A Boy Taken To Fairy Land
: FAIRY CHANGELINGS.
: Welsh Folk-lore
Mrs. Morris, of Cwm Vicarage, near Rhyl, told the writer the following
story. She stated that she had heard it related in her family that one
of their people had in childhood been induced by the Fairies to follow
them to their country. This boy had been sent to discharge some domestic
errand, but he did not return. He was sought for in all directions but
could not be found. His parents came to the conclusion that he had
either been murdered or kidnapped, and in time he was forgotten by most
people, but one day he returned with what he had been sent for in his
hand. But so many years had elapsed since he first left home, that he
was now an old grey-headed man, though he knew it not; he had, he said,
followed, for a short time, delightful music and people; but when
convinced, by the changes around, that years had slipped by since he
first left his home, he was so distressed at the changes he saw that he
said he would return to the Fairies. But alas! he sought in vain for the
place where he had met them, and therefore he was obliged to remain with
his blood relations.
The next tale differs from the preceding, insomuch that the seductive
advances of the Fairies failed in their object. I am not quite positive
whence I obtained the story, but this much I know, that it belongs to
Pentrevoelas, and that a respectable old man was in the habit of
repeating it, as an event in his own life.
A Man Refusing the Solicitations of the Fairies.
A Pentrevoelas man was coming home one lovely summer's night, and when
within a stone's throw of his house, he heard in the far distance singing
of the most enchanting kind. He stopped to listen to the sweet sounds
which filled him with a sensation of deep pleasure. He had not listened
long ere he perceived that the singers were approaching. By and by they
came to the spot where he was, and he saw that they were marching in
single file and consisted of a number of small people, robed in
close-fitting grey clothes, and they were accompanied by speckled dogs
that marched along two deep like soldiers. When the procession came
quite opposite the enraptured listener, it stopped, and the small people
spoke to him and earnestly begged him to accompany them, but he would
not. They tried many ways, and for a long time, to persuade him to join
them, but when they saw they could not induce him to do so they departed,
dividing themselves into two companies and marching away, the dogs
marching two abreast in front of each company. They sang as they went
away the most entrancing music that was ever heard. The man,
spell-bound, stood where he was, listening to the ravishing music of the
Fairies, and he did not enter his house until the last sound had died
away in the far-off distance.
Professor Rhys records a tale much like the preceding. (See his Welsh
Fairy Tales, pp. 34, 35.) It is as follows:--One bright moonlight
night, as one of the sons of the farmer who lived at Llwyn On in Nant y
Bettws was going to pay his addresses to a girl at Clogwyn y Gwin, he
beheld the Tylwyth enjoying themselves in full swing on a meadow close to
Cwellyn Lake. He approached them and little by little he was led on by
the enchanting sweetness of their music and the liveliness of their
playing until he got within their circle. Soon some kind of spell passed
over him, so that he lost his knowledge of every place, and found himself
in a country the most beautiful he had ever seen, where everybody spent
his time in mirth and rejoicing. He had been there seven years, and yet
it seemed to him but a night's dream; but a faint recollection came to
his mind of the business on which he had left home, and he felt a longing
to see his beloved one: so he went and asked permission to return home,
which was granted him, together with a host of attendants to lead him to
his country; and, suddenly, he found himself, as waking from a dream, on
the bank where he had seen the Fairy Family amusing themselves. He
turned towards home, but there he found everything changed: his parents
were dead, his brothers could not recognize him, and his sweetheart was
married to another man. In consequence of such changes, he broke his
heart, and died in less than a week after coming back.
Many variants of the legends already related are still extant in Wales.
This much can be said of these tales, that it was formerly believed that
marriages took place between men and Fairies, and from the tales
themselves we can infer that the men fared better in Fairy land than the
Fairy ladies did in the country of their earthly husbands. This,
perhaps, is what might be expected, if, as we may suppose, the Fair Tribe
were supplanted, and overcome, by a stronger, and bolder people, with
whom, to a certain extent, the weaker and conquered or subdued race
commingled by marriage. Certain striking characteristics of both races
are strongly marked in these legends. The one is a smaller and more
timid people than the other, and far more beautiful in mind and person
than their conquerors. The ravishing beauty of the Fairy lady forms a
prominent feature in all these legends. The Fairies, too, are spoken of
as being without religion. This, perhaps, means nothing more than that
they differed from their conquerors in forms, or objects of worship.
However this might be, it would appear that their conquerors knew but
little of that perfect moral teaching which made the Fairies, according
to the testimony of Giraldus, truthful, void of ambition, and honest.
It must, however, be confessed, that there is much that is mythical in
these legends, and every part cannot well be made to correspond with
ordinary human transactions.
It is somewhat amusing to note how modern ideas, and customs, are mixed
up with these ancient stories. They undoubtedly received a gloss from
the ages which transmitted the tales.
In the next chapter I shall treat of another phase of Fairy Folk-lore,
which will still further connect the Fair Race with their conquerors.