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The Brownies, The Mirror, Saturday, April 12, 1823

The Mirror, Saturday, April 12, 1823.

The Brownies formed a class of beings, distinct in habit and disposition from the freakish and mischievous elves. They were meagre, shaggy, and wild in their appearance. Thus Cleland, in his satire against the Highlanders, compares them to

' Faunes, or brownies, if ye will,

'Or satyrs come from Atlas hill.'

In the day time the Brownie larked in remote recesses of the old houses which he delighted to haunt, and in the night sedulously employed himself in discharging any laborious task which he thought might be acceptable to the family, to whose service he had devoted himself. But, although, like Milton's lubber fiend, he loves to stretch himself by the fire, he does not drudge from the hope of recompence. On the contrary, so delicate is his attachment, that the offer of reward, but particularly of food, infallibly occasions his disappearance for ever.

The last Brownie, known in Eltrick forest, resided in Bedsbech, a wild and solitary spot, where he exercised his functions undisturbed, till the scrupulous devotion of an old lady induced her to hire him away, as it was termed, by placing in his hand a porringer of milk and a piece of money. After receiving this hint to depart, he was heard the whole night to howl and cry, 'Fare well to bonny Bedsbech!' which he was compelled to abandon for ever.

When the menials of a Scottish family protracted their vigils around the kitchen fire, Brownie, weary of being excluded from the midnight hearth, sometimes appeared at the door, seemed to watch their departure, and thus admonish them:—' Gang a' to your beds, Sirs, and dinna put out the wee grieshoch (embers).' It seems no improbable conjecture, that the Brownie is a legitimate descendant of the Lac Familiaris of the ancients.

 

 

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