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THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
BISHOP PERCY's Edition of M. Mallet's “ Northern Antiquities” having been published at a period when the most important documents bearing on the subject were but imperfectly known, the present Editor has necessarily been obliged to revise the work throughout, and omit such portions as were founded on views obviously erroneous, or on authorities which the historical researches of the present age bave shown to be fallacious; while he has sought to render the whole more in accordance with these researches, by insertions in the body of the text*, and notes critical and explanatory t. Supplementary chapters have also been added, in which, as well as in the remarks on the Prose Edda, several questions that have given rise to learned discussions and conflicting theories have been carefully investigated, and, perhaps, in some instances, placed under a novel point of view.
In the prosecution of his laborious task, the Editor has made it an invariable rule to test the statements even of writers who are generally regarded as authoritative on the subject, by referring to the Eddas, the Sagas, and the Grágás, from which almost all the information we possess respecting Scandinavia in the olden time has been, either mediately or immediately, derived. In short, he has endeavoured, by unremitting attention and diligent research, to make this one of the most complete works on Northern Antiquities hitherto published. How far he may have succeeded will be for the reader to judge; who, he trusts, will bear in mind the quaint admonition “ of old Dan Geffry” that
“ For every word men may not chide or pleine
For in this world certain ne wight ther is
I. A. B.
London, August 16th, 1847.
* Distinguished by being placed within brackets.
+ These notes, when they do not refer to his own text, are distinguished by the letters ED.
BISHOP PERCY'S PREFACE.
The Author of the following work had a share in the education of that amiable Prince, Christian VII., king of Denmark. During his residence in the North, Mons. Mallet (who has all the talents of a fine writer) was engaged by the late king, Frederick V., to write a history of Denmark in the French language. By way of introduction to that history, he drew up these two prefatory volumes *, the merit of which has long been acknowledged in most parts of Europe.
Though intended only as a preliminary piece, it has all the merit of a complete independent work; and, except to the natives of Denmark, is much more interesting and entertaining than the history itself, which it was intended to precede. It very early engaged the attention of the present translator : whose reading having run somewhat in the same track with that of the author, made him fond of the subject, and tempted him to give in an English dress a work in which it was displayed with so much advantage. As he happened also to have many of the original books from which the French author had taken his materials, he flattered himself they would supply some illustrations, which might give an additional value to the version.
For this reason, as also to afford himself an agreeable amusement, the Translator some time ago undertook this work; but a series of unexpected avocations intervened, and it was thrown aside for several years. At length he was
* Bishop Percy's Translation of M. Mallet's work was published in 1770, in 2 vols. 8vo.
prevailed upon to resume it; and as many of his friends were so obliging as to share among them different parts of the translation, he had little more to do but to compare their performances with the original, and to superadd such remarks as occurred to him. These are distinguished from those of the author by the letter P.,
He was the rather invited to undertake this task, as he perceived the author had been drawn in to adopt an opinion that has been a great source of mistake and confusion to many learned writers of the ancient history of Europe; viz., that of supposing the ancient Gauls and Germans, the Britons and Saxons, to have been all originally one and the same people ; thus confounding the antiquities of the Gothic and Celtic nations. This crude opinion, which perhaps was first taken up by Cluverius*, and maintained by him with uncommon erudition, has been since incautiously adopted by Keyslert and Pelloutiers, the latter of whom has, with great diligence and skill, endeavoured to confirm it. In short, so much learning and ingenuity have scarcely ever been more perversely and erroneously applied, or brought to adorn and support a more groundless hypothesis. This mistake the translator thought might be easily corrected in the present work; and by weeding out this one error, he hoped he should obtain the author's pardon, and acquire some merit with the English reader.
And that it is an error he thinks will appear from the attentive consideration of a few particulars, which can here be only mentioned in brief: for to give the subject a thorough discussion, and to handle it in its full extent, would far exceed the limits of this short preface.
The ancient and original inhabitants of Europe, according to Cluverius and Pelloutier, consisted only of two distinct races of men, viz., the Celts and Sarmatians; and that from
* Philippi Cluveri Germaniæ Antiquæ Libri Tres, &c. Lugduni Batav. Apud Elzev. 1616, folio.
+ Antiquitates Selectæ Septentrionales et Celticæ, &c. Auctore Joh. Georgio Keysler, &c. Hannoveræ, 1720. 8vo.
I Histoire des Celtes, et particulièrement des Gaulois et des Germains, &c., par M. Simon Pelloutier. Haye, 1750. 2 tom. 12mo. This learned writer, who is a Protestant minister, counsellor of the Consistory, and librarian to the Academy at Berlin, is descended from a family originally of Languedoc, and was born at Leipsic, 27th October, 1694, O.S.