Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Popular Tales from the Norse by Sir George Webbe Dasent

Part 10 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

sorry it had so noble a godfather, and never after _ear_ so
barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest'--
SHAKESPEARE, _Dedication to Venus and Adonis_.


As a specimen of their thoughtful turn of mind, even in the
_Vedas_, at a time before the monstrous avatars of the Hindoo
Pantheon were imagined, and when their system of philosophy,
properly so called, had no existence, the following metrical translation
of the 129th hymn of the 10th book of the _Rig-Veda_ may be
quoted, which Professor Mueller assures us is of a very early date:

Nor aught nor naught existed; yon bright sky
Was not, nor Heaven's broad woof outstretched above.
What covered all? what sheltered? what concealed?
Was it the water's fathomless abyss?
There was not death--yet was there nought immortal.
There was no confine betwixt day and night;
The only One breathed breathless by itself,
Other than It there nothing since has been.
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled
In gloom profound--an ocean without light--
The germ that still lay covered in the husk
Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat.
Then first came love upon it, the new spring
Of mind--yea, poets in their hearts discerned,
Pondering, this bond between created things
And uncreated. Comes this spark from earth,
Piercing and all pervading, or from Heaven?
Then seeds were sown, and mighty powers arose--
Nature below, and power and will above--
Who knows the secret? who proclaimed it here,
Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
The Gods themselves came later into being--
Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
He from whom all this great creation came,
Whether His will created or was mute,
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven,
He knows it--or perchance even he knows not.

If we reflect that this hymn was composed centuries before the time
of Hesiod, we shall be better able to appreciate the speculative
character of the Indian mind in its earliest stage.


'A Brahmin, who had vowed a sacrifice, went to the market to buy a
goat. Three thieves saw him, and wanted to get hold of the goat. They
stationed themselves at intervals on the high road. When the Brahmin,
who carried the goat on his back, approached the first thief, the
thief said, "Brahmin, why do you carry a dog on your back?" The
Brahmin replied: "It is not a dog, it is a goat." A little while
after, he was accosted by the second thief, who said, "Brahmin, why
do you carry a dog on your back?" The Brahmin felt perplexed, put the
goat down, examined it, and walked on. Soon after he was stopped by
the third thief, who said, "Brahmin, why do you carry a dog on your
back?" Then the Brahmin was frightened, threw down the goat, and
walked home to perform his ablutions for having touched an unclean
animal. The thieves took the goat and ate it.' See the notice of
the Norse Tales in _The Saturday Review_, January 15. In Max
Mueller's translation of the _Hitopadesa_, the story has a
different ending. See also _Le Piacevoli Notti_, di M. Giovan
Francesco Straparola da Caravaggio (Venice, 1567), Notte Prima,
Favola III: 'Pre Scarpacifico da tre malandrini una sol volta
gabbato, tre fiate gabba loro, finalmente vittorioso con la sua Nina
lietamente rimane'. In which tale the beginning is a parallel to the
first part of 'The Master Thief', while the end answers exactly to
the Norse tale added in this edition, and called Big Peter and Little


The following are translations from Saxo, the _Wilkina Saga_,
and the _Malleus Maleficarum_. The question is completely set at
rest by Grimm, _D. M._ p. 353 fol. and p. 1214.

'Nor is the following story to be wrapped in silence. A certain
Palnatoki, for some time among King Harold's bodyguard, had made his
bravery odious to very many of his fellow-soldiers by the zeal with
which he surpassed them in the discharge of his duty. This man once,
when talking tipsily over his cups, had boasted that he was so
skilled an archer, that he could hit the smallest apple placed a long
way off on a wand at the first shot; which talk, caught up at first
by the ears of backbiters, soon came to the hearing of the king. Now,
mark how the wickedness of the king turned the confidence of the sire
to the peril of the son, by commanding that this dearest pledge of
his life should be placed instead of the wand, with a threat that,
unless the author of this promise could strike off the apple at the
first flight of the arrow, he should pay the penalty of his empty
boasting by the loss of his head. The king's command forced the
soldier to perform more than he had promised, and what he _had_
said, reported by the tongues of slanderers, bound him to accomplish
what he had _not_ said'...'Nor did his sterling courage, though
caught in the snare of slander, suffer him to lay aside his firmness
of heart; nay, he accepted the trial the more readily because it was
hard. So Palnatoki warned the boy urgently when he took his stand to
await the coming of the hurtling arrow with calm ears and unbent
head, lest by a slight turn of his body he should defeat the
practised skill of the bowman; and, taking further counsel to prevent
his fear, he turned away his face lest he should be scared at the
sight of the weapon. Then taking three arrows from the quiver, he
struck the mark given him with the first he fitted to the string.
But, if chance had brought the head of the boy before the shaft, no
doubt the penalty of the son would have recoiled to the peril of the
father, and the swerving of the shaft that struck the boy would have
linked them both in common ruin. I am in doubt, then, whether to
admire most the courage of the father or the temper of the son, of
whom the one by skill in his art avoided being the slayer of his
child, while the other by patience of mind and quietness of body
saved himself alive, and spared the natural affection of his father.
Nay, the youthful frame strengthened the aged heart, and showed as
much courage in awaiting the arrow as the father, skill in launching
it. But Palnatoki, when asked by the king why he had taken more
arrows from the quiver, when it had been settled that he should only
try the fortune of the bow _once_, made answer "That I might
avenge on thee the swerving of the first by the points of the rest,
lest perchance my innocence might have been punished, while your
violence escaped scot-free"'.--_Saxo Gram._, Book X, (p. 166,
ed. Frankf.)

