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Fians, Fairies and Picts by David MacRitchie
page 3 of 72 (04%)
people know, a Highland gentleman of good family, who devoted much of
his time to collecting and studying the oral traditions of his own
district and of many lands. His equipment as a student of West Highland
folklore was unique. He had the necessary knowledge of Gaelic, the
hereditary connection with the district which made him at home with the
poorest peasant, and the sympathetic nature which proved a master-key in
opening the storehouse of inherited belief. It is not likely that
another Campbell of Islay will arise, and, indeed, in these days of
decaying tradition, he would be born too late.

In reading his book, then, for the first time, what impressed me more
than anything else in his pages were statements such as the following:--

"The ancient Gauls wore helmets which represented beasts. The
enchanted king's sons, when they come home to their dwellings, put
off _cochal_ [a Gaelic word signifying], the husk, and become men;
and when they go out they resume the _cochal_, and become animals
of various kinds. May this not mean that they put on their armour?
They marry a plurality of wives in many stories. In short, the
enchanted warriors are, as I verily believe, nothing but real men,
and their manners real manners, seen through a haze of
centuries.... I do not mean that the tales date from any particular
period, but that traces of all periods may be found in them--that
various actors have played the same parts time out of mind, and
that their manners and customs are all mixed together, and truly,
though confusedly, represented--that giants and fairies and
enchanted princes were men ... that tales are but garbled popular
history, of a long journey through forests and wilds, inhabited by
savages and wild beasts; of events that occurred on the way from
east to west, in the year of grace, once upon a time" (I.
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