More Celtic Fairy Tales/Notes and References
Notes and References.
I have scarcely anything to add to the general account of the collection of Celtic Fairy Tales which I gave in the predecessor to this volume, pages 237-42. Since the appearance of that volume in 1891, the publication of such tales has gone on apace. Mr. Curtin has published in the New York Sun no less than fifty more Irish fairy tales, one of which he has been good enough to place at my disposal for the present volume. Mr. Larminie has published with Mr. E. Stock a volume of West Irish Fairy Tales, of which I have also the privilege of presenting a specimen. A slight volume of Welsh Fairy Tales, published by Mr. Nutt, and a few fairy anecdotes contained in the Prize Essay on Welsh Folk-lore by the Rev. Mr. Evans, sum up Cambria's contribution to our subject during the past three years. The fifth volume of the Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition, just about to appear at the moment of writing, is the sole addition to Celtic Fairy Tales from the country of J. F. Campbell. Taken altogether, something like a hundred previously unpublished tales from Celtdom have been rendered accessible to the world since I last wrote, a by no means insignificant outcome in three years. It is at any rate clear, that the only considerable addition to our folk-lore knowledge in these isles must come from the Gaelic area. The time of harvest can be but short; may the workers be many, willing, and capable.
Sources.—Abridged from the text and translation published by the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language in 1883. This merely follows the text and version given by Professor O'Curry in Atlantis, iv. He used three Dublin MSS., none of them, however, of earlier date than the eighteenth century. Dr. Joyce gives a free paraphrase in his Old Celtic Romances.
Parallels.—For "Jealous Stepmother," see the bibliographical references in the list of incidents at the end of my paper on the "Science of Folk-tales" in the Transactions of the Folk-lore Congress, sub voce. Add Miss Roalfe Cox in Folk-lore Journal, vii. app. 37; also the same list sub voce "Swan Maiden Transformation." In modern Irish literature Griffin has included the tale in his Tales of the Jury-room, and Tom Moore's "Song of Fiounala" beginning "Silent, O Moyle" is founded upon it.
Remarks.—The "Fate of the Children of Lir" is always referred to along with "The Story of Deirdre" (cf. the Celtic Fairy Tales, ix.), and the "Children of Tuireann" as one of the Three Sorrowful Tales of Erin. But there is no evidence of equal antiquity to the other two stories, of which one is as old as the eleventh century. From the interspersed verse O'Curry concluded, however, that the story was at least of considerable antiquity, and the references to the unknown Saint Mochaomhog confirm his impression. The Hill of the White Field is near Newton Hannton, in the county of Armagh. The Lake of the Red Eye is Lough Derg, in the Shannon above Killaloe.
Fingula is Fair Shoulder. The tradition that swans are inviolable is still extant in Ireland. A man named Connor Griffin killed eleven swans: he had previously been a prosperous man, and shortly afterwards his son was drowned in the Shannon, his goods were lost, and his wife died (Children of Lir, Dublin edit., note, p. 87). In County Mayo it is believed that the souls of pure virgins are after death enshrined in the forms of swans; if anybody injures them, it is thought he will die within a year (Walter's Natural History of the Birds of Ireland, pp. 94-5). Mr. Gomme concludes from this that the swan was at one time a British totem (Arch. Rev., iii. 226-7).
At first sight the tale seems little more than an argument against the Bill for Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister, but the plaintive lays of Fingula, the touching detail of the swans flying over the desolate hill and White Field, give a touch of Celtic glamour to the whole story. There is probably also a deep religious significance implied in the fact that the wicked Aunt Stepmother's spell is broken when the transformed Children of Lir come across the first Christian they meet.
