There are a few traces in 19th-century local traditions of a belief that certain rivers are malevolent, and will periodically take a human life. The best known is the Dart (Devon), about which there is a rhyme:
   River of Dart, River of Dart, Every year thou claimest a heart.
   The contributor who reported this to N&Q (1s:2 (1850), 511) explained that 'it is said that a year never passes without the drowning of one person, at least, in the Dart', and that 'it is liable to sudden risings, when the water comes down with great strength and violence'; Dartmoor men call the river 'he', not 'it'. There was a similar attitude towards the Derwent (Derbyshire); in 1903, discussing a recent drowning, a local woman talked of the river as if it were a living being, blaming the victim for his arrogance:
   'He didna know Darrant, he said it were nought but a brook. But Darrant got 'im. They never saw his head, he threw his arms up, but Darrant wouldna let him go. Aye, it's a sad pity, seven children! But he shoul-dna ha' made so light o' Darrant. He knows now! Naught but a brook! He knows now!' (Folk-Lore 15 (1904), 99)
   See also *Peg o' Nell, *Peg Powler, *water-spirits.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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