How people have beene brought to feare bugges, which is partlie reformed by preaching of the gospell, the true effect of Christes miracles.
But certeinlie, some one knave in a white sheete hath cousened and abused manie thousands that waie; speciallie when Robin good-fellow kept such a coile in the countrie. But you shall understand, that these bugs speciallie are spied and feared of sicke folke, children, women, and cowards, which through weaknesse of mind and bodie, are shaken with vaine dreames and continuall feare. The Scythians, being a stout and a warlike nation (as divers writers report) never see anie vaine sights or spirits. It is a common saieng; A lion feareth no bugs. But in our childhood our mothers maids have so terrified us with an ouglie divell having hornes on his head, fier in his mouth, and a taile in his breech, eies like a bason, fanges like a dog, clawes like a beare, a skin like a Niger, and a voice roring like a lion, whereby we start and are afraid when we heare one crie Bough: and they have so fraied us with bull beggers, spirits, witches, urchens, elves, hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, faunes, sylens, kit with the cansticke, tritons, centaurs, dwarfes, giants, imps, calcars, conjurors, nymphes, changlings, Incubus, Robin good-fellowe, the spoorne, the mare, the man in the oke, the hell waine, the fierdrake, the puckle, Tom thombe, hob gobblin, Tom tumbler, boneles, and such other bugs, that we are afraid of our owne shadowes: in so much as some never feare the divell, but in a darke night; and then a polled sheepe is a perillous beast, and manie times is taken for our fathers soule, speciallie in a churchyard, where a right hardie man heretofore scant durst passe by night, but his haire would stand upright. For right grave writers report, that spirits most often and speciallie take the shape of women appearing to monks, &c: and of beasts, dogs, swine, horsses, gotes, cats, haires; of fowles, as crowes, night owles, and shreeke owles; but they delight most in the likenes of snakes and dragons. Well, thanks be to God, this wretched and cowardlie infidelitie, since the preaching of the gospell, is in part forgotten: and doubtles, the rest of those illusions will in short time (by Gods grace) be detected and vanish awaie.
The Gooseberry Wife, in the guise of a large furry caterpillar, takes charge of the green gooseberries, for example: "If ye goos out in the gearden, the Gooseberry-Wife'll be sure to ketch ye."
In the orchards Awd Goggie is guarding the unripe apples. Grindylow, Jenny Green-Teeth, and Nelly Long Arms are the various names of a nymph or water-demon who is said to lurk at the bottom of deep pits, ponds, and wells. When children approach too near to the edge of her domain, she will stretch out her long, sinewy arms, seize them, and drag them under the water, holding them there till they are drowned. Her presence is indicated by a green scum on the surface of the water. If there is no pond or deep water for her near by, she has been supposed to take up a temporary lodging in the tops of trees, where after nightfall she may be heard moaning, in a voice like the sighing of the night-wind through the branches of trees.
In some parts of the country, instead of Jenny Green-Teeth, the boggart of the ponds is a masculine water demon called Rawhead, Tommy Rawhead, Bloody-Bones, or Rawhead and Bloody-bones, for example: "Keep away from the marl-pit or Rawhead and Bloody-Bones will have you."
Pictures such as these, when presented to the vivid imagination of children, doubtless gain rather than lose in lurid colouring and terrifying shape, and one shudders to think of the effect they must produce on impressionable minds, though in the majority of cases, no doubt, familiarity breeds a wholesome contempt.
Fee, fo, fam, I smell the blood of an Englishman!The said "raw head and bloody bones," I was seriously informed, preferred to breakfast on the bodies of naughty children, nicely roasted! I can likewise remember well being told that boggarts especially loved to haunt and otherwise annoy those who refused to believe in their existence. After experience, I need scarcely say, has demonstrated the contrary to be much nearer the truth.
Be be alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to salt and bread!
Mr. Denham tells Mr. Denham tells us that children are still warned from playing on the banks of the river, especially on Sundays, by threats that Peg Powler will drag them into the water; and he pleads guilty to having experienced great terror whenever, as a boy, he found himself alone by the haunted stream.
The Bogey Man is so terribly tall,
The Bogey Man is as high as the wall,
The Bogey Man is intended to fall
On violent, truculent folks.
The Bogey Man is the nurs'ry police,
There isn't a nephew, nor is there a niece,
But of whose folly he knows every piece,
And his horrible wrath it provokes.
"We told you he'd catch you," my family said,
When I was a youngster; and there by the bed
He seemed to be standing, all green, blue, and red,
And every sort of a hue.
I thought he would leap in the dark with a cry
And carry me off to his home in the sky --
But he never did yet, for here still am I --
So I don't believe that it's true.
M. Murray, aged about 45 years.
Collector: Eva Nolan.As I was in the kitchen,
Doing a bit of stitching,
In came a bogey man,
And I ran out.