'About that time the young Egill, Wayland's brother, came to the
court of King Nidung, because Wayland (Smith) had sent him word.
Egill was the fairest of men and one thing he had before all other
men--he shot better with the bow than any other man. The king took to
him well, and Egill was there a long time. Now, the king wished to
try whether Egill shot so well as was said or not, so he let Egill's
son, a boy of three years old, be taken, and made them put an apple
on his head, and bade Egill shoot so that the shaft struck neither
above the head nor to the left nor to the right; the apple only was
he to split. But it was not forbidden him to shoot the boy, for the
king thought it certain that he would do that on no account if he
could at all help it. And he was to shoot one arrow only, no more. So
Egill takes three, and strokes their feathers smooth, and fits one to
his string, and shoots and hits the apple in the middle, so that the
arrow took along with it half the apple, and then fell to the ground.
This master-shot has long been talked about, and the king made much
of him, and he was the most famous of men. Now, King Nidung asked
Egill why he took out _three_ arrows, when it was settled that
one only was to be shot with. Then Egill answered "Lord", said he, "I
will not lie to you; had I stricken the lad with that one arrow, then
I had meant these two for you." But the king took that well from him,
and all thought it was boldly spoken'.--_Wilkina Saga_, ch. 27
(ed. Pering).

'It is related of him (Puncher) that a certain lord, who wished to
obtain a sure trial of his skill, set up his little son as a butt,
and for a mark a shilling on the boy's cap, commanding him to carry
off the shilling without the cap with his arrow. But when the wizard
said he could do it, though he would rather abstain, lest the Devil
should decoy him to destruction; still, being led on by the words of
the chief, he thrust one arrow through his collar, and, fitting the
other to his crossbow, struck off the coin from the boy's cap without
doing him any harm; seeing which, when the lord asked the wizard why
he had placed the arrow in his collar? he answered "If by the Devil's
deceit I had slain the boy, when I needs must die, I would have
transfixed you suddenly with the other arrow, that even so I might
have avenged my death."'--_Malleus Malef._, p. ii, ch. 16.


See _Pantcha-Tantra_, v. ii of Wilson's _Analysis_, quoted
by Loiseleur Deslongchamps, _Essai sur les Fables Indiennes_
(Paris, Techener, 1838, p. 54), where the animal that protects the
child is a mangouste (Viverra Mungo). See also _Hitopadesa_,
(Max Mueller's Translation, Leipzig, Brockhaus, p. 178) where the
guardian is an otter. In both the foe is a snake. [7]

The account in the _Nibelungen_ respecting the _Tarnhut_ is
confused, and the text probably corrupt; but so much is plain, that
Siegfried got it from Elberich in the struggle which ensued with
Schilbung and Niblung, after he had shared the Hoard.


Thus we find it in the originals or the parallels of Grendel in
_Beowulf_, of Rumpelstiltskin, of the recovery of the Bride by
the ring dropped into the cup, as related in 'Soria Moria Castle,'
and other tales; of the 'wishing ram', which in the Indian story
becomes a 'wishing cow', and thus reminds us of the bull in one of
these Norse Tales, out of whose ear came a 'wishing cloth'; of the
lucky child, who finds a purse of gold under his pillow every
morning; and of the red lappet sown on the sleeping lover, as on
Siegfried in the _Nibelungen_. The devices of Upakosa, the
faithful wife, remind us at once of 'the Master-maid', and the whole
of the stories of Saktideva and the Golden City, and of Viduschaka,
King Adityasena's daughter, are the same in groundwork and in many of
their incidents as 'East o' the Sun, and West o' the Moon', 'the
Three Princesses of Whiteland', and 'Soria Moria Castle'.


Koelle, _Kanuri Proverbs and Fables_ (London Church Missionary
House, 1854), a book of great philological interest, and one which
reflects great credit on the religious society by which it was


Notte Duodecima. Favola terza. 'Pederigo da Pozzuolo che intendeva il
linguaggio de gli animali, astretto dalla moglie dirle un segreto,
quella stranamente batte.'


