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afforded by the method of proceeding to recover an infant stolen by the fairies. One account runs thus : The mother who had lost her baby was to go with a wizard and carry with her to a river the child left her in exchange. The wizard would say, Crap ar y wrach, 'Grip the hag,' and the woman would reply, Rhy hwyr, gyfraglach, ‘Too late, you urchin?' Before she uttered those words she had dropped the urchin into the river, and she would then return to her house. By that time the kidnapped child would be found to have come back home. The words here used have not been quite forgotten in Carnarvonshire, but no distinct meaning seems to be attached to them now; at any rate I have failed to find anybody who could explain them. I should however guess that the wizard addressed his words to the fairy urchin with the intention, presumably, that the fairies in the river should at the same time hear and note what was about to be done. Another, and a somewhat more intelligible version, is given in the Gwyliedyå for 1837, p. 185, by a contributor who publishes it from a manuscript which Lewis Morris began to write in 1724 and finished apparently in 1729. He was a native of Anglesey, and it is probably to that county the story belongs, which he gives to illustrate one of the phonological aspects of certain kinds of Welsh. That account differs from the one just cited in that it introduces no wizard, but postulates two fairy urchins between whom the dialogue occurs, which is not unusual in our changeling stories : see p. 62. After this explanation I translate Morris' words thus :
1 A more difficult version has been sent me by Dewi Glan Ffrydlas, of Bethesda : Caffed y wrach, “Let him seize the hag'; Methu'r cryfaglack, *You have failed, urchin.' But he has not been able to get any explanation of the words at the Penrhyn Quarries. Cryfaglach is also the form in Mur y Cryfaglach, “the Urchin's Wall,' in Jenkins' Bed Gelert, p. 249. He informs me that this is the name of an old ruin on an elevated spot some twenty or thirty yards from a swift brook, and not far in a south-south-easterly direction from Sir Edward Watkin's chalet.
* For this I am indebted to Mr. Wm. Davies (p. 147 above), who tells me that he copied the original from Chwedlau a Thrađodiadau Gwyned, Gwyned Tales and Traditions, published in a periodical, which I have not been able to consult, called Y Gordofigion, for the year 1873.
‘But to return to the question of the words approaching to the nature of the thing intended, there is an old story current among us concerning a woman whose children had been exchanged by the Tylwyth Teg. Whether it is truth or falsehood does not much matter, yet it shows what the men of that age thought concerning the sound of words, and how they fancied that the language of those sprites was of a ghastly and lumpy kind. The story is as follows:-The woman whose two children had been exchanged, chanced to overhear the two fair heirs, whom she got instead of them, reasoning with one another beyond what became their age and persons. So she picked up the two sham children, one under each arm, in order to go and throw them from a bridge into a river, that they might be drowned as she fancied. But hardly had the one in his fall reached the bottom when he cried out to his comrade in the following words :Grippiach greppach
Keep thy hold on the hag.
I fell into the In spite of the obscurity of these words, it is quite clear that it was thought the most natural thing in the world to return the fairies to the river, and no sooner were
· The meaning of the word mwthlach is doubtful, as it is now current in Gwyneď only in the sense of a soft, doughy, or puffy person who is all of a heap, so to say. Pughe gives mwythlan and mwythlen with similar significations. But mwthlach would seem to have had some such a meaning in the doggerel as that of rough ground or a place covered with a scrubby, tangled growth. It is possibly the same word as the Irish mothlach, 'rough, bushy, ragged, shaggy'; see the Vision of Laisrén, edited by Professor K. Meyer, in the Otia Merseiana, pp. 114, 117.
they dropped there than the right infants were found to have been sent home.
The same thing may be learned also from the story of the Curse of Pantannas, pp. 187-8 above; for when the time of the fairies' revenge is approaching, the merry party gathered together at Pantannas are frightened by a piercing voice rising from a black and cauldron-like pool in the river; and after a while they hear it a second time rising above the noise of the river as it cascades over the shoulder of a neighbouring rock. Shortly afterwards an ugly, diminutive woman appears on the table near the window, and had it not been for the rudeness of one of those present she would have disclosed the future to them, but, as it was, she said very
little in a vague way and went away offended; but as long as she was there the voice from the river was silent. Here we have the Welsh counterpart of the ben side, pronounced banshee in Anglo-Irish, and meaning a fairy woman who is supposed to appear to certain Irish families before deaths or other misfortunes about to befall them. It is doubtless to some such fairy persons the voices belong, which threaten vengeance on the heir of Pantannas and on the wicked prince and his descendants previous to the cataclysm which brings a lake into the place of a doomed city : witness such cases as those of Lynclys, Syfađon, and Kenfig.
