harm's - if not out of dismay's - reach. In a tale of the Fairies, THE
FANCY rules: - and the interest of such a misfortune, definite and not
infinite, is congenial to the spirit of the gay faculty which hovers
over, lives upon surfaces, and which flees abysses; which thence,
likewise, in the moral sphere, is equal to apprehending resentment of
a personal wrong, and a judicial assessment of damages - but NOT A
DISINTERESTED MORAL END.
What is our conclusion then? plainly that the dolorous overthrow of
the fairy divan is no better than an invention - the device of an
esthetical artist. We hold that Ernst Willkomm has _gratuitously_
bestowed upon us the disastrous catastrophe; that he has done this,
knowing the obligation which lies upon Fancy within her own chosen
domain to _create_, because - there, Fancy listens and reads. The
adroit Fairy delineator must wile over and reconcile the most
sportive, capricious, and self-willed spirit of our understanding, to
accept a purpose foreign to that spirit's habitual sympathies - a
purpose solemn and austere - THE MORAL PURPOSE OF RESCUING A
SIN-ENTANGLED HUMAN SOUL.
Or, if Ernst Willkomm shall guarantee to us, that the reminiscences
of his people have furnished him with the materials of this tale; if
he is, as we must needs hope, who have freely dealt with you to
believe that he is - honest: honest both as to the general character,
and the particular facts of his representations - if, in short, the
Lusatian Highlanders do, sitting by the bench and the stove, aver and
protest that the said Swanhilda did overturn both council-board and
councillors - then we say, upon this occasion, that which we must all,
hundreds of times, declare - namely, that _The Genius of Tradition_ is
the foremost of artists; and further, that in this instance _an
unwilled fiction_, determined by a necessity of the human bosom, has
risen up _to mantle seriousness with grace_, as a free woodbine
enclasps with her slender-gadding twines, and bedecks with her sweet
bright blossoms, a towering giant of the grove.
It will perhaps be objected, that the moral purity and goodness that
are so powerful to draw to themselves the regard and care of the
spiritual people, are wanting in the character of the over-bold
Swanhilda. We have said that her _faults_ are the CALL to the Fairies
for help and reformation: but we may likewise guess that Virtue and
Truth first won their love. It must be recollected that the faults
which are extirpated from the breast of our heroine, are not such as,
in our natural understanding of humanity, dishonour or sully. Taken
away, the character may stand clear. It is quite possible that this
gone, there shall be left behind a kind, good, affectionate,
generous, noble nature.
We are free, or, more properly speaking, we are bound to believe,
that thus the Fairies left Swanhilda.
As for Maud, we know - for she was told - that the Fairies loved her
for herself ere they needed her aid. Hanging as it were upon that
wondrous power to help which dwelt within her - her simple
goodness - may we not say that the Fairies discover an ENFORCED
attraction, when they afterwards approach the maiden for their own
succour and salvation; as they do, a FREE attraction, when, in the
person of Swanhilda, they disinterestedly attach themselves to
reforming a fault for the welfare and happiness of her whom it
* * * * *
We will now proceed, as in our former communication, to adduce
instances from other quarters, confirming the fairy delineations
offered by our tale; or which may tend generally to bring out its
mythological and literary character.
Two points would suggest themselves to us in the tale of the Fairy
Tutor, as chiefly provoking comparison. The first is: - _The affirmed
Presidency of the Fairies over human morals_, viewed as _a Shape of
the Interest_ which they take in the uprightness and purity of the
The second is: -
_The Manner and Style of their operations_: or, THE FAIRY WAYS. In
which we chiefly distinguish - 1, The active presence of the Sprites
in a human habitation. 2, Their masquerading. 3, Their dispatch of
human victuals. 4, The liability of Elfin limbs to human casualties.
5, The personality of that saucy Puck, our tiny ambassador elf.
We are at once tempted and restrained by the richness of
illustration, which presents itself under all these heads. The
necessity of limitation is, however, imperious. This, and a wish for
simplicity, dispose us to throw all under one more comprehensive
Perhaps the reader has not entirely forgotten that in the remarks
introductory to THE FAIRIES' SABBATH, having launched the
question - what is a Fairy? - we offered him in the way of answer,
_eight_ elements of the Fairy Nature. Has he quite forgotten that for
one of these - it was the third - we represented the Spirit under
examination, as ONE WHICH AT ONCE SEEKS AND SHUNS MANKIND?
The cursory treatment of this Elfin criterion will now compendiously
place before the reader, as much illustration of the two above-given
heads as we dare impose upon him.
