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complains of a smell of Christian blood, and is always answered by the formula, that a crow flew over the chimney and must have dropped a bone down it; the hero almost always meets three old women, or three Trolls, or three enchanted beasts or birds, of whom he in that case always asks the same questions, receiving the same replies, verbatim. There is a reason for this sameness, which is indicative of the rude condition of the people among whom the tales have been perpetuated; but the sameness palls none the less upon more cultivated minds. Mr. Dasent characterizes these people as "an honest and manly race.-not the race of the towns and cities, but of the dales and fells, free and unsubdued, holding its own in a country where there are neither lords nor ladies, but simple men and women. Brave men and fair women," etc. (p. lxviii.) And he says of the tales, that in no other collection is "the general tone so chaste, are the great principles of morality better worked out, and right and wrong kept so steadily in sight." (p. lxii.) We cannot agree with him in this appreciation of the moral tone of the stories, many of which certainly speak ill for the honesty and manliness of the race among which they have been for centuries cherished household-treasures. For in a large proportion of those that have a successful hero, he obtains his success either by lying or some kind of deceit or treachery, by stealing, or by imposing upon the credulity or feebleness of age; and of those in which the hero is himself victorious over oppression, we are not able to recollect one which exhibits the beauty of moderation and magnanimity, not to say of Christian charity and forgiveness. Mr. Dasent mentions it as an admirable trait of the tales, that, "in the midst of every difficulty and danger, arises that old Norse feeling of making the best of everything and keeping a good face to the foe." Certainly the heroes of these tales do make the best of everything, but they are not at all scrupulous as to their way of making it; and they do also keep a good face to the foe, when (often by craft, theft, or violence) they have obtained some implement or other gift of supernatural power which places their opponents entirely at their mercy and with no risk to themselves. But of a manful contest on equal terms, or of a victory obtained over tyran
nous power by a union of patience, boldness, and honest skill, or even by undegrading stratagem, the collection affords no instance that we remember.
The story of Shortshanks may be taken as a fair, and even a favorable example of the tone of these Norse tales. Shortshanks and King Sturdy are twin brothers, who set out to seek their fortunes within a few minutes of their birth, driven thereto by a precocious perception of the res angustæ domi. They part at two roads almost immediately, and the story follows the fortunes of Shortshanks, the younger; for in these miniature romances the elder is, as usual, continually snubbed, and the younger is always the great man. Shortshanks has not gone far before he meets "an old crook-backed hag," who has only one eye; and he commences his career by gouging out or "snapping up" the single comfort of this helpless creature. To get her eye back again, she gives Shortshanks a sword that will put a whole army to flight; and he, charmed with the result of his first manœuvre, puts it in practice successively upon two other decrepit, half-blind women, who, to get their eyes again, give him, one, a ship that can sail over fresh water and salt water and over high hills and deep dales, the other, the art how to brew a hundred lasts of malt at one strike. The ship takes him to the king's palace, on arriving at which he puts his vessel in his pocket, when he summons his craft to his aid, and gets a place in the king's kitchen to carry wood and water for the maid. The king's daughter has for some inscrutable reason been promised to three ogres, who come successively to fetch her; and a certain Ritter Red professes to be man enough to rescue her, but on the approach of the first ogre proves to be a coward and climbs a tree. But Shortshanks slips off from his scullery; and having a weapon which can put a whole army to flight by a single stroke, he is very brave, and keeps a remarkably good face to the foe, giving him with his tongue as good as he sends, and, laughing the ogres' clubs to scorn, cuts off the grous heads, (there are five on the first individual, ten on the second, and fifteen on the third,) and carries off much treasure from the ships in which his foes came to fetch their victim. Ritter Red descends,
and takes the lungs and the tongues of the ogres, (though, as the latter were thirty in number and of gigantic size, he must have had trouble in carrying them,) and wishes to pass them off as evidence that he is the deliverer of the princess, of which they would seem to have been very satisfactory proof: but the gold, silver, and diamonds carry the day; Shortshanks has the princess and half the kingdom, and Ritter Red is thrown into a pit full of snakes, -on the French general's principle, we suppose, who hung his cowards "pour encourager les autres." But the king has another daughter, whom an ogre has carried off to the bottom of the sea. Shortshanks discovers her while the ogre is out looking for a man who can brew a hundred lasts of malt at one strike. He finds the man at home, of course, and puts him to his task. Shortshanks gets the ogre and all his kith and kin to help the brew, and brews the wort so strong, that, on tasting it, they all fall down dead, except one, an old woman, "who lay bedridden in the chimney-corner," and to her our hero carries his wort and kills her too. He then carries off the treasure of the ogres, and gives this princess and the other half of the kingdom to his brother Sturdy.
