Resemblance of the People to the Danes and Norwegians

The present English people is certainly composed, as we have seen, of
the most heterogeneous elements. The Englishman reckons among his
ancestors Britons, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Northmen, especially Danes
and Normans. All these people, who successively reigned over England for
centuries, must naturally have left numerous descendants behind them.
But as in ancient times it was a combat of life and death for dominion,
the conquered and their posterity could not immediately amalgamate with
the conquerors. Long after the Norman conquest (1066) the Britons,
Saxons, Danes, and Normans, were still hostilely opposed to each other.
These disputes were brought to a close during the middle ages;
prejudices vanished; mixed marriages became more frequent; the different
races acquired common interests; and at last, with the exception of
those Britons who kept themselves aloof in Wales, passed into one great
nation. From this time it was no longer usual in marriages to regard
family descent; it was only some of the richer sort, and higher lineage,
who considered it an honour to preserve the original blood as pure as
possible. There are families still to be found in England who pretend
that they descend in a direct line from Saxon or Norman ancestors, and
who assert that Saxon or Norman features have been transmitted to them.
But even these families have in the course of time been considerably
mixed with races of an entirely different extraction; nay, even the
Britons in Wales have not been able to prevent some of the hated English
blood from gradually supplying and deteriorating that which runs in
their own veins. Moreover, if we consider what an immense number of
Irishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Jews, and others, have, particularly
during later centuries, immigrated into England, where they have
settled, and by degrees married natives; and, lastly, if we remember
that most foreigners have settled on the east coast, or in the midland
and north-eastern districts; we might almost deem it impossible to point
out from the features and bodily frame of the inhabitants of these
districts, any preponderating degree of descent from Saxons, Danes, or
any one race of people that colonized England in times so long past. In
this respect we can of course scarcely think of comparing districts of
small extent, such as two neighbouring parishes, or two adjoining
counties on the east coast of England. Nevertheless, if by taking a
survey of such extensive districts as north and south England, we were
able to discover a tolerably decided difference in the general
appearance of the inhabitants, this would be a weighty corroboration of
the assertions of history, and of the proof derived from names, that
these districts were originally peopled by inhabitants of entirely
different descent.

The Englishman of London, and the rest of southern England, does not in
general betray in his exterior any perceptible resemblance to the Danes
and Norwegians. On the contrary, he decidedly differs from them. The
black hair, the dark eye, the fine hooked nose, and the long oval
countenance, remind one either of relationship with the Romans, whose
chief seat in England was in the south, or rather, perhaps, of a strong
compound between the ancient Britons and the Anglo-Saxon and Norman
races, which afterwards immigrated into England. Many of the Britons
seem to have been dark-haired; for among their descendants in Wales, as
well as among their near kinsmen, the Highland Scots and the Irish,
there are still frequently found—and particularly in remote districts,
as, for instance, in the Hebrides—dark-haired and generally small
people, having on the whole dark complexions. It was, too, in the south
and south-west of England that the greatest mixture took place between
the original British tribes and those that afterwards came over.

But as we proceed from the southern towards the middle and northern
parts of England, we find that by degrees an entirely different
physiognomy, which before we only got a glimpse of now and then, and
which could scarcely be remarked in the confusion of people in London,
becomes more and more the prevailing one. The farther one proceeds
towards Northumberland, the more distinct does it become. The form of
the face is broader, the cheek bones project a little, the nose is
somewhat flatter, and at times turned a little upwards, the eyes and
hair are of a lighter colour, and even deep red hair is far from being
uncommon. The people are not very tall in stature, but usually more
compact and strongly built than their countrymen towards the south. The
Englishman himself seems to acknowledge that a difference is to be found
in the appearance of the inhabitants of the northern and southern
counties; at least one constantly hears in England, when red-haired
compact-built men with broad faces are spoken of; “They must certainly
be from Yorkshire:” a sort of admission that light hair, and the broad
peculiar form of the face, belong mostly to the north-of-England people.
On the other hand, little importance must be attached to the
circumstance that Englishmen generally attribute the red hair to the
immigration of the Danes; for though it is true that many Danes, and
particularly many Norwegians, were red haired, yet some tribes of the
original Celtic inhabitants of the British Isles also had red hair; and
the same feature may likewise be partly ascribed to the Saxons.

