In th' olde dayes of the king Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.
The elf-queen, with hir joly companye,
Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede;
This was the olde opinion, as I rede.
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.
THE best living authority I have found on the folklore of Beddgelert, Drws y Coed, and the surrounding district, is Mr. William Jones, of Llangollen. He has written a good deal on the subject in the Brython, and in essays intended for competition at various literary meetings in Wales. I had the loan from him of one such essay, and I have referred to the Brython; and I have also had from Mr. Jones a number of letters, most of which contain some additional information. In harmony, moreover, with my usual practice, I have asked Mr. Jones to give me a little of his own history. This he has been kind enough to do; and, as I have so far followed no particular order in these jottings, I shall now give the reader the substance of his letters in English, as I am anxious that no item should be lost or left inaccessible to English students of folklore. What is unintelligible to me may not be so to those who have made a serious study of the subject. Mr. Jones' words are in substance to the following effect:--
'I was bred and born in the parish of Beddgelert,
one of the most rustic neighbourhoods and least subject to change in the whole country. Some of the old Welsh customs remained within my memory, in spite of the adverse influence of the Calvinistic Reformation, as it is termed, and I have myself witnessed several Knitting Nights and Nuptial Feasts (Neithiorau), which, be it noticed, are not to be confounded with weddings, as they were feasts which followed the weddings, at the interval of a week. At these gatherings song and story formed an element of prime importance in the entertainment at a time when the Reformation alluded to had already blown the blast of extinction on the Merry Nights (Noswyliau Llawen) and Saints' Fêtes 1 (Gwyliau Mabsant) before the days of my youth, though many of my aged acquaintances remembered them well, and retained a vivid recollection of scores of the amusing tales which used to be related for the best at the last mentioned long-night meetings. I have heard not a few of them reproduced by men of that generation. As an example of the old-fashioned habits of the people of Beddgelert in my early days, I may mention the way in which wives and children used to be named. The custom was that the wife never took her husband's family name, but retained the one she had as a spinster. Thus my grandmother on my mother's side was called Ellen Hughes, daughter to Hugh Williams,
of Gwastad Annas. The name of her husband, my grandfather, was William Prichard [= W. ab Rhisiart, or Richard's son], son to Richard William, of the Efail Newydd. The name of their eldest son, my uncle (brother to my mother), was Hugh Hughes, and the second son's name was Richard William. The mother had the privilege of naming her first-born after her own family in case it was a boy; but if it happened to be a girl, she took her name from the father's family, for which reason my mother's maiden name was Catharine Williams. This remained her name to the day of her death: and the old people at Beddgelert persisted in calling me, so long as I was at home, William Prichard, after my grandfather, as I was my mother's eldest child.
'Most of the tales I have collected,' says Mr. Jones, 'relate to the parishes of Beddgelert and Dolwyddelen. My kindred have lived for generations in those two parishes, and they are very numerous: in fact, it used to be said that the people of Dolwyddelen and Beddgelert were all cousins. They were mostly small farmers, and jealous of all strangers, so that they married almost without exception from the one parish into the other. This intermixture helped to carry the tales of the one parish to the other, and to perpetuate them on the hearths of their homes from generation to generation, until they were swept away by another influence in this century. Many of my ancestors seem to have been very fond of stories, poetry, and singing, and I have been told that some of them were very skilled in these things. So also, in the case of my parents, the memory of the past had a great charm for them on both sides; and when the relatives from Dolwyddelen and Beddgelert met in either parish, there used to be no end to the recounting of pedigrees and the repeating of tales for
the best. By listening to them, I had been filled with desire to become an adept in pedigrees and legends. My parents used to let me go every evening to the house of my grandfather, William ab Rhisiart, the clerk, to listen to tales, and to hear edifying books read. My grandfather was a reader "without his rival," and "he used to beat the parson hollow." Many people used to meet at Pen y Bont in the evenings to converse together, and the stories of some of them were now and then exceedingly eloquent. Of course, I listened with eager ears and open mouth, in order, if I heard anything new, to be able to repeat it to my mother. She, unwilling to let herself be beaten, would probably relate another like it, which she had heard from her mother, her grandmother, or her old aunt of Gwastad Annas, who was a fairly good verse-wright of the homely kind. Then my father, if he did not happen to be busy with his music-book, would also give us a tale which he had heard from his grandmother or grandfather, the old John Jones, of Tyn Llan Dolwyddelen, or somebody else would do so. That is one source from which I got my knowledge of folklore; but this ceased when we moved from Beddgelert to Carnarvon in the year 1841. My grandfather died in 1844, aged seventy-eight.
'Besides those,' Mr. Jones goes on to say, 'who used to come to my grandfather's house and to his workshop to relate stories, the blacksmith's shop used to be, especially on a rainy day, a capital place for a story, and many a time did I lurk there instead of going to school, in order to hear old William Dafydd, the sawyer, who, peace be to his ashes! drank many a hornful from the Big Quart without ever breaking down, and old Ifan Owen, the fisherman, tearing away for the best at their yarns, sometimes a tissue of lies and sometimes truth. The former was funny, and a great wag, up to all kinds
of tricks. He made everybody laugh, whereas the latter would preserve the gravity of a saint, however lying might be the tale which he related. Han Owen's best stories were about the Water Spirit, or, as he called it, Llamhigyn y Dwr, "the Water Leaper." He had not himself seen the Llamhigyn, but his father had seen it "hundreds of times." Many an evening it had prevented him from catching a single fish in Llyn Gwynan, and, when the fisherman got on this theme, his eloquence was apt to become highly polysyllabic in its adjectives. Once in particular, when he had been angling for hours towards the close of the day, without catching anything, he found that something took the fly clean off the hook each time he cast it. After moving from one spot to another on the lake, he fished opposite the Benlan Wen, when something gave his line a frightful pull, "and, by the gallows, I gave another pull," the fisherman used to say, "with all the force of my arm: out it came, and up it went off the hook, whilst I turned round to see, as it dashed so against the cliff of Benlan that it blazed like a lightning." He used to add, "If that was not the Llamhigyn, it must have been the very devil himself." That cliff must be two hundred yards at least from the shore. As to his father, he had seen the Water Spirit many times, and he had also been fishing in the Llyn Glâs or Ffynnon Lâs, once upon a time, when he hooked a wonderful and fearful monster: it was not like a fish, but rather resembled a toad, except that it had a tail and wings instead of legs. He pulled it easily enough towards the shore, but, as its head was coming out of the water, it gave a terrible shriek that was enough to split the fisherman's bones to the marrow, and, had there not been a friend standing by, he would have fallen headlong into the lake, and been possibly dragged like a sheep into
the depth; for there is a tradition that if a sheep got into the Llyn Glâs, it could not be got out again, as something would at once drag it to the bottom. This used to be the belief of the shepherds of Cwm Dyli, within my memory, and they acted on it in never letting their dogs go after the sheep in the neighbourhood of this lake. These two funny fellows, William Dafydd and Ifan Owen, died long ago, without leaving any of their descendants blessed with as much as the faintest gossamer thread of the story-teller's mantle. The former, if he had been still living, would now be no less than 129 years of age, and the latter about 120.'
Mr. Jones proceeds to say that he had stories from sources besides those mentioned, namely, from Lowri Robart, wife of Rhisiart Edwart, the 'Old Guide'; from his old aunt of Gwastad Annas; from William Wmffra, husband to his grandmother's sister; from his grandmother, who was a native of Dolwyddelen, but had been brought up at Pwllgwernog, in Nanmor; from her sister; and from Gruffudd Prisiart, of Nanmor, afterwards of Glan Colwyn, who gave him the legend of Owen Lawgoch of which I shall have something to say later, and the story of the bogie of Pen Pwll Coch, which I do not know. 'But the chief story-teller of his time at Beddgelert,' Mr. Jones goes on to say, 'was Twm Ifan Siams (pronounced Siams or Shams), brother, I believe, to Dafydd Siôn Siams, of the Penrhyn, who was a bard and pedigree man. Twm lived at Nanmor, but I know not what his vocation was; his relatives, however, were small farmers, carpenters, and masons. It is not improbable that he was also an artisan, as he was conversant with numbers, magnitude, and letters, and left behind him a volume forming a pedigree book known at Nanmor as the Barcud Mawr, or "Great Kite," as Gruffudd Prisiart told me. The latter had been reading it many
a time in order to know the origin of somebody or other. All I can remember of this character is that he was very old--over 90--and that he went from house to house in his old age to relate tales and recount pedigrees: great was the welcome he had from everybody everywhere. I remember, also, that he was small of stature, nimble, witty, exceedingly amusing, and always ready with his say on every subject. He was in the habit of calling on my grandfather in his rambles, and very cordial was the reception which my parents always gave him on account of his tales and his knowledge of pedigrees. The story of the afanc, as given in my collection, is from his mouth. You will observe how little difference there is between his version 1 and that known to Edward Llwyd in the year 1695. I had related this story to a friend of mine at Portmadoc, who was grandson or great-grandson to Dafydd Siôn Siams, of Penrhyn, in 1858, when he called my attention to the same story in the Cambrian Journal from the correspondence of Edward Llwyd. I was surprised at the similarity between the two versions, and I went to Beddgelert to Gruffudd Rhisiart, who was related to Twm Siôn Siams. I read the story to him, and I found that he had heard it related by his uncle just as it was by me, and as given in the Cambrian Journal. Twm Ifan Siams had funny stories about the tricks of Gwrach y Rhibyn, the Bodach 2 Glas, and the Bwbach Llwyd, which he localized in Nanmor and Llanfrothen; he had, also, a very eloquent tale about the courtship between a sailor from Moel y Gest, near Portmadoc, and a mermaid, of which I retain a fairly
good recollection. I believe Twm died in the year 1835-6, aged about ninety-five.'
So far, I have merely translated Mr. Jones' account of himself and his authorities as given me in the letter I have already referred to, dated in June of last year, 1881. I would now add the substance of his general remarks about the fairies, as he had heard them described, and as he expressed himself in his essay for the competition on folklore at the Carnarvon Eisteddfod of 1880:--The traditions, he says, respecting the Tylwyth Teg vary according to the situation of the districts with which they are connected, and many more such traditions continue to be remembered among the inhabitants of the mountains than by those of the more level country. In some places the Tylwyth Teg are described as a small folk of a thieving nature, living in summer among the fern bushes in the mountains, and in winter in the heather and gorse. These were wont to frequent the fairs and to steal money from the farmers' pockets, where they placed in its stead their own fairy money, which looked like the coin of the realm, but when it was paid for anything bought it would vanish in the pockets of the seller. In other districts the fairies were described as a little bigger and stronger folk; but these latter were also of a thieving disposition. They would lurk around people's houses, looking for an opportunity to steal butter and cheese from the dairies, and they skulked about the cow-yards, in order to milk the cows and the goats, which they did so thoroughly that many a morning there was not a drop of milk to be had. The principal mischief, however, which those used to do, was to carry away unbaptized infants, and place in their stead their own wretched and peevish offspring. They were said to live in hidden caves in the mountains, and he had heard one old man asserting his firm
belief that it was beneath Moel Eilio, also called Moel Eilian, a mountain lying between Llanberis and Cwellyn, the Tylwyth Teg of Nant y Bettws lived, whom he had seen many a time when he was a lad; and, if any one came across the mouth of their cave, he thought that he would find there a wonderful amount of wealth, 'for they were thieves without their like.' There is still another species of Tylwyth Teg, very unlike the foregoing ones in their nature and habits. Not only was this last kind far more beautiful and comely than the others, but they were honest and good towards mortals. Their whole nature was replete with joy and fun, nor were they ever beheld hardly, except engaged in some merrymaking or other. They might be seen on bright moonlight nights at it, singing and carolling playfully on the fair meadows and the green slopes, at other times dancing lightly on the tops of the rushes in the valleys. They were also wont to be seen hunting in full force on the backs of their grey horses; for this kind were rich, and kept horses and servants. Though it used to be said that they were spiritual and immortal beings, still they ate and drank like human beings: they married and had children. They were also remarkable for their cleanliness, and they were wont to reward neat maidservants and hospitable wives. So housewives used to exhort their maids to clean their houses thoroughly every night before going to bed, saying that if the Tylwyth Teg happened to enter, they would be sure to leave money for them somewhere; but they were to tell no one in case they found any, lest the Tylwyth should be offended and come no more. The mistresses also used to order a tinful of water to be placed at the foot of the stairs, a clean cloth on the table, with bread and its accompaniments (bara ac enllyn) placed on it, so that, if the Tylwyth came in to eat, the maids should
have their recompense on the hob as well as unstinted praise for keeping the house clean, or, as Mr. Jones has it in a couplet from Goronwy Owen's Cywydd y Cynghorfynt--
Cael eu rhent ar y pentan,
A ffwyr glod o bai ffawr glân.
Finding the fairies' pay on the hob,
With full credit for a clean floor.
Thus, whether the fairies came or not to pay a visit to them during their sleep, the house would be clean by the morning, and the table ready set for breakfast. it appears that the places most frequently resorted to by this species were rushy combes surrounded by smooth hills with round tops, also the banks of rivers and the borders of lakes; but they were seldom seen at any time near rocks or cliffs. So more tales about them are found in districts of the former description than anywhere else, and among them maybe mentioned Penmachno, Dolwyddelen, the sides of Moel Siabod, Llandegái Mountain, and from there to Llanberis, to Nantlle Lakes, to Moel Tryfan 1 and Nant y Bettws, the upper portion of the parish of Beddgelert from Drws y Coed to the Pennant, and the district beginning from there and including the level part of Eifion, on towards Celynnog Fawr. I have very little doubt that there are many traditions about them in the neighbourhood of the Eifl and in Lleyn; I know but little, however, about these last. This kind of fairies was said to live underground, and the way to their country lay under hollow banks that overhung the deepest parts of the lakes, or the deepest pools in the rivers, so that mortals could not follow them further than the water, should they try to go after them. They used to come out in broad daylight,
two or three together, and now and then a shepherd, so the saying went, used to talk and chat with them. Sometimes, moreover, he fell over head and ears in love with their damsels, but they did not readily allow a mortal to touch them. The time they were to be seen in their greatest glee was at night when the moon was full, when they celebrated a merry night (noswaith lawen). At midnight to the minute, they might be seen rising out of the ground in every combe and valley; then, joining hands, they would form into circles, and begin to sing and dance with might and main until the cock crew, when they would vanish. Many used to go to look at them on those nights, but it was dangerous to go too near them, lest they should lure the spectator into their circle; for if that happened, they would throw a charm over him, which would make him invisible to his companions, and he would be detained by the fairies as long as he lived. At times some people went too near to them, and got snatched in; and at other times a love-inspired youth, fascinated by the charms of one of their damsels, rushed in foolhardily to try to seize one of them, and became instantly surrounded and concealed from sight. If he could be got out before the cock crew he would be no worse; but once the fairies disappeared Without his having been released, he would never more be seen in the land of the living. The way to get the captured man out was to take a long stick of mountain ash (pren criafol), which two or more strong men had to hold with one of its ends in the middle of the circle, so that when the man came round in his turn in the dance he might take hold of it, for he is there bodily though not visible, so that he cannot go past without coming across the stick. Then the others pull him out, for the fairies, no more than any other spirit, dare touch the mountain ash.
We now proceed to give some of Mr. Jones' legends, The first is one which he published in the fourth volume of the Brython, p. 70, whence the following free translation is made of it:--
'In the north-west corner of the parish of Beddgelert there is a place which used to be called by the old inhabitants the Land of the Fairies, and it reaches from Cwm Hafod Ruffydd along the slope of the mountain of Drws y Coed as far as Llyn y Dywarchen. The old people of former times used to find much pleasure and amusement in this district in listening every moonlight night to the charming music of the fair family, and in looking at their dancing and their mirthful sports. Once on a time, a long while ago, there lived at upper Drws y Coed a youth, who was joyous and active, brave and determined of heart. This young man amused himself every night by looking on and listening to them. One night they had come to a field near the house, near the shore of Llyn y Dywarchen, to pass a merry night. He went, as usual, to look at them, when his glances at once fell on one of the ladies, who possessed such beauty as he had never seen in a human being. Her appearance was like that of alabaster; her voice was as agreeable as the nightingale's, and as unruffled as the zephyr in a flower-garden at the noon of a long summer's day; and her gait was pretty and aristocratic; her feet moved in the dance as lightly on the grass as the rays of the sun had a few hours before on the lake hard by. He fell in love with her over head and ears, and in the strength of that passion--for what is stronger than love!--he rushed, when the bustle was at its height, into the midst of the fair crowd, and snatched the graceful damsel in his arms, and ran instantly with her to the house. When the fair family saw the violence used by a mortal, they broke up the dance and ran after her
towards the house; but, when they arrived, the door had been bolted with iron, wherefore they could not get near her or touch her in any way; and the damsel had been placed securely in a chamber. The youth, having her now under his roof, as is the saying, endeavoured, with all his talent, to win her affection and to induce her to wed. But at first she would on no account hear of it; on seeing his persistence, however, and on finding that he would not let her go to return to her people, she consented to be his servant if he could find out her name; but she would not be married to him. As he thought that was not impossible, he half agreed to the condition; but, after bothering his head with all the names known in that neighbourhood, he found himself no nearer his point, though he was not willing to give up the search hurriedly. One night, as he was going home from Carnarvon market, he saw a number of the fair folks in a turbary not far from his path. They seemed to him to be engaged in an important deliberation, and it struck him that they were planning how to recover their abducted sister. He thought, moreover, that if he could secretly get within hearing, he might possibly find her name out. On looking carefully around, he saw that a ditch ran through the turbary and passed near the spot where they stood. So he made his way round to the ditch, and crept, on all fours, along it until he was within hearing of the family. After listening a little, he found that their deliberation was as to the fate of the lady he had carried away, and he heard one of them crying, piteously, "O Penelop, O Penelop, my sister, why didst thou run away with a mortal?" "Penelop," said the young man to himself, "that must be the name of my beloved: that is enough." At once he began to creep back quietly, and he returned home safely without having been seen by the fairies.
[paragraph continues] When he got into the house, he called out to the girl, saying, "Penelop, my beloved one, come here!" and she came forward and asked, in astonishment, "O mortal, who has betrayed my name to thee?" Then, lifting up her tiny folded hands, she exclaimed, "Alas, my fate, my fate!" But she grew contented with her fate, and took to her work in earnest. Everything in the house and on the farm prospered under her charge. There was no better or cleanlier housewife in the neighbourhood around, or one that was more provident than she. The young man, however, was not satisfied that she should be a servant to him, and, after he had long and persistently sought it, she consented to be married, on the one condition, that, if ever he should touch her with iron, she would be free to leave him and return to her family. He agreed to that condition, since he believed that such a thing would never happen at his hands. So they were married, and lived several years happily and comfortably together. Two children were born to them, a boy and a girl, the picture of their mother and the idols of their father. But one morning, when the husband wanted to go to the fair at Carnarvon, he went out to catch a filly that was grazing in the field by the house; but for the life of him he could not catch her, and he called to his wife to come to assist him. She came without delay, and they managed to drive the filly to a secure corner, as they thought; but, as the man approached to catch her, she rushed past him. In his excitement, he threw the bridle after her; but, who should be running in the direction of it, but his wife! The iron bit struck her on the cheek, and she vanished out of sight on the spot. Her husband never saw her any more; but one cold frosty night, a long time after this event, he was awakened from his sleep by somebody rubbing the glass of his window, and, after he had given
a response, he recognized the gentle and tender voice of his wife saying to him:--
Lest my son should find it cold,
Place on him his father's coat;
Lest the fair one find it cold,
Place on her my petticoat.
It is said that the descendants of this family still continue in these neighbourhoods, and that they are easy to be recognized by their light and fair complexion. A similar story is related of the son of the farmer of Braich y Dinas, in Llanfihangel y Pennant, and it used to be said that most of the inhabitants of that neighbourhood were formerly of a light complexion. I have often heard old people saying, that it was only necessary, within their memory, to point out in the fair at Penmorfa any one as being of the breed of the Tylwyth, to cause plenty of fighting that day at least.'
The reader may compare with this tale the following, for which I have to thank Mr. Samuel Rhys Williams, whose words I give, followed by a translation:--
Yr oedd gwr ieuanc o gymydogaeth Drws y Coed yn dychwelyd adref o Beddgelert ar noswaith loergan lleuad; pan ar gyfer Llyn y Gader gwelai nifer o'r boneddigesau a elwir y Tylwyth Teg yn myned trwy eu chwareuon nosawl. Swynwyd y llanc yn y fan gan brydferthwch y rhianod hyn, ac yn neillduol un o honynt. Collodd y llywodraeth arno ei hunan i'r fath raddau fel y penderfynodd neidio i'r cylch a dwyn yn ysbail iddo yr hon oedd wedi myned a'i galon mor llwyr. Cyflawnodd ei fwriad a dygodd y foneddiges gydag ef adref. Bu yn wraig iddo, a ganwyd plant iddynt. Yn ddamweiniol, tra yn cyflawni rhyw orchwyl, digwyddodd iddo ei tharo a haiarn ac ar amrantiad diflannodd ei anwylyd o'i olwg ac nis gwelodd hi mwyach, ond ddarfod iddi ddyfod at ffenestr ei ystafell wely un noswaith ar ol hyn a'i annog i fod yn dirion wrth y plant a'i bod hi yn aros gerllaw y ty
yn Llyn y Dywarchen. Y mae y traddodiad hefyd yn ein hysbysu ddarfod i'r gwr hwn symud i fyw o Ddrws y Coed i Ystrad Betws Garmon.
'A young man, from the neighbourhood of Drws y Coed, was returning home one bright moonlight night, from Beddgelert; where he came opposite the lake called Llyn y Gader, he saw a number of the ladies known as the Tylwyth Teg going through their nightly frolics. The youth was charmed at once by the beauty of these ladies, and especially by one of them. He so far lost his control over himself, that he resolved to leap into the circle and carry away as his spoil the one who had so completely robbed him of his heart. He accomplished his intention, and carried the lady home with him. She became his wife, and children were born to them. Accidentally, while at some work or other, it happened to him to strike her with iron, and, in the twinkling of an eye, his beloved one disappeared from his sight. He saw her no more, except that she came to his bedroom window one night afterwards, and told him to be tender to the children, and that she was staying, near the house, in the lake called Llyn y Dywarchen. The tradition also informs us that this man moved from Drws y Coed to live at Ystrad near Bettws Garmon.'