Now we have no particular fault to find with such stories as these, when they are produced as characteristic specimens of the folk-lore of a people; as such, they have a value beside their intrinsic interest;- but when we are asked to receive them as part of the evidence that that people is an honest and manly race, and as an acceptable addition to our stock of household tales, we demur. The truth is, that the very worth of these tales is to be found not only in the fact that they form a part of the stock from which our own are derived, but in the other fact that they represent that stock as it existed at an earlier and ruder stage of humanitarian development. They were told by savage mothers to savage children; and although some of them teach the few virtues common to barbarism and civilization, they are filled with the glorification of savage vice and crime; - deceit, theft, violence, even ruthless vengeance upon a cruel parent, are constantly practised by the characters which they hold up to favor. Such humor as they have, too, is of the coarsest kind, and is expressed chiefly in
rude practical jokes, or the bloody overreaching of the poor thick-headed Trolls, who are the butts of the stories and the victims of their heroes. There is good ethnological and mythological reason why the Trolls should be butts and victims, it is true; but that is not to the present purpose.
But although this judgment must be passed upon the collection, considered merely as tales to be told and read at this stage of the world's progress, there are several notable exceptions to it,- tales which are based upon healthy instincts, and which appeal to sympathies that are never entirely undeveloped in the breasts of human beings above the grade of Bushmen, or in which the fun does not depend upon the exhibition of unexpected modes of inflicting death, pain, or discomfort. It is not, however, in these that we are to look for the chief attraction and compensating value of the collection. Those are to be found, as we have already hinted, in the relative aspects of the tales, which the general reader might consider for a long time fruitlessly, save for the help of Mr. Dasent's Introductory Essay. This is at once an acute and learned commentary upon the tales themselves, and a thoroughly elaborated monograph upon mythology in its ethnological relations. We know no other essay upon this subject that is so comprehensive, so compact, so clear, and so well adapted to interest intelligent readers who have little previous knowledge on the subject, as Mr. Dasent's, although, of necessity, it presents us with results, not processes. A perusal of this Essay will give the intelligent and attentive reader so just a general notion of the last results of philological and ethnological investigation into the history of the origin and progress of the Indo-European races, that he can listen with understanding to the conversation of men who have made that subject their special study, and appreciate, in a measure at least, the value of the many references to it which he meets in the course of his miscellaneous reading. And should he be led by the contagion of Mr. Dasent's intelligent enthusiasm to desire a more intimate acquaintance with a topic which rarely fails to fascinate those whose tastes lead them to enter at all upon it, he may start from this Essay with hints as to
the plan and purpose of his reading which will save him much otherwise blind and fruitless labor.
This, however, is not all. It is but right also to say that the readers whose religion is one of extreme orthodoxy, that is, who deem it their bounden duty to believe exactly and literally as somebody else believed before them,- such readers will find their orthodoxy often shocked by the tales which Mr. Dasent has translated, and yet oftener and more violently by conclusions which Mr. Dasent draws from a comparison of these stories with others that bear the same relation to other races which these do to the Norsemen. The man who believes that Hell is a particular part of the universe, filled with flames and melted brimstone, into which actual devils, with horns, hoofs, and tails, dip, or are to dip, wicked people, whom, for greater convenience, they have previously perforated with three-tined pitchforks,-such a man will be puzzled by the story, "Why the Sea is Salt," and horrified with this comment in Mr. Dasent's Essay:
"The North had its own notion on this point. Its mythology was not without its own dark powers; but though they, too, were ejected and dispossessed, they, according to that mythology, had rights of their own. Το them belonged all the universe that had not been seized and reclaimed by the younger race of Odin and Esir; and though this upstart dynasty, as the Frost-Giants in Eschylean phrase would have called it, well knew that Hel, one of this giant progeny, was fated to do them all mischief, and to outlive them, they took her and made her queen of Niflheim, and mistress over nine worlds. There, in a bitterly cold place, she received the souls of all who died of sickness or old age; care was her bed, hunger her dish, starvation her knife. Her walls were high and strong, and her bolts and bars huge. Ha'f blue was her skin, and half the color of human flesh. A goddess easy to know, and in all things very stern and grim.' But though severe, she was not an evil spirit. She only received those who died as no Norseman wished to die. For those who fell on the gory battle-field, or sank beneath the waves, Valhalla was prepared, and endless mirth and bliss with Odin. Those went to Hel who were rather unfortunate than wicked, who died before they could be killed. But when Christianity came in and ejected Odin and his crew of false divinities, declaring them to be lying gods and demons, then Hel fell with the rest,-but, fulfilling her
fate, outlived them. From a person she became a place; and all the Northern nations, from the Goth to the Norseman, agreed in believing Hell to be the abode of the Devil and his wicked spirits, the place prepared from the beginning for the everlasting torments of the damned. One curious fact connected with this explanation of Hell's origin will not escape the reader's attention. The Christian notion of Hell is that of a place of heat; for in the East, whence Christianity came, heat is often an intolerable torment,- and cold, on the other hand, everything that is pleasant and delightful. But to the dweller in the North heat brings with it sensations of joy and comfort, and life without fire has a dreary outlook; so their Hel ruled in a cold region, over those who were cowards by implication, - while the mead-cup went round, and huge logs blazed and crackled, for the brave and beautiful who had dared to die on the field of battle. But under Christianity the extremes of heat and cold have met, and Hel, the cold, uncomfortable goddess, is now our Hell, where flames and fires abound, and where the devils abide in everlasting flame."
