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induced your correspondents to 'pre- come were visible. Amidst howlserve the opinions entertained by our ing and wailing were mixed shouts forefathers, concerning supernatural of mirth and jollity; but he could beings, and their interposition in hu- gather nothing articulate except the
man affairs, I have collected a con- following words : “ ( there's a bairn Esiderable number of stories still afloat born, but there's nue sark to pit on't.”
amongst the more unenlightened pea- The occasion of this elfish concert, it santry of Tiviotdale, my native dis- seemed, was the birth of a fairy child, trict; which, with your permission, at which the fairies, with the excepI shall now present to your readers. tion of two or three who were disThe inhabitants of these clistricts, es- composed at having nothing to cover pecially those who inhabit the wild the little innocent with, were enjoying hills of Tiviotdale, are, to this day, themselves with that joviality usually found to cherish, with deep venera- characteristic of such an event. The tion, the superstitions regarding fairies astonished rustic finding himself aand witches which existed amongst midst a host of invisible beings, in a their fathers; and which they still wild moorland place, and far from teach their children with peculiar re- any human assistance, should assistverence and care.
ance be required, and full of the Indeed, among those districts in greatest consternation, immediately Seotland distinguished for such mi- on hearing this expression again and raculous occurrences, that of Tiviot- again vociferated, stripped off his shirt, vale, and the surrounding country, and threw it down on the ground. It has not been the least remarkable. was instantly snatched up by an inMany of those tales, that have been visible hand, and the wailings immehanded down from former generations, diately ceased, but the shouts of mirth have already been given to the public were continued with increased vigour. by Scott and Hogg. Yet I have Being of opinion that what he had found, during the course of my in- done had satisficd his invisible friends, quiries, that there is still great abun- he lost no time in making off, ancí dance of them not yet recorded, pre- proceeded on his road to Hawick, served among the older classes ; for musing on his singular adventure. every old wife has her stories of He purchased a sheep, which turned fairies and witches, and there are even out a singularly good bargain, and refew among them who have not some turned to Jedburgh. He had no pretensions to the honour of having cause; says the story, to regret his had personal experience of their su generosity in bestowing his shirt on pernatural power.
the fairies, for every day afterwards Of the numberless stories which his wealth multiplied, and he conhave escaped the writers allucled to, tinuci till the day of his death a rich and others, the following are a few, such and prosperous man, which, of course, as they have been related to me, chief- was ascribed by his enlightened conly by old people. I shall commence temporaries to the particular interwith those which relate to fairies. ference of the fairies, in return for
There have been from time imme- the service he had done them, in givmorial at Hawick, during the two oring them his tattered shirt at a inothree last weeks of the year, markets ment when it was so necessary. once a week, for the disposal of sheep
In ancient times a firm belief was for slaughter, at which thegreater num extant amongst our ancestors, that a ber of people, both in the middle and custom obtained among the fairies, of poorer classes of life, have been accus- taking infants wherever they could tomed to provide themselves with their find them, and depositing their own marts. A poor man from Jedburgh children in their place. It was supwho was on his way to Ilawick, for posed that when the fairies kidnapthe purpose of attending one of these ped a child previously to its being markets, as he was passing over that haptized, (which they always endeaside of Ruberslaw which is nearest voured to do,) they were more un
was suddenly alarmed by merciful both to it and to the feela frightful and unaccountable noise. ings of the mother; as in that case, The sound as he supposed proceeded in place of another child, they would from an immense number of female substitute a pig, or an urchin, or a voices; but no objects whence it could skinned or putrid cat, or some such
unseemly creature. If, on the con- der of the herbs over its body; and trary, the child was stolen after it wrapping it up, placed it in the cradle, was christened, they would leave which he carried into an adjoining in its stead another child. These, barn, the door of which he locked, however, it is said, were invariably of and otherwise secured the premises, a fretful and restless temper, and so that all ingress was impracticable
. cried almost without intermission ; so He then gave strict orders that none that they could easily be distingished should attempt to open it till he himfrom human children. Of the many self should come to do so next day. stories which are still current in this The woman being all anxiety about country concerning child-stealing by the fate of her child, persuaded her fairy depredators, the following is husband to watch with her at the
barn door all night. They, however
