READING once the eighteenth of Mr. Glanvil's relations, p. 203, concerning an Irishman that had like to have been carried away by spirits, and of the banquet they had spread before them in the fields, etc., it called to mind a passage I had often heard, of Fairies or spirits, so called by the country people, which showed themselves in great companies at divers times. At some times they would seem to dance, at other times to keep a great fair or market. I made it my business to inquire amongst the neighbours what credit might be given to that which was reported of them, and by many of the neighbouring inhabitants I had this account confirmed.
The place near which they most ordinarily showed themselves was on the side of a hill, named Black-down, between the parishes of Pittminster and Chestonford, not many miles from Tanton. Those that have had occasion to travel that way have frequently seen them there, appearing like men and women, of a stature generally near the smaller size of men. Their habits used to be of red, blue, or green, according to the old way of country garb, with high crowned hats. One time, about fifty years since, a person living at Comb St. Nicholas, a parish lying on one side of that hill, near Chard, was riding towards his home that way, and saw, just before him, on the side of the hill, a great company of people, that seemed to him like country folks assembled as at a fair. There were all sorts of commodities, to his appearance, as at our ordinary fairs: pewterers, shoemakers, pedlars, with all kind of trinkets, fruit, and drinking-booths. He could not remember anything which he had usually seen at fairs but what he saw there. It was once in his thoughts that it might be some fair for Chestonford, there being a considerable one at some time of the year; but then again he considered that it was not the season for it. He was under very great surprise, and admired what the meaning of what he saw should be. At length it came into his mind what he had heard concerning the Fairies on the side of that hill, and it being near the road he was to take, he resolved to ride in amongst them, and see what they were. Accordingly he put on his horse that way, and though he saw them perfectly all along as he came, yet when he was upon the place where all this had appeared to him, he could discern nothing at all, only seemed to be crowded and thrust, as when one passes through a throng of people. All the rest became invisible to him until he came to a little distance, and then it appeared to him again as at first He found himself in pain, and so hastened home; where, being arrived, lameness seized him all on one side, which continued on him as long as he lived, which was many years, for he was living in Comb, and gave an account to any that inquired of this accident for more than twenty years afterwards; and this relation I had from a person of known honour, who had it from the man himself.
There were some whose names I have now forgot, but they then lived at a gentleman's house, named Comb Farm, near the place before specified. Both the man, his wife, and divers of the neighbours assured me they had at many times seen this fair-keeping in the summer-time, as they came from Tanton market, but that they durst not adventure in amongst them, for that every one that had done so had received great damage by it.
1 T . Keightley, The Fairy Mythology, p. 294, quoting Bovet's Pandemonium.