of the patriarch Hay of Luncarty, on which Milton, in his youth, purposed to found a drama, and which has been immortalised by Shakespeare in the play of Cymbeline."

"Circumstantial evidence," says Pratt, "is also so far in favour of the traditionary record as to render it hazardous to set it aside as wholly unworthy of credit. Thus, the Hawkestone at St Madoes, the well-known boundary of the ancient possessions of the Hays of Erroll in Perthshire, is mentioned by Boethius as existing in his day (anno. 1500), and as having been set up immediately after the defeat of the Danes, in 980. Also the Stone so carefully preserved at Slains Castle, and which from time immemorial has been venerated by the family as that on which their ancestor sat down after the conflict. For the origin of these and similar traditions it would be difficult to account, had there been no foundation whatever for the narrative of Luncarty."

Gilbert de Haya, Regent of Scotland during the minority of Alexander II., married a daughter of William Comyn, Earl of Buchan, about 1255.

The old Castle of Slains belonged originally to the Earls of Buchan, and became afterwards, for many generations, the seat of the Earls of Erroll.

There is some doubt whether the Castle owed its erection to Fergus, who lived in the time of William the Lion (1065), or to the Comyns who succeeded to this earldom through marriage with Marjory, only daughter of Fergus, and Countess of Buchan in her own right.

Again,—Saladin, the famous Sultan of Syria, fought Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, in 1187. Then Phillip Augustus of France, Richard I. of England, with many others, and among them numbers of our Scottish nobility, deemed themselves called upon to fly to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre, and by a third crusade endeavour to wrest its possession from the infidel.

From these facts considerable doubt arises as to which of the "gallant Hays" was the hero of the following ballad. It could hardly be Gilbert, who married the daughter of the Earl of Buchan. If it was, then he could scarcely have been in the third crusade; and there are grave doubts as to the Lady Claribel having been the "child of the Elfin Queen." There may, however, be no doubt that she was beautiful as a Princess, for beauty is no rare qualification of the ladies of the district; nor may it be improbable that she waylaid and captured the Hay in one of the many knightly journeyings in search of adventures which the nobles of those days undertook.

The ladies of those far-off times did many strange things—at least, what now-a-days would be considered such; nevertheless, from the ballad it appears she "made a good wife for all that."

It is feared, under all the circumstances, that, as in many other legendary tales, considerable liberty has been taken with fact in favour of fancy.


From the Recitation of a Collector of Ballads
of the Olden Time.


Long, long ago in the mist of years,
Near the shores of a sunlit sea,
Hid in a nook of a forest old,
Rippled a burn in joyous glee,
Filling with crystal a basin clear,
Scooped from a bed of sparkling sand;
And there, on a moss-clad bank, there lay
The fairest maid of Fairyland.
Shading the water a birken tree
Arched its hoary branches above,
And the sun peep'd thro' the trembling leaves,[E]
Smiling upon their silent love.
The well ne'er heeded the prying eye,
Brighter it beamed upon the tree;
And glance for glance, as in years gone by,
Back it shadowed in love and lee.
The maid gazed long on that water clear,
Mirroring back the bending tree,
And longed for one in whose spirit-deeps,
Imaged as fondly she should be.
And, though she sighed, she tremblingly hoped,
For, looking still on that mirror fair,
Her blue eyes flashed with a brighter glance
At the figure reflected there.
As on the grass lay the fair, fair May,
Dreaming away the fleeting hours,
Her curls seemed rillets of burnished gold,
Stealing among the springing flowers.
For seldom yet has the summer's sun,
Smiling o'er earth's bright drapery green,
Lit lovelier locks or form more fair
Than this child of the Fairy Queen.
"Oh, sad is the fate," sighed Claribel,
"Of the maidens of Fairyland,
Who pine for the wedding-robes of love,
With the grasp of a wedding hand.
Oh, were I loved by some gentle knight,
Little I'd reck of royal birth;
Station and rank I would freely change
For that holiest joy of earth.
"No noble or knight of Elfinland
My dreaming fancy e'er shall move;
I'll seem a maiden of earth to be,
And light my life with stars of love.
I'll win me a lord of fame and worth,
Who'll love me fondly more and more;
While I learn him lear of Gramarye
He'll teach me all his earthly lore."[F]
The maiden rose from her couch of moss,
Circled around with a mystic sheen;
Such beauty, I trow, earth never saw,
Such grace no living man hath seen.
Enswathed in the light of endless bloom,
Her brow outpaling falling snow,
Her cheeks like the blushing damask rose,
Her lips with budding love aglow.
Round her she wrapped a cramosie cloak,
To hide her robes of sun-wove air;
A veil of the moonlit mist she donned,
To shade her face so passing fair.
Gliding along through the forest green,
Brushing the dew with hasty feet,
Smiling a hope on her parted lips,
Thinking of him she longed to meet.


