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Lapland Tradition Of The Origin Of The World

( Originally Published Late 1800's )

Their notions concerning the origin of the world are gross and confused. They pretend that at the creation God designed to have made all the trees of marrow, and to have filled the lakes with milk instead of water, and to have caused all plants whatever to have borne delicious fruits, but that Perkel (so they call the evil spirit) opposed it, and prevented things being so good as God intended them. They have a tradition of the universal deluge, which they say destroyed all mankind except one brother and one sister, whom God took under His arms and placed upon a great mountain called Posseware ; and that after the flood was gone off, the brother and sister separated to see if any other had escaped ; that they met again after three years, but knew one another, and therefore separated a second time ; that they met and separated another time ; but that at the third rencounter they knew one another no longer, and therefore they united and became the parents of mankind. In these traditions one may discover an odd medley of the Mosaic history, fable, and Manicheism. The tradition they have of their own origin is pleasant enough. The Laplanders and the Swedes, say they, are the descendants of two brothers, not at all resembling each other in point of courage. One day a violent storm arose, and the ancestor of the Swedes was so sore affrighted that he took shelter under a plank, which God, out of compassion, transformed into a house; but the progenitor of the Laplanders never hid himself, but brav'd the fury of the tempest, and his posterity to this day live without houses and without shelter.



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