Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/331

This page needs to be proofread.

The European Sky-God. 317

breast and side until he could uproot the tree thus planted. In due time the woman had a son, and sure enough the seedling of the acorn was just breaking from the ground. She nourished her son seven years, and then took him out to try the tree ; but he could not move it. She gave him another seven years of the breast, and then told him to try the tree again ; but, though he shook it terribly, he still could not lift it. Again she gave him suck for seven years ; and this time he uprooted it, and left it as a heap of firewood before her door. Hereupon his mother sent him out into the world with a bannock and her blessing. Others, scared at his strength, were anxious to be rid of him, and set him one impossible task after another with that end in view. But he easily performed them all, and in the end carried off his mother to live with him in a fine place from which all the previous inhabitants had fled in dismay.

Perhaps the most remarkable case of vital sympathy between man and tree is that of the Hays, formerly earls of Errol on the Firth of Tay.^ The family legend is thus given by the Rev. Adam Philip in his Songs and Sayings of Gowrie? During the Danish invasion of Scotland in 980 A.D. the Scots were all but worsted at Luncarty, when a countryman and his two sons rallied them and armed with mere plough-coulters defeated the Danes. After the battle the old peasant, named Hay, was taken to King Kenneth, who gave him at a parliament held at Scone as much land on the Tay in the district of Gowrie

^ Dr. Frazer drew attention to this case in his Golden Bough ed. i, ii. 362, ed. 2 iii. 448 f. ; but unfortunately the newspaper-cutting, on which he relied, did not give tlie full facts.

^A. Philip Songs and Sayitigs of Goivrie Edinburgh and London 1901 p. 67 ff. The author duly notes that Milton proposed to found a drama on this legend, and that Shakspeare (after Holinshed History of Scotland p. 155) has utilised it in Cyinbeline 5. 3. i ff. Camden Britannia ed. Gough iii. 394 arms Hay with a yoke, not a plough-coulter.