The Coming of the Fairies, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Chapter 7

Some Subsequent Cases

From the foregoing chapter it will be clear that there was a good deal of evidence which cannot easily be brushed aside as to the existence of these little creatures before the discovery of the photographs. These various witnesses have nothing to gain by their testimony, and it is not tainted by any mercenary consideration. The same remark applies to a number of cases which were communicated to me after the appearance of the articles in the Strand. One or two were more or less ingenious practical jokes, but from the others I have selected some which appear to be altogether reliable.

The gentleman whom I have already quoted under the name of Lancaster — he who was so doubtful as to the validity of the photographs — is himself a seer. He says:

“Personally I should describe fairies as being about 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet in height, and dressed in duffle brown clothes. The nearest approach I can get to them is to say that they are spiritual monkeys. They have the active brains of monkeys, and their general instinct is to avoid mankind, but they are capable individually of becoming extremely attached to humans — or a human — but at any time they may bite you, like a monkey, and repent immediately afterwards. They have thousands of years of collective experience, call it ‘inherited memory’ if you like, but no reasoning faculties. They are just Peter Pans — children who never grow up.

“I remember asking one of our spirit group bow one could get into touch with the brownies. He replied that when you could go into the woods and call the brown rabbits to you the other brownies will also come to you. Speaking generally, I should imagine that anyone who has had any truck with fairies must have obeyed the scriptural injunction to ‘become as a little child,’ i.e. he or she must be either simple or a Buddha.”

This last phrase is a striking one, and it is curiously confirmed by a gentleman named Matthews, writing on January 3, 1921, from San Antonio, Texas. He declared that his three daughters, now married women, could all see fairies before the age of puberty, but never after it. The fairies said to them: “We are not of the human evolution. Very few humans have ever visited us. Only old souls well advanced in evolution or in a state of sex innocence can come to us.” This repeats independently the idea of Mr. Lancaster.

These children seem to have gone into a trance state before they found themselves in the country of the fairies — a country of intelligent beings, very small, 12 to 18 inches high. According to their accounts, they were invited to attend banquets or celebrations, excursions on beautiful lakes, etc. Each child was able to entrance instantly. This they always did when they visited Fairyland, but when the fairies came to them, which was generally in the twilight, they sat in chairs in normal state watching them dance. The father adds: “My own children learned in this way to dance, so that at local entertainments audiences were delighted, though they never knew from what source they learned.”

My correspondent does not say whether there is a marked difference between the European and the American type of fairy. No doubt, if these results are confirmed and followed up, there will be an exact classification in the future. If Bishop Leadbeater’s clairvoyance can be trusted, there is, as will afterwards be shown, a very clear distinction between the elemental life of various countries, as well as many varieties in each particular country.

One remarkable first-hand case of seeing fairies came from the Rev. Arnold J. Holmes. He wrote:

“Being brought up in the Isle of Man one breathed the atmosphere of superstition (if you like to call it), the simple, beautiful faith of the Manx fisher folk, the childlike trust of the Manx girls, who to this day will not forget the bit of wood and coal put ready at the side of the fireplace in case the ‘little people’ call and need a fire. A good husband is the ultimate reward, and neglect in this respect a bad husband or no husband at all. The startling phenomena occurred on my journey home from Peel Town at night to St. Mark’s (where I was Incumbent).

“After passing Sir Hall Caine’s beautiful residence, Greeba Castle, my horse — a spirited one — suddenly stopped dead, and looking ahead I saw amid the obscure light and misty moonbeams what appeared to be a small army of indistinct figures — very small, clad in gossamer garments. They appeared to be perfectly happy, scampering and tripping along the road, having come from the direction of the beautiful sylvan glen of Greeba and St. Trinian’s Roofless Church. The legend is that it has ever been the fairies’ haunt, and when an attempt has been made on two occasions to put a roof on, the fairies have removed all the work during the night, and for a century no further attempts have been made. It has therefore been left to the ‘little people’ who claimed it as their own.