Mr. Nutt has kindly communicated the following remarks on this tale:—
The Fate of the Children of Lir belongs formally to the so-called mythological cycle, the personages of which are the Tuatha de Danann. The Irish annalists of the 10th–11th centuries described these as members of one of the races which possessed Ireland in pre-Christian times before the coming of the Milesians. But even in the most strongly euhemerised accounts the mythic nature of these beings is apparent, and most modern scholars are agreed that they are in fact the members of a Pagan Irish Pantheon. They live on to this very day in Irish folk-belief as chiefs and rulers of the fairies.
The MS. evidence for some of the stories concerning the Tuatha de Danann is as old as that for the oldest heroic cycle (the Ultonian of Conchobar and Cuchulainn). But the Tuatha de Danann legends have retained throughout Irish literature greater plasticity and vitality than those of the Ultonian cycle, and many stories are not older in their present state than the 14th and 15th centuries. This is probably the case with the present story. The oldest known MS. only goes back to 1718, but this and the MS. of 1721, used by O’Curry for his edition, are certainly copied from much older MSS.
The interesting question for storiologists is whether the themes of the story—the swan-metamorphosis consequent upon the stepmother’s jealousy, and the protecting rôle assigned to the sister—are of old native or of recent imported nature. In support of the first hypothesis, it may be noted that the theme of stepmotherly jealousy was current in Ireland in the 10th century at the latest, as it is woven into the saga of the Destruction of Daderga’s Fort (see my article “Folklore,” ii.). The final episode of the sudden aging of the miraculously long-lived swans is also genuinely Irish, but its true significance is obscured in our story in a way that sufficiently demonstrates the late and secondary character of the text. The idea is that the dwellers in Faery, whether fairy-folk or mortals penetrating thither, enjoy perpetual life, forfeited by the latter the moment they return to this earth. As children of the Tuatha de Danann, Fionngula and her brothers are deathless, and the episode as it stands in our text results from a contamination of the original form of the story in which the swan-metamorphosis was annulled under certain conditions (the removal of the chains), when the original shape was resumed, and the familiar story of the mortal returning from Faery after hundreds of years, which he deems to be but a short space of time, shrinking into dust the moment he touches earth.
There is a well-known Continental folk-tale—the “Seven Swans” (or Ravens)—of which we possess several mediæval (12th to 13th century) versions, all connected with the romance of the "Swan Knight." M. Gaston Paris has studied the whole story group (Romania, xix. 314, &c.) with the following results: The folk-tale of the seven swans had originally nothing to do with the saga of the swan-knight. The connection apparent in the 12th century texts is artificial; the swans owe their shape-shifting capacity to the superhuman nature of their mother; this trait has been almost effaced even in the oldest versions. The distinguishing mark of the swans in all the versions is the possession of silver or gold chains, which are what may be called metamorphosis tokens; it follows from this that the contamination of the two story-types ("Seven Swans" and "Swan Knight") must be older than the oldest version of the first story, as these chains can only be derived from the one with which in the Swan Knight saga the swan draws the knight back.
In Romania (xxi. 62, seg.) M. Ferd. Lot examines the question in the light of our tale. He points out that it indicates clearly the superhuman nature of the mother, and that as the silver chains figure in the story, they cannot be due in the Continental versions to contamination with the Swan Knight saga, as M. Gaston Paris imagines. M. Lot evidently inclines to look upon them as talismans, the abandonment of which was the original cause of the metamorphosis, and the handling of which at the end brings about the change back to human shape. He points out that these chains form an essential part of the gear of beings appearing in bird guise (especially if they belong to Faery); thus in the 10th-century 'Sickbed of Cuchulainn' the goddesses Fand and Liban appear as two swans united by a golden chain; in the 8th to 9th century Conception of Cuchulainn, Dechtire, the mother of the hero by the god Lug, appears with her companions in the guise of many-hued birds linked together by chains of silver (or red gold in one version). The MS. evidence for these tales reaches back to the early 11th century.
