Fort, fort! Mich schau' die Sonne nicht,
Ich darf nicht langer harren;
Mich Elfenklnd vor ihren Licht
Sähst du zum Fels erstarren.
La Motte Fouque.
Away! let not the sun view me,
I dare no longer stay;
An Elfin-child thou wouldst me see,
To atone turn at his ray.
THESE beings are called Zwerge (Dwarfs), Berg- and Erdmänlein (Hill and Ground-mannikins), the Stille Volk (Still-people), and the Kleine Yolk (Little-people). [a] The following account of the Still-people at Plesse will give the popular idea respecting them. [b]
At Plesse, a castle in the mountains in Hesse, are various springs, wells, clefts and holes in the rocks, in which, according to popular tradition, the Dwarfs, called the Still-people, dwell. They are silent and beneficent, and willingly serve those who have the good fortune to please them, if injured they vent their anger, not on mankind, but on the cattle, which they plague and torment. This subterranean race has no proper communication with mankind, but pass their lives within the earth, where their apartments and chambers are filled with gold and precious stones. Should occasion require their visit to the surface of the earth, they accomplish the business in the night, and not by day. This Hill-people are of flesh and bone, like mankind, they bear children and die, but in addition to the ordinary faculties of humanity, they have the power of making themselves invisible, and of passing through rocks and wails, with the same facility as through the air. They sometimes appear to men, lead them with them into clifts, and if the strangers prove agreeable to them, present them with valuable gifts. [c]
[a] Another term is Wicht and its dim. Wichtlein, answering to the Scandinavian Vattr and the Anglo-Saxon wiht, English wight, all of which signify a being, a person, and also a thing in general. Thus our words aught and naught were anwiht and nawiht.
[b] See Grimm's Deutsche Sagen, vol. i. p. 38. As this work is our chief authority for the Fairy Mythology of Germany, our materials are to be considered as taken from it, unless when otherwise expressed.
[c] In Lusatia (Lausatz) if not in the rest of Germany, the same idea of the Dwarfs being fallen angels, prevails as in other countries: see the tale of the Fairies'-sabbath in the work quoted above.