Folk-Lore/Volume 2/Report on Folk-tale Research, 1890
REPORT ON FOLK-TALE RESEARCH
TO students of folk-tales, the most important event of the year 1890 has been the definite formulation, in the columns of Mélusine, of the charges against Dr. Edmund Veckenstedt. In the year 1883, Dr. Veckenstedt published, at Heidelberg, what purported to be a collection of folk-tales of the Zhamaites, a Lithuanian people on the shores of the Baltic, identified with the Samogitians. Doubts had long been hinted by M. Gaidoz as to the real character of this collection; but there the matter remained. Last year, however, a severe article in Mélusine on a subsequent essay by Dr. Veckenstedt called forth from him a retort, which it must be admitted was mere abuse of his distinguished critic. By way of answer to this, in the September-October number of Mélusine appeared an article of twenty-four columns by M. J. Carlowicz, a Polish savant, containing the following definite charges against Dr. Veckenstedt, which were then for the first time published in a tongue accessible to Western students. M. Carlowicz declares Dr. Veckenstedt to be absolutely ignorant alike of the Zhamaite speech, and of Polish and Russian. His philologies are pronounced mistaken; the names of the Zhamaite deities whom he brings upon the scene are sometimes impossible, sometimes mere blunders, sometimes names of common objects ennobled by capital letters. As often as not the gods and their names are taken from a work by John Lasicki, written in 1580 and printed in 1615, entitled De diis Saniagitarum, which, under the guise of a Zhamaite mythology, was a satire upon the superstitions of the Roman Catholic Church. A large portion of Dr. Veckenstedt's work deals with the legends of a mythical king. In 1880 the Doctor had published a volume of Wendish sagas from Lusatia, of which a considerable number were occupied with a mythical king of the Wends. M. Carlowicz gives a long list of identical particulars relating to both these kings, such as the age (fourteen years) of his first manifestation, his curing men and cattle, his reception by his people with scorn and anger, dogs are silenced at the sight of him, he is invulnerable, his boat, his flying chariot, his leathern bridge which twists together at his will, his sword adorned with a serpent, his military manoeuvres, his soldiers made of chopped straw, his cloud-chariot, his death and burial, etc. On these and other similarities of detail it is remarked that "they are something more than the simple parallels with which the comparative mythology of the Aryan peoples deals, and it is especially the great number of these details concentrated on a single theme which can but weaken our faith in the authenticity of the one book or the other, or of both. There exists, indeed, a special relationship between the Slaves and Lithuanians; it is reflected in their languages and also in their myths. But it is the degree of this relationship which here plays the principal part. We willingly admit the existence of features common to the stories of Slaves and Lithuanians, as, for example, in that of the three brothers of whom one is stupid, in that of the man without fear, of Cinderella, etc.; but a legend of a character entirely national supposes a colouring quite different and distinctive—in fact, a national colouring. If we had been told similar tales concerning the kings of the Lithuanians and of the Letts resembling one another as strongly as the Lusatian and Samogitian legends with which Dr. Veckenstedt regales us, we should have expressed doubts; much more, then, when we are asked to believe that the political legends of two peoples, as far apart ethnographically and geographically as the Lithuanians and Lusatians, have a mass of identical details gathered round the single figure of a king. No, it is impossible. Even an elementary knowledge of the things, the places, the men, and the circumstances is enough to enable us to understand that we have here nothing but a mystification, an invention, an imposture." M. Carlowicz, in pressing home this accusation, does not fail to insist upon Dr. Veckenstedt's admission, already seized upon by M. Gaidoz, that he had put these legends into literary shape. While pointing out a number of resemblances, which he contends cannot be fortuitous, to Lasicki's account of the Zhamaite gods, he regrets that the Doctor should have neglected the works of Afanasieff on the Slave mythology and other learned works which he enumerates, but which are, unfortunately, written in languages unknown to the author of the Zhamaite and Wendish myths. Dr. Veckenstedt boasts that he has unveiled to science more than a hundred figures, before unknown, of Zhamaite mythology and tradition; but an acquaintance with the works referred to would have relieved him from the necessity of so large a creation, for he would there have found more than forty mythical figures undoubtedly known to the modern Lithuanians, and more or less exactly described by different authors.