The name Llyn y Dywarchen, I may add, means the Lake of the Sod or Turf: it is the one with the floating island, described thus by Giraldus, ii. 9 (p. 135):--Alter enim insulam habet erraticam, vi ventorum impellentium ad oppositas plerumque lacus partes errabundam. Hic armenta pascentia nonnunquam pastores ad longinquas subito, partes translata mirantur. 'For one of the two lakes holds a wandering island, which strays mostly with the force of the winds impelling it to the opposite parts of the lake. Sometimes cattle grazing on it are,
to the surprise of the shepherds, suddenly carried across to the more distant parts.' Sheep are known to get on the floating islet, and it is still believed to float them away from the shore. Mr. S. Rhys Williams, it will be noticed, has given the substance of the legend rather than the story itself. I now proceed to translate the same tale as given in Welsh in Cymru Fu (pp. 474--7 of the edition published by Messrs. Hughes and Son, Wrexham), in a very different dress--it is from Glasynys' pen, and, as might be expected, decked out with all the literary adornments in which he delighted. The language he used was his own, but there is no reason to think that he invented any of the incidents:--'The farmer of Drws y Coed's son was one misty day engaged as a shepherd on the side of the mountain, a little below Cwm Marchnad, and, as he crossed a rushy flat, he saw a wonderfully handsome little woman standing under a clump of rushes. Her yellow and curly hair hung down in ringed locks, and her eyes were as blue as the clear sky, while her forehead was as white as the wavy face of a snowdrift that has nestled on the side of Snowdon only a single night. Her two plump cheeks were each like a red rose, and her pretty-lipped mouth might make an angel eager to kiss her. The youth approached her, filled with love for her, and, with delicacy and affection, asked her if he might converse with her. She smiled kindly, and reaching out her hand, said to him, "Idol of my hopes, thou hast come at last!" They began to associate secretly, and to meet one another daily here and there on the moors around the banks of Llyn y Gader; at last, their love had waxed so strong that the young man could not be at peace either day or night, as he was always thinking of Bella or humming to himself a verse of poetry about her charms. The yellow-haired youth was now and
then lost for a long while, and nobody could divine his history. His acquaintances believed that he had been fascinated: at last the secret was found out. There were about Llyn y Dywarchen shady and concealing copses: it was there he was wont to go, and the she-elf would always be there awaiting him, and it was therefore that the place where they used to meet got to be called Llwyn y Forwyn, the Maiden's Grove. After fondly loving for a long time, it was resolved to wed; but it was needful to get the leave of the damsel's father. One moonlight night it was agreed to meet in the wood, and the appointment was duly kept by the young man, but there was no sign of the subterranean folks coming, until the moon disappeared behind the Garn. Then the two arrived, and the old man at once proceeded to say to the suitor: "Thou shalt have my daughter on the condition that thou do not strike her with iron. If thou ever touch her with iron, she will no longer be thine, but shall return to her own." The man consented readily, and great was his joy. They were betrothed, and seldom was a handsomer pair seen at the altar. It was rumoured that a vast sum of money as dowry had arrived with the pretty lady at Drws y Coed on the evening of her nuptials. Soon after, the mountain shepherd of Cwm Marchnad passed for a very rich and influential man. In the course of time they had children, and no happier people ever lived together than their parents. Everything went on regularly and prosperously for a number of years: they became exceedingly wealthy, but the sweet is not to be had without the bitter. One day they both went out on horseback, and they happened to go near Llyn y Gader, when the wife's horse got into a bog and sank to his belly. After the husband had got Bella off his back, he succeeded with much trouble in getting the horse out, and then
he let him go. Then he lifted her on the back of his own, but, unfortunately, in trying quickly to place her foot in the stirrup, the iron part of the same slipped, and struck her--or, rather, it touched her at the knee-joint. Before they had made good half their way home, several of the diminutive Tylwyth began to appear to them, and the sound of sweet singing was heard on the side of the hill. Before the husband reached Drws y Coed his wife had left him, and it is supposed that she fled to Llwyn y Forwyn, and thence to the world below to Faery. She left her dear little ones to the care of her beloved, and no more came near them. Some say, however, that she sometimes contrived to see her beloved one in the following manner. As the law of her country did not permit her to frequent the earth with an earthly being, she and her mother invented a way of avoiding the one thing and of securing the other. A great piece of sod was set to float on the surface of the lake, and on that she used to be for long hours, freely conversing in tenderness with her consort on shore; by means of that plan they managed to live together until he breathed his last. Their descendants owned Drws y Coed for many generations, and they intermarried and mixed with the people of the district. Moreover, many a fierce fight took place in later times at the Gwyl-fabsant at Dolbenmaen or at Penmorfa, because the men of Eifionydd had a habit of annoying the people of Pennant by calling them Bellisians.'
In a note, Glasynys remarks that this tale is located in many districts without much variation, except in the names of the places; this, however, could not apply to the latter part, which suits Llyn y Dywarchen alone. With this account of the fairy wife frequenting a lake island to converse with her husband on shore, compare the Irish story of the Children of Lir, who, though
transformed into swans, were allowed to retain their power of reasoning and speaking, so that they used to converse from the surface of the water with their friends on the dry land: see Joyce's Old Celtic Romances, pp. x, 1-36. Now I return to another tale which was sent me by Mr. William Jones: unless I am mistaken it has not hitherto been published; so I give the Welsh together with a free translation of it:--
Yr oedd ystori am jab Braich y Dinas a adroddai y diweddar hybarch Elis Owen o Gefn y Meusydd yn lled debyg i chwedl mab yr Ystrad gan Glasynys, sef iddo hudo un o ferched y Tylwyth Teg i lawr o Foel Hebog, a'i chipio i mewn i'r ty drwy orthrech; ac wedi hynny efe a'i perswadiodd i ymbriodi ag ef ar yr un telerau ag y gwnaeth mab yr Ystrad. Ond clywais hen foneddiges o'r enw Mrs. Roberts, un o ferched yr Isallt, oed' lawer hyn na Mr. Owen, yn ei hadrodd yn wahanol. Yr oedd yr hen wreigan hon yn credu yn nilysrwydd y chwedl, oblegid yr oedd hi 'yn cofio rhai o'r teulu, waeth be' ddeudo neb.' Dirwynnai ei hedau yn debyg i hyn:--Yn yr amser gynt--ond o ran hynny pan oedd hi yn ferch ifanc--yr oedd llawer iawn o Dylwyth Teg yn trigo mewn rhyw ogofau yn y Foel o Gwm Ystradllyn hyd i flaen y Pennant. Yr oedd y Tylwyth hwn yn llawer iawn harddach na dim a welid mewn un rhan arall o'r wlad. Yr oeddynt o ran maint yn fwy o lawer na'r rhai cyffredin, yn lan en pryd tu hwnt i bawb, eu gwallt yn oleu fel llin, eu llygaid yn loyw leision. Yr oeddynt yn ymddangos mewn rhyw le neu gilydd yn chwareu, canu ac ymddifyru bob nos deg a goleu; a byddai swn eu canu yn denu y llanciau a'r merched ifainc i fyned i'w gweled; ac os byddent yn digwydd bod o bryd goleu hwy a ymgomient a hwynt, ond ni adawent i un person o liw tywyll ddod yn agos atynt, eithr cilient ymaith o ffordd y cyfryw un. Yrw^an yr oedd mab Braich y Dinas yn llanc hardd, heini, bywiog ac o bryd glan, goleu a serchiadol. Yr oedd
hwn yn hoff iawn o edrych ar y Tylwyth, a byddai yn cael ymgom a rhai o honynt yn aml, ond yn bennaf ag un o'r merched oedd yn rhagori arnynt oll mewn glendid a synwyr; ac o fynych gyfarfod syrthiodd y ddau mewn cariad a'u gilydd, eithr ni fynai hi ymbriodi ag ef, ond addawodd fyned i'w wasanaeth, a chydunodd i'w gyfarfod yn Mhant--nid wyf yn cofio yr enw i gyd--drannoeth, oblegid nid oedd wiw iddi geisio myned gydag ef yn ngwydd y lleill. Felly drannoeth aeth i fynu i'r Foel, a chyfarfyddodd y rhian ef yn ol ei haddewid, ag aeth gydag ef adref, ac ymgymerodd a'r swdd o laethwraig, a buan y dechreuodd popeth lwyddo o dan ei llaw: yr oedd yr ymenym a'r caws yn cynhyddu beunydd. Hir a thaer y bu'r llanc yn ceisio ganddi briodi. A hi a addawodd, os medrai ef gael allan ei henw. Ni wyddai Mrs. Roberts drwy ba ystryw y llwyddodd i gael hwnnw, ond hynny a fu, a daeth ef i'r ty un noswaith a galwodd ar 'Sibi,' a phan glywodd hi ei henw, hi a aeth i lewygfa; ond 'pan ddaeth ati ei hun, hi a ymfoddlonodd i briodi ar yr amod nad oedd ef i gyffwrdd a hi a haiarn ac nad oedd bollt haiarn i fod ar y drws na chlo ychwaith, a hynny a fu: priodwyd hwynt, a buont fyw yn gysurus am lawer o flynyddoedd, a ganwyd iddynt amryw blant. Y diwedd a fu fel hyn: yr oedd ef wedi myned un diwrnod i dori baich o frwyn at doi, a tharawodd y cryman yn y baich i fyned adref; fel yr oed yr nesu at y gadlas, rhedodd Sibi i'w gyfarfod, a thaflodd ynteu y baich brwyn yn ddireidus tu ag ati, a rhag iddo ddyfod ar ei thraws ceisiodd ei atal a'i llaw, yr hon a gyffyrddod a'r cryman; a hi a ddiflannodd o'r golwg yn y fan ym nghysgod y baich brwyn: ni welwyd ac ni chlywyd dim oddiwrthi mwyach.
'There was a story respecting the son of the farmer of Braich y Dinas, which used to be told by the late respected Mr. Ellis Owen, of Cefn y Meusydd, somewhat in the same way as that about the Ystrad youth, as told by Glasynys; that is to say, the young man enticed one
of the damsels of the fair family to come down from Moel Hebog, and then he carried her by force into the house, and afterwards persuaded her to become his wife on the same conditions as the heir of Ystrad did. But I have heard an old lady called Mrs. Roberts, who had been brought up at Isallt, and who was older than Mr. Owen, relating it differently. This old woman believed in the truth of the story, as "she remembered some of the family, whatever anybody may say." She used to spin her yarn somewhat as follows:--In old times--but, for the matter of that, when she was a young woman--there were a great many of the fair family living in certain caves in the Foel from Cwm Strallyn 1 down to the upper part of Pennant. This Tylwyth was much handsomer than any seen in any other part of the country. In point of stature they were much bigger than the ordinary ones, fair of complexion beyond everybody, with hair that was as light as flax, and eyes that were of a clear blue colour. They showed themselves in one spot or another, engaged in playing, singing, and jollity every light night. The sound of their singing used to draw the lads and the young women to look at them; and, should they be of clear complexion, the fairies would chat with them; but they would let no person of a dark hue come near them: they moved away from such a one. Now the young man of Braich y Dinas was a handsome, vigorous, and lively stripling of fair, clear, and attractive complexion. He was very fond of looking at the fair family, and had a chat with some of them often,
but chiefly with one of the damsels, who surpassed all the rest in beauty and good sense. The result of frequently meeting was that they fell in love with one another, but she would not marry him. She promised, however, to go to service to him, and agreed to meet him at Pant y--I have forgotten the rest of the name--the day after, as it would not do for her to go with him while the others happened to be looking on. So he went up the. next day to the Foel, and the damsel met him according to her promise, and went with him home, where she took to the duties of a dairymaid. Soon everything began to prosper under her hand; the butter and the cheese were daily growing in quantity. Long and importunately did the youth try to get her to marry him. She promised to do so provided he could find out her name. Mrs. Roberts did not know by what manuvre he succeeded in discovering it, but it was done, and he came into the house one night and called to "Sibi," and when she heard her name she fainted away. When, however, she recovered her consciousness, she consented to marry on the condition that he was not to touch her with iron, and that there was not to be a bolt of iron on the door, or a lock either. It was agreed, and they were married; they lived together comfortably many years, and had children born to them. The end came thus: he had gone one day to cut a bundle of rushes for thatching, and planted the reaping-hook in the bundle to go home. As he drew towards the haggard, Sibi ran out to meet him, and he wantonly threw the bundle of rushes towards her, when she, to prevent its hitting her, tried to stop it with her hand, which touched the reaping-hook. She vanished on the spot out of sight behind the bundle of rushes, and nothing more was seen or heard of her.'
Mr. Ellis Owen, alluded to above, was a highly respected gentleman, well known in North Wales for his literary and antiquarian tastes. He was born in 1789 at Cefn y Meusydd near Tremadoc, where he continued to live till the day of his death, which was January 27, 1868. His literary remains, preceded by a short biography, were published in 1877 by Mr. Robert Isaac Jones of Tremadoc; but it contains no fairy tales so far as I have been able to find.
A tale which partially reminds one of that given by Dewi Glan Ffrydlas respecting the Corwrion midwife. referred to at p. 63 above, was published by Mr. W. Jones in the fourth volume of the Brython, p. 251: freely rendered into English, it runs thus:--
'Once on a time, when a midwife from Nanhwynan had newly got to the Hafoddydd Brithion to pursue her calling, a gentleman came to the door on a fine grey steed and bade her come with him at once. Such was the authority with which he spoke, that the poor midwife durst not refuse to go, however much it was her duty to stay where she was. So she mounted behind him, and off they went, like the flight of a swallow, through Cwmlltan, over the Bwlch, down Nant yr Aran, and over the Gader to Cwm Hafod Ruffydd, before the poor woman had time even to say Oh! When they reached there, she saw before her a magnificent mansion, splendidly lit up with such lamps as she had never seen before. They entered the court, and a crowd of servants in expensive liveries came to meet them, and she was at once led through the great hall into a bedchamber, the like of which she had never seen. There the mistress of the house, to whom she had been fetched, was awaiting her. The midwife got through her duties successfully, and stayed there until the lady had completely recovered, nor had she spent any part of her
life so merrily, for there nought but festivity went on day and night: dancing, singing, and endless rejoicing reigned there. But merry as it was, she found that she must go, and the nobleman gave her a large purse, with the order not to open it until she had got into her own house. Then he bade one of his servants escort her the same way that she had come. When she reached home she opened the purse, and, to her great joy, it was full of money: she lived happily on those earnings to the end of her life.'
With this ending of the story one should contrast Dewi Glan Ffrydlas' tale to which I have already alluded; and I may here refer to Mr. Sikes' British Goblins, pp. 86-8, for a tale differing from both Dewi's and Jones', in that the fairies are there made to appear as devils to the nurse, who had accidentally used a certain ointment which she was not to place near her own eyes. Instead of being rewarded for her services she was only too glad to be deposited anyhow near her home. 'But,' as the story goes on to relate, 'very many years afterwards, being at a fair, she saw a man stealing something from a stall, and, with one corner of her eye, beheld her old master pushing the man's elbow. Unthinkingly she said, "How are you, master? how are the children?" He said, "How did you see me?" She answered, "With the corner of my left eye." From that moment she was blind of her left eye, and lived many years with only her right! Such is the end of this tale given by Mr. Sikes.
'But the fair family did not,' Mr. William Jones goes on to say, 'always give mortals the means of good living: sometimes they made no little fun of them. Once on a time the Drws y Coed man was going home from Beddgelert Fair, rather merry than sad, along the old road over the Gader, when he saw, on coming near
the top of the Gader, a fine, handsome house near the road, in which there was a rare merrymaking. He knew perfectly well that there was no such a building anywhere on his way, and it made him think that he had lost his way and gone astray; so he resolved to turn into the house to ask for lodgings, which were given him. At once, when he entered, he took it to be a nuptial feast (neithior) by reason of the jollity, the singing, and the dancing. The house was full of young men, young women, and children, all merry, and exerting themselves to the utmost. The company began to disappear one by one, and he asked if he might go to bed, whereupon he was led to a splendid chamber, where there was a bed of the softest down with snow-white clothes on it. He stripped at once, went into it, and slept quietly enough till the morning. The first thing to come to his mind when he lay half asleep, half awake, was the jollity of the night before, and the fact of his sleeping in a splendid chamber in the strange house. He opened his eyes to survey his bedroom, but it was too wide: he was sleeping on the bare swamp, with a clump of rushes as his pillow, and the blue sky as his coverlet.'
Mr. Jones mentions that, within his memory, there were still people in his neighbourhood who believed that the fairies stole unbaptized children and placed their own in their stead: he gives the following story about the farmer's wife of Dyffryn Mymbyr, near Capel Curig, and her infant:--
Yr oedd y wraig hon wedi rhoddi genedigaeth i blentyn iach a heinif yn nechreu y cynheuaf ryw haf blin a thymhestlog: ac o herwydd fod y tyddyn getyn o ffordd oddiwrth lan na chapel, a'r hin mor hynod o lawiog, esgeuluswyd bedyddio y plentyn yn yr amser arferol, sef cyn ei fod yn wyth niwrnod oed. Ryw diwrnod teg yn
nghanol y cynheuaf blin aeth y wraig allan i'r maes gyda'r rhelyw o'r teulu i geisio achub y cynheuaf, a gadawodd y baban yn cysgu yn ei gryd o dan ofal ei nain, yr hon oedd hen a methiantus, ac yn analluog i fyned lawer o gwmpas. Syrthiodd yr hen wreigan i gysgu, a thra yr oedd hi felly, daeth y Tylwyth i fewn, a chymerasant y baban o'r cryd, a dodasant un arall yn ei le. Yn mhen ennyd dechreuodd hwn erain a chwyno nes deffro y nain, ac aeth at y cryd, lle y gwelodd gleiriach hen eiddil crebachlyd yn ymstwyrian yn flin. 'O'r wchw!' ebai hi, 'y mae yr hen Dylwyth wedi bod yma;' ac yn ddioed chwythodd yn y corn i alw y fam, yr hon a daeth yno yn ddiatreg; a than glywodd y crio yn y cryd, rhedodd, ato, a chododd y bychan i fynu heb sylwi arno, a hi a'i cofleidiodd, a'i suodd ac a'i swcrodd at ei bronnau, ond nid oedd dim yn tycio, parhau i nadu yn ddidor yr oedd nes bron a hollti ei chalon; ac ni wyddai ba beth i wneud i'w ddistewi. O'r diwedd hi a edrychodd arno, a gwelodd nad oedd yn debyg i'w mhebyn hi, ac aeth yn loes i'w chalon: edrychodd arno drachefn, ond po fwyaf yr edrychai arno, hyllaf yn y byd oedd hi yn ei weled; anfonodd am ei gwr o'r cae, a gyrrodd ef i ymholi am wr cyfarwydd yn rhywle er mwyn cael ei gynghor; ac ar ol hir holi dywedod, rhywun wrtho fod person Trawsfynydd yn gyfarwydd, yn nghyfrinion yr ysprydion; ac efe a aeth ato, ac archodd hwnnw iddo gymeryd rhaw a'i gorchwddio a halen, a thori llun croes yn yr halen; yna ei chymeryd i'r ystafell lle yr oedd mab y Tylwyth, ac ar ol agor y ffenestr, ei rhoddi ar y tan hyd nes y llosgai yr halen; a hwy a wnaethant felly, a phan aeth yr halen yn eiriasboeth fe aeth yr erthyl croes ymaith yn anweledig iddynt hwy, ac ar drothwy y drws hwy a gawsant y baban arall yn iach a dianaf.
'This woman had given birth to a healthy and vigorous child at the beginning of the harvest, one wretched and
inclement summer. As the homestead was a considerable distance from church or chapel, and the weather so very rainy, it was neglected to baptize the child at the usual 1 time, that is to say, before it was eight days old. One fine day, in the middle of this wretched harvest, the mother went to the field with the rest of the family to try to save the harvest, and left her baby sleeping in its cradle in its grandmother's charge, who was so aged and decrepit as to. be unable to go much about. The old woman fell asleep, and, while she was in that state, the Tylwyth Teg came in and took away the baby, placing another in its stead. Very shortly the latter began to whine and groan, so that the grandmother awoke: she went to the cradle, where she saw a slender, wizened old man moving restlessly and peevishly about. "Alas! alas!" said she, "the old Tylwyth have been here"; and she at once blew in the horn to call the mother home, who came without delay. As she heard the crying in the cradle, she ran towards it, and lifted the little one without looking at him; she hugged him, put him to her breast, and sang lullaby to him, but nothing was of any avail, as he continued, without stopping, to scream enough to break her heart; and she knew not what to do to calm him. At last she looked at him: she saw that he was not like her dear little boy, and her heart was pierced with agony. She looked at him again, and the more she examined him the uglier he seemed to her. She sent for her husband home from the field, and told him to search for a skilled man somewhere or other; and, after a long search, he was told by somebody that the parson of Trawsfynydd was skilled in the secrets of the spirits;
so he went to him. The latter bade him take a shovel and cover it with salt, and make the figure of the cross in the salt; then to take it to the chamber where the fairy child was, and, after taking care to open the window, to place the shovel on the fire until the salt was burnt. This was done, and when the salt had got white hot, the peevish abortion went away, seen of no one, and they found the other baby whole and unscathed at the doorstep.' Fire was also made use of in Scotland in order to detect a changeling and force him to quit: see the British Association's Report, 1896, p. 650, where Mr. Gomme refers to Mr. Gregor's Folklore of the North-east of Scotland, pp. 8-9.
In answer to a question of mine with regard to gossamer, which is called in North Wales edafedd gwawn, 'gwawn yarn,' Mr. Jones told me in a letter, dated April, 1881, that it used to be called Rhaffau'r Tylwyth Teg, that is to say, the Ropes of the Fair Family, which were associated with the diminutive, mischievous, and wanton kind of fairies who dwelt in marshy and rushy places, or among the fern and the heather. It used to be said that, if a man should lie down and fall asleep in any such a spot, the fairies would come and bind him with their ropes so that he could not move, and that they would then cover him with a sheet made of their ropes, which would make him invisible. This was illustrated by him by the following tale he had heard from his mother:--
Clywais fy mam yn adrodd chwedl am jab y Ffridd, yr hwn wrth ddychwelyd adref o ffair Beddgelert yn rhywle oddeutu Pen Cae'r Gors a welodd beth afrifed o'r Tylwyth Bach yn neidio a phrancio ar bennau y grug. Efe a eisteddodd i lawr i edrych arnynt, a daeth hun drosto; ymollyngodd i lawr a chysgodd yn drwm. A phan oedd felly, ymosododd yr holl lu arno a rhwymasant ef mor dyn fel
na allasai symud; yna hwy a'i cuddasant ef a'r tudded gwawn fel na allai neb ei weled os digwyddai iddo lefain am help. Yr oedd ei deulu yn ei ddisgwyl adref yn gynnar y nos honno, ac wrth ei weled yn oedi yn hwyr, aethant yn anesmwyth am dano ac aethpwyd i'w gyfarfod, eithr ni welent ddim oddiwrtho, ac aed gan belled a'r pentref, lle eu hyspyswyd ei fod wedi myned tuag adref yn gynnar gyda gwr Hafod Ruffydd. Felly aed tua'r Hafod i edrych a oedd yno; ond dywedodd gwr yr Hafod eu bod wedi ymwahanu ar Bont Glan y Gors, pawb tua'i fan ei hun. Yna chwiliwyd yn fanwl bob ochr i'r fford oddiyno i'r Ffridd heb weled dim oddiwrtho. Buwyd yn chwilio yr holl ardal drwy y dydd drannoeth ond yn ofer. Fodd bynnag oddeutu yr un amser nos drannoeth daeth y Tylwyth ac a'i rhyddhasant, ac yn fuan efe a ddeffrôdd wedi cysgu o hono drwy y nos a'r dydd blaenorol. Ar ol iddo ddeffro ni wyddai amcan daear yn mha le yr oedd, a chrwydro y bu hyd ochrau y Gader a'r Gors Fawr hyd nes y canodd y ceiliog, pryd yr adnabu yn mha le yr oedd, sef o fewn llai na chwarter milltir i'w gartref.
'I have heard my mother relating a tale about the son of the farmer of the Ffridd, who, while on his way home from Beddgelert Fair, saw, somewhere near Pen Cae'r Gors, an endless number of the diminutive family leaping and capering on the heather tops. He sat him down to look at them, and sleep came over him; he let himself down on the ground, and slept heavily. When he was so, the whole host attacked him, and they bound him so tightly that he could not have stirred; then they covered him with the gossamer sheet, so that nobody could see him in case he called for help. His people expected him home early that evening, and, as they found him delaying till late, they got uneasy about him. They went to meet him, but no trace of him was seen,
and they went as far as the village, where they were informed that he had started home in good time with the farmer of Hafod Ruffydd. So they went to the Hafod to see if he was there; but the farmer told them that they had parted on Glan y Gors Bridge to go to their respective homes. A minute search was then made on both sides of the road from there to the Ffridd, but without finding any trace of him. They kept searching the whole neighbourhood during the whole of the next day, but in vain. However, about the same time the following night the Tylwyth came and liberated him, and he shortly woke up, after sleeping through the previous night and day. When he woke he had no idea where on earth he was; so he wandered about on the slopes of the Gader and near the Gors Fawr until the cock crew, when he found where he was, namely, less than a quarter of a mile from his home.'
