The Science of Fairy Tales/Chapter 11
The incident of the recovery of the bride not found in all the stories—New Zealand sagas—Andrianòro—Mother-right—The father represented under a forbidding aspect—Tasks imposed on the hero—The Buddhist theory of the Grateful Animals—The feather-robe a symbol of bride's superhuman character—Mode of capture—The Taboo—Dislike of fairies for iron—Utterance of name forbidden—Other prohibitions—Fulfilment of fate—The taboo a mark of progress in civilization—The divine ancestress—Totems and Banshees—Re-appearance of mother to her children—The lady of the Van Pool an archaic deity.
I hope I have made clear in the last chapter the connection between the various types of the Swan-maiden group of folk-tales. The one idea running through them all is that of a man wedding a supernatural maiden and unable to retain her. She must return to her own country and her own kin; and if he desire to recover her he must pursue her thither and conquer his right to her by undergoing superhuman penance or performing superhuman tasks,—neither of which it is given to ordinary men to do. It follows that only when the story is told of men who can be conceived as released from the limitations we have been gradually learning during the progress of civilization to regard as essential to humanity—only when the reins are laid upon the neck of invention,—is it possible to relate the narrative of the recovery of the bride. These conditions are twice fulfilled in the history of a folk-tale. They are fulfilled, first, when men are in that early stage of thought in which the limitations of man's nature are unknown, when speculations of the kind touched upon in our second chapter, and illustrated repeatedly in the course of this work, are received as undisputed opinions. They are fulfilled again when the relics of these opinions, and the memories of the mythical events believed in accordance with such opinions, are still operative in the mind, though no longer with the vividness of primitive times; when some of them still hold together, but for the most part they are decaying and falling to pieces, and are only like the faded rags of a once splendid robe which a child may gather round its puny form and make believe for the moment that it is a king. To the genuine credulity of the South-Sea Islander, and to the conscious make-believe of the Arab story-teller and the peasant who repeats the modern märchen, all things are possible. But to the same peasant when relating the traditional histories of his neighbours, and to the grave mediæval chronicler, only some things are possible, though many more things than are possible to us. The slow and partial advance of knowledge destroys some superstitions sooner, others later. Some branches of the tree of marvel flourish with apparently unimpaired life long after others have withered, and others again have only begun to fade. Hence, where the adventures of Tawhaki, the mythical New Zealander, are incredible, the legend of the origin of the Physicians of Myddfai from the Lady of the Lake may still be gravely accepted. Gervase of Tilbury would probably have treated the wild story of Hasan's adventures in the islands of Wák as what it is; but he tells us he has seen and conversed with women who had been captives to the Dracs beneath the waters of the Rhone, while a relative of his own had married a genuine descendant of the serpent-lady of that castle in the valley of Trets.
Accordingly, the episode of the recovery of the bride is scarcely ever found in the sagas of modern Europe, or indeed of any nation that has progressed beyond a certain mark in civilization. But it is common in their märchen, as well as in the sagas of more backward nations. In the sagas of the advanced races, with rare exceptions, the most we get is what looks like a reminiscence of the episode in the occasional reappearance of the supernatural wife to her children, or as a Banshee. Putting this reminiscence, if it be one, aside for the present, we will first discuss some aspects of the bride's recovery. In doing so, though the natural order may seem to be inverted, we shall in effect clear the ground for the proper understanding of the main features of the myth.
Many variants of the legend of Tawhaki are current among the Maories. According to that adopted by Sir George Grey, he was a hero renowned for his courage, whose fame had reached to heaven. There Tango-tango, a maiden of heavenly race, fell in love with him from report; and one night she descended to the earth and lay down by his side. She continued to do this nightly, stealing away again before dawn to her home. But when she found herself likely to become a mother she remained with him openly; and when her daughter was born she gave her to her husband to wash. Evidently he did not like the work, for while carrying out his wife's instructions, Tawhaki made a very rude remark about the child. Hearing this, Tango-tango began to sob bitterly, and at last rose up from her place with the child and took flight to the sky. Her husband determined to seek her. He found his way to the place where a creeper hung down from heaven and struck its roots into the earth. It was guarded there by a blind old ancestress of his, whom he restored to sight, and from whom he obtained directions how to climb the plant. Arrived in heaven, he disguised himself and had to undergo the indignity—he, a mighty chieftain—of being enslaved by his wife's relatives, for whom he was compelled to perform menial work. At length, however, he manifested himself to his wife and was reconciled to her. He is still in heaven, and is worshipped as a god. Another version represents a cloud swooping upon the wife and taking her away. Tawhaki endeavoured in vain to follow her by mounting on a kite. A third version simply relates that the lady returned to her friends. Her husband, on arriving at the pa, or settlement, where she dwelt, found among the children his own son, by whom he sent his wife a love-token she had formerly given him. This led to recognition, and she eventually returned with him to his home. A more interesting variant tells us that the fame of the nobleness of Tini-rau was heard by Hine-te-iwaiwa, who determined to set her cap (or whatever might be its equivalent in her scanty costume) at him. She obtained an interview with him, by a device recalling the conduct of the ladies in The Land East of the Sun, for she broke and destroyed some bathing-pools belonging to the hero. A quest of the intruder naturally followed, with the result that Tini-rau took her to live with him. She made short work of her rivals, his elder wives; and all went smoothly until Hine, one unlucky day, asked her husband to perform an operation upon her head as necessary as familiar in some strata of civilization. In doing this he made disrespectful observations about her, when lo! a mist settled down upon them, from the midst of which her elder brother came and took his sister away. Tini-rau, unable to endure her absence, determined to go after his wife, accompanied by a flight of birds, by whose cries he was informed, as he passed one settlement after another, whether or not his wife was there. At length he discovered her whereabouts, and made himself known to her sister by a token which Hine understood. Then he came to her, and she announced his arrival to all the people, who assembled and welcomed him. He abode there; and when his wife's relatives complained that he did not go and get food, he obtained it in abundance by the exercise of magical powers; and so they lived happy ever after.
Now let us turn to the Malagasy tale of the way in which Andrianòro obtained a wife from heaven. There three sisters, whose dwelling-place is in heaven, frequent a lake in the crystal waters whereof they swim, taking flight at once on the approach of any human being. By a diviner's advice the hero changes into three lemons, which the youngest sister desires to take; but the others, fearing a snare, persuade her to fly away with them. Foiled thus, the hero changes into bluish water in the midst of the lake, then into the seed of a vegetable growing by the waterside, and ultimately into an ant. He is at length successful in seizing the youngest maiden, who consents to be his wife in spite of the difference of race; for, while her captor is a man living on the earth, her father dwells in heaven, whence the thunderbolt darts forth if he speak, and she herself drinks no spirits, "for if spirits even touch my mouth I die." After some time, during his absence, his father and mother force tòaka, or rum, into the lady's mouth, and she dies; but on his return he insists on opening her grave, and, to his joy, finds her alive again. But she will not now stay on earth: she must return to her father and mother in the sky. They are grieving for her, and the thunder is a sign of their grief. Finding himself unable to prevail upon her to stay, he obtains permission to accompany her. She warns him, however, of the dangers he will have to encounter,—the thunderbolt when her father speaks, and the tasks her father will lay upon him. Before he goes he accordingly calls the beasts and the birds together; he slays oxen to feed them; he tells them the tests he is about to undergo, and takes promises from them to accomplish the things that trouble him. Obedient to his wife, he displays great humility to his father-in-law; and by the aid of the lower animals he comes triumphant out of every trial. The beasts with their tusks plough up the spacious fields of heaven; the beasts and birds uproot the giant trees; from the Crocodile Lake the crocodiles themselves bring the thousand spades; between cattle which are exactly alike the cattle-fly distinguishes the cows from the calves; and the little fly, settling on the nose of the heroine's mother, enables the hero to point her out among her daughters. The wife's father is astonished, and gives his daughter anew to the hero to be his wife, dismissing them with a dower of oxen, slaves and money.
It will be observed that the adventures undergone by Andrianòro in heaven are very different from those of the Maori heroes. Tawhaki and Tini-rau have certainly to submit to hardships and indignities before they can be reunited to their wives; and they perform actions of superhuman power. But these actions are not performed as the condition of reunion; nor are the tasks and the indignities laid upon them by any parental ogre. In fact the parental ogre is as conspicuous by his absence from the New Zealand stories as he is by his presence in those of Andrianòro and the Marquis of the Sun. How is this to be explained? The reason seems to lie in the different organization of society under which the tale attained its present form in either case. At an early period of civilization, kinship is reckoned exclusively through the mother: even the father is in no way related to his children. This is a stage hardly ever found complete in all its consequences, but of which the traces remain in the customs and in the lore of many nations who have long since passed from it, becoming, as we might expect, fainter and fewer as it recedes into the distance. Such traces are abundant in Maori tradition; and they point to a comparatively recent emergence from female kinship. Among these traces is the omission of the heavy father from the stories before us. Tango-tango and Hine-te-iwaiwa were both maidens of more than mortal race; and presumably their parents would be conceived of as still alive. But they are not so much as alluded to—a sure sign that there was no paternal authority to which these ladies would be accountable. Indeed, if accountable at all, they are so to the whole circle of their relatives, or to their tribe in general. It is their brothers who assist them in time of need. Tawhaki becomes the slave of his brothers-in-law. To her "people" Hine announces her husband's arrival: she simply announces it; nor does it appear that any consent on their part is required. Tini-rau takes his place at once as a tribesman, and is expected to contribute by his labour and skill to the sustenance of the whole brotherhood.