If it should be asked, how could a man, wholly ignorant of the language of the people whose traditions he professes to have gathered, invent these traditions? M. Carlowicz has his theory ready. He quotes the Abbe Bielenstein, a member of the Society of Lettish Literature at Mitau, to the effect that Dr. Veckenstedt's assistants in the work were his scholars at the Gymnasium at Libau, who themselves were very often not proficient in the Lithuanian tongue, and certainly had not sufficient experience; whence too often, without any ill intent, they furnished suspicious materials. It was even said, we are told, that some of these pupils made up the "popular traditions" for their master in the class itself, and during the lesson; and it is positively asserted that Dr. Veckenstedt fixed the number of tales, traditions, etc., which was required by every scholar when he went away for his holidays. If the youth was unable to collect the number allotted to him, he furnished the rest out of his own head. This allegation is supported by extracts from letters from former pupils and others, testifying to Dr. Veckenstedt's ignorance of Lithuanian, and to the fact that the stories were the inventions of his pupils, "especially", says one letter, "of the Jews, who did it to be received into his good graces"; while another letter states that he caused his pupils to relate Lithuanian stories, which he "verified" by comparing them with the writings of Strijkowski and of Narbutt, which were translated for him.
The Abbe Bielenstein is not the only learned man, we are assured, who has denied the authenticity of these tales. Other Slavonic scholars—Bezzenberger, Professor Bruckner, and Wolter—have expressed more than doubts; and the last-named has publicly called on Dr. Veckenstedt to produce the Lithuanian texts, and to answer twenty-seven questions framed with a view to test their value.
In summarising these grave charges, I have endeavoured to give their substance faithfully, while avoiding, as far as possible, both the philological details, which it would not be possible to give without running to too great a length, and also the tone of sarcasm employed by M. Carlowicz. Whether this tone be justified depends on the accuracy of the accusation. What answer has Dr. Veckenstedt made to it? In the November number of the Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, which he edits, he has inserted two pages of small type, wherein he refers to M. Carlowicz's article, not naming him, but describing him as M. Gaidoz's Polish assistant. Dr. Veckenstedt declares at the outset that he is not going to analyse every detail of his article, but only to exhibit enough to prove the slipshod knowledge, untruth, and slanderousness of "the Polish gentleman"; for it is not his custom to reply to every attack, as nobody knows better than "the Polish gentleman", whose article was really written years ago. Coming after awhile to the substance of the charges, he states that no defence is possible to the accusations by his former scholars against their fellow-pupils, since the latter are not named. M. Carlowicz, he says, impugns the credibility of Jews as such; but, talking of credibility, he will give some examples of the credibility of "the Polish gentleman's" friends, Gaidoz, Jahn, and Krauss. The instance given of M. Gaidoz is one concerning an alleged error in the date of the publication of Mélusine; and the others are equally important and relevant. He further complains that M. Carlowicz denies the existence of his (Dr. Veckenstedt's) former pupil and present friend, Herr Fiedorowicz-Weber, because he has failed to trace him, and that he represents the historical connections and the nature of the country of the Zhamaites in a false light in order to discredit his statements. In regard to the charge that he has overlooked a number of genuine mythical figures on which he offers no sagas nor myths, "the Polish gentleman" indirectly admits that he must have taken the figures mentioned in his book from the people rather than from books, since it would have been impossible for him to discover even the names of the figures he has omitted if he did not know a single word of Lithuanian.
He then turns to discuss whether the word Zhamaite should be written with an e or an a in the first syllable, and invokes Professor Bezzenberger against "the Polish gentleman" on this point, as well as on the existence in popular belief of Pijokas, the demon of the culture-drink, which M. Carlowicz had denied. On the etymology of Perdoytus he has a word to say also, arraying on this point Hartknoch, Frenzel, and Schwenck against "the Polish gentleman", who, after all, had no need to prove by this etymology the meanness of his intellect and culture.