Curiously enough, M. Lot has not cited the closest parallel to our tale from old Irish literature, and one which is certainly connected with it in some measure, the fine story called the "Dream of Angus." A story of this title is cited in the epic catalogue of the Book of Leinster (which dates back to the early 11th century) as one of the introductory stories to the Tain bo Cuailgne. This assumed its present shape substantially between 650 and 750. The introductory stories had originally no connection with it, and were invented or re-shaped in the 8th to 10th centuries, after the Tain had taken undisputed place as the leading Irish epic. The tale may therefore be ascribed provisionally to the 9th century, if we can only be sure that the existing version, preserved in a single MS. of the 15th century, is a faithful copy of the original. There need be no doubt as to this. The text is due to a Christian scribe, and, like nearly all portions of the mythological cycle, betrays signs of Christian influence, though not of Christian remodelling. Such influence is, however, far more likely to have exerted itself in the first stage of the written existence of these tales, when the memory of organised paganism was still tenacious, than later, when the tales had become subject-matter for the play of free poetic fancy. The story, printed and translated by Dr. E. Muller, Rev. Celt. iv. 342, &c., is as follows: Angus (the chief wizard of the Tuatha de Danann) is visited in sleep by a maiden whose beauty throws him into love sickness. The whole of Ireland is scoured to find her; the Dagda is appealed to in vain. At length, Bodb, fairy king of Munster, finds her at Loch bel Dracon (this is not the only trace of the impression which the story of Bel and the Dragon made upon the Irish mind). She lives there with 150 swans; one year they are in swan shape the next in human shape. They appear as white birds with silvery chains and golden caps around their heads. Angus changes himself into a swan to be with her, and it is recorded of the music they made that "people fell asleep for three days and three nights." The soporific power of music is that which is chiefly commended in old Irish literature.
I think it is obvious that the writer of our story was familiar with this and other legends in which swan-maids encircled with gold and silver chains appear, and that we may fairly draw the following conclusions from the preceding facts: There existed an Irish folk-tale of a king with two wives, one a water or sea fairy, whose children derive from her the capacity of shape-shifting dependent upon certain talismans; jealousy impels the human wife to tamper with these talismans, and the children are condemned to remain in their animal form. This folk-tale was, probably at some time in the 14th or 15th century, arbitrarily fitted into the cadre of the Tuatha de Danann cycle, and entirely re-fashioned in a spirit of pious edification by a man who was in his way a great and admirable artist. The origin and nature of the story, all the elements of which are genuinely national, assured for it wide and lasting popularity. The evolution of the Irish folk-tale is in no way dependent upon that of the Continental folk-tale of the Seven Swans, but it is possible that the Celtic presentiment of the chain-girdled swans may have influenced it as well as the Swan Knight Romance.
Sources.—Kennedy, Stories of Ireland, pp. 38-46; Campbell, West Highland Tales, i. 320 seq.; "The Shifty Lad," Dasent, Popular Tales from the Norse, pp. 232-51, "Master Thief." Köhler has a number of variants in his notes on Campbell: Orient und Occident, Band ii. Mr. Clouston has a monograph on the subject in his Popular Tales, ii. 115-65. A separate treatise on the subject has been given by S. Prato, 1882, La Leggenda di Rhampsinite. Both these writers connect the modern folk-tales with Herodotus' story of King Rampsinites. Mr. Knowles in his Folk-tales of Kashmir, has a number of adventures of "Sharaf the Thief." The story of "Master Thief" has been heard among the tramps in London workhouses (Mayhew, London Labour and London Poor, iii. 119).
Remarks.—Thievery is universally human, and at first sight it might seem that there was no connection between these various versions of the "Master Thief." But the identity of the tricks by which the popular hero-thief gains his ends renders it impossible that they should have been independently invented wherever they are found.
Source.—Lady Guest's Mabinogion, with the names slightly anglicised, and omitting the opening incident.
Parallels.—For the incident of tearing off the hands, cf. Morraha; the enchanted hill and maiden occur at the beginning of "Tuairisgeul Môr" in Scottish Celtic Review, i. 61, and are fully commented upon by Mr. Nutt, l.c. 137.
