Nevertheless, the four volumes together form a monument to the enthusiasm and industry of the editors.
The intention of this collection is to give in a convenient form the materials for the early history of the Icelandic commonwealth, these being gathered from Sagas, Laws, Bishops' Lives, and the other known historical sources, in the possession of which Iceland is so rich. The story of the discovery and settlement are followed by early laws and customs, the conversion of the colony, and its church history ; the second volume contains selections from the Sagas, bearing on the history of the four quarters during the heathen time, and tales of the explorations further west. Readers who object, on the score of literary form, to the treatment of the Sagas in this section, must remember that they are dealt with as documents, only those parts being chosen which suit the purpose of the work.
The most important documents for the early history of Iceland are of course LaJidndjnabbk and the Libellus, which, together with some genealogies from the Sagas and the account of the settlement of Thorsness from Eyrbyggja, make up the first division. Landndma has an interest beyond its genealogical value in the occasional notes of old superstitions and heathen customs which are scattered through it. There is mention of sacrifice to the dead in the case of Thorstein Scrofi, to whom sacrifice was made after death " because of his popularity " ; of human sacrifices to Thor at Thorsness ; and of some interesting burial survivals, such as the laying of Asmund Atlason in a boat in the howe, with a thrall " who slew himself and would not live after Asmund." A superstition which long survived appears in the story of Grim Ingialdsson, who pulled up a merman while he was fishing, and was drowned " ere spring came " ; and another incident which breaks the monotony of genealogy is that of the troll whom Einar Sigmundsson saw sitting on a cliff, and dashing his heels together in the surf in order to make the spray rise.
The section on " Primitive Laws and Customs " is not exhaus- tive so far as the Saga-material is concerned ; some customs and beliefs omitted here are given later where they occur in the longer Saga extracts in the second volume, though many of the sorceries