The last mentioned deserves some further scrutiny ; and I take this opportunity of referring the reader back to pp. 403-4, in order to direct his attention to the fact that the voice so closely identifies itself with the wronged family that it speaks in the first person, as it cries, “Vengeance is come on him who murdered my father of the ninth generation!' Now it is worthy of remark that the same personifying is also characteristic of the Cyhiraeth'. 1 The account here given of the Cyhiraeth is taken partly from Choice
This spectral female used to be oftener heard than seen; but her blood-freezing shriek was as a rule to be heard when she came to a cross-road or to water, in which she splashed with her hands. At the same time she would make the most doleful noise and exclaim, in case the frightened hearer happened to be a wife, Fy ngwr, fy ngwr! 'my husband, my husband!' If it was the man the exclamation would be, Fy ngwraig, fy ngwraig! 'my wife, my wife!'Or in either case it might be, Fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn bach! 'my child, my child, my little child !' These cries meant the approaching death of the hearer's husband, wife, or child, as the case might be; but if the scream was inarticulate it was reckoned probable that the hearer himself was the person foremourned. Sometimes she was supposed to
Notes, pp. 31-2, and partly from Howells, pp. 31-4, 56-7, who appears to have got uncertain in his narrative as to the sex of the Cyhiraeth ; but there is no reason whatsoever for regarding it as either male or female—the latter alone is warranted, as he might have gathered from her being called y Gyhiraeth, 'the Cyhiraeth, never y Cyhiraeth as far as I know. In North Car. diganshire the spectre intended is known only by another name, that of Gwrach y Rhibyn, but y Gyhiraeth or yr hen Gyhiraeth is a common term of abuse applied to a lanky, cadaverous person, both there and in Gwyned; in books, however, it is found sometimes meaning a phantom funeral. The word cyhiraeth would seem to have originally meant a skeleton with cyhyrau,
sinews,' but no flesh. However, cyhyrau, singular cyhyr, would be more correctly written with an i; for the words are pronounced-even in Gwynetcyhir, cyhirau. The spelling cyhyraeth corresponds to no pronunciation I have ever heard of the word; but there is a third spelling, cyheuraeth, which corresponds to an actual cyhoereth or cyhoyreth, the colloquial pronunciation to be heard in parts of South Wales: I cannot account for this variant. Gwrach y Rhibyn means the Hag of the Rhibyn, and rhibyn usually means a row, streak, a line-ma' nhw'n mynd yn un rhibyn, 'they are going in a line.' But what exactly Gwrach y Rhibyn should connote I am unable to say. I may mention, however, on the authority of Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans, that in Mid-Cardiganshire the term Gwrach y Rhibyn means a long roll or bustle of fern tied with ropes of straw and placed along the middle of the top of a hayrick. This is to form a ridge over which and on which the thatch is worked and supported : gwrach unqualified is, I am told, used in this sense in Glam anshire. Something about the Gwrach sprite will be found in the Brython for 1860, p. 23", while a different account is given in Jenkins' Bed Gelert,
come, like the Irish banshee, in a dark mist to the window of a person who has been long ailing, and to flap her wings against the glass, while repeating aloud his or her name, which was believed to mean that the patient must die'. The picture usually given of the Cyhiraeth is of the most repellent kind : tangled hair, long black teeth, wretched, skinny, shrivelled arms of unwonted length out of all proportion to the body. Nevertheless it is, in my opinion, but another aspect of the banshee-like female who intervenes in the story of the Curse of Pantannas. One might perhaps treat both as survivals of a belief in a sort of personification of, or divinity identified with, a family or tribe, but for the fact that such language is emptied of most of its meaning by the abstractions which it would connect with a primitive state of society. So it is preferable, as coming probably near the truth, to say that what we have here is a trace of an ancestress. Such an idea of an ancestress as against that of an ancestor is abundantly countenanced by dim figures like that of the Dôn of the Mabinogion, and of her counterpart, after whom the Tribes of the goddess Donu or Danu are known as Tuatha De Danann in Irish literature. But the one who most provokes comparison is the Old Woman of Beare, already mentioned, pp. 393-4: she figures largely in Irish folklore as a hag surviving to see her descendants reckoned by tribes and peoples. It may be only an accident that a poetically wrought legend pictures her not so much interested in the fortunes of her progeny as engaged in bewailing the unattractive appearance of her thin arms and shrivelled hands, together with the
This statement I give from Choice Notes, p. 32; but I must confess that I am sceptical as to the 'wings of a leathery and bat-like substance,' or of any other substance whatsoever.
? For more about her and similar ancestral personages, see The Welsh People, pp. 54-61.