This is practically the whole of Dr. Veckenstedt's answer: a defence he himself does not call it. Of the extraordinary parallelisms alleged between his Wendish and his Zhamaite sagas, of Lasicki, of Wolter's twenty-seven interrogatories, not a syllable! He treats as a charge against nameless pupils one of the most serious charges against himself, and calls it a calumny which the slandered persons cannot answer because no names are mentioned. He plays with the etymology of Zhamaite and Perdoytus when he should be vindicating his own good faith and the authenticity of his books. But Dr. Veckenstedt should understand that a heavy indictment has been laid against him, and that he has been brought to the bar of scientific opinion on the question whether he is an honest man, a distinguished contributor to the sum of anthropological knowledge, or an ignorant impostor of the type of George Psalmanazar. It is no affair of vulgar abuse, or reckless slander, but distinct and specific charges supported by evidence that must be dealt with. I earnestly hope, I would fain believe, that he has a full and complete refutation to give to these charges. If so, he owes it to science even more than to himself to give it, and to give it quickly. He is the president of a new German Folk-Lore Society, the editor of the Zeitschrift fur Volkskunde, and he holds a public and responsible position in Germany as a teacher of youth. Trifling with an accusation like the one before us is hardly calculated to inspire confidence in him in either of these capacities.
It is needless for me to disclaim any personal or national feeling; if I had any it would be in Dr. Veckenstedt's favour, as the person attacked. Indeed, were the question a personal one, or even a national one, it would find no place in these pages. But it is far more than personal or national. Folk-lore is a science dealing with phenomena, the evidence of which—especially in the department of Folk-tales—is more liable to distortion, conscious or unconscious, and presents greater opportunities for imposture, especially in this age of literary activity on every side, than many others. It is, therefore, of supreme importance to ensure the good faith, the competence, and the accuracy of collectors; for on these depend the entire conclusions of the science. Dr. Veckenstedt claims to be a collector who has rendered signal service to science. He has, he tells us, discovered for science more than a hundred figures of Lithuanian deities previously unknown. Results so amazing naturally challenge scepticism; and it is but reasonable that they should be submitted to the most searching scrutiny. Truth can only shine the clearer for such a scrutiny; and to refuse, or parry, inquiry is to take up the weapons and resort to the tactics of error, if not of imposture. Far be it from me to suggest that Dr. Veckenstedt is guilty of imposture: I only desire to point out that the scientific public has a right to know every detail of the facts connected with the collection and record of these, and all other, items of folk-lore, and that the more remarkable, the more unusual, the phenomenon recorded, the more careful must the collector be, not only to record it accurately, but also to preserve and present to the world every possible means of verification. When Mr. Campbell, Dr. Pitré, M. Luzel, or M. Sébillot obtains a folk-tale, he sets down when, where, to whom and by whom it was told, the age, occupation, and culture of the teller, and so far as is possible similar particulars concerning the person from whom the teller professes to have heard it; and the two former collectors give all their important stories in the language or dialect in which they were told, with a view to preserving the very words uttered. It is thus open to anyone who desires, and is able to do so, to verify the phenomena for himself This course inspires confidence; and since it is not the method adopted by Dr. Veckenstedt, and since, moreover, he admits a certain amount of literary manipulation, he must not be surprised or offended at doubts concerning his alleged discoveries. He has done nothing in seven years to remove those doubts, and they have grown into charges. Unless he hasten fully and completely to answer the charges, they will stiffen into certainties, which will not only overwhelm Dr. Veckenstedt, but (a much greater thing) be in danger of throwing discredit upon the science of folk-lore itself.
The long list of books at the head of this paper shows that, during the twelve or eighteen months ended in December last, the business of folk-tale collection and publication went briskly on. The collections may be divided into four classes, namely:—
I. Stories for the first time taken down from oral tradition, consisting of Nos. 2, 6, 10, 16, 23, and 24 of the list.
II. Stories all previously on record, consisting of Nos, 1, 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, and 25.