In the midland, and especially in the northern part of England, I saw
every moment, and particularly in the rural districts, faces exactly
resembling those at home. Had I met the same persons in Denmark or
Norway, it would never have entered my mind that they were foreigners.
Now and then I also met with some whose taller growth and sharper
features reminded me of the inhabitants of South Jutland, or Sleswick,
and particularly of Angeln; districts of Denmark which first sent
colonists to England. It is not easy to describe peculiarities which can
be appreciated in all their details only by the eye; nor dare I
implicitly conclude that in the above-named cases I have really met with
persons descended in a direct line from the old Northmen. I adduce it
only as a striking fact, which will not escape the attention of at least
any observant Scandinavian traveller, that the inhabitants of the north
of England bear, on the whole, more than those of any other part of that
country, an unmistakeable personal resemblance to the Danes and
Norwegians.

Old Scandinavian national names, such as Thorkil, Erik, Haldan, Harald,
Else, and several others, were formerly, at least, not unfrequently used
in these districts. Surnames, such as Adamson, Jackson, Johnson, Nelson
(Nielson), Thomson, Stevenson, Swainson, and others, all of which have
endings in _son_ or _sen_, which never appear in Saxon names, still
frequently occur. The ending _sön_ or _sen_ (a son) is quite peculiar to
the countries of Scandinavia, whence it was brought over to England by
the Scandinavian colonists. It is not, however, confined to the north of
England, but is spread over all the British Islands where the Northmen
settled; for instance, in Scotland we find Anderson, Matheson, &c. It is
very remarkable that the name of Johnson, which, as is well known, is
one of the commonest in England, is also, perhaps, in the selfsame form,
that which most frequently occurs in Iceland.

The still-existing popular dialect affords an excellent proof that the
resemblance of the inhabitants of the northern counties of England to
the Danes and Norwegians is not confined to a, perhaps accidental,
personal likeness. The pure English language itself includes, both with
regard to its vocabulary and inflexions, many Scandinavian elements, the
result of the Danish immigration. But, in the north of England, many
words and phrases are preserved in the popular language, which are
neither found nor understood in other parts, although they sound quite
familiar to every Northman. These original Scandinavian terms are not
only applied, as I have before said, to waterfalls, mountains, rivulets,
fords, and islands, but are also in common use in daily life; as, for
instance, _late_ (_Dan._, lede; _Eng._, to seek), _lite_ (_Dan._, lide;
_Eng._, to rely), _helle_ (_Dan._, helde; _Eng._, to pour out), _hit_
(_Dan._, hitte; _Eng._, to find), _clip_ (_Dan._, klippe; _Eng._, to
cut), _forelders_ (_Dan._, Forældre, or Forfædre; _Eng._, ancestors,
forefathers), _updaals_ (_Dan._, opdals; _Eng._, up the valley),
_kirk-folk_ (_Dan._, Kirkefolk; _Eng._, people going to church),
_kirk-garth_ (_Dan._, Kirke-gaard; _Eng._, churchyard), with many
others.

