Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/32

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20 Presidential Address.

the lower races of mankind to show that the faculty of imagination is in lively exercise among them, and goes far to account for many of their practices. There is one race, very low down in the scale, the Bushmen of South Africa, which has in common with the palaeolithic peoples the imitative artistic faculty highly developed. The late Sir Bartle Frere said that their arts of music and painting are far superior to the rudimentary efforts of which traces are to be found in most savage tribes. Indeed, their very stone implements are of the palaeolithic type, but there is some evidence that even they possess the idea of continued existence after death. In other respects one would be dis- posed to look upon them as the race of all existing races most nearly approaching what man may have been in palaeolithic times.

1 6. Where a custom or system is found in operation in many widely-separated parts of the world, it may be safely assumed that it is a custom of great antiquity. Whether it is supposed to have arisen from communication between the several races, or whether it is an instance of the uniform working of the human mind under the like circumstances, either supposition requires a long space of years — many centuries of years — to produce the effect. This observa- tion applies to the custom or system of totemism, of which we have heard so much lately, especially in the learned address of Dr. Haddon to Section H at Belfast, the equally brilliant address of Mr. Lang to this Society, and the informing discussion that took place in this room last July. I am no more disposed now than I was then to come down into the arena where that contest of intellectual giants was fought ; my concern is with the relation of totemism to the imaginative faculty, not with its origin ; but I think I may venture to say this much, that when I look at the varied applications to which that system, in one or other of its forms, has lent itself, I can conceive the possibility that it has arisen from as many varied sources of origin.