This threat is similar to that of the Romans when they said, "Hannibal ad portas! [Hannibal is at the gates!]
Similarly, the Germans say, "Be quiet, or Truyd will come!"
In the old Mark among my fellow countrymen they say, "Shut your mouth, or the Rye-Mother with her long black tits will come and take you away."
In other places they say, "Be quiet, or the Popanz will come."
Or: "Knecht Ruprecht will put you into his sack."
In this manner the Silesians threaten their obstinate little ones with the night huntsman. Perhaps they believe that this is Rübezahl's ghost.
Children in Altmark are kept silent with the words: "Hold your mouth or the Rye-Mother, with her long black tits, will come and take you away!"
In the vicinity of Braunschweig and Lüneburg she is called the Grain-Wife. Children seeking cornflowers tell one another stories about how she steals little children; and hence they do not dare go too far into the green fields.
One day she said to her parents: "I have heard so much about Frau Trude. Someday I want to go to her place. People say such amazing things are seen there, and such strange things happen there, that I have become very curious.
Her parents strictly forbade her, saying: "Frau Trude is a wicked woman who commits godless acts. If you go there, you will no longer be our child.
But the girl paid no attention to her parents and went to Frau Trude's place anyway.
When she arrived there, Frau Trude asked: "Why are you so pale?"
"Oh," she answered, trembling all over, "I saw something that frightened me."
"What did you see?"
"I saw a black man on your steps."
"That was a charcoal burner."
"Then I saw a green man."
"That was a huntsman."
"Then I saw a blood-red man."
"That was a butcher."
"Oh, Frau Trude, it frightened me when I looked through your window and could not see you, but instead saw the devil with a head of fire."
"Aha!" she said. "So you saw the witch properly outfitted. I have been waiting for you and wanting you for a long time. Light the way for me now!"
With that she turned the girl into a block of wood and threw it into the fire. When it was thoroughly aglow Frau Trude sat down next to it, and warmed herself by it, saying: "It gives such a bright light!"
Some say that she is no longer there, but the children know better, for if they do not behave themselves, one says to them: "Just wait, Mother Hinne is coming now to take you away!"
That helps a lot, even if they are misbehaving terribly.
In Pfullingen and elsewhere instead of "Hairy Martin" they say "Hairy Michael." However, most often they fighten children with "Shame Klaus." In Tübingen they also say "Santa Klaus," a corruption of "Saint Nicholas," who goes about on December 6th just as Hairy Martin does on December 24th, punishing naughty children and giving presents to the good ones.
In the Black Forest children are threatened with the "Butzegraale." In Fildern and in Mittelstadt they say: "The Graale is coming." Here Hairy Martin is called Graale, which means "Little Gray Man."
In the Black Forest they also say: "Just wait, you'll be taken to Höllehäfele." They say the same thing in Derendingen whenever a child curses or cries.
In Bühlerthann they say to the children: "There is a cart man in the water, and he'll take you to the bottom in his cart.
In Bretten when carnival cakes are being baked, and the children do not want to leave the kitchen, they frighten the children away with the "Carnival Mother," who sticks the children with pins.
In Pfullingen they say: "I'm going into the Sow Woods. You cannot come with me."
Es tranzt ein Butzemann
In unserm Haus herum di dum,
Er rüttelt sich, er schüttelt sich.
Er wirft sein Säckchen hinter sich.
Es tanzt ein Butzemann
In unserm Haus herum.
A Butzemann is dancing
In our house around, di dum,
He prances and he shakes.
He throws his sack behind himself.
A Butzemann is dancing
In our house around.
One evening her child would not stop crying, and she said, "Just wait, if you do not be still, the devil will take you away," and she held the child out of the window.
The child was ripped away from her, and its crying could long be heard from the ever increasing distance. That opened the woman's eyes, and she never again called on the devil.
His father was an evil-tempered laborer who was fond of drinking. When Simon was approaching his fourth year he was a lively healthy child. Once when his father came home late, the child was crying and would not fall asleep. The father shouted at the boy to be still, but this only frightened the youngster, and he cried even louder. The father became so angry that he threatened the child with the devil, calling him the devil's rascal.
Finally he ripped open the window and held the boy out in the cold night, shouting, "The devil can take him, because he won't be still!"
Outside it howled like a fierce storm. The mother began to cry and tremble, and when the window began to rattle the father took fright as well. He pulled the child back in, but the boy's feet were twisted out of shape, and he was now quite still, as though dead. From that time onward the boy suffered from cramps, lameness, and tremors.
He is now 46 years old, and he remains a cripple.
The father suffered from a bad conscience until he himself died. Others always accused him of his son's misfortune.
Everyone who hears or reads this account will understand what the moral of the story is.
Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.
Revised December 30, 2021.