Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/216

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


2o6 Collectanea.

to the river to save liimself. When the people heard what had happened they ran after him trying to catch him, but no sooner did they get into the water than they could not move, for the water had filled the sponge-like web. He waded through the water till he reached the mouth of the river, where he found the trunk of a wonderful cedar tree in the water. He mounted it, and he was carried by the waves until he came to Egypt. There he sold that log for a large sum of money, and with that money- he was able to reach safely his own country, where he related to his friends the adventures which had befallen him, and the miraculous way in which he had been saved by God. We have here thus a combination of the story of Polyphemus, with the difference that the cannibals are half human and half dog. They have not one eye but three eyes, and their sponge-like feet also differentiated them from the captors of Ulysses. The story resembles, on the other hand, more closely that of Sinbad in the Arabian Nights. A similar story — another sailor's yarn — had also been brought from East to West already some centuries before by the mysterious Eldad the Danite, an old counterpart of Sir Robert Mandeville. He pretended to have come from the lost ten tribes and from the descendants of Moses, and told that story to his hearers in Kalruan in North Africa in the ninth century.

Here we have an example of how these tales have travelled by way of mouth, for Judah Hadasi, the author of the book, states that he heard these stories from the men themselves, the one who had been among the pigmies and the other who had escaped from the dog-men. As already remarked before, they were in sooth popular tales current among sailors of the Levant, and probably- carried by them westwards to Venice, Spain, and the northern parts of Europe, and in this manner the story of " Gulliver and the Lilliputians " may have reached England in one form or another either by the sailors or by the Crusaders, and Swift got hold of it and wrote his classical book.

M. Gaster.