Elidorus And The Fairies
: MEN CAPTURED BY 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.