The late Mr. Owen, of Cefn Meusydd, has already been alluded to. I have not been able to get at much of the folklore with which he was familiar, but, in reply to some questions of mine, Mr. Robert Isaac Jones of Tremadoc, his biographer, and the publisher of the Brython, so long as it existed, has kindly ransacked his memory. He writes to me in Welsh to the following effect:--
'I will tell you what I heard from Mr. Owen and my mother when I was a lad, about fifty-seven years ago. The former used to say that the people of Pennant in Eifionydd had a nickname, to wit, that of Belsiaid y Pennant, "the Bellisians of the Pennant"; that, when he was a boy, if anybody called out Belsiaid y Pennant at the Penmorfa Fair, every man jack of them would come out, and fighting always ensued. The antiquary used to explain it thus. Some two or three hundred years ago, Sir Robert of the Nant, one of Sir Richard Bulkeley's ancestors, had a son and heir who was extravagant
and wild. He married a gipsy, and they had children born to them; but, as the family regarded this marriage as a disgrace to their ancient stem, it is said that the father, the next time the vagabonds came round, gave a large sum of money to the father of the girl for taking her away with him. This having been done, the rumour was spread abroad that it was one of the fairies the youth had married, and that she had gone with him to catch a pony, when he threw the bridle at the beast to prevent it passing, and the iron of the bridle touched the wife; then that she at once disappeared, as the fairies always do so when touched with iron. However, the two children were put out to nurse, and the one of them, who was a girl, was brought up at Plas y Pennant, and her name was Pelisha 1; her descendants remain to this day in the Nant, and are called Bellis, who are believed there, to this day, to be derived from the Tylwyth Teg. Nothing offends them more than to be reminded of this.'
Mr. R. I. Jones goes on to relate another tale as follows:--
Dywedir fod lle a elwir yr Hafod Rugog mewn cwm anial yn y mynydd lle y byddai y Tylwyth Teg yn arferol a mynychu; ac y byddent yn trwblio'r hen wraig am fenthyg rhywbeth neu gilydd. Dywedodd hithau, 'Cewch os caniatewch ddau u beth cyntaf- i'r peth cyntaf y cyffyrddaf ag ef wrth y drws dorri, ar peth cyntaf y rhof fy llaw arno yn y ty estyn hanner llath.' Yr oedd carreg afael, fel ei gelwir, yn y mur wrth y drws ar ei fford,' ac yr oedd ganddi ddefnydd syrcyn gwlanen yn rhy fyr o hanner llath. Ond yn anffodus wrth ddod a'i chawellad mawn i'r ty bu agos iddi a syrthio: rhoes ei llaw ar ben ei chlun i ymarbed a thorodd honno, a chan faint y boen cyffyrddod yny ty a'i thrwyn yr hwn a estynnodd hanner llath.
'It is said that there was a place called Hafod Rugog in a wild hollow among the mountains, where the fair family were in the habit of resorting, and that they used to trouble the old woman of Hafod for the loan of one thing and another. So she said, one day, "You shall have the loan if you will grant me two first things--that the first thing I touch at the door break, and that the first thing I put my hand on in the house be lengthened half a yard." There was a grip stone (carreg afael), as it is called, in the wall near the door, which was in her way, and she had in the house a piece of flannel for a jerkin which was half a yard too short. But, unfortunately, as she came, with her kreel full of turf on her back, to the house, she nearly fell down: she put her hand, in order to save herself, to her knee-joint, which then broke; and, owing to the pain, when she had got into the house, she touched her nose with her hand, when her nose grew half a yard longer.'
Mr. Jones went on to notice how the old folks used to believe that the fairies were wont to appear in the marshes near Cwellyn Lake, not far from Rhyd-Ddu, to sing and dance, and that it was considered dangerous to approach them on those occasions lest one should be fascinated. As to the above-mentioned flannel and stone a folklorist asks me, why the old woman did not definitely mention them and say exactly what she wanted. The question is worth asking: I cannot answer it, but I mention it in the hope that somebody else will.
Early in the year 1899 1 I had a small group of stories communicated to me by the Rev. W. Evans Jones, rector of Dolbenmaen, who tells me that the neighbourhood
of the Garn abounds in fairy tales. The scene of one of these is located near the source of Afon fach Blaen y Cae, a tributary of the Dwyfach. 'There a shepherd while looking after his flock came across a ring of rushes which he accidentally kicked, as the little people were coming out to dance. They detained him, and he married one of their number. He was told that he would live happily with them as long as he would not touch any instrument of iron. For years nothing happened to mar the peace and happiness of the family. One day, however, he unknowingly touched iron, with the consequence that both the wife and the children disappeared.' This differs remarkably from stories such as have been already mentioned at pp. 32, 35; but until it is countenanced by stories from other sources, I can only treat it as a blurred version of a story of the more usual type, such as the next one which Mr. Evans Jones has sent me as follows:--
'A son of the farmer of Blaen Pennant married a fairy and they lived together happily for years, until one day he took a bridle to catch a horse, which proved to be rather an obstreperous animal, and in trying to prevent the horse passing, he threw the bridle at him, which, however, missed the animal and hit the wife so that the bit touched her, and she at once disappeared. The tradition goes, that their descendants are to this day living in the Pennant Valley; and if there is any unpleasantness between them and their neighbours they are taunted with being of the Tylwyth Teg family.' These are, I presume, the people nicknamed Belsiaid, to which reference has already been made.
The next story is about an old woman from Garn Dolbenmaen who was crossing y Graig Goch, 'the Red Rock,' 'when suddenly she came across a fairy sitting down with a very large number of gold coins by
her. The old woman ventured to remark how wealthy she was: the fairy replied, Wele dacw, "Lo there!" and immediately disappeared.' This looks as if it ought to be a part of a longer story which Mr. Evans Jones has not heard.
The last bit of folklore which he has communicated is equally short, but of a rarer description: 'A fairy was in the habit of attending a certain family in the Pennant Valley every evening to put the children to bed; and as the fairy was poorly clad, the mistress of the house gave her a gown, which was found in the morning torn into shreds.' The displeasure of the fairy at being offered the gown is paralleled by that of the fenodyree or the Manx brownie, described in chapter iv. As for the kind of service here ascribed to the Pennant fairy, I know nothing exactly parallel.
The next four stories are to be found in Cymru Fu at pp. 175-9, whence I have taken the liberty of translating them into English. They were contributed by Glasynys, whose name has already occurred so often in connexion with these Welsh legends, that the reader ought to know more about him; but I have been disappointed in my attempt to get a short account of his life to insert here. All I can say is, that I made his acquaintance in 1865 in Anglesey: at that time he had a curacy near Holyhead, and he was in the prime of life. He impressed me as an enthusiast for Welsh antiquities: he was born and bred, I believe, in the neighbourhood of Snowdon, and his death took place about ten years ago. It would be a convenience to the student of Welsh folklore to have a brief biography of Glasynys, but as yet nothing of the kind seems to have been written.
(1) 'When the people of the Gors Goch one evening had just gone to bed, they heard a great row and disturbance around the house. One could not comprehend at all what it was that made a noise at that time of night. Both the husband and the wife had waked up, quite unable to make out what it might be. The children also woke, but no one could utter a word: their tongues had all stuck to the roof of their mouths. The husband, however, at last managed to move, and to ask, "Who is there? What do you want?" Then he was answered from without by a small silvery voice, "It is room we want to dress our children." The door was opened: a dozen small beings came in, and began to search for an earthen pitcher with water; there they remained for some hours, washing and titivating themselves. As the day was breaking, they went away, leaving behind them a fine present for the kindness they had received. Often afterwards did the Gors Goch folks have the company of this family. But once there happened to be there a fine plump and pretty baby in his cradle. The fair family came, and, as the baby had not been baptized, they took the liberty of changing him for one of their own. They left behind in his stead an abominable creature that would do nothing but cry and scream every day of the week. The mother was nearly breaking her heart on account of the misfortune, and greatly afraid of telling anybody about it. But everybody got to see that there was something wrong at the Gors Goch, which was proved before long by the mother dying of longing for her child. The other children died broken-hearted after their mother, and the husband was left alone with the little elf without any one to comfort them. But shortly after, one began to resort again to the hearth of the Gors Goch to dress children, and the gift, which had formerly been silver money,
became henceforth pure gold. In the course of a few years the elf became the heir of a large farm in North Wales, and that is why the old people used to say, "Shoe the elf with gold and he will grow" (Fe ddaw gwiddon yn fawr ond ei bedoli ag aur). That is the legend of the Gors Goch.'
(2) 'Once when William Ellis, of the Gilwern, was fishing on the bank of Cwm Silin Lake on a dark misty day, he had seen no living Christian from the time when he left Nantlle. But as he was in a happy mood, throwing his line, he beheld over against him in a clump of rushes a large crowd of people, or things in the shape of people about a foot in stature: they were engaged in leaping and dancing. He looked on for hours, and he never heard, as he said, such music in his life before. But William went too near them, when they threw a kind of dust into his eyes, and, while he was wiping it away, the little family took the opportunity of betaking themselves somewhere out of his sight, so that he neither saw nor heard anything more of them.'
(3) 'There is a similar story respecting a place called Llyn y Ffynhonnau. There was no end of jollity there, of dancing, harping, and fiddling, with the servant man of Gelli Ffrydau and his two dogs in the midst of the crowd, leaping and capering as nimbly as anybody else. At it they were for three days and three nights, without stopping; and had it not been for a skilled man, who lived not far off, and came to know how things were going on, the poor fellow would, without doubt, have danced himself to death. But he was rescued that time!
(4) The fourth story is one, of which he says, that he heard it from his mother; but he has elaborated it in his usual fashion, and the proper names are undoubtedly his own:--'Once on a time, a shepherd boy had gone
up the mountain. That day, like many a day before and after, was exceedingly misty. Now, though he was well acquainted with the place, he lost his way, and walked backwards and forwards for many a long hour. At last he got into a low rushy spot, where he saw before him many circular rings. He at once recalled the place, and began to fear the worst. He had heard, many hundreds of times, of the bitter experiences, in those rings, of many a shepherd who had happened to chance on the dancing place or the circles of the fair family. He hastened away as fast as ever he could, lest he should be ruined like the rest; but, though he exerted himself to the point of perspiring and losing his breath, there he was, and there he continued to be, a long time. At last he was met by an old fat little man, with merry blue eyes, who asked him what he was doing. He answered that he was trying to find his way home. "Oh," said he, "come after me, and do not utter a word until I bid thee." This he did, following him on and on until they came to an oval stone; and the old fat little man lifted it, after tapping the middle of it three times with his walking-stick. There was there a narrow path with stairs visible here and there; and a sort of whitish light, inclining to grey and blue, was to be seen radiating from the stones. "Follow me fearlessly," said the fat man; "no harm will be done thee." So on the poor youth went, as reluctantly as a dog to be hanged. But presently a fine, wooded, fertile country spread itself out before them, with well arranged mansions dotting it all over, while every kind of apparent magnificence met the eye and seemed to smile in the landscape; the bright waters of the rivers meandered in twisted streams, and the hills were covered with the luxuriant verdure of their grassy growth, and the mountains with a glossy fleece of smooth pasture. By the time they had
reached the stout gentleman's mansion, the young man's senses had been bewildered by the sweet cadence of the music which the birds poured forth from the groves: then there was gold dazzling his eyes, and silver flashing on his sight. He saw there all kinds of musical instruments and all sorts of things for playing; but he could discern no inhabitant in the whole place; and, when he sat down to-eat, the dishes on the table came to their places of themselves, and disappeared when one had done with them. This puzzled him beyond measure; moreover, he heard people talking together around him, but for the life of him he could see no one but his old friend. At length the fat man said to him: "Thou canst now talk as much as it may please thee;" but, when he attempted to move his tongue, it would no more stir than if it had been a lump of ice, which greatly frightened him. At this point, a fine old lady, with health and benevolence beaming in her face, came to them and slightly smiled at the shepherd: the mother was followed by her three daughters, who were remarkably beautiful. They gazed with somewhat playful looks at him, and at length began to talk to him; but his tongue would not wag. Then one of the girls came to him, and, playing with his yellow and curly locks, gave him a smart kiss on his ruddy lips. This loosened the string that bound his tongue, and he began to talk freely and eloquently. There he was, under the charm of that kiss, in the bliss of happiness; and there he remained a year and a day without knowing that he had passed more than a day among them; for he had got into a country where there was no reckoning of time. But by-and-by he began to feel somewhat of a longing to visit his old home, and asked the stout man if he might go. "Stay a little yet," said he, "and thou shalt go for awhile." That passed: he stayed on, but Olwen,
for that was the name of the damsel that had kissed him, was very unwilling that he should depart. She looked sad every time he talked of going away; nor was he himself without feeling a sort of a cold thrill passing through him at the thought of leaving her. On condition, however, of returning, he obtained leave to go, provided with plenty of gold and silver, of trinkets and gems. When he reached home, nobody knew who he was: it had been the belief that he had been killed by another shepherd, who found it necessary to betake himself hastily far away to America, lest he should be hanged without delay. But here is Einion Las at home, and everybody wonders especially to see that the shepherd had got to look like a wealthy man: his manners, his dress, his language, and the treasure he had with him, all conspired to give him the air of a gentleman. He went back one Thursday night, the first of the moon of that month, as suddenly as he had left the first time, and nobody knew whither. There was great joy in the country below when Einion returned thither, and nobody was more rejoiced at it than Olwen his beloved. The two were right impatient to get married; but it was necessary to do that quietly, for the family below hated nothing more than fuss and noise; so, in a sort of a half-secret fashion, they were wedded. Einion was very desirous to go once more among his own people, accompanied, to be sure, by his wife. After he had been long entreating the old man for leave, they set out on two white ponies, that were, in fact, more like snow than anything else in point of colour. So he arrived with his consort in his old home, and it was the opinion of all that Einion's wife was the handsomest person they had anywhere seen. Whilst at home, a son was born to them, to whom they gave the name of Taliessin. Einion was now in the enjoyment of high
repute, and his wife received due respect. Their wealth was immense, and soon they acquired a large estate; but it was not long till people began to inquire after the pedigree of Einion's wife: the country was of opinion that it was not the right thing to be without a pedigree. Einion was questioned about it, but without giving any satisfactory answer, and one came to the conclusion that she was one of the fair family (Tylwyth Teg). "Certainly," replied Einion, "there can be no doubt that she comes from a very fair family; for she has two sisters who are as fair as she, and, if you saw them together, you would admit that name to be a most fitting one." This, then, is the reason why the remarkable family in the Land of Enchantment and Glamour (Hud a Lledrith) is called the fair family.'
The two next tales of Glasynys' appear in Cymru Fu, at pp. 478-9; the first of them is to be compared with one already related (pp. 99, 100), while the other is unlike anything that I can now recall:--
(5) 'Cwmllan was the principal resort of the fair family, and the shepherds of Hafod Llan used to see them daily in the ages of faith gone by. Once, on a misty afternoon, one of them had been searching for sheep towards Nant y Bettws. When he had crossed Bwlch Cwmllan, and was hastening laboriously down, he saw an endless number of little folks singing and dancing in a lively and light-footed fashion, while the handsomest girls he had ever seen anywhere were at it preparing a banquet. He went to them and had a share of their dainties, and it seemed to him that he had never in his life tasted anything approaching their dishes. When the twilight came, they spread their tents, and the man never before saw such beauty and ingenuity. They gave him a soft bed of yielding down, with sheets of the finest linen, and he went to rest as proud as if he had
been a prince. But, alas! next morning, after all the jollity and sham splendour, the poor man, when he opened his eyes, found that his bed was but a bush of bulrushes, and his pillow a clump of moss. Nevertheless, he found silver money in his shoes, and afterwards he continued for a long time to find, every week, a piece of coined money between two stones near the spot where he had slept. One day, however, he told a friend of his the secret respecting the money, and he never found any more.'
(6) 'Another of these shepherds was one day urging his dog at the sheep in Cwmllan, when he heard a kind of low noise in the cleft of a rock. He turned to look, when he found there some kind of a creature weeping plenteously. He approached, and drew out a wee lass; very shortly afterwards two middle-aged men came to him to thank him for his kindness, and, when about to part, one of them gave him a walking-stick, as a souvenir of his good deed. The year after this, every sheep in his possession had two ewe-lambs; and so his sheep continued to breed for some years. But he had stayed one evening in the village until it was rather late, and there hardly ever was a more tempestuous night than that: the wind howled, and the clouds shed their contents in sheets of rain, while the darkness was such that next to nothing could be seen. As he was crossing the river that comes down from Cwmllan, where its flood was sweeping all before it in a terrible current, he somehow let go the walking-stick from his hand; and when one went next morning up the Cwm, it was found that nearly all the sheep had been swept away by the flood, and that the farmer's wealth had gone almost as it came with the walking-stick.'
The shorter versions given by Glasynys are probably more nearly given as he heard them, than the longer
ones, which may be suspected of having been a good deal spun out by him; but there is probably very little in any of them of his own invention, though the question whence he got his materials in each instance may be difficult to answer. In one this is quite clear, though he does not state it, namely the story of the sojourn of Elfod the Shepherd in Fairyland, as given in Cymru Fu, p. 477: it is no other than a second or third-hand reproduction of that recorded by Giraldus concerning a certain Eliodorus, a twelfth-century cleric in the diocese of St. David's 1. But the longest tale published by Glasynys is the one about a mermaid: see Cymru Fu, pp. 434-44. Where he got this from I have not been able to find out, but it has probably been pieced together from various sources. I feel sure that some of the materials at least were Welsh, besides the characters known to Welsh mythology as Nefydd Naf Neifion, Gwyn ab Nudd, Gwydion ab Dôn, Dylan, and Ceridwen, who have been recklessly introduced into it. He locates it, apparently, somewhere on the coast of Carnarvonshire, the chief scene being called Ogof Deio or David's Cave, which so far as I know is not an actual name, but one suggested by 'David Jones' locker' as sailors' slang for the sea. In hopes that somebody will communicate to me any bits of this tale that happen to be still current on the Welsh coast, I give an abstract of it here:--
'Once upon a time, a poor fisherman made the acquaintance of a mermaid in a cave on the sea-coast; at first she screeched wildly, but, when she got a little calmer, she told him to go off out of the way of her brother, and to return betimes the day after. In getting away, he was tossed into the sea, and tossed out on the
land with a rope, which had got wound about his waist; and on pulling at this he got ashore a coffer full of treasure, which he spent the night in carrying home. He was somewhat late in revisiting the cave the next day, and saw no mermaid come there to meet him according to her promise. But the following night he was roused out of his sleep by a visit from her at his home, when she told him to come in time next day. On his way thither, he learnt from some fishermen that they had been labouring in vain during the night, as a great big mermaid had opened their nets in order to pick the best fish, while she let the rest escape. When he reached the cave he found the mermaid there combing her hair: she surprised him by telling him that she had come to live among the inhabitants of the land, though she was, according to her own account, a king's daughter. She was no longer stark naked, but dressed like a lady: in one hand she held a diadem of pure gold, and in the other a cap of wonderful workmanship, the former of which she placed on her head, while she handed the latter to Ifan Morgan, with the order that he should keep it. Then she related to him how she had noticed him when he was a ruddy boy, out fishing in his father's white boat, and heard him sing a song which made her love him, and how she had tried to repeat this song at her father's court, where everybody wanted to get it. Many a time, she said, she had been anxiously listening if she might hear it again, but all in vain. So she had obtained permission from her family to come with her treasures and see if he would not teach it her; but she soon saw that she would not succeed without appearing in the form in which she now was. After saying that her name was Nefyn, daughter of Nefydd Naf Neifion, and niece to Gwyn son of Nudd, and Gwydion son of Dôn, she calmed his feelings on
the subject of the humble cottage in which he lived. Presently he asked her to be his wife, and she consented on the condition that he should always keep the cap she had given him out of her sight and teach her the song. They were married and lived happily together, and had children born them five times, a son and a daughter each time; they frequently went to the cave, and no one knew what treasures they had there; but once on a time they went out in a boat pleasuring, as was their wont, with six or seven of the children accompanying them, and when they were far from the land a great storm arose; besides the usual accompaniments of a storm at sea, most unearthly screeches and noises were heard, which frightened the children and made their mother look uncomfortable; but presently she bent her head over the side of the boat, and whispered something they did not catch: to their surprise the sea was instantly calm. They got home comfortably, but the elder children were puzzled greatly by their mother's influence over the sea, and it was not long after this till they so teased some ill-natured old women, that the latter told them all about the uncanny origin of their mother. The eldest boy was vexed at this, and remembered how his mother had spoken to somebody near the boat at sea, and that he was never allowed to go with his parents to Ogof Deio. He recalled, also, his mother's account of the strange countries she had seen. Once there came also to Han Morgan's home, which was now a mansion, a visitor whom the children were not even allowed to see; and one night, when the young moon had sunk behind the western horizon, Han and his wife went quietly out of the house, telling a servant that they would not return for three weeks or a month: this was overheard by the eldest son. So he followed them very quietly until he saw them on the strand, where he
beheld his mother casting a sort of leather mantle round herself and his father, and both of them threw themselves into the hollow of a billow that came to fetch them. The son went home, broke his heart, and died in nine days at finding out that his mother was a mermaid; and, on seeing her brother dead, his twin sister went and threw herself into the sea; but, instead of being drowned, she was taken up on his steed by a fine looking knight, who then galloped away over the waves as if they had been dry and level land. The servants were in doubt what to do, now that Nefydd Morgan was dead and Eilonwy had thrown herself into the sea; but Tegid, the second son, who feared nothing, said that Nefydd's body should be taken to the strand, as somebody was likely to come to fetch it for burial among his mother's family. At midnight a knight arrived, who said the funeral was to be at three that morning, and told them that their brother would come back to them, as Gwydion ab Dôn was going to give him a heart that no weight could break, that Eilonwy was soon to be wedded to one of the finest and bravest of the knights of Gwerddonau Llion, and that their parents were with Gwyn ab Nudd in the Gwaelodion. The body was accordingly taken to the beach, and, as soon as the wave touched it, out of his coffin leaped Nefydd like a porpoise. He was seen then to walk away arm in arm with Gwydion ab Dôn to a ship that was in waiting, and most enchanting music was heard by those on shore; but soon the ship sailed away, hardly touching the tops of the billows. After a year and a day had elapsed Han Morgan, the father, came home, looking much better and more gentlemanly than he had ever done before; he had never spoken of Nefyn, his wife, until Tegid one day asked him what about his mother; she had gone, he said, in search of Eilonwy, who had run away from her husband in
[paragraph continues] Gwerddonau Llion, with Glanfryd ab Gloywfraint. She would be back soon, he thought, and describe to them all the wonders they had seen. Ifan Morgan went to bed that night, and was found dead in it in the morning; it was thought that his death had been caused by a Black Knight, who had been seen haunting the place at midnight for some time, and always disappearing, when pursued, into a well that bubbled forth in a dark recess near at hand. The day of Han Morgan's funeral, Nefyn, his wife, returned, and bewailed him with many tears; she was never more seen on the dry land. Tegid had now the charge of the family, and he conducted himself in all things as behoved a man and a gentleman of high principles and great generosity. He was very wealthy, but often grieved by the thought of his father's murder. One day, when he and two of his brothers were out in a boat fishing in the neighbouring bay, they were driven by the wind to the most wonderful spot they had ever seen. The sea there was as smooth as glass, and as bright as the clearest light, while beneath it, and not far from them, they saw a most splendid country with fertile fields and dales covered with pastures, with flowery hedges, groves clad in their green foliage, and forests gently waving their leafy luxuriance, with rivers lazily contemplating their own tortuous courses, and with mansions here and there of the most beautiful and ingenious description; and presently they saw that the inhabitants amused themselves with all kinds of merriment and frolicking, and that here and there they had music and engaged themselves in the most energetic dancing; in fact, the rippling waves seemed to have absorbed their fill of the music, so that the faint echo of it, as gently given forth by the waves, never ceased to charm their ears until they reached the shore. That night the three brothers
had the same dream, namely that the Black Knight who had throttled their father was in hiding in a cave on the coast: so they made for the cave in the morning, but the Black Knight fled from them and galloped off on the waves as if he had been riding for amusement over a meadow. That day their sisters, on returning home from school, had to cross a piece of sea, when a tempest arose and sunk the vessel, drowning all on board, and the brothers ascribed this to the Black Knight. About this time there was great consternation among the fishermen on account of a sea-serpent that twined itself about the rocks near the caves, and nothing would do but that Tegid and his brothers should go forth to kill it; but when one day they came near the spot frequented by it, they heard a deep voice saying to them, "Do not kill your sister," so they wondered greatly and suddenly went home. But that night Tegid returned there alone, and called his sister by her name, and after waiting a long while she crept towards him in the shape of a sea-serpent, and said that she must remain some time in that form on account of her having run away with one who was not her husband; she went on to say that she had seen their sisters walking with their mother, and their father would soon be in the cave. But all of a sudden there came the Black Knight, who unsheathed a sword that looked like a flame of fire, and began to cut the sea-serpent into a thousand bits, which united, however, as fast as he cut it, and became as whole as before. The end was that the monster twisted itself in a coil round his throat and bit him terribly in his breast. At this point a White Knight comes and runs him through with his spear, so that he fell instantly, while the White Knight went off hurriedly with the sea-serpent in a coil round his neck. Tegid ran away for his life, but not before a monster more terrible than
anything he had ever seen had begun to attack him. It haunted him in all kinds of ways: sometimes it would be like a sea, but Tegid was able to swim: sometimes it would be a mountain of ice, but Tegid was able to climb it: and sometimes it was like a furnace of intense fire, but the heat had no effect on him. But it appeared mostly as a combination of the beast of prey and the venomous reptile. Suddenly, however, a young man appeared, taking hold of Tegid's arm and encouraging him, when the monster fled away screeching, and a host of knights in splendid array and on proudly prancing horses came to him: among them he found his brothers, and he went with them to his mother's country. He was especially welcome there, and he found all happy and present save his father only, whom he thought of fetching from the world above, having in fact got leave to do so from his grandfather. His mother and his brothers went with him to search for his father's body, and with him came Gwydion ab Dôn and Gwyn ab Nudd, but he would not be wakened. So Tegid, who loved his father greatly, asked leave to remain on his father's grave, where he remains to this day. His mother is wont to come there to soothe him, and his brothers send him gifts, while he sends his gifts to Nefyd Naf Neifion, his grandfather; it is also said that his twin-sister, Ceridwen, has long since come to live near him, to make the glad gladder and the pretty prettier, and to maintain her dignity and honour in peace and tranquillity.'
