ISLE OF MAN
Mona once hid from those that search the main,
Where thousand elfin shapes abide.
THE Isle of Man, peopled by Celts, and early and frequently visited and colonised by the Northmen, has also its Fairies, which differ little from those of the greater islands between which it lies. An English gentleman, named Waldron, who resided in the island in the early part of the last century, was curious about its Fairy-lore, and he has recorded a number of the legends which he heard. [a] His book, indeed, has been the chief source whence Ritson, Sir Walter Scott, [b] and others, have drawn their illustrations of English Fairy-lore in general, and the subsequent inquiries of Mr. Train have enabled him to add but very little to it. We will here relate some of these legends:
The great peculiarity of the Manks Fairies, according to Mr. Waldron, is their fondness for riding, and this not on little steeds of their own, or on the small breed of the country, but on the large English and Irish horses, which are brought over and kept by the gentry. Nothing, it was said, was more common than to find in the morning horses covered with foam and sweat, and tired to death, which had been shut up at night in the stable. One gentleman assured Mr. Waldron that three or four of his best horses had been killed with these nocturnal exercises.
They called them the Good People, and said that their reason for dwelling in the hills and woods was, their dislike of the vices of towns. Hence the houses which they deigned to visit were thought to be blest. In these houses, a tub or pail of clean water was always left for them to bathe in. Good, however, as they were, they used to change children. Mr. Waldron saw one of these changelings; it was nearly six years old, but was unable to walk or even stand, or move its limbs. Its complexion was delicate, and it had the finest hair in the world. It never cried or spoke, and it ate scarcely anything; it rarely smiled, but if any one called it Fairy-elf, it would frown and almost look them through. Its mother, who was poor, was often obliged to go out for whole days a-charing, and leave it by itself, and when the neighbours would look in on it through the window, they always saw it laughing and in great delight, whence they judged that it had agreeable company with it, more especially as let it be left ever so dirty, the mother on her return found it with a clean face, and its hair nicely combed out.
[a] Description of the Isle of Man. London, 1731.
[b] In his Essay on Fairies in the Minstrelsy of the Sottish Border, and in the notes on Peveril of the Peak.