Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/168

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152 Notes on Ballad Origins.

statements are variable), and are not only older than the mediaeval romances, but must have existed, many of them that now survive^ millions of years before any existing human records." Where do I say that many extant ballads arose, and descend to us, from a period millions of years anterior," say, to cuneiform and hieroglyphic records ? No reference is given for this portentous averment of mine. What I do say is what, perhaps, no folklorist denies. Many ballads are versified Marchen, or many Mdrchen are ballads done into prose, or both descend from popular tales partly in prose, partly in verse, and the Marchen are very old and widely diffused.

Mr. Leland writes, in the preface to his and Professor Dyneley Fvinco.^ s Kiiloskap the Master {1(^02), that, in Italv, he used to be asked whether he preferred to have " a fairy tale chanted or repeated as prose." He might take it as a ballad, or as a Marchen. We have ballads in alternate prose or verse, as Motherwell found, and Jameson found one in Lochaber and Ardnamurchan, Celtic districts. The Algonkin " sagas, or legends, or traditions were, in fact, all songs," says Mr. Leland. In short, romantic traditional ballads, and prose Mdrchen are closely inter-related. Prose and verse are intertwined in old Gaelic Lays, says Islay {Popular Tales of the West Highlands, iv., 164, 165). Again, the stock situations and ideas in Mdrchen, and in the analogous ballads, are of unknown antiquity, being derived from the staple of savage thought.

That men existed, and sang ballads, " millions of years" ago, the theory attributed to me by Mr. Henderson, I do not know. Mr. E. B. Tylor places man's date " at least tens of thousands of years ago." I think it highly probable that man of the reindeer period in France had ideas much like these of extant savages. If he told or chanted Mdrchen (which I think likely), I should expect them to be much on the level of low savage Mdrchen : say Samoyed or Eskimo ; if he sang tales in verse, I conceive that they may have