The latter part of this tale, the mention of Ceridwen, invoked by the bards as the genius presiding over their profession, and of Tegid remaining on his father's grave, is evidently a reference to Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake, and to the legend of Taliessin in the so-called Hanes or history of Taliessin, published at the end of the third volume of Lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogion. So the
story has undoubtedly been pieced together, but not all invented, as is proved by the reference to the curious cap which the husband was to keep out of the sight of his mermaid wife. In Irish legends this cap has particular importance attached to it, of which Glasynys cannot have been aware, for he knew of no use to make of it. The teaching of the song to the wife is not mentioned after the marriage; and the introduction of it at all is remarkable: at any rate I have never noticed anything parallel to it in other tales. The incident of the tempest, when the mermaid spoke to somebody by the side of the boat, reminds one of Undine during the trip on the Danube. It is, perhaps, useless to go into details till one has ascertained how much of the story has been based on genuine Welsh folklore. But, while I am on this point, I venture to append here an Irish tale, which will serve to explain the meaning of the mermaid's cap, as necessary to her comfort in the water world. I am indebted for it to the kindness of Dr. Norman Moore, of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, who tells me, in a letter dated March 7, 1882, that he and the Miss Raynells of Killynon heard it from an old woman named Mrs. Dolan, who lived on the property of the late Mr. Cooke of Cookesborough, in Westmeath. The following was her tale:--'There was a man named Mahon had a farm on the edge of Loch Owel. He noticed that his corn was trampled, and he sat up all night to watch it. He saw horses, colts and fillies rather, come up out of the lake and trample it. He chased them, and they fled into the lake. The next night he saw them again, and among them a beautiful girl with a cap of salmon skin on her head, and it shone in the moonlight; and he caught her and embraced her, and carried her off to his house and married her, and she was a very good housewife, as all those lake people are, and kept his house
beautifully; and one day in the harvest, when the men were in the fields, she went into the house, and there she looked on the hurdle for some lard to make colcannon 1 for the men, and she saw her old cap of fish skin, and she put it on her head and ran straight down into the lake and was never seen any more, and Mahon he was terribly grieved, and he died soon after of a decline. She had had three children, and I often saw them in the Mullingar market. They were farmers, too, on Loch Owel.'
Let me now return to the fresh-water fairies of Snowdon and give a reference to Pennant's Tours in Wales: in the edition published at Carnarvon in 1883 we are told, ii. 326, how Mr. Pennant learned 'that, in fairy days, those diminutive gentry kept their revels' on the margins of the Snowdon lake, called Llyn Coch. There is no legend now extant, so far as I can ascertain, about the Llyn Coch fairies. So I proceed to append a legend differing considerably from all the foregoing: I owe it to the kindness of my friend Mr. Howell Thomas, of the Local Government Board. It was written out by Mr. G. B. Gattie ' and I take the liberty of prefixing to it his letter to Mr. Thomas, dated Walham Grove, London, S.W., April 27, T1882. The letter runs as follows:--
'I had quite forgotten the enclosed, which I had jotted down during my recent illness, and ought to have sent you long ago. Of course, the wording is very rough, as no care has been taken on that point. It is interesting, as being another version of a very pretty old legend which my mother used to repeat. She was descended from a very old north Welsh family; indeed,
[paragraph continues] I believe my esteemed grandfather went so far as to trace his descent from the great patriot, Owen Glendower himself! My mother delighted not only in the ancient folklore legends and fairy tales of the Principality, with which she was perfectly familiar, but especially in the lovely national melodies, all of which she knew by heart; and, being highly accomplished, would never tire of playing or singing them. You will see the legend is, in the main, much as related by Professor Rhys, though differing somewhat in the singular terms of the marriage contract. The scene of the legend, as related by my late mother, was, of course, a lake, the Welsh name of which I have, unfortunately, forgotten, but it was somewhere, I think, near Llanberis, and the hero a stalwart young farmer.'
The legend itself reads as follows:--
'One hot day, the farmer, riding by the lake, took his horse into the water to drink, and, whilst looking straight down over his horse's ears into the smooth surface, he became aware of a most lovely face, just beneath the tide, looking up archly at him. Quite bewildered, he earnestly beckoned, and by degrees the head and shoulders which belonged to the face emerged from the water. Overcome with emotion, and nearly maddened by the blaze of beauty so suddenly put before him, he leaped from his horse and rushed wildly into the lake to try to clasp the lovely vision to his heart. As this was a clear case of "love at first sight," the poor young man was not, of course, answerable for his actions. But the vision had vanished beneath the waves, to instantly reappear, however, a yard or two off, with the most provoking of smiles, and holding out her beautiful white hands towards her admirer, but slipping off into deep water the moment he approached.
'For many days the young farmer frequented the
lake, but without again seeing the beautiful Naiad, until one day he sat down by the margin hoping that she would appear, and yet dreading her appearance, for this latter to him simply meant loss of all peace. Yet he rushed on his fate, like the love-sick shepherd in the old Italian romance, who watched the sleeping beauty, yet dreaded her awakening:--Io perderò la pace, quando si sveglierà!
'The young man had brought the remains of his frugal dinner with him, and was quietly munching, by way of dessert, an apple of rare and delicious quality, from a tree which grew upon a neighbouring estate. Suddenly the lady appeared in all her rare beauty almost close to him, and begged him to "throw" her one of his apples. This was altogether too much, and he replied by holding out the tempting morsel, exhibiting its beautiful red and green sides, saying that, if she really wanted it, she must fetch it herself. Upon this she came up quite close, and, as she took the apple from his left hand, he dexterously seized tight hold of her with his right, and held her fast. She, however, nothing daunted, bawled lustily, at the top of her voice, for help, and made such an outrageous noise, that at length a most respectable looking old gentleman appeared suddenly out of the midst of the lake. He had a superb white beard, and was simply and classically attired merely in a single wreath of beautiful water-lilies wound round his loins, which was possibly his summer costume, the weather being hot. He politely requested to know what was the matter, and what the young farmer wanted with his daughter. The case was thereupon explained, but not without the usual amount of nervous trepidation which usually happens to love-sick swains when called into the awful presence of "Papa" to "explain their intentions!"
'After a long parley the lady, at length, agreed to
become the young man's wife on two conditions, which he was to solemnly promise to keep. These conditions were that he was never to strike her with steel or clay (earth), conditions to which the young man very readily assented. As these were primitive days, when people were happy and honest, there were no lawyers to encumber the Holy Estate with lengthy settlements, and to fill their own pockets with heavy fees; matters were therefore soon settled, and the lady married to the young farmer on the spot by the very respectable old lake deity, her papa.
'The story goes on to say that the union was followed by two sons and two daughters. The eldest son became a great physician, and all his descendants after him were celebrated for their great proficiency in the noble healing art. The second son was a mighty craftsman in all works appertaining to the manufacture and use of iron and metals. Indeed it has been hinted that, his little corracle of bull's hide having become old and unsafe, he conceived the brilliant idea of making one of thin iron. This he actually accomplished, and, to the intense amazement of the wondering populace, he constantly used it for fishing, or other purposes, on the lake, where he paddled about in perfect security. This important fact ought to be more generally known, as it gives him a fair claim to the introduction of iron ship-building, pace the shades of Beaufort and Brunel.
'Of the two daughters, one is said to have invented the small ten-stringed harp, and the other the spinning-wheel. Thus were introduced the arts of medicine, manufactures, music, and woollen work.
'As the old ballad says, applying the quotation to the father and mother:--
They lived for more than forty year
Right long and happillie!
'One day it happened that the wife expressed a great wish for some of those same delicious apples of which she was so fond, and of which their neighbour often sent them a supply. Off went the farmer, like a good husband that he was, and brought back, not only some apples, but a beautiful young sapling, seven or eight feet high, bearing the same apple, as a present from their friend. This they at once proceeded to set, he digging and she holding; but the hole not being quite deep enough, he again set to work, with increased energy, with his spade, and stooping very low threw out the last shovelful over his shoulder--alas! without looking--full into the breast of his wife. She dropped the sapling and solemnly warned him that one of the two conditions of their marriage contract had been broken. Accident was pleaded, but in vain; there was the unfortunate fact--he had struck her with clay! Looking upon the sapling as the cause of this great trouble he determined to return it forthwith to his kind neighbour. Taking a bridle in his hand he proceeded to the field to catch his horse, his wife kindly helping him. They both ran up, one on each side, and, as the unruly steed showed no signs of stopping, the husband attempted to throw the bridle over his head. Not having visited Mexico in his travels, and thereby learned the use of the lasso, he missed his horse's head and--misfortune of misfortunes--struck his wife in the face with the iron bit, thus breaking the second condition. He had struck her with steel. She no sooner received the blow than--like Esau--she "cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry," and bidding her husband a last farewell, fled down the hill with lightning speed, dashed into the lake, and disappeared beneath the smooth and glassy waters! Thus, it may be said that, if an apple--indirectly--occasioned the beginning
of her married life, so an apple brought about its sad termination.'
Such is Mr. Gattie's tale, and to him probably is to be traced its literary trimming; but even when it is stripped of that accessory, it leaves us with difficulties of somewhat the same order as those attaching to some of the stories which have passed through the hands of Glasynys. However, the substance of it seems to be genuine, and to prove that there has been a Northwalian tradition which traced the medical art to a lake lady like the Egeria of the Physicians of Myddfai.
Allusion has already been made to the afanc story, and it is convenient to give it before proceeding any further. The Cambrian Journal for 1859, pp. 142-6, gives it in a letter of Edward Llwyd's dated 1693, and contributed to that periodical by the late Canon Robert Williams, of Rhyd y Croesau, who copied it from the original letter in his possession 1, and here follows a translation into English of the part of it which concerns Llyn yr Afanc 2, a pool on the river Conwy, above Bettws y Coed and opposite Capel Garmon:--
'I suppose it very probable that you have heard speak of Llyn yr Afanc, "the Afanc's Pool," and that I therefore need not trouble to inform you where it stands. I think, also, that you know, if one may trust what the country people say, that it was a girl that enticed the afanc to come out of his abode, namely the pool, so as to be bound with iron chains, whilst he
slumbered with his head on her knees, and with the grip of one hand on her breast. When he woke from his nap and perceived what had been done to him, he got up suddenly and hurried to his old refuge, taking with him in his claw the breast of his sweetheart. It was then seen that it was well the chain was long enough to be fastened to oxen that pulled him out of the pool. Thereupon a considerable dispute arose among some of the people, each asserting that he had taken a great weight on himself and pulled far harder than anybody else. "No," said another, "it was I," &c. And whilst they were wrangling in this way, the report goes that the afanc answered them, and silenced their discontent by saying--
Oni bae y dai ag a dyn
Ni ddaetha'r afanc byth o'r llyn.
Had it not been for the oxen pulling,
The afanc had never left the pool.
'You must understand that some take the afanc to be a corporeal demon; but I am sufficiently satisfied that there is an animal of the same name, which is called in English a bever, seeing that the term ceillie'r afanc signifies bever stones. I know not what kind of oxen those in question were, but it is related that they were twins; nor do I know why they were called Ychain Mannog or Ychain Bannog. But peradventure they were called Ychain Bannog in reference to their having had many a fattening, or fattening on fattening (having been for many a year fattened). Yet the word bannog is not a good, suitable word to signify fattened, as bannog is nought else than what has been made exceeding thick by beating [or fulling], as one says of a thick blanket made of coarse yarn (y gwrthban tew-bannog), the thick bannog 1 blanket. Whilst I was dawdling
behind talking about this, the oxen had proceeded very far, and I did not find their footmarks as they came through portions of the parish of Dolydd-Elan (Lueddog) until I reached a pass called ever since Bwlch Rhiw'r Ychen, "the Pass of the Slope of the Oxen," between the upper parts of Dolyddelan and the upper part of Nanhwynen. In coming over this pass one of the oxen dropped one of its eyes on an open spot, which for that reason is called Gwaun Lygad Ych, "the Moor of the Ox's Eye." The place where the eye fell has become a pool, which is by this time known as Pwll Llygad Ych, "the Pool of the Ox's Eye," which is at no time dry, though no water rises in it or flows into it except when rain falls; nor is there any flowing out of it during dry weather. It is always of the same depth; that is, it reaches about one's knee-joint, according to those who have paid attention to that for a considerable number of years. There is a harp melody, which not all musicians know: it is known as the Ychain Mannog air, and it has a piteous effect on the ear, being as plaintive as were the groanings of these Ychain under the weight of the afanc, especially when one of the pair lost an eye. They pulled him up to Llyn Cwm Ffynnon Las, "the Lake of the Dingle of the Green Well," to which he was consigned, for the reason, peradventure, that some believed that there were in that lake uncanny things already in store. In fact, it was but fitting that he should be permitted to go to his kind. But whether there were uncanny things in it before or not, many think that there is nothing good in it now, as you will understand from what follows. There is much talk of Llyn Cwm Ffynnon Las besides the fact that it is always free from ice, except in one corner where the peat water of clear pools comes into it, and that it has also a variety of dismal hues. The cause of this is, as I suppose, to be
sought in the various hues of the rocks surrounding it; and the fact that a whirlwind makes its water mixed, which is enough to give any lake a disagreeable colour. Nothing swims on it without danger, and I am not sure that it would be very safe for a bird to fly across it or not. Throw a rag into its water and it will go to the bottom, and I have with my own ears heard a man saying that he saw a goat taking to this lake in order to avoid being caught, and that as soon as the animal went into the water, it turned round and round, as if it had been a top, until it was drowned. . . . Some mention that, as some great man was hunting in the Snowdon district (Eryri), a stag, to avoid the hounds when they were pressing on him, and as is the habit of stags to defend themselves, made his escape into this lake: the hunters had hardly time to turn round before they saw the stag's antlers (mwnglws) coming to the surface, but nothing more have they ever seen. . . . A young woman has been seen to come out of this lake to wash clothes, and when she had done she folded the clothes, and taking them under her arm went back into the lake. One man, whose brother is still alive and well, beheld in a canoe, on this same lake still, an angler with a red cap on his head; but the man died within a few days, having not been in his right mind during that time. Most people regard this as the real truth, and, as for myself, I cannot refuse to believe that such a vision might not cause a man to become so bewildered as to force on a disease ending with his death. . . .'
The name Llyn Cwm Ffynnon Las would have led one to suppose that the pool meant is the one given in the ordnance maps as Llyn y Cwm Ffynnon, which I presume to be gibberish for Llyn Cwm y Ffynnon, and situated in the mountains between Pen y Gwryd and the upper valley of Llanberis; but from the writer on the parish of
[paragraph continues] Beddgelert in the Brython for 1861, pp. 371-2, it appears that this is not so, and that the tarn meant was in the upper reach of Cwm Dyli, and was known as Llyn y Ffynnon Las, 'Lake of the Green Well,' about which he has a good deal to say in the same strain as that of Llwyd in the letter already cited. Among other things he remarks that it is a very deep tam, and that its bottom has been ascertained to be lower than the surface of Llyn Llydaw, which lies 300 feet lower. And as to the afanc, he remarks that the inhabitants of Nant Conwy and the lower portions of the parish of Dolwyddelan, having frequent troubles and losses inflicted on them by a huge monster in the river Conwy, near Bettws y Coed, tried to kill it but in vain, as no harpoon, no arrow or spear made any impression whatsoever on the brute's hide; so it was resolved to drag it away as in the Llwyd story. I learn from Mr. Pierce (Elis o'r Nant), of Dolwyddelan, that the lake is variously known as Llyn (Cwm) Ffynnon Las, and Llyn Glas or Glaslyn: this last is the form which I find in the maps. It is to be noticed that the Nant Conwy people, by dragging the afanc there, got him beyond their own watershed, so that he could no more cause floods in the Conwy.
Here, as promised at p. 74, I append Lewis Glyn Cothi's words as to the afanc in Llyn Syfaddon. The bard is dilating in the poem, where they occur, on his affection for his friend Llywelyn ab Gwilym ab Thomas Vaughan, of Bryn. Hafod in the Vale of Towy, and averring that it would be as hard to induce him to quit his friend's hospitable home, as it was to get the afanc away from the Lake of Syfaddon, as follows:--
Yr avanc er ei ovyn
Wyv yn llech ar vin y llyn;
O dòn Llyn Syfaddon vo p. 135
Ni thynwyd ban aeth yno:
Ni'm ty`n mèn nag ychain gwaith,
Oddiyma heddyw ymaith 1.
The afanc am I, who, sought for, bides
In hiding on the edge of the lake;
Out of the waters of Syfaddon Mere
Was be not drawn, once he got there.
So with me: nor wain nor oxen wont to toil
Me to-day will draw from here forth.
From this passage it would seem that the Syfaddon story contemplated the afanc being taken away from the lake in a cart or waggon drawn by oxen; but whether driven by Hu, or by whom, one is not told. However, the story must have represented the undertaking as a failure, and the afanc as remaining in his lake: had it been otherwise it would be hard to see the point of the comparison.
The parish of Llanfachreth and its traditions have been the subject of some contributions to the first volume of the Taliesin published at Ruthin in 1859-60, pp. 132-7, by a writer who calls himself Cofiadur. It was Glasynys, I believe, for the style seems to be his: he pretends to copy from an old manuscript of Hugh Bifan's--both the manuscript and its owner were fictions of Glasynys' as I am told. These jottings contain two or three items about the fairies which seem to be genuine:--
'The bottom of Llyn Cynnwch, on the Nannau estate, is level with the hearth-stone of the house of Dôl y Clochydd. Its depth was found out owing to the sweetheart of one of Siwsi's girls having lost his way to her from Nannau, where he was a servant. The
poor man had fallen into the lake, and gone down and down, when he found it becoming clearer the lower he got, until at last he alighted on a level spot where everybody and everything looked much as he had observed on the dry land. When he had reached the bottom of the lake, a short fat old gentleman came to him and asked his business, when he told him how it happened that he had come. He met with great welcome, and he stayed there a month without knowing that he had been there three days, and when he was going to leave, he was led out to his beloved by the inhabitants of the lake bottom. He asserted that the whole way was level except in one place, where they descended about a fathom into the ground; but, he added, it was necessary to ascend about as much to reach the hearth-stone of Dôl y Clochydd. The most wonderful thing, however, was that the stone lifted itself as he came up from the subterranean road towards it. It was thus the sweetheart arrived there one evening, when the girl was by the fire weeping for him. Siwsi had been out some days before, and she knew all about it though she said nothing to anybody. This, then, was the way in which the depth of Llyn Cynnwch came to be known!
Then he has a few sentences about an old house called Ceimarch:--'Ceimarch was an old mansion of considerable repute, and in old times it was considered next to Nannau in point of importance in the whole district. There was a deep ditch round it, which was always kept full of water, with the view of keeping off vagabonds and thieves, as well as other lawless folks, that they might not take the inmates by surprise. But, in distant ages, this place was very noted for the frequent visits paid it by the fair family. They used to come to the ditch to wash themselves, and to cross the water
in boats made of the bark of the rowan-tree 1, or else birch, and they came into the house to pay their rent for trampling the ground around the place. They always placed a piece of money under a pitcher, and the result was that the family living there became remarkably rich. But somehow, after the lapse of many years, the owner of the place offended them, by showing disrespect for their diminutive family: soon the world began to go against him, and it was not long before he got low in life. Everything turned against him, and in times past everybody believed that he incurred all this because he had earned the displeasure of the fair family!
In the Brython for the year 1862, p. 456, in the course of an essay on the history of the Lordship of Mawddwy in Merioneth, considered the best in a competition at an Eisteddfod held at Dinas Mawddwy, August 2, 1855, Glasynys gives the following bit about the fairies of that neighbourhood:--'The side of Aran Fawddwy is a great place for the fair family: they are ever at it playing their games on the hillsides about this spot. It is said that they are numberless likewise about Bwlch y Groes. Once a boy crossed over near the approach of night, one summer eve, from the Gadfa to Mawddwy, and on his return he saw near Aber Rhiwlech a swarm of the little family dancing away full pelt. The boy began to run, with two of the maidens in pursuit of him, entreating him to stay; but Robin, for that was his name, kept running, and the two elves failed altogether to catch him, otherwise he would have been taken a prisoner of love. There are plenty of their dancing-rings to be seen on the hillsides between Aber Rhiwlech and Bwlch y Groes.'
Here I would introduce two other Merionethshire tales, which I have received from Mr. E. S. Roberts, master of the Llandysilio School, near Llangollen. He has learnt them from one Abel Evans, who lives at present in the parish of Llandysilio: he is a native of the parish of Llandrillo on the slopes of the Berwyn, and of a glen in the same, known as Cwm Pennant, so called from its being drained by the Pennant on its way to join the Dee. Now Cwm Pennant was the resort of fairies, or of a certain family of them, and the occurrence, related in the following tale, must have taken place no less than seventy years ago: it was well known to the late Mrs. Ellen Edwards of Llandrillo:--
Ryw diwrnod aeth dau gyfaill i hela dwfrgwn ar hyd lannau afon Pennant, a thra yn cyfeirio eu camrau tuagat yr afon gwelsant ryw greadur bychan lliwgoch yn rhedeg yn gyflym iawn ar draws un o'r dolydd yn nghyfeiriad yr afon. Ymaeth a nhw ar ei ol. Gwelsant ei fod wedi myned odditan wraidd coeden yn ochr yr afon i ymguddio. Yr oedd y ddau ddyn yn meddwl mae dwfrgi ydoedd, ond ar yr un pryd yn methu a deall paham yr ymddangkosai i'w llygaid yn lliwgoch. Yr oeddynt yn dymuno ei ddal yn fyw, ac ymaith yr aeth un o honynt i ffarmdy gerllaw i ofyn am sach, yr hon a gafwyd, er mwyn rhoi y creadur ynddi. Yr oedd yno ddau dwll o tan wraidd y pren, a thra daliai un y sach yn agored ar un twll yr oedd y llall yn hwthio ffon i'r twll arall, ac yn y man aeth y creadur i'r sach. Yr oedd y ddau ddyn yn meddwl eu bod wedi dal dwfrgi, yr hyn a ystyrient yn orchest nid bychan. Cychwynasant gartref yn llawen ond cyn eu myned hyd lled cae, llefarodd lletywr y sach mewn ton drist gan ddywedyd--'Y mae fy mam yn galw am danaf, O, mae fy mam yn galw am danaf,' yr hyn a roddodd fraw mawr i'r dau heliwr, ac yn y man taflasant
y sach i lawr, a mawr oedd eu rhyfeddod a'u dychryn pan welsant ddyn bach mewn gwisg goch yn rhedeg o'r sach tuagat yr afon. Fe a ddiflannodd o'i golwg yn mysg y drysni ar fin yr afon. Yr oedd y ddau wedi eu brawychu yn ddirfawr ac yn teimlo mae doethach oedd myned gartref yn hytrach nag ymyrraeth yn mhellach a'r Tylwyth Teg.
