Of late years the ancient superstitions of the people, their legendary tales, their proverbial sayings, and, in fine, all that is designated by the comprehensive term of "Folk-Lore," have attracted much and deserved attention. Puerile as are many of these subjects, they become interesting when a comparison is instituted amongst them as they exist in various countries. It is then seen how wide is their spread-how, for example, the same incident in a fairy tale, modified according to the manners and customs of the people by whom it is related, extends from the remotest east to the westernmost confines of Europe, and is even found occasionally to re-appear among the wild tribes of the American Continent, and the isolated inhabitants of Polynesia. The ethnologist may find in this an argument for the common origin of all nations, and their gradual spread from one central point,-the philosopher and psychologist may speculate on the wonderful construction of the human mind, and, throwing aside the idea of the unity of the race, may attribute the similarities of tradition to an innate set of ideas, which find their expression in certain definite forms,-while the historian and antiquary may sometimes discover in these popular traditions, a confirmation or explanation of some doubtful point. Lastly, he whose sole object is amusement, and whose taste is not entirely vitiated by the exaggerated and exciting fiction of modern times, will turn with pleasure to the simple tales which have amused his childhood, and which are ever fresh and ever new.
Much of this ancient lore has already perished, and much is every day disappearing before the influence of the printing press, and the consequent extension of education.