These originally Scandinavian words are now chiefly found in the
north-west of England, among the remote mountains of Yorkshire,
Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire, where they have withstood the
changes of time. On entering a house there one will find the housewife
sitting with her _rock_ (_Dan._, Rok; _Eng._, a distaff) and _spoele_
(_Dan._, Spole; _Eng._, spool, a small wheel on the spindle); or else
she has set both her _rock_ and her _garnwindle_ (_Dan._, Garnvinde;
_Eng._, reel or yarn-winder) aside, whilst standing by her _back-bword_
(_Dan._, Bagebord; _Eng._, baking-board) she is about to knead dough
(_Dan._, Deig), in order to make the oaten bread commonly used in these
parts, at times, also, barley-bread; for _clap-bread_ (_Dan._
Klappebröd, or thin cakes beaten out with the hand) she lays the dough
on the _clap-board_ (_Dan._, Klappebord). One will also find the
_bord-claith_ spread (_Dan._, Bordklæde; _Eng._, table-cloth); the
people of the house then sit on the _bank_ or _bink_ (_Dan._, Bænk;
_Eng._, bench), and eat _Aandorn_ (_Eng._, afternoon’s repast), or, as
it is called in Jutland and Fünen, _Onden_ (dinner). The chimney,
_lovver_, stands in the room; which name may perhaps be connected with
the Scandinavian _lyre_ (Icelandic, ljóri); _viz._, the smoke-hole in
the roof or thatch (_thack_), out of which in olden times, before houses
had regular chimneys and “_lofts_” (_Dan._, Loft; _Eng._, roof, an upper
room), the smoke (_reek_ or _reik_, _Dan._, Rög) left the dark (_mirk_
or _murk_, _Dan._, mörk) room. Within is the _bower_ or _boor_ (_Eng._,
bed-chamber), in Danish, _Buur_; as, for instance, in the old Danish
word Jomfrubuur (the maiden’s chamber), and in the modern word Fadebuur
(the pantry).

Outside, in the _garth_, or yard (_Dan._, Gaard), stands the roomy
_lathe_, or barn (_Dan._, Lade), which directly shows how fruitful the
soil is that belongs to the _garth_ (_Dan._, Gaard; _Eng._, a manor,
farm). The shepherd or herdsman, whose _nowth_ (_Dan._, Nöd; _Eng._,
neat cattle) are restless in the _boose_ (_Dan._, Baas; _Eng._, stall)
and _crib_ (_Dan._, Krybbe; _Eng._, manger), is about to cleanse the
stable, and with a _greype_, or gripe (_Dan._, Möggreve; _Eng._,
dung-fork), bears out the _muck_ (_Dan._, Mög; _Eng._, dung) to the
midding (_Dan._, Mödding; _Eng._, dunghill). If we accompany him to the
fields he tells us in a lively tone about the many _threaves_ of corn
(_Dan._, Traver, bundles of twenty or thirty sheaves), particularly of
_big_ (_Dan._, Byg; _Eng._ barley) that have been got from the poor
_ling_ (_Dan._, Lyng; _Eng._, fern) which covers the sides of the
_haughs_ or _haws_ (_Dan._, Höie; _Eng._, hills); of all the
_slaa-torns_ (_Dan._, Slaatjörn; _Eng._, sloes), _lins_ (_Dan._,
Lindetræer; _Eng._, linden trees), _roan trees_ (_Dan._, Rönnetrær;
_Eng._, Scotch rowan trees), and _allars_ (_Dan._, Elletræer; _Eng._,
alders), that grow in yonder little _shaw_ (_Dan._, Skov; _Eng._, wood),
or in that _lawnd_ (_Dan._, Lund; _Eng._, grove), which is likewise full
of _hindberries_ (_Dan._, Hindbær; _Eng._, raspberries), and which is
resorted to by many _gowks_ (_Dan._, Gjöge; _Eng._, cuckoos). A field
farther on, which in its time was acquired by _mackshift_ (_Dan._,
Mageskifte; _Eng._, deed of exchange), has been allowed to _ley-breck_
(_Dan._, ligge-brak; _Eng._, to lie fallow). Through this field winds a
_beck_ (_Dan._, Bæk; _Eng._, brook), or rivulet well stocked with fish,
in which with a _liester_ (_Dan._, Lyster; _Icelandic_, Ljöstr, grains,
or a sort of barbed iron fork on a long pole) one may be able to make a
good capture.