The story of the Two Brothers Anesou and Satou, from the _D'Orbiney
Papyrus_, by De Ronge, Paris, 1852.


See the Ananzi Stories in the Appendix, which have been taken down
from the mouth of a West Indian nurse.


See _Anecd. and Trad._, Camd. Soc. 1839, pp. 92 fol. See also
the passages from Anglo-Saxon laws against 'well-waking', which Grimm
has collected: _D. M._, p. 550.


One of Odin's names, when on these adventures, was Gangradr, or
Gangleri. Both mean 'the _Ganger_, or way-farer'. We have the
latter epithet in the '_Gangrel_ carle', and '_Gangrel loon_', of
the early Scotch ballads.


So also Orion's Belt was called by the Norsemen, Frigga's spindle or
_rock, Friggjar rock_. In modern Swedish, _Friggerock_, where the
old goddess holds her own; but in Danish, _Mariaerock_, Our Lady's rock
or spindle. Thus, too, _Karlavagn_, the 'car of men', or heroes, who
rode with Odin, which we call 'Charles' Wain', thus keeping something,
at least, of the old name, though none of its meaning, became in
Scotland 'Peter's-pleugh', from the Christian saint, just as Orion's sword
became 'Peter's-staff'. But what do 'Lady Landers' and 'Lady Ellison'
mean, as applied to the 'Lady-Bird' in Scotland?


Here are a few of these passages which might be much extended:
Burchard of Worms, p. 194, a. 'credidisti ut aliqua femina sit quae
hoc facere possit quod quaedam a diabolo deceptae se affirmant
necessario et ex praecepto facere debere; id est cum daemonum turba
in similitudinem mulierum transformata, quam vulgaris stultitia
_Holdam_ vocat, certis noctibus equitare debere super quasdam
bestias, et in eorum se consortio annumeratam esse.'

'Illud etiam non omittendum, quod quasdam sceleratae mulieres retro
post Sathanam conversae, daemonum illusionibus et phantasmatibus
seductae credunt se et profitentur nocturnis horis cum _Diana_
paganorum dea, vel cum _Herodiade_ et innumera multitudine
mulierum equitare super quasdam bestias, et multa terrarum spatia
intempestae noctis silentio pertransire, ejusque jussionibus velut
_Dominae_ obedire et certis noctibus ad ejus servitium evocari.'
--Burchard of Worms, 10, I.

'Quale est, quod noctilucam quandam, vel _Herodiadem_, vel
praesidem noctis Dominam concilia et conventus de nocte asserunt
convocare, varia celebrari convivia, etc.'--Joh. Sarisberiensis
Polycrat. 2, 17 (died 1182).

'_Herodiam_ illam baptistae Christi interfectricem, quasi
reginam, immo deam proponant, asserentes tertiam totius mundi partem
illi traditam.'--Rather. Cambrens. (died 974).

'Sic et daemon qui praetextu mulieris cum aliis de nocte, domos et
cellaria dicitur frequentare, et vocant eam _Satiam_ a satietate, et
_Dominam Abundiam_ pro abundantia, quam eam praestare dicunt
domibus quas frequentaverit; hujusmodi etiam daemones quas _dominas
vocant_, vetulae penes quas error iste remansit et a quibus solis
creditur et somniatur.'--Guilielmus Alvernus, 1, 1036 (died 1248).

So also the Roman de la Rose (Meon line 18, 622.)

Qui les cinc sens ainsinc decoit
Par les fantosmes, qu'il recoit,

Don maintes gens par lor folie
Cuident estre par nuit estries,
_Errans_ aveques _Dame Habonde_:
Et dient, que par tout le monde
_Li tiers enfant_ de nacion
_Sunt de ceste condicion._

And again, line 18,686:

Dautre part, _que li tiers du monde_
_Aille_ ainsinc _eavec Dame Habonde_.


See the derivation of _pagan_ from paganus, one who lived in the
country, as opposed to urbanus, a townsman.


Keisersberg Omeiss, 46 b., quoted by Grimm, _D.M._ pp. 991,

Wen man em man verbrent,
so brent man wol zehen frauen.


See the passage from Vincent, _Bellov. Spec. Mor._, iii, 2, 27,
quoted in Grimm, _D. M._ pp. 1,012-3.