One of the consequences of reckoning descent only through females, which may be noticed here, is that the children belong to the mother and the mother's family. A trace of this lingers about the story of Tawhaki in the affront to Tango-tango caused by her husband's offensive remark upon their little one. In a society where the offspring are the father's, or even where, as in modern civilized life, they are treated as belonging to both parents and partaking of the nature of both, no such offence could be taken. Another consequence is that in the organization of society the wife still continues after marriage to reside with, and to be part of, the community to which she belongs by birth. The man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife. Hence it would be natural for her to return home to her own kindred, and for him to seek her and dwell with her there. This is illustrated not only in the Maori legends just cited, but also in the Arawak story given in the last chapter, where the husband is received into the vulture race until he desires to visit his mother. He is then discarded as if he had committed some unpardonable breach of custom; and he cannot be restored to his former privileges. Although the Greeks had before the dawn of history ceased to practise mother-right, a trace of it lingers in a modern folktale from Epirus. There a man had by the ordinary device obtained an elf as a wife; and she bore him a child. After this her own kinsmen came and begged her to return to them; but she refused on the ground that she had a husband and child. "Then bring them with you," they replied. Accordingly, she took her husband and child, and went back with them to dwell among the elves. It seems, however, to be felt that this was an unusual proceeding; otherwise it would have been needless to plead with the lady to return, and to extend a special invitation to those whom she would not abandon: an indication, this, that the story has been adapted to a higher plane of civilization, in which it was no longer the custom for the husband to go and dwell among his wife's people.
On the other hand, Andrianòro's wife lives under patriarchal government. The Malagasy have advanced further on the path of civilization than the Maories; and at the stage of progress they have reached, the father is much more like an absolute monarch. In the story referred to, the lady had married without her father's consent. Accordingly her marriage is ignored, and her lover has to perform a number of services for his father-in-law, and so purchase formal consent to their union. Nor will it escape the reader that when the wielder of the thunderbolt at last gives his daughter to her husband, he dismisses them back to the home of the latter. Hasan, too, it will be remembered, returns to Bagdad with his wife and children, though we probably have a survival of an older form of the story in his relations with her redoubtable sister. This lady holds a position impossible in an Arab kingdom. Her father is a mere shadow, hardly mentioned but to save appearances; so much more substantial is her power and her opposition to the match. The variants of the Marquis of the Sun are found chiefly among European nations, whose history, institutions, and habits of thought lead them to attach great value to paternal authority. In the tasks performed in märchen of this type, and the precipitate flight which usually takes place on the wedding night from the ogre's secret wrath, it would seem that we have a reminiscence of the archaic institutions of marriage by purchase and marriage by capture,—both alike incidents of the period when mother-right (as the reckoning of descent solely through females is called) has ceased to exist in a pure form, and society has passed, or is passing, into the patriarchal stage. The Marquis of the Sun type is, therefore, more recent than the other types of the Swan-maiden tradition, none of which so uniformly in all their variants recognize the father's supreme position.
If the tasks and the flight be a reminiscence of purchase and capture, we may find in that reminiscence a reason why nearly all the stories concur in representing the father under a forbidding aspect. As his daughter's vendor,—her unwilling vendor,—as her guardian from capture, he would be the natural foe of her lover. He is not always so ready as the Bird Simer to give up to another his rights over her; but perhaps the Bird Simer's readiness may be partly explained by the husband's having already performed the feat of rescuing the maiden from a giant, beside slaying his own brother for her sake. Usually the father is a frightful ogre or giant; not infrequently he is no less a personage than the Devil himself. And the contrast between him and his lovely daughter would be more and more strongly felt as purchase and capture ceased to be serious methods of bride-winning. Hence, probably, the thought of real relationship would be abandoned, and the maiden would often be conceived of as enchanted and captive in the hands of a malevolent being.
We will not now stop to discuss the tasks in detail: we can only afford time to glance at one of them, namely, that of distinguishing the maid from her sisters. There are three chief means by which the lover or husband is enabled to identify the object of his devotion. Two of these depend upon the lady herself: in the one shehelps her lover; in the other he recognizes an insignificant peculiarity of her person or attire. The third means is an indication given by one of the lower animals, which has better means of knowledge than the suitor, due probably to its greater cleverness—a quality, as I have already pointed out in Chapter II., universally credited in a certain stage of culture to these creatures. We will deal first with the second means.
The most usual personal idiosyncrasy of the damsel is the want of a finger, or some deformity in it, the result of her previous efforts to aid the hero. Thus, in a Basque tale the lad is set to find a ring lost by the ogre in a river. This is accomplished by cutting up the maiden and throwing the pieces into the stream; but a part of the little finger sticks in his shoe. When he afterwards has to choose between the ogre's daughters with his eyes shut, he recognizes his love by the loss of her little finger. The giant's daughter, in a West Highland tale, makes a ladder with her fingers for her lover to climb a tree to fetch a magpie's eggs; and, in the hurry, she leaves her little finger at the top. This accident arises sometimes, as in the Marquis of the Sun, from the dropping of a piece of flesh on the ground when the hero cuts up his beloved; or, according to a story of the Italian Tirol, from spilling some of her blood. In the latter case, three drops of blood fall into the lake, instead of the bucket prepared to receive them, and thereby almost cause the failure of his task. When the magician afterwards leads the youth to his daughters and bids him choose, he takes the youngest by the hand, and says: "I choose this one." We are not told that there was any difference in the maidens' hands, but this is surely to be inferred. In the Milanese story of the King of the Sun the hero also chooses his wife blindfold from the king's three daughters by touching their hands; and here, too, we must suppose previous help or concert, though it has disappeared from the text. In a story from Lorraine, John has to take the devil's daughter, Greenfeather, to pieces to find a spire for the top of a castle that he is compelled to build; and in putting her together again he sets one of her little fingers clumsily. With bandaged eyes he has to find the lady who has assisted him; and he succeeds by putting his hand on hers. The lad who falls into the strange gentleman's hands in a Breton tale, forgets to put the little toe of the girl's left foot into the caldron; and when she and her two sisters are led before him veiled and clad in other than their ordinary garb, he knows her at once by the loss of her toe. As it is told in Denmark the enchanted princess agrees with the king's son to wind a red silken thread around her little finger; and by this means he identifies her, though in the form of a little grey-haired, long-eared she-ass, and again of a wrinkled, toothless, palsied old woman, into which the sorceress, whose captive she is, changes her. In a Swedish story the damsel informs her lover that when the mermaid's daughters appear in various repulsive forms she will be changed into a little cat with her side burnt and one ear snipped. The Catalonian märchen of Joanescas represents the heroine as wanting a joint of her finger, from her lover having torn off some of her feathers by accident when he stole her robe. "Monk" Lewis in his "Journal of a West India Proprietor" gives an Ananci tale in which the heroine and her two sisters are changed into black cats: the two latter bore scarlet threads round their necks, the former a blue thread. According to the Carmarthenshire saga, the lady is recognized by the strapping of her sandal.
In several of the stories just cited, and many of their congeners, the maiden forewarns her suitor how she will be disguised, or by what marks she will be known. Sometimes, however, she makes a sign to him on the spot. The Lady of the Van Pool only thrusts her foot forward that he may notice her shoe-tie; but Cekanka in a Bohemian tale is bold enough to wink at him. In a Russian variant of the Marquis of the Sun, to which I have already referred, the hero is in the power of the Water King. On his way to that potentate's palace he had, by the advice of the Baba Yaga, gone to the seashore and watched until twelve spoonbills alighted, and, turning into maidens, had unrobed for the purpose of bathing. Then he had stolen the eldest maiden's shift, to restore it only on her promise to aid him against her father, the Water King. She redeems the pledge by performing for him the usual tasks, the last of which is to choose the same bride thrice among the king's twelve daughters. The first time she secretly agrees with him that she will wave her handkerchief; the second time she is to be arranging her dress; and the third time he will see a fly above her head.
Here we are led to the third means of recognition. The incident of help rendered by one or more of the lower animals to man is a favourite one in folk-tales; and it has furnished a large portion of the argumentative stock-in-trade of those scholars who contend for their Indian origin. We are assured that every tale which contains this incident must be referred to a Buddhist source, or at least has been subjected to Buddhist influence. This theory is supported by reference to the doctrine of love for all living creatures which Buddha is said to have promulgated. The command to overcome hatred by love, the precepts of self-sacrifice and devotion to others' good were not limited in the Buddha's discourses, if those discourses be correctly reported, to our conduct towards our fellow-men: they included all creation. And they were enforced by parables which represented good as done in turn to men by all sorts of creatures, even the wildest and the most savage. Stories of grateful beasts, of the type familiar to us in Androcles and the Lion, became favourites among the disciples of the Light of Asia. Scholars, therefore, have told us that wherever a grateful beast thrusts his muzzle into the story, that story must have come from India, and must have come since the rise of Buddhism. Nay, they go further. In every instance where a beast appears as helping the hero, we are taught to presume that the hero has first helped the beast, even though no trace of such an incident be actually found. It must have been so, otherwise the beast would have had no motive for helping the hero,—and, it may be added, the theorist would have had no ground for claiming the story as proceeding from a Buddhist source.