III. Stories, some of which are taken down for the first time, and the remainder of which arc republished, consisting of Nos. 8, 9, 12, 15, and 26.
IV. Stories wrought up for literary purposes, consisting of Nos. 3 and 13.
To these four classes must be added a fifth, in which stories are included among general collections of folk-lore, comprising Nos. 17, 18, and 19.
Of the collections containing stories direct from oral traditions, it must be confessed that not more than two or three of them reach the high standard of Campbell, Pitre, Luzel, and Sébillot, in the precision with which their authorities are recorded. Mr. Maclnnes' Folk and Hero Tales is one of these. It is in the hands of every member of the Society, and has doubtless by this time received the study it so well deserves. From the mode of presentation, as well as the substance of the stories, this book is probably the most valuable contribution of the year 1890 to folk-tale research, and its worth has been greatly enhanced by the notes contributed by Mr. Alfred Nutt. These notes deal with the separate story incidents, and with details of manner, like the "runs", which are a little apt to be overlooked in our preoccupation with the incidents, but which are important elements to be taken into account in estimating the authenticity and age of a document offered as a folk-tale. Mr. Nutt's timely note, or rather essay, on the "Development of the Fenian or Ossianic Saga", will repay careful study as a piece of scientific reasoning and a keen, though moderate, criticism of Dr. Skene's position with regard to the Irish texts, and Mr. MacRitchie's crude and unscientific, but ably advocated, theory on the Fairy Mythology.
So complete an account of Mr. Curtin's Myths and Folk-lore of Ireland has recently been given by Mr. Nutt in these pages that it is unnecessary for me to do more than express the hope that a second edition will soon be called for, and that Mr. Curtin will then give the information as to the narrators which ought to have been affixed to every tale.
The Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-tales, published by Mr. Grinnell, are very valuable, as giving us an authentic glimpse of the traditions and mode of life (for the author has added a number of interesting anthropological notes) of a North-American tribe, of which only too little is known. In my report last year I drew attention to the importance of the historical, as well as the mythical, traditions of the Maoris. One section of Mr. Grinnell's book is devoted to corresponding Pawnee traditions, called by him "Hero Stories". The mythical traditions deal chiefly with the relations conceived to exist between men and the lower animals. Two of them narrate the origin of the bear and deer dances. Others are legends of persons who have died and been restored to life. None can safely be overlooked by students of savage thought.
M. Dumontier has included a dozen stories in his Annamite collection, which is of much inferior interest to those of Landes and Des Michels, and, indeed, if tales only be considered, to his own previous Légendes Historiques de l'Annan et du Tonkin. The tradition of the first man is curious, the human race, according to it, being derived from a man who was hatched from a square egg dropped by a bird, one of a pair produced from a tree. Three of the stories are comic; one turning on the effect of a mirror on persons who had never seen such a thing before, another an analogue of the barber's blind brother in the Arabian Nights, and the third a well-known variant of "The Three Wishes". We have also a Travelling Deity story, a story of a brother and sister who married without being aware of their kinship, and two stories turning on the superstition that he who succeeded in placing his father's bones inside the mouth of a subaqueous dragon would become a king. The remainder are beast tales, one of which—"The Opium-smoker and the Tiger"—is obviously of quite modern origin.