, A woman at Minto Crag foot, a cot- neither saw nor heard any thing durtage situated on the east side of the ing the night, and never once heard well-known and picturesque rocks the child utter a cry. The worthy called Minto Crags, was going away clergyman having come next day, to reap during harvest, at some dis- opened the doors, and taking from the tance from home; and having a young cradle the child that had been lost, child, which was not yet able to walk, presented it to its mother as healthy had hired a girl to take care of it in and cheerful as it formerly was. This her absence. On the day preceding strange story is of ancient date. Mr that on which she intended to set out, Bourland was the first Presbyterian having been in want of fuel, she went minister of Bedrule after the Revoluto gather sticks in some of the woods tion. I had it from an intimate, and with which these romantic rocks are most respected, acquaintance of mine, covered. The girl not having yet ar to whose great grandmother Mr Bourrived, she took her child along with land was uncle; and whose family her, and laid it down by the side of a having been originally so nearly rebush, till she collected some wood for lated, the story has been handed down her fire. Upon her return she was in it with rather peculiar interest
. struck with surprise at the thin and This gentleman's grandmother, who wan appearance of her child, which was a very old woman, used often u was crying bitterly and " a' begritten relate this story, which she had prooure.' From this, and the unceasing bably learnt from her mother, or permanner in which it continued to cry haps, if we may venture the suppoand fret after it was taken home, both sition, from the worthy pastor himshe and her husband were soon con- self. vinced that it was not the same child Certain rules and remedies, no less that she had formerly carried in her strange thau ridiculous, were prescribarms, which was robust, and of a fine ed by skilly auld wives, whereby the disposition. They were in consc- charins of the fairies might be avertquence very much distressed. In this ed. These were much more confidentextremity, however, not with any ly relied on, than those that might be view to sooth the feelings of the child, resorted to, after their neglect had ocbut to have their own restored, re- casioned the loss of a child. Au uncourse was had to a Mr Bourland, christened chill, for instance, was minister of Bedrule, an adjoining pa- considered as in the most imminent rish, who having examined it, imme- danger, should the mother, while on diately pronounced it not to be an the straw, neglect the precaution of earthly being. Under his directions, having the blue bonnet woru by the mother went to the crags, and her husband constantly beside her. pulled some witches thimbles, or fox- When a cow happened to be seized glove, (Digitalis purpurea,) a plant with any sudden disease, (the cause which still grows very plentifully of which was usually ascribed to the upon them. Mr Bourland having malignant machinations of the fairies) boiled the flowers, poured some of she was said to be elf-shot, and it was thie decoction into the child's mouth, reckoned as much as her life was and laying it upon a flannel blanket, worth not to “ dad her wi' the blue disposeil some of the boiled herbs on its breast. After performing this Bonnets were generally worn in Ti. ceremony, he distributed the remain- viotdale 60 or 70 years ago.
bonnet." The blue bonnet seems Struck almost dumb at hearing such to have been equally celebrated for its a proposal from a little feeble child, averting influence, as “a hank o' red which, till then, had never been seen thread,” or even the rowan tree, or to lift its head from the pillow, and mountain ash, used against the charms never before heard to utter a word, of witchcraft. Another preventative the astonished tailor confusedly muta was a stone with a natural hole in it, tered a promise,—and the little tiny which was suspended by a string over elf taking a pair of beautiful bagthe thing that it was intended to pro- pipes out of the cradle foot, began to tect. Though, to this day, stones of play in such harmonious strains, as this description may be seen, in some quite enraptured him. He, of course, parts of Tiviotdale, suspended over soon discovered the nature of his cunthe weavers' web, yet I do not think ning musician; and though quite capthat they were ever so much esteem- tivated with the music which it proed for their reputed efficacy in this duced in so masterly a manner, yet respect as the blue bonnet. Of compelled by the dread of' allowing the many stories which tell of the such a guest to harbour in his friend's sad occurrences that have happened house, while it was in his power to in consequence of the mother neglect- expel it, he snatched it from the ing to be protected by this last men- cradle, and tossed it furiously upon a tioned antidote, the following is one ; large fire, that was then burning on but when, or where it happened, the hearth. In the twinkling of an (though certainly in Tiviotdale,) I do eye, the fairy child flew up the chimnot know. A poor woman having ney, exclaiming, at the saine instant, been delivered of a fine child, w3s, for in an imprecating tone, Peats * the first two or threc days after its that, ye infernal tailor.". The rapidibirth, very anxious how to protect it ty of its ascent was such, that it from the fairies. Her husband's blue scarcely finished this expression when bonnet was, of course, not neglected, it had reached the chimney top, though but, whether from