Now all this would have been seen at once to be very poor reasoning, but for one fact. A number, sufficient to be called large, of parables, have actually made their way from India to Europe in historic times, and since the age of Gautama. The literary history of these parables can be traced; and it must be acknowledged that, whatever their origin, they have been adopted into Buddhist works and adapted to Buddhist doctrine. Further, it seems demonstrated that some of them have descended into the oral tradition of various nations in Europe, Asia, and even Africa. But when so much as this is conceded, it still fails to account for the spread of the story of the Grateful Beasts and, even more signally, for the incident of the Beast-helpers where there is no gratitude in the case. A very slight examination of the incident as it appears in the group of legends now before us will convince us of this.
First of all, let it be admitted that in several of these tales the service rendered by the brute is in requital for a good turn on the part of the hero. Andrianòro, as we have seen, begins by making friends with various animals by means of the mammon of unrighteousness in the shape of a feast. Jagatalapratâpa, in the narrative already cited from the Tamil book translated into English under the title of "The Dravidian Nights Entertainments," pursuing one of Indra's four daughters, is compelled by her father, after three other trials, to choose her out from her sisters, who are all converted into one shape. He prays assistance from a kind of grasshopper; and the little creature, in return for a previous benefit, hops upon her foot. But it is somewhat curious, if the theory be true, that even in stories told among peoples distinctly under Buddhist influence the gratitude is by no means an invariable point. Thus the princess in the Burmese drama is betrayed by "the king of flies " to her husband, though the abstract we have of the play gives us no hint of any previous transaction between the puny monarch and the hero; and it is worthy of note that the Tibetan version of the same plot given by Mr. Ralston from the Kah-Gyur knows nothing of this entomological agency. There the hero is a Bodisat, who, if he does not recognize his beloved among the thousand companions who surround her, at least has a spell the utterance of which compels her to step out from among them. It does not appear that Kasimbaha, the Bantik patriarch, is required to undergo this particular test. But he is indebted to a bird for indicating the lady's residence; a glow-worm places itself at her chamber door; and a fly shows him which of a number of dishes set before him he must not uncover. M. Cosquin, who is an adherent of the Buddhist hypothesis, in relating this instance, is compelled expressly to say that "one does not see why" these animals should render such services. Neither, on M. Cosquin's principle, can one see why, in the Arawâk story, the spiders should spin cords to help the outcast husband down from heaven, or the birds take his part against the vulture-folk to enable him to recover his wife. The proof of Buddhist influence must rest heavily on its advocates here, both on account of the absence of motive for gratitude, and of the distance of the Arawâk people from India and the utter disparity of civilizations.
The agency of recognition, when attributed to one of the lower animals, is ordinarily an insect; but the reason is, as often as not, a prior arrangement with the lady, as in the Russian story of the Water King. The Polish märchen of Prince Unexpected follows this line. In it, the princess warns her lover that she will have a lady-bird over her right eye. When a thousand maidens all alike are produced to poor Hans in a Bohemian tale, he has no difficulty in selecting the right one; for a witch has bidden him "choose her on whom, from the roof of the chamber, a spider descends."
These considerations are sufficient to prove that the incident of the Helpful Beasts, as found in the Swan-maiden group of stories, cannot be attributed to a Buddhist origin.
We have now dealt with an episode of the mythical narrative, necessary, indeed, to its completion, but found only under certain conditions which I have pointed out. We have seen this episode in two distinct forms whose respective sources we have assigned to two distinct stages of culture. The form characteristic of the European märchen is apparently more barbarous in several respects than that yielded by the islanders of the Southern Ocean; but the latter bears testimony to a state of society more archaic than the other. Presumably, therefore, it represents more nearly the primitive form of the story.
We turn next to the central incidents. In the previous chapter I have taken pains to show the unmistakable relation between the different types of the myth, in spite of the omission of the feather-robe, or indeed of any substitute for it. The truth is that the feather-robe is no more than a symbol of the wife's superhuman nature. From the more archaic variants it is absent; but frequently the true form of the lady is held to be that of a member of what we contemptuously call "the brute creation." Men in savagery, as we have already seen, have quite different feelings from those of contempt for brutes. On the contrary, they entertain the highest respect and even awe for them. They trace their descent from some of them; and a change of form from beast to man, or from man to beast, while still preserving individual identity, would not seem at all incredible, or even odd, to them. By and by, however, the number of creatures having these astonishing powers would decrease, as the circle of experience widened. But there would linger a belief in remarkable instances, as at Shan-si, in China, where it is believed that there is still a bird which can divest itself of its feathers and become a woman. Not every swan would then be deemed capable of turning when it pleased into a fair maiden; and when this change happened, it would be attributed to enchantment, which had caused the maiden merely to assume the appearance of a swan for a time and for a special purpose. This often occurs, as we have seen, in märchen, where the contrast between the heroine and her father, or, as it is then often put, her master, is very strong. It occurs, too, in tales belonging to other types. A märchen told by Dr. Pitré relates that a man had a pet magpie, which by enchantment had the power of casting its wings and becoming a woman. She always practised this power in his absence; but he came home one day and found her wings on the chair. He burnt them, and she remained permanently a woman and married him. In a saga from Guiana a warlock's daughter persuades her father to transform her into a dog that she may venture near a hunter whom she loves. He accordingly gives her a skin, which she draws over her shoulders, and thus becomes a hound. When the hunter finds her in his hut as a maiden, the charmed skin hanging up and revealing her secret, he flings the skin into the fire and weds her.
But enchantment is not the only explanation. The lady may, like Hasan's bride, be held to belong to a superior race to men, though properly in human form. In either case the peltry would be a mere veil hiding the true individuality for a while. It would thus acquire a distinct magical efficacy; so that when deprived of it, the maiden would be unable to effect the change. A remarkable instance of this occurs in an Arab saga. There a man, at Algiers, puts to death his three daughters, who afterwards appear to a guitar-player and dance to his playing. As they dance they throw him the rind of the oranges they hold in their hands; and this rind is found the next day changed into gold pieces and into jewels. The following year the maidens appear again to the guitar-player. He manages to get hold of their shrouds, which he burns. They thereupon come back to life, and he weds the youngest of them. This is said to have happened no longer ago than sixty years before the French conquest of Algiers.
Nothing of the sort is found in the Maori tales. To the natives of New Zealand no change seemed needful: the lady was of supernatural birth and could fly as she pleased. The same may be said of Andrianòro's wife, notwithstanding that the Malagasy variant, as a whole, bespeaks a higher level of culture than the adventures of Tawhaki and Tini-rau. As little do we find the magical robe in the Passamaquoddy story of the Partridge and the Sheldrake Duck. The Dyaks of Borneo are unconscious of the need of it in the saga of their ancestral fish, the puttin, which was caught by a man, and when laid in his boat turned into a girl, whom he gave to his son for a bride. The Chinese have endless tales about foxes which assume human form; but the fox's skin plays no part in them. And in a Japanese tale belonging to the group under consideration, the lady changes into a fox and back again into a lady without any apparatus of peltry.
Again, in the nursery tales of the higher races, the dress when cast seems simply an article of human clothing, often nothing but a girdle, veil, or apron; and it is only when donned by the enchanted lady, or elf, that it is found to be neither more nor less than a complete plumage. Thence it easily passes into a mere instrument of power, like the mermaid's belt and pouch in the Scottish story, or the book of command in the märchen of the Island of Happiness, and is on its way to final disappearance.
The maiden's capture is effected in those types of the tale where the enchanted garment is worn, by the theft of the garment. These cases will not detain our attention: we will pass at once to the discussion of those where there is no transformation to be effected or dreaded. Perhaps the most interesting of all are the Welsh sagas; and of these not the least remarkable is the suit by offerings of food. Andrianòro tried this device in the Malagasy story; but it was unsuccessful. In a Carnarvonshire analogue from Llanberis, the youth entices his beloved into his grasp by means of an apple: in the Van Pool variants the offering assumes almost a sacramental character. Until the fairy maiden has tasted earthly bread, or until her suitor has eaten of the food which sustains her, he cannot be united to her. Here we are reminded on the one hand of the elfin food considered in a former chapter, to partake of which sealed the adventurer's fate and prevented him for ever from returning to his human home; and on the other hand of the ceremony of eating together which among so many nations has been part of the marriage rites.
Walter Map relates a curious story of Llangorse Lake having affinities for the Land East of the Sun, and still more with one of the Maori sagas. Wastin of Wastiniog watched, the writer tells us, three clear moonlit nights and saw bands of women in his oat-fields, and followed them until they plunged into the pool, where he overheard them conversing, and saying to one another: "If he did so and so, he would catch one of us." Thus instructed, he of course succeeded in capturing one. Here, as in many of the stories, the lady has obviously designs upon the mortal of opposite sex, and deliberately throws herself in his way. But she lays a taboo upon him, promising to serve him willingly and with all obedient devotion, until that day he should strike her in anger with his bridle. After the birth of several children he was unfortunate enough on some occasion, the details of which Walter Map has forgotten, to break the condition; whereupon she fled with all her offspring, of whom her husband was barely able to save one before she plunged with the rest into the lake. This one, whom he called Triunnis Nagelwch, grew up, and entered the service of the King of North Wales. At his royal master's command, Triunnis once led a marauding expedition into the territory of the King of Brecknock. A battle ensued, when he was defeated and his band cut to pieces. It is said that Triunnis himself was saved by his mother, and thenceforth dwelt with her in the lake. "But, indeed," adds the truth-loving Walter, "I think it is a lie, because a delusion of this kind is so likely to account for his body not having been found."
