[T]HE tales related in the following pages, I have gathered from the peasantry of Dartmoor, and they may be accepted as representative of the class of stories told of the elves of superstition--the pixies.
Had my design been simply to have presented the reader with a collection of these, I might have filled a greater number of pages, but I have had a different aim in view. What I have endeavoured to do has been to give, by means of these tales, as clear an idea as possible of the pixy superstition as it formerly existed, believing that the fanciful notions of our forefathers should not be regarded as altogether unworthy of attention, but that upon investigation they will probably be found to yield something of value to the student of folk-lore.
To this end I have chosen such tales as I considered would best give the reader an acquaintance with the kind of actions in which the pixies were said to indulge, at the same time refraining from including any that are found in the pages of other writers.
That the ideas respecting the elfin race here treated of are of very different character from what they were a generation or two since is most true; but it is none the less interesting to note that though the existence of 'the little goblins is looked upon by the peasant as being more than doubtful, and in many cases regarded with actual scepticism, the deeds with which they were formerly credited are not yet entirely forgotten.
South Brent, Devon,
11th June. 1890.