Dangerously Close to Love: Observations From Inside The Shortbread Tin

Upside -Down: Inside -Out

Of Reflex- Man: The Co -walker

Chapter 1

Of the Subterranean Inhabitants

THESE Siths, or FAIRIES, they call Sleagh Maith, or the Good People, it would ƒeem, to prevent the Dint of their ill Attempts, (for the Iriƒh uƒe to bleƒs all they fear Harme of;) and are ƒaid to be of a midle Nature betuixt Man and Angel, as were Dæmons thought to be of old; of intelligent fluidious (?) Spirits, and light changable Bodies, (lyke thoƒe called Aƒtral,) ƒomewhat of the Nature of a condenƒed Cloud, and beƒt ƒeen in Twilight. Thes Bodies be ƒo plyable thorough the Subtilty of the Spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear or diƒappear att Pleaƒure. Some have Bodies or Vehicles ƒo ƒpungious, thin, and delecat (?), that they are ƒed by only ƒucking into ƒome fine ƒpirituous Liquors, that peirce lyke  pure Air and Oyl: others ƒeid more groƒs on the Foyƒon or ƒubƒtance of Corns and Liquors, or Corne it ƒelfe that grows on the Surface of the Earth, which theƒe Fairies ƒteall away, partly inviƒible, partly preying on the Grain, as do Crowes and Mice; wherefore in this ƒame Age, they are ƒome times heard to bake Bread, ƒtrike Hammers, and do ƒuch lyke Services within the little Hillocks they moƒt haunt: ƒome whereof of old, before the Goƒpell diƒpelled Paganiƒm, and in ƒome barbarous Places as yet, enter Houƒes after all are at reƒt, and ƒet the Kitchens in order, cleanƒing all the Veƒƒels. Such Drags goe under the name of Brownies. When we have plenty, they have Scarcity at their Homes; and on the contrarie (for they are empowred to catch as much Prey everywhere as they pleaƒe,) there Robberies notwithƒtanding oft tymes occaƒƒion great Rickes of Corne not to bleed ƒo weill, (as they call it,) or prove ƒo copious by verie farr as wes expected by the Owner.

THERE Bodies of congealled Air are ƒome tymes caried aloft, other whiles grovell in different Schapes, and enter into any Cranie or Clift of the Earth where Air enters, to their ordinary Dwellings; the Earth being full of Cavities and Cells, and there being no Place nor Creature but is ƒuppoƒed to have other Animals (greater or leƒƒer) living in or upon it as Inhabitants; and no ƒuch thing as a pure Wilderneƒs in the whole Univerƒe.

Chapter 2

WE then (the more terreƒtriall kind have now ƒo numerouƒly planted all Countreys,) do labour for that abƒtruƒe People, as weill as for ourƒelves. Albeit, when ƒeverall Countreys were unhabitated by ws, theƒe had their eaƒy Tillage above Ground, as we now. The Print of thoƒe Furrous do yet remaine to be ƒeen on the Shoulders of very high Hills, which was done when the champayn Ground was Wood and Forreƒt.

THEY remove to other Lodgings at the Beginning of each Quarter of the Year, ƒo traverƒing till Doomƒday, being imputent and [impotent of?] ƒtaying in one Place, and finding ƒome Eaƒe by ƒo purning [Journeying] and changing Habitations. Their chamælion-lyke Bodies ƒwim in the Air near the Earth with Bag and Bagadge; and at ƒuch revolution of Time, SEERS, or Men of the SECOND SIGHT, (Fæmales being ƒeldome ƒo qualified) have very terrifying Encounters with them, even on High Ways; who therefoir uƒwally ƒhune to travell abroad at theƒe four Seaƒons of the Year, and thereby have made it a Cuƒtome to this Day among the Scottiƒh-Iriƒh to keep Church duely evry firƒt Sunday of the Quarter to ƒene or hallow themƒelves, their Corns and Cattell, from the Shots and Stealth of theƒe wandring Tribes; and many of theƒe ƒuperƒtitious People will not be ƒeen in Church againe till the nixt Quarter begin, as if no Duty were to be learned or done by them, but all the Uƒe of Worƒhip and Sermons were to ƒave them from theƒe Arrows that fly in the Dark.

THEY are diƒtributed in Tribes and Orders, and have Children, Nurƒes, Mariages, Deaths, and Burialls, in appearance, even as we, (unleƒs they ƒo do for a Mock-ƒhow, or to prognoƒticate ƒome ƒuch Things among us.)

Chapter 3

THEY are clearly ƒeen by theƒe Men of the SECOND SIGHT to eat at Funeralls [and] Banquets; hence many of the Scottiƒh-Iriƒh will not teaƒt Meat at theƒe Meittings, leƒt they have Communion with, or be poyƒoned by, them. So are they ƒeen to carrie the Beer or Coffin with the Corps among the midle-earth Men to the Grave. Some Men of that exalted Sight (whither by Art or Nature) have told me they have ƒeen at theƒe Meittings a Doubleman, or the Shape of ƒome Man in two places; that is, a ƒuperterranean and a ƒubterranean Inhabitant, perfectly reƒembling one another in all Points, whom he notwithƒtanding could eaƒily diƒtinguiƒh one from another, by ƒome ƒecret Tockens and Operations, and ƒo go ƒpeak to the Man his Neighbour and Familiar, paƒƒing by the Apparition or Reƒemblance of him. They avouch that every Element and different State of Being have Animals reƒembling theƒe of another Element; as there be Fiƒhes ƒometimes at Sea reƒembling Monks of late Order in all their Hoods and Dreƒƒes; ƒo as the Roman invention of good and bad Dæmons, and guardian Angells particularly aƒƒigned, is called by them an ignorant Miƒtake, ƒprung only from this Originall. They call this Reflex-man a Co-walker……


Andrew Land (edits), Robert Kirk, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies


Whilst I will be using Kirk and contrasting him with the way sailors viewed American Indians during the early days of exploration of America (often glimpsed at from on-board during long isolated voyages at sea) can’t help but give this an utterly different inflection for a moment and wonder if an idealized historian of science is the same class of creature or indeed if Kirk can be imagined as an idealizing ethnographer of late 17th century science.

Anyway back to context.

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