THEY appeared diverse ways, but their most frequent way of appearing was like dancing-companies with musick, or in the form of funerals. When they appeared like dancing-companies, they were desirous to entice persons into their company, and some were drawn among them and remained among them some time, usually a whole year; as did Edmund William Rees, a man whom I well knew, and was a neighbour, who came back at the years end, and looked very bad. But either they were not able to give much account of themselves, or they durst not give it, only said they had been dancing, and that the time was short. But there were some others who went with them at night, and returned sometimes at night, and sometimes the next morning; especially those persons who took upon them to cure the hurts received from the fairies, as Charles Hugh of Coed yr Pame, in Langybi parish, and Rissiart Cap Dee, of Aberystruth; for the former of these must certainly converse with them, for how else could he declare the words which his visitors had spoken a day or days before they came to him, to their great surprise and wonder?
And as for Rissiart Cap Dee, so called because he wore a black cap, it is said of him that when he lodged in some houses to cure those who were hurt by the fairies, he would suddenly rise up in the night, and make a very hasty preparation to go downstairs; which when one person observd, he said, Go softly, Uncle Richard, least you fall: he made answer, O, here are some to receive me. But when he was called to one person, who had inadvertently fallen among the fairies, and had been greatly hurt by them, and kept his bed upon it, whose relations had sent for the said Rissiart Cap Dee to cure him; who, when he came up to the sick mans chamber, the sick man took up a pound-weight stone, which was by the bed-side, and threw it at the infernal charmer with all his might, saying, Thou old villain, wast one of the worst of them to hurt me! for he had seen him among them acting his part against him; upon which the old charmer went away muttering some words of malevolence against him. He lived at the foot of Rhyw Coelbren, and there was a large hole in the side of the thatch of his house, thro which the people believed he went out at night to the fairies, and came in from them at night; but he pretended it was that he might see the stars at night. The house is down long ago. He lived by himself, as did the before-mentioned Charles Hugh, who was very famous in the county for his cures, and knowledge of things at a distance; which he could not possibly know without conversing with evil spirits, who walked the earth to and fro. He is yet said to be an affable, friendly man, and cheerful; tis then a pity he should be in alliance with hell, and an agent in the kingdom of darkness.
I will only give one instance of his knowledge of things at a distance, and of secret things. Henry John Thomas, of the parish of Aberystruth, a relation of mine, an honest man, went with the water of a young woman whom he courted, and was sick, to the said Charles Hugh, who, as soon as he saw Henry John, pleasantly told him, Ho! you come with your sweethearts water to me.
And he told him the very words which they had spoken together in a secret place, and described the place where they spoke. It was the general opinion in times past, when these things were very frequent, that the fairies knew whatever was spoken in the air without the houses, not so much what was spoken in the houses. I suppose they chiefly knew what was spoken in the air at night. It was also said they rather appeared to an uneven number of persons, to one, three, five, &c.; and oftener to men than to women. Thomas William Edmund, of Havodavel, an honest, pious man, who often saw them, declared that they appeared with one bigger than the rest, going before them in the company.
But they very often appeared in the form of a funeral before the death of many persons, with a bier and a black cloth, in the midst of a company about it, on every side, before and after it. The instances of this were so numerous, that it is plain, and past all dispute, that they infallibly foreknew the time of mens death: the difficulty is, whence they had this knowledge. It cannot be supposed that either God Himself, or His angels, discovered this to these spirits of darkness. For the secrets of the Lord are with those that fear Him, not with His enemies. Psalm XXV. 14. They must therefore have this knowledge from the position of the stars at the time of birth, and their influence, which they perfectly understand beyond what mortal men can do. We have a constant proof of this in the corps candles, whose appearance is an infallible sign that death will follow, and they never fail going the way that the corps will go to be buried, be the way ever so unlikely that it should go through. But to give some instances in Aberystruth Parish.
Note 1.A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth, in the County of Monmouth. To which are added, Memoirs of several persons of Note, who lived in the said Parish. By Edmund Jones. Trevecka: printed in the Year 1779. [back]