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Of the burning World, and of Surtur.


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HEN Thridi opened his mouth and faid, Yet, before all things, there existed what we call Mufpelfheim (A). It is a world luminous, glowing, not to be dwelt in by strangers, and fituate at the extremity of the earth. Surtur, (the Black) holds his empire there. In his hands there fhinès a flaming fword. He shall come at the end of the world; he fhall vanquish all the Gods, and give up the universe a prey to flames. Hear what the VOLUSPA fays of him. "Surtur, filled " with deceitful ftratagems, cometh from the South. A rolling Sun beams from "his fword. The Gods are troubled; "men tread in crouds the paths of death;

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the Heaven is fplit afunder." But," fays Gangler, What was the ftate of the world, before there were families of men upon the earth, and before the nations were formed?


Har anfwered him. The rivers, called Elivages, flowed fo far from their fources, that the venom which they rolled along became hard, like the fcoria of a furnace when it grows cold. Hence was formed the ice; which stopped and flowed no more. Then all the venom that was beginning to cover it, alfo became frozen: And thus many ftrata of congealed vapours were formed, one above another, in the vast abyfs. Jafnhar added; By this means that part of the abyfs which lies towards the north, was filled with a mass of gelid vapours and ice; whilft the interior parts of it were replete with whirlwinds and tempefts. Directly oppofite to it, rose the fouth part of the abyfs, formed of the lightnings and fparks which flow from the world of fire. Then Thridi proceeded, and faid; By this means a dreadful freez+ ing wind came from the quarter of Niflheim, whilft whatever lay oppofite to the burning world was heated and enlightened. And as to that part of the abyss which lay between these two extremes; it was light and ferene like the air in a calm. A breath of heat then spreading itself over the gelid vapours, they melted into drops; and of these drops were formed a man, by the power of him who governed (B). This man was named YMIR; the Giants call

him Aurgelmer. From him are defcended all the families of the Giants; according to that of the Volufpa; " The propheter❝fes are all come of Vittolfe, the fpectres "of Vilmode, and the Giants of YMIR." And in another place; "The rivers Eli"vages have run drops of poifon; and "there blew a wind, whence a Giant was "formed: From him came all the fami"lies of the Giants." Then spake Gangler, and faid, How did this family of YMIR fpread itself? Or do ye believe that he was a God? Jafnhar replied, we are far from believing him to have been a God; for he was wicked, as were all his pofterity. Whilft he flept, he fell into a fweat, and from the pit of his left arm were born a male and female. One of his feet begot upon the other a fon, from whom is defcended the race of the Giants, called from their original, the Giants of the Froft (c).


(A) Mufpels-heim fignifies, the abode or refidence of MUSPEL*. But who is this Mufpel? Of this we are intirely ignorant. The ancient fages of the north were defirous to explain how the world had been framed, and to advance fomething pro


bable for its being fo cold towards the north, and warm towards the fouth.. For this purpose they placed, towards the fouth, a huge mafs of fire, which they fuppofed had been there for ever, and served as a refidence to wicked Genii. This was the

Literally, Mufpel's Home.



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matter of which the Sun was made. This Ether, or Fire, fo placed at one extremity of the world, enabled them alfo to affign a probable reafon for its final conflagration; for they were abfolutely perfuaded, that it would at the last day be confumed by fire. And as to the north, it was continually cold there, because oppofite to that quarter lay lay immenfe mountains of ice. But whence came that ice? Nothing could be more eafily accounted for; for Hell, which had been prepared from the beginning of ages, was watered by thofe great rivers mentioned in the preceding fable; and those great rivers themselves, in flowing at fo vaft diftance from the fouth, whilft the course of their streams carried them ftill farther from it, froze at last in their currents, and swelled into huge heaps of ice, which communicated a chillinefs to the northern winds. Between that world of fire and this of ice, there lay a grand abyfs, which contained nothing but air; and here

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(B) By the power of him who govern"ed."] Here we have the pleasure to obferve, that our philofophers faw the neceffity of having recourse to the intervention of a Deity in forming the world. The vivifying breath here, mentioned, feems to carry in it a ftrong affinity to the "Breath of Life" which God breathed into the noftrils of the firft man; according to the phrase of Scripture, Gen. chap. ii. ver. 7.-One cannot doubt that the Celtic an Gothic nations, as well as the Perfians, and moft of the Orientals, derived many of their traditions from Scripture.

(c) Giants of the "Froft."] There would be no end of amaffing all ancient traditions the which

which fome way or other relate to the fubject of the text. It hath been a general opinion in the east, that God began with creating Genii, both good and bad, of very immenfe powers who for a long time before we exifted, inhabited a world prior to this of ours. One may. fee in Herbelot, what the Perfians relate concerning the Dives, Nere, Pris, and their king

Eblis. YMIR having been formed, as we fee, out of the congealed drops, all the Giants defcended from him are called, upon that account, THE GIANTS OF THE FROST. It must be obferved, that these Giants are a fpecies intirely dif tinct from the men of our race, the EDDA having not yet given any account of THEIR formation.




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