IN another part of this work the Chancellor says, [a]--
"They have in England certain demons, though I know not whether I should call them demons or figures of a secret and unknown generation, which the French call Neptunes, the English Portunes. [b] It is their nature to embrace the simple life of comfortable farmers, and when, on account of their domestic work, they are sitting up at night, when the doors are shut, they warm themselves at the fire, and take little frogs out of their bosom, roast them on the coals, and eat them. They have the countenance of old men, with wrinkled cheeks, and they are of a very small stature, not being quite half-an-inch high. [c] They wear little patched coats, and if anything is to be carried into the house, or any laborious work to be done, they lend a hand, and finish it sooner than any man could. It is tbeir nature to have the power to serve, but not to injure. They have, however, one little mode of annoying. When in the uncertain shades of night the English are riding any where alone, the Portune sometimes invisibly joins the horseman; and when he has accompanied him a good while, he at last takes the reins, and leads the horse into a neighbouring slough; and when he is fixed and floundering in it, the Portune goes off with a loud laugh, and by sport of this sort he mocks the simplicity of mankind.
[a] Otis Imperiaila apud Leibnitz Scriptores rerum Brunsvicarum, vol.i. p. 980
[b] There is, as far as we are aware, no vestige of these names remaining in either the French or English language, and we cannot conceive how the Latin names of sea-gods came to be applied to the Gotho-German Kobolds, etc.
[c] Dimidium pollicis. Should we not read pedis?