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ception, may be adduced as an exemplification of the fact; and even the sacred writings of the Old Testament contain occasional indications of a similar practice 16.
The operation of this principle, while it is sufficient to account for all the marvels of popular fiction, will also lead to the establishment of two conclusions: first, that wherever there may have been any resemblance in the objects calling it forth, the imagery produced will exhibit a corresponding similarity of character; and secondly, that a large proportion of the symbols thus brought into circulation, like the primitive roots in language, will be found recurring in almost every country, as a common property inherited by descent. In illustration of these conclusions, we need only refer to those local traditions of distant countries which profess to record the history of some unusual appearance on the surface of the soil", the peculiar character of a vegetable production, or the structure of a public monument. Whether in ancient Greece or modern Europe, every object of this kind that meets the traveller's eye is found to have a chronicle of its origin; the causes assigned for its existence, or its natural and artificial attributes, wear a common mythic garb; while in either country these narratives are so strikingly allied to the fictions of popular song, that it is sometimes difficult to decide whether the muse has supplied their substance, or been herself indebted to them for some of her most attractive incidents. A mound of earth becomes
16 See the fahle of the trees, Judges line of stones called the Nine Maids. Borix. 8.; of the thistle and the cedar, lase Ant. of Corn. p. 159. The Glas2 Chronicles xxv. 18.
tonbury thorn, which budded on Christ17 At the entrance of a cave near the mas day, was a dry hawthorn staff miplain of Marathon, Pausanias saw a raculously planted by St. Joseph. Colnumber of loose stones, which at a di. linson's Somersetshire, ii. p. 265. This stance resembled goats. The country- is a common miracle in the history of people called them Pan's Flock. (At- the Dionysic thyrsus. A myrtle at Troetica, 26.) A similar group on Marl- zene, whose leaves were full of holes, borough Down is still called the Gray was said to have been thus perforated by Wethers. A tuft of cypresses near Pso- Phædra in her moments of despair. phis, in Arcadia, was called the Virgins. (Paus. i. 22. See also ii. 28 and 32.) (Arcad. c. 24.) On the downs between Is There can be little doubt that the Wadebridge and St. Columb, there is a story of the Phæacian ship (Od. xiii. 163.)
the sepulchre of a favourite hero"; a pile of enormous stones, the easy labour of some gigantic craftsmen”; a single one, the stupendous instrument of daily exercise to a fabulous king"; the conformation of a rock, or a mark upon its surface, attests the anger or the presence of some divinity”; and the emblems and decorations of a monumental effigy must either be explained from the events of popular history, or perverted from
was taken from some local tradition near Inverness. Grant's Essays, &c. well known at the period. In the time vol. ii. p. 158. of Procopius it had become localized at 30 The Cyclops were the contrivers of the modern Cassopé; notwithstanding these works in ancient times, whose place an inscription explained the origin of the has been supplied by the Giants. See the votive structure to which it was attach- books relative to Stonehenge, Giant's ed. At the present day, a small island Causeway, &c. The Arabs have a tranear the harbour of Corfu, claims the dition, that Cleopatra's needle was once honour of being the original bark. In surrounded by seven others, which were the same way many incidents in the Ar. brought from mount Berym to Alexgonautica received a “ local habitation." andria, by seven giants of the tribe of According to Timonax, Jason and Me Aad. dea were married at Colchis, where the 9 The common people call a crombridal bed was shown. Timæus denied leach, near Lligwy in Anglesea, Coeten this, and referred to the nuptial altars at Arthur, or Arthur's Quoit. Jones's Cercyra. (Schol. in Apoll. Rhod. iv. Bardic Mus. p. 60. The general cha1217.) The earliest version of this fic- racter of the Homeric poems will justify tion may be supposed to have confirmed the conclusion, that a similar monument the Colchian tradition; but as the limits supplied the incident in the Odyssey, of the sphere of action became extended, viii. ver. 194. The Locrians showed an the later narratives of necessity embraced enormous stone before the door of Euother fables. Hence the Argonautic thymus, which he was said to have placed poems became for ancient geography and there by his own efforts. Ael. V. Hist. local tradition, what the syncretic statues viii. 18. of Cybele were for ancient symbols. 22 At mount Sipylus in Attica, there The passage in Apollonius, l. i. v. 1305. was a rock, which at some distance reis evidently taken from a local fiction, assembled a woman weeping; the inhait refers to the rocking-stones comme- bitants called it Niobe. (Paus. i. 21.) morating the event.
