A Man Changed Into A Horse


Mr. Williams writes of the same servant man who figures in the preceding

tale:--However, after that, she (Betty'r Bont) turned him into a grey

mare, saddled him, and actually rode him herself; and when he woke in the

morning, he was in a bath of perspiration, and positively declared that

he had been galloping all night.

Singularly enough Giraldus Cambrensis mentions the same kind of

transformation. His w
rds are:--

I myself, at the time I was in Italy, heard it said of some

districts in those parts, that there the stable-women, who had learnt

magical arts, were wont to give something to travellers in their

cheese, which transformed them into beasts of burden, so that they

carried all sorts of burdens, and after they had performed their

tasks, resumed their own forms.--Bohn's Edition, p. 83.

From Brand's Popular Antiquities, p. 225, I find that a common name for

nightmare was witch-riding, and the night-mare, he tells us, was a

spectre of the night, which seized men in their sleep and suddenly

deprived them of speech and motion, and he quotes from Ray's Collection

of Proverbs:--

Go in God's name, so ride no witches.

I will now leave this subject with the remark that people separated by

distance are often brought together by their superstitions, and probably,

these beliefs imply a common origin of the people amongst whom these

myths prevail.

The following tales show how baneful the belief in witchcraft was; but,

nevertheless, there was some good even in such superstitions, for people

were induced, through fear of being witched, to be charitable.