The popular Traditions of entire Western Europe variously attest for
all the kinds of the Fairies, and for some orders of Spirits
partaking of the Fairy character, the singularly composed, and almost
self-contradictory traits of a _seeking_ implicated and attempered
with a _shunning_; of a shunning with a seeking. The inclination of
our Quest will be to evidences of the _seeking_. The shunning will,
it need not be doubted, take good care of itself.
The attraction of the Fairy Species towards our own is,
1. Recognised - in their GENERIC DESIGNATIONS.
2. Apparent - in their GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD with us.
3. IN THEIR FREQUENTING AND ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES in the places of
our habitual occupancy and resort.
4. IN THEIR CALLING OR CARRYING US into the places of their Occupancy
and Resort; whether to return _hither_, or to remain
5. BY THEIR ALIGHTING UPON THE PATH, worn already with some blithe or
some weary steps, OF A HUMAN DESTINY; - as friendly, or as unfriendly
We collect the proofs: and -
1. Of their GENERIC APPELLATIVES, a Word!
One is tempted to say that THE NATIONS, as if conscious of the kindly
disposition inhering in the spiritual existences toward ourselves,
have simultaneously agreed in conferring upon them titles of
endearment and affection. The brothers Grimm write - "In Scotland they
[The Fairies] are called _The Good People, Good Neighbours, Men of
Peace;_ in Wales - _The Family, The Blessing of their Mothers, The
Dear Ladies;_ in the old Norse, and to this day in the Faroe islands,
_Huldufolk_ (_The Gracious People;_) in Norway, _Huldre_; and, in
conformity with these denominations, discover a striving to be in the
proximity of men, and to keep up a good understanding with them."
[Footnote 23: May we for HULDRE read HULDREFOLK; and understand the
_following_, or the _Folk_ of HULDRE? Huldre _means_ the Gracious
Lady: she is a sort of Danish and Norwegian Fairy-Queen. - See GRIMM'S
_German Mythology_, p. 168. First edition.]
[Footnote 24: The Brothers GRIMM: _Introduction to the Irish Fairy
2. THIS GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD, to which these last words point, is
interestingly depicted by the Traditions.
In Scotland and Germany the Fairies plant their habitation
_adjoining_ that of man - "_under the threshold_" - and in such
attached Fairies an alliance is unfolded with us of a most
extraordinary kind. "The closest connexion" (_id est_, of the Fairy
species with our own) "is expressed," say the Brothers Grimm, "by the
tradition, agreeably to which the family of the Fairies ORDERED
ITSELF ENTIRELY AFTER THE HUMAN to which it belonged; and OF WHICH IT
WAS AS IF A COPY. These domestic Fairies _kept their marriages upon
the same day_ as the Human Beings; _their children were born upon the
same day_; and _upon the same day they wailed for their dead._"
[Footnote 25: The Brothers GRIMM: _Introduction to the Irish Fairy
Two artlessly sweet breathings of Elfin Table, from the Helvetian
Dales, lately revived to your fancy the sinless - blissful years,
when gods with men set fellowing steps upon one and the same fragrant
and unpolluted sward, until transgression, exiling those to their own
celestial abodes, left these lonely - a nearer, dearer, BARBARIAN
Golden Age - wherein the kindly Dwarf nation stand representing the
great deities of Olympus.
[Footnote 26: See _The Dwarfs upon the Maple-Tree_, and _The Dwarfs
upon the Crag-Stone_, in the former paper.]
The healthful pure air fans restoration again to us. We lay before
No. CXLIX _The Dwarfs' Feet_.