New ground, or almost new ground, has been broken by Dr. Francesco Mango in his Sardinian Folk-tales. Twelve or fourteen folk-tales from the island of Sardinia at most had previously appeared in black and white, of which eleven were published in early volumes of the Archivio, and one is practically inaccessible to English students, having been printed in a limited edition on the occasion of Prof Guarnerio's wedding. Dr. Mango mentions also two others by Prof. Bariola, but where and when they were published he does not say. It is to us a curious custom, that of printing a tale in a dainty little pamphlet as a wedding compliment; but it is common among folk-lore students in Italy, and quite a number have thus appeared. Only a few of these have been translated by Prof. Crane in his Italian Popular Tales. He seems to have access, in that wonderful library at Harvard, to them all. Could he not be induced by the Council of the Folk-Lore Society to add to our heavy debt to him by translating the rest for the pages of Folk-Lore? This is by the way. The book before us consists of twentysix tales in their original dialect, followed by literal translations. Dr. Mango only names one of the peasants from whom he and his two fair assistants obtained them. The difficulties of collection, he says, were so great that he would have abandoned the enterprise but for the help and encouragement of Dr. Pitré, under whose editorship the volume appeared. The stories are obviously genuine, and they present some interesting variants of well-known themes,
A portion of Mrs. Milne-Home's little book consists of a reprint of the Ananci stories somewhat incongruously appended to Sir G. W. Dasent's Popular Tales from the Norse. The remainder is new, and comprises fourteen stories, chiefly variants of Uncle Remus' collection, where the part of Brer Rabbit is played by the Anansi. Brother Death, however, is a new character in such a company. The introduction deserves to be read for the writer's observations on the negro customs and superstitions in Jamaica, and on the modifications undergone by the stories to adapt them to West Indian surroundings. Here, again, no particulars of the mode of collection are given.
Mr. Allen's Korean Tales, though placed before Western readers for the first time, are translated from a literary original. There can be little doubt, however, as to their being at bottom traditional. The series opens with a few beast tales, whence we pass to "The Enchanted Wine-jug", in which an old man is befriended by a Travelling Deity, to whom he had shown kindness, and who in return gifts him with an amulet that causes his wine-jug never to be empty. The story concerns the loss of the amulet, and its recovery by his two faithful servants, his cat and dog, at the expense, however, of perpetual enmity between cats and dogs ever since. Among the other stories is one of two brothers, one rich and covetous, the other poor and virtuous; and another illustrating the power of fate, in which we read of the son of a nobleman's concubine who is cast out and joins a band of robbers, but ultimately makes his peace with the king, and, by supernatural aid, conquers an island for himself, rescuing a fair maiden with the usual result. The stories are preceded by an interesting account of Korea.
It is not easy to know for what purpose the collection entitled Folk-lore and Legends has been published, beyond that of producing pleasant little books good in print and paper, and suitable for whiling away an idle hour. At all events, it contains little or nothing that the student will not easily find elsewhere. It only purports to be "a selection", and no hint is afforded as to the source of any of the tales, except in the Scandinavian volume, where half-adozen purport to be taken from the Prose Edda. This precludes all scientific use of the volumes. And yet the author is evidently impressed with a genuine love of folktales, and has some knowledge of the subject. He might do good work, if he would go about it in the right way.
Prof. Crane's edition of The Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, on the other hand, is one of the most valuable books issued by the Folk-Lore Society. It forms an admirable companion-volume to the Contes Moralisés of Nicholas Bozon, put forth a few months earlier by the Société des Anciens Textes Français, under the editorship of Miss Toulmin Smith and M. Paul Meyer. The introduction to the latter work, written by M. Paul Meyer, is learned and judicial; and it would have been still more complete had he been able to refer to Mr. Jacobs' edition of The Fables of Æsop, reported on last year. The notes to both the Exempla and the Contes Moralisés greatly enhance their usefulness. Those of Prof Crane display wider research in the literary history of the fable, and his whole book is a model of editing. I may note, incidentally, that the thirteenth example, that of the mouse in the dish, has survived in England as a traditional apologue until the present day. I remember my own nurse, a Cambridgeshire woman, often repeating it to me as a child. Prof Crane notices its survival in Italy, but he refers to no case in England, nor to any English writer who has mentioned it beside Swift.
