The Northern Way


Vol. 4 Preface


This Volume, answering to Vol. III. of the last German edition, consists of two parts, a Supplement and an Appendix.

The Supplement is the characteristic --- as it is the only strictly new --- part of this Fourth Edition of Grimm's Mythology. After his Second Edition of 1844, which was a great advance upon the First, the Author never found time to utilize any of the new matter he collected by working it into the Text; his Third Edition of 1854 was a mere reprint of the Second; so that the stores he kept on accumulating till his death, and the new views often founded on them and on the researches of younger investigators –-- Kuhn, Müllenhoff, Panzer, Mannhardt, etc. --- all lay buried in the MS. Notes that covered the wide margin of his private copy, as well as in many loose sheets. On the death of Grimm, his Heirs entrusted the task of bringing out a Fourth Edition to Prof. Elard Hugo Meyer, of Berlin, leaving him at liberty to incorporate the posthumous material in the Text or not, as he chose. The Professor, fearing that if once he began incorporating he might do too much, and instead of pure Grimm, might make a compound Grimm and Meyer concern of it, wisely contented himself with the humbler duty of keeping it in the form of Supplementary Notes, verifying authorities where he could, and supplying References to the parts of the Text which it illustrates.

As the Supplement hardly amounted to a volume, the Professor hit upon the happy thought of reprinting with it an Appendix which Grimm had published to his First Edition, but had never republished, probably thinking it had done its work, and perhaps half ashamed of its humble character. Yet it is one of the most valuable parts of the work, and much the most amusing. It falls into three unequal portions: I. Anglo-Saxon Genealogies. II. Superstitions. III. Spells. Of the short treatise (30 pp.) on the eight royal lines of our Octarchy, their common descent from Wôden, and their points of connexion with Continental tradition, I will say nothing. The bulk of the Appendix (112 pp.) is taken up with the Superstitions. After a number of extracts from Medieval authors, extending from A.D. 600 to 1450, we have a vast array of Modern Superstitions (the German part alone has 1142 articles), mostly taken down from the lips of the common people all over Europe, in the simple language of the class, the "rude Doric" which our polite grandfathers used to apologize for printing, but which in these days of Folklore is, I am told, the very thing that goes down. The Author's view of Superstition, that it is a survival, the debased wrecks and remnants of a once dominant Religion, of course inclines him to trace these superstitions, as far as possible, to the Old Faith of the Teutonic nations, of which we have still such a splendid specimen in the Icelandic Edda. --- The Appendix winds up with 57 old Spells in various languages.

The Translator

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