« ZurückWeiter »
On Christmas Eve it is reputed in some districts that cocks crow all night, and thus scare away
evil spirits for future days.
BRAND'S POPULAR ANTIQUITIES OF GREAT BRITAIN.
FAITHS AND FOLKLORE
NATIONAL BELIEFS, SUPERSTITIONS AND POPULAR
DESCRIBED AND ILLUSTRATED.
FORMING A NEW EDITION OF “ THE POPULAR ANTIQUITIES OF GREAT
FIRST ALPHABETICALLY ARRANGED.
og my ore.s,
It is very rarely indeed that a book on Popular Antiquities or any other analogous topic so commends itself to the public, and so maintains its rank and estimation, as to continue to be the recognised source of reference in successive editions during more than a century and a half.
The present work, from its first appearance under the auspices of the Rev. Henry Bourne in 1725, and under the title of Antiquitates Vulgares, has so largely and essentially partaken of the anecdotal character, and so much depends on detail, not only for the confirmation of statements, but for the maintenance of interest, that an Editor, whatever he may do in the withdrawal of positive redundancies, is scarcely able to emulate the judicial conciseness of Buckle in his History of Civilization the rhetorical and imposing periods of Macaulay. A compiler of a picture of Ancient Manners and Opinions on a documentary and lexicographical principle or basis, besides a bare statement of facts, has, as it were, to call witnesses, and record their depositions for the benefit of the reader. His personal views and experience are apt to be of service in chief measure in the choice of authorities and in the arrangement of evidence. Much of the charm in a book of the present class must necessarily lie in more or less copious and varied illustration, and its value and use would be impaired by lending to it the character of a summary or digest. The reader in this case prefers to form his own conclusions, and to linger over descriptive passages.
JOHN BRAND, as Secretary to the London Society of Antiquaries, and as a zealous collector of old and curious books during a long series of years, while such things remained within the reach of persons of moderate resources, enjoyed the opportunity of selecting extracts illustrative of the subject, which he had made his own in the character of successor to the author of Antiquitates Vulgares; and so far as an amplified republication of Bourne went, he lived to bring out in 1777 more complete edition, yet on the same narrow and imperfect lines. During the latter years of his life, however, he proceeded to accumulate material for an undertaking on a larger and
comprehensive scale, and at the time of his death
possession of a large body of MSS. collectanea of unequal value, eventually secured by a firm of publishers, and placed for editorial purposes in the hands of Sir Henry Ellis, of the British Museum. Ellis found, no doubt, amid the pressure of official work, considerable difficulty in reducing the whole to anything like method and form; but he accomplished what he could, and presented the world with the result in two large quarto volumes in 1813.
When I in 1869 entered on an examination of this text, I was disposed to exercise a free hand in every way; but I remember that I was dissuaded from going so far as my own feeling prompted me by the idea on the part of some of my advisers that to interfere with the work of such eminent antiquaries too drastically was little less than sacrilege. I have only once regretted the course, which I actually took thirty-five years ago—and that is ever since.
As material Brand's extracts had, and have, their undoubted worth, nor is the text of Ellis much more than rough copy; but it was found requisite on the former occasion to rearrange and collate the whole, and in once more re-editing the volumes on a new principle certain matter, from the discovery of better information and other causes, proved superfluous or undesirable.