Miss Hodgetts leaves us to find out which of the items included in her Tales and Legends from the Land of the Tsar are translations from existing collections. Some of them are easily recognised from Mr. Ralston's versions, and it was hardly necessary to present them afresh to English readers. Much more real service would have been done had she taken the trouble to give us chapter and verse for all that she has obtained from Afanasief and other writers, and stated concerning the rest when, where, and from whom she heard them. Thus much said, however, let me hasten to add that thirty of the eight-and-thirty stories here brought together are new, in their Russian form, to English readers; and there are few English men or women who have the opportunity of obtaining Russian folk-tales at first hand. To those who have the opportunity and use it, we may well be grateful.
In Tales of the Sun, Mrs Howard Kingscote has committed the same fault as Miss Hodgetts. Indeed, she admits that she only obtained the stories which are her contribution to the volume from the old women in the bazaars, through her native servants—of what town she carefully refrains from telling us. It is evident that the collection would have been of little value had it not been for Pandit Natêsa Sástrî's help; and Mrs. Kingscote has done wisely in retaining Mr. Clouston's long and important note on "The King and his Four Ministers" (here given under the name of "The Lost Camel and other Tales"), as well as the smaller notes by Mr. Clouston and Captain Temple to Pandit Sástrî's tales. The remaining notes are presumably to be attributed to Mrs. Kingscote herself They are short and to the point. Altogether, folk-lore students will not regret to have this supplement to the folk-lore of Southern India already published by Pandit Sastri, though it is much to be regretted that we are not even told to which of the numerous populations of that land we are indebted for the various tales.
English Fairy Tales is the first form of the first instalment of Mr. Jacobs' promised collection of English folk-tales, and the most delightful book of fairy tales, taking form and contents together, ever presented to children. Of its abundant popularity among the public to which it is specially addressed, nobody who has made the experiment will doubt. Treating it from a scientific point of view, it may be said to consist of forty-three tales, roughly divisible into twenty mdrchen, four sagas, seven drolls, three cumulative tales, two beast tales, and seven nonsense tales, tales working up to a climax of comic grimace, and so forth, classes for which specific names have yet to be found. One of these, "The Three Bears," Mr. Jacobs says, is of literary origin, having been invented by Southey. This statement requires some qualification. The likeness of the plot to a portion of the tale of "Little Snow-white", and the identity of some of the phrases, render it probable that the most that can be attributed to Southey is the giving of a new turn to a well-known inarche7i. I must also make a protest on another point. Glad as I shall be to find that the opinion I ventured to express in the introduction to English Fairy and other Folk Tales, that the märchen recorded in England are very few, is unfounded, still I must, in all fairness, object to the inclusion among English fairy tales of some that Mr, Jacobs has added to his list. It may be probable—nay, I think we may assume as certain—that the stories of "Nicht Nought Nothing", "Childe Rowland", "The Red Etin", and others, were in substance told in England generations ago. This is, however, a mere inference; and we do not know in what precise form they were repeated to our forefathers. It may have been that in which they are here presented: it is equally likely not to have been. Again, Mr, Jacobs has paraphrased ballads in order to obtain some of his stories, like "Binnorie", "The Laidly Worm", "Earl Mar's Daughter". Here, again, there can be little doubt that the stories once existed in other forms than verse; nor would it be reasonable to complain of their being put into prose for the purpose of the present volume. But it must not be forgotten that these prose versions are not themselves genuine folk-tales, but only literary reconstructions which may be more or less accurate. The careful and scholarly notes appended to the book display with frankness the alterations Mr. Jacobs has deemed proper to make for the little ones of the present day, and give us a slight foretaste of the banquet he is preparing "for students only".
Of The Red Fairy Book I need only say that it is a worthy companion to The Blue Fairy Book, published last year. The stories are, except "Jack and the Beanstalk", from foreign, and some of them from unfamiliar, sources, and so will be the more welcome to the audience to whom they are addressed—the same audience as that to which English Fairy Tales is intended to appeal. May both editors succeed in making many youthful disciples, to become in future years enthusiastic recruits for the Folk-Lore Society!