In spite, however, of such unwonted incredulity, Map, having once begun by telling this story, proceeds to tell another like it, which he seems to have no difficulty in believing. The second tale concerns a hero of the Welsh border, Wild Edric, of whose historic reality as one of the English rebels against William the Conqueror there is ample proof. It appears that Edric, returning from hunting, lost his way in the Forest of Dean, and accompanied only by one boy, reached about midnight a large house which turned out to be a drinking-shop, such as the English, Map says, call a guildhouse. On approaching it he saw a light, and looking in, he beheld a number of women dancing. They were beautiful in countenance, bigger and taller than ordinary women. He noticed one among them fairer than the rest, and (Walter, perhaps, had Fair Rosamund in his mind when he says) more to be desired than all the darlings of kings. Edric rushed round the house and, finding an entrance, dashed in and with the help of his boy dragged her out, despite a furious resistance in which the nails and teeth of her companions made themselves felt. She brooded in sullen silence for three whole days; but on the fourth day she exclaimed to her new master: "Bless you, my dearest, and you will be blessed too, and enjoy health and prosperity until you reproach me on account of my sisters, or the place, or the grove whence you have snatched me away, or anything connected with it. For the very day you do so your happiness will forsake you. I shall be taken away; and you will suffer repeated misfortune, and long for your own death." He pledged himself to fidelity; and to their splendid nuptials nobles came from far and near. King William heard of the wonder, and bade the newly wedded pair to London, where he was then holding his court, that he might test the truth of the tale. They proved it to him by many witnesses from their own country; but the chief testimony was that of the lady's superhuman beauty; and he dismissed them in admiration to their home. After many years of happiness Edric returned one evening late from hunting, and could not find his wife. He spent some time in vainly calling for her before she came. "Of course," he began, angrily, "you have not been detained so long by your sisters, have you?" The rest of his wrath fell upon the empty air; for at the mention of her sisters she vanished. And neither her husband's self-reproaches, nor his tears, nor any search could ever find her again.
A point far more interesting than the actual mode of capture is the taboo. The condition on which the heroine remains with her captor-spouse is, in stories of the Hasan of Bassorah type, his preservation of the feather-garb; in those of the Melusina type (with which we are now dealing), his observance of the taboo. In the tales just cited from Walter Map we have two important forms of the taboo, and in the legend of Melusina herself we have a third. The latter is an example of the ordinary objection on the part of supernatural beings to be seen otherwise than just how and when they please, which we have dealt with in a previous chapter; and little need be added to what I have already said on the subject. The other two are, however, worth some consideration.
In the account of Wastin of Wastiniog we are told that he was forbidden to strike his wife with the bridle. Let us compare this prohibition with that of the fairy of "the bottomless pool of Corwrion," in Upper Arllechwedd, Carnarvonshire, who wedded the heir of the owner of Corwrion. The marriage took place on two conditions—first, that the husband was not to know his wife's name, though he might give her any name he chose; and, second, that if she misbehaved towards him, he might now and then beat her with a rod, but that he should not strike her with iron, on pain of her leaving him at once. "This covenant," says Professor Rhys in repeating the tale, "was kept for some years, so that they lived happily together, and had four children, of whom the two youngest were a boy and a girl. But one day, as they went to one of the fields of Bryn Twrw, in the direction of Penardd Gron, to catch a pony, the fairy wife, being so much nimbler than her husband, ran before him and had her hand in the pony's mane in no time. She called out to her husband to throw her a halter; but instead of that he threw towards her a bridle with an iron bit, which, as bad luck would have it, struck her. The wife at once flew through the air, and plunged headlong into Corwrion Lake. The husband returned sighing and weeping towards Bryn Twrw (Noise Hill), and when he reached it, the twrw (noise) there was greater than had ever been heard before, namely, that of weeping after 'Belene'; and it was then, after he had struck her with iron, that he first learnt what his wife's name was."
The perusal of this saga will raise a suspicion that the original form of the taboo in Wastin's case was a prohibition against striking with iron, and that the prohibition was eventually infringed by means of a bridle. Whether the alteration was due to a blunder on Map's part in relating the story is of no importance; but the suspicion will be raised to a certainty by turning to some other sagas in Professor Rhys' admirable collection. It is related at Waenfawr, near Carnarvon, that a youth broke, like Wild Edric, into a dance of the fairies on the banks of the Gwyrfai, near Cwellyn Lake, one moonlit night, and carried off a maiden. She at first refused to wed him, but consented to remain his servant. One evening, however, he overheard two of her kindred speaking of her, and caught her name—Penelope. When she found that he had learnt her name she gave way to grief: evidently she now knew that her fate was sealed. On his importunity being renewed, she at length consented to marry him, but on the condition that he should not strike her with iron. Here again the taboo was broken by the flinging of a bridle while chasing a horse. A similar tale was related in the vale of Beddgelert, wherein the stolen lady would only consent to be the servant of her ravisher if he could find out her name. When he had discovered it, she asked in astonishment; "O mortal, who has betrayed my name to thee?" Then, lifting up her tiny folded hands, she exclaimed: "Alas! my fate, my fate!" Even then she would only marry him on condition that if ever he should touch her with iron she would be free to leave him and return to her family. Catastrophe, as before. In a variant the maiden, pressed by her human lover, promises to marry, provided he can find out her name. When he succeeds in doing this she faints away, but has to submit to her doom. In doing so, she imposes one more proviso: he is not to touch her with iron, nor is there to be a bolt of iron, or a lock, on their door. The servant-girl, in another story cited in Chapter VII., who was rescued from Fairyland, could only stay, it will be remembered, in her master's service so long afterward, as he forebore to strike her with iron; and the fatal blow was struck accidentally with a bit.
Mr. Andrew Lang has remarked, following Dr. Tylor, that in this taboo the fairy mistress is "the representative of the stone age." This is so; and the reason is, because she belongs to the realm of the supernatural. When the use of metals was discovered, stone implements were discarded in ordinary life; but for ages afterwards knives of stone were used for religious purposes. There is evidence, for instance, that the Hebrews, to seek no further, employed them in some of their sacred rites; an altar of stone was forbidden to be hewn; and when King Solomon built the temple, "there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building." Although there may be no direct evidence of such a practice among the Cymric Britons, they were probably no exception to the rule, which seems to have been general throughout the world; and the Druids' custom of cutting the mistletoe with a golden, not with an iron, sickle, points in this direction. The retention of stone instruments in religious worship was doubtless due to the intense conservatism of religious feeling. The gods, having been served with stone for so long, would be conceived of as naturally objecting to change; and the implements whose use had continued through so many revolutions in ordinary human utensils, would thereby have acquired a divine character. Changes of religion, however, brought in time changes even in these usages. Christianity was bound to no special reverence for knives and arrowheads of flint; but they seem to have been still vaguely associated with the discarded deities, or their allies, the Nymphs and Oreads and Fairies of stream or wood or dell, and with the supernatural generally. A familiar example of this is the name of Elfbolts given by the country people in this and other lands to these old-world objects, whenever turned up by the harrow or the spade. Now the traditional preference on the part of supernatural beings for stone instruments is only one side of the thought which would, as its reverse side, show a distinct abhorrence by the same mythical personages for metals, and chiefly (since we have long passed out of the bronze age) for iron. Not only do witches and spirits object to the horseshoe; axes and iron wedges are equally distasteful to them—at all events in Denmark. So in Brittany, when men go to gather the herbe d'or, a medicinal' plant of extraordinary virtue, they go barefooted, in a white robe and fasting, and no iron may be employed; and though all the necessary ceremonies be performed, only holy men will be able to find it. The magical properties of this plant, as well as the rites requisite to obtain it, disclose its sacredness to the old divinities. It shines at a distance like gold, and if one tread on it he will fall asleep, and will come to understand the languages of birds, dogs, and wolves.
In previous chapters we have already had occasion to note this dislike for iron and steel. Hence the placing of scissors and fire-steel in an unchristened babe's cradle. Hence the reason for the midwife's casting a knife behind her when she left the troll's dwelling laden with his gifts; and for the Islay father's taking the precaution of striking his dirk into the threshold when he sought his son in the fairy hill. So, too, in Sweden people who bathed in the sea were gravely advised to cast into it close to them a fire-steel, a knife, or the like, to prevent any monster from hurting them. The bolts and locks to which the fairy of Beddgelert objected would have prevented her free passage into and out of the house.
In the Pomeranian saga quoted in the last chapter, the enchanted princess is unable to open the trunk which contains her magical shift: she must wait for another to open it and give her the garment. In the same way Hasan's bride could not herself go to the chest and get her feather-dress. The key was committed to her mother-in-law's care, and was forced from the old woman by Zubaydah, the Caliph's wife; nor did it ever come into the fairy's hands, for her dress was fetched for her by Masrur at Zubaydah's bidding. It is not unlikely that the reason for the supernatural wife's difficulty in these and analogous cases is the metal lock and key. But we must not forget that the robe is not always locked up in a chest. Sometimes it is hidden in a hole in the wall, sometimes in a stack of corn, sometimes beneath the main-post of the wooden hut in which the wedded pair are dwelling. Moreover, we must not leave out of account that in the Nightmare type the wife cannot herself take the wooden stopper out of the hole through which she entered; but directly it is removed by another she vanishes. These things go to show that such supernatural beings cannot themselves undo charms expressly performed against them. So evil spirits cannot penetrate a circle drawn around him by one who invokes them. So, too, the sign of the cross is an efficient protection against them; and it is therefore made upon churches and altars at the time of consecration.