“I watched spellbound, my horse half mad with fear. The little happy army then turned in the direction of Witch’s Hill, and mounted a mossy bank; one ‘little man’ of larger stature than the rest, about 14 inches high, stood at attention until all had passed him dancing, singing, with happy abandon, across the Valley fields towards St. John’s Mount.”

The wide distribution of the fairies may be judged by the following extremely interesting narrative from Mrs. Hardy, the wife of a settler in the Maori districts of New Zealand:

“After reading about what others have seen I am encouraged to give you an experience of my own, which happened about five years ago. Will you please excuse my mentioning a few domestic details connected with the story? Our home is built on the top of a ridge. The ground was levelled for some distance to allow for sites for the house, buildings, lawns, etc. The ground on either side slopes steeply down to an orchard on the left, and shrubbery and paddock on the right, bounded by the main road. One evening when it was getting dusk I went into the yard to hang the tea-towels on the clothes-line. As I stepped off the verandah, I heard a sound of soft galloping coming from the direction of the orchard. I thought I must be mistaken, and that the sound came from the road, where the Maoris often gallop their horses. I crossed the yard to get the pegs, and heard the galloping coming nearer. I walked to the clothes-line, and stood under it with my arms uplifted to peg the towel on the line, when I was aware of the galloping close behind me, and suddenly a little figure, riding a tiny pony, rode right under my uplifted arms. I looked round, to see that I was surrounded by eight or ten tiny figures on tiny ponies like dwarf Shetlands. The little figure who came so close to me stood out quite clearly in the light that came from the window, but he had his back to it, and I could not see his face. The faces of the others were quite brown, also the ponies were brown. If they wore clothes they were close-fitting like a child’s jersey suit. They were like tiny dwarfs, or children of about two years of age. I was very startled, and called out, ‘Goodness I what is this?’ I think I must have frightened them, for at the sound of my voice they all rode through the rose trellis across the drive, and down the shrubbery. I heard the soft galloping dying away into the distance, and listened until the sound was gone, then went into the house. My daughter, who has had several psychic experiences, said to me: ‘Mother, how white and startled you look! What have you seen? And who were you speaking to just now in the yard?’ I said, ‘I have seen the fairies ride!’”

The little fairy horses are mentioned by several writers, and yet it must be admitted that their presence makes the whole situation far more complicated and difficult to understand. If horses, why not dogs? And we find ourselves in a whole new world upon the fairy scale. I have convinced myself that there is overwhelming evidence for the fairies, but I have by no means been able to assure myself of these adjuncts.

The following letter from a young lady in Canada, daughter of one of the leading citizens of Montreal, and personally known to me, is interesting on account of the enclosed photograph here reproduced. She says:

“The enclosed photograph was taken this summer at Waterville, New Hampshire, with a 2A Brownie camera (portrait lens attached) by Alverda, eleven years old. The father is able, clear-headed, enthusiastic on golf and billiards; the mother on Japanese art; neither interested in psychic matters much. The child has been frail and imaginative, but sweet and incapable of deceit.

“The mother tells me she was with the child when the picture was taken. The mushrooms pleased the little girl, and she knelt down and photographed them. As an indication of their ordinary size, they are Amainta muscaria.

“There was no such figure to be seen as appears in the picture.

“There was no double exposure. The picture astonished them when developed. The parents guarantee its honesty, but are mystified.

“Do you think shadows, etc., can explain it? I think the line of the right shoulder and arm especially are too decisive to be thus brushed away.”

I rather agree with the writer, but it is a point which each reader can decide for himself upon examination of the photograph. It is certainly very vague after the Yorkshire examples.

