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Why sounds yon stroke on beech and oak,
Our moonlight circle's screen ?
Beloved of our Elfin Queen ? $
dare on wold to wear The fairies' fatal green ?
“ Up, Urgan, up! to yon mortal hie,
For thou wert christen'd man; .
bompting to the eye, they were found, now that the enchantment was removed, to consist only of the refuse of the earth."--P. 107111.
1 [MS.—“Our fairy ringlet's screen."] 2 [See Appendix, Note L.]
3 As the Daoine Shi', or Men of Peace, wore green habits, they were supposed to take offence when any mortals ventured to assume their favourite colour. Indeed, from some reason, which has been, perhaps, originally a general superstition, green is held in Scotland to be unlucky to particular tribes and counties. The Caithness men, who hold this belief, allege, as a reason, that their bands wore that colour when they were cut off at the battle of Flodden; and for the same reason they avoid crossing the Ord on a Monday, being the day of the week on which their ill-omened array set forth. Green is also disliked by those of the name of Ogilvy; but more especially is it held fatal to the whole clan of Grahame. It is remembered of an aged gentleman of that name, that when his horse fell in a fox-chase, ho accounted for it at once, by observing, that the whip-cord attached to his lash was of this unlucky colour.
4 The Elves were supposed greatly to envy the privileges acquired by Christian initiation, and they gave to those mortals who had fallen into their power, a certain precedence, founded upon this advantageous distinction. Tamlane, in the old ballad, do. scribes his own rank in the fairy procession :
For cross or sign thou wilt not fly,
For mutter'd word or ban.
“For I ride on a milk-white steed,
And aye nearest the town;
They gave me that renown."
I presume, that in the Danish ballad of the Elfin Grey (see Appendix, Note L.) the obstinacy of the “ Weist Elf," who would not flee for cross or sign, is to be derived from the circumstance of his having been “ christen'd man.”
How eager the Elves were to obtain for their offspring the prerogatives of Christianity, will be proved by the following story:-"In the district called Haga, in Iceland, dwelt a nobleman called Sigward Forster, who had an intrigue with one of the subterranean females. The elf became pregnant, and exacted from her lover a firm promise that he would procure the baptism of the infant. At the appointed time, the mother came to the churchyard, on the wall of which she placed a golden cup, and a stole for the priest, agreeable to the custom of making an offering at baptism. She then stood a little apart. When the priest left the church, he enquired the meaning of what he saw, and demanded of Sigward if he avowed bimself the father of the child. But Sigward, ashamed of the connexion, denied the paternity. He was then interrogated if he desired that the child should be baptized; but this also he answered in the negative, lest, by such request, he should admit himself to be the father. On which the child was left untouched and unbaptized. Whereupon the mother, in extreme wrath, snatched up the infant and the cup, and retired, leaving the priestly cope, of which fragments are still in preservation. But this female denounced and imposed upon Sigward, and his posterity, to the ninth generation, a singular disease, with which many of his descendants are afflicted at this day.” Thus wrote Einar Dudmond, pastor of the parish of Garpsdale, in Iceland, a man profoundly versed in learning, from whose manuscript it was extracted by the
ned Torfæus.-Historia Hrolfi Krakii, Hafnia, 1715. prefatio. Lay on him the curse of the wither'd heart,
The curse of the sleepless eye; Till he wish and pray that his life would part,
Nor yet find leave to dic."
Ballad continued. 'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good greenwood,
Though the birds have stilld their singing; The evening blaze doth Alice raise,
And Richard is fagots bringing.
Up Urgan starts, that hideous dwarf,
Before Lord Richard stands, And, as he cross'd and bless'd himself, “ I fear not sign," quoth the grisly elf,
“ That is made with bloody hands.”
But out then spoke she, Alice Brand,
That woman void of fear,“ And if there's blood upon his hand,
'Tis but the blood of deer.”
“Now loud thou liest, thou bold of mood !
It cleaves unto his hand,
The blood of Ethert Brand."
Then forward stepp'd she, Alice Brand
And made the holy sign,
“ And if there's blood on Richard's hand,
A spotless hand is mine.
“And I conjure thee, Demon elf,
By Him whom Demons fear,
And what thine errand here ?”—
Ballad continued. " "Tis merry, 'tis merry, in Fairy-land,
When fairy birds are singing, When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,
With bit and bridle ringing:
“ And gaily shines the Fairy-land
But all is glistening show,'
Can dart on ice and snow.
“ And fading, like that varied gleam,
Is our inconstant shape,
And now like dwarf and ape.
« It was between the night and day,
When the Fairy King has power, That I sunk down in a sinful fray,
And, 'twixt life and death, was snatch'd away
To the joyless Elfin bower.'
" But wist I of a woman bold, Who thrice
brow durst sign, I might regain my mortal mold,
As fair a form as thine.”.
1 The subjects of Fairy-land were recruited from the regions of humanity by a sort of crimping system, which extended to adults as well as to infants. Many of those who were in this world supposed to have discharged the debt of nature, had only become denizens of the Londe of Faery.” In the beautiful Fairy Romance of Orfee and Heurodiis (Orpheus and Eurydice) in the Auchinleck MS., is the following striking enumeration of persons thus abstracted from middle earth. Mr Ritson unfortunately published this romance from a copy in which the following, and many other highly poetical passages do not occur.
“ Then he gan biholde about al,
And seighe ful liggeand with in the wal,