'One day, two friends went to hunt otters on the banks of the Pennant, and when they were directing their steps towards the river, they beheld some small creature of a red colour running fast across the meadows in the direction of the river. Off they ran after it, and saw that it went beneath the roots of a tree on the brink of the river to hide itself. The two men thought it was an otter, but, at the same time, they could not understand why it seemed to them to be of a red colour. They wished to take it alive, and off one of them went to a farm house that was not far away to ask for a sack, which he got, to put the creature into it. Now there were two holes under the roots of the tree, and while one held the sack with its mouth open over one of them, the other pushed his stick into the other hole, and presently the creature went into the sack. The two men thought they had caught an otter, which they looked upon as no small feat. They set out for home, but before they had proceeded the width of one field, the inmate of the sack spoke to them in a sad voice, and said, "My mother is calling for me; oh, my mother is calling for me!" This gave the two hunters a great fright, so that they at once threw down the sack; and great was their surprise to see a little man in a red dress running out of the sack towards the river. He disappeared from their sight in the bushes by the river. The two men were greatly terrified, and felt that it was more prudent to go home than meddle any further with the fair family.' So far as I know,
this story stands alone in Welsh folklore; but it has an exact parallel in Lancashire 1.
The other story, which I now reproduce, was obtained by Mr. Roberts from the same Abel Evans. He learnt it from Mrs. Ellen Edwards, and it refers to a point in her lifetime, which Abel Evans fixes at ninety years ago. Mr. Roberts has not succeeded in recovering the name of the cottager of whom it speaks; but he lived on the side of the Berwyn, above Cwm Pennant, where till lately a cottage used to stand, near which the fairies had one of their resorts:--
Yr oed' perchen y bwthyn wedi amaethu rhyw ran fychan o'r mynydd ger llaw y ty er mwyn plannu pytafws ynddo. Felly y gwnaeth. Mewn coeden yn agos i'r fan canfyddodd nyth bran. Fe feddyliodd mae doeth fuasai iddo dryllio y nyth cyn amlhau o'r brain. Fe a esgynnodd y goeden ac a ddrylliodd y nyth, ac wedi disgyn i lawr canfyddodd gylch glas (fairy ring) oddiamgylch y pren, ac ar y cylch fe welodd hanner coron er ei fawr lawenydd. Wrth fyned heibio yr un fan y boreu canlynol fe gafodd hanner coron yn yr un man ag y cafodd y dydd o'r blaen. Hynna fu am amryw ddydiau. Un diwrnod dywedodd wrth gyfaill am ei hap dda a ddangosodd y fan a'r lle y cawsai yr hanner coron bob boreu. Wel y boreu canlynol nid oedd yno na hanner coron na dim arall iddo, oherwydd yr oedd wedi torri rheolau y Tylwythion trwy wneud eu haelioni yn hysbys. Y mae y Tylwythion o'r farn na ddylai y llaw aswy wybod yr hyn a wna Y llaw ddehau.
'The occupier of the cottage had tilled a small portion of the mountain side near his home in order to plant potatoes, which he did. He observed that there was a rook's nest on a tree which was not far from this spot, and it struck him that it would be prudent to break
the nest before the rooks multiplied. So he climbed the tree and broke the nest, and, after coming down, he noticed a green circle (a fairy ring) round the tree, and on this circle he espied, to his great joy, half a crown. As he went by the same spot the following morning, he found another half a crown in the same place as before. So it happened for several days; but one day he told a friend of his good luck, and showed him the spot where he found half a crown every morning. Now the next morning there was for him neither half a crown nor anything else, because he had broken the rule of the fair folks by making their liberality known, they being of opinion that the left hand should not know what the right hand does.'
So runs this short tale, which the old lady, Mrs. Edwards, and the people of the neighbourhood explained as an instance of the gratitude of the fairies to a man who had rendered them a service, which in this case was supposed to have consisted in ridding them of the rooks, that disturbed their merry-makings in the green ring beneath the branches of the tree.
It would be unpardonable to pass away from Merioneth without alluding to the stray cow of Llyn Barfog. The story appears in Welsh in the Brython for 1860, pp. 1834, but the contributor, who closely imitates Glasynys' style, says that he got his materials from a paper by the late Mr. Pughe of Aberdovey, by which he seems to have meant an article contributed by the latter to the Archæologia Cambrensis, and published in the volume for 1853, pp. 201-5. Mr. Pughe dwells in that article a good deal on the scenery of the corner of Merioneth in the rear of Aberdovey; but the chief thing in his
paper is the legend connected with Llyn Barfog, which he renders into English as the Bearded Lake 1. It is described as a mountain lake in a secluded spot in the upland country behind Aberdovey; but I shall let Mr. Pughe speak for himself:--
'The lovers of Cambrian lore are aware that the Triads in their record of the deluge affirm that it was occasioned by a mystic Afanc y Llyn, crocodile 2 of the lake, breaking the banks of Llyn Llion, the lake of waters; and the recurrence of that catastrophe was prevented only by Hu Gadarn, the bold man of power, dragging away the afanc by aid of his Ychain Banawg, or large horned oxen. Many a lakelet in our land has put forward its claim to the location of Llyn Llion; amongst the rest, this lake. Be that as it may, King Arthur and his war-horse have the credit amongst the mountaineers here of ridding them of the monster, in place of Hu the Mighty, in proof of which is shown an impression on a neighbouring rock bearing a resemblance to those made by the shoe or hoof of a horse, as having been left there by his charger when our British Hercules was engaged in this redoubtable act of prowess, and this impression has been given the name of Cam March Arthur, the hoof of Arthur's horse, which it retains to this day. It is believed to be very perilous to let the waters out of the lake, and recently an aged inhabitant of the district informed the writer that she recollected this being done during a period of long
drought, in order to procure motive power for Llyn Pair Mill, and that long-continued heavy rains followed. No wonder our bold but superstitious progenitors, awestruck by the solitude of the spot--the dark sepial tint of its waters, unrelieved by the flitting apparition of a single fish, and seldom visited by the tenants of the air--should have established it as a canon in their creed of terror that the lake formed one of the many communications between this outward world of ours and the inner or lower one of Annwn--the unknown world 1--the dominion of Gwyn ap Nudd, the mythic king of the fabled realm, peopled by those children of mystery, Plant Annwn; and the belief is still current amongst the inhabitants of our mountains in the occasional visitations of the Gwragedd Annwn, or dames of Elfin land, to this upper world of ours. A shrewd old hill farmer (Thomas Abergraes by name), well skilled in the folk-lore of the district, informed me that, in years gone by, though when, exactly, he was too young to remember, those dames were wont to make their appearance, arrayed in green, in the neighbourhood of Llyn Barfog, chiefly at eventide, accompanied by their kine and hounds, and that on quiet summer nights in particular, these ban-hounds were often to be heard in full cry pursuing their prey--the souls of doomed men dying without baptism and penance--along the upland township of Cefnrhosucha. Many a farmer had a sight of their comely milk-white kine; many a swain had his soul turned to romance and poesy by a sudden vision of themselves in the guise of damsels arrayed in green, and radiant in beauty and grace; and many a sportsman had his path crossed by their white hounds of super-natural
fleetness and comeliness, the Cwn Annwn; but never had any one been favoured with more than a passing view of either, till an old farmer residing at Dyssyrnant, in the adjoining valley of Dyffryn Gwyn, became at last the lucky captor of one of their milk-white kine. The acquaintance which the Gwartheg y Llyn, the kine of the lake, had formed with the farmer's cattle, like the loves of the angels for the daughters of men, became the means of capture; and the farmer was thereby enabled to add the mystic cow to his own herd, an event in all cases believed to be most conducive to the worldly prosperity of him who should make so fortunate an acquisition. Never was there such a cow, never such calves, never such milk and butter, or cheese, and the fame of the Fuwch Gyfeiliorn, the stray cow, was soon spread abroad through that central part of Wales known as the district of Rhwng y ddwy Afon, from the banks of the Mawddach to those of the Dofwy, 1 from Aberdiswnwy 2 to Abercorris. The farmer, from a small beginning, rapidly became, like job, a man of substance, possessed of thriving herds of cattle--a very patriarch among the mountains. But, alas! wanting Job's restraining grace, his wealth made him proud, his pride made him forget his obligation to the Elfin cow, and fearing she might soon become too old to be profitable, he fattened her for the butcher, and then even she did not fail to distinguish herself, for a more monstrously fat beast was never seen. At last the day of slaughter came--an eventful day in the annals of a mountain farm--the killing of a fat cow, and such a monster of obesity! No wonder all the neighbours were gathered together
to see the sight. The old farmer looked upon the preparations in self-pleased importance--the butcher felt he was about no common feat of his craft, and, baring his arms, he struck the blow--not now fatal, for before even a hair had been injured, his arm was paralysed--the knife dropped from his hand, and the whole company was electrified by a piercing cry that awakened echo in a dozen hills, and made the welkin ring again; and lo and behold! the whole assemblage saw a female figure clad in green, with uplifted arms, standing on one of the craigs overhanging Llyn Barfog, and heard her calling with a voice loud as thunder:--
Dere di velen Einion,
Cyrn Cyveiliorn-braith y Llyn,
A'r voel Dodin,
Codwch, dewch adre.
Come yellow Anvil, stray horns,
Speckled one of the lake,
And of the hornless Dodin,
Arise, come home 1.
And no sooner were these words of power uttered than the original lake cow and all her progeny, to the third and fourth generations, were in full flight towards the heights of Llyn Barfog, as if pursued by the evil one. Self-interest quickly roused the farmer, who followed in pursuit, till breathless and panting he gained an eminence overlooking the lake, but with no better success than to behold the green attired dame leisurely descending mid-lake, accompanied by the fugitive cows and their calves formed in a circle around her, they tossing their tails, she waving her hands in scorn as much as to say, "You may catch us, my friend, if you can," as they disappeared beneath the dark waters of the lake, leaving only the yellow water-lily to mark the spot where they
vanished, and to perpetuate the memory of this strange event. Meanwhile the farmer looked with rueful countenance upon the spot where the Elfin herd disappeared, and had ample leisure to deplore the effects of his greediness, as with them also departed the prosperity which had hitherto attended him, and he became impoverished to a degree below his original circumstances; and, in his altered circumstances, few felt pity for one who in the noontide flow of prosperity had shown himself so far forgetful of favours received, as to purpose slaying his benefactor.'
Mr. Pughe did a very good thing in saving this legend from oblivion, but it would be very interesting to know how much of it is still current among the inhabitants of the retired district around Llyn Barfog, and how the story would look when stripped of the florid language in which Mr. Pughe thought proper to clothe it. Lastly, let me add a reference to the Iolo Manuscripts, pp. 85, 475, where a short story is given concerning a certain Milkwhite Sweet-milk Cow (y Fuwch Laethwen Lefrith) whose milk was so abundant and possessed of such virtues as almost to rival the Holy Grail. Like the Holy Grail also this cow wandered everywhere spreading plenty, until she chanced to come to the Vale of Towy, where the foolish inhabitants wished to kill and eat her: the result was that she vanished in their hands and has never since been heard of.
Here I wish to add some further stories connected with Merionethshire which have come under my notice lately. I give them chiefly on the authority of Mr. Owen M. Edwards of Lincoln College, who is a native of Llanuwchllyn, and still spends a considerable part of his
time there; and partly on that of Hywel's essay on the folklore of the county, which was awarded the prize at the National Eisteddfod of 1898 1. A story current at Llanuwchllyn, concerning a midwife who attends on a fairy mother, resembles the others of the same group: for one of them see p. 63 above. In the former, however, one misses the ointment, and finds instead of it that the midwife wag not to touch her eyes with the water with which she washed the fairy baby. But as might be expected one of her eyes happened to itch, and she touched it with her fingers straight from the water. It appears that thenceforth she was able to see the fairies with that eye; at any rate she is represented some time afterwards recognizing the father of the fairy baby at a fair at Bala, and inquiring of him kindly about his family. The fairy asked with which eye she saw him, and when he had ascertained this, he at once blinded it, so that she never could see with it afterwards. Hywel also has it that the Tylwyth Teg formerly used to frequent the markets at Bala, and that they used to swell the noise in the market-place without anybody being able to see them: this was a sign that prices were going to rise.
The shepherds of Ardudwy are familiar, according to Hywel, with a variant of the story in which a man married a fairy on condition that he did not touch her with iron. They lived on the Moelfre and dwelt happily together for years, until one fine summer day, when the husband was engaged in shearing his sheep, he put the gwelle, 'shears,' in his wife's hand: she then instantly disappeared. The earlier portions of this story are unknown to me, but they are not hard to guess.
Concerning Llyn Irddyn, between the western slopes of the Llawllech, Hywel has a story the like of which I am not acquainted with: walking near that lake you shun the shore and keep to the grass in order to avoid the fairies, for if you take hold of the grass no fairy can touch you, or dare under any circumstances injure a blade of grass.
Lastly, Hywel speaks of several caves containing treasure, as for instance a telyn aur, or golden harp, hidden away in a cave beneath Castell Carn Dochan in the parish of Llanuwchllyn. Lewis Morris, in his Celtic Remains, p. 100, calls it Castell Corndochen, and describes it as seated on the top of a steep rock at the bottom of a deep valley: it appears to have consisted of a wall surrounding three turrets, and the mortar seems composed of cockle-shells: see also the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1850, p. 204. Hywel speaks also of a cave beneath Castell Dinas Brân, near Llangollen, as containing much treasure, which will only be disclosed to a boy followed by a white dog with llygaid arian, 'silver eyes,' explained to mean light eyes: every such dog is said to see the wind. So runs this story, but it requires more exegesis than I can supply. One may compare it at a distance with Myrddin's arrangement that the treasure buried by him at Dinas Emrys should only be found by a youth with yellow hair and blue eyes, and with the belief that the cave treasures of the Snowdon district belong to the Gwyddyl or Goidels, and that Goidels will eventually find them: see chapter viii.
The next three stories are from Mr. Owen Edwards' Cymru for 1897, pp. 188-9, where he has published them from a collection made for a literary competition or local Eisteddfod by his friend J. H. Roberts, who died in early manhood. The first is a blurred version of the story of the Lake Lady and her dowry of cattle, but
enough of the story remains to show that, had we got it in its original form, it would be found to differ somewhat on several points from all the other versions extant. I summarize the Welsh as follows:--In ages gone by, as the shepherd of Hafod y Garreg was looking after his sheep on the shores of the Arennig Lake, he came across a young calf, plump, sleek, and strong, in the rushes. He could not guess whence the beast could have come, as no cattle were allowed to approach the lake at that time of the year. He took it home, however, and it was reared until it was a bull, remarkable for his fine appearance. In time his offspring were the only cattle on the farm, and never before had there been such beasts at Hafod y Garreg. They were the wonder and admiration of the whole country. But one summer afternoon in June, the shepherd saw a little fat old man playing on a pipe, and then he heard him call the cows by their names--
Mulican, Molican, Malen, Mair,
Dowch adre'r awrhon ar fy ngair.
Mulican, Molican, Malen and Mair,
Come now home at my word.
He then beheld the whole herd running to the little man and going into the lake. Nothing more was heard of them, and it was everybody's opinion that they were the Tylwyth Teg's cattle.
The next is a quasi fairy tale, the outcome of which recalls the adventure of the farmer of Drws y Coed on his return from Beddgelert Fair, p. 99 above. It is told of a young harpist who was making his way across country from his home at Yspyty Ifan to the neighbourhood of Bala, that while crossing the mountain he happened in the mist to lose his road and fall into the Gors Fawr, 'the big bog.' There he wallowed for hours, quite unable to extricate himself in spite of all his efforts. But when he was going to give up in
despair, he beheld close to him, reaching him her hand, a little woman who was wondrous fair beyond all his conception of beauty, and with her help he got out of the Gors. The damsel gave him a jolly sweet kiss that flashed electricity through his whole nature: he was at once over head and ears in love. She led him to the hut of her father and mother: there he had every welcome, and he spent the night singing and dancing with Olwen, for that was her name. Now, though the harpist was a mere stripling, he thought of wedding at once--he was never before in such a heaven of delight. But next morning he was waked, not by a kiss from Olwen, but by the Plas Drain shepherd's dog licking his lips: he found himself sleeping against the wall of a sheepfold (corlan), with his harp in a clump of rushes at his feet, without any trace to be found of the family with whom he had spent such a happy night.
The next story recalls Glasynys' Einion Las, as given above: its peculiarity is the part played by the well introduced. The scene was a turbary near the river called Mon Mynach, so named from Cwm Tir Mynach, behind the hills immediately north of Bala:--Ages ago, as a number of people were cutting turf in a place which was then moorland, and which is now enclosed ground forming part of a farm called Nant Hir, one of them happened to wash his face in a well belonging to the fairies. At dinner-time in the middle of the day they sat down in a circle, while the youth who had washed his face went to fetch the food, but suddenly both he and the box of food were lost. They knew not what to do, they suspected that it was the doing of the fairies; but the wise man (gwr hyspys) came to the neighbourhood and told them, that, if they would only go to the spot on the night of full moon in June, they would
behold him dancing with the fairies. They did as they were told, and found the moor covered with thousands of little agile creatures who sang and danced with all their might, and they saw the missing man among them. They rushed at him, and with a great deal of trouble they got him out. But oftentimes was Einion missed again, until at the time of full moon in another June he returned home with a wondrously fair wife, whose history or pedigree no one knew. Everybody believed her to be one of the Tylwyth Teg.
There is a kind of fairy tale of which I think I have hitherto not given the reader a specimen: a good instance is given in the third volume of the Brython, at p. 459, by a contributor who calls himself Idnerth ab Gwgan, who, I learn from the Rev. Chancellor Silvan Evans, the editor, was no other than the Rev. Benjamin Williams, best known to Welsh antiquaries by his bardic name of Gwynionydd. The preface to the tale is also interesting, so I am tempted to render the whole into English, as follows:--
'The fair family were wonderful creatures in the imaginary world: they encamped, they walked, and they capered a great deal in former ages in our country, according to what we learn from some of our old people. It may be supposed that they were very little folks like the children of Rhys Ddwfn; for the old people used to imagine that they were wont to visit their hearths in great numbers in ages gone by. The girls at the farm houses used to make the hearths clean after supper, and to place a cauldron full of water near the fire; and so they thought that the fair family came there to play at night, bringing sweethearts for the young women, and
leaving pieces of money on the hob for them in the morning. Sometimes they might be seen as splendid hosts exercising themselves on our hills. They were very fond of the mountains of Dyfed; travellers between Lampeter and Cardigan used to see them on the hill of Llanwenog, but by the time they had reached there the fairies would be far away on the hills of Llandyssul, and when one had reached the place where one expected to see the family together in tidy array, they would be seen very busily engaged on the tops of Crug y Balog; when one went there they would be on Blaen Pant ar Fi, moving on and on to Bryn Bwa, and, finally, to some place or other in the lower part of Dyfed. Like the soldiers of our earthly world, they were possessed of terribly fascinating music; and in the autumnal season they had their rings, still named from them, in which they sang and danced. The young man of Llech y Derwydd 1 was his father's only son, as well as heir to the farm; so he was very dear to his father and his mother, indeed he was the light of their eyes. Now, the head servant and the son were bosom friends: they were like brothers together, or rather twin brothers. As the son and the servant were such friends, the farmer's wife used to get exactly the same kind of clothes prepared for the servant as for her son. The two fell in love with two handsome young women of very good reputation in the neighbourhood. The two couples were soon joined in honest wedlock, and great was the merry-making on the occasion. The servant had a suitable place to live in on the farm of Llech y Derwydd; but about half a year after the son's marriage,
he and his friend went out for sport, when the servant withdrew to a wild and retired corner to look for game. He returned presently for his friend, but when he got there he could not see him anywhere: he kept looking around for some time for him, shouting and whistling, but there was no sign of his friend. By-and-by, he went home to Llech y Derwydd expecting to see him, but no one knew anything about him. Great was the sorrow of his family through the night; and next day the anxiety was still greater. They went to see the place where his friend had seen him last: it was hard to tell whether his mother or his wife wept the more bitterly; but the father was a little better, though he also looked as if he were half mad with grief. The spot was examined, and, to their surprise, they saw a fairy ring close by, and the servant recollected that he had heard the sound of very fascinating music somewhere or other about the time in question. It was at once agreed that the man had been unfortunate enough to have got into the ring of the Tylwyth, and to have been carried away by them, nobody knew whither. Weeks and months passed away, and a son was born to the heir of Llech y Derwydd, but the young father was not there to see his child, which the old people thought very hard. However, the little one grew up the very picture of his father, and great was his influence over his grandfather and grandmother; in fact he was everything to them. He grew up to be a man, and he married a good-looking girl in that neighbourhood; but her family did not enjoy the reputation of being kindhearted people. The old folks died, and their daughter-in-law also. One windy afternoon in the month of October, the family of Llech y Derwydd beheld a tall thin old man, with his beard and hair white as snow, coming towards the house, and they thought he was
a Jew. The servant maids stared at him, and their mistress laughed at the "old Jew," at the same time that she lifted the children up one after another to see him. He came to the door and entered boldly enough, asking about his parents. The mistress answered him in an unusually surly and contemptuous tone, wondering why the "drunken old Jew had come there," because it was thought he had been drinking, and that he would otherwise not have spoken so. The old man cast wondering and anxious looks around on everything in the house, feeling as he did greatly surprised; but it was the little children about the floor that drew his attention most: his looks were full of disappointment and sorrow. He related the whole of his account, saying that he had been out the day before and that he was now returning. The mistress of the house told him that she had heard a tale about her husband's father, that he had been lost years before her birth while out sporting, whilst her father maintained that it was not true, but that he had been killed. She became angry, and quite lost her temper at seeing "the old Jew" not going away. The old man was roused, saying that he was the owner of the house, and that he must have his rights. He then went out to see his possessions, and presently went to the house of the servant, where, to his surprise, things had greatly changed; after conversing with an aged man, who sat by the fire, the one began to scrutinize the other more and more. The aged man by the fire told him what had been the fate of his old friend, the heir of Llech y Derwydd. They talked deliberately of the events of their youth, but it all seemed like a dream; in short, the old man in the corner concluded that his visitor was his old friend, the heir of Llech y Derwydd, returning from the land of the Tylwyth Teg after spending half a hundred years there.
[paragraph continues] The other old man, with the snow-white beard, believed in his history, and much did they talk together and question one another for many hours. The old man by the fire said that the master of Llech y Derwydd was away from home that day, and he induced his aged visitor to eat some food, but, to the horror of all, the eater fell down dead on the spot 1. There is no record that an inquest was held over him, but the tale relates that the cause of it was, that he ate food after having been so long in the world of the fair family. His old friend insisted on seeing him buried by the side of his ancestors; but the rudeness of the mistress of Llech y Derwydd to her father-in-law brought a curse on the family that clung to it to distant generations, and until the place had been sold nine times.'
