The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns & Fairies – Andrew Lang
Mr. Lang’s book is the most curious imaginable. Written in 1691 by a Scotch divine, it is nothing less than a calm assumption of the existence at that time of a commonwealth of elves, fauns, and fairies, whose government, habits, etc., are minutely described upon the authority of “Men of Second Sight” (it is not clear whether the author himself was one of these by virtue of bis being a seventh son), the method of obtaining which gift is also carefully explained. These fairies are of a middle nature between man and angel; they inhabit subterranean abodes, which they change at each quarter of the year. “They are distributed in tribes and orders, and have children, nurses, marriages, deaths, and burials; their apparel and speech is like that of the people and country under which they live; they are said to have aristocratical rulers and laws, but no discernible religion, love, or devotion towards God,” their weapons are most what solid earthly bodies, nothing of iron, but much of stone, like to yellow soft flint spa, shaped liked a barbed arrow-head, but flung like a dart, with great force.” The moral character of these “subterraneans” is minutely described and the conclusion is, “But for swearing and intemperance, they are not observed so subject to those irregularities, as to envy, spite, hypocrisy, lying, and dissimulation.” The author adds to the evidence given by his friends, etc., a letter from Lord Tarbott to the Hon. Robert Boyle, in which many additional instances of second sight are narrated.
The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns & Fairies.
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Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books (from Wikipedia):
Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books are a series of twenty-five collections of true and fictional stories for children, published between 1889 and 1913. The best known books of the series are the twelve collections of fairy tales, known as Andrew Lang’s “Coloured” Fairy Books or Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books of Many Colors. In all, the volumes feature 798 stories, besides the 153 poems in The Blue Poetry Book.
Andrew Lang (1844–1912) was a Scots poet, novelist, and literary critic. As acknowledged in the prefaces, although Lang himself made most of the selections, his wife and other translators did a large portion of the translating and retelling of the actual stories. Four of the later volumes (from 1908 to 1912) were published as by “Mrs. Lang”.
According to Anita Silvey, “The irony of Lang’s life and work is that although he wrote for a profession—literary criticism; fiction; poems; books and articles on anthropology, mythology, history, and travel … he is best recognized for the works he did not write.”
The twelve Coloured Fairy Books were illustrated by H. J. Ford (Henry Justice Ford), the first two volumes shared with G. P. Jacomb-Hood and Lancelot Speed respectively, the sequels alone. Several other volumes were illustrated by Ford.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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