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ALICE, COUNTESS AMHERST.
HE writer of this book lived for many years in the Welsh
Colony. Patagonia, where he was the pioneer of the Anglican
Church. Ile published a book dealing with that part of the world, which also contained a great deal of interesting matter regarding the little known Patagonian Indians, Ideas on Religion and Customs, etc. He returned to Wales in 1891 ; and after spending a few years in his native land, went out to a wild part of Western Australia, and was the pioneer Christian worker in a district called Colliefields, where he also built a church. (No one had ever conducted Divine Service in that place before.)
llere again, he found time to write his experiences, and his book contained a great deal of value to the Folklorist, regarding the aborigines of that country, quite apart from the ordinary account of Missionary enterprise, history and prospects of Western Australia, etc.
In 1901, Mr. Ceredig Davies came back to live in his native country, Wales.
In Cardiganshire, and the centre of Wales, generally, there still remains a great mass of unrecorded Celtic Folk Lore, Tradition, and Custom.
Thus it was suggested that if Mr. Ceredig Davies wished again to write a book-the material for a valuable one lay at his door if he cared to undertake it. His accurate knowledge of Welsh gave him great facility for the work. He took up the idea, and this book is the result of his labours.
The main object has been to collect "verbatim," and render the Welsh idiom into English as nearly as possible these old stories still told of times gone by.
The book is in no way written to prove, or disprove, any of the numerous theories and speculations regarding the origin of the Celtic Race, its Religion or its Traditions. The fundamental object has been to commit to writing what still remains of the unwritten Welsh Folk Lore, before it is forgotten, and this is rapidly becoming the case.
The subjects are divided on the same lines as most of the books on Highland and Irish Folk Lore, so that the student will find little trouble in tracing the resemblance, or otherwise, of the Folk Lore in Wales with that of the two sister countries.
ELSII FOLK-LORE is almost inexhaustible, and of great
importance to the historian and others. Indeed, with
out a knowledge of the past traditions, customs and superstitions of the people, the history of a country is not complete.
In this book I deal chiefly with the three counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire, technically known in the present day as “ West Wales"; but as I have introduced so many things from the counties bordering on Cardigan and Carmarthen, such as Montgomery, Radnor, Brecon, etc., I thought proper that the work should be entitled, The Folk-Lore of West and Mid-Wales."
Although I have been for some years abroad, in Patagonia, and Australia, yet I know almost every county in my native land ; and there is hardly a spot in the three counties of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Pembroke that I have not visited during the last nine years, gathering materials for this book from old people and others who were interested in such subject, spending three or four months in some districts. All this took considerable time and trouble, not to mention of the expenses in going about; but I generally walked much, especially in the remote country districts, but I feel I have rescued from oblivion things which are dying out, and many things which have died out already. I have written very fully concerning the old Welsh Wedding and Funeral Customs, and obtained most interesting account of them from aged persons. The “ Bidder's Song," by Daniel Ddu, which first appeared in the "Cambrian Briton" 1822, is of special interest. Mrs. Loxdale, of Castle Hill, showed me a fine silver cup which had been presented to this celebrated poet. I have also a chapter on Fairies; but as I found that Fairy Lore has almost died out in those districts which I visited, and the traditions concerning them already recorded, I was oblige to extract much of my information on this subject from books, though I found a few new fairy stories in Cardiganshire. But as to my chapters about Witches, Wizards, Death Omens, I am indebted for almost all my information to old men and old women whom I visited in remote country districts, and I may emphatically state that I have not embellished the stories, or added to anything I have heard; and care has been taken that no state
ment be made conveying an idea different from what has been heard. Indeed, I have in nearly all instances given the names, and even the addresses of those from whom I obtained my information. If there are a few Welsh idioms in the work here and there, the English readers must remember that the information was given me in the Welsh language by the aged peasants, and that I have faithfully endeavoured to give a literal rendering of the narrative.
About 350 ladies and gentlemen have been pleased to give their names as subscribers to the book, and I have received kind and encouraging letters from distinguished and eminent persons from all parts of the kingdom, and I thank them all for their kind support.
I have always taken a keen interest in the History and traditions of my native land, which I love so well; and it is very gratifying that His Royal Highness, the young Prince of Wales, has so graciously accepted a genealogical table, in which I traced his descent from Cadwaladr the Blessod, the last Welsh prince who claimed the title of King of Britain.
I undertook to write this book at the suggestion and desire of Alice, Countess Amherst, to who I am related, and who loves all Celtic things, especially Welsh traditions and legends ; and about wine or ten years ago, in order to suggest the lines of search,” her Ladyship cleverly put together for me the following interesting sketch or headings, which proved a good guide when I was beginning to gather Folk-Lore:
(1.) Traditions of Fairies. (2) Tales illustrative of Fairy Lore. (3) Tutulary Beings. (4) Mermaids and Mermen. (5) Traditions of Water Horses out of lakes, if any? (6) Superstitions about animals:--Sea Serpents, Magpie, Fislı, Dog, Raven,
, Cuckoo, Cats, etc. (7) Miscellaneous :--Rising, Clothing, Baking, Hen's first egg; Funerals; Corpse Candles; On first coming to a house on New Year's Day; on going into a new house; Protection against Evil Spirits; ghosts haunting place, houses, hills and roads ; Lucky times, unlucky actions. (8) Augury: --Starting on a journey; on seeing the New Moon. (9) Divination ; Promonitions ; Shoulder Blade Reading: Palmistry; Cup Reading. (10) Dreams and Prophecies; Prophecies of Merlin and local ones. (11) Spells and Black Art :-Spells, Black Art, Wizards, Witches. (12) Traditions of Strata Forida, King Edward burning the Abbey, etc. (13) Marriage Customs :- What the Bride brings to the house ; The Bridegroom. (14) Birth Customs. (15) Death Customs. (16) Customs of the Inheritance of farms; and Sheep Shearing Customs.