New Zealand would appear to be quite a fairy centre, for I have another letter from a lady in those beautiful islands, which is hardly less interesting and definite than the one already quoted. She says:

“I have seen fairies in all parts of New Zealand, but especially in the fern-clad gullies of the North Island. Most of my unfoldment for mediumship was carried out in Auckland, and during that time I spent hours in my garden, and saw the fairies most often in the evening just after sunset. From observation I notice they usually lived or else appeared about the perennial plants. I saw brown fairies and green fairies, and they all had wings of a filmy appearance. I used to talk to them and ask them to make special pet plants and cuttings I put in the garden grow well, and I am sure they did, by the results I got. Since I came to Sydney, I have also seen the green fairies. I tried an experiment last spring. I had some pheasant-eye narcissus growing in the garden. I saw the green fairies about them. I transplanted one of the bulbs to a pot when half-grown, and took it with me when I went away for a short holiday. I asked the fairies to keep it growing. I watched it closely every evening — a green-clad fairy, sometimes two or three of them, would appear on the pot under the plant and whatever they did to it during the night I do not know, but next morning it was very much bigger, and, although transplanted, etc., it flowered three weeks before those in the garden. I am now living at Rochdale, Sydney, with friends both Australians and Spiritualists, and they also have seen the fairies from childhood up. I am sure animals see them. The fairies appear every evening in a little wild corner of the garden we leave for them, and our cat sits and watches them intently, but never attempts to spring at them as he does at other moving objects. If you care to make use of the information contained in this letter, you are welcome to do so.”

I had another interesting letter from Mrs. Roberts, of Dunedin, one of the most gifted women in psychic matters whom I met during my Australian wanderings, in which she describes, as the last writer has done, the intimate connection between these elemental forms of life and the flowers, asserting that she has continually seen them tending the plants in her own garden.

From Ireland I received several fairy stories which seemed to be honestly told, even if some margin must be left for errors of observation. One of these seems to link up the fairy kingdom with spiritual communication, for the writer, Miss Winter, of Blarney, in Cork says:

“We received communications from a fairy named Bebel several times, one of them lasting nearly an hour. The communication was as decided and swift as from the most powerful spirit. He told us that he was a Leprechaun (male), but that in a ruined fort near us dwelt the Pixies. Our demesne had been the habitation of Leprechauns always, and they with their Queen Picel, mounted on her gorgeous dragon-fly, found all they required in our grounds.

“He asked most lovingly about my little grandchildren, who visit us frequently, and since then he has been in the habit of communicating with them, when we have yielded the table to them entirely, and just listened to the pure fun he and they were having together. He told them that the fairies find it quite easy to talk to the rabbits, and that they disliked the dogs because they chased them. They have great fun with the hens, on whose backs they ride, but they do not like them because they ‘jeer’ at them. When he mentioned the old fort, I thought he referred to Blarney Castle, not far away, but on relating the incident to a farmer’s daughter, whose family has been in the neighbourhood for a very long time, she informed me that a labourer’s cottage at the entrance to our avenue is built on the site of an old fort, information absolutely new to us.”

A few more may be added to my list of witnesses, which might be greatly extended. Miss Hall, of Bristol, writes:

“I, too, have seen fairies, but never until now have I dared to mention it for fear of ridicule. It was many years ago. I was quite a child of six or seven years, and then, as now, passionately fond of all flowers, which always seem to me living creatures. I was seated in the middle of a road in some cornfields, playing with a group of poppies, and never shall I forget my utter astonishment at seeing a funny little man playing hide-and-seek among these flowers to amuse me, as I thought. He was quick as a dart. I watched him for quite a long time, then he disappeared. He seemed a merry little fellow, but I cannot ever remember his face. In colour he was a sage-green, his limbs were round and had the appearance of geranium stalks. He did not seem to be clothed, and was about three inches high and slender. I often looked for him again, but without success.”