Still more will orthodoxy be shocked by Mr. Dasent's neglect to except Christianity from the conclusion, (no new one, it need hardly be said, to those who know anything of the subject,) that the mythologies or personal histories of all religions have been evolved the one from the other, or grafted the one upon the other,—and by his intimation, that Christianity, keeping pure in its spirit and undiverted from its purpose, has yet not hesitated to adapt its outward forms to the tough popular traditions which it found deeply rooted in the soil where it sought to grow, thus making itself "all things to all men, that it might by all means save some."
It will be seen that this book is not milk for babes, but meat for strong men. Among the tales are some-and those, perhaps, the most interesting-which Mr. Dasent justly characterizes as "intensely heathen," and yet in which the Saviour of the world or his apostles appear as interlocutors or actors, which alone unfits the volume for the book-table of the household room. We are led to insist upon this trait of the collection the more, because the translator's choice of language often seems to be the result of a desire to adapt himself to very youthful readers,though why should even they be led to believe that such phrases as the following
are correct by seeing them in print? "Tore it up like nothing"; "ran away like anything"; "it was no good” [i. e. of no use]; "in all my born days"; "after a bit" [i. e. a little while]; "she had to let him in, and when he was, he lay," etc.; "the Giant got up cruelly early." These, and others like them, are profusely scattered through the tales, apparently from the mistaken notion that they have some idiomatic force. They jar upon the ear of the reader who comes to them from Mr. Dasent's admirably written Introductory Essay.
The book is one which we can heartily recommend to all who are interested in popular traditions for their own sake, or in their ethnological relations.
Love. From the French of M. J. Michelet. Translated from the Fourth Paris Edition, by J. W. PALMER, M.D., Author of "The New and The Old," "Up and Down the Irawaddi," etc.
M. MICHELET perhaps longs, like Anacreon, to tell the story of the Atrides and of Cadmus, but here we find him singing only of Love. It is a surprise to us that the historian should have chosen this subject; the book itself is another surprise. It starts from a few facts which it borrows from science, and out of them it builds a poem, -a drama in five acts called Books, to disguise them. Two characters figure chiefly on the stage,-a husband and a wife. The unity of time is not very strictly kept, for the pair are traced from youth to age, and even beyond their mortal years. Moral reflections and occasional rhapsodies are wreathed about this physiological and psychological lovedrama.
Here, then, is a book with the most taking word in the language for its title, and one of the most distinguished personages in contemporary literature for its author. It has been extensively read in France, and is attracting general notice in this country. Opinions are divided among us concerning it; it is extravagantly praised, and hastily condemned.
On the whole, the book is destined, we believe, to do much more good than harm. Admit all its high-flown sentimentalism to be half-unconscious affectation, such as we
pardon in writers of the Great Nation,admit that the author is wild and fanciful in many of his statements, that he talks of a state of society of which it has been said that the law is that a man shall hate his neighbor and love his neighbor's wife, -admit all this and what lesser faults may be added to them, its great lessons are on the side of humanity, and especially of justice to woman, founded on a study of her organic and spiritual limitations.
