If we would understand the religion of the ancient Scandinavians, we ought to study at the same time the myths of all Teutonic nations. A drawing together of these, and a comparison of one with another, has been most beautifully effected by Simrock, in his Handbuch der Deutschen Mythologie, where he tells us that whilst the
Scandinavian records are richer and more definite, they are also younger than those of Germany, which latter may be compared to ancient half choked-up streams from which the fuller river flows, but which, it is to be remarked, that river has mingled in its flowing. Grimm says that both religions-the German and the Northern-were in the main identical, though in details they varied; and as heathenism lingered longer in Scandinavia than in any other part of Europe, it is not surprising that there, rather than anywhere else, we should find the old world wants and hopes and fears, dark guesses, crude imaginings, childlike poetic expressions, crystallised into a pretty definite system of belief and worship. Yes, we can walk through the glittering ice halls of the old frozen faith, and count its gems and wonder at its fearful images; but the warm heart-reachings from which they alike once flowed, we can only darkly feel, at best but narrowly pry into here and there. Ah! if we could but break up the poem again into the syllables of the far off years.