The following passage from _The Fortalice of Faith_ of Alphonso
Spina, written about the year 1458, will suffice to show how
disgustingly the Devil, in the form of a goat, had supplanted the
'Good Lady': Quia nimium abundant tales perversae mulieres ine
Delphinatu et Guasconia, ubi se asserunt concurrere de nocte in
quadam planitie deserta ubi est _caper quidam in rupe_, qui
vulgariter dicitur _el boch de Biterne_ et clued ibi _conveniunt
cum candelis accensis et adorant illum caprum osculpntes eum in ano
suo_. Ideo captae plures earum, ab inquisitoribus fidei et convictae

About the same time, too, began to spread the notion of formal
written agreements between the Fiend and men who were to be his after
a certain time, during which he was to help them to all earthly
goods. This, too, came with Christianity from the East. The first
instance was Theophilus, vicedominus of the Bishop of Adana, whose
fall and conversion form the original of all the Faust Legends. See
Grimm, D. M. 969, and 'Theophilus in Icelandic, Low German, and other
tongues, by G. W. Dasent, Stockholm, 1845.' There a complete account
of the literature of the legend may be found. In almost all these
early cases the Fiend is outwitted by the help of the Virgin or some
other saint, and in this way the reader is reminded of the Norse
Devil, the successor of the Giants, who always makes bad bargains.
When the story was applied to Faust in the sixteenth century, the
terrible Middle Age Devil was paramount, and knew how to exact his


How strangely full of common sense sounds the following article from
the Capitularies of Charlemagne, _De part. Sax._, 5:

Si quis a diabolo deceptus crediderit secundum morem. Paganorum,
virum aliquem aut faeminam strigam esse et homines comedere, et
propter hoc ipsum incenderit, vel carnem eius ad comedendum dederit,
capitis sententia punietur.' And this of Rotharius, Lex. Roth., 379:
'Nullus praesumat aldiam alienam aut ancillam quasi strigam occidere,
quod Christianis mentibus nullatenus est credendum nec possible est,
ut hominem mulier vivum intrinsecus possit comedere.'

Here the law warns the common people from believing in witches, and
from taking its functions into their own hands, and reasons with them
against the absurdity of such delusions. So, too, that reasonable
parish priest who thrashed the witch, though earlier in time, was far
in advance of Gregory and his inquisitors, and even of our wise King


The following is the title of this strange tract, _Newes from
Scotland, declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian, a notable
Sorcerer, who was burned at Edenbrough, in Januarie last 1591, which
Doctor was register to the devil, that sundrie times preached at
North Baricke Kirke to a number of notorious Witches. With the true
examinations of the said Doctor and witches, as they uttered them in
the presence of the Scottish king. Discovering how they pretended to
bewitch and drowne his Majestic in the sea, comming from Denmarke,
with such other wonderfull matters as the like, hath not bin heard at
anie time_. Published according to the Scottish copie. Printed for
William Wright. It was reprinted in 1816 for the Roxburghe Club by Mr
H. Freeling, and is very scarce even in the reprint, which, all
things considered, is perhaps just as well.


The following specimens of the tortures and confessions may suffice;
but most of the crimes and confessions are unutterable. One Geillis
Duncane was tortured by her master, David Seaton, dwelling within the
town of Tranent, who, 'with the help of others, did torment her with
the torture of the Pilliwinkes (thumbscrews), upon her fingers, and
binding and wrinching her head with a cord or roape, which is a most
cruel torment also.' So also Agnes Sampson, 'the eldest witch of them
all, dwelling in Haddington, being brought to Haleriud House before
the kinge's majestie and sundry other of the nobilitie of Scotland,
had her head thrawne with a rope according to the custom of that
countrie, beeing a payne most greevous.' After the Devil's mark is
found on her she confesses that she went to sea with two hundred
others in sieves to the kirk of North Berwick in East Lothian, and
after they had landed they 'took handes on the lande and daunted,
this reill or short daunce, saying all with one voice:

Commer goe ye before, Commer goe ye,
Gif ye will not goe before, Commer let me.

'At which time she confessed that this Geillis Duncane did goe before
them playing this reill or daunce upon a small trumpe called a Jew's
trump, until they entered into the kirk of North Barrick.' 'As
touching the aforesaid Doctor Fian', he 'was taken and imprisoned,
and used with the accustomed paine provided for these offences,
inflicted upon the rest, as is aforesaid. First by thrawing of his
head with a rope, whereat he would confesse nothing! Secondly, he was
persuaded by faire means to confesse his follies, but that would
prevaile as little. Lastly, he was put to the most severe and cruell
paine in the world, called the Bootes, who, after he had received
three strokes, being inquired if he would confesse his damnable actes
and wicked life, his toong would not serve him to spaake.' This
inability, produced no doubt by pain, the other witches explain by
saying that the Devil's mark had not been found, which, being found,
'the charm' was 'stinted', and the Doctor, in dread probably of a
fourth stroke, confessed unutterably shameful things. Having escaped
from prison, of course by the aid of the Devil, he was pursued, and
brought back and re-examined before the king. 'But this Doctor,
notwithstanding that his own confession appeareth remaining in
recorde, under his owne handewriting, and the same thereunto fixed in
the presence of the King's majestie and sundrie of his councell, yet
did he utterly deny the same, whereupon the King's majestie,
perceiving his stubborne wilfulness...he was commanded to have a
most strange torment, which was done in this manner following: His
nailes upon all his fingers were riven and pulled off with an
instrument called in Scottish a Turkas, which in England wee call a
payre of pincars, and under everie nayle there was thrust in two
needels over even up to the heads. At all which torments,
notwithstanding the Doctor never shronke anie whit; neither would he
then confesse it the sooner for all the tortures inflicted upon him.