In the river are the _trows_, or troughs (_Jutland_, trow; _Old Scan._,
Þró), made use of to cross over to the opposite shore. These _trows_, or
troughs, are two small boats, originally trunks of trees hollowed out,
and held together by a cross-pole. He who wishes to pass over places a
foot in each trough or boat, and rows himself forward with the help of
an oar. It is said that Edmund Ironsides and Canute the Great rowed over
to the Isle of Olney (in the river Severn) in such boats at the time
when they concluded an agreement to divide England between them. The
original inhabitants of Europe undoubtedly passed the great rivers in
the same simple manner.

Amongst the words in the popular language that still remind one of
ancient Scandinavian customs, those of _yuletide_, _yuling_ (Christmas),
_yule-candles_ (_Dan._, Julelys), and _yule-cakes_ (_Dan._, Julekager),
deserve particular notice. Christmas was certainly kept as a solemn
feast among the Anglo-Saxons, but it does not appear to have had that
importance with them which it had with the Scandinavians; of which this
is a proof, that the old name of Christmas (_Yule_) is preserved only in
those districts in the north that were more especially colonized by the
Northmen. Yule, or the mid-winter feast, was, in the olden times, as it
still partly is, the greatest festival in the countries of Scandinavia.
Yule bonfires were kindled round about as festival-fires to scare
witches and wizards; offerings were made to the gods; the boar dedicated
to Freÿr (_Dan._, Sonegalte) was placed on the table, and over it the
warriors vowed to perform great deeds. Pork, mead, and ale abounded, and
yuletide passed merrily away with games, gymnastics, and mirth of all
kinds. It is singular enough that even to the present day it is not only
the custom in several parts of England to bring a garnished boar’s-head
to table at Christmas, but that the descendants of the Northmen, in
Yorkshire and the ancient Northumberland, do not even now neglect to
place a large piece of wood on the fire on Christmas Eve, which is by
some called the _yule-block_, by others _yule-clog_, or _yule-log_
(perhaps from the old Scandinavian _lág_, _log_, a felled tree;
Norwegian, _laag_). Superstitious persons do not, however, allow the
whole log to be consumed, but take it out of the fire again in order to
preserve it until the following year. Exactly similar observances of
Christmas customs still exist in the Scandinavian North. At Smaaland, in
Sweden, a boar’s-head, called _julhös_ (from _hös_, the skull), is set
on the table at Christmas; and in East Gothland a large loaf, called
_juhlegalt_, is seen on table throughout the festival, of which,
however, nothing is eaten. _Juhlhös_ and _juhlegalt_, as well as the
boar’s-head in the north of England before alluded to, owe their origin
unmistakeably to the expiatory barrow-pig, or “Galt,” offered up by the
old Northmen to Freÿr. The remembrance of the games of the Northmen is
also preserved in England in the Scandinavian word _lake_ (to play),
which is heard only in the ancient Danish districts.

To enumerate all the Scandinavian words in the English popular tongue
would, from their quantity, be both a tedious and a superfluous labour.
The following selection of a hundred of the most common of them will
surely be regarded as sufficient clearly to prove in what a highly
remarkable manner “the Danish tongue” has imprinted itself on the north
of England, in comparison with other countries occupied by the Normans,
as, for example, Normandy; where the Scandinavian language,
notwithstanding the very considerable immigrations from Scandinavia, has
disappeared to such a degree that but very few traces of it now remain.

A HUNDRED DANISH WORDS, SELECTED FROM THE VULGAR TONGUE,
OR COMMON LANGUAGE, NORTH OF WATLINGA STRÆT.