A tale like this is to be found related of Idwal of Nantclwyd, in Cymru Fu, p. 85. I said 'a tale like this,' but, on reconsidering the matter, I should think it is the very same tale passed through the hands of Glasynys or some one of his imitators. Another of this kind will be found in the Brython, ii. 170, and several similar ones also in Wirt Sikes' book, pp. 65-90, either given at length, or merely referred to. There is one kind of variant which deserves special notice, as making the music to which the sojourner in Faery listens for scores of years to be that of a bird singing on a tree. A story of the sort is located by Howells, in his Cambrian Superstitions, pp. 127-8, at Pant Shon Shencin, near Pencader, in Cardiganshire, This latter kind of story leads easily up to another development, namely, to substituting for the bird's. warble the song and felicity of heaven, and for the simple shepherd a pious monk. In
this form it is located at a place called Llwyn y Nef, or 'Heaven's Grove,' near Celynnog Fawr, in Carnarvonshire. It is given by Glasynys in Cymru Fu, pp. 183-4, where it was copied from the Brython, iii. 111, in which he had previously published it. Several versions of it in rhyme came down from the eighteenth century, and Silvan Evans has brought together twenty-six stanzas in point in St. David's College Magazine for 1881, pp. 191-200, where he has put into a few paragraphs all that is known about the song of the Hen Wr o'r Coed, or the Old Man of the Wood, in his usually clear and lucid style.
A tale from the other end of the tract of country once occupied by a sprinkling, perhaps, of Celts among a population of Picts, makes the man, and not the fairies, supply the music. I owe it to the kindness of the Rev. Andrew Clark, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, who heard it from the late sexton of the parish of Dollar, in the county of Clackmannan. The sexton died some twelve years ago, aged seventy: he had learnt the tale from his father. The following are Mr. Clark's words:--
'Glendevon is a parish and village in the Ochils in County Perth, about five miles from Dollar as you come up Glen Queich and down by Gloomhill. Glen Queich is a narrowish glen between two grassy hills--at the top of the glen is a round hill of no great height, but very neat shape, the grass of which is always short and trim, and the ferns on the shoulder of a very marked green. This, as you come up the glen, seems entirely to block the way. It is called the "Maiden Castle." Only when you come quite close do you see the path winding round the foot of it. A little further on is a fine spring bordered with flat stones, in the middle of a neat, turfy spot, called the "Maiden's Well." This road, till the new toll-road was made on the other side
of the hills, was the thoroughfare between Dollar and Glendevon.'
The following is the legend, as told by the 'Bethrel':--A piper, carrying his pipes, was coming from Glendevon to Dollar in the grey of the evening. He crossed the Garchel (a little stream running into the Queich burn), and looked at the "Maiden Castle," and saw only the grey hillside and heard only the wind soughing through the bent. He had got beyond it when he heard a burst of lively music: he turned round, and instead of the dark knoll saw a great castle, with lights blazing from the windows, and heard the noise of dancing issuing from the open door. He went back incautiously, and a procession issuing forth at that moment, be was caught and taken into a great hall ablaze with lights, and people dancing on the floor. He had to pipe to them for a day or two, but he got anxious, because he knew his people would be wondering why he did not come back in the morning as he had promised. The fairies seemed to sympathize with his anxiety, and promised to let him go if he played a favourite tune of his, which they seemed fond of, to their satisfaction. He played his very best, the dance went fast and furious, and at its close he was greeted with loud applause. On his release he found himself alone, in the grey of the evening, beside the dark hillock, and no sound was heard save the purr of the burn and the soughing of the wind through the bent. Instead of completing his journey to Dollar, he walked hastily back to Glendevon to relieve his folk's anxiety. He entered his father's house and found no kent face there. On his protesting that he had gone only a day or two before, and waxing loud in his bewildered talk, a grey old man was roused from a doze behind the fire; and told how he had heard when a boy from his father that
a piper had gone away to Dollar on a quiet evening, and had never been heard or seen since, nor any trace of him found. He had been in the "castle" for a hundred years.'
The term Plant Rhys Ddwfn has already been brought before the reader: it means 'the Children of Rhys Ddwfn,' and Rhys Ddwfn means literally Rhys the Deep, but the adjective in Welsh connotes depth of character in the sense of shrewdness or cunning. Nay, even the English deep is often borrowed for use in the same sense, as when one colloquially says un dip iawn yw e, 'he is a very calculating or cunning fellow.' The following account of Rhys and his progeny is given by Gwynionydd in the first volume of the Brython, p. 130, which deserves being cited at length:--'There is a tale current in Dyfed, that there is, or rather that there has been, a country between Cemmes, the northern Hundred of Pembrokeshire, and Aberdaron in Lleyn. The chief patriarch of the inhabitants was Rhys Ddwfn, and his descendants used to be called after him the Children of Rhys Ddwfn. They were, it is said, a handsome race enough, but remarkably small in size. It is stated that certain herbs of a strange nature grew in their land, so that they were able to keep their country from being seen by even the most sharp sighted of invaders. There is no account that these remarkable herbs grew in any other part of the world excepting on a small spot, about a square yard in area, in a certain part of Cemmes. If it chanced that a man stood alone on it, he beheld the whole of the territory of Plant Rhys Ddwfn; but the moment he moved he would lose sight of it altogether, and it would have been utterly vain for him to look for his footprints. In another story, as will be seen presently, the requisite platform was a turf from St. David's churchyard. The Rhysians had not much land--they
lived in towns. So they were wont in former times to come to market to Cardigan, and to raise the prices of things terribly. They were seen of no one coming or going, but only seen there in the market. When prices happened to be high, and the corn all sold, however much there might have been there in the morning, the poor used to say to one another on the way home, "Oh! they were there to-day," meaning Plant Rhys Ddwfn. So they were dear friends in the estimation of Siôn Phil Hywel, the farmer; but not so high in the opinion of Dafydd, the labourer. It is said, however, that they were very honest and resolute men. A certain Gruffydd ab Einon was wont to sell them more corn than anybody else, and so he was a great friend of theirs. He was honoured by them beyond all his contemporaries by being led on a visit to their home. As they were great traders like the Phnicians of old, they had treasures from all countries under the sun. Gruffydd, after feasting his eyes to satiety on their wonders, was led back by them loaded with presents. But before taking leave of them, he asked them how they succeeded in keeping themselves safe from invaders, as one of their number might become unfaithful, and go beyond the virtue of the herbs that formed their safety. "Oh!" replied the little old man of shrewd looks, "just as Ireland has been blessed with a soil on which venomous reptiles cannot live, so with our land: no traitor can live here. Look at the sand on the seashore: perfect unity prevails there, and so among us. Rhys, the father of our race, bade us, even to the most distant descendant, honour our parents and ancestors; love our own wives without looking at those of our neighbours; and do our best for our children and grandchildren. And he said that if we did so, no one of us would ever prove unfaithful to another, or
become what you call a traitor. The latter is a wholly imaginary character among us; strange pictures are drawn of him with his feet like those of an ass, with a nest of snakes in his bosom, with a head like the devil's, with hands somewhat like a man's, while one of them holds a large knife, and the family lies dead around the figure. Good-bye!" When Gruffydd looked about him he lost sight of the country of Plant Rhys, and found himself near his home. He became very wealthy after this, and continued to be a great friend of Plant Rhys as long as he lived. After Gruffydd's death they came to market again, but such was the greed of the farmers, like Gruffydd before them, for riches, and so unreasonable were the prices they asked for their corn, that the Rhysians took offence and came no more to Cardigan to market. The old people used to think that they now went to Fishguard market, as very strange people were wont to be seen there.' On the other hand, some Fishguard people were lately of opinion that it was at Haverfordwest the fairies did their marketing: I refer to a letter of Mr. Ferrar Fenton's, in the Pembroke County Guardian of October 31, 1896, in which he mentions a conversation he had with a Fishguard woman as to the existence of fairies: 'There are fairies,' she asserted, 'for they came to Ha'rordwest market to buy things, so there must be.'
With this should be compared pp. 9-10 of Wirt Sikes' British Goblins, where mention is made of sailors on the coast of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, 'who still talk of the green meadows of enchantment lying in the Irish Channel to the west of Pembrokeshire,' and of men who had landed on them, or seen them suddenly vanishing. The author then proceeds to abstract from Howells' Cambrian Superstitions, p. 119, the following paragraph:--'The fairies inhabiting these
islands are said to have regularly attended the markets at Milford Haven and Laugharne. They made their purchases without speaking, laid down their money and departed, always leaving the exact sum required, which they seemed to know without asking the price of anything. Sometimes they were invisible; but they were often seen by sharp-eyed persons. There was always one special butcher at Milford Haven upon whom the fairies bestowed their patronage instead of distributing their favours indiscriminately. The Milford Haven folk could see the green Fairy Islands distinctly, lying out a short distance from land; and the general belief was that they were densely peopled with fairies. It was also said that the latter went to and fro between the islands and the shore, through a subterranean gallery under the bottom of the sea.'
Another tale given in the Brython, ii. 20, by a writer who gives his name as B. Davies 1, will serve to show, short though it be, that the term Plant Rhys Ddwfn was not confined to those honestly dealing fairies, but was used in a sense wholly synonymous with that of Tylwyth Teg, as understood in other parts of Wales. The story runs as follows, and should be compared with the Dyffryn Mymbyr one given above, pp. 100-3:--'One calm hot day, when the sun of heaven was brilliantly shining, and the hay in the dales was being busily made by lads and lasses, and by grown-up people of both sexes, a woman in the neighbourhood of Emlyn placed her one-year-old infant in the gader, or chair, as the cradle is called in these parts, and out she went to the field for a while, intending to return, when her
neighbour, an old woman overtaken by the decrepitude of eighty summers, should call to her that her darling was crying. It was not long before she heard the old woman calling to her; she ran hurriedly, and as soon as she set foot on the kitchen floor she took her little one in her arms as usual, saying to him, "O my little one! thy mother's delight art thou! I would not take the world for thee, &c." But to her surprise he had a very old look about him, and the more the tender-hearted mother gazed at his face, the stranger it seemed to her, so that at last she placed him in the cradle and told her trouble and sorrow to her relatives and acquaintances. And after this one and the other had given his opinion, it was agreed at last that it was one of Rhys Ddwfn's children that was in the cradle, and not her dearly loved baby. In this distress there was nothing to do but to fetch a sorcerer, as fast as the fastest horse could gallop. He said, when he saw the child, that he had seen his like before, and that it would be a hard job to get rid of him, though not such a very hard job this time. The shovel was made red hot in the fire by one of the Cefnarth 1 boys, and held before the child's face; and in an instant the short little old man took to his heels, and neither he nor his like was seen afterwards from Aber Cuch to Aber Bargoed at any rate. The mother, it is said, found her darling unscathed the next moment. I remember also hearing that the strange child was as old as the grandfather of the one that had been lost.'
As I see no reason to make any profound distinction between lake maidens and sea maidens, I now give Gwynionydd's account of the mermaid who was found
by a fisherman from Llandydoch or St. Dogmael's 1, near Cardigan: see the Brython, i. 82:--
'One fine afternoon in September, in the beginning of the last century, a fisherman, whose name was Pergrin 2, went to a recess in the rock near Pen Cemmes, where he found a sea maiden doing her hair, and he took the water lady prisoner to his boat. . . . We know not what language is used by sea maidens . . . but this one, this time at any rate, talked, it is said, very good Welsh; for when she was in despair in Pergrin's custody, weeping copiously, and with her tresses all dishevelled, she called
out: 'Pergrin, if thou wilt let me go, I will give thee three shouts in the time of thy greatest need.' So, in wonder and fear, he let her go to walk the streets of the deep, and visit her sweethearts there. Days and weeks passed without Pergrin seeing her after this; but one hot afternoon, when the sea was pretty calm, and the fishermen had no thought of danger, behold his old acquaintance showing her head and locks, and shouting out in a loud voice: 'Pergrin! Pergrin! Pergrin! take up thy nets, take up thy nets, take up thy nets!' Pergrin and his companion instantly obeyed the message, and drew their nets in with great haste. In they went, past the bar, and by the time they had reached the Pwll Cam the most terrible storm had overspread the sea, while he and his companion were safe on land. Twice nine others had gone out with them, but they were all drowned without having the chance of obeying the warning of the -water lady.' Perhaps it is not quite irrelevant to mention here the armorial bearings which Drayton ascribes to the neighbouring county of Cardigan in the following couplet in his Battaile of Agincourt (London, 1631), p. 23:--
As Cardigan the next to them that went,
Came with a Mermayd sitting on a Rock.
A writer in the Brython, iv. 194, states that the people of Nefyn in Lleyn claim the story of the fisher and the mermaid as belonging to them, which proves that a similar legend has been current there: add to this the fact mentioned in the Brython, iii. 133, that a red mermaid with yellow hair, on a white field, figures in the coat of arms of the family resident at Glasfryn in the parish of Llangybi, in Eifionyd or the southern portion of Carnarvonshire; and we have already suggested that Glasynys' story (pp. 117-25) was made
up, to a certain extent, of materials found on the coasts of Carnarvonshire. A small batch of stories about South Wales mermaids is given by a writer who calls himself Ab Nadol 1, in the Brython, iv- 310, as follows:--
"A few rockmen are said to have been working, about eighty years ago, in a quarry near Porth y Rhaw, when the day was calm and clear, with nature, as it were, feasting, the flowers shedding sweet scent around, and the hot sunshine beaming into the jagged rocks. Though an occasional wave rose to strike the romantic cliffs, the sea was like a placid lake, with its light coverlet of blue attractive enough to entice one of the ladies of Rhys Ddwfn forth from the town seen by Daniel Huws off Trefin as he was journeying between Fishguard and St. David's in the year 1858, to make her way to the top of a stone and to sit on it to disentangle her flowing silvery hair. Whilst she was cleaning herself, the rockmen went down, and when they got near her they perceived that, from her waist upwards, she was like the lasses of Wales, but that, from her waist downwards, she had the body of a fish. And, when they began to talk to her, they found she spoke Welsh, though she only uttered the following few words to them: "Reaping in Pembrokeshire and weeding in Carmarthenshire." Off she then went to walk in the depth of the sea towards her home. Another tale is repeated about a mermaid, said to have been caught by men below the land of Llanwnda, near the spot, if not on the spot, where the French made their landing afterwards, and three miles to the west of Fishguard. It then goes on to say that they carried her to their home, and kept her in a secure place for
some time; before long, she begged to be allowed to return to the brine land, and gave the people of the house three bits of advice; but I only remember one of them,' he writes, 'and this is it: "Skim the surface of the pottage before adding sweet milk to it: it will be whiter and sweeter, and less of it will do." I was told that this family follow the three advices to this day.' A somewhat similar advice to that about the pottage is said to have been given by a mermaid, under similar circumstances, to a Manxman.
After putting the foregoing bits together, I was favoured by Mr. Benjamin Williams with notes on the tales and on the persons from whom he heard them: they form the contents of two or three letters, mostly answers to queries of mine, and the following is the substance of them:--Mr. Williams is a native of the valley of Troed yr Aur 1, in the Cardiganshire parish of that name. He spent a part of his youth at Verwig, in the angle between the northern bank of the Teifi and Cardigan Bay. He heard of Rhys Ddwfn's Children first from a distant relative of his father's, a Catherine Thomas, who came to visit her daughter, who lived not far from his father's house: that would now be from forty-eight to fifty years ago. He was very young at the time, and of Rhys. Ddwfn's progeny he formed a wonderful idea, which was partly due also to the talk of one James Davies or Siams Mocyn, who was very well up in folklore, and was one of his father's next-door neighbours. He was an old man, and nephew to the musician, David
Jenkin Morgan. The only spot near Mr. Williams' home, that used to be frequented by the fairies, was Cefn y Ceirw, 'the Stag's Ridge,' a large farm, so called from having been kept as a park for their deer by the Lewises of Aber Nant Bychan. He adds that the late Mr. Philipps, of Aberglasney, was very fond of talking of things in his native neighbourhood, and of mentioning the fairies at Cefn y Ceirw. It was after moving to Verwig that Mr. Williams began to put the tales he heard on paper: then he came in contact with three brothers, whose names were John, Owen, and Thomas Evans. They were well-to-do and respectable bachelors, living together on the large farm of Hafod Ruffydd. Thomas was a man of very strong common sense, and worth consulting on any subject: he was a good arithmetician, and a constant reader of the Baptist periodical, Seren Gomer, from its first appearance. He thoroughly understood the bardic metres, and had a fair knowledge of music. He was well versed in Scripture, and filled the office of deacon at the Baptist Chapel. His death took place in the year 1864. Now, the eldest of the three brothers, the one named John, or Siôn, was then about seventy-five years of age, and he thoroughly believed in the tales about the fairies, as will be seen from the following short dialogue:--
Siôn: Williams bach, ma'n rhaid i bod nhw'i gâl: yr w i'n cofio yn amser Bone fod marchnad Aberteifi yn llawn o lafir yn y bore--digon yno am fis--ond cin pen hanner awr r ôdd y cwbwl wedi darfod. Nid ôdd possib i gweld nhwi: mâ gida nhwi faint a fynnon nhwi o arian.
Williams: Siwt na fyse dynion yn i gweld nhwi ynte, Siôn?
Siôn: O mâ gida nhwi ddynion fel ninne yn pryni
drostyn nhwi; ag y mâ nhwi fel yr hen siówmin yna yn gelli gneid pob tric.
John: 'My dear Williams, it must be that they exist: I remember Cardigan market, in the time of Bonaparte, full of corn in the morning--enough for a month--but in less than half an hour it was all gone. It was impossible to see them: they have as much money as they like.'
Williams: 'How is it, then, that men did not see them, John?'
John: 'Oh, they have men like us to do the buying for them; and they can, like those old showmen, do every kind of trick.'
At this kind of display of simplicity on the part of his brother, Thomas used to smile and say: 'My brother John believes such things as those;' for he had no belief in them himself. Still it is from his mouth that Mr. Williams published the tales in the Brython, which have been reproduced here, that of 'Pergrin and the Mermaid,' and all about the 'Heir of Llech y Derwydd,' not to mention the ethical element in the account of Rhys Ddwfn's country and its people, the product probably of his mind. Thomas Evans, or as he was really called, Tommos Ifan, was given rather to grappling with the question of the origin of such beliefs; so one day he called Mr. Williams out, and led him to a spot about four hundred yards from Bol y Fron, where the latter then lived: he pointed to the setting sun, and asked Mr. Williams what he thought of the glorious sunset before them. 'It is all produced,' he then observed, 'by the reflection of the sun's rays on the mist: one might think,' he went on to say, 'that there was there a paradise of a country full of fields, forests, and everything that is desirable.' And before they had moved away the grand scene had disappeared, when
Thomas suggested that the idea of the existence of the country of Rhys Ddwfn's Children arose from the contemplation of that phenomenon. One may say that Thomas Evans was probably far ahead of the Welsh historians who try to extract history from the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod, 'the Bottom Hundred,' beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay; but what was seen was probably an instance of the mirage to be mentioned presently. Lastly, besides Mr. Williams' contributions to the Brython, and a small volume of poetry, entitled Briallen glan Ceri, some tales of his were published by Llallawg in Bygones some years ago, and he had the prize at the Cardigan Eisteddfod of 1866 for the best collection in Welsh of the folklore of Dyfed: his recollection was that it contained in all thirty-six tales of all kinds; but since the manuscript, as the property of the Committee of that Eisteddfod, was sold, he could not now consult it: in fact he is not certain as to who the owner of it may now be, though he has an idea that it is either the Rev. Rees Williams, vicar of Whitchurch, near Solva, Pembrokeshire, or R. D. Jenkins, Esq., of Cilbronnau, Cardiganshire. Whoever the owner may be, he would probably be only too glad to have it published, and I mention this merely to call attention to it. The Eisteddfod is to be commended for encouraging local research, and sometimes even for burying the results in obscurity, but not always.
Before leaving Dyfed I wish to revert to the extract from Mr. Sikes, p. 161 above. He had been helped partly by the article on Gavran, in the Cambrian Biography, by William Owen, better known since as William Owen Pughe and Dr. Pughe, and partly by a note of Southey's
on the following words in his Madoc (London, 1815), i, III:--
Where are the sons of Gavran? where his tribe,
The faithful? following their beloved Chief,
They the Green Islands of the Ocean sought;
Nor human tongue hath told, nor human ear,
Since from the silver shores they went their way,
Hath heard their fortunes.
The Gavran story, I may premise, is based on one of the Welsh Triads--i. 34, ii. V, iii. 80--and Southey cites the article in the Cambrian Biography; but he goes on to give the following statements without indicating on what sources he was drawing--the reader has, however, been made acquainted already with the virtue of a blade of grass,  by the brief mention of Llyn Irddyn above, p. 148:--
'Of these Islands, or Green Spots of the Floods, there are some singular superstitions. They are the abode of the Tylwyth Teg, or the fair family, the souls of the virtuous Druids, who, not having been Christians, cannot enter the Christian heaven, but enjoy this heaven of their own. They however discover a love of mischief, neither becoming happy spirits, nor consistent with their original character; for they love to visit the earth, and, seizing a man, inquire whether he will travel above wind, mid wind, or below wind; above wind is a giddy and terrible passage, below wind is through bush and brake, the middle is a safe course. But the spell of security is, to catch hold of the grass, for these Beings have not power to destroy a blade of grass. In their better moods they come over and carry the Welsh in their boats. He who visits these Islands imagines on his return that he has been absent only a few hours, when, in truth, whole centuries have passed away. If you take a turf from St. David's churchyard, and stand upon it on the sea shore, you behold these Islands. A
man once, who thus obtained sight of them, immediately put to sea to find them; but they disappeared, and his search was in vain. He returned, looked at them, again from the enchanted turf, again set sail, and failed again. The third time he took the turf into his vessel, and stood upon it till he reached them.'
A correspondent signing himself 'the Antient Mariner,' and writing, in the Pembroke County Guardian, from Newport, Pembrokeshire, Oct. 26, 1896, cites Southey's notes, and adds to them the statement, that some fifty years ago there was a tradition amongst the inhabitants of Trevine (Trefin) in his county, that these Islands could be seen from Man Non, or Eglwys Non, in that neighbourhood. To return to Madoc, Southey adds to the note already quoted a reference to the inhabitants of Arran More, on the coast of Galway, to the effect that they think that they can on a clear day see Hy-Breasail, the Enchanted Island supposed to be the Paradise of the Pagan Irish: compare the Phantom City seen in the same sea from the coast of Clare. Then he asks a question suggestive of the explanation, that all this is due to 'that very extraordinary phenomenon, known in Sicily by the name of Morgaine le Fay's works.' In connexion with this question of mirage I venture to quote again from the Pembroke County Guardian. Mr. Ferrar Fenton, already mentioned, writes in the issue of Nov. 1, 1896, giving a report which he had received one summer morning from Captain John Evans, since deceased. It is to the effect 'that once when trending up the Channel, and passing Grasholm Island, in what he had always known as deep water, he was surprised to see to windward of him a large tract of land covered with a beautiful green meadow. It was not, however, above water, but just a few feet below, say two or three, so that the grass waved and swam about
as the ripple flowed over it, in a most delightful way to the eye, so that as watched it made one feel quite drowsy. You know, he continued, I have heard old people say there is a floating island off there, that sometimes rises to the surface, or nearly, and then sinks down again fathoms deep, so that no one sees it for years, and when nobody expects it comes up again for a while. How it may be, I do not know, but that is what they say.'
Lastly, Mr. E. Perkins, of Penysgwarne, near Fishguard, wrote on Nov. 2, 1896, as follows, of a changing view to be had from the top of the Garn, which means the Garn Fawr, one of the most interesting prehistoric sites in the county, and one I have had the pleasure of visiting more than once in the company of Henry Owen and Edward Laws, the historians of Pembrokeshire:--
'May not the fairy islands referred to by Professor Rhys have originated from mirages? During the glorious weather we enjoyed last summer, I went up one particularly fine evening to the top of the Garn behind Penysgwarne to view the sunset. It would have been worth a thousand miles' travel to go to see such a scene as I saw that evening. It was about half an hour before sunset--the bay was calm and smooth as the finest mirror. The rays of the sun made
A golden path across the sea,
and a picture indescribable. As the sun neared the horizon the rays broadened until the sheen resembled a gigantic golden plate prepared to hold the brighter sun. No sooner had the sun set than I saw a striking mirage. To the right I saw a stretch of country similar to a landscape in this country. A farmhouse and outbuildings were seen, I will not say quite as distinct as I can see the upper part of St. David's parish from this Garn, but much more detailed. We could see fences,
roads, and gateways leading to the farmyard, but in the haze it looked more like a panoramic view than a veritable landscape. Similar mirages may possibly have caused our old to think these were the abode of the fairies.'