Proudly there stood by the rock-bound shore
A lordly home, with turrets gray;
But the knight afar in Paynim land
Had been many a year away.
Merrily dashed the sea-driven foam
High on the lofty castle wall;
But the henchmen moved them drowsily,
For lone, alas! were bower and hall.
'Twas the hour when wearied daylight sinks
In the arms of the waiting west,
And gloaming steals from her purple cave,
Bearing her lone star on her breast.
When the glades like minster windows gleam
With slanting rays of burnished gold,
And stealing shadows, in fond embrace,
Are creeping the forest to fold.
Through the dim and faint-lit forest aisles,
Flitting among the grey old trees,
The maiden sped on, each weary sigh
Mingling with the evening breeze.
"Oh, would he were come—the gallant Hay,
Quickly the night begins to fall;
Oh, would that his manly heart were mine,
And my home were his castle hall."
Brighter anon flashed her bright blue eye,
Rosier blushed her cheeks, I ween,
As, breathless, she heard a war-horse tramp
Through the glade of the forest green.
Then quickly came forth a youthful knight,
Straining his eyes that home to see,
He'd longed for many a watchful hour
By the waters of Galilee.
Suddenly halted the courteous knight,
Bright the glance of his martial eye
Flashed in the light of his manhood's bloom
'Neath the plume of his morion high.
Marvelled he much as the evening rays
Fell on a maid so wondrous rare;
"Art thou a form from the beauty world
Or the fairest of earthly fair?"
"List, warrior, list," the fair maid said;
"Pray thee list a lady's behest.
I've wandered far and lost my way,
And am wearied and fain would rest."
Full lowly he bent his waving plume,
Till it mixed with his horse's mane,
"Where is thy home, dear lady, I ask?
Let me carry thee thither again."
"Knowest thou, brave knight, where the elfin halls
Gleam under skies of purple light,
With their towering domes of chaste opal
Glowing in clouds of crimson bright;
With their waving trees of rarest kind,
Soft'ning sunlight cheering the gloom,
Catching the rays as they hasten by,
Wreathing their tops with golden bloom.
"Last eve, with my maids, I left my home,
Singing our songs in gay refrain;
Seeking wild flowers, I wandered alone
Over hill, over dale, and plain.
Laughingly trod we the dewy mead,
Lit by the rays of the evening star;
But sadly I've spent the weary day,
For, ah me! I have wandered far.'
"I know not thy home," the young knight said,
"Else in honour I'd bear thee there;
Tho' never below the glorious sky
Have I seen one so passing fair.
Much have I mingled in court and camp,
In revel, in tourney and strife,
But never, till now, have mine eyes beheld
A maid I could love as my wife."
Quickly the warrior lighted him down—
"Lady," he said, "my halls are near;
Come to my arms—I'll carry thee home,
And ye shall be my peerless fere."
"Gramercy, my lord," the maiden said;
"Willingly shall I go with thee;
And I'll be to thee a leal, true wife—
Thou shalt be 'all the world to me.'"
Around her form his arms he flung,
To kiss her lips so cherry bright,
But nothing he held, for the sylph-like form
Ethereal prov'd as a stream of light.
"Lady," he said, "this is passing strange!
Thour't there!—I see thy curls of gold,
I see the flash of thy lustrous eyes,
But I cannot thy form enfold."
"My form is of air, so virgin pure
By mortal it cannot be press'd
Till by the cross of his sword he swear
Alone I shall dwell in his breast."
Then he bent him low before the cross,
And he vowed, by all he held dear,
That ever he'd prove her own true lord,
And only she his much loved fere.
"Now, come to my arms, thou beauteous fair,"
And he grasped her fondly and fast,
Kissing her lips, grown woman again,
Fearing his joy too great to last.
"I'm thine, only thine, mine own dear lord,
Never again to roam apart;
Oh! let me nestle within thine arms,
Let me live in thine inmost heart."
He lifted her on the saddle-bow
Of his gallant roan, standing near,
And proudly it shook its stately head
As her voice fell soft on its ear.
In triumph it bore them fleetly home;
And the liegemen for years could tell
How the old halls rung with "welcomes home"
To Lord Hay and fair Claribel.
Revelry rang in that castle old,
And oft they pledged him deep and free;
And much they talked of his prowess bold,
And his truth and his braverie.
But more they spoke of his fair, fair bride,
And her beauty so wondrous bright;
Lighting his halls like the sun's first rays
Dispersing the shadows of night.
Long, long did they mourn in Fairyland
For the Princess, dear Claribel;
Long was she missed in revel and court,
In palace and bower and dell.
But oft, when hidden among the flowers,
Watching the lovers in dalliance gay,
The fairy maidens would whisper low,
"Would we were but as Lady Hay!"




