Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/359

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

European folk-lore. One is the story of Little Red Ridinghood, mutilated in the English nursery version, but known more perfectly by old wives in Germany, who can tell that the lovely little maid in her shining red satin cloak was swallowed with her grandmother by the Wolf, but they both came out safe and sound when the hunter cut open the sleeping beast. Any one who can fancy with prince Hal, 'the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta,' and can then imagine her swallowed up by Sköll, the Sun-devouring Wolf of Scandinavian mythology, may be inclined to class the tale of Little Red Ridinghood as a myth of sunset and sunrise. There is indeed another story in Grimm's Märchen, partly the same as this one, which we can hardly doubt to have a quaint touch of sun-myth in it. It is called the Wolf and Seven Kids, and tells of the Wolf swallowing the kids all but the youngest of the seven, who was hidden in the clock-case. As in Little Red Ridinghood, they cut open the Wolf and fill him with stones. This tale, which took its present shape since the invention of clocks, looks as though the tale-teller was thinking, not of real kids and wolf, but of days of the week swallowed by night, or how should he have hit upon such a fancy as that the wolf could not get at the youngest of the seven kids, because it was hidden (like to-day) in the clock case?[1]

It may be worth while to raise the question apropos of this nursery tale, does the peasant folk-lore of modern Europe really still display episodes of nature-myth, not as

  1. J. and W. Grimm, 'Kinder und Hausmärchen,' vol. i. pp. 26, 140; vol.iii. p. 15. [See ref. to these two stories, 'Early Hist, of M.' 1st ed. (1865) p. 338.] I find that Sir G. W. Cox, 'Mythology' (1870), vol. i. p. 358, had noticed the Wolf and Seven Kids as a myth of the days of the week (Note to 2nd ed.). For mentions of the wolf of darkness, see Hanusch, p. 192; Edda, 'Gylfaginning,' 12; Grimm, 'D. M.' pp. 224, 668. With the episode of the stones substituted compare the myth of Zeus and Kronos. For various other stories belonging to the group of the Man swallowed by the Monster, see Lucian, Historiæ Veræ I.; Hardy, 'Manual of Buddhism,' p. 501; Lane, 'Thousand and One Nights,' vol. iii. p. 104; Halliwell, 'Pop. Rhymes,' p. 98; 'Nursery Rhymes,' p. 48; 'Early Hist, of Mankind,' p. 337.