Sources.—Hyde, Beside the Fire, pp. 73-91.
Parallels.—On green hills as the homes of the fairies: see note on "Childe Roland," English Fairy Tales, p. 241. The transformation of witches into hares is a frequent motif in folk-lore.
Sources.—From J. F. Campbell's manuscript collection now deposited at the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh (MS. 53, vol. xi.). Collected in Gaelic, February 14, 1862, by Hector MacLean, from Roderick MacNeill, in the island of Menglay: MacNeill learnt the story about 1840 from a Barra man. I have omitted one visit of the Black Horse to Greece, but otherwise left the tale untouched. Mr. Nutt gave a short abstract of the story in his report on the Campbell MSS. in Folk-lore, i. 370.
Parallels.—Campbell gives the following parallels in his notes on the tale, which I quote verbatim. On the throwing into the well he remarks: "So this incident of 'Lady Audley's Secret' was in the mind of a Barra peasant about 1840. Part of a modern novel may be as old as Aryan mythology, which was one point to be proved." [The incident of throwing into the well almost invariably forms a part of the tales of the White Cat type.]
With regard to the Black Horse, Campbell notes that a Gaelic riddle makes a Black Horse identical with the West Wind, and adds: "It is for consideration whether this Horse throws light on the sacred Wheel in Indian Sculptures; it is to be noted that a Black Horse is the sacrificial colour."
"The Cup is a well-known myth about winning a Fairy Cup which pervades Scandinavian England in many forms." "A silver ring, two quaint serpents' heads pointing opposite ways, is a common Scandinavian wedding-ring; many were to be got in Barra and elsewhere in 1869, sold by emigrants bound for America."
"Those who can account for myths must settle the geography of the Snow Mountain. Avalanches and glaciers are in Iceland, in the Caucasus, and in Central Asia. There are none within sight of Menglay. Hindoo cosmogony, which makes the world consist of seven rings, separated by seas and by a wall of mountains, may account for this in some sort."
On the spikes driven into the Horse, Campbell compares the Norse story of "Dapple-grim" and the Horse sacrifice of the Mahabharata. On the building of the Magic Castle, Campbell remarks: "Twashtri was the Carpenter of the Vedic gods: can this be his work?"
On the Horse's head being struck off Campbell comments: "This was the last act in the Aryan Horse's sacrifice, and the first step in the Horse apotheosis."
Remarks.—Campbell has the following note at the end of the tale, from which it would seem that in 1870 at least he was very nearly being an Indiamaniac.
"So ends this horse-riding story. Taking it as it is, with the test of language added, nothing short of an Asian origin will account for it. A Gaelic riddle makes 'a black horse' mean the invisible wind, and a theorist might suppose this horse to be the air personified. As Greece is mentioned, he might be Pegasus, who had to do with wells. But he had wings, and he was white, and there is nothing in classical fable like this Atlantic myth. 'The enchanted horse' of Arabian Nights was a flying machine, and his adventures are quite different. This is not the horse of Chaucer's Squire's Tale. He is more like 'Hrimfaxi,' the horse of the Edda, who drew the car of Nött in heaven, and was ridden round the earth in twelve hours, followed by Dagr and his glittering horse Skinfaxi. The black horse who always arrives at sunrise is like the horse of night, but there is no equivalent story in the Edda. 'Dapple-grim' in Norse tales is clad in a spiked bull's hide, and is mixed up with a blazing tar-barrel, but his adventures won't fit, and he was grey.
"The story is but an imperfect skeleton. The cup was to give strength; he had to open seven gates after he got the cup, but it does nothing. The hood is to hide with; he went in and out of the palace unseen after he had got the hood, but it plays no part. The light shoes were the shoes of swiftness of course, but they never showed their paces. Baldr's horse was led to the funeral pile with all his gear; and Odin laid the gold ring Draupnir on the pile. Such rites might account for the ring in the blazing lake. Hermothr's ride northwards and downwards to the abode of Hel to seek Baldr, his leap over the grate, and his return with the ring (Edda 25), might account for one adventure.