To return to Mr. Sikes, the rest of his account of the Pembrokeshire fairies and their green islands, of their Milford butcher, and of the subterranean gallery leading into their home, comes, as already indicated, for the most part from Howells. But it does not appear on what authority Southey himself made departed druids of the fairies. One would be glad to be reassured on this last point, as such a hypothesis would fit in well enough with what we are told of the sacrosanct character of the inhabitants of the isles on the coast of Britain in ancient times. Take, for instance, the brief account given by Plutarch of one of the isles explored by a certain Demetrius in the service of the Emperor of Rome: see chapter viii.
Mr. Craigfryn Hughes, the author of a Welsh novelette 1 with its scene laid in Glamorgan, having induced me to take a copy, I read it and found it full of local colouring. Then I ventured to sound the author on the question of fairy tales, and the reader will be able to judge how hearty the response has been. Before reproducing the tale which Mr. Hughes has sent me, I will briefly put into English his account of himself and his authorities. Mr. Hughes lives at the Quakers' Yard in the neighbourhood of Pontypridd, in Glamorganshire. His father was not a believer 2 in
tales about fairies or the like, and he learned all he knows of the traditions about them in his father's absence, from his grandmother and other old people. The old lady's name was Rachel Hughes. She was born at Pandy Pont y Cymmer, near Pontypool, or Pont ap Hywel as Mr. Hughes analyses the name, in the year 1773, and she had a vivid recollection of Edmund Jones of the Tranch, of whom more anon, coming from time to time to preach to the Independents there. She came, however, to live in the parish of Llanfabon, near the Quakers' Yard, when she was only twelve years of age; and there she continued to live to the day of her death, which took place in 1864, so that she was about ninety-one years of age at the time. Mr. Hughes adds that he remembers many of the old inhabitants besides his grandmother, who were perfectly familiar with the story he has put on record; but only two of them were alive when he wrote to me in 1881, and these were both over ninety years old, with their minds overtaken by the childishness of age; but it was only a short time since the death of another, who was, as he says, a walking library of tales about corpse candles, ghosts, and Bendith y Mamau 1, or 'The Mothers' Blessing,' as the fairies are usually called in Glamorgan. Mr. Hughes' father tried to prevent his children being taught any tales about ghosts, corpse
candles, or fairies; but the grandmother found opportunities of telling them plenty, and Mr. Hughes vividly describes the effect on his mind when he was a boy, how frightened he used to feel, how he pulled the clothes over his head in bed, and how he half suffocated himself thereby under the effects of the fear with which the tales used to fill him. Then, as to the locality, he makes the following remarks:--'There are few people who have not heard something or other about the old graveyard of the Quakers, which was made by Lydia Phil, a lady who lived at a neighbouring farm house, called Cefn y Fforest. This old graveyard lies in the eastern corner of the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, on land called Pantannas, as to the meaning of which there is much controversy. Some will have it that it is properly Pant yr Aros, or the Hollow of the Staying, because travellers were sometimes stopped there overnight by the swelling of the neighbouring river; others treat it as Pant yr Hanes, the Hollow of the Legend, in allusion to the following story. But before the graveyard was made, the spot was called Rhyd y Grug, or the Ford of the Heather, which grows thereabouts in abundance. In front of the old graveyard towards the south the rivers Taff and Bargoed, which some would make into Byrgoed or Short-Wood, meet with each other, and thence rush in one over terrible cliffs of rock, in the recesses of which lie huge cerwyni or cauldron-like pools, called respectively the Gerwyn Fach, the Gerwyn Fawr, and the Gerwyn Ganol, where many a drowning has taken place. As one walks up over Tarren y Crynwyr, "the Quakers' Rift," until Pantannas is reached, and proceeds northwards for about a mile and a half, one arrives at a farm house called Pen Craig Daf 1, "the Top of the
Taff Rock." The path between the two houses leads through fertile fields, in which may be seen, if one has eyes to observe, small rings which are greener than the rest of the ground. They are, in fact, green even as compared with the greenness around them--these are the rings in which Bendith y Mamau used to meet to sing and dance all night. If a man happened to get inside one of these circles when the fairies were there, he could not be got out in a hurry, as they would charm him and lead him into some of their caves, where they would keep him for ages, unawares to him, listening to their music. The rings vary greatly in size, but in point of form they are all round or oval. I have heard my grandmother,' says Mr. Hughes, 'reciting and singing several of the songs which the fairies sang in these rings. One of them began thus:--
Canu, canu, drwy y nos,
Dawnsio, dawnsio, ar Waen y Rhos
Y' ngoleuni'r lleuad dlos:
Hapus. ydym ni!
Pawb ohonom sydd yn llon
Heb un gofid dan ei fron:
Canu, dawnsio, ar y ton 1--
Dedwydd ydym ni!
Singing, singing, through the night,
Dancing, dancing with our might,
Where the moon the moor doth light,
Happy ever we!
One and all of merry mien,
Without sorrow are we seen,
Singing, dancing on the green,
Gladsome ever we!
Here follows, in Mr. Hughes' own Welsh, a remarkable story of revenge exacted by the fairies:--
Yn un o'r canrifoedd a aethant heibio, preswyliai amaethwr yn nhyddyn Pantannas, a'r amser hwnnw yr
oedd bendith y mamau yn ymwelwyr aml ag amryw gaeau perthynol iddo ef, a theimlai yntau gryn gasineb yn ei fynwes at yr 'atras fwstrog, leisiog, a chynllwynig,' fel y galwai hwynt, a mynych yr hiraethai am allu dyfod o hyd i ryw lwybr er cael eu gwared oddiyno. O'r diwedd hysbyswyd ef gan hen reibwraig, fod y ffordd i gael eu gwared yn ddigon hawdd, ac ond iddo ef roddi godro un hwyr a boreu iddi hi, yr hysbysai y fford iddo gyrraedd yr hyn a fawr ddymunai. Boddlonodd i'w thelerau a derbyniodd yntau y cyfarwyddyd, yr hyn ydoedd fel y canlyn.- Ei fod i aredig yr holl gaeau i ba rai yr oedd eu hoff ymgyrchfan, ac ond iddynt hwy unwaith golli y ton glas, y digient, ac na ddeuent byth mwy i'w boeni drwy eu hymweliadau a'r lle.
Dilynodd yr amaethwr ei chyfarwyddyd i'r llythyren, a choronwyd ei waith a llwyddiant. Nid oedd yr un o honynt i'w weled oddeutu y caeau yn awr; ac yn lle sain cu caniadau soniarus, a glywid bob amser yn dyrchu o Waen y Rhos, nid oedd dim ond y distawrwydd trylwyraf yn teyrnasu o gylch eu hen a'u hoff ymgyrchfan.
Hauodd yr amaethwr wenith, &c., yn y caeau, ac yr oedd y gwanwyn gwyrddlas wedi gwthio y gauaf oddiar ei sedd, ac ymddangosai y maesydd yn ardderchog yn eu llifrai gwyrddleision a gwanwynol.
Ond un prydnawn, ar ol i'r haul ymgilio i yst felloedd y gorllewin, tra yr oedd amaethwr Pantannas yn dychwelyd tua ei gartref, cyfarfyddwyd ag ef gan fod bychan ar ffurf dyn, yn gwisgo hugan goch; a phan ddaeth gyferbyn ag ef dadweiniodd ei gledd bychan, gan gyfeirio ei flaen at yr amaethwr, a dywedyd,
Dial a ddaw,
Y mat gerllaw.
Ceisiodd yr amaethwr chwerthin, ond yr oedd rhywbeth yn edrychiad sarrug a llym y gwr bychan ag a barodd iddo deimlo yn hynod o annymunol.
Ychydig o nosweithiau yn ddiweddarach, pan oedd y teulu ar ymneillduo i'w gorphwysleoedd, dychrynwyd hwy yn fawr iawn gan drwst, fel pe byddai y ty yn syrthio i lawr bendramwnwgl, ac yn union ar ol a'r twrf beidio, clywent y geiriau bygythiol a ganlyn--a dim yn rhagor--yn cael eu parablu yn uchel,
Pan oedd yr yd wedi cael ei fedi ac yn barod i gael ei gywain i'r ysgubor, yn sydyn ryw noswaith llosgwyd ef fel nad oedd yr un dywysen na gwelltyn i'w gael yn un man o'r caeau, ac nis gallasai neb fod wedi gosod yr yd ar dan ond Bendith y Mamau.
Fel ag y mae yn naturiol i ni feddwl teimlodd yr amaethwr yn fawr oherwydd y tro, ac edifarhaodd yn ei galon ddarfod iddo erioed wrando a gwneuthur yn ol cyfarwyddyd yr hen reibwraig, ac felly ddwyn arno ddigofaint a chasineb Bendith y Mamau.
Drannoeth i'r noswaith y llosgwyd yr yd fel yr oedd yn arolygu y difrod achoswyd gan y tan, wele'r gwr bychan ag ydoedd wedi ei gyfarfod ychydig o ddiwrnodau yn flaenorol yn ei gyfarfod eilwaith a chyda threm herfeiddiol pwyntiodd ei gleddyf ato gan ddywedyd,
Nid yw ond dechreu.
Trodd gwyneb yr amaethwr cyn wynned a'r marmor, a safodd gan alw y gwr bychan yn ol, ond bu y còr yn hynod o wydn ac anewyllysgar i droi ato, ond ar ol hir erfyn arno trodd yn ei ol gan ofyn yn sarrug beth yr oedd yr amaethwr yn ei geisio, yr hwn a hysbysodd iddo ei fod yn berffaith foddlon i adael y caeau lle yr oedd eu hoff ymgyrchfan i dyfu yn don eilwaith, a rhoddi caniatad iddynt i ddyfod iddynt pryd y dewisent, ond yn unig iddynt beidio dial eu llid yn mhellach arno ef.
'Na,' oedd yr atebiad penderfynol, 'y mae gair y brenin wedi ei roi y bydd iddo ymddial arnat hyd eithaf ei allu ac
nid oes dim un gallu ar wyneb y greadigaeth a bair iddo gael ei dynnu yw ol.'
Dechreuodd yr amaethwr wylo ar hyn, ond yn mhen ychydig hysbysodd y gwr bychan y byddai iddo ef siarad a'i bennaeth ar y mater, ac y cawsai efe wybod y canlyniad ond iddo ddyfod i'w gyfarfod ef yn y fan honno amser machludiad haul drennydd.
Addawodd yr amaethwr ddyfod i'w gyfarfod, a phan ddaeth yr amser apwyntiedig o amgylch iddo j gyfarfod a'r bychan cafodd ef yno yn ei aros, ac hysbysodd iddo fod y pennaeth wedi ystyried ei gais yn ddifrifol, ond gan fod et air bob amser yn anghyfnewidiol y buasai y dialedd bygythiedig yn rhwym o gymeryd lle ar y teulu, ond ar gyfrif ei edifeirwch ef na chawsai digwydd yn ei amser ef nac eiddo ei blant.
Llonyddodd hynny gryn lawer ar feddwl terfysglyd yr amaethwr, a dechreuodd Bendith y Mamau dalu eu hymweliadau a'r lle eilwaith a mynych y clywid sain eu cerddoriaeth felusber yn codi o'r caeau amgylchynol yn ystod y nos.
* * * * *
Pasiodd canrif heibio heb i'r dialedd bygythiedig gael ei gyflawni, ac er fod teulu Pantannas yn cael eu hadgofio yn awr ac eilwaith, y buasai yn sicr o ddigwydd hwyr neu hwyrach, eto wrth hir glywed y waedd,
ymgynefinasant a hi nes eu bod yn barod i gredu na fuasai dim yn dyfod o'r bygythiad byth.
Yr oedd etifedd Pantannas yn caru a merch i dirfeddiannydd cymydogaethol a breswyliai mewn tyddyn o'r enw Pen Craig Daf. Yr oedd priodas y par dedwydd i gymeryd lle yn mhen ychydig wythnosau ac ymddangosai rhieni y cwpl ieuanc yn hynod o foddlon i'r ymuniad teuluol ag oedd ar gymeryd lle.
Yr oedd yn amser y Nadolig--a thalodd y ddarpar wraig ieuanc ymweliad a theulu ei darpar wr, ac yr oedd yno wledd o wydd rostiedig yn baratoedig gogyfer a'r achlysur.
Eisteddai y cwmni oddeutu y tan i adrodd rhyw chwedlau difyrrus er mwyn pasio yr amser, pryd y cawsant eu dychrynu yn fawr gan lais treiddgar yn dyrchafu megis o wely yr afon yn gwaeddi
Daeth amser ymdïal.
Aethant oll allan i wrando a glywent y lleferydd eilwaith, ond nid oedd dim i'w glywed ond brochus drwst y dwfir wrth raiadru dros glogwyni aruthrol y cerwyni. Ond ni chawsant aros i wrando yn hir iawn cyn iddynt glywed yr un lleferydd eilwaith yn dyrchafu i fyny yn uwch na swn y dwfr pan yn bwrlymu dros ysgwyddau y graig, ac yn gwaeddi,
Daeth yr amser.
Nis gallent ddyfalu beth yr oedd yn ei arwyddo, a chymaint ydoedd eu braw, a'u syndod fel nad allent lefaru yr un gair a'u gilydd. Yn mhen ennyd dychwelasant i'r ty a chyn iddynt eistedd credent yn ddios fod yr adeilad yn cael ei ysgwyd idd ei sylfeini gan ryw dwrf y tu allan. Pan yr oedd yr oll wedi cael eu parlysio gan fraw, wele fenyw fechan yn gwneuthur ei hymddangosiad ar y bwrdd o'u blaen, yr hwn oedd yn sefyll yn agos i'r ffenestr.
'Beth yr wyt yn ei geisio yma, y peth bychan hagr?' holai un o'r gwyddfodolion.
Nid oes gennyf unrhyw neges a thi, y gwr hir dafod,' oedd atebiad y fenyw fechan. 'Ond yr wyf wedi cael fy anfon yma i adrodd rhyw bethau ag sydd ar ddigwydd i'r teulu hwn, a theulu arall o'r gymydogaeth ag a ddichon fod o ddyddordeb iddynt, ond gan i mi dderbyn y fath sarhad oddiar law y gwr du ag sydd yn eistedd yn y cornel, ni fydd i mi godi y llen ag oedd yn cuddio y dyfodol allan o'u golwg.'
'Atolwg os oes yn dy feddiant ryw wybodaeth parth dyfodol rhai o honom ag a fyddai yn ddyddorol i ni gael ei glywed, dwg hi allan,' ebai un arall o'r gwyddfodolion.
'Na wnaf, ond yn unig hysbysu, fod calon gwyryf fel llong ar y traeth yn methu cyrraedd y porthlad oherwydd digalondid y pilot.'
A chyda ei bod yn llefaru y gair diweddaf diflannodd o'u gwydd, na wyddai neb i ba le na pha fodd!
Drwy ystod ei hymweliad hi, peidiodd y waedd a godasai o'r afon, ond yn fuan ar ol iddi ddiflannu, dechreuodd eilwaith a chyhoeddi
Daeth amser dial,
ac ni pheidiodd am hir amser. Yr oedd y cynulliad wedi cael eu meddiannu a gormod o fraw i fedru llefaru yr un gair, ac yr oedd llen o bruddder yn daenedig dros wyneb pob un o honynt. Daeth amser iddynt i ymwahanu, ac aeth Rhydderch y mab i hebrwng Gwerfyl ei gariadferch tua Phen Craig Daf, o ba siwrnai ni dychwelodd byth.
Cyn ymadael di fun dywedir iddynt dyngu bythol ffyddlondeb i'w gilydd, pe heb weled y naill y llall byth ond hynny, ac nad oedd dim a allai beri iddynt anghofio y eu gilydd.'
Mae yn debygol i'r llanc Rhydderch pan yn dychwelyd gartref gael ei hun oddifewn i un o gylchoedd Bendith y Mamau, ac yna iddynt ei hud-ddenu i mewn i un o'u hogofau yn Nharren y Cigfrain, ac yno y bu.
* * * * *
Y mae yn llawn bryd i ni droi ein gwynebau yn ol tua Phantannas a Phen Craig Daf. Yr oedd rhieni y bachgen anffodus yn mron gwallgofi. Nid oedd ganddynt yr un drychfeddwl i ba le i fyned i chwilio am dano, ac er chwilio yn mhob man a phob lle methwyd yn glir a dyfod o hyd iddo, na chael gair o'i hanes.
Ychydig i fyny yn y cwm mewn ogof danddaearol trigfannai hen feudwy oedrannus, yr hwn hefyd a ystyrrid yn ddewin, o'r enw Gweirydd. Aethant yn mhen ychydig wythnosau i ofyn iddo ef, a fedrai roddi iddynt ryw wybodaeth parthed i'w mab colledig--ond i ychydig bwrpas. Ni wnaeth yr hyn a adrododd hwnnw wrthynt ond dyfnhau y clwyf a rhoi golwg fwy anobeithiol fyth ar yr amgylchiad. Ar ol iddynt ei hysbysu ynghylch ymddangosiad y fenyw fechan ynghyd a'r llais wylofus a glywsent yn dyrchafu o'r afan y nos yr aeth ar goll, hysbysodd efe iddynt mai y farn fygythiedig ar y teulu gan Fendith y Mamau oedd wedi goddiweddid y llanc, ac nad oedd o un diben iddynt feddwl cael ei weled byth mwyach! Ond feallai y gwnelai ei ymddangosiad yn mhen oesau, ond dim yn eu hamser hwy.
Pasiai yr amser heibio, a chwyddodd yr wythnosau i fisoedd, a'r misoedd i flynyddoedd, a chasglwyd tad a mam Rhydderch at eu tadau. Yr oedd y lle o hyd yn parhau yr un, ond y preswylwyr yn newid yn barhaus, ac yr oedd yr adgofion am ei golledigaeth yn darfod yn gyflym, ond er hynny yr oedd un yn disgwyl ei ddychweliad yn ol yn barhaus, ac yn gobeithio megis yn erbyn gobaith am gael ei weled eilwaith. Bob boreu gyda bod dorau y wawr yn ymagor dros gaerog fynyddoedd y dwyrain gwelid hi bob tywydd yn rhedeg i ben bryn bychan, a chyda llygaid yn orlawn o ddagrau hiraethlon syllai i bob cyfeiriad i edrych a ganfyddai ryw argoel fod ei hanwylyd yn dychwelyd; ond i ddim, pwrpas. Canol dydd gwelid hi eilwaith yn yr un man, a phan ymgollai yr haul fel pelen eiriasgoch o dân dros y terfyngylch, yr oedd hi yno.
Edrychai nes yn agos bod yn ddall, ac wylai ei henaid allan o ddydd i ddydd ar ol anwylddyn ei chalon. O'r diwedd aeth y rhai sydd yn edrych drwy y ffenestri i omedd eu gwasanaeth iddi, ac yr oedd y pren almon yn coroni ei
phen a'i flagur gwyryfol, ond parhai hi i edrych, ond nid oedd neb yn dod. Yn llawn o ddyddiau ac yn aeddfed i'r bedd rhoddwyd terfyn ar ei holl obeithion a'i disgwyliadau gan angeu, a chludwyd ei gweddillion marwol i fynwent hen Gapel y Fan.
Pasiai blynyddoedd heibio fel mwg, ac oesau fel cysgodion y boreu, ac nid oedd neb yn fyw ag oedd yn cofio Rhydderch, ond adroddid ei golliad disymwyth yn aml. Dylasem fynegu na welwyd yr un o Fendith y Mamau oddeutu y gymydogaeth wedi ei golliad, a pheidiodd sain eu cerddoriaeth o'r nos honno allan.
Yr oedd Rhydderch wedi cael ei hud-ddenu i fyned gyda Bendith y Mamau--ac aethant ag ef i ffwrdd i'w hogof. Ar ol iddo aros yno dros ychydig o ddiwrnodau fel y tybiai, gofynnodd am ganiatad i ddychwelyd, yr hyn a rwydd ganiatawyd iddo gan y brenin. Daeth allan o'r ogof, ac yr oedd yn ganol dydd braf, a'r haul yn llewyrchu odiar fynwes ffurfafen ddigwmwl. Cerddodd yn mlaen o Darren y Cigfrain hyd nes iddo ddyfod i olwg Capel y Fan, ond gymaint oedd ei syndod pan y gwelodd nad oedd yr un capel yno! Pa le yr oedd wedi bod, a pha faint o amser? Gyda theimladau cymysgedik cyfeiriodd ei gamrau tua Phen Craig Daf, cartref-le ei anwylyd, ond nid oedd hi yno, ac nid oedd yn adwaen yr un dyn ag oedd yno chwaith. Ni fedrai gael gair o hanes ei gariad a chymerodd y rhai a breswylient yno mai gwallgofddyn ydoedd.
Prysurodd eilwaith tua Phantannas, ac yr oedd ei syndod yn fwy fyth yno! Nid oedd yn adwaen yr un o honynt, ac ni wyddent hwythau ddim am dano yntau. O'r diwedd daeth gwr y ty i fewn, ac yr oedd hwnnw yn cofio clywed ei dad cu yn adrodd am lanc ag oedd wedi myned yn ddisymwyth i goll er ys peth cannoedd o flynyddoedd yn ol, ond na wyddai neb i ba le. Rywfodd neu gilydd tarawodd gwr y tý ei ffon yn erbyn Rhydderch, pa un a ddiflannodd
mewn cawod o lwch, ac ni chlywyd air o son beth ddaeth o hono mwyach.
'In one of the centuries gone by, there lived a husbandman on the farm of Pantannas; and at that time the fairies used to pay frequent visits to several of the fields which belonged to him. He cherished in his bosom a considerable hatred for the "noisy, boisterous, and pernicious tribe," as he called them, and often did he long to be able to discover some way to rid the place of them. At last he was told by an old witch that the way to get rid of them was easy enough, and that she would tell him how to attain what he so greatly wished, if he gave her one evening's milking 1 on his farm, and one morning's. He agreed to her conditions, and from her he received advice, which was to the effect that he was to plough all the fields where they had their favourite resorts, and that, if they found the green sward gone, they would take offence, and never return to trouble him with their visits to the spot.
'The husbandman followed the advice to the letter, and his work was crowned with success. Not a single one of them was now to be seen about the fields, and, instead of the sound of their sweet music, which used to be always heard rising from the Coarse Meadow Land, the most complete silence now reigned over their favourite resort.
'He sowed his land with wheat and other grain; the verdant spring had now thrust winter off its throne, and the fields appeared splendid in their vernal and green livery.
'But one evening, when the sun had retired to the chambers of the west, and when the farmer of Pantannas
was returning home, he was met by a diminutive being in the shape of a man, with a red coat on. When he had come right up to him, he unsheathed his little sword, and, directing the point towards the farmer, he said:--
Fast it approacheth.
'The farmer tried to laugh, but there was something in the surly and stern looks of the little fellow which made him feel exceedingly uncomfortable.
'A few nights afterwards, as the family were retiring to rest, they were very greatly frightened by a noise, as though the house was falling to pieces; and, immediately after the noise, they heard a voice uttering loudly the threatening words--and nothing more:--
'When, however, the corn was reaped and ready to be carried to the barn, it was, all of a sudden, burnt up one night, so that neither an ear nor a straw of it could be found anywhere in the fields; and now nobody could have set the corn on fire but the fairies.
'As one may naturally suppose, the farmer felt very much on account of this event, and he regretted in his heart having done according to the witch's direction, and having thereby brought upon him the anger and hatred of the fairies.
'The day after the night of the burning of the corn, as he was surveying the destruction caused by the fire, behold the little fellow, who had met him a few days before, met him again, and, with a challenging glance, he pointed his sword towards him, saying:--
It but beginneth.
The farmer's face turned as white as marble, and he stood calling the little fellow to come back; but the
dwarf proved very unyielding and reluctant to turn to him; but, after long entreaty, he turned back, asking the farmer, in a surly tone, what he wanted, when he was told by the latter that he was quite willing to allow the fields, in which their favourite resorts had been, to grow again into a green sward, and to let them frequent them as often as they wished, provided they would no further wreak their anger on him.