Compiled for the use of English Readers.


A wee thocht, a little.
Aiblins, perhaps.
Ain, own.
Aits, oats.
A'thegither, altogether.
Awe, owe.
Ayont, on the other side.


Bairns, children.
Beff, to strike with a heavy blow.
Begink, a trick played on one; a misfortune.
Beik, bake; inflame.
Ben, within.
Birrin' at the wheel, spinning busily; birr, to whirr.
Boose, a drinking bout.
Braid, broad.
Brawly, in good health.
Breeks, breeches.
Breid, bread.
Browdenin' on, thinking fondly of.
Buik, bulk.
Buik, to give to the session clerk the names of those to be married for the proclamation of the banns of marriage.
Bumbees, humble bees.
Buskit, dressed.
But an' ben, in every apartment.
Byehan', finished.
Byke, the hive, or nes


Ca', call; right.
Cantrips, wild actions.
Canty, cantie, cheerful and pleasant.
Chaumer, chamber.
Chessel, a cheese-vat.
Chiels, men.
Clean-cap-oot a' roun', all round the table must drain the glass.
Clout, patch; mend.
Coo, cow.
Couthie, kind.
Cozy, comfortable.
Crack, conversation.
Crack, in a, in an instant.
Crap an' reet, crop and root; the whole of a thing from beginning to end.
Crouse, brisk; bold; boldly.
Cuist, cast.
Cuttie, a short spoon made of horn.


Daft, mad.
Dawtie, pet.
Dazed, stupified.
Deaved, rendered deaf.
Dee, die.
Deed, indeed.
Deein', doing.
Dellin', digging with a spade.
Dinna, do not.
Dirdum, an uproar; a loud noise.
Donnart, stupid.
Doo, dove.
Douce-lookin', solemn-looking.
Dowie, sick.
Drappy, a small quantity.
Dreepie, very rainy.
Dreich, dreary; slow.
Drucken bite, a dainty morsel to make the strong drink taste sweeter.
Drummel'd, stupified; dumfoundered.


Ech, och, the smallest word or sound.
Ee, eye; pl. Een.
Eident, diligent.
Eldricht, wild; unearthly.


Fairin', a present from a fair.
Fair fa', may fortune attend.
Fash'd, troubled.
Feckly, for the most part.
Fell, very.
Fell, sharp; keen.
Fernyear, the past year.
Feshin', fetching.
Fidgin', moving in a fidgety manner.
Fient, not; a strong negation. Corrupted from fiend.
Fire-flaucht, lightning.
Fizz, great hurry.
Fleechin', flattering.
Flichter, flutter; quiver.
Forebear, forefather.
Forbye, besides.
Forrit, forward.
Fou, drunk.
Freely, wholly.
Fussled, whistled.
Fyke, vexation; trouble.


Gaed on, went on.
Gain', going.
Gars, makes; causes; forces.
Gaunted, yawned.
Gealed, froze.
Genty, neat.
Geylies, gaily; in good health; well.
Gie, give.
Gin, if.
Girnin', groaning; complaining peevishly.
Girss, grass.
Greetin'-fou, in that state of intoxication that induces weeping or greetin'.
Grip, seize; hold fast.
Grow-grey, of the natural grey colour; applied to wool.
Guid, good.
Guid neebours, fairies.
Gyte, out of one's senses.


Haenae, have not.
Hairst, harvest.
Haith, faith; an oath.
Hantle, a large quantity, sum, or number.
Happit, covered.
Happit, hopped.
Hardin, a kind of rough linen.
Harle, pull; tug.
Hauds the gait, holds on the way.
Hauld, hold; habitation.
Haulket, with a white face; applied to cattle.
Hinner, hinder.
Hint, last.
Hoddlin', walking with a heaving motion.
Hoo's a', how is all, that is, how does all go with you? the mode of salutation equivalent to "How do you do?"
Hoosie, small house, ie being the termination of diminutives.
Hose, stockings.
Howf, ale-house.
Humeldoddy, without horns.