"The many-coloured horses of the sun in the Indian mythology and solar myths may account for all these horses, astronomically or meteorologically. The old Aryan Aswa Medha or sacrifice of a black horse, and the twelve adventures of Arjuna as told in the Mahabharata, are something like this story in some general vague way. But the simplest explanation of this Menglay myth, fished out of the Atlantic, is to admit that 'the black horse' and all this mythical breed came west with men who rode from the land where horses were tamed, which is unknown."
Source.—Kindly condensed by Mr. Alfred Nutt from Prof. Meyer's edition of The Vision published in book form in 1892. This contains two versions, a longer one from a fourteenth century MS., Leabhar Breac or Speckled Book, and a shorter one from a sixteenth century MS. in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. A translation of the former version was given by the late W. M. Hennessy in Fraser's Magazine, September, 1873. Prof. Wollner, who contributed to Prof. Meyer's edition an introduction dealing with the story from the standpoint of comparative literature, considers that the later version reproduces the original common source more nearly.
Parallels.—At first sight The Vision seems to picture the Land of Cockayne (on which see Poeschel, Das Mährchen vom Schlaraffenlande, Halle, 1878), but as Prof. Wollner remarks, the Irish form is much more simple and primitive, and represents rather an agricultural conception of a past aurea aetas. The conception of enormous appetite being due to the presence of a voracious animal or demon within the body is widespread among the folk. Prof. Wollner gives numerous parallels, l.c. XLVII.-LIII. The common expression "to wolf one's food" is said to be derived from this conception. On the personification of disease, see Tylor, Primitive Culture, ii. 148.
I can myself remember a tale somewhat similar to The Vision which I heard from my nurse in Australia, I fancy as a warning against gluttony. She told me of a man, who in swallowing large pieces of food had swallowed a little hairy monster, which grew and grew and grew and caused the man to be eating all day to satisfy his visitors. He was cured by being made to fast, and then a bowl of brandy was brought in front of his mouth into which the hairy thing, attracted by the fumes, jumped and was drowned.
Remarks.—We have here an interesting example of the personification of disease in the form of a demon, of which some examples occur in the Gospels. The rollicking Rabelaisian tone in which the story is told prevents us, however, from attributing any serious belief in the conception by the Irish Monk the author of the tale, who was parodying, according to Prof. Wollner, the Visions of the Saints. Still he would be scarcely likely to use the conception, even for purposes of parody, unless it were current among the folk, and it occurs among them even at the present day. (See Hyde, Beside the Fire, p. 183.)
XXXIII. DREAM OF OWEN O'MULREADY.
Sources.—Kindly translated by Mr. Leland L. Duncan from Gaelic Journal, vol. iv. p. 57 seq.
Remarks.—At first sight a mere droll, the story has its roots in the most primitive philosophy. Owen's problem is to get in the Land of Dreams. Now Dreamland, so all our students of Mythology are agreed, is the source and origin of our belief in souls and spirits. Owen's problem therefore resolves itself into this: where was he to go in order to come into closest contact with the world of spirits. Mark what he does—he clears the hearth and has his bed made in it. Now it is round the hearth that the fullest associations with the spirit life are clustered. The late M. Fustel de Coulanges in his Cité Antique traces back most of the Greek and Roman religions and a large number of their institutions to the worship of the ancestors localised on the hearth. The late Professor Hearn extended his line of research to the whole of the Aryans in his Aryan Household. It will thus be seen from this course of reasoning, that Owen was acting on the most approved primitive principles in adopting this curious method of obtaining dreams. The story is not known elsewhere than in Ireland, and we are therefore at liberty to apply the method of survivals to this case.