───────────────┬───────────────┬───────────────
Provincial │ English. │ Danish.
English[8]. │ │
───────────────┼───────────────┼───────────────
arr │scar │Ar
attercop │spider │Edderkop
awns │beads of corn │Avner
bank │to beat │banke
bairn, bearn │child │Barn
bede │to pray │bede
bid │to invite │byde, indbyde
bide │to stay │bie
big, biggin │to build, │bygge, Bygning
│ building │
blend │to mix │blande
boll, or bole │trunk of a tree│Bul (Træ)
brosten │burst │brusten
clammer │to quarrel, │klamres,
│ grasp │ fast-klamre
claver │to climb │klavre
cluve │hoof │Klov, Hov
dyke, dike │ditch │Dige
elt │to knead │ælte
festing-penny │earnest-money │Fæstepenge
fra │from │fra
frem folks │strangers │Fremmede Folk
full │drunk │fuld, drukken
gainest way │nearest way │Gjenvei
gammon │merriment │Gammen
gants, ganty │to be merry │gantes
gar │to make │gjöre
gar │to hedge │gjerde
glowing │staring │gloende
(glouring) │ │
greit, greets │to weep, tears │grœde, Graad
grepen │clasped │greben
grise │young pig │Griis
groats │husked corn │grudtet Korn
hack │to stammer │hakke, stamme
halikeld │holy-well │Helligkilde
hand clout │towel │Haandklæde
handsel │earnest │Handsel
harns, │brain, brain │Hjerne,
harns-pan │ pan │ Hjerne-skal
heck │hay-rack │Hække (til Hö)
hesp │latch │Haspe (Dör)
hose │stocking │hose
kaam, kem │comb, to comb │Kam, kæmme
kail, kale │cabbage │Kaal
kern-milk │churn-milk │Kjernemelk
kern │to churn │kjerne
kilt │to tuck up │kilte (op)
kitling │young cat │Killing
laid │just froze │logt (Iis)
mauf, meaugh │brother-in-law │Maag, Svoger
mind │to remember │mindes
nab │to catch │nappe
neaf (or neif) │fist, handful │Næve, Nævefuld
neaf-full │ │
neb │bill, beak │Næb
nipping │to sip │nippe
pot-scar │pot-sherd │Potteskaar
quern │hand-mill │Qværn
querken’d │suffocated │qværket
raise │a heap of │Rös, Steendysse
│ stones, cairn│
read (or rede) │to guess, know │raade, udtyde
│ fully │
read │to comb │rede (Haar)
reasty │toasted │ristet
rid │to remove │rydde
rig, riggin │back, ridge of │Ryg, Rygning
│ a house │
rip up │to revive │rippe op
│ (injuries) │
rise │underwood │Riis
│ │ (Underskov)
rive │to split, │rive (splitte)
│ divide │
sackless │without suit │sageslös
sark │shirt │Særk
scarn │dung │Skarn (Smuds)
schrike (or │to cry, shriek │skrige
skrike) │ │
scoll │toast (health) │Skaal
│ │ (Drikkelag)
sele │to bind, fasten│bind i Sele
skift │to change │skifte (Klæder)
│ (clothes) │
slade │sledge │Slæde
sleck │to put out │slukke
│ (quench) │
smiddy │blacksmith’s │Smedie
│ shop │
smooth-hole │hiding-place │Smuthul
smouch │kiss │Smadsk (Kys)
snirp │to pine │snirpe
speer (or spar)│to ask │spörge
spire │young tree │Spire
stee (or stey) │ladder │Stige
steert │point │Stjert
stew │dust │Stöv
stive │to raise dust │stöve
stumpy │short, thick │stumpet
stot │young horse, or│Stod (Hest)
│ bullock │
swale │shade │Svale (Skygge)
sype (or sipe) │to drop gently │sive
│ (ooze) │
tang │sea-weed │Tang
theaker │thatcher │Tækker
toom (or tuam) │empty │tom
twine │to murmur, weep│tvine
unrid │disorderly, │uredt, urede
│ filthy │
uphold │to maintain │holde oppe
wadmal, woadmel│coarse woollen │Vadmel
│ cloth │
wan │rod │Vaand
wark │ache, pain │Værk (Smerte)
way zalt │to weigh salt, │veie Salt
│ a game │ (Leeg)
wong │a field │Vænge

Footnote 8:

Many of these words are Scotch.