carelessness, after it began when on the fire. At these the first impressions of danger had frightful results of his well intended left her, or, whether from a too con- deed, the honest tailor stood aghast fident reliance in the prowess of her and amazed; and if mor could be own firm resolutions and intrepidity, added to his astonishment, it was still she soon became regardless of the pre- a little increased, though perhaps a caution. She had, however, soon little more agreeably, upon discovercause to repent of her carelessness; ing the honest people's child lying in for one morning when she awoke, shé the cradle sound asleep, which had was no less (lisgusted than frighten- been conveyed to it by unseen agents. ed on finding, in her bosom, an ugly A story of a woman having been emaciated creature, with only a coarse taken away by the fairies when a child, imitation of human features in its somewhat similar in some of its relaface, instead of her own fine ruddy- tions to the preceding, is still extant cheeked boy. Like all other children among a few old people, and by the of this description, it cried almost greater part of them believed to be without intermission. One day, a
an incontrovertible truth. It was rebout a month after this event, the lated to me by a Mr James Ruckbie, gudewife having had some work to (who, though well stricken in years, perform out of doors, she desired a still retains a considerable knack for tailor, who happeneil to be in the poetical composition,) whose veracity house, to rock the cradle till she re none can impeach. He remembers turned. When she had got to some to have seen the woman when he was distance from the house, the child in ten or twelve years of age, and he the cradle whispers very slyly to the thinks she might then be about sixty. tailor," If you winna tell ma' mam- I therefore conclude, that it must my, I'll play ye a spring on the pipes!" have happened, at least the story must
have originated, upwards of a hun
dred years ago. It runs thus : The " It's no wordie a dad of a bonnet,” was a common phrase used when expres A favourite method of chastising those sing contempt, or alluding to any thing not who had displeased them, was by pelting worth the trouble of repairing.
them with these missiles.
woman, when a girl of about three being carried off by the fairies, and by years old, was diverting herself with whom my narrator has likewise been her fellow children, when a company told of it. It can only be accounted of diminutive men, dressed in green, for in one way, which seems the most suddenly made their appearance a. probable. The child may have inmongst them, and each of them, all advertently strayed from its compaon a sudden, seizing her by different nions, and lost itself in the wood, parts of her clothes and boily, carried where it might have subsisted upon her off. The children who witnessed shrubs and the bark of trees. the loss of their companion immedi This explanation, however, will ately betook themselves to flight, and not account for all the circumstances, gave the alarm to her parents. Upon and there are many stories, the autheir hearing the account which they thenticity of which admits of no gave of the matter, they at once con- doubt in the minds of those who cluded that their child was carried off pretend to have had ocular evidence to Fairyland, by the fairies. Placing of their truth. The following is one, implicit fuit!, however, ils was gene- as it was related to me by the advenrally done in these days, in religious turer himself. When he was a boy, influence, they caused her to be re- attending a country school, he passed membered in the prayers of no fewer on his road thither a scaur, by the side than seven * churches. This method of a rivulet, where he was accustomof attempting her restoration was ul- ed, as he positively affirmed, to meet timately attended with the desired ef two little fairies dressed in green coats. fect: one of the ministers to whom They never offered him the least mothey applied was a Mr Davidson, mi- lestation, but, on the contrary, while nister of Galashiels, an eminent and passing by, they used to divert themworthy divine, and, like the illustri-selves very innocently with dancing, ous Dr Boston, his contemporary and an amusement of which they are reintimate acquaintance, (from whom ported to have been particularly fond. he may, perhaps, have got the secret They would at other times sing, or of the knack,) eniinently distinguish- play on their favourite musical instrued in those days for his skill in ex- ment, the bagpipes, when they danpelling troublesome spirits from their ced, both, in a circular figure, in the haunts, Mr Davidson soothed their same sportive and harmless maraffliction, by telling them that “ all
