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worked off at first, and the greatest part of them were consumed in the fire which, in the year 1728, destroyed a part of Copenhagen. M. Goranson's edition, as it is but little known out of Sweden, ånd is incom-pleat, hath not prevented the EDDA of Refenius from being ftill much fought after; and this may justify the present undertak
Without doubt, this talk should have been assigned to other hands than mine. There are in Denmark many learned men, from whom the public might have expected it, and who would have acquitted themfelves much better than I can. I dissemble not, when I avow, that it is not without fear and reluctance, that I have begun and finished this work, under the attentive eyes of so many critical and observing judges : But I flatter myself that the motives which prompted me to the enterprize, will abate fome
part of their severity. Whatever opinion may be formed of these Fables and of these Poems, it is evident they do honour to the nation that has produced them; they are not void of genius or imagination. Strangers who shall read them, will be obliged to soften some of those dark colours in which they have usually painted our Scandinavian ancestors. Nothing does so much honour to a people as strength of genius and
a love of the arts. The rays of Genius, which shone forth in the Northern Nations, amid the gloom of the dark ages, are more valuable in the eye of reason, and contribute more to their glory than all those bloody trophies, which they took so much pains to erect. But how can their Poetry produce this effect, if it continues unintelligible to those who wilh to be acquainted with it; if no one will translate it into the other languages of Europe?
The professed design of this work required, that the Version should be accompanied by a Commentary. It was necessary to explain fome obscure passages, and to point out the use which might be made of others : I could easily have made a parade of much learning in these Notes, by laying under contribution the works of BARTHOLIN, WORMIUS, VERELIUS, AMKIEL, KEYSLER, SCHUTZE, &c. but I have only borrowed from them what appeared abfolutely necessary; well knowing that in the present improved state of the republick of ļetters, good fense hath banished that vain oftentation of learning, brought together without judgment and without end, which heretofore procured a tranfitory honour to so many persons laborioully idle.
I am no longer afraid of any reproaches on that head: One is not now required
to beg the Reader's pardon for presenting him with a small book. But will not some object, To what good purpose can it serve to revive a heap of puerile Fables and Opinions, which time hath so justly devoted to oblivion? Why take so much trouble to dispel the gloom which envelopes the infant state of nations ? What have we to do with any but our own cotemporaries ? much less with barbarous manners, which have no fort of connection with our own, and which we shall happily never see revive again? This is the language we now often hear. The major part of mankind, confined in their views, and averse to labour, would fain persuade themselves that whatever they are ignorant of is useless, and that no additions can be made to the stock of knowledge already acquired. But this is a stock which diminishes whenever it ceases to increase. The same reason which prompts us to neglect the acquisition of new knowledge, leads us to forget what we have before attained. The less the mind is accustomed to exercise its faculties, the less it compares objects, and discovers the relation they bear
each other. Thus it loses that strength and accuracy of discernment which are its best preservatives from error. To think of confining our studies to what one may call meer necessary truths, is to expose one's self
to the danger of being shortly ignorant of thofe truths themselves. An excess and luxury (as it were) of knowledge, cannot be too great, and is never a doubtful sign of the flourishing state of science. The inore it occasions new researches, the more it confirms and matures the preceding ones. We see already, but too plainly, the bad effects of this spirit of economy, which, hurtful to itself, diminishes the present stock of knowledge, by imprudently refusing to extend it. By
By lopping off the branches, which hasty judgments deem unprofitable, they weaken and impair the trunk itself. But the truth is, it would cost some pains to discover new facts of a different kind from what we are used to; and therefore men chuse to spare themselves the trouble, by continually confining themselves to the old ones. Writers only show us what resembles our own manners. In vain hath nature varied her
productions with such infinite diversity. Al , though a very small movement would procure us a new point of view, we have not, it seems, either leisure or courage to attempt it. We are content to paint the manners of that contracted society in which we live, or perhaps of only a small the inhabitants of one single city; and this passes without any opposition for a com
pleat portrait of the age, of the world, and of mankind. It is a wonder if we shall not soon bring ourfelves to believe, that there is no other mode of existence but that in which we ourselves fubfift.
And yet there never was a time, when the public was more greedy after novelty : But where do men for the most part seek for it? In new combinations of ancient thoughts. They examine words and phrases through a microscope: They turn their old ftock of books over and over again: They resemble an architect, who fhould think of building a city by erecting successively different houfes with the same materials. If we would seriously form new conclusions, and acquire new ideas, let us make new observations. In the moral and political world, as well as in the natural, there is no other way to arrive at truth, We must ftudy the languages, the books, and the men of every age and country; and draw from these the only true fources of the knowledge of mankind. This study, so pleasant and fo interesting, is a mine as rich as it has been neglected. The ties and bands of connection, which unite together the different nations of Europe, grow every day stronger and closer. We live in the bofom of one great republic, (composed of the feveral European king?