But the stipulation made by the lady of Corwrion was twofold. Not only was her bridegroom to forbear striking her with iron, but he was not even to know her name. It is so difficult for us to put ourselves into the mental attitude of savages, that we do not understand the objection they almost all entertain to the mention of their names. The objection itself is, however, well known and widely spread; but it is not always manifested in exactly the same form. In some cases a man only refuses to utter his own name, while he will utter another's name readily enough. Sometimes it is deemed an unpardonable thing to call another by name; he must be addressed, or spoken of by an epithet. And frequently a man's real name is a profound secret, known only to himself, all others knowing him only by some epithet or title. Sometimes it is only forbidden to relatives by marriage to speak, one another's names. Thus in various ways etiquette has prescribed a number of customs limiting the utterance of names among savage and barbarous peoples all the world over. The origin of these rules and customs seems to have been the dread of sorcery. A personal name was held to be a part of its owner; and, just as the possession of a lock of another's hair, or even a paring of his nail, was believed to confer power over him, so was the knowledge of his name. Similarly men in the lower culture have a great fear of having their likenesses taken; and everybody is familiar with the belief that a witch, who has made a waxen image and given it the name of any one whom she wants to injure, can, by sticking pins in it, or melting it in a flame, inflict pain, and even death, upon the person whom the doll represents.
Illustrations of this superstition might easily be multiplied from every nation under heaven. But we need not go so far afield; for if we compare the taboo in the story of Corwrion with the other stories I have cited from the same county, we shall have no difficulty in satisfying ourselves as to its meaning. It can only belong to the stage of thought which looks with dread on the use that may be made of one's name by an enemy,—a stage of thought in which the fairy might naturally fear for a man of another race, albeit her husband, to become possessed of her real name. What else can we infer from the evident terror and grief with which the captive ladies hear their names from their suitors' lips? It is clear that the knowledge of the fairy's name conferred power over her which she was unable to resist. This is surely the interpretation also of the Danish tale of a man from whom a Hill-troll had stolen no fewer than three wives. Riding home late one night afterwards, he saw a great crowd of Hill-folk dancing and making merry; and among them he recognized his three wives. One of these was Kirsten, his best beloved, and he called out to her and named her name. The troll, whose name was Skynd, or Hurry, came up to him and asked him why he presumed to call Kirsten. The man explained that she had been his favourite wife, and begged him with tears to give her back to him. The troll at last consented, but with the proviso that he should never hurry (skynde) her. For a long time the condition was observed; but one day, as she was delayed in fetching something for her husband from the loft, he cried out to her: "Make haste (skynde dig), Kirsten!" And he had hardly spoken the words when the woman was gone, compelled to return to the troll's abode. Here we have the phenomenon in a double form; for not only does the husband regain his wife from the troll by pronouncing her name, but he loses her once more by inadvertently summoning her captor. It is a German superstition that a mara, or nightmare, can be effectually exorcised if the sufferer surmises who it is, and instantly addresses it by name. We can now understand how, in the Carmarthenshire story mentioned in Chapter VII., the farmer was rescued from the fairies under whose spell he had been for twelve months. A man caught sight of him dancing on the mountain and broke the spell by speaking to him. It must have been the utterance of his name that drew him out of the enchanted circle.
Returning, however, to the legend of Wastin, we may observe how much narrower and less likely to be infringed is the taboo imposed on him than that imposed on the youth of Blaensawdde. Yet the lady of the Van Pool, whatever her practice, had in theory some relics of old-fashioned wifely duty. She did not object to the chastisement which the laws of Wales allowed a husband to bestow. A husband was permitted to beat his wife for three causes; and if on any other occasion he raised his hand against her, she had her remedy in the shape of a sarâd, or fine, to be paid to her for the disgrace. But a sarâdwould not satisfy this proud lady; nothing less than a divorce would meet the case. The Partridge's wife, as we have seen, was still more exacting: she declined to be struck at all. In the same way the fish who had become a girl, in the Dyak story, cautioned her husband to use her well; and when he struck her she rushed back screaming into the water. In another Bornoese tradition, which is quoted by Mr. Farrer, the heroine is taken up to the sky because her husband had struck her, there having been no previous prohibition. A different sort of personal violence is resented in the Bantik legend cited above. There the husband is forbidden to tear out one white hair which adorns Outahagi, his wife's head. He disobeys after she has given birth to a son; and she vanishes in a tempest and returns to the sky, where her husband is forced to seek her again.
The stipulation made by Wild Edric's bride is still more arbitrary, according to our notions, than these. Her husband was forbidden to reproach her on account of her sisters, or the place from which he snatched her away. In other words, he was forbidden to charge her with her supernatural character. When Diarmaid, the daughter of King Underwaves, comes in the form of a beggar to Fionn and insists on sharing his couch, she becomes a beautiful girl, and consents to marry him on condition that he does not say to her thrice how he found her. In a variant, the hero, going out shooting, meets with a hare, which, when hard pressed by the dogs, turns into a woman. She promises to wed him on his entering into three vows, namely, not to ask his king to a feast without first letting her know (a most housewifely proviso), not to cast up to her in any company that he found her in the form of a hare, and not to leave her in the company of only one man. Both these are West Highland tales; and in the manner of the taboo they closely resemble that given by Map. In an Illyrian story, a Vila is by a youth found one morning sleeping in the grass. He is astonished at her beauty, and plants a shade for her. When she wakes she is pleased, and asks what he wants for such kindness. He asks nothing less than to take her to wife; and she is content, but, avowing herself a Vila, forbids him to utter that name, for if he should do so she must quit him at once. Keats has glorified one of these stories by his touch; and it was a true instinct that guided him to make Lamia's disappearance follow, not on Apollonius' denunciation of her real character, but on the echo of the words "A serpent!" by her astounded husband, Lycius. What matter that the philosopher should make a charge against her? It was only when her lover repeated the foul word that she forsook him. The nightmare-wife in one of the stories mentioned in the last chapter vanishes, it will be remembered, on being reproached with her origin, and in another on being asked how she became a nightmare; and the lady in the Esthonian tale warns her husband against calling her Mermaid. In this connection it is obvious to refer to the euphemistic title Eumenides, bestowed by the Greeks on the Furies, and to the parallel names, Good People and Fair Family, for fays in this country. In all these cases the thought is distinguishable from that of the Carnarvonshire sagas; for the offence is not given by the utterance of a personal name, but by incautious use of a generic appellation which conveys reproach, if not scorn.
The heroine of a saga of the Gold Coast was really a fish, but was in the form of a woman. Her husband had sworn to her that he would not allude in any way to her home or her relatives; and, relying on this promise, his wife had disclosed her true nature to him and taken him down to her home. He was kindly received there, but was speared by some fishermen, and only with difficulty rescued by his new relatives, who enjoined him when he returned to earth with his wife to keep the spearhead carefully concealed. It was, however, found and claimed by its owner; and to escape the charge of theft the husband reluctantly narrated the whole adventure. No evil consequences immediately ensued from this breach of his vow. But he had lately taken a second wife; and she one day quarrelled with the first wife and taunted her with being a fish. Upbraiding her husband for having revealed the secret, the latter plunged into the sea and resumed her former shape. So in the Pawnee story of The Ghost Wife, a wife who had died is persuaded by her husband to come back from the Spirit Land to dwell again with himself and her child. All goes well until he takes a second wife, who turns out ill-tempered and jealous of the first wife. Quarrelling with her one day, she reproaches the latter with being nothing but a ghost. The next morning when the husband awoke, his first wife was no longer by his side. She had returned to the Spirit Land; and the following night both he and the child died in their sleep—called by the first wife to herself. These sagas bring us back to that of Melusina, who disappears, it will be recollected, not when the count, her husband, breaks the taboo, but when, by calling her a serpent, he betrays his guilty knowledge.
A name, indeed, is the cause of offence and disappearance in many other of these stories. The chieftain of the Quins, who owned the Castle of Inchiquin on the lake of that name, near the town of Ennis in Ireland, found in one of the many caves of the neighbourhood a lady who consented to become his bride, only stipulating that no one bearing the name of O'Brien should be allowed to enter the castle gate. When this prohibition was infringed she sprang through a window with her child into the lake. The property has long since passed into the hands of the O'Briens; and amid the ruins of the castle the fatal window is still shown nearly as perfect as when the supernatural lady leaped through it into the waters. It may be safely said that the primitive form of the taboo has not come down to us in this tale, and that it owes its present form to the fact that the O'Briens have acquired the estates once owned by the Quins. Probably the utterance of some hateful name was forbidden. But whatever name may have been able to disturb the equanimity of the Lady of Inchiquin, we are now familiar enough with these superstitions to understand why a holy name should be tabooed by the goat-footed fairy wife of Don Diego Lopez in the Spanish tale narrated by Sir Francis Palgrave. "Holy Mary!" exclaimed the Don, as he witnessed an unexpected quarrel among his dogs, "who ever saw the like?" His wife, without more ado, seized her daughter and glided through the air to her native mountains. Nor did she ever return, though she afterwards, at her son's request, supplied an enchanted horse to release her husband when in captivity to the Moors. In two Norman variants the lady forbids the utterance in her presence of the name of Death.