The second part of the Kurdish Collections of MM. Prym and Socin consists of tales and songs in the dialect of Bohtan translated by M. Socin. Nearly all of these are from written originals, and most of them are tribal or religious sagas. Literary influences have been at work on them for many a year; but they are by no means without interest for students of the problems of the diffusion of folk-tales. The wild exaggerations of oriental fancy, still more marked perhaps in the Siberian collection published by M. Radloff, in whose footsteps the present editor walks, are here abundantly exemplified. The poetical provenance of the tales is evidenced by the sad catastrophes which close them, as well as by the verbiage wherein they are clad. The first tale is noticeable as repeating the incident which opens the immortal story of "Camaralzaman and Badoura".
A book half the size of Mr. Parkinson's Yorkshire Legends and Traditions, omitting all the verses and rhetorical clap-trap, might be made of some scientific value if care were taken to specify the source of each tradition, and, where possible, to obtain it direct from the mouths of the natives. Many of the traditions are still living, as Mr. Nicholson has shown in his Folk-lore of East Yorkshire—a better book in every way, though one that still leaves much to be desired as to exactness of record. Some of the narratives Mr. Nicholson gives are very interesting: among these may be mentioned the legend of Willey How, which is told, first of all, by William of Newbridge. In Willey How the fairies had their dwelling; but I may state, for the information of Mr. MacRitchie, that the How in question was never in fact inhabited either by the living or the dead. Lord Londesborough caused it to be opened in the year 1857, but found nothing. Thirty years later Canon Greenwell reopened it, and ascertained that, in spite of its size and the enormous care evidently bestowed upon its construction, it was merely a cenotaph. A grave there was, sunk more than twelve feet deep in the chalk rock; but no corporeal tenant had ever occupied it. Picts and Finns were alike foreign to it; yet here is a legend just like some of those Mr. MacRitchie relies on, of a fairy festival within its earthen walls, which has persisted to our certain knowledge for seven hundred years. I have dealt elsewhere with Mr. MacRitchie's book, and have no intention of discussing it again. It is an argument to prove a thesis quite untenable, namely, that the fairies of tradition were the prehistoric, dwarfish, races of Northern Europe driven out by the ancestors of the present peoples. In Scotland and Ireland, the author tells us, these races were called Picts and Finns, and they inhabited barrows, such as are still known in Scotland as Picts' Houses. Many of these barrows seem, in fact, to have been used as residences: to some of them fairy traditions yet cling, and they are quoted by Mr. MacRitchie in proof of his position. The legend of Willey How is an instance of a tradition of this kind, attaching with great persistency to a barrow that never was a place of human abode; and it is not an unfair test of the value of the evidence Mr. MacRitchie brings forward to support this branch of his argument.
Of Miss Garnett's book on The Christian Women of Turkey, it will be enough to say here that the folk-tales it contains were all, or nearly all, previously in print, though scarcely any of them were known to English readers. They are all interesting, and their importance is enhanced by the full and vivid account of native life and superstitions in which they are embedded. Dr. Krauss has included a number of sagas illustrative of South Slavonic superstitions in his work on that subject. The narratives have been gathered at first hand, and the particulars relative to them are carefully recorded.
The Doyle Fairy Book and (except for the last chapter) Shadowland in Ellan Vannin hardly fall within the limits of this report. The chief point of the former is the illustrations by the late Richard Doyle, repeatedly recalling the same artist's design for the cover of Punch. The latter book causes me to regret that with Mrs. Russell's abilities, opportunities, and enthusiasm, she has not given us a collection of the genuine and unadorned folk-lore, all duly ticketed and pigeon-holed, of the island she loves so well. It is not too late to hope that she may be induced to make so desirable a contribution to science. Waldron's is the only book on the subject, for the chapters given by Train are somewhat grudgingly devoted to it in a larger work; and Waldron labours under the difficulty of having written in a pre-scientific age. From The Deemster we learned what wealth lay buried in the mountain recesses of the Isle of Man; and Mrs. Russell's little book confirms the knowledge. But in neither case is the store, by its form, available for students, save in Mrs. Russell's last chapter, however, where she gives an account of a few superstitions, and relates some stories not hitherto recorded; but they, alas! only whet the appetite.
