The same belief on these points obtained in Ireland. Glanville, in his Eighteenth Relation, tells us of the butler of a gentleman, a neighbour of the Earl of Orrery, who was sent to purchase cards. In crossing the fields he saw a table surrounded by people apparently feasting and making merry. They rose to salute him, and invited him to join in their revel; but a friendly voice from the party whispered in his ear, " Do nothing which this company invite you to." Accordingly, when he refused to join in feasting, the table vanished, and the company began to dance and play on musical instruments ; but the butler would not take part in these recreations. They then left off dancing, and betook themselves to work; but neither in this would the mortal join them. He was then left alone for the present; but in spite of the exertions of my Lord Orrery, in spite of two bishops who were his guests at the time, in spite of the celebrated Mr. Greatrix, it was all they could do to prevent the butler from being carried off bodily from amongst them by the fairies, who considered him as their lawful prey. They raised him in the air above the heads of the mortals, who could only run beneath to break his fall when they pleased to let him go. The spectre which formerly advised the poor man, continued to haunt him, and at length discovered himself to be the ghost of an acquaintance who had been dead for seven years. " You know," added he, " I lived a loose life, and ever since have I been hurried up and down in a restless condition, with the company you saw, and shall be till the day of judgment." He added, that if the butler had acknowledged God in all his ways he had not suffered so much by their means ; he reminded him that he had not prayed to God in the morning before he met with this company in the field, and, moreover, that he was then going on an unlawful business.
It is pretended that Lord Orrery confirmed the whole of this story, even to having seen the butler raised into the air by the invisible beings who strove to carry him off. Only he did not bear witness to the passage which seems to call the purchase of cards an unlawful errand.*
Individuals whose lives have been engaged in intrigues of politics or stratagems of war, were sometimes surreptitiously carried off to Fairy land ; as Alison Pearson, the sorceress who cured Archbishop Adamson, averred that she had recognised in the Fairy-court the celebrated Secretary Lethington and the old Knight of Buccleuch, the one of whom had been the most busy politician, and the other one of the most unwearied partisans of Queen Mary, during the reign of that unfortunate queen. Upon the whole, persons carried off by sudden death were usually suspected of having fallen into the hands of the fairies, and unless redeemed from their power, which it was not always safe to attempt, were doomed to conclude their lives with them. We must not omit to state that those who had an intimate communication with these spirits, while they were yet inhabitants of middle earth, were most apt to be seized upon and carried off to Elfland before their death.
* Sadducismus Triumphatus, by Joseph Glanville. Edinburgh 1700, p. 131. .
The reason assigned for this kidnapping of the human race, so peculiar to the Elfin people, is said to be, that they were under a necessity of paying to the infernal regions a yearly tribute out of their population, which they were willing to defray by delivering up to the prince of these regions the children of the human race, rather than their own. From this it must be inferred, that they have offspring among themselves, as it is said by some authorities, and particularly by Mr. Kirke, the minister of Aberfoyle. He indeed adds, that after a certain length of life, these spirits are subject to the universal lot of mortality—a position, however, which has been controverted, and is scarcely reconcilable to that which holds them amenable to pay a tax to hell, which infers existence as eternal as the fire which is not quenched. The opinions on the subject of the fairy people here expressed, are such as are entertained in the Highlands, and some remote quarters of the Lowlands of Scotland. "We know, from the lively and entertaining legends published by Mr. Crofton Croker—which, though in most cases told with the wit of the editor and the humour of his country, contain points of curious antiquarian information—that the opinions of the Irish are comformable to the account we have given of the general creed of the Celtic nations respecting elves. If the Irish elves are anywise distinguished from those of Britain, it seems to be by their disposition to divide into factions, and fight among themselves—a pugnacity characteristic of the Green Isle. The Welsh fairies, according to John Lewis, barrister at law, agree in the same general attributes with those of Ireland and Britain. We must not omit the creed of the Manxmen, since we find, from the ingenious researches of Mr. Waldron, that the Isle of Man, beyond other places in Britain, was a peculiar depository of the fairy traditions, which, on the island being conquered by the Norse, became, in all probability, chequered with those of Scandinavia, from a source peculiar and more direct than that by which they reached Scotland or Ireland.
Such as it was, the popular system of the Celts easily received the northern admixture of Drows and Duergar, which gave the belief, perhaps, a darker colouring than originally belonged to the British Fairy land. It was from the same source also, in all probability, that additional legends were obtained, of a gigantic and malignant female, the Hecate of this mythology, who rode on the storm, and marshalled the rambling host of wanderers under her grim banner. This hag (in all respects the reverse of the Mab or Titania of the Celtic creed) was call Nicneven in that later system which blended the faith of the Celts and of the Goths on this subject. The great Scottish poet Dunbar has made a spirited description of this Hecate riding at the head of witches and good neighbours, (fairies, namely,) sorceresses and elves, indifferently, upon the ghostly eve of All-Hallow Mass.* In Italy we hear of the hags arraying themselves under the orders of Diana (in her triple character of Hecate, doubtless) and Herodias, who were the joint leaders of their choir. But we return to the more simple fairy belief, as entertained by the Celts before they were conquered by the Saxons.