The footstep of Hercules was seen im19 In localizing these traditions, little printed on a rock near the river Tyra in regard is paid to the contending claims Scythia, Herod. iv. 82. In Cicero's of other districts. Several mounds are time the marks of the horses' hoofs of shown in various parts of Denmark, as Castor and Pollux were still shown as the graves of Vidrich Verlandsen, and a proof of their presence at the battle of as many of the giant Langbein. (Müller Regillus. De Nat. Deor. iü. 5. 11. 2. Saga Bibliothek, vol. ii. p. 224.) The iš The statue of Nemesis at Rhamnus residence of Habor and Signe, so cele. gave rise to a Grecian fable, that the brated in Danish song, has been appro- stone of which it was made had been priated in the same way; and has given brought to Marathon by the Persians, name to a variety of places. (Udvalgte for the purpose of erecting a victorious Danske Viser, vol. iii. p. 403.) Scottish trophy. (Paus. i. 33.) That it was a tradition has transferred the burial place mere fable, every practice of their eneof Thomas the Rhymer, from Ercel- mies clearly proves. down to a lomhan which rises in a plain
their original character to give some passage in it a locality*. It is thus too that the volcanic eruptions of Lydia, Sicily, Cilicia, and Bæotia, were respectively attributed to the agency of Typhon 25; that the purple tints upon certain flowers were said to have originated with the deaths of Ajax, Adonis and Hyacinthus; that the story of the man in the moon has found a circulation throughout the world, and that the clash of elements in the thunder-storm was ascribed in Hellas to the rolling chariot-wheels of Jove, and in Scandinavia to the ponderous waggon of the Norwegian Thor. The same general principle has likewise led to that community of ideas entertained by all mankind of the glories and felicities of the past. Every age
has been delighted to dwell with sentiments of admiration upon the memory of the “good old times;" they still continue to form a theme of fond and lavish applause; and the philosophic Agis had to console his desponding countryman with a remark which every man's experience has made familiar," that the fading virtues of later times were a cause of grief to his father Archidamus, who again had listened to the same regrets from his own venerable sire.” In this, indeed, the feelings and conduct of nations in their collective capacity, only present us with a counterpart to individual opinion. The sinking energies of increasing age, like the dimness of enfeebled vision, have a constant tendency to deprive passing events of their natural sharpness of outline, and the broader features of their character; and we learn to charge them with an indi. stinctness of form, and a sombre tameness of colouring, which only exists in the spectator's mind. The defects of our own impaired and waning organs become transferred to the changeless objects around us; and in proportion as the imagination recalls the impressions of earlier life, when the sense enjoyed
25 Schol. in Lycoph. v. 177. nyers' tomb in Gough's Camden, iii. * Hesychius in v. saxsoi porta.
" Plutarch. Apophtheg. Lacon. 17.
** See the account of sir John Co
the robust and healthy action of youth, the present is doomed to suffer by an unjust and degrading contrast. Thus also in the lengthened vista of popular tradition, every thing which is shrouded in the obscurity of a distant age, is made to partake of those physical and temporal advantages which the fancy has bestowed upon the reign of Saturn in Hesperia”s, or the joys of Asgard before the arrival of the gigantic visitants from Jotunheim". The qualities of the mind, and the properties of the body, are then supposed to share in the native vigour of a young creation; and those cherished objects of man's early wishes, extreme longevity and great corporeal strength, are believed to be the enviable lot of all30. Hence the fictions of every country have agreed in regarding an unusual extension of the thread of life as a mark of divine favour 1, and
See Diod. Sic. iji. 61. Compare for the extreme longevity of the early also Hesiod's account of the golden age. Egyptians ; of Hieronymus for that of Op. et Dies, v. 108, &c. The comic side the Phænicians; of Hesiod, Hecatæus, of the picture is to be found in Athæn. &c. for the Grecians; all of whom gave 1. vi. p. 267, &c. But the ancients always a thousand years to the life of man in had some distant country, where these the first periods of the world. Archæo. fancied blessings were still enjoyed. In log. i. 3. $ 9. For the same advanthe earlier periods, Æthiopia seems to tage enjoyed by the early Egyptian kings, have been the name ascribed to this land see Diod. Sic. i. 26, and compare Pliny's of promise (II. i. 428. Od. i. 22.); and account of the Arcadians and Ætolians, hence perhaps the flattering, though some of whom lived three hundred years. somewhat sobered, picture of its inha- Hist. Nat. vii. 43. The long-lived bitants given by Herodotus iii. c. 17–24. Æthiopians of Herodotus, who, be it reLater traditions place the scene in the membered, were the tallest and most country of the Hyperboræans, a people beautiful of mankind, usually lived 120 changing their locality from the northern years. Herod. iii. c. 17. 23. extremity of Asia to that of Europe, or s! At the siege of Troy the“ Pylian even the coast of Gaul (compare Diod. Sage" was living his third age.
