Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/228

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2o6 Reviews.

Basuto life entitled Au Stid de PAfrique, is nearer the mark when he says that it is a name as disagreeable as possible for the purpose of frightening death away. He gives other instances of contemp- tuous names bestowed on children in similar circumstances. The custom is in fact well known to anthropologists. Its object is not so much to avoid offending the spirit of the deceased child, as to secure the life of the newly-born from evil influences of all kinds by pretending that it is of no value.

Although the book is intended for popular reading, the authoress has forgotten to explain that, while Basuto is the name of the people, a single individual is Mosuto, the country is Lesuto, and the language Sesuto. She uses, indeed, these words correctly enough ; but the readers whom she addresses are likely to be puzzled.

A small collection of native stories, ten in number, concludes the work. Unfortunately for the student they are not told as the natives tell them, but are decked out in a meretricious " literary " garb — thus : " Bitter tears rolled down Siloane's cheeks. What evil thing had befallen her, that the babe she had borne, and whom she had felt in her arms, strong and straight, should have been so changed ere the eyes of his father had rested upon him ? Not once did she doubt Mokete. Was she not her own sister? What reason would she have," &c., &c. ? Still, they are genuine stories, and perhaps this costume is calculated to commend them to "the general public." I can only wish the authoress had taken Dr. Theal, M. Junod, or Bishop Callaway as her model. More- over, her method and the " popular " character of her book made me a little doubtful whether some of the incidents have not been consciously or unconsciously modified in preparing the stories for publication. Several have already been published by M. Jacottet, another French missionary, in his Contes Populaires des Bassoutos (Paris, Jeroux, 1895). ^ comparison of M. Jacottet's work with Mrs. ]\Iartin's reveals a number of suggestive variations. To give only one example, in all the versions of the story of Takane knowTi to M. Jacottet, (who declares it to be a widespread and favourite tale), Masilo is refused by the heroine because he is her brother. Mrs. Martin describes him vaguely as her cousin. Thus the question of incest,*which would account both for the secrecy of the wooing and for the heroine's refusal, does not, according to our ideas, arise.