These numerous and striking Danish terms, still existing in the north of
England almost a thousand years after the destruction of the Danish
power there, and after an almost equally protracted struggle with the
constant progress of the English language, show that the Scandinavian
tongue must possess no mean degree of durability. These Scandinavian
words, moreover, taken in conjunction with the unusually numerous
Scandinavian names of places in England, put it beyond all doubt that a
Scandinavian population must have been far more diffused, and have taken
much deeper root there, than in any other foreign land.

The popular language of the north of England is particularly remarkable
for its agreement with the dialects found in the peninsula of Jutland.
Several words which are common to the north of England and Jutland, are
not to be found elsewhere. For instance, in the north of England, the
shafts of the carts used there are called _limmers_, a word clearly of
the same origin as the Jutlandish _liem_, a broom; both being derived
from the old Scandinavian _limi_, which signifies _boughs_, _branches_.
But it is the broad pronunciation in particular that makes the
resemblance so surprising. Thus, for instance, we have in the north of
England, _sty’an_ (_Dan._, Steen; _Eng._, a stone), _yen_ (_Dan._, een;
_Eng._, one), welt (_Dan._, vælte; _Eng._, to upset), _swelt_ (_Dan._,
vansmægte; _Eng._, overcome with heat and exercise), _maw_ (_Dan._,
Mave; _Eng._, stomach), _lowe_ (_Dan._, Lue; _Eng._, flame), _donse_
(_Dan._, dandse; _Eng._, dance), _fey_ (_Dan._, feie; _Eng._, to sweep),
_ouse_ (_Dan._, Oxe; _Eng._, ox), _roun_ (_Dan._, Rogn; _Eng._, spawn or
roe of fishes), _war and war_ (_Dan._, værre og værre; _Eng._, worse and
worse); with many others of the same kind, which are pure Jutlandish.

On the whole, of all the Danish dialects the Jutland approaches nearest
to the English. The West Jutlander uses the article _æ_ before words
like the English “the,” although the Danish language in other provinces
does not recognise such an article; and the broad open _w_, which the
natives of Funen and Zealand can, after the greatest difficulty, only
pronounce with tolerable correctness, is as easy for the Jutlander as
for the Englishman. Many Danish words pronounced in Jutlandish become
purely English; as, for instance, _foul_ (_Eng._, fowl; _Dan._, Fugl),
_kow_ (_Eng._, cow; _Dan._, Ko), _fued_ (_Eng._, food; _Dan._, Fod),
_stued_ (_Eng._, stood; _Dan._, stod), _drown_ (_Eng._, drown; _Dan._,
drukne); besides many others. Many words are even quite common to
Jutland and England; such as the Jutlandish _forenoun_ and _atternoun_
(_Eng._, forenoon and afternoon; _Dan._, Formiddag and Eftermiddag),
_stalker_ (_Eng._, stalker; _Dan._, en Stork), _kok_ (_Eng._, cock;
_Dan._, en Hane), _want_ (_Eng._, to want; _Dan._, mangle, behöve).

This affords a very important proof of the close connection which must
have anciently subsisted between Jutland and England. Although it may be
doubtful to what extent the Jutes had tracts specially assigned to them
for their settlements in the south of England (as in Kent and the Isle
of Wight, at the time of the Anglo-Saxon conquest in the fifth century),
it is, at all events, quite certain that, both at that time and at a
later period, a number of Jutes settled on the east coast of England,
and particularly in the more northern districts. Jutland lies nearer to
England than any other part of Scandinavia. The Limfjord, which in
remote ages was a roadstead for the Vikings’ ships, and afterwards the
rendezvous of Saint Canute’s fleet when he intended to reconquer
England, certainly dispatched numerous Vikings’ barks to the British
coasts. In legends still existing in Jutland, the old connections with
England, and the wars there, are not forgotten; nay, in some places the
people tell of battles fought with the English in Jutland itself: of
which ancient names of places likewise bear witness, as in the
neighbourhood of Holstebro, “Angelandsmoor” (Angelandsmosen), with the
adjacent “Prince Angel’s barrow” (Prinds Angels Höi), which is
surrounded with a number of tumuli. The remembrance of the same old
connections with England still resounds in the Jutlandish and other
ancient Scandinavian ballads, or heroic songs, in which the scene is
frequently laid on the “engelandish strand.”