'Then was he with all convenient speed, by commandement convaied
againe to the torment of the Bootes, wherein hee continued a long
time, and did abide so many blowes in them, that his legges were
crusht and beaten together as small as might bee, and the bones and
flesh so brused that the blond and marrow spouted forth in great
abundance, wherby they were made unserviceable for ever. And
notwithstanding all these grievous panes and cruel torments, he would
not confesse aniething, so deepely had the Devil entered into his
heart, that hee utterly denied all that which he had before avouched,
and would saie nothing thereunto but this, that what he had done and
sayde before, was onely done and saide for fear of paynes which he
had endured.' Thereupon as 'a due execution of justice' 'and 'for
example sake', he was tried, sentenced, put into a cart, strangled
and immediately put into a great fire, being readie provided for that
purpose, and there burned in the Castle Hill of Edenbrough on a
saterdaie, in the ende of Januaire last past, 1591.' The tract ends
significantly: 'The rest of the witches which are not yet executed
remayne in prison till further triall and knowledge of his majestie's


_Ecl._, viii, 97:

His ego saepe lupum fieri
et se condere silvis Maerin--vidi.


See Grimm's _D.M._, 1,047 fol.; and for this translation from
Petronius, a very interesting letter prefixed to Madden's Ed. of the
old English Romance of _William and the Werewolf_, 1832, one of
the Roxburghe Club Publications. This letter, which was by the hand of
Mr Herbert of Petworth, contains all that was known on this subject
before Grimm; but when Grimm came he was, compared with all who had
treated the subject, as a sober man amongst drunkards.


_Bisclavaret_ in the _Lais_ of Marie de France, 1, 178
seems to be a corruption of Bleizgarou, as the Norman _garwal_
is of _garwolf_. See also Jamieson Dict., under _warwolf_.


_Troldham, at kaste ham paa._ Comp. the old Norse _hamr,
hamfoer, hammadr, hamrammr_, which occur repeatedly in the same


Comp. Vict. Hugo, _Notre-Dame de Paris_, where he tells us that
the gipsies called the wolf _piedgris_. See also Grimm, _D.
M._, 633 and _Reinhart_, lv, ccvii, and 446.


Thus from the earliest times 'dog', 'hound', has been a term of
reproach. Great instances of fidelity, such as 'Gellert' or the 'Dog
of Montargis', both of which are Eastern and primeval, have scarcely
redeemed the cringing currish nature of the race in general from
disgrace. M. Francisque Michel, in his _Histoire des Races
Maudites de da France et de l'Espagne_, thinks it probable that
_Cagot_, the nickname by which the heretical Goths who fled
into Aquitaine in the time of Charles Martel, and received protection
from that king and his successors, were called by the Franks,
was derived from the term _Canis Gothicus_ or _Canes Gothi_. In
modern French the word means hypocrite, and this would come
from the notion of the outward conformity to the Catholic formularies
imposed on the Arian Goths by their orthodox protectors. Etymologically,
the derivation is good enough, according to Diez, _Romanisches
Woerterbuch_; Provencal _ca_, dog; _Get_, Gothic. Before quitting
_Cagot_, we may observe that the derivation of _bigot_, our bigot,
another word of the same kind, is not so clear. Michel says it comes from
_Vizigothus, Bizigothus_. Diez says this is too far-fetched, especially as
'Bigot', 'Bigod', was a term applied to the Normans, and not to the
population of the South of France. There is, besides another derivation
given by Ducange from a Latin chronicle of the twelfth century. In
speaking of the homage done by Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy, to
the King of France, he says:

Hic non dignatus pedem Caroli osculari nisi ad os suum levaret,
cumque sui comites illum admonerent ut pedem Regis in acceptione
tanti muneris, Neustriae provinciae, oscularetur, Anglica lingua
respondit '_ne se bi got_', quod interpretatur 'ne per deum'.
Rex vero et sui illum deridentes, et sermonem ejus corrupte
referentes, illum vocaverunt Bigottum; unde Normanni adhuc Bigothi

Wace, too, says, in the _Roman de Rou_, that the French had
abused the Normans in many ways, calling them Bigos. It is also
termed, in a French record of the year 1429, '_un mot tres
injurieux_'. Diez says it was not used in its present sense before
the sixteenth century.


