Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/872

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848
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
GENERAL NOTICES.

In her recent volume, the fourth of the Memoirs of the American Folklore Society, Mrs. Bergen[1] has brought together and classified fourteen hundred and seventy five different superstitions, thus giving us the most complete collection in English. When it is known that this arduous task was accomplished during years of invalidism, and is, moreover, but the first installment of the matter in hand, we marvel at the industry of the author. The items are arranged in nineteen chapters, covering the range of current belief under the headings Babyhood, Childhood, Physical Characteristics, Projects, Halloween and other Festivals, Love and Marriage, Wishes, Dreams, Luck, Money, Visitors, Cures, Warts, Weather, Moon, Sun, Death Omens, Mortuary Customs, and Miscellaneous. What memories of childhood are aroused at the forms of asseveration, such as "Honor bright," "Hope I'll die," etc., used to bolster up some unsteady tale, or the terrible imprecation against disloyalty:

Tell tale tit,
Your tongue shall be slit,
And every dog in our town
It shall have a bit!

A deeper interest is added when we think that these childish formulas are but parallels of the more serious rites of savages, and link the play of the one to the horrible incantations of the other. Of the augury of the daisy petals — 

He loves me, he loves me not — 

nine variants are given. Other interesting kinds of "projects," or "trying fortunes," are connected with apple seeds, bed, buttons, four-leaved clovers, stars, water, etc. The fifty or more signs and charms for the causes and cures of warts will be welcome to sufferers from that affliction. To the student of comparative mythology the solar and lunar beliefs will offer many links to the Aryan stock. In fact, it is the study of relationships which gives most value to this or any work of folklore. The introduction and notes by Mr. Newell are written with the usual care and clearness of this investigator, and add an invaluable guide to the interpretation of the superstitions. Mr. Newell says: "In commending this collection to the attention of psychologists, and to the continuing industry of students of folklore, I need only express my hope that it may be sufficient to make clear how far reaching are the studies for which folklore supplies material. The history of religion, the theory of mythologies, can not afford to overlook modern popular beliefs, in which ancient conceptions appear as still effective."

Dr. and Mrs. Le Plongeon spent twelve years among the ruined cities of the Mayas in Yucatan, living with the people, and are confident that they have mastered the Maya language, and learned to read the inscriptions traced in it. They have made the study of the subject the chief occupation of their lives. One who talks with Dr. Le Plongeon will hardly doubt that his assertions are sincere. From his studies of the Maya records, and his comparative studies of Eastern archæology and mythology, he draws most startling conclusions. Among those developed in this book[2] are the historic reality of the story of the Atlantis, and the ascription of an extreme antiquity and an extensive and potent influence to Maya civilization. When Egypt and Accad were young, or even before, he believes, the Mayas were living in Yucatan, a civilized people, with arts and architecture as we see them illustrated in the ruins at Chichen and other mysterious cities, while their colonists swarmed in Egypt and Babylonia and all the East, and left imperishable marks on the civilization and the languages of all those countries. This intercourse ceased with the catastrophe of Atlantis, which made the ocean unnavigable for thousands of years, and the story of the Mayas was forgotten. Much space is given in the book to the de-

  1. Current Superstitions. Edited by Fanny D. Bergen. With Notes, and an Introduction by William Wells Newell. Pp. 101, 8vo. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, $3.25.
  2. Queen Móo and the Egyptian Sphinx. By Augustus Le Plongeon. New York: The author, and the Metaphysical Publishing Company, 503 Fifth Avenue. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. Pp. 277, 4to, With two portraits and 73 photographic plates.