Sources.—The second story in Mr. W. Larminie's West Irish Folktales, pp. 10-30. The framework was collected from P. McGrale of Achill Island, Co. Mayo. The story itself was from Terence Davis of Rendyle, Co. Galway. There is evidently confusion in the introductory portion between Niall's mother and wife.
Parallels.—Campbell's No. 1 has a very close parallel to the opening. Mr. Larminie refers to a similar tale collected by Kennedy. Another version from West Munster has been recently published in the Gaelic Journal, iv. 7, 26, 35. The evasion of the promise to give up the sword at the end seems a favourite incident in Achill folktales; it occurs in two others of Mr. Larminie's stories. On the framework, see note on "Conal Yellow claw" (Celtic Folktales, v.). I have there suggested that the plan comes from the East, ultimately from Buddha.
Sources.—Supplied by Mrs. Gale, now in the United States, from the recitation of her mother who left Ireland over fifty years ago.
Parallels.—"Noodle Tales" like this are found everywhere in Europe, and have been discussed by Mr. Clouston in a special monograph in The Book of Noodles, 1889. The "sell" at the end is similar to that in the "Wise Men of Gotham." Kennedy (Fireside Stories of Ireland) gives a similar set of adventures, p. 119 seq.
Remarks.—Mrs. Gale remarks that it was a common superstition in Ireland, that if a raven hovered over the head of cattle, a withering blight had been set upon the animals. As birds of carrion they were supposed to be waiting for the carcases.
Sources.—MacDougal, Waifs and Strays, III. ix. pp. 216-21.
Parallels.—Campbell, West Highland Tales, "The Master and the Man," iii. 288-92.
Remarks.—I need scarcely suggest the identification of the Ploughman with the——. As usual in folk-tales, that personage does not get the best of the bargain. The rustic Faust evades his contract by a direct appeal to the higher powers. This is probably characteristic of Scotch piety.
Sources.—Kennedy, Fireside Stories, pp. 47-56.
Parallels.—Campbell, West Highland Tales, lvi.; Mac Iain Direach, ii. 344-76. He gives other variants at the end. The story is clearly that of the Grimms' "Golden Bird," No. 57. They give various parallels in their notes. Mrs. Hunt refers to an Eskimo version in Rae's White Sea Peninsula, called "Kuobba the Giant and the Devil." But the most curious and instructive parallel is that afforded by the Arthurian Romance of Walewein (i.e., Gawain), now only extant in Dutch, which, as Professor W. P. Ker has pointed out in Folk-lore, v. 121, exactly corresponds to the popular tale, and thus carries it back in Celtdom to the early twelfth century at the latest.
Source.—I have made up this Celtic Reynard out of several fables given by Campbell, West Highland Tales, under the title "Fables," vol. i. pp. 275 seq.; and "The Keg of Butter" and the "The Fox and the little Bonnach," vol. iii. Nos. lxv. lxvi.
Parallels.—The Fox's ruse about a truce among the animals is a well-known Æsop's Fable; see my edition of Caxton's Æsop, vol. ii. p. 307, and Parallels, vol. i. p. 267. The trick by which the cock gets out of the fox's mouth is a part of the Reynard Cycle, and is given by Chaucer as his "Nonne Preste's Tale." How the wolf lost his tail is also part of the same cycle, the parallels of which are given by K. Krohn, Bär (Wolf) und Fuchs (Helsingfors, 1889), pp. 26-8. The same writer has studied the geographical distribution of the story in Finland, accompanied by a map, in Fennia, iv. No. 4. I have given a mediæval Hebrew version in my Jews of Angevin England, pp. 170-2. See also Gerber, Great Russian Animal Tales, pp. 48-50. The wolf was originally the bear, as we see from the conclusion of the incident, which professes to explain why the wolf is stumpy-tailed. "The Keg of Butter" combines two of the Grimm stories, 2, 189. "The Little Bonnach" occurs also in English and has been given in two variants in English Fairy Tales, No. xxviii.; and More English Fairy Tales, No. lvii.