"In old times the men dwelt in the valley, and round about them, in
caves and clefts of the rock, the Dwarfs, _in amity and good
neighbourhood_ with the people, for whom they performed by night many
a heavy labour. When the country folk, betimes in the morning, came
with wains and implements, and wondered that all was ready done, the
Dwarfs were hiding in the bushes, and laughed out loud. Frequently
the peasants were angry when they saw their yet hardly ripe corn
lying reaped upon the field; but when presently after hail and storm
came on, and they could well know that probably not a stalk should
have escaped perishing, they were then heartily thankful to the
provident Dwarfs. At last, however, the inhabitants, by their sin,
fooled away the grace and favour of the Dwarfs. These fled, and since
then has no eye ever again beheld them. The cause was this
following: - A herdsman had upon the mountain an excellent
cherry-tree. One summer, as the fruit grew ripe, it befell that the
tree was, for three following nights, picked, and the fruit carried,
and fairly spread out in the loft, in which the herdsman had use to
keep his cherries. The people said in the village, that doth no one
other than the honest dwarflings - they come tripping along by night,
in long mantles, with covered feet, softly as birds, and perform
diligently for men the work of the day. Already often have they been
privily watched, but one may not interrupt them, only let them, come
and go at their listing. By such speeches was the herdsman made
curious, and would fain have wist wherefore the Dwarfs hid so
carefully their feet, and whether these were otherwise shapen than
men's feet. When, therefore, the next year, summer again came, and
the season that the Dwarfs did stealthily pluck the cherries, and
bear them into the garner, the herdsman took a sackful of ashes,
which he strewed round about the tree. The next morning, with
daybreak, he hied to the spot; the tree was regularly gotten, and he
saw beneath in the ashes the print of many geese's feet. Thereat the
herdsman fell a-laughing, and made game, that the mystery of the
Dwarfs was bewrayed; but these presently after brake down and laid
waste their houses, and fled deeper away into their mountain. They
harbour ill-will toward men, and withhold from them their help. That
herdsman which had betrayed the Dwarfs turned sickly and half-witted,
and so continued until his dying day!"
There! Plucked amidst the lap of the Alps from its own hardily-nursed
wild-brier, by the same tenderly-diligent hand that brought home
to us those other half-disclosed twin-buds of Helvetian tradition,
you behold a third, like pure, more expanded blossom. Twine the
three, young poet! into one soft-hued and "odorous chaplet," ready
and meet for binding the smooth clear forehead of a Swiss Maud! - or
fix it amidst the silken curls of thine own dove-eyed, innocent,
nature-loving - Ellen or Margaret.
[Footnote 27: Of Professor Wyes.]
These old-young things - bequests, as they look to be - from the
loving, singing childhood of the earth, may lawfully make children,
lovers, and songsters of us all; and _will_, if we are _fond_, and
hearken to them.
In that same "hallowed and gracious time," lying YON-SIDE our
"When the world and love were young,
And truth on every shepherd's tongue,"
the men and the Dwarfs had unbroken intercourse of _borrowing and
lending_. Many traditions touch the matter. Here is one resting upon
No. CLIV. _The Dwarfs near Dardesheim_.
"Dardesheim is a little town betwixt Halberstadt and Brunswick. Close
to the north-east side, a spring of the clearest water flows, which
is called the Smansborn, and wells from a hill wherein formerly
the Dwarfs dwelled. When the ancient inhabitants of the place needed
a holiday dress, or any rare utensil for a marriage, they betook them
to this Dwarf's Hill, knocked thrice, and with a well audible voice,
told their occasion, adding -
'Early a-morrow, ere sun-light,
At the hill's door, lieth all aright.'
[Footnote 28: For LESSMANSBORN, _i.e._ LESSMANN'S WELL.]
The Dwarfs held themselves for well requited if somewhat of the
festival meats were set for them by the hill. Afterward gradually did
bickerings interrupt the good understanding that was betwixt the
Dwarfs' nation and the country folk. At the beginning for a short
season; but, in the end, the Dwarfs departed away; because the flouts
and gibes of many boors grew intolerable to them, as likewise their
ingratitude for kindnesses done. Thenceforth none seeth or heareth
any Dwarfs more."
In _Auvergne_, Miss Costello has just now learned, how the men and
the Fairies anciently lived upon the friendliest footing, nigh one
another: how the _knowledge_ and _commodious use_ of the _Healing
Springs_ was owed by the former to these Good Neighbours: how, of
yore, the powerful sprites, by rending athwart a huge rocky mound,
opened an _innocuous channel_ for _the torrent_, which used with its
overflow to lay desolate arable ground and pasturage: how they were
looked upon as being, in a general sense, _the protectors_ against
harm of the country: and, in fine, how the two orders of neighbours
lived in long and happy communion of kind offices with one another;
until, upon one unfortunate day, the ill-renowned freebooter,
Aymerigot Marcel, with his ruffianly men-at-arms, having approached,
by stealth, from his near-lying hold, stormed the romantically seated
rock-mansion of the bountiful pigmies: who, scared, and in anger,
forsook the land. Ever since the foul outrage, only a straggler may,
now and then, be seen at a distance.
