Elidorus And The Fairies


A short time before our days, a circumstance worthy of note occurred in

these parts, which Elidorus, a priest, most strenuously affirmed had

befallen to himself.

When a youth of twelve years, and learning his letters, since, as Solomon

says, 'The root of learning is bitter, although the fruit is sweet,' in

order to avoid the discipline and frequent stripes inflicted on him by

his preceptor, he ran away an
concealed himself under the hollow bank of

the river. After fasting in that situation for two days, two little men

of pigmy stature appeared to him, saying, 'If you will come with us, we

will lead you into a country full of delights and sports.' Assenting and

rising up, he followed his guides through a path, at first subterraneous

and dark, into a most beautiful country, adorned with rivers and meadows,

woods and plains, but obscure, and not illuminated with the full light of

the sun. All the days were cloudy, and the nights extremely dark, on

account of the absence of the moon and stars. The boy was brought before

the King, and introduced to him in the presence of the court; who, having

examined him for a long time, delivered him to his son, who was then a

boy. These men were of the smallest stature, but very well proportioned

in their make; they were all of a fair complexion, with luxuriant hair

falling over their shoulders like that of women. They had horses and

greyhounds adapted to their size. They neither ate flesh nor fish, but

lived on milk diet, made up into messes with saffron. They never took an

oath, for they detested nothing so much as lies. As often as they

returned from our upper hemisphere, they reprobated our ambition,

infidelities, and inconstancies; they had no form of public worship,

being strict lovers and reverers, as it seemed, of truth.

The boy frequently returned to our hemisphere, sometimes by the way he

had first gone, sometimes by another; at first in company with other

persons, and afterwards alone, and made himself known only to his mother,

declaring to her the manners, nature, and state of that people. Being

desired by her to bring a present of gold, with which that region

abounded, he stole, while at play with the king's son, the golden ball

with which he used to divert himself, and brought it to his mother in

great haste; and when he reached the door of his father's house, but not

unpursued, and was entering it in a great hurry, his foot stumbled on the

threshold, and falling down into the room where his mother was sitting,

the two pigmies seized the ball which had dropped from his hand and

departed, showing the boy every mark of contempt and derision. On

recovering from his fall, confounded with shame, and execrating the evil

counsel of his mother, he returned by the usual track to the

subterraneous road, but found no appearance of any passage, though he

searched for it on the banks of the river for nearly the space of a year.

But since those calamities are often alleviated by time, which reason

cannot mitigate, and length of time alone blunts the edge of our

afflictions and puts an end to many evils, the youth, having been brought

back by his friends and mother, and restored to his right way of

thinking, and to his learning, in process of time attained the rank of


Whenever David II., Bishop of St. David's, talked to him in his advanced

state of life concerning this event, he could never relate the

particulars without shedding tears. He had made himself acquainted with

the language of that nation, the words of which, in his younger days, he

used to recite, which, as the bishop often had informed me, were very

conformable to the Greek idiom. When they asked for water, they said

'Ydor ydorum,' which meant 'Bring water,' for Ydor in their language, as

well as in the Greek, signifies water, whence vessels for water are

called Adriai; and Dwr, also in the British language signifies water.

When they wanted salt they said 'Halgein ydorum,' 'Bring salt.' Salt is

called al in Greek, and Halen in British, for that language, from the

length of time which the Britons (then called Trojans and afterwards

Britons, from Brito, their leader) remained in Greece after the

destruction of Troy, became, in many instances, similar to the Greek.

This legend agrees in a remarkable degree with the popular opinion

respecting Fairies. It would almost appear to be the foundation of many

subsequent tales that are current in Wales.

The priest's testimony to Fairy temperance and love of truth, and their

reprobation of ambition, infidelities, and inconstancies, notwithstanding

that they had no form of public worship, and their abhorrence of theft

intimate that they possessed virtues worthy of all praise.

Their abode is altogether mysterious, but this ancient description of

Fairyland bears out the remarks--perhaps suggested the remarks, of the

Rev. Peter Roberts in his book called The Cambrian Popular Antiquities.

In this work, the author promulgates the theory that the Fairies were a

people existing distinct from the known inhabitants of the country and

confederated together, and met mysteriously to avoid coming in contact

with the stronger race that had taken possession of their land, and he

supposes that in these traditionary tales of the Fairies we recognize

something of the real history of an ancient people whose customs were

those of a regular and consistent policy. Roberts supposes that the

smaller race for the purpose of replenishing their ranks stole the

children of their conquerors, or slyly exchanged their weak children for

their enemies' strong children.

It will be observed that the people among whom Elidorus sojourned had a

language cognate with the Irish, Welsh, Greek, and other tongues; in

fact, it was similar to that language which at one time extended, with

dialectical differences, from Ireland to India; and the Tylwyth Teg, in

our legends, are described as speaking a language understood by those

with whom they conversed. This language they either acquired from their

conquerors, or both races must have had a common origin; the latter,

probably, being the more reasonable supposition, and by inference,

therefore, the Fairies and other nations by whom they were subdued were

descended from a common stock, and ages afterwards, by marriage, the

Fairies again commingled with other branches of the family from which

they had originally sprung.

Omitting many embellishments which the imagination has no difficulty in

bestowing, tradition has transmitted one fact, that the Tylwyth Teg

succeeded in inducing men through the allurements of music and the

attractions of their fair daughters to join their ranks. I will now give

instances of this belief.

The following tale I received from the mouth of Mr. Richard Jones,

Ty'n-y-wern, Bryneglwys, near Corwen. Mr. Jones has stored up in his

memory many tales of olden times, and he even thinks that he has himself

seen a Fairy. Standing by his farm, he pointed out to me on the opposite

side of the valley a Fairy ring still green, where once, he said, the

Fairies held their nightly revels. The scene of the tale which Mr. Jones

related is wild, and a few years ago it was much more so than at present.

At the time that the event is said to have taken place the mountain was

unenclosed, and there was not much travelling in those days, and

consequently the Fairies could, undisturbed, enjoy their dances. But to

proceed with the tale.