Remarks.—It would lead me too far afield to discuss here the sources of Reynard the Fox, with which I hope shortly to deal at length elsewhere. But I would remark that in this case, as in several others we have observed, the stories, which are certainly reproductions, have received the characteristic Celtic dress. It follows that we cannot conclude anything as to the origin of a tale from the fact that it is told idiomatically. On the other hand, the stories of "The Fox and Wrens" and "The Fox and the Todhunter," and "How the Fox gets rid of his Fleas," have no parallels elsewhere, and show the possibility of a native beast tale or cycle of tales.
Source.—Mr. Curtin's "Hero Tales of Ireland," contributed to the New York Sun.
Parallels.—Campbell's No. xvii., "Maol a Chliobain," is the same story, which is also found among the Lowlanders, and is given in my English Fairy Tales, No. xxii., "Molly Whuppie," where see notes for other parallels of the Hop o' My Thumb type of story. King Under the Waves occurs in Campbell, No. lxxxvi.
Source.—Croker, Fairy Legends of South of Ireland.
Parallels.—Parnell's poem, Edwin and Sir Topaz, contains the same story. As he was born in Dublin, 1679, this traces the tale back at least 200 years in Ireland. Practically the same story, however, has been found in Japan, and translated into English under the title, "Kobutori; or, The Old Man and the Devils." In the story published by Kobunsha, Tokio, the Old Man has a lump on the side of his face. He sees the demons dancing, and getting exhilarated, joins in. Thereupon the devils are so delighted that they wish to see him again, and as a pledge of his return take away from him his lump. Another old man, who has a similar lump on the other side of his face, hearing of this, tries the same plan, but dances so badly that the devils, not wishing to see him again, and mistaking him for the other old man, give him back the lump, so that he has one on each side of his face.
Remarks.—Here we have a problem of diffusion presented in its widest form. There can be little doubt that "The Legend of Knockgrafton" and "Kobutori," one collected in Ireland and to be traced there for the last 200 years, and the other collected at the present day in Japan, are one and the same story, and it is impossible to imagine they were independently produced. Considering that Parnell could not have come across the Japanese version, we must conclude that "Kobutori" is a recent importation into Japan. On the other hand, as "the Hobyahs" cannot be traced in England, and was collected from a Scottish family settled in the United States, where Japanese influence has been considerable, it is possible that this tale was derived from Japan within the memory of men still living. It would be highly desirable to test these two cases, in which we seem to be able to observe the process of the diffusion of Folk Tales going on before our eyes.
Source.—Giraldus Cambrensis, Itinerarium Cambriæ, I. viii. I have followed the Latin text tolerably closely.
Parallels.—Mr. Hartland has a paper on "Robberies in Fairyland," in Arch. Rev., iii. 39 seq. Davies, Mythology of the British Druids, p. 155, tells a story of a door in a rock near a cave in the mountains of Brecknock, which was left open for Mayday, and men used to enter, and so reach that fairy island in the middle of the lake. The visitors were treated very hospitably by their fairy hosts, but on the condition that they might eat all, but pocket none; for once, a visitor took away with him a fairy flower, and as soon as he got outside the door the flower vanished, and the door was never more opened. "The Luck of Edenhall," still in existence, is supposed to be a trophy brought back from a similar visit.
Remarks.—Mr. Hartland suggests that these legends, and the relics connected with them, are in some way connected with the heathen rites prevalent in these islands before the introduction of Christianity, which may have lingered on into historic times. The absence of sunlight in this account of the House of the Fairies, as in "Childe Rowland" (on which see note in English Fairy Tales), may be regarded as a point in favour of Mr. MacRitchie's theories as to the identification of the fairies with the mound-dwellers. The object of the expectoration was to prevent Elidore's seeing his way back. Thus the fairies prevent the indiscretions of the human midwives they employ.