The most common word for a giant in the Eddas was Joetunn (A. S.
_coten_), which, strange to say, survives in the Scotch Etin. In
one or two places the word _ogre_ has been used, which is
properly a Romance word, and comes from the French _ogre_, Ital.
_orco_, Lat. _orcus_. Here, too, we have an old Roman god of the
nether world degraded.


These paroxysms were called in Old Norse _Joetunmodr_, the
_Etin mood_, as opposed to _Asmodr, the mood of the Aesir_,
that diviner wrath which, though burning hot, was still under the
control of reason.


It may be worth while here to shew how old and widespread this custom
or notion of the 'naked sword' was. In the North, besides being told
of Sigurd and Brynhildr, we hear it of Hrolf and Ingigerd, who took
rest at night in a hut of leaves in the wood, and lay together, 'but
laid a naked sword between them'. So also Saxo Grammaticus says of
King Gorm, 'Caeterum ne inconcessum virginis amorem libidinoso
complexu praeripere videretur, vicina latera non solum alterius
complexibus exult, sed etiam _districto mucrone_ secrevit. Lib.
9, p.179. So also Tristan and Isolt in Gottfried of Strasburg's poem,
line 17,407-17.

Hierue ber vant Tristan einen sin,
Si giengen an ir bette wider,
Und leiten sich da wider nider,
Von einander wol pin dan,
Reht als man and man,
Niht als man and wip;
Da lac lip and lip,
In fremder gelegenheit,
Ouch hat Tristan geleit
Sin _swert bar_ enzwischen si.

And the old French Tristan in the same way:

Et qant il vit la nue espee
Qui entre eus deus les deseurout.

So the old English Tristrem, line 2,002-3:

His sword he drough titly
And laid it hem bitvene.

And the old German ballad in _Des Knaben Wunderhorn_, 2, 276:

Der Herzog zog aus sein goldiges schwert,
Er leit es zwischen beide hert
Das schwert soll weder hauen noch schneiden,
Das Annelein soll ein megedli bleiben.

So Fonzo and Fenizia in the _Pentamerone_, I, 9:

Ma segnenno havere fatto vuto a Diana, de non toccare la mogliere la
notte, mese la spata arranata comme staccione 'miezo ad isso ed a

And in Grimm's story of 'The Two Brothers' where the second brother
lays 'a double-edged sword' at night between himself and his
brother's wife, who has mistaken him for his twin brother. In fact
the custom as William Wackernagel has shewn in _Haupt's Zeitschrift
fuer Deutsches Alterthum_ was one recognized by the law; and so
late as 1477, when Lewis, County Palatine of Veldenz represented
Maximilian of Austria as his proxy at the betrothal of Mary of
Burgundy, he got into the bed of state, booted and spurred, and laid
a naked sword between him and the bride. Comp. Birkens Ehrenspiegel,
p. 885. See also as a proof that the custom was known in England as
late as the seventeenth century, _The Jovial Crew_, a comedy
first acted in 1641, and quoted by Sir W. Scott in his _Tristrem_,
p. 345, where it is said (Act V, sc. 2): 'He told him that he would be
his proxy, and marry her for him, and lie with her the first night with a
naked cudgel betwixt them.' And see for the whole subject, J. Grimm's
_Deutsche Rechts-Alterthuemer_, Goettingen, 1828, p. 168-70.