Thus, too, the late _Brillat-Savarin_, from a sprightly, acute,
brilliant Belles-letteriste, turned, for an hour, honest antiquary,
lets us know how, upon the southern bank of the Rhone, flowing out
from Switzerland, in the narrowly-bounded and, when he first quitted
it, yet hidden valley of his birth: - The FAIRIES - elderly, not
beautiful, but benevolent unmarried ladies - kept, while time was,
open school in THE GROTTO, which was their habitation, for the young
girls of the vicinity, whom they taught - SEWING.
3. We go on to exemplifying - ELFIN _Frequentation of, and Settlement
The Fairies are drawn into the houses and to the haunts of men by
manifold occasions and impulses. They halt on a journey. They
celebrate marriages. They use the implements of handicraft. They
purchase at the Tavern - from the Shambles, or in open Market. They
_steal_ from oven and field. They go through a house, blessing the
rooms, the marriage-bed - and stand beside the unconscious cradle.
They give dreams. They take part in the evening mirth. They pray in
the churches. They seem to work in the mines. Drawn by magical
constraint into the garden, they invite themselves within doors. They
dance in the churchyard. They make themselves the wives and the
paramours of men; or the serviceable hobgoblin fixes himself, like a
cat, in the house - once and for ever.
We present traditions for illustrating some of these points, as they
offer themselves to us.
"Part fenced by man, part by the ragged steep
That curbs a foaming brook, a GRAVE-YARD lies;
The hare's best couching-place for fearless sleep!
Where MOONLIT FAYS, far seen by credulous eyes,
ENTER, IN DANCE!"
WORDSWORTH. - _Sonnet upon an_ ABANDONED _Cemetery._]
THEY HALT ON A JOURNEY.
No. XXXV. _The Count of Hoia_.
"There did appear once to a count of Hoia, a little mauling in the
night, and, as the count was alarmed, said to him he should have no
fear: he had a word to sue unto him, and begged that he should not be
denied. The count answered, if it were a thing possible to do, and
should be never burthensome to him and his, he will gladly do it. The
manling said - 'There be some that desire to come to thee this ensuing
night, into thy house, and to make their stopping. Wouldst thou so
long lend them kitchen and hall, and bid thy domestics that they go
to bed, and none look after their ways and works, neither any know
thereof, save only thou? They will show them, therefore, grateful.
Thou and thy line shall have cause of joy, and in the very least
matter shall none hurt happen unto thee, neither to any that belong
to thee.' Whereunto the count assented. Accordingly, upon the
following night, they came like a cavalcade, marching over the
drawbridge to the house; one and all - tiny folk, such as they use to
describe the hill manlings. They cooked in the kitchen, fell too, and
rested, and nothing seemed otherwise than as if a great repast were
in preparing. Thereafter, nigh unto morn, as they will again depart,
comes the little manling a second time to the count, and after
conning him thanks, handed him a _sword_, a _salamander cloth_, and a
_golden ring_, in which was RED LION set above - advertising him,
withal, that he and his posterity shall well keep these three pieces,
and so long as they had them all together, should it go with fair
accordance and well in the county; but so soon as they shall be
parted from one another, shall it be a sign that nothing good
impendeth for the county. Accordingly, the red lion ever after, when
any of the stem is near the point of dying, hath been seen to wax
"Howsoever, at the time that Count Job and his brothers were minors,
and Francis of Halle governor in the country, two of the
pieces - viz., the Sword and the Salamander Cloth, were taken away;
but the Ring remained with the lordship unto an end. Whither it
afterwards went is not known."
THEY HOLD A WEDDING.
No.XXXI. _The Small People's Wedding Feast._
"The small people of the Eulenberg in Saxony would once hold a
marriage, and for this purpose slipped in, in the night, through the
keyhole and the window-chinks into the Hall, and came leaping down
upon the smooth floor, like peas tumbled out upon the
threshing-floor. The old Count, who slept in the high canopy bed in
the Hall, awoke, and marvelled at the number of tiny companions; one
of whom, in the garb of a herald, now approached him, and in well-set
phrase, courteously prayed him to bear part in their festivity. 'Yet
one thing,' he added, 'we beg of you. Ye shall alone be present; none
of your court shall be bold to gaze upon our mirth - yea, not so much
as with a glance.' The old Count answered pleasantly - 'Since ye have
once for all waked me up, I will e'en make one among you.' Hereupon
was a little wifikin led up to him, little torch-bearers took their
station, and a music of crickets struck up. The Count had much ado to
save losing his little partner in the dance; she capered about so
nimbly, and ended with whirling him round and round, until hardly
might he have his breath again. But, in the midst of the jocund
measure, all stood suddenly still; the music ceased, and the whole
throng hurried to the cracks in the doors, mouse-holes, and
hiding-places of all sorts. The newly-married couple only, the
heralds, and the dancers, looked upward towards an orifice that was
in the hall ceiling, and there descried the visage of the old
Countess, who was curiously prying down upon the mirthful doings.