II. i. 250, Sic. 2. c. 47 with Pomponius Mela, 3. A Lycian tradition had assigned to Sar. c. 5.), and to whom Strabo, on the au- pedon a life of three ages, as the favou. thority of Simonides and Pindar, has rite son of Jove. Apollod. Bibl. iii. 1, 2, given a life of a thousand years, lib. xv. Heyne, forgetful that we are here on p. 711. Another chain of fiction assigns mythic ground, wishes to follow Dioit to the isles of the West (Od. iv. 563), dorus, who attempts to give the narrative and from hence have sprung the descrip- an air of probability, by making two tions of Horace (Epod. xvi. 41), and Sarpedons, a grandsire and his grandPlutarch (in Vit. Sertor.). For similar son. Tiresias was said to have lived accounts of India see Ctesias ap. Wessel- seven ages, and Agatharchides more ing's Herod. p. 861. and Pliny vii. 2. than five. (Meurs. in Lycophr. v. 682.) * Edda of Snorro Dæmesaga, 12. Norna-Gest, as he lighted the candle
Josephus, after noticing the age of on which his existence depended, said Noah, cites the testimonies of Manetho he was three hundred years old. (Norpa
every national hero has been endowed with gigantic stature", and made to possess all those virtues which the common consent of mankind unites in considering so, or the ruder ethics of an earlier period have substituted for such.
With regard to those standing types of popular fiction, which have been compared to the roots of language, the history of their application in various periods of society displays the same frequent recurrence of certain primitive images, and the same series of ever-changing analysis and combination which mark the growth and progress of language itself. There will appear something fanciful perhaps in this comparison, yet the nearer we investigate it, the more we shall feel assured, that many of the laws which have governed the one are strictly analogous with those which have swayed the development of the other; and that, however much we may dispute as to the causes which have called forth these important phænomena of the mind, their subsequent regulation is considerably less equivocal. The mass of primitives in every language,
Gest Saga in Müller's Saga-Bib- Gowghther and Homer's account of liothek, vol. ii. p. 113.) Toke Tokesen Otus and Ephialtes, Od. 11. 308.) He was also fated to live two ages of man, was so tall, that when he walked through Ib. p. 117. and Hildebrand, the invin a field of ripe rye, the point of his sword cible champion and Mentor of Theo (which was seven spans long) might be doric, died aged 180 or 200 years. Ib. seen above the standing corn. (Muller, 278.
p. 61.) A hair of his horse's tail, which * The sandal of Perseus found at Gest shewed king Oluf, measured seven Chemnis was two cubits in length. ells. (Ib. p. 111.) Theodoric of Berne Herod. 2. c. 91. The footstep of Her was two ells broad between the shoulcules shown in Scythia, was of the same ders, tall as an Eten (giant), and size. Ib. 4. c. 82. ; though the more stronger than any man would believe sober traditions make his whole stature who had not seen him. (Wilkina-Saga, only four cubits and a foot. (Herod. c. 14.) The grave of Gawain was fourPonticus ad Lycophr. v. 663.) Lyco- teen feet long, the reputed stature of phron calls Achilles còr isvárnu, Cass. Little John. (Ritson.) Of Arthur, HigV. 860. The body of Orestes when den has said : “ Also have mynde that found measured seven cubits. (Herod. 1. Arthures chyn-bone that was thenne c. 68.) And for the large size of Ajax, (on the discovery of his body at GlasPelops and Theseus, see Paus. i. 35. tonbury) shewed, was lenger by thre v. 13. and Plut. in Vit. C. 36. A ynches than the legge and the knee of the Feroe song says of Sigurdr (the Siegfred lengest man, that was thenne founde. of the Nibelungen Lied), that he grew Also the face of his forhede, bytweene more in one month than others did in hys two eyen, was a spanne brode. twelve. (Compare the romance of Sir Trevisa's transl. f. 290. rec.