M. Moe, _Introd. Norsk. Event_ (Christiania, 1851, 2d Ed.), to
which the writer is largely indebted.


Footnote: The following list, which only selects the more prominent
collections, will suffice to show that Popular Tales have a
literature of their own:--Sanscrit. The _Pantcha Tantra_, 'The
Five Books', a collection of fables of which only extracts have as
yet been published, but of which Professor Wilson has given an
analysis in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society, vol. I, sect. 2.
The _Hitopadesa_, or 'Wholesome Instruction', a selection of
tales and fables from the Pantcha Tantra, first edited by Carey at
Serampore in 1804; again by Hamilton in London in 1810; again in
Germany by A. W. von Schlegel in 1829, an edition which was followed
in 1831 by a critical commentary by Lassen; and again in 1830 at
Calcutta with a Bengali and English translation. The work had been
translated into English by Wilkins so early as 1787, when it was
published in London, and again by Sir William Jones, whose rendering,
which is not so good as that by Wilkins, appeared after his death in
the collected edition of his works. Into German it has been
translated in a masterly way by Max Mueller, Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1844.
Versions of these Sanscrit collections, the date of the latter of
which is ascribed to the end of the second century of the Christian
era, varying in many respects, but all possessing sufficient
resemblance to identify them with their Sanscrit originals, are found
in almost every Indian dialect, and in Zend, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew,
Greek and Turkish. We are happy to be able to state here that the
eminent Sanscrit scholar, Professor Benfey of Goettingen, is now
publishing a German translation of the _Pantcha Tantra_, which
will be accompanied by translations of numerous compositions of the
same kind, drawn from unpublished Sanscrit works, and from the
legends current amongst the Mongolian tribes. The work will be
preceded by an introduction embracing the whole question of the
origin and diffusion of fables and popular tales. The following will
be the title of Prof. Benfey's work: '_Pantcha Tantra. Erster
Theil, Fuenf Buecher Indischer Fabeln, Maerchen, and Erzaehlungen_. Aus
dem Sanskrit uebersetzt, mit Anmerkungen and Einleitung ueber das
Indische Grundwerk und dessen Ausfluesse, so wie ueber die Quellen und
Verbreitung des Inhalts derselben. Zweiter Theil, Uebersetzungen und
Anmerkungen.' Most interesting of all for our purpose is the
collection of Sanscrit Tales, collected in the twelfth century of our
era, by Somadeva Bhatta of Cashmere. This has been published in
Sanscrit, and translated into German by Hermann Brockhaus, and the
nature of its contents has already been sufficiently indicated. We
may add, however, that Somadeva's collection exhibits the Hindoo mind
in the twelfth century in a condition, as regards popular tales,
which the mind of Europe has not yet reached. How old these
stories and fables must have been in the East, we see both from
the _Pantcha Tantra_ and the _Hitopadesa_, which are strictly
didactic works, and only employ tales and fables to illustrate and
inculcate a moral lesson. We in the West have got beyond fables and
apologues, but we are only now collecting our popular tales. In
Somadeva's time the simple tale no longer sufficed; it had to be
fitted into and arranged with others, with an art and dexterity which
is really marvellous; and so cleverly is this done, that it requires
a mind of no little cultivation, and a head of more than ordinary
clearness, to carry without confusion all the wheels within wheels,
and fables within fables, which spring out of the original story as
it proceeds. In other respects the popular tale loses in simplicity
what it gains in intricacy by this artificial arrangement; and it is
evident that in the twelfth century the Hindoo tales had been long
since collected out of the mouths of the people, and reduced to
writing; in a word, that the popular element had disappeared, and
that they had passed into the written literature of the race. We may
take this opportunity, too, to mention that a most curious collection
of tales and fables, translated from Sanscrit, has recently been
discovered in Chinese. They are on the eve of publication by M.
Stanislas Julien, the first of Chinese scholars; and from the
information on the matter which Professor Max Mueller has kindly
furnished to the translator, it appears that they passed with
Buddhism from India into China. The work from which M. Julien has
taken these fables, which are all the more precious because the
Sanscrit originals have in all probability perished,--is called
_Yu-lin_, or 'The Forest of Comparisons'. It was the work of
Youen-thai, a great Chinese scholar, who was President of the
Ministry of justice at Pekin in the year 1565 of our era. He
collected in twenty-four volumes, after the labour of twenty years,
during which he read upwards of four hundred works, all the fables
and comparisons he could find in ancient books. Of those works, two
hundred were translations from the Sanscrit made by Buddhist monks,
and it is from eleven of these that M. Julien has translated his
Chinese Fables. We need hardly say that this work is most anxiously
expected by all who take an interest in such matters. Let it be
allowed to add here, that it was through no want of respect towards
the memory of M. de Sacy that the translator has given so much
prominence to the views and labours of the Brothers Grimm in this