Woman is an invalid. This is the first axiom, out of which flow the precepts of care, bodily and mental. of tenderness, of consideration, with which the book abounds. To show this, M. Michelet has recourse to the investigations of the phys iologists who during the present century have studied the special conditions which according to the old axiom make woman what she is. As nothing short of this can by any possibility enable us to understand the feminine nature, we must not find fault with some details not commonly thought adapted to the general reader. They are given delicately, but they are given, and suggest a certain reserve in introducing the book to the reading classes.
Not only is woman an invalid, but the rhythmic character of her life," as if scanned by Nature," is an element not to be neglected without total failure to read her in health and in disease. There is a great deal relating to this matter, some of it seeming fanciful and overwrought, but not more so than the natures of many women. For woman herself is an hyperbole, and the plainest statement of her condition is a figure of speech. Some of those chapters that are written, as we might say, in hysteric paragraphs, only more fitly express the extravagances which belong to the nervous movements of the woman's nature.
The husband must create the wife. Much of the book is taken up with the precepts by which this new birth of the woman is to be brought about. M. Michelet's "entire affection "hateth those "nicer hands" which would refuse any, even the humblest offices. The husband should be at once nurse and physician. He should regulate the food of the body, and measure out the doses of mental nourishment. All this is kind and good and affectionate; but there is just a suspicion excited that Ma
dame might become slightly ennuyée, if she were subjected to this minute surveillance over her physical and spiritual hygiene. Everything must depend on individual tendencies and aptitudes; we have known husbands that were born for nurses,-and others, not less affectionate, that worried more than they helped in that capacity. We cannot follow M. Michelet through his study of the reaction of the characters of the husband and wife upon each other, of the influence of maternity on conjugal relations, of the languishing of love and its rejuvenescence. Still less can we do more than remotely allude to those chapters in which his model woman is represented as ready on the slightest occasion to prove the name of her sex synonymous with frailty. We really do not know what to make of such things. The cool calculations of temptation as certain, and failure as probable,-the serious advice not to strike a wife under any circumstances, --such words have literally no meaning to most of our own American readers. Our women are educated to self-reliance,— and our men are, at least, too busy for the trade of tempters.
In a word, this book was written for French people, and is adjusted to the meridian of Paris. We must remember this always in reading it, and also remember that a Frenchman does not think English any more than he talks it. We sometimes flatter ourselves with the idea that we as a people are original in our tendency to extravagance of thought and language. It is a conceit of ours. Remember Sterne's perruquier.
"You may immerge it,' replied he, ‘into the ocean, and it will stand.'
"What a great scale is everything upon, in this city!' thought I. The utmost stretch of an English periwig-maker's ideas could have gone no farther than to have dipped it into a pail of water.'"
How much such experiences as the following amount to we must leave to the ecclesiastical bodies to settle.
"The Church is openly against her, [woman,] owing her a grudge for the sin of Eve."
"It is very easy for us, educated in the religion of the indulgent God of Nature, to look our common destiny in the face. But she, impressed with the dogma of
eternal punishment, though she may have received other ideas from you, still, in her suffering and debility, has painful foreshadowings of the future state."
But here are physiological statements which we take the liberty to question on our own responsibility.
"A French girl of fifteen is as mature as an English one of eighteen." What will Mr. Roberton of Manchester, who has exploded so many of our fancies about the women of the East, say to this?
"A wound, for which the German woman would require surgical aid, in the French woman cures itself." We must say of such an unproved assertion as the French General said of the charge at Balaklava,-C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la❞— médecine.
'Generally, she [woman] is sick from love, man, from indigestion." What a pity Nature never makes such pretty epigrams with her facts as wits do with their words!
We have enough, too, of that self-assertion which Carlyle and Ruskin and some of our clerical neighbors have made us familiar with, and which gives flavor to a work of genius. "I was worth more than my writings, more than my discourses. I brought to this teaching of philosophy and history a soul as yet entire, a great freshness of mind, under forms often subtle,-a true simplicity of heart," etc.
M. Michelet does not undervalue the importance of his work. He thinks he has ruined the dancing gardens by the startling revelations respecting woman contained in his book. He announces a still greater triumph:-"I believe I have effectually suppressed old women. They will no longer be met with." M. Michelet has not seen the columns of some of our weekly newspapers.
These are scales from the husk of bis book, which, with all its fantasies, is a generous plea for woman. Wise persons may safely read it, though they be not Parisians.
The translation is, and is generally considered, excellent. We notice two errors, -Jerres, instead of Serres,—and would, for should, after the Scotch and Southern provincial fashion;- with some questionable words, as reliable, for which we have Sir Robert Peel's authority, which cannot