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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Changelings
    ‘The Science of Fairy Tales’ (1891) by Edwin Sidney Hartland:

    The delightful author of the "Popular Romances of the West of England" says that some thirty or forty years before the date of writing he had seen several reputed changelings. And his evidence is express that "in every case they have been sad examples of the influence of mesenteric disease." After describing their external symptoms, he adds: "The wasted frame, with sometimes strumous swellings, and the unnatural abdominal enlargement which accompanies disease of mesenteric glands, gives a very sad, and often a most unnatural, appearance to the sufferer." Professor Rhys’ description of a reputed changeling, one Ellis Bach, of Nant Gwrtheyrn, in Carnarvonshire, is instructive as showing the kind of being accredited among the Welsh with fairy nature. The professor is repeating the account given to him of this poor creature, who died nearly half a century ago. He tells us: "His father was a farmer, whose children, both boys and girls, were like ordinary folks, excepting Ellis, who was deformed, his legs being so short that his body seemed only a few inches from the ground when he walked. His voice was also small and squeaky. However, he was very sharp, and could find his way among the rocks pretty well when he went in quest of his father’s sheep and goats, of which there used to be plenty there formerly. Everybody believed Ellis to have been a changeling, and one saying of his is well known in that part of the country. When strangers visited Nant Gwrtheyrn, a thing which did not frequently happen, and when his parents asked them to their table, and pressed them to eat, he would squeak out drily: ‘B’yta ‘nynna b’yta’r cwbwl,’ that is to say–‘Eating–that means eating all.’" A changeling in Monmouthshire, described by an eye-witness at the beginning of the present century, was simply an idiot of a forbidding aspect, a dark, tawny complexion, and much addicted to screaming.

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