The near relationship of the north Englishmen with the Danes and their
Scandinavian brothers is reflected both in popular songs and in the
folk-lore. It is well known that the old Northmen were in a high degree
lovers of minstrelsy. The Scandinavian kings were generally accompanied
on their Viking expeditions by bards, who encouraged and cheered the
champions with songs respecting the exploits of former times, and about
every glorious deed that had been performed during the expeditions.
These historical epics passed from mouth to mouth, and from generation
to generation. Nor did the Scandinavian conqueror in foreign lands
disdain to be celebrated by the bards of his native country. Canute the
Great, who was himself a poet, placed the Scandinavian bard high in his
hall; and numerous lays, which are still partly preserved in the Sagas,
sounded his fame over the north. After the warlike life of heathenism
had ceased, the poetical and historical talent of the people expressed
itself in ballads and heroic songs, which, during the middle ages,
succeeded the lays of the ancient bards. The old ballad, in its
characteristic form, belongs peculiarly to the countries of Scandinavia;
and it is very remarkable that the corresponding English ballads, which
often, both in their prevailing tone and in their form—as, for instance,
with regard to the burthen—betray a surprising similarity with the
Scandinavian, are in England found exclusively in the north. They are,
however, heard still more frequently in the Scotch Lowlands, whither
great immigrations of Northmen also took place. In the north of England
a very peculiar kind of song for two voices was also formerly heard, and
which the English themselves ascribed to the Danes.

It is more difficult to adduce pure Scandinavian remains of popular
superstitions, as in this respect the Teutonic races have so very much
in common; and consequently one is afraid to draw too strong conclusions
from the striking agreement usually shown in the phantoms of the
imagination among north Englishmen and their Scandinavian kinsmen. Yet
it deserves to be mentioned that the Scandinavian name _Nök_ (a
river-sprite), is not yet forgotten in Yorkshire; although some by
“Nick” or “Oud-Nick” erroneously imagine the devil to be meant, instead
of the water-sprite. Many little tricks performed by the _nix_ (_Dan._,
nisse, a brownîe) are known there, as well as in Scandinavia. Once, in
England, the conversation happening to turn on these little beings, I
related our Scandinavian legend about a peasant who was plagued and
teazed in all possible ways by a _nisse_ or brownîe, till at last he
could bear it no longer, and determined to _flit_ (move house) to
another place. When he had conveyed almost all his goods to the new
house, and was just driving thither with the last load, he accidently
turned round, and whom did he see? Why, the brownîe with his red cap,
who sat quietly on the top of the load, and nodded familiarly to him,
with the words, “Now we flit.” One of the persons present immediately
expressed a lively surprise on hearing a legend related as Danish, and
that, too, almost word for word, which he had often heard in Lancashire
in his youth. The word _flit_ was, and still is, used there by the
common people.

A natural result of the long-continued and extensive dominion of the
Danes in the north of England is, that they also are classed with the
invisible mystical beings, which, in the imagination of the people,
haunt that district. In certain places among the remote mountains of the
north-west, people still fancy that they hear on the evening breeze
tones as of strings played upon, and melancholy lays in a foreign
tongue. Often, too, even when nobody hears anything unusual, the animals
prick up their ears as if in astonishment. It is “the Danish boy,” who
sadly sings the old bardic lays over the barrows of his once mighty
forefathers.

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