These high-born heroines had, forsooth, highly developed sensibilities. The wife of a Teton (the Tetons are a tribe of American natives) deserted him, abandoned her infant to her younger brother's care, and plunged into a stream, where she became what we call a mermaid,—and all because her husband had scolded her. In another American tale, where the wife was a snake, she deserted him from jealousy. A Tirolese saga speaks of a man who had a wife of unknown extraction. She had bidden him, whenever she baked bread, to pour water for her with his right hand. He poured it once with the left, to see what would happen. He soon saw, to his cost; for she flew out of the house. The Queen of Sheba, according to a celebrated Arab writer, was the daughter of the King of China and a Peri. Her birth came about on this wise. Her father, hunting, met two snakes, a black one and a white, struggling together in deadly combat. He killed the black one, and caused the white one to be carefully carried to his palace and into his private apartment. On entering the room the next day, he was surprised to find a lovely lady, who announced herself as a Peri, and thanked him for delivering her the day before from her enemy, the black snake. As a proof of her gratitude she offered him her sister in marriage, subject, however, to the proviso that he should never question her why she did this or that, else she would vanish, never to be seen again. The king agreed, and had every reason to be pleased with his beautiful bride. A son was born to them; but the lady put it in the fire. The king wept and tore his beard, but said nothing. Then a daughter of singular loveliness—afterwards Balkis, Queen of Sheba—was born: a she-bear appeared at the door, and the mother flung her babe into its jaws. The king tore out not only his beard, but the hair of his head, in silence. A climax, however, came when, in the course of a war, he and his army had to effect a seven days' march across a certain desert. On the fifth day came the queen, a large knife in her hand, and, slitting the provision-bags and the waterskins, strewed the whole of the food upon the ground, and brought the king and his army face to face with death. Her husband could no longer restrain himself from questioning her. Then she told him that his vizier, bribed by the enemy, had poisoned the food and water in order to destroy him and his army, and that his son had a constitutional defect which would have prevented him from living three days if she had not put him in the fire. The she-bear, who was no other than a trusty old nurse, brought back his daughter at her call; but the queen herself disappeared, and he saw her no more. The Nereid in the Cretan tale referred to in Chapter IX obstinately refused to speak, although her lover had fairly conquered her. But after she bore him a son, the old woman of whom he had previously taken counsel advised him to heat the oven and threaten his mistress that if she would not speak he would throw the boy into it. The Nereid seized the babe, and, crying out: "Let go my child, dog!" tore it from his arms and vanished. It is related by Apollodorus that Thetis, who was also a Nereid, wished to make her son immortal. To this end she buried him in fire by night to burn out his human elements, and anointed him with ambrosia by day. Peleus, her husband, was not informed of the reason for this lively proceeding; and, seeing his child in the fire, he called out. Thetis, thus thwarted, abandoned both husband and child in disgust, and went back to her native element. In the great Sanskrit epic of the Mahábhárata we are told that King Sántanu, walking by a riverside one day, met and fell in love with a beautiful girl, who told him that she was the river Ganges, and could only marry him on condition that he never questioned her conduct. To this he, with a truly royal gallantry, agreed; and she bore him several children, all of whom she threw into the river as soon as they were born. At last she bore him a boy, Bhíshma; and her husband begged her to spare his life, whereupon she instantly changed into the river Ganges and flowed away. Incompatibility of temper, as evidenced by three simple disagreements, was a sufficient ground of divorce for the fairy of Llyn Nelferch, in the parish of Ystradyfodwg, in Glamorganshire, from her human husband. In a variant of the Maori sagas, to which I have more than once referred, the lady quits her spouse in disgust because he turns out not to be a cannibal, as she had hoped from his truculent name, Kai-tangata, or man-eater. Truly a heartrending instance of misplaced confidence!
Many of these stories belong to the Star's Daughter type,—that is to say, are wanting in the taboo. But in every variant of the Swan-maiden group, to whatsoever type it may belong, the catastrophe is inevitable from the beginning. Whether or not it depends on the breach of an explicit taboo, it is equally the work of doom. A legend of the Loo-Choo Islands expresses this feeling in its baldest form. A farmer sees a bright light in his well, and, on drawing near, beholds a woman diving and washing in the water. Her clothes, strange in shape and of a ruddy sunset colour, are hanging on a pine-tree near at hand. He takes them, and thus compels her to marry him. She lives with him for ten years, bearing him a son and a daughter. At the end of that time her fate is fulfilled; she ascends a tree during her husband's absence, and, having bidden her children farewell, glides off on a cloud and disappears. Both in its approximation to the Hasan of Bassorah type and in its attributing the separation of husband and wife to fate, this tale agrees remarkably with the Lay of Weyland Smith, where we are told: "From the south through Mirkwood, to fulfil their fates, the young fairy maidens flew. The southern ladies alighted to rest on the sea-strand, and fell to spinning their goodly linen. First Allrune, Cear's fair daughter, took Egil to her bright bosom. The second, Swanwhite, took Slagfin. But Lathgund, her sister, clasped the white neck of Weyland. Seven winters they stayed there in peace, but the eighth they began to pine, the ninth they must needs part. The young fairy maidens hastened to Mirkwood to fulfil their fates." A Vidyádhari, too, who, in the Kathásarit-ságara, is caught in the orthodox manner, dwells with a certain ascetic until she brings forth a child. She then calmly remarks to her holy paramour: "My curse has been brought to an end by living with you. If you desire to see any more of me, cook this child of mine with rice and eat it; you will then be reunited to me!" Having said this, she vanished. The ascetic followed her directions, and was thus enabled to fly after her. In one of the New Zealand variants we are told that the time came for Whai-tiri to return to her home. The same thing is indicated to the wife in a Tirolese tale by means of a voice, which her husband hears as he passes through the forest. The voice cried: "Tell Mao that Mamao is dead." When he repeated this to his wife she disappeared; and he never saw or heard of her after. In view of these narratives there can be little doubt as to the meaning of the Arab tradition of the she-demon, from whom one of the clans was descended. Her union with their human father came suddenly to an end when she beheld a flash of lightning.
The Star's Daughter, however, returned to the sky because she was homesick. Nor is she the only heroine of these tales who did so; but homesick heroines are not very interesting, and I pass to one who had a nobler reason for quitting her love. The saga is told at Rarotonga of a girl of dazzling white complexion who came up out of a fountain and was caught. She became the wife of a chief. It was the custom of the inhabitants of the world from which she came to perform the Cæsarean operation on females who were ready to give birth; so that the birth of a child involved the mother's death. When she found on the earth, to her surprise, that by allowing nature to take its course the mother as well as the child was saved, she persuaded her husband to go with her to the lower world to endeavour to put a stop to the cruel custom. He was ready to accompany her; but after five several efforts to dive with her through the fountain to the regions below he was obliged to abandon the attempt. Sorrowfully embracing each other, the "peerless one" said: "I alone will go to the spirit-world to teach what I have learnt from you." At this she again dived down into the clear waters, and was never more seen on earth.
It will not have escaped the reader's attention, that among the more backward races the taboo appears generally simpler in form, or is absent altogether. Among most, if not all, of the peoples who tell stories wherein this is the case, the marriage bonds are of the loosest description; and there is, therefore, nothing very remarkable in the supernatural bride's conduct. We might expect to find that as advances are made in civilization, and marriage becomes more regarded, the reason for separation would become more and more complex and cogent. Am I going too far in suggesting that the resumption by the bride of her bird or beast shape marks a stage in the development of the myth beyond the Star's Daughter type; and the formal taboo, where the human figure is not abandoned, a stage later still? In our view, indeed, the taboo is not less irrational, as a means of putting an end to the marriage, than the retrieved robe or skin. But we forget how recent in civilization is the sanctity of the marriage-tie. Even among Christian nations divorce was practised during the Middle Ages for very slight reasons, despite the authority of popes and priests. In Eastern countries the husband has always had little check on his liberty of putting away a wife for any cause, or no cause at all; and, though unrecognized by the religious books, which have enforced the husband's rights with so stern a sanction, this liberty on his part may have been counterbalanced, oftener than we think, by corresponding liberty on the wife's part. Beyond doubt this has been so in India, where it is effected by means of marriage settlements. In Bengal, for instance, a bridegroom is sometimes compelled to execute a deed in which he stipulates never to scold his wife, the penalty being a divorce; and deeds are not unknown empowering the wife to get a divorce if her husband ever so much as disagree with her. This is incompatibility of temper with a vengeance! Even the fairy of Llyn Nelferch was willing to put up with two disagreements; and no taboo in story has gone, or could go, further.
