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I trust that nothing will be found in this volume which is fairly open to objection on the score of principle, or which may be thought to countenance a questionable morality. Certainly it has been my aim scrupulously to avoid this; and remembering, as I did all along, that I was compiling a book which would be read in my own family, as well as in other domestic circles, I cannot think that I have greatly erred in this respect. To say the truth, the experience I have necessarily gained, by searching the existing stores of legendary romance, has convinced me that there really was need of caution and judgment in the task of selection. I found, on careful perusal, that the common versions of many of our popular tales were not free from disfiguring passages, while in others, the whole texture was objectionable. The former I have endeavoured to purify; the latter have been unsparingly rejected, though, in some instances, certainly with a shade of regret, arising from their amusing cleverness. For instance, I may mention the adventures of “Ho glass,” which, diverting and witty as they are, are in most cases neither more nor less than the successful tricks of a clever scoundrel, who told falsehoods by the dozen, and cozened every unfortunate being who came in his way. Again, of the same class there is the common story of the giant and the tailor. The latter is more than a match for the former, to be sure (and it is amusing enough to see how he outwits him), but it is hardly the kind of reading with which we should entrust a child whom we wished to bring up in habits of truthfulness.

Having said thus much, it must not be inferred by certain grave ple that every story in this book contains direct lesson of instruction. It does not profess to be more than a Book of recreation, and, in many cases, of mirthful recreation, too; so that whenever a well-told story has been found conducive to this end, it has been inserted; the only care being, that, if any moral is deducible, it should not be a bad one. While, therefore, too much must not be expected, I believe it will, nevertheless, be found that in many of the tales valuable lessons really are conveyed with more or less clearness; while in others, a beautiful and instructive allegory may, with very little pains, be detected. Occasionally a hint has been given as to the lesson which may be drawn; but this has been done very sparingly. There cannot, I conceive, be a greater error than that of loading Fables and Allegories with what are called “morals.” A very slight hint should serve; and where the young are properly taught to exercise their ingenuity, even this is hardly ever necessary.*

Some there are, doubtless, and those, too, highly-estimable people, who will despise such a work as the present, and who will demur to the propriety of supplying the imagination of the young with such food. With persons who take this view, this is not the place to argue. I can only lament (in common, too, with many wiser heads than my own) what I must consider a defect in their perceptions. Those matter-of-fact people, who in their fancied wisdom would deprive the young of an occasional ramble through the enchanting fields of fiction and romance, little know how useful an auxiliary they forego. Certainly they neglect one of the best means by which the youthful mind may be unstrung after the pressure of every-day occupations ;—for surely to carry the mind for a time out of the scenes and associations of common life, into the region of the marvellous and mysterious, must lead to a most salutary reaction ;-while they also overlook the fact, that there are faculties in our nature which, if they are to be healthily exercised, really require such a provision as is furnished by our household stories and rhymes, with all their diverting and laughter-exciting propensities.

* Those who wish to see this system carried to the climax of wearisome absurdity, have only to look at the common school editions of Croxall's Fables of Æsop.

Nor must it be forgotten, that in order to cultivate the reason, which is conversant with the highest truths, and because highest, therefore spiritual, we must early train and strengthen a child's mind hy habitually exercising it with the contemplation of the wild and the unearthly. Wonder and awe being natural to us, or, to speak more religiously, being God's gifts, we do violence to our better part by confining the mind to what is only visible and tangible. The true idea indeed, of the Churchman's character, in its completeness and perfection, seems to comprise much of the poetical, the romantic, and the imaginative ; and those who are deficient in those qualities, (or who, instead of cultivating, strive rather to smother them,) however correct their views may be, and however they may act upon these views, as a matter of duty, must assuredly suffer a serious loss, both as respects themselves, and their influence upon others. But it is be hoped that a larger and kindlier spirit is springing* up, and I doubt not that, as sound and generous principles continue to spread, and to leaven the minds of our people, the old-fashioned notions on this head will come round again, too; and then the department to which this little book belongs, will not be denied its place among others of a higher and more important kind.

To return once more to the present compilation, I must bespeak indulgence for the heterogeneous manner in which its materials are put together, and for what will be thought by many, the strange jumble of subjects and styles which it displays. Child's Fairy Tales-Ancient Traditions of the North –Irish Legends—Tales of Chivalry-Popular Household Stories, as told at the firesides of England, Germany, Scotland—all will he found mingled together without any pretension to arrangement. This want of method, however, from circumstances could not be helped, and, upon consideration, I am not sure that it has not its counterbalancing advantages. Had I attempted a classification, I should probably have deprived the book of what, to some of its readers at least, will be a recommendation, viz. the novelty produced by the varied character of the different tales. Architects tell us, that walls built with squared stones, where the lines run in unvarying symmetry, are deficient in true pictorial effect: and a formal arrangement were, perhaps, inconsistent with the main idea of this publication, which (however humbly) seeks rather the wild variety of a natural landscape than the true propriety of the cultivated pasture.

* I am glad to see my views supported by so judicious a writer as Mr. Gresley. See his “Church Clavering," chap. xi.

The notes which occur here and there as introductions or postscripts to the stories, were intended to aid in throwing light upon the various points of popular belief involved in these legends; but I fear they will very inadequately serve their purpose.* In a book of this kind, it was difficult to give any clear explanation, without overstepping the proper limits; and it was not, of course, the place for a regular treatise on the subject. Those, therefore, who may wish for fuller information, must consult other sources, especially the invaluable “ Deutsche Mythologie,” of the Messrs. Grimm, from whose various publications so many of the tales in this collection have been translated. The work alluded to gives a learned and interesting account of the way in which the Christian faith supplanted heathenism in the various countries of Christendom, the hold which, in many points, the ancient belief still maintained, (for the most part innocently, *) on the popular mind, and the vestiges of those notions which have survived to our own day; while the comparison of these traditions, as they exist in different regions, supply an unequalled fund of information and entertainment. Mr. Keightley's volumes also, (to which I have elsewhere expressed my obligations,) with Messrs. Chambers’s “ Rhymes, &c. of Scotland,” and Mr. T. C. Croker's “ Irish Legends,” will be found well deserving of perusal.

* These were, in fact, thrown in without plan, as the stories occurred; and in the same way other slight illustrations will be found in a companion volume to the present, entitled, “Traditions and Legendary Tales.”


* It is to be doubted whether, in many respects, we have not lost as well as gained by the boasted march of civilization. In former times, with the mixture of the old superstition here alluded to, there was, at the same time, a more real belief in supernatural things than we find among our people now. An invisible agency, for good and evil, was then a point of belief, and in many cases, an influential one; now we have too generally a habit of careless scepticism-a worse evil, surely, than the simplicity and credulousness ormer times.

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