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EARLY ENGLISH WRITERS
TO WHICH ARE PREFIXED
TWO PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS
i. On Pigmies
BY JOSEPH RITSON
HPHE subject of Fairy Mythology is one which of late years has attracted a good deal of attention both here and on the Continent. German scholarship has added much to our knowledge of this peculiarly interesting branch of folk-lore, and their labours have, in some cases, found English translators. A recent writer in the Quarterly Review was, I believe, the first to put in print, what many must have felt, that, in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream," the fairies were the most important persons of 1 the drama.
Two scarce books are here amalgamated, and made accessible to the student. Ritson's Fairy Tales, 1831, contains matter not in Halliwell's Illustrations of the Fairy Mythology of a Midsummer-Night's Dream, 1845, and Mr Halliwell's work has matter not found in Ritson. The present republication forms a union of the two, with certain additions and corrections.
I have to thank Mr Halliwell for the permission which he gave me to make what use I pleased of his volume.
W. C. HAZLITT.
Kensington, November 1874.
THE existence of a little nation of diminutive people engaged in almost continual wars with the cranes, is an opinion of such high antiquity as to be coeval with the rudiments of the heathen mythology. Homer, who flourished 907 years before the vulgar era, is universally admitted to be the earliest poet whose works remain, and though totally blind and unable either to read or write (no written characters being known to the Greeks till many centuries after his time), he had recourse to his invention, and with a harp in his hand, went about various countries, singing and playing, as a bard or rhapsodist, and was well rewarded for his poetical effusions, which being fabulous stories, of his own composition, of gods, heroes, wars, battles, sieges, voyages, adventures, and miracles, altogether incredible and impossible, and of persons, things, cities, and countries which never existed but in his fertile invention and ingenious fabrication, [and with] which every one who heard him was delighted; and in process of time, four or five centuries