IT is somewhat difficult to get a clear view of what Basa-Jaun and Basa-Andre, the wild man and the wild woman, really are in Basque mythology. In the first tale here given Basa-Jaun appears as a kind of vampire, and his wife, the Basa-Andre, as a sorceress, but we know of no other such representation of the former. Basa-Jaun is usually described by Basque writers as a kind of satyr, or faun, a wood-sprite; and Basques, in speaking of him to us, have frequently used the French term, "Homme de Bouc," "He-goat-man," to describe him. In some tales he appears rather as a species of brownie, and has received the familiar sobriquet of Ancho, 1 from the Spanish Sancho. In this character he haunts the shepherds' huts in the mountains, warms himself at their fires, tastes their clotted milk and cheese, converses with them, and is treated with a familiarity which, however, is never quite free from a hidden terror. His wife, the Basa-Andre, appears sometimes as a sorceress, sometimes as a kind of land-mermaid, as a beautiful lady sitting in a cave and "combing her locks with a comb of gold," in remote mountain parts. 2
The Lamiñak are true fairies, and do not differ more from the general run of Keltic fairies than the Scotch, Irish,
[paragraph continues] Welsh, and Cornish fairies do from each other. In fact, the legends are often identical. The Lamiñak were described to us by one who evidently believed in, and dreaded them, as little people who lived underground. Another informant stated that they were little people who came down the chimney. They long to get possession of human beings, and change and carry off infants unbaptized, but they do not seem to injure them otherwise. They bring good luck to the houses which they frequent; they are fond of cleanliness, but always speak and give their orders in words exactly the opposite of their meaning. In common with Basa-Jaun and Basa-Andre they hate church bells, 1 and though not actively hostile to Christianity, are driven away as it advances. They were formerly great builders of bridges, and even of churches, 2 but were usually defrauded of their wage, which was to have been power over some human soul at the completion of the contract. Fairies' wells and fountains are common in the Landes and neighbouring Gascon provinces, but we know of none in the Pays Basque. 3 We failed distinctly to make out what are the "fairies' holes (Lamiña-ziloak)," spoken of in the Heren-Suge tale (p. 36); as far as we could gather from the narrator they are simply bare places in hedges, when covered by the web of the gossamer spider. We know of no dances by moonlight on fairy rings of green herbage; but if the reader will carefully eliminate from his memory the rare fancies of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson about Puck, Oberon, and Titania, he will find little otherwise to differentiate between the Basque Lamiñak and the fairies of Sir Walter Scott, of Campbell, and of Croker's "Irish Legends." One peculiarity certainly is that all the Basque Lamiñak are sometimes said to be all called "Guïllen," 4 which
appears to be the same as the French Guillaume, and our William.
It must be a sign of a failing belief and interest that witches and fairies are so often confounded. In these few stories it is evident that the witch is often a fairy, and the fairy a witch.
47:1 Cf. Cerquand, Part I., p. 27, Ancho et les Vaches," and notes. Also Part II., 341 et seq.
47:2 Cf. Cerquand, Part I., pp. 33, 34, "La Dame au Peigne d'Or."
48:1 Cerquand, Part I., p. 30, "Basa-Jauna et le Salve Regina."
48:2 Cerquand, "L'Eglise d'Espés." "Le Pont de Licq," Part I., pp. 31, 32, and Part II., pp. 50-52.
48:3 But compare the well or marsh of the Basa-Andre in the Tartaro tale, p. 15.
48:4 Cerquand, Part I., pp. 32, 33.