Og Trolde, Hexer; Nisser i hver Vrase.
And Witches, Trolls, and Nisses In each nook.
THE Nis is the same being that is called Kobold in Germany, Brownie in Scotland, and whom we shall meet in various other places under different appellations. He is in Denmark and Norway also called Nisse god-dreng (Nissè good lad), and in Sweden Tomtgubbe (Old Man of the House), or briefly Tomte.
He is evidently of the Dwarf family, as he resembles them in appearance, and, like them, has the command of money, and the same dislike to noise and tumult. He is of the size of a year-old child, but has the face of an old man. His usual dress is grey, with a pointed red cap; but on Michael-mas-day he wears a round hat like those of the peasants.
No farm-house goes on well unless there is a Nis in it, and well is it for the maids and the men when they are in favour with him. They may go to their beds and give themselves no trouble about their work, and yet in the morning the maids will find the kitchen swept up, and water brought; in, and the men will find the horses in the stable well cleaned and curried, and perhaps a supply of corn cribbed for them from the neighbours' barns. But he punishes them for any irregularity that takes place.
The Nisses of Norway, we are told, are fond of the moonlight, and in the winter time they may be seen jumping over the yard, or driving in sledges. They are also skilled in music and dancing, and will, it is said, give instructions on the fiddle for a grey sheep, like the Swedish Strömkarl. [b]
Every church, too, has its Nis, who looks to order, and chastises those who misbehave themselves. He is called the Kirkegrim.
[a] Nisse, Grimm thinks (Deut. Mythol. p. 472) is Nicls, Niclsen, i.e. Nicolaus, Niclas, a common name in Germany and the North, which is also contracted to Klas, Claas.
[b] Wilse ap Grimm, Deut. Mythol., p. 479, 'who thinks he may have confounded the Nis with the Nöck.