'"No," was the determined reply, "the word of the king has been given, that he will avenge himself on thee to the utmost of his power; and there is no power on the face of creation that will cause it to be withdrawn."
'The farmer began to weep at this, and, after a while, the little fellow said that he would speak to his lord on the matter, and that he would let him know the result, if he would come there to meet him at the hour of sunset on the third day after.
'The farmer promised to meet him; and, when the time appointed for meeting the little man came, he found him awaiting him, and he was told by him that his lord had seriously considered his request, but that, as the king's word was ever immutable, the threatened vengeance was to take effect on the family. On account, however, of his repentance, it would not be allowed to happen in his time or that of his children.
'That calmed the disturbed mind of the farmer a good deal. The fairies began again to pay frequent visits to the place, and their melodious singing was again heard at night in the fields around.
* * * * *
A century passed by without seeing the threatened vengeance carried into effect; and, though the Pantannas, family were reminded now and again that it was certain
sooner or later to come, nevertheless, by long hearing the voice that said--
they became so accustomed to it, that they were ready to believe that nothing would ever come of the threat.
'The heir of Pantannas was paying his addresses to the daughter of a neighbouring landowner who lived at the farm house called Pen Craig Daf, and the wedding of the happy pair was to take place in a few weeks, and the parents on both sides appeared exceedingly content with the union that was about to take place between tile two families.
'It was Christmas time, and the intended wife paid a visit to the family of her would-be husband. There they had a feast of roast goose prepared for the occasion.
'The company sat round the fire to relate amusing tales to pass the time, when they were greatly frightened by a piercing voice, rising, as it were, from the bed of the river 1, and shrieking:--
The time for revenge is come.
'They all went out to listen if they could hear the voice a second time, but nothing was to be heard save the angry noise of the water as it cascaded over the dread cliffs of the kerwyni; they had not long, however, to wait till they heard again the same voice rising above the noise of the waters, as they boiled over the shoulders of the rock, and crying:--
The time is come.
'They could not guess what it meant, and so great was their fright and astonishment, that no one could utter a word to another. Shortly they returned to the
house, when they believed that beyond doubt the building was being shaken to its foundations by some noise outside. When all were thus paralysed by fear, behold a little woman made her appearance on the table, which stood near the window.
'"What dost thou, ugly little thing, want here?' asked one of those present.
'"I have nothing to do with thee, O man of the meddling tongue," said the little woman, "but I have been sent here to recount some things that are about to happen to this family and another family in the neighbourhood, things that might be of interest to them; but, as I have received such an insult from the black fellow that sits in the corner, the veil that hides them from their sight shall not be lifted by me."
'"Pray," said another of those present, "if thou hast in thy possession any knowledge with regard to the future of any one of us that would interest us to hear, bring it forth."
'"No, I will but merely tell you that a certain maiden's heart is like a ship on the coast, unable to reach the harbour because the pilot has lost heart."
'As soon as she had cried out the last word, she vanished, no one knew whither or how.
'During her visit, the cry rising from the river had stopped, but soon afterwards it began again to proclaim:--
The time of vengeance is come;
nor did it cease for a long while. The company had been possessed by too much terror for one to be able to address another, and a sheet of gloom had, as it were, been spread over the face of each. The time for parting came, and Rhydderch the heir went to escort Gwerfyl, his lady-love, home towards Pen Craig Daf, a journey from which he never returned.
'Before bidding one another "Good-bye," they are said to have sworn to each other eternal fidelity, even though they should never see one another from that moment forth, and that nothing should make the one forget the other.
'It is thought probable that the young man Rhydderch, on his way back towards home, got into one of the rings of the fairies, that they allured him into one of their caves in the Ravens' Rift, and that there he remained.
* * * * *
'It is high time for us now to turn back towards Pantannas and Pen Craig Daf. The parents of the unlucky youth were almost beside themselves: they had no idea where to go to look for him, and, though they searched every spot in the place, they failed completely to find him or any clue to his history.
'A little higher up the country, there dwelt, in a cave underground, an aged hermit called Gweirydd, who was regarded also as a sorcerer. They went a few weeks afterwards to ask him whether he could give them any information about their lost son; but it was of little avail. What that man told them did but deepen the wound and give the event a still more hopeless aspect. When they had told him of the appearance of the little woman, and the doleful cry heard rising from the river on the night when their son was lost, he informed them that it was the judgement threatened to the family by the fairies that had overtaken the youth, and that it was useless for them to think of ever seeing him again: possibly he might make his appearance after generations had gone by, but not in their lifetime.
'Time rolled on, weeks grew into months, and months into years, until Rhydderch's father and
mother were gathered to their ancestors. The place continued the same, but the inhabitants constantly changed, so that the memory of Rhydderch's disappearance was fast dying away. Nevertheless there was one who expected his return all the while, and hoped, as it were against hope, to see him once more. Every morn, as the gates of the dawn opened beyond the castellated heights of the east, she might be seen, in all weathers, hastening to the top of a small hill, and, with eyes full of the tears of longing, gazing in every direction to see if she could behold any sign of her beloved's return; but in vain. At noon, she might be seen on the same spot again; she was also there at the hour when the sun was wont to hide himself, like a red-hot ball of fire, below the horizon. She gazed until she was nearly blind, and she wept forth her soul from day to day for the darling of her heart. At last they that looked out at the windows began to refuse their service, and the almond tree commenced to crown her head with its virgin bloom. She continued to gaze, but he came not. Full of days, and ripe for the grave, death put an end to all her hopes and all her expectations. Her mortal remains were buried in the graveyard of the old Chapel of the Fan 1
'Years passed away like smoke, and generations like the shadows of the morning, and there was no longer anybody alive who remembered Rhydderch, but the tale of his sudden missing was frequently in people's mouths. And we ought to have said that after the event no one of the fairies was seen about the neighbourhood, and the sound of their music ceased from that night.
'Rhydderch had been allured by them, and they took him away into their cave. When he had stayed there only a few days, as he thought, he asked for permission to return, which was readily granted him by the king. He issued from the cave when it was a fine noon, with the sun beaming from the bosom of a cloudless firmament. He walked on from the Ravens' Rift until he came near the site of the Fan Chapel; but what was his astonishment to find no chapel there! Where, he wondered, had he been, and how long away? So with mixed feelings he directed his steps towards Pen Craig Daf, the home of his beloved one, but she was not there nor any one whom he knew either. He could get no word of the history of his sweetheart, and those who dwelt in the place took him for a madman.
'He hastened then to Pantannas, where his astonishment was still greater. He knew nobody there, and nobody knew anything about him. At last the man of the house came in, and he remembered hearing his grandfather relating how a youth had suddenly disappeared, nobody knew whither, some hundreds of years previously. Somehow or other the man of the house chanced to knock his walking-stick against Rhydderch, when the latter vanished in a shower of dust. Nothing more was ever heard of him.'
Before leaving Glamorgan, I may add that Mr. Sikes associates fairy ladies with Crymlyn Lake, between Briton Ferry and Swansea; but, as frequently happens with him, he does not deign to tell us whence be got the legend. 'It is also believed,' he says at p. 35, 'that a large town lies swallowed up there, and that the Gwragedd Annwn have turned the submerged walls to use as the superstructure of their fairy palaces. Some claim to have seen the towers of beautiful castles lifting their battlements beneath the surface of the dark
waters, and fairy bells are at times heard ringing from these towers.' So much by the way: we shall return to Crymlyn in chapter vii.
The other day, as I was going to Gwent, I chanced to be in the Golden Valley in Herefordshire, where the names in the churchyards seem largely to imply a Welsh population, though the Welsh language has not been heard there for ages. Among others I noticed Joneses and Williamses in abundance at Abbey Dore, Evanses and Bevans, Morgans, Prossers and Prices, not to mention Sayces--that is to say, Welshmen of English extraction or education--a name which may also be met with in Little England in Pembrokeshire, and probably on other English-Welsh borders. Happening to have to wait for a train at the Abbey Dore station, I got into conversation with the tenants of a cottage hard by, and introduced the subject of the fairies. The old man knew nothing about them, but his wife, Elizabeth Williams, had been a servant girl at a place called Pen Pôch, which she pronounced with the Welsh guttural ch: she said that it is near Llandeilo Cressenny in Monmouthshire. It was about forty years ago when she served at Pen Pôch, and her mistress' name was Evans, who was then about fifty years of age. Now Mrs. Evans was in the habit of impressing on her servant girls' minds, that, unless they made the house tidy before going to bed, and put everything in its place overnight, the little people--the fairies, she thinks she called them--would leave them no rest in bed at night, but would come and 'pinch them like.' If they put everything in its place, and left the house 'tidy like,' it would be all
right, and 'nobody would do anything to them like.' That is all I could get from her without prompting her, which I did at length by suggesting to her that the fairies might leave the tidy servants presents, a shilling 'on the hearth or the hob like.' Yes, she thought there was something of that sort, and her way of answering me suggested that this was not the first time she had heard of the shilling. She had never been lucky enough to have had one herself, nor did she know of anybody else that I had got it like.'
During a brief but very pleasant sojourn at Llanover in May, 1883, I made some inquiries about the fairies, and obtained the following account from William Williams, who now, in his seventieth year, works in Lady Llanover's garden:--'I know of a family living a little way from here at -----, or as they would now call it inEnglish -----, whose ancestors, four generations ago, used to be kind to Bendith y Mamau, and always welcomed their visits by leaving at night a basinful of bread and milk for them near the fire. It always used to be eaten up before the family got up in the morning. But one night a naughty servant man gave them instead of milk a bowlful of urine 1. They, on finding it out, threw it about the house and went away disgusted. But the servant watched in the house the following night. They found him out, and told him that he had made fools of them, and that in punishment for his crime there would always be a fool, i. e. an idiot, in his family. As a matter of fact, there was one among his children afterwards, and there is one in the family now. They have always been in a bad way ever since, and they never prosper. The name of the man who originally
offended the fairies was -----; and the name of the present fool among his descendants is -----.' For evident reasons it is not desirable to publish the names.
Williams spoke also of a sister to his mother, who acted as servant to his parents. There were, he said, ten stepping stones between his father's house and the well, and on every one of these stones his aunt used to find a penny every morning, until she made it known to others, when, of course, the pennies ceased coming. He did not know why the fairies gave money to her, unless it was because she was a most tidy servant.
Another Llanover gardener remembered that the fairies used to change children, and that a certain woman called Nani Fach in that neighbourhood was one of their offspring; and he had been told that there were fairy rings in certain fields not far away in Llanover parish.
A third gardener, who is sixty-eight years of age, and is likewise in Lady Llanover's employ, had heard it said that servant girls about his home were wont to sweep the floor clean at night, and to throw crumbs of bread about on it before going to bed.
Lastly, Mrs. Gardner of Ty Llchaf Llanover, who is ninety years of age, remembers having a field close to Capel Newydd near Blaen Mon, in Llanover Uchaf, pointed out to her as containing fairy rings; and she recollects hearing, when she was a child, that a man had got into one of them. He remained away from home, as they always did, she said, a whole year and a day; but she has forgotten how he was recovered. Then she went on to say that her father had often got up in the night to see that his horses were not taken out and ridden about the fields by Bendith y Mamau; for they were wont to ride people's horses late at night round the four comers of the fields, and thereby they often
broke the horses' wind. This, she gave me to understand, was believed in the parish of Llanover and that part of the country generally. So here we have an instance probably of confounding fairies with witches.
I have not the means at my command of going at length into the folklore of Gwent, so I will merely mention where the reader may find a good deal about it. I have already introduced the name of the credulous old Christian, Edmund Jones of the Tranch: he published at Trefecca in the year 1779 a small volume entitled, A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth in the County of Monmouth, to which are added Memoirs of several Persons of Note who lived in the said Parish. In 1813, by which time he seems to have left this world for another, where he expected to understand all about the fairies and their mysterious life, a small volume of his was published at Newport, bearing the title, A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth and the Principality of Wales, with other notable Relations from England, together with Observations about them, and Instructions from them, designed to confute and to prevent the Infidelity of denying the Being and Apparition of Spirits, which tends to Irreligion and Atheism. By the late Rev. Edmund Jones, of the Tranch. Naturally those volumes have been laid under contribution by Mr. Sikes, though the tales about apparitions in them are frequently of a ghastly nature, and sometimes loathsome: on the whole, they remind me more than anything else I have ever read of certain Breton tales which breathe fire and brimstone: all such begin to be now out of fashion in Protestant countries. I shall at present only quote a passage of quite a different nature from the earlier volume, p. 72--it is an interesting one, and it runs thus:--'It was the general opinion in times past, when these things were very
frequent, that the fairies knew whatever was spoken in the air without the houses, not so much what was spoken in the houses. I suppose they chiefly knew what was spoken in the air at night. It was also said that they rather appeared to an uneven number of persons, to one, three, five, &c.; and oftener to men than to women. Thomas William Edmund, of Havodavel, an honest pious man, who often saw them, declared that they appeared with one bigger than the rest going before them in the company.' With the notion that the fairies heard everything uttered out of doors may be compared the faculty attributed to the great magician king, Math ab Mathonwy, of hearing any whisper whatsoever that met the wind: see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 60, and Guest's Mabinogion, iii. 219; see also this book, as to the same faculty belonging to the fairy people of the Corannians, and the strange precautions taken against them by the brothers Llûd and Llevelys.
76:1 These were held, so far as I can gather from the descriptions usually given of them, exactly as I have seen a kermess or kirchmesse celebrated at Heidelberg, or rather the village over the Neckar opposite that town. It was in 1869, but I forget what saint it was with whose name the kermess was supposed to be connected: the chief features of it were dancing and beer drinking. It was by no means unusual for a Welsh Gwyl Fabsant to bring together to a rural neighbourhood far more people than could readily be accommodated; and in Carnarvonshire a hurriedly improvised bed is to this day called gwely g'l'absant, as it were 'a bed (for the time) of a saint's festival.' Rightly or wrongly the belief lingers that these merry gatherings were characterized by no little immorality, which made the better class of people set their faces against them.
81:1 Since the editing of this volume was begun I have heard that it is intended to publish the Welsh collection which Mr. Jones has made: so I shall only give a translation of the Edward Llwyd version of the afanc story: see section v. of this chapter.
81:2 This word is not in Welsh dictionaries, but it is Scotch and Manx Gaelic, and is possibly a remnant of the Goidelic once spoken in Gwynedd.
84:1 Our charlatans never leave off trying to make this into Tryfaen so as to extract maen, 'stone,' from it. They do not trouble themselves to find out whether it ever was Tryfaen or not: in fact they rather like altering everything as much as they can.
96:1 Ystrádllyn, with the accent on the penult, is commonly pronounced Strállyn, and means 'the strand of the lake,' and the hollow is named after it Cwm Strállyn, and the lake in it Llyn Cwm Strállyn, which literally means 'the Lake of the Combe of the Strand of the Lake'--all seemingly for the luxury of forgetting the original name of the lake, which I have never been able to ascertain.
102:1 So Mr. Jones puts it: I have never heard of any other part of the Principality where the children are usually baptized before they are eight days old.
106:1 I cannot account for this spelling, but the ll in Bellis is English ll, not the Welsh ll, which represents a sound very different from that of l.
107:1 Where not stated otherwise, as in this instance, the reader is to regard this chapter as written in the latter part of the year 1881.
117:1 See Giraldus' Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 8 (pp. 75-8); some discussion of the whole story will be found in chapter iii of this volume.
125:1 Dr. Moore explains this to be cabbages and potatoes, pounded and mixed with butter or lard.
130:1 It would be interesting to know what has become of this letter and others of Llwyd's once in the possession of the canon, for it is not to be supposed that the latter ever took the trouble to make an accurate copy of them any more than he did of any other MSS.
130:2 There is also a Sarn yr Afanc, 'the Afanc's Stepping Stones,' on the Ogwen river in Nant Ffrancon: see Pennant's Tours in Wales, iii. 101.
131:1 The oxen should accordingly have been called Ychain Pannog; but the explanation is not to be taken seriously. These oxen will come under the reader's notice again, to wit in chapter x.
135:1 The lines are copied exactly as given at p. 189 (I. vi. 25-30) of The Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, edited for the Cymmrodorion by Gwallter Mechain and Tegid, and printed at Oxford in the year 1837.
137:1 This, I should say, must be a mistake, as it contradicts all the folklore which makes the rowan an object of dread to the fairies.
140:1 See Choice Notes from 'Notes and Queries' (London, 1859), p. 147.
142:1 It is more likely that it is a shortening of Llyn y Barfog, meaning the Lake of the Bearded One, Lacus Barbati as it were, the Bearded One being somebody like the hairy monster of another lake mentioned at p. 18 above, or him of the white beard pictured at p. 127.
142:2 So far from afanc meaning a crocodile, an afanc is represented in the story of Peredur as a creature that would cast at every comer a poisoned spear from behind a pillar standing at the mouth of the cave inhabited by it; see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 224. The corresponding Irish word is abhac, which according to O'Reilly means 'a dwarf, pigmy, manikin; a sprite.'
143:1 I should not like to vouch of the accuracy of Mr. Pughe's rendering of this and the other Welsh names which he has introduced: that involves difficult questions.
144:1 The writer meant the river known as Dyfi or Dovey; but he would seem to have had a water etymology on the brain.
144:2 This involves the name of the river called Disynni, and Diswnwy embodies a popular etymology which is not worth discussing.
145:1 It would, I think, be a little nearer the mark as follows:--
Come thou, Einion's Yellow One,
Stray-horns, the Particoloured Lake Cow,
And the Hornless Dodin
Arise, come home.
But one would like to know whether Dodin ought not rather to be written Dodyn, to rhyme with Llyn.
147:1 Hywel's real name is William Davies, Tal y Bout, Cardiganshire. As adjudicator I became acquainted with several stories which Mr. Davies has since given me permission to use, and I have to thank him for clues to several others.
152:1 Or Llech y Deri, as Mr. Williams tells me in a letter, where he adds that he does not know the place, but that he took it to be in the Hundred of Cemmes, in North-west Pembrokeshire. I take Llech y Derwydd to be fictitious; but I have not succeeded in finding any place called by the other name either.
155:1 Perhaps the more usual thing is for the man returning from Faery to fall into dust on the spot: see later in this chapter the Curse of Pantannas which ends with an instance in point, and compare Howells, pp. 142; 146.
161:1 B. Davies, that is, Benjamin Davies, who gives this tale, was, as I learn from Gwynionydd, a native of Cenarth. He was a schoolmaster for about twelve years, and died in October, 1859, at Merthyr, near Carmarthen: he describes him as a good and intelligent man.
162:1 This is ordinarily written Cenarth, the name of a parish on the Teifi, where the three counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, and Carmarthen meet.
163:1 The name Llan Dydoch occurs in the Bruts, A.D. 987 and 1089, and is the one still in use in Welsh; but the English St. Dogmael's shows that it is derived from that of Dogfael's name when the mutation consonant f or v was still written m. In Welsh the name of the saint has been worn down to Dogwel, as in St. Dogwell's near Fishguard, and Llanddogwel in Llanrhuddlad parish in Anglesey: see Reece's Welsh Saints, p. 211. It points back to an early Brythonic form Doco-maglos, with doco of the same origin as Latin dux, dŭcis, 'a leader,' and maglo-s = Irish māl, 'a lord or prince.' Dogfael's name assumes in Llan Dydoch a Goidelic form, for Dog-fael would have to become in Irish Doch-mhāl, which, cut down to Doch with the honorific prefix to, has yielded Ty-doch; but I am not clear why it is not Ty-ddoch. Another instance of a Goidelic form of a name having the local preference in Wales to this day offers itself in Cyfelach and Llan Gyfelach in Glamorganshire. The Welsh was formerly Cimeliauc (Reece, p. 274). Here may also be mentioned St. Cyngar, otherwise called Docwinnus (Reece, p. 183), but the name occurs in the Liber Landavensis in the genitive both as Docunn-i and Docguinni, the former of which seems easily explained as Goidelic for an early form of Cyngar, namely Cuno-caros, from which would be formed To-chun or Do-chun. This is what seems to underlie the Latin Docunnus, while Docguinni is possibly a Goidelic modification of the written Docunni, unless some such a name as Doco-vindo-s has been confounded with Docunnus. In one instance the Book of Llan Dâv has instead of Abbas Docunni or Docguinni, the shorter designation, Abbas Dochou (p. 145), which one must not unhesitatingly treat as Dochon, seeing that Dochou would be in later book Welsh Dochau, and in the dialect of the district Docha; and that this occurs in the name of the church of Llandough near Cardiff, and Llandough near Cowbridge. The connexion of a certain saint Dochdwy with these churches does not appear at all satisfactorily established, but more light is required to help one to understand these and similar church names.
163:2 This name which may have come from Little England below Wales, was once not uncommon in South Cardiganshire, as Mr. William informs me, but it is now mostly changed as a surname into Davies and Jones! Compare the similar fortunes of the name Mason mentioned above.
165:1 I have not succeeded in discovering who the writer was, who used this name.
166:1 This name as it is now written should mean 'the Gold's Foot,' but in the Demetian dialect aur is pronounced oer, and I learn from the rector, the Rev. Rhys Jones Lloyd, that the name has sometimes been written Tref Deyrn, which I regard as some etymologises futile attempt to explain it. More importance is to be attached to the name on the communion cup, dating 1828, and reading, as Mr. Lloyd kindly informs me, Poculum Eclyseye de Tre-droyre. Beneath Droyre some personal name possibly lies concealed.
173:1 Y Ferch o Gefn Ydfa ('The Maid of Cefn Ydfa') by Isaac Craigfryn Hughes, published by Messrs. Daniel Owen, Howell & Co., Cardiff, 1881.
173:2 In a letter dated February 9, 1899, he states, however, that as regards folklore the death of his father at the age of seventy-six, in the year 1889, had been a great loss to him; for he adds that he was perfectly familiar p. 174 with the traditions of the neighbourhood and had associated with older men. Among the latter he had been used to talk with an old man whose father remembered Cromwell passing on his way to destroy the Iron Works of Pant y Gwaith, where the Cavaliers had had a cannon cast, which was afterwards used in the engagement at St. Fagan's.
174:1 This term is sometimes represented as being Bendith eu Mamau, 'their Mother's Blessing,' as if each fairy were such a delightful offspring as to constitute himself or herself a blessing to his or her mother; but I have not found satisfactory evidence to the currency of Bendith eu Mamau, or, as it would be pronounced in Glamorgan, Béndith ĭ Máma. On the whole, therefore, perhaps one may regard the name as pointing back to the Celtic goddesses known in Gaul in Roman times as the Mothers.
175:1 On Pen Craig Daf Mr. Hughes gives the following note:--It was the residence of Dafydd Morgan or 'Counsellor Morgan,' who, he says, was p. 176 executed on Kennington Common for taking the side of the Pretender. He had retreated to Pen y Graig, where his abode was, in order to conceal himself; but he was discovered and carried away at night. Here follows a verse from an old ballad about him:--
Dafydd Morgan ffel a ffol,
Fe aeth yn ol ei hyder:
Fe neidodd naid at rebel haid
Pan drodd o blaid Pretender.
Taffy Morgan, sly and daft,
He did his bent go after:
He leaped a leap to a rebel swarm,
To arm for a Pretender.
176:1 A tòn is any green field that is used for grazing and not meant to be mown, land which has, as it were, its skin of grassy turf unbroken for years by the plough.
184:1 On this Mr. Hughes has a note to the effect that the whole of one milking used to be given in Glamorgan to workmen for assistance at the harvest or other work, and that it was not unfrequently enough for the making of two cheeses.
187:1 Since this was first printed I have learnt from Mr. Hughes that the first cry issued from the Black Cauldron in the Taff (o'r Gerwyn Ddu ar Daf), which I take to be a pool in that river.
190:1 The Fan is the highest mountain in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, Mr. Hughes tells me: he adds that there was on its side once a chapel with a burial ground. Its history seems to be lost, but human bones have, as he states, been frequently found there.
193:1 The above, I am sorry to say, is not the only instance of this nasty trick associating itself with Gwent, as will be seen from the story of Bwca'r Trwyn in chapter x.