Wednesday 27 July 2016

The Fairy Hunters Ride Out

Today, we return to The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Volume 82 (1818). This time, the mysterious CTCS tells the tale of the Fairy Court’s hunt. In rich dialect, he relate stye story of an elderly man who encountered the Wild Hunt when he was naught but a lad!

Hunting appears all along to have been a favourite amusement of the Seelie Court, and innumerable are the stories which are told concerning the magnificence and splendour of the royal retinue. Amidst all the numerous and gorgeous train, the sovereign was easily distinguished by his stature and majestic demeanour. Upon his right hand rode Her Majesty, and upon the left Kilmoulie, a personage of rather a suspicious character, being, according to some accounts, the resident envoy from the Court of Hell, while, according to others, he was a prime noble among the fairies themselves, of rather a mischievous disposition, and the principal instigator of all their roguish tricks. Be his character or office what it may, he was readily known from his riding a large and powerful black charger, while all the rest of the company in which he ranked were mounted upon very little milk-white horses. 

The Fairy Court always rode out in three bands, - the first mounted upon brown horses, the second upon grey, and the last, which contained the king and queen, with the chief nobles, mounted upon horses white as the driftit snaw. It was in this last company that Kilmoulie cut so great a figure, and I forgot to mention, in its proper place, that this high dignitary and his charger, contrary to all rules of optics, appeared to be full as big at a distance as near at hand. 

Just before my window, and within two or three minutes walk of the door, lies a beautiful sloping field, called Auchreoch, where a peasant who died not many years ago had the fortune to witness the magnificence of a fairy raid. I knew the man when I was a boy, a steady and sincere Christian, at the venerable age of ninety -two; whose mind was deeply imbued with the superstitions and freitty observances of his native land. With supreme interest have I often listened to the excellent man, while he, seated on an old high-backed chair, with his palsied head, which he supported by leaning his brow on a short staff, almost bowed down between his knees with age, narrated, with strong feeling, and in the picturesque language of former days, many a striking relation of the malignant kelpie, the boding wraith, the spiteful witch, and the mischievous but elegant fairy.

In one or two of the following little stories, I shall preserve as much as possible of the original language, in order to give your Scottish readers a specimen of the Clydesdale dialect. 

“In the afternune of a braw hairst day about sun-settin’, an’ as the mune was wadin’ up through an eastlan rowk, the haill bune saw a wee bit crynit lukin’ woman, nae heicher nor a waterstoup, and bussit in a gown o’ the auldest fasson, gang daunerin’ through amang the stouks. Sho cuist mont a lang look at the shearers, but we ne’er luit on that we saw her, though ony body wad, in a moment, hae seen that it was something wanearthlie. 

The shearers quat rather suner that nicht nor usual, my brither an’ I taiglit a while ahin’, ettlan to fetch hame a draucht o’ green com to the ky. The mune be this was shinan clearly abune a’ the ure, an’ ha’in buggen the draucht, my brither tuke the naig be the head, to lead him hame, whan, till our amazement, we perceived him to be a’ lashan wi’ sweat. Nowther fleechan nor whippan could mak him mudge a fit; but there he stude, quakan, lith an’ limb, like the leaf o’ the lin. While we war stannan upo’ stappan-stanes, switheran what to do, we war suprisit wi’ the soun’ of an onkennable numraer of sma’ bells a’ tinkle-tinkllan. 

In a doup, by cam thousan’so’ milk-white hunds, naebig ger nor whittrets, an’ souchan as gin they had been a flaucht o’ dows. Mony a wearie company o’ wee wee gerse green riders cam neest, stennan owcr the lea; their graith a’jinglan wi’ siller, an’ their clais skinklan i’ the wanyoch mune as though they had been just ae diamon’. 

Muckle din an’ loud gilraivitch was amang them, gaffawan an’ lauchan. They rade furth in three wheens; the first muntit on black ponies, the neest on grey, an’ syne the last on bonnie wee beasties white as the driftit snaw. 

I could brawlie observe the king amang the lave, wi’ the queen on his richt, an’ coal black Kilmoulie on his left. Be this the fore-en’ was tint frae view, amang the brurnie knows o’ Daiberdillie, an’ we war glowran at the sicht, whan he on the richt o’ the king wheelit roun’ his beast, an’ rade straucht to whar we war stannan. He held his richt han’ ower us, crunan out some fleyfu’ words as he gade souchan by like the wind. 

We baith sank to the grun’ wi fricht, an’ I am far mistune, gin I did nae hear the eldritch creature gaftawan an’ lauchan at the pliskie he had playit us. - 

Whan we cam till oursells a’ was gane thegither, an’ the cart was stannan cowpit up on its hin’ trams, but no ae bit o’ the graith was lowsit. Aff we set, gey an’ sare fleyit, to seek the beast; and as we war gaun by a sauchen buss in Glenaskie, we thocht we sawsoinetliing white in the buss, an’ heard it gurr gurran like a dog shoran to bite. 

We gade ncrrer to see what it was, thinkan it micht be a hown’ worryan a lamb, whan out cam sic a smytrie o’ wee white dogs as ee ne’er saw. The hale o’ Dumtersie was perfectly cu’rit, an’ the lift rang again wi’ their gowlan. 

My ain bonnie grey cam by what he could flee frae Daiberdillie-wart, an’ stintit nae whill he wan to Nether Auchenleck, whar we fan’ him i’ the lone, wi’ the sweat gaun hailan aff at his very huves. The jags o’ the spurs war visible in his sides; an’ the puir thing was never its ain wordie mare, but frae that dwynit awa an; deeit.”


Regencyresearcher said...

Sorry, dialect makes my head spin. I am sure that this post is as interesting as all your others but--
I shall have to look at some other magazines to see what they contain. I wish I could type as well as you must.

Catherine Curzon said...

I appreciate it isn't an easy read; it made my head hurt to type it!