To M. de Sacy belongs all the merit of exploring what may be called
the old written world of fable. He, and Warton, and Dunlop, and
Price, too, did the day's work of Giants, in tracing out and
classifying those tales and fables which had passed into the
literature of the Aryan race. But, besides this old region, there is
another new hemisphere of fiction which lies in the mouths and in the
minds of the people. This new world of fable the Grimms discovered,
and to them belongs the glory of having brought all its fruits and
flowers to the light of day. This is why their names must ever be
foremost in a work on Popular Tales, shining, as their names
must ever shine, a bright double star in that new hemisphere. In
more modern times, the earliest collection of popular tales is to be
found in the _Piacevoli Notte_ of John Francis Straparola of
Caravaggio, near Milan, the first edition of which appeared at
Venice in 1550. The book, which is shamefully indecent, even
for that age, and which at last, in 1606, was placed in the
_Index Expurgatorius_, contains stories from all sources, and
amongst them nineteen genuine popular tales, which are not
disfigured by the filth with which the rest of the volume is full.
Straparola's work has been twice translated into German, once at
Vienna, 1791, and again by Schmidt in a more complete form,
_Maerchen-Saal_, Berlin, 1817. But a much more interesting Italian
collection appeared at Naples in the next century. This was
the _Pentamerone_ of Giambattista Basile, who wrote in the
Neapolitan dialect, and whose book appeared in 1637. This collection
contains forty-eight tales, and is in tone, and keeping, and diction,
one of the best that has ever appeared in any language. It has been
repeatedly reprinted at Naples. It has been translated into German,
and a portion of it, a year or two back, by Mr. Taylor, into English.
In France the first collection of this kind was made by Charles
Perrault, who, in 1697, published eight tales, under a title taken
from an old _Fabliau_, _Contes de ma mere L'Oye_, whence comes
our 'Mother Goose'. To these eight, three more tales were added in
later editions. Perrault was shortly followed by Madame D'Aulnoy
(born in 1650, died 1705), whose manner of treating her tales is far
less true to nature than Perrault's, and who inserts at will, verses,
alterations, additions, and moral reflections. Her style is
sentimental and over-refined; the courtly airs of the age of Louis
XIV predominate, and nature suffers by the change from the cottage to
the palace. Madame d'Aulnoy was followed by a host of imitators; the
Countess Muerat, who died in 1710; Countess d'Auneuil, who died in
1700; M. de Preschac, born 1676, who composed tales of utter
worthlessness, which may be read as examples of what popular tales
are not, in the collection called _Le Cabinet des Fees_, which
was published in Paris in 1785. Not much better are the attempts of
Count Hamilton, who died in 1720; of M. de Moncrif, who died in 1770;
of Mademoiselle de la Force, died 1724; of Mademoiselle l'Heritier
died 1737; of Count Caylus, who wrote his _Feeries Nouvelles_ in
the first half of the 18th century, for the popular element fails
almost entirely in their works. Such as they are, they may also be
read in the _Cabinet des Fees_, a collection which ran to no
fewer than forty-one volumes, and with which no lover of popular
tradition need trouble himself much. To the playwright and the story-
teller it has been a great repository, which has supplied the lack of
original invention. In Germany we need trouble ourselves with none of
the collections before the time of the Grimms, except to say that
they are nearly worthless. In 1812-14 the two brothers, Jacob and
William, brought out the first edition of their _Kinder-und Haus-
Maerchen_, which was followed by a second and more complete one in
1822: 3 vols., Berlin, Reimer. The two first volumes have been
repeatedly republished, but few readers in England are aware of the
existence of the third, a third edition of which appeared in 1856 at
Goettingen, which contains the literature of these traditions, and is
a monument of the care and pains with which the brothers, or rather
William, for it is his work, even so far back as 1820, had traced out
parallel traditions in other tribes and lands. This work formed an
era in popular literature, and has been adopted as a model by all
true collectors ever since. It proceeded on the principle of
faithfully collecting these traditions from the mouths of the people,
without adding one jot or tittle, or in any way interfering with
them, except to select this or that variation as most apt or
beautiful. To the adoption of this principle we owe the excellent
Swedish collection of George Stephens and Hylten Cavallius,
_Svenska Folk-Sagor og Aefventyr_, 2 vols. Stockholm 1844, and
following years; and also this beautiful Norse one, to which Jacob
Grimm awards the palm over all collections, except perhaps the
Scottish, of MM. Asbjoernsen and Moe. To it also we owe many most
excellent collections in Germany, over nearly the whole of which an
active band of the Grimm's pupils have gone gathering up as gleaners
the ears which their great masters had let fall or let lie. In
Denmark the collection of M. Winther, _Danske Folkeeventyr_,
Copenhagen, 1823, is a praiseworthy attempt in the same direction;
nor does it at all detract from the merit of H. C. Andersen as an
original writer, to observe how often his creative mind has fastened
on one of these national stories, and worked out of that piece of
native rock a finished work of art. Though last not least, are to be
reckoned the Scottish stories collected by Mr. Robert Chambers, of
the merit of which we have already expressed our opinion in the text.


After all, there is, it seems, a Scottish word which answers to
_Askepot_ to a hair. See Jamieson's _Dictionary_, where the
reader will find _Ashiepattle_ as used in Shetland for a
'neglected child'; and not in Shetland alone, but in Ayrshire,
_Ashypet_, an adjective, or rather a substantive degraded to do
the dirty work of an adjective, 'one employed in the lowest kitchen
work'. See too the quotation, 'when I reached Mrs. Damask's house she
was gone to bed, and nobody to let me in, dripping wet as I was, but
an _ashypet_ lassy, that helps her for a servant.'--_Steamboat_,
p. 259. So again _Assiepet_, substantive 'a dirty little creature,
one that is constantly soiled with _ass_ or ashes'.


The Sagas contain many instances of Norsemen who sat thus idly over
the fire, and were thence called _Kolbitr_, _coalbiters_, but who
afterwards became mighty men.

Book of the day: