The book of saints and heroes- PDF book (1912) by Mrs.Lang

The book of saints and heroes (with coloured illustrations)

The book of saints and heroes

From the preface:

Long, long ago, when the world was young and gay, grown-up people must have been much more Uke children than they are at present. The grown-ups were quite as fond of fairy tales as any child can be today, and they actually believed in fairies more than some wise and grave little boys and girls do at present. Why should they not believe in them, for they met them dancing in the open dells of the forests, and saw them, beautiful girl fairies, wading and swimming in the river pools? These fairies were as friendly as they were fair to see, and the fairy of the oak tree or the well would step out of it when a handsome shepherd or warrior passed, and the pair would fall in love with each other, and some- times marry. 

Homer, the oldest of Greek poets, tells us, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, about a man who married a fairy, and how, as they were kind, friendly people, they built their house near a road and entertained all the passers-by. This sort of thing is still going on in the islands of the Pacific, or so the natives believe. A native of New Caledonia, a young man, the friend of a cousin of mine named Jim, came to see him once, and stayed long, and seemed nervous and cried when he was saying goodbye.

Thus there are fairies, you see, in the far-away isles, and Louis Stevenson heard of them often, and men see them and fall in love with them; so of course they believe in fairies, though they are grown up. Does not Mr Lawson tell us in his book about Greece that he saw a fairy? (he calls her a nymph or a Nereid, for that is Greek for a fairy), and he is a learned man. I wish I had his luck; but, as Joan of Arc said to her judges, ' I never saw a fairy, not that I knew to ^be a fairy.' No, not even in Kensington Gardens. 

Still, they are seen in the Highlands, even now, and seeing is believing. Thus, long ago, grown-ups believed in fairies, as we all would do if we saw them. Why, when a young Greek in Homer's time met a pretty girl in the forest he always began by asking 'Are you a fairy, or are you a goddess?' It was the regular thing to do. Consequently, these pleasant people of long ago mixed up fairies with their religion. 

The stories about the Greek gods and goddesses are merely fairy tales; some are pretty, and some are not at all nice. Now when Christianity came first to be known to the Greeks and Romans, and Germans and Highlanders, they, believing in fairies and in all manner of birds and beasts that could talk, and in everything wonderful, told about their Christian teachers a number of fairy tales. This pleasing custom lasted very long. 

You see in this book what wonderful stories of beasts and birds who made friends with saints were told in Egypt about St. Anthony, and St. Jerome with his amiable lion, and St. Dorothea, for it was an angel very Uke a fairy that brought to her the fruits and flowers of Paradise. These Saints were the best of men and women, but the pretty stories are, perhaps, rather fanciful. Look at the wild fancies of the Irish in the stories of St. Brendan; and of St. Columba, who first brought Christianity from Ireland to the Highlands. I think St. Columba's story is the best of all, and it was written in Latin by one of the people in his monastery not long after his death. 

Yet many of the anecdotes are not religious but are just such tales as the Highlanders where he lived still tell and believe. Some of them are true, I daresay, and others, like the story of the magical stake given by the Saint to the poor man, are not very probable. The tales of St. Cuthbert are much less wonderful, for he did not have in the Highlands, but among people of English race on the Border, near the Tweed. 

The English have never taken quite so much pleasure in fairyland as other people, and the stories of St. Cuthbert are far more homely than the wild adventures of Irish Saints like St. Brendan. The story which somehow came to be told about the patron Saint of England, St. George, is a mere romance of chivalry, and the part about the dragon was told in the earliest age of Greece concerning Perseus and Hercules, Andromeda and Hesione. 


The First of the Hermits ..... i
The Roses from Paradise
The Saint with the Lion
Synesius, the Ostrich Hunter .
The Struggles of St. AugusUni
Germanus the Governor.
Malchus the Monk
The Saint on the Pillar
The Apostle of Northumbria
 St. Columba
X Brendan the Sailor
The Charm Queller
Dunstan the Friend of Kings
St. Margaret of Scotland
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Saint and King.
The Preacher to the Birds
Richard the Bishop
The Apostle of the Japanese
The Servant of the Poor
• 315
The Founder of Hospitals
. 326
The Patron Saint of England

the book details :
  • Author: Mrs Lang 
  • editor: Andrew Lang
  • Publication date:1912
  • Company:  New York, [etc] Longmans, Green, and Co.

  • Download 19.4 MB with coloured illustrations 

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