Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/396

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


360 Reviews.

is gathered into a sheaf, and will prove a rich harvest for those who have scant time to search for such facts when wanted quickly. We wish that Mr. Seager could see his way to bringing out a similar volume which should contain all facts of this kind which appear in English literature till the end of the seventeenth cen- tury. It would be a text-book for all time, but would involve an enormous amount of work. We agree with what Mr. Seager says as regards Shakespeare's knowledge of natural history. He no doubt believed much of what is here set forth about animals and plants that had not come under his own observation ; but where he had had the opportunity of forming his own judgement by personal observation, his knowledge of natural history was wide and accurate.

The Sacred Tree; or, The Tree in Religion and Myth. By Mrs. J. H. Philpot. Macmillan & Co., Limited. 1897.

" The reader is requested to bear in mind that this volume lays no claim to scholarship, independent research, or originality of view. Its aim has been to select and collate, from sources not always easily accessible to the general reader, certain facts and conclusions bearing upon a subject of acknowledged interest." Thus Mrs. Philpot defines in the preface her object ; and within these lines she has succeeded in producing an interesting, popu- lar, and, on the whole, trustworthy account of tree-worship. One of the best chapters in the book is devoted to " The Tree as Oracle " ; and the connection between the divining rod, the life- rood, and the rods used as lots is there well brought out. Some attention should, however, have been paid to the tree as totem. The omission is the more remarkable because the authoress cites Professor Robertson Smith's difficulty, which he partially explains away by means of totemism ; and an account of tree-totemism would have assisted her criticism of the theories of Mr. Herbert Spencer and Mr. Grant Allen.

Mrs. Philpot is in general commendably careful to give her authorities. Milton's lines are wrongly divided on p. 65. The illustrations are good, often very good ; but it is a pity that that of the ash Yggdrasill should have been given from Finn Magnus-