XLII. THE LEECHING OF KAYN'S LEG.
Source.—MacInnes, Folk-Tales from Argyleshire, vii., combined with Campbell of Tiree's version.
Parallels.—The earliest version, from an Egerton MS. of the fifteenth century, has been printed by Mr. S. H. O'Grady in his Silva Gadelica, No. 20, with an English version, pp. 332-42. Mr. Campbell of Tiree has given a short Gaelic version in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, 78-100. Campbell of Islay collected the fullest version of this celebrated story, which is to be found among his manuscript remains now in Edinburgh. Mr. Nutt has given his English abstract in Folk-lore, i. 373-7, in its original form. The story must have contained twenty-four tales or episodes of stories, nineteen of which are preserved in J. F. Campbell's version. For parallels to the various incidents, see Mr. Nutt's notes on MacInnes, pp. 470-3. The tale is referred to in MacNicol, Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides, 1779.
Remarks.—Nothing could give a more vivid idea of what might be called the organisation of the art of story-telling among the Celts than this elaborate tale. Mr. Nutt is inclined to trace it, even in its present form, back to the twelfth or thirteenth century. It occurs in an MS. of the fifteenth century in an obviously unoriginal form which shows that the story-teller did not appreciate the significance of many features in the folk-tale he was retelling, and yet it was orally collected by the great Campbell in 1871, in a version which runs to 142 folio pages. Formally, its interest consists in large measure in the curious framework in which the subsidiary stories are imbedded. This is not of the elaborate kind introduced into Europe from the East by the Crusades, but more naive, resembling rather, as Mr. Nutt points out to me, the loosely-knit narratives of Charles Lever in his earlier manner.
Source.—J. G. Campbell, The Fians (Waifs and Strays, No. iv.), pp. 175-92.
Parallels.—The Voyage to Brobdingnag will occur to many readers, and it is by no means impossible that, as Swift was once an Irish lad, The Voyage may have been suggested by some such tale told him in his infancy. It is not, however, a part of the earlier recorded Ossianic cycle, though over-sea giants occur as opponents of the heroes in that as well as in the earlier Ultonian cycle.
Source.—Kindly condensed by Mr. Alfred Nutt from an English version by Mr. S. H. O'Grady in Ossianic Society's Publications, vol. iii. The oldest known version has been printed from fourteenth century MSS., by Mr. Whitley Stokes, Irische Texte, iii. i. The story existed in some form in the early eleventh century, as it is cited in the epic catalogue contained in the Book of Leinster.
Parallels.—Mr. Nutt in his Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, p. 193, connects this visit of Cormac to the Otherworld with the bespelled Castle incident in the Grail Legend, and gives other instances of visits to the Brug of Manannan. Manannan Mac Lir is the Celtic sea-god.
Source.—Campbell, West Highland Tales, No. xxii. vol. ii. p. 36, seq. I have modified the end, which has a polygamous complexion.
Parallels.—Campbell points out that the story is in the main identical with the Grimms' "Räthsel," No. xxii. There the riddle is: "One slew none, and yet slew twelve." MacDougall has the same story in Waifs and Strays, iii. pp. 76 seq.
Remarks.—There can be no doubt that the Celtic and German Riddle Stories are related genealogically. Which is of the earlier generation is, however, more difficult to determine. In favour of the Celtic is the polygamous framework; while on the other hand, it is difficult to guess how the story could have got from the Highlands to Germany. The simpler form of the riddle in the German version might seem to argue greater antiquity.
Source.—Campbell, No. lvii.
Parallels.—Most story-tellers have some formula of this kind to conclude their narrations. Prof. Crane gives some examples in his Italian Popular Tales, pp. 155-7. The English have: "I'll tell you a story of Jack a Nory," and "The Three Wise Men of Gotham" who went to Sea in a Bowl:
"If the bowl had been stronger,
My song would have been longer."
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