Herewith they made their obeisance to the Count; and the same which
had bidden him, again stepping forward, thanked him for his
hospitality. 'But,' continued he, 'because our pleasure and our
wedding hath been in such sort interrupted, that yet another eye of
man hath looked thereon, henceforward shall your house number never
more than seven Eulenbergs.' Thereupon, they pressed fast forth, one
upon another. Presently all was quiet, and the old Count once again
alone in the dark Hall. The curse hath come true to this hour, so as
ever one of the six living knights of Eulenberg hath died ere the
seventh was born."
THEY JOIN THE EVENING MIRTH.
No. xxxix. _The Hill-Manling at the Dance_.
"Old folks veritable declared, that some years ago, at Glass, in
Dorf, an hour from the Wunderberg, and an hour from the town of
Salzburg, a wedding was kept, to which, towards evening, a
Hill-Manling came out of the Wunderberg. He exhorted all the guests
to be in honour, gleesome, and merry, and requested leave to join the
dancers, which was not refused him. He danced accordingly, with
modest maidens, one and another; evermore, three dances with each,
and that with a singular featness; insomuch that the wedding guests
looked on with admiration and pleasure. The dance over, he made his
thanks, and bestowed upon either of the young married people three
pieces of money that were of an unknown coinage; whereof each was
held to be worth four kreuzers; and therewithal _admonished them to
dwell in peace and concord, live Christianly, and piously walking, to
bring up their children in all goodness_. These coins they should put
amongst their money, and constantly remember him - so should they
seldom fall into hardship. _But they must not therewithal grow
arrogant, but, of their superfluity, succour their neighbours_.
"This Hill-Manling stayed with them into the night, and took of every
one to drink and to eat what they proffered; but from every one only
a little. He then paid his courtesy, and desired that one of the
wedding guests might take him over the river Salzbach toward the
mountain. Now, there was at the marriage a boatman, by name John
Standl, who was presently ready, and they went down together to the
ferry. During the passage, the ferryman asked his meed. The
Hill-Manling tendered him, in all humility, three pennies. The
waterman scorned at such mean hire; but the Manling gave him for
answer - 'He must not vex himself, but safely store up the three
pennies; for, so doing, he should never suffer default of his
having - _if only he did restrain presumptousness_ - at the same time
he gave the boatman a little pebble, saying the words - 'If thou shalt
hang this about thy neck, thou shalt not possibly perish in the
water.' Which was proved in that same year. Finally, _he persuaded
him to a godly and humble manner of life_, and went swiftly away."
ANOTHER OF THE SAME.
No. CCCVI. _The Three Maidens from the Mere._
"At Epfenbach, nigh Sinzheim, within men's memory, three wondrously
beautiful damsels, attired in white, visited, with every evening, the
village spinning-room. They brought along with them ever new songs
and tunes, and new pretty tales and games. Moreover, their distaffs
and spindles had something peculiar, and no spinster might so finely
and nimbly spin the thread. But upon the stroke of eleven, they
arose; packed up their spinning gear, and for no prayers might be
moved to delay for an instant more. None wist whence they came, nor
whither they went. Only they called them, The Maidens from the Mere;
or, The Sisters of the Lake. The lads were glad to see them there,
and were taken with love of them; but most of all, the schoolmaster's
son. He might never have enough of hearkening and talking to them,
and nothing grieved him more than that every night they went so early
away. The thought suddenly crossed him, and he set the village clock
an hour back; and, in the evening, with continual talking and
sporting, not a soul perceived the delay of the hour. When the clock
struck eleven - but it was properly twelve - the three damsels arose,
put up their distaffs and things, and departed. Upon the following
morrow, certain persons went by the Mere; they heard a wailing, and
saw three bloody spots above upon the surface of the water. Since
that season, the sisters came never again to the room. The
schoolmaster's son pined, and died shortly thereafter."
AN ELFIN IS BOUND, IN UNLAWFUL CHAINS, TO A HUMAN LOVER.
No. LXX. _The Bushel, the Ring, and the Goblet._
"In the duchy of Lorraine, when it belonged, as it long did, to
Germany, the last count of Orgewiler ruled betwixt Nanzig and