Mr. J. Foot Young, the well-known water diviner, writes:

“Some years ago I was one of a party invited to spend the afternoon on the lovely slopes of Oxeford Hill, in the county of Dorset. The absence of both trees and hedges in this locality enables one to see without obstruction for long distances. I was walking with my companion, who lives in the locality, some little distance from the main party, when to my astonishment I saw a number of what I thought to be very small children, about a score in number, and all dressed in little gaily-coloured short skirts, their legs being bare. Their hands were joined, and all held up, as they merrily danced round in a perfect circle. We stood watching them, when in an instant they all vanished from our sight. My companion told me they were fairies, and that they often came to that particular part to hold their revels. It may be our presence disturbed them.”

Mrs. Ethel Enid Wilson, of Worthing, writes:

“I quite believe in fairies. Of course, they are really nature spirits. I have often seen them on fine sunny days playing in the sea, and riding on the waves, but no one I have ever been with at the time has been able to see them, excepting once my little nephews and nieces saw them too. They were like little dolls, quite small, with beautiful bright hair, and they were constantly moving and dancing about.”

Mrs. Rose, of Southend-on-Sea, told us in a chat on the subject:

“I think I have always seen fairies. I see them constantly here in the shrubbery by the sea. They congregate under the trees and float around about the trees, and gnomes come around to protect them. The gnomes are like little old men, with little green caps, and their clothes are generally neutral green. The fairies themselves are in light draperies. I have also seen them in the conservatory of my house, floating about among the flowers and plants. The fairies appear to be perpetually playing, excepting when they go to rest on the turf or in a tree, and I once saw a group of gnomes standing on each others’ shoulders, like gymnasts on the stage. They seemed to be living as much as I am. It is not imagination. I have seen the gnomes arranging a sort of moss bed for the fairies, just like a mother-bird putting her chicks to bed. I don’t hear any sounds from the gnomes or fairies, but they always look happy, as if they were having a real good time.”

Miss Eva Longbottom, L.R.A.M., A.R.C. M., of Bristol, a charming vocalist, who has been blind from birth, told us in an interview:

“I have seen many fairies with my mind’s eyes (that is, clairvoyantly). They are of various kinds, the ones I see. The music fairies are very beautiful. ‘Argent’ describes them, for they make you think of silver, and they have dulcet silvery voices. They speak and sing, but more in sound than in distinct words — a language of their own, a fairy tongue. Their music is a thing we cannot translate. It exists in itself. I don’t think Mendelssohn has truly caught it, but Mr. Coleridge-Taylor’s music reminds me of the music I have heard from the fairies themselves; his fairy ballads are very charming.

“Then there are dancing fairies. Their dancing is dainty and full of grace, a sweet old style of dance, without any tangles in it. I am generally alone when I see them, not necessarily in a woodland, but wherever the atmosphere is poetical. They are quite real.

“Another kind is the poem fairies. They are more ethereal, and of a violet shade. If you could imagine Perdita in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, translated from the stage into a real fairy, you would have a good idea of the poem fairy. She has a very beautiful girlish character. The same might be said of Miranda, but she is more sentimental.

“The colour fairies are also most interesting. If you can imagine each colour transformed into a fairy you may get an idea of what they are like. They are in airy forms and dance and sing in the tone of their colours. I have not seen any brownies, as I do not take so much interest in the domestic side of the fairies’ life.

“When I was young I had it so much impressed on me that fairies were imaginary beings that I would not believe in them, but when I was about fourteen I began to realize them, and now I love them. Perhaps it was the deeper study of the arts that brought them to me. I have felt a sympathetic vibration for them and they have made me feel that we were friends. I have had a great deal of happiness and good fortune in my life, and perhaps I can attribute some of that to the fairies.”

These last examples I owe to Mr. John Lewis, Editor of the Psychic Gazette, who collected them. I think I may fairly claim that if all of them be added to those which I have quoted in my original article, and these again be linked up with the Cottingley children and photographs, we are in a position to present our case with some confidence to the public.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/fairies/chapter7.html

Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:33