After having amusert themthe devils in hell should not keep her;" selves for some time in this way, and his prediction was soon fulfilled, they would both at once disapfor a day or two after prayers were of- pear, leaving the shrill notes of the fered up for her restoration, she was bagpipes echoing amongst the rugged found in a romantic forest called the cliffs, and my narrator standing in aPlora Wood, eating the bark of trees. mazement. These adventures hapThis wood is about a mile below the pened generally on the Saturday & village of Inverleithen, at a short dis- venings, and, it being in the summer tance from Peebles. When they in- season, the stillness of the evening, quired of her where she had been, or and the secluded situation of the what she had been doing, she would place, conspired to render the scene tell them nothing more, than that she peculiarly sublime. He says that he was getting milk and bread from her never held any personal conferences mother ; anıl to this insignificant an- with these two tiny companions, for, swer she always adhered. She was, as they did not molest him, he was ever afterwards, observed to have a careless about troubling them, lest be melancholy cast in her countenance, should have given them offence. The which my narrator distinctly remem- truth of this story he affirmed to me bers. He tells me also, that at times, upon the faith of a Christian. He is something was discovered in her tra- a man of about eighty years old, and, tures very wild and unnatural. This from any accounts of his character story was believed by the whole vile which I could collect, is quite a crelage, who had for their informants dible and decent man, and he woull, eye-witnesses to the affair, the chil- one would suppose, certainly nefer dren who were present at the child's run the risk of having the good cha
recter which he maintains in every An odd number was reckoned lucky. thing else doubted, for the bare pur
pose of telling this nugatory story. still more, they kept continually chasBut, to enter upon any inquiry con- ing them into the rooms and other cerning the origin of these stories, parts of the house. The discordant would involve me in a long and com- sounds produced by this concert of voplicated, and, I believe, in somewhat cal music was a striking contrast to an unsatisfactory speculation. I the noise of the bagpipes, with which shall, therefore, rather pursue the they were enjoying themselves when more easy and also more pleasant task disturbed by the family, and for which of illustrating the opinions of our fa- they took this method of showing thers by the relation of a few more of their displeasure. Next morning the their stories.
animals' voices were restored to their The fairies are represented as have wonted tone. ing been of an obliging disposition to Of that species of generosity anwards their earthly neighbours, when ciently ascribed to the fairies, the folwell treated by them, but when, on lowing story will enable the reader to the contrary, they were treated harsh- form some notion. About the beginly, they were alike alert to show ning of harvest, there having been a their resentment in some exemplary want of meal for shearers' bread in manner. A familiarity even some the farm-house of Belrule, a small times subsisted between them and quantity of barley (being all that was those who had had the good luck to yet ripe) was cut down, and convertobtain their favour. When in a work- ed into meal. Mrs Buckham, the ing mood, or disposed to do their fa- farmer's wite, rose carly in the mornvourites a service, they would some- ing to bake the bread, and, while entimes perform during the night such gaged in baking, a little woman, in pieces of work as they knew would be green costume, came in, and, with serviceable. If a miller, for instance, much politeness, asked for a loan of a happened to be in their favour, they capful of meal. Mrs Buckham thought would go into his mill, (a place where it prudent to comply with iner request. they particularly delighted to perform In a short time afterwards the woman wonderful feats,) and execute is much in green returned with an equal quanwork in one night as the miller him- tity of meal, which Mrs Buckham self could do in a week. It is also put into the meul-urk. This ineal said, that they had ever a great de- had such a lasting quality, that from sire to borrow articles of food, for it alone the gudewife of Bedrule baka which they always made a sufficiented as much bread as served her own return, often giving many times the family and the reapers throughout the quantity they received. Two fairies harvest, and when harvest was over it are said to have frequented the farm was not finished. The great-grandhouse of Winningtonrig, in the days children of Mrs Buckham are still live of yore, that were particularly pointed ing, and fill very respectable stations in this respect. Besides the stories of in Selkirk, in whose family, I am intheir generosity, there is one of a dif- formed, the legend is still preserved. ferent description. One summer's To inultiply such stories as these morning about day-break the people could serve no good purpose. From in the house were alarmed with the such as I have given, the general tenoise of the bagpipes in the kitchen. nor of the whole that are yet afloat On opening the kitchen door, they among the older classes may be colsaw their old friends the fairies re- lected, for in their leading features treating up the lum * in great confu- they are all somewhat similar-the sion, and seemingly much disappoint- same proneness to the marvellous pered on their mirth being thus inter- vading the whole. rupted. For this they took a singu Contrary to my original intention, lar method of revenge. They caused I find that I have extended these pages all the swine, gruntlings, and asses to such a length, as necessarily to exabout the town to exert their harmo- clude what I intended to have given mious voices to the utmost of their concerning witches. This I shall, power during the whole day, and, in consequence, reserve for a future that this device might annoy them communication, and shall finally con
clude with a few relations illustrative Chimney.
of the ancient and more peculiar ha