Moreover, some of the taboos are such as the etiquette of various peoples would entirely approve, though breaches of them might not be visited so severely as in the tales. I have already pointed out that the Lady of the Van Pool would have had a legal remedy for blows without cause. The romance lies in the wide interpretation she gave to the blows, and their disproportionate punishment. These transfer the hearer's sympathies from the wife to the husband. Precisely parallel seems to be the injunction laid upon Hohodemi, by Toyotamahime, daughter of the Sea-god. I know not what may be the rule in Japan; but it is probably not different from that which obtains in China. There, as we learn from the Lî Kî, one of the Confucian classics, a wife in Toyotamahime's condition would, even among the poor, be placed in a separate apartment; and her husband, though it would be his duty to send twice a day to ask after her, would not see her, nor apparently enter her room until the child was presented to him to be named. Curiously enough the prohibition in the Japanese tale is identical with that imposed by Pressina, herself a water-fay, the mother of Melusina, according to the romance of Jean d'Arras written at the end of the fourteenth century. Melusina and the Esthonian mermaid laid down another rule: they demanded a recurring period during which they would be free from marital intrusion. India is not Europe; but it cannot be thought quite irrelevant to observe that much more than this is commonly secured to a bride in many parts of India. For by the marriage settlement it is expressly agreed that she is to go to her father's house as often as she likes; and if her husband object, she is empowered in the deed to bring an action against him for false imprisonment.Here we may leave the subject of the taboo. Something, however, must be said on the Swan-maiden as divine ancestress. But first of all, let me advert to one or two cases where divinity is ascribed without progenitorship. The Maori heroine and her husband are worshipped. They
Turning to the instances where ancestry is claimed, we find that the chiefs of the Ati clan are descended from "the peerless one" of Raratonga. The Arawâk Indians of Guiana reckon descent in the female line. One of their families takes its name from its foremother, the warlock's daughter who was provided with the dogskin mentioned on a previous page. Another family deduces its name and pedigree from an earth-spirit married to one of its ancestors; but it does not appear whether any Swan-maiden myth attaches to her. The fish puttin is sacred among the Dyaks. On no account will they eat it, because they would be eating their relations, for they are descended from the lady whose first and last form was a puttin. In other words, the puttin is their totem. A family of the town of Chama on the Gold Coast claims in like manner to be descended from the fish-woman of whose story I have given an outline; and a legend to the same effect is current at the neighbouring town of Appam; nor in either instance do the members of the family dare to eat of the fish of the kind to which they believe their ancestress belonged. The totem superstition is manifest in the case of the Phœnician, or Babylonian, goddess Derceto, who was represented as woman to the waist and thence downward fish. She was believed to have been a woman, the mother of Semiramis, and to have thrown herself in despair into a lake. Her worshippers abstained from eating fish; though fish were offered to her in sacrifice, and golden fish suspended in her temple. Melusina was the mother of the family of Lusignan. She used to appear and shriek on one of the castle towers as often as the head of the family, or a King of France, was to die, or when any disaster was about to happen to the realm, or to the town of Luxemburg. She was also the author of certain presages of plenty or famine. Similar legends are told of the castles of Argouges and Rânes in Normandy. If the Irish Banshee tales could be minutely examined, it is probable that they would resolve themselves into stories of supernatural ancestresses. To the Vila of the Illyrian story, and the fairy of Sir Francis Palgrave's Spanish story, noble families attribute their origin. A family in the Tirol is descended from the lady who insisted on her husband's pouring water with his right hand; and the members of a noble Greek family have the blood of a Nereid in their veins.
Though the heroine of the Van Pool might never return to her husband, she was drawn back to earth by the care of her three sons, who, by means of her instructions, became celebrated physicians. On one occasion she accompanied them to a place still called Pant-y-Meddygon (the hollow, or dingle, of the physicians), and there pointed out to them the various herbs which grew around, and revealed their medicinal virtues. It is added that, in order that their knowledge should not be lost, the physicians wisely committed the same to writing for the benefit of mankind throughout all ages. A collection of medical recipes purporting to be this very work still exists in a manuscript preserved at Jesus College, Oxford, which is now in course of publication by Professor Rhys and Mr. J. Gwenogvryn Evans, and is known as the Red Book of Hergest. An edition of the "Meddygon Myddfai," as this collection is called, was published by the Welsh MSS. Society thirty years ago, with an English translation. It professes to have been written under the direction of Rhiwallon the Physician and his sons Kadwgan, Gruffydd, and Einion; and they are called "the ablest and most eminent of the physicians of their time and of the time of Rhys Gryg, their lord, and the lord of Dinevor, the nobleman who kept their rights and privileges whole unto them, as was meet." This nobleman was Prince of South Wales in the early part of the thirteenth century; and his monumental effigy is in the cathedral of St. David's. Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans, than whom there is no higher authority, is of opinion that the manuscript was written at the end of the fourteenth century—that is to say, about two hundred years after the date at which the marriage between the youth of Blaensawdde and his fairy love is alleged to have taken place; and it is believed by the editor of the published volume to be a copy of a still more ancient manuscript now in the British Museum. Yet it contains no reference to the legend of the Van Pool. The volume in question includes a transcript of another manuscript of the work, which is ascribed in the colophon to Howel the Physician, who, writing in the first person, claims to be "regularly descended in the male line from the said Einion, the son of Rhiwallon, the physician of Myddfai, being resident in Cilgwryd, in Gower." This recension of the work is much later in date than the former. A portion of it cannot be older than the end of the fifteenth century; and the manuscript from which it was printed was probably the result of accretions extending over a long period of time, down to the year 1743, when it was copied "from the book of John Jones, Physician of Myddfai, the last lineal descendant of the family." The remedies it contains, though many of them are antique enough, and superstitious enough, are of various dates and sources; and, so far from being attributed to a supernatural origin, they are distinctly said to "have been proved to be the best and most suitable for the human body through the research and diligent study of Rhiwallon" and his three sons. The negative evidence of the "Meddygon Myddfai," therefore, tends to show that the connection of the Van Pool story with the Physicians is of comparatively recent date.
And yet it is but natural (if we may use such an expression) that a mythical creature like the Lady of the Lake should be the progenitor of an extraordinary offspring. Elsewhere we have seen her sisters the totems of clans, the goddesses of nations, the parents of great families and renowned personages. Melusina gave birth to monsters of ugliness and evil, and through them to a long line of nobles. So the heroine of the Llanberis legend had two sons and two daughters, all of whom were remarkable. The elder son became a great physician, and all his descendants were celebrated for their proficiency in medicine. The second son was a Welsh Tubal-cain. One of the daughters invented the small ten-stringed harp, and the other the spinning wheel. "Thus," we are told, "were introduced the arts of medicine, manufactures, music, and woollen work!" If, then, there were a family at Myddfai celebrated for their leechcraft, and possessed of lands and influence, as we know was the fact, their hereditary skill would seem to an ignorant peasantry to demand a supernatural origin; and their wealth and material power would not refuse the additional consideration which a connection with the legend of the neighbouring pool would bring them.
But for all that the incident of the reappearance by the mother to her children may have been part of the original story. The Carnarvonshire fairies of various tales analogous to that of the Van Pool are recalled by maternal love to the scenes of their wedded life; and the hapless father hears his wife's voice outside the window chanting pathetically:
"If my son should feel it cold,
Let him wear his father's coat;
If the fair one feel the cold,
Let her wear my petticoat!"
Whatever he may have thought of these valuable directions, they hardly seem to us sufficient to have brought the lady up from "the bottomless pool of Corwrion" to utter. There is more sense in the mother's song in a Kaffir tale. This woman was not of purely supernatural origin. She was born in consequence of her (human) mother's eating pellets given her by a bird. Married to a chief by whom she was greatly beloved, it was noticed that she never went out of doors by day. In her husband's absence her father-in-law forced her to go and fetch water from the river for him in the daytime. Like the woman by the waters of the Rhone, she was drawn down into the river. That evening her child cried piteously; and the nurse took it to the stream in the middle of the night, singing:
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of Sihamba Ngenyanga;
It is crying, it will not be pacified.'
The mother thereupon came out of the water, and wailed this song as she put the child to her breast:
"It is crying, it is crying,
The child of the walker by moonlight.
It was done intentionally by people whose names are unmentionable.
They sent her for water during the day.
She tried to dip with the milk-basket, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the ladle, and then it sank.
Tried to dip with the mantle, and then it sank."
The result of the information conveyed in these words was her ultimate recovery by her husband with the assistance of her mother, who was a skilful sorceress.
A Finnish tale belonging to the Cinderella group represents the heroine as changed into a reindeer-cow by an ogress who takes her place as wife and mother. But her babe will not be comforted; so a woman, to whose care he is committed, carries him into the forest, and sings the following incantation:
"Little blue eyes, little red-fell,
Come thou thine own son to suckle,
Feed whom thou hast given birth to!
Of that cannibal nought will he,
Never drinks from that bloodsucker;
For her breasts to him are loathsome,
Nor can hunger drive him to them."
The reindeer cannot withstand this appeal. She casts her skin, and comes in human form to suckle her child. This results, after two repetitions in the husband's burning the reindeer hide and clasping her in his arms. But, like Peleus, he has to hold her fast in spite of various transformations, until he has overcome the charm and has her once more in her pristine shape!
It was not strength so much as boldness and tenacity that conquered here. In the Kaffir story the husband's first attempt to pull his wife out of the water by sheer force failed. Thus, too, in one of the Tirolese stories already mentioned the husband lies in wait for his wife when she returns, as usual, to comb her little girl's hair on a Saturday. He catches her by the arm as she enters; and she tells him that if he can hold her for a little while she must stay: otherwise she will never come again. All his strength is, however, too little to struggle successfully with her. The mother's visits to her children are, indeed, a frequent sequel to the story; and occasionally the tie which compels her to return is taken advantage of by the forsaken husband to obtain possession of her again. But fraud, not force, is the means employed, as in the Lapp story of the Maiden out of the Sea, where the mermaid's clothes are once more confiscated. In a legend of Llyn y Dywarchen (the Lake of the Sod), not very far from Beddgelert, the water-nymph subsequently appears to her husband, conversing with him from a floating turf while he stands on the shore. Here the motive of the reappearance is the unusual one of conjugal, rather than parental, affection.
I must not omit to add that the first Sunday in August is kept in the neighbourhood of the Van Pool as the anniversary of the fairy's return to the lake. It is believed that annually on that day a commotion takes place in the lake; its waters boil to herald the approach of the lady with her oxen. It was, and still is (though in decreasing force), the custom for large numbers of people to make a pilgrimage to witness the phenomenon; and it is said that the lady herself appears in mermaid form upon the surface, and combs her tresses. I have little doubt that in this superstition we have the relic of a religious festival in honour of an archaic divinity whose abode was in the lake. She has, perhaps, only escaped being an enchanted princess by being a Welsh rather than a German goddess. If the mermaid form be of genuine antiquity,—about which I confess to a lurking suspicion,—it is another bond with the Scottish stories, with Melusina and with Derceto.