I have left but little space to deal with Mr. Clouston's treatise (for this it is) on Chaucer's "Squire's Tale", and Herr Marx's work on Greek Folk-tales of Grateful Beasts. The importance of the former will be understood when I say that Mr. Clouston has filled more than two hundred pages with abstracts of analogues of the tale and of the various magical instruments—horses, chariots, mirrors, images, rings, gems, swords, and spears—with which it is concerned. He has ransacked literature and tradition, with a result that every one who knows his writings would have anticipated. The reader is presented with a cyclopaedia of information; and the pity is that it is intended only for the members of the Chaucer Society, for it is worthy of a wider audience. Incidentally Mr. Clouston administers a rebuke to the late Sir R. F. Burton for his " explanation" of the ebony horse in the Arabian tale as simply Pegasus, "which". Sir Richard lucidly declares, "is a Greek travesty of an Egyptian myth developed in India"! In emphatically repudiating this "explanation", Mr. Clouston, as most readers of this review will be glad to learn, states his belief that the identities found in savage folk-lore with the mythologies of ancient nations and the folk-lore of modern Europe and Asia, are impossible to explain by any theory of transmission, and therefore "have been independently developed by widely different and widely separated races in similar conditions of life, and having more or less similar modes of thought".
Herr Marx has studied with great care and acuteness the literary history of ancient Greek folk-tales concerning Grateful Beasts. The chief animals dealt with are the dolphin, eagle, stork, lion, dog, horse, elephant, and snake. The last-named is studied with special fulness, and should not be overlooked by any one interested in the relations of snakes with the spirits of the dead. The author is by no means a partisan of the Buddhist origin of the Grateful Beast; on the contrary, he maintains, in opposition even to Benfey, that the fable of the Lion and the Mouse originated in Greece, and migrated to India, where the lion's part is played by an elephant.
The preceding paragraphs had all been written when Mr. Douglas Hyde's Beside the Fire was issued. The key-note of Dr. Hyde's work is struck in one of his opening-pages. "The folk-lore of Ireland", he says, "remains practically unexploited and ungathered. Attempts have been made from time to time during the present century to collect Irish folk-lore, but these attempts, though interesting from a literary point of view, are not always successes from a scientific one." The attempt before us is on scientific lines. It consists of fifteen stories, six of which are given in their native Irish, with translations opposite, according to the plan adopted by Campbell and Maclnnes; and the remainder are from an Irish work by the same author previously published. All of them are chosen "on account of their dissimilarity to any published Highland tales, for, as a general rule, the main body of talcs in Ireland and Scotland bear a very near relation to each other". This principle of selection adds to the importance of the book, which thus gives us a better notion of the vast wealth of Celtic tradition. Some of the illustrations it affords of the fairy superstitions, like that of "Leeam O'Rooney's Burial", are especially valuable. Dr. Hyde's Preface, and Mr. Alfred Nutt's Postscript, contain a discussion deserving of careful consideration concerning the relations of bardic stories, and of heroic sagas in general, to folk-tales. It is to be regretted that Mr. Nutt was unable to comment on the stories themselves so fully as he intended. Perhaps we may hope for a further instalment of tales from Dr. Hyde. So able and conscientious a collector is wanted to gather the folk-lore of Ireland and give it to the world before it vanishes away with the language.
Let me, in conclusion, quote two sentences from an article in the first volume of the Folk-lore Record, by the late Mr. W. R. S. Ralston, whose loss we have so much cause continually to regret. "It is impossible", he says, "to impress too strongly on collectors the absolute necessity of accurately recording the stories they hear, and of accompanying them by ample references for the sake of verification. The temptation to alter, to piece together, and to improve, is one which many minds find extremely seductive, but yielding to it deprives the result of any value, except for purposes of mere amusement." Would that these golden words could be written on the conscience of every one who goes about to publish a book of folktales! Thirteen years have passed since they were first penned, but, if we may judge by the works mentioned in this report, how few have yet taken them to heart!