THE sentence from Montaigne, which faces the title-page of this little book, indicates its scope and purpose.
It is based upon studies in the philosophy of folk-tales, in the course of which a large number of examples of curious beliefs and customs bearing on the main incident in certain groups have been collected. Some of these are now 'shuffled up together' round an old Suffolk tale, whose vivacity and humour secure it the first place among the 'Rumpelstiltskin' variants with which it is classed.
Those who have had experience in the gathering of materials illustrative of the several departments of barbaric culture will appreciate the difficulty which has been felt in making selections that suffice to internret the central idea without obscuring it by a multiplicity of examples. If the book, which is designed mainly for popular reading, therefore makes no pretence to exhaustiveness, it may perhaps have the virtue of being less tedious.
Rosemont, 19 Carleton Road,
Tufnell Park N., April 1898