Page images

ages, that on the establishment of Christianity the Fairies departed from the land. Thus Chaucer writes in the Wif of Bathe's Tale :

"In olde dayes of the King Artour,
Of which that Bretons speke gret honour,
All was this lond ful filled of faerie;
The elf-queen with her 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,
For now the grete charitee and prayeres
Of limitoures and other holy freres,
That serchen every land and every streme,
As thikke as motes in the sonne-beme,
Blissing halles, chamberes, kichenes, and boures,
Citees and burghes, castles high and toures,
Thropes and bernes, shepenes and dairies,
This maketh that there ben no fairies :
For ther as wont to walken was an elf
Ther walketh now the limitour himself."

Undoubtedly we must take this passage in a qualified sense; for the Fairy Mythology flourished for centuries after Chaucer's death; and when the Reformation came, the same virtue was imputed to it of banishing the Elves which had been as

cribed to the growth of monasteries. Bishop Corbet has left a Farewell to the Fairies, in which he tells how

[ocr errors]

merrily went their tabour

And nimbly went their toes.

Witness those rings and roundelayes
Of theirs, which yet remaine ;
Were footed in Queene Marie's dayes
On many a grassy playne.
But since of late Elizabeth

And later James came in ;
They never danc'd on any heath
As when the time hath bin.

By which wee note the fairies
Were of the old profession:

Their songs were Ave Maries,
Their dances were procession.
But now, alas! they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;

Or farther for religion fled,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Sir Walter Scott has woven the same belief into the

1 Percy's Reliques, vol. iv. p. 115, edit. Lond. 1823.

ballad which he places in the mouths of the Protes

tant revellers in the Abbot :

"From haunted spring and grassy ring,

Troop Goblin, Elf, and Fairy ;

And the Kelpie must flit from the black bog-pit,

And the Brownie must not tarry;

To Limbo-lake, their way they take,
With scarce the pith to flee.

Sing hey trix, trim go trix,

Under the greenwood tree."

In remote places the Fairy creed survived even the Reformation, and only received its death-blow from the Revolution. "In the days of Charles II.," says the historian of Murray, " almost every large common was said to have a circle of Fairies belonging to it. Apparitions were every where talked of and believed. Particular families were said to be haunted by certain Demons, the good or bad Geniuses of these families; such as, on Speyside, the family of Rothiemurchus, by Bodach-an-Dun, i. e. the Ghost of the Dune; the Baron of Kinchardine's family, by Red

1 Poetry of the Waverley Novels, p. 249. Edinburgh, 1822. The original of the ballad will be found in the singular collection called "Ane Compendious Booke of Godly and Spiritvall Songs," printed at Edinburgh in 1590, reprinted in 1600 and in 1621, and more lately in Dalyell's Scotish Poems of the Sixteenth Century. Edinburgh, 1801.


Hand, or a ghost, one of whose hands was blood-red; Gartinbeg by Bodach-Gartin; Glenlochie by Brownie; Tullochgorm by Maag Moulach, i. e. one with the left hand all over hairy. I find in the Synod records of Moray frequent orders to the Presbyteries of Aberlaure and Abernethie to inquire into the truth of Maag Moulach's appearing; but they could make no discovery, only that one or two men declared they once saw in the evening a Young Girl, whose left hand was all hairy, and who instantly disappeared. .. But after the Revolution, the most distant corners being planted with ministers, schools erected in almost every parish, and natural philosophy much improved, ignorance was gradually removed, and superstition lost credit. Apparitions, Fairies, Witches, Tarans, have disappeared; and few regard the stories concerning them except stupid old people, who cannot shake off their prejudices."

66 Oracles," says Selden, "ceased presently after Christ, as soon as nobody believed them; just as we have no fortune-tellers nor wise men, when nobody cares for them."2 And thus, in the beautiful lan

guage of Coleridge,—

"The intelligible forms of ancient poets, The fair humanities of old religion,

1 Shaw's History of Moray, p. 306. Edinburgh, 1775. 2 Seldeniana, p. 94, edit. Lond. 1821.

The Power, the Beauty, and the Majesty,

That had their haunts in dale, or piny mountain, Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,

Or chasms and watʼry depths; all these have vanish'd. They live no longer in the faith of reason!"1


THE NOBLEST HOUSE IN SCOTLAND. THE question, Which is the reddest blood in Scotland? has been thus determined by the greatest of our Scotish, perhaps of all European genealogists, Mr Riddell : "The ancient House of Winton, of whom the Earl of Eglinton, in every appearance, is the chief, may be now held the noblest in North Britain. It is almost enough here to add, that the ducal families of Gordon and Sutherland (in the person of the late Duchess), and the Earl of Aboyne (now Marquis of Huntly), are their cadets in the male line."



[ocr errors]

THE learned Hatsell has somewhat disturbed the

1 Coleridge's Translation of The Piccolomini, act ii. sc. iv. 2 Remarks upon Scotch Peerage Law, as connected with certain points in the late case of the Earldom of Devon ; to which are added, Desultory Observations upon the nature and descent of Scotch Peerages. By John Riddell, Esq. Advocate, p. 120. Edinb. 1833.

« PreviousContinue »