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to the legend, that the Musgraves hold their fortune by so frail a tenure. In reality, the fairies were priests, and the plundering butler a Scottish “reiver.'
The Dobbie, a kind of household fairy, was once a regular resident of these counties, and may possibly still be found in some localities. His habits.were nearly the same as those of the Brownie of Scotland, and Robin Goodfellow of England; and the name appears to be a popular transformation of Robert (cf. Dobson), and therefore identical with Robin, and probably with the Hob (another form of Robert) in Hobgoblin. Only to favoured families did the Dobbie attach himself, and the conditions of service were simple; a bowl of milk and an oaten cake, or a bowl of curds and cream, was to be left every night for his use-in other words, there should be no niggardliness of the household economy-and in return he assisted the operations of the servants, and all things went on favourably. Any neglect of the Dobbie's tribute was followed by the penalty of ill-luck in the cooking, churning, or cheese-making ; and even the work performed during the day, like the web of Penelope, was undone or spoiled by night.
“It is recorded in a manuscript history of Crosby Ravensworth, that a Dobbie at Crosby Hall revealed to a farmer the place in which he would find a treasure. • It would not, perhaps, be considered a faithful history,' says the writer, were no mention made of a certain extraordinary being, which is said to have paid nightly visits to the Hall about this time, to the no small terror and astonishment of the family then belonging to it; which, whether a real preternatural apparition, or whether the effect of some clandestine knavery, or whether a phantom of imagination only, did certainly at that time excite more public curiosity, furnish more subject for marvellous anecdote, and will, I believe, be longer remembered than any living lord that owned the placed before or after. At what date it commenced its gloomy walks we cannot learn, all the old records being silent upon the subject; but tradition says,
• The Luck of Edenhall is likewise made mention of in a ballad supposed to have been written by the Duke of Wharton.
THE LAST APPEARANCE OF THE FAIRIES.
it left the place after the demolition of the old tower, and on taking leave gave an old gentleman, the farmer at the Hall, information of some hidden treasure, and also a very friendly intimation of the exact time and manner of his death, which old people say, with much confidence, and within their remembrance, did happen accordingly."*
For some time no fairies have been seen in this district, and in one part of Westmorland, indeed, the date of their departure hence is known. An inhabitant of Martindale, Jack Wilson by name, was one evening crossing Sandwick Rigg on his return home, when he suddenly perceived before him, in the glimpses of the moon, a large company of fairies intensely engaged in their favourite diversions. He drew near unobserved, and presently descried a stee (ladder) reaching from amongst them up into a cloud. But no sooner was the presence of mortal discovered than all made a hasty retreat up the stee. Jack rushed forward, doubtless firmly determined to follow them into fairy-land, but arrived too late. They had effected their retreat, and quickly drawing up the stee, they shut the cloud, and disappeared. And in the concluding words of Jack's story, which afterwards became proverbial in that neighbourhood, “yance gane, ae gane, and niver saw mair o' them.” The grandson of the man who thus strangely witnessed this last apparition of the fairies, himself an old man, was appealed to not long ago on the truth of this tradition. Having listened attentively to the account of it already printed, he declared, “It was a' true however, for he heard his grandfather tell it many a time.”
“It is still believed," says a writer on the superstitions of the Scottish highlands, “that the Shi'ichs (fairies) are present on all occasions of public entertainment, as at funerals and weddings, and even at fairs; and that they are there busily employed, though invisible to mortal eyes, in abstracting the substantial articles and provisions which are exhibited, and in substituting shadowy forms in their stead.” Offerings and sacrifices to the fairies are usual
* Rev. J. Simpson at the Keudal Nat. Hist. Society.
in the Isle of Man; and in Ireland, it is a common form of consolation for the spilling of milk on the ground, to say, “ Perhaps that place wanted it,” - meaning that the milk thus seemingly wasted would probably be drunk by an expectant fairy.
These remarks may probably afford some explanation of the fairy christenings” of Westmorland, of which Mr Simpson (already quoted) gives us an account. It is still common, he says, for a wife in her husband's absence, and generally without his knowledge, to make a rich cake, and have a feast, to which she invites a select few of her neighbours; and as this is done in a secret way, or at an unseasonable time, it is called a fairy christening. Fairies are now spoken of as belonging to the past.
There is abundance of belief in their former existence, but they do not deign to show themselves. At the time of the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle railway, something was said of the “ fairies pulling down the big bridge at Shap," where the work perhaps did not get on very expeditiously; but, as far as I am aware, it may have been an unauthentic report. “Fairy-bead beck,” near Stainton, some years ago, furnished an unlimited supply of curiously shaped pebbles, from which the stream received its name. They are described as of the size of large beads, partly shaped like the joints of a backbone, partly having a resemblance to ladles with handles, and to “ cups
and saucers.” But they are scarcely to be found now, as if the fairies and their beads had disappeared together.
“I made strict enquiries,” says Brand, “in the uncultivated wilds of Northumberland, but even there I could only meet with a man who said that he had seen one that had seen fairies." As long ago as the time of Chaucer, the same kind of unbelief had existence. The Wife of Bath is telling of the “old days of king Artour," when “all was this lond fulfilled of faerie," but adds:
I speke of many hundred yeres ago,
In Suffolk the fairies of the present day have even lost their name,
DECLINE OF THE FAIRY SUPERSTITION.
and are called the Pharisees.* It is no wonder that the Westmorland man, who under propitious circumstances actually witnessed their departure, was obliged to resign himself never to see “ mair o' them.”
• Popular Antiquities, by J. Brand, new edition. The number of names of this kind adrift in England is surprising. I have frequently heard in Cumberland the "gentry” spoken of as the gentiles. Baal, and Gog and Magog have been already mentioned.
AMONGST the intermediate creations of Gothic mythology, the water-spirits hold a conspicuous place. They inhabit every sea, stream and pool; are of surpassing beauty, gifted with song that no mortal senses can withstand; with golden hair, green teeth, and large eyes. When they come out on the bank, as they frequently do, to sing, comb their hair, and hold intercourse with the people of the earth, they are easily recognisable by their dripping garments. The boatman who hears the song of the water-spirit-his hour is come; and he who unwarily approaches her on the shore, is snatched to a watery grave.
This superstition, as here described, is, with few discrepancies, generally among the Gothic peoples; and from a comparison of the superstitions of the Goths and Celts, the conclusion is, that the latter were indoctrinated with this particular belief by the former. As the fairies show themselves intrusively among the Scandinavian spirits, so do the spirits of the water find no place in Celtic mythology. The oldest mention made of sacred wells in Ireland, referring to the fourth century, therefore anterior to the introduction of Christianity, appears in the romance or embellished tradition of the “ Battle of Ventry Harbour.” The well is kept by three sisters, and has the property of restoring to perfect health the person who bathes in it, though mortally wounded. But nothing is said of a water-spirit.