Ilk, every.
Ithers, others.


Jowin', rolling like a wave.


Kelpie, the water hobgoblin.
Kenna, do not know.
Kent, knew.
Kirn, churn.
Kirnin' day, day for making butter.
Kittle, attended with constant difficulties.


Lat, let.
Lieds, songs.
Link at, to do anything with vigour, as walking.
Losh, Lord; an exclamation.
Lugs, ears.


Mains, the farmer generally is addressed by the name of his farm.
Maist, almost.
Mak' me boun', go.
Mant, to hesitate; stutter.
Maskin', mash.
Maun, must.
Meat-hale, in sound health and with good appetite for food.
Min, man.
Min', remembrance.
Mint, to give a hint.
Mith, might.
Mochy, moist; misty.
Moulie draps, small drops; nae moulie draps, not the smallest drop left in the glass.
Moyen, to draw forth.
Moyens, means; plans; to lay moyens, to form plans; to use means.
My certy, assuredly; by my faith; a strong assertion.
My lane, by myself; alone.


Neist, next.
Nizz, nose.
Nodle, head.
Nowt, cattle.


Ord'nar, ordinary.


Paumerin', moving with heavy step in a very stupid manner.
Ploy, play; frolic.
Pottie boilin', to keep the, to keep anything a-going.
Praise, God.
Prinkin', decking.
Put an' row, with the greatest difficulty.
Pyowtered, walked with slow, tottering step.


Quean, paramour.


Raked up his een, opened his eyes.
Rants, wild frolics.
Rape, rope twisted of straw with which the thatch is secured over the stack.
Raxin', stretching.
Rig an' fur, ribbed; applied to stockings.
Rippet, wild tumult; boisterous fun.
Rizzon, reason.
Routh, plenty; a large number.
Rowin', rolling.


Sair dung, much overcome.
Sair'd, served; satisfied.
Sanna, shall not.
Sark, shirt.
Saul, soul; an imprecation.
Saut, salt.
Seer, sure.
Seerly, surely.
Sell, self.
Sets, becomes.
Shoon, shoes.
Siller, silver; applied to money in general.
Sin', since.
Singit, singed.
Skail, separate.
Skinklin', falling slightly.
Skirled, cried with a shrill voice.
Sleekit, sly.
Smoored, smothered.
Snell, sharp.
Snod, neat.
Sonsie, plump, and having a pleasant look.
Soople, supple; flexible.
Spang, to walk with a long, quick step.
Spates, floods.
Spates of drink, drunken bouts.
Speel, to run.
Speen, spoon.
Splore, a wild frolic.
Squeel, scream.
Stan' the session, appear before the kirk session to satisfy discipline.
Starns, stars.
Steek, shut.
Stendin', walking with long strides at a quick pace.
Stirk, stot.
Stoup, measure.
Sud, should.
Sweer, swear.
Syne, then.


Tap to tae, frae, from top to foot.
Tappit, crested.
Taties, potatoes.
Tent, care.
Thack, thatch.
Thestreen, last night.
Thieket, thatched.
Thowless, without vigour.
Thrang, strongly bent.
Tint, lost.
Toun, farm buildings.
Trigly, neatly.
Troke, small ware.
Twined, separated.
Tynin', loosing.


Unco, very.
Unco sair, very much.


Vaunty, given to boasting.
Vivers, victuals.


Wale, best.
Warld, world.
Warnised, warned.
Warstles up, mounts with difficulty.
Wasna, was not.
War', were.
Ware, spend.
Waukit, fulled.
Waur, overcome; adj. worse.
Wee bit sheltie, small pony.
Weet oor mou', to moisten the mouth; applied commonly to the use of strong drink.
Whan, when.
Whaur, where.
Win wi', accompany.
Win to, win as far as, to reach.
Wis, was.
Wowf, melancholy.
Wunner, wonder.
Wun o'er his lips, escaped from his lips.


Yarkit at the wark, wrought with vigour.
Yer, your.
Yestreen, last night.
Yetts, gates.
Yill, ale.
Yokes wi', engages in anything.

David Scott, Printer, "Sentinel" Office, Peterhead.


[A] Dr Rogers.

[B] Lucretius Lib. IV., lin. 581 et seq.

[C] Halliwell's "Parnassus."

[D] Croal.

[E] Sanbach.

[F] Ross.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Legends of the North; The Guidman O'
Inglismill and The Fairy Bride, by Patrick Buchan


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