We have now considered the principal points of the myth. The feather-robe, or skin, we found absent from all its more archaic examples. There, no change of form occurs, or when it does occur it is accomplished by simple transformation. When present, the robe is a mere symbol of the lady's superhuman nature, or else the result of enchantment. These are more recent types, and are all, or nearly all, märchen. In the later sagas, such as those of Melusina and the Lady of the Van Pool, it is again absent; though relics of the change of form frequently remain.
Capture of the Swan-maiden proper is effected by theft of her robe: in other types either by main force, or more frequently with her consent, more or less willingly given, or by her own initiative.
We then passed to the more important subject of the taboo. The taboo, strictly speaking, only appears where the peltry is absent. Several of its forms correspond with rules of antique etiquette. Others recall special points connected with savage life, such as the dislike of iron and steel, and the prejudice against the mention of a personal name. Other prohibitions are against reproaching the wife with her origin, against reminding her of her former condition, or against questioning her conduct or crossing her will. But whether the taboo be present or absent, the loss of the wife is equally inevitable, equally foreseen from the beginning. It is the doom of the connection between a simple man and a superhuman female. Even where the feather-robe is absent the taboo is not always found. Among savages the marriage-bond is often very loose: notably in the more backward races. And among these the superhuman wife's excuse for flight is simpler; and sometimes it is only an arbitrary exercise of will. The taboo grows up with the advance in civilization.
Lastly, we considered the Swan-maiden as divine ancestress. We found her resident in heaven, we found her worshipped, we found her as the totem of a clan. The totemistic stories are widely spread,—so widely, indeed, as to afford a presumption that we have in them a clue to the whole meaning of the myth. For not only have we the complete totemistic form, as among the Dyaks and the tribes of the Gold Coast; but we find the superstition fading through the goddess Derceto into modern sagas of the supernatural mother of a family, who to her sometimes owe extraordinary powers, and over whose fate she continually watches.
Here, then, our study of this beautiful myth must close. I am far from suggesting that the subject is exhausted. On the contrary, it is so large and so complex that I have rigidly abstained from anything more than a very imperfect examination of its principal features. On some of the points here partially discussed I shall have something more to add in our final chapter, when discussing certain theories on the fairy beliefs.
- Grey, p. 66; Taylor, p. 138; White, vol. i. pp. 95, 115, et seqq., vol. ii. p. 127, et seqq.
- "F. L. Journal," vol. i. p. 202; "Revue des Trad. Pop." vol. iv. p. 305.
- Von Hahn, vol. ii. p. 78. In illustration of these remarks on marital relations in a society where female kinship only is recognized, let me quote the following paragraph concerning Maori customs. The Maories, it must be borne in mind, have only recently emerged from this stage; and many relics of it remain.
"Sometimes the father simply told his intended son-in-law he might come and live with his daughter; she was thenceforth considered his wife, he lived with his father-in-law, and became one of the tribe, or hapu, to which his wife belonged, and in case of war, was often obliged to fight against his own relatives. So common is the custom of the bridegroom going to live with his wife's family, that it frequently occurs, when he refuses to do so, she will leave him, and go back to her relatives; several instances came under my notice where young men have tried to break through this custom, and have so lost their wives" (Taylor, p. 337).
- Not entirely: see Burton, "Suppl. Nights," vol. vi. p. 363; "F. L. Journal," vol. i. p. 284; Sastri, p. 148.
- In speaking of a type as more or less recent than another, it must be recollected that I am not speaking of chronological order, but of the order of development. For aught we know, the story of the Marquis of the Sun may as a matter of date be actually older, could we trace it, than the far more archaic story of Tawhaki. But the society in which it took shape was more advanced than that disclosed in the Maori legend.
- Webster, p. 120; Campbell, vol. i. p. 25; "Mèlusine," vol. i. p. 446; "F. L. Españ." vol. i. p. 187; Schneller, p. 71; Imbriani, p. 411; Cosquin, vol. i. pp. 9, 25; Sébillot, "Contes," vol. i. p. 197; Grundtvig, vol. i. p. 46; Cavallius, p. 255; Maspons y Labros, p. 102; "F. L. Journal," vol. i. p. 284, quoting Lewis.
- Waldau, p. 248; Ralston, "R. F. Tales," p. 120, from Afanasief.
- Compare the assistance rendered by the birds to Tini-rau, suprà, p. 286. The Eskimo hero is conveyed to his wife on a salmon's tail (Rink, p. 145). Where is the Buddhist pedigree of this incident, or the evidence of Buddhist influence which produced it?
- Sastri, p. 80; Cosquin, vol. ii. pp. 19, 18; Ralston, "Tibetan Tales," p. 72; "F. L. Journal," vol. ii. p. 9; Vernaleken, p. 280.
- "F. L. Journal," vol. vii. p. 318; Pitré, vol. iv. pp. 391, 410. A variant given by Prof. De Gubernatis is nearly allied to the Cinderella group ("Novelline," p. 29); Brett, p. 176.
- Basset, p. 161, quoting Bresnier, "Cours de langue Arabe." In a Maya story given by Dr. Brinton, the husband prevents his wife's transformation in a different way—namely, by throwing salt ("F. L. Journal," vol. i. p. 251).
- "Journ. Ethnol. Soc." N. S., vol. ii. p. 26; Giles, passim; Brauns, p. 388.
- "Y Cymmrodor," vol. v. p. 94.
- Map, Dist. ii. c. 11.
- Map, Dist. ii. c. 12.
- "Y Cymmrodor," vol. iv. p. 201. Nothing turns on the actual names in these stories; they have been evidently much corrupted,—probably past all recognition.
- Ibid. p. 189; vol. v. pp. 59, 66; vol. vi. p. 196.
- Pliny l. xvi. c. 95; Thorpe, vol. ii. pp. 275, 277; Stephens, p. 248, citing the "Barzas Breiz."
- The above paragraphs had scarcely been written when the London papers (June 1890) reprinted extracts from a letter in the Vossische Zeitung relating the adventures of Dr. Bayol, the Governor of Kotenon, who was recently imprisoned by the bloodthirsty King of Dahomey. The king was too suspicious to sign the letter written in his name to the President of the French Republic. In all probability he was unwilling to let the President have his sign manual, for of course M. Carnot would have no hesitation in bewitching him by its means.
- Keightley, p. 121, quoting from Thiele; Thorpe, vol. iii. p. 155.
- Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales (Public Record Comm. 1841) pp. 44, 252. (The Dimetian code was the one in force at Myddfai; but that of Gwynedd was similar in this respect.) Farrer, p. 256.
- Campbell, vol. iii. p. 403; Mac Innes, p. 211; Wratislaw, p. 314. Cf. a similar story told by a peasant to Dr. Krauss' mother no longer ago than 1888, as having recently happened at Mrkopolje: he "knew the parties!" (Krauss, "Volksgl." p. 107).
- Ellis, p. 208; Grinnell, p. 129.
- "Choice Notes," p. 96; cf. Jahn, p. 364, cited above, p. 270. (Kennedy relates the story of the Lady of Inchiquin differently. According to him the husband was never to invite company to the castle. This is probably more modern than the other version. Kennedy, p. 282.) Keightley, p. 458, quoting the Quarterly Review, vol. xxii. Sir Francis Palgrave, though an accurate writer, was guilty of the unpardonable sin of invariably neglecting to give his authorities. Ibid, p. 485, quoting Mdlle. Bosquet, "La Normandie Romanesque."
- "Journal Amer. F. L." vol ii. p. 137; vol. i. p. 76; Schneller, p. 210; "Rosenöl," vol. i. p. 162; Child, vol. i. p. 337, quoting Schmidt and Apollodorus; "Panjab N. & Q.," vol. ii. p. 207. (In this form the story is found as a tradition, probably derived from the Mahábhárata.) "Trans. Aberd. Eistedd." p. 225; White, vol. i. p. 126.
- Dennys, p. 140; "Corpus Poet. Bor." vol. i. p. 168; "Kathásrit-ságara," vol. ii. p. 453, cf. p. 577; White, vol. i. p. 88; Schneller, p. 210; Robertson Smith, p. 50.
- Gill, p. 265.
- "Indian N. & Q." vol. iv. p. 147.
- "Sacred Books of the East," vol. xxvii. pp. 471, 475, 476; "Indian N. & Q." vol. iv. p. 147.
- Romilly, p. 134; Landes, p. 123.
- Bent, p. 13. The Nereids in modern Greek folklore are conceived in all points as Swan-maidens. They fly through the air by means of magical raiment (Schmidt, p. 133).
- See my article on the "Meddygon Myddfai," entitled "Old Welsh Folk Medicine," "Y Cymmrodor," vol. ix. p. 227.
- A certain German family used to excuse its faults by attributing them to a sea-fay who was reckoned among its ancestors; Birlinger, "Aus Schwaben," vol. i. p. 7, quoting the "Zimmerische Chronik."
- Namely, her husband's father, whose name she was not permitted by etiquette to utter. See above, p. 309.
- Theal, p. 54. The Teton lady who became a mermaid was summoned, by singing an incantation, to suckle her child; "Journal Amer. F. L." vol. ii. p. 137.
- Schreck, p. 71.
- Poestion, p. 55; "Cymru Fu," p. 474.
- "Y Cymmrodor," vol. iv. p. 177, vol. vi. p. 203. I have also made inquiries at Ystradgynlais, in the neighbourhood of the lake, the results of which confirm the statements of Professor Rhys' correspondents; but I have failed to elicit any further information.